Talking Taxes

Obviously this is a hot topic right now with The New York Times releasing three pages of Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 1995 income tax return. Many people are shocked and angry that based off the information contained in those three pages, it is possible that Mr Trump could have avoided paying taxes for 18 years. While I am no fan of Mr Trump, what exactly is the problem?

Seriously that first question was rhetorical. It’s obvious, a billionaire avoiding taxes for nearly 2 decades while his vast fortune exploded. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. It’s a civic duty to pay taxes. Our schools and roads are falling apart, while some billionaire pays nothing to help. It’s pretty obvious what the problem is.

So I’ll ask another question. Why is this issue with Mr Trump a problem for you? Again I am no fan of Mr Trump, but step back a moment. No one has accused that fraud was committed. Everything appears legal. I’m siding with Mr Trump on this one and chances are you do nothing that Mr Trump didn’t do. It’s a simple question really. In fact Mr Trump’s running mate Mike Pence asked this very question of the Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine in the debate last Tuesday. Do you take every deduction you are entitled to? Not that I am a conspiracy theorist, but it is interesting to note both times Mr Pence asked the question, Elaine Quijano, the debates moderator interrupted before an answer could be provided by Mr Kaine. So ask yourself, do you take every deduction you are entitled to? That’s all Mr Trump did.

So what’s the issue. Why are you angry that Mr Trump took every legal deduction and as a result had many years in which he ended up owing no taxes? If you really look at it, the reality is you’re probably mad because of one or two reasons. You don’t like Mr Trump or you’re jealous of the Mr Trump’s success. Don’t stop there though, substitute any wealthy person for Mr Trump. Are you still as angry? Better yet substitute yourself for Mr Trump.

I took every legal deduction and as a result had many years in which I ended up owing no taxes.

You bastard, how could you do that. It is your civic duty. Are you still angry? I hope so, because then we can get at the real issue. The tax code. That is the fundamental problem. That this could occur based on our tax code, not that it is Mr Trump.

 

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Maybe It’s Time For Something Different

I have no idea if this makes sense or not. It certainly will not make people feel comfortable unless society changes as well. But, who knows, maybe it is drastic enough to work.

Let’s do away with security at airports and train stations.

Crazy, huh?

Think about this for a minute or two while I expand on the thought. Most recently Brussels exposed a fundamental problem we face. Where do you put the security measures? Current set-up at airports has everything after parking, drop-off, bag check and check-in. While it may be true that the current measures prevented the explosives from reaching an airplane, they did nothing to stop the carnage at the airport.

Maybe we put security outside the airport building itself. Wouldn’t that however mean a would-be terrorist simply moves the target outside the building. Maybe we move it off the property all together and only allow travelling passengers to enter the airport grounds. Again, a would-be terrorist simply needs to relocate the point of explosion. This scenario never ends unless we put security at the front door of every American. In the words of Frank Horrigan, “That’s not gonna happen.”

So what do we do? Let’s fight back in the most extreme way possible. Let’s drop all the charades of security and devote every penny and ounce of effort to intelligence and shut them down before they can get started. Will there be airplanes blown up? Probably. Will explosions occur and people be injured. Likely, but guess what it is happening and will continue to happen under the current system. That’s why I said charade. If a terrorist wants to target a location, there is very little we can do once the plan is in motion. Any action we take with security measures only relocates the specific location. The plan needs to be stopped before it is set in motion.

I am not suggesting we target any group, ethnic or otherwise, we need to be on the vigil against evil in whatever form it comes. There are plenty of evil people from every imaginable group you can sub-divide us into. Whether it is white supremacists, Muslim extremists, disenfranchised youth of any race or religion. Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes. My thought is if we can be welcoming, yet vigilant toward all people, the isolation or persecution these folks feel will be diminished. This will lesson the occurrences.

Just a thought.

Happy Birthday (belated)

Happy Birthday USA!

Sorry I’m late, but I had some things to do and just did not get around to writing until now. Hopefully thing are going well for you. I know its been a tough few years, but things seem to be looking up. 

Sure there are lots of things to work out; money’s still tight, some family squabbles to deal with, and of course parts of the neighborhood seems in some total disarray. 

While I’m not sure what to do about the neighbors, they may just need to settle there own issues, I think it’s about time to get some of these family squabbles settled. And I think if you get some of those taken care of some of the money issues will work themselves out.

You know as well as I do that inviting people into your home has worked out well before and in fact it’s helped you build quite the estate. Sure every time that happened, there were some adjustment issues, but in the end every one turned out to be a welcome boost to the overall good. I don’t see what’s changed to make now any different. You should be welcoming your guests to stay and help fix the place up. Goodness knows there is plenty to do. 

The other good news is that this should also help the financial issues as well. You’ll have some money coming in that wasn’t there before. Sure there will also be some extra costs, but it’s really no different than before. Overall these new folks should make your household stronger.

I say the more the merrier. Don’t ever forget, that’s what built your home.

Vices

Earlier today I had a chance to read about the marijuana laws in the state of Colorado and it got me to thinking about how messed up we are in this country regarding vices. I do not claim to be an expert in any sense on any of these topics and I am not going to discuss pro or con, instead I am just going to speak on how we treat them.

To start the discussion, I want you to imagine a new product. Let me first advise you that the product will be addictive. Experts that have seen information on the product have also determined it will cause significant heath problems. These health issues will not be limited to those directly using the product, but will also effect those in close proximity. It is even likely that people will die due to usage of the product. Would you let me market this product? I am willing to make some concessions. Because of the health issues, I am willing to put a very prominent warning on the package and I will not sell it to minors. Likely, you still would not allow me to sell this product. I am of course talking about tobacco, which is as we all know perfectly legal and accepted product.The farming, manufacture and sale of the product employs thousands if not millions of people. Many levels of our government are increasing funded by taxes collected on the product. Because of these and other reasons its likely this vice will always be here.

On the other hand we have marijuana. Banned federally and minimally accepted as fringe medicinal treatment by some states. Still, millions of dollars are spent and there are thousands of employees in the industry of marijuana. However most of these resources are spent attempting to prevent people from using the product. Again, this is not an endorsement, but imagine the jobs and tax revenue if pot was treated similar to tobacco.

Alcohol is another that fits the category of a vice that is very detrimental to society, but enjoys the comfort of knowing it will never go away. It is true that at one point alcohol was illegal in this country, but I do not see that event returning. Heck even during prohibition, the crooks were often celebrated and many otherwise law abiding citizen broke the law when it came to alcohol. But even above a “protected” spot, alcohol enjoys a celebrated spot in our society. Think many St Patrick’s Day celebrations are happening today without alcohol?  Celebrations and big events involve and promote alcohol all the time. How many beer commercials did you see during the Super Bowl? Yet we are also told, justifiably, of the dangers of drinking and driving.

So many things carry this mixed message it’ no wonder we’re all confused and can seemingly agree on nothing.  Gambling is bad unless it’s a state sponsored lottery, being done on a riverboat or horse track, or happening in Nevada. It’s even illegal to have an office pool for the NCAA tournament, but websites exist to promote it. Sex is bad unless you are advertising drugs directed at enhancing the experience. The list keeps going.

I know I will never see it, but it would be nice to see some consistency applied.

Lance Armstrong

So Lance Armstrong has come out and finally admitted that he used PED’s. This admission will be airing on Opray Winfrey’s show tomorrow and yes I will be watching. I don’t know why, but I will.

I never bought the fact that he was not using. Call me a skeptic if you must, but it never made sense that that these athletes could do what they did and then turn around and do more the next day – for three weeks. Sorry, I think they’re all using. With that said, what’s the problem? How different is the use of PED’s from say the actress that has plastic surgery to enhance her performance? I would never endorse or do either, but I guess I just don’t want success that badly. At the same time I am not in any position to judge anyone’s decision on what they do.

As far as I care what he did is still a great accomplishment. Like I said, everyone was cheating and he was clearly the best cheater. So hats off to Mr Armstrong on those seven yellow jerseys.

But you don’t get a free pass. Your sanctimonious denial of usage, even going to the extreme of suing people and organizations that accused you, was frankly pathetic. Not that I expected you to admit it from day one, but vehemence and continued denial until it suits you for some unknown reason makes you look like nothing more than a self-serving, self-centered individual.

Just out of spite, I hope whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, get shot to hell. You’ve done a lot of good for the cause of  cancer and provided great entertainment, but I’m tired of your act. Go away and let us move on to the next self-centered superstar.

Welcome to the New Year!

Not going too deep with this post, and am instead staying with a brief philosophical discussion on some of the background for this blog.

A few weeks ago I heard a guy on the radio discussing the fact that 2012 would go down as the worst year in recorded history. While I have not studied the subject in great detail, I do not question his expertise on this subject, mainly because I do not know what that is. However, I am finding it difficult to accept that statement as fact. Yes, globally this has been a rough year in many respects.  Are the human atrocities happening worldwide worse than those of the WWII years or those that occurred due to the slave trade? I really don’t know. Is the troubled worldwide economy worse than those of the depression era? Again I do not know. It seems to me that the overall health of the human species must surely be better than during the years of the black plague. But again I really do not know.

What I do know, is that I really cannot recall any other year where I personally have spoken with more people who were ready for 2012 to be over. Personally I am in that crowd. It has been a rough year and I am glad it is over. It seems the only landmark events that occurred were negative.

Now before you quit reading over disgust that this is going to be a downer of a blog, let me assure you I am not a pessimistic person. In fact I have been accused of living in a pollyanna world. While I do not agree with that assessment, I do believe that we spend too much time focusing on the negative of what may or has occurred. This focus either ignores the truly important or causes unnecessary grief worrying about things out of our control.

So yes, I am very happy to have 2012 behind us and look forward to the restart that 2013 provides. And I think there are many folks taking that same outlook. To me there seems to be a definite refocus happening in peoples’ lives. Lots of questioning on traditional views. Lots of reassessments regarding what is important.  In short, I think there is a reawakening to things in the world. Evil still persists in many forms and in many places, but hopefully this worldwide reset will prevail and things can start to change.