Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Tag: money

Donald Trump – Time for him to Go

I’ve been steaming about Donald Trump ever since he said that John McCain isn’t a war hero.  He claims that nobody was insulted, well, I was insulted.  I’ve always thought of Donald Trump as nothing but a blowhard with more money than sense and, with his campaign for President, he’s proving me correct.  With even non-Republican friends saying things like, “I admire his honesty”, I thought I should write this blog to add some facts into Trump’s veneer.

While John McCain was flying missions over Vietnam and a POW,  Donald Trump was using Daddy’s money and government deferments to attend Fordham University and, then the University of Pennsylvania.  Once Trump graduated, he had a job at his father’s real estate company waiting for him and $200,000 in his pocket, according to a Washington Post article.  Trump makes himself out to be a self-made man, but the truth is – he didn’t do this all on his own.

Hell, all of us could be rich if we started with family connections and $200,000 in our pocket.  He isn’t someone to be admired.  People who should be admired are the ones who started with nothing and rose to the top of the heap.  People like Kenny Troutt (the founder of Excel Communications), Ralph Lauren (founder of Polo), Larry Ellison (Oracle founder), Oprah (like I have to tell you), Ursula Burns (CEO of Xerox), and John Paul Dejoria (co-founder of John Paul Mitchell) are the people to be admired.  Each one of them started from the very bottom and they worked their way up into Billionaire status and (as far as I know), unlike Trump, not a bankruptcy among them.

It’s time to relegate Trump and the blowhards like him to the ignore zone.  We shouldn’t be putting boys like him on pedestals and walking around clamoring like he’s worth our time.  His comments regarding immigrants from Mexico pander to the lowest of Americans, whom we should really leave behind.  Racists have no place in American society and, if Donald Trump wants to be their leader, let him do it outside of the view of TV cameras.

 

Obamacare and unAmerican Companies

Here’s a quick, yet truthful thought.  Every large company that is announcing cutting employees’ hours to avoid paying healthcare for them isn’t a company that should be held up in esteem.  It is a company who should be avoided as much as possible and derided for being unAmerican.

It is time the profit hogging corporate types and Wall Street bozos start taking care of business and the American Worker.  You break your back for forty years, do you get a pension?  Hell no, you probably don’t even get a watch.  You get a 401K that isn’t worth shit if the banks and Wall Street screw with the economoy, like they did in the run up to the crash of 2008.

Our health care system needs  a lot of changes.  We spend more than nearly every other developed country and, yet, we’re sicker than ever.  Part of this is that we don’t take care of ourselves and part of it is that companies don’t take care of employees.

I have healthcare.  I happen to have a skill set that will remain in demand probably until the day I die and beyond.  I am blessed because of this.  Many people – in fact, the majority of people – are not blest as I am.  I will not have to worry about health care, because I’ll never have to work for a company that doesn’t offer it.  Even when I worked as a contractor, because of my earning power and salary, I was offered health care paid for by the company – that doesn’t happen often in contracting jobs.

Don’t blame President Obama for forcing companies to do what they should’ve been doing all along.  The CEO has health care.  The President of the company has health care.  So should the workers on the floor who actually perform the duties that keep the company going.

The Republicans don’t understand this.

Fox News doesn’t understand this.

The people in the red states don’t understand this.

We do the work, we should reap the benefits.  The guy on top – he didn’t dig that ditch, put that car together, bake that pizza – the guy on top is receiving the big salary made possible by YOUR hard work.

Don’t forget that.

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.

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

A few thoughts…

  • Fact: Lower taxes do not cause more jobs.
  • Fact: Only twice did lowering the tax rate cause revenues to go up – 1964 and 1981.
  • As long as they’re peaceful, the Occupy protesters have the right to protest.  It is part of the First Amendment of the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
  • Herman Cain’s tax plan will be bad for the economy.  It will encourage saving, but our economy is based on consumption.  If too many people save or just buy use, our economy will sink further.
  • President Bush didn’t cause the economic and financial crisis and neither did President Obama.
  • Despite what Alan Greenspan might think, liquidity isn’t the same as capital and just because a company has access to money doesn’t mean that they’re on good footing.
  • Easy credit (with the lowering of interest rates) contributed to the financial crisis.
  • Too little regulation and, in some cases, no regulation was one of the causes of the financial crisis.
  • The Republicans running for President do not understand that last statement.
  • Shortsightedness in reaching for short term profits is one of the factors that caused the financial crisis.

Reducing Debt

The GOP plan – written by my Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan – will NOT reduce our deficit until 2040. That’s 29 years from now. I understand that it took more than 29 years for us to get into this debt ridden mess, but I think we can do better than taking 29 years to get out of it. If the Republicans are truly concerned about the National Debt and the deficit, let’s see them remove the tax cuts for the rich.

The businesses bailed out by TARP are run by… Anyone? No? Okay, the wealthy, the rich. The people who led our companies into this mess. And, what will we do as a nation? Cut their taxes by 10%. And, while we do so, we will raise taxes on the middle class – all in the name of “fairness” and deficit reduction.

Well, it’s crap.

I oppose any budget plan that includes a tax cut – especially those for corporations and the wealthy. Tax cuts are just the government reducing the amount of money it takes in. If we want programs to be funded, such as education or medicare, then we have to pay taxes to keep them funded. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t cut spending, we need to cut spending. I’m saying that we shouldn’t reduce taxes for the well-off at the price of the less well off.

I’m not liking the idea that – if you’re single and making $50,000 per year – you should pay 25% of your salary in federal income taxes, just like a single person who is making $100,000. Do you really think someone making $50,000 per year should be paying the same percentage as someone making double that?

I’m, also, not liking the idea of removing deductions. Hey, I realize that my mortgage deduction really equates the government subsidizing my home, but the government, also, subsidizes your kids, so we’re even. That mortgage deduction is the difference between me eating out a few times a month and eating at home. When I eat out, I keep my local restaurants in business. (Yes, when I eat at home, I keep grocery stores in business, but I’ll always have to buy food at a grocery store.)

According to the plan, the standard deduction will be $12,500 for singles and $25,000 for those people whose relationships are determined to be okay for tax deductions by the government: in other words, straight, married couples. That should keep a lot of people out of the 25% tax range – not for me and not for a lot of my friends. I had more than that amount in deductions, plus there will be no more pre-tax health care deductions, which will hurt the middle class even more.

This plan is NOT good for middle class America. If Paul Ryan and the GOP are truly serious about debt reduction, this isn’t the way to do it.

America Is NOT Broke …the Madison speech by Michael Moore

I don’t often pay attention to Michael Moore, but I think he touched on enough important points in his speech on Saturday, March 5 in Madison to pass this on to you, my gentle readers.  This is reprinted without any permission what so ever!

“America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we’d have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic — and, until this past month, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it.

I have nothing more than a high school degree. But back when I was in school, every student had to take one semester of economics in order to graduate. And here’s what I learned: Money doesn’t grow on trees. It grows when we make things. It grows when we have good jobs with good wages that we use to buy the things we need and thus create more jobs. It grows when we provide an outstanding educational system that then grows a new generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and thinkers who come up with the next great idea for the planet. And that new idea creates new jobs and that creates revenue for the state. But if those who have the most money don’t pay their fair share of taxes, the state can’t function. The schools can’t produce the best and the brightest who will go on to create those jobs. If the wealthy get to keep most of their money, we have seen what they will do with it: recklessly gamble it on crazy Wall Street schemes and crash our economy. The crash they created cost us millions of jobs.  That too caused a reduction in tax revenue. Everyone ended up suffering because of what the rich did.

The nation is not broke, my friends. Wisconsin is not broke. Saying that the country is broke is repeating a Big Lie. It’s one of the three biggest lies of the decade: 1) America is broke, 2) Iraq has WMD, and 3) The Packers can’t win the Super Bowl without Brett Favre.

