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.