04 Aug 2009 16:32 Filed in: Wave of Mutilation
The Wave of Mutilation is moving East, this time cresting over the President’s health care reform efforts. While not dead yet, his proposals are on life support and—the Tired Donkey predicts—will expire shortly.
Let us review how we got here. Back on July 9, the House Democrats decided that they would pay for Freeloader health care by creating a bunch of new tax brackets for Donkeys earning more than $280,000. The proposal would have these poor Donkeys paying about $550 billion for Freeloader health care over the next 10 years. Yikes!
This was the beginning of the end for the proposal because the Republicans, the Blue Dog Democrats and more centrist Senate Dems rightly fear the wrath of angry Donkeys and even Nancy Pelosi began to talk of a need to reduce the tax burden on us Donkeys. Imagine that!
We are not out of the woods, but national polls clearly show the cresting of the wave (there is even a cute little picture of the wave in the link) as opposition to health care reform balanced on the backs of the donkeys increases. Mark the Tired Donkey’s words: this effort at reform is going to be washed away by the Wave of Mutilation.
But why, you may ask? Isn’t health care reform a good idea? Of course it is. Health care is important, and it would be nice for everyone to have it. But the way in which the current Administration is going about it is all wrong in two important ways. First, the incredible cost of health care is driven by the way we pay our doctors, and getting that under control would solve almost all of our health care funding issues. Really. This is all laid out quite clearly in this brilliant article in The New Yorker from early June. Read it.
Second, we simply can’t squeeze enough money out of the richest donkeys to pay for care in our currently bloated system. Even the New York Times has spelled this out in an article headlined—if you can believe it—”Obama’s Pledge to Tax Only the Rich Can’t Pay for Everything, Analysts Say.” The article concludes with this quote from Isabel Sawhill, a former Clinton administration budget official: “There is no way we can pay for health care and the rest of the Obama agenda, plus get our long-term deficits under control, simply by raising taxes on the wealthy. The middle class is going to have to contribute as well.” The Tired Donkey asks you to please read that quote again. And then recognize that it came from a member of the Clinton administration. Hallelujah!
23 Mar 2009 16:35
Some of the Tired Donkey’s loyal readers have asked him to comment on the so-called “Tea Party” movement now afoot in the land; he assents to their request.
As is the Tired Donkey’s wont, he will begin with a brief history lesson so as to keep his readers immunized from emotion-laden rants of little consequence. The Tea Party movement takes its name from the justifiably celebrated Boston Tea Party, a grand and important tax protest which happened on the evening of December 16, 1773. On that night, three ships of The East India Company were moored in Boston Harbor loaded with a cargo of tea. Though the tea carried a tax that the colonists refused to pay, the Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, had ordered the tea to be unloaded rather than returned to England.
Great patriot Sam Adams was having none of this. He quickly organized a group of sixty colonists who—disguised as either Mohawk or Narragansett Indians (there is argument on this point)—boarded the ships, broke open 342 chest of tea and threw all of it overboard. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the tea was worth nearly $1.9 million. This direct action protest by the colonists helped precipitate the Revolutionary War as it both emboldened the American revolutionaries and unified opposition to the colonies in England.
Cut to February 19, 2009, when CNBC talking head Rick Santelli had a little on-air tantrum about paying his neighbor’s mortgage. Overnight—and, according to some, under suspicious circumstances—Squawking Donkey Santelli became a cause celeb, and the current Taxpayer Tea Party movement was birthed. The “movement” has spawned a number of protests across the country which object to “the ridiculous economic polices of President Barack Obama”; they have been sparsely attended by penny-loafered people who bring their children along to carry anti-Obama signs printed on poster-board.
You may notice a tone of scorn in the Tired Donkey’s description of these protests, and you would be right to notice it. It is not that the Tired Donkey is opposed to what appears to be upsetting these people; it is the futility of it all that gets a donkey down. If carrying signs and getting a little television coverage makes these poor donkeys feel better, than the Tired Donkey is happy for them. But he doesn’t want them to believe they are making a difference. At a time when Myrmidon Donkey Obama’s approval rating is well above 60%, these little blips of grassroots anger simply don’t matter. Please allow the Tired Donkey to explain.
It is good that some people are unhappy about the way their tax dollars are being spent; there is much to be unhappy about. The Tired Donkey is also pleased that these people are willing to do something about their anger. But the Tired Donkey is not happy that what they are doing is ridiculous. This “movement” is being co-opted by the all-but-dead Republican party, and—as the Tired Donkey has pointed out elsewhere—the Republicans are every bit as irresponsible with donkey money as this or any other Democratic administration. Except under exceptional circumstances (think 1994 mid-term elections—more on that below), populist rage cannot be effectively channeled by the major parties because they are beholden to too many special interest groups with too much power.
The last time we had this much anger about the way our tax dollars are spent was in the run-up to the 1992 presidential elections when Crazy Donkey Perot and his balanced-budget push threw the election to horny Myrmidon Donkey Clinton. This example proves that it is possible to harness widespread anger given the right circumstances, but a herd of enraged donkeys cannot do it alone. The time is right for the change the Tired Donkey wants, but the anger must be harnessed; it must be turned into a real movement, not a phony puppet movement with the strings being pulled by a neutered major party with no new ideas and no future. So let’s discuss how this can happen.
In order to be effective, any “movement” must have intellectual vigor, a direct action component and pressure applied at a tipping-point. If you want a perfect example of this, the Tired Donkey suggests you reacquaint yourself with what Newt Gingrich accomplished with the Contract with America. The Boston Tea Party had all of these elements; the Taxpayer Tea Party movement has none. “Our tax money is being spent badly” is not an intellectually rigorous position as it offers no alternative, marching around in small groups with signs is not direct action that matters and there is no tipping point on which to apply pressure. In short—to answer the request of his readers directly—the Tired Donkey’s opinion of the Taxpayer Tea Party is, for the moment, quite simple: who cares? But the movement could turn into something that matters given the right circumstances and the right leadership. More tomorrow.
