Views on politics and current events

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Random Thoughts On Tax Cuts

With a few days left before the election, the issue seems to be the economy. With a national debt growing like a weed, with a $700 billion bail out bill already passed and who knows how many more government bail outs around the corner, with the occupation of Iraq still in full swing and costing how many billion a month, and hundreds of billions of other dollars being spent on who all knows what. But the candidates have laid out their plans for recovery. And what do both of them want to do? Cut taxes.

John McCain wants to cut capital gains tax, cut corporate taxes, because this will stimulate the economy by helping to create jobs. The premise being that if businesses, investors and capital gains earners get a break, they will invest more money into growing existing businesses and starting new business ventures.

First off, there's very few business persons that will start a business or expand a business with only their own money. Some don't have enough to do it, others that have the money already have the money invested and making money for them. Credit is the key factor here. The amount of money a person has determines how much credit they can get. Credit can be a funny thing, as the people who prove they don't need it because of their assets are the most likely to get it. So if a person has money earning more in a percent of return than he can borrow at, why would they spend their own money? Remember that the prime interest rate is only given to those that have the best credit, the ones that really don't need the loan in other words.

And on top of it, give them a capital gains tax rate cut. Why? Are not capital gains income? Because if we allow the wealthy to have more money via a lower capital gains rate, it will help all the rest of us? I really don't have anything against the wealthy. There have always been and will continue to be folks that out of ambition, hard work, skulduggery, inheritance or a combination thereof, will have more than most. But they sure don't need to be given any more advantage than they already have.

Barack Obama is advocating a tax cut for those making less than $250,000, and a tax hike for those that make more than that. There's even a tax cut calculator on Obama's website that will tall you how much you'll get in tax cuts (as long as you don't go over the magic $250,000 figure). My tax cut is around $1,000. Now I can buy into that more than a tax cut for the rich, which tells you how much I make a year. But this is pandering for votes just as sure as McCain's plan is. It's just pandering to a different base. While I'd sure take the tax cut, will it make my life demonstrably better?

So, history will show that the turning point in this election was when the economy tanked. At least when it tanked bad enough that it hurt more than just the ones towards the bottom of the economic ladder. And right in the middle of it, both candidates tried to buy votes by offering lower taxes for certain people. In essence, both candidates tried to buy votes with whose money? The very same people who pay them in the first place. As for me, I'd rather see some old-time electioneering, and have the candidates buy me a ham sandwich and a beer on election day.

And where have the other issues gone? Buried under an avalanche of lipstick on a pig, $150,000 wardrobe spending, guilt by association allegations, not experienced for the job a bad thing (Obama) , not experienced for the job (Palin) a good thing, and so many other non-issues. And all the while, things that have a direct affect on the state of the economy are not even glossed over. They're not even mentioned. The occupation of Iraq, the grand plan of how to pound sand down a rat hole at the most cost possible still goes on. What's really sad is that life is still being lost there and in Afghanistan, without much being said about it.

But the people have to be shown what's in it for them. Historically, it has been a chicken in every pot, or a full dinner pail. Now tax cuts are offered. Both candidates must think that a lot of voters are in this game for the money. I'll be damned, it looks like they're right. But if the economy doesn't turn around, if this country continues to have over 300 military bases around the world and spend more in 'defense' spending than the rest of the world combined, will tax cuts really do anyone any good?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Inspired, The Confused, The Angry

Senator Barack Obama continues his quest for the Democratic nomination for president with an eloquence that inspires some, confuses others, and angers and scares far too many.

I understand the ones that are inspired. Obama from the first has had the gift of connecting to his audience. You really don't know how powerful a speaker he is until you hear and see him in person. Being skeptical by nature, Obama's charisma has made him suspect in my book. I don't look at any candidate through rose colored glasses, no matter how eloquent they may talk. And the few rabid Obamaites that have put him on a pedestal are setting themselves up to be disappointed. He is human after all. But I do believe, among the candidates still in the running, he is hands down the best one for the job. At least I am willing to give him the chance to try and walk the walk that he's talking.

I understand the ones that are confused. Obama's message is inclusive to a degree that has not been heard in recent memory. The past 12 years has been the ultimate in partisan politics. I'll not lay blame on one party over the other. While it is true that Republicans controlled congress and the White house for 6 years, the Democrats have done little to change things since their winning a majority in both houses, in my opinion. Those that have grown accustomed to one-party control no doubt can't fathom how anything would get done without partisan politics. Obama's message is one of working together, across party lines, a time when the majority party has a loyal opposition party to help keep them honest. Obama's talk of inclusiveness has lead to much criticism from both sides of the aisle. Conservatives don't want to compromise their values to a liberal, and vice versa. Whenever both sides of the aisle do not like or do not agree with what someone is saying, it should give pause for reflection on the likelihood that the opinion in question may be the correct course of action.

Lastly, the ones that are full of anger and fear. Running the gamut from racism to contempt of anything less than a conservative political philosophy. Might as well throw hatred into the mix along with anger and fear, for all three emotions are connected and feed off each other. What Obama has done with his speech about race is to try and open the door to a dialogue about race relations in this nation. A dialogue that has been needed for a long time. But as long as fear, hatred and anger rule the hearts of some, all of the hope Obama represents will not bear fruit. That some fan the flames of hatred is obvious to me. To get power, to keep power, for money, whatever the rationalization. That certain members of society, the media, and political leaders benefit (or think they benefit) from fanning these flames is despicable. In these times of the monied and powerful (same thing) elite in this country, that is not to be condoned but expected. But for those that fall outside of the monied elite and powerful that harbor so much hatred and fear, it is an example of the degree of ignorance that some folks are infected with.

Obama is but the catalyst. It is up to us to spread the word, reframe the discussion, peacefully engage people in discussion, be willing and able to maintain our composure when we are inevitably confronted with naked prejudice and hatred. From all races, from all sides. This is the hope that Obama represents to me. Not pie-in-the-sky daydreams, but the beginnings of making the right steps towards bettering race relations in this country. To my mind, Senator Obama has shown much courage in speaking out the way he has. Regrettably, race relations are in such a state that he has left himself wide open to political and physical danger. Sometimes ya gotta go with the best that you've got. Obama's courage has shown me that he is the best that we've got. To hell with my skepticism. Now it is up to me to give support. Not just with donations, but by engaging in the type of dialogue he is advocating. By doing such, I am supporting much more than a politician running for the presidency. I am supporting the possibility that things just may be going to get better. With eyes wide open, it is the least I can do.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Presidential Experience?

The debate about which Democratic Presidential candidate has the experience to be president rages on. Clinton insists that eight years of being First lady adds to her resume of qualifications and presidential experience. The fact of the matter is, as far as national political experience gained by being elected to a position in either house of congress, Clinton has two years experience on Obama in the Senate. That's it. As far as total elected office experience, Obama was in the Illinois State legislature from 1997 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Of all things to make a campaign issue, this is one of the most ridiculous. The argument as to most experience for either candidate is basically the same. Neither of them has been president before, combine all of the years of experience in elected office of both of them in Washington and it comes to about 10 years. Being a community organizer and member of the Illinois legislature for 8 years does not make Obama experienced, and being First Lady of Arkansas and The United States doesn't either. Period.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Internet Can Be A Spooky Place

This post is not about any current event. It is about a strange occurrence happening right here, right on this blog, right at the top of the page above the title.

Take a look. Notice the 'Ads By Google' box? Funny, I never put it there. I used to have google ads on this blog, but I inserted that code myself. This 'other' google ad box just appeared one day. I removed the google ad code I had inserted, just to see if somehow the two were connected. No dice. The box at the top remains. Where did this nefarious Google Ad Box From Hell come from?

