Saturday, December 22, 2007

To Ben LiebermanSaturday
December 22, 2007 11:04 PM
From: "Arnold Nelson" <>To:

Mr. Lieberman, your Friday December 21, 2007 article 'No Toilets Left Behind' on made a lot of great points - many more than I'd expect from only 420 words.

My first thots on hearing of ethanol many years ago was finally! a renewable source of energy. But a few years ago it came to me: "Just how often is ethanol renewable?" As far as I know, it's once a year. This is 'renewable? (I must admit I didn't check Amazon on this point - you have probably written a book on it.)

Also as far as I know, it's only renewable in a two-dimensional space (fields) and that of only 30% of the earth's surface (70% is under water.) And I haven't been able to work it out, but damn little of that. I'm sure a big majority of the earth's land area couldn't sustain corn if each stalk had a personal USDA agent watching over it.

OTOH, about that petroleum we're supposedly running out of. It comes from a 3-dimensional space. I think you can go to the most over-pumped area in the world, and I doubt you would find a single driller who would tell you: "Hey, you can drill down 4,000 miles and you'll never find another drop of oil." But I think he will also tell you there are vast areas where we haven't even begun to look for the stuff, with a far higher likelihood of being potentially cheaper to extract than here.

And further, the biggest single area we haven't even tried yet is the 95% of the seabed where we now don't have the technology to even try (we've picked, quite successively, but very selectively, on some of the inshore, knee deep parts. The average depth is 12,500 feet, the deepest offshore well is in 7500 feet.) So thanks again for such an authoritative article. I'll be watching for more.

Arn Nelson in Chicago

PS I think you can add to the US toilet flushing disaster the automatic clothes washer disaster in Euorpe. They mandated front loaders some years ago "to save water", and they are terrible. A strong incentive to come home sooner than I'd planned.

How long can WSJ resist...

...publishing letters like this:

Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2007 22:03:15 CST From: "Arnold Nelson"
Subject: 'Founders Wanted Living Constitution'
To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago IL Monday PM, November 5, 2007


A letter in the Monday, November 5, 2007 WSJ 'Founders Wanted a Living Constitution' from someone self-described as "a proud nonlawyer" tells of his
viewing "the original Constitution at the National Archives" on a recent trip to Washington DC. The writer further gives the ninth amendment as an example
of a living Constitution, and quotes Thomas Jefferson that "institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times" as another.

It's been 50 years since my only visit to Washington, and I did not see the original Constitution. I do read it quite often, and well before the ninth amendment I
find Article five, which describes a dandy way of giving life and breath to the Constitution, the amendment process itself. It allowed 10 deep living
Constitutional breaths in the first four years after adoption in 1789, and 17 more healthy expirations since then to fit to changing times.

The process requires approval of three groups directly answerable to the people: two thirds of the the House of Representatives and Senate, and the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. The detail of this description makes it clear the founders did not want to leave the determination of what constitutional "living, breathing" meant to a half dozen unelected Judges.

On the bright side, the process requires no action of the Executive, so if people want to pass an amendment calling for the immediate dismissal of our current President and Vice President, be their guest.

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine DriveChicago, IL 60640

[Woulda coulda shoulda - how could I forget suggesting they look up Marbury vs Madison to see what Jefferson thot of judicial meddling?]

Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2007 06:23:16 CST
From: "Arnold Nelson"
Subject: "[W]orst natural disaster in US History..."?
To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago IL Sunday AM, November 18, 2007

Editors, The Wall Street Journal:

For as fine a piece as James O. Wilson's Friday, November 16, 2007 op-ed "A Real Insurance Fraud" is, how could he start with these 19 words: "When
Hurricane Katrina hit our southern coast, it was the worst natural disaster in American history, killing 1,800 people...."

A quick look in a widely available annual almanac [The World Almanac] shows a 1928 South Florida hurricane with 2500 dead, the San Francisco earthquake with 3000, and just down the coast in Galveston, Texas a 1900 hurricane leaving 8000 dead. If Mr. Wilson wants to list Katrina as a first, why not the most ineptly managed response to a natural disaster, by New Orleans' own (idle) school bus Ray Nagin, and the deliciously onomatopoetically-named governor Kathleen Blanco.

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago, IL 60640

Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 07:03:52 CST
From: "Arnold Nelson"
Subject: "Health Insurance As a Homeowners Policy"
To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago, Thursday AM, November 29, 2007

Editors, Wall Street Journal

A letter in the Tuesday, November 27, 2007 "Think of Health Insurance As a Homeowners Policy" from a California Internist says that "...for-profit insurance
companies exist... to create profits for shareholders and prevent financial catastrophe to the insured." The good doctor does not say it, but wouldn't he agree the fundamental doctor's business model is exactly the same: the doctor exits to make a living for himself and keep his patients alive and healthy? Any thot that the doctor's priorities might be reversed is disproved later in the same letter when the doctor says he has "decided not to accept many insurance
plans" because they pay "less to care for a critically ill patient than my plumber gets to fix my leaky toilet."

Doctors must be no less profitable than insurance companies. The doctor concludes that "our current health-care system is in disrepair." The 'disrepair' is because of way too much interferance by our 'not-for-profit' federal government. It got there because of a much too broad interpretation of the Constitution's 'general welfare' clauses. Continued reliance on those words to
implement congressional statutes will result in a worthless Constitution - if there is nothing that can't be mandated by statute, we don't need a constitution
(Just a dictator of some kind - how about a King?)

If you want federally managed health insurance, do it as the Founders described: Get two-thirds of both federal houses to agree, then run it by three-quarters
of the directly-elected-by-the-people state legislatures. Please note you need no agreement by a too-often berserk executive.

