Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the TAXES!!!

1. Flat 10%, no deductions for all incomes.
2. Federal sales tax of 10% on purchases other than food, clothes, home, utilities.
3. Health insurance companies go non-profit, and policies available to everyone outside of their job. All premiums for non-preventable illnesses the same for everyone. Premiums for smokers and obese paid by smokers and obese.
4. Public option health insurance available- like school and security, but not mandatory over the age of 18. BUT, if you don't at least sign up for insurance or have cash, you will not receive medical treatment. Since that was your choice. Any minor needing treatment will be signed up for a public option at the medical services site. Doctor can choose to call for social services assessment, like now.
5. Repeal NAFTA or find some other way to bring back manufacturing jobs.
6. Country-wide wind and solar energy grid, invested by utility companies with SBA or municipal bond funds. Gradual, but quick, elimination of foreign oil in America. OK, drill in American waters for oil to be used in AMERICA.
7. Downsize the IRS. They suck.
8. Document illegals and tax them. Allow them to sign a minimum-wage waiver. Severly fine employers who hire illegal workers to avoid paying taxes and acceptable American wages.
9. INCREASE the variety of classes available to public high school students. The damn national standards have narrowed the subject standards and tried to homogenize everyone. There are currently 8 recognized forms of intelligence, teach to them ALL.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Debt is dumb. Not to sound overly preachy, but I can not describe how liberating it feels to have shredded my credit cards 5 weeks ago. I had always been attached to them, they were my crutch and my sprain at the same time-- sounds familiar, huh? Kinda like addiction...can't live with it, blah blah blah.

The cutting of the cards came about at the close of an episode of Suze Orman which happens to be the start time of a show called, "Til Debt Do Us Part." Now I watch them both every week, probably to feel as if yes there are folks worse off than we, so after Suze I knew what was coming. Out of the clear blue sky I got up, went upstairs where I had hidden all 6 cards from myself and proceeded to destroy.

(Hint to all: I cut each card into 4 sections- first name, last name, security code on the back, and half of the card number. I threw away each section in a different place- Home, work, store, friend's place.)

Let me just try to say how STUPID I feel for waiting so long. The crap I was spending credit on- I don't even miss and can't even really name. Restaurants mostly. And since none of them had really reached a zero balance until this year, I suppose I have been paying interest on food I've eaten since 2000! Today, some of that food is still with me but most of it has been in the sewer for a very long time. Talk about waste!!

So anyway, what is my point? My point is that if I can do it, so can the government. Should we tax the rich? Should we spend less on government programs? Should we incentivise saving and limit borrowing? Well, all of the above of course.

Look, Republicans want to keep rich taxes low and cut spending. Democrats want to raise rich taxes a little and 'reform' entitlements.

DO BOTH. For now, raise rich taxes halfway and put a limit on entitlements. End tax breaks on mortgage interest. People who want to own a home will buy their home regardless of deductions. To balance the loss of deduction (except for grandfathered present mortgages), quit taxing our savings interest! Geez- I only get 1 stinking % per year, leave it alone. You may find more money in banks, less money in McMansions, and voila- less bailout urgency as a bonus.

What about me? I am a landlord. I would pay more if the mortgage interest deduction were discontinued. Now please refer to past post where I said we should cut income tax to a flat, deduction-free 10% anyway, and begin a 10% federal sales tax [on everything but survival needs- food, clothing, primary residence].

Just amend the idea to exclude taxing savings gains. (BTW, capital gains should also be 10%.)

Anyway, now that I personally feel nearly euphoric every time I pay off a card, and get giddy when checking the steadily decreasing balances, I advise Washington to do the same. Spread the Joy! Get rid of your credit cards!! Will you have to reduce spending? Yup. Start with congressional and IRS salaries. Identify, document, and tax illegal immigrants. More on that next time... Peace.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Big Babies!

The soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts: there is no argument that the middle class income-earners will not see an increase when the Bush tax rates expire. The hullabaloo is over the idea of whether those earning over $250,000 per year should soon be required to pay 39% in federal taxes rather than the current 36% implemented under W.

Before I reveal the ridiculously simple solution, I'll make both arguments.

