View From Above
Thoughts and satire about news & politics. Check out the Archives for other great articles.
April 28, 2010
April 26, 2010
The VAT Is Coming
Get ready folks, the VAT (or Value Added Tax) is coming. Of all taxes, this one is perhaps the most obnoxious. If Obama and the Democrats have anything to say, it will most certainly be coming to a location near you... your wallet or purse that is.
What is a Value Added Tax? In short, it is nothing more than a National Sales Tax. You probably now pay a State Sales Tax, and perhaps even a Municipal Sales Tax whenever you buy something. Get ready to start paying more for everything, perhaps as much as 5% more.
Here in New Jersey, the State Sales Tax is 7%, so another 5% would mean a total sales tax burden of 12% on every purchase. You can calculate for yourself what the new tax burden would be where you live. But it gets worse than that.
A VAT is designed to tax EVERY sale. It taxes every step of the production process from beginning to end; in other words, wherever value is added. Therefore, the more steps there are in a production process, the more expensive the final product becomes.
Allow me to illustrate with a simple example. If you buy stone directly from a quarry, you will only have to pay the VAT once to cover that single purchase. However, if there is an intermediary such as a home improvement store, you will have to pay the VAT twice. The store will pay a VAT on the purchase from the quarry, pass on that cost to you, and then you will have to pay another VAT on your purchase from the store.
Of course, nothing is quite as simple as that. Stores buy in volume and get reduced costs from their suppliers, so my simple example might not be the best. But I think you get the idea. Costs start to add up, especially in manufacturing processes with long supply chains. The VAT can be an insidious price inflator. Think about this example...
An auto manufacturer buys seat belts from Supplier A, batteries from Supplier B, and tires from Supplier C. The auto manufacturer has to pay a VAT on each of those purchases.
In order to make the seat belts, Supplier A has to purchase nylon fibers, metal components for the buckles, labeling materials, springs for the retraction mechanism, packaging and so on. Each one of those purchases requires another VAT payment.
In order to make the batteries, Supplier B has to purchase plastic for the casing, metal posts for the electrodes, metallic plates that go in the cells, acid solution that goes into the cells, packaging and so on. Each one of those purchases requires another VAT payment.
In order to make the tires, Supplier C has to purchase the rubber, the belting material that strengthens the tire, various rubber additives, inks or dyes for labeling, packaging and so on. Again, each purchase comes with a VAT payment.
And on it goes. Suppliers have suppliers, and those suppliers have suppliers. Each supplier pays a VAT and naturally, passes on their costs to the customer. The net result is that an automobile will cost substantially more. The consumer will pay a VAT on the finished product as well as the accumulated VATs of all the vendors in the supply chain.
So, why do I think the VAT is coming? Simple really. There are two major clues. Clue #1 is that the media is starting to talk about this subject in a really serious way. I'll get back to Clue #2 in a minute.
The fact that the media is starting to talk about this issue suggests that the administration has been leaking information to the media and is using them to prepare us for the bad news. The media is just doing their job and following up on the leaks, but the administration is manipulating them. They are implementing a game plan that will end up with the VAT going into effect.
Here's how it works. The administration will orchestrate the media in 3 stages. Stage 1 is "Denial". That's where we are right now. When asked about whether or not the White House is considering a VAT, the answer is "NO". Robert Gibbs says a VAT is not "currently" under consideration. President Obama says a VAT is not "currently" under consideration. But guess what, if the media keeps asking about it, then maybe it should come under consideration. The media conveniently becomes the source for the idea rather than the White House itself.
Stage 2 will be "Protracted Debate" about the relative advantages and disadvantages of a VAT. Some pundits will argue that a VAT will hurt the little guy. Others will say it's a good solution to our deficit problem. Still others will say it's "fair" because everyone participates. Some will argue that it will raise prices and hurt the economy. Others will say, if you don't want to pay the VAT, then don't buy anything (as if that were possible).
