Sunday, September 24, 2017

It *IS* Fair to Tax the Rich More


First of all, is "fair" exactly the right lens to look through when discussing broad political policies?  It seems the right measure would be "what does the most good while doing the least harm for most people?"

Overall, the best coupling of economic-political systems seems to be democracy and capitalism with appropriate "safety valves" in place.

The "fairness" question has a lot to do with "safety valves" among other things.  Without some checks on rampant greed, government officials can just be "bought out", and you end up with an oligarchy,  rule by the wealthy, over time.

Another safety valve involves the stock market.  As I've said elsewhere in this blog, too low of taxes on the rich leaves too much money for stock market speculation at the top. The market crashes, and we ALL end up saddled with the increases to national debt that come with this.  This debt saddles our descendents, too.  Debt pay-off is a far higher percentage of middle class resources than upper class resources. 

After the first shock waves of the 2008 crash passed, the wealthy regained their wealth quickly. The middle class, which had already been struggling to maintain its place, keeps falling further behind. We really did bail out the rich more than the poor.

Returning to the national debt:  if we don't pay it down, our country's ability to borrow money will be impacted negatively.  We will have to pay more interest to borrow money.  One prong in paying down the national debt involves raising taxes on the wealthy.  We could someday leave our children or grandchildren with the harsh austerity measures of Greece.  This would hit the middle harder than the wealthy at first, of course.  Over time, though, as the middle was squeezed more and could not be extended personal credit in the way it has been, they will not be able to support the wealthy through buying from the companies and corporations of the wealthy as much.  (I have also made this point elsewhere.)

The wealthy either outright own or own more stock in corporations that damage or negatively affect the environment.  Frequently, these companies/corporations would rather pay fines than fix the problems that hurt the environment or workers.  So we all get saddled with the eventual costs of clean-up or medical bills.  (The corporation may pay some costs in lost productivity.) While corporations pay part of the clean-up costs, we need an active Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make this happen. This costs money.  As the wealthy are profiting more from corporations, it seems "fair" to make them pay a larger share in ensuring the negative impact is limited or addressed.

When poorer people don't have insurance, they use emergency rooms later into their illnesses.  Emergency rooms cannot turn people away.  The hospitals recoup their costs via charging everyone more.  That drives everyone's health insurance up more.  The costs for insurance are a far lower percentage of the wealthy's compensation packages than it is for the middle class.  (The poor figure in differently, due to subsidies.)

There are other ways that the health industry benefits the wealthy out of all of this.  Hospitals keep being allowed to merge, although it is not necessarily good for the public.  Hospitals frequently operate, technically, by non-profit rules that benefit their ability to rake in the money.  But being non-profits doesn't stop them from paying their boards and their managing staff (roughly the equivalents of "CEOs") enormous salaries.  Additionally, health insurance companies and their CEOs, which are for profit, rake in big $$$.

(As an aside, the German system does not allow companies to make a profit from basic health insurance.  The companies make their profits from the high-end "designer" policies.  Maybe a thought for here?)

The argument comes up that the wealthy are "job creators."  Not so fast. When greed became fashionable in the 80s (a fashion that has not died), a lot of corporate muckety-mucks accelerated the pace of moving jobs overseas to cheaper labor.  There is nothing written into current federal tax-lowering schemes that makes the wealthy produce more high-paying jobs in exchange for lowered taxes.  Besides which, some of the wealthy inherited their wealth.  Others are CEOs, who managed to get themselves into a "sweet deal." And they don't always lead their companies to better earnings. Even when they don't, they get obnoxiously high salaries, or at least the "golden parachute" to just leave and let another CEO give it a try.  And they have no obligation to create more high-paying jobs here. Their only obligations are to helping the shareholders get higher returns on their stocks.

There are those entrepreneurs who have created companies and wealth in their own generation. But, generally, they relied on strength, talents and resources of others. And a lot of the people in this category are very generous and give away a lot of their earnings.