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL 60640

Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2007 10:31:18 CST
From: "Arnold Nelson"
Subject: 'Compelling Insurance Is Not So Un-American'
To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago, Wednesday AM, December 5, 2007
Editors, Wall Street Journal

The second sentence of a Wednesday, December 5, 2007 letter 'Compelling Insurance Is Not So Un-American' starts with the statement: "We already have several such mandates which are working smoothly," then gives as examples Social Security and Medicare. The writer implies that the first prevents us from becoming wards of the state. What else is a SocSec recipient other
than a ward of the state? Then he claims that "the IRS is not having any problem in collecting these payments."

The IRS is having so few such problems because it need not pry these payments from each individual taxpayer's bank account, but can much more easily require
employers to make the payments from their bank accounts instead. Also employers, being only one tenth as many as individuals, can't hope to vote the practice out, and, employers can pass the cost on the their customers
- who's gonna notice?

So the so-called employee investment is actually sucked out of the soft
underbelly of the ever expanding US economy. This has worked so far, but exactly what is the difference between this and just being honest and calling it what it actually is: a tax on employers?

I notice no attempt to demonstrate that Medicare is "working smoothly", most likely because the writer's not on it yet.

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL

Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 09:09:46 CST
From: "Arnold Nelson"
Subject: A real 'Fair Tax' To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago, Tuesday AM, December 11, 2007

Editors, Wall Street Journal

The FairTaxers have their hearts in the right place (WSJ Monday, December 10 'Fair Tax Advocates Speak Up For Their Plan') but might there be an easier way? How about a simple Congressional statute that says, instead of employers sending in a portion of wage earners' pay to the Feds, just have them send in a report of how uch they paid each wage earner in a given pay period. Then require the wage earner to send in the tax due before the end of the next pay period.

If every individual wage earner was required to write a check on his personal account every pay period for the taxes due that pay period, I think you would see a quick voter reaction to the habits of our control-freak Federal government.

Would it be 'inefficient'? For a tax-insatiable government, yes, for responsible citizens, no.

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL

Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2007 11:04:10 CST
From: "Arnold Nelson"
Subject: Bill Clinton influence President Hillary?
To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago, Friday AM, December 14, 2007

Editors, Wall Street Journal

A Friday, December 14, 2007 letter writer 'A Word in Her Ear' has no problem with former President Bill Clinton's influence on Hillary if she is elected
president, citing as an example the current president's father. Can the writer give one example of the current president's actions being influenced by his father?

One reason for this lack of influence might be the father's total lack of Executive experience before succeeding a very successful two-term president, further demonstrated by his inability to succeed himself. The current president had six years of executive management experience as governor of the nation's second largest state.

The writer gives a second example of Nancy Reagan's "legendary" influence over her husband. Legendary? only with President Reagan's enemies. The letter writer, on a roll, continues with "many suspect that Vice President Dick Cheney has played a disturbing 'hidden-hand role' ... in the White House." Hidden or not, I think we'd all be better off if Dick Cheney had played a considerably larger role in the current administration.

The writer concludes with "Let's face it - any president is going to be influenced by a wide variety of people...." Let's face it, the only goal of Hillary's entire campaign is to get Bill Clinton around the 22nd amendment.

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL

Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2007 08:37:39 CST
From: "Arnold Nelson"
Subject: Big Pharma
To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago, Sunday AM, December 16, 2007
Editors, Wall Street Journal

A letter in the Saturday, December 15, 2007 WSJ under the headline "Medicine for Big Pharma's Anemic Condition" says "Big Pharma has consistently
outperformed many Fortune 500 companies in profitability...." "Consistently?" How 'consistent'? "Many" Fortune 500 companies? How many? Ten? Fifty?
Two-hundred? Has the writer a copy of an almanac, or the Statistical Abstract of the US and an hour for some research?

Then we get: "The top-tier companies, while commanding about two-thirds of the market, have produced the minority of innovative drugs in the past decade." The
writer is identified as an MD, so must know someone who knows how many "innovative" drugs have been produced in the past decade. Pinning down how many "top-tier" companies there are, whether that group actually commands "two-thirds" of the market and whether they have produced less than half of all the innovative drugs introduced in the past ten years might take a little more work.

The doctor continues: "[Big Pharma has] successfully avoided expiration of their patents by what could best be described as legal tricks." "Legal tricks" may be
the best way the writer can describe how drug companies' protect their intellectual capital, but I'm sure there are many other ways to describe them, by
people at least as illustrious as he.

The good doctor from Maine closes his letter with a paragraph acknowledging that costs have risen, but suggests cutting back consumer advertising and
payments to physicians "would free up billions of dollars," that if put "toward lowering drug costs and investing in R&D will produce results for patients and
likely for shareholders, too."

It appears that the writer is not an investor in Big Pharma (maybe because
he feels too pure to sully himself with those filthy profits?) But look at it this way: He need not spend his share of those profits on himself, he can donate it
to the Clintons' presidential campaign. And as a stockholder, he can make his case directly to management at stockholder meetings, where I'm sure his
views will go over big with fellow stockholders.

Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL

Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 10:43:18 CST
From: "Arnold Nelson" S
Subject: Responsible taxation
To: "WSJ Letters" <>

Chicago, Thursday AM, December 20, 2007

Editors, Wall Street Journal

Your Monday, December 17 Editorial "Taxes on Income" makes a lot of great points. It's hard to keep readers' attention when your point requires so many
figures, but you do it better anyone. The subject also requires recitation of way too much tax law minutia, but what else do you have to work with? And the left
will always be suspicious of any one claiming the rich are paying more and the poor less.

There is another federal tax problem that deserves to be discussed more often, but also requires some figures. The 2007 Statistical abstract of the US shows the US government took in $2.1539 trillion in 2005 (This was not enough to cover expenses as it turns out, but that's another letter.) Of this amount $927.2
billion was from income taxes, and $794.1 billion from Social Security taxes, for a total of $1.7213trillion (80%) from individual citizens.

But is it really coming directly from voters? The SAUS says $795 billion (86%) of the income taxes are withheld by employers. It does not break out the
withheld Social Security figure, but using the same % gives $681 billion withheld by employers. So that means that 69% of all the money received by the
feds in 2005 actually came out of employer bank accounts, not voter's bank accounts. Oh, the voters get statements that the employer "paid" these taxes for them, but few voters actually need to write a check on their personal bank
accounts to pay any part of the 69% of the federal income they are credited with paying. There may be some settling up in April, but the feds are consistently
reducing that by regular tightening of the check-off rules. And they even encourage over withholding, refunded at the end of the year in what most people
feel is a Christmas-club like "bonus," (actually an interest free loan to the feds.) And since the actual overpayment physically came out of the employer's bank
account, maybe the employer should be getting the refund.

Now the employers have no real voting power in numbers to fix this, but they really don't need it. They are able to pass on this expense to consumers, effectively sucking 69% of the federal tax intake from the soft underbelly of a, fortunately, continuously expanding national economy. The solution to this flim flam requires neither a monstrous conversion from income taxing to consumption taxing (and can't you hear the feds salivating over the strong possibility of ending up with both?), nor the repealing of the 16th amendment (no danger of that until the 17th is upended.)

All we need is a simple Congressional statute requiring employers to continue
reporting to the feds how much they pay each employee every pay period (and the employers have proved themselves very effective at this) , but instead of
sending the taxes due on that amount to the feds, give it to the employee, with a stern note telling how much he employee is expected to remit to the feds before
the next pay day.

Would this inefficient? Certainly for an insatiable federal government, but very efficient in giving oters a hands-on feel of how much the feds really have to work with, resulting in increased interest in who they are voting for.

Arnold H. Nelson
5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL

Monday, November 12, 2007

My fifty favorite movies...

...of all time:

50 A Taste of Honey B&W 61 __ 1:40 Not the song
49 Carmen Jones col 54 __ 1:45 Dandridge/Horne
48 The Thin Man B&W 34 __ 1:33 Dick Powell & Myrna Loy
47 In Old Chicago B&W 37 __ 1:35 Ameche/Faye
46 Cain Mutiny col 54 33 2:05 Worst casting
45 Hud B&W 63 __ 1:52 Patricia Neal44 Meet me in StLooey col
44 29 1:53 "I don' wanna move to StL"
43 Days of Wine/Roses B&W 62 __ 1:57 Lemon/Remick
42 Devil's Desciple B&W 59 __ 1:25 Kdouglas:
41 Night Tide B&W 61 __ 1:24 Dennis Hopper
40 Snakepit B&W 48 23 1:48 Olivia deHaviland
39 Born Yesterday B&W 50 __ 1:43 Holiday/Crawfor
38 Young Philadelphians B&W 59 05 2:16 Paul w/o blue eyes
37 Heartbreak Kid col 72 41 1:44 Interesting
36 Vertigo col 58 24 2:00 Kim Novak
35 Boys' Town B&W 38 __ 1:38 Tracy/Rooney
34 All The Kings's Men B&W 49 38 1:49 Brod Crawford
33 West Side Story col 61 31 2:35 Marselaise effect
32 High Noon B&W 52 21 1:24 "He's comin' inta town now, jeb"
31 Lolita B&W 62 __ 2:32 VW jump
29 Sargeant York B&W 41 23 2:14 My father took me in 1941
28 Invasn of Bdy Snatch B&W 56 29 1:20 Don't check laundry after this
27 My Darling Clementin B&W 46 __ 1:37 Fonda/Mature at OK Corral
26 Ace In The Hole B&W 51 05 1:51 KDouglas
25 Anatomy of a Murder B&W 59
24 2:40 The UP at its best24 Run Silent Run Deep B&W 58 05 1:33 Manitowoc WI
23 The Tin Star B@W 57 05 1:32 Hanoi Jane's Dad
22 Champion B&W 49 __ 2:39 KDouglas
21 Bad&Beautiful B&W 52 __ 1:58 KDouglas/Gloria Grahame
20 MutineyOnBounty B&W 35 24 2:15 Laughton/Gable
19 Lost Weekend B&W 45 24 1:41 Ray Milland on 3rd Ave/NYC
18 Gone w/ Wind col 39 24 3:39 Don' kno nothin bout birthin babies
17 Witness 4 Prosecut B&W 57 31 1:54 Laughton/Lanchester/Deitrich.TyPower
16 Wages of Fear B&W 53 30 2:36 NitroGlycerin
15 WizardOfOz col 39 33 1:41 Over the Rainbow
14 New Faces of 1952 col 54 06 1:38 Ertha Kitt, Alice Ghostley
13 Yankee Doodle Dandy B&W 42 23 2:06 Cagney
12 The Graduate col 67 34 1:45 "No, this is completely baked..."
11 Medusa Challenger col 77 __ 0:25 Joe Montgna on our Outer Drive Bridge
10 The Hustler B&W 61 32 2:15 "I'm shootin' pool, Fats...."
09 Little Big Man col 70 26 2:30 Saw in Sweden
08 Harold & Maude col 71 26 1:31 Ruth Gordon
07 Trouble w/ Harry col 55 18 1:38 Hitchcock in Vermont
06 One Two Three B&W 61 05 1:55 Jimmy C for 1:53 - no dancing
05 Horse's Mouth col 58 27 1:36 Greatest final scene
04 Shane col 53 34 1:58 "Kin you shoot, Shane?"
03 My Fair Lady col 63 36 2:50 Been better w/ Andrews?
02 TreasureSieraMadre B&W 48 30 2:06 "We don' need no stinking bahdges..."
01 Casablanca B&W 42 25 1:42 Marsellaise

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Social so-called security

Jonah Goldberg, Editor-at-large of National Review Online (, also syndicated in, among others, The Los Angeles Times) had a post on Social Security on their TheCorner blog, Tuesday, 10/30 03:16 PM 2007 "The Burden...of Social Security." I send him lots of stuff, he never responds, he didn't disappoint this time.

Here's what I sent:

You: "But it's very hard to imagine a political realignment so profound that it would yield an America without something like a Social Security card and an old-age pension, for at least the poorest old people."

Me: I know you know better, but it would be nice occasionally to read an NR pillar like yourself, rather than coming up w/ a sentence like that, come right out and say that there is nothing in the Constitution remotely justifying an old-age/poor peoples' pension system run by the Federal Government. If we can stretch the preamble's 'promote the general Welfare' and Article I section 8's 'provide for ... the general Welfare' clauses, why even have a Constitution - just elect an all powerful King once and for all and be done with it.

There is a perfectly fine tool to try and put this mess in the Constitution, Article V's amendment process. But do you really think a system like we have now would ever be approved by 2/3 of both federal houses, and 3/4 of all the state legislatures? Somewhere along the way the people would realize that some things are best done federally (military) and some things not (education, welfare.)

Like education, welfare under the Constitution is a local, or state, responsibility. Education would have certainly been a lot better off if left there, and welfare? I know things were tough for the elderly in the old days, but both sides of my family came from the poorest of European 19th century immigrants and needed to work very hard to support themselves and their families, and they all eventually died, but none at unusually young ages (a great-great grandfather was 103,) and none of starvation (the Swedish grandmother probably died from eating too much of what she loved: cheese.)

So what do we have now, w/ our Federal systems? I live in a pretty nice nabe in Chicago, but I can't walk a block to the McDonald's in the AM, nor either of two huge supermarkets two blocks away, without passing a half dozen fit looking pan handlers, and another half dozen struggling geezers (and I fit from that description myself) struggling to afford even a daily senior coffee at Micky D's solely on their federal pension.

You: "Moreover, even Milton Friedman would have conceded that the whole point of the automatic deduction from your paycheck is that it's less intrusive — or at least feels less intrusive."

Me: That 'automatic deduction' is actually a direct tax on the employer (and I understand - I may have read it in NRO - that Friedman, if he didn't know it right off, was reminded of it by Rose every day of his life 'til the day he died.) Oh, they keep telling us that "it's our money", but it is an absolute fact that since it's 1935 inception, not a single wage earner (distinct from the self-employed) has ever paid a penny into the so-called Social Security fund. Absolute? I suppose there were a few million people who felt a slight reduction in their first pay envelope after August 14, 1935, but at one per cent, it was the old cameltoe under the tent flap story. And back then, w/ people losing their jobs all over the place, the ones that had that deduction felt lucky to deserve it.

Now the employer didn't say much about this, because 1) there were so few of them, and 2) they could pass on the tax quietly to their customers (and the same for the self employed.) So the feds were able to suck vast sums near-painlessly from the soft underbelly of a growing economy.

But the pain comes in the fact that since nobody feels the money going to the feds, nobody gives a damn what they do w/ it, either. Apply the same technique to the federal income tax and the problem is multiplied ten-fold.

The only thing that counts is the employer-checking-account to employ-checking-account transaction. If the individual taxpayer was forced to write a check on his account to the feds once a month, how long do you think bridges to nowhere, farm subsidies to millionaires, earmarks, would last? If it ain't "intrusive" nobody's gonna care.

But yet another plus for the feds is that this system builds a guaranteed voting block to keep the whole stinking mess going. And it's a voting block that thinks they are getting something for nothing!

The final crime? All those SocSec 'deductions' coming in are immediately spent, on anything but pensions - they go into the general fund. They're up to their ears in 'bonds', but follow them far enough, you will find the statement: "The Unites States taxpayer, will pay to...."

Amendment XXVIII: "Taxes levied by the Federal government on individual citizens must be paid directly to the government by the citizens." RIP Milton Friedman.

Arn Nelson in Chicago (The Democrat-occupied west bank of Lake Michigan - Illinois 9th CD, repped by Nancy Pelosi's evil twin, Jan Schakowsky.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For 20 years I got my hair cut every three weeks...

...on LaSalle street, ending up w/ $22 a visit. So a few years ago I found a place at Montrose and Kimball where it's five dollars.

I sure didn't expect them to throw in the beard for nothing (as Mike LaSalle did,) since there is more hair to cut in my beard than on my head, so I was OK w/ $10 for the whole job when I went first on August 3. 2005. I also had them do it w/ a "number one clipper", which is pretty spectacular for the first few days, but soon enough starts looking as normal as it ever could.

Three months later I went back, and this time really didn't need anything on the head cut off, just the beard. They responded by charging me only $3. I argued vociferously - well, not really vociferously, and not even at all - just a very small interior smile.

Ever since then I've alternated $8, $3, every three months. That's been OK, but lately they've given me a little argument, trying to get back to the $10, but each time I've explained it was their idea, and they have grudgingly backed off to the $8.

But then it got to the point I was hating going there, because I just don't like arguments, even when I win.Yesterday I got the whole job, gave the barberette one dollar, and headed to the checkout, teeth gritted, and a five and three singles gripped in my hand. I couldn't read the ticket the girl gave me, but just thot it must be $10. The checkout guy was on the fone, but made eye contact, and I asked "how much?" Answer, turning head slightly to indicate it was for me, not fone: "Seven."

Sometimes I just have trouble understanding human beings.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Two more reasons why I never miss James Taranto... his The Best of the Web Today column at (m-f);

Monday, October 22, 2007, responding to a NYTimes editorial statement on the election of Bobby Jindal as governor of Louisisna:

"Has there ever been a society that did not practice 'the singling out of groups of people for abuse'? And has there ever been a society that put more effort into overcoming this tendency than America?"

At the end of the same column: 'Stereotype Gymnastics': :

"This correction appeared in yesterday's New York Times:

"An article last Sunday about the fashion industry's reticence to use black models referred incorrectly to a black woman in a maid's outfit pictured in the September issue of Italian Vogue. She was, in fact, a maid at the hotel where the pictures were taken, and was included, the Vogue photographer said, because of her attractiveness and her ability to underscore the pictures' theme of a stereotypical rich white woman who hires ethnic servants; the black woman was not a model dressed as a maid.

"So the Times assumed that the photographer was using a black model to stereotype blacks as maids when in fact he was using a black maid to stereotype whites as the employers of black maids.

"How insensitive!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007


...State Children's health insurance program.

Could someone show me where in the US Constitution it says the Federal government has any business paying for any citizen's health insurance? Sure, we do it for veterans, but they did something for us - they directly protected the government, or were ready to, at least.

I am not interested in 'promote the general' from the preamble, or 'provide...for the general welfare' of Article on, section 8 - if the founders meant for these two statements to justify anything anyone wanted, why have a constitution?

The reason this sort of thing has grown so common is a result of the withholding of federal taxes by employers from 'taxpayers.' Ninety-three per cent of people making money in the US are wage earners. I don't think any of them has been required to actually sit down and write a check to the feds for their federal income tax. Sure, at the end of the year, if enough has not been withheld by their employer, they must cough up the diff, but if this 'diff' gets too big, the feds have ways to make you pay it throughout the year.

So this means it's the employers who are actually paying the tax, as a function of the size of the check he gives to the employee every two weeks to deposit in, and spend from, his own bank account.

In the end, the employee has no feel at all for the vast amounts of bucks flowing into the US Treasury every day, and no interest to see where it is being spent. The employer does feel it, but he can pass it on to his customers in higher prices. So these big big bucks the the public is more than happy to find a reason for getting some, is being sucked, near painlessly, from 'the soft underbelly' of the US economy, with no one taking any direct responsibility of where it is being spent.

Withholding may be convenient, but it also robs us of our responsibility of watching to see that it is spent under the rules of the Constitution. You go back to the old way, make the feds work for that money by collecting it directly from each individual taxpayer, and soon enough those taxpayers will start voting for people who follow the Constitution.

Then, if the public really thinks federal management of health costs is the most efficient way to keep us healthy, propose an amendment saying so, pass it by 2/3 vote of both houses, and get it approved by 3/4 of the state legislatures, the old-fashioned way.


At the far opposite end of talk of the US Constitution I think the most clear thot on the US Constitution in the fewest words was by James Taranto in his Tuesday, October 4, 2005 Best of the Web column (

"This column is moderately pro-abortion, but ... we are also pro-democracy, and Roe v. Wade is a constitutional and political monstrosity that should be overturned yesterday...."


The past ten days I've had a few occasions to take the Foster Ave bus here in Chicago west to California Avenue. Three blocks short of there is the intersection of Lincoln Avenue, and on the southwest corner is a big drug store. Maybe 35 years ago there was a row of two flats facing facing Foster, I learned in Finland, of all places.

I've been in Finland a half dozen times, mostly in the '80s. Once I went to breakfast in a hotel I was staying at in Helsinki and sat at a table for maybe eight. Pretty soon a party of four sat down w/ me, and started talking. One was a Finnish woman, speaking pretty good English, a friend of the couple, parents of the fourth, a baby. Well the couple sure spoke good English - he was from Naperville, and his wife grew up in one of those two flats, and was really ticked that they had been torn down for an Osco!

All four lived in Finland now, but were on their way for a week in Sweden. The Finish woman was going with them to Sweden to improve her Swedish (She said something like "Every Finn should know how to speak good Swedish," a thot I did not find common in Finland.) The husband of the couple had some high-powered engineering job or something in Finland, but they wanted to do a little sightseeing. The Finnish lady said of the Naperville guy: "He speaks the best Finnish I've ever heard by anyone (including any of her Finnish fellow citizens.)" I guess besides being a good engineer, he was pretty good at languages, too.


Just about my favorite movie line of all time is Fast Eddie Felson, explaining the most important rule of pool, in 12 words, in response to Minnesota Fats' request, (interrupting Fast Eddie's long lecture on life) to "[stop talkin' and] Shoot pool, fast Eddie"): "I'm shootin' pool, Fats - when I miss, you git ta shoot pool!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My first goal in re-inventing the USA...

... as listed in my first post, is to repeal the 17th amendment, the one changing senators elected by their state legislatures to being elected directly by the people. So what can be wrong with that?

It was ratified April 8, 1913, meaning that senators elected after 1918 had all been elected directly. What was the most significant change in Senate management after that? According to the World Almanac, in 1920 we got the first Senate party leaders, Dem Oscar Underwood of Alabama for the minority in 1920 and Repub Charles Curtiss of Kansas for the majority in 1925, followed by, among others, LBJ, Bob ("I never met a tax I didn't like") Dole, Tom Daschle, and ...Harry Reid! I rest my case.

The point being that the founders wanted the state governments to have a direct say in the national government, and that these reps not be pandering to the fickle general electorate - no more than House reps with more expensive suits, and three times longer terms - that much harder to replace when they screw up.

A glaring example of this is Snarlin' Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. In 1987, when he had no reelection to worry his ugly little head for 5 years, he voted against Bob Bork for the USSC, but in 1991, only a year away from facing the voters again, he was just fine w/ Clarence Thomas. Of course, all of this is way over the heads of all of you out there who believe the USSC should be giving the people what they "need" instead of seeing to it that the US Constitution is followed.

Another positive result of eliminating the 17th, with the senators representing the state governments instead of the rabble, a lot of other problems would be easier to solve (withholding taxes, Roe v. Wade, the runaway courts, that sort of thing.)


My home town of South Haven, MI (just a beautiful place BTW) is on the east shore of Lake Michigan, but the west end of Van Buren County, the county seat of which, Paw Paw MI, is at the other end of (diagram that!) Around 1900, South Haven had grown a lot, was a major lake port (even had a street named Paw Paw), while Paw Paw, was still stuck out in the middle of nowhere, but still the county seat.

