What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's a Big Sky Country

Still don't have my final grades. Sigh. So fourth things make a post.

Look, they say the sky is falling, again. Robert Sawyer opining on if the days of the full-time novelist numbered? In my travels I think I've met just one or two genre novelists who do it as their full-time occupation. Now writing, sure, lots of novelist make their living from writing, just not writing novels. John Scalzi has some good rebuttals (and the comment thread was decent for as long as I read it).

Dan points me toward this. They've confirmed the first extra solar planetary photo. And according to the article, there are several other photos in the running as well.

Juliet Marillier talks about how she writes slows and goes against some of the advice on writing that is out there. She talks about how her process works for her. As has been said before when it comes to writing advice, use what works for you. If it doesn't work, try something else. The major advice is your second draft should be 70-80% of your first draft. It's nearly a mantra of writing. And it doesn't work for me, no matter how hard I tried to make it work. Once I was given permission to make my second draft 120% or so of the first draft, my writing has gotten much better.

And here's were I turn in my bleeding heart liberal badge, I have absolutely no sympathy for these people. Yes, they're part of the poor affected by the oil spill, and they should get some help, but we shouldn't excuse them their past of working under the table. They took their chances and they knew what they were doing at the time they did the action (selling their catch for cash to keep it off the books and avoid paying taxes). Now it's time to pay the piper. No, no amnesty.

It's sort of how all these conservatives who still run on the platform of a smaller government, greater deregulation, "get the federal government out of our lives" and are now wailing to the heavens about how Obama isn't helping them enough. I'm looking at you Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour. Two-faced sycophantic pawns of the media.


Anonymous said...

The whole "immigrant" issue in your linked story would be a better way for them to get what they want. After all, isn't a large part of the illegal immigrant argument that they work under the table for lower than legal wages? These fishermen at least came legally. The lawyer needs to work on his spin.

Where's the balance between wanting the government to reduce its impact (taxes, regulation) in our lives and helping out in a crisis? Can you not want both?

Anonymous Cassie, home from DC

Anonymous said...

PS - did you hear about this? Our government at work - not.



Steve Buchheit said...

Cassie, glad to see you back. Actually you may be surprised to know that many illegal immigrants pay taxes on their earnings (2008 USA Today article, 2006 NYT article, a Tax Foundation article), the figures range from 60-75% (and higher). And I agree, that lawyer needs to think a little more. I believe his argument, though, was that "lots of people in LA work in a cash economy" (ie. don't pay taxes, the illegal aliens are just easier to hit on). You may also remember that about 20 years ago there was a big uproar over the change in the demographics of the shrimp fishers in LA, which went to a predominantly Vietnamese culture, and the howls of protest about "foreigners" forcing out "good Americans" and taking their jobs. That prejudice and pain hasn't gone away and I have a feeling that's the subtext of this lawyer's statements.

And I'm not saying we shouldn't help those affected by natural disasters (and man made disasters like this one). What I'm saying is that these people outlined in the article skirted tax laws for years to their benefit. Now that system no longer works and they want the system supported by taxes (even though the money in the BP isn't tax money, it was placed there by those who do work for tax money), their government, to bail them out fully.

I say no. They entered into the cash deals with full knowledge of skirting the tax laws. The willfully and intentionally didn't pay taxes. Now, they want to be reimbursed for their full losses from this money and are now caught on the horns of either admitting just how much they underpaid the government, or getting a significant drop in potential reimbursement. Well, that's the consequence of not reporting all your income. Sorry. They were the ones who made that choice. They benefited from that choice, well, now the fiddler is calling the bill due.

See, this is one of my criticisms of the bank bailouts as well. The executives forced through changes in IRS rules that excluded, or decreased the amount, of income they had to pay or report (capitol gains, which many of them take as their sole payment, and "bonus" pay, which has different tax rules). Then they ask for handouts. Sorry. No. Pay full income tax on your forms of pay and we'll discuss it.

Steve Buchheit said...

Well, it isn't so much as catastrophe averted, as mitigated. And yes, we have enormously complex rules about what can and can't be done (notice the dig at unions). Those rules were put in place and modified to what business wanted (can't have the government interfering too much, after all, unlike the Dutch - and just imagine the uproar if Obama had announced after 12 hours that BP was out of the picture and the government was going to solve the problem, yes, there would have been protests and teeth gnashing about how Obama was nationalizing the energy industry and all that madness). And their reliance on the disproven engineering of building sand bars (we built several, they didn't work well, construction was stopped when the barges had to dredge sand from protected lands, which is a no no).

The article is mostly a "we could have protected all this if it weren't for 1) Obama's arrogance (as I remember much of the aid offered after Katrina was also refused) and 2) those pesky work and environmental rules - so shouldn't we just trash all those. In other words, it's an attack piece for more deregulation and keeping government out of the loop.

