Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links, and to our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at the Daley Gator for Rule Five linkage and the post linkback!

Now that people are learning what the lately-passed GOP tax reform bill actually does, it’s getting more popular.  Big surprise.  Excerpt:

This week, Home Depot (HD), Starbucks (SBUX) and Walt Disney (DIS) announced that they were handing out bonuses or raises — or both — as a direct result of the GOP’s tax cut.

Home Depot is giving hundreds of thousands of hourly employees what it calls “tax reform bonuses” of up to $1,000. Starbucks is lavishing $250 million in pay raises and stock grants on 150,000 workers, also crediting the tax cuts. At Disney, 125,000 workers are getting a $1,000 bonus, and the company is investing another $50 million in employee education programs.

These companies join more than 240 others — many of them household names like Apple (AAPL), Wal-Mart (WMT), AT&T (T), Auto Nation (AN), Boeing (BA), Comcast (CMCSA), Southwest Airlines (LUV) and Verizon (VZ) — that have already done so, putting more money in the pockets of at least 3 million workers.

This string of tax-cut-related good news is just beginning. In February, millions of workers will suddenly see their paychecks get bigger, as the law’s new, lower withholding schedules take effect. And this is to say nothing of the indirect effects of the tax cuts — more investment, faster economic growth, more jobs.

Even before all this, the GOP’s tax bill was growing increasingly popular, according to the New York Times, which found that support jumped from 37% to 46% in one month, with disapproval dropping from 58% to 49%.

Putting more money in people’s pockets is always a good thing, but there’s a key difference in what you’re seeing happen since the tax reform bill was signed into law as opposed to what the Democrats wanted – and it’s important to note that not one Congressional Democrat voted for tax reform.

What you are seeing here is private companies voluntarily putting cash in the hands of their employees, case freed up by the passage of long-overdue corporate tax reform.

What the Democrats wanted was income transfer; using the confiscatory power of government to take money by force from those who have earned it to give it to those who have not.

That’s a fairly huge difference.  Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, and government should not be in the business of rescuing people from the consequences of their own poor decisions.  With the passage of this tax reform law, we are taking a step in the right direction to the former, since the tax rate cuts were across the board and not targeted.  The latter?  Well, we’re probably not going to win that one.

Next year will tell the tale.  Dame Nancy Pelosi, speaking from her ocean-view mansion in San Francisco, is talking down the raises and bonuses, calling them “crumbs.”  They may be crumbs to her, but to middle America, a thousand dollars is still pretty substantial cash.  And if the economy explodes in 2018, and it well might, she may find her safe Democratic seat rather lonely.

Rule Five Video Game Friday

Worried about violent video games having an adverse event on American youth?  Worry no longer; a study done by the University of York has found no links between violent video games and violent behavior.  So far, at least; as with most actual science, there are conditions.  Science is, after all, tentative.  Excerpt:

In a series of experiments, with more than 3,000 participants, the team demonstrated that video game concepts do not ‘prime’ players to behave in certain ways and that increasing the realism of violent video games does not necessarily increase aggression in game players.

The dominant model of learning in games is built on the idea that exposing players to concepts, such as violence in a game, makes those concepts easier to use in ‘real life’. This is known as ‘priming’, and is thought to lead to changes in behaviour. Previous experiments on this effect, however, have so far provided mixed conclusions.

Researchers at the University of York expanded the number of participants in experiments, compared to studies that had gone before it, and compared different types of gaming realism to explore whether more conclusive evidence could be found.

The conclusion:

“The findings suggest that there is no link between these kinds of realism in games and the kind of effects that video games are commonly thought to have on their players.

“Further study is now needed into other aspects of realism to see if this has the same result. What happens when we consider the realism of by-standing characters in the game, for example, and the inclusion of extreme content, such as torture?

“We also only tested these theories on adults, so more work is needed to understand whether a different effect is evident in children players.”

I’m not a huge gamer but have played some; back when it was live I loved the old City of Heroes MMORPG, and I’m a fan of Skyrim and the excellent Witcher franchise.   CoH was comic-bookish by design, but the other two games are violent; swordplay figures heavily in both, with decapitations, flying gore, and in the Witcher series, prostitution and sexual acts.

Now I can only speak for myself, but I’ve never felt inclined to go out, take sword in hand, and start hacking away at folk on the street.  Nor have any of my kids, and three of the four are pretty hardcore gamers.

There’s another problem, though, and the same problem exists as when someone blames a crime on anything other than the perp:  It’s bullshit.  The only person, the only thing responsible for a crime is the person that committed that crime.  When we lose sight of that, the criminal justice system becomes… well, something like it is today.

Animal’s Daily Imperial Closures News

We are back at the Casa de Animal for a while, having spent a day in Las Vegas and driven across northern Arizona and southwest Colorado.  We saw such landmarks and historic sites as the Mojave, Flagstaff, the Four Corners, Wolf Creek Pass, the San Juan and Arkansas valleys and the famous South Park.

While that was going on, the Imperial government was shut down for… well, a few hours.  Did you miss it?  Neither did John Stossel.  Excerpt:

One day, one of these shutdowns should be permanent. We would still have far more government than the Founding Fathers envisioned.

That’s because even during so-called shutdowns, a third of federal employees — nearly a million people — remain on the job, declared “essential” government workers. Military pay continues, too, although political commentators, eager to make a shutdown sound scarier, repeatedly claimed that military families were being cut off.

