Tag: Government

My Take on Trump Allegedly Leaking Classified Material to Russia

Kind of an old story but I wanted to let it settle and then get my thoughts out there.

The media has been in an uproar, pushing a narrative that Trump has broken a law, committed treason, and leaked classified information to the Russians.  I have been patient with this, looked for facts, and here's what I've learned:

First is that what Trump told the Russians was already public knowledge (that had been first leaked no less).

Second is that Trump, as President, can declassify anything he wants, whenever he wants.  This means that even if he did share classified material with them, it would be completely legal.

Lastly, John Brennan testified as part of the Obama administration saying "I shared classified information with the Russians as director of the CIA"  He further went on to say "CIA on a routine basis shares classified information with the Russians on terrorism matters"

On that last point, where is the scandal?  Why isn't the media tracking down members of his staff and threatening treason?  Simple, it doesn't fit the narrative.

All of this is just another set of false hype created by a news media hell bent on taking down the President.  Too often in our lives, we are more focused on hype and fluff.  I say live your life according to facts and truth; accept that sometimes the truth isn't what you want it to be and suck it up.  It's no longer safe to watch something on the news or on a news website and assume it's true.  Don't assume multiple sources to be true if they're unconfirmed or anonymous.

I didn't vote for the guy.  I've said on this blog in the past that I am a libertarian so it is probably clear who I chose on November 8th.  That said, I respect the office of President, regardless of who holds it.

Thank you for reading and comment if you choose.


I Don’t Like the Idea of This Textalyzer Software

Before I get into why I think this software leads to a host of problems, I want to first say that distracted driving is a serious problem and I am against texting and driving.  Personally I drive a car with a manual transmission and would find it almost impossible to do it myself, but I observe people doing it on an almost daily bases while out and about.

That said…

When Snowden leaked that the NSA was building a dossier of every American made up of all of their sent texts, phone calls, and emails people were shocked.  While these abilities have since been limited (or so they say),  the smallest non misdemeanor or felony traffic accident, a fender – bender would now lead to you surrendering your 4th amendment rights with this software fully implemented.

What I just stated at the end of the last paragraph represents a leap.  It’s already become clear we no longer have 4th amendment protection when sending and receiving data from any computer device.  In the event of a fender bender your device and all data on it would become subject to confiscation, even information that you’ve NOT transmitted.  Personal photos, bank information, passwords; those are things we do not transmit which would now be taken from us, in my opinion, in violation of the 4th amendment.

Let me ask, if every police officer had this software and could download a fully accessible disk image of your phone in 90 seconds, what would they do with the data?  Where would it then be stored?  For how long?  What about the actual text in all of your messages and emails there, would it be sent to the NSA?  Or would your local DA’s office hold it indefinitely in the event you ever committed a crime in the future so that they could hold it against you?

Let me ask, what if the phone was password protected?  We know that the government had to pay CellBrite almost $1,000,000 to crack into the iPhone of the San Bernardino attacker.  Would a phone that police couldn’t hack at the side of the road be seized and stored for later search once the technology became available to crack it?  There are already thousands upon thousands of phones sitting in evidence rooms that can’t be hacked.  In the event of a fender – bender, who would compensate you for the replacement device if the authorities seized yours?  Or would they say that if you never had the minor accident they wouldn’t be taking it in the first place?

One thing I know is the solution is not to force device manufacturers to make every device randomly hackable.  We all know that tools for these roadside hackings would hit the internet in short order, especially if provided to law enforcement all across the country.

Thank you for reading, and comment if you’d like.

