Sunday, April 29, 2012

How I Would Overhaul the U.S. Tax Code - Part V: Other Considerations and Concluding Remarks

Continued from Part IV.

Taxing the Lords of Finance 

The financial crisis of 2008 has exposed deep-seated problems in our country’s finance sector. Besides the obvious dangers of over-leveraged banks, largely unregulated “shadow” banking operations and housing bubbles, the crisis demonstrated the unmatched political influence wielded by these businesses that were able to extract an enormous bailout over the loud, passionate objections of nearly everyone in the country. Many began to question whether some of these institutions had any redeeming social value whatsoever other than as a government-backed casino of the elites.

Most of these problems can only be addressed through public engagement and legislation such as that passed into law earlier this summer. But it is worthwhile to note what role tax policy can play. Any true free market capitalist would be alarmed at the enormous profit margins that the financial industry enjoyed in the 2000s. In a well-functioning market, competition inexorably drives profits down. The financial sector eventually accounted for nearly half of all corporate profits in the United States, in a clear sign of a dysfunctional market. This is what “too big to fail” really means. But as any tax policy expert will tell you, if something gets too big, just tax it down to size. I propose doing this in two ways.

First, the U.S. should institute a Speculation Tax on financial transactions. With a small fee of 0.25 percent on the sale or transfer of stocks, bonds and all other financial instruments, ordinary investors would feel very little burden. However, speculators and other actors engaging in high-speed trades of dubious social value would bear significant costs, likely causing them to slow down or rethink their activities. Such a tax could raise up to $100 billion in additional revenue every year while only seriously discouraging undesirable speculative activities. Much of the significant burden would fall on the trading desks of the major banks and financial institutions, which is exactly where the financial crisis contagion started.

Second, the U.S. should levy a tax on all bank, thrift and insurance companies with more than $50 billion in assets. The tax should not apply to customers’ insured savings but only to assets in risk-taking operations. The rate should be set based on the level of excess profitability of the financial industry. At a minimum, it should raise $90 billion over ten years like a similar proposal from the Obama White House. Once again, the federal government can raise needed revenue by discouraging the size of too big to fail banks.

The new revenues could be used in a number of different ways. My preference would be to set aside a small portion in a financial stability fund so that any future crises could be dealt with more easily while using the bulk of the money to reinvest in public infrastructure and close state budget gaps in order to lower the unemployment rate and improve future economic prospects. Once the country has a stronger economy and near full employment, this revenue could be redirected to deficit reduction.

Corporate Income, Capital Gains and Estate Taxes 

This tax overhaul plan would leave the corporate income tax, the capital gains tax and the estate tax largely intact. None of these taxes are perfect, but they all serve important roles. Corporations gain enormous privileges from their governmentally recognized legal status and they should have to pay for these privileges. No business is forced to incorporate, and so technically the corporate income tax is a voluntary opt-in cost for businesses who want corporate privileges.

Capital gains taxes are a tax on investment, but they are necessary in order to level the playing field between wealth and work. Living off investment income while others have to work for a living is already a sweet deal. The deal should not go untaxed. If anything the capital gains tax should be increased to at least the level it was during the stock market boom of the 1990s.

The estate tax is a bulwark against the growth of an entrenched aristocracy in the U.S. It should be expanded significantly for all estates worth more than $3.5 million. If there are any ideas that achieve the goals listed here in a more efficient way, I would include them in a future version of this plan. The corporate income tax in particular seems to be quite flawed.

Concluding Remarks 

This plan will not fix every budget and tax problem that this country faces. But it is a bold step towards addressing two of our greatest challenges: perilous economic imbalances and a dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. It has the potential to be much more economically efficient, vertically equitable, and environmentally beneficial than the status quo. It may even be a simpler way to collect revenue for the U.S. government. I have only outlined the broad contours of the plan, and there is a plethora of ways to specify rates and other details based on targeted revenue and efficiency.

