Yes - I Still Support Clinton
I'm sure by now you've heard the speech the President gave and are evaluating it. I was highly impressed. Whether or not you agree with Clinton you have to give him credit for one thing -- he's one hell of a salesman. I sure wouldn't have wanted to sell his plan and I think he did a superb job of presenting it.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't consider Clinton's plan for the economy to be the best plan possible, or even the best plan achievable, but I do consider it to be generally on the right track. It is certainly the boldest economic plan that has been presented in my lifetime and you have to give him credit for having the balls to put it forward.
Since everyone has a different interpretation of what Clinton said and since few of you are economists, let me share with you some of the math behind how the economy works. But before I get into that, here are some of the letters I've been writing which deal with some of my views.
This first letter is one that I sent to about one-third of Congress. Here's what I said:
Having said that, let's talk math. Paying off the deficit depends increasing revenues and cutting waste. But increasing revenues is not necessarily the same as increasing taxes. For example: If a person makes $30,000 and pays $10,000 in taxes then he is paying a 33% tax. But if he increases his income to $60,000 and pays $15,000 in taxes then he is only paying 25% tax and the government is getting 50% more revenue.
Not only that, but that person spends more money which make companies more profitable. Those increases in company profits create more jobs and reduce unemployment. These higher profits and higher employment generate more tax revenue and the money trickles up to the government level. This is the basis for the concept of Trickle Up economics!
What is the difference between someone who makes $60,000 dollars a year and someone who makes $30,000 a year? Or what has changed in a person who used to make $30,000 a year who now makes $60,000? Well, I would say that the main difference is that the person who makes $60,000 a year knows how to make $60,000 a year. He is now smarter about making money than he used to be.
So our challenge, from a mathematical point of view, is: "How do we turn a $30,000 a year worker into a $60,000-a-year worker?" How does the average American double their income? America has to become smarter. We cannot continue to be outwitted by the rest of the world. The first step in my opinion is leadership. And since you Congressmen and Senators are our leaders it is reasonable to expect you to set the example -- to show us how it's done.
If anything can be read from last year's election it is that America wants change. We need to actually FIX the problem. The people who elected Bill Clinton president certainly want change and there's no doubt that those who voted for Perot want change. In fact, I would say that a serious number of those who voted for Bush want change.
We cannot go back. We can only go forward. We are blessed with a president who is serious about getting the job done. And I see this as an opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans to share in the glory of a true economic recovery package. And faced with this opportunity you have to ask yourself, "In the 1994 election year, do I want to share in the glory, or do I want to share in the blame?" I would guess that if you pick the latter that the issue of term limitations will no longer be a problem -- if you catch my drift.
Bill Clinton's program is not carved in stone. If you have an idea, and that idea makes sense, Clinton will work with you. And it doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on. The time has come where we must all make smarter decisions that we have ever made before.
I have a different definition of "Shared Sacrifice" than Bill Clinton does. To me, the concept of shared sacrifice is a call to be smarter than we are today but to realize that we no longer have the luxury of making bad choices. There was a day when we could afford to be stupid and wasteful, but those days are gone!
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress: I am a poor West Virginia hillbilly who 17 years ago was living as a hippy in a school bus in the Missouri Ozark mountains. I now own a profitable computer software company and in 1992 I made over $100,000 in spite of an economic recession. I wrote the software that allows me to fax this letter to over 200 of you. I decided to rejoin society and make a success of myself because I felt that I would be more effective working within the system that outside the system.
I am willing to come to Washington to testify as to how I did it and to give you a perspective on how a person such as myself rises up from where I was to where I am today. I am a person who is very much at home with mathematics and logic, and I have the ability to understand complex economic concepts and explain them in simple terms that most anyone can relate to. I have several detailed, step-by-step solutions that are achievable in the current political climate, that can save America over 100 billion dollars above the various economic plans that are being discussed today. And you know what they say, "A 100 billion here and a 100 billion there and before long you're talking real money!"
If you like what you're reading so far, there's a lot more where that came from. If you like the concept of "Trickle Up Economics", you're going to want to talk to me.
I'm just a phone call away. Call me!
If a person makes $30,000 and pays $10,000 in taxes then he is paying a 33% tax. But if he increases his income to $60,000 and pays $15,000 in taxes then he is only paying 25% tax and the government is getting 50% more revenue.
Not only that, but that person spends more money which make companies more profitable, those increases in company profits create more jobs and reduce unemployment. These higher profits and higher employment generate more tax revenue and the money trickles up to the government level. This is the basis for the concept of Trickle Up economics!
For those who want a more visual example, four hungry people are in a restaurant sharing a 12-inch pizza. A waitress has a pizza cutter and is charged with dividing the pizza fairly. What is the correct solution for this waitress? The correct solution is to recommend that they buy a bigger pizza.
