Steel City Cowboy

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rep. Jason Altmire: Idiot

Before the November elections, House leaders allowed Democrats in "shaky" districts to vote against the majority on certain topics in order to retain their seats. My Rep. Jason Altmire (D-4th-PA), voted against the TARP bill, and made a big deal out of it. He won re-election. Of course, now that he's safe for a while, he's back on the stupid train. Yesterday, he voted to pass the almost $1 trillion "stimulus" package, which is better characterized as "a teensy tiny bit of stimulus underneath a giant stinking pile of badger dung."

Here's the letter I just sent to him (quotes are from his own web site):

"Economists from across the political spectrum agree that the fastest way to revive our economy is to put in place a robust, targeted and transparent economic recovery package that can create millions of new jobs,” you said. Unfortunately, that is not what you voted for. Economics have shown that tax cuts have a 3:1 return economically, while increases in spending show, at best a 1:1 return. This doesn't even mention the fact that the vast majority of the debt you voted for is simply going toward junk that in no way generates jobs or increases the quality of our national infrastructure. You continue: “Western Pennsylvania families will directly benefit from this legislation’s tax cuts and the funding it provides to repair our roads and bridges and modernize our schools." If that were all that was in the bill, I don't think there would be much argument about it. However, only around $90 billion of this stinker -- just over 10% -- is going to those things you mention. The rest is indefensible garbage. I've read the line item breakdown personally. And finally, you say "This economic recovery package is the path we need to take to pull our nation out of this recession.” So, you claim that the Federal government will pull our nation out of recession through this bill. Can you point out a single example in modern history where this has been the case? The best that government can do in recessionary times is to get out of the way -- i.e. tax cuts -- and let the people who actually work for a living do their jobs.

Finally, a look at your bullet points your website for this bill (H.R.1):

You claim: "Hard-working Pennsylvania families will get an immediate tax cut of $500 for individuals and $1000 for married couples." Is it really a tax cut? Which rate is being cut? Isn't this just a check in the mail? Please explain to me how simply giving out cash is a tax cut. A tax cut means that you lower (cut!) the rate of taxes, not that you collect the same level of taxes and later decide to issue checks.

You claim: "Small businesses and manufacturers will receive tax relief through extended small business expensing and an increase in the amount businesses can write off their taxes due to losses incurred over the last year." So, you're rewarding businesses that have taken a loss, but not ones that have done well. Do you have children? Do you know what happens when you reward failure and ignore success? And once again, "tax relief." If one requires "relief," it begs the question: relief from what? If a lowered tax burden is helpful to business, then why jump through these arcane hoops to get there? Just cut the tax rates. But that would mean you have less control, wouldn't it?

You state: "Pennsylvania will receive $1.5 billion to repair its highways and bridges and improve mass transit." So, even if the $852 billion in the bill were to be distributed equally among the states (which it won't), that would mean Pennsylvania would be in line for over $17 billion in funding. Most likely, it'll be distributed more closely with population, so PA will get even more than that. Do you find it odd that less than 10% of that amount is going to infrastructure, which is the way that this bill has been sold to the public? Where is the rest of that money going?

You state: "Schools serving children in Congressman Altmire’s district will receive nearly $60 million, which will help them repair, renovate, and modernize their facilities." I live in this district. Where the schools are weak, money isn't the problem, Jason. What strings come with this Federal cash? Won't this further addict local school districts to the Federal teat, making it harder still for them to say "no" when you yahoos in Washington increase your regulatory shenanigans?

Mr. Altmire, you and the rest of your Democratic friends in Congress own this heaping pile of crap one hundred percent. I will not just vote against you in the next election. I will now both donate to and volunteer for your opponent's campaign. You do not deserve to hold the office of Representative of the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.

Good day to you, sir.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just Can't Do It Anymore

Okay, comrades... er... folks. I can't do that anymore. It was fun, and I had more material, but in the end, there was other stuff I wanted to be saying that I couldn't say in faux hardcore communist mode.

So here it is, and on this day I think it's particularly appropriate:

You're doing it wrong.

When George Bush was elected in 2000, I tried to alleviate some of my Democrat friends' horrible fears by telling them "You're not going to be able to do anything tomorrow you couldn't do today, and vice versa." And mostly, that turned out to be true. Sure, we got to keep a little more of our hard-earned cash, and world events came to bear as they always do. But the advice was accurate then, and still is.

The President of the United States, despite the fact that people call him The Most Powerful Man in the World, Leader of the Free World, Our Country's Leader, etc. is really just the head of the Executive branch of the Federal government. That's it. The position has some very specific, clearly delineated duties, which, despite what raving liberal pontificators have been screaming for the last eight years, remains true to this day. All of those domestic things that President Bush "did," and all of the plans and domestic whatnot that has been ascribed to Presidents throughout history, almost all of it had to pass through Congress. All of those grand plans the candidates talk about -- they are just proposals for Congress. Remember that when you think "Obama is going to this" and "Obama is going to do that."

So, like, don't get too hopped up about a new President.

But look around and listen. It's a new hope! It's time to start believing in government again! Finally, we can feel good about our country! Yea!

Here's a little secret (and it's really no secret if you've read the Founding documents and the letters and papers surrounding them):

We're not supposed to like the government. At best, we're supposed to tolerate it. At best, it's a necessary evil. It's the Big Fist. The government is a gun. Something no one really wants to have to have, but in the end, find that we do. And just like a gun, it must only be used with discipline, rarely, and with great discernment.

The rules of gun ownership are simple:
  1. Every gun is loaded.
  2. Know your target and what's behind it.
  3. Never point your gun at something you're not willing to destroy.
I think those rules also apply to government.
  1. Every law, tax, regulation and beauracrat is ready to do damage, whether you think they're perfectly harmless or not.
  2. Before you use the power of the government to do something, makes absolutely sure of what you're using it for and the issues that surround it in case you plan doesn't work out like you hoped.
  3. Never, ever, ever let the government handle something unless you're okay with it resulting in a smoking crater.
With that in mind, shall we talk about using the government for "changing things for the better?"

Change and goodness come from individuals -- from people like you and me -- not from a set of blind rules.

Don't fall in love with the people who hold the government's reins. It puts on them what should be on you. It can fool you into believing that a gun is a flower. It can fool you into believing that the person who holds the power to change the world lives in Washington D.C., instead of in your own home.

Don't fall for it. Let the new President do his job. But remember that his job is actually relatively small compared to the job that you have of living your own life with compassion, honor and discipline.