As a final note, there is a reason I have proposed such a dramatic change to the tax system rather than just tinkering around the margins. Tax policy is one of the many areas where embracing change and creativity are absolutely necessary to deal with the increasingly rapid transformations of the twenty-first century. We should build the imperative to change with the times into our tax code, and that is why I have proposed making a climate pollution tax one of the main sources of revenue for the U.S. government. Ideally, the tax will cause carbon emissions to drop dramatically over the coming decades. The government will have to respond initially by continuously raising the tax rate but this should cause emissions to drop even further until eventually the U.S. will have to find a new major source of revenue. Some would call this a defect, but I see it as a feature. Pretending we can institute permanent solutions to any problem is a recipe for political sclerosis. The need to replace the carbon tax will compel us to keep evolving rather than cling to the broken status quo as we have too often done in the past. That’s what redesigning any public policy should be all about.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Question of the Night

Is "abstract" or "concrete" more appropriate to describe the result of quantifying the intangible?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ghetto Superstars

Cotton Comes to Harlem
Cotton Comes to Harlem by Chester Himes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cotton Comes to Harlem is an enjoyable and fast-paced detective thriller that reads almost like a screenplay due to its taut plotting, constant action, and a near constant focus on visuality. Of course, Himes does not sacrifice any of his sharp perspective the racial politics of America in the mid-twentieth century in service of genre approachability, though he takes a more vaudevillian, high entertainment approach when compared to the seething psychology of If He Hollers Let Him Go. For the record, I find the earlier novel to be a far more emotionally engaging and soulful work, though I can't deny this one is more immediately satisfying in many ways. Perhaps the most apt comparison would be between the endings of each work. The end of Cotton Comes to Harlem feels entirely pat to the point of almost appearing to be the last thirty seconds of another episode of "Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson Lay Down the Law," whereas If He Hollers Let Him Go packs a gut punch of an ending that wrenchingly twists the book's emotional and political faultlines into a wiry ball of perfect madness.

But you have to hand to Himes for illustrating characters as indelibly as he does here. Harlem feels so richly populated, and Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson were dirty long before Harry. Of course, their moral ambiguity deals with the complex questions that arise in the politics of an oppressed community rather than being an avatar of proto-fascism, Clint Eastwood-style. They crack wise and banter in a manner that predicts the interactions of so many later movie and TV cops, though it feels fresher and thicker in this more original context.

Altogether, it's a fun, slick read, though I'm not sure how many details will stick with me in the long run.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Nightmare Called Life

The Trial
1962.  119 minutes. Directed by Orson Welles. Watchdate: 12/08/2011.
As I began to be drawn into Orson Welles' haunted, meditative Kafka adaptation, I found myself trying to put as much distance between myself and the images on the screen as possible. I pushed the movie away. My body seemed to be rejecting it. I wanted more than anything to go to sleep and not have to see what I was watching. A couple of days later while lying down perhaps nearing a nap, I found myself stricken rapturously with a mysterious fear that seemed to me to be a realization of what the movie meant. Or if not what it meant, then what it represented. Our minds seem programmed to look for more order and tidiness than this world could ever provide. This movie's dark caverns, its squalid canyons of confusion, its enigmatic hierarchy of colliding characters strips away that programming slowly, subtly yet inescapably. I have never experienced such a strong emotional response from a movie days after actually having seen it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Montréal Baroque

Continuing on from Saturday's post about the exciting worlds on display at Johansson Projects, I wanted to acknowledge the wonderfully grotesque illustrations of baroque intricacy that of Montreal uses as album covers. Behold!:

These look like the most fabulous nightmares of my life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alt History

Went the Day Well?
1942.  92 minutes. United Kingdom. Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. Watchdate: 10/06/2011.
A surreal Graham Greene scripted propaganda about Nazi paratroopers impersonating English soldiers in a small town. It's Red Dawn 1942: Buñuel meets Hitchcock. And so we get a matron diving on grenade. We get a woman gracefully walking downstairs wielding a giant revolver. We get the best murder scene outside of Torn Curtain. In fact, perhaps it inspired Torn Curtain? This movie may have inspired every dream that we call a movie.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Long Live Johansson Projects

Another visit to Oakland Art Murmur last week has led me to conclude that Johansson Projects consistently presents the most compelling work among all the galleries I've visited on First Fridays. After February's Body Electric Victorian sci-fi fantasia, they may have topped themselves by displaying the lurid and vertiginous worlds created by Tadashi Moriyama in paintings, sculpture and animation. Like a monster reincarnation of Terry Gilliam and Hieronymous Bosch, Moriyama illustrates an intricate and intertwining panoply of neural degenerations, post-apocalyptic urban designs, classical forms, monetary signifiers, cosmic debris and technological phantasmagoria.

Johansson Projects is an excellent destination for a trip through positively Borgesian imaginations.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How I Would Overhaul the U.S. Tax Code - Part IV: The Carbon Tax

Continued from Part III.

The Mechanics of a Carbon Tax

Carbon taxes have been successfully implemented in many European countries. However, most of these countries do not rely on their carbon taxes as a primary source of revenue for the government as I am proposing. If the payroll tax were repealed, it would leave a hole in the budget of approximately $1 trillion. In order to raise this amount of revenue from a carbon tax, the U.S. would have to tax carbon at a rate of roughly $175 per metric ton emitted. Most European countries do not have a such a steep tax on carbon.
However, Sweden started putting a tax on carbon comparable to what we would need almost two decades ago and has continued to experience stronger than average economic growth ever since. They also have a rate of carbon emissions per capita that is about one fourth of the U.S. average.

If the U.S. achieved Swedish rates of carbon emissions, worldwide carbon emissions would drop by 15 percent. Sweden levies its carbon tax upstream, which leaves the bulk of responsibility on industry rather than individuals. The U.S. should follow the successful Swedish model except for all of the exemptions in their tax program. We will not need exemptions because businesses and consumers will experience a windfall from the lifting of the payroll tax and therefore will be able to adjust to the higher prices of carbon-intensive energy. In addition, a multiyear transition period would allow for a slow phase out of the payroll tax in concert with a gradual phase in of the carbon tax.

Many are concerned that a carbon tax would make our economy less competitive with China and other nations that may not impose a similar price on carbon emissions in their own countries. Over the long term, countries that depend on dirty, unsustainable fossil fuels will inevitably fall behind those who innovate new energy solutions. But over the short term, critics of a carbon tax for competitive reasons are essentially right. That is why the U.S. must pair a carbon tariff with its carbon tax.

Such a tariff could be designed to comply with WTO rules. There are rough analogues in two different places: sales taxes apply to foreign imports and domestic goods equally, and the Montreal Agreement that regulates the Ozone layer pollutants included a trade adjustment component. If handled delicately, such a tariff might push the world closer to a global agreement on climate change action. Such a policy would not be very extreme, as no less a luminary than Nobel Prize winning economist and international trade expert Paul Krugman has strongly endorsed a carbon tariff paired with domestic pricing of carbon. The revenue from a carbon tariff could be used to lower our domestic carbon tax rate marginally and to fund a renewable energy infrastructure.

The Necessity of Pricing Carbon

The scientific community has been very clear about the enormous risks posed by human-caused climate change. Societies continue to heedlessly burn fossil fuels at their own peril. As the world leader in per capita carbon emissions, the U.S. has an awesome responsibility to set an example and end our dependence on carbon pollution once and for all. The most obvious way forward is to craft public policy that makes carbon much more costly to emit over time.

Whether or not this country decides to overhaul its tax code, it must put a price on carbon if it is serious about addressing the great, unavoidable challenge of our time. I am simply suggesting that rather than add a carbon tax to the system on its own, replace the payroll tax designed for the economic realities of the 1930s with a pollution tax tailored to the world of today. In this way, instead of imposing new economic costs onto individuals and businesses, we just shift the costs off of wage labor and onto unsustainable energy production and use.

Continued in Part V.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Monster Child of God

Autobiography of Red
Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read few books this strange yet also this successful in executing their idiosyncratic vision of what a book can be if it sheds the normal genre and stylistic trappings that big industry often demands. While it's billed as a "novel in verse," Carson's book does not deserve such a reductive categorization, especially since it isn't written in meter (it does use line breaks so you could call it free verse I suppose). It a bildungsroman novel crossed with ancient myth, part poetry that reads much like prose, an fictionalized autobiography within an academician's frame narrative (which in itself reads like critical theory, or at times a series of syllogisms, except at the very end when it turns into a magazine interview). On top of all that, it's really, really funny. I laughed out loud while reading multiple times. Of course, no one can tell you what Autobiography of Red really is, you just have to read it for yourself.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Escaping the Colonel

I thought I had the perfect system. I had mastered climbing the gutter and drainpipe system of the house of suburban 70s stucco that my father had deemed acceptable to rent during an extended respite from living on base. I could climb in the window to my room while creating as minimal noise as possible that might echo and creak into my father's ear drums usually located on his head somewhere around the other side of the house. I had it made. At any hour of the night, I could come and go as I pleased. I don't know if I ever thought whether I had earned the right do so due to my fifteen dutiful years living under His thumb, I just knew I wanted to spend as little time locked up in His kingdom as possible.

Those were wonderful months (or was it mere weeks?), and the freedom intoxicated me. The Saturday night that I silently twisted my body through the crack in the window and landed on my bedroom floor only to look up to see my father sitting up straight on the edge of my bed in darkness, a cold face of stone peering not at me but rather the night itself (or so it seemed), I knew that it was all over. I was over, at least for the foreseeable future. My father came down hard on me, and while I know the physical and emotional abuse I suffered pales in comparison to the stories offered by the children of angry alcoholics I have encountered over the years, I have a hard time imagining anyone else imprisoning an adolescent with such a stoic, self-denying determination. I know I missed out on a lot of parties and a lot of deathless nights in anonymous fast food parking lots…I know this because I lived vicariously through the friendships I did manage to maintain. I'll never get another chance to be an irresponsible teenager. But I know this: freedom should never go to waste on a quiet night at home watching TV.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Train Time

Closely Watched TrainsClosely Watched Trains by Bohumil Hrabal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bohumil Hrabel weaves a WWII-set bildungsroman that deftly moves between youthful melancholy and outlandish farce sometimes in the same moment. It's a dreamy, introverted book in many ways, just like its protagonist, yet it never shies away from addressing the politics and humanism that were constantly at stake in occupied Europe. While it never addresses the Holocaust directly, it's treatment of that incomprehensible level of brutality is unmistakable and very powerful in the book's more allegorical passages. Apparently, there's an excellent movie based on this book that I'll have to see someday.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How I Would Overhaul the U.S. Tax Code - Part III: The Progressive Consumption Tax

Continued from Part II.

The Mechanics of a Progressive Consumption Tax

Let’s look at how a progressive consumption tax would actually differ from the federal income tax by looking at the prospective tax bills of two fictional American families of very different means. The Smiths, a middle class family of four, earn $50,233 annually. That puts them very near the median income of the U.S. Under the status quo federal income tax, their first $16,700 of earnings is taxed at a 10 percent rate and the rest is taxed at a 15 percent rate. This adds up to a total liability of about $6,700. Without going into too much detail, we can assume that a family at this income level probably does not itemize deductions but is very likely to be eligible for benefits such as the child tax credit so their actual tax bill will be lower. Let’s assume a final liability of around $4,500.

Now, let’s recalculate the Smiths’ tax liability under the progressive consumption tax. The Smiths would report $50,233 in income. If they saved around the 2010 average of 6.4 percent, they would report $3,214 in savings. Then they would get a standard deduction for basic consumer necessities based on their family size. For a family a four, it would be $25,000. By subtracting their savings and their standard deduction from their total income, their taxable consumption is derived: $22,019. Using the same marginal rates as the federal income tax, the first $16,700 of taxable consumption would be taxed at 10 percent while the rest would be taxed at 15 percent. Therefore their tax bill would come out to be approximately $2,500. Even if we assumed that the Smiths were able to reduce their tax bill considerably more under the current income tax because of the various deductions and credits available, they probably could not get a better deal than under the progressive consumption tax.

But how would the federal government deal with the shortfall of revenue through lessened liabilities on middle class families like the Smiths? For the answer, we turn to the Joneses. The Joneses, a wealthy family of four, earn $20 million every year and that puts them firmly in the top one percent income bracket. They are movie stars or corporate executives but in any case they earn an obscene amount of money. Under the status quo federal income tax, they would owe about $100,895 on their first $372,951 of income and an additional $6,869,467 on the rest of their income. Leaving aside the innumerable deductions and credits they could use to lower their bill, they have a total liability of about $7,000,000.

To recalculate their liability under the progressive consumption tax, we would subtract the standard deduction ($25,000) and their savings ($6,600,000 or roughly a third of their income) from their total income to get their taxable consumption: $13,375,000. For ordinary people, it’s hard to imagine spending that much money in a single year but the rich are able to do it. They remodel their mansions, buy sports cars, collect highly valued art, fly all over the world, and stay in ridiculously expensive hotels for extended periods of time. For this reason, calculating their tax liability under the progressive consumption tax will be a bit more complicated than it was for the Smiths.

Under an income tax, governments must be careful to avoid raising effective rates too high for doing so would discourage work and earning more income. However, because discouraging excessive consumption is part of the point of the progressive consumption tax, it is actually quite desirable from an economists’ perspective to have steeply graduated rates. For the purposes of this proposal, I will keep the same rates as the income tax on their first $137,300 of taxable consumption for married joint filers with progressively higher rates for each dollar of further consumption.

According to this possible rate schedule for the progressive consumption tax, the Jones would owe approximately $11,593,819. Even assuming that there will be some further deductions available with a progressive consumption tax, this is dramatically higher liability than they would have under a federal income tax. And this would help make up for the lower tax liabilities of the middle class. Of course, the Joneses are unlikely to pay that total because they would probably scale back their consumption in order to pay less to the IRS at the end of the year. Thus they would save and invest more, which will be better for the economy.

A Progressive Consumption Tax Limits Excessive Consumption

The wealthy individuals who have made most of the significant income gains in recent decades have spent much of their new riches on positional goods. The value of positional goods hinges largely on how they compare with comparable goods bought by others in the same social strata. Many analysts have concluded this trend has occurred because individual consumer demands hugely depend on the surrounding social environment. Therefore, when one CEO buys a private jet, another CEO is likely to buy a bigger private jet. A third CEO might buy an even larger private jet, and the first CEO will finally respond by purchasing a grandiose yacht.

While this scenario may seem comical, it amply demonstrates the absurd wastefulness of much positional spending. It also begins to illustrate the cascading effect of such consumption. Greater spending by the rich also moves the goal posts that frame what the near rich consider necessary or desirable, which compels them to spend more. Of course, this moves the goal posts for those just below the near rich, and so on, all the way down the income ladder.

While this phenomenon of trickle-down consumption may seem ridiculous, it has very real and very detrimental effects on quality of life, not to mention the environmental costs of endless inefficient resource use. To give an example, the frame of reference for consumption determines acceptable housing for different income groups. Of course, a middle class family could choose to spend less on housing and take more vacation time or take on less debt. But without a positional focus on a maximal housing purchase, that family sacrifices its access to a good school district, which dooms the children to a lesser education and more narrow opportunities later in life. Indeed, the negative effects of the struggle for better positional goods have been linked to everything from the significant expansion of commuter hours to the drop in the number of vacation days both of which have occurred as inequality has risen.

Fortunately, a sufficiently progressive consumption tax could curb spending on positional goods significantly. With a top marginal rate of ninety or one hundred percent, the purchase of extremely expensive items such as a yacht or a private jet would become that much more expensive and the likeliest outcome will be that the richest families will respond by scaling back their positional spending. This will allow near rich families to scale back and so on. Of course, conspicuous consumption would continue but its greatest excesses will be limited and the country would actually benefit in a number of ways. Limiting endless positional consumption would undoubtedly help preserve our natural environment and lower individual debt burdens while redirecting resources towards savings and investment or increased leisure time. The former would strengthen our economy in a sustainable way while the latter would improve quality of life.

Progressive Consumption Tax Cuts Effective in Staving Off Recessions

During recent debates over how to best stimulate the economy in a recessionary environment, conservatives argued for more tax cuts while others contended that standard tax cuts would not have the intended effect because many Americans – understandably fearful about losing their jobs – would just save their tax cut or use it to pay off debts rather than spend it leaving aggregate demand unaffected. But if a progressive consumption tax cut were in place, a temporary rate cut for such a tax would be highly beneficial in a recessionary climate. This is because in order to take advantage of the cut, individuals would have to spend more right away. In effect, the federal government could stymie a recession by the public policy equivalent of declaring a sale on all goods and services in the country. Such a tax cut would likely have support across partisan lines and that would mean speedy enactment, which is crucial to alleviate the worst effects of a recession.

A Note on Deductions, Exemptions and Credits

One of the major reasons to overhaul the U.S. tax code is to clean up the myriad deductions, exemptions and credits that now riddle the system. With that in mind, many of the deductions available under the federal income tax should not be available under the progressive consumption tax, although useful ones could be included.

It would likely be necessary and helpful to exempt some but hopefully not all charitable donations from taxable consumption. Employer-provided health insurance is an issue that best remains part of broader debate about the U.S. health care system, so this overhaul would not touch the status quo tax policy on health insurance. The mortgage interest deduction is popular but has little basis in sound economics and should be eliminated.

The child tax credit would essentially be replaced by a standardized deduction that would increase with family size. However, the Earned Income Tax Credit presents another issue. My preference would be to convert the EITC into something like a living wage supplement. Workers with low wages would simply receive a wage supplement roughly equivalent to the EITC. This would have the added benefit of removing the complexity of the EITC application process. All working low-income tax filers would receive the living wage supplement.

