Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is Obama a Socialist?

So I just got so dern worked up over what is going on out there is the politi-sphere that I had to make my a little stand. I blasted out the following e-mail to all manner of folk in my address book, and wanted to share it with my blog readers as well. There is a 90-97% chance you probably just got this e-mail, but in case not:

Friends and Family,

Please forgive me for sending you this- I try never to send e-mail forwards. I am sending this because its actually not a forward, it comes from yours truely. I believe this is a very important election and there is a lot of misinformation being passed around. Please read carefully and pass on to your friends/loved ones, maybe even your enemies! Jesus will give you a pony is you send it to 100 friends! Just kidding, but if you think this information makes sense, please do pass it along.

An open letter to anybody with an ear to hear before this incredibly important presidential election in 2008:

Before you buy the line that Barack Obama is a socialist, consider the following:

Taxing the rich more than the middle class or the poor isn't a new concept in American taxation.

It is call Progressive Income Tax, and it had been around in America since the 16th Amendment was originally ratified in 1913. At that time, any income under $3000 ($66,297.88 in today's dollars) for a single person or $4000 for a married couple ($88,397.17) would not be taxed. Taxes on the super wealthy were up to 7 time more than those of moderate to high incomes.

So when Joe the Plumber says "it's un-American for people who work harder to pay more taxes" that statement is just about as valid as his plumbing license...

Well, just because America has embraced an evil-socialist tax model doesn't mean we can't go back to a more "Free Market" friendly tax model, does it?

The problem with that theory is this: free markets need the infrastructures and legal framework that government provides in order to operate.

Consider how the free market in America would run without the Interstate Highway System. Without easy, consistently maintained transportation routes, shipping costs would be sky-high for getting goods across the country. Items in stores would be more expensive, and people would buy less. Consumers would travel shorter distances and visit less attractions, and ultimately spend less money. The economy would be drastically smaller today had Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, not massively intervened in the free markets with the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.

Actually, it was Adam Smith, the Father of Free Market theory himself who wrote back in 1776 in The Wealth of Nations:

"The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion."

Indeed it is built into the foundation of free market economics that the rich should bear a heavier burden than the poor in order for a market to thrive.

An important point: Income Tax rates are at an extremely low rate since their introduction in 1913. Usually rates are dramatically increased to pay for the costs of war. Consider the following:

Top Tier Tax Rate 1918 (World War 1): 78%
Top Tier Tax Rate 1945 (World War 2): 94%!!!
Top Tier Tax Rate 1969 (Viet Nam War): 77%
Top Tier Tax Rate 2003-2008 (Iraq War): 35%

Wonder why we face a $10,000,000,000,000 national debt?

Most financial planners actually expect tax rates to increase, that is why they suggest investment in a Roth IRA to shelter against future income tax hikes.

Barack Obama, the so-called socialist, is only proposing to repeal the Bush Tax Cuts, which now appear to be fiscally irresponsible. That would simply restore the top rate from Bill Clinton's balanced budget back to 39.6%.

Ironically, Regan and Bush, the great tax cutters, actually increased the tax burden high income earners:

" The Tax Foundation states that the tax cuts signed by U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, contrary to popular belief, actually made the U.S. tax code more progressive, not less. In 1980, before Reagan's tax cuts, the richest 1% paid 19.05% of all federal income taxes, and by 1988, after Reagan's tax cuts, their share had increased to 27.58%. Likewise, in 2001, before Bush's tax cuts, the richest 1% paid 33.89% of all federal income taxes, and by 2006, after Bush's tax cuts, their share had increased to 39.89%. "

So when somebody calls Barack Obama a "socialist" on the basis that he wants to reset the upper tax rate from 35% back to 39.6%, I take great exception. I get angry actually, because it a great distortion of the truth. Obama actually proposes to use supply side economic theory on a different sector of the economy, the middle class, by cutting rates for 95% of the population and 98% of all small businesses including eliminating capital gains tax on small business investments.

You know what really make me mad? John McCain isn't going to do away with the progressive income tax. He isn't going to do anything different. He is simply proposing to keep the current rates in place. Those rates haven't effectively stimulated the economy, while driving our country rapidly towards bankruptcy.

I am not an economist, and I am not a socialist. I am concerned for the welfare of America, and I can't stand to see one of its most promising leaders attacked with "words that have the form of truth, but not the substance thereof. " This is too important an election to vote with your gut, and not do some homework.

I invite you to prove me wrong. Do some research yourself:

Bush Administration's US Treasury Web Site:

Wikipedia on Progressive Tax:

Wikipedia on Income Tax in the USA:

Barack Obama's Tax Proposals

John McCain's Tax Proposals

Inflation Calculator:

Please vote smart, and definitely vote.

God help America in our hour of need!

- Chris Reilly

Some catching up to do

Hello folks,

I still have a lot to update you on... tons really. Its coming. The whole burrito, and some sauce. Sit tight for a little while longer, I know you can..............

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Triumpant Return...

Yes folks, I am back.
With a vengance.

To blog.

Okay, before we exchange our pleasantries, before I make the massive post about how we are living in a new and entirely different city than Seattle and how my new job at a startup company is going and my several and diverse thoughts on this interesting financial and political times, before I can tell you what is about to happen, I must say this one thing, this very important thing:

I was TOTALLY right. Hah.

In the course of just a few short months, Oil has arrived at the $70 price per barrel that I was dreaming about on one of my earlier posts. If you recall, I blamed $148 oil on wall street speculators. When you take them out of the equation, look what happens- Voila! Prices that aren't artificially inflated! Uncanny isn't it? Unfortunately I am afraid that equities will behave the same way, and that 14,000+ Dow was an artificially inflated number created by leverage and financial wizardry, not serious valuations of the underlying assets. Which means it might stay where it is. Which really REALLY sucks for anybody who is trying to retire right now. Which means, among several terrible and diverse other things, my dad will have to work for several more years which may create a cranky pall over family functions for years to come. Oiy.

Anyhow, we should catch up sometime. I miss you, loyal readers. More substantial and hopefully less self-agrandizing posts to follow we can all hope.

<3 Chris

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'm there. Awesomenesity. Yup.

p.s. More on that later

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Awesomeness insues on Capitol Hill

I had a rad time hanging out last Friday at Seattle's famous Capitol Hill Block Party. Got to hang out with my good friend and soon to be ex-band mate Pete. Got to blow him out of the water with my bowling skillz (mind you neither of us broke 100). Let's not talk about my pool skillz. Please.

Seeing one of my favorite bands in concert was super fun - Menomena. Pete turned me on to them about a year ago. With just 3 dudes on stage they made an incredible amount of sound. Check out this video that I ::heart::

But let's not forget the highlight of the evening, the incredible Vampire Weekend! Governor Chris Gregiore was there to introduce them and pander for votes. A nice touch, but it felt a little too much like Hillary making a stump speech. Neither here nor there. Vampire weekend was awesome. Very tight. They sounded just like their album which is excellent. I think they are a perfect mix of Paul Simon (I'm a fan) and the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic (I'm a big fan). If you haven't heard their stuff, check it:

I felt pretty old being around a bunch of kids having fun, but it was a good time regardless. Just know everybody knows, Peter Jordan is a republican at heart. I won't take it back until he admits that Al Gore isn't an "extremist", he is a actually fairly moderate with extreme commitment to climate change. Admit it, and I'll take it back. Simple.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Donating your downtime

Something fun I want to share with my peeps on the innerwebs...

You can put your computer to work while you are not using it for your own uses for a variety of causes. The smart people at Berkley originally developed the BOINC platform based on their SETI @ Home project. It allowed individuals to donate their computing downtime to process the massive reams of data they collect from satellites to analyze the data in hopes of finding signs of extra terrestial intelligince among the cacophony of outer space. It currently has 2,006,653 computers in 252 countries working together to help analyze the data. It doesn't really have a measurable impact on your own computer, but it is fun to paritipate in a massive community of people working on the same project.

You just simply download the software, go through some basic setup, and let it run while you are away from your PC. Easy!

I started using the system around 2002ish for SETI@Home but stopped doing it after reformmatting my PC and kind of forgot about it. I started doing it again because there are tons of cool new projects that the platform can be used for now. For example: - a research project focused on finding and fighting the malaria. - helps analyze huge reams of climate data

Rosetta@Home - analyzes the way protiens fold?! Potentially huge impact for fighting disease

There are many others centered around solving massively complex math problems, crunching physics experiments, and playing crazy complex games of chess. You can find your favorite project here.

I dig the idea of my lil' old mac helping sciency types out figure out how to help people. I'm not really using it anyhow most of the time. Compute and enjoy!

Minding Manners

It has been just under a week since I made my public "meat free" declaration. For the most part it is going well. I'm not going hungry or craving bacon too badly (I always like me some bacon though...). I am blessed with a wonderfully supportive partner in Felicia, who was disturbingly ecstatic to hear about me swearing off meat. She has a huge variety of vegetarian dishes she knows how to make that are tasty enough that I forget that I am "going without". We eat really really well at home, there is always a bounty of local, organic foods, plus a bowl of ice cream every night, so I can't complain.

The difficulty of me of this whole endeavor so far is managing the social stigma that comes with not eating meat. You can see I am reluctant to call myself a vegetarian, because that has so many connotations that may not fit me or what I am doing. I actually just don't want to get beat up. Seriously, there is a hostility that forms when a group of people are sitting down to eat together, and one person is choosing to eat something different. Do they think they are better than the rest of us? Are they getting enough to eat? What are they thinking, what is wrong with the meat that I am eating? There is some kind of implicit threat that comes from eating vegetarian. It is subtle but tangible- and divides people along friendship and political lines. Its almost like the social stigma of being a vegetarian is bigger than that of being overweight...

Anyhow, in this case I am going to choose my battles. If I am on my own or with my family, I am going to continue to be pretty strict about our meat consumption. When we go out to eat, it is easy to have a yummy meal without ordering something silly like a garden burger- I would rather get grilled cheese and fries. I digress. The vast majority of the time, we get to choose what we eat without input from others, and we can choose with our conscience. I figure that will cover about 90-95% of our eating habits. However, if we are guests at somebody's home, I am not going to make them go out of their way to provide vegetarian options, or go off on some soapbox rant about the meat economy. This is an issue I care about, but I am not at the point that I am going to be an evangelist about it, except maybe on my blog ;).

There is something very special that happens when people eat together, a spiritual connection. The bible is rife with references about 'supping' together. Sharing food together is a symbol of friendship and connection. The biggest symbol of conflicts coming to a close is when enemies sit down to share a meal together. Thus, I want to respect the relationships I hold dear with friends and family and not take exception to how we eat together.

Am I comprising? Pretty much, yes. However, I feel it will help make our little stand here into a lifestyle that we can sustain in perpetuity, not just an impassioned fad. Your support in this effort is welcome and appreciated!!!!!!