Dems: "We have to recoup the national debt- and middle class families should not be the ones to have to do it because it was the middle class who was hit so hard by the Great Recession which began during the Bush administration."

Reps: " There should be no increase in taxes for any income bracket during an economic downturn because the more money people have, the more they will spend. And, if employers have to pay more taxes, they will not be able to create jobs."

Dems: "The rich have had the 36% rate for years. Where are the jobs? If middle class workers are confident that our national economy is getting on track by reduction of the deficit, they will be confident to spend, and businesses with more customer traffic will hire more help."

Tea Party: "Obama is a communist. There shouldn't be any taxes for anyone."

Pragmaticlanders: "The right wants 36%, the left wants 39%, GO TO 37.5%!!!!!!!!!!!! Man, you people are STUPID!!"

Have a Great Day.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One Would Think...

A friend told me about a blog by a feminist named Jill. Jill recently wrote about a law in UAE condoning domestic violence as a means of protecting the family and keeping a wife under control if abstaining from sex with her didn't straighten her out. No, seriously.

In America, some jurisdictions do not charge batterers if the victim of domestic violence refuses to press charges. Within the past few years, my own city changed that law. Police who are called out for DV can now press the charges and arrest the perp.

Why, you might ask, would any victim refuse to press charges against the person on whom they just had to call out the cops? Fear. They do need [usually] him to quit and calm down and can not make that happen alone. But if [usually] she were to have him arrested, we all know what he would do when his buddies or his boss or his mama bails him out. So, the only recourse many victims have legally is to run.

Battering is a sickness. They mean it every time they apologize. Still no excuse. Does it make sense that a victim and her children should be forced into fear and hiding because there is not enough legal protection available for them? In the United States of America, doesn't physical safety count as an inalienable right? Even if you did sign up to live with the person? Here is my solemn promise-- no person lives with a violent batterer because they enjoy receiving beatings. There is NO place for blaming the victim in a domestic violence situation.

While I can't exactly call this solution a compromise, because I don't know of any reasonable person who wants to protect someone's right to murder the heart and soul of his family, it is a pretty fair and reasonable solution.

On second thought, perhaps this is a compromise between those who would condone capital punishment for batterers and those whose hearts bleed all over the batterer's dysfunctional childhood. (Admittedly, that very conflict exists within my own self.) Or possibly a compromise between the human-protective and the budget-conscious...

If a DV call is made, and the responding officers see an obvious victim, and are given a verbal statement, they should be required to remove the perp. Let him cool his heels in the drunk tank, because the odds are good he will be chemically altered in some way. The state or county will bring charges of battery.

So, to keep people safe, the one delivering the abuse must be compelled to vacate the premises. He may pack his clothes and toys, but no furnishings. Upon a guilty verdict, he relinquishes his legal right to any community property.

Where does he go while waiting for trial? To a therapeutic facility. He probably can't help being an asshole. Schedule his trial for 1 year after his arrest, giving him a full year to learn techniques for keeping his hands to himself and possibly address an addiction. He should also keep his job and send 75% of his pay back to the family. This way, even if he is acquitted, he still received the therapy and did not have to lose his livelihood. The victims will have a safe year to get it together and relocate should they choose.

What if she makes it up you ask? Remember I said obvious victim. Blood, bruises, defensive wounds, fear, distress from her...addiction, anger, cut up knuckles, etc from him.

So now the Republicans want to know who is to pay for the protection of citizens? Why tax payers, that's who. That is precisely what tax money is for. Cut the prison budget, reallocate that money to rehabilitation. Many batterers had the example set for them, and it is imperative that the same example NOT be set for his children. Removing the abusive person from the home will eventually reduce the violent prison population when the next generation does not follow in certain footsteps.

Now to address the issue of drug-related abuse. Apparently the fact that drug use is illegal is not sufficient to protect people. So, every drug-affected baby should be immediately and permanently removed from the addicted mother. Of course there will be exceptions made for mothers using prescribed drugs which her doctor said would be OK; I am talking about crack, heroin, alcohol, etc.

Those babies should be eligible for adoption without delay, to enable healthy emotional bonding, by sober, responsible people, and should be eligible for medical and psychiatric assistance as well as case worker monitoring. Pay social workers like we pay disrict attorneys. Don't cry for the rights of the biological mother. Once she chose to keep the baby and continue the pregnancy, that construes her promise to take care of the fetus and child. Using harmful drugs, hurting the child makes her unfit.

How will taking away a crack baby solve domestic violence? The child will not be raised in an addictive dangerous environment where his mother is possibly trading favors for drugs, associating with bad people, and abandoning the child emotionally and quite possibly physically. If she can't stop using while pregnant, she will use after the birth. This attracts bad men, and bad men do bad things to children.

So to wrap up- remove the perp, give him therapy, allow him to work (with an ankle monitor), have him send money home (if he really is as sorry as he always claims to be he won't mind helping support his family). If the family moves, the money is sent through the court and the perp does not get to know where they are. Advise them to use fake names online and avoid posting pictures! He gets charged by the state regardless of whether the victim is too afraid. If convicted, he does time in minimum security (because he is not likely to pick fights with men his own size). If acquitted, he has received a year of therapy.

She would have to be really stupid to take him back. If she does, and he starts his crap again, he goes to jail for a LONG time, and works hard labor to repay the state. The state can sub out cheap labor to private contractors. Minimum wage. Every penny of his 90% net goes back into the system.

What do you think? Safety with compassion? Punishment when appropriate? Consideration for future generations? Protection of the innocent?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

Not that the day has chosen the topic, but today's compromise is a very easy one. You have to wonder why the geniuses leaving and the geniuses about to enter Congress have not thought of it yet. Gay rights.

Isn't it ironic that in America there are still citizens who have to "earn" their rights from others? Just saying.

Let's begin with Don't Ask Don't Tell. As much as I loathe Bill Clinton as a walking talking insult to the female species, his DADT was at least a step in the right, ahem, proper direction on the path toward compromise. If you are a person, you will most likely be assumed a heterosexual until you indicate otherwise. So therefore, most members of the military are assumed to have an attraction to the opposite sex. Both sexes definitely serve in the armed forces, and most of us agree they do a damn fine job carrying out the orders from the government-- with which we may or may not agree. As I understand it, (and I am no soldier) there already exists a no-fraternization rule. Can't the rule be enough? If men and women are disciplined somehow if caught "fraternizing" let's let the same rule apply to 2 women or 2 men. If there is a rule prohibiting sexual relations between 2 soldiers, then enforce it. Why is it relevant whom a soldier might want to have relations with?

As a female who has been "checked out" by a few idiots with one-track minds (and aren't we all?), I can understand the straight soldier's discomfort at the idea of undressing and showering with a person who might have naughty, unwelcome ideas in their head. If the women don't have to sleep in the same dorm with the men, the heteros should have the option to not sleep with the gays. It sounds fair...

Allow me to acknowledge one fact. Most convicted rapists are straight men. I do not believe straight male soldiers have as much reason to fear their peers as female soldiers have, but I can empathize with their discomfort at possibly being ogled.

So now it seems the issue comes down to sleeping and showering arrangements. Not being a soldier and not knowing the logistics of these things, the best I can say is offer 10% extra sleeping space, 2 showering shifts, and let the guys figure it out between themselves who sleeps where and showers when. I doubt the female soldiers have the same problems with each other.

Uniformly enforce the current rule regarding fraternization.

Marriage. So much easier than the politicians want you to think it is. When you enter into a legally sanctioned partnership arrangement with another consenting adult, call it a "Partnership" or a "Union." If you would like that Union blessed by a religious figure, go for it. If your church calls it a "marriage", no problem. You can even have both the legal authority and your religious authority at the same ceremony. Either disallow religious figures to sign legal Union paperwork, or allow (not require), by law, religious figures to sign ALL legal Union paperwork. Guarantee- we will begin to see churches which bless gay Unions.

All legal Unions, currently called Marriages, will be afforded the same benefits as they currently have. Property, naming the children, beneficiary and pension, living will, etc.

