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Is the Fair Tax Fair?

In this political season there are many ideas being debated to jump start our economy.  Reform of the tax system is a high priority with many alternatives competing for attention.  The “Fair Tax” is a proposal to replace the existing income tax system in favor of a nationwide sales tax. Advocates tout the efficiency of the system, the economic benefit of not taxing investment, and abolition of the IRS.  It may very well be a better system if you are starting a new country, and don’t have another system in place.  Conversion to a sales tax from our current income tax based system seems be fraught with difficulties and calls into question the term “Fair”.

Supporters of the fair tax point to tout the fact that you will be able to withdraw funds from your IRA tax free.  While that is true, what are the ramifications on the dollars currently in after-tax savings or Roth IRA’s?  These savings have been built up over these people’s lifetimes, and have been saved after paying income taxes when earned.  Institution of a sales tax will in effect cause all of these dollars to be double taxed, since they will now be taxed again when spent.

Another selling point of the “Fair Tax” is the abolition of the IRS.  The thought that the government is out of our lives by eliminating the IRS is wishful thinking.  Most European countries have instituted a similar tax, and have created large government bureaucracies to enforce these taxes.  Politicians have also responded by handing out political favors in terms of exemptions much like our income tax deductions.  Those who think this will not happen in the US are being naïve.

Replacing the income tax with a sales tax would require repeal of the 16th Amendment to avoid the problem of getting both an income and sales tax.  In fact the replacement amendment would have to strictly prohibit an income tax.  This would be required to eliminate some “enlightened” Supreme Court from discovering the power to levy an income tax in the pages of the constitution.  Even with this necessary solution the process of debating and passing a Constitutional amendment is a long and difficult one.  This can jeopardize the opportunity for change that is available now.

There needs to be serious debate on taxes, starting with how large a government we want.  Advocating a wholesale replacement of our system with a plan that has unresolved issues seems to be a waste of time and resources. Those who advocate smaller government and a tax system that promotes growth, need to rally behind a simpler flatter version of our current system.  A system that treats after-tax savings properly and is likely to pass seems to be the best alternative.  These points make the “fair tax” an unrealistic and perhaps “unfair” idea.

Illegals in Our Military

Since President Obama handed down his ruling that he will ignore immigration law, and will stop deporting people who came to this country illegally while under 16 years old, there has been greater attention paid to the provisions of The Dream Act.  This was a proposal to allow people to have a path to citizenship if they met certain criteria.  The bill as a whole was controversial, and did not pass.  One provision that seemed to have bipartisan support was the idea to allow those who had served honorably in the military to get special consideration when it comes to being granted citizenship.  On the face of it, this does seem appropriate.  Even many conservatives have spoken out recently about special treatment of these individuals.  If one looks deeper, however, no one seems concerned about the fact that our military apparently has no ability to confirm citizenship during enrollment?  Put another way…We are a nation at war, and have no way of avoiding letting foreigners into our military.

There is no doubt that there are stories about people in these circumstances who have served admirably in our military.  These people by all accounts are special, and should be treated that way.  Having said that, what is the checking process that let these people get in the military in the first place?  Do you just show up with a recent electric bill at the recruitment office, and “You’re in the Army Now”?  Whatever inadequate process that allows someone foreign born to become a member of our Armed Forces, would also logically allow in those who intend to do us harm.  Isn’t it reasonable to believe that a terrorist can be admitted to any branch of our military, learn vulnerabilities for future attack, and get free training in sophisticated weaponry to use against us?

Back when all that we had for security was a wax stamp, and a notation on a document from a quill dipped in ink, we thought it was important to not enlist foreigners in our military.  Imagine if George Washington had been presented with this question of what to do about foreign born non-citizens who have served honorably in our military.  His first reaction would not have been how do we deal with these honorable soldiers, it probably would have been to fire the Armed Forces personnel director.  I’m sure it is no longer that easy, but why haven’t any of our current leaders raised this concern?

Our media loves to get to the human interest part of any story, tugging at heart strings to get a lot of viewers.  That does not remove the responsibility of those in power to investigate the possibility of foreigners in our military.  The fact that we are publicly discussing this issue seems to confirm that these people exist.  We have a background check problem at a minimum, with a total breakdown and possible national security concerns at a maximum.  We ignored the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center much to our peril.  Must we continue to draw the wrong conclusions when presented with a set of facts until another tragedy?

