Tag Archives: taxes

105. Balancing Rich vs. Poor

8 Jul

Our country (USA) now has a certain established income (mostly from tax), and established expenditures. An increase or decrease in any source of income or expense will, as a general rule, either raise or lower the nation debt. To keep the budget constant and free of debt increase, you must keep all parts of it about the same, or set up see-saw rules: up in one area, down in another, and visa-versa. (These rules hold in general, but there can be minor complications.)

So if someone proposes more military spending then there will be less for other areas, for example, infrastructure spending. If we take away huge amounts of income by lowering taxes for the rich, then there could be less for Medicaid, education, environmental protection, or something else.

Trump and Republicans have always proposed decreasing our national income by lowering wealthy taxes. This by itself would increase the national debt. Further, Trump wants to greatly increase military spending. So now we have a lot of spending, with the consequence that other programs will suffer. Rich folks will buy more luxury items, and will be more effective in influencing Congress. And poor people will suffer as their special programs (such as Medicaid) will be diminished. There is a clear ethical problem: less luxury for millionaires (even billionaires) versus the deaths of people who lack health care.

For Trump, having a powerful military is very important because it is helpful in coercion, forcing other countries to go along with his plans. After all, his political and negotiating skills don’t seem to be very good, so he needs a very powerful military to get his way. Also, his political mistakes can be minimized by showing off his military might — similar to the displays of armaments by North Korea.

Another bonus for very rich people would be eliminating the inheritance tax. The cut-off for this tax is the inheritance of five-million dollars so it only applies to rich folk. The vast majority of U.S. citizens support the continuation of this tax.  I have noticed that when Trump mentions inheritance tax, it is very quickly and with a lowered voice.

If the Republicans can achieve the above goals, which make wealthy people even richer, then these are some of the areas that could be adversely affected:
education, health care, State Department functions, Planned Parenthood, Medicaid, Medicare, infrastructure improvement, scientific research, medical research, various tech programs, environmental protections, etc. Let’s ask Trump to do with the Military, what he has proposed in other situations — lets hold the extra spending and make it more efficient instead.

 

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99. Change Yes, Trump No

4 Mar

I think our country needs some radical changes to preserve it, and make it exemplary again. Forget Trump’s “great  again”, let’s make it admirable, honorable, and respectable. This blog is “BasicCauses” and I want to look at some of the fundamentals of our system.

I am going to make some major criticisms so I want to make it clear in advance, that I am happy to be an American, vote every election, served in the U.S. Army, and enjoy free enterprise, having created two successful businesses. I generally support the fundamental features of our current governmental system, but believe we need some significant basic changes. The arrival of Donald Trump as our country’s leader, emphasizes the need for  re-thinking.   Please consider the following:

1. The Primary Process and Voting does not yield the best leaders. This is hard to fix, and probably the best solution, better education, may not be effective for a long time. Many poorly educated voters do not have the reasoning and research skills to make the best judgments. Long held and obsolete beliefs are barriers to better choices.

2. Congress is organized so as to promote gridlock. Our current system has too many barriers to completing legislation. There are many different changes that could speed up law making. One thought that I have had is to have one large legislative body and require 52% of votes to pass a bill. Filibustering would not be allowed, but short speeches from many would be allowed.  The quality of legislation could be improved by adding to this body,  various specialists such as University representatives. A major reorganization will not occur in my lifetime, but starting to think about it is important and I may discuss it more in future blogs.

3. The “fourth branch of government”, the press, is being oppressed. It appears now that we need to pass laws or find other means of protecting the press and allowing them to criticize without recrimination. Also, the citizens should clearly support freedom of the press.

4. Rich donors should not have powerful control of our government. I suggest a maximum donation of $100 for all citizens and no donations allowed from corporations or other organizations. Let’s abolish the super pacs and have a true democracy.

5. Our middle-class is not benefiting enough from our nation’s success. We need to abolish tax-loopholes and increase rates for the very rich.  Many wealthy corporations and individuals pay no tax at all because of loopholes.  Even the Pope has criticized “trickle-down” approaches, which rarely work, but are advocated by the GOP.  (“Trickle-down” means: give lots of money to wealthy businesses and simply hope that some will trickle-down to the rest of us.)

6. Congress should not police and regulate itself. An independent body should do this. (The same goes for all Healthcare organizations and many other service areas.) Unfortunately, with today’s polarization, it is not easy to find truly independent persons.

7. A potential problem is “privatizing.” This means moving a function run by the government, to a private, for profit company. A consequence is that some rich person (and staff) will make huge amounts of money and emphasize profits over proper services. In most cases, the benefits of competition do not make up for all the money lost to over-paid executives. For example, privatizing prisons was a failure and was abolished. Politicians sometimes threaten Social Security and Medicare with privatization, which would decrease benefits.  I have said more about this in previous blogs.

89. Some Tweet-like World Observations

2 Feb

1. Privatizing means creating a system that has a private owner as opposed to a government-run institution. Examples are schools and prisons. The latter has been tried but is now diminishing. In privately run systems a concern for profit can cause neglect in providing required services. Often, civic-minded people working as a public governmental body can be more effective, and with less expenditure. There is a fixed budget so that workers can focus on quality work.  Some would argue that privatizing creates beneficial competition, but in fact there is little competition in areas where privatizing is being promoted.

2. Do we need insurance companies that develop extreme wealth for their executives, paid for by you and me, while benefits are diminished. Why should our world be configured so that a few can become very rich at the expense of the rest of us? Our more advanced civilization has been around for 150 years or so. In that time, the “royalty class” has become entrenched in our system — robbing many ordinary people of their means of survival. I am not against the concept that hard-work and intelligence should be financially rewarded, it is the extremes and abuses that concern me.extreme we Being rich is OK, wealth is not. I also want to make clear that I owned two businesses and believe in our form of regulated capitalism.

3. The arrival of Trump marks the creation of a new entity resulting from social/business evolution. The new creation is what I shall call the extended governing family unit. The Trump version consists of himself, his offspring and their spouses; each having a specialized function. But to clarify, effective and powerful family units are not really “new”, but a unit this large, with necessary distributed functionality, has never before been our “president.” My next blog (no. 90) will explain this further.

4. Diagnosis of all types should be separate from treatment. The fees for various treatments can be very different, and the Dx could be biased towards better income. For example, the exact diagnosis for a cancer could lead to expensive and profitable surgery or a much less expensive radiation or drug treatment.  Dentists have tough decisions in deciding what is actually a cavity that require a filling.  Any healthcare, other service, or repair company can be jaded by this factor. How to fix this is a real dilemma.

5. Our U.S. government may be doomed to failure, because of powerful relationships between very rich folks (donors) and governmental leaders. The best cure would be a great improvement in education so that we can break the donor influence. Remember that our current leaders arose to power under this system and, as you would expect, want to preserve it. Many of those at the top have little interest in teaching logic, reasoning, and correct history to our students and potential voters. We are caught in a powerful loop and will need to be coordinated and industrious to have a chance of breaking it. The current massive demonstrations in many cities is on the right track and encouraging.

6. Ironically, a thousand years from now, the invention of email may be identified by witty history professors, as the cause of the downfall of our Earth civilization. Take away email, and there would have been much less abuse of Hillary Clinton, and she could have been elected. If that had happened, a strong NATO, great international relations, better climate change efforts, fair treatment of the middle-class, control of nuclear weapons, careful communications, and other factors could have saved the world from numerous disasters.  Trump has already alienated some of our closest allies.

7. Governmental officials generally set their own salaries and rules of operation. They are only people, after all, so how can we expect them to be fair. It seems that most people in power long enough will eventually become corrupted (at least somewhat). We need a better system, but change is difficult. The press should help us, but are often limited by some very real vulnerabilities. A tough leader with violent supporters can be an awesome force that discourages needed criticism and modification.

8. I suspect that most of Trump’s early supporters voted for him for various reasons, including: his power, likability (for many), promises of jobs, identification of scapegoats, prejudices, anti-terrorism statements, etc.  What probably was overlooked, was a good estimation of what he would actually DO and SAY after taking office.  Many of us had hoped that he would change after a couple of weeks as POTUS, but he has not.

88. Ask Trump: Which Regulations?

31 Jan

Donald Trump has said it is urgent to abolish as many federal government regulations as possible (subject to certain limitations). This may sound OK to ordinary citizens, but if you study the details, you will quickly see why Trump is not more specific. The one specific law that he would terminate is the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act”. He never uses the full name, because this act provides Wall Street reform and consumer (you and me) protection. Abolishing the act takes away our protections and allows banks and investment houses leeway to make more profits at our expense. When major banks and other corporations failed in 2008, you and me (the taxpayers) spent our money in saving them. And, to add insult to injury, many of the offending executives got bonuses that year. So it is the old story, rich Mr. Trump is recklessly increasing profits for his wealthy friends, and you and I will, in some way, pay for it; just like we will have to pay for his “Mexican Wall”.

The reason why all this is possible, is that corporations protect individuals from losses due to reckless actions. A corporation can go bankrupt and take the blame, while the executives escape unharmed. And, rich donors lobby congressmen to provide laws that help them financially. Note that Hillary Clinton supported this protective act.

We can only speculate as to what other regulations Trump wants to remove. He has created a rule that is absurd and harmful: that for every new regulation, two must be abolished. Good government is not a game where you ignore the consequences of what you do — it is serious business that affects people’s lives. Historically, thousands (even millions) have died for improper regulation of pesticides (like DDT), improper testing of drugs (like Thalidomide that harmed babies) and various kinds of pollution and toxins (like lead in the water).

Regulations also protect us from financial trickery designed to increase profits for corporate executives. Currently, when you get a mortgage, other type of loan, credit card, annuity, etc., you can be reasonably certain that you are safe. If the regulation of financial transactions is abolished you might have to hire a lawyer to deal with these, or risk major losses. Our world has become more and more complicated and the citizens will need more protections, not less.

Trump and most Republicans would argue that abolishing regulations, lowering taxes for corporations and wealthy people, etc., will improve our economy and the positive results will “trickle down” and help us ordinary citizens.  Why is it that every such plan starts with making rich people richer, and the middle class can only hope for some trickle down. Don’t be fooled. For many years the royalty class has prospered, but the promised middle-class benefits have not been received.

80. Dirty Tricks Win Election

13 Dec

A number of actions occurred during the recent U.S. election process that can be classified as dirty tricks — and led to the Trump win. Here are the most important:
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1. Suppression of voters resulting from Republican state-government legislation. One method was to decrease the number of voting days, which caused a decrease in minority voting. A Republican supreme court recently abolished rules to control voter suppression laws and red state governments rapidly took advantage of this.
.                        THE FBI DIRECTOR WAS A REPUBLICAN
2. Republican FBI director Comey interfered with the election process. The first problem was his assessment of Hillary as “extremely careless.” He has no baseline, no data from other similar officials, to make this conclusion. Maybe if other leaders were examined in detail, they would have been worse. The next problem was his announcement of an additional email investigation, 11 days before the election — violating agency rules. Comey and many FBI officials are Republicans. It is well established that there were FBI-agent leaks and excessive investigative actions.
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3. Russian hacking influence. All the major U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee. They then chose to release a number of private emails by high ranking Democrat officials. There was nothing illegal in the emails, but private conversations can be misinterpreted in a negative way.
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4. Hillary was dogged by numerous unjustified congressional investigations, which ultimately led to nothing.
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5. Women that Hillary’s husband had affairs with were paraded in the audience during one of the debates.
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6. Online web sites that pretended to be valid news sources spread lies about Hillary and her campaign. This was a serious problem, as many voters get most of their info from such social Internet sources.

             VOTE FOR US SO THAT WE CAN BECOME EVEN RICHER

In addition to the “tricks”, Trump lied about many facts, painting a terrible picture of the Democrat candidate. One of the most ridiculous lies was that Hillary initiated the Pres. Obama “birther” movement. He also said that Pres. Obama founded ISIS. Some of the lies were later retracted, but they still had an effect. Trump’s lying exceeds everyone else that has run for major office, but he belongs to a party that has a major lie as a premise: if you lower taxes for very rich people, and make them even richer, somehow the extra money will “trickle down” to the rest of us. There is a history of lowering taxes for the very rich, which shows that the “trickling” does not happen. They get richer and we stay the same. Even the Pope pointed this out. They can’t be honest and say: vote for us so that we can become even richer. There are many other similar GOP lies.

                      YES !  HILLARY WON BY 2.5 MILLION VOTES
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If you combine the small effects of each the “dirty tricks” and lies, you have enough influence to shift the election from Hillary to Trump. Remember that voting was very close in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — and that Hillary actually won the popular vote by 2.5 million — YES !! 2.5 million more citizens voted for Hillary than Trump. This will go down in history as the greatest injustice in the U.S. history of presidential elections. I hope members of the electoral college will change their votes accordingly. The future of our country and others could be markedly affected by this outcome.