Another reason raising federal taxes on the wealthy is fairer than you think is that state and local taxes tend to even out the percentages everyone pays in taxes.  State taxes are less graduated (everyone pays "closer" to the same percentage) and sales taxes take a far higher percentage of your money, the less you earn (or take home in disability or retirement pay).

Some states have tried the ridiculous lowering of taxes, as I've also mentioned elsewhere.  There have been some that kept cutting when others have tried to point out it wasn't working.  Some of these states did couple corporate tax cuts with the requirement to provide jobs with certain salary levels.  Others did not. Still, Kansas and Louisiana, as mentioned elsewhere, ran into serious problems.  It looks like Wisconsin is going that way; the programs are beginning to be very unpopular there.  It seems only a matter of time until Arizona learns the hard way. 

Another reason I don't like this is how much this line of thinking is bought out directly by the Koch Brothers.  When you trace all the ways they funnel money to candidates to promote this, it's scary.  I won't list them all here right  now.  But there are a couple points worth making.

As an aside, I will mention a couple of the glaring improprieties of how the Kochs are setting too much of the national agenda.  First of all, there constant interference makes democracy a farce.  Secondly, the Kochs aren't terribly honest.  They're very willing to "use" conservatives who are pro-life, while the Kochs are decidedly pro-choice.  At some point, when they've gotten their way on economic matters, will they buy out the public thinking on abortion?  (There are other social conservative preferences that are the opposite of what the Kochs want.  I will not discuss all that here.  Suffice it to say, it looks like they're using people.)

As mentioned in my post on libertarianism, the Kochs literally want -0- taxes. That's not realistic at all in a modern society.  (see that post for more details) 

The Kochs bring out a great deal of cynicism in me.  There are so many things deserving another post at another time on that cynicism.  But that's not the main point of this post.  The reason they came up in this post is their constant pushing of the opposite of what would be helpful for the U.S. to move forward. And I wanted to point out that they buy politicians' intentions.  

I agree that there's a point at which taxes are too high on the wealthy.  I'm no "Bernie, Jr.", either.  (I think his use of "socialism" was misapplied.  And it risks letting people like me get labelled as "socialist", which I'm not.  The correct definition of socialism is, according to Merriam-Webster: " 1) any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. 2) a system of society or group living in which there is no private property."  Even Bernie doesn't believe this.)  The "sweet spot" seems to be setting federal taxes on the wealthy somewhere between 40 & 45% and more fully graduating state taxes, to have more brackets.  (I realize I mentioned how having them less graduated equalizes things more, but they would still not likely end up fully graduated in most states.)

Think for yourself.  Don't follow straight ideologies.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reason 1000 (on "Why We Need a New TR")







And, yes, this is a real quote.  I found it myself and made the meme myself!


Monday, September 4, 2017

More Cultural Appropriation?!?!?!?




Hey, my ancestral peoples, the Germanic tribes, worshipped Thor as their Thunder-God. They kept his groves of sacred oaks.  Can I be offended over this?  😉😉😉

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

No Duh!


Well, this was a "No 'doo-doo', Sherlock" moment.  The street ends in a T-intersection, with a mountain looming behind.  Yet, the city apparently needed the "Dead End" sign!!!  😆😄😃




Cultural Appropriation???



OK, so can I be offended, as a bona fide 100% German-American (though I might have a tiny slice of Jewish in me), about this?!?!?!?  😏😉  Real Lederhosen and a faux Bavarian dress in the costume section of Goodwill!!! 

Or should I be flattered that you all just want to be like us!?!?! 😗😉

What about "my" sauerkraut?  (You can have the German chocolate cake... it's not really German.)

OK.. one thing that is NOT ok:  white supremacists coopting my "father-tongue" (as Germans would put it) for their propaganda.  I speak my ancestral lingo, and I am totally NOT ok with that!!!!!



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dangerous Curve


"The Laffer Curve is no laughing matter."  --C. Marie Byars

The Laffer Curve is what Reganomics/Trickle-down economics (aka, the tax reducing aspect of "supply side" economics) is based on.  

