Friday, June 22, 2018

A Bigger Disaster than Tariffs

Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that allows states to tax any purchase made by any citizen within its borders regardless of where the seller resides will have worse effects than just "taxing the internet."

The ruling ignores the Constitution's due process and commerce restrictions. Essentially as I remember it from high school history, the interstate commerce provisions were inspired to protect, for example, farmers in Pennsylvania trying to sell their crops into Vermont. Prior to the Constitution, the farmers were liable to have to pay a variety of tolls and taxes imposed by states and localities as they transported their crops across state lines. So, if some state in between wanted to give its own farmers a competitive advantage over Pennsylvania's, they would just tax the heck out of Pennsylvania's crops moving across its lines to the ultimate customer.

I have not read the new ruling and not much publicity has been given to it yet. The only thing I've heard is that the Court's logic was that times have changed because of the internet. The Court supposedly wanted to help brick and mortar stores that have lost huge market share to online sellers who previously didn't have to collect sales tax and to states who have lost sales tax revenue for the same reason.

The practical result will be chaos. Trump's tariffs policy is a move in the global commerce game of chess designed to level the lopsided playing field of global commerce - lopsided against the U.S. The tariffs can be targeted and they can be eliminated through negotiation. But this Supreme Court ruling sets the stage for myriad internal "tariffs" in the form of sales taxes and will be a huge burden especially on smaller online merchants (my own company included) who cannot possibly keep up with all the tax jurisdictions - every state, county, and town having different taxation policies. Unlike tariffs on imports, the Court's ruling is an interpretation of the law that we all have to live by with no opportunity for negotiation or repeal.

The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing when they set up restrictions on interstate taxation. They were farmers and merchants themselves. By contrast, today's Supreme Court justices have had their noses in law books all their adult lives. They live in a bubble. They have no practical experience in commerce or the life of an average citizen, for that matter. This upending of over 200 years of established law is proof positive of it.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Never mind that last post, I'm 100% behind Trump.

Today's news that federal agents broke into the premises of Donald Trump's personal lawyer and seized confidential papers puts me back squarely in support of President Trump despite his failure in signing the omnibus spending bill. The folks who are misusing court and law enforcement powers to persecute even the duly elected President are amoral enemies of the people, without conscience in their determination to subvert the outsider whom they can't control, Donald J. Trump. If they will do this to him, you and I don't stand a chance depending on habeas corpus, being secure in one's person, papers, and effects, and ultimately, the rule of law in a sovereign republic.  So even if he makes policy missteps on small or large scale, I'm for the guy who fights back. That is why I was with Trump from the beginning, and as these bastards show their hand working their hardest to take him down, my support for him just comes back stronger.

Friday, March 23, 2018

You've Lost Me, Donald J. Trump

With the signing of the Omnibus bill today, President Trump has become part of the problem. The excuse of military spending is a red herring. Somebody found his Achilles heel. I doubt seriously it was the Stormy Daniels deal, but something has fouled his water. There is no repeal of Obamacare. There is no real wall. There is no reform of out of control spending. And there is continued support of the infanticide at Planned Parenthood. He sold out. This day will be noted as the beginning of the end of his only term in office.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Megan Barry's Scarlet A

It is not for Adultery, which is presumably over and done with, but for Arrogance, which lingers long after the circumstance.

In an individual human being, arrogance is marked by an attitude that the rules of the universe do not apply to them. It is no different in a mayor. Those of us who didn't care much for Mayor Barry recognized it before the big scandal and did not like what it was doing to Nashville - not to lay the blame completely on her.

There have been mayors and governors and chamber of commerce types all alike who have displayed their arrogance by looking at Nashville more as a brand than a hometown. That's how we lost Opryland for Opry Mills, how we have ended up wasting millions upon millions of dollars on sports teams and convention centers and other debacles which drive up property and sales taxes while roads are full of potholes, schools are little better than prisons, codes and zoning laws to protect the integrity of neighborhoods are regularly skirted, and crime spikes.

The mass transit plan is one more such debacle. The MTA even now is run in an arrogant and oxymoronic manner, wasting millions and clogging traffic rather than relieving congestion. (See my article, "Nashville M.T.A. - Get Your B.A. Buses Out of the Right of Way!") Knowing that Mrs. Barry has shown her colors in her affair with Mr. Forrest, it is not inconceivable that in her haste to bring the mass transit billions her way she similarly wasted tax resources making bike lanes and stop lights and pedestrian crossings and such actually to clog our roads worse, thus better justifying "mass transit." (See my article, "TDOT, Metro Waste Money, Endanger Lives on Charlotte Pike.")

Acting Mayor David Briley parrots the same talking points as Megan Barry and the tourist office crowd but I hold out some hope for him as a better mayor. For one thing, he grew up here, and he grew up when Nashville was really in its prime, so he knows what a great place Nashville can be to live. For another, his grandfather Beverly Briley was a truly dynamic mayor, ushering in county and city consolidation to make Metropolitan Nashville and solidifying its place as one of the leading lights of the South. So maybe this Mayor Briley will have his feet on the ground and though he says he is in favor of the mass transit plan, he might ultimately see it for what it actually is.

If not, there will be another mayoral election soon. And in the meantime, I hope and pray that the voters of Nashville will run the transit plan out on a rail in the referendum just as Megan Barry and her arrogance were driven from office in criminal court.

