Stop This Tax Assault (If We Can…)

My conservative brethren are not out in force these days defending the GOP tax proposal.  I’ve seen a few – true believers, I guess – trying to defend the proposal with comparisons to the Obama administration.  One will not be surprised to learn the numbers they’re using are faulty.  I saw one “chart” – well, I guess it doesn’t need the quotes – it WAS an actual chart.  Anyway, I saw one chart produced by conservatives that showed the the debt had increased $13 trillion dollars under Obama.  That’s a HUGE number!  I’m glad it isn’t true…

Under the MOST simplistic, LEAST accurate way of measuring, one simply takes the debt at the end of an administration and subtracts the debt at the beginning of that administration and – voila! – some number.  But even if one does that with Obama, the difference is only 9.3 trillion.  The rest is just…add on…for effect, I guess.

The BEST way to do it is to track only the debt created by policy of the administration.  So…for starters, one must exclude the first year of an administration – ANY administration – as THAT budget is set by the previous, outgoing administration.  This is just a fact.  That means that Obama isn’t responsible for the first year of his administration.  It ALSO means Trump doesn’t get “credit” for the first year of his administration, either.  THIS coming budget, this one that promises to do so much damage to so many people?  THIS is Trump’s first budget…

Obama shouldn’t be “blamed” for spending associated with efforts to save the country after the GOP economic collapse.  THAT spending wasn’t “his” idea.  Yes, the debt increased but not because of Obama choices.  For the record, the same is true of 43 and Katrina.  Bush didn’t choose a hurricane.  That just…happened.  Bush still had to spend, though.  THOSE costs don’t “belong” to Bush, see?

George’s Wars, though…well, those costs DO belong to Bush.  I say so because 43 chose those wars.  (What?  Don’t I remember 9/11?  Of course I remember 9/11.  But 43 didn’t invade the country that attacked us, Saudi Arabia.  NOR did he invade the country harboring the “mastermind”, Pakistan.  Even though 9/11 and George’s Wars happened at near times in history, the events were unrelated…)  The wars didn’t end, of course, when 43 left office.  The continuing costs for his wars had to be paid.  Not Obama’s choice, not Obama’s debt.  In fairness, the ongoing costs of those debacles will continue under Trump’s administration, too.  THOSE costs WILL add to Trump’s total debt but STILL “belong” to Bush.  (I know, it’s confusing…)

When one considers only debt incurred as the result of specific administration policy choices, Obama is on the hook for $983 billion over the course of his administration.  By comparison, the GOP tax proposal will “only” add $1.5 trillion dollars over the course of ten years (assuming amazing growth and nothing else going wrong).  But it might be the cruelest trillion dollars in the history of the United States and every dime of it – every penny – will “belong” to the GOP.  The whole thing is being done by choice.

Now, I assume the conservative media bubble is working overtime to convince the rank-and-file that this budget will be AWESOME for them.  But, as I’ve indicated, I haven’t seen that many loyalists out there defending the indefensible.  I’m not sure the bubble has succeeded in deceiving enough adherents.  It’s not the first time something like this has happened.  When the GOP tried to take away people’s health care in outright fashion, the conservative rank-and-file pushed back.  They were all too happy to get rid of that boondoggle “Obamacare” but they weren’t about to give up their “Affordable Care Act” care…

I imagine the true fight in our country has been revealed by this budget proposal.  This is not a fight between left and right and it never has been that fight.  It’s a fight between the one percent and the ninety-nine percent and the one percent have dropped all pretense, at this point.  “Fuck you, we’re taking all the money” is a pretty clear message.  So…will the conservative rank-and-file stick an ice pick in their own eye because rich people told them they should?  I hope not and I don’t think so.

I also hope my non-Trump supporting peeps won’t finger-waggle at conservatives.  (“Oh, what do you think of your choice NOW?”)  This is not the opportunity for ‘I-told-you-so.’  I suspect conservatives see what’s happening TO them – right along with everyone else – because they’re not out yelling that “libtards” are stupid and we should all take a course in economics.  I suspect they realize it’s happening to them because they put their faith in people who misled and lied to them.  I’d like to take a page out of the snowflake playbook and give them the space to have been mistaken with dignity.  Even though conservatives, themselves, might reject the notion, we need to give them a “safe space” to come out into.

As it happens, we’re going to NEED our conservative brethren to stand with us.  When liberals call Congress to complain, some conservative lawmakers actually get happy.  If they piss off a liberal, well, they’ve done their good deed for the day.  It makes them feel as though they’re on the right track.  But if conservatives start calling, they’ll know they’ve got a problem.  If they lose the “base”, they might lose their jobs and the only thing GOP lawmakers love more than a shiny penny is themselves.