Anonymous said...

I'm not disagreeing with your re: the Gulf fishermen.

My question re: balance is about Jindal and Barbour, not the fishermen.

I've been doing a lot of work with the debate team, taking about the philosophies of social contract. Where does the idea that the government must do something in the BP oil spill fall in a social contract theory? What exactly is the government's responsibility? Should the government have a position in this situation? Thoughts for consideration while I hang laundry on the line.


Steve Buchheit said...

I guess my comments on Jindal and Barbour we specifically along the lines that a smaller government most certainly wouldn't be able to respond even to the level that they are now. Also, the government would be in a weaker position to bring BP to the table and set up something like the fund they did. And greater deregulation would have made the situation worse (as we've seen, they didn't exactly live up to the regulation in place now, and got away with it, including emergency plans more than 5 years out of date - one major contact has been dead for that long - and including "walrus" in the list of endangered species for the gulf - ie. they wrote a general plan for everywhere, and nobody really checked it for feasibility). So what they're arguing for would have made this situation even worse, and currently they're wondering why more hasn't been done. Can't have it both ways.

As for the social contract, I see a position for the government. Individuals would have no power to force BP (or any large corporation) to respond (see how effective calls for boycotts have been). It's part of our "collective defense" to have the government respond. As to totally take over the operations becomes a question with lots of grey spaces. Obviously corporations are unprepared to respond to this, and there are more concerns in play that "just clean up the oil" (see frustrations in the finance article you linked to). Something this large is never that easy. Plus, this "clean up" will last decades (see the Exxon Valdez spill - there's still oil on the beaches). The affected area spans to great a space to be handled locally, and a centralized government can continue to pressure BP to keep cleaning even after it get's 80% done (or so, which would only leave 20% of the original victims shouting for redress, which would be easier for BP to ignore). SO I see a definite roll for the federal government in this case, and they are acting on all our behalf. Definitely a social contract issue.

Anonymous said...

If you see that in the social contract, it is appropriate for the governor of LA to ask the US gov. for help, then why are you slamming him? It's not wrong to want to limit government, is it?

AC, who still has more laundry and thinking to do.

Steve Buchheit said...

Cassie, I'm slamming them for their hypocrisy. They are the ones who are blaming the federal government for running to high a debt. They are the ones who ran on smaller government. They are the ones who ran on wanting government to get out of people's lives. They are the ones who ran on "more local control." They are the ones with the philosophy of less oversight of business. They are the ones who blamed the federal government of overstepping. And they are the ones (well, conservatives in general) who have starved the government for funds in an attempt to make it smaller (and so no funds for research on how to do this better, no funds for actual equipment purchases, no funds to regulate the industry better).

And now, when the crap hits the fan, they are the ones bemoaning how the federal government isn't helping them enough, isn't large enough, doesn't have the manpower or the money to do it themselves.

And they're counting on those of us on the left to go, "Oh, that's so bad, sure we'll help." Well, we will as much as we can with the smaller government they bequeathed to us.

It's the bed they made themselves. Good thing they didn't get their way entirely (or it would be worse).

My former boss railed about the bail-outs and the stimulus spending. However, when "cash-for-clunkers" was about to be reality, he went out and choose a car to lock it up, so when C4C came into force, he got his rebate on the first day. And I made a joke about it to his face, calling him on his hypocrisy.

So my slamming them isn't for what I believe, it's for what they've done and said. But once things weren't so rosy for them. Oh brother, do they complain about the government not being able to respond fully.

Steve Buchheit said...

It's the same with the wanting to outlaw homosexuality in Texas (with outlawing "sodomy"). For a party that wants government "out of their personal lives" and to "not be a nanny state" they sure are interfering in people's private lives and being nannyish.

Anonymous said...

You do not see a difference between asking the government to help in a crisis and wanting them out of our day to day lives? Seriously?


Steve Buchheit said...

If all they were asking was a government out of their daily lives, you'd have a point. However, that's not what they're really arguing for, it's just one of a litany of complaints.

No debt spending, government can't respond now (the majority of emergency spending goes to the debt, by definition - understand the deficit spending is not always related to increasing debt by the way government finances work - but at this time all the money the government is spendin on their response to the oil spill is going right to the debt). More local control means less of the ability of the federal government to respond (lack of resources, lack of knowledge - which is also hampering us in this case). Less oversight means less of an ability to respond. And right now, according to their own philosophy, the federal government is overstepping its bounds, but they're okay with it now.

A smaller government, which they want, wouldn't be able to respond at all.

And really, "getting government out of our daily lives" and "getting government out of business" is just a tax argument. Less taxes, smaller government, less regulation, etc would all make the government's ability to response to this much harder and slower. Aren't they glad they didn't get their way?