Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Energy Crisis

The question of energy is one of the trickiest ones to tackle because it also overlaps with three other touchy subjects: the economy, the world market, and the environment.

Oil is the main culprit affecting all three. So the further we can get from oil dependence overall, the better. If we need less oil, we'll buy less from countries that hate America to begin with and begin to close the trade gap. It would wreak havoc with THEIR economy of course- but maybe it will teach them to play nice with others. It's for this reason also that we need to drill offshore and in Alaska.

I know people get all offended about what oil towers will do to the Alaska landscape - but seriously, show of hands here, how many of you have been there? Or will ever go? How much do you care really? Hey, I love bears too. But we bought Alaska for its resources. I think we can find the balance somehow.

More importantly, oil is in finite supply. We do keep finding patches of it here and there, off shore and in Alaska, but once it's gone, it's gone for good. The longer we can stetch the current supply the better.

In that oil is in finite supply, and is so expensive, and creates damaging effects to the environment, AND is chiefly in the hands of nations at odds with democracy, we need a solution that is renewable, cheaper and safer. Corn is an obvious one, as is wind power and solar. I'm finding it VERY hard to believe that we can't harness solar power more cost effectively. If I go to the beach I get burned to a crisp within a couple hours. Why can't we get that into buildings and cars?

Simple. Money. Solar is renweable and eternal. It puts oil companies out of business. But for the sake of the earth and our pocketbooks, we need to use solar.

One proposal my wife and I came up with was to shut down NASA for two years and put all their scientists on an energy quest. When they can figure out how to harness solar energy for the regular guy they can go back to figuring out how to get us to Mars. Believe me, I'm a huge space exploration fan, so the choice doesn't come easy, but at the end of the day the fruit will be there.

And since money talks, provide tax incentives and grants to companies puring R&D into alternative energy, and to businesses and homes applying these alternatives (installing solar panels, etc). Hiking up incentives for alternatives drives up demands, which drives up competition, which drives down costs and creates jobs.

And with that I am suspending my campaign, lest I pull any votes from the one guy that deserves to win... so sayest the Manx.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Joe for President

Who'd have thought that this whole thing could actually take off?

Check this out!

See you at the polls in Novemeber - remember, vote early, vote often!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mecha Manga in the Papers

Great article today in the Record, one of North Jersey's largest newspapers. We had a great time doing the interview at IHOP. It was one of those great opportunities to share our faith without sounding like kooks. Special thanks to Virginia Rohan for going the extra mile with this article. The picture above is Paul Castiglia (left) and me looking at MMBH and the printouts of Colossians. That's John-Marc, our publisher, in profile on the right.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our House

It's Still the Economy Stupid

By popular request (and when I say popular I mean only) I present Dr Doom. I betcha those two guys running for President right now aren't cranking out quality sketches like this, yo.

Speaking of Doom, it is essential to our economy that we stop sending jobs to Latveria, or India or China. Our country cannot survive this.

Small and large businesses alike, due to the advantage of a shrinking world, advanced technology and third world wages, have found a dramatic impact on their bottom line by manufacturing and even providing service overseas. I've worked for two traditional companies in recent years - one, a clothing company, saw a marked improvement in gross profit by setting up manufacturing in China - so much so that their former pride of everything being "Made in America" was tossed quickly out the window. Money talks. The impact was the elimination of no less than eight US jobs. The other company dealt in fresh produce, which does not allow the option of a six-week slow boat from China. Despite being ten times the size of the other company, they will likely barely be in the black this year.

While this may sound more like a recommendation FOR intead of against, one must look at the long range impact of closing automobile manufacturing plants and the like. The biggest one is the eventual oppressive unemployment in this country, which will mean less disposable income, which will mean less ability to buy the cheaply made goods in the first place. We're becoming a country of service-only jobs. All we do is move goods, sell goods, transport goods, talk about goods and services, provide services and count money.

We don't make anything anymore. Can't anyone see the problem with this? China is getting rich making product for us but buys almost nothing from us in return. Why would they? They can make it cheaper there. And they are smart enough to know that exports are GOOD, imports are BAD in the sense of a trade deficit.

As these other countries continue to make stuff for our country, they will want higher wages and will want to imitate our high standard of living. Freight companies will want a bigger piece of the pie. Goverments will want a bigger piece of the pie through tariffs. The gap will close.

What to do?

Again, I will likely not be getting the votes for President based on the reality of my platform, and will not make fans of businesses and trade unions. But I will not make promises just to get elected. To discourage a further hemmoraging of American jobs I propose a steep hike on import tariffs, to offset a reduction of employer-based taxes that will encourage hiring in the US. I will NOT raise the minimum wage during my term, in hopes of driving up a labor force to start actually manufacturing again. And I will propose credits for capital expenditures that businesses undertake to bring manufacturing jobs back to America.
We can't keep sitting behind desks, kids. We need to get back to the assembly lines.

Otherwise, we're Doomed.
Next up: Energy. Still taking sketch requests.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid

Continuing to share my stand on the issues as I run for President, and I'm da bomb-a like Obama cuz I blog about it. Once again, a reprint of a post from elsewhere, with a few added nuggets of "wisdom." So you don't feel slighted, a quick sketch of Taskmaster, one of my all-time favorite villains.

The stock market is a gamble - it's people taking their money, dumping it into large companies (with no say in their operations) and hoping to turn it into a landfall.

The housing issue, which has caused the most damage to the stock market recently, is a direct result of a very poor mindset of greed and entitlement that Americans have. Buy furniture we can't afford, buy a house we can't afford, buy a wide screen plasma TV we can't afford, and figure how how, or IF, to pay for it later on. Banks catered to this greed by providing (IMO) criminal opportunities to borrow including ARM's. Retailers provide a new credit card with a $5000 credit limit at the checkout counter - the CASHIER approves it!!! And when it all goes bad, they turn to bankruptcy as the way out - something that used to rightfully carry shame but has almost become a right of passage.

