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Sunday, Sept. 26, 2004 - 11:49 p.m.

Cost of the War in Iraq
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Tax Cuts for the Deficitely Inclined

OK, cuz I just KNOW all of you LOVE when I talk politics, here, thanks to a comment left by "oomm" - (who didn't leave either a URL or an email so we have no idea who or where they came in from) on my "Suck it in and Deal people who don't vote are um... well, irresponsible" entry. The comment was thus:

We do not live in a democracy, as most people even in this country believe, but don't bother to educate themselves on, we live in a constitutional republic. In addition, I am a biologist, I work to restore mudflats and fished out oceans and rivers. If you know anything about working field biologists, or ecologists you know that we are NOT the wealthy class, we do the work for the love of the work and the planet. That being said, I got a healthy tax break and a raise during the Bush administration which to me is a damn fine thing after all our country went through. I'm sick to death of hearing about how tax cuts are only for the rich, just because it's catchy rhetoric doesn't make it true. Oh, wait, I guess catchy rhetoric is what passes for true if you let Michael Moore and France tell you what to do with your country.

Now I am always amused by people who think that so-called liberals use "catchy rhetoric" when the people in office and their supporters come up with such things as "coalition of the willing" "freedom fries" "no child left behind" (hahahahaha), "shock and awe" and on and on... mmm no catchy rhetoric at all.

Now the funny thing is that that letter I quoted from Michael Moore DIDN'T tell people WHAT to do with their country, it said "YOU HAVE THE VOTE, USE IT!!" Now just imagine how pushy and anti-freedom THAT is!! telling someone to use their um constitutional republic right to representation... the same one the US wants the rest of the world to have, that they are willing to bomb Iraq to impose. I suppose though that if the alternative is "exhort all the republicans to vote and encourage everyone else to just relax and use their freedom to watch tv instead of voting cuz you shouldn't as an American be TOLD to vote", that is a handy thing if you want Bush to win.

One would think that even Bushies would want everyone out to vote. If he wants to claim legitimacy as President of the US of A, and is so sure that he is doing the best job ever and God wants him to be President, it seems that it would be a good thing if he got the people out to the polls to prove to the world that he doesn't have 23% support (ie just below half of the votes) but has in fact majority support of a massive citizen turnout. Now THAT would give his voice and presidency legitimacy.

But don't let Michael Moore or France tell you what to do. Let Charlton Heston and England tell you instead. I guess it is all a matter of whether you feel the person telling is telling ya good or bad, and me and oomm disagree on that. Is anyone calling Republicans British toadies and telling them they should move to Iraq if they want this much vaunted open market and freedom to buy rocket launchers? Remember when the post-bombing looting was happening in Baghdad, and that Rumsfeld said that a free people are free to commit crimes like looting? I think that Americans who really agree with Ashcroft and his view of freedom should be very upset with the USA where a fun-lovin looter would probably have the police or army arresting them and blocking their "freedom".

Anyways, I am digressing, really I am.

I wanted to talk about poor oomm being sick of hearing that it is tax cuts for the rich.

You are right. Everyone got tax cuts. But some got MORE tax cuts. BIGGER tax cuts. Two thirds of the money went to the top ten percent of the population in 2003. If they voted "cake for everyone" and the ten tallest people of the 100 in the office got two thirds of the cake, leaving one third of it for the other 90 people to share. Um, wouldn't the next time cake was ordered, we call it the "cake for the tall people"?????

So yeah, tax cuts for the rich. And they are the ones with children in private schools not public ones. They are the ones who have private security and bodyguards and don't have to rely on publicly funded police. They are the ones who have private jets and don't have to pay for subway tickets. They are the ones who own family ranches and mansions, and are unlikely to have mortgages or second mortgages, nor condo fees or rents to pay.

Let's see. Three years ago I had an income three times what i have now. Do you know what? A person can only wear one outfit at a time. Really only needs one house, and one winter coat. A person cannot drive two cars at one time. A person only can be on ONE form of transportation at a time to get to point B. A person can only eat so much before they start to puke, or get really really fat. They can use only so much toilet paper. And can only be in one room at a time where they need light to read. A person only has so many hours in the day to walk dogs, or ride horses, or read books or watch tv or play video games.

People in the lower income bracket use all of their income getting warm-enough clothing, shoes, food, shelter, something to read, music to listen to, transportation to get from point A-B.

When their income goes up they can have better food, a choice of clothes so they can match their outfits to the occasion or make sure the color of their winter coat goes with the color of their boots or shoes, a bigger nicer house, better books and a wider choice of music, maybe a bike AND a car AND a canoe AND a motorcycle so they can use different transportation for differing reasons and seasons.

