Good morning on this cold Saturday when January has finally made an appearance. We got about five inches of snow yesterday. Thankfully, our landlord hires a lawn care company to remove the snow outside our patio fence so all we have to worry about is the path from the back door to the gate and to the shed. I was able to shovel that without any trouble at all. The lake effect snow stayed east and north of us. The news said that some of those areas got a foot or more.
With the economic melt down and the presidential election year we have heard a lot about 'reforming' entitlements and reducing government expenditures but we haven't heard much about other kinds of social programs built into our tax code that benefits mainly the well-heeled. Huffington Post provides a bit of information on that issue. The most interesting line in the article links the 'tax expenditures' to the recurring bubbles that have burst over the last ten years.
Casey Daily Dispatch posted this interesting article this morning. I might be able to pooh-pooh the conclusions except for several thoughts. Bush put all of the expenses for fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq off the books. The public never knew how much the wars cost or how they would be paid for or what we couldn't afford because we had to pay for the wars. Since Obama entered the White House our political class has been negotiating with the military over how much of a 'cut' the Pentagon would accept. There was no discussion of what we could afford or how effective our military has been given how much we are spending. Also all these negotiations are reported in a kind of double speak. The 'cuts' are touted as though they would reduce the current level of spending but in fact are never scheduled to take effect for a year or more down the road and they only reduce the rate of 'increase.' So in the end the military budget is going to go up just not as much as originally planned. And, lastly, we have seen the 'militarization' of all law enforcement at every level over the last 10 years as well as the creation of several new para-military agencies. I would say the author is right on and the military 'tail' is definitely beginning to wag the political/economic dog. I would love to know if there are any historical examples where the political/economic power ever were able to reign in the military without a major collapse a la Rome or Nazi Germany.
The Daily Mail had this story today which hasn't appeared on our local news radar--at least not yet. Although companies have not yet been declared persons by the U.S. Supreme Court (for any purpose), the problems dealing with them are are not very different. Here the company failed to comply with a court order but the 84-year-old owner of that company and its president are both trying to wriggle out of personal responsibility for that failure. The judge rejected that and has ordered both jailed until the company has completed the bridge project that is the focus of the court order which may take a year. The problem here is one of dispersed or diffused responsibility. Who do you hold responsible? This is a bridge but what about environmental pollution or other more dangerous possibilities? I liked one blogger's quip on corporate persons: he would believe in corporate personhood when Texas executed one. This case should be easier--after all, this is a company owned by a specific individual and managed by someone he hired. It isn't a corporation owned by a whole lot of stock holders whose ownership and responsibility extends no further than the number of shares of stock. What if the entity involved had been a corporation with 100k stockholders?? Who would go to jail?
Myrddin posted this item on Americablog that led to some deja vu feelings on my part. Most weekday evenings here we watch NHK English language news from Japan and a frequent story has featured the negotiations between the U.S. and Japanese governments concerning moving our Futema base on Okinawa. Okinawans don't want it whether at Futema or elsewhere. But here we see very little of the controversy. We agree completely with Myrddin that our news media us a great disservice by making assumptions and then presenting them as fact. We wonder if the European political leaders really want the U.S. military there, or if they merely want the funds those bases bring in. And do European civilians want us at all? Or are they as disconnected from their people as the Japanese government appears to be on this issue?