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Hey Kiddo, Can Ya Help A Poor Old Country Get Back On Her Feet?

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What has become of this country when the best that we have to put forth is a George Bush or the likes of a John Kerry? What have we become when we rate our leaders by who can make the most incredible, unsubstantiated claims against their opponents faster than they can be authenticated?

Will history, in a hundred years, be as kind as we have been with our leaders of a hundred years past or will the ball unravel and reveal the contemptible truth. The conspiracy theorists of our time have warned us, but we would believe as we would rather live our lives like a blind man eating an apple ravaged by worms, satisfied with the taste, not seeing the substance?

Could we have admired any man so much, could he have made such a first-look impression that no matter what rides in his wake, we keep our eye on the man? Never mind the trail of rotted garbage left behind, fodder for his followers, so appreciative for the meal. Has no one ever stepped in front of him, face to face, and challenged his motives, questioned his sincerity? We all know that he must be a good man. How else could he have gained such stature; how could his God love him so much?

I suppose, judged on a political curve, he is average, at best, but how can he maintain even that stature without being aware of his subjects' dilemma? Is it because he’s so wealthy, he could never conceive of the lives he lives above? Is this the reason that we’ve gradually come to expect so little from so many? Could all who reach those plateaus have forgotten the life, or never experienced the lives of those not at their heights? Do they not care to look back and remember or do they refuse to learn and relate for fear of being burdened with the responsibility to become just and remedy society's ills?

Maybe this is how we’ve evolved to a world where politicians and CEO's live their lives in un-deniably excessive luxury, while assuming that we all enjoy such trappings — just on a lower scale. What is it called when one CEO's bonus is over fifteen hundred times an average employees yearly income? Would anything change if each of them had to experience a year as an average American, making weekly earnings stretch to pay rent, throwing away such a valuable commodity as equity as they can afford no other choice? Or using a high-interest credit card to make car payments on their precious third owner, barely affordable automobile while praying that those tires hold out for two more paychecks, and that’s only if the check written for groceries yesterday clears the bank, because one more NSF charge will pull them under? Would anything be different?

That is not the exception, that is the rule. Can this be fixed? I believe it can. As quickly as the government loves to give tax cuts to big business and as they say ”small business is the backbone of America, would it not be appropriate to “put their money where their mouth is" and assist so-called lower middle class workers with additional funds or benefits? Big business has had all of the breaks they need, they’ve proven only that they have the happiest and most well-fed CEO’s around. Maybe it's time to force their hand, not with pathetic band-aids such as token minimum wages. This is not an answer, it's an insult.

A rock band once wrote a song called “Eat the Rich." I would prefer it doesn’t come to that, as the fat bastards would probably taste rather gamey, or maybe I’m being too harsh. They might be as succulent as veal if prepared properly. But surely this is the final resort. When the greedy have much more than can be used for anything more than their own personal consumption, it’s time to gut the pig. Capitalism is a wonderful concept as long as it retains its humanity. Without heart it is no more than a board game where one person wins all, and everyone else is left homeless. I would hope that our society is above all of that. Government by the wealthy, for the wealthy, without regard, without compassion, no matter what form of government one calls itself, can only be called a plutocracy. It's time to flush the toilet.

How can a country concerned so much with people being treated unjustly on the other side of the world be so oblivious to her own? How can a government of well-to-do people be so cold as to draw up charts and balances to show how a family of four can live comfortably on twenty thousand dollars a year? I would think that they would be shamed by the insult to their own integrity, hiding behind their little charts and figures of life in the real world where there are dire financial emergencies, automobile breakdowns, illness, no vacations, their only luxury being to break down and buy much needed new clothes, barely living a modest life with the never ending threat of financial disaster. Not the kind of disaster such as a failing stock but the terrifying threat of homelessness. Why would one rather live a life of excessive opulence than to know that, because of their humanity, there are people who have been lifted up to a standard they‘ve never known, people who have worked hard, most likely at least as hard as they themselves, and are finally getting a small taste of what America has promised.

I can’t imagine that anything said here is new to anyone. To the same “old money” pencil pushers who had to walk twenty miles a day, uphill both ways, barefoot, through the freezing snow to get to school, I say an emphatic “Fuck You”! I didn’t buy the story about the fish and the bread or the water to wine, and I’m surely not going to even consider listening to your unmitigated bullshit. And to anyone earning two hundred thousand dollars a year in that “small” business and not paying your lowest paid employee at least a healthy livable wage with benefits, shame!

Lately I’ve even heard many of the Hollywood crowd, some of the more politically active, admit that, as rich people, they think it’s deplorable how they are privy to special tax cuts and benefits. I believe that, as public figures who are aware of these problems, it should fall on their shoulders to make themselves more aware of just how deeply, beyond just tax issues, the problems of finances affect so many of the population. There is no one else who has the publics ear who can rally support to cure this disease of society. This is a cause for a major movement.

There were elections this week and there was a major upset in congress, many Democrats replaced Republicans in the house and the senate. Iraq is the major platform for most of the candidates. Herein lies the problem. There are dozens of issues, not a single candidate has offered any sort of example of their solution for the underpaid middle class. Will bringing the troops home fix our unemployment problem? Oh yeah, we don't have an unemployment problem, unemployment is down. Until you take into consideration those who’ve been on the unemployment roster until it ran out for them, or count all of the troops called to duty leaving a vacancy to fill. Count them and watch the numbers rise. Bring them home and unemployment skyrockets. Or until you count employees who lost a twenty thousand a year job, which is almost as lousy as a salary can get, only to settle for a twelve thousand dollar a year job for lack of anything better. Maybe for that person unemployment is down, but so are his wages. Another problem fixed with a pencil on paper. You can take a pencil to paper and draw me as Elvis but when we meet, the reality would be a disappointment, as is our economy for the real so-called middle class. This is the biggest issue facing our country and is the least addressed.

This country can be what it was always supposed to be with very little effort. If government and big business worked together realizing that their greatest commodity is the American worker and offered tax breaks, rewards, and raises to help them have an opportunity at a decent life. I believe that this country would come alive, as a living, breathing entity. No one could touch us. We could once again be the nation we used to be, united and proud, and our citizens would jump at the chance to serve in the military to combat unjust dictatorships and murderous regimes wherever they may arise.
What I wouldn’t give to see it happen in my lifetime.

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About Peter

  • RedTard

    Interesting ideas laid out, the question is how to do that.

    Answer. Be conservative, shift back from income and sales taxes to property taxes a few percentage points like the good old days. (once property taxes were about 75% of state and local revenue now it’s down to 20% or so) Rich people may be able to minimize sales tax and disquise income, but they must own some form of property to be considered wealthy in the first place.

    Income taxes target people who are out there working to earn income, punishing them for their efforts. The really wealthy are very good at hiding their assets and minimizing their income through deductions, trusts, corporations, and loopholes. The rich take an occasional capital gain at very low rates and then pass the rest of their estate to the kids where the value resets in another massive loophole.

    I believe property taxes have the most potential to be fair. Unfortunately, wealthy landowners have passed laws weaseling out of paying their fair share over the years. In Texas it’s really out of whack. A $100K house in a lower-middle neighborhood may pay two or three times as much in taxes as a multimillion dollar piece of developable land or the close to that of a high dollar country estate held by the rich.

    If the exemptions and limitations were removed, the new property taxes would lower returns on the investment and lower the price of raw land helping almost everyone except the passive investor. Additionally, the increased revenue would lead to a lower overall rate for homeowners, renters, and your average middle class guy.

    It’s only one step in the right direction, but one that the average person doesn’t seem to be cognizant of.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    unemployment is down. Until you take into consideration those who’ve been on the unemployment roster until it ran out for them, or count all of the troops called to duty leaving a vacancy to fill. Count them and watch the numbers rise. Bring them home and unemployment skyrockets.

    Actually, mathematically the number of troops in Iraq is small enough that it wouldn’t raise unemployment above 5% even if none of them got jobs on their return, and since we’re using so many reservists and national guardsmen which is otherwise a pretty bad idea, the upside is that they do have jobs waiting for them at home.

