Friday, August 31, 2012


Clint Eastwood is no Jay Leno, David Letterman, or Stephen Colbert. As a long time fan, I feel sorry for his bizarre behavior at the Republican Convention. And I'm sorry that he will vote for Mitt Romney.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Solutions for the U.S.

One current problem we have is the shortage of corn resulting from our summerlong extreme drought. Corn is used for many foods, livestock feeding, ethanol and scarcity drives the price upward. We couls, I believe, lessen the impact by reducing the huge amount used for ethanol., which provides only a 5-10% reduction in fossil fuel use.  Corn is an inefficient source of ethanol. Sugar cane is much more efficient, and there may be other sources that are better. We need to exploit these and, as for ethanol from sugar cane, we could import lots if we had the political will to reduce the high tariff curently imposed.

Speaking of political will,.I have a number of effective solutions, offered without the burden of extensive research or knowledge.

First and foremost, we must fix the campaign financing problem, eliminating or reducing the current system of legalized bribery. Short of an appropriate constitutional amendment, we could, if we had a decent Supreme Court, place reasonable limitations on the use of money as "free speech". If we have government campaign financing, it seems to me a reasonable restriction to say that a candidate, by deciding to seek office, can be deemed to agree to limit financing to the public moneys. As for private citizens or groups, it would seem reasonable to limit their expression of political opinion to periods of times prior to 6 months before an election.

As a related thought, I wonder if, as a condition to airwave licensing, some free air time could be required.

By constitutional amendment I assume, the term for members of the House should be increased to 3 or 4 years. This would permit them to spend more time on the nation's business rather than re-election.

As for filibusters, I would borrow from the system of challenges in sports. The parties get only a few and therefore would have to limit their use.

On taxes, I would favor, for the rich, a return to rates under Clinton, 39% on income above $250,000.  For providing additional revenue, we should consider raising the gasoline tax and increasing the capital gains and dividend taxes, as well as considering VAT, a carbon tax, and a tax on financial transactions.

On Social Security, require contributions on income above the current ceiling. We could also raise the age if we can figure out how to exclude those whose work is mostly physical labor.

On Medicare, we could raise contributions a bit, but the real answer is single payer. Pending single payer, we could consider public option and some direct cost saving incentives or mandate to see if the market responds adequately.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Attention, Costco Shoppers!

You may run across the Romneys shopping in your store. The went slumming at Costco the other day, and bought "three packets of shirts". That sounds like a bit more shirts than most Costco shoppers would buy at a time.