My Plan for a Flat Tax

Large scale tax reform is what is needed.  Right now taxation is a bit of a nursery rhyme.  Here a tax, there a tax, everywhere a tax tax.  The average American has no choice but to pay the tax.  Wealthier Americans can afford lawyers to find holes in the tax code to avoid the taxes, and businesses hire lobbyists to shape the tax code in their favor.  The tax friendly politicians on the left and right have no problem with this.  The left even uses it as an opportunity to bash the wealthy.  The wealthy aren’t the problem; the tax code is the problem.
Every year there are calls from and on Washington DC to raise the gas tax, or taxes on investment income. Right now there are loopholes upon loopholes for every different type of business in the USA.  The system is preferential and divisive.  It enables politicians to bash and demonize large groups of Americans while allowing some companies to get away with hardly paying any taxes at all.
Before I explain how I would do it, I want to first say that I do not like a consumption tax because it places the burden of collection on business owners, which raises their costs.  It also gives the government the power to raise the prices of all goods and services with the stroke of a pen, which is too much power in my opinion.
The first thing I will address as part of my tax plan is low income earners.  Minimum wage (and slightly above) earners, need to be protected from federal taxation.  I believe this because their money should be going elsewhere, to their families.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr.  This number worked out for 40 hour weeks, over a year comes to $15,080.  I would multiply that by 2 and declare that the first $30,160 earned by every American should be tax exempt.  If you make less than that, there is no reason to file.
I would tax every dollar earned in all forms of income above $30,160 at 25%.Every American, regardless of how they earn their income, whether it is through investment, salary, or other earnings pays the same rate.  No loopholes.
Some people say the wealthy should pay more in taxes, and they will.  Someone who earns 1.5 million dollars (regardless of how they earned it) would pay $367,460 in taxes to the federal government; plus more to their state government and local city government.  Someone earning only $50,000 would pay only $4,960 to the federal government.  Once again: No loopholes, and no deductions.
Combined with this, I would lower the corporate tax rate to 25% as well, something that almost all politicians could agree on.  Even POTUS has suggested lowering it.
A system like this would be very simple, and it’s something that anyone with a high school diploma can understand.  Best of all, it wouldn’t require a CPA or tax firm!
One form that looked like this:
Your Name:
Your Address:
Your Earnings:
Taxable Income:
Amount Due:
It would also put more money back in the hands of the average Americans that need it most.  It’s simple, and in operations management simplification and standardization is the key to efficiency and profit.

My take on the Pope and Climate Change

An older article wrote years ago that I published here since I believe the concept is still relevant.
As a Catholic I have always viewed the Pope as the leader of spiritual guidance for a faith.  At 33, I cannot remember in my lifetime, a Pope intervening in politics.  In certain ways, it baffles my mind, in others, I understand.  Either way, I disagree with him.
The Pope, as an Argentinean, grew up in a politically left country with a high poverty rate.  His whole life, he witnessed successful countries moving on and up in the word while so many poor at home were left behind.  I would think it very likely that he believes the poor of the world should be moved up on the backs of the more wealthy countries, regardless of the impact it will have on those who live in the wealthier countries.
The Pope is a highly educated individual, he knows that this is a hot button issue in the US, he also knows that it is next to impossible to get any cap and trade or climate legislation through the US congress (thankfully so).  Francis sees that Catholics in the USA are conservative and conservatives for the most part don’t want any more regulation (Unless pro police, military, or NSA).  So through this, he will try to turn them his way on climate change; I don’t think it will work.
Francis wants developed countries to pay an unquantifiable cost to other countries as a punishment for being successful and producing.  I find it interesting how this unquantifiable number can somehow only be quantified by environmentalists, socialists (The Pope), and hard leftists.  This number always has nothing to do with mathematics or statistics.   I wish they would just come out and say: “I believe in total forced equality for everybody in the world, and I want everyone to be equally poor”.
It’s the same with the climate change data itself, there has only been statistically significant data for the past 43 years. In statistics 101 you learn that data would be considered barely significant. But people on the hard left, socialists (The Pope), and environmentalists say it doesn’t matter you still have to act anyway. They should come out and say: “we are people who are far politically left and we know that immediately switching everyone over to renewable energy would drive the prices of all goods and services up by a factor of three or four, but we don’t care, even though we know it would put lots of people out of work, all we care about is mandated forced equality”.
Lastly, if the US ceased putting any carbon dioxide into the air, in 100 years the global temperature would be fractions of a degree lower.  It seems like a lot of economic hardship and change for something so small in return.
Also, it’s interesting how many people on the liberal side of politics laugh at religion and preach atheism but all of a sudden love this guy; just screams of a double standard.
Francis is a spiritual leader.  With so many in his flock being killed and displaced due to terror, I wish he would focus on that over climate change.  His heart is for the poor, but the way to help the poor is not to take from one group and give to another, at least check, that was stealing and in violation of one of those commandments.

