Two Birds With One Stone (aka Think Big)

I love thinking at the macro level. I guess my attitude is “think big or go home”. We have a lot of problems in this country that desperately need solutions. It would be great if one solution could solve multiple problems. That is what this post is about.

The Problems

Problem No. 1 – Teachers aren’t paid enough.

Most everyone agrees that teachers, especially those at the primary and secondary levels need to be paid more. One solution is to make the school year longer but I don’t think the teachers’ union would willingly go along with that. Is there another way to solve this problem?

Problem No. 2 – There are too many lawyers

We are a nation of lawyers. We have more lawyer in the US than the rest of the world. That is a major problem, especially with their promises of getting you a lot of money with little effort on your part. They used to call these guys “ambulance chasers” but since that now seems a noble part of the profession, I’m sure it has another name. Another problem here is that most of those folks in Congress are lawyers. We need fewer lawyers in the country and especially in Congress. Is there another way to solve this problem?

Problem No. 3 – There are not enough Doctors.

With all us Baby Boomers getting old now we need more doctors in this country. The problem is critical especially in rural areas. Because they can generally make much more money in urban areas they just don’t want to put out their shingle in smaller towns. Is there another way to solve this problem?

Problem No. 4 – Our Economic Ladder Is Completely Out of Balance.

How can a ladder that is so top heavy even stay up? The very fat cats on the very top rung of the ladder have as much money as those of us on the ladder. We gotta do something about that before the ladder comes crushing around the rest of us. Is there another way to solve this problem?

The Solution

Here is the drum roll….

Drastically Change How We Are Taxed.

Changing our tax system could solve all of these problems. Here is how:

  1. Let’s put a flat tax on everyone with additional adjustments layered on top of that. Let’s say 12%. I know you are thinking that is way too low, but wait for it…
  2. Remove all exemptions and make all income the same. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it is income. No more capital gains loopholes, no more subsidizing religious organizations who have morphed more into political ones. Make the exemptions so simple that no loopholes at all are possible
  3. Add a tax adjustment that is occupation specific. I’ll leave it up to the bean counters to come up with the exact numbers, including the base rate above, but will give you magnitude examples here:

Special Adjustments

Teachers at the primary and secondary level-6%
Teachers at college level-2%
Lawyers+25%
Doctors in rural areas+5%
Doctors in Urban areas+15%
Income from inherited wealth+30%
Income from… (fill in the blank)

You get the idea. This plan would go a long way in solving all four problems identified here. Let’s make it a true capitalistic system of supply and demand.

But I also like Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax idea of putting an annual tax percentage on inherited estates based on the value inherited.

Eliminate Federal Pensions and Retirement Plans

Now before you get all worked up by the title I want to add a couple of more words. “For all elected employees”. I think this plan will go a long ways to prevent future gridlock that we are seeing today. Here is one of my sources that back up that idea:

Congressional members are eligible for their own unique pension plans under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), though there are other retirement benefits available, ranging from Social Security and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Currently, members of Congress are eligible for a pension dependent on the member’s age at retirement, length of service, and salary.

The pension value can be up to 80 percent of the member’s final salary. Currently, Congressional pay is $174,000 per year, which, at an 80-percent rate, equates to a lifelong pension benefit of $139,200. All benefits are taxpayer-funded.

Source: Investopedia

A three-term congressman (or one-term senator) who has now reached retirement age of sixty-two would be eligible for an annual pension of $17,588 for six years of work. Let’s see, I was an engineer who worked thirty years for the same company and my pension is less than two times this amount. So, I would say that you can make out pretty well on a congressional pension.

Getting down to the roots of this post. Our founders never meant that representing your constituents in Congress to be a full-time job. It was just something that you did to fulfill your obligations to your country. The first president illustrated that by limiting his occupancy to two terms.

Secondly, Congress should mirror the private sector when it comes to these sorts of things. Since private sector pensions are pretty much a thing of the past, federal pensions should also be eliminated. Just give them 401k payments like the rest of us have. In that same area, Congress should not have their own healthcare plan that are so out of touch with what their constituents get.

The problem today is that there are just too many in our congress who are determined to make being a congressman a full time job. If we could just get one of those guys, specifically Mitch McConnel to finally leave maybe at least some level of gridlock would be finally eliminated.

Making term limits happen is the problem. It takes either a constitutional amendment initiated by the State or for Congress to overwhelmingly do it. Neither is likely to happen today. But Congress is not the only institution that needs term limits. Supreme Court Justices should be told to leave after they have served twelve years.

Let’s give power back to the people instead of keeping it entrenched in the powermongers in Washington.

Sunday March 17 – Snippets


Thinking They Are Above The Law…BUT

It is interesting to see two different stories of wealthy people thinking that their money makes them above the law but then to discover it doesn’t. Paul Mannafort was sentenced to 7.5 years in federal prison for dozens of instances where he flaunted the law in several different areas included evading millions of dollars of taxes. But his sentence seemed pretty low to me. I still remember where a guy in my very red county was given six years for stealing a roll of wire from an electrical power yard!

I wonder if the guy in the Oval Office will ever learn that he is not above the law either. Maybe that time will come on January 21, 2021?

The other instance was where wealthy parents hired brokers to get their kids into ivy league colleges. They faked credentials and had other people take SAT exams for them. They found that they their money does not make them above the law. One of those people was an actress in one of my favorite shows. I, like many others I imagine, have trouble separating the actor from their roles.


Leave Us With Our Memories

This snippet is a personal one, but it is kinda related to the above one. I have fond memories of the some of the TV shows I watched in the 1970s. One in particular was Mary Tyler Moore. The young Mary Richards battling against a male dominated world. She was a few years older than me, but I secretly dreamed that she would be my future wife. It ended up that my real wife would be even older than Mary! Go figure…

Getting to the point of this snippet, I wish I could just freeze those times in my mind. Unfortunately, that is not possible. I frequently see pictures of Mary, now in her 80s and my bubble is burst. What happened to that young girl! The same thing that happened to me, I guess! In my mind I will always be in my 30s but my body often reminds me otherwise.

In that same light, I don’t like looking at people in their coffins as that is the memory that wipes out all the pleasant ones. But maybe that is just me.

Techie Saturday – About Feedly

This Saturday, I want to clue you in on one of the most essential tools I have in following my favorite blogs. That tool is Feedly. Here is how they describe themselves.

Feedly (click name to see the sign-up screen) tracks blogs that offer content via Real Simple Syndication (RSS). It delivers that content to your computer, tablet or phone, where you can see the updates and decide what you want to read.

All I have to do every morning is to open Feedly in my browser and all the unread blog posts from my twenty or so favorite sites show up. It gives me the list and a snapshot of what the post is about. When you find a new blog you want to add to the list it is simple to add it. See the image below:

I would highly recommend that you sign up with Feedly, its free and easy to do. When you do be sure to add RJsCorner.net to the list.

If You Have To Build A Wall…

I think the masonary union has some sort of power over the current Oval Office. What else would explain the obsession with wall building? If the current Oval Office occupant (#CO3) hopes to have ANY chance of re-election, he should change just where he wants to build his wall.

Let’s investigate the possibilities some with this post. What is the biggest sinkhole for our money in the world today? Undoubtedly it is the Middle-East. I’m sure we have spent trillions of bucks in the region of the world and in the end have gotten practically nothing to show for it. We prop up so many failing regimes in that area when we should be looking at keeping our country afloat.

Saudi Arabia is the prime example. #CO3 says they are our friends because they want to buy billions of dollars worth of our war machines. But, in the end, their country represents almost everything we despise. They execute people for speaking out against their way of government. They enslave almost half their population to serve the males in their country. Almost all the 9/11 terrorists were from there. Their regime represents the opposite of what we think is any level of morality.

Afganistan and Iraq are not much different from Saudi Arabia. The main difference is that we took down their the dictators who ran those countries and haven’t been able to escape the consequences even after decades there. How many trillions of dollars have we poured into those two countries and have nothing to show for it.

Everything about the Middle East is very contrary to our way of life. It is almost as if it was a separate world and maybe it should be. If any region of the world needs a wall to separate them from us it is the Middle East.

So, Mr. President, if you must build a wall do it to block off the Middle East from the rest of the world. I might even vote for you if you did that. No, I changed my mind, there is no way in hell I would ever vote for you.

The Twilight Of Democracy?

Is democracy going to be that short 250 year period in earth’s history when we thought people could rule themselves? Given what has been happening the last decade or so, it seems we might not not up to the task. In the beginning of our American democracy Thomas Jefferson said:

Are we up to that task today? It seems not. We in the US allowed a completely incompetent con-man to snake his way into the Oval Office. Anyone who cared to do even a minimal amount of study would have found that he was totally unprepared for the job. He is there primarily because of a non-informed electorate.

For the most part the world has been ruled by the elite few, for almost all of its history. If you don’t believe me just look at all the kingdoms and dictatorships that have come and gone throughout our history. Even the eras of history are named after the prominent rulers of that age.

Utopian societies have come and gone throughout American history. Everyone thinks they can form the perfect government by going off into the wilderness and fashioning their own society. I have been studying these types of communities for quite a while now and one thing most have in common is that they don’t last more than a decade or so before they are abandoned. Why that was so is primarily because factions developed in the community and they started fighting with each other. Everyone seems to think that their view of the world is the only one can can result in utopia.

It seems that one democracy after another is in trouble now. The US has an inept president. Canada is struggling because its prime minister seemingly did a favor for a private company. Britain is on the verge of a crisis, trying to divest itself from the rest of Europe. France is crumbling due to the citizenry failing to embrace long term planning.

The world’s democracies are in trouble. Will the coming decades mark their end?