Why is it nefarious? Read on:

  • It is obvious to anyone that's read my blog very much that I am mostly politically liberal.
  • It is also obvious to anyone that has read my blog that I am pro labor union.
  • To those who do not know about Google Adsense, the entire premise is to get website and blog owners to install the code on their sites to help promote the advertisers that pay for google advertising. When someone clicks on the ad and visits the promoted site, a small sum is paid to the owner of the blog or site that hosted the Google Ad. Google has set this up so that most ads that show up on your site will be relevant to the content of your site.
Now that I've explained (or confused you), my question is: Why do the ads that appear in this Google Ad Box From Hell advertise Mike Huckabee's website, and an anti-labor union website? Not always. Sometimes there is an ad for Genuine Maytag Parts, which could be because of a few posts concerning the shutting down of the Maytag plant in Newton Iowa. But most of the time adds appear that are promoting things I am not in favor of. In fact, they are 180 degrees from what I agree with.

Relevancy as concerning the internet can be very broad. But I fail to understand how a an anti-union website is relevant to my blog, or how Mike Huckabee's website is relevant. And why is this Google Ad box even on this blog, when I never put it where it's at, or installed the code? I have no idea where the code is. I'm not very good at the code stuff, so it could be right in front of me and I don't know it. But I've looked.

So I can't remove the Google Ad Box From Hell. I've attempted to find out some info on Google's help page. No luck. Logged in to my Google Adsense account. More options for questions and help that boggle the mind, but I could not find out any information about which websites I've got Adsense on, just a total I've earned so far (65 cents). Looked and looked for someone to contact about my question. Forget it. The only option is the Google Adsense Forum. Uh, no thanks. I've already spent enough time on this.

Perhaps it's just me, but Google seems to not be very 'user friendly' about this specific problem. As this blog costs me nothing, I probably should not complain. I've thought about just closing down this blog altogether, or moving to another blog provider. But I nixed that whole idea. Ego aside, there's no great shakes about just leaving the damn blog up and running, no matter the ads at the top of it. But The Google Ad Box From Hell is still quite annoying. If anyone out there in the vast expanse of cyberspace has a clue about all this, let me know. I'd appreciate it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Random Thoughts On The Iowa Caucuses

After spending the previous evening watching the beginning of Campaign '08, I'm going to be a real wet blanket and ask "What the hell's the big whoopin' deal?"

First, the Iowa Caucus system itself. Perhaps we need a politician to be resurrected from the 19th century to explain it, because that's the kind of system it appears to be. Just a few tidbits about this caucus-come-fiasco:

* How in hell does an Iowan become a caucus participant? Register? Beg? Steal? Visit The Great Ear Of Corn in the Holy of Holies Corn Field to be anointed? All I've heard is that to become a caucus participant (caucuser?) ain't easy. 'Natch.

* People have to travel to the their caucus location.

* There are actually two caucuses (is the plural for caucus like the plural for cactus? Cacti, Cauci?) one for Democrats and one for Republicans. Each one is run differently than the other, just for the fun of it.

* A candidate needs 15% of the total votes for their votes to 'count'.

* If the candidate does not get 15%, they can 'give' their votes to someone else. Wait a minute, if that's the case, their votes do count. Just not for them. Sorry for the confusion.

* There are people standing in the corner of the room, trying to 'lure' people to their choice of candidate. What do they use for bait? Booze? Drugs? Money? A night on the town? A lollipop?

* Delegates that are elected (I think (?) there are delegates elected) are not obligated or bound to their candidate.

* There are Super Delegates. What makes them Super? Damned if I know.

* The population of the state of Iowa is right around 3 million people, with about 2.1 million registered to vote. There was an incredible amount of hooplah about how many caucus participants there were. About 210,000, last I heard. So all of the fireworks from politicians and the media because 10% of the citizens of Iowa participated? In a system that is not easy to participate in. In an antiquated system that gets a lot of publicity for being the 'first' caucus or primary, but in reality is mostly a revenue producer for the state of Iowa.

Iowa, like most of the rest of the states in this country is in pretty bad economic shape. If politicians want to go there and blow millions on a campaign, I'll not begrudge Iowa reaping a little monetary gain. But give me a break. You'd think the results were astounding, revelatory, incredible, or whatever other inane superlative the media mouth-jockeys said last night.

To be sure, the results are interesting, and I'm still thinking about all of them. But an earth-shaking thunder clap calling for change? Hardly. More like a fart from a tired old mouse in the corner. Nothing personal, my friends in Iowa, but I think your caucus system needs overhauled.

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