The truth is, there’s lots of money to go around. LOTS. It’s just that those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know they have committed crimes to make this happen and they know that someday you may want to see some of that money that used to be yours. So they have bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them. But just in case that doesn’t work, they’ve got their gated communities, and the luxury jet is always fully fueled, the engines running, waiting for that day they hope never comes. To help prevent that day when the people demand their country back, the wealthy have done two very smart things:

1. They control the message. By owning most of the media they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and to vote for their politicians. Their version of the Dream says that you, too, might be rich some day — this is America, where anything can happen if you just apply yourself! They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man, how the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become president, how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you will want to do is upset the apple cart — because you — yes, you, too! — might be rich/president/an Oscar-winner some day! The message is clear: keep you head down, your nose to the grindstone, don’t rock the boat and be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be some day.

2. They have created a poison pill that they know you will never want to take. It is their version of mutually assured destruction. And when they threatened to release this weapon of mass economic annihilation in September of 2008, we blinked. As the economy and the stock market went into a tailspin, and the banks were caught conducting a worldwide Ponzi scheme, Wall Street issued this threat: Either hand over trillions of dollars from the American taxpayers or we will crash this economy straight into the ground. Fork it over or it’s Goodbye savings accounts. Goodbye pensions. Goodbye United States Treasury. Goodbye jobs and homes and future. It was friggin’ awesome and it scared the shit out of everyone. “Here! Take our money! We don’t care. We’ll even print more for you! Just take it! But, please, leave our lives alone, PLEASE!”

The executives in the board rooms and hedge funds could not contain their laughter, their glee, and within three months they were writing each other huge bonus checks and marveling at how perfectly they had played a nation full of suckers. Millions lost their jobs anyway, and millions lost their homes. But there was no revolt (see #1).

Until now. On Wisconsin! Never has a Michigander been more happy to share a big, great lake with you! You have aroused the sleeping giant known as the working people of the United States of America. Right now the earth is shaking and the ground is shifting under the feet of those who are in charge. Your message has inspired people in all 50 states and that message is: WE HAVE HAD IT! We reject anyone who tells us America is broke and broken. It’s just the opposite! We are rich with talent and ideas and hard work and, yes, love. Love and compassion toward those who have, through no fault of their own, ended up as the least among us. But they still crave what we all crave: Our country back! Our democracy back! Our good name back! The United States of America. NOT the Corporate States of America. The United States of America!

So how do we make this happen? Well, we do it with a little bit of Egypt here, a little bit of Madison there. And let us pause for a moment and remember that it was a poor man with a fruit stand in Tunisia who gave his life so that the world might focus its attention on how a government run by billionaires for billionaires is an affront to freedom and morality and humanity.

Thank you, Wisconsin. You have made people realize this was our last best chance to grab the final thread of what was left of who we are as Americans. For three weeks you have stood in the cold, slept on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois — whatever it took, you have done it, and one thing is for certain: Madison is only the beginning. The smug rich have overplayed their hand. They couldn’t have just been content with the money they raided from the treasury. They couldn’t be satiated by simply removing millions of jobs and shipping them overseas to exploit the poor elsewhere. No, they had to have more — something more than all the riches in the world. They had to have our soul. They had to strip us of our dignity. They had to shut us up and shut us down so that we could not even sit at a table with them and bargain about simple things like classroom size or bulletproof vests for everyone on the police force or letting a pilot just get a few extra hours sleep so he or she can do their job — their $19,000 a year job. That’s how much some rookie pilots on commuter airlines make, maybe even the rookie pilot who flew me here to Madison today. He told me he’s stopped hoping for a pay increase. All he’s asking for now is enough down time so that he doesn’t have to sleep in his car between shifts at O’Hare airport. That’s how despicably low we have sunk! The wealthy couldn’t be content with just paying this man $19,000 a year. They had to take away his sleep. They had to demean him and dehumanize him and rub his face in it. After all, he’s just another slob, isn’t he?

And that, my friends, is Corporate America’s fatal mistake. But trying to destroy us they have given birth to a movement — a movement that is becoming a massive, nonviolent revolt across the country. We all knew there had to be a breaking point some day, and that point is upon us. Many people in the media don’t understand this. They say they were caught off guard about Egypt, never saw it coming. Now they act surprised and flummoxed about why so many hundreds of thousands have come to Madison over the last three weeks during brutal winter weather. “Why are they all standing out there in the cold?” I mean, there was that election in November and that was supposed to be that!

“There’s something happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you …?”

America ain’t broke! The only thing that’s broke is the moral compass of the rulers. And we aim to fix that compass and steer the ship ourselves from now on. Never forget, as long as that Constitution of ours still stands, it’s one person, one vote, and it’s the thing the rich hate most about America — because even though they seem to hold all the money and all the cards, they begrudgingly know this one unshakeable basic fact: There are more of us than there are of them!

Madison, do not retreat.  We are with you. We will win together.”

Taxes and More Taxes

The election is over and now it is time for the lame duck Congress to get back to work. But, even though it won’t do any good, I wanted to bring up taxes.

Everyone thinks – Warren Buffett the exception – that they pay too much in taxes. Because I have an extra taxable amount added to my normal salary this year, Cheryl and I have been paying a lot of attention to just how much we’ll owe in taxes come April 15th. By my calculations, between the two of us, we’ll owe a grand amount of $12,126, a tax rate of 13.40%. For a fun time, I thought, “Hey, what if we could file our federal income taxes jointly?” So, I used the IRS Withholding Calculator and did just that. If we were married, our tax amount would be $11,281, a tax rate. That is a tax rate of 12.47% and a total of $845 less. It makes me mad every time I think about it.

What is it that Cheryl and I receive from the federal government that is worth the extra $845? Do we have extra rights? Extra protections? Will the government take care of us when we’re old and gray in a better manner than a straight, married couple?

No, no and – I know you’re shocked – no.

We receive NOTHING for the extra dollars removed from our paychecks every single year. And, if Paul Ryan gets his way, it will only get worse. (Check out Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America and you’ll see his plan for two tax tiers.)

By denying gay couples the legal right to marry at the Federal level, the nation is over-taxing approximately 770,000 couples in this country.  Let’s make a big assumption, because I don’t have actual figures on incomes, that our over-taxed amount is what every other gay couple pays more than straight couples.  That works out to an extra $650,650,000 in the nation’s tax coffers.

Do we get a thanks for that?

No, we don’t.

Maybe, that’s the real reason why the right-wing doesn’t want us to get married.  That’s a lot of dough!

As a gay person, I purpose that in the next election, we come together to fight for our marriage rights.  We fight for equality.  We’re paying a lot of money to be considered second class citizens.

Who’s with me?

Below is a video I made last August.

Smile Train

There’s a joke at work that I’m “bad” Julie and the other Julie in the department is “good” Julie. There are days when I have a tendency to agree, as she has done more charitable work in her young life than I have done in my old life.

On the other hand, I do give money every month to Smile Train, which is why I’m writing this today. Not to toot my own horn, but to make you, my gentle readers, aware of a great place to put your charitable dollars.  I know, things are tough all over, but I’m sure some of you have a few spare dollars to give to an honorable charity.

In today’s world, you have to be careful just where your charitable dollar is going.  There are a lot of charities out there where administrative costs and salaries eat up more than half of all the money donated.  You don’t have to worry about that with Smile Train.  As their site points out, 80.7% of their money goes to program services.  Less than 2% goes to administrative costs and less than 20% goes to fund raising.

As quoted on their website, “Smile Train mission is focused on solving a single problem: cleft lip and palate.
Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain and heartache.”

Smile Train not only provides the money and equipment for these life-changing surgeries, they provide the training so that local doctors can perform them.  Training local doctors and nurses reduces costs.

And you don’t have to just believe me, see what Colin Powell says:

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