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

Posts tagged “politics

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

 

 

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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.

 


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


Body Scanners — Another brick in the wall

curvy lady in body scan machine causing TSA employees to pass out The Obama administration, through the TSA, recently went live with full-body scanners (x-ray machines) and full-body pat downs. There has been much uproar regarding the invasiveness of these measures.  There has also been so much discussion regarding the true effectiveness of our airport security measures.  What has been lacking is any mainstream discussion of the real implications of this newest degradation of the Constitution & Bill of Rights.

There has been a steady degradation of the Bill of Rights by the federal government, and Presidential administrations virtually since they’re ratification.  However, in the last 25 years and particularly since the World Trade Center Bombing, the acceleration has been extreme.  This recent TSA full body scan procedure is another chink in that process.

When asked, many people state they are willing to give up some freedom for increased safety, and that this is in fact necessary.  However, that assumes three things.  First that we have much freedom to give up.  Second, that there is any real security to be had. And, perhaps most importantly, that there is any end to the giving up of freedoms. When looking at the powers of the executive branch with executive orders, command of the military, and its unelected regulatory agencies, there is not really much freedom left in the United States.  The fact that you may not feel violated, doesn’t mean you’re free.

All the security measures we’ve taken have not really increased our real security.  Hijacker take over a plane with box cutters because passengers didn’t understand that they were doomed to die.  Once passengers understand that hijackers are not going to land the plane, box cutters no longer are effective.  Thus, the best measures against box cutters become, reinforced cock pit doors, and passenger education.  Scanning each and every passenger each and every time for every possible implement is ridiculous and inherently doomed to failure.  Thus, what does taking away my nail clippers accomplish?  It doesn’t make anybody any safer.  What it does do is encroach on my freedom.

Similarly with taking off shoes.  While TSA is seizing my nail clippers, a guy tries to ignite a shoe bomb.  So now each and every American must take off their shoes each and every time the go through a security gate.  Any more shoe bombers?  No.  Does it mean we have now deterred shoe bombs?  No.  It only means that there was one guy with a shoe bomb, and now American citizens are subject to the demeaning and useless process of taking off their shoes over and over again.

What is the point, really? These are the types of techniques used in controlling prison populations.  Subject and condition them to accept humiliating direction from their controllers.  This most recent TSA screening measure is no different.  The administration cannot possibly have any expectation that this will make us any safer.  They can bet it will be another blow in the process of beating us into submission.

Bomb sniffing dogs are your best bomb detection method.  This is how we clear mine fields, when the stakes are hard and real.  Why don’t we employ the best detection method?  Body scanners and mass pat downs are only effective against a narrow class of attacks.  They are massively expensive.  Why are we using the extremely expensive, less effective method?

There are so many vulnerabilities to terrorist attack, that the idea of the government restricting our freedom to protect us is an unending process. The question then becomes, What is the point?

Boiling a Frog.  We’ve all heard of the boiling frog.  The idea goes (I have not personally verified the scientific accuracy) that you can boil a frog to death, and have it not jump out of the pot, if you first set it in a pot of cold water. Then turn on the flame and increase the water temperature slowly, incrementally.  The frog will adjust to each incremental increase, not noticing one degree difference at a time.  However, when taken together the 212 individual degrees will not have been noticed, yet the frog is boiling just the same.

Another brick in the wall.  The latest TSA measures are just another brick in the wall of the prison that the United States is becoming.

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