Saturday, February 11, 2012

Unfinished Symphonies

I am doing some early spring cleaning, so today I share with you pieces of blog posts that I never finished.  Beethoven and Schubert had some pretty good success with unfinished work.  Let’s see how I do:

Balanced Budget Amendment

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I have been meaning to research this statement:

“States differentiate, in their budgets, between expenditures and capital investments, much like a business does. There are the normal operating costs that go along with where you’ve committed you’re money, and if you are a business, capital investments, where normally you borrow money to build your business. States quite sensibly make this distinction. That’s why they can have a balanced budget for their operating costs, and deficits for investments.

But the Federal government doesn’t distinguish between capital investments and operating costs. They’re all the same. So to say that the Federal government needs to cap spending or have a balanced budget either means that we will have extraordinarily high taxes so that it can invest in the things that it does invest in: health, military, social security, education, etc., or it means that we will invest in hardly anything.”

I have always thought the comparison of the Federal budget to a family budget was ridiculous, and the comparison of a business budget (designed for profitability) to a government’s budget (designed for defense, health and welfare of the people) was fraught with problems.  The comment above adds something else, however.  It adds the idea that comparing state budgets to federal budgets is an apples to oranges comparison.

Turkey Day Pardons

This one was planned for pre-Thanksgiving and was to be a list of those public figures that I believed deserved a pardon.  The post didn’t survive, just like Tom Turkey:

Newt Gingrich – Who cares how much he spends at Tiffanys?  The guy made a lot of money writing books and giving speeches, so enjoy.  If he held himself up as a hero of the populist movement, a man of simple means, this story might resonate.  Otherwise, I’m more concerned about his policy pronouncements than his spending habits.

Kim Kardashian – Anyone who bought into her reality TV illusions and felt betrayed by her short-lived marriage, shame on you for wasting any time on her.  She profited by drawing your eyeballs away from other more important things.  That’s your fault, not hers.  In this case, I don’t blame her.  It’s buyer beware.

John Boehner – Look, the guy cries a lot.  No one really cares anymore.  Let’s give him a pass.  At least it appears to be spontaneous and sincere.  That’s all you can ask for.

The Phillies – The Dream Pitching staff could not score runs for the Phils, and let’s face it.  Winning the World Series is hard, very hard.  The 5 game baseball playoff is one of the more fickle post-season formats in sports.  Anything can happen, and for the Phils, unfortunately it happened to them.  Wait’ll next year.

Hillary Clinton – If anyone on Earth has earned a bad hair day, it is this woman.  Say what you want – she keeps pretty busy.

People Considered Voting for this Guy

Herman Cain redefines intellectual curiosity as the urge to ask your friends what they think. 

“I have had one very well-known Muslim voice say to me directly that a majority of Muslims share the extremist views,” Cain said in an interview with GQ. 

Asked if he thought this individual — whom Cain would only identify as “a very prominent voice in the Muslim community” — was right, Cain said that although he found it hard to believe, ultimately he trusted his adviser.

“Yes, because of the respect that I have for this individual. Because when he told me this, he said he wouldn’t want to be quoted or identified as having said that,” Cain said.

I would assume that Cain looked into his friend’s soul.

Tiger Beat

I have finished The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Ann Chua, the most talked about book of the year so far.  Cherie and I decided to each read the book as part of our two person book club. 
I was asked the question yesterday, “Did you like it?”

I repeated the question aloud in response.  “Did I like it?”  I hesitated.  I can see why the book caused such a stir.  “Like” is not a word that I would use to describe this part confessional, part parenting guide, part indictment of the Western culture of permissiveness and weakness.  While I was left with a better appreciation of the Eastern viewpoint on child rearing, I also had a visceral reaction to some of the mother’s hysterical and cruel dealings with her children.

The author reported that some friends would ask her, “Are you doing this for the kids, or are you doing this for yourself?”  She thought about the question, and without providing too much self-analysis, decided that she was not driving these kids towards perfection as a surrogate for her own self-image.  I am not sure that I agree.

The book that I really want to read hasn’t been written yet.  I want to read her husband’s autobiography, The Battle Hymn of the Husband of the Tiger Mother.  That guy obviously puts up with a ton of sh*t.

Deficit Solution

My favorite quote from Ezra Klein, whose fiscal approach is too balanced, too reasonable to be taken seriously by today’s politicians:  “The intelligent way to deal with the deficit problem is to come up with a credible long-term strategy that protects short-term economic recovery and does not rely on short-term “fixes”—i.e., more tax cuts—that likely won’t help the economy but will vastly boost the deficit and/or force spending cuts that will immensely damage the economy, not to mention our society.”


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