Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I hate to have to say “I told you so” (actually I love it), but in last week’s Sunday Sermon I was on a well worn theme of mine, the blundering stupidity of American foreign policy – if you can even call it a policy. Particularly the current American lust for getting involved in the turmoil in the Ukraine. (If you want to recap, click here…)

Russia Ukraine map

I offered the theory that it was not unreasonable for a Russian leader like Putin not to want a fully nuclear armed Ukraine as anything other than an ally on his doorstep. And to try to clarify the position from his point of view I used the example of how America reacted (rightly) when the Russian leader of the 1960s, Khrushchev, tried to do the same thing in Cuba – right on America’s doorstep.

Well, I can’t take a great deal of credit for what happened next. It was an obvious consequence of American interference in Ukraine. Obvious to everyone that is except the morons in Washington.

Yes, Valdimir Putin paid a visit to Cuba this week.

Putin Castro

His message could not be clearer, again to everyone except the Congress, Senate, White House, State Department, and the rest. For their benefit rather than the readers’, Putin’s message is simple  –  if you want to **** in my back yard, then I can **** in yours too.

The Cuban economy is in dire straits. The Russians have already forgiven the substantial multi-$billion debt owed to them and will no doubt follow that up with a new infusion of money to help the country out.

The smart move for America would be to immediately end the now pointless economic embargo of Cuba (the desk drawers of the hypocrites in Washington are full of boxes Cuban cigars anyway!) and open up new friendlier relations. I think America would be surprised just how amenable the Cubans would be to better relations with them.

Box of Cuban Cigars

But they’d better act fast.

If they adopt their usual short-sighted warmongering posture, then Russia’s influence will only get stronger and its presence ever closer to American shores. I don’t think anybody wants that outcome.

So come on America, do something smart this time.

The world is watching!

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s an interesting question.

But worry not, I am not going to try to sell you an insurance policy nor even recommend one.

Quite the reverse in fact.

Many people have some kind of life insurance for the financial protection of their families if they should be unfortunate to pass away unexpectedly.

It is usually for enough money to pay off the mortgage with a little left over to provide some kind of income for the wife and kids.

At least that’s how it should be.

dead peasants indursnce

But there is a growing trend for employers to insure their employees. A nice gesture you might think at first. Until you find out that the beneficiary of the insurance would not be the survivors or estate of the insured employee, but the corporate pension plan!

It is unofficially known as “dead peasant” insurance, and hundreds of corporations have already taken out policies worth hundreds of billions of dollars, on thousands of employees, providing companies with a steady stream of income as current and former employees die  -  even decades after they have retired or left the company.

And new “dead peasant”policies worth at least $1 billion are being put in place every year!

Unsurprisingly the greedy money-grabbing banksters are especially fond of the practice. Bank of America’s policies have a cash surrender value of at least $17.6 billion; Wells Fargo’s at least $12.7 billion; and JPMorgan Chase at least $5 billion, according to filings with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.

corporate greed

Of course the tax-men are to blame too – aren’t they always? – because so-called company-owned life insurance offers employers generous tax breaks. For example, company-paid premiums are tax-free, as are any investment returns on the policies and the death benefits eventually received. Although having said that it has to be admitted (grudgingly) that the I.R.S. has taken companies including Winn-Dixie and Camelot Music to court for using such policies as tax avoidance schemes.

Many people faced with a request from an employer to consent to such a policy are too afraid not to comply in case it affects their job or promotion prospects. They shouldn’t be because that would probably be illegal as well as unethical. Class-action lawsuits against several companies with such policies are already underway or have been settled. Several companies, including Walmart, settled the suits, paying millions to low-ranking employees who had been covered.

So if you are uncomfortable with the thought that your company might profit from your death, don’t sign up.

And as for the corporations? I’m as fond of making a few bucks as the next man, but you have to draw a line somewhere and I think corporations should be content with the contribution their employees make to their company profits when they are alive, instead of conniving to profit from their deaths also.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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In case you hadn’t guessed from the title, it’s Pun Day again.

Another selection of great jokes or terrible jokes depending on your point of view.

So get those groans ready.

Enjoy or endure!

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rofl

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The time will never be wrong.

Not on my watch.

Omega watch

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I used to live in a normal house,

but then steps were taken to make it into a bungalow.

Bungalow

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My dog has just eaten my entire James Bond DVD collection.

Luckily I managed to beat The Living Daylights out of him.

The Living Daylights

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I got an answering machine today but I think it’s broken.

I’ve asked it loads of questions and nothing’s happening.

answering machine

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My wife lost her Tampax and got really angry.

I hate it when she loses her rag.

Tampax

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I’ve finally remembered the word that

I’ve been thinking about for two weeks.

It’s ‘fortnight.’

fortnight

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Me and my mate are having a competition

to see who can steal the most dog related stuff

from next door’s house.

I’ve just taken the lead….

DOG_LEAD

 

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They call me Mr Rhetorical.

Can you guess why?

Rhetorical question stems

I’m looking to start up my own business,

recycling discarded chewing gum.

Just need help getting it off the ground.

discarded chewing gum on sidewalk

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My whisky kept going missing so I confronted the wife.

She told me that the guilty party was the family dog.

I found it staggering.

drunk dog

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I lost my job today because I said the office is full of assholes.

Bit of an overreaction to my opinion about a TV program I think.

the office

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What’s black and gets abused 24/7

on social networking sites?

Punctuation!

Punctuation

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I’m a much better fighter now that I have a blackbelt.

I was hopeless when my trousers kept falling down.

trousers kept falling down

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Shopping for antiques won’t make you gay,

but it will make you buy curios.

Shopping for antiques

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A lady at the supermarket asked me if I’ve ever drunk orange juice with pulp.

I said, “No, but I once had coffee with The Bluetones.”

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

You know there is something very wrong with your society when it allows vociferous minorities to dictate how the majority of people are allowed to live their lives.

They still call it democracy, but it is not.

And it is happening more and more in Western nations, particularly America and Europe, and affecting more and more areas of our lives.

The reason it happens is not because loud mouth minority interests demand this or that or the other, but because the majority have lost any backbone they ever had and capitulate in the face of almost every demand, no matter how nonsensical.

It never works the other way because when Westernere go to other countries we abide by the rules of that nation. We do not try to impose our beliefs on them, not nowadays anyhow.

For example, if I end up in a Muslim country where alcohol is not permitted, I respect their laws and don’t drink alcohol. Similarly, if I want to visit Israel, I’ll eat kosher. Or if I go to India I won’t demand that they slaughter a sacred cow just so as I can have a juicy steak!

We’re on the subject of food and drink because the latest to buckle under is the fast food chain ‘Subway’ in the United Kingdom and Ireland. (Watch out, you’re next America!)

Because of the demands of a few within the Muslim community, Subway has chosen to ignore the wishes of the great majority of its customers and has removed ham and bacon from nearly 200 of its stores.

The meats that they still serve are also to be Islamic hal-al only.

Subway hal-al

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In case you don’t know, hal-al is not the Israeli national airline (that’s El Al), but is a specific way of slaughtering animals for human consumption.

Traditionally in halal abattoirs the throats of the animals are cut while they are fully conscious – an act many campaigners say is inhumane and needlessly cruel – whereas in non-halal abattoirs, livestock are stunned before killing to prevent any unnecessary suffering.

So if you are in the UK or Ireland and looking for any of the following “Subs” you are in for a disappointment.

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt  -  BANNED!
Steak and Cheese  -  BANNED!
Meatball Marinara  -  BANNED!
Subway Melt – ham, bacon, turkey breast and cheese  -  BANNED!
Italian B.M.T. – pepperoni, salami and ham  -  BANNED!
Spicy Italian – pepperoni and salami  -  BANNED!
Chicken Avocado  -  BANNED!
Mega Melt – bacon, sausage, egg and cheese  -  BANNED!
Sausage, Bacon, Egg and Cheese  -  BANNED!
Sausage, Egg and Cheese  -  BANNED!

