Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Category: Issues (page 2 of 12)

A Week Of Sanity

I have decided that it is time to start spreading the sanity in our political debates.  It is time we all become educated in the economy to learn why we shouldn’t fall for more of tax breaks for the “job creators”.

I’m starting with Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich has served three presidents: Ford, Carter and Clinton.  The man knows his stuff.  Click on the video link on the right or click here to see him debunk 6 economic myths.

Youth Unemployment

This is an actual quote from Mitt Romney from Mitt Romney.com:

“I think this is a time when young people are questioning the support they gave to President Obama three and a half years ago. He promised bringing the country together; that sure hasn’t happened. He promised a future with good jobs and good opportunity; that hasn’t happened. And the pathway that he pursued is one which has not worked. Young people recognize that and I think that’s why they’re going to increasingly look for a different approach.” –Mitt Romney

Below the quote, there are links to the “facts” that support his data.  Two links to the same Time Magazine article written by Josh Sanburn (which I haven’t read) from February of this year,  there’s a couple of links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and some more links to articles .

Here’s the thing:  Mitt Romney is hoping that you won’t research any farther than that.  He’s hoping that he can convince you that President Obama hasn’t done enough and he’s handing you little tidbits that support his claim.

So, I did the research myself.  Below is a chart.  This is the annual unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) from 1948 until 2011. I’ve broken the data down by age: 16 – 24 and over 25.  The third line is the combined annual unemployment rate.  I obtained the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics site.  (Side note: If you love data, like I love data, you could spend hours on this site running queries!)

Here’s the thing:  Romney is trying to make you think that somehow our youth have it so much worse than the rest of us and President Obama is responsible for it.  However; the truth is that the unemployment rate for 16 – 24 year olds has always been higher than the unemployment rate for the rest of the population.

 

Annual Unemployment 1948 - 2011

U.S. Constitution and the Individual Mandate…

Oh, come on, the Republicans are getting a bit ridiculous!

I’m reading this story on Huffington Post about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Individual Mandate in the Health care law.  The article supports the notion that there are a lot of things the government mandates that everyone must do.  The example used is Medicare.  If you work, you pay into Medicare – you have no choice.

But, here’s what really got to me:  Mark Hayes – “former chief health counsel for the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee” states:

“Congress used more clearly defined constitutional powers when it created Medicare. “The power to tax and the power to spend…” “‘Here, with the individual mandate, it’s a different question – regulating interstate commerce. This is a novel question from a legal standpoint.'”

How is that novel?  Article I Section 8 Clause 3 states:

“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”

Novel question? Um, I don’t think so. The word Novel, when used as an adjective and not as a noun means:

  1. new and not resembling something formerly known or used
  2. original or striking especially in conception or style

Um, if the Commerce Clause has existed in the Constitution since the beginning, how is Congress being able to use it now a “Novel” question?

I’m just wondering.

Shoplifting Post Over at Bilerico

Do you read the posts over at Bilerico?

If yes, then you’ve probably seen this one and if no, why the hell not?  They’re short, to the point and very well done.  I found this one (I’ve taken the liberty of putting a couple of sentences to get you started below) and I found it well written and interesting.  Anyway, click the more link to read the whole post over at Bilerico – come on, you know you want to.

I have a friend who steals. More accurately, he’s a friend of a friend, and whenever I see him he always has a story or two of things he’s recently stolen. It’s little stuff. Usually food. He can definitely afford to buy food, so it’s not about need. And I don’t think he gets much of a thrill out of stealing…more

Cain’s Tax Plan Again

When I’m wrong, I’ll admit that I am wrong. Apparently, I was wrong in my assumption regarding Cain’s 9-9-9 Tax Plan. There are some items that I overlooked – one of which was the fact that I would no longer pay Payroll taxes of 7.65%. This was pointed out by Bob – thanks, Bob. I dug a little further and discovered I would no longer have any deductions, except charitable and, since I don’t live in the inner city, I don’t receive a tax credit for that.

When I did my original comparison, I just took my salary – what I earn from my employer – and used those figures. I only used the standard deduction and the personal exemption for the current figures. For my spending, I went through the checkbook and took out all of my spending for the month of September.

Here’s what I did this time.

I’m used September’s figures for spending. I’m added in the Payroll taxes for both the current plan. I used my actual deductions – divided out by 12 – from my last year’s income tax return. Since Cain’s plan allows for charitable deductions, I subtracted my charitable deductions from his plan.

This time it worked out that I currently pay $2,890 more in taxes now than I would under Herman Cain’s plan. Since the only criteria I was using for this plan was how it would affect me – and only me – then I have to say, it is a good plan.

Sorry, but I do.

However; here’s what I wrote the last time:

Here’s what I recommend – don’t take my word on whether or not you like the Cain Plan. Do the math for yourself. Figure out exactly how much more or how much less you’ll pay in taxes. Come to your own conclusion. That’s what we should really be doing anyway. Checking out the plans and weighing our options.

I stand by that recommendation. You should figure out whether or not this is a good plan for you.  But, actually do the math and figure it out – don’t just guess or believe what someone else writes.  Too many people will believe whatever someone emails them.  Somedays, I wonder if laziness is the real reason we’re in this mess.

Now, that I have said that, a consideration should be made for whether or not this is a good plan for the country. I’m not sure that it is. Cain has stated that the country will gain more in revenue from this plan than we do currently. I just don’t see how that is possible. If I’m saving nearly $3,000 per year, shouldn’t everyone in my situation be saving that amount? Will we really gain enough on those people who will pay more to make up the difference for those who will pay less? It’s just a thought.

Wall Street Journal – The Financial Meltdown

The video is called: End of Wall Street: What Happened. It is supposed to be the first in a 3 part series. Watch it – it is very interesting.

Republican Jobs Plan

Is it me?  Because I just don’t get it.  I don’t understand how the Republicans can keep coming back to the same old / same old and think that it will work.  Yes, Ronald Reagan cut taxes in 1981, but he raised government spending (and I’m really simplifying because monetary policy had a lot to do with the recovery).  The idea that the country can get our citizens back to work via lower tax rates and the reduction of government regulations is a one that is not based on any facts.

Here’s what drives companies to hire people – it’s simple, but true:  DEMAND.  That’s it, demand for a company’s good has to be high enough for the company to hire more people.  PERIOD.  If we’re not out purchasing Ding Dongs, the Ding Dong factory up the road is not going to hire more people.  It doesn’t matter how low a company’s taxes go, they’re NOT going to hire anyone they don’t actually need.

I don’t understand why it is that the Republicans in the Senate (led by John McCain) and the majority of the Republican Candidates for President do not understand the basics of economics.  And, actually, I do understand why Michele Bachmann doesn’t – the woman doesn’t know that Abraham Lincoln wasn’t a founding father and that Elvis is dead.  I understand why Rick Perry doesn’t get it – he’s a politician. But, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are businessmen – Romney hasn’t been one for quite a while, but Cain did an impressive job turning around the Godfather’s Pizza business.

How can either one of them say, in all honesty, that they would hire someone they don’t need in a company just because taxes are low?

Why would anyone?

The truth is that consumers are tapped out.  I’m tapped out, you’re tapped out.  We’ve pretty much purchased everything we wanted in the last, say, twenty years.  I have a house.  I purchased two cars – one new, one used – within the past two years.  Other than buying some Christmas presents and a new cell phone, quite honestly, I’m done.  Finished.  There’s no more spending coming from my house.  It is time – and this is probably anti-Patriotic of me – to do some saving.

There’s a lot of people out there who are just like me.

So, how does the economy improve?

By the government spending, spending and spending some more.  I don’t like the concept, I don’t like the idea, but that’s what has to happen.  We can’t lay off 15,000 government workers in one state and expect that state’s economy to make any improvements.

We have been neglecting our infrastructure in this country for years.  Now is the time to fix the bridges, the roadways, the levees, our schools and whatever else needs fixing.  Now is the time for the government to spend.

There’s a balance that has to be met.  We can’t have too much government money pumped into the economy or it will push out private investment.  We need to find that balance.

But, we are not going to improve the economy by cutting more taxes and reducing even more regulations.  The Republicans need to start singing a new tune, because the economy can’t march to the one they’ve been singing.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Tax Plan

When it comes to taxes and being told what’s going to cost me more money and what’s going to save me money, I generally don’t believe the Press, or the person touting the plan.  What I do believe is taking what I pay in taxes now and comparing that to the new plan.

This is what I did when comparing the “savings” Paul Ryan’s plan touted.  This is what I have done with Herman Cain’s plan.

Now, there is something I’d like to add.  Mr. Cain has not made public a lot of details about his plan.  It is possible that I am making incorrect assumptions.  I am listing the assumptions that I have made before the comparison – if anyone knows for a fact that the Cain plan doesn’t do any one of these, please leave a comment and I will make adjustments.

  • No deductions: personal exemption, neither Medical nor the Standard Deduction.
  • Taxes on everything: food, gas, clothing and bills such as electric and cable.
  • Even though when I purchase my next home or car – and only if Cain’s plan passes – I would pay a 9% sales tax on the home or car, I did not include this in my car payments, nor in my mortgage payments.  I made the assumption that the 9% tax would not be retroactive.  Therefore; in my total spending, I did not include my mortgage nor car payments.

I picked last month for my spending.  I figured September is a typical month for me.  Some months I might spend more and some months, I spend less.  For comparison purposes, I included Paul Ryan’s plan in my chart.