The success of this economic plan is not based on how much we raise taxes or how much we cut spending, (although these are very important), but on how wisely we spend the 31 billion dollar stimulus money. If we use that money to buy education and training and build infrastructure and for investment tax credits, then the whole economy should start to do very well.
I think it's important for everyone to realize that it isn't how we cut the pizza, but how we grow the pizza. For those of you who are intending to write your Congressman about what you don't want to see cut or hiked, you should also include a suggestion about where you want your tax dollars to be invested in order to do the most good.
Normally I write letters to the editor for publication, but this is a letter to you. I would like to suggest something that will be a way to increase your newspaper circulation and increase you readership. The economy is a very hot topic and it is an opportunity for newspapers to make money. Here's how it's done:
The idea is to have a "Cut the Budget" ideas contest where readers write in with their ideas on how to solve the economic crisis. Money and valuable prizes are contributed by local sponsors and winners are handsomely rewarded. Winning ideas are forwarded to the White House for Presidential approval.
Every day the 10 best ideas of that day are published with sequential numbers so that the ideas can be referred to by number. Readers collect these ideas by keeping the paper every day for a month. Then the readers vote for the best ideas, each reader voting for the 10 they like the best.
This contest will create a very high amount of attention to your publication and should bring in a lot of advertising revenue stimulating your economy, if you know what I mean. Your publication might even get national attention if your paper is the first one to get the contest going. (Better hurry, this fax is going out to 250 newspapers!) Is this a great idea or what?
During the last century the mark of an advanced successful society was it's cars and roads, telephone lines, and distribution of electricity. As we approach the end of the 20th century it is apparent that computers are now the defining factor of an advanced civilization.
Fiber optic cables will be to the 21st century what telephone lines were to the 20th century. With high speed computer network access lines into every home and business, Americans will have access to more information than is stored in the Library of Congress. Can you imagine, with this kind of information access, how many services this country could provide to the rest of the world? We could set ourselves up in a dominate position in the on-line computer services field.
I ask that for one moment you think about what I am about to say. We absolutely MUST do this. There is no doubt in my mind that these networks will be developed over the next 20 years. The only question is, will we be first or last? There's really only one answer. We must be first.
But there is plenty of room for improvement in this plan. I think the spending cuts can be greater and the plan to increase revenues can be seriously improved. And you the reader can be part of the plan. Every one of you has the potential to be as effective as I am, (or hope to be would be more accurate). I am after all, just a poor brain damaged hippy. Some of you went to skool!
A lot of people are calling for more cuts. I want to see more cuts. But what happens is that when you increase the number of cuts you increase the number of people resisting the plan. The more people resisting the plan the more likely it is to fail. Thus, I think that it is accurate to say that the amount of cuts which can realistically be achieved depends on the amount of public support for cuts. The more letters and faxes you send to the news media and Congress, the bolder they will be on the cutting side.
The Republicans are bad-mouthing the plan but they have this identity crisis they're dealing with. All they have come up with so far is to resist. So if you're in a letter writing mood then write to Republicans and tell them to support the President on his cuts and add more cuts. I'm a little tired of these jerks who have nothing to offer in the way of a solution.
But one key issue that needs to be dealt with is that good ideas are not enough. It's time to get out the great ideas and put them on the table. Progress will be slow if we limit ourselves to conventional ways, we need to think about the unconventional ways. It's time to bring out the genius weirdos.
Military Base Closing List
I saw something interesting on C-Span. Senator Hollings was talking about base closings and was upset about closings in his area. In the press interview he was asked about how the base closing list was created. They wanted to know if it was political.
Senator Hollings said that the cuts came from the military and not the president. That this list was basically the same list the military came up with in 1992 when Bush was president. I was impressed that this list represented what the military thought were the right cuts and not what political forces thought was right.
Well, it looks like things are falling apart in the former Soviet Union. If one tries to project the events of today into the future the projection is very unpredictable. No one has any idea what is likely to happen over there. In my opinion, this uncertainty itself is a grave problem.
But, there is something we can do about it which is outlined in the following letter to the President.
I am concerned about the political stability in Russia. I think that it will soon be necessary for the United States to send the Russians a message as to our concern about our future relations.
A lot of things can happen over there. There is a serious possibility that Yeltzin will soon lose power. So what is the right thing to do?
I think the Russian people want reform (change). Just as change is turning our country around, change can turn their country around. But there is not real leader over there who has the power to bring about change. The Russians are essentially without a political system.
If you decided to do so, you could request of the Russian government that you go on Russian television and give a live message directly to the Russian people. You could express in no uncertain terms that we in the United States value our peaceful relationship with our Russian neighbors and give them a message about the importance of them working out a political system so that they don't end up like Yugoslavia.