As regards me personally, it’s Subway that is in for the disappointment, because I’ll be deliberately missing them the next time I get hungry enough for some fast food.

I fail to see why I should support a company like Subway for whom my tastes, as part of the majority of its customers, means nothing.

So well done Subway, you’re stock value should be heading the sub way too if you continue to show contempt for your core customers who made your company what it is  -  er, make that, what it was.

Now where did I put that Burger King menu???

Burger King logo

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Don’t worry folks, I haven’t started a new award or competition on the fasab blog.

But if I did, and we had to choose a ‘Twat Of The Year’, way up front in the running would have to be US Secretary of State John Kerry.

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry

Although he looks as if his feet are a decent size, he can still manage to get them both in his mouth at the same time, as he frequently demonstrates.

And he’s just done it again.

The latest Kerry blooper came amidst a glad-handing and candle lighting visit to the Ukraine.

Frustrated in their attempts to get bogged down in Syria, Obama and his front-man Kerry are intent on interfering somewhere in the world.

The Ukraine, in particular the Crimea region, just happens to be the most convenient at the moment.

As with other parts of the world, they have no business being there or interfering. And they know it.

But Obama’s ego took a battering from the positive impact Russian leader Putin made over Syria, so now he thinks this is his opportunity to get his own back.

That’s not a good reason to interfere. And they know that too.

The whole thing is made even worse when you listen to the justifications coming from John Kerry.

Apparently the very best that Obama’s regiment of political analysts and script writers seem to be able to come up with is that Russia’s recent actions in the Crimea were taken on a completely “trumped up” pretext. 

Whooaaah!

Say that again.

In an interview trying to justify his alleged outrage at what Russia was doing, Kerry said,

“you just don’t, in the 21st century, behave in a 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”

It was toe-curlingly awful.

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t that EXACTLY what President Bush and his accomplice Britain’s Tony (Liar) Blair did when they invaded Iraq on the totally untrue  – that is, “trumped-up”, reason that Saddam Hussein had Weapons Of Mass Destruction? WMDs that were never found and in fact never existed.

Apparently Mr. Kerry wasn’t paying attention during the preamble to the Iraq invasion that turned into an unmitigated disaster for all concerned.

Yes John, you’ve got yourself a good lead in the ‘Twat Of The Year Award’ contest.

You’re going to be hard to beat this year!

Iraq Libya Syria Ukraine

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

Bankster pyramid of greed and corruption

They say rats squeal when they are being hunted and nearing capture and they’re right.

None more so at present than the rat banksters and nowhere more so than on Wall Street. If you listen carefully you can hear them squeal even above the noise of the New York traffic.

And the reason for the squealing?

Only that federal authorities are at long last closing in on some of the worst culprits whose greed and contempt for their clients caused the financial crisis we have all be suffering from during the past decade and more.

But before you start clapping the feds on the back, let me say it is too little and too late. None of the banksters are likely to face jail sentences which is what they deserve for their crimes against the people.

Foreclosure-Homes

However, it is something and these days that’s about the best you can hope for.

In terms of the numbers, the banksters are facing fines of something in the region of $63 billion.

Wow, listen to them squeal!

It seems like a lot of money – and it is a lot of money, it could keep all of us blogging away happily for the rest of our lives and then some. But put in the context of what the banksters defrauded their clients out of and what they lost it is just a pittance.

Putting the figures into context, J P Morgan Chase’s $13 billion mortgage settlement in November was probably some kind of record, but they issued more than $460 billion in mortgage securities.

To illustrate it in numbers people can relate to better, that’s like a thief stealing a thousand dollars from you and getting away with it if he paid you back $28.

I bet the amount of the settlement doesn’t seem so big now. Nor is it commensurate with the size of the crime. But that’s what they’ll probably get away with. And they’re not even grateful for this small smack on the wrist, hence all the squealing.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

So there are more difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Now there’s a shocker folks!

I’ve already highlighted the mess that the government has made in trying to bring it’s computer systems online to enable enrollment in the new program. (See “What Am I” post from about a month ago)

obamacare-cartoon

Now people who thought they were already adequately insured are finding that this may not be the case, at least not for much longer. The private insurance issue is affecting lots and lots of people all over America, particularly those who were trying to be responsible and had adequate insurance for themselves and their families.

