Refuse to be terrorized

I'd like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics.

The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.

To stabilize economy, roll back tax cuts on those earning over one million a year

As economist David Ricardo pointed out in 1817 in the “On Wages” chapter of his book On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, take-home pay is also generally what a person will work for. Employers know this: Ricardo’s “Iron Law of Wages” is rooted in the notion that there is a “market” for labor, driven in part by supply and demand.

So, if a worker is earning, for example, a gross salary of $75,000, his 2009 federal income tax would have been about $18,000, leaving him a take-home pay of $57,000. Both he and his employer know that he’ll do the job for that $57,000 take-home pay.

So let’s take a look at what happens if the government raises income taxes. For our average $75,000-per-year worker, his takehome pay might decrease from $57,000 to $52,000. So, in the short run, increased taxes have an immediate negative effect on him.

But here comes the part the conservatives don’t like to talk about. Our own history shows that within a short time—usually between one and three years—that same worker’s wages will increase enough to more than compensate for his lost income.

Similarly, when the government enacts a tax cut, workingclass people’s taxes go down; but sure enough, over time, their wages also go down so their inflation-adjusted take-home pay remains the same.

Taxes as the Great Stabilizer

Beyond fairness, holding back the landed gentry that the Founders worried about—America had no billionaires in today’s money until after the Civil War, with John D. Rockefeller being our first—in and of itself is an important reason to increase the top marginal tax rate and to do so now.

Novelist Larry Beinhart was the first to bring this to my attention. He looked over the history of tax cuts and economic bubbles and found a clear relationship between the two. High top marginal tax rates—generally well above 60 percent—on rich people actually stabilize the economy, prevent economic bubbles from forming, prevent the subsequent economic crashes, and lead to steady and sustained economic growth as well as steady and sustained wage growth for working people.

On the other hand, when top marginal rates drop below 50 percent, the opposite happens.

The math is pretty simple. When the über-rich are heavily taxed, economies prosper and wages for working people steadily rise. When taxes for the rich are cut, working people suffer and economies turn into casinos.

So why is it that Americans have come to believe that tax cuts are good for everyone? The answer is that for decades now the überrich have relentlessly spent money to make Americans believe that lower taxes are the answer to all of America’s problems. They’ve done this partly through the media they own and partly through funding “think tanks” that legitimize their Great Tax Con.

Here's how...

Google CEO Schmidt: no anonymity for you

Since Google's CEO has proclaimed the future of the web is no anonymity, does that make it a fact? If we keep hearing that privacy is dead and long buried, how long before we accept that anonymity is an anti-social behavior and a crime?

Security expert Bruce Schneier suggests that we protect our privacy if we are thinking about it, but we give up our privacy when we are not thinking about it.

Schneier wrote, "Here's the problem: The very companies whose CEOs eulogize privacy make their money by controlling vast amounts of their users' information. Whether through targeted advertising, cross-selling or simply convincing their users to spend more time on their site and sign up their friends, more information shared in more ways, more publicly means more profits. This means these companies are motivated to continually ratchet down the privacy of their services, while at the same time pronouncing privacy erosions as inevitable and giving users the illusion of control."

The loss of anonymity will endanger privacy. It's unsettling to think "governments will demand" an end to anonymous identities. Even if Schmidt is Google's CEO, his message of anonymity as a dangerous thing is highly controversial. Google is in the business of mining and monetizing data, so isn't that a conflict of interest? Look how much Google knows about you now.

Bruce Schneier put it eloquently, "If we believe privacy is a social good, something necessary for democracy, liberty and human dignity, then we can't rely on market forces to maintain it."

The only safe driving is no driving

The number one killer of young Americans is the automobile.

However, the Secular Humanists dominating our schools refuse to acknowledge that the only safe driving is abstinence from driving. Instead, they advocate courses in “Driver Education,” in which teenagers are taught “Safe Driving,” and no attention is given to traditional values.

They are even taught the use of “Seat Belts” (and some classes even give explicit demonstrations of the proper method of applying these belts!) with, at best, a passing mention that the protection provided by these belts is only partial.