Books by John Arra:

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Nice art, dumb idea.

Charlotte Pike across from Cohn High School.
A wish and five pennies will just barely get you a nickel. Affecting the tangled webs of human folly takes hard work, persistence, dedication, and most of all what's obviously missing here, prayer.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Churchill, Obama, and the Protests in Tehran

One of the first things Barack Obama did as the new president in 2009 was to have a bust of Winston Churchill removed from the Oval Office. Conventional wisdom suggests that in Obama's way of thinking, Churchill represents the colonial exploitation of Africa by Europe. Replacing Churchill's bust with one of Martin Luther King was Obama's typically passive-aggressive way of giving the finger to the colonialists - while blunting any criticism as racist because he replaced it with MLK.

Maybe. But I believe it goes deeper than that and in the streets of Tehran and other cities in Iran right now, we can see the connection between two dots separated by decades of turbulent history - Churchill and Obama.

I think it's no coincidence that anti-government protests have erupted in 2017 in Iran. The last time serious dissent spread in Iran was indeed in Obama's first year, 2009. He did nothing to encourage the movement. It was quickly snuffed out by the police state the ayatollahs have created which makes the Shah's regime look tame. Perhaps Obama already had in mind that trading nuclearization of Iran for "peace" with Iran would be his legacy. If the grip of the Islamists on Iran was released or even just weakened, Iran's nuclear program would be neutered and the effort would be moot.

On the other hand Obama encouraged revolts in other parts of the Middle East - Libya and Syria and Egypt most significantly - where removing strong leaders suited his aims. Egypt has regained a tentative hold on a civil society thanks to a counter-coup by a relatively benevolent dictator, but Libya is in shambles and Syria is still in the midst of a civil war and hemorrhaging refugees thanks to Obama's miscarriage of leadership. ISIS, of course, is the bastard child of all this buggering, and only in the past year have we, the U.S. with its allies, all but obliterated it from the huge swath of Syria and Iraq that it took over during Obama's tenure.

Iraq & Iran - side by side the Cradle of Civilization and the home of the Persians. The Persian Empire was the one great counterbalance to classic Greek and Roman civilization. These nations' historical significance is so overarching that it even shows up in modern pop culture, from Stevie Wonder's opening to "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" in 1973 to Alan Jackson's tribute to 9-11, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." The superpowers all focus on this region, not just for the oil, but for its cultural and religious significance, smack dab next to Israel, just below Europe, the western of terminus of the Silk Road, across the gulf from India. Now Iran has a relatively democratic and stable Iraq next door to it, and even Saudi Arabia and Israel have lately been working together to thwart its threat. The cauldron is bubbling.

So what does this all have to do with Churchill, who stepped down as a global actor over sixty years ago?

While it is still in theaters, I highly recommend you go  see "The Darkest Hour." It is not an action movie by any means but it is a perfect representation of a man of action, of leadership, and of how much it matters to stand strong for the best angels of western civilization. And, conversely, it is a historically accurate portrayal of the politically calculating appeasers Neville Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax, who for the sake of "peace" would have bequeathed the world a fascist Europe.

Inspired by Churchill, the people of Great Britain with all odds against them stopped the advance of Axis powers when the blitzkrieg had all but completely overrun the European mainland. Churchill's resolute action in the face of withering political opposition - he was deemed a drunkard, senile, crazy, warmongering, populist, and incompetent by his detractors - gave hope to the resistance in France and eventually led to the United States entering the war to stop and ultimately obliterate the Nazi menace.

Like him or hate him, the United States has another such leader again in the Oval Office. The hysterical allegations of collusion with the Russians and his big ego's ambitions of tyranny have so far proved to be, in Hillary Clinton's famous terminology, nothingburgers. But the world has taken notice that there is a man of action and conviction in the White House now, including the Persian people.

I can't predict where the current demonstrations in Iran will lead. But there is no question that the Iranian people, suffering under the thumb of four decades of Islamist repression, are trying again what failed in 2009 because they see hope for support from the United States again. The tyrants ruling Tiananmen Square and the Kremlin, Rocket Man and the ayatollahs, have all taken notice of this, too. The Arab Spring was a complete bust, but the Persian Spring may just be the beginning of a rebirth of freedom from tyranny throughout the world.

It is a good thing for freedom that Churchill's bust is back in the Oval Office.

Books by John Arra:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A very suspicious outcome.

When I called it a night about 9PM central time, 70% of the precincts had reported and Roy Moore was leading Doug Jones by over 60,000 votes. This morning they say Jones won by some 20,000 votes. That means that the Democrat precincts were held for counting until the end. If the election results were corrupt, that's exactly what the manipulators would have done: waited to the end to see how many votes they needed to manufacture.

I don't know much about Roy Moore. I am not a passionate supporter. But I don't like trial by innuendo. I've been in that position myself before. And I don't like the good ol' boys network. From my perspective that's exactly what teamed up against Jones to do him in by whatever means necessary, the boys being McConnell and Schumer and Ryan and Pelosi and their puppets.

The fix was in on Roy Moore from the beginning, just as it was on Herman Cain before him, and Bernie Sanders, and Fred Thompson, and maybe going all the way back to Al Gore, though I shed no tears for him. Before that I think we had vulnerable but overall reasonably honest elections.

Today, I'm not so sure.

Books by John Arra: