Showing 11 - 20 of 27 posts found matching keyword: laws

It's been a few years since my last traffic ticket for a "safety restraint violation," so I guess I was probably due. I was pulled over by the Georgia State Patrol this weekend driving between Tucker Hardware Franklin Road and the Silver Star Chevron gas station on Temple Road 0.35 miles away. There was a gas station closer to the hardware store, but I thought the Chevron would have higher quality gas. That decision will cost me $15.00, more than the amount I had intended to spend on gas for the Jeep. Next time, I'm just settling for the lower quality gas.

Violators Copy

I understand that Georgia's Seat Belt Law allows an officer to pull me over and issue a citation for an obvious violation of the code. (Damn you, open Jeep top!) I do not, however, understand how a fine of $15.00 is supposed to encourage me to wear a seat belt. So far it hasn't, and I can't imagine that it ever will be the deciding factor in whether or not I buckle up. If Georgia lawmakers wanted me to care, they'd charge me more. Just think: if $15.00 means nothing to me, what does it means to them?

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In one panel of one of the several stories in last week's anniversary edition of Action Comics #900 (!), Superman announced his plan to renounce his American citizenship in order to truly be a hero for the world. Superman spoketh, and thusly the internet exploded:

Donald Trump wishes he could get this kind of exposure.
Google Images search result for "superman citizenship" on May 1, 2011.

In the story, Superman explains that his American citizenship has become a liability as it gives rogue nations an excuse to blame the citizens of America for Superman's actions against their tyranny. Superman expresses the belief that surrendering his U.S. citizenship will make his work to save us from ourselves easier. This was deemed newsworthy by many, many news organizations that you would really think had better things to do.

A case could perhaps be made against publisher DC Comics' agenda for Superman's citizenship status -- the controversy has already resulted in reports of media-frenzied sales increases, and rumor has it that this story written by David Goyer is laying groundwork not for future comic book stories, but the planned Man of Steel movie written by David Goyer -- but most people seemed to focus their ire at Superman himself. The argument mainly boiled down to "you're either with us or you're against us." There might be some truth to that, but if I have to pick a side, I pick Superman's.

Well of course Superman likes us best, we're the USA.

Personally, I don't see how surrendering his American citizenship is supposed to aid Superman against Iran or Libya or whatever other country hates the United States this afternoon. It's a pretty good chance that they are going to hate Superman whether or not he says he stands for the American Way, because those countries also hate truth and justice.

Even if Superman is being naive, I don't think that makes him the bad guy here. For one thing, what difference does it make if Superman even has American citizenship? What right do we Americans have to be jealous girlfriends and scream, "keep your hands off off our man, you bitch," to the rest of the world?

Superman was born on a distant planet and is the definition of "illegal alien." He has no income and pays no taxes. Superman doesn't vote or sit for jury duty. Are we planning on telling Superman that he's not allowed to enter our borders to help us against tornadoes, forest fires, or super-villains because he's not a U.S. citizen? Wouldn't that make us the same as the tyrants that Superman is trying to fight?

Besides, while Superman is publicly expatriating, Clark Kent is not. Some will call that hypocritical, but remember that Superman isn't surrendering citizenship because he has a problem with America. This is a political, public relations ploy by a non-existent alter-ego, not a comment on American politics (which Superman is above, figuratively and literally). Mild-mannered Clark Kent will remain as American as apple pie. That's good enough for me.

I know who I'd vote for!

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Take a look at the blog post below this post. See how I referred to the Associated Press? Some bloggers would have just posted the entire article on their site. Technically, that's copyright infringement. Now it seems that someone plans to do something about that.

According to David Kravets of Wired magazine, the company Righthaven is buying the rights to stories published by sources such as the Associated Press and Wired magazine and then suing the pants off of anyone who dares to steal that information. As I see it, there is just one small problem with that plan: bloggers who reproduce news items verbatim are not typically affluent people.

It is hard, as they say, to get blood from a stone. Similar methods of stringent pursuit of copyrights have recently helped the recording industry make hundreds of thousands of dollars, discounting the 8-digit millions of dollars that they have paid in lawyers fees. That's not a very good business model, unless of course you are a lawyer.

What does this have to do with Well, not much. I don't steal stories, and no one would bother stealing mine. But if you were thinking about that, I now know who to call to do something about it. And we will take your lunch money.

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The Georgia Congress is preparing to pass a bill making texting via cell phone while driving a car illegal. This new law is being named for the child whose death while texting & driving inspired his parents to lobby Congress for the change. It will be called the "My Child Did Something So Stupid It Is Now Illegal" law. The original name for the law, the "Someone Always Ruins It For Everyone Else" law, was apparently voted down in committee. Meanwhile, running with scissors remains unregulated by state law.

In the same legislative session, the Georgia Congress has finally passed a bill requiring all pickup truck operators to wear seatbelts, closing a previously existing loophole. Georgia farmers fought the law, citing the hassle of buckling and unbuckling during frequent trips around their property and livestock. The lesson to take from this bit of news is not that Georgia farmers are too poor to pay the state-mandated $15 fine for an unbuckled seatbelt but rather that they are paranoid about the police making surprise visits to their farms to check whether they've fastened their seatbelts. Just what sort of crops are those Georgia farmers growing?

In the wake of all this legislation, the Georgia Department of Economic Development will probably need to start a new tourism campaign. Certainly they will want to consider dropping their mobile website: it'll soon be illegal to look at it while driving, but that won't matter as no one will be able to legally unbuckle his seatbelt within the state even if he wanted to.

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I just received a letter in the mail from the U.S. Department of Commerce notifying me that I would be receiving a 2010 Census form in the mail. Now, I'm not one to second guess the U.S. government, but why am I receiving a letter telling me that I will be receiving a letter? Why don't they just send me the damn Census form once and be done with it? Isn't the 2010 Census-sponsored NASCAR enough of a reminder? The answer: the first letter is like a subpoena, requiring me to respond to the second.

The US Commerce Department admits that mailing these advance letters is an "important reminder" to people that they need to participate. Fun fact: According to United States Code Title 13, Chapter 7, Subchapter II, Section 221, anyone who refuses to respond to a census request could be fined up to $100. The same section of the US Code also states that anyone who "willfully gives an answer that is false" could be fined up to $500. And there's more! Section 222 stipulates that if anyone makes "any suggestion, advice, information or assistance of any kind, with the intent or purpose of causing an inaccurate enumeration of population to be made, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." But that's not all! Section 224 warns than anyone intentionally lying about his business or other organization "shall be fined not more than $10,000." Ouch.

So remember kids, don't ignore or lie to Big Brother, especially if he already knows where you live. And don't even think of trying to escape: his car is faster than yours.

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It was recently brought to my attention that England is considering legislation requiring all potential dog owners to pass a test, microchip their dog, and buy insurance in case their dog attacked someone. In theory, this plan would prevent the implementation of mobile collection and euthanasia vehicles such as have been recently employed in parts of Japan in order to restrain out-of-control wild and dangerous dog populations. After all, who could imagine a scenario where someone would abandon their animal after having paid a substantial sum to acquire it, even if that someone had lost their job in a shrinking economy after having overpaid for a vastly overvalued animal in the first place? Come on, it's not like a dog is a house.

How to solve the problem of wild, dangerous dogs is the sort of problem that would only face a government that had already banned gun ownership. Now that guns don't kill people, dogs kill people. With no threat of weapons to keep them in check, the loose dogs have formed nature's equivalent of motorcycle gangs, resorting to wandering from town to town fighting other gangs tooth-and-claw over territory, eating from trashcans, and raping all the uptight bitches. In America, we'd shoot our beloved Old Yeller if he looked at us cross-eyed, but the Brits are searching for a gentler way.

I for one applaud the idea. Owning a dog is like owning a car, and users must be qualified lest they plow through a crowd of innocent pedestrians. Better yet, using the tried-and-true, infallible "slippery slope" argument, it is clear that this action will inevitably lead to the obvious conclusion: qualifying people for parenthood. For far too long, society has allowed the bumper sticker slogan "anyone can be a father" to dictate public policy. I say that it's about time that government qualified what, exactly, that "special" quality is that makes someone a "daddy."

I suggest we follow the format of the British dog law: all prospective parents should pass a written test and buy "child insurance" in case the child one day gets lose from its restraints and bites someone. Once a child is born, we'll microchip them, mainly to prevent child insurance fraud. After all, if it's good enough for dogs, it's good enough for people.

Quick! Restrain these ferocious beasts!

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The American Academy of Pediatrics wants legislation to label foods that may prevent choking hazards to children. But rather than stop simply putting a label on all phallic foods that may clog a toddler's airway, they go so far as to ask for "a recall of food products that pose a significant choking hazard," the Twinkies and Beanie-Weenies in your pantry included. As crazy as this proposal sounds, it certainly seems like this has a better chance to pass Congress as "health care reform" than any other "public option."

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Remember last week, when I noted that the sales tax on sodas had failed in New York and Washington, D.C.? Well, according to Reuters, now California wants to take a stab at it. However, their twist will be to tax bottlers, not consumers. That's a great idea, since clearly that cost will not be passed along to consumers.

California, maybe you should consider cutting some government expense instead of wasting time debating bills that cannot pass muster with the public or the powerful soft drink industry. But we all know that's not going to happen. You will not be surprised to learn that if you search for "superfluous government expenses California" in Google, the first link says "Welcome to California," which is really all that you need to know.

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Like most people not expecting a tax refund, I just finished my income tax filing. This year I had to pay taxes. Not because I made a lot of money, mind you. My gross income was well below the national poverty line. Granted, "poverty" in the United States is a pretty relative term when compared to incomes around the world. So while I may not be "poor" in the Slumdog Millionaire sense of the word, I'm not going to be helping the U.S. out of a recession any time in the near future, either.

The national poverty line of the United States is defined as the annual income required for the average American to sustain his own basic needs. In 2008, this has been estimated at about $11,200. (Yet more proof that I am not average.) Comparing this number to the median income of American citizens, about $27,000 according to the World Salaries Group, you can see where I fit in. My income is closer to that of the average citizen of Russia. (Who won the Cold War? Not me.)

Our friendly U.S. Government graciously allows a single citizen who earns a "gross income" of less than $8,950 to bypass filing taxes. (Presumably, this is the threshold where the income tax rate overcomes government subsidy. You can't get blood -- or taxes -- from a stone.) Sadly, I qualify.

"Not so fast," cries my Uncle Sam. Because in 2008 I tried to earn income as a self-employed graphic/website designer, I am required to file taxes so that I can pay the government the "self-employment" tax used to sustain my Social Security and Medicaid benefits. Nuts!

If in 2008 I had worked exclusively for an employer other than myself earning the same amount, my meager income would have been taxed nothing (thanks to the Standard Deduction). The IRS would have refunded whatever my employer had withheld on my behalf, and thanks to the Earned Income Credit established in the 1975 (the year of my birth -- someone must have known I was coming!), the government would have paid me money to help offset my relative poverty. But alas, that is an alternative history. Instead, I made more than $400 for myself on my own terms, and now I'm paying for it. Literally.

Well, I've learned my lesson. Working for myself has cost me money. From now on, I'll only do toadie work for someone else or do no work at all. So employers, if you're interested in hiring a talented fool who will work for peanuts -- and I mean actual peanuts: I'm hungry, and I just gave my last dollars to the government -- I'm your lackey.

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It appears that the United States government will soon pass a bill worth $790 billion to stimulate the economy. That's a lot of money. A whole lot of money. Especially when you take into account that as recently as 4 months ago, our government passed a bailout bill giving away an additional $700 billion which has proven to be a political and economic nightmare. (Don't worry. I'm sure they got it right this time. >derisive snort<)

Taken together, $1.5 trillion is more than the GDP of all but the 13 wealthiest countries in the world. That means that in the span of half the year, the United States government has given away more money than 94% of the world is capable of producing in a single year of sustained industry. That's more than the combined 2007 revenue of the top 6 Forbes 500 companies. (Or, rather amusingly, approximately the estimated value of Forbes' largest fictional company on record, CHOAM, a galaxy-wide mega-corporation that controlled the spice in Dune.) That's $250 for every person on the planet!

It takes Coca-Cola 100 days to serve 1.5 trillion servings globally. It would take a forest of 56 billion oak trees to produce 1.5 trillion leaves. There are only 100 billion stars in our galaxy.

These numbers are so large that they defy comprehension; there are simply no comparable values that people can relate to. I'm no economist, but that sounds fucking crazy.

I could go on, but I suspect that the only people less qualified than me to talk about money management are currently my "representatives" in the United States Congress.

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To be continued...