Yep…that’s today’s topic once I get past what’s new in ‘dese parts.
We had to cancel Date Night last night…again…that makes 3 weeks in a row. The first two times it was because Connie wasn’t feeling well but last night it was the rain. Right about the time we were thinking about going the thunderstorm started and it was moving pretty slow…we decided that it wasn’t worth driving as far as we planned in the rain down one of the major rush hour routes in the pouring rain with no visibility and people that don’t know how to drive.
So instead…we had the rest of the House Special Fried Rice that we picked up from #1 Wok on the way home from Bingo on Sunday. Connie won 3 or 4 times so it was a hit for her, but in deference to her tummy which was still a little less than normal we picked up the fried rice instead of our normal post Bingo pizza from Jet’s Pizza. Assuming she still feels better tonight Neil will run down and pick us up some ribs from Smokin’ Pit BBQ…two racks and sides of fried okra, fried mushrooms, and baked beans will give us dinner for two nights. It’s about the best BBQ we’ve found down here…it isn’t as good as Dreamland up in Tuscaloosa AL or Oklahoma Joe’s (now known as Kansas City Joe’s) out in Kansas City but it is pretty darned tasty.
Nothing else is really going on…Neil’s biking every other day…Connie had 2 funeral masses so far this week along with cantering both days over the weekend. We do have a trip to St. Augustine FL scheduled for late September for the Florida Ladies of Elks convention/conference…and are thinking about spending a couple days either there or up in Savannah GA before coming back home…but we’ll wait until later and check weather forecasts and hurricane maps before making a final decision on that. We’re all just getting so bored doing nothing that we need a break to do something…anything really.
We got a ‘Hold the Date’ for Neil’s 50th high school reunion next summer…put it on the calendar but no idea whether we’ll go or not. Personally he’s not really all that interested but perhaps we’ll need a trip out of town or something interesting.
Ok, let’s get on to the stupidity…most of this is government stupidity of course although the first one is private sector.
Ya’ll probably read in the news a couple weeks back about Mr. Branson and his trip up to space…he’s got a company named Virgin Space or some such that will take tourists up to ‘space’ for the slight feel $250,000 each. For that price you get a ride in a rocket powered airplane that gets carried up to 45,000 feet dropped off and then lights it’s engine before zooming skyward. After reaching a maximum altitude of about 52 or 53 miles it glides back down and lands about 14 minutes after it was dropped off and the passengers get to experience 2 or 3 minutes of ‘weightlessness’. Then today…Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame launched himself up in his Blue Origins rocket…which actually takes off vertically like a rocket does and after 4 minutes or so the engine cuts off, the capsule at the top separates and coasts up to about 63 or 64 miles before falling back earthward and sending up a couple of parachutes at about 5,000 feet to drift back to land in the sand of west Texas. His price for paying passengers…a bargain at only $200,000 each (according to reports).
You probably notice that the maximum altitude of each of those is different…and that’s because there’s some disagreement on what constitutes ‘space’. So…just how does one tell if you’r in space or not? As you probably already know…as one increases altitude the density of the air gets less and less and eventually you’re in a vacuum which is generally how space is defined. For many years…the Kármán line was the definition of space at an altitude of 100 kilometers or 62 miles…hence Mr. Bezos’s rocket topping out at just over that. That definition worked just fine…until the US Air Force got involved. Back in the 50s or 60s…the Air Force decided that they wanted to be able to declare some of their high altitude test pilots…specifically those that flew in the X-15 rocket plane…as astronauts. Some of the flights of that craft exceeded the Kármán line at 62 miles but most of them only reached altitudes between 50 and 60 miles high…and those pilots felt discriminate against I guess and lobbied for a different definition. In order to please them…the Air Force…and in turn the FAA and NASA…redefined space as being higher than 80 kilometers or 50 miles. Thus…all of the X-15 pilots became ‘astronauts’. Unfortunately…most of the rest of the world, in fact just about all of it…still recognizes the Kármán line line as space.