Don’t Forget How Hard it Was

These are difficult times we are living through.  Unemployment is stubbornly high above 8%.  The country has produced less than 100,000 net jobs each of the last 3 months.  The growth rate is anemic at less than 2%.  The country’s huge debt is hanging over our heads, and Washington seems unable to address these or any other problems.  People are coming to terms with idea that there is a “new normal”, with experts telling us we must lower our expectations when it comes to the country’s and our own financial success.  We all need to start talking to our friends about how they must burn in their memory the difficulty of this moment in time.  This is the best way to combat the fact that the booming economy 1 year from now will look like it was so easy to achieve after about 6 months of a Romney presidency.

The current President has blamed everyone and everything for the weak economic recovery.  George W. Bush, tsunamis, earthquakes, the euro crisis, the debt ceiling negotiations, rich people, and greedy businesses headline his list of culprits.  The real fault lies in his failure to realize what most former presidents understood and Calvin Coolidge put this way, “The chief business of the American people is business.”  If you spend most of your presidency implementing new taxes, new regulations, new costs, and new obligations on business, they will become cautious.  When you run for reelection, and promise to double down on more of the same, they will almost completely stop hiring or investing.  This is what has led to the probability that Mitt Romney will be elected President of the United States.

Let’s track where we are headed in the next year.  This will be a very divisive campaign to endure.  With the amount of money being raised, and the incumbent becoming desperate it will get very ugly.  The economy, stock market, and attitude in the country will get worse before they get better.  The President will point to republicans, upcoming droughts, hurricanes, and perhaps locusts for the still stagnant economy.  There will be a moment, when the majority of people will believe that Romney will win.  The positive signs will start in the stock market before the actual election, and it should accelerate right after election day.  This rise will be improperly historically credited to President Obama, but it will be the first sign of optimism in the economy.  After Inauguration Mr. Romney will start tackling the hard problems before our country, but it will be the ending of attacks on business that will spur our economic growth.  The liberal media may be tempted to call business leaders racist for not taking risks under President Obama, but will probably just decide to report the narrative of how easy the recovery was.

The condition of our economy is pretty awful right now, and the President is blaming whoever or whatever he can think of.  The American people seem to realize that an excuse for failure is not the same as success and will vote accordingly.  Next year there will be hurricanes & floods, Greece or other countries may leave the Euro, and yet our economy will be humming due to leadership that understands how business works.  The turn will be very quick as confidence returns to the greatest economy ever.  Don’t let your friends forget what it was like a very short time ago.  When a Democrat tries to make the argument that it was easy to get the economy going, turn to them and say, “You’re right we just had to change Presidents.”

You’re a Bum!

Spare some change?  You gotta quarter?  I’m trying to get something to eat.  Can you help me out today?….Basically, “Would you please take your money out of your pocket and hand it to me so I can put it in my pocket?  That way, your money will then be my money.”

They’re all over the place.  Bums.  Not homeless persons.  Not the under-privileged.  Not those who are currently living out of doors.  Bums.  And I do mean all over the place.  The market place for bums used to be somewhat limited to highly populated urban areas, but as the world has shrunk, the opportunities for bums have broadened.  Still, no matter what corner of society they’re victimizing, no matter what rock they crawl out from under, if they walk up to a complete stranger and ask them for their money, then they’re a bum.

Their behavior is so blatantly disrespectful and rude that it should speak entirely for itself but for some reason society seems to practice a comprehensive tolerance of their shameless ways.  That tolerance does not exist in any other social dynamic.  Try to imagine any other life-scenario where this kind of behavior would fly.  When was the last time a casual acquaintance like a co-worker or classmate asked you for your money?  How about even a close friend or loved one?  If and when one of these parties asked you for your money, you could respond with some tired cliché like, “What do I look like, Bank of America?”  The reason that response would be tired and clichéd is because it has been so universally understood for so long that asking such a thing is reprehensible and shameful.  That’s how that response became a cliché!  We all seem to know perfectly well that when an acquaintance or loved one asks for money we can tell them to go jump in a lake.  But if it’s a complete stranger who just walked up to you on the street, well that’s a different story entirely, I guess.

Society’s tolerance of bums is rooted in some perverse, roundabout feeling of guilt.  When asked for money, people feel like they have to either give the bum their money or scamper with some explanation or apology as to why they have no change on them at the moment.  Bums recognize this guilt.  They learn that it is not only acceptable to ask this of strangers but that in doing so they now have some inherent upper hand over that person, knowing they’re laying a guilt trip on them.  This guilt based tolerance serves only to enable and expand the likelihood of their solicitive theft.  Many a bum has now gone ‘high dollar’ on us and now asks for something like ‘a couple of dollars for bus fare.’  ‘Bus fare’, of course, a bum’s euphemism for Night Train.

