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Merry Christmas From an Atheist

Our Christmas tree at night.

Image via Wikipedia

A friend on Facebook posted this link from last year.

The writer explains why he has no problem wishing people a Merry Christmas, then takes on the idea that there is somehow a war on Christmas.

One of the parts that really struck a chord with me was this passage:

There seem to be a lot of people who think an atheist is an angry, immoral person who eats babies and sodomizes house pets, and that simply isn’t the case. I just turned 48 years old and I’ve been with my wife for 22 wonderful monogamous years. I am a passionate lover of animals, especially cats and dogs. I give of my time and money to charitable causes. I have never been arrested. I vote, pay my taxes and try to stay as informed as possible. I have a strong sense of justice, of right and wrong, and I adhere to it without compromise. I am a fiercely loyal friend and a lover of life — my own and others. My goal each day is to be a better person than I was yesterday and to live my life in a way that improves the lives of those around me. I point this out not to be immodest or seek praise but to show you that I am, for the most part, not unlike most people living their lives and pursuing happiness on this earth. Only one thing makes me an atheist: I am not a person of faith.

The blog is called Atheist Oasis, and I think the piece is thoughtful and informative.

It is a very long post, taking on Fox News, the late Jerry Falwell, defending the ACLU and giving a fairly comprehensive sociological history of Christmas as it has been observed (or not) throughout the ages.

Read it:

An Open Letter To Christians: Merry Christmas From An Atheist

Humbug to the idea that there is a “War On Christmas”. And Merry Christmas from this atheist.

-Chris

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Flat Tax Now! (For Social Security)

 

English: Scanned image of author's US Social S...

The Institute for Policy Studies has a great idea of how to handle the projected Social Security deficit — a flat tax on ALL wages:

In 2012, American workers will pay Social Security taxes on their first $110,100 of wages. For most Americans, that’s all of their wages. Only a lucky 10 percent of Americans make more.

Let that lucky 10 percent pay Social Security taxes on all of their wages, just like the rest of us do. Make Social Security a flat tax on all wages instead of a regressive tax on low and medium wages.

The author claims that a flat tax would raise $100 billion annually, and would not only close the deficit gap, but allow for a small increase in benefits to help keep up with the soaring cost of living.

-Chris

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reagan’s Legacy

Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del...

According to Robert Parry, it’s not good:

Rather than continuing a half century of policies that made smart investments in research and development – along with maintaining a well-educated work force and a top-notch transportation infrastructureReagan declared “government is the problem” and built a political movement for deconstructing it.

This anti-government crusade launched by Reagan bore some bitter fruit:

The hard truth for the Republicans and the Right to swallow is that a three-decade experiment with historically low tax rates on the rich has done little more than concentrate America’s wealth at the very top and leave everyone else either stagnating or falling backwards.

In an era in which government programs had provided electricity to every corner of the nation and our transportation infrastructure began to increase productivity and pump up our economic engine, Reagan went to war with government.

He turned regulatory decision-making over to the leaders of the businesses that were to be regulated, busted unions, and most devastating of all — spawned the hydra-like idea that cutting taxes and shrinking government was the answer to all of our problems.

Says Parry:

…the national political framework that Reagan left behind – an intense right-wing media, an interlocking network of think tanks shaping Washington’s “group think,” corporate-funded “grassroots” organizations like the Tea Party, and a Republican Party wedded to the most extreme interpretation of Reagan’s anti-government message – makes it almost impossible to change the country’s direction, short of an electoral revolt.

Parry lays out a compelling case against the cult-like hero-worship Reagan has enjoyed for several decades, but also notes the complicity of Democrats in bringing American to its current state:

While the Right deserves most of the blame for putting the United States into this mess, the Left, the Democrats and the broad public are not without fault. They have either failed to build counter-institutions that can make the case for a return to the pre-Reagan economic policies that worked – or they have let themselves be easily duped into abandoning their own interests.

Read the whole thing by clicking the link below. It’s quite good.

The Dark Legacy Of Reaganomics

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Budget Facts

U.S. Total Deficits vs. National Debt Increase...

Image via Wikipedia

From Addicting Info:

  1. FY 2012 spending accounts for about 24% of GDP.
  2. The all time high for federal spending is 44% of GDP set during WWII in 1944.
  3. During Reagan’s massive spending binges, the federal budget reached 23% of GDP. Slightly lower than it is today. Remember he was a “fiscal conservative” too.
  4. Social Security spending accounts for 19% of the federal budget.
  5. Military spending accounts for 19% of the federal budget.
  6. Medicare spending accounts for 12% of the federal budget.
  7. Financing the debt run up by the fiscally conservative Reagan accounts for 6% of the total budget, $242 billion in 2012.
  8. Fiscally conservative Reagan increased federal spending by 21.5% and increased the budget deficit by 89.2% in 8 years.
  9. Clinton increased federal spending by 12.4% and turned Reagan’s deficit into the largest budget surplus in history.
  10. Fiscally conservative George W. Bush increased federal spending by 32.2%. He wiped out the budget surplus he inherited and turned it into a whopping $1.5 trillion deficit in 8 years.
  11. Barack Obama has increased spending by 8% in two years. The deficit has shrunk from $1.5 trillion when he entered office to $1.2 trillion for FY12.

-Chris

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taxes and Jobs

In my conversations with conservatives I am constantly amazed by the people who still cling to the idea that low taxes on the wealthy and big corporations leads to job creation and a robust economy.

If that were true, our economy should be screaming along and unemployment should be near zero. 

