The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Taxes

Noted scholar and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” So to begin my self-allotted 800 words, what do I do? I quote a smart man explaining his utter disdain for quotes.

True story. I love quotes. Collect them I do. I’m always looking for smart words from those who have journeyed before. Their wisdom is manifest and unmistakable. I find comfort in that.

So this week while thinking about this post, I began looking for a quote about shame. There weren’t that many shame quotes and the few I found were all wrong. They talked about shame as a regulator of behavior – as something to be “ashamed of”. There weren’t any quotes about the lack of shame.

Given the lack of quotes about shamelessness, it might indicate we are regressing along the evolutionary continuum. I imagine shamelessness requires less higher reasoning and a greater reliance on the lower brain stem – which brings me to Supreme Commander Monkey Butt (hereinafter “His Redness” or sometimes “Dolt 45” or “His High Assholiness”).

When I’ve described Dolt 45’s personality traits, I’ve been quite reticent about his mental health. With a high degree of probability I can surmise his behavior patterns, but his mental condition I will leave to others.

This brings me to his shamelessness. The only shame he fears is being labeled a fraud which is his primary and paramount behavioral avoidance priority. For all other types of normal, human shame – he has none. The shame a normal human would suffer does not faze him.

Within the last forty-eight hours, he told Tea Party groups not to worry if the Trump/RyanCare plan failed because he would make sure the ACA failed so he could blame the Democrats. Or telling the same groups he was fine with accelerating the human suffering by speeding up the Medicaid cutbacks by two years if that’s what it takes to win. Sociopathic behavior for sure, but no evidence of shame.

My point is this: While His High Assholiness’ behavior is abhorrent, it is the new Republican Trumpism. He is near the perfect Republican or so says at least 89% of self-described Republicans. Again, my feeble mind is called to a quote from H.L. Mencken:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

The great and glorious day has arrived and the White House is now resplendently adorned by the consummate “downright moron” who happens to be unburdened by shame. He was the apple-eyed desire of the plain folks or at least 70,000 under-educated white men in three states. That desire still burns white-hot in nine out of ten Republican hearts.

The areas in green fare better under Trump/Ryan Care while the areas shaded in maroon fare better under the ACA.

These Trumpian sycophants know no shame. Just consider: Passing legislation affecting one-sixth of the economy without a hearing in the dead of night. Or ending life-sustaining medical care for maybe 15,000,000 people. Or ending opioid therapy or mental health treatment for millions. Or ending health clinics and outreach for the poorest and most under-served populations. Or doing all of this without an estimate of the costs.

All of this to give the wealthiest, most secure, and most powerful a massive tax cut. And on top of that giving insurance companies and medical device manufacturers a tax cut. And on top of that making sure the inadequate tax credits are as regressive as possible without regard to need or ability to pay. And on top of that, and this is where the shamelessness is extraordinary, financing the whole damn thing by draconian cuts to Medicaid – cuts to the poorest, weakest, and most vulnerable among us.

This bill isn’t a health care plan, it is a massive tax cut disguised as a political slogan to repeal the ACA. It is a WealthCare plan. It is a risible act of ignominy so outrageous it wouldn’t even make the SNL trashcan.

Not for a second do I believe this nasty pettiness wasn’t planned as a feature to make Grandpa Grumpy happy…

As discerning Widdershins, you are asking, “Why isn’t he mentioning the hypocrisy?” The answer is simple – without shame there is no hypocrisy. Talking to these people about hypocrisy is like talking to a cobra about venom or a skunk about stink. It is what makes them who they are.

The inimitable Mr. Emerson was a transcendentalist meaning he believed in the inherent goodness of individuals. I want to believe that too since there’s no shame in that – at least not yet.

I’m going to leave you with a musical interlude then I’ll list some links for interesting stories I couldn’t work into my self-indulgent rant/therapy. As always, take the safety off, comment at will, and thanks for listening.

 

Speaking of clowns, here’s one, and he’s a substitute for the Presidential Daily Briefing:

 

A wonderfully researched study of 1.25 million stories by the Columbia Journalism Review indicating Breitbart to be the right-wing media anchor hub of a distinct and insulated media system that appears to have set the agenda and overall tone for Hillary’s negative coverage.

An interactive demonstration that the “higher premium” lamentation by the shameless Republicans is, like so many things, made of whole cloth.

The lackadaisical use of military force is troubling and a bad omen of things to come. One week of bombing is equal to one year of missions under Obama.

Watch Paul Ryan’s Adam’s Apple when he’s asked about his “good, best friends” the rich.

One way the Trump Administration is a fine-tooled machine.

Taxes

Russia Investigation

Country over Party

Six words, that’s it.  If we’re lucky, by 2018 we won’t even need a noun or a verb to finish the thoughts.

Come for the chaos, stay for conflagration.  This is the Dolt 45 fine-tuned machine.

Yesterday’s performance was a guided tour of Dolt 45’s brain. In 77 minutes, he demonstrated what I have so inadequately tried to explain.  He is the San Andreas of emotional fragility.  He’s not going to change.  You saw what stress does.  Behavior patterns become more pronounced.trump-presser

Dolt 45 is not crazy.  He’s a 70-year old man who has never worked an honest day’s work in his life who likes to watch television and tweet.  He believes he’s infallible because he doesn’t know what the word means.

Setting up warring factions in the White House ensures he is the eye in a hurricane of chaos.  It provides him the self-esteem he so desperately craves and the charade of power sustaining his veneer of legitimacy.

Let me try to explain.  Think about the best, mind-blowing, earth-moving sex you ever had.  That is what yesterday’s press conference was for the citrus pustule.  As he said, “I’m having a good time doing it.”

Here’s what I know from studying leadership.  Any organization centered on charismatic leadership (personality-centric) rests upon clay feet.  It is like the Platte River – a mile wide and three inches deep.  It evaporates in the least bit of heat.whats-wrong-with-trump

Crises are not planned via e-invites.  They are coming.  Whether it is a natural disaster, a Horizon oil spill, an incident in the Strait of Hormuz, or a terrorist attack, the time is ticking down.  It won’t just be a failure; it will be a Category 5, Frontline documentary fiasco.  Failure is simply the non-presence of success, but a fiasco is where anarchy apportions anguish and adversity.

This weekend troubles me.  It has been almost 84-years to the day since the Reichstag Fire.  It was a planned provocative act of arson to set emotions ablaze.  This weekend event in Florida has a certain suspicious air about it.  Nothing would change the media’s attention faster than paid insurrectionists rioting at an event where Dolt 45 is whisked away by Secret Service.  Just sayin’.gop-support-for-trump

Currently among Republicans, SCROTUS (So Called Ruler of the U.S.) is at a more robust approval rating than either Bush or Reagan was at a comparable time.  The symbiosis is complete.  Congratulations Dr. Frankenstein, it’s a boy.

And this brings me to the Country over Party part of TRICOP.  Never before has the reverse concept been so clear to me.  I’m guilty of mindlessly accusing Republicans of prostituting themselves as Party over Country and Power over Country, but when a future drapery salesman from South Carolina is your party’s lone moral compass, the GOP ain’t exactly writing new chapters for Profiles in Courage.

Here’s the takeaway:  The Republican Party will allow this orange stooge to do immeasurable harm to the country in order to eviscerate FDR’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society.

There is an ugly, angry, maniacal lust at work to deprive twenty million poor people of health insurance in order to allow the One-Percenters an obscene tax break.  I lack the intellectual capacity to understand that.  It isn’t just the repeal of the A.C.A.  It is also a rollback of Medicaid that happens to be the primary financing mechanism for the country’s nursing home/end of life care.

The gobsmacking piece of all of this:  To finance the lipstick for the piglet they are going to pass off as a “replacement,” they are proposing taxing some portion of employer furnished health insurance.

Here are a few highlights from the first 25 days:what-coal-mining-does-to-streams

The first Republican counteroffensive against the War on Coal was signed into law this past week.  Coal mines will now be free to pollute some 6,000 miles of once protected waterways in the country.

For those poor, over-regulated, underappreciated oil companies, they will no longer have to report their payments to foreign governments.  Anti-corruption is so déclassé.

If you are keeping score, this weekend we will be spending $1,240,000 a day to protect Trump Tower with no one home, another $3.0 Million for another Mar-a-Lago golf outing, and about $200,000 for Uday and Qusay Trump to open their Dubai golf course.

Finally, if you are a policy wonk like me, we can be alarmed that Dolt 45 swatted away 50-years of U.S. policy supporting a two-state Middle East solution as easily as he would a Citrus Whitefly.  And if you were worried about that pesky dust-up over a “One China” policy, it seems to have ironed itself out quite coincidentally with the granting of Chinese Trump trademarks.

For those 70,000 under-educated white guys in the upper Midwest:  Is America great enough yet?

What’s on your mind today?  Spasibo.  Never too early to learn some Russian.

a-trump-hat

 

Good morning Widdershins.  Hope this is a “widderful Wednesday” for everyone.Trump Sanders gif

Today’s offering is going to be a bit different.  I had intended to follow-up on my repeated comments that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are just different sides of the same coin or counterfeit slug if you want to be specific.

Having made that claim several times, I thought it was high time I justified my rather sweeping indictment of these two souls crippled under the weight of Brobdingnagian egos.  Dana Milbank beat me to it and did a much better job than I could ever do.

So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel I’ll just link the article.  Here are some of the highlights.  It starts:

Free trade agreements “have been disastrous” for the United States, the candidate said, and have sent jobs to Mexico and China. “I will stop it by renegotiating all of the trade agreements that we have.”

It sounded like just another threat from Donald Trump to “rip up those trade deals” and “make really good ones” instead. Such a policy could set off a global trade war and impoverish millions.

But the candidate who said this was Bernie Sanders, April 1 in New York. And that’s no coincidence: He and Trump are peas in a pod….

[T]he two are the yin and yang of outlandish policy proposals. Both men — and to a great extent Ted Cruz, too — have grounded their platforms in fantasy.

The article concludes:

These proposals aren’t dangerous because they could actually happen; they can’t. They’re dangerous because supporters of these three men, believing these fantasies masquerading as policies, are headed for disillusionment.

This is why I find this worrisome.  Call me crazy, but I happen to believe political and electoral engagement is important in a democracy.  We are suffering through a half a generation still awaiting the “hopey changey” stuff.  Why not go for a full generation by finishing off the disillusionment by breaking promises of free college, universal health care, and adding trillions to the national debt?  Trump, Sanders, and Cruz are doing their dead level best to put the grunt back into disgruntlement for a whole new generation.

Something else that has been on my mind is the furor over the envisioned epidemic of armies of transgender storm troopers heading to the bathrooms of the South, particularly the fine porcelain latrines of North Carolina.  This is another one of those epidemics that are invisible except to those who conjure them – much like voter fraud.

Bathroom lawThe war of scary things that don’t happen is now raging in North Carolina and this is the water closet line of demarcation.  This is a shame since the Tar Heel State was always thought to be the “sane Carolina”.  It is now catching up on the crazy with its sister state to the south.

I mention this for one reason and it’s not the obvious one.  There aren’t going to be bathroom patrols proclaiming, “Urinator, show me your birth certificate!”  The media is focused on the shiny faucets of the bathrooms, but the real purpose of these laws is the nullification of local ordinances outlawing discrimination.

What these “bathroom laws” do is make it illegal for local communities to outlaw discrimination in housing or employment based upon orientation or gender identification.  Simply put, these laws protect and enable discrimination in cities where the local government wants it to end.  In keeping with Republican philosophy, there’s nothing like smaller government to match the smaller minds of those doing the governing.

The last issue catching my attention is based upon the saying of Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”  That is an admonition we have not heeded when it comes to Republican economic theory.

Republicans have four tenets:  Low taxes, small government, strong defense, and traditional values.  It is the first one, low taxes, upon which I want to focus.  When Republicans talk “low taxes” they are leaving out for whom they want to provide low taxes.  Therein lies the rub.mayaangelou383371

You see, time and again, Republicans have shown us who they are.  They are interested in lowering the taxes for the wealthiest Americans.  We just have never listened.  Time and time again, the Republicans prove they just can’t quit the rich folk.

They are at it again.  They want to turn the banning of trickling in the bathrooms of North Carolina and again promote the fictitious trickling of economics.  Trouble is, it doesn’t work.

Never has worked.

Never will work, but just like the unicorn that poops rainbows, it might happen in their fantasy world.  There’s just a little problem.  Only 13% of Americans think the wealthy pay too much in taxes while 61% think they should pay more.  Even in the topsy-turvy world of Republican mathematics, that isn’t a good return on political investment.

We should take Ms. Angelou’s advice.  Messrs. Trump, Sanders, and Cruz have shown us who they are.  North Carolina has proven that they like to protect discrimination.  And Republicans have shown us they really want to help people, if they are rich.  In each case, they have shown us who they are.  We should believe them.

What’s on your mind today?

 

Good Good Friday Widdershins. I hope all your egg laying bunnies are particularly productive this weekend.

This past week there were a couple of events that unequivocally demonstrate the primary economic theory of the One Percenters and those “Trickling from on High”. It is cost-shifting.

Cliven Bundy -- freedom is never having to follow the law.

Cliven Bundy — freedom is never having to follow the law.

There’s no one who illustrates the concept better than a one Mr. Cliven Bundy. Mr. Bundy is a successful Nevada rancher (I guess Cliven is plural for Cloven). Old Cliven hasn’t paid public land grazing fees for his cattle since 1993. He owes the Bureau of Land Management (that’s us) about a million dollars. Cliven disputes this and in some convoluted logic proclaims he’s never going to pay the $300,000.00 he owes. Go figure.

The stories about Cliven and his extended family are annotated here and you can read about the twenty years of legal travails trying to get him to pay up. There is a slight hiccup — Cliven doesn’t believe in the federal government although he does believe the recent “blood moon” was an Obama conspiracy.

This Sagebrush Rebellion redux is playing out in and around places called Bunkerville and Battle Mountain. Fitting since Bundy’s primary supporters are armed out-of-state militiamen who are yearning for the good old days of Ruby Ridge and Waco. Of course, the right-wing echo chamber, much to the chagrin of his law-abiding neighbors, portrays him as some sort patriotic hero. This is an actual, aired quote on Faux News from a Bundy supporter:

We are actually strategizing to put all the women up front. If they are going to start shooting, it is going to be women getting shot and televised around the world.

All those who have been covering Cliven, his armed thugs, his trespassing cattle, and the Bureau of Land Management have centered their stories on an angry old white guy who thinks freedom means not having to follow the law. That’s one angle, but I think there’s a better learning.

With visions of Waco dancing in his head, Idaho militiaman Eric Parker points his high-powered, telescoped First Amendment instrument...

With visions of Waco dancing in his head, Idaho militiaman Eric Parker points his high-powered, telescoped First Amendment instrument…

What Cliven is doing puts him squarely in the saddle of Mitt Romney’s 47% of takers. Of course, Cliven would consider those “fightin’ words”. Never mind that the successful Bundy ranch ships their livestock to market over the interstates someone else pays for. Not for a second does the Bundy family consider there is a market for their beef courtesy of consumer confidence in the food supply because of USDA inspectors. What really tans the hide of Cliven is his fanatical belief he can use public resources to make a personal profit — sounds downright Putinesque to me.

Mr. Bundy is employing cost-shifting — shifting the cost of grazing to the taxpayers to give Cliven an advantage over other ranchers who are law-abiding enough to follow the law and pay their grazing fees.

This week we also saw the annual high church sermons about new methods of cost-shifting since it was the 15th of April. Every year around tax day the hue and cry for a simpler tax code makes the rounds. Here’s a news bulletin, taxes are pretty simple for the vast majority of Americans who take a standard deduction. Taxes only get more difficult when the One Percenters, who bought and paid for exemptions, deductions, and special treatments, actually employ them.

We hear cries for a flat tax, a value added tax, or a consumption tax. Each of these are merely “cost-shifting” the tax burden away from the wealthy to the poor and middle class. Someone like Malcolm Forbes trumpeting a flat tax is as outrageous as fitting an elephant with Spanx — the whole elephant is still there just crammed in differently. These regressive tax plans are nothing more than eradicating progressive tax rates and increasing the burden on those less financially endowed.

All raised amongst copious amounts of cow manure...

All raised amongst copious amounts of cow manure…

The same cost-shifting concept is true for the constant cries for deregulation or tort reform. You won’t see many One Percenters driving accelerating Toyotas or catastrophically decelerating Chevy Cobalts. You won’t see many one-footed lawn care professionals or man-boobed twenty-somethings touting the merits of consumer deregulation. Neither will you see the families of victims of the latest pharmaceutically induced schizophrenia calling for tort reform.  All forms of cost-shifting.

The saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” that is unless you are enjoying the view from the top of Defecation Mountain where, with the help of gravity, the effluent is rolling downhill upon the unwashed masses. Defecation Mountain is where the concept of cost-shifting is gospel and those enjoying its rewards are kings.

So if Cliven and his cattle taught us anything this week, it’s that shifty scofflaws of whatever ilk, be they shiftless Wall Streeters or ranchers, should be fenced in so that societal costs are shifted less.

This is an open thread.

 

“Apple is in a position that they’ve been in a lot of times before.  They’re like Moses showing the way to the promised land, but they don’t actually go there.”  Tim O’Reilly

 Timbo, your words are prophetic.  Who knew?  You have heralded the advent of the Apple Theory of Tax Avoidance.

 All that you have to do is to move your intellectual property headquarters to Ireland, and you will save HUGE .  No large investment is required – a drawer at a postal service is all that is required, and this has really steamed Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), possibly because he can’t figure out the way forward to placing his medical practice into such a situation.  That said, be it for motives righteous or otherwise, he is absolutely correct.

Many of my forbearers on the distaff side would have swelled with tribal pride at the thought of Ireland as the Promised Land, albeit absent the knowledge that American corporations would prostitute her for their tax benefits.  Somehow, I doubt that the average citizen of the Ould Sod is benefitting from these tax dodgers anymore than the average citizen of the United States is paying considerably less for the products produced by the tax-avoiding corporations.   Senator Coburn, whose ancestors sprang from somewhere in the general vicinity of the Emerald Isle, described himself as “livid” in an interview on Morning Joe, described by Politico:

First of all, we have a tax code. Why should Apple pay at 10 percent and some other company that can’t export their technology… why are they paying 35 percent?” he said. “What’s happening to us right now on our system is everybody that’s really successful worldwide is keeping their capital out of here and that capital is being invested somewhere other than America.”

Coburn also said that he will work with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a senior member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, to study tax havens.

So this is how you get to bipartisanship – find an issue that even a Republican finds unfair.  Senator Coburn’s ire was generated by an article in Sunday’s New York Times:

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Apple had evaded billions of dollars in corporate taxes by setting up subsidiaries in low-tax or tax-free states and countries around the world. The company also setup a small office in tax-free Nevada, 200 miles away from Apple’s California headquarters, to collect and invest the company’s profits, allowing it to bypass California’s 8.84 percent tax rate, the report said.

Apple has used the strategy to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states, according to the Times. “Apple serves as a window on how technology giants have taken advantage of tax codes written for an industrial age and ill suited (sic) to today’s digital economy,” the paper notes.

So how did they do this?  The Times explains:


Apple, for instance, was among the first tech companies to designate overseas salespeople in high-tax countries in a manner that allowed them to sell on behalf of low-tax subsidiaries on other continents, sidestepping income taxes, according to former executives. Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. Today, that tactic is used by hundreds of other corporations — some of which directly imitated Apple’s methods, say accountants at those companies. 
(Italics mine.)

Without such tactics, Apple’s federal tax bill in the United States most likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year, according to a recent study by a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent. (Apple does not disclose what portion of those payments was in the United States, or what portion is assigned to previous or future years.)