The NYC Minimum Wage Hike That Will Help No One in the Aggregate

An older article wrote years ago that I published here since I believe the concept is still relevant.
Recently Mayor DeBlasio signed an executive order that called for the immediate increase in wage from the NYS minimum to $13.13/hour.  Fortunately this increase only applies to roughly 18,000 New Yorkers.
I argue that this is a move to generate more revenue for the government.  When governments need more money to operate they can raise fees, issue more fines, or collect more taxes.  Tax increases on the masses never win popularity contests.  Businesses on the other hand have substantially more money than individuals, but if the government raised taxes on businesses outright, there would be backlash from both the business community and consumers who now have to pay higher prices.  By raising the minimum wage, government gets the increased revenue that it wants.   Individuals will be paying more taxes since their income has gone up; also as salaries paid increase, so do the payroll taxes that businesses have to pay.  It is clear that a veiled transfer of wealth from business to government is taking place.
An increase in the minimum wage also increases an individual’s (minimum wage earner) demand for goods and services.  However in the short and medium run, the market for goods and services is finite.  This leads to an increase in prices for non luxury goods that these people (those with a wage increase) will demand.  So in addition to paying more in taxes, those who received the increase now get to pay higher prices.
This increase affects 18,000 people; this is ONLY .00225% of New Yorkers.  I argue that this is exactly why it is being done.  Making the increase, even a low impact increase, allows the mayor to say he raised the wages and gives him something to run on for the next election while pleasing the people who voted for him.  His party and supporters are happy, and the government makes more money; it’s all about the politics not low-income earners.

