Here I go again …

I am sick and tired of politics. These tax bills – and let’s get this right – these are TAX BILLS, not tax cuts for most of us. Yes, you could say they are tax reform because they change how the tax system works. OK, here goes.

Permanent tax cuts of note:

Corporate tax rate reduced to 20%
Pass-through entities taxed at corporate rate instead of individual rates
Alternative Minimum Tax set at 20% or abolished
Estate tax threshold raised or tax abolished (depending on which bill)
Fewer tax bands (depends on where you lie in each band whether this is a cut or increase)

TEMPORARY tax cuts (Senate):

Personal deduction doubled until 2025

Tax INCREASES

(House) Tuition waivers now taxed as income (#WarOnEducation)
Student Loan interest deduction abolished

Other fallout

The raised personal deduction will mean that fewer individuals itemize deductions which will effectively mean they won’t be able to deduct charitable donations, meaning a likely loss of $38B to charities.

The Deficit

Will rise between $1T and $1.5T over the next decade.

The Supposed Benefit

Businesses will use their increased wealth to invest in R&D and jobs.
Personal deduction will decrease taxes for some households, and cut them altogether for lowest earners.
Taxes less complicated so you don’t have to pay someone to do them for you.
Increased productivity means more income and high taxable income.

The Truth

College Students and Graduate get a MASSIVE tax hike. If you get a tuition waiver from a University that charges $50,000 per year, you will be paying tax on at least $30,000 of it. That’s $6,500 in taxes per year, plus you will pay tax on any job you take on to pay those taxes, as well as on any stipend or assistantship you receive (which was already taxed, thanks to President Reagan). To rub salt in the wound, they have then taken away your tax deductions for your student loan interest. They get you coming and going. The result, fewer go to college, meaning that those that don’t go will have decreased earning power over their lifetimes, saving corporations money, but reducing the skills pool.

More truth? Many charities will cease to exist. Many in the GOP say that charities will take up the slack after the ACA is fully repeals. What charities? They will be gone.

More jobs? We are at nearly “full employment”. Yes, 5% unemployment is the threshold for full employment. Where are the job seekers going to come from? The non-college-educated, those without even high school diplomas, immigrants.

Higher GDP? I don’t see that lasting long. Historically, we can’t sustain high growth. The government will have to find another way to kick-start growth, then another, and another.

Trickle down has never worked. What makes you think it will this time? It caused the Depression, and a recession in the early ’90s. The stock market is at an all-time high. Surely, it will fall back to Earth soon, destroying all our savings, IRAs, and investments.

And the deficit keeps going up. It would be better to increase taxes a little to pay off some of the deficit slowly, and save our children from inevitable bankruptcy. But no, give the top 1% even more money. A little pain now will save a lot later.

So what do you like about this tax bill?

 

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If you can’t stop thinking about sex, think about sex.

I’m back! It’s procrastination time, so here I am. I was just reading over some of my Ezzie Dryar blogs and came across the line above. I had so much fun writing those – perhaps too much.

Anyway, I’m re-reading what I have of The Cult of Hahn. I even wrote a prologue to chapter 2. I’ve been hesitant about writing the prologues, because they are quotes from an unwritten bible from the story: The Book of Cyrus. I’ve been tempted to write the whole thing, but an epic all written in verse, using many different voices of poetry, that’s a big ask. Probably too big for me at this point in my life. I need to finish the last third of The Cult of Hahn first, and that has taken me 10 years. I’ve written the ending, but I have two big gaps to fill, as well as several prologues.

I’ve posted the new prologue in my blog: The Cult of Anne. (That’s where the Ezzie blogs are, too.)

Moved, unmoved

Image result for boredom

I’ve been so obsessed by the Chump that I haven’t thought to express my thoughts here. I so want him impeached, in prison, and/or out of my life that I just sit watching Stephen Colbert monologues all afternoon.

I haven’t even bothered to finish my volume of short stories. It’s really done, but I just need to do silly things like formatting printing and submitting it to CreateSpace.

One thing about my recent move is that my new office overlooks the street, which leads to a park very popular with runners and walkers. Even people-watching doesn’t seem to get the juices flowing – the 60-something guy who just ran by probably would have never done it for me at any point in my life, though.

Confused … and sad

I was on Facebook today, poking around. While reading a post from a HS friend, I decided to search for my closest friend from HS. He didn’t used to be on FB, so I had lost touch with him, partly due to me living in the UK for 20 years. Last time I saw him was about 2005. We had this long very political discussion, and I realized that we had REALLY grown apart.