If you do this then whatever happens over there is more likely going to be better than it will turn out if you don't do this. I'm not saying that you should do this now, but it is the kind of idea you should be ready for if it becomes necessary. You could make arrangements so that you could be on Russian TV within 24 hours of when you decide to do so.
This is a very critical period for the Russian people. They have quit being communists and they want to do the right thing. But they have absolutely no idea of what the right thing is. You could provide that guidance. And you don't need the permission of Congress, any money, or a G7 meeting to give them that guidance. All you have to do is do it.
Got to hand it to Bill on this one. Clinton is changing the way bank regulators monitor how banks make loans. After the S&L crisis the bank regulators required a ton of paperwork on every loan and would only allow banks to loan money based on the collateral of the borrower. This process made it difficult and expensive for banks to loan money to business and drove a lot of businesses under.
The new regulations require much less paperwork and allow for more weight to be given to the borrowers credit history and less to collateral. Thus if someone has borrowed money in the past and has paid it back in a timely manner, they will be able to borrow more money more easily than they could under the old rules.
Thus, small businesses will be able to expand and hire new employees and more people will be able to borrow money to start new businesses. This should help fix the unemployment problem and create new jobs to hire people losing their jobs to government cutbacks. And it stimulates the economy without raising taxes.
Compuserve Starts White House Forum
Compuserve this week has started a White House forum. This forum does in fact have ties to the White House and there is an official White House contact, Jock Gill, who works for the Clinton administration. If you're a Compuserve member you can send you letters EMail to 75300,3115. To get into the forum, type GO WHITEHOUSE at any ! prompt. The White House is monitoring the forum and all the brilliant suggestions are (in theory) being brought to the people who make things happen.
The forum libraries have information like economic plans and Presidential speeches. There are also schedules as to where the President will be on any particular day.
Since the forum is new the amount of White House response has been minimal. They seem to be in "Read Only" mode and I'm hoping that will change. I'm impressed that the Clinton Administration is sharp enough to want to tap into electronic communications. Perhaps now the voice of the nerd will be heard in Washington.
Tax on Fat? Interesting
I came across an interesting idea on Compuserve. Someone in the Whitehouse forum suggested that we should perhaps have a meat tax. Taking the idea a little farther, the idea of taxing food based on fat content is an interesting concept.
The idea is that at the food manufacturing level you impose a tax on the number of grams of fat in the food product. Thus, it would create a tax incentive for food producers to lower their fat content to reduce their tax burden.
For example, there is a lot of difference in potato chips fat content from one brand to another. Most consumers don't bother to look at the fat when purchasing chips. Low fat chips are more expensive that those with high fat. But if we had a fat tax then it would be cheaper for companies to produce low fat chips to avoid the fat tax.
Yes, it would make potato chips a little more expensive. But you would make it up by what you would save not having a heart attack. Sounds like a bargain to me.
This is an idea that the President should look at. As someone who eats at McDonalds, he's eating a lot of fat. This tax would cause McDonalds to want to reduce the fat content of a Big Mac to compete with the Burger King Whopper, which has a lower fat content.
Marc @ Lincoln Day
Speaking of unconventional, here's one for ya. Every year in the Spring the Republicans in this area have "Lincoln Day" which is the annual Republican party gathering. Anyone who's anybody, (especially if they are running for office), is there. So, your's truly, being a prominent Springfield Republican made my annual appearance.
I put on my best suit and wore my Clinton inauguration button. The button was quite the conversation starter. The Republicans in Missouri took a strong beating in last years election. I probably talked to one third of them over a two day period. I was particularly interested in the Congressmen and Senators that were there. The Congressmen were Mel Hancock, Bill Emerson, and Jim Tallent. The Senators were Christopher Bond, Jack Danforth, and Arlen (magic bullet) Spector.
I had a number of conversations that were similar. Here's how it went. Someone would notice my Clinton Button and say, "What are you doing here with that?" "Well", I said, "I'm a Clinton Republican. I'm one of the many Republicans who voted for Clinton, but probably one of the few who are here today. I am here because I'm concerned about the future of our party. I see this last election as an opportunity for the Republican Party."
"Opportunity?", they say, "How's that?" "Well, Bill Clinton has proposed some serious spending cuts and tax breaks for small business. A lot of his suggestions are very much in line with Republican objectives. We Republicans should support the President in these spending cuts and share the glory of being part of the solution, rather than share the blame for being part of the problem."
"But the Democrats don't want those cuts. All that will get passed is the taxes!" "Well, that's why it is important for us to make sure that doesn't happen. Clinton will always pull a share of his party's vote, but on the spending cut side it may well be us Republicans that put the cuts into law. We can make the difference to make these cuts pass and we will get the credit for getting them through. Not only that, but we can come up with additional cuts and if we get Clinton in on the additional cuts, we can argue better against the tax increases."
"In 1994", I continued, "All the House and one third of the Senate is up for re-election. When we go before the voters, how are we going to be perceived? Are we going to be part of the recovery? Or are we going to be part of the gridlock? America is in trouble. We don't have four years to wait. Clinton's plan must pass and it must be successful. And we Republicans must be part of that success."
It was a very effective argument. I feel like I made serious progress with Bill Emmerson and Arlen Spector in particular. Both men gave speeches that focused on a "new direction" for the party and with a minimal amount of Clinton bashing.
I was impressed with Spector. He did a local news conference where he said that the Republican party need to abort the anti-abortion plank in the Republican platform. Spector is pro-choice and said the government should stay out of peoples private business.
This represents that there are a few people in the Republican party that are ready to deal with reality and I am hopeful that the Republicans will do the right thing. But we can't just trust them, we need to stay on them and make sure they do what's best for all of us.
As you know, an abortion doctor was murdered by a member of Operation Rescue. In response to this I faxed this letter to the press:
I am concerned that this message will encourage other Christian sponsored violence and that others might retaliate against Christians and a lot of people end up getting hurt. It is therefore necessary that both pro-choice and pro-life legislators let these people know that murder and terrorism have no place whatsoever in America and that "Yes - But" is not the right answer.
In my opinion I see what can only be classified as Christian sponsored terrorism. Christian leaders have been giving implicit endorsement of this kind of behavior. Being a non-christian, I have no more tolerance for this than I do for Islamic terrorists. Society will not tolerate religious terrorism.
I Got A Button Maker
You've been to different places where you see people selling buttons? Did you ever wonder where they came from? Well, I needed to make about 1000 buttons for a computer conference and I found out that making buttons is easier than you think.
I bought this button making machine from a place called "Mr. Button" in Indianapolis, Indiana and it only costs $150 for the machine. The button shells themselves were only 11 cents each when bought 2000 at a time. All I needed to add was the artwork and the labor.
I'm getting the artwork cut into circles, but I also bought a circle cutter with it. You can cut circles out of photographs or magazines (like this one) and make buttons out of them. There are catalogs of pre-printed button circles, or if you have some imagination you can make your own.
For those of you who are unemployed, or aren't happy with your job, you can get into the button business cheap. You make them for 20 cents or less and sell them for two bucks. Just make up a bunch and show up where people are. If you sell 10 an hour your making $18 an hour which may be more than your making now! So wander into the boss's office and start singing, "Take this job and shove It!" and start your own business!
I'm starting out making some "Nerd Liberation Movement" buttons. "Coming out of the back room", they say with a picture of a nerd in the middle. I took a few with me to lunch with the local computer club and sold three of them for a dollar each. Not bad for no effort.
Bathing Your Cat
Having been around cats for many years I've made an interesting observation. If they smell like a beast, they think like a beast. If you give them a bath then their personality changes. They become a pet.
If you have never bathed a cat before, this is not a task for the meek. These little cute creatures quickly turn into a hissing ball of claws and teeth when they are put in water. If you can't handle it then you might want to take your beast to a vet or animal groomer. But for those of you who want to try it yourself, here are some pointers.
If your beast has fleas then this is a good time to get some flea soap. If you're going to go to the trouble to bathe him you might as well nuke the fleas at the same time.
Fill the tub up with water. The deeper the water, the better. Cats are fast and the deep water slows them down. A cats body temperature is about 8 degrees higher that humans. The water should feel slightly warm to the touch. Don't use hot water like you like because cats don't sweat like humans to and hot water is uncomfortable for them.
The only safe place to grab the cat is by the loose skin on the back of the neck. Hold on and lower the cat into the water. At this point the cat will make the most awful howling sounds you can imagine. Don't give into fear. It isn't as bad as it sounds. After some initial thrashing and howling the cat will wear down somewhat. After this you can apply the soap.
Always pay attention to the cat. If he gets a chance to escape he will take it. Don't let him get a claw into you or he will try to climb you like he climbs a tree. Let the cat thrash in the water because the thrashing cleans the cat.
After you and the cat have had enough, lift him out of the water and run your hands down the cats body to squeeze the water out of his fur. Wrap him in a thick towel with his head sticking out and dry him as well as you can. Then let him go in the house so he can shake and lick. It may take several hours for him to dry.
If it is winter or the weather is cold, try to keep the cat inside until he's dry. A wet cat can catch pneumonia if it gets cold while it wet. If you can get near your cat you might be able to brush his fur which helps him dry.
Cats are very forgiving. After he's dry he will be ready to be loved again. Every time he gets a bath it's easier to do. I bathe mine about twice a year or so. He has long hair so he needs it more often.