The U.S. income boost shell game

The government of the United States is playing a dangerous shell game with our money. Look at the headline above. This is the fakest of fake news that I have ever read. It gets even worse in the article.

U.S. household income jumped 10% in January as the government delivered stimulus payments to households and consumer spending rose 2.4%, priming the economy for a burst in growth this year.

The increase in income was the second largest on record, eclipsed only by last April’s increase when the federal government sent an initial round of pandemic-relief payments, the Commerce Department said Friday. January’s rise in consumer spending was the first since October.

Under a $900 billion stimulus program signed by former President Donald Trump in late December, the federal government has been sending one-time cash payments of $600 to most households. It also has been paying jobless workers $300 a week on top of their normal unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, job growth resumed in January after a drop in December. And higher-income households, unable to travel or dine out, have built up a high level of savings.

Wall Street Journal

This is the government sending money to citizens. Where do they get this money? From us. Except the federal government isn’t redistributing wealth this time around. There isn’t enough money in existence to take from one taxpayer to give to another. They’re printing this. This money is created out of whole cloth. Trump is just as guilty as Biden, Obama, Bush, and others with this.

If we buy into the premise that American incomes get boosted by stimulus passed by congress I propose a stimulus of $1,000,000 per person. We can instantly create 300 million millionaires!! Think of the income and economic growth from that.

One day there will be no money to put under another shell for you to find. Or the money you do find will be equivalent to those million dollar Zimbabwe bucks.

Meet the new U.S. Dollar

Georgia vs. Illinois on gun ownership

I have been living in Georgia for about four months and the differences between here and Illinois become more stark every day. A great example is obtaining a firearm concealed carry permit. It’s called a weapons carry license (WCL) in Georgia.

In Illinois you have to first obtain a Firearms Owner’s Identification (FOID) card. You can’t do anything firearms related without it. You can’t legally purchase a gun or ammunition if you don’t have this card. If you want to carry a gun for personal protection then you also have to obtain a Concealed Carry License (CCL). It’s only $10.00 for the FOID card but it’s a whopping $150.00 for the CCL. And it doesn’t end there. Illinois requires 16 hours of training and of course that’s not free. That will run about $250 plus 2 days of your time. What’s your time worth? Let’s go with the latest push for $15/hour minimum wage and 8 hour days. That’s equal to $240.00. All in, including your time, it costs around $650.00 to carry a firearm for self-defense.

In Georgia you don’t need anything to purchase a firearm or ammunition.

You do not need a WCL to purchase a firearm, only to carry one in certain situations.

You’re treated like a responsible adult citizen in Georgia rather than a potential criminal that wants to go out and shoot things up. In Georgia the process is simple. You need to be a citizen or permanent resident, have a valid state ID or driver’s license, complete a simple application, get fingerprinted, and pay $73.25. There is a background check and if all is well within 90 days you have your license. Snip, snap, done.

The strict gun laws in Illinois and Chicago haven’t done a damn thing to stop violent crimes committed with guns. They continue unabated. The politicians blame other state’s for Illinois’ inability to control crimes committed with guns. With the current government it’s going to get a lot harder. Governor Fat Blagojevich (aka J.B. Pritzker) and the Democrat majority in the General Assembly passed a law that will end cash bail. The bill was 700 pages and must have been bad because they had to pass it in the middle of the night during a lame duck session before new representatives were seated.

Republican lawmakers also roundly criticized the effort, with GOP Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove, a former assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, calling the measure “hyperpartisan.”

“This 700-plus page proposal was rammed through in the middle of the night with just hours left in a lame-duck session without the transparency and discourse expected in a democratic process,” Curran said in a statement.

Chicago Tribune

Illinois doesn’t want its residents to have firearms for protection, they make you pay dearly for it if you do, and with the laws these people pass you’ll need it. And they wonder why the state is losing residents.

Image by Jabbacake from Pixabay

40 months in an Iranian prison because he believed what he was taught

I don’t wish anyone 40 months in an Iranian prison. It is rather ironic, however, that he ended up there because he believed the anti U.S. propaganda he was taught in U.S. academia. It’s like when you think you’re awake and then you actually wake up to reality.

