Wednesday, April 19, 2006

When the Media Seems Unbelievable

My wife and I heard a story on NPR this morning as we were getting up. I was shaving and didn't pay too much attention. It was about a policy trip that Chinese President Hu Jintao was making to visit President Bush. Shiree pointed out that his first stops on the way to were to Bill Gates and Boeing. Obviously understandable, but interesting nonetheless.

Anyhow, that bit of introductory knowledge helped this story to catch my eye this morning. Read the fifth paragraph:
Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that while China had promised to make progress on the currency front, Hu was unlikely to make any announcement during this visit to avoid it being seen as coming "at a point of U.S. pressure on him."
That looks SOOOO fabbed. I'm sure that Elizabeth Economy is a person and the "Director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations" is a real position, but that paragraph reads like filler that was inserted with a hand scribbled note say "find a real quote from a real person..."

Weird. BUT she's real Perhaps it's even weirder that her name belies her career. Maybe it was self-fulfilling.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The only political cause to which I've ever pledged my hard earned money (unless of cause you consider charities, religious or secular, political) is I've still to complete my taxes this year. I don't know what it is, but I just can't arouse a desire to complete them. The weird thing is that I pay someone else to do them so my only commitment is probably 2-4 hours of collecting paperwork and filling out a worksheet my CPA has. Also weird is that after getting bitten BAD by a huge bill several years ago I've generally owed little or been owed A LOT. So my delaying is really only doing me harm.

I think the thing that's most discouraging is the reality that taxes are not really understandable by an ordinary human being. Extraordinary humans like CPAs can't really understand the whole thing. So every April I saddle up and do the work and get paid or owe and pretty much don't have any idea why really. It's like a bill from a vendor I don't recognize and for an amount that I can't afford. When I don't owe it's like a sweepstakes letter asking me to just come down to the local Holiday Inn to watch a "short" demonstration of Vacuum cleaners before I can collect my $5000 prize.

Anyhow, as I said, I've support FairTax in the past, and to that end I get regular updates from them via e-mail alerting me of interesting news or asking me to participate in some rally. I get this sort of stuff OFTEN (Schwab, ProFlowers, REI, Lung Association of Washington....) and most of the time it feels like SPAM. E-mails from FairTax though don't. What they say just plain makes sense and the ironic thing is that much of their mission seems to be helping other people to believe that it makes sense. It's kinda like Morpheus giving the Blue or Red pill to Neo. He and his band have done their convincing now it's up to Neo to figure out if he believes it and takes the red pill or not.

The latest example is this e-mail:

Hello FairTax supporters,

Is it the American appetite for all things foreign, from oil to cars to clothing, that pushed the trade deficit to yet another record in 2005? Or is it our broken income tax system?

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported last month that the overall trade gap climbed to an all-time high of $725.8 billion last year, up 17.5 percent from 2004, marking the fourth straight record. Analysts predict that the 2006 trade gap will be even worse. The year's $201.6 billion deficit with China, the largest ever recorded with a single country, brought demands for a crackdown on what the U.S. sees as unfair trade practices. This occurs at a time when Europeans are viciously attacking the U.S. for not phasing out fast enough the puny export incentive provided in the form of the Foreign Sales Corporation (one of the many small loopholes in the tax code).

It's time Congress knew what FairTax supporters know: The real culprit is our income tax system. It penalizes American manufacturers and workers in order to provide what is, in effect, a tax incentive for foreign goods. The U.S. allows foreign-produced goods to enter our market fully tax free, yet we fully tax American-made goods. Foreign producing nations rebate the tax they impose upon export, but the U.S. does not. And when Americans seek to export, the foreign nations with whom we trade have no problem reimposing border taxes at an average rate of 18 cents per dollar. In other words, we tax our own goods and don't tax theirs. No wonder we have a trade deficit. Americans don't have too high an appetite for foreign goods. We have an appetite for less expensive goods.

Next time you hear a member of Congress talk about manufacturing losses or the trade deficit, raise this point. The FairTax puts foreign and American-made goods on an equal footing. (Source: Dan Mastromarco, the Argus Group)

As you fill out your tax returns this week and next, take a moment to e-mail your friends the link to ( and let them know why you support the FairTax!

Maybe I took the red pill and it's side-effects are severe, but that seems quite plausible to me. For the record (and for the impatient), the "Fair Tax" is essentially a consumption tax; you're taxed on what you buy (some items like food excluded). You want to pay less taxes? Buy a cheaper car. Their website has lots of interesting articles and research that talk about specifics and respond to question like "is it good for the economy to incent people to buy less so that they can reduce their taxes?"


Saturday, April 8, 2006

Just in case...

If you tried to visit the site yesterday you may have been confused about why there was no way to donate. That's fixed now.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Help Out

In about a month, I'll be participating in a "Golf Marathon" to support Young Life a Christian organization that tries to reach high school kids with the hope of the Gospel. It's a good organization and even better are the guys that asked me to help out ;) I'll be playing 72 consecutive holes of golf throughout the day on May 2nd.

Anyhow, every participant needs to raise $750 to participate. I'm trying to raise $2000 because I'm an overachiever, and because I know that all 4 of you listening are GENEROUS and LOVING people. If you'd like to help, I've set up a "thon" page with Give Meaning.

You can Give Here. The "Profile", "Event" and "Sponsors" links on the "Project Details" tab have good information about the event. You may also want to read the "How This Works" tab.

Thanks for your help!