    Dave

  • Peter J

    It is a good step Red but what’s up w/ taxes where it’s so out of wack that a 100k pays so much more?
    You are definitely right about income taxes penalizing the working man and thats why I favor flat tax with an automatic 30,000. deduction. Everyone gets the same break and someone earning 30 or less get off. I think that’s only fair since the poor working stiffs have gotten so fucked for so long. Also it won’t hurt the guy who’s only at the 100k mark, these days that’s not rich either but thes CEO’s making a mil plus 10 mil in bonuses and options can finally do their do,and assets at a certain point ONLY should be considered for taxation.

    These aren’t amounts that can be considered on a blog since many people who are in a certain bracket get the idea that they’re being targeted for a plucking, that’s not the idea at all.I think a lot of people earning 100k and have some assets for a rainy day or even for kicks shouldn’t be penalized and I don’t especially think a total redistribution of wealth is the answer.
    There has to be a middle ground where people are comfortable and can take care of family without getting screwed but there are those who make millions a year and have many millions in assets and are not and have not paid their fair share, with bought tax breaks and loop holes only they can afford. (see my link on excessively wealthy) They know who they are, there the ones who panic when this shit begins to be taken seriously.

    People have gotten the notion in this country that if your a Republican that your for the filthy rich and in the same vein if a Democrat then you must be a left wing pinko. There are extremes in either party and if everyone would quit going for the jugular we may break down the walls of communication which the filthy rich love to see and perpetuate at every chance. There needs to be considerations, many discussions,and public participation in the final decisions.Something needs to be done , obviously. We can’t allow our country to turn into a third world shit hole where the majority are working for a few and are constantly one paycheck away from homelessness. Wait a minute, that’s almost where we’re at now.

  • Peter J

    You may be right Dave, I’d be willing to concede they may account for .10% or more, or less since you didn’t tell me where you’ve gotten your information. Now, if you’ll see my link on unemployment and maybe we can meet half way on those figures.

  • RedTard

    “It is a good step Red but what’s up w/ taxes where it’s so out of wack that a 100k pays so much more?”

    Under the exemption, land is not valued at market price but at what it’s farmer or ranching potential is. When you crunch the numbers out it comes to $300-500/acre of value. A 100 acre field might be valued at $50K and pay half what a small home would.

    In order to get the credit you must put a couple cows, a horse, a treefarm or some such somewhere on the property. It’s intersting to see a green stretch between suburbs in Dallas and see cows grazing a few feet from where new subdivisions are going in but it happens all the time. Some farmers near the area actually get paid to haul in tractors and farm the land to make sure the owners keep their exemption because it is that valuable.

  • Clavos

    Red,

    And Texas, like Florida, doesn’t have an income tax; yet both states do just fine without it. Florida has run a surplus several times now.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    You may be right Dave, I’d be willing to concede they may account for .10% or more, or less since you didn’t tell me where you’ve gotten your information.

    Just basic math. You seem to have made the same calculation. They make up 1/1000th of the workforce, so they would be a tiny blip in unemployment even at the low level it’s at now.

    Now, if you’ll see my link on unemployment and maybe we can meet half way on those figures.

    All I saw was the link on underemployment. Did I miss something?

    IMO the way we really ought to assess employment is to look at the number of people who are employed relative to the total population over a given period of time. Of course, that’s still not entirely reliable, because there are people who voluntarily move in and out of the workforce.
    I think it’s also valuable to look at things like job vacancies. I know the rest of the country isn’t in exactly the same situation, but around here everyone is hiring and some businesses are having problems because they can’t get the workers they need to operate efficiently and can’t hold on to those they do get.

    So for a valid impression of the unemployment situation you have to look at all these factors. And when you do – and I have – they seem to fall in line with the standard unemployment figure. The number of people who’ve stopped looking for work isn’t up dramatically, jobs are going begging, and the total number in the workforce is up in a similar proportion to unemployment being down (all this can be found on the bls). That makes me tend to believe the unemployment figure. It’s rough, but it’s not wrong.