See my many links on "economics" in this blog to see how foolish this is and/or what some better options would be.  

Actually, lowering business taxes, as a trial matter, anyway, might be smart. Especially if it were coupled with some expectations that CEO salaries couldn't exceed a certain percentage of the average worker's salary.  (As below, see the new book, The CEO Pay Machine,  by Steven Clifford.)

The Pitfalls of Libertarianism


(aka:  "The United States of Koch Brothers")

(1)  This has never been a Libertarian country.  No matter what libertarians try to say about the early days and the Founding Fathers, it never was.  

(2)  Even if it had a bit more of a Libertarian bent in the early decades, that would no longer work, practically, in today's society. Things have changed. At the time of our founding, we were much more rural.  And if people ran out of space or wanted second chances or wanted to try to "get ahead", they often moved further west, where they could homestead.  (I'm not going to argue the ethics here about whether they should have taken land from Native Americans.  I'm only presenting what happened.)

(3)  When we were more rural, there was less social unrest. And those who were still rural could insulate themselves from a lot of it.  Now that we're living on top of each other in cities and sizeable towns, we can't do that.  If only for self-interest, there has to be some sort of safety net.  The alternative is to spend a lot more on law enforcement and incarceration.

(This is not to argue to liberal opposite that we must try to equalize income.  That would be socialism.  Of course, there are leaders on the Right that want to talk about any increase on taxes on the 1% for the public good as "socialism."  I know this for a fact because I went to see my congressman, Representative Trent Franks, in person [knowing it was probably a lost cause but doing so, anyway] armed with facts, and he tried bringing up the "s" word.  I shot that down... there was a long time that the top earners paid higher taxes in the 20th Century. And they lived through it... quite well, in fact.)

(4)  The Koch Brothers, when you read their stuff thoroughly, would truly like to work their way down to a 0% tax rate.  Think about that, if it really happens.  No public roads, no public libraries, no student loans, no public education, no consistency from one state to another.  Talk about your roving hoards in that scenario...

(5)  Kansas was so bankrupt from trying the Koch Brothers-Laffer [see above post]-Grover Norquist-type supply-side tax reductions that some schools couldn't even finish the 2016/2017 school year.  Yeah, increasing an under-educated, under-paid portion of society is always a good thing.... especially now that we live on top of each other!

(6)  Maybe some of the uber-wealthy are planning to build compounds to protect themselves from the social unrest.  However, when there's less money from the middle class being spent on the stuff that rich people's corporations put out, it's going to hit them, too. Because all this WILL shrink the middle class, or at least its buying power.  See the many links to economics in this blog.

(7)  Read the new book The CEO Pay Machine:  How It Trashes America and How to Stop It, by Steven Clifford, himself a former CEO.  Trust me, just read it.




(8)  The Koch Brothers are really Libertarians, trying to worm their way into the GOP because Libertarianism never got anyone elected.  (In fact, one of them was once on the Libertarian ticket as a vice presidential candidate.)  They really aren't social conservative; they're just happy to use the social conservatives to get their way.  (They'll pose as Centrists when it works for them, because Libertarians tend to avoid the Culture Wars by expressing "live and let live" ideas.)

As Libertarians, they are pro-choice.  (Or as many social conservatives would phrase it, they're "pro-abortion.")  In my more cynical moments, I wonder if their grand scheme is to offer, and even promote, abortion for the poorer in society so no one would have to pay for services for them.  (A return to Margaret Sanger's "eugenics"??)  

(9)  The Koch Brothers, who are late 70s (one pushing 80) will probably not be around to see all the havoc they've promoted, if their views hold sway.    But WE will all live with it.... including my son, whom I'm wondering if there will even be a decent student loan program for him to go to college on.

(10)  TEDDY ROOSEVELT STYLE REPUBLICANISM.  Balance between what business/labor/environmental concerns!!!!!  That should be more of a common goal as Americans.

Statues of Presidents, downtown Rapid City, SD, near Mount Rushmore



Friday, August 25, 2017

False Labels


There are libertarians out there trying to call themselves "Centrists."  Don't buy it.  It's just the same old libertarianism that the Koch Brothers couldn't launch without buying off a lot of the Republican Party, nor could Gary Johnson sell it in 2016.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dictionary


Found this on another site mildly amusing.  (Do NOT take me or the author, I'm sure, as people who would literally torch mansions, however!!!)




Surprise...


Just some reminders of where I've been & what I've done:





Thursday, August 17, 2017

Harmonious

 
     I just want to remind everyone that Moses's 2nd wife was probably Black. See Numbers 12:1--she was a Cushite, an Ethiopian. His first wife, Zipporah, was a Middle Eastern Midianite, more closely related to the Israelites? So, some people in this world need to get a grip.
       How did Moses meet her? Maybe she left Egypt with them. Exodus suggest some other people attached themselves to the Israelites and their God and left with them.



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Real Help for the Middle Class


If our leaders REALLY wanted to see salaries raised for the middle class in general, the so-called "working class" in particular, they'd do this:

GIVE A TAX BREAK TO CORPORATIONS THAT HAVE A HIGHER AVERAGE WORKER TO CEO SALARY RATIO.  Those that insist on paying their skimming CEOs exorbitant salaries wouldn't get the break.

Immigration may irritate some workers and have them think that's the sole problem. It's more the refusal for those at the top to take less so that their workers could have more. (That's what feeds into paying immigrants lower wages.) It really isn't like CEOs "deserve" it like they & corporations claim. It's because one company jacks up CEO salaries, then the others follow suit and it comes to be expected. Then a corporation that wants to stand out jacks it up even further, etc.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Very Grand Canyon


There may be larger canyons around the world, but ours is very grand.  The kids & I recently went to the less-travelled North Rim, which is higher in elevation.




We also saw Roosevelt Point on the North Rim:



Here's a picture from October, 2010, when I took them to the South Rim:


(Both times, my husband had either work or study obligations.  But he & I went to the South Rim a few years ago for our wedding anniversary.)




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Circular Reasoning


Sometimes you witness the proverbial "circular firing squad."  And it's messy.  

A Better Deal?


Looks like the catch phrase for the Democrats' new priorities borrows from FDR's "New Deal."  Maybe a little even from TR's "Square Deal."  (Which FDR had borrowed from himself.)

It's pretty decent for a first effort.  The desire to raise minimum wage that much nationwide that quickly might backfire; it might just turn into something else the middle class pays for in higher proportion.


I'm also not sure why they didn't go ahead and talk about taxing the 1% at a higher rate, something between 40-45%.  (See other articles in this blog on that matter, as well as googling the idea in Forbes, Fortune & Business Insider.)

It's the sort of thing that harkens back to the old-school deal-making between the parties (such as McCain recently referred to in regards to healthcare).  The Democrats put forth something somewhat more pro-labor and economically liberal. The Republicans counter with something somewhat more pro-business and restrictive. Then the parties hammer something out much closer to the center.  [There are signs, after all this brokenness, volatility and hostility in Congress that we're headed back in this direction.]


Overall, I'm glad to see that the DNC is not making the Cultural Wars a priority. They're sure to lose if they try to force societal liberalism across the country. Especially when it leaks out that too many hard-core liberals are dismissive of conservative social values, even in regards to social conservatives who would practice outward tolerance.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Second Language


I've heard the Ku Klux Klan is learning Russian...   😉

Big Reason for Low Congressional Ratings


How Newt Gingrich Crippled Congress

If you don't trust this source, you can cross-reference Gingrich's history in The Christian Science Monitor, a publication generally considered to be close to center.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Americana





Independent Spirit


For this Fourth of July, an homage to President Theodore Roosevelt and The Flag:

Mt. Rushmore National Monument
Rapid City, SD


Theodore Roosevelt Statue
Outdoor Walking Gallery of Presidential Statues
Rapid City, SD
(that's Theodore Roosevelt Orange Soda)

Cove Neck, Long Island, NY


 






Thursday, June 29, 2017

More on "Ted, Jr."


If you read this blog much, you'll see I'm fond of many of President Theodore Roosevelt's positions and actions.  But I'm probably more fond of his son, Ted Jr., as an unsung hero.

Here's another nice link, which includes a book I recently read.

The Full-Hearted Life of Ted Roosevelt, Jr.

BTW, Ted counted Harpo Marx, among others, as a friend.

Mad Hatter





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

D-Day


Gotta post this link again on President Theodore Roosevelt's eldest son, a real D-Day hero!

Brigadier General Ted Roosevelt, Jr.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What's in YOUR Covfefe?


"Covfefe", brought to you by those who believe in further defunding public K-12 and university education*!



"Turkish Covfefe":  When you're the only NATO head of nation congratulating Erdogan for steps towards dictatorship.

"Organic Covfefe": When that fertilizer you're slinging around wasn't made by Monsanto, if you catch my (smelly) drift.

"Covfefe House":  When you abandon your government-provided mansion every weekend and soak it the taxpayers by staying at your private resort.

"Covfefe Liqueur": What Sean Spicer needs a swig of when he comes out to explain things.

"Automatic Drip Covfefe":  Our future when most of us are unemployed or underemployed "drips" because most jobs are automated. 
     Liberal entrepreneurs feel a minimum income will solve this. But consumption without productivity will lead to more drug & alcohol abuse and probably more depression & other mental health issues.  (So, there's the "jab" to the other wing.)

"Truckstop Covfefe":  When you're about to get the shaft again after a decade of suppressed wages because you thought the Head Covfefe-Brewer was a "regular guy" who really cared about you!  Double shaft-- it's going towards "Automatic Drip" Covfefe for you, too!

"Covfefe au Lait":  When you've "milked" your supposed businessman's cred for all it's worth.  ("Some" people would have been better investing in an S & P Index fund than pretending to be real estate moguls.)

"French Roast Covfefe": When the French President addresses the world (and you) from Paris in English, and it's not to express his great admiration.

"Guatemalan Covfefe":  The type of Covfefe we're headed for:  The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala's overall consumption. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty.



"Ethiopian Covfefe":  A Covfefe we ignore too much. 

"Nicaraguan Covfefe":  When you want to join the ranks of those not in the Paris Accord.

"Venezuelan Covfefe":  When you congratulate your rich cronies at Goldman-Sachs for profiteering from bailing out and propping up a government that impoverishes its people.

"Cuban Covfefe":   When you, like Kennedy, don't really know what to order. [cf. "Bay of Pigs" and "Obama normalizing relations"  A two-fer jab at BOTH wings!]

"Air Force One Covfefe":  "Covfefe, tea or ME, ME, ME, ME, ME?!?!?!?!?!?"

                                                                                      ----Marie Byars


*The Koch Brothers and the President are actually kind of "frenemies."  A lot of people forget that the Koch's aren't terribly fond of the President &  haven't given him campaign funds.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Visa Americana



Here are some inspiring quotes which were inscribed in the pages of my new U.S. Passport book:


"Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America."  --Dwight D. Eisenhower


"The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or sect, a party or a class-- it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity."  -- Anna Julia Cooper






Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Another Generic Meme






Again, you're welcome!

(And, yes, the "puke green" is intentional.)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

I'll Pass.....




I don't "do" deification of anyone... I don't care WHO they are!!!







Claims to be Russian Orthodox [Christian],
but seems to worship at altar of self


***************************


This "cat", Herod Agrippa, shows what can happen when someone gives the impression they're taking the place of God.  Acts 12 talks about how he sat on his throne and spoke to his people.  The Jewish historian Josephus records that he wore a shiny silver cloak that threw of sunlight, increasing the impression of deity. The people cried out that Herod spoke as a "god and not a man."  Herod didn't bother to stop them;  he let them go on thinking he was divine. Herod immediately got some sort of nasty illness that the Bible describes as being eaten by worms.  Josephus says he did 5 days later.


I'd just rather not....


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Welsh Wisdom


"Living well is the best revenge."

"One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters."

"He that is not handsome at 20, not strong at 30, nor rich at 40, nor wise at 50, will never be handsome, strong, rich or wise."

      ---George Herbert, Welsh; Anglican Priest (1593-1633)  

Monday, March 27, 2017

Food for Thought


Italians have "antipasto" and they have "pesto."  But they don't seem to have "anti-pesto."  I wonder if they're overrun?!?!     --Marie Byars

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Achtung!



Confuse a White Supremecist: learn German & speak it properly.  (And read Tacitus's account of the pre-civilized Germans... I'd like to see them wrap their minds around tribal, pre-Christian Germanic times!)

Saturday, March 4, 2017



[posted the St. Valentine in this series a few years ago]




Friday, March 3, 2017

Love-Hate Relationship


Love to hate the IRS (Internal Revenue Service)?  Especially with taxes due next month?

Be careful how much you let the hatin' take over:

The Basic Problem with Slashing the IRS


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wisdom from St. Patrick


"If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me."   


“I pray to God to give me perseverance and to deign that I be a faithful witness to Him to the end of my life for my God.”   [from The Confession of the Saint]


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Wisdom from an Unexpected Place


[in reaction to the rightward drift of the GOP and worrisome ideological shifts in both parties, a proposed realignment and division along sharp liberal-conservative ideologies]: 

 “I think it [party realignment] would be a great tragedy.  I think one of the attributes of our political system has been that we have avoided generally violent swings in Administrations from one extreme to the other.  And the reason we have avoided that is that in both parties there has been room for a broad spectrum of opinion… when your Administrations come to power, they represent the whole people, rather than just one segment of the people.”  --Richard Nixon (1959), addressing the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco 




More Presidential Wisdom



Historically, taxing the rich has been supported by both parties across the ideological spectrum. Even Thomas Jefferson, whom many Tea Party members worship, supported higher taxes on the wealthy. In an 1811 letter to Thaddeus Kościuszko, he defended the tariff because it would force the rich to pay more:

“The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied. The poor man, who uses nothing but what is made in his own farm or family, or within his own country, pays not a farthing of tax to the General Government.”  --Thomas Jefferson


Friday, February 17, 2017

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Double Whammy


For Black History Month and for this month which hosts President's Day, here's artwork showing the time President Theodore Roosevelt hosted Booker T. Washington, a black social leader, to dinner at the White House.  At the time, it was considered quite shocking.





He also entertained George Washington Carver, a Black botanist & inventor (including of peanut butter) who had been born into slavery in 1861.  He was certainly a principled president, ahead of his time!


A Billion Surprises



Here's some of the billionaires (and it's not just Warren Buffet!!!) saying that income inequality is a big problem:

Fortune Magazine


Friday, January 27, 2017




Let's start a movement:  raise the taxes of the top 1% to a 42% tax rate.  This is not really so extreme. The revenue wouldn't be for the pet products of just "one side."  This is a Centrist movement really worth giving birth to.

As a reminder, taxes on the upper echelons were much higher from Eisenhower until Reagan. For most of that time, the economy was really pretty good. The stock market (which used to not be used as the main measure of how the country was doing) grew just fine.  In fact, much of the action-reaction we have in society can be traced back to the 1980s, which spawned this modern extremism.

Other items from this blog, which refer to outside economists' reports, are below:







Saturday, January 7, 2017

House of Cards


If we are honest about it, to some degree, all modern economies are a bit of a Ponzi scheme.  ---Marie Byars

Friday, January 6, 2017

More Wisdom for the New Year



"When opportunity knocks, some people are in the backyard looking for four-leaf clovers."  ---Polish Proverb

Wisdom for Facebook



With all the crazy fake news on Facebook and other random, short-sighted spoutings-off on social media, these words of a classic Greek philosopher take on new meaning:


"Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something." 
---Plato

Dave Barry's 2016 in Review




No one sizes up the previous year like Dave Barry in his annual Miami Herald round-up column.  Once again, his column is this blog's new year's focus: