Taxes should be a fee for services rendered, not a penalty for success.

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

With the hullabaloo about the fiscal cliff and April 15th on its way, it’s time again to think about taxes. I know you would rather slide down a fire pole covered in razor blades and battery acid than think about Uncle Sam’s yearly dues, but we can be the instruments of change. If liberty minded people can inject a little logic and reason into the somewhat socialist-minded which currently dominate our media, Senate, White House, and any number of voting blocks, change can happen.Uncle Sam

So with that in mind, let’s talk first about what taxes are for. The government is an extension of the people here in the United States. Everything our government does should be a service that you and I have elected them to do at our behest. We pay these folks for services rendered through taxes levied.

In the private sector, when we hire someone to do a job, they name their price, and we pay it. However, let me provide an example of what they don’t say:

How much do you make? Oh, you make $200,000 a year? Well in that case, I’m going to charge you $10,000. I know I only charged your neighbor $5,000, but he only makes $100,000 a year. I’m sure you understand.

I know that exchange sounded ridiculous because it is. But imagine the next person you hire to perform a service for you asking how much you make before giving their estimate. If you tell me that your response would be remotely different from, “none of your damn business” I’m going to call you a liar. Yet this is exactly how our tax system works, and we tolerate it year after year.

We the people must demand a complete overhaul to our tax system based on consumption, not income. Income taxes, property taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes should be constitutionally abolished via an amendment, and all taxes should be attained by only two methods. A fee for services, such as when we buy license plates, or a consumption tax on commerce. Since the government provides infrastructure and protection so that we can conduct such commerce; that’s a more fair method.

The reasons this makes far more logical sense are numerous, so I’ll do my best to enumerate a few:

First, an income tax is a penalty for success, whereas a consumption tax is a fee for services rendered. In America, the land of opportunity, we shouldn’t be penalizing people for being successful, we should be encouraging it.

The Fair Tax is probably the most comprehensive proposal along these lines, but I haven’t read it all completely and am not necessarily endorsing it; however, it certainly seems better than the monstrosity we have now.fairtax[1]

Those who feel it would raise taxes on the poor may not be aware that they proposed a prebate to cover the taxes that would be applied to the basic needs of every American, so that in effect, your first $3,500 in taxes for instance (A made up number for purposes of this debate) would be paid for you up front. If you decide to spend more, those taxes are your responsibility.

I think we’ve all seen examples of wasteful spending from those who shouldn’t be doing so. Have you seen someone who has $2,000 wheels and a $5,000 stereo in a $500 car, yet never seems to have a money for the things that matter. I had one such example ask me for $5 at a convenience store.Random Hoopty

Second, those with money would still pay a higher tax rate because they buy more goods and conduct more commerce. It would effectively be a progressive system as it is currently; except now, there wouldn’t be write-offs and loopholes to take advantage of. Businesses would pay taxes on the products they buy, as well as consumers. Everyone benefiting from government services, is now contributing their equitable share, without anyone getting taxed twice.

Third, The IRS is massively reduced as a result, no more stress of getting your taxes done before tax day and what you might owe, and no more worrying about when and how you have to pay taxes.

For instance, if a family member helps you financially by giving you money, you won’t have to worry about reporting that. If someone is gifted or wins an expensive item like a car or a home makeover, they no longer have to sell that car or home just to pay the income taxes on it. Sadly, these beneficiaries of goodwill and fortune often end up losing all they have won or been given because of the income taxes owed. I’d like to think that reasonable people find this appalling.

Plue, there are many instances were you are expected to know what and when to pay that many are either ignorant of, or purposefully don’t report, in order to cheat.

Fourth, Imagine getting all of your paycheck instead of the 1/2 – 2/3 you get now, and then you decide what you’ll pay in taxes by how much you spend on goods and services out of that paycheck. If it was a bad week, you only buy the essentials, and thus you pay no tax, presuming we wouldn’t levy food and water.

The last point I’d like to make, which could be the most important of all—no more freeloaders. We all know that there are citizens and non-citizens who often work under the table or are involved in criminal enterprise and thus pay no income taxes. All of a sudden, the people gaming the system and not putting their two cents in (literally), will be compelled to pay their share for the services the government provides them too.

Sadly Republicans and Democrats alike seem to dismiss such a system. Libertarianism is catching on in the United States though, and this was part of their platform. Sharing this story and information about the Fair Tax on Twitter, Facebook, et al., will hopefully help to get a consumption and fee based tax system to take hold in the marketplace of ideas; furthering the national discussion. This should not be a partisan issue since the rate and prebates can be set at whatever number the current legislature decides.

However, it is a radical change; thus, a tough row to hoe. But if we passed the radical overhaul to our healthcare system, known as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), we can certainly achieve change as logical as a consumption tax if clear thinking Americans make some noise.

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No one is worth that amount of money! What Dictates Someone’s Payscale?

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

This last election showed that painting those with money out to be people who have unfairly attained wealth at the expense of the masses is sadly resonating here in America. We are supposed to be the land of opportunity; where one can achieve as much success as their imagination, hard work, and risk can take them. Yet once they do, the quasi-socialists of today attack instead of praise, and the masses harbor jealousy and animosity instead of admiration and respect.

One of the arguments that irritates me like sand encrusted toilet paper is the no-one-should-be-worth-that-much argument. Fairytales like Robin Hood and almost every movie with a happy ending have ingrained us to believe that just by being altruistic, hard-working, and smart, you should achieve fame and fortune.Robin Hood

The reality is that Robin Hood would have likely been shot, and rightly so—he’s a thief. Hard work doesn’t come close to guaranteeing you a better living—it most often just leads to more hard work. Altruism is hardly a harbinger of hope for wealth neither. Do you know of any active duty soldiers listed on the Forbes 500 list? Neither do I.

So do the socialists have a point? Let’s apply some logic with a side of skepticism.

Are people who are rich stealing from the poor? I mentioned I don’t know of any soldiers on the Forbes 500, but I don’t know of any career criminals on there either. Contrary to the Hollywood portrayal of high-profile con artists, et al., the fact is that most thieves are broke and about two steps away from a lengthy prison stay. So they certainly don’t make up the 2%.

Are they taking advantage of the poor by paying them less than what they are worth? Anyone with a modicum of understanding in regards to economic history knows that companies competing in a free market yield a better product at a lower cost. But what people so often fail to realize is that employees are competing in a free market too. If a person goes to work somewhere, and the company doesn’t pay well, most go work somewhere else. Companies who have a reputation for thrift eventually only get the dregs of the working world applying, and then it’s not long before they go out of business at the mercy of companies who opted to treat their employees better.

Business moguls of a past era such as Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and John D. Rockefeller were not competing in a free market; they were collusionists and monopolists. But we Americans created laws to protect the consumer from capitalists who endeavored to destroy the free market over a century ago by passing anti-trust laws and prohibiting collusion. There’s likely no one left that has been taken advantage of in such a way.

Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller
Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller

So then why are NFL players paid millions while soldiers are paid modest 5-figure salaries? I’ve struggled with this one for a while, because I don’t feel good about it either. As I racked my brain for answers, it dawned on me that the number one factor in what people get paid is irreplaceability. If we’re talking about entrepreneurs; add risk to that.

I know the anti-capitalists on the left hate corporate bosses, but the fact is that every one who has ever dreamed, has dreamed of owning their own business or being independently wealthy. So let’s logically draw the scenario out. If you started your own company, and within that company you had a need for a job that was fairly rudimentary, would you pay someone a fortune to do it? Of course not. You would hire a person at a low wage, because no matter how dirty, altruistic, or physically demanding that job might be, if you are 99% sure you could train a gorilla to do it, why would you pay anyone more? If the person doing it leaves, it’s pretty easy to plug a new person into the mix and have them trained and running in little time.

However, if your new business involved a biological research lab which required someone with a background in the study of the molecular structure of cancerous cells and how they react to radiation exposure, you can’t just grab a homeless guy off the street and hope for the best, can you?

So when we look at most everyone who is employed, the more money they make is in direct correlation with how easy it would be to replace them. As much as it pains me to say this, many have the abilities required to be a school teacher, police officer, or a soldier. It is not however easy to find a guy who can jump three feet, catch a football in one hand, while being tackled, and yet somehow have the wherewithal to reach out his toes to get both feet in-bounds. It aches my heart to know an athlete makes more than a soldier, but my logic generally holds true.Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks

When it comes to entrepreneurs, I mentioned the addition of risk. Any gambler or stock investor will tell you that if you want to make a million dollars, you have to start with 10 million. Those who have only seen movies about gamblers and investors have been duped by Hollywood into believing that you can put up a dollar and win millions. You might think the lottery disproves this, but the fact is that for every one million won, there are several million lost. Entrepreneurs make money by risking almost all that they have on an idea that they think you the consumer will consider irreplaceable, such as your smart phone that you can’t live without. Therefore, irreplaceability + risk = success.