19 Mar 2009 14:30
As was probably obvious to most of his readers, the Tired Donkey has been in a foul temper for the last few days; considering federal tax policy has that effect. So today the Tired Donkey has decided to forego tax research and instead make some serious policy recommendations to Myrmidon Donkey Obama’s administration.
As you, the Tired Donkey and probably MD Obama himself are aware, one of the terrible by-products of the current crisis is a kind of economic depression that grips everyone. Donkeys are depressed because MD Obama is loading them up with additional taxes; Freeloaders are depressed because they fear they may work the donkeys to death and thereby be left with nothing. This is a vexing problem, but the Tired Donkey believes he may have a solution that will make both groups feel better: the government should pay the Freeloaders to do household chores for the donkeys. This would make donkeys feel better because we would finally be getting something of value for our tax dollars; it would make the Freeloaders feel as if they were doing something good for the country. A win-win proposition.
How would such a plan work? Very simply. The federal government is already accustomed to giving what it calls tax “rebates” to Freeloaders who actually pay no taxes. This system could be easily adapted to the needs of the current proposal: once a Freeloader did work for a donkey, the donkey would give the Freeloader a “rebate” slip that he or she could file with the IRS to get compensation. A suggested Freeloader compensation table follows:
—Freeloader mows donkey lawn: $30
—Freeloader mows donkey lawn and edges: $40
—Freeloader weeds donkey flower beds: $10/hour
—Freeloader cleans donkey pool: $40
—Freeloader washes donkey car: $20
—Freeloader washes donkey car and details interior: $30
—Freeloader washes donkey clothes: $5/load
—Freeloader washes donkey clothes and folds while still warm: $10/load
These are only a few suggestions the Tired Donkey thought of off the top of his head. He is sure there are many others. But the MD Obama administration need not stop with just this plan; they should recognize that keeping donkeys happy is important because angry donkeys don’t work as hard. With this in mind, the Tired Donkey respectfully suggests the following additional measures:
—all HOV lanes should be converted to DO (Donkey Only) lanes. The Tired Donkey is not sure if this would do much good since he suspects the highways are primarily used by donkeys, anyway, but—he submits—it is worth a shot.
—there should be DO security lanes at all airports. This suggestion may suffer from the same problem as the DO highway lanes, but, again, it is worth a shot.
—Finally—and this suggestion is something that would have to be done at the state level, but MD Obama could force the states to comply by coercive use of federal spending—there should be DO lanes at the Department of Motor Vehicles in each state.
Again, the Tired Donkey is sure there are other ideas along these lines that could make donkeys feel better about our lot in life, and he urges his readers to submit them for publication at a later date. In the meantime, the Tired Donkey simply wishes to point out that he believes thanking him for his labor is no longer enough. He wants more for his tax dollars.
16 Mar 2009 09:40 Filed in: Linguistic Shenanigans
Today, the Tired Donkey would like to tell you a story about a misbehaving child.
Imagine that you own a beautiful piece of land in the country. You work hard at your job, and this land is where you go to escape. Because you find your relaxation though gardening, you have spent the last twenty years working on the grounds. As a result of your hard work and creativity, you have built what all agree is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
You have a son. He is twenty-two years old, and just out of college. Unfortunately—because of the poor economy and his horticulture degree—he has no job prospects. He begs you to be allowed to live in the cottage near your gardens; he assures you that he wants to help with the garden, to take some of the load off your shoulders.
You are suspicious; he has friends in the area who are dirt-bikers, and you think he might allow them into the garden. You ask him about it directly: “Son, you are going to be controlling the keys to the grounds. It is very important that you take that responsibility seriously; I can’t have a bunch of dirt bikers ruining the garden.” He assures you he would never do such a thing. “Dad, I promise I will let no dirt bikers into the garden.” You assent; he needs a place to stay, and he ought to be helpful.
Several weeks after he moves in, you go to your garden and find it utterly ruined by dirt bikers. You confront your son. “Dad, it’s not my fault,” he says. “It wasn’t my idea to ride dirt bikes in the garden, and I didn’t even ride one myself. All I did was let them in when they asked.” You stare at him. Then you . . . what? What do you do?
The Tired Donkey is curious because he would like to know what we are supposed to do with our Myrmidon Donkey president. During the campaign, Myrmidon Donkey Obama criticized Myrmidon Donkey McCain mercilessly about his plan to tax healthcare benefits. MD Obama said he would never allow such a thing because it would amount to the highest tax increase in history on the middle class. Now we learn that MD Obama is, in fact, open to taxing health benefits. But he won’t be the one to propose it; he’ll just be willing to sign the law if Congress does the dirty work.
Like the son in the Tired Donkey’s sad story, MD Obama is either too weak to shoulder his responsibilities or is already showing himself to be an unapologetic liar. Character matters. The Tired Donkey understands that politicians must change their mind in the face of facts from time to time. In fact, he encourages it. But he expects to be treated like an adult. How hard would it be to say to us, “People of America, I said one thing on the campaign trail, but financial realities have forced me to change my mind”? The Tired Donkey has an answer: it would be easy. But—like all the other Myrmidon Donkeys—MD Obama is unlikely to say this because he believes most of the population is too dumb to remember what he said a mere six months ago. He may be right.
There is nothing MD Obama could say to convince the Tired Donkey that any taxes on medical coverage would be a good thing. But he could say things that would allow the Tired Donkey to respect him; the Tired Donkey is not holding his breath.