Continued in Part IV.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mannered Garbage

The Makioka Sisters
1983.  140 minutes. Japan. Directed by Kon Ichikawa. Watchdate: 8/26/2011.
I have never found a movie so shrilly boring or blandly unpleasant. I left the screening a good half hour before the movie ended because I just couldn't stand it anymore. And I never walk out of movies. The first forty-five minutes was perhaps the least horrible because I found my attention drifting away from the movie but when I actually forced myself to watch the damn thing I found it unbearable. The characters were not only charmless, but completely awful and not in an interesting way at all. The "humor" was predictable, stilted and worthless. Everything in the movie was effortfully overplayed to no purpose. I hated this movie (and I think I have fairly tolerant tastes).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


In third grade, I used to solve quizzles, wuzzles, phrase scrambles, commonyms, mad gabs, number blocks and hink pinks. I did this to please my teacher, Ms. Vasconcellos, who was the focus of a crush so secret I wasn't even fully conscious of it. Eventually, these word and logic games simply became an end in and of themselves. I was hooked on solutions, on thinking my way through to the answers to satisfy my brain. In class, Ms. Vasconcellos would emphasize what she called thinkable fun. There was no need to turn off your brain in order to have a good time. At home, I always had to follow orders. My father actively discouraged thinking for myself in many situations. Maybe that's why I liked Ms. Vasconcellos' class so much.

I kept in contact with Ms. Vasconellos for years even after I finished elementary school. She would tell me about the latest ideas she would use in her classes like puzzle-mindedness which was, in her words, "the tendency to approach problems and challenges as if they were puzzles which required a combination of creative and flexible thinking with a willingness to break up the task into discrete steps in order to solve." She always kept me on the path of thinkable fun. Not so many years ago, I visited her in the hospital as she was dying of ovarian cancer. I hope that I don't stray from the thinkable path now that she's gone.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Resolutions

As has become my custom (the very idea of resolutions may require it), I failed all of my March Resolutions. Under the most generous approximation possible, I wrote just under 10,000 words in all of March falling short of even accomplishing fifty percent of my stated goal of 20,000 words. I completely forgot to read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and I had to return Heart of Darkness to the library before I finished reading it. Luckily, I found a very cheap copy of Heart of Darkness at Half-price Books and purchased it with the intention of finally finishing.

I have lined up the possibility of a rewarding, full-time job this summer, but I won't know for sure if I have an offer until sometime this week or thereafter and so I consider the job resolution a failure as well. For this month, I have decided to take serial failure as an indication that I need to set more goals for myself in order to increase the chance I may succeed at one or another of them. Here goes:

  1. Write at least 15,000 words.
  2. Complete the first draft of my history thesis by 7pm on April 10th (it is due April 11th at noon).
  3. Read seven books (finishing books I have already started and all books over 60 pages count towards this goal).
  4. Apply for at least ten jobs.
  5. Receive at least one solid job offer that will keep me employed over the summer (or for longer).
  6. Diversify the kind of material I post on this betamax. I would like to generally lower the proportion of posts dedicated to reflections on movies and poetry-overly-conscious-of-itself-as-poetry. Perhaps use HTMLGiant or another site as a template for reform.
  7. Complete the final draft of my history thesis by 11am on April 25th (it is due on April 27th at 4pm).
  8. Waste less time reading pointless but highly amusing snark on the internet.
  9. Watch at least four movies at the Pacific Film Archive.
  10. Read at least three poems by John Ashbery, at least two poems by Jack Spicer, and at least one poem by Rabindranath Tagore.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Neocon Fever Dreams

Iran is rotting from the inside. A profound destructive urge shrouds it in darkness. The deep rot in Iranian society can best be attributed to the fact that it is massively overpopulated. Massive overpopulation and highly congested living environments does very, very bad things to humans – and modern Iranians suffer horribly from these overly cramped conditions. No one should be forced to live like this. Maybe they would be better off dead. But this seems awfully extreme. We would sincerely prefer to find an alternative solution to the problem in consideration of the fact that Iranians, on the whole, are an intelligent and enterprising people, and thus would be an asset to many nations if a large emigration policy could be devised. Perhaps we could reconsider bombing them if some of their excess populace would immigrate to Argentina or Canada, where there is plenty of room.

Just a thought.