Friday, July 6, 2007

Outta Site!

We at your Lighting Round are enjoying some R&R away from the news world. Rest assured, we're still getting a fix every now and then, but we figured now would be a good time to pass along a few websites we've bumped into, but haven't written about.

GIVE ME LIBERTY AND SELL EVERYTHING ELSE. On this Independence Week, we warn you about a gargantuanly bad idea masquerading as a patriotic endeavor. Backers of The Liberty Amendment promise "individual liberty, freedom and sovereignty of the people will be restored" by passing a constitutional amendment to force the government to liquidate any "business, professional, commercial, financial or industrial enterprise except as specified in the Constitution."

From the amendment's website:
It provides a three-year period for selling or liquidating more than 900 agencies and business-type enterprises presently operated by the Federal Government without constitutional authority. Sale of these enterprises will bring in enough money to substantially reduce the national debt. Annual budget spending by the government could be reduced by more than fifty percent. Revenue from excise taxes on goods and services, and on corporation incomes, will increase at least twenty percent, without increase of tax rates.
If you're an old-school Republican or Libertarian, this sounds enticing at first.

But this is brute-force downsizing. You don't have to work at a policy institute to comprehend the chaos of divesting and selling off hundreds of government agencies and throwing people out of their jobs. Social Security? Gone. Federal Disaster Aid? Gone. FDIC? Gone.

Also in trouble: the National Weather Service, NASA, NOAA, etc.

And let us not forget: even if you sold off all of the government's business, the revenue generated is a one-time event. And I serenely doubt it will make a lasting impression on our $8 trillion debt.

We get rid of the income tax and replace it with an excise tax. But we also eliminate a host of agencies that help protect our financial and physical well-being, like it or not.

Anyone feeling liberated by this?

LIVING LARGE. Leo Babauta offers a list of 39 ways to live and not merely exist.

From his article:
Too often we go through life on autopilot, going through the motions and having each day pass like the one before it.

That's fine, and comfortable, until you have gone through another year without having done anything, without having really lived life.
Too true. His suggestions range from the intriguing -- "Create a morning ritual" -- to the pedestrian -- "Get outside" -- to the obvious -- "Be positive" -- to the memorable -- "Kiss in the rain" -- to the emotional -- "When you suffer, suffer" -- to the contradictory -- "Do nothing."

We recommend you read the list, but don't try to follow every suggestion, and please ignore #33: "Stop watching the news."

LET'S MAKE LEMONADE! Remember the old Apple II "Lemonade" game you played in grade school? Try the new version, which runs in your browser and changes things up a bit.

LET'S REDRAW CONGRESSIONAL BOUNDARIES! It's a political statement posing as a game, but "The Redistricting Game" shows you the problems that go with drawing congressional districts. Maybe you can get your newly drawn district to vote for the Liberty Amendment!

LET'S LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE! The Foreign Service Institute has free language courses available on-line. We can't say if they're as good as Berlitz, but looks are free.

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