Monday, November 29, 2004

More sad stats from the war...

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Nears Record

Well this is a sad statistic from our war on terror.

To be honest, I only skimmed the first part of this article.

Why then, am I commenting on it?!

I read, in the first few paragraphs, and since the begining of this War, (I refuse to say conflict, or down-play this War), we are going to lose 133 soldiers this month, which will be our
biggest loss per month since the beginning of the war. I would obviously perfer that we lose zero soldiers in this war, but I am realistic enough to know, that is not realistic.

My point is commenting on our media. They would have us believe (see link above), record deaths have been recorded in this war...

Let me mention here, that one of my very best friends is going back to Iraq. I will call him 'G Escobar', to not mention his name, (and, that name is an inside joke between us). I worry so much about him. As a friend, I want him to stay home, I want him safe. When he was going to Iraq the first time, he had an injury. All I could think about was, "G, this is your way out!" Of course, being so much braver than I, he told me he was going to hide the injury, and go do his duty.

Damn, this is the kind of character we have defending our well-being! I feel VERY confident.

Now to the real sad statistic....We lost 133 soldiers in Iraq in November.

When our great country helped defeat Hitler, (another terrorist that spoke well, and got a lot of people to believe that a group of people should be 'taken out' just like the Hussein's & Bin Laden's of the world believe us 'infidels' should be eliminated), we lost 484,375 people, confirmed dead, and MIA.

In that scary war, we lost 10,764 per month...

Hmmm....10,764 per month on average or worst case, 133 in a month?

I know with some certainty that my freind G has a much better chance of coming home from this war than ever before in history.

I am still very concerned about G, but knowing what a great man he is, I know he will be an amazing leader to all the young men and women he will lead.

As a last note,
G, I want to thank you for being more than just a friend, thank you for keeping all of our loved ones safe and secure.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

How 'bout a flat tax?

While a simplified flat tax system sounds like a great idea, Douglas Dunn makes some good points. He points out the issues contained in the most recent flat tax proposals, especially as it pertains to 'unearned' income. This is the issue that probably annoys me more than any other. This is the entire arguement against these proposals, (at least until my next arguement). But seriously, so far I have not seen a proposal that properly addresses the subject of 'earned' vs. 'unearned' income. The current proposals have unearned income exempt from taxation. That would be of great benefit to the idle rich, but hurt the working guy. By Idle Rich, we're talking about the wealthy that don't earn anything, and have enough money to live on without having to pay any taxes, they go to fundraiser dinners, to socialize with their friends, so they can write it off against the interest they made on their money, so the middle class in essence, would pay their tax bill. If I happen to inherit a few million I'd be the first in line to write off my party expenses! Don't worry, that won't be happening anytime soon. Well, or ever.

So, lets get rid of the deductions! Well that causes another concern, one Mr Dunn addressed nicely-

the idea of "eliminating all deductions." The basic concept of deductions is based on determining what one's actual income is. For example, consider two working guys. They're both plumbers. They both receive checks throughout the year paid to them which total $100,000. The first guy is an employee. He works for a company that has a scheduler who sets his appointments, and provides him with a truck and tools. The second guy is self-employed. He hires a secretary to schedule his appointments and pays her $30,000. He buys a truck for $25,000. He spends $5,000 more on tools. Is it really fair to say there will be NO deductions? The issue should not be to eliminate all deductions, but to isolate legitimate ones and separate them from welfare for the rich.

Welfare for the rich that's great! So eliminating deductions is not the answer either. Now what? What do we do? A flat tax, or reform?

Dunn makes a good point about the Graduated Progressive Tax. Ultimately it does treat everybody the same. Flat tax proponents want to focus on the idea that people are paying different rates. Well, yes and no. We'll use his numbers for this example. Everybody pays the same rate on their first $25,000, (level 1-15%), if they earn another $30,000, they pay the same rate on
that money, (level 2-28%), and if they make more money, they pay the same rate for that amount,(level 3-33%).