Personally…I think that both are BS. In my view…you’re not in space unless you’re in orbit. To date…the only private company that has done that (and it has a pretty good record going) is SpaceX. While I don’t generally think much of Mr. Musk…he did build a company that successfully puts people in space and he will even take tourists along starting next year I believe…some to the space station and some just to orbit. His price will be slightly higher though…somewhere between $30 and $55 million depending on which source you believe on the interwebs.
Both Branson and Bezos have licenses from the FAA to take tourists to ‘space’…but I think that the first time one of them hits the ground at a thousand miles an hour and kills a bunch of rich people…the licenses will get pulled no matter how many waivers said rich people have signed. Maybe if they get to 100 flights without a failure…as SpaceX has…there might be a pause until they figure out what went wrong but I dunno for sure. In any event…Mr. Branson says that by late 2022 they will be sending up their craft at 350 flights per year and Mr. Bezos thinks perhaps several dozen a year by 2023…but the problem with both of those is scale. Branson has a single carrying aircraft and a single rocket ship that carries 2 pilots and 4 passengers. He wants to double the capacity but that means a whole new rocket ship to be designed and tested and probably a higher payload carrying aircraft…of which he only has one currently. I don’t know what the turnaround time on the rocket ship is or the maintenance schedule for the carrying aircraft is…but he’s not doing more than one flight per day with one of each. Bezos on the other hand has multiple rockets and capsules…so his projections by 2023 at least seem remotely possible but again it depends on turnaround time for the various components.
Rich boys and their toys I guess…both have a long way to go compared to SpaceX as far as doing anything actually useful in space.
As you know…I get the weekly newsletter with humorous stories from the news…one of this week’s stories was about a lady that lives over on the east coast of Florida who has something over $100K in parking fines…for parking on the grass on her property, for having a driveway that the city decided was inadequate, for having a fence that fell down in a hurricane and she waited on insurance payment before replacing it, and for parking on the grass after she no longer parked on “her own grass that she paid for” as her lawsuit against the city says. That reminded me of some of the stupidity here on the west coast of Florida…and why we deliberately did not look at any houses located within the city limits of Cape Coral. Again…in CC as thy call it…it is illegal to park on your grass for any reason despite there being basically no on street parking in any of the residential neighborhoods. In addition…it is illegal to leave your garage door open and illegal to leave your trash can or recycling bin out despite the completely random time that your collection actually happens. You’re supposed to bring your trash can back into the back yard rather than leave it out over night…but if the garbage man hasn’t come by sunset and you bring it in…and then he comes by afterwards as has happened in our neighborhood at least once…then your trash doesn’t get picked up. At least in North Fort Myers you put it out the night before and it can stay out until it’s picked up…that usually happens on Tuesday but occasionally it gets over to Wednesday depending on truck availability I guess.
Up in Punta Gorda…the city council has approved installation of a whole bunch of free electrical vehicle recharging stations…at least the first one is free. Seems they have a company that will put them in free of charge to the city and handle maintenance and pay for the power for some time period…but if the company goes out of business apparently the city will get stuck with the bill for maintaining them and the power bill. So…at least in Punta Gorda…real estate taxes might go to pay for the free charging stations for those ‘green’ vehicles…there’s also some consternation going on about road maintenance and what will happen when gas powered vehicles are deemed illegal. Current federal gasoline tax collects about $73 million per day…which goes to road construction and maintenance but for which electrical vehicles pay nothing. This (a) isn’t fair to the people who pay gas taxes since the EV for get a free ride…and (b) doesn’t explain how roads will get fixed when gasoline taxes go away. Makes me glad we didn’t get a house in PG either.
Ok…on to federal government stupidity…although the rest of these get into hypocrisy as well.
