Friday, October 31, 2008

Spread the Wealth Part 2

The gist of the story below is not mine. I have embellished it a great deal, though.

There are five guys who went to high school together and remained friends long after. Arnold became a very successful businessman and makes a very good living. Benny owns his own small business and works very hard to keep it and manages to make a decent living. Charlie is an employee of Arnold and makes a nice living as a manager in Arnold's company. David has struggled and is also an employee of Arnold albeit a low end one. Edward has been in and out of work since high school.

Now in their thirties, the five of them get together once a month at Clinton's restaurant. Through an agreement with the owner Clinton, the bill comes to $100 which Arnold, being the most well off, pays $60 of it. Benny and Charlie each pay $20 and David and Edward pay nothing. This arrangement goes on for some time and everybody is used to it.

Eventually, the restaurant is taken over by new management. Bush, the new owner decides he can increase business to the restaurant by lowering prices. This includes making a new arrangement with the five men who come every month. The total food bill at Bush's restaurant is reduced to $80. Bush decides that since the bulk of the bill had been paid by Arnold, he should get the biggest break. So the new arrangement is Arnold pays $50, Benny and Charlie each pay $15, while David and Edward still pay $0.

Arnold is delighted with the price cut. Benny is also very appreciative. Charlie is unsure how he feels. Yes, he is paying $5 less but is somewhat jealous of Arnold paying $10 less. "Why does the rich guy get the biggest break?" he wonders. David and Edward are frustrated as to why they didn't benefit from the price cut at all. For the first time, there is an uneasiness in the group as three of them felt they got the short end of things. Benny tries to explain that it's only fair that the people paying the bulk of the bill deserve to benefit the most. Charlie, David, and Edward refuse to see it that way. They feel the new arrangement is unfair. Meanwhile, Bush's lower prices attracts a lot of new business and the restaurant booms profits for years.

All good things must end and it is discovered that some staff at the restaurant made poor investment choices with the restaurant's profits. Instead of the restaurant being a model of financial stability, it is a wreck and Bush and his executives struggle to keep the restaurant in business. What's more, this occurred just as Bush was ready to hand over the restaurant to a new owner.

There are two prospective new owners. One of them is McCain. McCain has similar philosophies as Bush. He tells the five men he will maintain the current pricing and the breakdown. He also knows he will have to keep a better eye on what the staff is doing than his predecessor if the restaurant is to stay in business.

The second prospective owner is Obama. Obama has his own ideas on how the restaurant should be run. He is going to "change" things. He talks to the five men and tells them that he will return back to the $100 total price of the Clinton era, but, he will offer the majority of them a better break. Arnold will pay $90, but Benny and Charlie will now only pay $10 each. This allows David and Edward to actually receive $5 each.

David and Edward are thrilled about Obama and passionately hope he becomes the new owner. Charlie likes Obama too as he relishes paying less and feels good about the thought of how David and Edward would benefit from this. "So what if Arnold has to pay more, he can afford it. It's only fair that he share his wealth."

Arnold and Benny, both with business experience shake their heads at what Obama is attempting. Arnold can't believe he will be required to pay such a huge percentage of the bill and be outright paying David and Edward as well. Benny, being the smart small business owner recognizes that even though he is paying less, Obama's vision won't work. Bush already demonstrated that the restaurant does better with lower prices so why does Obama want to go back to the Clinton price? Also, Benny realizes that Obama's plan will hurt Arnold and if Arnold is hurt, he will be subsequently hurt also as he will get less business from Arnold and people employed by Arnold, like Charlie.

In the end, Obama becomes the new owner - much to the delight of Charlie, Edward, and David. Unfortunately, Arnold leaves the group leaving the $100 bill to be paid by the four of them. Benny, Charlie, Edward, and David can't pay. The harmony the five men once had is shattered and the restaurant is eventually shut down.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spread the Wealth Part I

For those of you who think the Obama "spread the wealth" policy is a good thing should seriously sit down and think this through. I've found a couple of analogous stories that illustrate the problem. The sad thing is that all one really has to do is look at the failed Soviet Union and that should put the matter to rest. Unfortunately, too many people aren't aware of that history.

A young teenage girl was about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat but her father was a rather staunch Republican. One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to taxes and welfare programs. He stopped her and asked her how she was doing in school. She answered that she had a 4.0 GPA but it was really tough. She had to study all the time, never had time to go out and party. She didn't have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of spending all her time studying. He asked, "How is your friend Mary." She replied that Mary was barely getting by. She had a 2.0 GPA, never studied, but was very popular on campus, went to all the parties all the time. Why she often didn't show up for classes because she was hung over.

