Obama Stimulus package in historical terms

The stimulus package that just passed both legislative houses of the government is set at $789bn. This cost, along with previous stimulus packages and the guarantees the government has made to back some financial institutions could bring the total costs of this bailout, in a worst case scenario, to over 9 trillion dollars.

Just to put things in perspective, here is an analysis by Jim Bianco of Bianco Research of what the largest historical US government projects cost in today’s dollars.

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion

The New Deal, which was created to get us out of the worst depression this country has experienced and which included the construction of numerous parks, roads, buildings, dams, power plants, airports and other projects which are still in use today would ONLY cost $500 billion today. That’s less than 2/3 of the plan President Obama has managed to push through congress this week, and only a drop in the bucket compared to all the guarantees the government has made.

We can only hope that this money doesn’t go to bonuses, office remodels for CEOs and other perks for the upper class like the last round of bailout money did.

Creepy PSAs

Your tax dollars at work – PSAs warning kids about how the Internet works.

How is it possible that high school kids don’t get that once you post pics of yourself on the net they will be there forever? I think it’s the parents, Ad Council and government officials that were shocked by this. Kids know it will be up there forever, but don’t care, just like they don’t care about the tattoos, nose ring or GPA.

The first video makes me wonder what Neil Flynn would think about the evil Janitor stereotype.

Stupid Daylight Savings Time

There are probably thousands (maybe millions) of posts today complaining about this, but I'm going to say it anyway.

I HATE Daylight Savings Time. Actually, it's not the DST that I hate as much as it is the TIME CHANGE. Not everyone has this problem, but I'm screwed up for at least a week after the spring change. Losing that hour out of my life is hard on my schedule.

My favorite thing about the whole time change is the idiocy of it all. We don't get 'an extra hour of daylight'. The amount of daylight is the same yesterday as it is today (except for the 30 seconds we gain going in to summer). The whole thing is just a nationwide gimmick used to trick us into going to bed an hour earlier and getting up an hour earlier. How dumb is that.

We save energy at the cost of thousands of hours of lost productivity due to sleep schedules being screwed up. Then in the fall, when we could really use the 'extra hour of light', they take it back. Why? 'Because of the children' who can't go to school in the dark.

The whole thing is just ridiculous and makes me irritable. I'm going to keep complaining until somebody puts a stop to the nonsense!

Texas Judge dismisses MySpace case

Just found this, but back in February a Federal Judge in Texas dismissed a suit against MySpace. The lawsuit was brought by the mother of a 14 year old girl who lied about her age on MySpace, made a date with a 19 year old and was assaulted while on the date. They alleged that MySpace should have done more to make sure the 14 year old was who she said she was.

Sparks' decision to dismiss the lawsuit was based mainly on the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which exempted websites and Internet service providers from responsibility for what their users said online. The law also states that those providers can't be held liable for adopting imperfect protections against indecent or harmful content — a provision aimed at encouraging sites to do the best they could to safeguard users. To its credit, MySpace has taken several steps to guard against sexual predators, such as limiting the contact between adults and users who say they are younger than 16 years old. It is also lobbying state legislatures and Congress to require convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses, and it plans to unveil software that could help parents see how their children are identifying themselves on MySpace.

This relates closely to my recent post about adult websites. A website should not be held accountable when an unsupervised underage minor is exposed to unacceptable content, especially if they lie about their age.

In related news, the Connecticut legislature has take the opposite approach.

Connecticut lawmakers unveiled legislation Wednesday that would require MySpace.com and other social-networking sites to verify users' ages and obtain parental consent before minors can post profiles.

It will be interesting to see how much time and money is wasted in court due to this law…

California sues carmakers

In the most insane news of the day the State of California is suing automakers for Global Warming.

This is actually an interesting case. California is going to have to convince a jury that

  1. Global Warming actually is occurring
  2. Greenhouse gasses are causing global warming
  3. Automakers are responsible for these greenhous gasses

This should really bring the global warming to the forefront – what do you want to bet that automakers can find (buy) scientists that dispute global warming alltogether thus disputing the idea that there is a consensus in the scientific community on the subject.

Personally, I think we should all get together and sue the State of California for global warming since they have

  • Allowed drivers to drive too fast and not enforced traffic laws causeing vehicles to burn excess fuel
  • Created bigger roads to encourage more driving than needed
  • Provided it’s citizens with inadequate public transportation forcing them to drive their cars
  • Allowed businesses and residences to run air conditioning which uses power causing greenhouse gasses from coal-fired power plants

In fact, http://www.americanautotransport.co should also have a lawsuit against the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and other environmental organizations for blocking US production of Nuclear power plants. If they had not done so, cheap electricity would have promoted the widespread use of electric cars.

