Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Barbershops & Toons

If you hang out in barbershop, you’re gonna get your hair cut.

Since we have Bullwinkle J. Kerry and Rocket J. Edwards joined at the hip through the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, we need to consider what is going to happen through mere association. (We know what will happen the first Wednesday following the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November – Rocky will shift from understudy to protagonist in anticipation of 2008 when we will have the first wide-open election since 1968.)

Until he finds his sea legs, Bullwinkle will run around with a bomb in his hand declaring the sky is falling and Rocky will be in tow. At some time, Bullwinkle will begin to speak of his vision and Rocky will split off and begin his “Two Americas” tour – one America for the wealthy (like these two toons) and one for everyone else. Rocky will try to scare us while Bullwinkle will don his clothes-that-make-him-feel-pretty and show how he can solve all the world’s ills.

So will we believe them? It is ironic that Kerry seems the dour one and Edwards the leading man; the public roles will be reversed. Kerry will speak optimistically of a new tomorrow in his funeral director’s outfit; Edwards of a dark and twisted present in his cheerleader suit. There is, so it seems, a structural problem here.

To meld their respective visions, let’s fashion where it will take us. Kerry wants international cooperation, input, and approval on our affairs; Edwards wants the little people to have all the advantages that he enjoys without having the money. The common thread? Socialism. Edwards can identify the problem, suggest a general solution, and Kerry can bring in the experts. Remind me, what was the top marginal tax rate under Carter? What is it now? How about in Europe? Answers: 70%, 35%, and 47%. Now, does twelve more points sound so bad for everything we will get in return? But watch the tax monster – there is no end in sight of what can be taxed.

Most people know of the VAT (value-added tax, the equivalent of a national sales tax here). In the UK, the rate is 17.5%. So if you spend your money, you pay 17.5% for the privilege. Since this is after-tax dollars, presuming that you spend everything you bring in, the effective top marginal rate goes from 47% to 56.275%. Twelve points is now over twenty-one points.

But there’s more. Most Americans are not familiar with the Television Usage Tax of almost $200 a year (for a color tv). Since this is a fixed-rate tax, it falls disproportionately on the poor. As if the concept weren’t bad enough, read this from the Television Licensing Authority website: "Using a television without an appropriate licence is a criminal offence. Every day we catch an average of 1,200 people using a TV without a licence. There is no valid excuse for using a television and not having a TV Licence, but some people still try - sometimes with the most ridiculous stories ever heard. Our detection equipment will track down your TV. The fact that our enquiry officers are now so well equipped with the latest technology means that there is virtually no way to avoid detection." Further, “[a]ny dealer who sells or rents TV receiving equipment (whether the equipment is new or second-hand) [is required] to notify TV Licensing within 28 days of each transaction, giving full details of the buyer or renter.” {Gulp!}

And if socialized healthcare is so wonderful, why do Canadians come here? Why is a second healthcare industry (private pay) present in the UK, complete with separate docs and hospitals?

With Bullwinkle and Rocky’s extreme liberal agendas, it is the perfect time to have a debate between capitalism and socialism, and to decide (again) to leave Europe and cleave unto our own dreams.

It isn’t just this election. We have lower tax rates to make permanent, we have an aging USSC to reseed, we have a war-without-borders to wage, and we have an economic recovery to respect and of which to stay out of the way. Putting toons in the White House comes at a great expense. But let’s not forget the other toons still lurking about – Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, otherwise known as Bill and Hillary Clinton (the latter of which I prefer to think of as a wet hen in a pant suit but I can’t imagine a graphic to go with it). Do we close this Roger Rabbit episode in our history or release a sequel?

If we go hanging around toons, we might just become caricatures ourselves.

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