Mr. President, Keep Your Promises!

Here is a letter from my Quaker friends at AFSC that I thought you might be interested in. If enough of us speak out we might just be able to force some of the politicians to actually do some of the things that they campaign on. ūüôā

If you want to sign this petition click on this link

Amber Lights…


But every one of us write our own history. If it sounds better the way we want it than the way it might have been why that don’t stop us any more than an amber light. РSeptember17, 1933  Will Rogers

Will’s quote here is still pretty much true today except to maybe change the word amber to red. The number one cause of accidents now are people running red lights.

Being a senior citizen I have lived in historical times. I personally saw the Civil Rights marches not in person but on TV. ¬†I was a naive teen during much of that time so I couldn’t understand why people were treated so badly just because of the color of their skin. I heard the inspiring words of Martin Luther King but somehow didn’t really take them to heart until sometime later.
I have lived during more wars than I really care to remember.  The Vietnam war was the war of my generation. My hearing impairment was severe enough even then to keep my out of it but I did lose several good friends that were forced to go. We seem to always be in a war with someone who just a few years before were our friends and a few years after the war they usually are friends again. Why do we spend some much of our money and our young people on wars?

I also lived in the time where our congress was functional and the people there came together for the common good on many issues. ¬†I can remember when Republicans and Democrats came together for the common good of the country. I can remember when even the rich among us were willing to do their inordinate share for those less fortunate. I can remember, prior to Grover Norquist, when taxes were something that was necessary to maintain our government and the country’s safety net.

There are various way to look at these and many other related events. It just depends on what your life experiences and yes what your prejudges are. Many whites in the south saw the Civil Rights times very differently than I did. Many enthusiastically waved the flag during each or our many wars. Many now see government as an evil that needs to be abolished.

So, as Will said each one of us writes our own history.

America’s Small Businesses….

I was a small business owner for six years after I retired from the big business corporate world. But being a sole proprietor with no employees I really don’t have a good view of just what small businesses are really about. The Republican political leaders say small businesses are the growth engine of our country and we shouldn’t tax them by taking away the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 annually.

How many of the so-called small businesses were like mine just a guy in a shop building things for customers? How many hire more than a handful of employees? I decided to look into this.

Here is a link to a bunch of numbers in this area: 

  • There are approximately 29 million business in this country
  • Of those 29 million about 22 million are business with no employees
  • Only one million firms have more than 9 employees
  • Only 90,000 (0.3% have more than 100 employees
  • Across the United States,¬†small business failure rates¬†rose by 40% between 2007 and 2010
  • Only about one if five small businesses will be in existence five years after its creation

Read more

Let the Democrats Emulate the Repbulicans

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is really the case then I say let the Democrats emulate the Republicans in their do-nothing attitude. There has been talk about the Senate Democrats letting the all the Bush tax cuts expire and forcing the ten-percent reduction in the military budgets by doing nothing. Will the Republicans be flattered by this imitation of their strategy in congress? I kind of doubt it. ūüôā

But at least it would result in some restructuring of our debt increases. Will it be good for the jobs picture? It can’t be any worse than it is. The conservatives said that tax cuts to the “job creators” (meaning rich) ¬†would create jobs; never happened in the ten years since. How long do we need to wait ūüėČ If the Republican are really for no new taxes and all tax cuts then maybe they will agree to a middle class tax cut to put them back to where they were with the Bush cuts. It sounds like a win-win situation for everyone except those who are filthy rich. They might have to fork over a little more of their obese discretionary income. They may not be able to buy a second or third vacation home but they should get by.

This idea seems too good to be true for a Democrat strategy so I’m pretty sure they will screw it up before the end of the year. After all they have proved to be pretty good at caving into Republican demands lately. But at least I can hold out hope for this one.

But what do I know…

Poor Little Rich Kids…..

This excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article peaked my senses. It seems the rich, who we give massive tax breaks,  are aware that their kids will probably blow through their inherited wealth after they are gone.  What a bind to be in!  I bet they take all this planning and  trustees as tax deductions. It seems very ironic that while most of us are just trying to stay out of the poor house, and in any other house at all, there are those who worry about the other end of the spectrum.

Instead of “cleverly written trusts” and “carefully chosen trustees” how about just letting them make their own way in life like the other 98% of us do? Who knows, maybe Paris Hilton would even be a productive member of our society if she had not inherited so much of¬†granddaddy’s¬†wealth. ūüôā Up until recently (the 1980s that is) the government taxed wealthy estates so that a significant part of the accumulated¬†money could go back for the common good. ¬†Our country was even established around the ideas that¬†aristocracies are a drain on society. They¬†thoroughly¬†renounced the European version when we formed our country. In fact it was not long after our revolution that the French also rebelled against their aristocracy in a very bloody fashion. ¬†So how is it now that we do so much to retain our version of aristocracy that makes up the top 1% of our population but controls almost 50% of the country’s wealth?

OK, here I go again with the “Walters plan” for accumulated wealth. ¬†I know we can’t force the super rich to allow their children to make their own way in the world. But let’s treat the money they pass on to their children as “income” and therefore subject to the usual income taxes. ¬†To me income is income no matter where it comes from. If you get money that you didn’t work for and you haven’t paid any taxes on ¬†it is considered¬†income¬†to you. Another part of the “Walters Plan” ¬†is where we establish a more equitable income tax structure. Don’t tax the billionaires at a lower rate than the people who empty their trash. Let’s set a level of tax free income so that a person can get the basic necessities and then tax everything else at a certain rate and with no tax deductions. These big tax loop holes that congress seems to endlessly write for the rich, and for many others for that matter, ¬†are one of the reasons we are in the deficit hole we are in.

But what do I know.

Stopping wars….

I have a scheme for stopping war. It’s this – no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one. Will Rogers

This goes in line with a previous post about paying for wars. We seem to always be ready to point out other countries problems to them and part of our solution is to teach them how to do it right. Bullets seem to be our most frequent teaching aid. It is widely acknowledged that we have spent over $1 trillion on our latest wars. ¬†The way Mr. Bush funded them was to put them on our credit card for our kids to figure out how to pay off. Mr. Obama at least saw the errors of Mr. Bush’s way and put them in the budget. But that got him in trouble for adding to our budget problems. There just doesn’t seem to be a good way to pay for our wars. And it my mind there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for any of them in the first place.

Let’s call this the Rogers doctrine. ¬†We need to get out of our current two wars and not be allowed to get into another one until we have paid the trillion dollars for these two. ¬†That should keep us out of trouble for quite a few years especially since the Republicans can’t see clear to ask their fat cat donors to pony up a little more of the fortunes to pay for anything let alone for war. ¬†Let’s start a ground swell for implementing the Rogers doctrine.

But what do I know…

All I Know…Less Taxes, Less Regulation….

Less taxes and less regulation is the constant mantra that Republican party sees as a way to bring down the unemployment rates in this country. Everything else to them is seems to be utter nonsense. But let’s look at the facts around these two issues.

  • Less Taxes — Taxes are currently the lowest they have been in 36 years, especially for the top 10% of income levels. ¬†Most of this reduction came about almost eight years ago and yet there has been no significant blip on the employment levels in this country.
  • Less Regulation – I don’t think anyone would argue that George W. Bush went about systematically shutting down existing regulations in this country and yet there has been not significant increase in the employment levels as a result of these actions.

People talk about how much the government takes from their paycheck. They seem to think that all the infrastructure, schooling, fire protection, police protection amongst many other services comes to them free of charge. We complain about our tax rates but how do they compare with other countries in the world? In reality we are well below average in this category too.

But spending is another thing. Our government does spend too much in several areas. Since I want to keep this stuff simple let’s look at the low hanging fruit in this post. One of those is our military. We spend forty time more per citizen than any other country in the world. How can we expect to ever bring our spending down when so much of it is our¬†insistence¬†on being the world’s policemen. Let’s get that in line with some sanity and then tackle some of the other issues. Military spending is the low hanging fruit ready to be picked. We could easily get a $200 – $300 billion annual savings in that category every year. ¬†Cutting military spending would be a win-win situation. It would also mean that we would have to bring many of our young men and women home for our foreign wars and let the rest of the world contribute their share. That is if the conflict is even worth it and I have serious doubts that they are.

Why don’t those yahoos in congress pick this low hanging fruit as the first thing ¬†on the chopping block? The reason is money coming in. Almost every congressional district has several military projects in their areas and they don’t want to see that money disappear from their district. I am going to finish here with a ¬†couple of Will Rogers quotes.

People talk peace but men give their life’s work to war. It won’t stop until there is as much brains and scientific¬†study¬†put¬†to aid peace as to promote war.

One thing no nation can ever accuse us of is secret diplomacy. Our dealings are an open book. Generally a check book.

Paying Taxes….

This post is going to start a new category for me entitled “My Conservative Friend”. It will be about some conversations I have had with some of my conservative friends. It will also be about some of the conversation I have yet to have with them. Yes, even though they deem me a liberal I still have some conservative friends; in fact some of them are very conservative. So the posts in the category will be put all of them into the persona of “My Conservative Friend”. Their real identities will remain¬†anonymous to protect the guilty (ha).

One thing that my conservative friend can go on and on about is “how so many people get away without paying taxes. He often labels those in that category “takers” while he and his friends are the “makers”. He often rants about how almost half the people in the U.S. don’t pay any taxes and more than half of these “freeloaders” receive at least one federal benefits. I’m not sure if he learned this from Rush or Glen or one of his other conservative¬†patriarchs.

One obvious group in his “taker” category are people like me. I am retired and no longer drawing a paycheck. But like most retirees out there I spent forty years in the paycheck world and during that time I contributed thousands of dollars to keep our country operating. I also gave forty years worth of income to the Social Security Fund of which I am now drawing from. But I guess my friend at least according to his statistics still deems me a “freeloader”. ¬†My friend is also getting up there in years so I guess he will have to include himself in the freeloader/taker category soon. Does that mean he can no longer be a member of the conservative club? ¬†Just wondering. ūüôā

My friend just loves spouting statistics that seem to support his opinions. Yes 55% of the U.S. population might pay no federal taxes (according to his definition) but here are some statistics that he either does not know or just chooses to ignore.

  • The top 1% of the U.S. population controls over 35% of the nations net worth
  • The top 20% of the U.S. population controls over 60% of the nations net worth
  • The top 50% of the U.S. population controls over 90% of the nations net worth

So given these facts my conservative friend gets so upset because those who have less than 10% of the nations worth don’t pay federal taxes. Of course these people spend everything they have just to survive in today’s country. ¬†Is it too much to ask those that control 90 cents of every U.S. dollar to pay more? ¬†Those who benefit the most from U.S. prosperity should pay the most. But my conservative friend seems to ignore the fact that everyone who has a paycheck pays social security taxes. Everyone who buys gasoline pays a form of federal taxes. And of course those 50% who only control 10% of the wealth of the country pay the same taxes as their richer neighbors when they go to the grocery store or any other retail establishment. Statistics are nice but try to learn the whole story instead of stopping when you think you can prove your point.

Here is to you my conservative friend. I wish you all the best but I do hope that you will take the blinders off once in a while and try to look at the world as it really is. If you promise to do that I will do the same. Neither one of us have it completely right and whether you want to believe it or not we could actually learn something from each other if we could just stop narrow-minded thinking¬†and just listen for a while. I know those in today’s congress have lost that ability but I pray that you still have it.

But what do I know.