Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fair Tax?

It would seem that the only truly fair tax would be a flat tax without any deductions. Then we're all paying the same amount and no one can whine about unfair treatment.
But does it make any sense that whose for whom our capitalist system has profited the most should pay the least? Doesn't it stand to reason that they owe the country at least an equal share, if not more, for the success our system has afforded them?

Now, it is important to note that most government programs derived from tax dollars benefit those who have the least. Thus, we already live in a semi-socialist economy designed to help those who struggle.

It is equally important to note that equal hard work is not always rewarded by equal good pay. The wealthiest people in America are not necessarily any harder-working or better citizens than the poorest. They just work different types of jobs.

After most corporations take their deductions, they pay hardly any tax at all. A recent Government Accountability Office study stated that about two-thirds of U.S. companies and foreign firms doing business in this country paid no federal income taxes from 1998 to 2005. Many of the nonpayers were small or new companies that probably made no money. But the report said that about a quarter of large corporations - ones that had more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in gross receipts - paid no taxes. In 2005, for instance, 3,565 large U.S. companies and 998 large foreign-owned companies operating here did not pay any income taxes.
So what is the answer? Obama's ideas to give a break to the lower 95% or McCain's ideas to give a tax break to the upper 5%? Both have merits and the answer is probably somewhere in between.

My feeling of our limited choices in this election are as follows:

1) I believe Obama has a real chance at improving our relations with the rest of the world and has already shown a remarkable ability to motivate people toward being engaged in our political process. One of the biggest problems we have is a lack of involvement. Being opinionated in comments (like this one) is not participation in the system, only barking at the surface. Obama, whether for or aginst him, makes people want to be involved. A Goverment is a body of people, usually notably ungoverned. Governement corruption can only exist by virtue of the inaction of the constituency.

2) McCain stands a fairly high chance of dying in office and Palin doesn't seem qualified to lead. She also comes across as a nasty and spiteful person who is generally uninformed about the issues and the history of politics in America... at least she is when she is without flash cards. She may have a bright future in politics but this is simply too early for her. If McCain wanted a qualified woman he could have chosen Olympia Snowe or Kae Baily Hutchinson or any of a myriad of other well-qualified female politicians.

3) One's personal religious ideologies should NOT be written into the Constitution, something the right has been threatening to do so for years, claming a morailty war in America. Any judge that would enact a law of the land based on a religious principle is an activist judge. I do not infringe on the rights and lives of others and am rewarded by being able to make my own choices. That's the greatness of America. We do not exclude. We do not create a national religion, figuratively or literally. The Constitution is a sacred document used to grant freedom, not to take freedom away. Palin's ideals, oft-touted by the Republican agenda, represent the extreme right. McCain has been abiding the party line and I believe he would continue to do so as President.
The morality war isn't about religion, anyway.

I would argue that our morals are bankrupted by lack of comprehesive education (inluding sexual biology education) aimed at revealing our commonalities as people, as men and women, and as citizens in an increasingly global community, regardless of faith, color, sex, or preferences.
Morality is put at risk by the use of entertainment media as a replacement for involved parenting, the continual extension of the average work week and need for two-income family situations, CREDIT CARDS, and lack of dscipline and an overage of hubris that our coutry fosters, i.e., an undeserved sense of personal entitlement.

Entitlement problems can be seen in small doses, daily, when people loudly have private conversations on cell phones as if there isn't a world of other people around them, or phone while driving, or fail to use turn signals to inform the other drivers of their intent, or to drive over the speed limit and tailgate those who obey the traffic laws.

You see the personal entitlement when people fail to say a simple "Thank You" when rendered goods and services by baristas. You see personal entitlement issues when those same baristas don't even bother to say hello to the customers who keep them employed.
Morality is at risk when we teach our kids that it's better to have a new PS3 and big-screen TV today, on credit, than to save money and reward ourselves with such things once we can acually afford them.

Morality is at risk when we actively promote and endorse the reality television shows that profit from misery and create situations to hurt and divide people. All the networks air them, we all watch them, and networks get paid advertising dollars for our sick attention span.
Morality is at risk when we teach our children that a salty meal in a wrapper with a fun toy, on the go, is more desireable than something fresh from the earth that takes hard work and patience to grow.

And in our economy, morality is at risk when we teach our children that, if they are lucky and hard-working enough to get rich, it is better to horde their wealth than to use it to help the less-fortunate.

Personally, if I ever increase my income enough to make $250,000 per year, I won't be too worried about "getting by" on the $130,000 or so that I wiould be allowed to keep after taxes. That's still a lot of money... a lot more than I'm getting by on now. We don't need much to live happily.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Illusion of Control

Dear Friends,

By now you must all realize that Democrat and Republican are brand names. They are corporations, selling a product. The very fact that independent parties are virtually shut out of the election process, regardless of how well their values and ideals would represent We The People, should tell you that our country is owned, not made. The Debate Commission is, predictably, run by a combination of Democrats and Republicans.