    Dave

  • STM

    STM’s handy home political hints for Americans, #342: I have the answer for you blokes and it’s one of the reasons why I send my personal condolences every 4th of July to my friends in America on the anniversary of their great mistake in breaking away from the British Empire …

    You’ve all been very naughty but it’s never too late.

    Now, the big problem, as far as I can see, is you need a Queen (a proper one) or a King.

    See, that way, you can have a head of state who is regal and beyond reproach, and then an elected government that is free to name its own leader as Prime Minister.

    If the Government doesn’t like the way the leader is performing, it can gang up on him (or her) and find someone else even while it’s in power.

    Also, if the government is playing up badly and doing things that put the nation’s wellbeing at risk, the Queen (or in the case of countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, her representative, the Governor-General) can give the Government the boot and call another election so the people can give the buggers a nice bit of comeuppance.

    You need someone ABOVE the president who can tell him or her to stop farting around and behave like a sensible human being. You also need a COMMON LAW constitition that is fluid and changes with the times (the government makes a decision, and the courts tell it to f.ck off because it impinges people’s rights. No Guantanamo Bay or 200-year-old second amendment designed for militia units here!).

    So, what might have seemed like a great idea 200 years ago is now actually a millstone around your necks.

    So all I can say is, get George on the eau de cologne and give Liz a quick call at Buck House and ask if she’d be up for it. I’m sure she would, as they’ve already played The Star Spangled Banner during the changing of the guard, and bob’s yer uncle … great new political system with as much if not more democracy than your own!

    Just imagaine that. Arise, Sir George. Ah, yes, if only history had been kinder to America all those years ago. You would also get the opportunity to have a proper flag in the corner of yours to replace those silly stars.

    What do you think, eh? The Union Jack and Stripes (similar to the current state flag of Hawaii) … fantastic stuff.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    STM, the people and the constitution are what we have above the President.

    As for the 2nd Amendment, we need it now even more than we did 200 years ago.

    A ‘common law’ constitution is just a pretext for government to do whatever the hell it wants.

    The fundamental difference between our system and yours is that in ours the rights of the people originate in nature/god and are inherent and the people choose to form a government to protect those rights. In your system the government chooses what rights to grant to the people and can take them away at whim.

    Dave

  • STM

    “The fundamental difference between our system and yours is that in ours the rights of the people originate in nature/god and are inherent and the people choose to form a government to protect those rights. In your system the government chooses what rights to grant to the people and can take them away at whim.”

    Firstly, Dave, I’d say grow a sense of humour and lighten up a tad; secondly, I’d say what a load of utter hot cock and bullshit. Take your hand off it old boy while you can still see your screen.

    What rights have I ever had taken away from me except those you never had in the first place (like the generous workplace, wages and industrial relations legislation thrashed out over 100 years, the removal of which to an American system giving power to the the bosses will almost certainly bring about the fall of the Howard government at the next ELECTION)? What, we don’t express our will by choosing a government? Fuck me, Dave, now you’ve really gone off the rails.

    If you think a common-law constitition gives government the right to do whatever it wants, perhaps this time you DO need to go back and do your homework. A common law constitition works for the people, not only the government, and is expressed anyway as the will of the people. The courts have a huge influence on it, as they do in the US. Go back and have a look at the English Bill of Rights from the 15th century and see where your own Constitition has its basis. Where does Habeus Corpus come from, Dave?

    I do put up with some Americans talking in cliches and bragging every day here (in my workplace) about how good they are at everything and I generally keep my gob shut, but I do get mighty pissed off about Americans who don’t know – and there are plenty – and who think they’ve got more rights than people in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand or Britain. (and plenty of other countries for that matter, Dave).

    They don’t. In fact, I believe Americans are conned into believing they have more rights but they actually have less, although it all depends on how you view it I suppose. Not all of them are silly enough to believe the bullshit, however.

    And also I’m still not convinced everyone has a right to carry a gun. It’s insane thinking in this day and age.

    I also come to this argument from the position of having lived and worked for long periods of time in Britain, Australia and the US, which you don’t mate.