Why the hell should I give you my money?  Get outta my face, scumbag!  Get a job, degenerate piece of gutter trash!  These are all wonderfully perfect responses to bums.  Concise, direct, effective and, above all, absolutely justifiable.  They’re not for everyone though.  If you are the faint of heart, may I suggest a tactic which will be all too familiar to bums.  Just say, “God bless you.”  That’s what they say, isn’t it?  “No change? Ok, well god bless you, sir.  You have a wonderful day and may the lord watch over you and your children and blah blah blah blah…”  Instead of them becoming righteous and noble, you can preemptively take that moral high ground by offering them the Lord’s blessing first.  Now what good is a quarter next to something as generous and helpful as that?

Unfair Burden

Recently Attorney General Eric Holder spoke before the Congressional Black Caucus about all of the work that still needs to be done in civil rights enforcement.  He quickly came to the fact that the Justice Department had recently not allowed approval of changes to voting laws in Texas and South Carolina.  Specifically the Justice Department has stopped changes to each state’s laws that would require picture ID’s in order to vote.  He proceeded to make his case for the idea that these laws are discriminatory in their nature due to the unfair burden that the laws put on minorities.  What he did not say is that these laws simply equalize the treatment of all citizens in regards to proof of identity for voting.

Despite his law enforcement job description, the Attorney General is not beyond acting based on politics.  If there are, in fact, valid reasons for being against these types of laws, we must put aside those fears.  Mr. Holder spoke about both laws.  In regards to the Texas law he said, “the law would have a disproportionate impact on Hispanic voters.”  On the South Carolina law he said “The proposed change would place an unfair burden on minorities”.  As further proof of the problem he referenced the South Carolina data that showed more minorities will have to obtain picture ID’s than their proportion of the population.

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/FaithLe (about 15 minutes in)

If there are a disproportionate amount of minorities who don’t have a picture ID, of course laws like this will affect them more.  Does that make the law an attack on civil rights?  These laws do not ask more of these minorities, just that they come up to the same level of proof of identification as the rest of society.  His protest of these laws is like complaining that a job that requires a high school diploma is discriminatory because there are more minorities without a diploma. “Unfair burden” does not seem like an appropriate phrase to describe the impact on minorities.

Laws like this should actually help those who are legal members of society in additional areas.  There are many facets of day to day life that a picture ID makes simpler.  It is easier to get prescription drugs, travel, or even get a job with a picture ID.  It is rather ironic that the very people who the Attorney General is purporting to help, may actually be kept from an opportunity to fully participate in society.  Laws similar to this have been passed in Indiana and Georgia, and it has been reported that minority participation in voting has increased since their passage.

Given the fact that the laws in question do not ask more of minorities but simply require equal proof of identification as the rest of the citizens, we are left to determine the true nature of the protest to these laws.  Many people believe that the real resistance that the Democratic Party has to picture ID’s for voters is due to the idea that they want illegal aliens to have the ability to vote.  It is generally thought that these voters are likely to vote for Democrats.  There is no doubt that laws like these make it more difficult for illegal aliens to vote.  One can draw their own conclusion, but when the chief law enforcement officer in the country puts forward an argument that doesn’t pass the smell test we should all keep sniffing.

I Thought We Were Supposed to Hate the Banks

I am confused by the recent uproar about JP Morgan losing $2 billion.  I thought we were supposed to hate the banks.  If you have watched and listened closely whenever the administration and leading Democrats speak about business, it seems pretty clear that there are certain businesses we are supposed to hate.  I am quite certain that we are supposed to hate Fat-cat bankers.  So shouldn’t we, and those pushing this philosophy, be happy that this Wall Street bank lost money?

It has generally been the nature of politicians to blame outsiders for problems when their policies fail.  This is not unique to Democrats.  It just seems that way since their policies fail with greater frequency, and sometimes spectacularly.  The list of businesses that have been demonized by the President and his party just in the last few years includes prescription drug makers, health insurance companies, oil and gas companies, Las Vegas tourism, and Wall Street banks.  This list is not complete, and there are candidates waiting in the wings such as sugar soda bottlers, snack food makers, and fast food companies.  If in power long enough, perhaps just making a profit will attract targeting.

The loss at JP Morgan is an interesting case in that they lost money.  There is no risk of a bailout such as we saw with TARP in 2008, since only about one percent of the trading portfolio was lost.  The liberals in Washington, egged on by much of the media, have been telling us for the past few years that banks should not make so much money. In fact, the President was very upset in late 2009 when “Fat Cat Bankers” were making money again, and reinstating bonuses.  He said…

“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday.