Net Neutrality

To date, I haven’t written anything about Net Neutrality. There is a good reason for this. While I am a vehemently against telecoms restricting anyone’s access to the Internet, I also dissapprove of increased government involvement in the administration and regulation of said Internet.

Last week, my friend MJ asked me for my opinion on this issue. I thought I would post my response to her.

Over the last year there has been talk, most notably by the CEO of SBC (now AT&T) (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20051031/0354228_F.shtml), accusing companies like Yahoo, Google and ebay of making money at the telecoms’ expense. This, of course, is not true since Google has to purchase connections into their facilities just like you and I purchase them into our houses. SBC also complained that they spent the capital to ‘build the pipes’ and these companies shouldn’t be able to use them. Again, this is misleading. Much of the telecom infrastructure has been funded by the US Government, for the telecoms to complain about their
capital expenditures now is a little much.

The SBC CEO’s proposed solution to this problem was to basically charge companies like Google an additional fee. If Google refuses to pay SBC could restrict or stop all traffic between their customers and Google. Of course, to date, none of this has actually happened yet.

As a potential resolution to this problem a bill in support of ‘Net Neutrality’ was introduced into Congress this spring. The concept of ‘Net
Neutrality’, again in a nutshell, basically says the government will regulate the telecoms to ensure that everyone’s traffic is carried
equally. Telecoms will not be allowed to prefer connections to one website over another, or restrict phone calls over one voip service more or less than another.

Now, what do I think of all this? I think Net Neutrality in theory is a great concept, but I also think government involvement usually causes more problems that it corrects. There is enough competition for Internet service in most major areas that no one company can have a stranglehold on the market. It is unlikely that telecoms will be able to force big companies like Google and ebay to pay their extorsion fee, due to the popularity of their services, and it’s equally unlikely that they will go after small companies – not enough profit in it. I’m not aware of any actual abuses by telecoms yet, so my feeling is let’s not get the government involved until we have to – I think the market will work the problem out itself.

Since writing this response, I have had some opportunity to think further on this matter. What is increasingly disturbing is the insidiousness of companies like Google and Ebay. They are supporting Net Neutrality legislation as being better for the consumer, when what they really want to is too support their business model. What’s best for the consumer is a free market with choices, but big Internet companies are concerned that the consumer will choose poorly. To eliminate this possibility they want the government to step in and force consumers to make the right choice.

Net Neutrality is bad, not because of the concept, but because the implementation will further degrade your rights as a US citizen.

A National Embarassment

Washington D.C Police Chief, Charles H. Ramsey declared a crime emergency on Tuesday. 14 people were killed in the first 11 days of July and two groups of tourists were robbed at gunpoint on the National Mall on Tuesday alone. What an embarassment this is. Our government thinks they can keep the peace in Baghdad, but our own capital is in a shambles. Maybe we should just leave the troops in Iraq… they are probably safer there.

What I personally find even more abominable is the fact that Congress is responsible for Washington. Unlike the 50 states, Washington D.C. is under direct control of the U.S. Congress. They have the power and responsibilty for keeping the city safe. Instead they are busy sending money to Iraq, discussing gay marriage, trying to build a wall along the Mexican border and trying to make sure nobody burns the flag. This is the greatest country in the world, and Washington should be the most beautiful, peaceful, safe city in the world. Instead it’s an embarrassment to the whole world. If we can’t keep our capital safe for tourists that want to experience the history, how can we POSSIBLY think we can police the rest of the world.

I challenge our Congress and elected representatives to put a stop to this NOW. Get of your collective behinds and clean up your capital, before more people are robbed, assaulted and murdered!!!!

State troopers get new toy

Colorado State Patrol is training with a new radar gun that can measure the distance between cars. The idea is the troopers can find people who are following too close and give them tickets. Personally, I HATE people that follow too close and normally try to leave a good amount of distance between cars. Part of my reasoning comes from ideas about traffic patterns. Leaving extra space between cars can actually improve traffic flow.

The question I have is why do we need a fancy new radar gun to see if anyone is following too close? Colorado law reads that a car must maintain a “reasonable and prudent distance” from the car in front. The ‘reasonable and prudent’ leaves the decision completely in the hands of the State Patrol officer. It’s kind of like ‘driving too fast for conditions’, the measurement is completely subjective. Anyone who drives Colorado highways knows that there are many motorists that follow too closely, a new gadget isn’t needed to see this, yet I don’t know anyone that has been pulled over for this. I can’t see any reason why knowing the exact distance between cars is of any use at all. Sounds like it’s just another way to waste some taxpayer money. Maybe the State Patrol is planning on writing enough tickets to cover the cost.