…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

political

Inauguration…Just Another Day

Today was/is Inauguration Day. For many it is the best day ever.  For many others it  is the worst day ever.  What did I do today to celebrate/mourn?

I went to work.

I got out of bed at 5:36am.  Made coffee.  Sent out my remaining invoices.  Talked  to my daughter about her essay.  Then I went to work.

I cut up a fallen tree.

I met a prospective customer for a bid.

Because the bottom line that as bad as this new administration is going to be, it was already baked in.  In fact, to those mourning, it is really your fault.  Hillary Clinton should have never be the “presumptive” candidate.  The majority of Trump voters would only have voted for him, with the alternative of Clinton.

And given all that, my only real option is to continue to block and tackle.  Put in the work. Everyday.  Keep it basic.  Trump is not on my side.  Lord knows, Hillary is not.  So much theater–These people are on the same team.

Who’s going to pay my mortgage?  Who’s going to fix my truck?

Just another day.  You know what I doing next?

Hitting the weights.

Peace.

 

–Old 454

http://twitter.com/old454

 

 


No Fundamental Difference

I will try to keep this short, as the year 2016 closes.

Many of the people I follow on social media feel that the election of Donald Trump is the single worst thing that could have happened this year, or ever.  Whether Donald Trump’s election is the worst or not, begs the question.  The alternative was Hillary Clinton.  As bad as Trump may be, or will be, Clinton would be no better.  It may make some feel better if Clinton won, but her stances and policies would leave us no better. Therefore, that leaves the fundamental question unanswered.

The fundamental question is how we found ourselves with a choice between Trump and Clinton.  In fact, how do we continually find ourselves with a choice between two evils. Make no mistake these two are both evil. Trump’s dubious business practices, very scary rhetoric, Putin schmoozing, neo-nazi supporters, and certain cabinet picks. Clinton has her own track record of evil — Can you say Libya?  Ukraine? or Haiti?  Try “Super Predator” or “Kathy Shelton.”  But, again this is all very besides the point.

There is not one significant policy direction that a United States President has taken, that a subsequent President, even of the so-called opposing party, has reversed.  Take Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, supposedly diametrically opposed.  As far as their policy effects on American Blacks, for example, there is no difference.  Reagan initiated the so-called “War on Drugs”.  Remember, Iran-Contra?  A funny name, leaving out the part of  selling of crack in Los Angeles.  I digress.  The War on Drugs  policy-wise hinged on “get tough” policing, mandatory minimum sentencing, and an intentional targeting of black communities.  Bill Clinton capped it off with “Three Strikes, You’re Out” which, again coincidentally, had a disproportionate and devastating effect on American Blacks. What did Clinton do so great for American Blacks again?

I can point out similar threads from Carter through Obama, affecting all Americans and the world at-large.

My point is that this argument about Trump vs. Clinton, or Kerry vs. Bush, or whomever, is distraction and subterfuge.  These people are all on the same team.  Liberals hate Fox News (super “conservative”), but Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Daily News (super “liberal”).

Trump is talking big stick nuclear talk. Clinton is a war hawk and profiteer.  But neither would have a son, or grandson be in harm’s way overseas.  They’ll  leave the dying part of war to poor kids from Brooklyn and West Virginia.

 


Back in Stride Again

Stream of consciousness. . .

It is 2105, and I am back in the saddle again.  Not yet literally. The amount of energy I had put into ramping up for Ironman was quite remarkable, in hindsight.  Only in retrospect can I objectively see how much energy preparing for and executing that race required.   Just a few days after the race, I was T-Boned in a car accident.  And then my work (that thing I do to eat, pay the mortgage) got very crazy.  Subsequently, my blogging, and social networking in general has really suffered.  In the vein of New Year’s resolutions, I will be devoting more effort to my online activities.  I have some blog ideas that have been back-burnered for some time.

It all works for good.  I’ve been in the gym getting strong.  I am the strongest I’ve been in my life.  Though, my cardio endurance has certainly suffered, my physical resilience has multiplied.

Topical Preview for 2015

. . . Still in stream of consciousness mode. . .

Politically, I have grown more cynical and suspicious as I see the news media and national politicians directing our focus towards distracting events, and spinning even those with thinly-veiled and misleading (at best) narratives.

My spiritual focus has been more on the mundane, than the philosophical.  I continue to prioritize practice over philosophy.  Though, I have worked to put a definition on my practice.  In the past, I’ve argued that this is a gratuitous endeavor.  Nonetheless, I have found it instructive, especially in exposing certain emotional attachments I still have to my past practices, despite the fact it no longer serves.