Should we be surprised about the housing market when waitresses are buying up real estate in order to "flip it" for a profit? That's not the American dream. That's greed. Should we feel bad for a couple who gets evicted from their apartment because they're four months behind in the rent, and we watch them move out two computers, a Wii, a PS3, a monster TV and a stack of DVD's that could choke Godzilla? That's not the American dream, that's irresponsibility. It's a poisonous victem mentality.

The problem is that we as Americans are fat and lazy and live too well. We're told on one hand to live by our means, and the next second we're offered "no money down and no payments until 2010."

That's got to end, in the form of responsibility laws. In my plan, Adjustable Rate Mortgages would be outlawed and credit card interest would be capped at 15%. Each individual or family would be able to have a legal debt-to-income & asset ratio (on a sliding scale based on their income and credit rating) that would not exceed their ability to pay off. Once they have that max reached in credit cards and car payments, they're cut off - no more credit issued. Just like a drunk at a bar. Anyone exceeding their limit would be guilty of bank fraud and subject to penalties and prosecution. Any creditor knowingly issuing credit beyond the ratio is also subject to penalty. And as long as my healthcare plan goes through, there would not be a problem with unpaid medical bills (thus eliminating the unfortunate circumstances that might create a credit issue beyond one's control).

It would mean people would buy less - for a time. Believe it or not this is a good thing - it would drive down prices and put a vast number of Americans on a path to debt recovery. We have too much stuff anyway. But my plan also calls for the elimination of income tax on interest and dividend income for a family earning $125,000 or less - encouraging saving. Ain't that a novel idea?

Tune in next time for "It's Still the Economy Stupid" as we start to transition toward foreign policy. Ain't I a little smarty pants? Oh, if anyone has a request for a sketch I'll try to accomodate and post that too.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's Healthcare, Stupid

(This is a reprint and expansion of an entry from another forum. Just in case you feel ripped off, here's a recent sketch of Iron Fist to go with it.)

Regarding healthcare. I don't believe in universal, government-run general medical insurance (or government-run ANYTHING). Don't agree with me, ask a Canadian family with double our tax rate and a three-week wait to see a doctor.

The reason we buy insurance is that our medical expenses may exceed our premiums - in essence, a gamble. If somehow we manage to get through the year without needing major medical care or surgery, in essence we've "lost" because we paid more into premiums than we really needed to pay for doctors and meds. And for the most part that's true.

It wasn't that long ago that insurance was a rarity and deductibles were huge - it was set aside for the big stuff, not the trip to the local doctor for the sniffles. Insurance became more prevalent and eventually became the main way doctors got paid - so, doctors began to bill based on what a huge corporation could pay, tacking on extra tests "just to be sure", rather than what the local person could pay. Insurance needs to be higher that actual claims to pay its administrative costs (and huge corporate salaries). As both got richer they became the targets of lawsuits - thus malpractice insurance, which made it easier to sue, which drove up costs, etc etc.

In trying to level out medical expenses, we've created an even more expensive middle man.

So, in many ways, the health insurance industry, which was supposed to be a help, became its own problem. And you can't go back, because once you give a person something it's VERY hard to take it back.

No president can fix this - or rather, no president can promise anything other than band-aids and expect to get elected.

The root of the problem is a mentality that we are entitled to health insurance - we are NOT. However, it does seem that we should be entitled to some level of health CARE, and it seems that protection from sudden spikes in our personal health care costs (ie birth of a child, surgery, chemo, etc) can be provided for in the form of high-end insurance, at pennies on the dollar from what it costs now. This would result in the reduction of a massive infrastructure of health insurance administration, and reduce medical costs based on demand, not what a health insurer will pay. The government would continue to protect the elderly and disabled through Medicare, because that is the right thing to do, and offer this high-end protection to the rest of us (insurers would quickly follow suit). To encourage employers to stay involved, businesses would be offered double tax deduction on their employee's health insurance costs. Low-income families with children (based on regional poverty levels) would be eligible for some basic insurance as well, to ensure that Johnny gets to the doctor with the sniffles before it becomes pneumonia.

Incidently - providing universal healthcare for all of America, $150 billion. Compared with the $850 billion Wall Street bailout, one might wonder if we spent our money wisely.

I am strongly considering one VP candidate at the moment, in case anyone is interested.

Why I Won't Be Elected President

With all the back biting and lack of real solutions in the face of real problems in this most important election, I am doing my patriotic duty to declare, on this blog today, my candidacy for President of the United States.

What will follow are my takes on the problems that face our country and my proposed solutions. I won't be saying what I need to say to get elected. I will, however, propose to offer what I see as the real problems and present some potential solutions. And since I don't want to run a smear campaign, I won't talk about Obama or McCain until election day looms.

I will be looking for a running mate, by the way, and I have a very hot first lady.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Under the Category of "Who Cares?"

Was Jonah swallowed by a big fish or a whale?

Does the Tribulation come before or after the Rapture?

Should Christians allow their kids to Trick-or-Treat?

How should one dress for church on Sunday?

Was Goliath really from a race of giants?

What happened to the dinosaurs?

Did Jesus really turn the water into wine, or was it just grape juice since it didn't have time to ferment?

Did the Wise Men see a star, a comet or an alignment of planets?

If Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, how can we call that three days?

Who did Adam and Eve's sons take as wives?

I'm sure there are more. But these are just some of the many, many absolutely ridiculous arguments Christians get into that mean a bucket of spit, and cause such massive divisiveness in the family that it can only come from the enemy.

Some might argue that some of these mean something. You have fun with that.