 

Current

Ryan’s Plan

Cain’s Plan

Salary

$5,416.67

$5,416.67

$5,416.67

Insurance Deduction

$253.44

$0.00

$0.00

Personal Exemption

$291.67

$316.67

$0.00

Standard Deduction

$483.33

$1,041.67

$0.00

Taxable Income

$4,388.23

$4,058.33

$5,416.67

Federal Income Tax

$784.18

$1,014.58

$487.50

National Sales Tax

$0.00

$0.00

$399.09

Total Tax

$784.18

$1,014.58

$886.59

%

17.87%

25.00%

9.00%

This is based on one month’s salary and all the spending for the household.  In the month of September between bills (cable, electric, cell phone, etc.), food, household items and misc. items (books, software), I spent $4,434.30.

As you can see, I currently pay – each month – $787.18 in Federal Income Tax (after deductions, which really aren’t taken out until the end of the year, but I wanted this to be a fair comparison – apples to apples).  Under the Cain Plan, I will only have $487.50 taken out of my paycheck for Federal Taxes.  That’s a savings of $299.68.  That sounds pretty good.

But, wait – there’s more…

Once the addition of the sales tax on $4,434.30 of goods and services is paid, my federal tax bill is raised by $399.09 – almost $100 more than the initial savings.  This brings my total taxes under Herman Cain’s plan up to $886.59!  Clearly, the Cain Plan is not a winner for me.

Let’s deal with the critics on this.  I’m sure some people are saying, “Just spend less.”  Hmmm, nice idea, but then what’s the point?  If, in order to save taxes, I slow down my spending, then for what am I working?  What’s my motivation for earning more money?  What do I get and how does the economy get rolling along if I cut my spending in half?

Let’s say I only spend the essentials – cut out the extras, like eating out or my passion for books – what happens then?

Well, I would save $52.80 in taxes each month.  And, sure, I could sock the extra money away in savings, but who wants to live like that?  I don’t drive up to Brookfield every single day to not enjoy the money I spend.  I sock away savings and money for retirement, but then I enjoy life.

And, how will I pay for that next car?  Sure, I could use my savings, but when the average car price is around $20,000 an extra 9.0% in sales tax is really going to make a huge difference.  That adds – without any other taxes or licensing fees – and extra $1,800 to the price of my new car.

Perhaps, Cain’s plan won’t take food or, maybe, cars will be exempt.  Wouldn’t that be subsidizing certain industries and isn’t that one of the ways we ended up in this mess in the first place?

Here’s what I recommend – don’t take my word on whether or not you like the Cain Plan.  Do the math for yourself.  Figure out exactly how much more or how much less you’ll pay in taxes.  Come to your own conclusion.  That’s what we should really be doing anyway.  Checking out the plans and weighing our options.

Happy Calculating!

Warren Buffet’s Tax Rate…

Warren Buffet released his 2010 taxes for Congress’s review.  He wanted to prove his point that the rich do not pay their fair share in taxes and that they can afford to pay more.  After comparing his tax return to my tax return, I so agree with him.  I earned .10% of what Mr. Buffet earned last year.  That means, for those of you who are math challenged, he earned 1,000 times as much as I did.

Now, if all is fair, then he should’ve paid 1,000 times more than I did in taxes.

Except, he didn’t.  Everything being equal, he should’ve paid $8 million in taxes.  He didn’t, he paid just under $7 million.  I can hear the argument now, that’s more than you paid.  If you don’t like it, why don’t you go get rich.  (Usually, these arguments come from people who make half as much as I do.)

How can a man who make 1,000 times more than me pay a tax rate that is only 2% higher than mine?  How is that fair?

Well, I have to go to work, where 1/3 of my paycheck goes to taxes and insurance before I even come home.

Stupid Republican – The HPV Vaccine doesn’t equal Sexual Promiscurity

I’ll make this brief and I’ll type slow, so the Republicans can understand.  Rick Perry made the right decision regarding the HPV Vaccine.  Protecting our children should be the most important decision we make, but somewhere along the line people started confusing this vaccine not with protecting our girls, but allowing them to be sexually active.

How stupid can you be?

Take a good look at your daughter.  No matter how old she is, someday, she will grow up and be sexually active.  If you raised her right, that someday will be when she is an adult and able to make informed decisions.  If you didn’t, she’ll be active at a younger age.  No matter what – she’s going to have sex at some point in her life.  We place the burden of sexual activity on women and not men.  Men are allowed to hound dog it up, so I’m sure that the guy she picks will be just like every other man.  Not many women marry virgins.

Do you want your little girl to get cervical cancer because YOU didn’t allow her to have the vaccine that could prevented it?

As far as giving them permission, what kid knows what vaccines they’re receiving?  I certainly didn’t.  You tell the kid they’re getting a shot.  When she’s old enough to understand, let her know she’s had the vaccine.

I don’t agree with Rick Perry on 99% of what he says and does, but he was right on this issue.  Our little girls need to be vaccinated, because they are going to grow up to be women.  He did the right thing.  Stop jumping on him at the debates you dumb ass Republican Candidates.  Give the guy a break.  Stop spreading lies about the vaccine for political gain.

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