So the people of South Haven decided to fix that, and had a proposition to move the County Government to South Haven from that other place put on the ballot. This prop promptly lost (I don't think even close.)

So how did the South Havenites respond? Remember that Paw Paw Street? Well. it's not Paw Paw street anymore, for sure. Not only that, but it's now named for some obscure southern state, Indiana, or something.

A few years ago I had occasion to go to Paw Paw to look up some family records. I remarked to the clerk about their beautifully restored 1890s court house, comparing it to the new brick barn neighboring Allegan County (where I still had my parents' house) built to replace their beautiful 1890s court house. She thanked me w/ a smile, then I told her about the county seat change proposal, and resulting street name change. Clerk: "That sounds just like South Haven!"

You really had to be there ( and from there, I guess.)


After being in the work force for 60 years, mostly as an employee, but some hiring, too, it occurred to me one day that you should never work for anyone you wouldn't hire, and never hire anyone you wouldn't work for.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Take Puerto Rico...

...Henny Youngman drum roll - "Please!" My brite idea of the day:

They were all made citizens in 1917, we should make them the 51st state. But, we can't have a spanish-speaking state. So we make an offer they cannot refuse. In ten years, if they make English their official state language (all government functions in English) they become a state. If not, we give them to... Cuba! They will be jabbering like Hoosiers in a week.

Note, as the days turn into weeks, then months, w/o another brite idea from me, I will try to update that qualification approproately.

Pleasant thots...

...Have you ever tried to pin down the first conscious thots of your whole life?
I have always had an interest in this, maybe because I have a major rememberable happening when I was 4 years and 11 months old: We moved from 87th and Sangamon in Chicago, to South Haven MI. And I can remember plenty
of stuff before we moved to MI.

Maybe the earliest was a party of some kind, at the home of my mother's brother and his family. They moved into the flat above us and 87th in the spring of 1937, but before that lived on Wallace street, a few blocks away.

It was dark out, so makes me think it was wintertime, and my aunt Grace's birthday was February 28, and she seemed to be the star attraction. She was playing the piano, and I stood next to the piano bench watching. Pretty soon she looked down and asked: "Do you want to sit up here w/ me, Arnie?" I'm sure my little head was bobbing up and down like crazy, so she stopped playing long enough to reach down, pick me up, and sit me down right next to her, and went back to playing.

Later in the same scene my mother introduced me to my cousin Larry, 15 month younger than me, sitting on the floor w/ a big smile on his face. I'm sure I had met him before, but at that age I guess you need a little reminding once in a while. And since he must have been 18 months old at the time, where else would he be sitting but on the floor? He was about the best friend ever had, became a Chicago Policeman, died 20 years ago of a heart attack on his way to his job as Sis Daley's body guard (aka go-fer.) I'm pretty sure he didn't die w/ a smile on his face, but I'm even more sure he had one five minutes before.

As best I can determine, working w/ bits and pieces (there are only two other people still alive, my older sister and cousin) that must have been Sunday, February 28, 1937, when I was 2 years, 9 months old.

Not so pleasant thots...

A 640 word article 'Senators Hesitant to Use Torture, Even to Find al Qaeda Bomb' at Friday, October 05, 2007 contains two statement by US Senators which make me wonder: Who dresses these people in the
morning - they sound too stupid to do it unaided:

"Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that compromising on torture would be 'to the detriment ... to the safety and security of our troops.'"

Apparently littledick (what Mark Levin on the radio calls him) thinks if we refuse to torture, when our soldiers are captured by terrorists they will not torture them because "The US says they don't." No, Dicky, they'll just cut off their heads - no torture there."

But then Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) supposedly a big time conservative Repub, goes Dicky one better: She suggested she might be open to a technique "that is not harmful to the person's health."

No comment.

But the all time dumbest statement was by a CNN news anchorette, Carol Lin 2200 ET Sunday nite, November 6, 2005, at the height of the Paris immigrant riots:

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN SUNDAY NIGHT. Terror in the middle of the night....

Meanwhile, overseas, France is engulfed in an 11th straight night of riots with no end in sight....

Carol LIN: ...[I]t's been 11 days since two African- American teenagers were killed, electrocuted during a police chase, which prompted all of this.....

The original is about a dozen scrolls down at this site (or do a find on this page France):

PS Found this on

PPS For all you folks in the sales dodge out there, remember: People buy from you for their reasons, not yours.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beach News...

...Monday, 8am, October 15, 2007:

Walked a block to the Dominick's Super, got a poppy seed french roll and coffee, free Chicago Tribune (The RedEye, just as good, but free) walked another block to the beach. Beautiful day, high 50s, little wind, mostly sun.) Only a few passers-by. Finally, a young blackish looking woman comes by (reminds me of when I was a little kid and asked my mother: "Were you ever pretty?" Mom: "I was young once, sonny.") She made no eye contact, but young women at the beach at 8am don't make much eye contact w/ bearded, 73-year-old men, from my experience. She had on a sort of hoodie, dark blue w/ the letters GVSU in light blue on the front. I first thot 'George Mason University (home of Walter Williams - hard to decide which he has more of: brilliance or humor). No, that don't work. Georgia? Couldn't think of the V preceeding State University. Well, forget it.

20 min later she comes back, going in the other direction. All of a sudden, me: "Is that Grand Valley?" She turns around, big smile: "How do you know about that?" Me: "I grew up in South Haven." Well, she knew all about South Haven, too - probably had lots of fellow students from there.

Then I told her about my cousin Julie Very-Dutch-Last-Name from Battle Creek MI, who's doing quite well in pre-med at GVSU (in Grand Rapids, MI BTW.) She said she knew Stacey, but not Julie. We both agreed there were quite a few Very-Dutch-Last-Names at GVSU (20 mi from Holland MI.)