Then the debate will shift from whether or not a VAT "SHOULD" be imposed, to how a VAT "COULD" be imposed. There will be editorials and TV segments telling us that "IF" we impose a VAT, then we will need to exempt certain necessities like food and clothing, or exempt certain individuals who make less than so much per year. Others will argue that fine dining in restaurants, and luxury clothing like mink stoles or designer dresses can't be exempted because they aren't "necessities".
This kind of debate will provide the impetus for lawmakers to start carving out territory as to where they stand on the issue. "I'm for THIS!" or "I'm against THAT!" is what we'll hear. Blah, blah, blah. Same old, same old.
Stage 3 will be the "Declaration of Crisis", but that will not come until after the mid-term elections in November. Serious talk about a VAT before the elections would make the situation for Democrats even more catastrophic than it already is.
But after the elections are over, then the administration will declare that there is a CRISIS. "We have huge deficits", they will say, even though this administration did everything in its power to exacerbate those deficits. "The Chinese don't want to buy our T-Bills", is what we'll hear. "We have to do SOMETHING, and we have to do it NOW!"
The timing of Stage 3 will conveniently coincide with a report that comes out from the "Deficit Reduction Commission" created by President Obama under an Executive Order. The official title of the Commission is the "National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform" or NCFRR. Obama's creation of that commission is actually Clue #2 that a VAT is on the way.
Think about it. Of what use is a "Deficit Reduction Commission"? Everyone knows how to reduce the deficit. There are only three options: 1) cut spending, 2) raise taxes, or 3) some combination thereof. Therefore, Obama must have some ulterior motive for creating such a commission.
At the moment, Congress has no backbone or appetite for cutting spending, raising taxes, or any combination thereof. They only want to borrow and spend. Thus, when Barack Obama asked Congress to legislate a deficit reduction commission into existence, they refused. That's when Obama decided to create the NCFRR via Executive Order.
Why is Obama so keen on having such a commission? Because he needs it to create cover for himself when he imposes the new VAT tax (or any other taxes he might have in mind). Throughout his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama made a "firm pledge" not to raise "any form" of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year. The imposition of a new VAT tax would be an obvious violation of that pledge. Therefore, he needs someone to blame it on. The NCFRR will be his scapegoat.
The NCFRR will come out with a "bi-partisan" report that will say: 1) cut spending, 2) raise taxes, or 3) some combination thereof. No surprise there, but the report will no doubt state that spending cuts are difficult to accomplish. It will state the obvious, that 60% or more of the federal budget is made up of entitlement programs. It will tell us that a big chunk of discretionary spending is dedicated to the military, and we are fighting two wars, so it is difficult to cut military spending.
The report will no doubt go on to say that even if all the non-military discretionary spending were cut, unless we made "painful" cuts to the entitlement programs it would still not be enough to close the budget deficit. Therefore, the report will say that "an important component of deficit reduction" is to raise taxes, and the VAT will be one of the taxes they offer for consideration.
The report will cite all the advantages of a VAT that have been discussed on TV and in the press ad nauseum. The report will downplay the negatives of a VAT. The report will recommend certain exclusions and/or exemptions "if" a VAT is put into place.
President Obama will then declare that "SOMETHING must be done, and done NOW!" He will say, "Look, I didn't want to raise taxes, but hey, I didn't come here to do the easy job. I came here to do the tough job. So... it's tough, but I've got to raise taxes. It wasn't my idea. It was a bi-partisan commission that came up with that one." And then the Democrats will shove it down our throats just like health care.
This is all hypothetical of course, and there is no guarantee that it will happen exactly this way. Just when you think you can see the future, your eyes start playing tricks on you. But it is certainly one of the possible alternate realities we face.
I believe that there is little hope of preventing the implementation of a new VAT tax unless a few things happen. First, the Republicans would have to take back both houses of Congress in November, and that's a long shot. If the Democrats remain in power, they will figure out some way, some trick, some scheme to shove a VAT down our throats.