Dad then asked his daughter why she didn't go to the Dean's office and ask why she couldn't take 1.0 off her 4.0 and give it to her friend who only had a 2.0. That way they would both have a 3.0 GPA. The daughter angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair, I worked really hard for mine and Mary has done nothing". The father slowly smiled and said, "Welcome to the Republican Party"."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Echoes of 1985

Concerning the NLCS game between the Dodgers and Phillies last night, I have to gather that Joe Torre didn't know that you don't put a fireball right-handed pitcher up against a left-handed power hitter when a playoff game is on the line. Jonathan Broxton, like Tom Niedenfuer 23 years ago, was the poor choice and Matt Stairs was fortunate to play the role of Jack Clark.

I wonder if Torre mouthed "maybe we should walk Stairs" right before the big hit.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Round 3 (Enter Stupidity)

The October 7 Presidential debate featured some really stupid remarks by both gentlemen.

John McCain
And I think that this problem has become so severe, as you know, that we're going to have to do something about home values. You know that home values of retirees continues to decline and people are no longer able to afford their mortgage payments.
As president of the United States, Alan, I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes -- at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those -- be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.
Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we're never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy.

First of all - Welcome to the Democratic Party Senator McCain. You know, the party that makes all sorts of pledges of ideas that sound good to some people but are really bad ideas? How is "renegotiating at the new value of those homes" going to "do something about home values" other than lower them? Or is that what you meant? Then why did you say "stabilize home values"?

This is exactly what I'd expect from a Democrat. You're promising lower payments and stable home values. Add to that a big government expenditure. It doesn't add up and I am speaking as one who owes more on his house than what its worth. Yeah, part of my brain likes what you said but I'm no hypocrite.

Barack Obama

So here's what I would do. If you've got health care already, and probably the majority of you do, then you can keep your plan if you are satisfied with it. You can keep your choice of doctor. We're going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year.
If you don't have health insurance, you're going to be able to buy the same kind of insurance that Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees. Because there's a huge pool, we can drop the costs. And nobody will be excluded for pre-existing conditions, which is a huge problem.

So what's to prevent an employer from offering the worst health care out there to basically force all employees to go for option B and then not have to worry about dealing with employee health care? After all, the employer is offering health care so he or she can't be fined, right? Raise your hand if you'd like Senator-level health care. Mine's up. I guess we'll have to stick the doctor bills to GE, Microsoft, and of course, Exxon/Mobil.

Barack Obama

And one of the things I want to do is make sure that we're providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that's made right here in the United States of America, not in Japan or South Korea.

In case you didn't know Senator, fewer and fewer cars are being built in America and one of the reasons why is that American car companies are taxed much higher than those in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and China. And you want to raise them higher, right? This is spoken like a true Democrat. Say what we want to hear even though your policies contradict the result you promise.

McCain was less than brilliant in this debate but he won it, nevertheless.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Round 2

If you missed the October 2'nd Vice Presidential debate. Here it is in a nutshell.

Moderator: Senator Biden, how do you see the bailout situation?

Biden: We need more oversight and McCain is bad.

Moderator: Governor Palin?

Palin: I just want to talk about the economy in general. McCain is good.

Moderator: Senator Biden, what do you think about being Vice President?

Biden: McCain said the economy is strong. Then he changed his mind. McCain is bad.

Moderator: Governor Palin?

Palin: Stop playing politics. That's not what McCain meant. McCain is good.

Moderator: Governor Palin, whose fault is the subprime meltdown?

Palin: We need to stop greed on Wall St. McCain will do this because McCain is good.

Moderator: Senator?

Biden: Obama knew this would happen. McCain didn't. We need healthcare. Oh, and McCain is bad.

Moderator: Governor, would you care to comment about health care too even though it wasn't asked?

Palin: No, I want to talk about taxes. Obama wants to raise taxes. Obama is bad.

Moderator: Senator?

Biden: Obama is not bad. Obama is good. McCain wants to raise taxes. McCain is bad.

Moderator: Governor?

Palin: I'm a straight talker and McCain is good.

Moderator: Since you two want to talk taxes. Say more.

Biden: It's just simple fairness. Rich people should pay more taxes because like John McCain, rich people are bad.

Moderator: Governor?

Palin: Bad people like Obama want unfair re-distribution of wealth.

Moderator: Governor, do you support McCain's absurd health plan?

Palin: Yes, McCain is good.

Moderator: Senator?

Biden: I'd rather talk about the good people in Scranton Pennsylvania. John McCain wants them to pay Exxon/Mobil's taxes. McCain is bad. ... Oh and about health care, John McCain wants to tax health care. He really is bad.

Moderator: I'm going to ask you a tough question Senator. What promises can't you keep?

Biden: None. It's all good because Exxon/Mobil will pay for it all. They, like McCain, are bad people.

Moderator: Governor?

Palin: How is Obama going to keep the promise he made to one group and the contradicting promise he made to another? See, I don't have to answer the questions either.

Moderator: There's no promise you can't keep?

Palin: Well if you insist. I don't have to worry about keeping promises since I have made none.

Moderator: Senator?

Biden: Let me take 10 more minutes to repeat everything I have already said about taxes. Obama will lower them and give us free healthcare and clean alternative energy. McCain will raise taxes and we will all choke on oil exhausts.

Oh, and I support windfall profits taxes. They have been proven to be horrible for the economy and is really the stupidest idea ever, so I hope Governor Palin will convince McCain to support them too.

Moderator: Governor, what about legislation regulating the mortgage industry?

Palin: McCain said two years ago that Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac would be in trouble. McCain is good.

Moderator: Senator, didn't you disagree with Obama on this?

Biden: Yes, and Obama predicted the mortgage crisis two years ago. McCain was unaware. McCain is bad.

Moderator: Governor, is that so?

Palin: Let's talk about energy and not boring old mortgages. It's a subject I really know. I am good. Energy independence is good.

Moderator: Okay, screw that last question. Let's just skip it and move on to climate change. Governor, what do you think?

Palin: Yeah, we feel it in Alaska more than anywhere else. We can help this by being energy independent. Did I mention that I like talking about this subject?

Moderator: Senator Biden, as a leading climate scientist, what has your exhaustive research on climate change led you to conclude?

Biden: All scientific evidence leads me to believe that climate change is McCain's and Palin's fault because they want to "drill, drill, drill".

Moderator: Governor?

Palin: We have oil, gas and coal. We believe in using it. Obama and Biden want to keep it in the ground.

Moderator: Governor do you support clean coal?

Palin: Yes

Biden: Me to, but McCain is bad.

Moderator: Senator, do you support rights for same sex couples?

Biden: Yes

Moderator: Governor?

Palin: Yes, but not gay marriage.

Moderator: Senator?

Biden: I agree, no gay marriage.

Moderator: This is no fun. Let's move to foreign policy. Governor, you said you believe in an exit strategy in Iraq, is that true?

Palin: The surge is good. Petraus is good. McCain is good.

Moderator: Senator?

Biden: Obama said we will be out in 16 months. McCain wants to keep troops in Iraq. McCain is bad.

Moderator: Governor?

Palin: Our troops have come too far to throw up a white flag now. If McCain is so bad, why did you support him initially and call Obama "not ready to be Commander-in-Chief" Senator?

Moderator: Senator?

Biden: McCain voted against funding for troops. McCain is bad.

I'll end it here and just say that Palin looked particularly strong early and really challenged Biden well on the economic and energy questions. Biden looked more comfortable in the foreign policy arena. He obviously wanted to do what Obama chose not to do and that is to continually attack McCain on every single issue. It was too incessant if you ask me.

My other comment is that the Moderator revealed that she was pro-Obama when she asked Palin if she supported McCain's healthcare plan. She never bothered to ask anyone about Obama's. The climate change question had a similar tone. It also appeared that Biden knew what questions were coming and Palin did not. Maybe he is just gifted at this but Biden had every answer prepared and sounded like a speech giver. Palin 'ummed' a few times and appeared to think about how to answer. She may have diverted some answers but she came across as much more genuine.

Not all that interesting of a debate. I'll call it a tie.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

No Predictions

Unlike previous years, I will not post my baseball predictions for the 2008 postseason. Here is why.

1. I was almost spot on last year and I want to continue to bask in that (no, not really).

2. (The real reason) This is the best I have felt about the Dodgers in years so I can't be anything but biased. Dodgers all the way and will crush the Angels in the Series.

Go Blue!