It seems all my friends from HS are now really right wing, or very religious. I seem to have returned to a foreign country. He was more libertarian than right wing, but he was anti-tax, pro gun, pro death (a.k.a pro life). I’m a pragmatist, but I’m pretty far left on the political spectrum: tax when tax is needed, pro social welfare, pro choice, etc.

So his FB site pops up. On it was all this pro gun propaganda, pit bull crusades, anti-muslim, anti-immigrant postings. It made me ill. I wanted to cry. Instead of re-connecting, I never wanted to hear from him again.

How does someone who I thought was so cool (in a nerdy sort of way) embrace ideals that I find so ugly and reprehensible? It destroys my faith in humanity.

Is it really the chump?

Apparently Donald Trump is up 24 hours a day, mostly watching television.

If he isn’t out there on the podium thanking us for his minority Presidency, he’s in front of the boob tube, tweeting out vomit for the news media to gorge on. He said repeatedly during the campaign that he could be presidential, but what does that mean in the terms of DJT? It means making appointments (possibly whomever Mike Pence tells him), and pretending he is President before he even takes office, taking jabs at his (much better qualified) predecessor, and making promises he can’t possibly keep. We’ve hired Liberace to be Alfred Brendel.

Then there are the tweets. I have this theory. Since it isn’t possible to do all the things DJT does in a single day (pretend to run the country and constantly light up the twitter world), it’s that 300 lb guy in the bedroom, drinking beer and watching the tube constantly – you know, the same one he believes hacked the DNC, and couldn’t possibly have influenced the election. Perhaps he didn’t as much as James Comie’s ill-timed burps from the FBI, but those released emails certainly had an immediate effect on the polls.

If it isn’t that 300 lb guy tweeting all the time, DJT is spending too much time playing around, not preparing to govern. Maybe he’s just going to leave that to Mike Pence.

Remain

As a dual national, I was allowed to vote in the Brexit referendum. I voted to remain.

I chose not to listen to the lies and exaggerations of the Leave campaign, nor did I listen to the Armageddon warnings of the Remain campaign. I used common sense.

I’ve always been pro-Europe and pro-Euro. Maybe that comes from my sensible Scottish blood. Here are the issues:

  1. Many Brits are worried about immigration (not about the security aspect of it, but about the “cosmopolitanisation” of England. Part of the problem is the mishandling jingoism of the parties of the Right. They say the immigrants are a drain on the system. Actually, they work, they pay taxes, and they spend money. Those are all good things. Yes, they may earn benefits, too, but so do native Brits who aren’t working. What about the asylum-seekers? They are getting a free ride. Why not put them to work and make them earn their keep? While they are waiting for a ruling on their cases, let them contribute to society. (My sentiment is the same with illegal immigration in the US.)
  2. A number complain that we are subject to laws passed by unelected nameless and faceless bureaucrats. That’s far from true. The MEP’s are all elected, and if you want to, you can find out who they are. The Council of Ministers are appointed by elected officials in each of the constituent countries. We all have equal voice, and the laws are passed for the betterment of the Union as a whole. We have no less power or transparency than a state of the US (possibly more).
  3. The UK is better on its own. Nope. Aside from the US, our largest trading partner is Europe. By leaving the Union, we waste time and money negotiating our own trade deals and regulations. We lose what power we have in guiding Europe. Outside Europe, we become a provincial backwater. Still, we have NATO and (a Pacific-pivoted) US to cover our backs. We become less attractive to business, who may be more likely to choose Ireland or the continent as hubs for their international operations.
  4. Our currency becomes more volatile. It has been very steady for the past several years, but has lost much ground against the dollar as the referendum got closer, and has now plunged to its lowest since 1984. Personally, I would have liked it to merge with the Euro. The Euro is weak without the Union’s strongest currency.
  5. Then there are those who voted to leave just to spite the government. STUPID! Your bluff was called. Prepare for chaos.

Now that the genie is out of the bottle, what can we do about it?

  1. Most agree a second referendum is unlikely, no matter how many sign the petition.
  2. The government could ignore the referendum and further alienate voters.
  3. Both the major political parties are imploding. Maybe the best thing would be to have a general election. Let’s give UKIP a chance to see how little support they really have. We could put the only undivided significant party in power (Liberal Democrats). That’s unlikely, but it could give a UK government a legitimate out invoking Article 50.
  4. Of course, the UK has put a gun to its head and pulled the trigger. We can hope we missed. Let things play out and hope that the UK governments of the future can smooth the rough waters ahead. Prepare for higher taxes, a higher cost of living, job losses, and reduced influence in the world. The British Empire is now officially dead.

Yes, we now have the change to “take Britain back” … well … to 1974. Perhaps even earlier if Scotland has another referendum of its own, and maybe Northern Ireland, too.