So the bottom line is that hard work is only a good way to not get fired, altruism is a good way to be loved by many, and intellect is merely a good foundation for success, but only if applied in such a way as to make you more irreplaceable.

If you want to make a fortune, you must find a way to become one in a million. If you really want to make a fortune, put your bank account, home, and first-born at risk and invent something irreplaceable. But all that being said, virtue is its own reward, and as long as you are happy in your career, and you feel good about who you are as a person, try being happy instead of jealous for those who have attained more than you. As long as they did you no harm, there’s no logical reason to advocate taking what they’ve achieved away from them or hating them for achieving a success greater than your own. The American dream isn’t just for you—stop being selfish. If you must have an emotion about them, try being motivated to be like them instead of tearing them down.

Gun Owners and Women Drivers Must Be Stopped!

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Sadly, anti-gun nuts have reached a new low in America. They’ve decided that your personal information as a gun owner should be made public, regardless of the risk it imposes upon you. Apparently, exercising your rights under the Constitution is now akin to being a sexual predator to these zealots since they feel in both cases, the public should be aware of who you are and where you live.

Blog1The Journal News in New York, in order to further its hateful agenda, decided to publish the locations of all registered handgun permit holders in the Westchester and Rockland counties without disclosing any logical reason for doing so. So it merely appears motivated by a desire to put those who applied and were granted a permit for a handgun at undue risk as if they are by default, a danger to society.

I certainly love the US Constitution, and am quite in favor of freedom of the press, but this clear invasion of people’s privacy has to be a sign for Americans to stand up against pervasive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which allowed this data to be disclosed in the first place.

If attaining a permit is considered a matter of public record, then where does it end? If I’m driving down the highway and I see a beautiful woman I’d like to meet; I can’t take down her license plate and file a FOIA request to get access to her address and phone number in order to more easily stalk her. That would be a huge violation of privacy, and no  one outside the rapist community would support that. The government has her information since she applied for a drivers permit, but that shouldn’t mean I have the right to know that data.

So let me give a similar analogy to what has transpired here. Imagine I decided to request drivers license information for all females in the district and published their names and addresses. Maybe I think female drivers are dangerous just like this newspaper thinks gun owners are dangerous.  Therefore, I want you to be protected from these dangerous women drivers.

Both cases involve people asking for information about lawful citizens who have done nothing wrong, but instead merely applied for a driving permit or a gun permit. Since there are a greater percentage of deaths by car in relation to car owners as there are deaths by gun rational to gun owners; clearly we need to know who has a license to drive, right?

blog1Obviously I’m being facetious, stats show women are generally very good drivers, just as stats show gun owners are rarely violent. But my argument against women drivers is EXACTLY the same as the anti-gun zealots arguments against lawful gun owners. For every one of them who wrongfully harms someone, there are thousands upon thousands who have never, nor will never harm an innocent being. Yet these sanctimonious people have decided that if one gun owner is bad, they must all be. There’s a word for that kind of nonsense; B-I-G-O-T-R-Y.

Reasonable and intelligent people just agree to disagree, but the anti-gun zealots that do these kind of things can’t bring themselves to do that. If you don’t agree with them, in their mind, you’re the most hateful S-O-B on the planet, and they have no qualms about destroying you; feeling better about themselves for having done so.

To them, gun owners are pure evil, and these journalists feel like Batman thwarting the Joker by taking them down. Responsible gun owners have been politely agreeing to disagree with those who don’t want guns for years. Charleton Heston never went to a anyone and tried to force them to buy a gun, yet these people are trying to force us to give up ours.joker_and_batman_by_moroteo56-d3g54v9[1]

Responsible journalists used to go after a scoop and expose corruption, as in the Watergate scandal. They did mountains of work and networking, gathered evidence, corroborated that evidence, and made sure that what they wrote was fair, accurate, and accomplished noble goals like protecting the people from a corrupt government.

The hacks of today however, are too often a cult that worships their lord and savior currently residing at the White House. Instead of protecting the people from an oppressive government, they protect the government from the people revolting against an overreaching government by suppressing stories of corruption, while at the same time attacking the Americans who would stand and fight against such a corruption.