I’ll tell you this: Conservative or Progressive, if you’re in the 99%, you NEED to start calling your Congress critter and tell them to vote ‘No’ on this looming monstrosity…or suffer the consequences…

A Failed Tax Strategy…Again…

Conservatives really hate this country.  Oh, sure, they love the flag.  They love the National Anthem.  But they hate the actual country.  Not the landscape.  They like that, too.  It’s the Constitution they hate…except for the Second Amendment, of course.  Conservatives have hated the Constitution of the United States going all the way back to Jefferson.  As a result, conservatives have worked to undermine the Constitution…going all the way back to Jefferson.  Lying and casting unfounded aspersions became the norm for them and has remained that way going all the way back to Jefferson.

They didn’t have much luck in the beginning.  Talk is cheap and too many people continued to put their faith in facts.  Between 1789 and the 1920’s, conservatives managed to keep the vast majority of the country desperately poor but they couldn’t do much damage to the actual institutions of government.  The “Roaring Twenties” showed the folly of putting one’s faith in finance and the 1930’s saw conservatives dealt a huge blow in their goal of undermining the country when FDR introduced the “New Deal.”

America blossomed.  Controlled Capitalism and high taxes on the wealthy created the greatest economy the world had ever known.  It was a tough time for conservatives – being forced to live in a successful economy that shouldn’t have worked if their economic hypotheses were correct.  (They weren’t.  They still aren’t.)

Then came Vietnam.

It happened that the population of the United States, as a group, had become so powerful, economically, they refused to go fight wars that have nothing to do with protecting America.  The people at the top of the economic food chain – those who profit from such little military adventures – determined at that moment that the New Deal had to go.  Enter Ronald Reagan.

St. Reagan led an entirely new assault on the country.  Prior to Reagan, we had two parties.  Whichever party was out of power was known, generally, as the “loyal opposition.”  Yes, conservatives hate the Constitution but they were loyal to the country.  Reagan taught them to be disloyal.  Reagan taught them to speak openly about how much they hate and mistrust the government.  But Reagan was just the foot in the door.

In 1996, the US was first subjected to Fox “News”, the mouthpiece of conservative thought.  The two biggest investors were an Australian and a Saudi prince.  They clearly had no loyalty to the United States and Fox “News” has never been reticent to dirt-talk the country.  To this day, Fox “News” shapes the thoughts of conservative across the land.  An entire conservative media machine has been built – each piece seemingly trying to outdo the last when it comes to hating America.

It’s a tough time for thinking people – being forced to struggle in a failing economy that doesn’t work because it’s based on conservative economic hypotheses.  Worse, though, when conservatives decided to attack with an all-out assault, they swept aside whatever honor they may have once had.  Gerrymandering, rigged “elections”, obstructionism, and outright contempt became the order of the day.

Today, conservatives are closer than they’ve ever been to destroying this once-great nation permanently.  They’ve corrupted the voting process.  They’ve undermined institutions, programs, and operations that benefit the vast majority.  This new “tax reform” bill threatens to be the death-blow.  They must be so happy…

Reagan’s first “tax reform” slashed rates on the top incomes and the economy immediately suffered.  Reagan was forced to raise taxes but this time, the tax rate was raised on the middle class.  This process has been repeated every few years.  Conservatives like to come in and shift the tax burden from people who can pay and won’t suffer for paying to people who suffer mightily to pay.  Each time they do it, the overall economy suffers.

Clinton and Obama actually raised taxes on the wealthy and in each case the result was a stronger economy.  Conservatives STILL choose tax cuts for the wealthy.  The process has never worked anywhere on the planet any time in history?  Oh, well, maybe THIS time will be the magic moment…

I can’t remember a time when the GOP has been so blatant in their determination to comfort the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted.  I’ll tell you this: I think it’s absolutely vital to stop them.  We’ve moved beyond politics.  Now we need to fight for the very survival of this once-great nation…



The Fed hiked the rate by a quarter point this month.  It’s the second jump this year.  Traditionally, the Fed boosts rates to cool inflation but economists seem to agree that inflation isn’t a problem right now, so why the hike?  I have an informed, well-considered hypothesis – in short, a wild guess – but if I was to put a single word to the why, that word would be “anticipation”.

While everybody is fixated on the latest antics of our national embarrassment, Congress critters are doing their thing, which means serving the specialized interests of the privileged elite.  Hey, another round of tax cuts for the wealthy!  Maybe it will work this time!  (Spoilers: it works EVERY time, assuming one’s goal is to make a few rich people richer at the expense of everyone else…)

The American Health Care Act is moving forward.  (It’s perfectly named, too.  “Health care?!?  Screw you, we’re Americans!”)  No, I haven’t read it.  Apparently, neither has anybody else.  The Republicans aren’t letting anyone near it.  But the speculation based on what’s floating around out there right now is that it cuts 24 million Americans (or more) off from health insurance in order to give a few rich people a tax cut.  And THAT’S before they get to work on “tax reform” so they can give a few rich people a tax cut!

“Crazy Paul’s Tax Cut Emporium” (Nee: Congress) is hard at work cutting, cutting, cutting.  “C’mon down to Crazy Paul’s Tax Cut Emporium where our slogan is: ‘No tax rate is too low if you’ve got the dough!”  I get it.  The evidence is in and it’s pretty clear – indisputable, even.  The more the taxes are cut for the wealthy, the more money the rich people hoard.  The more money the rich people hoard, the less money there is flowing through the economy.  The less money there is flowing through the economy, the harder day-to-day living is for everybody who ISN’T rich…so why wouldn’t one cut taxes?

It’s like that kids game ‘Duck, Duck, Goose!’ except this is ‘Cut, Cut, Crash!’  Cut.  Rich people don’t spend because they’ve long-since acquired everything they might possibly want/need.  Cut.  Poor people don’t spend because, well, they’re poor and they don’t have anything TO spend.  Cut.  The middle class?  Well, the middle class has been gutted to the point where they’re not economically strong enough to carry the weight of the nation any longer but THEY stop spending because they fear for their positions.  Businesses stop spending because everybody else stopped spending.  CRASH!  …and it’s pandemonium!

That’s when the Fed steps in.  One of the tools in the Fed bag of tricks is to lower interest rates in an effort to stimulate the economy.  But the Fed has been lending at or near zero interest for a long time, now – all in response to the weakened economy brought about by previous games of Cut, Cut, Crash!  So where do you go when you’re already AT zero?  (Yes, they CAN drop to “negative interest” but that literally means paying people to borrow and it’s not solid economic policy…)

So rates are rising.  Slowly, to be sure, but pretty much as quickly as the Fed thinks they can do so without harming the economy themselves.  And what was that word?  Oh, that’s right: “anticipation”, as in, the Fed is anticipating a crash in the near future and working to position itself to respond.

I’ll tell you this: if the Fed sees it coming and is moving to protect its position, you might want to take a cue and do the same…

A Tax Plan I Can Support…

I’d like to share a few thoughts on the subject of taxes because, of course, many of us have just ponied up to Uncle Sam.  I’m not anti-tax.  Mostly, I disagree with my conservative brethren about taxes because I know they represent the life blood of our government.  Sure, taxes suck but lack of income for important things sucks more.

There’s always the chorus of “I don’t want my taxes going to…” whatever.  I get that.  I don’t want MY taxes being used for the Military-Industrial Complex.  (“Military-Industrial Complex” is a euphemism for “corporate military”.)  I think George Carlin gets credit for the comment that the United States is an oil company with an army.  He was right…

Planned Parenthood is under attack by conservatives because up to three percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities include abortions.  Conservatives like to pretend they oppose abortion.  They don’t, in practice.  If actions speak louder than words – and they do – conservatives prefer abortion over teaching children where babies come from and providing the tools to prevent unwanted pregnancies.  You know how I know?  Planned Parenthood is under attack by conservatives because up to three percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities include abortions.  Ninety-seven percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities go to preventing unwanted pregnancies – and, therefore, abortions.  Really, it’s right there in the name: PLANNED Parenthood, see?

So I’d like to reform our tax system.  Not in the “give the overburdened rich people a break” pseudo-reform we hear about so often these days.  I’d like to allow people to direct their taxes to various areas of government concern.  If I could, I’d set up several categories, say six or so.  As part of their filings, people would include percentages to each category for their tax dollars.

Okay, so you have, say, ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Education’, ‘Military’, ‘Law Enforcement’, ‘Health Care’ (Medicare for all, of course), and ‘Social Services’.  (Naturally, we’d have to fight about which categories we’d use and what falls under where…)  The government would have to scrape off say, ten percent of each tax dollar for the general fund but after that, tax money goes to where tax money is directed and that’s the amount that area has to work with…no more.

Are you a hardcore ‘Law and Order’, “My country, right or wrong” type who had ‘other priorities’ when it was YOUR turn to serve?  You might put 50% on ‘Law Enforcement’ and 50% on ‘Military’.  Are you some bleeding heart hippie liberal?  Maybe you’d do 33% each to ‘Education’, ‘Health Care’, and ‘Social Services’.

