Saturday, June 20, 2009

You Might Be a Republican or Democrat if.....

I, Ajax the Great, have mentioned before that I have quite a sense of humor. I figured I should put a joke post on the blog as well, satirizing the two major political parties in this country:

You Might be a Republican if......

  • You think global warming is a hoax, but the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were real.
  • You think tax cuts for the rich will solve all our economic problems.
  • The word "privatize" is really just a euphemism for "abolish."
  • You think that welfare for the poor is bad, but have no problem with corporate welfare and bailouts.
  • You actually think Fox News is "fair and balanced."
  • You consider yourself "pro-life," but not when it comes to war, poverty, or the death penalty.
  • You believe that the right to life begins at conception, but ends at birth.
  • You've ever referred to someone as "my (insert racial or ethnic minority here) friend."
  • You've ever uttered the phrase, "Why don't we just bomb the sons of bitches."
  • You think the Teletubbies are gay, and you don't let your kids watch them as a result.
  • You think a fully automatic Uzi or AK-47 is necessary to hunt deer.
  • You support a waiting period for abortions but not for gun purchases.
  • You look down through the glass ceiling and laugh.
  • You tend to use the word "bootstraps" a lot when talking about the poor, even when those you are talking about don't have shoes.
  • Gays in the military = bad. Gang members in the military = okay.
  • You consider education a luxury.
  • You think fluoridation of drinking water is a communist conspiracy.
  • You have a problem with "tax-and-spend liberals," but see nothing wrong with borrowing and spending money we don't have.
  • You believe that trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is good business.
  • You believe the Feds have a right to know what books one gets out of the library, but background checks for guns are unconstitutional.
  • You believe teenagers are full adults when it comes to being tried as adults, being executed, or going to war, but not for anything else.
  • You fear sex more than violence, both on TV and in real life.
  • You believe abstinence is the only acceptable response to sex, but not for guns, alcohol, or tobacco.
  • You believe it is wise to keep condoms out of schools, because we all know if teenagers don't have condoms they won't have sex.
  • You believe "safe sex" is a contradiction, but talk about "clean coal," and "surgical strikes" without even a hint of irony.
  • You favor warfare over welfare.
  • You think the minimum wage is too high, but support repealing taxes on inherited wealth.
  • You believe that pollution is okay, so long as it makes a profit.
  • You hate affirmative action, but see nothing wrong with "legacy" scholarships.
  • You believe Bush won both the 2000 and 2004 elections fair and square. But God forbid anyone investigates.
  • You bash Clinton for "nation-buliding" in Bosnia and Kosovo, but praise Dubya for doing the essentially the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • You believe Obama is secretly a Muslim.
  • You still doubt that Obama is a natural-born citizen, and believe the birth certificate is fake.
  • You believe in women's rights, just as long as they "stay in their place."
  • You believe π = 3, exactly, and that the Earth is 6000 years old, and are willing to teach it in school.
  • You believe Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for a society that supposedly tolerates homosexuality. Ditto for 9/11.
  • The only "gay" you support - is the Enola Gay.
  • You've ever claimed that you can speak for God.
  • You've ever claimed that God told you to preemptively invade a foreign nation.
  • You thought the war in Iraq would be a cakewalk.
  • You consider Kuwait to be a democracy.
  • You believe in the original intent and strict construction theories of jurisprudence, but only when it's convenient.
  • You would rather vote for Barney Fife than Barney Frank.
  • You support state rights, which means Ashcroft or Gonzales telling states what locally passed voter initiatives he will allow them to have.
  • You rail against "activist judges," unless they support your right-wing agenda.
  • You say America is a meritocracy, but God forbid they tax inherited wealth.
  • You're a "good Christian" but you hate more people than you love.
  • You consider regulation to be a dirty word when it comes to the economy, but not when it comes to individuals' personal lives.
  • You believe separation of church and state is a myth, Thomas Jefferson be damned.
  • You see nothing the least bit Orwellian about the Patriot Act or the Department of Homeland Security, even in their names.
  • You've ever said civil liberties, schmivil schmiberties.
  • You've ever referred to the Constitution as "just a piece of paper."
  • You've ever said "Clean air? Looks clean to me."
You Might be a Democrat if......
  • You believe our goverment should do something just because everyone in Europe and/or Canada does.
  • You've never been mugged.
  • You think serial killers like Ted Bundy can be rehabilitated.
  • You believe everything you read in the New York Times and Washington Post.
  • You trust Ted Kennedy when he said that she was driving.
  • You don't understand why anyone was bothered by Jane Fonda's trip to Hanoi.
  • The closest you've ever actually been to a rainforest is a Sting concert.
  • You think high taxes are great, just as long as someone else pays them.
  • You get an evil grin on your face when listening to "Taxman" by the Beatles.
  • You think the world owes you a living.
  • You believe that everyone is responsible for you but you.
  • You keep count of how many people you know in each racial or ethnic category.
  • Unwanted fetuses? Hell no. Spotted owls? Hell yeah!
  • You actually expect to collect Social Security some day.
  • You believe trial lawyers when they say they are just trying to defend the little guy.
  • You believe teenagers are full adults when it comes to sex or abortion, but not when it comes to guns, alcohol, or tobacco.
  • You think public housing is great, but just NIMBY.
  • You believe guns are the root of all evil, and that crime is society's fault rather than the fault of the criminals.
  • You think the criminal has more rights than the police who arrest this criminal, unless the crime is sexual harassment, or racism.
  • You believe that teenagers can’t control their sexual urges no matter what we do, but child molesters and rapists can after counseling.
  • You think only white people can be racist.
  • You believe the Second Amendment only applies to state-run militias, not individuals.
  • You believe all the problems in the ghetto are caused by the white man.
  • You think most Hollywood celebrities are good role models.