I’ve heard if you want to make Pecan Pie, you have to crack a few nuts, and some gun owners have decided that’s just what they’ll do. For example, the folks who made this yard sign below apparently decided to strike back against anti-gun advocates who take issue with their right to bear arms, and I’m sure in the wake of this story, there will be others:

Blog1-Neighbor

I think it’s logical to assume that criminals looking to steal a gun have just been provided a list of places a gun is likely to be found that probably isn’t as well protected as a gun shop. If they can case the place and catch the homeowners away—pay dirt!

So now that every lawful gun owner has legitimately been put in harm’s way, turning the tables sadly seems to be the only thing gun owners can do to get their attention. But I cannot condone putting the lives of these people needlessly at risk either—it seems hypocritical.

The sign above would make it clear to any would-be-robber, molester, and murderer, which house his odds of success are greater at and level of danger is less at. I understand the “eye for an eye” concept at play, but it still seems wrong.

With any luck, these are severe overreactions after a national tragedy that will subside as cooler heads prevail, but nonetheless, us responsible gun owners cannot just continue to allow ourselves to be abused by anti-gun wing nuts. However, instead of striking back as the in the above picture, I hope gun owners will instead look to solidify Constitutional liberty by calling for serious modifications to FOIA regulations all across the nation. It should be done so that private information is not disclosed under any circumstance, outside the investigation of a crime, unless that information may be infringing upon the rights to life, liberty, and property of another individual, such as the aforementioned sexual predators.

We cannot have liberty if we do not have privacy, and even anti-gun nuts deserve theirs. Sadly, while many people who don’t care to own a gun wouldn’t dream of exposing their gun owning neighbors to something as disgusting as this, there are the irrational hate mongers in the media who have no reservations about it. Instead of resorting to dangerous games, I hope gun owners will take the high road and demand our government be better caretakers of our private information. Because lawful citizens of all kinds should never be allowed to be put at risk by political rivals in order to further a political agenda.

 

Chicago Murders vs Connecticut Massacre: Typical vs Atypical

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Earlier, I saw a story from Chicago that struck a chord. So again, I want to demonstrate a little skepticism.

gun-violence-vigil[1]I want to stress that the people in the story are acknowledging the tragedy in Connecticut as horrific, and are not trying to downplay it in any way. But they are also correct that we don’t hear nearly as much about violence in Chicago among young black youths as we do when tragedies like the one in Newtown occur in white communities. Why is this happening, and is it racism?

First: are there any mass school shootings in Chicago? I don’t recall, nor did a simple Google search reveal anyone recently murdering a large group of children and teachers in a Chicago school. If it has happened, then I am terribly sorry for not acknowledging the lost—I am truly ignorant of such an occurrence. If I am correct however, then we don’t have an apple to compare to an apple.
I believe that most shootings in Chicago involve a  violent youth, often gang related, settling a score with someone. As so often happens when public shootings occur, innocent people are caught in the crossfire, and that often does make the news. However gang-on-gang violence is simply too common to report.
The number of murders in the state of Connecticut for 2011 with a population of 3,580,709 were 128 . Conversely, the murders in the city of Chicago with a population of only 2,707,120 were 433 . If we do some quick math, Connecticut has a ratio of 1:27,974 vs Chicago’s 1:6,252. This means you are approximately 4-1/2 times as likely to get murdered in Chicago as you are in Connecticut. That’s pretty alarming when you consider that there were less deaths in Afghanistan among our troops at 418 in the same year.
So why do I believe these stats are relative to the topic of discussion? There are a number of issues. The shooting in Newtown was a single incident; the second largest school shooting in American history in a state that ranks 37th in murders. Compare that to multiple incidents throughout the year in a city that is in the top 6% of the country’s most violent.
zumanewtownwide[1]So what makes something newsworthy? It’s not whether something is violent or not—people are murdered every day in America. Something is newsworthy by virtue of how atypical it is. The more atypical, the more newsworthy. So I would argue that the issue isn’t about race, it’s about the rareness with which an occurrence such as the one in Newtown happens compared to the frequency of those in Chicago.
So are these people crying wolf? Let me say that there are unfortunately people who make a living out of exploiting racism. I won’t mention any names, but people should always be skeptical of those who make a living off of “raising awareness.” If racism were eradicated, such people would be out of a job. Therefore, if there isn’t any overtly racist acts to report, these types often look for something that could be construed as racism, and move forward with the assumption it is in order to remain relevant. Sadly, it’s a living.
But in this case, these are just average Chicagoans speaking out, so their claim isn’t one borne out of exploitation, but instead justified disappointment in the lack of concern for their losses while many mourn the loss of others. It’s a fair argument.
So what do I believe the issues regarding Chicago are?
Chicago is one of the nations most violent cities, yet the people can’t properly defend themselves thanks to over-restrictive gun laws. We have heard that one of the strongest deterrents for most criminals is fear of the homeowner they’re about to invade being armed. Thanks to laws in Chicago, those fears are somewhat allayed. They tried these gun laws to reduce crime, but in 2012, there are 488 murders and counting. Stats show gun laws don’t help, but I suspect reports of intruders routinely getting killed sure would.No_gun[1]

Another problem I believe is that teacher’s unions have destroyed Chicago schools. Even the fairly left-wing mayor Rahm Emanuel had to go to battle with them, and he’s someone who is traditionally a union supporter. They cost far too much for the poor results they produce, and had no intention of improving their quality. Instead, they simply fought for higher wages—and sadly won! When you have a sub-par education system, children come out of schools, often sans diplomas, to either obtain low paying jobs or join a gang and make big money. For them, it’s a sad but easy choice.

I also believe that like many inner cities, Chicago needs better parenting and adult role models. Parents need to spend more time teaching their children that education is important and that gangs are a dead end—literally. I’ve seen far too many parents glorifying thug-life, encouraging their kids to be hard instead of smart, and not working with their children to make sure they’re actually learning. I’ve personally known many single parents, of varied races, who seem to be more concerned with going out and getting their drink on, than being a proper parent.
Being a libertarian, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that legalizing and regulating vices like drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc., has historically proven to reduce violent crime. Free people rarely war with each other.
Lastly, I think Chicago needs people who have the courage to take action to reduce the crime in their city. People have made depraved indifference an art form. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, yet people would sooner film a violent act with their cell phone than use it to call the police.
So is the coverage of the school shooting in Newtown vs the lack of coverage for Chicago racist? I don’t think so. If I am to believe the people making this claim, I would have to believe that the directors at NBC, CNN, Fox, et al., all sit around and say, “Don’t bother with the deaths in Chicago, they’re just black people.” If someone thinks that’s how white people think, they should consult their mirror for evidence of a racist.

The fact is, the tragedies of Chicago, by volume alone, outweigh the tragedy in Newtown. It kills me inside to see all of the people dying in the inner cities of our country, no matter what color their skin is. Why it’s not so often talked about in the media however, is merely a result of typical occurrences in Chicago versus an atypical massacre in Connecticut. It’s not racism—just rarity. I have no doubt, that if someone were to replicate the Newtown incident in Chicago, it would be talked about just as much; let’s hope we never find out.

 

Thurston Howell is fiction, no matter what modern day liberals tell you.

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Your humble correspondent fancies himself  a decent golfer with a higher than average passion for the game. While I live on a modest income, I am a bit of a golf snob. I have Perrier tastes on a well-water budget, but whenever I get a chance, I drop a dime or 700 on a nice round somewhere.

As I was growing up in a modest income household, I was ingrained with the idea, by family and friends, that rich people got rich by taking advantage of the poor. Thurston Howell from Gilligan’s Island may have been fictional, but as a young and highly ignorant boy, for all I knew, that was basically how rich people were because that’s what the populace painted them out to be. Growing up in the 70’s; gays, blacks, and women were painted out to be a certain way too unfortunately. There’s a lesson here, but more on that later.

Thurston Howell III played by Jim Backus
Thurston Howell III played by Jim Backus

As I started getting into golf, I had a boss invite me to Heritage Golf Club in Hilliard Ohio. I was a little nervous, but I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to play at my first private club. So off I went, in my nicest golf apparel, having spent hours at the driving range getting my swing in peak form so as not to get scoffed at by what was surely going to be a group of scratch golfers.

As I walk in, the staff treat me like royalty. It’s not that they knew me, I was a guest not a member, but that didn’t matter. A private golf club is like any business. They don’t get paid to exist, they get paid by keeping membership up. They do that by treating guests as if they’re all Tiger Woods in hopes that those guests will return, or better yet, join. Yay for capitalism!

But here’s the other thing. The members we played with were incredibly nice also. Most members were what I’d call “doing well” but not rich, and it turns out their golf skills were about average like anywhere else. This was a sub $10,000 a year club, not one for the richest of the rich, but it still got me thinking—every member here makes more money than I do, yet no one looked down on me. I was nervous for no reason!

Heritage Golf Club
Heritage Golf Club

So as I continued to get better and meet people in the local golf community, I happened to befriend someone who was a member at New Albany Country Club. It is a Jack Nicklaus designed club, with grass tennis courts, a croquet court, an immense clubhouse, an incredible 27 holes laid out among million dollar homes, and a membership that requires you liquidate yourself of approximately six figures to join.

He invited me to play, and off I went. So here comes your humble correspondent, rolling up like Fred Sanford through Beverly Hills, in a 20-year-old rust colored Acura Legend. Not painted the color rust mind you, but a 20-years-of-driving-in-Ohio-winters shade of rust. As I pull into the parking lot, the high-school kids of members are driving two-year old BMW 3-series, and the adults were driving Porsche’s, 6-series BMWs and other highly exclusive cars. I was clearly out of my element.

As I pull up, the boy working the bag drop walks up, offers to take my clubs, sets me up with a cart, and off I go for my round. Again, everyone from the staff to the other members were as polite as can be with no hint of snobbery to be found. They could see I had a passion for the game, a decent swing, and a respect for the course. They didn’t care about my social status, they cared about my character. Imagine that.

New Albany Country Club
New Albany Country Club

My point to all of this being; we all know that bigotry against a race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion is wrong. These days, you’re quite likely to get looked down upon for any such behavior. Yet somehow, those on the left get away with lies and bigotry every day about the affluent among us. Bigoted hate is wrong, no matter who it is directed at, yet somehow class warfare is the one form of hate that is still widely accepted and that has to change.

My favorite quote that I repeat often is from Martin Luther King stating that you should judge someone by the content of their character. It turns out that while he may have added, not the color of their skin, I believe he understood bigotry in any form is wrong.

Are there bad people in the rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, female, male, etc. communities? Of course there are. Should we assume that one of them is a certain way because they’re in that community? Only if you’re a bigot.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Many people try to speculate why America is such a great nation. But like most things in life the answer to that question is quite complicated:

  • We have an amazing constitution which gives the government power from the people, not the other way around.
  • We have an amazing military that assures that anyone who comes after us will have a rocket shoved up their rectum and sent to the moon.
  • We have an amazing geographical location with a wealth of different climates to support many different industries, power generation, and farming.
  • Despite leftist agendas, we still have unalienable rights.
  • But the one thing that I think makes America truly amazing, is our diversity.

From state to state, city to city, region to region, you will find natural citizens, non-natural citizens, and guest workers from many walks of life. Most have a great story to tell, and with the exception of those of us already born here, most are here in order to make a better life for themselves. People motivated to be great, make us a great nation!

So do me a favor: If you’re someone who has hate in your heart for someone you haven’t even met yet, try a social experiment. Say hello and strike up a conversation with someone you would otherwise avoid. Thurston Howell might turn out to be just a cool dude with a great idea that made him rich. Unless someone is part of a hate group like the Black Panthers, et al., you’ll likely find what I did at the private golf clubs: good people exist in all walks of life and everyone should be judged solely by the content of their character—period.

Should I Buy a Hybrid?

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Let me start off by saying that I love the sound of a glorious V8 bellowing out its sonnet of horsepower as it kicks tire dust at the econo-boxes on the road of life. Conversely, there is nothing awesome about the silence with which a vehicle, not running on thousands of awesome explosions per second, goes about its business. If I were a spy or a serial killer, I could see the advantage of the silence an electric vehicle affords, but there is just something about the sound of suck, squeeze, bang, and blow that pulls at every emotional cord I have attached to me that a quiet whoosh will never fill.Corvette ZR1

Corvette ZR1

However, the other thing that I am passionate about is science and technology. So much so, that this whole electric vs. combustion thing has me in serious turmoil. So with that in mind, let me try to put any rhetoric aside and talk about this new-fangled technology objectively, from a scientific point of view, but at the same time, dispel some of the nonsense along the way.

I hate to do it to you, but let’s talk about physics. In order for something to move from point A to point B, Sir Isaac Newton says that a force must act upon it. The greater the mass, the greater the force required. So a Toyota Prius, if it dumped its batteries, electric motor, and all their relevant components, would lose several hundred pounds of weight, which would lead to a significant decrease in energy needed to move it. So why add the electric motor at all?

Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius

Well, the hybrid does something that appeals to my inner scientist, and should appeal to everyone—it uses something all other cars waste. Normally when you hit the brakes, what happens is you are turning kinetic energy from your moving car, and converting it to heat by clamping the brake caliper’s pads onto the brake rotors. That is what we will call “wasted energy” as that heat does nothing useful.

Some brilliant folks long ago came up with an ingenious idea to put generators on the drivetrain, so that when you apply the brakes, instead of pads clamping down on rotors, a generator is activated. That generator then creates added resistance making it more difficult for the wheels to roll, which slows the car down, but in doing so, it generates electricity at the same time. So the kinetic energy that was once wasted, now gets put into batteries for later use. No scientific minded person can argue with the beauty of turning waste into wattage.

Now that we’ve explained how hybrids generate electricity, who are they good for? If you drive 30 miles to work each day, and it’s mostly highway driving with little to no braking, yet you decided to buy the Prius in order to save the planet, you’ve not done your homework.

Hybrids are only beneficial for people who do most of their driving in stop and go situations where they can take advantage of the energy that regenerative braking creates. If you’re not using your brakes, you’re just carrying around a large mass for the gas engine to transport and burning more fuel doing it. You should have bought a Volkswagen diesel, or something of that nature, instead.

I won’t go into the studies that have shown that hybrids have a larger carbon footprint than a SUV because of all the extra carbon created in shipping the materials for that battery, their assembly before ownership, and disposal thereafter. For now, I’ll just discuss the merits of owning one to the user, not its impact on the planet as a whole.

Unfortunately, the best merit is that hybrid consumers are simply helping to subsidize the advancement of technology in this area. In theory, if the vehicle were purely electric, it would be a much better car. But the technology simply isn’t there to achieve this for one simple reason; batteries.

As we discussed, weight is the enemy of efficiency, yet all hybrid-electric cars have a gas engine attached either as a generator, or a 2nd drivetrain, which of course, is quite heavy also. So why not dump the gas engine? Because battery technology quite frankly is lacking.

Without the gas engine, the range in a hybrid is going to be severely less than a gas-burner, even if you didn’t turn on the radio, A/C, and lights. If you need to use such accessories and suffer from leadfootitis, you’ll be lucky to get 50 miles before you need more juice.

But the problem with the batteries isn’t just their limited range. The other problem is that batteries simply don’t recharge fast enough. The plug-in electric vehicles must generally be plugged in for approximately 12 hours to achieve a full charge.

So to recap; if you were to buy an electric car using today’s technology, without a gas motor attached, you would be able to drive around 70 miles or so, then instead of pulling into a gas station for 10 minutes and refueling, you park it, plug it in, grab dinner, go to sleep, get up, eat breakfast, and it should be just about done refueling and ready to go—another 70 miles.

However, technology and free market capitalism continue to drive technology at an amazing pace, and when battery technology catches up to the rest of the technology, we’ll have an amazing product on our hands.

Nuclear Power FacilityBeing a huge proponent of nuclear power, I believe nuclear powered electrical plants providing power to practical electric vehicles is likely the way of the future, leaving gas combustion engines for weekends and racetracks. The two can certainly coexist on this planet. But for now, I’ll keep my Corvette, and you can subsidize the electric vehicle technology as it strives to attain practicality. I don’t like being a guinea pig, and don’t like rolling up in stealth mode.

So my honest analysis. If you’re purely an in town driver, logging 20-30 miles a day, and doing plenty of braking throughout; then a hybrid or electric will be a decent car for you. Especially since Uncle Sam has seen fit to rob us in order to provide you with a juicy tax credit instead of letting free markets advance the technology at its natural rate.

But if you’re logging 100 miles a day, mostly highway driving, and need longer range; I promise you will hate yourself more than that time you woke up after a drunken bender next to a goat and an empty bottle of Jack Daniels.

It’s spelled F-O-X News. Enough With The Hate, It’s Pathetic

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

One thing that irritates me like pepper spray on my nether regions is when people use the term “Faux News” to describe Fox News. I’m not a dog being led around by the News Corp leash; I get my news from a number of sources. I use Google Reader with feeds from approximately 40 different outlets focused on different themes that are generally news or science based. As someone who prides himself on exercising proper skepticism, I feel it is important to be quite diverse in gathering information. So I look for numerous sources, and then do my best to weed out the ones who prove to be less than honest. I would never recommend someone getting all their news from one source.Fox News

There are a couple of issues on the “Faux News” front that annoy me in particular. The first being that people often don’t seem to differentiate opinion from hard news.

