Acceptable Levels of Corruption

What is an acceptable level of corruption? In my view, none. Who the fuck thinks we should have any corruption? A terrible person, that’s who.

“Which brings me to Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the decision in April that, in the name of free speech, further diminished Congress’ power to limit spending on political campaigns. The opinion states that Congress may target only a specific type of corruption—quid pro quo corruption—that is, an agreement between donor and candidate that in exchange for the donation the candidate will support policies that will provide financial or other benefits to the donor. If there is no agreement, the opinion states, the donation must be allowed because “constituents have the right to support candidates who share their views and concerns. Representatives are not to follow constituent orders, but can be expected to be cognizant of and respon­sive to those concerns. Such responsiveness is key to the very concept of self-governance through elected officials.”  (Article from slate.com)

I meant to trim this down, but to be terribly honest, I can’t say it any better than Posner. Just remember what these recent rulings by the Supreme Court truly mean: we’ve legally enshrined what the justices find to be an acceptable level of corruption.

Justice Kennedy and the Progressive Creed

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who I often disagree with, nevertheless wrote some of the most amazing words I’ve ever heard from the Supreme Court. In the opinion of Lawrence v. Texas, when a sodomy ban was struck down, Kennedy wrote that those crafters of the constitution “knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.”

There’s something very wise about that quote. “They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress.” Can I just harp on that for a moment? The times can blind us to certain truths. Laws once thought to be good we now realize are oppressive. That’s the spirit of progress. The progressive sees injustice written into law and tries to strike down that oppression.

Considering the last part, well, it’s very relevant to every progressive issue ever. “As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.”

That’s fucking beautiful. Isn’t that pretty much the progressive creed? Strange that we would get that from Justice Kennedy.

I’m nervous about my Google Fiber

I live in Kansas City. I have Google Fiber. For the price, it’s literally the very best option. Aside from my hatred of AT&T and the other big telecommunications companies, it’s actually the best option in terms of speed and cost. I rent a house and my internet cost $300 for 7 years (purely the installation fee, no charge for 7 years, which meant that even if I only live in this rental house for a year, it was still cheaper than the internet I was getting from AT&T, and the longer I stay, the sweeter the price).

Money aside, I really hate AT&T. I had AT&T for years. All the time I spent on the phone felt like years. It was only a few hours here and there, but it was hours! Hours for bullshit dealing with all the idiotic problems (or rather, not dealing with them). So when Google was like, hey KC, we want to give you come sweet internet, I said YES PLEASE FUCK PLEASE PLEASE THANK YOU GOOGLE. Yeah, I was pretty excited.

Now I’m starting to wonder about it. I wonder how much Google peers and saves my data. I wonder if it’s really wise to stay signed in to my Gmail and browse while I’m using Google’s Fiber network and looking at ads that Google is paid to show me (just kidding I use Adblock). Google makes me nervous. I worry about my privacy. I worry how much data they store and I’m worried at how easy it is for municipal, state, and federal authorities to simply scoop up my data.

I’m not really too scared or I’d probably use some kind of encryption. I don’t. I don’t really have anything to hide from them. But it does bother me. Google bothers me. They used to be like, “Don’t be evil!” Maybe they still say that, yet I don’t trust them not to abuse my data. They’re not a little startup now, or even a moderate sized company. They’re trying to rule the internet and I’m uncomfortable being a pawn in their war.

That said, I’d rather be Google’s pawn than AT&T’s bitch.

 

 

Pope Francis: All Talk and No Game

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. One of the oldest institutions in the world, notorious for it’s resistance to change, isn’t changing. Salon has a good piece on it, mentioning that while he does talk a good talk, the actual policy of the Vatican is the same as before. I did have a little hope. I swear between Obama, the Arab Spring, and now Pope Francis, I keep getting all excited for, you know, change. It never seems to happen. Change is incremental and generally unfocused by policymakers. How do we enact change? How can we actually make the world a better place?

Activism? Becoming politicians and incrementally changing the country? Becoming a Supreme Court justice? Sounds unlikely.

Man I don’t know.

 

Maybe we could Tax the Rich? Please?

So the Indians are pissed about all the funds shuffled away into Swiss banks. I used to really enjoy that the Swiss banks offered privacy and anonymity in a world where there isn’t much left. But I’m having trouble with that. Criminality, such as money laundering and storing money for Jihadist groups, is starting to loosen those rules.

There’s a bigger problem. Taxes. Now, I’m not a huge fan of taxes. My local roads suck. I would pretty okay with paying a few dollars to get those fixed. I would pay that and I’d probably get annoyed when the road crews blocked up the roads fixing the roads. But after that, I would be pleased. Unfortunately, those aren’t the taxes I’m talking about.

I’m talking about rich people and corporations hiding funds offshore so they don’t have to pay taxes on them. In spirit, it doesn’t bother me. In practical terms, I can’t help thinking how much better our country would be if that wasn’t happening. We could make up every budget shortfall. We could have true universal higher education, or even universal health care. We could everything! Universally!

But that’s not happening. Offshore accounts aren’t the only problem. You’d be shocked and a little sick on what people can do with an LLC. So basically you just start this little entity known as an LLC, put your money in, and buy up properties so you don’t have to pay taxes on the money. You don’t have to declare that money for (I believe) it’s 90 days, in which you can shift the money around and into a different property, etc and so on, so you never end up paying taxes on your money. And that’s just a tiny tip of it. Also if you get divorced, if you hide your money in an LLC then you don’t have to share it with your spouse! What a great way for rich people to screw over EVERYBODY.

So here we are. Rich people protecting their money from taxation simply because they can, while everybody else gets to shoulder the tax burden. When they talk about closing loopholes, it’s that sort of thing. It’s all very legal and it shouldn’t be.