  • You claim to be an environmentalist, but live high off the hog in a mansion that consumes 20 times the national average worth of energy, and frequently fly in a private jet.
  • You would knowingly vote for a crackhead mayor, repeatedly.
  • You still believe the Rosenbergs were innocent.
  • You still believe OJ was innocent.
  • You believe discrimination is bad, unless it is done in reverse. Then it's called "affirmative action" and is a good thing.
  • You believe the Jena Six are not violent thugs in need of punishment, but rather modern-day civil rights heroes that should be lionized.
  • You fear Christian fundamentalists more than you fear Islamic fundamentalists, if you even notice the latter at all.
  • You've ever made a snarky comment about the Vatican as being the "evil empire."
  • You've ever thrown bricks through a Starbucks window at a protest/riot, but stopped off for a cup of Seattle's Best on the way back home.
  • You don't see the irony in the previous statement.
  • You think McDonalds is a bigger threat to America than Al-Qaeda. Really.
  • You've ever yelled, "capitalist pig," and you weren't joking.
  • You hated the first Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan, and the current Iraq War, but saw nothing wrong with the wars in Bosnia or Kosovo, or bombing the aspirin factory in Sudan.
  • You whine about the evils of "Big Business" but turn a blind eye to the abuses of "Big Labor" (aka unions).
  • You believe the best way to solve any problem is throwing more money at it (from taxpayers, not your own).
  • You support a waiting period for guns but not abortions.
  • You believe merely raising one's voice occasionally is a form of abuse. But only when a man does it, of course.
  • You believe everyone is equal, just that some are more equal than others.
  • You support diversity, just as long as others agree with you.
  • You think Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are heroes, and that Cuba is better than America, but always make up some excuse as to why you don't want to move there despite it being so wonderful.
  • You believe that, deep down, no one is really "bad," just "misunderstood." Except of course for Republicans, corporations, the rich, and/or anyone else who disagrees with your political agenda. Those are just plain evil, and irredeemably so.
  • You deny your party's responsibility for Fanny and Freddie's role in the subprime crisis.
  • Your idea of the free market is handing out free government cheese.
  • You support school choice for yourself, but not for others.
  • You would send your kids to public schools, if they had better extracurricular activities.
  • You don't think the government should legislate morality, unless of course you call it "public health."
  • You still own anything that says "Dukakis for President."
  • You think Carter should be on Mt. Rushmore. Ditto for Obama.
You might be either one, or at least NOT a member of the True Spirit of America Party, if.......
  • You assume the government always knows best.
  • You can't see the irony in your own beliefs.
  • You put the "dog" in "dogmatic."
  • You actually think the Federal Reserve has the nation's best interests at heart, is authorized by the Constitution, and that it is actually part of the federal government.
  • You think the gold standard is a "barbarous relic" and cannot understand why anyone would possibly want to return to it.
  • You believe the Constitution is "just a piece of paper" or "a contract that can be renegotiated at any time."
  • You have ever said, "the Bill of Rights is outdated."
  • Your idea of hell is having to mind your own business and not meddle in other people's lives.
  • You believe the right to life begins at conception, but ends at 18 (abortion = bad, draft = good).
  • You believe we should bring back the draft so the "sacrifice would be shared equally," but God forbid anyone over 30 has to go.
  • You believe 18-20 year olds are old enough to go to war, vote, get married, have custody of a child, enter binding contracts, work in dangerous jobs, buy guns, buy cigarettes, and be executed, but somehow not old enough to drink.
  • You actually believe that raising the drinking age to 21 had a net lifesaving effect in the long run.
  • You think cannabis is "evil" and "highly dangerous" and those that use it should be jailed or worse, but you ignore the pink elephant in the room.
  • Of course, you never inhaled, right?
  • You believe the Constitution gives the government nearly absolute power to control what individuals do to their own bodies, even in their own homes.
  • You believe protecting legal adults from themselves is a legitimate government function.
  • You believe Millennials (those born 1982-2000) are the worst generation in American history (even when the statistics say that is not true).
  • You turn a blind eye to the dangerous and even criminal behavior of Baby Boomers, both now and back in the day, while criminalizing teenagers more severely for lesser indiscretions.
  • You believe in liberty for "just us," not all.
  • You blame school shootings on guns, Marilyn Manson, heavy metal, rap, video games, and TV. In fact, you blame everything and everyone but the shooters (and the parents).
  • You believe free speech does not apply to the Internet since the Founders could not have even imagined such a thing.
  • You believe the victim of a violent or predatory crime is at least somewhat responsible in nearly all cases, and should be treated as such.
  • You see nothing the least bit wrong with 1% of the population owning over 40% of the nation's wealth.
  • You think the government can just keep on borrowing money indefinitely with no thought on how to pay it back.
  • You deny that Social Security and Medicare, as they currently stand now, are unsustainable pyramid schemes in need of a major overhaul.
  • You think oil, and the lifestyle it enables, will last forever.
  • You think "ethics" is the name of an Eastern European country.
  • You believe that waging war with no exit strategy was wrong in Vietnam but right in Iraq.
  • You want America to continue policing the world, or at least assume that doing so is sustainable.
  • You are terrified of anything "nuclear," to the point that you won't even eat irradiated meat.
  • You believe overpopulation is a myth. Or worse, you believe that Americans are having too few children!
  • You favor growth for the sake of growth, whether population or economic.
  • You have your head in an anatomically impossible position.
Current Account Deficit: $101.5 BILLION
Total Bailouts: $8.5 TRILLLION (and growing)
National Debt: $12.5 TRILLION (and growing)
Social Security and Medicare unfunded liabilities: $70 TRILLION (and growing)
Saddling future generations with unprecedented debt and ecological crises, as long as the current generation in power benefits from it: PRICELESS
There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's Congress.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Day

Just pointing out that today is Flag Day. But this blog looks no different today because we display the Stars and Stripes every day.

To all the ignorant fools who burn it, remember what it is that you're really burning, and all those that fought and died for it. Those who consider themselves to be on the political left would be better served by "taking back the Flag" and waving it proudly, so it is not perverted into an ultra-right-wing symbol by the fascists. Make it clear that the government policies you oppose are not in the national interest. And let everyone know that you can just as strongly love this country as you fear its government. In fact, plenty of true patriots often do feel that way.

The Flag is not Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, or belonging to any other faction. It is the American Flag, and it belongs to all of us. Live free or die!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Is America Finally Considering the Gold Standard?

Rumors abound that the U.S. Treasury is creating a new currency, known as "Gold Dollars." You read that right--it is a currency backed 100% by actual gold! And it will allegedly exist alongside the regular dollar and can be interconverted. Though the veracity of these rumors is unconfirmed, the TSAP believes that this is an idea whose time has come.

First, a brief history lesson. America started out on the silver standard. Then, we went bimetallic (gold and silver) in the 1800's. In 1900, under President McKinley, we ditched silver and went pure gold. Then, in 1913, something called the Federal Feral Reserve was created. The power to control the money supply (originally belonged to Congress under the Constitution) and interest rates (originally belonged to the market) was delegated by an Act of Congress to an unelected, quasi-government entity that meets in secret to figure how to exercise this awesome power over the economy. Our third attempt at creating a central bank, this one unfortunately stuck.

Here's how it works: when the Fed cuts interest rates, the Treasury generally must print more money (increasing the money supply), when they raise rates, less gets printed, and banks get less. If the amount printed is less than the amount of worn-out money that is burned, the money supply decreases. Paper money enters the economy when the Fed lends it at interest to the Treasury, who prints it.

Now the Fed caused to be printed a ton of money from 1913 through the late 1920s. We were on the gold standard, but they printed more paper money than there was gold with which to back it, causing inflation. Up until this point, we had very low inflation, and even a deflationary bias. Gold had anchored the money supply, and was supposed to limit the amount of money printed, but the Fed disregarded this fundamental rule, and thus we had a fractional reserve gold standard instead.

In 1928, the Fed began raising rates after cutting them for a long time, ostensibly to discourage excessive speculation in the stock market. The market was in the midst of a bubble, and in 1929 they decided to pop it. Ouch. Though the recession began three months prior to the crash, this undoubtedly worsened it. Banks began failing. Instead of cutting rates, the Fed still kept raising rates to prop up the overvalued dollar. But the dollar still dropped, and the price of gold on the black market skyrocketed as people made a run on the dollar. In other words, the Fed had turned a mild recession into a full-blown depression, the worst we ever had. They essentially fought fire with gasoline! In 1933, FDR decided to confiscate everyone's gold with the Gold Act, and shortly thereafter he abolished the gold standard, giving the Fed unlimited money printing power. Finally, rates were cut since there was no reason to prop up the dollar anymore, and the economy slowly improved. Though that may sound superficially like an argument against the gold standard, it is really an argument against fractional reserve banking and the Fed. And the story is not over yet.

After World War II, an international quasi-gold standard called the Bretton-Woods system was created in 1946. Though it worked well at first, the Fed couldn't seem to keep its hands off the printing press. We paid for the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War all with overvalued dollars that were supposedly backed by gold. By 1971, this system had failed miserably, stagflation began, and Nixon abolished the gold standard entirely. Inflation soared to levels never seen before, and a deep inflationary recession occurred in 1974-75. Stagflation (a double whammy of high inflation and high unemployment) was a new phenomenon that had previously been impossible due to the gold standard, but now it was everywhere. It got so bad that in 1982, the Fed engineered a second recession by jacking up the interest rates to over 20% to choke off the bloated money supply and thus kill "excess" inflation, and it worked (but was very painful nonetheless). But the inflationary bias of fiat money still remains to this day, excess money is still printed, and thus a dollar now is worth less than what a NICKEL was 100 years ago.

Currently, the U.S. Treasury owns about 238.5 billion dollars worth of actual gold as of April 30, 2009. Even if we assume a value of $1000 per ounce, that is $260 billion, that's about 7% of next year's government budget. And our incomprehensibly large national debt is slightly larger than the approximate value of all the gold in the world. In other words, we got way too many dollars in circulation, and not enough gold (or even silver) to back all of them as it stands now. You can thank the Feral Reserve for that.

Where do we go from here? Here are the alternatives: 1) redefine the current dollar in terms of gold based on the current market price, fractional-reserve, and trust the Fed not to print too much money, 2) do the same as #1, but abolish the Fed and leave control of the money supply to Congress and interest rates to the market, 3) create a new, full-reserve, gold-backed currency in parallel with the current dollar, and abolish the Fed, 4) do #3 but phase out the old fiat dollar entirely, or 5) continue business as usual, and let the dollar depreciate even more.

Alternative #1--been there, done it, caused the Great Depression. Very bad idea.

Alternative #2 would be like a sequel to Bretton-Woods, minus the Fed of course. That would not be a pure gold standard since it would be fractional reserve, but we would keep the same currency (which would be fixed at today's value more or less with minimal depreciation). It would be a definition of the dollar, and a limit to how much can be printed. In other words, stability. A viable idea.

Alternative #3 is similar to the aforementioned rumor (minus the Fed). Several unrecognized private currencies like this already exist (Liberty Dollar comes to mind). But the long-term effects of having two officially-recognized, interconvertible currencies simultaneously is unknown.

Alternative #4 is ideal, a full-reserve gold standard, but we would have to proceed with caution to avoid too much disruption to the economy. In the long run, this would be the best bet.

Alternative #5 is obviously bad in the long run.

The TSAP recommends that we start immediately with alternative #2, and gradually transition to #3 and/or #4 to phase in a full-reserve currency. Though less than ideal, many of the benefits can be achieved using alternative #2, provided that there is no Fed and that gold and dollars are readily interconvertible at any bank in real time. And also that the currency is not debased any further. Most people would rather not carry around physical gold anyway, so the stock of gold is unlikely to be depleted.
The transition would occur as follows if the TSAP was in power:
  1. Pass the Federal Reserve Abolition Act, restoring its power to Congress and transfering its assets to the U.S. Treasury.
  2. Enact a law that defines the dollar as 1/1000th of an ounce of gold, based on a value close to the current market price of gold (near $1000/ounce). Define silver initially at $20/ounce.
  3. Produce more gold and silver American Eagles and Buffalos labeled as $1000 and $20, respectively, with full convertibility between paper money and such coins (obviously a very limited number made). They will be legal tender for all debts. Freeze the number of paper notes in circulation.
  4. Produce a limited number of gold certificates, and only those will have full convertibility with gold bullion (other than the limited number of Eagles and Buffalos) at banks. These will, in effect, be a second currency. An absolutely full-reserve currency.
  5. Gradually phase out the old fractional-reserve dollar.
  6. Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, and run surpluses until the national debt is paid off.
Or we could figure out something else to back money with that has a larger supply than gold or silver, like carbon, energy, time, wood, etc. But the point is that fiat (funny) money (and the Feral Reserve) has to go!