Saturday, January 5, 2008

Saturday Thoughts

This is January 5th. With storms going through paradise, the winds are furious with the sky, creating and moving clouds faster than cars on a freeway. The rain is here, heavier than a hurricane at times and light as a summer storm other times. And everything in between. It's mostly gray with shades of sun and sky peaking through now and then before the winds come again in waves.

Ok, enough dribble about paradise? Beside the campaign? I won't write about the campaign. You've heard or read enough. They're too long, the pundits as well as the campaign. I think we should limit the primaries from May 1 to June 30, conventions in July and the campaign from August 1 to October 31 with nothing on or after November 1. Like it will happen.

Anyway, the news. Walmart. They found a loophole in the laws to save paying taxes. You know they're the company that preaches local support, but all the while they use teams of tax lawyers and accounts to keep from paying state, local and federal taxes. Yes, that's expected? But why then say they support local ecomonies when they really push their employee costs on the local governments while not paying taxes to compensate?

Well, they had this practice of leasing the land they own so they can get the tax write-off of the lease. The branched their land division off from the stores so it appears on paper to be a legal rent. The local branch rents land from the national company. Well, a North Carolina judge disagreed and refused their request for refund of $33 million. Yes, a refund. Not less tax but a refund after a state audit.

The state disagreed and refused to refund the company, or really the store which transfer money to the company. The judge ruled it's a circular arrangement that isn't, on its face, a reasonable transaction since Walmart owns both the company that own land and the company that owns the store. No one benefitted except Walmart. It was a paper exercise where no real money actually changed hands.

Ding, chalk one up for the people against Walmart. Now let's see this nationwide.

Second, whales. A federal judge ordered the Navy to abide by rules to protect whales with the Navy's new more powerful sonar which hurts whales. The Navy even admitted it broke the Endangered Species Act with the sonar and its use, but they said national security trumps environment issues. Sorry, Navy, the whales have rights too, as the judge said.

This is an interesting issue because the Navy with the sonar on subs and sonar buoys around the world tracking submarines, also track whales. Yes, they do and yes they know. After all sonar tracks objects bigger than a small shark, so they know where all the large sea animals are at any time. And you thought our Navy didn't know. They know, they just don't care.

A friend, a retired naval officer who was the war games office, and an article a few years ago confirmed the Navy's sonar knows where all the whales, sharks and other large sea creatures are in real-time. So the judge said they could follow the law then too, in real-time.

Ding, chalk one up for the planet.

Third, Ole George himself. He has said now that he doesn't follow the very same Executive Orders his office writes and he signs which applies to his office and administration. He says he doesn't have to. Gee, like do as I say, not what I do mentality? And strange, there is no law against it. So, Congress is considering it. Like he'll sign it or worse sign it with a signing order he won't follow it?

What a President, and Vice President too, they not only think they're above the law and us, they actually act like it too. Like that's new? Well, more so now.

Fourth, Afghanistan. Did you know since we routed the Taliban into Pakistan, or so we thought, that opium production has increased 300%. While we're fighing Al Qeada and the Taliban, the warlords under our protection have been rebuilding the opium production and all the efforts to irradicate it hasn't even dented it. It's flourished.

So what are we fighting there? Did you know that 93% of the world opium now comes from Afghanistan? At least the Taliban not only outlawed it, they irradicated it. We've help resurrect it. And while people argue the farmers could be growing other crops, we haven't shown they'll make enough money for farmers to survive. Opium keeps them and their families alive financially.

So who's failing here? Ding, maybe us?

Ok, a short week. I'm working on other longer essays, but for now. I'm off for a football weekend. I don't watch college football, but do watch the NFL playoffs. I don't favor any team, just good games. See ya' next week.

No comments: