Venezuela is going to seize a 60% (or more) stake of the operations headed by foreign corporations, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Conoco--all American companies.
Naturally this seizure is going to be completely uncompensated. The article mentions a figure of 117 billion dollars in the context of negotiations; unfortunately they are bringing lawyers to a gun fight. As
Who's going to end up paying that 60% of $117 billion? It will ultimately end up raising the price of petroleum, and energy in general--and so Chavez will basically enrich himself and his cronies by stealing that money from everyone in the world. Meanwhile, the people of Venezuela will pay--with their lives and their freedom--for a chimerical "worker's paradise" which will never actually make anyone (other than Chavez) more comfortable or safe than they were under Pinochet.
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"Global warming" continues. It's April 14, and it's freaking cold outside.
I'm hearing tell of "snow by the foot" up in Maine, and Kansas is supposed to be getting pounded with all sorts of winter-style nastiness. The nasty weather hasn't reached the Chicago area yet, but waking up Wednesday morning to snow-covered grass and trees is more than enough to convince me that spring isn't here yet.
I thought global warming was supposed to bring earlier spring, not later spring.
Or maybe--just maybe--we should learn how to predict the local weather next week with some certitude, before trying to predict the global climate for the next hundred years.
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Owing to the fact that tax day falls on a Sunday this year, the deadline is April 16. That's good, because I haven't done them yet.
My taxes are egregiously simple, though. I don't have any real assets so I get to use 1040EZ, which is about as simple as the government can make a tax form without, y'know, letting real people help.
I am a big fan of the flat tax. A flat tax is eminently fair (unless you subscribe to a Democrat's skewed idea of "fairness", which has its roots in Marx: "From each according to his ability..."). Everyone pays the same rate, regardless of what he earns. If the tax rate is 10%, The guy who makes $12,000 per year--for instance, me--pays $1,200. The guy who makes $120,000 per year pays $12,000. The guy who makes $100,000,000 pays $10,000,000. And so on. The "rich" still pay the lion's share of the taxes in the country, simply because they make more than the poor do.
There is nothing "regressive" about a flat income tax. We have tons of flat taxes: gas taxes, highway tolls, "sin" taxes, license plates, sales taxes, property taxes, and so on. Since more poor people than rich tend to smoke, aren't higher cigarette taxes "regressive" and "unfair"? What about gas taxes? Poor people can't afford to buy new Toyota Priuses; they have to make do with $400 Ford Escorts that they rescued from the junkyard. (*ahem*) Older cars tend to be less efficient. In fact, a poor person pays just as much to register and license his $400 beater as the rich guy down the street who just bought a brand-new Corvette. Why shouldn't the rich guy with the Corvette pay more to register his car than the poor guy with the beater?
All of this is an intellectual exercise to explain why a flat income tax is perfectly fair...unless, of course, you are a closet Marxist.
I'm also a big fan of the idea of eliminating all forms of income tax altogether, and going with a consumption-based tax. Tax us not on what we earn, but on what we spend; this will tend to make people save their money, and give them an incentive to make more money. There will be a definite impact on spending, of course, because this kind of sales tax will tend to discourage consumerism.
There are all sorts of ways to solve the inequities of the income tax. The problem is, the liberal Establishment likes those inequities.
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Since I got my hair cut, after sleeping I tend to look like a frequently-recurring internet image of what I think is a young orangutan, with its mouth open in what appears to be dismay, the hair on its head standing up.
The most recent application I saw of this image came from a faux "race card":
...so now the first thing I think of when I see my hair standing up like that is, "Where my free shit?"
This reminds me of some thigns my sister had to say about the situation in post-Katrina New Orleans.
My oldest sister has lived there for several years--actually, across Lake Ponchartrain, in Slidell--and has had time to acclimate. Sometimes, those of us who have known her for many decades can hear just the faintest trace of Cajun creep into her accent. (She's too well-educated to go wholly native. But sometimes you can hear just a little bit of it.)
Anyway, she talks about people who lived in public housing, who are upset that "their homes" are going to be razed.
Yes, you and your family have lived in that apartment for several generations. No, it is not yours. It is public housing and the government owns it. They let you live there due to the misplaced largesse of socialist Democrats, but that largesse does not extend to your actually having a say in what happens to the place when it is too flood-damaged to repair.
If you want to have that kind of control over your domicile, you have to get a job, work, keep the job, save, and buy a house of your own...and then keep it up, pay the taxes on it, make the mortgage payments (all of them), and on time; cut the grass, pay for the homeowner's insurance, and so on. Probably this will keep you from driving an SUV with 24" rims with spinners, and it'll keep you from having the latest-and-greatest cell phone. It will severely impact your ability to own "bling", too.
It will absolutely, positively, require that you take some goddamned responsibility for your situation, which is hard.
"Where my free shit?" It's easier to be on welfare and complain about how the government doesn't do enough for you, when it already houses, clothes, and feeds you. And gives free medical care to you and your passel of squawling podlings.
* * *
Looking over the links in my last entry, the one about Michelle Malkin, I was led to several archived posts in Ms. Malkin's blog. One of them discussed why she no longer had an open comment system.
Again, we see the "tolerant" Left, responding to reasoned discussion with hatred and insults.
The more I see of such things the more I conclude that the Left is utterly bereft of ideas, utterly incapable of civil debate of issues. An asian woman says something in support of a conservative position, and she is a "whore" and--this one really offended me--a "little brown fucking machine".
I suppose this has really hit home with me because my girlfriend is from the Philippines. I do know that if anyone called her a "little brown fucking machine" with me present, he would discover that I can turn into a "big white asswhooping machine"; and shortly thereafter that person would become a "blood dispensing machine" and a "medical establishment enrichment machine". (He'd live. But he'd regret it.)
But the fact that all they have is hatred and insults is good for the conservatives. Their complete inability to accept the concept that reasonable people can disagree makes their positions unpalatable to those who have not yet made up their minds. No one wants to be associated with a psycho.
And we do still have a First Amendment in this country, Al Sharpton et al notwithstanding. So these people can hold whatever opinions suit them, and they can go ahead and express those opinions however they please--either as well-reasoned, cogent arguments, or with the sewage they use now.
When liberal Democrats pull out vile insults--particularly against women and minorities--they are merely showing their true colors.
* * *
I bought a finch sock last week.
A finch sock is a tube of nylon mesh, which is filled with nyjer seed. Finches love that stuff; and the finches around here are no exception. The first one was reduced to near-flaccidity within a week; there is perhaps an inch and a half of seed left in it. I hung the other one out yesterday afternoon, and this morning I saw four goldfinches going at both socks.
Other birds seem to ignore it. The sparrows have some mild interest but apparently lack the dexterity to reach the seeds, where I have twice seen a finch land on the cord supporting the thing, and then walk down to the sock, where the seeds were. The cord is entirely vertical.
The finches bring some added color to the bird population around here, though. We have cardinals which seem to enjoy the sunflower seeds that Mom puts out every day; we have at least four squirrels coming around; and of course we have the usual sparrows, robins, and mourning doves. The finches first appeared in 2004.
Actually I've been seeing a lot of birds, over the past few years, which I had never seen before. When I lived in Cedar Rapids there was a pair of barred owls living in the woods near my apartment. Here, I have seen all manner of egrets, which I had never seen before in the wild. There was some kind of woodpecker who lunched in the maple tree out front, before we had the dead limbs cut down. And there's some kind of bird with a bright red beak which has been nosing around the birdbath.
I don't know. The West Nile virus epidemic has completely changed the species balance of birds in this area. I haven't seen a crow for years, but I've seen all kinds of other birds I don't remember seeing before.
Of course, it could just be that I'm noticing them now. But overall I think that the West Nile was actually good for the local environment, because I'm seeing a lot more species diversity than I ever remember seeing before.
I remember when it was uncommon to see geese. Now they're everywhere. People aren't hunting them like they used to, for one thing.
* * *
Today would have been Dad's 80th birthday. *sigh*
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There is a frozen coffee cake with the "Cinnabon" brand name on it. It's pretty good; you just heat it in an oven for 12 minutes, or let it defrost, or warm a piece in the microwave. It's not as sweet as the actual Cinnabons are, but it's still very good. Needs more frosting, though.