So she turns and heads up the beach, one last turn around and smile, comment: "That's such a nice area up there." Amen, Miss.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My plans for the USA

1) Repeal the 17th amendment (to make it easier to implement the rest of these plans)

2) No poll tax and no property requirement, certainly, but make each tax payer responsible for paying his taxes directly (no check off)

3) Settle the Pledge of Allegiance argument once and for all.

4) Make an honest program out of Social Security

5) Solve the gerrymandering of House districts

6) No fed taxes for DC residents, but no votem and no rep either (obviously, local taxes to remove their own trash, etc.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pending CTA service cuts...

Letter I had published in the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday, September 15, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007 9:08 AM
From: "Arnold Nelson"
To: "Chicago Sun-Times Letters"

Chicago Sun-Times
Gentle people:
Yesterday I passed a bus stop and saw the sign announcing impending drastic cuts in service because of no state money. The notice was mostly a long list of bus lines that would be suspended until sufficient funding is available. In that list I noticed a considerable number of express buses.
I quite easily found the CTA 2007 budget on the computer, where it says: "Labor expenses are approximately 75 percent of CTA’s total operating budget." I'm not a comptroller, but it seems to me that since express buses carry the most fares per hour of operator time (why are they express buses?) they should be the most profitable and should be the last to go. Also, since one elevated train operator is essentially driving 8 buses, they may be the most profitable of all, per unit of labor, which is 75% or the budget (The budget says the trains carry one third of all CTA passengers.) The CTA should be lauded if they are attempting to maintain a 'framework' of routes, but it seems in a severe money pinch like this the priority should be most profit from the labor you retain.
Arnold H Nelson Chicago IL

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hey, better watch yer drivin' in Indiany...

...they'll nail you for speeding, DWI, and DUI . But "ordinary" negligence or "inadvertence alone"? you're home free.

Chicago Tribune Wednesday, July 4, 2007:

"No charges in fatal crash - 'Inattentive' driver's actions not criminal, Indiana prosecutor says

"ELKHART, Ind. -- The ... truck driver who plowed his semitrailer into a line of vehicles on the Indiana Toll Road in April, killing eight people, won't be criminally charged in their deaths, Indiana prosecutors said Tuesday.

"Leonardo Cooksey, 32, was trying to charge his cell phone while driving and didn't see the traffic stopped in front of him until it was too late, said Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney Curtis Hill.....

"'Mr. Cooksey's conduct was inattentive driving, not speeding, not driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs,' Hill said. 'Inadvertence alone, while an indication of negligent conduct, does not rise to the level of criminal liability, notwithstanding a catastrophic result.'

[And killing 8 people on the toll road is hardly 'catastrophic' in Indiana, is it. Mr. Prosecutor?]

"Cooksey told police that his cell phone had beeped a low-battery warning and he was fiddling with the charger....

"Lawyers in Illinois said the case's outcome likely would have been the same in Illinois, because Cooksey's actions, while unfortunate, did not constitute recklessness...."

[A midwestern thing?]

Read all 680 words at:


Arn Nelson in Chicago

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Someone who thinks w/holding is legit....

Date: Sat, 26 May 2007 22:37:35 -0700 (PDT) From: "Arnold Nelson" Subject: Re: Re:WSJ editorial of Thursday, May 24, 2007 To: "Bob, thanks so much for your clear and thotful response to my WSJ letter. I hardly meet another conservative in a month, so it's nice to get it in writing that I'm not going completely off the track, on top of getting lots of stuff I never knew.. I blind copied in about a dozen hard core righty friends to that note, and also the TownHall Meetup Yahoo groups, a sort of blog here in Chicago, which probably has a dozen regular responders. From all of those recips, I got one note from someone objecting to my Social Security/withholdoing tax opinions: "I'm having a problem following your logic on 'No wage earner has ever paid a penny in Social Security Taxes.' I personally pay about $x,xxx per year in Social Security taxes. Yes, my company sends the money in, but they are sending money they withheld from me. The company does add a corresponding amount on top of what they have withheld from me. But make no mistake, I do pay Social Security taxes." and "As for income taxes, I pay well over $Xk per year. Again, the company writes the check that goes to the government, but it's money they have withheld from me. And in this case there is no matching amount on top; it's just my money. The alternative is for me to underwithhold (claim exemptions to which I am not entitled, for instance) to the point where nothing is withheld on my behalf and then the company would send in no $ with my name on them. It would then be up to me to make this up by April 15." The person that wrote that has considerably more credentials than I have in this area, but that point about 'underreporting' and paying up at the end of the year has not been true since at least 1985. If you're a wage earner, and you try to not have any taxes deducted, they're gonna do it anyway, and if at the end of the year, that refund gets too big, they'll penalize you (the wage earner) for underdeducting.Claiming "exemptions which you are not entitled" will get you a stiff penalty from the IRS, I'm sure. Bob, I was about ten years old when my Mother told me "Social Security is just a tax." It's only the last dozen years or so that I caught on to exactly what she was saying. But I lose friends when I explain this. A woman living in my building, recently retired, went just short of berserk: "That's my money, I paid in!" This is not even getting into the facts that as soon as the Feds started getting those checks from the employers in 1935, they immediately spent it on some hare-brained scheme or other (religiously depositing a 'bond' in some fund somehwere, whcih said "The citizens of the US will pay, in 20xx, the sum of....") And a local talk show hostess, Teri O'Brien (recovering attorney) has said more than once that there were two USSC decisions in the late 1930s that said no one has any clain at all on any of that money. So I know you're real busy, but I sure would appreciate your thots on this - I just find it hard to believe that only one person out of 20 who got that note does not accept my points. (Obviously, I didn't expect anything from the Journal, but that blog has more than its share of crabs, who pile on me all over the place on other items.) If that "it's my money" argument meant anything to them, they would have sent me similar notes. Arnie Nelson, on the Democrat-occupied west bank of Lake Michigan (Illinois 9th CD, repped by Nancy Pelosi's evil twin, Jan Schakowsky) PS Do you know Father Sirico (sp?) at the Acton Institute? I heard him w/ Walter Williams on Rush fillin last year and sent him (Fr) an email - I got a gracious response and a free sub to all their stuff. I stopped in their offices in Grand Rapids on March 27 (very nice)but was told (quite warmly) that they're lucky if he shows up once a month.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Illegal immigrnt/wholding exchange w/ big time lawyer

