Wednesday, December 22, 2010

25 years since D. Boon....

All over the web today, you will see a lot of Joe Strummer tributes, and deservedly so. Joe was a great musician and a great guy. But many of my thoughts today are elsewhere. D. Boon died 25 years ago today. Take a moment to remember the man. Ask yourself the pivotal question, "What would D. Boon do?" And never, ever forget that for a brief period of time, the Minutemen were the best band on the planet with the best damn album you (n)ever heard -- Double Nickels on the Dime. Then, if you're in the mood, you can go back and read my Minutemen tribute if you missed it the first time. Stop by here if you want to see a band ruthlessly attack two songs in under two minutes. Go here if you want to see six more detonated in under 12 minutes.  And then watch the trailer for the Minutemen documentary, "We Jam Econo," which is, not coincidentally, the best damn rock doc you (n)ever saw. I miss ya, D. I'll be playing Minutemen all day long, with brief Clash interludes, of course..

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas, hold the politics....

I like this time of year -- y'know Christmas time. I'm not a religiously-inclined person (but I'm OK with you whether you are or you aren't; in fact, I think everyone ought to be free to follow his or her own path in that regard without interference from anyone), but one thing baffles me -- people who get all wound one way or the other up about Christmas. Some of those people are followers of other religions; some are non-believers and probably some are liberal Christians who think that in order to accommodate every religious belief (or non-belief) we need to keep the foot of society firmly planted on the throat of Christmas so it doesn't get too, I dunno, Christmas-y? Others are really devout Christians who oh-so-sure there's an anti-Christian conspiracy out there trying to, what's the phrase, "take Christ out of Christmas" or something like that?

Look, at this point in history, particularly American history, Christmas is, from a public-policy/governmental perspective, a secular holiday. Governmental agencies, libraries, etc are all closed, and it's not because government is bowing down in homage to Jesus. It's because a whole lot of us, theists and otherwise, celebrate the holiday with family and friends and want a day off to do it. Yup, some of those people also celebrate for religious reasons; some just like hanging out with people they love and exchanging gifts. Whatever floats yer boat. What's more punk-rock than a little freedom to celebrate a holiday as just a holiday or, if you choose, a holy day?

So why do some people get so bent out of shape about either the phrase "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays," hmmm? May I suggest that both camps need to get a life? Very few (OK, none?) of the people wishing you, the non-Christian, a "merry Christmas" are in fact speaking code that says, "Have a great day (improperly) celebrating a Christian holy day (jackass)!" They are just wishing you a nice Christmas day, season, etc. That's all. They are being nice. They aren't implying that you do (or ought to) believe in any Christian tenets. Conversely, those who wish you, the devout Christian, a "happy holiday" are not secretly speaking in code that says, "Jesus is dumb. You are dumb. I hate Christianity. Why do you believe that stuff, anyway?"

Lighten up, kids, and just enjoy a great time of year. You could spend more time being nice to people that way, which would fit in well with the season no matter what you believe in.

Merry Christmas. Happy holidays.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I like the idea; let's see if it has any impact at all
It's a fascinating concept. Don't lose your political point of view or your passion. Just lose the vehemence and anger. I'll be watching closely to see if it picks up steam because I certainly like the idea.

I do not understand the estate tax, Sam-I-am

Libertarian-ish types often get wound up about taxes. I'm not really one of those people. Sure, I like my taxes low, but I also get that there are many essential services to pay for. Unlike my liberal friends, I would consider replacing the income tax with a value-added/sales tax on consumption. Unlike conservatives, tax policy isn't the first thing I generally rail about. I never thought the Bush tax cuts in the middle of a war were a good idea, but, now that we are clearly still in an economic downturn, I can't see repealing 'em either. But, by and large, I am somewhere in the middle on taxes.

With one exception....

I simply do not understand the principle behind the estate tax, and, so, I don't think there should be one. Ever. Liberals get bent out of shape when you call it a "death tax," but that's exactly what it is. See, the estate tax is not an "inheritance tax." It doesn't tax the people who get the money passed on to them. Rather, it taxes the dead guy's (or gal's) money before the estate is ever split up. Literally the act of dying causes the feds to swoop in and say, "Before you start distributing that, give the government its share."


I understand income taxes. You earned some money; pay your share. But how does dying constitute a taxable event? No money was earned by the dead guy (the estate) for dying. And the money was already taxed when it was earned. And, yes, I know that only estates over a certain size pay the tax (actually in 2010, no one paid, and that's how it ought to stay, but word is that the compromise currently being struck will have the feds taking 35% of every estate over $5 million), but unless your goal is federally mandated wealth redistribution (I think we can all guess how I feel about government having that sort of power), the estate tax is an abomination -- some sort of atavism to the days when the king came riding through to take his little (or not so little) bit of everything.

It's theft, plain and simple.

So, don't get sucked in by the (Sen, I-VT) Bernie Sanders-ish types of the world who include the reinstatement of the estate tax in their laundry list of Things That Have To Happen To Achieve True Justice. That's crap, complete crap. A government that can take anyone's money for the simple act of dying is a government that has way too much power.