By comparison, Wal-Mart last year paid worldwide cash taxes of $5.9 billion on its booked profits of $24.4 billion, a tax rate of 24 percent, which is about average for non-tech companies.

Apple, however, does not plan to go quietly into the good tax-reduction night.  NYT, in the spirit of fairness,  published the corporate response to this patently unfair situation.  Here’s the heart of it:

Apple also pays an enormous amount of taxes which help our local, state and federal governments. In the first half of fiscal year 2012 our U.S. operations have generated almost $5 billion in federal and state income taxes, including income taxes withheld on employee stock gains, making us among the top payers of U.S. income tax.

Apple is not alone – Google is into Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich as well.  Slate had a fascinating article that (sort of) simplifies the tax scheme:

Here’s how it works: First, a parent corporation in the United States (like Google) sets up a small corporate subsidiary in Ireland—let’s call it “S1.” The parent then enters into a legal agreement that gives the European rights to all of its “intangible” products—like, say, an Internet search algorithm—to S1. In return, S1 agrees to help market or promote those products in some way within Europe. By virtue of this arrangement, all of the parent’s European income from the products would be collected by S1.

And then:

The real trick comes next. At some point, S1 decides to relocate (at least on paper) its headquarters to Bermuda, which has no income tax. The company becomes a “dual resident,” which means that, from the Irish point of view, it’s subject to Bermuda tax law, but from the U.S. perspective, it’s still incorporated in Ireland. To complete the scheme, the parent company then sets up a second Irish subsidiary (S2), which, importantly, chooses not to beconsidered a corporation under U.S. law; this has the effect of hiding its finances from the IRS. Why are two Irish subsidiaries better than one? Because now S1 can license the parent company’s products to S2 in exchange for a stream of hefty royalty checks. This means that S2 can collect all the income, and be taxed by Ireland at a relatively low rate of 12.5 percent (compared to 35 percent in the United States). But the royalties it’s paying to S1 can be deducted from its income. In the end, S2 doesn’t have to pay that much in taxes, and the “royalties” that make their way to S1 are tax-free.

But wait – there’s more:

The Dutch Sandwich
If you really want to get fancy, you can add another layer to chicanery and turn your Double Irish into a Dutch Sandwich. This ploy makes use of an agreement between Ireland and other EU countries to further reduce their tax burdens.

To make it work, the parent company sets up a third subsidiary (S3) in the Netherlands, with no other purpose than to funnel money from S2 to S1. Instead of licensing the parent’s products directly to S2, the Bermuda-based S1 grants them to its Dutch partner, who then passes them along. In other words, S1 and S2 are the bread around an S3 Dutch meat sandwich. What good is that? The Irish don’t tax money being moved among European countries (S2 to S3), and the Netherlands takes only a small fee for moving the money from S3 to S1. This makes it so the “royalties” checks can arrive in Bermuda virtually untaxed.

However, here’s the down side:

The problem with strategies like the Double Irish/Dutch Sandwich is that the money gets stuck outside of the United States, where the parent company can’t use it for domestic projects. If the company tried to “repatriate” the money to the United States, the IRS would hit it with an income tax, making the whole routine for naught. There are some fancy ways around this limitation, however—each named after the letter of the subsection of the tax code on which it depends.

Now comes the problem:  getting those juicy off shore dollars repatriated.  There are a number of schemes enumerated in the Slate article, most of which have seen better days, so now corporations are howling to repeat the “one-time” only maneuver blessed by Congress and the Bush administration in 2004.  However, since the repatriated dollars were utilized mainly to repurchase stock and bonus executive employees, the corporations have been received a rather chilly reception.

You see, if you factor in the taxes paid by their US employees, it’s all good.  Wow, where do I go to sign up for the “Apple tax”?  I’m with Tom Coburn on this one.  Since we’re not Apple, or Google, or any of the other intellectual tax-avoiders, the best that we can hope for is this:

This is an open thread.  Jump right into the double-dutch, y’all.  The “Double-Irish” is out of reach, so sublimate.

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From Salinger’s classic Catcher In The Rye:

“Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according
to the rules.”

“Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it.”

Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are,
then it’s a game, all right – I’ll admit that. But if you get on the
other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about
it? Nothing. No game.

You said a mouthful there, pal. Some of us got no game at all, and it shows. Just look at what has been going on in our nation’s capitol, where open warfare is being waged against the portion of the population that had the least to do with the current state of affairs. Now, this isn’t new. Anyone who has ever worked in any sort of bureaucracy has undoubtedly noticed that screw-ups are viewed differently depending upon the administrative level of the screwer-upper. Reason would dictate that upper level administrative types would be held to a higher standard than peons, but that logical inference is dead wrong. The guy that empties the trash will be summarily canned for minor infractions, while the guy that trashed the institution will be eased into another job or given a retirement party decorated with a six-figure departure gift. In fact, one could easily infer that the strength of the penalty varies inversely to the position of the miscreant. Washington’s current dilemma is simply bureaucratic f@#k-ups and inverse penalties on steroids.

Yes, we are all aware that the economy bites, that the debt ceiling has more cracks than the glass ceiling, that something must be done, and yada yada yada. Various factions have rolled up their sleeves, put down their golf clubs, and launched themselves into committes, gangs, focus groups and tirades. Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and the US Chamber of Commerce are pitching ongoing hissy fits. Democrats are pointing out that polling demonstrates that both the American people as well as the better angels are on their side. What have we got? An incipient plan to gut Medicare, cap Social Security, and slash Medicaid while allowing the upper 1% to keep raking in the savings so that they “might” create jobs. Needless to say, I have a few thoughts.

Social Security:  I haven’t even sniffed a SS COLA in two years, while everything including my Medicare premium and deductible has gone up.  However, I’m prepared to be a sport about this.  Why don’t we tie the SS COLA directly to the federal COLA enjoyed by our leadership?  I could certainly live with that.

Medicare:   As I said, both my premiums and deductibles are up.  My part D premium is up along with drug costs, so I dwell in the donut hole even longer.  This year, I pay only 50% of my drug costs while sunning in the hole, but since drug costs are up I hardly notice the difference.  I submit that Congress should have Medicare and Medicare Part D as their insurance as well,  I guarandamntee you that it will remain solvent forever under these circumstances.  Oh, and make their co-pays commensurate with the percentage of income “enjoyed” by SS beneficiaries.  ($19,000/year vs. $167,000/year = 8x usual.)   That would bring their monthly premiums to about $800 each with copays of $160 or so per visit,  Want to bet me that my co-pays and premiums will drop like a rock?

Medicaid:  Even better, let the Senate remain on Medicare while the House enjoys the fabulous coverage afforded by Medicaid.  I predict a better quality of care for all concerned.

Education:  First Chris Christie, now Rahm Emmanuel.  Do any politicians actually send their children to public schools?  The short answer is probably not.  And frankly, Governor Christie, it is too our business.  Any politician who has anything whatsoever to do with education should be compelled to send their children to public schools.  Want to bet me that the quality would soar in a reasonably short period of time?

Taxes:  I’m a sport, and I’m willing to allow corporations to have one more year of tax savings – with a stipulation.  Beginning immediately thereafter all profits earned in the US would remain taxed at the same low rate, and all monies earned abroad would be taxed at 15% higher.  Allow them to bring their offshore capital back in at no charge if it is used to create American jobs within the same year.  If not, tax it at 50% or so.  Do you think that this might just possibly get them back on the same playing field with the rest of us?  There’s no point in arguing about it, just make it more profitable to come home than to stay abroad.

Anyhow, Widdershins, those are just a few thoughts.  We’ll have to see how this plays out.

This is an open thread.

 

 

 

 

 

There has been some controversy here in the grand old liberal state of Massachusetts regarding a blogsite named “MariaTalks”.

“MariaTalks” is a site focused on addressing teens regarding sexual activity and healthcare and is considered as an educational tool for teens who find themselves in the throes of sexual experimentation. As a state sponsored, government funded site it has created lots of publicity with just about every faction weighing in.

Needless to say the Catholic Church is leading the charge along with other religious affiliations in denouncing the message of “MariaTalks”. The clergy are offended by a page that is titled “abortion” claiming that it encourages teen girls to make use of this option. Actually what the page offers is not encouragement but an option to the circumstances. “MariaTalks” is attempting to reach a segment of the population who may find they have nowhere to turn when they find themselves in a situation that will effect the rest of their lives. The church finds this message “offensive” in that it damages the “quality of life”. This coming at a time when teen pregnancy is rampant.

Taking issue alongside the clergy is a taxpayers association that is against tax payors funding the message. It is reported that “MariaTalks” costs the MA taxpayers around $100,000 annually to keep the site going. The message and the issue at hand is considered an “affront” by the spokesperson. According to his statement, sex education should be taught in the home and the good taxpayers of MA should not be required to foot the bill.

My local t.v. channel then went to the streets to interview a young woman to elicit her comments concerning “MariaTalks” and perhaps gain an opposing point of view. They picked a “beauty” for this segment.

Sitting on the steps of an apartment building they found Teresa cradling an infant of no more than 5 months of age. Teresa admitted that she had no knowledge of “MariaTalks”but she did admit that the site would have had no influence on how she felt. Her answer is that “nobody is going to tell her how to live my life”.

At 24, she went onto say that she has been having babies since she was 16 years of age. When asked how many children she had, she replied that she was the mother of 6. Six kids all under the age of 8!  In 8 years since her 16th birthday Teresa is the mother of 6 children. With years and years ahead of her to birth even more. Try wrapping your head around that one.

Let’s “assume” for a minute that having had a baby at 16 that she may have dropped out of school. Let’s also “assume” that she has been much too busy producing a baby a year to have secured a GED along the way. Let’s also “assume” that she is unmarried and is receiving enough statewide support to care for these 6 kids. And let us “assume” that there is nothing in her background to suggest that she holds any qualifications to eventually hold down a job in the future that will allow her to support these kids in the longterm. Since Teresa holds with the belief that no one is going to tell her how to live her life, let’s “assume” that perhaps “MariaTalks” may not be such a waste of time after all.

Judging from the support from the state of Massachusetts that she and her 6 kids are placing on the taxpayers alone one would “assume” that the spokesperson for the taxpayers group would consider the money spent on this blogsite has something of value to offer by way of helping to lowering the tax rate purely from a practical point of view. And tell me where the clergy comes into play when it appears that Teresa is not practicing the rules handed by way of abstinence?

Granted Teresa herself may be the exception to the rule. But I’m guessing there are more out there who believe that nobody is going to tell them how to live their lives. However that is not the message that “MariaTalks” is suggesting by a long shot. Sex education has an absolute role in helping young women choose a better path than spending their youth catering to sex drives that may lead to far greater problems in the future. The burdens they place on themselves and society at large are evident in the “pride” that Teresa exhibited in maintaining her “independence”.

As these factions blend together in their ignorant approach to a subject matter that has far more long range implications than their own limited points of view, I’m betting that “MariaTalks” has played a positive role for some.

I am more than willing to have my tax dollars go toward prevention than expecting more of the “Teresa mindset” to flood the roles of taxpayer support. Teens must be made to understand that the decisions they make before they are intellectually and emotionally capable of understanding the path they choose will effect their entire lives. Practicing safe sex is the first step on that road to maturity.

If “MariaTalks” has any role to play it may be in nothing more than an explanation that these kids are not alone out there and have at least one place to discuss their problems without being forced into roles they are unready to assume simply because of some religious beliefs, or a group who prefer to decry the cost of raising these unexpected babies against a site that is a drop in a bucket compared to the amount of money it will take to keep them alive.

We can’t continue to ignore the truth of teen aged sexual activity.   We can’t wish it away by inserting religious beliefs and ignorant statements based on political positions masked as tax reform.   The health of some of these kids are also at risk by urging pregancy on children unprepared to assume the role of parent.   Especially when we as a society begin the sexualization of our children via cultural messages.  

One way or another we are guaranteed to pay for it in the end.  It seems to me that a mere $100,00 annually to offer some form of enlightenment is a small price by comparison.


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