Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Commentary by Hutch

Punishing The Rich
The liberals are at it again -- punishing the rich with another confiscatory surtax on wealth. While I appreciate what they are trying to do—alleviate the growing burden of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) that is hitting more and more middle class families—the way they are going about it is all wrong. Today's Washington Post reports that House Democrats may impose a 4.3% surtax on the highest earners in order to come up with the money to eliminate the AMT for those under $250,000 a year. Once again, their only solution is raising taxes on the wealthy. My friends, that's exactly how the AMT came about in the first place. It was created in 1969 to specifically target 155 "super-rich" tax filers. And look at the monstrosity it turned into! If Congress fails to address the AMT this year, it could hit as many as 23 million households earning as little as $50,000 a year. Congress simply needs to abolish the AMT, stop the spending and learn to live within its means.

Maoists in Nepal
The Maoists now propose to halt British and Indian recruiting of Gurkha tribesmen for military service. About two hundred Gurkhas a year get into the British army (some 15,000 apply annually). About 3,400 Gurkhas serve in the British army, and 40,000 in the Indian army. This mercenary arrangement has been going on for two centuries, and is a major source of good jobs for young Gurkhas. This is out of a total population of only about half a million Gurkhas. But a high birth rate produces plenty of young men, and most of them line up each year to try and get a job in the British or Indian armies. While the Gurkhas (actually called Gurungs) have a much larger impact on the country (of 26 million) than their population would imply. The retired Gurkha soldiers make up a large chunk of the countries middle class, and are hostile to many Maoist ideas. However, some of the Maoist leaders in Gurkha areas are Gurungs. This is partly because of the high degree of corruption in the Nepalese justice system. Judges are easy to buy, which leaves most people without legal recourse. The Maoists provide an alternative, with a lot of communist ideology thrown in. A lack of justice and jobs makes leaving the country to be a soldier, or any other kind of job, attractive to young Nepalese. The country is poor, and going abroad to work is very popular. The Maoists appeal to national pride in trying to stop the British army recruiting will not get far when confronted with economic necessity.

What Are the Mullahs Thinking?
There is a growing consensus in the world that Iran getting nuclear weapons is not a good thing. This feeling is led by Iran's Arab neighbors, who have always been nervous about Iran. Now that Iran is concentrating more on developing nuclear weapons, and not trying to hide it, the Arabs see themselves as the first victims of a nuclear armed Iran, who would use nukes to bully them. Russians have noted that Iran is less interested in completing its first nuclear power plant, mainly by not paying the Russians on time. Russian technicians are supervising the plant construction, which Iran has long put forward as its only interest in nuclear science. When the Russians don't get paid, they don't work, and nothing gets done with this nuclear power plant.

The US is holding major naval exercises in the Persian Gulf, apparently for the benefit of the rulers of Iran. Meanwhile, Iran is demanding the release of an Iranian-American nuclear engineer jailed in the United States, and awaiting trial for exporting nuclear engineering secrets to Iran.

Iran is getting ten Russian 96K6 mobile anti-aircraft systems from Syria. This avoids the growing international embargo efforts against Iran. Syria and Russia deny the deal, but then they would. This also explains where poverty stricken Syria got the $730 million to buy fifty 96K6 systems.

The UN accuses Iran of illegally expelling 70,000 Afghan refugees in the past month. Iran doesn't care. It wants to drive a million Afghan refugees back into Afghanistan. Iran believes the refugees harbor criminals, and criminal activity (especially drug dealing). Iran has a big problem with drug addiction, promoted by cheap opium and heroin from Afghanistan.

Responding to negative media reports about religious police beating young women for wearing "un-Islamic" clothing (that shows hair, ankles or hips), the police have now made a big deal of arresting minor criminals and parading them in public places. Meanwhile, the girls are still being harassed.

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