The main thing is that
a person making $200,000 per year, will pay $60,000 in taxes, taking home $140,000. Not bad. A person making only $25,000 would pay $3,750, taking home $21,250....That is the graduted progressive system, level 1@15%=$3,750 in taxes, level 2@28%=$8,400 in taxes, and level 3@33%=$47,850 in taxes.

Under the flat tax of 20% our $25k guy would pay $5,000 in taxes, a $1,250 increase. Our $200k guy, would pay $40,000, a $20,000 decrease.

Obviously this does not benefit the working man, it benefits the wealthy.

Now just to be be clear, I don't even care about that. What continues to bother me can be seen on a previous comment by Screamin Memes,
"The death of democracy starts when the people realize they can vote themselves free money." Yes, free money, and where does free money come from? Taxes. How do you raise taxes to get free money? Lobbyists.

A flat tax does not address our current situation, reform does, but it will be very difficult. We have weaved ourselves into a complicated system. I wish I had a great answer.

The best I could come up with is that lobbyists are a problem so let's make them the solution. What if every taxpayer in the country set up a fund, we each put in $10, there has to be 200 million taxpayers, that would give us a lobbyworth $2 billion! Let's only pay them a minimum salary of $40k or whatever,
until they get our tax reform as specified by us, after that, any of them that were hired would get to split the $2 billion. To break it down, even if we had to hire 500 lobbyist to make this happen, that is a $4 million payday for each. We could even have a $1 fee in our taxes to pay them after as a commission and to keep them employed as a watchdog. Another $200 million per year to be our watchdog. But again, not paid out until we are satisfied with their work. I am not a fan of lobbyists, but I'd do it for that kind of cash!

I know this proposal is full of holes, and I'm sure I will hear about it, but wouldn't this be a great start!

It is going to take something huge to get any kind of tax reform, and I am less than convinced that a flat tax can even work.

If anyone has any insight, please, let me know....

Monday, November 22, 2004

By the way...

All my posts for the next couple weeks are somewhat of a trial. I am going to clear the entire blog before starting, I am just getting familliar with the site, my schedule and when I have adequate time to write posts, etc. So please feel free to comment as much as you like, on any topic, content, look of site, etc. Thanks....

Drugs from Canada

Since the election we haven't heard as much about this topic, but I still hear the " makes so much sense!" thing. Now I'm not in the medical or pharmaceutical field, but from a basic business perspective let's look at this.

First the popoulation of the US is almost 300 million, and the population of Canada is only 32 million. I think a supply issue should be a concern right off the bat. Can Canada even keep up with the demand? Are we going to cause a shortage of perscription drugs in Canada?

If we put that aside, what are the Drug companies going to do? First they have a responsibility to their shareholders, they can not allow themselves to loose as much money as they stand to loose. What will they do? Up the price of drugs in every area that doesn't fix prices. For this, let's just take the US. If we get half of our drugs from Canada to help with the cost, what is going to happen to drug prices on the half we have to buy here? They go up, i.e. one person buys $5 worth of drugs that used to cost $10 here. The drug companies just lost $5, so when the next guy buys the same amount here, instead of being $10, they're $15. The drug companies are going to make up for it somewhere. Of course I am using very arbitrary numbers, but I think you get the point.

As I said, I am not part of the medical or pharmaceutical industry, but let's look at the whole picture before we start saying Bush is holding back affordable medicine from his citizens.

I'd love to hear any insight anyone has on this...

Friday, November 19, 2004

You can help the mentally ill and it won't cost you anything...unless...

There was a Proposition on the California ballot this year for the mentally ill. The short version of it is that millionaires would pay and extra 1% to pay for care of the mentally ill. If you're not a millionaire, it costs you nothing. Sounds good, I'm not a millionaire, what do I care, those poor mentally ill need help, and 1% of a million is only 10 grand! They can afford it! Right!

Well, this is a very dangerous precedence, and it shows that maybe, just maybe, not everybody should be allowed to vote (I'm going to say that young voter apathy is instilled by God, as a way to not let college kids that don't get it, vote). Let's observe... Are the number of millionaires equal to the number of non-millionaires in California?