Most of them bought their insurance on the open market. Obama promised that would still be secure after his new Affordable Care Act was implemented.

He said, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

He lied.

Obama’s new law actually outlaws all but a small percentage of “grandfathered” individual insurance policies and requires carriers to instead offer coverage that is more comprehensive.

And there’s more trouble ahead. In 2018, an Obamacare tax on high-cost insurance plans kicks in and could cause upheaval in that part of the market as well.

The truth is that the law was designed to gradually eliminate the old system altogether.

The result?

All across the country those who thought they had adequate insurance are being issued with notices from insurers explaining that their plans are ending. Ending thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

It has understandably caused confusion, fear, anxiety and a great deal of anger.

Obamacare cartoon

Losing health insurance can be a terrifying possibility in America. Particularly as one gets older and policies are more difficult and expensive to replace.  

So is this the last of the Obamacare problems?

I think it would be a very safe bet to say no it won’t.

Affordable Health Care is a laudable goal. I’ve always said that. But the way to tackle it is to make the existing system more affordable by curbing the excessive profiteering of drug companies and medics, not burdening this and future generations of ordinary Americans with another government white elephant that the country can’t afford.

Unfortunately the government just doesn’t get it – “affordable” means you can actually afford it!

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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You know, sometimes you just have to laugh at the stupidity and short-sightedness of politicians.

The latest idiot to hit the headlines is US House Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. You might remember him, he was the one who wrote the supposed anti-terror law now known as the Patriot Act.

Jim Sensenbrenner

Now he has asked the European Parliament for help in controlling the obviously completely out of control NSA who have decided this piece of ill thought out legislation gives them carte blanch permission to snoop into everybody’s business, friend and foe.

Apparently Congressman Sensenbrenner has belatedly seen the error of his ways and wants Europe to put pressure on the US to change its legislation to stop the spy agency’s mass communications data collecting activities.

Today Sensenbrenner says that the NSA has abused the trust placed in it by the American people. Powers that were designed to protect them, but powers that have been used to spy on them instead. And the Brits are at it too!

dink_cartoon_gchq_snoop_big

Big surprise Jim?

I think not!

Then there is the damage they have done to America’s standing throughout the world. The Merklegate scandal, where the German Chancellor’s cell phone was found to be bugged, is just one of many instances where America has treated its allies like enemies, creating suspicion and distrust where there used to be friendship and cooperation.

cartoon merkel

And the poor judgment continues, because Sensenbrenner’s solution to the problem he helped to create is not to get rid of this bad legislation, but instead to create even more bad legislation that purports to curtail the excesses of the former.

Won’t work Jimmy.

No point fitting a new lock on the stable door after the horse is already out and galloping roughshod over the privacy of the American people and their friends.

closing the stable door after the horse has bolted

All very well for Jim Sensenbrenner to say sorry now, but wasn’t it inevitable that the massive ill thought out powers handed to the spooks after 9-11 would be abused?

Absolute power does corrupt – always! That is why checks and balances are necessary, only they need to be put in place in time.

Obama-Franklin-security-privacy-quote

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

sermon

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Taxation is a perfect example of how the politicians and the bureaucrats have made things go haywire.

Such a monstrous collection of tax regulations has been accumulated over the years that even qualified accountants cannot properly decipher them.

There are allowances for this…. but not that…. except you can have it for that too…. but only if you do this first……

There are ‘eliminated items’ which may not be the same as ‘excluded items’, which is different from ‘excluded income’, not to be confused with ‘exempt income’, all of which you can have as deductions as long as everything has been ‘apportioned’ and/or ‘allocated’ according to the precise rules………  and on and on and on and on it goes.  

US Tax Code size

Just to give you an idea of the scale of the problem and to prove that I am not exaggerating in the slightest, the current US Tax Code is now well over 70,000 pages long. That’s about 185 times longer than it was in 1913, when the code was 400 pages and still far too long and complicated at that!