77. Reflections Post-Elections

10 Nov
I am mostly concerned here with reasons for the Democrat losses.
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There is a tendency to blame the president for everything that happens to the country. Hillary was viewed by many as an extension of Pres. Obama, who was wrongly blamed for a lack of progress, even though it was mostly GOP obstructionism that was at fault.
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It is hard to prove, but the Democrat loss could be the result of FBI Director Comey pronouncements at critical times.  The first problem was his assessment of Hillary as “extremely careless.”  He has no baseline for comparison.  Maybe if other leaders were examined in detail, they would have been worse.  The next problem was his announcement of additional email investigation, 11 days before the election — violating agency rules.  The election was very close, and without Comey’s electioneering Hillary might have won.  Comey and many FBI officials are Republicans.  It is well established that there were FBI-agent leaks and excessive investigative actions.
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I really like Hillary, but I felt from the beginning that she was not the best choice in the primaries.  Hillary is a popular person, has a good organization, and would make a good president, but subjectively, does not fit the picture that most people have of a powerful leader.  The primary process does not always work in the best way, and we need to figure out how to improve it.
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It is not her fault, but an old woman is going to appear weak compared to an old man.  Leaders just have to look strong.  Her husband once said that it is better to be strong than right.  I really think she could have done better, 20 years younger.
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Another factor is that Hillary is a good speaker, but not a great one like her husband and Pres. Obama.  Her answers about emails and other issues were OK but could have been  better.
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Hillary may have spent too much time criticizing Trump and not enough time detailing her plans for America.  She could have presented charts comparing herself with Trump on major points.
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Republicans were very clever in repeating investigations and negative characterizations almost continuously for the entire time of her presidential candidacy.  If a large group of people keep saying that you are bad, even if not true, it can have an effect.
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Many people have rigid beliefs that interfere with good judgment.  They often start with a simple belief that Republicans are good and Democrats are bad.  Then if you want change, you are stuck with Trump as the only Republican that really promotes new ways.
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The press, in their efforts to make money, tend to cover exciting people like Trump, more that reliable people like Hillary.  There also seemed to be a fear factor: reporters often avoided asking Trump the really important questions and instead focused on insults and revenge.  Really challenging Trump could banish you from certain types of coverage, and/or you could suffer other effects of infamous vengeance.
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It is sad to say, most people everywhere, here and abroad, do not have the ability to tell truth from fiction, do not really research candidates, and rely on biased sources of info, such as Fox News.  Only a small percentage of the population has the ability to process election facts and info, and to draw the best conclusions.
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I am not going to add much on problems going forward with Trump’s leadership.  But one thing really stands out in my mind, and that is the re-writing of history.  If Trump or his administration makes a mistake, he will simply deny or change the facts to make it look like someone else’s fault (judging from past strategies).  Or he will intimidate agencies to alter their data and/or analyses.  This could keep him and destructive governmental leaders  in power indefinitely.  Rich donors and leaders (our USA royalty class) are firmly entrenched in our society, now, and probably well into the future.

76. Actually, Rigged FOR Trump

3 Nov
Trump has complained that everything is rigged against him.  But if you examine the facts, you will actually see that almost everything is rigged for him.
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Tax laws are rigged for rich folks like Trump: loopholes, low effective rates, etc.
Banks are rigged to provide loans for very rich and powerful folks like Trump.
Rigged for Trump: a US Constitution that allows him meet his needs by lying.
Fraud laws are rigged to go easy on creators of fraudulent universities.
Republican FBI director breaking rules to tarnish Hillary;  rigged for Trump.
Capitalism rigged so that Trump can afford the best lawyers and accountants.
Social and legal rules are rigged to support a sexual aggressor like Trump.
Financial laws favor non-payment of contractors, the way Trump does it.
Bankruptcy laws are rigged to provide profits for Trump types.
Rigged press avoids asking really tough questions of people like Trump.*
Laws related to inheritance are rigged for Trump types.
Better investment systems like Hedge funds are rigged for rich folk like Trump.
Debate rules are rigged to favor a bully like Trump, who often interrupts.
Lobbyist laws and rules favor rich folks who can afford to pay them.
Influence with Congress is rigged for rich donors like Trump.
Campaign finance laws are rigged to favor folks like Trump.
Draft laws provided five deferments for Trump, others served to protect.
Trump’s father: rigged to provide him millions for a good start.
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The GENERAL ELECTION IN MANY WAYS IS RIGGED TO FAVOR TRUMP.
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But he is not quite clever enough to take full advantage of it (so far). He is defeated by his ego, lack of knowledge, poor social skills, misogyny, prejudices, and temperament. He  probably will lose, but not by much.  With some really good “presidential” behavior and social skills, he could have won (of course, at this time, it is still remotely possible).  His children and advisors tried to help him but he always reverts to his spoiled and crude self.
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  ——————
*Some tough questions:  Why does your tax plan lower taxes for the very rich? How could Hillary fail in so many ways over 30 years, as you say, when the President and Congress make all of the major decisions? How can you blame your “Birther”movement on Hillary?  Why does the KKK support you?  Why did you lie about what was said about the wall, in  your meeting with the Mexican President?  Why did you say nothing was gained by the Iran Nuclear Deal when it provided for loss of Uranium, dismantling of  equipment, inspections, etc.?