Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

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Eviscerating Charlie Collins’ Laughably Awful “Jobs Magnet” Op-Ed

August 9, 2012

I don’t know why I continue to be amazed at the horribly specious arguments consistently pushed by AR Regressive politicians.  Recently on Twitter, @ARGOP is highlighting this hilariously awful op-ed by Charlie Collins (aka Cluckles as he’s too chicken to respond to direct questions when he’s having a “forum”) titled “Collins: Let’s Turn Arkansas Into A Good Jobs Magnet.”  Collins, in typical Regressive fashion, doesn’t actually talk about turning Arkansas into a good jobs magnet.  Or even a bad jobs magnet.  Alas, Collins’ op-ed is stereotypical tax cut for the wealthy rubbish we’ve come to expect from the party of the oligarchs.  Let’s quickly review his trash, shall we?

 Arkansans count on their elected officials to help improve the quality of life here, a worthy goal. Yet, numerous studies have concluded that we rank between 42nd and 48th among the 50 states on quality-of-life measures like median income (good jobs) and adult college graduates, while we rank near the top on negative measures like child poverty and teen pregnancy.

Leading off, he hits a home run of stupidity, though not for lack of knowledge!  Alas, does he have any ideas on how to address problems like the lack of college graduates, child poverty, or the state’s excessive teen pregnancy rates?  No, he does not.  In fact, he quickly glides over these problems like they don’t even exist.  Here’s some help, Cluckles.

If you want to improve the number of college graduates in AR, you could vote to build more state universities and improve the current state of public education in AR.  Problems with child poverty?  How about addressing the problems of adult poverty, and you take care of their children, as well.  Too many teens getting pregnant?  Well, it’s more than proven that states with abstinence only education have the highest teen pregnancy rates.  However, the AR Regressive party standards are anti-education, anti-helping the poor (tres Christian), and pro-abstinence only education.  In other words, some of the most basic problems of the state will never be addressed by your party’s platform, Cluckles.

But don’t worry, folks, Cluckles has a plan to address all the problems which don’t make Arkansas attractive to good jobs: tax cuts for the rich!

Growing state government faster than the economy grows, while punishing workers with more taxes has not achieved the quality of life improvement goal.

Especially if those quality of life improvements are never addressed, which is a failure at the policy level.  You’ve already ignored the lack of education, high poverty rates, and teen pregnancy issues.  You aren’t addressing basic fundamentals from the out-set.

Our top income-tax rate is 7 percent on earned income above $33,200. My plan would give all workers tax relief and simplify the system. We eliminate two of the six tax brackets—the 2.5 percent and 7 percent rates—which drops the new top rate to 6 percent. We then phase in higher income levels (six-figure earners) for the 6 percent rate over time.

Tax cuts for the rich WHOOOOOO!!!!! /drops mic and walks off the stage

Want to simplify the tax code?  Great idea.  As usual, the poor are going to pay the greatest price with these cuts, and the wealthiest will see a tax cut.  The last sentence of this paragraph is especially beautiful: “phase in higher income levels…over time.”  I’m sure this will be your top priority.  Or completely forgotten about.  Whatevs.

Most importantly, at no point do you address the tremendous revenue drop this creates, or how any of this solves the education, poverty, and teen pregnancy problems mentioned in his opening paragraph.  But if you make more than $100,000, you’ve just received a massive tax cut, one every other bracket will pay for with a huge drop in state-based services (you know, silly things like feeding the poor).

Cluckles, wouldn’t it just be easier for you to have all the poor line up at the Waltons’ and Stephens’ estates and have them hand everything over?  Seems more efficient this way, doesn’t it?

The result is a dramatic tax break for low-income workers (60 percent reduction from 2.5 percent to 1 percent), strong relief for middle-class working families (35 percent cut from 7 percent to 4.5 percent), and a modest drop for high-income workers and job creators (14 percent from 7 percent to 6 percent).

I cannot deny your math here, and I agree the effective rates for low-income and middle class workers need to be cut.  At the same time, the wealthiest will see a massive cut in their taxes, and you do not address the tremendous revenue cut and how this would be addressed in the budget.  You do not address education, poverty, teen pregnancy, etc., and you at no point address how this makes AR into a jobs magnet.  In fact, it does the opposite because you never address the primary problems you, yourself, cite above.

Most importantly, however, you at no point consider what makes a city/state a great place to live.

Here’s a random list of the top cities in America.  What do these cities most have in common?

  • Emphasis on education
  • Focus on public goods such as clean air and water
  • Strong, modern infrastructure
  • Excellent public transportation
  • Green space

All of these are directly due to local government policy decisions.  Sticking out is the wildly differing tax rates across these cities.  In other words, there is no reason to believe there is a direct correlation between being a top city in which to live and having a low tax rate.

But let’s return to your opening paragraph and the quality of life measurements you, Cluckles, cite as problematic.  Your proposal would create a massive drop in tax revenues, meaning there’s no way to focus on education, eradicate poverty, or cut-back on teen pregnancy because there simply wouldn’t be the money to do so.  And how would you improve infrastructure and other facets of being a good city while handing more money to the wealthiest?  Is this where you will offer some mindless platitudes about “free market solutions” and “supply-side fixes?”  I bet it is, since that’s generally where Regressives hide when someone points out that their actual economic arguments are without merit.

One can only rationally conclude your proposal is yet another smokescreen designed to punish the poor and enrich the wealthy.  The quality of life for most Arkansans would suffer, of course, which flies in the face of your opening statement about improving Arkansas.  Maybe, if we make the quality of life for the rich really, really good, that can trickle down to the rest of us just like the money does.  Oh…wait.

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The Stark-Raving Hypocrisy of Jason Rapert

July 17, 2012

I’ll admit my Bible is fairly old, as I got it as a gift from my grandmother in the 1970s.  Also, it contains a bunch of crazy ideas about the poor.  To wit:

I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. – Ps. 140:12

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. – Luke 6:20:21

The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern. – Prov. 29:7

These seem simply incompatible with the Modern Day Republican Party (MDRP), don’t they?  Either that, or there’s been a re-print of the Bible which must say, somewhere, “Soak the poor; let them die.”

I must have the Hippie Bible.

But if you’re Jason Rapert, none of these formerly Christian values have any meaning whatsoever, and your policy stances are a nauseating maze of hypocrisies, all bundled under his supposedly conservative, Christian beliefs.

From Rapert’s website:

Healthcare is an individual choice…

Unless you’re a woman, that is!  Rapert introduced a sickening invasive ultrasound bill for women seeking abortions, SB 843.  Because, obviously, nothing says “healthcare is an individual choice” like being forcibly raped by a doctor with a wand.  Can you taste the freedom?  No?  Hold on, let me stick it farther up there.

From the Bible:

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. – Luke 6:24

Rapert, of course, receives fantastic healthcare by being an Arkansas State Senator.  If there’s one thing he’ll never, ever have to worry about again, it’s meeting his and his family’s health care needs.  Woe unto you, poor Jason.  But if you’re one of the 505,000 Arkansans without health care, most of these among the most poor of the state’s citizens, this is what Jason Rapert has to say to you:

As a senator, I was proud to stand up for the rights of Arkansans and to fight the implementation of key components of Obamacare in our state while the question of the health care law’s constitutionality was being considered by the courts.

Raped by a wand?  Fantastic!  Health care for the poor?  Unconstitutional and I’ll fight against it!

But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? – 1 John 3:17

Ultimately, Rapert is a MDRP “life begins at conception/ends at birth” politician.  From his site:

Life begins at the moment of conception…

This is demonstrably false, but when you’re so overcome by ideology rather than scientific reasoning, your conclusion will be incorrect about every time.   The rest of the sentence from Rapert’s site:

…we, as leaders, have a moral and spiritual obligation to protect the life of children.

Unless, of course, you are poor and without health care.  In that case, Jason Rapert couldn’t care less about you and yours.  You’re born; interest gone.

Taking a quick look at Rapert’s largest contributors, it’s the usual bunch of conservative puppeteers buying Rapert’s votes: Ess Transportation, Don “Double Dipping” Thomas, Stephens Group, Waltons, etc.  These are Jason Rapert’s masters.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money. – Mt. 6:24

The MDRP is a religious parody of itself, readily hiding behind the Bible but, seemingly, never bothering to crack the seal of the good book.  Jason Rapert is a perfect example of this hypocrisy: health care for me, not for thee; freedom except if you’re a woman; and, screw the poor (to say nothing of his other horrendous policy positions).  These aren’t Christian ideals, and rampant hypocrisy like his is a driving factor in the huge rise of atheism in America.

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. – Prov. 14:31

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“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” –Hippocrates

May 11, 2012

There’s a certain logical disconnect that seems to pop up among everyone in the anti-vaccination crowd.  They dismissively ignore all actual evidence that doesn’t support their firmly held belief, but they will crow from the mountaintops any time they think they’ve found scientific evidence that backs them.  While this sort of thing is far from exclusive to the anti-vacc contingent, they are among the most obnoxious about it, and they have enough of a profile (thanks to noted biomedical scientist Jenny McCarthy) that you can’t help but hear a lot of what they spout, whether you want to or not.

Which brings us to Mark Moore of the Arkansas Watch blog.  Mark is, it seems, part of the anti-vacc group that is just absolutely sure that vaccines cause autism.   Once you know this, it becomes much less of a surprise that he would entitle a post, “How do you give a Monkey Autism?  Administer them the Vaccines we give to our Children!

The kind of tests that should have been done a long time ago have finally been done on lab monkeys. The result is that young monkeys given a vaccine schedule from the 1990’s tend to develop autistic symptoms while a control group did not.

Then he provides a link to the study. If you’ve followed the anti-vacc movement at all over the last few years, and if you ignore that Mark makes it sound like this is a new study, you might guess that he’s going to link to the study by Dr. Laura Hewitson from 2010.  You’d be more or less correct; he links to an article on LewRockwell.com.  That article, while also making it sound like we’re dealing with a new study, links to an article at Age of Autism written by (noted shaken-baby-denialist) Catherine Frompovich.  Frompovich is talking about the Hewitson study, and she’s hitting all the same notes that you’d expect: (1) the study showed that “biological changes and altered behaviors did occur in vaccinated monkeys, which resembled and were similar to those observed in ASD diagnosed children;” (2) the same changes and behaviors did not occur in the non-vaccinated monkeys; (3) that people who stand to profit from vaccines don’t want this study to be replicated; and (4) that this study, once replicated, will prove ex-Dr. Andrew Wakefield correct.

Wow.  That sounds like quite a study, no?  To someone who was unfamiliar with the study (or who was simply looking for something to confirm what they already “knew” to be true), that’s tantamount to a smoking gun.

Of course, once you look at the study — which I would bet most people touting the results have not done — you realize it’s less a smoking gun and more a smoldering pile.  First of all, there’s some important information in the Methods section of the study.  See if you can spot the problem:

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On Gay Marriage, or: Man, Those Are Some Terrible Arguments

May 10, 2012

Between the people of North Carolina voting (without really understanding) to outlaw something that was already illegal, 30 of the 33 Republican representatives in Colorado hijacking the legislative process to prevent something that 71% of Coloradans approve of, and the President of the United States coming out in support of gay marriage, today seems like as good of a day as any to flesh out a post that’s been kicking around in my head for some time.  Specifically, I’m talking about the absurdity of the arguments against marriage equality.

Let me back up.  Despite the fact that I wholeheartedly support marriage equality for same-sex couples, it’s not a topic that seems to come up much when talking or writing about Arkansas politics.  I’m not sure whether to chalk that up to my being a straight, married guy or to the fact that Arkansas (like Georgia) is so very backward in many ways, but it’s true nonetheless.  Whenever it does come up, however, I am always flabbergasted by the arguments — often made by otherwise intelligent people — against marriage equality.  I mean, the arguments in favor of such equality are pretty straightforward.  They tend to be things like equal protection or even “why should I care if two consenting adults want to marry one another?”

The arguments against it, however?  Well, let’s take some of the most popular ones in turn and discuss the inherent flaw(s) in each.

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