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Showing posts from October, 2011

Religion: What is a cult?

There are a number of definitions offered at Merriam-Webster Dictionary online.

In recent news, a pastor was criticized for calling Mormonism a cult.

Cult in typical American English usage is definition number 5 in MW:
great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement or work (as a film or book)

For example, the film Blade Runner is considered a cult classic.  In this case, there are fans of the film who really like the film a lot and will buy the "director's cut" of the film and have collector's items associated with the movie and know many details about the film and the making of the film.

Certain musical bands garner a cult following.

Some libertarians would be described as very devoted to the writings of Ayn Rand and that devotion seems cultic to non-devotees.

In these contexts, the term cult is somewhat descriptive and depending on tone of voice may or may not be a disparaging.

Cult in a religious context tends to be disparaging as it usually describes a religiou…

Politics: Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan?

Am not an economist.  Have not read in any detail the 9-9-9 plan promoted by candidate Herman Cain.  Just have my gut reaction to the idea.

My 59 second understanding of the plan is that the Federal Government tax system would be overhauled and replaced with 9% corporate income tax, 9% personal income tax and 9% sales tax.

The virtue of the plan is simplicity.  As it is now, the tax code is loaded with deductions and credits and other adjustments that distort economic behavior.

In an ideal world, a tax system should accomplish two things:
(1) raise sufficient revenue to fund government services
(2) be simple so that there is reduced incentive to outright cheat (illegal) on taxes, engage in activity (legal) to shelter money from taxation and keeps compliance costs down.

"Fairness" of a tax system is a highly subjective criteria in comparison to the other two criteria.

Examples of "fairness" questions would be:
At what income level should someone begin to pay perso…