Friday, April 15, 2005
A real calculator
By now, most of you are aware of the Social Security benefits calculator offered by Harry Reid and a host of other persons and organizations who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the approaching train wreck of Social Security solvency. Of course, as can be expected when mixing leftist politics with accounting, the calculator is seriously flawed.
However, the Heritage Foundation has developed a new calculator, and it appears to be fundamentally more honest and accurate than the MoveOn-endorsed product being flacked by the Democrats and the Unions. Check it out.
(Link from Donald Luskin, via Dodd Harris.)
posted at 12:08 PM | permalink | Comments (3)
Thursday, April 14, 2005
What party is she IV?
From Yahoo! news via their Miami affiliate, WPLG/10, comes this article:
Report: Senator's Trip Broke Rules, Possibly Law
In this entire 539 word piece, there is no mention of State Senator Mandy Dawson's party affiliation.
In the past, I have complained about this problem with AP writers. In this case, the AP is not at fault. Brent Kallestad wrote a similar article for the AP (also available via Yahoo! News), which clearly states to which party Sen. Dawson belongs. The WPLG article (also posted at their website), carries no byline, but it's not the AP story, and it omits her biographical embellishment (which Kallestad briefly mentions in his story).
I'm a bit surprised that this woman keeps getting elected, but politics in Broward County are never dull. Some of the voters may be dull, but that is another story altogether. She's had several capable challengers in the primaries in the past, but somehow she manages to pull off a victory, despite the string of questionable behavior.
posted at 10:57 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Comcast and customer disservice
For the past three days, we have been having a problem with a flkay DNS server in my service area, and connectivity has been spotty at best. When I first called (on Monday), I was on hold for about ten minutes before I was prompted to leave my phone number for a callback. After an hour and a half wait, they finally called back, and told me that they weren't sure when it would be fixed, but it should be just a few hours. Well, I suffered through it for two days. When I called back again today (because I'm still experiencing the same problem), I went through the voice mail prompts (four layers), and was then told by the voice mail system:
We're sorry, but we are experiencing a higher than normal call volume due to outages in your area. All of our customer representatives are assisting other customers; please try your call again later.
...at which point I was disconnected.
Needless to say, I am *not* happy right now.
This is one of the primary reasons I dislike governmental regulation; if Comcast didn't have a geographical monopoly (through governmental regs), I'd have a choice, and I'm willing to bet service would be better.
When I lived in Chula Vista (California), it was the only city in San Diego county that had real comptetition; Cox and a smaller company, ultronics, both had access in the area. Whenever Cox rolled out a new service, Chula Vista was the first to get it. (Cable internet in 1997, expanded basic cable with 70+ channels in 1994, and so forth), and lower rates(about 40% lower than the rest of their area). The rest of their coverage area was theirs alone, but they had a competitor in Chula Vista, and it was obvious that they were responding to the competition by providing new services as soon as they were available.
posted at 06:43 PM | permalink | Comments (2)
Hidden taxes, and the politicians who love them
This entry at QandO started me thinking about taxation (reasonably enough, since it is on the subject of a VAT), and two links at the end of the column discuss the ups and downs of various consumption-oriented taxes.
In this post, the second of the two links, Dale Franks points out that a VAT is a form of a hidden tax, since it is integral to the retail price, rather than tacked on after the purchase has been made. It is similar, then, to taxes on items such as liquor, cigarettes, and gasoline, which have various federal, state, and local taxes built in, before the effects (if any) of a sales tax are factored in, and ridiculous taxes tossed into your phone, electric, and cable bills.
I don't care much for the idea of a VAT, because of the potential for abuse. However, Franks agrees with columnist Froma Harrop that the US is going to have a VAT, sooner or later, which is what kicked my brain into gear, with my desire for government transparency. There oughta be a law...
What I propose is a law that requires all retailers to display the cost of goods with both the price and the amount of the price that is the direct result of tariffs, excise taxes, "sin taxes", or any other type of revenue generation. (Note that I'm not addressing indirect cost increases, such as over-regulation or payroll taxes, only direct and easily identified "revenue enhancers".) This would only affect a few items now; with a VAT, it would be far more extensive. In any case, if people realized how much of their expenditure is going towards hidden taxes, in addition to sales taxes (state, county and local), income taxes (federal, state, and local) and property taxes (state and local), perhaps we'd see a greater cry for reigning in the bureaucracies in Washington, DC and in the various state capitals. I doubt the bill would gather enough support in congress to pass, but one of the more ardent budget hawks might propose it and see who scrambles to kill it. It might be interesting to see some of the alleged anti-tax types or the self -styled good-government advocates jumping through hoops to make sure such a bill never makes it to the floor for a vote.
posted at 05:47 PM | permalink | Comments (0)