“They’re still puzzled why is it that people are mad at the banks. Well, let’s see, you guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it’s gone through in — in decades, and you guys caused the problem.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126073152465089651.html

Again, shouldn’t the President be happy?  One could only imagine if JP Morgan had announced an unexpected windfall profit of $2 billion on a trade, and raised bonuses.  Is there any doubt that these same people would be complaining about that?  Perhaps Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan) should put in a call to one of the tobacco companies to understand what is expected of him.  Make enough money to continue to pay taxes, but not too much to be truly successful or enrich yourself.

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Last week due to recently revealed comments that were made in May of 2010, EPA Region 6 administrator Al Armendariz was forced to step down.  He had tried apologizing, and the White House spokesman said that it was not an indication of how the White House views regulation of the oil and gas industries.  Every outlet in the media is referring to the comments as harsh, over the top, and unacceptable.  What he said is not the most important issue, it is where and when he said it.  If these views are not the same as President Obama’s, why is he only now being forced to resign?

For those of you not familiar with this story, Al Armendariz was appointed by the President in 2009, after years of environmental activism, to serve as EPA administrator for the gulf region. This region contains the country’s primary production of oil and gas.  The video that was released shows Armendariz answering a question about the agency’s enforcement policies.  In Dish, TX in a public meeting Q&A he says…

“I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said,” Armendariz said. “It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them,” Armendariz said.  “And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there,” he added.

http://dailycaller.com/2012/04/25/epa-official-apologizes-for-crucify-the-oil-and-gas-producers-comments/

It is certainly terrible that a government official said this, and he has followed through with policies that have been antagonistic to the oil and gas producers.  It is interesting that his statement refers to the EPA as the Romans, and I guess any business is the conquered Turks.  You can marinate on the visual there, but the real issue is that this statement took place 2 years ago in public.  Even in his comments, he refers to a meeting with staff where he said it before.  This was probably a common analogy that he used on a regular basis. It is certain that this statement, and the views he expressed were known to the administration.  What was their reaction to it 2 years ago?  If the head of the EPA or the President disagreed with what was said would Armendariz have continued in his job?  It seems that the only difference between 2 years ago, 1 year ago, 6 months ago, and now…is that WE know.

Despite being in office for over 3 years there are regular questions about where President Obama stands on the issue of energy policy.  With the recent increase in oil prices, he started saying publicly that he is in favor of an ‘all of the above’ policy.  This was John McCain’s campaign statement in 2008, implying that we should exploit all energy options.  Does Mr. Obama’s action, or better yet inaction, in dealing with the case of Armendariz match his embrace of the oil industry implied in the ‘all of the above’ rhetoric?

There is certainly an argument to be made for America to use less fossil fuels.  Many believe that it is the right way to go from a pollution, global warming and perhaps self reliance standpoint.  Some of the arguments against that stand would be higher costs and disruptions in current businesses.  The President seems to have decided to not make that argument, however.  I believe that we have a case of saying one thing in public, while acting very differently when the cameras are not rolling.  He would not be the first politician to do such a thing, but he is the one that is on the ballot this fall.

Sticks and Stones…

In an airing of the football movie All the Right Moves with Tom Cruise, the executives at the FX network made an editing decision which was not very surprising.  In the original R rated version of the film, football coach Craig T. Nelson makes a pre-game motivational speech to his team where he refers to himself and his players in saying, “We’re the Dagos, we’re the Polacks, we’re the Niggers.”  In the edited version it became, “We’re the Dagos, we’re the Polacks, we’re the beep.”  This omission of the n-word only, was sadly an editing decision which all too often reflects every day society.

It would be very easy to trumpet the double standard and hypocrisy in this example from the movie with regard to all the slurs in question being racial slurs.  That’s very tempting and the racists at the FX network should be especially ashamed in this case, but I find all naughty words and name calling to be just that; naughty words and name calling.

If you’re clever enough, there are a countless number of ways to degrade, insult or offend just about anyone.  Who is anyone to quantify the level of degradation from one insult or another?  Can we really decide on everyone else’s behalf how much hurt or insult or pain they are entitled  to claim when victimized by one naughty word as opposed to another?  Who’s to say the n-word is more universally hurtful than even fatso or baldy or dumb-dumb.  What if the person being called a dumb-dumb actually is a little slow.  Maybe they road the short bus to school and were in romper room classes with no more than five students.  As such, maybe they faced constant ridicule and bullying in the form of incessantly being called a dumb-dumb.   Does that person ever count as much as a black person?  Can their feelings ever be hurt as much as a black person’s feelings?  Are they forever denied the same level of sensitivity just because of their skin color?  That is point blank racist to every non-black person on the planet!