We can make Britain “great” again, too. Well, no … what they really meant was “Make Britain WHITE again.” That’s right. UKIP and the other ultra-right parties have suckered Britain into swallowing their agenda.

And, of course, the US is the next victim (if Chump wins).

God help us.

Trump’s chumps

Somebody had to say it. The Donald doesn’t have a monopoly on childish name-calling. This one was so obvious, and I’m afraid I’ve stooped to his level.

I couldn’t really accuse The Donald of being a chump, since he is cold and calculating in his manipulation of the media in his quest to become the Führer of the United States. His Chumps just lap it up. Even the media has been suckered. In the rolling Trump cycle that is CNN – we can’t call it a news cycle anymore – we get wall-to-wall Trump. Whether it the measured Jeffrey or the bimbo (yes, I called her a bimbo – she has no brain in her head – she just shouts Trump tripe over the other panelists), Kayleigh, as apologists for Trump, the former correcting whatever non-PC message Trump lets fly that day, or the latter just spewing pap. I get ill just watching the program. I haven’t made it through the first hour of AC 360 yet this week.

At each break, they trail real news, but you don’t get it until 5 minutes before the next hour, and then it’s back to Trump’s chumps. Pundits have estimated that Trump has received more than $1 billion of free news cycle publicity.

Then there are the ads. “Call this number to pledge your support for Donald J Trump. Don’t let Hillary Clinton and the radical left win.”

Now there is a message. No policy. No reasons. Just go for Trump because they don’t like Hillary.

Basically, if Trump doesn’t win, the system is rigged, and poor Donny will just cry all the way to the Supreme Court, which is rigged, too, and we all know that if Clinton wins, it will have 8 members or less until the next Republican Presidency, because the Senate won’t have a Democrat super-majority for the foreseeable future. Why? Because the Bernie Supporters will have stayed away from the polls in November. Yes, more cry-babies that blame the rigged system. The primary system may have its flaws, but actually they are working in Bernie’s favor at the moment. Have you noticed that he has won all the caucus states? Hillary has won most of the states with popular votes. But what about the independents? Why should an independent be allowed to vote to elect a candidate for a political party? That’s oxymoronic. Allowing independents to vote in a party primary allows the vote to be rigged by the other party. So if the GOP nomination is tied up, and California had an open primary, all the (in this case non-registered) Republicans can crash the Democratic Primary by voting for the underdog, i.e. Bernie, in a state that Hillary should carry easily among Democrats. They have already helped Bernie win several states he shouldn’t have.

Back to the Chumps. They feed on anything The Donald says. “Build a wall” Yay! “Close the borders to Muslims!” Yay. “I disavow the KKK!” They are just a bunch of racists anyway, but if they vote for The Donald, that’s OK. He’s being sued for fraud. “They got their money’s worth!” Which isn’t much. Besides, it’s only a civil suit, so that doesn’t really count. As he said, he could shoot someone on the street, and it wouldn’t make any difference to the chumps.

When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.) said that in a straight choice between Hitler and Stalin, he would choose Stalin (i.e. Cruz), he was right … except that I wouldn’t choose either. He had the correct metaphor, though. The Donald is using the cant of the far right, of the Nazis in the 1930s. He’s the non-establishment candidate who plays on the fears of the chumps. He’s a different sort of Republican, one who looks after middle America. He’s the 1%er that looks out for the little guy. And he’s going to make America great again with his empty promises and tough guy rhetoric. “They’ll listen to me, ‘cuz I’m President Trump, The Donald, The Führer.”

He accuses Hillary of being crooked. (He couldn’t say corrupt, because that would be libelous.) He dredges up stories about how she was Bill’s enabler, about Benghazi (what is she supposed to have done again?), and about her email server. Colin Powell and Condolezza Rice also had one. “But she didn’t use it the same way!” they cry. Whupdeedoo! They still had them. Nobody has actually said that critical classified information leaked, that is, information that was classified at the time it was sent. The GOP has been going after Hillary, since there was the first whiff of her wanting to be President. That’s 20 years of disinformation and smear. It’s all innuendo, and there doesn’t seem to be anything new, yet, The Donald treats it all as new.

Of course, The Donald won’t be convicted of fraud until after he becomes President (if he does). He’s made billions off his real estate business, but he also ran 4 businesses into bankruptcy, costing hundreds, perhaps thousands of jobs.

For me, the bottom line is that you never know which Trump you are going to get from day-to-day, the racist, the misogynist, the bankrupt (moral or financial), the philanderer, the fraud, or the child (i.e. name-caller, poor loser).

Hillary may be the devil you know. I don’t really think she is, but she’s a known quantity, and more likely to have an effective, productive, and prosperous Presidency.