Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pity the Fools

Cedar Springs, Michigan

Thursday, October 14, 2010.

Progress. Got the new refrigerator into the motor home a couple of days ago, with help from my neighbor Kevin from across the street. Hooked up the gas and electricity, and everything seems to be working as it should.

After much debating with myself and comparison shopping, I finally bought a generator this afternoon. One thing about a debate with oneself is that there are no clear winners or losers. I held out in my mind for a built-in generator, but the space allotted along the outside of the motor home isn't big enough for one of today's 4000 watt models, although it would hold the next size down, 2800 watts, which would probably be fine for what I have. But when I added the high cost of a Cummins-Onan built-in to the several hundred dollars more estimated for installation (with warnings from the installer that costly "problems" could arise due to the age of the motor home), it aggregated to an amount out of all proportion to the cost and condition of the motor home itself. So I ended up buying a portable one, a very quiet little 3000 watt job with an electric starter. It's still too big to fit in the space along the outside where the original generator was, but it has wheels and I'm going to roll it on a ramp into and out of the motor home. (I could lift it, but it's 130 pounds, and I'm definitely not going to feel like doing that at the end of a long day of walking.) The only other chores will be to plug it in and add gasoline on a daily basis. And I've found a use for that outside generator space--it will hold two 5-gallon gas cans quite easily.

Now I'm beginning the serious aspects of the preparation--putting up my Muddy Waters poster, laying in a supply of books, clothes, pots and pans, and tools. Not too much, though, in case I have to cram it all in the car along with the generator at some point.

Elsewhere in the news, the election campaigns are heating up here in Michigan. Every five minutes or so, we are treated to an assault on our senses and our intelligence in the form of a political ad that makes the rest of the stuff on the tube look almost sublimely literary by comparison. The candidates from both parties have the same profoundly stupid message, too. It's this: we need to control taxes so we can create jobs. How anyone ever got the idea that lowering taxes would mean more jobs is way the hell beyond me. And I'm not just saying that because I had a career in the government tax department of what a contestant on Wheel of Fortune might refer to as "a major New England state."

Of course, I know what the candidates are getting at, or at least what they think they mean. They think the reason there are no jobs in Michigan is because we have business taxes, and that somehow if businesses only could exist tax-free they'd come running into Michigan, dragging their factories behind them, and we'd suddenly be back where we were in the 1960s, with everybody sucking on the old sugar tit and making big bucks and being protected by a union. I've already talked about this in this blog, and I won't go into detail about it again, except to say that taxes are only one, and a relatively small, cost of doing business, and we've already offered to do everything for businesses short of sacrificing our first-born children to them, if they will only locate here. Fixed operational costs, material costs, proximity to markets, and transportation costs are all at least as important, and labor costs are the most important of all. And the truth is, the people of Michigan couldn't work cheaply enough, even at minimum wage, to satisfy the demands of rapacious capitalism at this point in time. But who wants to hear that kind of news from a political candidate? So they all say the same thing--"I'm going to lower taxes and create jobs"--which means about as much as if they said "Jesus loves you" or "Santa Claus is coming to town."

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Taxes pay for absurd and frivolous things like police, fire protection, roads, sewers, water, trash removal, education, courts of law, libraries, and parks. In fact, taxes usually create more jobs in a state than any other piece of the economy does. (Except maybe Walmart.)

I almost pity the fools who get elected. But I don't, because they'll probably be the ignorantly lucky beneficiaries of a market upswing that will, indeed, create some additional prosperity. And they'll take full credit for it, while they're getting paid with ... you guessed it, tax money.

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