FOOD

For legal reasons I’m not going to tell you I made an eight-egg omelet last night from a carton of pasteurized organic egg whites I found in the back of my refrigerator . . . dated April 11, 2010 . . . or that the “tastes freshest within 5 days of opening” legend almost threw me until I realized it had not been opened . . . or that it smelled fine and, minutes later, became a fluffy salt-and-pepper egg-white omelet highlighted with dabs of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.  Because if I did tell you this and you tried it and it killed you and you rose from the grave to sue me — well, you never know what a jury will do.  So I didn’t make such an omelet last night.  Who would do such a thing? But one of the speakers at TED last week said 40% of all our fresh food is simply wasted – thrown out – because we buy too much, stash it in the back of refrigerators that have grown too deep even to know what’s in them (or in “crispers” which generally do not keep things crisp) and then toss it out because it’s spoiled.  Or years past expiration.

Another of the TED speakers was my new pal Ron Finley.  He lives in South Central, one of those diabetes-plagued inner city areas where healthy food isn’t even available for purchase.  So he decided to grow some, starting with a median strip outside his home.  The City came by to tell him to stop.  He said, “Really?  You’re going to come after me for this?  Bring it on.”  He now has 20 such urban gardens around South Central, with neighborhood kids engaged in tending them.  (“If a kid grows tomatoes, he’ll eat tomatoes.”)  His story — told here at a previous TED (the current talk has not yet been posted) — is delicious.  Feel free to steal his idea.

BOREF

WheelTug signed another airline, according to this — too small to be of real note, but every little bit helps, I guess.  The real issue is not signing airlines — I can’t see how any airline could not want WheelTug if it becomes operational — but rather whether it will become operational.  Will they and their impressive team of partners actually get it approved and produced?  I think they very possibly will, but I am known for my annoying optimism.  The one thing I did seize on in the press release: the company is now estimating annual savings per plane of “more than $700,000,” up from “more than $500,000.”  If that were to prove true, perhaps they will be able to wring even more than the $50,000 per year profit per plane I’ve been blue-skying as I try to imagine what its parent, Borealis, could be worth.  Let’s see: 10,000 planes times $100,000 a year . . .

THEFT

House Speaker John Boehner:  “How much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government?  I’m for: NO more.”

To him, tax revenue is “stolen” from the people.  Worst of all, it’s stolen from those who are best off — most recently, in the increased rate he abhors on that portion of your income that exceeds $450,000.

Yes, for the average American, that portion is zero.  But it’s still a theft we should all resist tooth and nail as he does, because folks earning more than $450,000 are the job creators!  The rest of us would not even be earning minimum wage (which John Boehner would lower or abolish if he could) if it were not for those folks.

How many times do we have to say it?  Those folks are the job creators! 

Except that they’re definitively not.  Watch the indispensable Nick Hanauer clip I keep plugging and send it to all your friends.

And note that in the Fifties and Sixties and Seventies loads of jobs were created (the top federal tax bracket was in the 70% and 90% range) . . .

. . . and that after Clinton raised Reagan’s too-low rate, to get our budget back in balance, 23 million net new jobs were created over 8 years.  But that when Bush then slashed the top rate, essentially no net new jobs were created.

(And here’s a an interesting related tidbit [thanks, Pete]: “Contrary To GOP Rhetoric, Low-Tax States Have Worse Economic Growth.”)

The idea that taxes are “stolen” from us is as wrong-headed as the notion that we are already suffering under unprecedented levels of taxation. No one likes taxes, but these days they are relatively low — especially for the mega-wealthy.

Equally wrong-headed: the notion that only private goods and services have value.  That things we purchase collectively, through our taxes, like — roads, schools and cops; DARPA, food inspection, and health care for seniors — are bad, or at least inherently less worthy than things we purchase individually, like cars, Coke, and curtains; booze, snacks, and porn.

Please oh please oh PLEASE bring back the moderates who once dominated — or could at least be found here and there — in the Republican party.

Last point:  As technology and robotics grow ever more capable, there will be ever fewer truly essential jobs.  The kind worth paying handsomely to fill.  In theory, this could be great: short work weeks, plenty of vacation, loads of time to enjoy the non-essentials . . . but only if we can find a way to “spread the wealth.”  If it all goes to the relative handful of folks who own the technology and the robots . . . and to the elite class who know how to control and repair them . . . with the rest of us all earning minimum wage (or less, once the Republicans repeal it) . . . or unemployed and homeless and begging in the street . . . what kind of world will we have?  Is that truly what we want?  Or should we find ways — things like the minimum wage and the progressive income tax — to share the prosperity?  Taxes, sensibly constructed and spent — on things like infrastructure and our kids’ future — are not theft.  They are in the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “the price we pay for civilization.”

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, calls his “the stupid party.”  Because taxes are the price we pay for civilization, and his party is dead set against them — even against what are historically-modest tax rates on billionaires — maybe he should also call it “the brutish party.”

 

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