Every naughty name has a meaning.  Every naughty word has a reason why it’s mean.  Every naughty word has a semantic origin and a history of usage.  How are parents or grade school teachers supposed to sell the blatant double standard about the n-word to our impressionable young children?  If we’re going to quantify name calling for them they may have the insight to ask if ‘double jerk’ is twice as bad as just ‘jerk’ or if ‘silly willy’is worse than just ‘silly’?

I’m not seeking to use the n-word.  I’m not looking to encourage others to do so. In doing so, the response to that bit of name calling may very well be some form of physical, criminal, lawless violence.  I’m merely suggesting equal sensitivity to everyone no matter what that level of sensitivity may be.  Clearly we are a long way from that.  Even in this post I have perpetrated that which I am contesting by writing out words like ‘dumb-dumb’ yet oh so gingerly tiptoeing around the dreaded ‘n-word’.  I’m just a gutless chump for bending over and pretending that I too find that word to be more mean than other insults.  I guess that’s better than being one of the racist pigs who actually find that to be true.

 

Misunderstanding Free Speech

Recently Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team, said that he admired Fidel Castro.  It was ignorant and perhaps stupid, and has created a mini firestorm in southern Florida.  The comment has caused a fairly predictable reaction from many including the media, particularly in this case, the sports media.  The belief that we are constitutionally guaranteed the right to free speech, and with that freedom we can say whatever we want without consequence is false.

The first amendment is one of the most referenced and yet misunderstood parts of our constitution.  It reads as follows…Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  ’Congress shall make no law’ means that the government cannot prevent you from speaking.  They also can’t prosecute or punish you for what you say.  That’s it!

There is no right to make others listen to you. You have no right to a public forum, unless it is to petition the government.  When people say…”I have a right to be heard!”  No, actually, you don’t.  Not when it comes to me.  There is no right for you to inflict your views on the rest of us individuals.  The government may have to listen to you, but I don’t.

The right to free speech doesn’t guarantee any rights with respect to how others will react to what you say.  People can speak out against you, protest, tell you how stupid you are, not buy your product, and your boss can even fire you.  There are all kinds of consequences to speaking out.  Ask the Dixie Chicks, Don Imus, Michael Richards, Rush Limbaugh, John Rocker, Jimmy ‘The Greek’, or Ozzie Guillen who got suspended by his team for what he said because it was bad for business.

Next time you hear some media type tell you about someone’s freedom of speech, know that all this means is they can’t go to jail for the stupid thing they said.  All else is fair game.

Look Both Ways Before You Cross the Street

Does that title ring any bells with anyone?  Weren’t we all taught that growing up?  Isn’t that the best way to teach it?  As early as you can talk to a child, don’t you say something to them like, “Now, pumpkin, watch out for 30 mile per hour, one and a half ton moving objects.   They make big boo-boo on you.  Ouchy-ouchy, Danger.”  It seems like more and more the safe and sensible mantra of  ‘Look both ways before you cross the street’ has given way entirely and dangerously to a state ofPedestrians have the right of way’.

Pedestrians have the right of way is certainly the correct rule of thumb.  That should be understood through simple human nature.  Obviously.  A car versus a person is not a fair fight like a fender bender.  So if push comes to shove, no matter what, don’t run them over.  I get that.  But by pushing that rule of thumb we have enabled many an arrogant and selfish pedestrian to endanger everyone by walking out into the street when they shouldn’t.

Their body language says it all.  They should be crossing the street with a humble, mild sense of fear while constantly looking from side to side to ensure their safety.  Instead their cross is more of an arrogant strut, looking straight ahead with a conceited bobb of the head while bringing their elbows up high in motion with each step.  As if to say, “That’s right.  You have to stop…  I’m the pedestrian…I have the right of way… I’m on foot.  You and your nasty combustion engine will just have to sit there and wait.”  Sadly, that head bobb may end up receiving  a little boost of momentum by the windshield of an SUV.

The brainwashing has become some invasive that it’s effecting everyone’s driving.  More and more often drivers will come to a complete stop in the middle of the street, where there isn’t even an intersection, if they see any hint of someone looking to cross.  This is so dangerous!    You can’t stop in the roadway.  The roadway is where motor vehicles operate.  They should be ticketed for obstructing traffic. Instead of drivers making sure the noble pedestrian makes their way ever so safely to the curb, how about leaning on your horn for a good three seconds then yelling out your window, “You’re in the middle of the street, you dumbass!”  This may seem extreme, but it’s for good of the community.  If necessary we will educate them one dumbass at a time…

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