Clearly, this sends a mixed message to our young people: it appears to condone driving, and the more inquisitive will surely feel encouraged to experiment with driving.

The fate of the Internet — decided in a back room

The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Federal Communications Commission is holding "closed-door meetings" with industry to broker a deal on Net Neutrality -- the rule that lets users determine their own Internet experience.

Given that the corporations at the table all profit from gaining control over information, the outcome won't be pretty.

The meetings include a small group of industry lobbyists representing the likes of AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Google. They reportedly met for two-and-a-half hours on Monday morning and will convene another meeting today. The goal according to insiders is to "reach consensus" on rules of the road for the Internet.

This is what a failed democracy looks like: After years of avid public support for Net Neutrality - involving millions of people from across the political spectrum - the federal regulator quietly huddles with industry lobbyists to eliminate basic protections and serve Wall Street's bottom line.

A Reddit member saw Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Colin Powell speak yesterday. This is his take on Sarah Palin.

Today I went to a Get Motivated seminar. There were a number of speakers. Colin Powell spoke about meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev during the cold war, being the US Secretary of State and leading the greatest military in the world. Rudy Giuliani spoke about lowering crime rates in NYC and the effects of leading the city during September 11th and dealing with crisis. Mitt Romney spoke about helping fund Staples as a business start-up, as well as a few other business start-ups and managing the Winter Olympics in Utah. Apollo Ohno spoke about his olympic career. While John Walsh spoke about getting laws changed in congress to protect children and helping catch over 1000 fugitives during his TV shows 23 years on the air.

When it was finally Sarah Palin's chance to speak, being the last speaker of the day, she spoke about her high school basketball career for close to 30 minutes. Yes, I am being completely serious here.

Palin was originally scheduled to speak by satellite transmission but she surprised everyone at the end by actually showing up in person. I live in the most conservative state in the Union, Utah. She started off her speech trying to relate to the crowd. The event was held at Energy Solutions Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz. She spent five minutes telling us about how great it was that she was speaking in our basketball arena and the ties that the state of Alaska has with the Utah Jazz. Carlos Boozer, a Jazz player, grew up in Alaska. John Stockton's wife was from Alaska, Karl Malone likes to fish in Alaska and she claims to have done a 7th grade book report on "Pistol" Pete Marovich.

While most of the other speakers were able to walk around the stage talking as they moved about, she stayed at the podium that was set up for her. She was the only speaker to use a podium and she appeared to be reading her speech most of the time. At times she was reading it word for word, as her eyes did not leave the paper and she would correct herself, when she mis-pronounced something.

While I was trying to figure out where her Utah Jazz and Alaska analogy was going, she then started to talk about the great basketball coach, John Wooden. She started to quote a number of his famous sayings. I was not aware that she was on her small high school's basketball team. She told us how John Wooden's philosophies and coaching skills, shaped her into who she was today and that they were some of the most influential and driving forces in her life today. She not only quoted him but she also went through his pyramid of success. I thought this was odd, as most of the other speakers were talking about their own philosophies and what they had learned in their life to shape them into who they were. She was using someone elses material.

During her teams playoff run, she had hurt her knee. She was devastated that she could not play in a few of the playoff games and she let her coach know that if the team did make it to the championships game, she was going to play no matter what. She did not want to waste all of her practice time and effort that she put into playing basketball to be for nothing. She went into quite a bit of detail about her high school career, as she spoke on it for close to 30 minutes.

There are a lot of people that have played high school sports. High school basketball is something that I never did. However, there are a lot of high school athletes out there. When you are sharing a stage with amazing people, that have actually been able to accomplish some very amazing things in their life, you would hope that you could come up with more then just your high school basketball career. A career that you were injured in, sat on the bench over half the games in the playoffs but did get to play in the final game. Yet, you state this as being one of the most, if not the most, influential experiences of your whole life?

While none of the speakers dove into politics, more then just a small jab here or there, I did admire that Sarah Palin, did not take the time to bash the current administration. She did have quite a few intriguing quotes, that I'm sure her speech writer pulled from some other source. She is a woman of faith and did bring up god a number of times. She also had quite a bit of energy during her speech, even though as stated earlier, she did not leave the podium or look up from reading her speech for more then a few moments at a time.

I do not know how Sarah Palin, has been able to climb her way to the top of the conservative movement. While she does have a certain sense of charisma, her lack of experience, knowledge and expertise was very measurable. As stated earlier, seeing her on the stage with men that have accomplished so much and can actually say, they made a difference in their lives was a travesty. I do not know how she maintains such a following with so many conservatives in this country. She was very much out of her league today.

Maybe if things don't work out for her in her political career, she can always go back and be the coach of a small girls basketball team in Alaska. Where she can use her vast knowledge and expertise. So that she can not only help and inspire but she can also help the Republican party find their next charismatic nominee for the Executive Branch of the government.

Limewire owes $1 billion+ for music sharing, BP owes $69 million for destroying the Gulf and untold livlihoods

Because sharing music is 14.5x more damaging than catastrophic, lifestyle-killing oil spills?

Independent estimates have the final cost of the BP spill at between 3 billion and 12 billion dollars. If Limewire has to pay, why doesn't BP?

And why isn't the entire American public as powerful a lobby as RIAA?

The record labels have told a federal judge LimeWire is liable for possibly “over a billion dollars” — the latest sign that the industry is seeking to annihilate the New York-based file sharing company.

The Recording Industry Association of America’s court filing Monday comes a week after the labels asked U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood to shutter LimeWire (.pdf). Weeks before, the New York judge ruled LimeWire’s users commit a “substantial amount of copyright infringement” (.pdf) and that the Lime Group, the company behind the application, “has not taken meaningful steps to mitigate infringement.”

“The amount of statutory damages awarded in this case easily could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars (if not over a billion dollars),” the RIAA wrote to Wood, in seeking a court order to freeze LimeWire’s assets (.pdf).

No, GOP, you can't have the car keys back

Continuing their party's decades-long War on Arithmetic, Republicans act as if the highest form of patriotism is to demand tax cuts even as a USA Today analysis documents that "Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman's presidency ... Federal, state and local taxes -- including income, property, sales and other taxes -- consumed 9.2 percent of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports."

The historic average has been 12 percent.

Along with the recession, the main reason was the Obama stimulus bill, which included one of the largest tax cuts for wage-earners in U.S. history, totaling $282 billion. Republicans opposed it anyway. Almost everybody got a substantial tax break, even if Tea Party patriots don't realize it.

Orwellian "Big Brother" tax collection commercial airs in Pennsylvania

We’re not living in an Orwellian Police state; it’s all just a conspiracy theory. However, that’s not what Pennsylvania’s government is telling their citizens. In what can only be described as a mafia-style intimidation tactic, the Pennsylvanian government is telling citizens there that they “know who you are”. The video shows a satellite image zooming in on and individual’s home while a computerized voice informs him that they know who he is and that he owes $4,212 in back taxes. The voice then proceeds to tell him that they can make it easy for him if he pays quickly. The ad then closes with a threatening message: “FIND US BEFORE WE FIND YOU”.

What is more disturbing than the ad itself is that governments are now finding it suitable to announce to us that we are living in an Orwellian police state and that we are all being monitored. “Pay up, or we will find you. We know where you live. We are watching you.” This commercial is a chilling confirmation that we are living in an Orwellian nightmare.

I actively avoid the "conspiracy theory" rhetoric of this site, but unless this TV commercial is supposed to be humor, it's hard to argue that it's benign.

Megyn Kelly gives a nice demonstration in corporate censorship, won't let Josh Silver explain how net neutrality works

It was quite an exhibition in "fair and balanced" TV news. And it demonstrated rather neatly what happens when corporate news channels control the flow of information: They pretend to offer "balance," but facts that undermine the predominant narrative are never given the light of day.

All the more reason to defend our Web freedoms by maintaining net neutrality.