Up in Congress…as you know we’re currently proceeding down a dual infrastructure bill path. One ‘bipartisan’ bill which covers actual infrastructure that both political parties support…it’s about $1.5 trillion of which $700 million or so is new spending and the rest is leftover COVID money that hasn’t been spent…and the bill includes plans for how to pay for the spending. In parallel with that is the Democrats ‘human infrastructure bill’…whatever that is…that is currently at $3.5 trillion…even though the contents of the bill haven’t been written yet but Mr. Schumer is trying to force a vote on it this week. Apparently he’s trying to get the reconciliation budget resolution passed so that the Senate Parliamentarian…who gets to determine whether the individual parts are even eligible for reconciliation…can be bypassed as from what we read in the news about it some of it clearly does not fall within the reconciliation rules. Minimum wage, Medicare expansion, and just about every other progressive demand is included in their bill…which even the Democrats admit will be estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at around $5.5 trillion…most of which is not paid for.
Their spending plan covers 8 years because some of the provisions ‘expire’…but the payment part of the plan covers 15 years with not expiration of the higher taxes and budget deficits required to pay for it…and you know that assuming it passes they’ll try to make the spending a permanent entitlement next year.
The major things they’re using to pay for their bill are higher taxes on the rich and projected long term economic growth.
Taking the second one first…this is the same projected long term economic growth that the other side used to ‘pay’ for the tax cut back in 2016…and which the Democrats including Mr. Schumer labeled at that time as “fake math”, a “gimmick”, and “counting chickens before they hatch”…not to mention “voodoo economics”. No matter though…despite decrying the practice 5 years ago they’re all for it now. In reality…it was BS then and it’s BS now.
Taxes…I’m sure you’ve seen Schumer, et. al.…all taking about the “rich paying their fair share”…so let’s talk just a bit about who pays taxes.
Taxes are based on income…and wealth is a different animal than income…let’s take Mr. Bezos for example as he’s currently the world’s richest individual. He is a very wealthy man…but wealth is not taxable in the United States…it is specifically outlawed in the Constitution. In fact…even our current income tax required a constitutional amendment to make it legal…but that’s another blog post. His actual income is about $2 million dollars a year in salary…the fact that he owns a metric buttload of Amazon stock as wealth is irrelevant.
So…now that you’re up to date with the difference between wealth and income and which is taxed…let’s talk about who actually pays income taxes.
These numbers come directly from the IRS…and are for tax year 2017 which was the latest information available as of April 2021 when the
article I’m referencing was written. Total personal income tax for that year was about $1.6 trillion.
- The top 1% have 21% of the income total and pay 38.5% of the taxes
- The top 5% have 36% of the income and pay 59.2% of the taxes
- The top 10% have 47.7% of the income and pay 71.1% of the taxes
- The top 50% have 89% of the income and pay 97% of the taxes.
Dividing just into two categories…the top 50% and the bottom 50%…the dividing line is $41,740 in income. This lower half pays 3% of personal income taxes while the top half pays 97%.
So…don’t believe what you hear from Schumer and company…they’re really good at spending other people’s money.
Yes…there are rich people; and most of them got that way through hard work by either themselves or their ancestors…and by running successful companies and taking risks. However…most of those people actually don’t make that much taxable income…nothing compared to their wealth which is prudently invested to grow and prosper.
Corporate taxes…you’ll also recall the horror stories about how big companies like Apple and Amazon don’t pay enough taxes…but there is no legal requirement to pay any more taxes than necessary…the tax code is after all written by Congress and each and every on of those ‘loopholes’ the Democrats want to close were put there by a succession of both Democratic and Republican controlled Congress and administrations…and each was put in place for what seemed like a good reason at the time.
Our tax system is progressive…the higher your income the higher both your tax rate and your total payment becomes…personally I think we should put the IRS out of business and go to a progressive but flat tax. No deductions at all…zip, nada, nothing. List your income…an again I emphasize income, not wealth…and then pay the required percentage on your total income. I could not find it again…but I ran across a web pate a year or so back that listed what flat rate tax brackets would have to be in order to collect the same amount of total tax from each percentile group that we have now…and the rate started at something in the 8% or 10% range for the low end and maxed out at 25% or so for the top 1% of income earners.