Second, if the Republicans do take back control of Congress, they will have to avoid falling into the same trap of "taking the easy way out" and going for a VAT tax themselves. If past history is any indication, then Republicans can be guaranteed to lose sight of their conservative values at some point after taking control. Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner.
Third, the Tea Party movement and conservative organizations will need to continue their struggle to make themselves heard over the opposition. They need to find a way to be heard by the masses that only listen to the silence or the lunatic rantings of the paleo-stream media.
Fourth, we will need to pray. We need to ask God to forgive the sins of our country, for the slaughter of the unborn, for the sex and the violence, and for our failures as an individual and a nation. We need to ask God to "deliver us from evil" and to protect us from those who would enslave us -- either wittingly or unwittingly. We need to pray that our leaders will have the wisdom to see clearly and the courage to act decisively for the good of the nation, and not their own re-election chances. We need to ask God to help us find our way back to the intentions of the Founding Fathers -- a country that glorifies Him and liberates the individual.
That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
April 16, 2010
No One Is Raising Taxes Right Now
Hat-tip to Hankmeister for this one...
April 12, 2010
Obama's Bizarro World
Hat-tip to Hankmeister for inspiration...
For those of us who were kids in the 1960's and liked to read comic books, the "Bizarro World" of Superman lore is unforgettable. It is a strange cube-shaped world where everything is supposed to be the opposite of life on earth. People on Bizarro World live according to the Bizarro Code...
Bizarro World is also known as the planet "Htrae", or "Earth" spelled backwards. On Bizarro World, the tires on their cars are square rather than round. Buying Bizarro bonds are "Guaranteed to lose money for you". Being called "stupid" is considered a great compliment. People make it a practice to use the worst grammar possible. And they enter through exits, and exit through entrances...
Well, having Barack Obama as President is kind of like having an inhabitant from Bizarro World in the White House. Consider the following...
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, taking an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" really means doing everything in your power to circumvent that Constitution because you think it is "fundamentally flawed".
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you are "not a socialist" really means "it's good to spread the wealth around" and have a voting record to left of avowed socialist Bernie Sanders.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you are "not an idealogue" really means that you will fight against all obstacles to get your legislation passed, no matter the cost to your poll numbers or your party's future, and despite a majority of Americans rejecting it.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you will not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year really means that you are about to impose a new cigarette tax on the average smoker who earns $40,000 a year.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you will not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year really means that you will tax various companies who will then pass on those costs to the taxpayer.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you do not want to run an auto company really means that you have just seized control of GM, fired the CEO, told them what kind of cars to build, and you now maintain a 60% controlling interest.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, "energy independence" means not using energy sources we own, making electricity rates "skyrocket", bankrupting coal-fired power plants, replacing reliable energy sources with weather-dependent sources, inflating your car tires, and expanding oil and gas exploration (but not permitting any drilling).
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that we have the worst economy since the Great Depression really means that it's time to push a legislative agenda that creates uncertainty for industry, increases the cost of doing business, and raises taxes on everyone.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that unemployment will not rise above 8% really means that unemployment will hit 10%.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you will create almost 4 million new jobs really means that you will lose nearly 3 million jobs.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you want to "stimulate the economy" really means that you want to spend billions of dollars on government agencies "overwhelmingly" in Democratic districts.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that we need "earmark reform" really means that you are about to sign a spending bill that has over 8,000 earmarks in it.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that we must address deficit spending really means that you are about to propose a budget of $3.6 trillion which is half a trillion more than last year's budget and of which fully one third is deficit spending.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that we must address deficit spending really means that it's time to launch a new entitlement program.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that health care reform is "deficit neutral" really means that 10 years of taxes should cover 6 years of benefits.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, "saving Medicare" means arbitrarily cutting $500 billion out of its budget.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, "saving money" means cutting Medicare and spending that money somewhere else.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, "budget cuts" really mean "tax increases".
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, working in a "bipartisan manner" means passing all of your legislation with few or no Republican votes.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, "transparency" means hiding your birth certificate, your college records and all of your writings.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, "openness" means conducting negotiations behind closed doors.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, announcing the closure of Gitmo within one year really means that you will begin thinking about ways to do that, and maybe not doing it after all.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you will not prosecute CIA personnel really means that within 24 hours you will order Attorney General Holder to consider prosecuting CIA personnel.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying that you will issue a "strong response" to North Korea for firing ballistic missiles aimed at Hawaii really means that you are about to cut the budget for missile defense systems.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, saying you want to improve education really means that you want to kill the school voucher program that allows poor kids to get a better education.
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, you announce a troop increase in Afghanistan at the same time you announce a planned withdrawal date.
I could go on and on (trust me), but I think you get the point. Allow me to leave you with one final example which sums things up...
In the Bizarro world of Barack Obama, wealth is a crime and should be punished; poverty is noble and should be rewarded; government is good and should be expanded; government officials are power brokers and not public servants; the Constitution is flawed and should be circumvented; unions are a source of power that should be harnessed; We The People are dangerous and must be contained.
So where's Superman when you need him?
April 10, 2010
Stimulus Spending And Job Growth: Update 10
Well, here we are again. Time to update of Obama's stimulus-driven job creation results. Let's look at the picture for March. Barack Obama said his stimulus package would create approximately 4 million "new jobs" over two years. In order to create 4 million jobs in 24 months, the Obama administration would have had to create approximately 166,667 jobs per month to reach this target, assuming linear job growth. That scenario is shown as violet in the following graph.
I developed a curve showing what I thought might be a more "Likely" scenario -- plotted as light blue in the following graph. As you can see from the graph, the actual trend of job losses is somewhat worse than I had predicted -- plotted as yellow and red. The jobless rate continues to generally follow the trajectory I had originally envisioned.
I have revised the January and February job figures according to the latest data from the US Dept of Labor. In January, 14,000 jobs were gained. In February, an equal amount or 14,000 jobs were lost. In March, a higher than expected 162,000 jobs were gained.
Instead of having to create 166,667 new jobs per month to reach his original target of 4 million new jobs, President Obama now needs to create 597,181 jobs per month -- in order to make up for the nearly 2.6 million jobs that have been lost since the stimulus bill was signed.
I was not one of the fortunate 162,000 but continue to remain unemployed.
Five Years Old
It's hard to believe, but "View From Above" is 5 years old today. Whew, what a ride! It's been a strange journey to say the least. In my mind, this blog has gone through a number of phases. Briefly...
Following in the footsteps of my hero -- Scott Ott -- it started out mostly as satire. I soon realized however, that satire is REALLY hard, and frankly, I'm not that good at it. It went through an advocacy phase, where I pushed causes and petitions. And following the success of my "Top Ten Looney Liberal Idiots" article, it went through the "Looney Liberal of the Week" phase.
It went through a Photoshop phase, where I played with pics a lot. It went through a 'weighty' phase, where I tried to write more intellectual pieces (but I'm not too good at that either). After writing an article called "The Fallacy of 'Climate Change'", it went through the "Global Warming News" phase. Lately, I've been into the video-making phase.
The blog has seen its ups and downs in readership. It's been fairly steady for the last year as seen in the following chart...
I want to thank all of my constant "Viewers", and especially those who leave comments. I know there are more "Viewers" than "Commenters", and that's OK. It takes a little extra time and effort to go through the process of composing a comment, and there is so much to see on the Internet... and so little time.
Special thanks to my extended ScrappleFamily, whom I regularly pester with e-mails about articles and videos. Thanks for putting up with me.
--Mr. Eye, Proprietor
Obama's Top Ten Jokes
Here's my latest video creation...
Or, you can watch a larger version at YouTube here...
April 03, 2010
He Died For You
I'm re-posting this for Easter...
You might like the YouTube version better. Go HERE.