No, being part of the non-millionaire group, out of all the people I know, (and I know a lot of people) I only know a handfull of millionaires. I'll go out on a limb and say I know 25, I may have a hard time coming up with that many, but with the help of the few I know, I should be able to do it. Just for perspective, I have 54 voting age people that work for me, none of them millionaires. I also know a few people outside of work, go through my phone book, email list, friends, relatives, etc. gotta put me at say 500 people, to be conservative.

That puts us at...
Millionaires 25
Non-millionaires 500

Do you see a problem here? There is no chance that the millionaires are going to be able to defend themselves from this, against! Isn't the point of voting to protect us all from tyranny? Would you not call this tyranny? If there is another word for it, please, let me know!

This is why we must revamp our Proposition System, the way it stands now is irresponsible. Too many uninformed voters are swayed by good intentions without hearing the whole story. (Let's not even mention the $3 BILLION we just approved for stem cell research, that the groups that were FOR stem cell research urged us to vote against, =no accoutability) In this instance, what are millionaires supposed to do? They should
NOT have to get together, and spend a BUNDLE of their money just to fight against a tyrannical Proposition.

I don't have a great answer, I would love to hear from the other side, or a millionaire!

Keep in mind, most of us are not millionaires, but, I am a single person with no kids, a minority. What if a proposition was proposed...

Prop. 4US:
Since you have no spouse and no children to support you must have extra income, you're going to pay an extra 1% of your income to support at risk teens, just because we need money.

OOOHHH, now I care, now I feel it.

If, "you can place a vote, make a difference and not feel it." It is probably too good to be true.........

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Are you a Liberal?

Thanks to Dennis Prager for this, quiz, if you will, 'Are you a Liberal?'

You say you are a liberal.

Do you believe the following?

1. Standards for admissions to universities, fire departments, etc. should be lowered for people of color.
2. Bilingual education for children of immigrants, rather than immersion in English, is good for them and for America.
3. Murderers should never be put to death.
4. During the Cold War, America should have adopted a nuclear arms freeze.
5. Colleges should not allow ROTC programs.
6. It was wrong to wage war against Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War.
7. Poor parents should not be allowed to have vouchers to send their children to private schools.
8. It is good that trial lawyers and teachers unions are the two biggest contributors to the Democratic Party.
9. Marriage should be redefined from male-female to any two people.
10. A married couple should not have more of a right to adopt a child than two men or two women.
11. The Boy Scouts should not be allowed to use parks or any other public places and should be prohibited from using churches and synagogues for their meetings.
12. The present high tax rates are good.
13. Speech codes on college campuses are good and American values.
14. The Israelis and Palestinians are morally equivalent.
15. The United Nations is a moral force for good in the world, and therefore America should be subservient to it and such international institutions as a world court.
16. It is good that colleges have dropped hundreds of men's sports teams in order to meet gender-based quotas.
17. No abortions can be labeled immoral.
18. Restaurants should be prohibited by law from allowing customers to choose between a smoking and a non-smoking section.
19. High schools should make condoms available to students and teach them how to use them.
20. Racial profiling for terrorists is wrong -- a white American grandmother should as likely be searched as a Saudi young male.
21. Racism and poverty -- not a lack of fathers and a crisis of values -- are the primary causes of violent crime in the inner city.
22. It is wrong and unconstitutional for students to be told, "God bless you" at their graduation.
23. No culture is morally superior to any other.

Those are all liberal positions. How many of them do you hold?

I agree with Dennis that most people that call themself Liberal truly are not. They may have a few liberal views, I have a few Liberal views, like, #....Oh wait, I don't agree with ANY of these things! Except maybe allowing Gay Marriage, maybe I'll go back to school and become a 'Gay Divorce Lawyer' I'd make a fortune. Does that make me a Liberal?

By the way, I'm not suggesting gay people would divorce more than traditional couples, just that it is a whole new group of clients.