Friday 12 October 2012

Why am I trying to convince you to vote for Obama?

You're in an airplane. The left engine, one of two engines, catches on fire. If left unchecked, it will get out of control and the plane will crash and you will die. You find a parachute. You have never used a parachute before in your entire life. If you fail to use it properly, you fall to the ground and die. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Do I stay or do I go? Do I turn left or do I turn right? Do I vote for Obama or Romney? It's a tough question but no matter how I choose, I'm going to have to face the consequences of my actions and probably for years to come I'm going to be agonizing over whether or not I did the right thing. Wait. For years to come? I thought I just said you were more than likely going to die either way? Ha ha.

I am faced with two people telling me they have the right answer. If I pick them, all of my problems will disappear. Or will they? It has taken decades for America to get where it is right now. This just didn't happen overnight and this just didn't happen in the past four years of Obama's first term. I have long suspected that being the president of the United States is far more complicated than any of us people in the street can possibly imagine. We haven't just got great expectations of our leaders but we have unreasonable expectations of our leaders which leads us to the confusion over campaign promises. I can't forget a slogan that turned up during Herbert Hoover's campaign of 1928: "a chicken in every pot and a car in every back yard". Need I remind everybody that the very next year was the great stock market crash of 1929?

Romney's 20% across the board tax cut
The U.S. is running the biggest deficit in history. Its debt has climbed to the highest ever. Am I the only one who sees a country spending more than it makes and the person wanting to lead the show proposes cutting the income? But this is done with the expectation that job creation, business expansion, and economic growth is just going to fall out of the sky like manna from heaven. The biggest problem as I see it is that we the people in the street are dealing with our own particular problems and tend to see running the country from the same perspective. In other words, we worry about ourselves not necessarily about the collective we.

My real world example
Back in the early 1990s, the Canadian government decided to introduce a new tax, the GST, the Goods and Services tax. To lessen the impact of this new tax, the federal government offered all citizens a rebate based on their income. I received a cheque (okay, check to you Americans) for $200. Sounds great, eh?

At this time, my brother and I made approximately the same amount of money so based on our level of income, we both got $200. Woo hoo! Dinner out. A round at the pub. Free gas for a week! But I was single and lived in a Bachelor apartment. My brother was married with a stay-at-home Mom, two children just becoming teenagers, and a house with a mortgage. I put my $200 in the bank because I didn't need it. My brother spent his $200 in about what? 5 minutes?

In other words, the government handed out an across the board tax rebate to all citizens but for me, the rebate was completely meaningless. I had enough money to do what I wanted. I was single. My brother had responsibilities coming out the ol' wazoo and certainly needed the money more than me. (Yes, yes, why didn't I give my $200 to my brother if I was so concerned? Well, I actually did. I always give my siblings (and their kids, my nephew and niece) a monetary gift for both Christmas and their birthdays. I'm just that nice of a guy.)

My point is that across the board doesn't equate to need. In comparison to my brother (single vs. married), I was stinkin' rich: the carefree lifestyle of a swinging bachelor in the big city, wine, women, and song. Why in heaven's name give little ol' me the money? The rebate was across the board but in no way took into account need.

Warren Buffett is stinkin' rich. He writes an op-ed piece for the New York Times and wonders why his tax rate is less than his secretary's. He said that's not fair. Fair? Who cares about fair? Isn't it every man (woman and child) for themselves? Anything else would be (gasp) socialism or wealth distribution.

For the sake of argument, I'll peg living expenses at $20,000 and taxes at 50%. This is pretty simple so bear with me. Let's say that I make a hundred grand, $100,000 while you make $50,000. Both of us are taxed at 50% so I end up with $50,000 of disposable income and while you have $25,000. We both have to pay $20,000 to live so that leaves you with $5,000 while I have $30,000. Now I grant you this is very, very simple but my point is this. Warren Buffett says above that he paid nearly $7 million in income tax last year. He's worth $50 billion. You have $5,000 left over after living expenses while I have left over more than all your disposable income. Shouldn't I be paying more? I'm richer relatively speaking. Exactly just how much does anybody need? Just imagine that $7 million is only 0.014% of fifty billion. That's less than two hundredths of a percent. Somehow I think Mr. Buffett could be coughing up more, a whole lot more, without feeling the slightest pinch to his wallet. (my blog: If I can pay, the rich can pay)

Final Word
Romney and the Republicans keep throwing out ideas that don't pass the smell test. In the MSNBC video below, Martin Bashir discusses how Romney proposes a tax break on capital gains. How many people have capital gains in their life? Maybe when they sell their home but other than that, your average person in the street may never deal with the issue of capital gains. Once again, Romney's proposals benefit those who are farther up the economic ladder. It's crazy. Instead of helping people get into a better situation, his plans target those who are already well off. Instead of collectively bettering the situation for the entire population of the United States, he favours helping the rich. Either he's doing it deliberately (he only cares about the wealthy) or he's doing it inadvertently (he doesn't understand what he's doing). Either way, collectively the United States is going to be worse off under Romney leadership.


MSNBC - Oct 22/2012
VIDEO: Rep. Yarmuth: Romney tax pledge ‘bizarre’ by Martin Bashir
[These videos are compelling and it is unbelievable that any of us are discussing anything that Romney and the Republicans propose.]
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., joins Martin Bashir to poke holes in Mitt Romney’s contention that eliminating capital gains taxes benefits the middle class; then both talk about a new study that says no math alive supports Mitt Romney’s 20 percent across-the-board tax cut plan.

Mother Jones - Oct 12/2012
Lies, Damn Lies, and Mitt Romney's Tax Plan by Kevin Drum
We all struggle trying to explain why Mitt Romney's tax plan is....inconsistent with reality. Here's another crack at unpacking the basics behind the famous TPC study that originally made this point.

my blog: If I can pay, the rich can pay
According to Forbes, Mr. Warren E. Buffett, age 80, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, investor extraordinaire, is worth fifty billion dollars and ranked the third wealthiest man on the planet, number two in the United States. In the New York Times dated August 14, 2011, Mr. Buffett has penned an article in The Opinion Pages called "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich". He starts out by making this statement: "Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched."

N.B. - Which president was the biggest spendthrift? Ronald Reagan.

my blog: All the rich are not billionaires
Notice how the conservative media use buzzwords like "class warfare" and "socialism". Notice how the conservative media focus on the idea that 50% of Americans pay no taxes. But, but, but the "no tax" refers to federal income tax and the statement in no way looks at what taxes anybody would be paying elsewhere at a state level or a municipal level. However the most important point left out of this rhetoric is that these 50% of Americans are the poorest in the country. The poorest!

my blog: The 2012 Republican Platform: Are ya scared yet?
Scribd.Com has The 2012 Republican Platform and it's downloadable as an Adobe PDF. I have printed it out and read the entire document. The New York Times commented on a draft of this document in an editorial by saying, "The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that the extreme is now the mainstream." Has the GOP lost its way or has it lost its mind?

my blog: The 2012 Democratic Platform: yes you still can
The official web site of the Democrats (Democrats.Org) offers The 2012 Democratic Platform as a downloadable PDF. I have printed and read the entire document. My first impression? Nothing is perfect and I'm sure pundits, armchair generals, and of course the Republicans will be jumping all over this looking for any and all flaws but I'm walking away with a warm and fuzzy. That would contrast sharply, no that would be diametrically opposed to the cold and prickly I felt after reading the GOP's policy paper.


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