Sunday, November 29, 2009

Concert ettiquette

Went to a show at the Turner Hall Ballroom last night with my girlfriend. Saw Camera Obscura, a very good melodic band from Scotland (my girlfriend has very good taste). They were a bit frustrated by their sound system, but put together a solid set. Something about Scottish female lead singers slinging guitars combined with a high-quality lead guitarist and great Smiths-style pop works for me.

But I need to call out the d-bag I saw in the crowd. It's no one in particular, because this guy seems to show up at any show. It's the dimwit near the front who's making a spectacle by clearing out an area in the standing crowd, often in a costume or with some kind of prop, throwing his hands up and encouraging the crowd to look at him and his act instead of the people we spent $15 to see.

Now, I have no issues with enthusiastic crowd members who bounce to the music, and you can even dance and sing if it hits you. But you'd better not be doing it because you want other people TO SEE YOU DANCING, SINGING AND CARRYING ON. Memo to you, you are not interesting, you are not profound, and we did not come to deal with your stupidity. Stop getting in the way of our entertainment you self-absorbed jag.

Far too many people in this world, both individually and economically, think the world is about them and their needs, and that everyone else should care about them and their needs. We do not, and the world does not. This is why governments exist to balance these needs, and why being an a-hole is not an accpetable way to go through life.

Back to the Sunday laundry, the "Smells Like the '90s Weekend" on the radio (just heard Fiona Apple's "Criminal" for the first time in years- I forgot how flat-out wacked that girl was, no wonder her career fizzled), and waiting out NFL injury news.

P.S. On a related note, sports fans who paint their faces and wear dumb outfits are not "more intense and hardcore" fans than those of us who don't. I'm tired of that type of loser being portrayed as a positive. It's not Halloween, why are you dressing up in some outfit? (and yes, I includes Cheeseheads in this analysis-particularly at Badger games. Cheeseheads are only remotely acceptable at a Packer game, if at all.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Who's (Ex) Cited, and Who's Taxed in Wisconsin?

First, off I want to thank Capper at Cognitive Dissidence for referencing this blog. Given my (lack of) prolificness on the site, you can tell it's a hobby at best, but it's still pretty cool to see yourself cited...and even linked to! So I'll return the favor on the BRAND NEW links page on the right. I have joined Cognitive Dissidence on the links page with Aaron Renn's excellent blog, the Urbanophile, which goes into city government and lifestyle issues much better than I ever could. I strongly encourage (all 2 or 3 of you that aren't me) to check it out.

Now that I have the killer traffic (it's jest folks), I want to draw your attention to an interesting study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, titled Who Pays in Wisconsin

What you'll find is the regressive nature of sales taxes (i.e. poor people pay a higher percentage of their income in these taxes), the relatively higher hit to the middle and upper-middle class of property taxes, and the progressive nature of Wisconsin income taxes, where the rich pay a higher percentage. And it also shows that the highest-taxed group (by % of income) is the 20-60% group, mostly because they still pay relatively high sales and property taxes, and can't write off as many of their taxes as richer people can. It also illustrates that those write-offs and regressive nature of sales taxes means the richest folks in this state pay the smallest percentage of state and local taxes, at 6.7%, much lower than the 10.3-10.7% that the middle 3/5 of income-earners in Wisconsin do.

That last item is an important point to make, as the Charles Sykes and Scott Walkers of the world conveniently leave out that higher-income people are much more likely to itemize their taxes on their federal return, which allows them to get back some of their state and local taxes. I've never had any reason to itemize, and have taken the standard deduction in my previous tax years because it was the bigger deduction, and I bet many of you do the same. But you can bet Charlie and Scotty don't, the WMC types that back them don't, and they're counting that the dopes who listen to them don't know that. It's a lot like how national angry-man radio hosts leave out that the "overtaxed" rich pay a much lower % of their income on Social Security and Medicare taxes due to the income cap (by comparison, we pay the full 7.65%)

The state reoport also shows that from a pure % of income standpoint, it's doubly stupid for the WMC crowd to be against higher sales taxes to pay for transit and parks, as opposed to either increased property taxes or cuts that hinder people's ability to take advantage of these needed public goods. Unless you have NPD and think government exists solely for you and your needs, of course.

Also, read the entire report from the ITEP, as it links to all other states, and you'll see just how regressive the plantation states are, especially on people with incomes in the lower 40%, and it'll make you glad you live in a thinking state.

P.S. Enjoying a New Glarus Snowshoe Ale this evening, an amber/red that's sufficiently smooth for me. It's one of the best ways you can help your local manufacturing- drinking high-quality local brews and vinos.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Budget busters

Well, let's see what's happened in the last 2 1/2 months. The health care bill finally got passed out of the House, albeit very watered-down, and is now languishing in the Senate where dimwits are arguing over diversions like abortion and other lame triggers. The Dems and Obama and co. better push hard on this, because it's their asses if they don't. The GOP needs the boogeyman of possible crazy change over something bad being done, because if something's done, it reminds people that they HAVE NO ANSWERS. Which is why I still think the GOP barely gains in 2010, if at all. The Silent Majority knows who screwed this up.

But if Obama keeps selling out to Wall Street, then the GOP has a chance, because the average dude just getting by will erroneously say "Well, they must not be different. Screw it, change them out." We've seen the S&P go up over 65% in 8 months...and unemployment spike up to 10.2%.

These stats should completely put to bed any illusions people may have about corporations using their profits to help real people, but amazingly, some people are still spouting this "They're the creators of everything and need even more advantages than they already had." What world are these people living on? (This assumes they're honestly this deluded, I think a lot of them are paid hacks) Their idol Gordon Gekko was telling the truth when he said "I create nothing, I own." It's time to demand income taxes at 50-60% on incomes above some ridiculous number (like $2 million), and treat cap. gains the same as income. You do that, it's amazing how much less likely the greed and casino nature of today's corporations gets diminished. It's simple market economics in action.

Speaking of "What planet are you from?" Silly Scotty Walker is trying to get the endorsement of SARAH PALIN???? I mean, it's not like anyone with any sense of decency or brains would vote for that toolbag, but did he not notice the election results in Wisconsin last November? That 17% victory wasn't all Obama, it was also a lot of people in a thinking state saying "We aren't letting THAT near the White House." Combine that with Scotty's "money is more important than equal partner benefits", and you've just turned off anyone under 40 with a brain.

And that's not going into Walker's disastrous budget for the County. The County's already more or less bankrupt, they're just gambling that somehow the market turns around to make their pensions somewhat funded. But the un-negotiated job reductions, ridiculous levels of outsourcing, and fake revenue sources (you're not selling the Park East next year for that amount, bud), and then joking about fake layoff notices are Goldman Sachs-level shameless douchebaggery. I work in the biz, and we had every bit the challenges that Scotty's boys had, without anywhere near the conflict. We eneded up with a more responsible budget that didn't triple our borrowing, nor did we guarantee the municipality's insolvency to hit the year after the exec leaves. There's a reason competent people from my grad school don't sign up to work for the County (at least areas under Walker's control). It's the GOP affirmative action program in full effect.

I know the GOP owns WTMJ and WISN, but people do get their sources from people who aren't getting paid to lie. They do know that, don't they? It must suck to live your life in a bubble like that.