Certain business challenges have brought me into contact with an entire class of people whom I thought I knew, but as it turns out, really didn’t.  I knew intellectually, but didn’t really know in a tangible way, the extent to which education, or the lack thereof, acts effectively like a learning disability.  The post-Great-Recession labor market environment has left some very large holes in the labor market for my very hands-on, mud and dirt business.  In recruiting to fill these holes, I have been introduced in a new way to an entire segment of our society (a significant segment), that I had not fully understood.

In fact, in this post-Great-Recession environment, I have come to a whole new understanding of the future economic prospects, investing, effects of currency manipulations, business direction.  I have always argued that our consumer/debt based economy had a certain cannibalistic tinge to it, and that wealth and prosperity required actual production.  I feel that it may be more sinister than that.

.

At any rate, it’s good to be back.  Talk to you soon.

.

— Old454


Now That’s a Riot!

Saw this on SillyReverie’s site

The OWS objectors may want to rethink attempts to minimize or dismiss the protests and their gripes.

Tell me what you think. . .


Same Coin

Found this one on “Wise Guys and Renegades”

virtually naked woman and virtually completely coverd woman different sides of same coin of male exploitation


Real tax burden

My bottom line on taxes is that we pay an exhorbitant amount of income tax from our paychecks here in the United States.  In fact, we pay one of the highest percentages of taxes in the world.  This is particularly so when you compare the political-economic structure of the countries whose percentages exceed ours, and layer on the fact they all have some sort of universal healthcare (read: tax-funded).  Specifically, these countries (largely) are openly socialist-influenced, and (largely) have single-payer tax-funded healthcare.

I maintain that the United States economic system has not been Capitialistic for a very long time (if ever).  This may sound extreme, but if our tax system is any indication, we are a long ways toward Socialist.  Here are the numbers:

We’re all in the 40% tax bracket.  An analysis of income tax brackets, including federal, state, payroll taxes, and deductions puts the average tax payer paying 40% of their income in taxes (pre take home).

We pay another 22% surcharge on what’s left.  Most first-world countries openly levy a VAT (value-added tax) on their citizens.  We don’t call it that, but we levy several layers of sales taxes on our citizens:  State sales taxes, consumption taxes (gasoline, tobacco, airlines, etc), highway tolls.  Additionally, the products we buy are produced by companies that pay these same consumption taxes (I’m not even talking about business income taxes).  These companies pass these taxes along to us in the price of the goods they sell.  Add it all up and find we pay 22% in these embedded taxes–this on after-tax income.

Wait, there’s more. . .We pay for our own healthcare.  Depending on your exact healthcare situation, employer paid benefit, self-insured, medical savings plan, traditional 80/20 health insurance, your actual annual cost will vary.  But when comparing national tax percentages, this must be accounted for as many (most) first world countries pay for their citizens’ healthcare from the taxes their citizens pay.  If we take the lower costs from employer-paid plans (remember this is money paid on your behalf by the company) we have average annual costs of $14,202 (premium, deductible, and other out-of-pockets) per family. (The Hidden costs of Health care)   The costs are even higher for smaller firms, and individually purchased plans.   This does not account for the medical cost (or lack thereof) for the uninsured, but at what cost and what risk?  There would be a good analysis:  The long term cost of foregoing medical treatment in terms of life expectancy versus the risk of financial ruin in the face of a catastrophic medical event.

Let’s run the numbers.  If we look at a family household income of $100,00 (not unreasonable ), and then an individual earning $45,000.

A family income ostensibly of $100,000. 

  • Take homepay (less 40%) $60,000.
  • Less Healthcare costs (the conservative numbers, and assuming a tax-deductible threshold) $45798.
  • Then the embedded taxes on after-tax income (money we use to buy stuff)
  • $35,722 left.
  • Real Tax Rate:  64.28%.

For an individual earning $45,000:

  • Less 40%:     $27,000
  • Less healthcare ($6191):     $20,809
  • Less embedded taxes:     $16,231
  • Real Tax Rate:     63.93%

Note:  Neither of these calculations account for the several other taxes and tax-like costs we incur:  e.g., ad valorem taxes, property taxes, public utility fees, universal coverage fees (i.e., in your phone & utility bills)

Discussions regarding what we actually pay in taxes in the United States are patently deceiving.  The tax code is so skewed.  The sheer number of different types of taxes we pay is staggering.  The different metrics we can use to describe taxes is mesmerizing.  Every one seems to be able to arrive at the conclusion they want through selective attention and willful ignorance.

Resources:  Some of these conclusions support mine, some don’t.  But none synthesize all the analyses which I’ve included above:

–Jalal

Please comment below.  What’s your take on this?

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Constitutional Convention Updated: “We the Corporations. . . “

If the Constitution Were Written Today . . .

the founding fathers at the Constitutional convention, sponsored by multi-national corporations

By Mike Luckovich

By Mike Luckovich with Truthdig.com