The fact that G.W. Bush was allowed into office (and accepted the office) on a technicality instead of the true popular vote should tell you we have been hijacked. The fact that, in this modern age, the Electoral College system (in most cases) gives all of a state’s votes to one candidate, even if the actual vote comes out 49% to 51%, should tell you we have no real power here.

The fact that wealthy and influential “Superdelegates” have more say than the regular delegates should tell you our elections are bought and sold.

The only difference I see in this poly-monopoly election is that McCain would lead us in the direction of more oil-for-power and no-bid contracts for his buddies to harvest it and reap the profits. Obama has a vague chance of moving our power-hungry eyes toward the Earth’s vast supply of wind, water, and sun.

So between McCain, a member of the Ruling Class, and Obama, a superstar of the Hollywood Court, which puppet would We The Groundlings like to see? I’ll take the black guy who is more likeable to rest of the world. He will, at least, LOOK different, standing at the helm of hubris, than another rich white guy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FOX News Reports that Biden Will Quit the Ticket

Read the article here:

I would be willing to bet that people at FOX News started this rumor, as they are the official headquarters for the campaign firm of Palin, Palin, McCain, and Palin.

McCain was supposed to appear on Late Night with David Letterman tonight, but bowed out due to an urgent need to return to Washington. Instead of urgently returning to Washington, he was giving an interview with Katie Couric at NBC... at very time that he was scheduled to appear at the Late Night studios.

There again, maybe Biden started the rumor of his extraction. Maybe he realizes how many misguided statements he has been making lately. This poor fool actually said, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television...." He was off by a few years on the President, and the fact that We The People didn't really have televisions. All that experience and no common sense. Biden should use the Sarah Palin doctrine: avoid the Press and don't-open-mouth-without-script.

We The People are doomed to be "represented" by political puppets. That being so, I'd vote Kermit the Frog/Miss Piggy any day of the week. They could grab the hippies from the The Electric Mayhem for their cabinet and appoint explosive enthusiast Crazy Harry as Secretary of War. At least we'd have an administration of color. Bunson Hunnydew and Beaker could develop alternate forms of energy and Sam The Eagle could represent for the Right Wing.

In the immortal words of Rowlf the Dog, "The urge is righteous but the face is wrong; I hope that something better comes along."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Heather Malick versus the RWSM

Heather Malick's controversial quotes regarding Sarah Palin:

(1)"She added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn't already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America's name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right."

(2)"Palin has a toned-down version of the porn actress look favoured by this decade's woman, the overtreated hair, puffy lips and permanently alarmed expression."

The way we read this commentary, Malick is saying in (1) that Republicans often achieve the vote of the undereducated in America's outhern states, often referred to as 'hillbillies', 'hicks', or 'white trash'. This much is fairly accurate, though by no means a representation of the overall Republican constituency.

In (2), Malick seems to compare Palin's dressing style to an unfortunate trend. Now, we don't see this "porn-style" fashion trend in Palin. We would say Palin dresses more like a modern version of the 1950's. Red Scare and all.

Do we agree with Malick's opinions? No.

Do we think this opinion column has been, typically, blown out of porportion by the Right Wing? Absolutely.

The Right Wing Spin Machine, in their fair-and-balanced way, has no problem repeatedly using the metonymy of Barack Obama's middle name in order to verbally equate him with a bloody middle-eastern extremist dictator. "Hussein" may be Barack Obama's middle name but no one from the Conservative constituency is writing "John Sidney McCain" to compare John McCain to the Old English words meaning "wide well-watered land" or "Sarah Louise Heath Palin" in order to equate Sarah Palin with a popular chocolate bar. They hardly use McCain or Palin's middle names at all because it doesn't give them the spin they need to equate Barack Obama with a Muslim terrorist.

But opinion-based commentary is what it is and as long as one does not pose as a reporter we don't really care what they say.

We also don't care if Sarah Palin can field-strip an elk and change a diaper at the same time. We want to know when Sarah Palin will provide improvised answers to improvised questions from the free press. She can shoot a moose, but can she shoot from the hip?

We want to know how she feels about global economics and America continuing to borrow money from Communist China in lieu of paying taxes.

We want to know if she thinks I should pay the bailout salaries of failed executives who each made more money last month than I will see in my entire lifetime.

We want to know that, our daughters were raped, they wouldn't be forced to pay $1200 for their rape kits or forced to bear the child of their violators... or to seek out back-alley men with coathangers.

We want to know if our children would be taught how their bodies work instead of just being told "don't" (a method so effective Palin's own teenage daughter got pregnant from it).

We want to know if Palin would uproot the privacy rights of our law-abiding friends who happen to be homosexuals.

We want to know how many shady deals she would try to cover up with the "Executive Privilege" excuse (as a servant of We The People).
Would Palin amend the Constitution to make the ideals of her personal religion national law?
Would Palin go to war with Iran or North Korea or Russia when we can barely sustain the war we're already fighting?

We don't care about lipstick and pigs, Saturday Night Live, or independent writers making fun of Palin's hair or McCain's age. We want facts about Sarah Palin's political positions... from a campaign that seems to be avoiding facts at all costs.
Read Heather Malick's entire opinion/satire column in question, instead of the RWSM's version of it, here:

The Right Wing Spin Machine (RWSM)

1) Communist China.

Republicans constantly whine about "Tax and Spend" ecomomics. They also constantly whine about Democrats being Socialists and some extremists go so far as to call them Communists. The problem? Much of the money America is borrowing, in order to avoid paying taxes, is coming from Communist China. So Republicans would cut taxes even if it means supporting an openly-Communist government.

If we, as Americans, are interested in spending money on our own interests, shouldn't that money come from us? Or would we rather just charge up our collective credit card until our Grandchildren have more debt than opportunity? And furthermore, if we are going to actively borrow money, shouldn't it come from Democratic governments?

What's it gonna be, kids?

2) Hollywood.

Why does the Right Wing care what these people think? According to them, Hollywood is full of drunks who run into trees and show off their privates. But while belittling the court of Hollywood on the one hand, the Right Wing chooses to use them as an example of liberal bias and drones on about how they're unfairly biased toward leftism.

What does the mighty Religious Right expect from Hollywood? Movie entertainers are, typically, people who aren't afraid to flash their asses at the public. They are often people who aren't embarassed to be garrish or outspoken. Other types of people, those prone to shame (like die-hard Christians for example) often can't commit to portrayal of challenging characters and situations because they are often too concerned with how they will be viewed by God and Family. It doesn't mean they are either good people or bad people. They're simply not the Hollywood type.

That being said, the constituency of the Right Wing doesn't seem to have any problem paying millions of dollars per year to watch these same entertainers behave in these awful ways. The typically Republican-biased television mogul FOX will take billions in advertising dollars every year to broadcast Holywood television shows, not to mention the Infotainment programs that over-examine every portion of Hollywood performers' smutty lives. You can't have it both ways, friends. If you're going to profit from debauchery, you have no right to complain about the form it takes.

3) The Democrat Congress.

Republicans are happy to call out the Democratic Congress for failing to take action in their majority during the last two years. But what about the twelve years before that? Republicans have been in charge for a long time. What have they been doing? Spending money borrowed from Communist China. Sure, these Democrats, full of promise, have spent more time trying to one-up GWB than they have addressing the issues that concern us. But the RWSM would have us believe that our problems are all their fault.

4) FOX News says Democrats are Racists.

Today I watched FOX News ("Hannity and Colmes") say that 4% of Democrats have negative feelings about African-Americans. An hour later on "On The Record" they said it was 25%. And later on The O'Reilly Factor they say 1/3 (33.3% repeating for all the non-mathmaticians like me). So within the course of two hours, FOX News' "Democrats-as-racists" figure goes up almost 20 percentage points. Hey Bill O'Reilly... how much spin is supposed to exist in the no-spin zone? Get consistent, dude.

5) Al Franken and FOX News.

Look. We've never really liked Al Franken's comedy very much. Some of us enjoyed his book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" but most of his old SNL 'Weekend Update' appearances failed to make us laugh.

The Right-Wing Spin Machine wants to kick at him for their recent sketch wherein McCain approves political messages based on half-truths.

McCain's campaign has published easily-disproven "facts" and the idea that the honorable John McCain of the Straight-Talk Express would approve campaign messages with out-and-out lies is a legitimate topic and an easy parody.

We also take exception with all the Conservatives who make a point of saying "Barak Hussein Obama" when speaking of the Democrat nominee. We don't say "Sarah Louise Heath Palin" or "John Sidney McCain". The only reason the Republican Spin Machine mentions Obama's middle name is to equate him with a mass-murdering dictator - installed by one of our former Republican administrations, incidentally.

6) Democrats and the Two-Party Monopoly.

Yes, we know "mono" means "one". It's a joke.

We The People are looking for elected officials who represent our collective interests. Democrats don't always fit the bill and neither do Republicans. Sometimes the Green Party represents us. Sometimes it's the Libertarians. Sometimes the Constitution Party is best-equipped for the job. Do any of these parties get to participate? No. They get shut out of debates and ridiculed by the two-party media. I want a person to represent my interests... not a corporation. The Democrat Party and the Republican Party might as well be corporations, seeing as how they actively try to sell a product. Our Founding Fathers weren't interested in dual-party control. They were interested in free discourse.

This government was bought and sold a long time ago. The Electoral College is a means to keep the voters from being accurately represented. Think about it. Let's say, for example, we have a state with four Electoral College points. 25% of We The People in that state vote for Candidate X. All four of the state's electoral college votes go to Candidate Z instead of a more accurate three. That means that one quarter of the population of the state is not being accurately represented in the national picture. It is a dangerous oversimplification of majority rule that causes candidates to see the United States as 50 "contests".

If every Electoral College vote had to be earned, candidates would have to work harder for votes and thereby consider more viewpoints of The People they seek to serve.