The Big Story: Taxes

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 30, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Ms. Thole, like many in Belleville, is also convinced that governments could avoid raising taxes by adopting more frugal habits.

“There’s some days we stay home and we eat peanut butter,” she said.

What would she like governments to cut?

“I really like it when they cut the weeds along the highway,” she said. “I like it when there’s good roads to drive on. The schools, I don’t know, I don’t want to pull back from the schools. I don’t have the answer of where to pull back.

“I want the state parks to stay open. I want, I want, I want. I want Big Bird. I think it’s beautiful. What don’t I want? I don’t know.”

The above is a perfect example of how many people view taxes in America. They believe that government is spending too much. On what? They don’t know, but they’re sure it’s something. A bunch of things even. Just not any of the things that they like or want or need. People who drive think we spend too much on public transit, people who take public transit think we spend too much on roads (we do, but I digress). Frequently, people think too little money is being on spent on them. “Where’s all this money going?” they say to themselves. The answer is, everywhere. Our local, state, and federal governments do much more than most people comprehend, and it costs much more than they think. Would Ms. Thole want more holistic, and sensible crime policy if she knew that corrections is the 2nd largest state expenditure after Medicaid?:

one out of every 15 state dollars is spent on corrections in this country. Not coincidentally, one in 31 American adults are adrift in this bloated corrections matrix, stretching resources razor thin. Now swing the recession sledgehammer, and you have a nationwide crisis requiring states to come up with creative solutions to meet enormous budget deficits.

There’s something we could cut. Because you know, drug addicts should get treatment not go to jail. Especially when treatment is a far cheaper option (PDF):

…the average cost of placing a participant in DTAP, including the costs of residential treatment, vocational training an support services was $32,974—half the average cost of $64,338 if the participant had been sent to serve the average term of imprisonment for participants, 25 months.

Sometimes my mind is boggled by this stuff, just about everyone wants more services, but many don’t expect to pay more for those services. Nowhere else do you find that attitude except when it comes to the government. No one would walk into a spa for a massage, and then expect to a facial as well for the same price, but everyone wants better schools, and lower property taxes.

Then we have the people who think poor folks are ballin’ out:

Mr. Siemens does have a concern about fairness. He believes that lower-income households are not paying enough in taxes.

“By any measure, the wealthy are still paying a disproportionate amount of their income in taxes,” he said. “Is that fair or not fair? I don’t know, but I have an issue with the dramatic reduction of taxes at the low end because I think everybody needs some skin in the game.”

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The share of Americans who think lower-income households pay too little in taxes increased to 24 percent in 2012 from 8 percent in 1992, according to Gallup.

What a “skin in the game” is going to make poor people do, I don’t know. But clearly those poor people have it good so to make things more “fair”, they should pay more. Because, “some skin” will make you do stuff (*wink*) or something. Meanwhile, Mr. Siemens’ state doesn’t have a progressive tax rate. Which means that the poor are more than paying their fair share in state taxes:

…Illinois, like most states, takes a larger share of income from those who make less. Illinois households earning less than $25,000 a year on average paid 14.3 percent of income in state and local taxes in 2010, while those earning more than $200,000 paid 9.4 percent

We have a couple of people in this article who represent a powerful sentiment across large swaths of America: The idea that rich people work harder than less well off folks, and that’s why they’re rich. Now hard work is 9/10 a prerequisite for wealth, but I’d say it’s a prerequisite for poverty as well. Growing up, I knew many, many people who lived below the federal poverty line (which @ 23 grand for a family of 4 is extremely low). None of them were headed by people who didn’t work. The working poor exist, and education seems like the key to higher wages, and ability to lift oneself out of poverty. Meanwhile California is spending almost a year of room & board at Harvard on incarcerating people for the same length of time. All the while cutting back on their own awesome public colleges & universities. This is perverse. This is a America. Where we lock up drug users, and states like S.C. increase prison spending by %500 only to see recidivism rates increase.But I guess things will get better by admiring the rich, and making poor people pay more.

 

 

 

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Quote Of The Day: Rush Limbaugh

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 9, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Via:

Let me take you back to the Republican convention. We had Suzanne Martinez, female Hispanic governor, New Mexico. We had Condoleezza Rice, African-American, former secretary of state.  Both of those people imminently qualified, terrifically achieved… We had Marco Rubio. We had a parade of minorities who have become successful Americans… Now, why didn’t that work, folks? 

I am going to leave that right there for you. Let your big beautiful brain stew on that for a little bit.

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Fatherhood Friday: Waiting For The Bus

by TKOEd • Friday, Oct 12, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to take my daughter to her bus stop & wait with her. The mornings before school are a slightly crazy time. Getting the child up, washed, fed, dressed & out the door while simultaneously packing her lunch, and getting the dogs together for their morning walk can be intense. Luckily, I have Erika on most days, and vice versa.

Every morning there is a parade of other parents, mostly moms, taking their kids to school or waiting with them at the various bus stops. There is also shorter, not smaller, parade of children taking other children to school. This morning I saw a boy, maybe 8 years old, walking an even younger girl to what I assume was school, pre-school or day care. I had one thought: “And Mitt Romney thinks poor people (read Black people) don’t take “responsibility” for their lives. And yes, I think he was thinking about Black people when he made that 47% statement. I don’t think he was thinking about seniors or soldiers or disabled folks. Too many things in that statement are exactly the things that the GOP has been accusing Black people of being for decades. This was just the latest coded way of saying them.

I thought of my niece who at 13, with all the pressures of trying to get into a good high school, has been helping her parents more & more with her younger brothers. Fuck you, don’t tell me she’s not taking responsibility for her life. She’s not only taking responsibility for her life, but two others. I looked at my daughter, and prayed that she would never have to juggle so many responsibilities. That we will have the good fortune, and good decision making to give all she needs, and more. We’ll expect her help with other kids when we have them, but, God willing, that will be dictated by us, and not by circumstance.

I thought of the parents whose children are helping them shoulder the burden of bad circumstances, choices, and often just bad luck. How scared are they when they send their kids out that door alone? They probably worry about bad drivers, and bad influences. They maybe say a small prayer, and hope that neither child’s impulsiveness rears its head during their, hopefully, short walk.

Being a parent is hard, being a poor one is even harder. 21.6% of the people in my Congressional district live in poverty. The overwhelming majority of them are taking responsibility for their lives. And whatever ones aren’t, I guarantee it’s not because they’re “dependent” on the govt. As if $30.88 a week in food stamps is making people dependent. Fuck you. It’s far more likely that people who can’t, won’t or are having a hard time taking responsibility for themselves have been failed by their government, and by extension, their country.

Either way, we are striving to raise to help our child grow into a good adult. One who won’t ever have to worry about being dependent on anything, but her own skills, charm & know-how. She will not be beholden to a big corporation, or a “big” government. The only thing she’ll have to answer to are her big dreams. I pray the same for all children.

 

 

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