Doesn't seem like much of a compromise to some conservatives, you say? Look at it from the perspective of 3 things: One, monogamy. Gay couples will be as faithful as straight couples. Two, freedom to decide morality for oneself. We can not be Free AND impose personal morality on others, because NONE of us wants to be controlled by ideas we do not agree with. Third, and this might sound sarcastic but is not, population control. Hear me out. For a person to conceive without a sexual partner is very expensive. Hopefully, more couples who want children will consider adopting unwanted children so there will be fewer children who feel unwanted, (therefore less crime too) and a slowdown in population growth. There are facilities in China full of discarded little girls. Their only crime being the possession of a vulva. It can get expensive to adopt internationally or domestically, but so can artificial insemination. And this way you don't have to endure pregnancy!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

21st Century Tax Code

I just spent a couple of hours on a news website debating about the source of the fuck-ups which led to this latest recession which experts claim ended in June of 2009. There is no doubt the Bush administration spent far too much money to come out of office without bin laden (no I will NOT capitalize his name- as a sign of disrespect). There is no doubt we were already in a real estate meltdown and the beginning of a recession when the Obama administration took their positions. However, whether the stimulus was necessary depends on whom you ask. Keep in mind, both parties voted for it in Congress. While it's true we have not entered into a Depression, it's also true we have almost reached 10% unemployment.

Today's compromise, ladies and gentlemen, is about recouping the money we spent, spend, owe. The Left wants to allow those who earn less than $250,000 per year to keep their current tax rate and increase the tax rate on those earning over $250,000 per year, as well as favoring a progressive tax code so that the wealthiest can contribute as much as the middle class after deductions and loopholes. The Right wants to let all income bracket earners remain at the current tax rate, indefinitely or for 2 years, whichever comes first, and they feel a progressive tax code deters people from earning an income in the lower end of each tax bracket. Now as I've said, we are not justifying opinions here, because frankly I can justify either one; and both parties have acted maniacally with our money.

Here is your compromise. As we are all Americans and created Equal [but different], we should all pay the same tax rate- from Bill Gates all the way across to Bubba-on-the-Dole, regardless of our different talents and skills. To make it fair to those who do not qualify for certain deductions or have an army of tax attorneys poring over the recent tax code searching for loopholes, there should be no deductions whatsoever. Not for charity, not for education, not for mortgage interest (and let me disclose that I qualify for all of those...). This way, whether we are salary, hourly, entertainer, athlete, cop, or cotton-picker, we all pay the same percent of our legally earned income. [We will discuss the illegally employed on a later post.]

So the Right claims a Christian background and supports traditional ideas associated with earning one's way into heaven through obedience and self-discipline. The Left's claim to Christian values involves charity and nonjudgment. So, since the majority of Americans are self-proclaimed Christians, let us set the national income tax at a deduction-free 10%, like a tithe. The wealthy who are worming their way out of tax bills will pay 10% and save money on attorneys and accountants. The middle class will pay 10%, which is less than the current 15% - 25%, and mortgages and education and children will be personal choices, not legislated incentives (if you can't afford them don't have them). Those living below the poverty line will have less reason to feel ashamed for asking for help, and those who live above the poverty line will have no argument regarding unfairness. However much you make, you put in the pot like everyone else, and it helps you feel like you deserve as much as everyone else. If 10% feels like a lot because you don't make much, get some training, get a better job, and when your paycheck is bigger, your tax rate will still be the same.

I have heard of the Fair Tax. A conservative pundit is touting a 22% federal sales tax. The idea is good, because you don't have to pay it if you don't buy anything theoretically...and more plausibly if they exempt survival goods from the tax; survival goods being food, clothing, shelter, and local water and power utilities. Restaurants would charge the Fair tax on the service (wait and cook) portion of your bill. What I don't like is the 22%. It's high. The reason it is 22% is because they intend for it to replace income tax, but with our federal income tithe, we could make the Fair sales tax 10% as well. In my state, sales tax is already 9%, I assume it is close to that in your state.

Now certainly, the current administration could get an economics expert to crunch the numbers and let them know how long it would take for the two 10% taxes to balance the budget. If we could initiate this tax compromise at rates lower than 10%, so be it. 9.8% is even better. If these experts should conclude that 10% is not enough, that is too damn bad. We ALL have to learn to live within our means and that includes the federal government. WE are the hand that feeds THEM!

Let's recap. Left wants richer to pay more. Check. Right wants money and opportunity to be minimally regulated. Check. (Let's face it, you have to pay SOMETHING, or else rouse up a pitchfork militia). Everyone wants tax rates to be low. Check. Everyone wants to feel a right to benefit from the common pot. Check.

Did I miss anything? Let me know, but comment in the spirit of pragmatic compromise, and consider the emotional values of each side. Peace.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Douche Bag

Ok, Oh my God. So there's this Tea Party candidate named Ken Buck who is worried about religion not being a part of law. He wants a national morality, presumably based on Christianity. Now we Pragmaticlanders understand that Christianity is supposed to be about love and kindness, with some "judge not" thrown in for good measure. But...there are some Christian sects who value obedience, hierarchy, and duty. Now, when we look back and look up what the original intent of the Revolution was, we will see freedom to practice the religion of our choice, freedom to speak our minds, equality among all men, and representation in government. Please explain to me how establishing a national moral code aligns with the ideas supposedly held dear by the Tea Party according to the Founding Fathers.

Mr. Buck would have to show me where the concept we are currently trying to practice, "to each his own but hurt no one or their rights", is different or inferior to his ideas on national uniform ideas of morality. And I would also like to know, just who would get the final decision on this national morality?

Look, difference of opinion is what keeps us a half-step ahead of becoming a national cult. Humans with brains NEED to question authority and constantly ask, is this the best it can be? The worst thing for America would be to be forced to do anything. There are some who believe there are more Jews in power in America than any other group. Would Mr. Buck be satisfied if Jewish rules were to become American rules? Probably not.

So here is your compromise, not that I feel the obligation to compromise with the extremists, but let us moderates be the bigger person.

I'll decide right and wrong for myself, and you do the same. I won't tell you what to believe and you reciprocate. I won't hurt you, and you don't hurt me.

"National moral code"...Not possible in a free country. The antithesis of FREE.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Hero?

Could public policy possible fix our ills? Look, here in pragmaticland, we have very good ideas on how to make both sides of any argument happy, unless one's goal is simply to be victorious. I am currently registered on one side, and my first perception of the other side is that they will do or say anything opposite of us, even if it is also opposite of them!

Example 1: How can those who are so adamant about owning guns call themselves pro-life?

Example 2: How can those who fight for marriage & family equality not fight for fetal equality?

Well, luckily, I know the answers, and they lie in psychology.
Give me an issue.

Entitlements. OK. The right hates them, the left feels they are necessary. (segue- plenty of those on the right are actually on welfare, they are moral rightists as opposed to fiscal rightists.)

Here is the solution: If you receive assistance, you have 6 years to complete some kind of vocational training. Some form of public service will be required. No contribute, no mooch. You will not receive additional assistance for new children conceived or not disclosed after the day you asked for assistance. Birth control will be available free as part of the assistance. If you need 3 years of assistance and after that get your act together, you may ask for the remaining 3 years at a later date. The amount of assistance you are eligible to receive will be based on the number of children you claimed on your original request, because if you can't afford them, don't have them.
~What if you are doing well and get laid off?
Then you file for unemployment, food stamps, and rental assistance. Situational poverty is more easily alleviated than generational poverty. You'll be OK when it turns around. Also, we can incentivize savings accounts by requiring a minimum balance before qualifying for assistance. That way, it is more likely you are a responsible person and the assistance will be temporary; and we will help each other not have to deplete our savings accounts during a recession every 8 years. Your neighbor might have lost his job this year, you might have lost yours in 2002...

Also, monetary benefits will be taxable at a rate of 10%. I know I know that's mean. Here's the rationale: Those who contribute to their own welfare feel a sense of empowerment. Many of the people who ask for help have learned helplessness. Take that away by giving them something to be proud of, and to be less ashamed for accepting "hand-outs." (Bloomberg agrees, look it up.)

See this way, the left is happy because they get to help people have a better life, and the right is happy because people will be earning that better life.

Next post we can solve another issue. Let me know what you think about this proposal, we can work with any concerns you see, and submit your vote for the next topic.