16 Years after 9/11, It’s Unacceptable that 2 World Trade Center Sits Unfinished

I wrote this 3 years ago, there is still no completion date.
The World Trade Center site means many things to many people.  As a born and raised New Yorker, I have always seen it as a symbol of the strength of the financial, economic, and real estate capital of the world that is New York City.  To walk by almost every day and see a completed 4 or 1 World Trade Center shooting up into the sky means a lot; those buildings fulfill that symbolism.
However while walking by; I cannot get past glaring at the stump that is 2 World Trade Center.  The public impression for the majority of New Yorkers is that the site is nearly complete now that 1WTC is finished.  Most believe that the full build out of the transit terminal is all that remains.  I often wonder if there would be an outcry among New Yorkers if most knew that 2 WTC stood unfinished.  It seems that only architecture and WTC history buffs are the people who care anymore.
Whenever discussing things at the site, immediately and not surprisingly, the situation becomes politicized.  People on the political left say that Mr. Silverstein wants to socialize any potential loss while privatizing any profits. People on the political right say that the Port has no place holding up development and business at the site in the first place.  The truth is that both Mr. Silverstein and the Port stand to make more money in the long run with the buildings constructed to their full height.
To examine how we arrived in this predicament today we must look at how the WTC was created in the first place.  The land the buildings sit on didn’t exist 100 years ago.  At the time the land was filled in and the buildings were built, for any private entity to take on the financial risk of such a project would be unprecedented.  The government, with access to unlimited funding (it can print its own money, no business can do that), was able to fund the project.  The site was entirely owned and operated by (for the most part due to discrepancies on a few streets) The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey until the end of 1997.  In 1998 the Port decided to ‘privatize’ the WTC, meaning lease the buildings to a developer, not sell the land and buildings outright.  Unfortunately for Mr. Silverstein, he chose a bad time to sign that lease due to the terrorist attack on 9/11/01.
The government’s role is to defend the land of the USA, not create new land, own it, build on it, then charge people for working in their buildings.  I do not recall reading the word landlord in the constitution.  The government should be operated like a business, yet at the same never serve as a landlord.  
The government becoming a landlord opens the door to unfairness on many levels.  If they own the land, they can pick who works there and who does not, whether they can make the most money or not.  Such a prestigious address creates wealth for a business on its own.   
Why, in a free country 2 states hold the rights over a single piece of commercial land (the most expensive real estate I know of) is beyond me.  What is worse is that the land exists within the borders of only 1 state, not two.  As organizations get larger they become more complex, costly, and the efficiency of the process drops along with the ability to hold people accountable. Private equity, or in Mr. Silverstein’s case, tenants, are less likely to want to have to deal with a machine like that; regardless of the address of the building.  People on the political left who are also against Mr. Silverstein use that same premise to justify the need to break up large companies and banks. Yet they seem to forget to apply it to government, thinking that government is somehow immune. It isn’t.
It is true; the original WTC may have had to wait another decade or two if it were funded with private money.  However, if it were done privately from the beginning, these current problems would not be present.
The whole site needs to be privatized, both states could use the money, why not put the entire site up for sale.  The government should be in charge of the transit system on the site, nothing else.  Just imagine how much that could help reduce the operating deficits or long term liabilities of each state.  If a move toward true privatization occurred in 1997/8, it would most likely have guaranteed that the site would be far closer to completion than it is today.
Some say Wall Street is completely reckless and unaccountable; unfortunately that is a fallacy.  There are multiple government agencies and thousands of pages of regulation to penalize and hold Wall Street accountable where and when necessary.  The one entity in the US that is immune to accountability is the government itself.  I often speculate what it would take for a number of private entities to come together and purchase the land from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The decisions at the Port are subject to influence from Trenton (NJ Capital) and Albany (NY Capital) as well as the federal level of government due to the funding the Port receives from Washington DC.  With all of this money comes influence, which is a double-edged sword.  Some officials just want it built and finished, while others want to preserve it or delay it to put their stamp on it.
It took years to get a final design that everyone in both states approved of, then another organization (the NYPD) comes in and says it’s unsafe and redesigns had to be undertaken.  There is nothing wrong with designing a building with safety from a terror attack in mind; but where was their input during the first set of designs?  Why did no planner or architect consider what they would be bringing to the table as far as safety requirements go?
Our 30th president J Calvin Coolidge in his address to the society of American newspaper editors said “the chief business of the American people is business”; but to accomplish something at this site takes both direct and possibly indirect approval from two states and the federal government.  I feel bad for Mr. Silverstein,  he may never live to see his work realized although I sincerely hope that he does.  One57, 432 Park, and the soon to be constructed Central Park Tower are all great examples of how private citizenry through private financing can build great high quality buildings, and do it quickly.  Private firms have a long track record of being able to do it.  The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are great examples of this.  I say it is time to leave this up to the private sector.  Think how quickly those two landmark buildings went up, and then consider the technology of the time.  There would be more accountability, more of a drive to succeed and more of a desire to bring a high quality product faster than anything a product of 2 states, one federal government, and one developer could produce together.
I was 19 on 9/11/01, I am 34 now as I write this and I seriously question whether or not the site will be ENTIRELY complete by the time I am 42.  If it is not by that point, I may begin considering whether or not I will see 2 WTC rise by the end of my life.  As a kid born in Red Hook Brooklyn, I would see the original WTC from my apartment and want to work there when I grew up.  From my street on the bottom of Staten Island I can see 1WTC on a clear day.  Hopefully someday I will have the opportunity to have an office of my own in 2WTC, which most if not everyone who sees the designs can agree, is the most beautiful of the complex.

When Someone, Even The Government Or a Scientist Says They Know Something, Be Skeptical.

Every ‘study’ regardless of who funds it, is done to prove a point.  Most will disregard certain data sets, or begin their analysis at a different point in time to leave out certain data or events.  On climate change, real data exists for 40-45 years, which is barely significant.  Regardless of the subject matter, research previous studies of similar topics, you will never know what people ‘knew’ in years past.
Just remember that in 1970, scientists knew…
That population would outstrip the food supply in 5 years and that 200 million people per year would die of starvation resulting in mass extinction by 1980
That by 1995 75% of all living species would be extinct
That by 1980, all urban dwellers would have to wear gas masks to protect against environmental air pollution and that by 1985 only half of the suns penetrating rays would get into the atmosphere
By 1989 4 billion people would die in the ‘great die off’
All of these claims made by scientists in the 1970’s seem laughable today, keep this in mind when listening to anyone make predictions made by using data that is either insignificant, or barely significant.  My position on climate change has always been that there is not enough statistically significant data to make high impact long-term decisions.  5 years ago, climate change proponents said that there would be more extreme weather events; while the ‘study’ below says the opposite.  Let’s wait, be patient, and acquire more data.