Thursday, October 30, 2008

We have come to a time of choosing

Excerpts from a 1964 speech by Ronald Reagan. bold typeface added.

"It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, 'We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government.'

"This idea? that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream-the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, 'The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.'

. . .

"Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, 'What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.' But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

"Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate.

. . .

"We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward restoring for our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him.... But we can not have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure....

"Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation?
. . . Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.

. . .

"We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

. . .

"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sore Throat

Today's dilemma: how to distinguish between sore throat caused by CFS and a sore throat caused by an infection? I don't usually run fevers, and the other symptoms to watch for, like tender lymph nodes, can also result from CFS. So I think I'll phone the clinic and ask for a strept test, just to be sure.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Must-Read Articles on the Bailout

I still haven't figured out why final passage caused stocks to fall, but this WSJ article explains one of the bigger issues with the bill. "The most expensive long-term addition may turn out to be the increase in deposit insurance to $250,000 per account, from the current $100,000. ... The long-term danger is that this increase will merely encourage riskier lending behavior."

McCain is correct that Republicans have been warning of a Fannie and Freddie-related meltdown for years; read the quotes here and an article contemporary to the "deregulation" blamed by Barak Obama from The New York Times in 1999. (hat tip: Verna)

Was the problem too much deregulation? Mr. Clinton says, "No, ... it wasn't a complete deregulation at all... But I have really thought about this a lot. I don't see that signing that bill had anything to do with the current crisis. Indeed, one of the things that has helped stabilize the current situation as much as it has is the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, which was much smoother than it would have been if I hadn't signed that bill."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We will never forget

Seven years ago, our nation was attacked on our own soil. I'd like to take a moment to remember the fallen from our civilians. To remember the first responders, also civilians. To honor the fallen, and the scarred. To grieve with and pray for the families. To renew our vow: we will never forget.

We will not forget what happened. We will not forget that the attack was from an enemy characterized by hate without honor. We will not forget. We will not forget the bravery. We will not forget the unity and resolve that brought us to face our new future together. We will not forget the fallen. We will not forget to be watchful, to be on guard. We will pray for our leaders. We will not forget.

Come and watch with me. We are not afraid. We will never forget.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Of vehicle licenses, laws, and fees

I got my license tab renewals last week, and I was a little shocked at the price. I noticed a large chunk of it came from a new license plate. In 2000, our state made a law that cars should get new license plates periodically, to keep them shiny so the police could see them. I didn't really mind so much last time because my plate was obviously old (it had a mountain on it, but it was rather dull) and my budget was higher. And, I think the fee was less that time.

But this year, my plate is still shiny--it looks almost brand-new. I don't have $24 to pay for an unnecessary thing, like replacing a shiny nearly-new license plate with a shiny quite-new license plate. And $24 seemed like a lot for a new plate.

So I looked it up.

As expected, I found that RCW 46.16.0621 sets auto license renewal fees at $30 (or no more than $30). It defines the fee set here as the "general fees paid annually" for any private vehicle license (section 1).

I also found the law about new license plates. RCW 46.16.233, Section (1), states, "to ensure maximun legibility and reflectivity, the department shall periodically provide for the replacement of license plates. . . Frequency of replacement shall be established in accordance with empirical studies documenting the longevity of the reflective materials used to make license plates."

Furthermore, I found that RCW 46.16.270 sets the fee for replacing a plate that is "difficult to distinguish" at ten dollars per plate.

I thought the $3 charge was probably lawful because it had been being charged for years. However, I couldn't find any legal provision for the other fees they were charging ($3 Filing Fee, $10 Weight Base Fee, and $0.75 License Service Fee).

The DOL provided a list of other laws related to license fees.

I looked them up. RCW 46.01.140 does give authorization for the $3 filing fee. RCW 46.16.685 does give authorization for the $0.75 License Service Fee. Both appear to have been passed prior to RCW 46.16.0621.

RCW 46.17 does authorize the Weight Fee, but it was passed in 2005 and directly contradicts the 2000 RCW 46.16.0621. Furthermore, it is curious that it states that "The vehicle weight fee shall be that portion of the fee as reflected on the scale weight set forth in schedule B provided in RCW 46.16.070 that is in excess of the fee imposed under RCW 46.16.0621." RCW 46.16.0621 is titled "License fee on trucks, buses, and for hire vehicles based on gross weight" and provides, "In lieu of all other vehicle licensing fees, unless specifically exempt, and in addition to the mileage fees prescribed for buses and stages in RCW 46.16.125, there shall be paid and collected annually for each truck, motor truck, truck tractor, road tractor, tractor, bus, auto stage, or for hire vehicle with seating capacity of more than six, based upon the declared combined gross weight or declared gross weight under chapter 46.44 RCW, the following licensing fees by weight: . . ." The lowest class, 4,000 lbs., pays $40. So, each and every carowner in the State of Washington is being charged a fee as if their vehicle were a taxi or other for-profit vehicle. Interesting.

I still cannot explain $4 of the license plate fees, and I believe the Weight Fees are unlawful under RCW 46.16.0621 (after all, if you have to pay it to get your license, it is a "license fee"). I also believe the 7 year automatic replacement policy is a bad law and/or based on a bad study, since my plates are still shiny and, according to both the lady that answered the phone at the DOL and my congressman, everyone else's plates are fine after 7 years, too, and because it seems to target those with lower incomes (hey, if I could afford to buy a newer car, I wouldn't still be driving the same old car with minor systems failures that I was driving 7 years ago).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Added Links

I've added some links to my sidebar. One of these days I should break the links section into several parts for ease of use. But for now, I just added to the one list, which is semi-organized.

One of the new links is to a favorite Bible site--it reads the Bible aloud, which is really great for those days I'd rather listen than look. And it's easy to find the passage if you know the reference (if not, my strategy is just to type a phrase into a search engine... usually several links on the first page will tell me the reference). I'd not been familiar with the ESV translation until recently, but a Bible teacher mentioned it in his list of good literal translations, saying it tends to consistently translate the same Greek (or other original language) word into the same English word, so the English reader will know when a word is repeated.

I also linked to a site with a lot of great resources. I love the Linked Word Project; it has each English word or phrase underlined as a link to an application box showing the original word (transliterated to use familiar characters), its definition, and a summary of its uses.

Some of the other links are to various health information resources. Rather than searching the Internet for health conditions and pharmaceuticals, I look them up on sites like these so that I know I'm getting good information.