Date: Fri, 25 May 2007 08:32:42 -0700 (PDT) From: "Arnold Nelson" Subject: Re: THConservatives - "I don't see why employees.... To: You're always worth reading, K, but this was just great! I do think the basic problem is the withholding tax system. The biggest single group of voters is wage earners (certainly not including the self-enployed) and most of them have never written a check for income taxes in their life. In fact, they are encouraged to make the employer pay more than necessary, and surprise! The wage earner gets the difference, in a nice little 'refund' check! As a result, most voters could care less about what our legslators do, especially if it looks like they're trying to throw a freebie to the public. If every taxpayer was forced to write a check directly to the federal government weekly, monthly, yearly, whatever, we'd see government shrink like a snowdrift in July. It couldn't be done overnite, but phased in (or out, as is this case) over 5-10 years it would change the country as much as this immigration baloney, but in the opposite direction! Who knows we might even see a strong movement for the repeal of the 16th amendment.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another illegal immigration nasty to WSJ

Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 17:42:01 -0700 (PDT) From: "Arnold Nelson" Subject: WSJ editorial of Thursday, May 24, 2007 To: "WSJ Letters" <>
Forty years of reading The Wall Street Journal has convinced me that you have the finest newspaper in the United States. The philosophies behind virtually all your editorials are a big reason for this opinion. So it is really depressing to see you go editorially berserk on illegal immigration, as these items from your Thursday, May 24, 2007 editorial: "Immigration and Welfare ".... In most cases immigrants will pay at least as much in lifetime federal taxes as they receive in benefits. "... most immigrants contribute payroll taxes for decades before they collect Social Security or Medicare benefits...." No wage earner (obviously not including the self-employed) has ever paid a penny in Social Security taxes. That monthly check representing his 'contribution' has been written on the employer bank account since inception in 1935 - that is, a tax on employers for each person they employ. Starting in 1943, the same is true to considerable extent to withheld employee income taxes. The employer is the one who writes the check every month to the Feds. If that check's not in the mail, it's the employer who could get jail, never the employee. Maybe in the beginning, the employee needed to cough up a little out of his own pocket at tax day, but that is more than made up for by the trick finally taught to the great majority of wage earners: deduct more than is due, so they get a 'refund' at the end of the year. So the employer must send in a bigger check (higher tax) but the employee gets the difference. "... immigrants who receive paychecks have their income taxes withheld...." Is there an echo in here? "Perhaps most important, immigrant earnings and tax payments rise the longer they are here.... Those earnings wouldn't be increasing if most immigrants were going on the dole. They are instead assimilating into the work force, growing their incomes as their skills increase." Hej, WSJ: Ever hear of welfare queens? Two more howlers: "Many of the Congressional proposals to legalize this population would not allow these workers to collect welfare until waiting up to eight years for a green card and five years after that." 'Many' of the proposals...? That means plenty of them WOULD allow illegals to collect welfare.... Waiting 'up to' eight years? Heck, waiting five minutes is 'up to' eight years. Arnold H. Nelson 5056 North Marine Drive Chicago IL 60640773-677-3010

Sunday, April 29, 2007

To John Derbyshire on withholding tax

Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2007 04:30:09 -0700 (PDT) From: "Arnold Nelson" Subject: John, before the VT disaster, you had some CornerPosts... To: "John Derbyshire"
...on the withholding tax. I hope you pickup on it again - it was great! When I was being still sitting on my mother's lap 72 years ago, I'm sure she was bellyaching about it. I think somewhere I'd seen the Milton Friedman angle, but thanks for reminding me - I had not heard the Rose part, but that was even better. I think this all started with the Social Security 'deduction' in 1935, and to this day, I don't think a single non-self-employed wage earner has ever written a check to the Feds to cover their 'share'. It's nothing but a tax on employers, the 'deduction' part is the biggest scam ever pulled. The big test is: if that employer's check doesn't show up at the Feds, the employer goes to jail, never the employee. Of course, when that check cleared, the money was immediately spent on current expenses, and some obscure bond was issued somewhere, saying: "Future US taxpayers promise to pay...." We have a talk show hostess here in Chicago, Teri O'Brien (temporarily off the air, unfortunately) a recovering attorney, who often points out there are two Supreme Court decisions from the late '30s that say the people who got the pay stubs have not a shred of claim on those bonds. I wonder, did Milton think up the original SSoc joke, or did he just discover how easy it would be to apply it to general taxes? Whatever, now we have the even more monstrous problem that the average NSE wage earner doesn't really give a damn about how high taxes go, since again, if that FedTax 'deduction' doesn't show up at the Federal Treasury, it's the employer who goes to jail, never the employee. The so-called taxpayer may jabber a lot about how 'that's his money', but even if he need not worry about going to jail if his 'contribution' doesn't make it to the Feds, he can get big trouble trying to write checks on his gross. So he has a strong inclination to vote for those who promise the hand-outs, and not the people who might suggest lowering taxes on the employers. And the employer? Just another expense - he could hire more people if it was lower, but there's just not enough of them voting. Then, just to prove every scam can be improved, there's the 'refund'.You can force your employer to pay even more than your 'share', and at the end of the year, we'll give it to you! This is even better than the fundamental precept of the banking industry: "You give us all of your money, and maybe we'll give you some back." That may be hyperbolic, but I worked for a bank for 13 years, and sometimes I got the feeling that was their ultimate, if unattainable, goal. I know you know all this, but it's so rarely discussed, it was refreshing to read your posts - I hope you can do it some more. Arn Nelson in Chicago