If you are an Apple or a Google or an Exxon and have a multi-billion dollar war chest you can buy the best professional experts and end up paying little or no tax at all. On the other hand if you are Joe Average you’ve got no chance!

irs-taxes-cartoon

Is there a better way?

I think so. For sure there isn’t a worse way!

It’s not a new idea, but as the system gets more and more complicated, it makes more and more sense to change it.

So why don’t we have a certain tax free allowance of $30,000 or $50,000 or whatever for annual exempt income, and pay 10 cents on every dollar we earn above that (or 10p a pound or 10 cents per euro) and leave it at that?

If that was the rule, and the only rule, everyone could do their tax returns easily, everything would be transparent, there wouldn’t be any complicated loopholes and no one would feel aggrieved because we are all being treated equally. And I think the governments would actually net a lot more revenue at a much reduced collection cost.

Too easy? Can’t be done like that?

That’s what the bureaucrats say, but as usual they are lying. They just don’t want their little empires reduced.

Of course it can be done the simple way. If fact although we don’t notice it, we see it done every day like that with sales tax. You buy something for a dollar and you pay your percentage of sales tax. (VAT they call it in Europe).

Easy. Simple. Everyone knows what they have to pay and why they have to pay it.

Sales-tax-calculator

It will never happen of course. Not while the bureaucrats remain in charge and the politicians are bought and paid for.

Not until the revolution – if there ever is another one.

American Revolution

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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This Sunday Sermon was inspired by a recent post on things I love recently. Thanks for the idea Alex.

al_gore_invent_global_warming

Cast your mind back to 2006, when failed presidential candidate and former Vice President Al Gore was searching for a new ’cause’.

He chose Global Warming and for a while he fooled a lot of people.

gore oscar arrest

He won an Oscar for a largely unproven ‘scientifically based’ documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” that made wildly exaggerated claims about man-made climate change. With hindsight perhaps “A Convenient Lie” would have been a better title. Then he was awarded the much discredited Nobel Peace Prize  –  although just what climate has to do with peace was never properly explained, after all people do fight wars in the rain!

He went on to found an ‘activist group’ and to create a new nonpartisan global movement around climate change that he misleadingly called the ‘Climate Reality Project’ -  misleading because it had very little to do with reality.

Yes, Gore was in the ascendency and was now the world’s leading advocate of Global Warming….brrrrrr …ooops… make that Climate Change would you.

Global-Change

As lately as last January Gore took his old college roomy Tommy Lee Jones and a contingent of other gullible celebrities, donors and scientists on a cruise to Antarctica. Ostensibly they were there to see for themselves the effects of Global Warming, but the real purpose was probably to try to attract more publicity for Gore’s Climate Change crusade. When I say he ‘took them’ of course I meant the multi millionaire Gore was kind enough to let them pay for their trip themselves!

al_gore_only_cares_about_money

But last gasp publicity stunts or not, things haven’t been going so well recently for the Gore crusade. In fact if you look at the numbers, which I always like to do, you will see that the downward spiral has been a steep one.

For example, at its zenith just a few years ago Gore’s organization could spend the best part of $30 million on PR, advertising and political lobbying. It had offices in over half the US States, sometimes more than one office per state, and employed over 300 people. 

al-gore-global-warming-inconvenienttruth

Today those 300 employees have become just 30 or so, and all its state offices have been shut. There are no more hefty advertising campaigns and no more highly paid lobbyists in Washington. Not surprisingly financial donations have also dropped, by around 80 percent. And so cold a political potato is Climate Change nowadays that in the 2012 Presidential election campaign question sessions it wasn’t even mentioned!

Now Gore is going to call it the “Alliance for Climate Protection”, probably a recognition that all the claptrap he was formerly spouting has been largely discredited  -  a bit like himself.

Al Gore Alliance for Climate Protection

The climate does change, Al, there’s no doubt about that. But the only climate man changes is the political climate where you can go from hero to zero when enough people catch on to the fact that you really don’t know what you are talking about!

Cheers Al

Or should that be Cheerio???

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