When I went to Iran, I shared the prevailing academic view of the Middle East. I had absorbed the oft-repeated lesson that political Islam arose in response to Western colonialism and imperialism, and that the West—particularly America’s Middle East behavior—was chiefly responsible for the region’s chaos. My professors taught that the U.S. had treated Iran with a mixture of Orientalist condescension and imperialist aggression since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979. I believed America’s role in the 1953 coup that removed Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh explained everything that had gone wrong in Iran. Convinced that the mullahs’ hostility toward the U.S. was exaggerated, I often dismissed allegations of the regime’s malign behavior as American propaganda.

Wall Street Journal

My terrible 40-month imprisonment was a period of intense re-education about the relationship between Iran and the U.S. The Islamic Republic is an ambitious power, but not a constructive one. It’s a spoiler, projecting influence by exporting revolution and terrorism via its proxies in the Middle East. Domestically, the mullahs have failed to deliver on their political and economic promises to the Iranian people, on whom they maintain their grip through oppression.

Nothing I’d learned during my years in the ivory towers of academia had prepared me for the reality I encountered in an Iranian prison. I learned what many Iranians already know: The regime’s hostility toward the U.S. isn’t reactive, but proactive, rooted in a fierce anti-Americanism enmeshed in its anti-imperialist ideology. As I witnessed firsthand, Tehran isn’t interested in normalizing relations with Washington. It survives and thrives on its self-perpetuated hostility against the West; a posture that has been integral to the regime’s identity.

Wall Street Journal

The world is not friendly to us. We have to watch out for ourselves. There is no utopia. 

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Why Georgia needs to remain red

I come from Illinois where the government never met a tax or fee it didn’t like. Living in Illinois for 53 years, never has a proposal been pushed to reduce taxes of any kind. We had one case where the state raised the income tax rate from 3% to 5% then rolled it back to 3.75% for two years. This only happened because the huge percentage increase was shocking to people. But the shock quickly wore off because the state increased it again to 4.95% where it sits today.

This takes me to Georgia where I currently reside. During 2020 when the nation was shut down Georgia cut it’s budget to weather the storm.

… lawmakers cut state spending by $2.2 billion because they feared tax collections would plummet due to the COVID-19 recession.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Illinois did no such thing. Georgia instituted a soft lockdown that didn’t completely destroy the state’s economy. Illinois had strict lockdowns all across the state crippling its already virtually bankrupt position. Georgia had better than forecast revenues into the state. Illinois also did better than forecast but the economy still cratered because there were no cuts to spending. Here’s where things get strange for me. Georgia is proposing to return money to the taxpayers.

Almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic sent the economy tumbling and forced Georgia lawmakers to reduce spending, a revenue recovery has state House leaders looking to cut state income taxes.

House Ways and Means Chairman Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, filed legislation this week to increase the standard deduction Georgians can take when they do their income taxes. By reducing the amount of income taxed, House Bill 593 would cut what’s owed by millions of Georgians who use the standard deduction when they fill out their returns.

“It’s the fairest way to help the most people keep more of their money,” Blackmon said. “If we are able to afford it, we ought to let people keep some more of their money.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

What a concept! It’s fair to help people keep more of their money?? I’ve heard of these things happening before but never experienced it. The news story was even fairly reported. Nothing about “how will we pay for this tax cut” baloney. If Georgia becomes controlled by the Democrat Party I will guarantee this state will never see this sort of thing again. The majority of my life Illinois was controlled by the Democrats at almost all levels of government. It resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded public employee pensions that are draining the taxpayers dry.

I just might like it here.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Actual government censorship is coming

The First Amendment to the Constitution reads, “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.” COVID-19 knocked out religion and the freedom to assemble. The 2020 election knocked out the redress of grievances since the courts refuse to hear the cases Trump brought before them. Now Congress is ready to take the next step and kill off freedom of speech.

Tomorrow there will be a Congressional hearing on free speech… or I should say a hearing against free speech.

Free speech scholars argue that for a democracy to function, informed debates and the marketplace of ideas must be able to work off of a shared set of facts. Many experts agree that dangerous disinformation about the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) and the 2020
presidential election has greatly intensified an already deadly public health crisis, further divided the nation, and fomented an insurrection.
While much of the blame has been placed on the widespread disinformation on social media platforms, industry participants have also noted that broadcast and cable outlets have played a role in the spread of disinformation.

What are the “shared set of facts” we’re supposed to be debating? The Russian collusion hoax? The Ukraine impeachment hoax? The Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax? That last one is supposedly the entire reason Joe Biden ran for president.

We all knew that the slippery slope was started when social media companies started de-platforming people for disagreeing with people’s opinion on the 2020 election, COVID-19 lockdowns, COVID-19 treatments, and COVID-19 vaccines. Now Congress is moving into actual censorship territory.

Experts have noted that the right-wing media ecosystem is “much more susceptible…to disinformation, lies, and half-truths.” Right-wing media outlets, like Newsmax, One America News Network (OANN), and Fox News all aired misinformation about the November 2020
elections. For example, both Newsmax and OANN “ran incendiary reports” of false information following the elections and continue to support “an angry and dangerous subculture [that] will continue to operate semi-openly.” As a violent mob was breaching the doors of the Capitol, Newsmax’s coverage called the scene a “sort of a romantic idea.” Fox News, meanwhile, has spent years spewing misinformation about American politics. These same networks also have been key vectors of spreading misinformation related to the pandemic. A media watchdog found over 250 cases of COVID-19 misinformation on Fox News in just one five-day period, and economists demonstrated that Fox News had a demonstrable impact on non-compliance with public health guidelines. One online platform suspended and demonetized OANN’s channel online because it was spreading COVID-19 misinformation. Newsmax has amplified allegations that members of the Chinese Communist Party helped to develop the COVID-19 vaccine.

Letter to AT&T from members of Congress

Hmmm… I see no mention of CNN’s coverage of the “mostly peaceful” protests while cities were literally burning behind the reporter.

Does this qualify as misinformation or disinformation?

What the Democrat majority Congress is doing is very dangerous here. Make absolutely no mistake that no good can come of this intimidation.


The “N-word” is so toxic you get fired for just debating its use

We’ve reached the point in American society where a single word (we’re talking about the dreaded and oh so powerful “N-word”) is so toxic that not only can you not use it in any context you can’t even debate the IDEA of a legitimate use by non-black people (aka also known as white people).

The online publication Slate has suspended a well-known podcast host after he debated with colleagues over whether people who are not Black should be able to quote a racial slur in some contexts.

Mike Pesca, the host of “The Gist,” a podcast on news and culture, said in an interview that he was suspended indefinitely on Monday after defending the use of the slur in certain contexts. He made his argument during a conversation last week with colleagues on the interoffice messaging platform Slack.

New York Times

To elevate a slur to such heights only serves to give that word more power. It’s just a word. It can’t do anything to anyone. Yes, the word has the nastiest of legacies. But, in 2021, if you have a negative response to its use by people, other than black people, that is really in your control more than anyone else’s.

Mr. Pesca, who has worked at Slate for seven years, said he was “heartsick” over hurting his colleagues but added, “I hate the idea of things that are beyond debate and things that cannot be said.”

New York Times

What’s next? Looking at someone and firing them because they look like they’re thinking it?

Image by 95C from Pixabay

Let’s disband Congress

What is the point of Congress? Why do we keep them around? They are no longer needed to declare war. They are no longer needed to make law. Their committee hearings never reach any meaningful resolutions. They almost always vote along partisan lines. So what exactly is their purpose other than sucking up taxpayer dollars?

I conducted a quick search to see if I could find the total cost of Congress on an annual basis. If someone has done the estimation I can’t find it. At least I can’t find anything current or a running tally.

The best information I found is from Daily Kos in 2013…

Here are the VERY basic costs – for each of the 535 members of Congress as well as the total amounts and total total…

Base Salary for each member $174,000
Office and Staff allowance, per member (avg) $1,353, 205
Expenses, per member $256,574
Total base salary $93,090,000
Total offices and staff (Basic) $573,900,000
Total expenses, basic $137,267,090
Total combined for ALL Congress $804,247,090

Daily Kos

And CNN Money from 1992

The cost of operating the U.S. Congress plus its 38,696-person support staff has zoomed from $343 million in fiscal 1970 to an estimated $2.8 billion for 1992 — an astounding 705% rise, more than double the 311% in crease in defense spending over the same period. This chart shows the money spent in 1970, 1980 and 1992 by the House of Representatives, the Senate and related agencies such as the General Accounting Office. The agencies, which are all funded by Congress, posted the greatest spending in creases — 776%, vs. 629% for the House and Senate combined.