On Fox for instance, Bill O’Reilly, The Five, Red Eye, and others are opinion, while Brett Baier, Shep Smith, and others are hard news. The hard news people just bring you the stories and facts. Opinion however, is people interpreting those facts and providing analysis of what they presume those facts mean.

Opinion journalists therefore are often prone to spin and distort things in a light that is favorable to their ideals. You’re a fool if you think CNN, MSNBC, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and the networks don’t spin too. That’s just what opinion journalists do. But you can’t rightfully attack a network based on the opinions of one panelist. That’s like attacking the NFL because of what Mike Vick did. If Piers Morgan or Sean Hannity misspeak in some way, attack them, not their networks as a whole, because I guarantee there are others in their organization that are nothing like them.

Fox, MSNBC, CNN and the networks provide plenty of hard news that is good and factual. The charges that Fox lies are generally from people who just don’t agree with the opinions of the op-ed talent, and can rarely cite examples where the hard news people blatantly lied. Opinions, by definition, do not have a right or wrong answer. If you don’t like the opinions of the analyst, then don’t watch, but insulting them because they don’t agree with you is childish and pathetic.

The problem with hard news, is that it is often boring to people. News agencies have been delivering hard news for years, but once opinion programs started picking up entertaining talent, people preferred that over just a boring rendition of the facts. Human nature seems to be that most of us like hearing from people we think are similar to us because we trust those people more.

Jon StewartSo while some think opinion is bad because it distorts facts, the truth is that it gets more people interested in the news who otherwise wouldn’t be. People like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Greg Gutfeld bring news with humor in such a way that younger crowds who would never watch hard news all of a sudden find themselves caring about the issues of the day. The more people learn, the better off we all are. We didn’t get to the top of the food chain by being ignorant.

So being the free-market capitalist I am, I love that the news has evolved to meet the consumer’s wants, instead of making us suffer through boring anchors of old who are just as likely to put me to sleep as they are to pique my interest. More importantly, I’m happy we have freedom of the press so left-leaning folks can watch MSNBC and I can watch Fox.

The other problem I have with the Faux News folks, is they’re not only insulting Fox, but they’re insulting everyone who watches it. Being a Libertarian, I love that Fox allows people like John Stossel, Greg Gutfeld, and Judge Napolitano to have a voice. Most other news media often ignore libertarians, yet Fox kills in ratings because it provides information to non-left-wing people like me that we would otherwise not get.Greg Gutfeld

To me, it’s said with the same hate and ignorance used by racists, sexists, and other hate groups. I would almost never watch MSNBC because of their statist bias, but I don’t insult them for it. If the Michael Moores and Janene Garafolos of America want a news program to watch, MSNBC is there for those people; more power to them.

The bottom line is that America is too often a nation of haters. Hip-hop music lovers call people who like country music inbred. Rock lovers call people who like rap music thugs. Conservatives call leftists commies; the left call conservatives greedy bastards. Just about everyone calls libertarians anarchists or potheads, of which I am neither. The intent behind these insults is to demean those different from you, which is no different from all the racial, homophobic, or sexist epithets people used in the past.

Piers MorganIf you feel the need to insult someone who is different from you or has a different opinion than you, you are the problem in my opinion, and it’s time to grow up. America’s freedom and free markets guarantee that no matter what you like in this world, as long as it doesn’t threaten someone’s rights, you have a right to consume it or sell it. The left would be furious if people like me tried to get MSNBC off the air, yet they’ll sing it from the mountain tops that Fox lies, and should be shut down.

I’ve always said, if you can’t win, don’t bemoan your competition, motivate yourself to be better. If you find yourself on the losing end, the problem isn’t your competition; it’s you. So until the other networks start beating Fox, maybe they need to look in the mirror and see what’s wrong with them that people don’t care for their message as much. But to sling insults and demand the competition be shut down, while it would make Hugo Chavez proud, has never been, nor should ever be the American way.

So you watch yours, I’ll watch mine, and let’s stop insulting people because they differ from you. The beauty of America lies in our differences, not the people who like to attack us for being different. We all know racism and sexism are bad, but it’s time hate in general be seen for the unhealthy emotion that it is.