Here’s a list of functions that kept going during the “shutdown”:

  • Law enforcement.
  • Border Patrol.
  • The TSA.
  • Air traffic controllers.
  • The CDC.
  • Amtrak.
  • Power grid maintenance.
  • Social Security checks.
  • Medicare checks.
  • Medicaid.
  • Food stamps.
  • Veterans hospitals.
  • The U.S. Post Office.
  • U.S. Treasury debt auctions.
  • Federal courts.
  • The EPA.

Do we need more government than that? Do we even need that much?

If you love the FDA, the Agriculture Department or government websites, you might be frustrated, but the private sector (Underwriters Laboratories? Consumer Reports?) would do drug testing faster; much of what the Agriculture Department does is harmful; and private websites update information faster than government websites.

And don’t forget there are still 50 state governments, plus thousands of local governments. We’re buried in governments.

It’s been pointed out before and will be again, but one of the things we heard about this shutdown-that-wasn’t-a-shutdown, as with others before it, was that “non-essential” government employees would be furloughed.  And, as has been asked repeatedly, if these employees are non-essential, why the bloody hell are we paying them?

As George Washington pointed out, government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.  It should be – nay, must be – tightly constricted.  A part of that constriction must be in place in order to avoid wasting taxpayer’s money.  Nobody reasonable can look today at the Imperial Colossus and see anything but rampant, runaway waste.

Rule Five Dynasties Ending Friday

This is a week or so old, but I stumbled across it last night and felt it worth presenting; here is national treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson on the end of the Clinton dynasty.  Excerpt:

The Hillary/Bill fortune — generated by pay-for-play influence peddling on the proposition that Bill would return to the White House under Hillary’s aegis and reward friends while punishing enemies — hit a reported $150 million some time ago, a fortune built not on farming, mining, insurance, finance, high-tech, or manufacturing, but on skimming off money. The Clintons are simply grifters whose insider access to government gave them the power to make rich people richer.

Long gone was the Scrooge-like need to write off used underwear as charitable tax deductions or to play 4-trillion-to-one odds in rigging a $100,000 cattle-futures profit on a $1,000 “investment,” or Hillary’s decade-and-a-half as a corporate lawyer masquerading as a children’s advocate. How pathetic the minor league Whitewater cons must seem now to the multimillionaire Clintons — such a tawdry ancient example of amateurish shakedowns when compared with the sophistication of real profiteering through the humanitarian-sounding, high-brow, corrupt Clinton Foundation.

So the Clintons finally got their millions and what such millions can ensure for their separate lifestyles. They have at last beautiful gated estates, tasteful and secluded from hoi polloi, light years away from Arkansas and the Rose Law Firm. Progressive Chelsea married a multimillionaire hedge-fund operator whose father served five years in federal prison for bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Her parents’ profiteering can allow Chelsea to announce, perhaps even sincerely, that she is not interested in money. Why should she be, given her own reported $15 million net worth from maternal spin-off favors? She lives in a $10 million Manhattan residence, so her parents had no motivation to get more in order to “provide” for their offspring. Instead, was bringing Chelsea down to Bill and Hillary’s level as a Foundation fixer a way to leave her a post mortem primer on how to get even richer?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  In the 2016 election of Donald Trump, one thing is certain:  The nation dodged a huge bullet.  More like a 155mm artillery shell, in fact.  That bullet was Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figure since Huey Long.  Maybe since Caligula.

Compare the Clinton family fortune with that of what the political Left would have us believe are the arch-demons of the national scene, the Koch brothers.  The Koch brothers made their fortune the traditional way; by producing and selling products and services that add value to the lives and businesses of those who purchase them.

The Clintons, on the other hand, made theirs through graft.  Bill’s half-million dollar speaking fees, for example; not to mention the massive donations to the Clinton Foundation by foreign nationals who then were granted access to the State Department whilst Her Imperial Highness was SecState.

And let’s not forget the appalling disregard Her Imperial Majesty showed for even the most elementary security measures with classified information while she was SecState.  And let’s be honest, at least amongst ourselves; she was only in that role because President Obama was savvy enough to adhere to the old truism “keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.”

Yes, Dr. Hanson, the Clinton political machine may finally be grinding to a halt.  The nation is safer and more prosperous because of it.  For that, more than any other single thing, we owe a debt to President Trump.

Animal’s Daily Random Thoughts

Some of my actual bucket list items:

  • Taking a dump on Turkmenistan.
  • Being in a situation where I can accurately say to someone “you have arrived just in time for my moment of triumph!”
  • Go on a Cape Buffalo hunt in which I kill a massive bull in a full charge, timed so that he slides, dead, up to the toes of my boots.  Note that this item will likely necessitate a change of underwear immediately thereafter.
  • Bitch-slap Chuck Schumer.
  • Drive the AlCan.
  • Go hunting in Siberia.
  • See the following places:
    • India
    • Vladivostok
    • Iceland
    • Scotland
    • Wales
    • Rome
    • Tierra del Fuego
    • Patagonia

I have more bucket list items, but those are just a few of my favorites.

I know the science in Jurassic Park is pretty much at the Star Trek level of bullshit, but I wish it wasn’t, solely because I think hunting a full-grown bull T-rex would be an unimaginably awesome adventure.

Being able to teleport would be the best superpower you could have.  Being telepathic would be a close second.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Japan, I’ve often wondered why Japanese schoolgirls wear what amounts to a sailor’s uniform.  They aren’t going to school on a ship – so, why?

By the time Mrs. Animal and I leave here on Saturday, I will have spent nigh unto a year now working and living in Silicon Valley.  I can sum up my experience temporarily residing in California with three words:  Fuck this place.

On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.