Big Brother Wants to Track and Tax You

Gas prices suck. They are through the roof, and since most of the goods that we purchase rely on transportation to get them to us, the cost of everything is increasing. Due to the fact that I took two economics classes in college, I understand that this is due to supply and demand.

The supply of oil (relative to the demand) has dwindled; therefore the cost of it has gone up. Since the United States is sitting onvast untapped oil reserves, it would only make sense that we tap those. It could take up to ten years for us to see that oil in production, which causes many people to overlook our own resources as a potential solution to our supply problems.

Too bad our politicians thought that would take too long in 1996.That oil would be in our cars at this moment, and maybe gas wouldn’t cost over $4 a gallon.

Instead of trying to fix the supply and demand problem with more supply, the government seems keen on lessening our demand. The latest idea out of the Department of Transportation is to levy a tax on everyone based on the number of miles that they drive.

Read the rest at The Stir

Tax on Electric Cars Makes No Sense

Washington State has spent a lot of effort over the past few years enticing people to buy electric cars over old school gas-guzzlers. In addition to a tax incentive from the federal government, the state has exempted sales tax on the purchase of electric vehicles. In other words, it’s a great deal to buy a car that uses less gas.

People buy hybrid or electric cars for one of two reasons: To save money or to appear cool. People that actually want to save the planet ride bikes, not drive coal-powered cars.

To the hipsters, a tax on electric vehicles might not be a huge issue. These people might even feel that paying higher taxes for the privilege of driving a Prius makes them even cooler.

Read the rest at The Stir

Jesse Jackson Jr. Blames Apple and iPads for Lost Jobs

In a sharp turn from his promotion of “an iPad for every schoolchild” on the House floor last month, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. recently claimed that Apple has hurt our economy and cost usvaluable jobs with its innovative tablet computer.

Now Borders is closing stores because why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your newspaper, download your book, download your magazine.

And in news from 100 years ago, Henry Ford caused massive unemployment from horse and buggy manufacturing plants when he implemented the assembly line in his automobile factory to crank out Model-Ts.

Too bad we don’t use real horsepower as our primary mode of transportation anymore. I have extensive knowledge on the subject due to my vast collection of regency romance novels, and every girl worth her salt knows that the best way to seduce a duke is in a carriage.  Minivans have denied too many ladies ascension to royalty.

Read the rest at The Stir

High Gas Prices Make Me Want to Cry

This past weekend, my hubby and I decided to drag the kids to Costco after church on Sunday. We’re obviously masochists, I know. Our Costco has a gas station that sells fuel for about $.25 less per gallon than the average local station. When we pulled into the parking lot, the lines for these discount pumps were eight and nine cars deep.

People were waiting for half an hour or more to pay $3.75 per gallon of gas. I just hope they weren’t letting their engines idle — that sort of defeats the purpose. By the time we waded through the crowd in the warehouse store with our 12-pack of chicken breasts and so-cute-we-had-to-buy-them matching pajamas for the girls and were on our way home, the price of unleaded had gone up to $3.77.

Supply, demand, and speculation over the woes in the Middle East have contributed to some pretty pricey gasoline. Let’s face it: There’s a limited amount of oil in the world, more countries are developing industrially, and the place most everyone gets their oil from is, for better or worse, in the midst of a revolution.

Of course the cost of energy is going to go up. It’s written in The Law of Common Sense, right in between “what goes up must come down,” and “never stare down the barrel of a shotgun.” (You can find this book in the ‘Welcome Newbies’ section of the Republican bookstore, along with Facts Are Not Hard and A Convenient Truth.)

Read more at The Stir

Republican Governors Decline Federal Funds for High-Speed Rail

President Obama sets aside large chunks of change in his 2012 budget for research and development in high-speed railroads. Because throwing billions of dollars at a choo-choo train is exactly what it’s going to take to fix the economy and lower those unemployment numbers.

The recently released 2012 budget proposal allocates $53 billion over the next six years for high-speed rail projects across the country. So far, three Republican governors have said ‘no thanks’ to federal funds to implement the trains in their states.

On Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott joined his colleagues in Ohio and Wisconsin in rejecting more than $2 billion from the federal government for the rail project. Scott cited historically optimistic revenue projections and capital cost overruns in his decision. He stated:

The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits … higher taxes and more government spending is a recipe for disaster. Government has become addicted to spending beyond its means and we cannot continue this flawed policy … my background is in business, not politics. But you don’t have to be an economics expert to understand that if you spend more money than you take in, your business will fail.

Bravo to Governor Scott for turning down funds for a shiny new toy in his state. Thank goodness he has the good sense to recognize that the federal government’s place is not in research and development within the states. High-speed trains are pretty cool (those suckers go over 200 mph), but that’s irrelevant if it’s not profitable. With $14 trillion in national debt, now is not the time to be spending money on high-speed rail.

Read the rest at The Stir

RSS 101

It’s a miracle I have a blog. Seriously, I’m one of the biggest tech dunces in existences, and the fact that I have a social media presence on here and Twitter cracks me up on a daily basis. It just goes to show that anything is possible.

I’ve heard of this RSS feed stuff for years, but it sounded too complicated to try to figure out. “Add me to your RSS!” Someone would say to me, and I’d smile and nod like I knew what the heck I was talking about. I didn’t.

I do now — RSS has changed my life. I thought it was some sort of device you had to purchase, like an iPad. Or maybe there was some code you had to learn to program on your hard drive. I don’t know, I didn’t really think about it much because it sounded scary and intimidating and generally made me want to run for the hills and forget that Al Gore ever invented the internet.

Here’s the secret to RSS:

  • Go to www.google.com/reader
  • Set up an account (If you already have a Gmail account, just make sure you’re signed in)
  • Click ‘Add a Subscription’ and enter the url of a blog you like. I suggest www.JennyErikson.com.
  • Add more blogs!

BAM! If you want to see if your favorite blogs have updated, just go to your RSS Thingy Majigger. You can read them all right there on one webpage, or click to open them in their own pages.

It’s magical and wonderful.

Don’t be skeered!

PS – I still have no idea what ‘RSS’ actually means. I suppose I could Google it, but that sounds complicated. Or something.

The FCC & Net Neutrality: What Does It All Mean?

I saw a headline on Monday that made me do a double take: The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom: ‘Net neutrality’ sounds nice, but the Web is working fine now. The new rules will inhibit investment, deter innovation, and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers.

Net neutrality is something I hear a lot about, but have never taken much time to fully comprehend. Since it’s my job to stay abreast of political issues involving freedom and liberty (so really, all political issues), I knew that further research was necessary.

First — we must define net neutrality. After reading approximately 42 different websites on the subject, I think I have grasped the basic concept of network neutrality: It is the principle that Internet Service Providers (henceforth referred to as ISPs) not block or redirect services to consumers for their own financial gain. For example, AOL doesn’t block emails from Time Warner Cable accounts, but rather treats all emails as “neutral.”

This is where I started to get confused. To the best of my knowledge, my ISP doesn’t block or impede my access to any legal websites, but if it did, I would probably cancel my account and go with a different company. Since I’m geographically limited in my choices, I’d probably set up a mobile account with my cell phone company. Bottom line — in order to keep my business, it’s in my ISP’s best interest to keep me happy by not restricting my online access. So why in the world are we talking about implementing a system that already seems to be in effect?

Read more at The Stir

Keeping Our Skies Safe: Body Scans for Twelve-Year-Olds!

I must have missed the headline. Could someone please tell me the last time a 12-year-old girl detonated a bomb on an airplane in a suicidal terrorism mission in the name of Allah?

Obviously I missed a story somewhere, because apparently, pre-teens now pose a very real security threat to America.

From the St. Petersburg Times:

A Baltimore family is raising the issue [of body scanners] after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.

“Our daughter was scared and didn’t understand what was happening,” said Michelle Nemphos, the mother of the girl. She declined to give her daughter’s name. “In essence they conducted a strip search on a 12-year-old girl without her parents present to advocate for her.”

Or maybe, just maybe, 12-year-olds traveling from one U.S. city to another U.S. city with a friend’s family don’t pose security risks to our friendly skies.

Read More

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick

I didn’t get a chance to post about this yesterday. I was busy. Writing a new article for CafeMom The Stir, recording The Smart Girl Report, and it’s Easter break for Thing 1, so I had twice as many children to parent yesterday as I normally do. Plus I got my Master Card bill and had a stroke. Right after I hid the offensive document in the bottom of the toy box. Maybe Barbie will pay it for me. That chick has a dream house and a Corvette. She can afford it.

Or maybe bad guys will blow us up and it won’t matter whether or not I actually paid my credit card bill.

From Yahoo News:

Kicking off a hectic week for Obama’s nuclear agenda, his administration rolled out a strategy review that renounced U.S. development of new atomic weapons and could herald further cuts in America’s stockpile.

“We are taking specific and concrete steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons while preserving our military superiority, deterring aggression and safeguarding the security of the American people,” Obama said in remarks issued by the White House.

The United States for the first time is forswearing use of atomic weapons against non-nuclear countries, a break with a Bush-era threat of nuclear retaliation in the event of a biological or chemical attack.

But this comes with a major condition. Those countries would be spared a U.S. nuclear response only if they are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran and North Korea would thus not be protected.

So the only regimes we’ll actually consider nuking are ones that have or are developing nuclear weapons themselves? Ugh. Maybe President Obama should take a clue from President Teddy Roosevelt: Walk softly and carry a big stick. Ever since we developed nuclear weapons, we’ve had the biggest and the baddest. As it should be. We should always be a step ahead of everyone else.

Why is that a bad thing?

We don’t have to use them, but it’s good to know we could if we needed to. And guess what? It’s good for the bad guys to know that too. It sends a message to them: Don’t mess with us. You’ll regret it. We need a big stick so that we can wallop anyone that tries to knock us down.

It’s a difficult concept, I know. Almost as challenging as trying to understand that when you charge something, you eventually get the bill. Geez this administration is having a hard time adding two and two together. Must be that new math.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fold six loads of laundry. That or nuke it. I haven’t decided yet.

Infant Mortality Myths

I’ve gotten into some interesting debates over health care recently, and one of the things constantly thrown in my face is the rate of infant mortality in the US as opposed to other developed nations.  It’s true.  A higher percentage of infants die in the United States than in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and give or take about 30 more.  Even Cuba and Taiwan have lower rates of infant death.

Last April, The New York Times speculated that a possible reason for this is the number of premature babies born in the US.  In an October editorial, the same newspaper published this:

Infant mortality is associated with many factors, including the health and economic status of the mother, her race or ethnicity, access to quality medical care, and such cultural problems as rising obesity and drug use.

That makes it difficult to identify the cause of the United States’ poor performance. Some researchers blame an increase in premature births, many by Caesarean section. The chief lesson we draw is that the American health care system, despite the highest expenditures in the world, is badly in need of an overhaul.

Obviously, our health care isn’t as top notch as it is in other countries, with lower levels of infant deaths.  This is a very persuasive argument in favor of socialized health care, or a government option, or universal coverage, or whatever it’s being called this week.  Nothing quite as sad as a dead baby, is there?  We should try to be more like the countries with less dead babies!

Except for the fact that if a mother wants a shot at giving birth to a child, there is no better place in the world for her to achieve that goal than in the United States.  The CDC reports that the reason for so many infant deaths in the United States is the high rate of premature births.  That obviously has to do with the health of the mother and the prenatal care she received, doesn’t it?  Or maybe it has to do with the fact that the United States has the most advanced fertility treatments on the planet.  By definition, a woman unable to get pregnant on her own is considered “higher-risk” than normal.  That’s not to knock fertility treatments, because I think it’s amazing that people are able to have children using modern technology.  But let’s face the facts- women that can’t get pregnant on their own are most likely going to have a harder time staying pregnant.  Does that mean that we should deny a woman the chance to have a child of her own, because she is less likely to carry a pregnancy to term and she might bring our statistics down?

The United States also tops the list for keeping women pregnant longer.  Which means that there are many, many dead babies due to preterm labor that would have been labeled miscarriages, had the mother not used advanced medicine and technology to identify preterm labor and take action to stop it.  Should we not stop preterm labor in a 20 week fetus because the survival rate is zilch?  What if we can give that kiddo 2-4 more weeks in the womb?  The chances of survival at that point is something, if not high.  Or do we not even try, because the baby will probably die any way, and we don’t want to lower those statistics.

Speaking of miscarriages, let’s talk about how those death rate numbers compare.  In the US- EVERY baby born showing even the smallest sign of life (like a heart beat) is counted as a live birth, and usually “heroic” measures are taken to save that child.  In the UK, babies are not resuscitated if born before 24 weeks of pregnancy.  In the Netherlands, it’s 25 weeks.  In some parts of Switzerland, only babies longer than 30cm are counted as a live birth.  Germany, Canada, and France omit criteria set by WHO to determine live births, and also struggle with obtaining accurate birth records.

So I guess if the United States would just stop with the nonsense of trying to get infertile women pregnant, keeping woman with risky pregnancies pregnant, trying to save the babies if they’re born prematurely, and then if all intervention fails and the baby dies, actually calling it an infant death instead of a still birth, our infant mortality rate might be as low as Singapore’s.