As anyone who pays attention knows, corporate taxes and taxes on the very wealthy have been slashed precipitously over the past 30 years.

We’ve tried the tax cut as panacea. It doesn’t work.

Here’s an illustration of what really happens when you cut taxes, and when you have a healthy tax structure in place, courtesy of  Being Liberal’s Facebook page:


 

Supply side failed, but the right continues to try to perpetuate it as a solution to our problems.

The “wealth creators” that conservatives (and many of their cowardly Democrat brethren) constantly genuflect to are actually nothing more than wealth hoarders.

-Chris

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Again, The CRA Did NOT Cause the Crash!

Community

Image by niallkennedy via Flickr

Via The Dish:

Barry Ritholtz posts the compelling argument that if the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was a prime factor in the subprime mortgage crisis, why did the majority of defaults happen in areas not usually served by CRA loans?

Examining the big lie: How the facts of the economic crisis stack up

For example, if the CRA was to blame, the housing boom would have been in CRA regions; it would have made places such as Harlem and South Philly and Compton and inner Washington the primary locales of the run up and collapse. Further, the default rates in these areas should have been worse than other regions…What occurred was the exact opposite: The suburbs boomed and busted and went into foreclosure in much greater numbers than inner cities. The tiny suburbs and exurbs of South Florida and California and Las Vegas and Arizona were the big boomtowns, not the low-income regions. The redlined areas the CRA address missed much of the boom; places that busted had nothing to do with the CRA.

Michael Bloomberg recently revived this big lie by pinning the blame on Fannie and Freddie to draw attention away from his masters on Wall Street.

But the meme that the big bad government forcing innocent huge banks to loan to poor minorities was the central cause of the collapse is completely unsupported by the facts.

It’s a lie.

-Chris

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ayn Rand’s Unfinished Trilogy

This is hilarious!

Atlas Shrugged 2: Shrug Harder

-Chris

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

David Brin Reviews Atlas Shrugged (Book & Movie)

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...

Image via Wikipedia

A nice long dissection of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged by Libertarian and Science Fiction writer David Brin:

Atlas Shrugged: The Hidden Context of the Book and Film

Rather enjoyable!

His take on Randians:

The film then resumed a level of simplistic lapel-grabbing that many of us recall from our Rand-obsessed college friends — underachievers who kept grumbling from their sheltered, coddled lives, utterly convinced that they’d do much better in a world of dog-eat-dog. (Using my sf’nal powers, I have checked-out all the nearby parallel worlds where that happened; in those realms, every Randian I know was quickly turned into a slave or dog food. Sorry fellows.)

I can’t wait until Brin takes on “Avatar” which he has promised in the near future.

-Chris

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alabama Reaps What It Sowed

Great Seal of The State of Alabama

Alabama’s draconian new immigration law has caused an exodus of cheap labor and resulted in crops rotting on the vine, small businesses going belly up and tax revenues evaporating.

Well done!

From the New York Times:

Undocumented immigrants make up about 4.2 percent of Alabama’s work force, or 95,000 people in a state of 4.8 million. For all of the talk about clearing the way for unemployed Americans, there is no evidence that Alabamians in any significant numbers are rushing to fill the gap left by missing farm laborers and other low-wage immigrant workers.

So, Alabama is going to suffer some hard years, even if it miraculously decides to overturn the law.

It serves Alabamians right.

-Chris

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments t...

Image via Wikipedia

This piece on Salon.com today put me in mind of how conservatives view the Constitution.

Peter Van Buren opens by reminding everyone of the full text of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Citing the case of Morris Davis, a researcher at the Library of Congress who was fired for voicing his opinion in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, Van Buren reports:

On November 12, 2009, the day after his op-ed and letter appeared, Davis was told by his boss that the pieces had caused the library concern over his “poor judgment and suitability to serve… not consistent with ‘acceptable service’” — as the letter of admonishment he received put the matter. It referred only to his op-ed and Washington Post letter, and said nothing about his work performance as a researcher. One week later, Davis was fired.

Throughout cases like Morris’s, the adoption of the onerous provisions of the Patriot Act and the police response to Occupy Wall Street, conservatives have been noticeably silent — if not cheering on or dismissing police violence.

However, when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, they are adamant about defending one clause while sheepishly ignoring the first clause:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The Tea Party and other useful subsidiaries of the GOP are regularly in the streets tilting at ephemeral boogeymen they imagine are crouching in the bushes, just waiting to snatch all guns away.

This non-existent threat to the one clause of the amendment is a big money-maker for right-wing politicians and the National Rifle Association.

The right would have a proper Constitutional beef against President Obama if the openly criticized his continuation of the policies of the Patriot Act.

But they can’t.

Conservatives and their organs on cable television, radio, the blogosphere and in print were boisterously haranguing anyone on the left who dared to question these policies.

Protesters were called anti-American and we are seeing some of the same vitriol being used against the Occupy Wall Street folks.

So, while Obama record on civil rights and liberties leaves much to be desired, the field of candidates that would oppose him have all expressed little or no passion to support the actual Constitution, or want do institute polices that are clearly subversive.

Our rights are being steadily eroded, and nary a word is being said.

Meanwhile, in an environment where no action has been taken to strengthen gun laws, there is much howling.

By definition, vociferous factions of the GOP are campaigning for a self-fulfilling prophecy by ignoring real Constitutional erosion and calling for “Second Amendment remedies” to everything from parking tickets and –gasp– providing affordable healthcare to everyone.

-Chris

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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