I’ve got some more on the voting rights controversies going on right now…but this has gotten long enough so I’ll save them for another day.
In the “What Were They Thinking” category.
Over at the Fort Lauderdale airport last week…a 74 year old Canadian citizen got into some sort of dispute with the airline employee at the counter and ended up walking away. The employee told him that he would have to take his luggage with him…at which point he told them there was a bomb in it and continued walking away. Net result…3 of the 4 terminals were evacuated and the airport was shut down for several hours with 50ish flights cancelled…and he was charged with making a false bomb threat — a second-degree felony.
Up in Atlanta…someone in a black neighborhood called 911 to report a shooting incident…and amazingly enough a whole passle of cops responded. One of the cars was occupied by a white officer…who upon exiting his vehicle with his partner because the center of a pop up peaceful protest with residents screaming things like “get that white pig out of here” and “take him down”…to the point where the senior officer on scene sent him without his partner back to his car. Meanwhile…the dude that got shot keeps yelling that he’s just fine with white cops being there as long as they don’t let him die.
How is this not racist…and how does it show support for the cops who put their lives on the line each and every day.
Like I said…What…Were…They…Thinking. Short answer…they weren’t and racism goes both ways.
This week…a documentary was released on the 3rd anniversary of the suicide of Anthony Bourdain…who I’ll admit we did watch his show back when it was on. I have to admit…the original No Reservations was worth watching but the replacement show Layover was not nearly as good but was decent…his third show Parts Unknown took a distinctly more political slant and became more commentary than travel related. No problem with that…his show so his ideas…but then eventually he killed himself apparently over depression because his girlfriend left him and then last week’s documentary. It included some apparently record quotes by him as part of the liberal canonization of the man…but it turns out that he never actually said some of those things. The producer/director/whoever was in charge took a bunch of excerpts from his email and then used an AI voice to mimic him actually saying them and presented them in the film as ‘quotes’. Not quite accurate and he was pilloried by even the liberal press…and apparently he thought and still thinks that there isn’t anything wrong with doing so…because it enhanced his ‘art’.
I did get a couple critter photos out back yesterday…but Neil ain’t processed them for me yet so they’ll have to wait ’til next time I reckon.
OK, enough of that for today…on to interesting things found on the net.
I really wish that ‘news sources’ would hire writers who can construct a sentence that makes sense and a headline that both makes sense and actually is supported by the article. Today’s case in point is an article from yahoo.com about one of the alternate US Olympic gymnasts who tested positive for COVID in the athlete’s village despite being fully vaccinated…that’s newsworthy but then about halfway through the article it says “the main team members…and then named them…are quartered together separately”.
Now I ask ya…do those bolded words above make a lick o’ sense? Nope.
This one was posted in the Attic section on Neil’s photography forum…and while I’m sure that one could have written a similar blurb about the Republican Party…this one was about the Democrats…and while it is pithy and written to slam that party…there’s a whole lot of truth in what it says.
This is a Green Tree Python…a 2 meter long snake found in South America.
Yes…I said Green Tree Python.
But it’s yellow you say? Correct-amundo…the babies are apparently yellow.
The driver of this truck is sooooooo fired. No, the bridge did not fall on the truck…he hit it so hard that (a) the bed of the truck was detached from the remainder of the t ruck which is presumably either under or past the bridge and (b) the bridge structure was knocked 4 or 5 feet sideways.
You did know that most bridges are not actually attached to their support structure, right? For thermal expansion reasons generally they just sit on top situated in such a manner with slots, shelves and such so that they can’t fall off the supports.
These two require some thought…
Another from the photo forum…that’s a 35mm film can for those of you who aren’t old enough to remember what they are.
How lost are they?
And finally…anybody who’s ever gotten a package from Amazon can appreciate this…a SIM card is about a half inch square and less than 1/8 inch thick.