The CNN article from 1992 is more comprehensive and covers everything Congress related so I will use that estimate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics $1.89 in 2021 is equal to $1.00 in 1992. That’s how much our purchasing power has diminished in the last 30 years. But, that’s a side issue. Using that calculation $2.8 billion in 1992 is a whopping $5.3 billion in today’s dollars. Are we getting our money’s worth?

That was a rhetorical question.

What spurred this idea is an article in the Wall Street Journal today regarding the United States re-entering the Paris Climate Accords. They report that the Biden Administration will implement much of the policy changes while bypassing Congress.

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden is committing the U.S. without submitting the Paris agreement to the Senate as a treaty. They know it would never get a two-thirds vote for approval, and probably not even a simple majority. Yet the Administration will cite Paris to justify sweeping environmental regulations to raise the cost of fossil fuels and subsidize renewable energy and electric vehicles. It will bypass Congress for much of this.

Wall Street Journal

If Presidents are de facto kings we elect for 4 years then why not recognize that and get rid of Congress?


The world is locked down because of a 14 year old’s science project in 2006

In 2006 a 14 year old kid dreamed up a science fair exhibit for limiting the spread of influenza. The problem is her father was a scientist that built mathematical models and decided to help her with her project. They tried to illustrate how the virus would spread in a population.

It was about that time that Dr. Mecher heard from Robert J. Glass, a senior scientist at Sandia in New Mexico who specialized in building advanced models to explain how complex systems work — and what can cause catastrophic failures.

Dr. Glass’s daughter Laura, then 14, had done a class project in which she built a model of social networks at her Albuquerque high school, and when Dr. Glass looked at it, he was intrigued.

Students are so closely tied together — in social networks and on school buses and in classrooms — that they were a near-perfect vehicle for a contagious disease to spread.

Dr. Glass piggybacked on his daughter’s work to explore with her what effect breaking up these networks would have on knocking down the disease.

The outcome of their research was startling. By closing the schools in a hypothetical town of 10,000 people, only 500 people got sick. If they remained open, half of the population would be infected.

“My God, we could use the same results she has and work from there,” Dr. Glass recalled thinking. He took their preliminary data and built on it by running it through the supercomputers at Sandia, more typically used to engineer nuclear weapons. (His daughter’s project was entered in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2006.)

New York Times

This lead to a 2007 blueprint of the current world wide police state in which we are all now living under.

The George W. Bush Administration’s initial intention was to use this blueprint in the even of an attack on the U.S. with biological weapons.

The idea of a full lockdown of society in the event of a pandemic first emerged as an extremist proposal in 2006, issued by a computer scientist as part of George W. Bush’s preparations for biowarfare. It provoked a fierce response by the world’s leading epidemiologist Donald Henderson and his colleagues. That proposal, issued by Robert Glass under the influence of his daughter’s high school science fair project (yes, it thanks Neil Ferguson for comments), would sit for 14 years before being deployed in some form during the political panic of March 2020. 

American Institute for Economic Research

Here’s the kicker… the science project on which all this nonsense is based ONLY WON THIRD PRIZE!!

Her project, based on computer simulations of human interaction, impressed the judges enough to win her third place in the medicine and health category at the Intel fair that year.

Albuquerque Journal

Why are we are setting public policy on the notions of children? Adults use children and seemingly plausible and sensible ideas that sound good to achieve their own ends. The education systems of the world teach blind obedience to authority rather than critical thinking. This leads to an ignorant population which leads to an easy subjugation of the population. Your rights were taken away on an unproven whim.

The entire world economy was brought to its knees by the ideas of a 14 year old kid. Yes, the ideas were born from wanting good things for the world. But, as the cliché goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.


COVID-19 is done in Georgia. Open this place up!

Zero deaths over the last two days. Single digits since the middle of February.

The Atlanta Journal has a COVID-19 Dashboard. It shows that COVID-19 in the State of Georgia is done and has been now since the beginning of February. Open this place up and knock it off with the constant drumbeat about masks. Let’s get back to normal.

The chart above shows the number of deaths reported by the day they occurred. The number of deaths have been in the single digits now since the middle of February. It’s also way below anything experienced in April and May of 2020.

New hospitalizations are also at zero and have largely remained below anything last year since the beginning of February. Also the January peak never reached last summer’s peak.

Confirmed cases are also down. There still is no information with regard to the PCR test cycle threshold being used. I wonder if they lowered the threshold below 35 now instead of the 40 they were using prior to the election.

This thing is over. It’s time to stop the nonsense and go back to living life.

Technology Thoughts

China silences its bloggers

I’ve written a couple of times on freedom of speech on the Internet and how its going to be taken away.


And here

The threats of regulating and licensing speech are real and we’ve heard the increasing drumbeat of it in the last year. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more de-platforming people for what they say, entire sites like Parler getting de-facto removed from the web by Amazon, Apple, and Google, and the blackballing of a sitting President of the United States (yes Trump was still President when he got blackballed) from all of social media, we have moved dangerously close to increasing the cost of speech on the Internet. I suspect we will follow China’s lead as we did with COVID-19 lockdowns and it will have a chilling effect across the Internet that will only benefit existing media, social media, and Internet giants.

Beginning next week, the Cyberspace Administration of China will require bloggers and influencers to have a government-approved credential before they can publish on a wide range of subjects. Some fear that only state media and official propaganda accounts will get permission. While permits have been needed since at least 2017 to write about topics such as political and military affairs, enforcement has not been widespread. The new rules expand that requirement to health, economics, education and judicial matters.

Associated Press

The culmination of COVID-19 and the controversy of government lockdowns and rushed vaccines caused social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to either flag posts as misinformation or outright remove content from their platforms. It wasn’t done by government but by these organizations privately. Is it legal? Sure. Is it right? Absolutely not.

But how is this going to get applied to the rest of us? The push for “net neutrality” will mean a government takeover of the Internet with regulation. The push has been on for years. I suspect the FCC at some point will step in and nothing will be safe. They will eventually require everyone to have a license to publish content that is publicly accessible from the Internet. That means websites, blogs, social media, and even podcasts.

Podcasts, the last bastion of free expression. It’s the hardest to moderate (because there are no moderators for independent podcasts) and the hardest to regulate and will come under increased scrutiny. We already have media organizations like ProPublica and The Verge posting stories about this. So-called journalists are advocating for less free speech because they believe that some speech is right and other speech is wrong. What they don’t get, and I blame our piss poor education system, is that one day it will be applied to them.

While social media companies have become more willing over the past few months to censor accounts that engage in hate speech, podcasts are still largely unmoderated. Part of that has to do with the industry’s structure: The main podcast portals merely index the shows, like Google indexes websites. Despite canceling Bannon’s YouTube channel, Google Podcasts still indexes “War Room.” (Apple accounts for more than half of the number of podcast streams, with Spotify a distant second.)


A disparate network of companies makes up the podcasting world, including apps, hosting services, sales teams, and networks. Moderation will need to happen across these companies to be effective, and in this current moment, that effort doesn’t work the way it does at tech monoliths like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, which can remove someone with a push of a button. Put simply, podcasting isn’t ready for full-scale, widespread moderation — if that’s even what the industry wants.

The Verge

Broadcast, print, cable, big tech, and big social media will align forces to raise the barrier to entry for independent content producers (“creators” if you like). I believe they will put pressure on the government to introduce regulations over the Internet in order to prevent Joe Schmo from publishing his thoughts and gaining an audience. Their motives won’t be to prevent “misinformation” or “fake news” it will be to protect their advertising revenue and prevent competition from being able to gain a foothold.

Right now absolutely anyone can start a website, blog, or podcast with virtually no extra money than they already spend every month. You can get your own domain name, host your site, and launch your podcast for less than $20/month using services such as Dreamhost (where this blog is hosted) and using a laptop or a phone. That’s literally all you need to start. If you want to do it for nothing you can use free services like WordPress to host your site and use a public computer at a library.

Once the heavy hand of government comes down all that goes out the window. I used to be in broadcasting. The book of regulations is huge. The cost of licensing, maintaining your license, and complying with regulations is huge. Bring that model to the Internet and independent voices will be relegated to dark corners of the Internet or be found on local street corners or town centers handing out pamphlets.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by harshahars from Pixabay