The truth is, I think if people found themselves truly responsible for such decisions, they’d make some choices that would even surprise themselves.  For example, we have this false idea that conservatives support the military and liberals don’t.  But I don’t know any liberals who would like to see foreign countries overrun the US.  I think liberals would throw a bit on the ‘Military’ pile.  My example, above, didn’t put any money into ‘Infrastructure’ but I’d bet most of us would throw a bit in that direction, too.

There would be some early mistakes, of course, as we try to figure out how this system works in practical application.  Initially, I might under-fund ‘Military’, certain that right-wing hawks will give their all (metaphorically, at least) to the military.  We might over-do the ‘Infrastructure’ for a few years – at least until our roads are navigable and our water drinkable again.  I don’t think it would take long, though, before people started to figure it out and make appropriate adjustments.  For all the recent talk of police abuse, I’d STILL rather live in a society with police than without police, so I’d add a bit to ‘Law Enforcement’.

It  would take a couple of years but pretty soon government spending would reflect the will of the people.  The military-industrial complex couldn’t take more than they have available and I’d bet our public schools would be in MUCH better condition.  How DOES America feel about ‘Social Services’?  Given the option, would we pay more to feed poor American children than to bomb foreign children?  I think we would.

Oh, there’s one more thing: war.  Whenever people make plans about these kinds of things, they often include an exception for war.  “Okay, we’ll give everything to the poor – unless there’s a war, then the rich get to keep it all!”  Bad plan.  The United States is ALWAYS at war or, at least, in “conflict”.  So we would have to add a ‘Conflict Tax’, an additional tax that only kicks in when America is in a conflict somewhere in the world.  It would be a top-down tax.  That is, rich people would pay more.

Is that terrible?  We’re told every time some politician fires off rockets that we had no choice.  The fight is “existential”.  If our very survival depends on the outcome of the fight, people should do everything they can to protect the country, right?  Since it will be poor people doing the fighting and dying, the very least the rich can do is pay for the thing.

I’ll tell you this: I suspect that if people could direct their taxes to the areas of greatest concern to themselves, this country would be a MUCH better place to live.  And if the rich people had to pay for their “conflicts”, I suspect we’d see far fewer of them…

Am I wrong or am I right?

Here They Come Again…

I know that powerful individuals in this and in other states are enemies to a general national government in every possible shape.
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #85

I don’t want to abolish government.  I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.
– Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform, 2001

The GOP is threatening “tax reform” again.  By now, we’ve all seen what they mean by “tax reform”: more for those who need the least, less for those who need the most.  The part that bothers me more than any other is the idea that those who need the most, need the most because of those who need the least.  (Yeah, just linger on that a minute.  It’s important.  I’ll wait.)

The American people are constantly being told that the best plan is to give all the money to the pampered elite and then, magically, everyone will have more money!  It’s always the “magically” part the GOP leaves wanting in detail.  Ask them to flesh out the mechanism of the magic and they mumble.  They treat is as a “no brainer”, which it must be since using one’s brain easily exposes the falsehood of the position.  By now, most of us have noticed that every time this particular piece of…nonsense gets floated, the lower classes suffer.

Schools suffer, infrastructure suffers, emergency services suffer.  Life gets harder for the average American in just about every measurable way.  Rich people just get richer and really don’t understand all the commotion from the rabble.

Reagan launched his ‘Hate America’ scheme quietly.  (“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”)  Ever since, we’ve been treated to the fairy tale of trickle down pseudo-economics.  After 37 years of this, it’s clearly obvious that the only thing that trickles down is misery.

But, apparently, they’re bringing it, anyway.  To this point, the so-called “President” has been thwarted in his biggest efforts.  This, I fear, will be different.  The Putin Puppet benefits personally from tax cuts for the wealthy and the Congress critters benefit personally from tax cuts for the wealthy so everyone with a voice on the subject is on the same page.  Those of us who have to carry the burden of the rich man’s benefits…need not apply.

So…it’s time for the next fight: stop “tax reform”.

Personally, I prefer the “income redistribution” model that made America great in the first place.  I know, I know, I just stepped in it, didn’t I?  I dared use those words that conservatives spit as though “income redistribution” is a bad thing – or, perhaps, as though “income redistribution” isn’t exactly what’s going on via their “tax reform” in the first place.  But I’m also quite aware that the corporate media has been amazingly successful at demonizing the idea of “income redistribution” so I’ll be happy just trying to stop this next round of tax rigging for now.

I’ll tell you this: it’s no accident the GOP wants to choke the financial life out of our government.  It’s the only way they can destroy it, once and for all…