But past a certain point, the extra clothes aren't necessary, and you wear things once or maybe never at all before they go out of style. You buy more food than you can eat. You start treating your friends. You have more space in your house than you can use, and it gets dusty and you don't have time to clean all those rooms you seldom use. So you hire people to do it for you... and then you can shelter them too if you like (justifying having even more rooms)... you could ask your cousins and grandparents to live under your roof, or pay for caretakers for the summer house so it doesn't go empty and get vandalised. You can have three cars, and hire a chauffeur, and a mechanic. Or they sit there and rust. You can buy more dogs and horses and chinchillas, but if you have too many, you have to hire someone to walk them and ride them and feed and groom them cuz it is just too much for one person. You can buy private jets and hire a pilot. You have more and more expensive stuff... let's see, you have a color tv in each room and in the car too. And you have more books than you can read, and lots of music that you can't listen to all of in a day or a week or a lifetime. You have clothes and cars and pets and employees you don't even remember you have. And antiques and paintings and houses and cottages and yachts and it just gets more and more...

But let me tell you, from having had three times as much income three years ago... I had more money than things I needed. The rest was fun extras. And at a certain point you have so many fun extras you don't have time to use them all. You use your skiis once in a season, or the tennis racket three times in two years. Cuz you are one person and you can't do more in a day than a person who has less money. You can do more different things if you have more different toys. But you have the same amount of time and physical capacity as a person of the same age, health etc as a person who is richer or poorer.

My mom actually complained it was no fun cuz I bought things I needed as I wanted or needed them, and she didn't know what to get me for presents. She'd buy me books, but I didn't have time to read them on top of the books I bought myself for example. Or she'd buy me tennis shoes, but I can either wear one pair of tennis shoes 8 hours a week, or two pairs of tennis shoes 4 hours each a week. I can't physically play tennis 7 hours a day in order to wear the thirty different tennis outfits I own. See what I mean?

So. That is one reason why a 50% tax on someone earning $20,000$ a year is not the same as a 50% tax on someone earning $700,000 a year. After taxes, the first person has $10,000 and cannot even eat or afford the simplest prescription drugs for the cold they got in the winter. After taxes, the second person still has $350,000. Should the second person go "oh my god, I am so hard done by, I only have $350,000!!!! You, the $10,000 person, you are the same as me, I am the same as you, we both lost HALF our income!!". (And do I believe that the person who earned $700,000 which is 35 times $20,000, worked 35 times as many hours in a week? If the $20,000 a year person worked very hard at a 40 hr a week job, did the $700,000 a year person work 1400 hours in a week. Unlikely.) But that aside, does anyone need to earn personally (I am not talking about a business, but personal income) $700,000 in a year? Wouldn't they have a wee bit extra that they can give back to other people? And wouldn't helping pay for police, fire departments, health care, roads, sewers, education... wouldn't that be like a cool thing to do with some of that extra money instead of paying for a third house or a third private jet? Or yet another inground playboy bunny-shaped inground pool (in that house in Spain you only get to every third year? But um, do those rich people use public schools, sewer systems, transportation and doctors?

OK here is some information on these tax cuts and the American financial picture. According to the US Treasury International Capital System website, national debt owed to foreigners increased from 1 trillion$ in January 2001, to 1.5trillion$ currently. Figures showing that the total assets of the Social Security Trust Funds borrowed by the federal government have increased from $1 trillion in January 2001 to $1.5 trillion currently are from Social Security Online. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Public Debt, there has been a $1.3 trillion increase in the national debt under Bush.

The funny thing is that most countries up taxes when they go to war to pay for it. And Bush slashed taxes. Where is that money coming from?

According, federal budget slashing is showing::

Fiscal conditions in state and local governments have forced one in four cities to lay-off police officers in the past year, according to a recent survey by the National League of Cities (NLC). In addition, the recent mobilization of National Guard and military reserve troops, many of whom are police, has reduced the number of available officers in two-thirds of the nation's metropolitan police departments, NLC found.
But I would rather have a tax refund to buy nintendo or a new cell phone than pay taxes to have a police force, yeah, esp if there is another terrorist attack.

As the feds cut taxes, less federal money goes to states and municipalities. A few things that have happened along with federal taxes going down:

So, does the tax cut give more money to the rich or not? They are less likely to be charged out of pocket for these things that were previously aided by gov't taxes. If you get $100 back, but it costs you $100 increase in health fees or tuition, you arent' really getting anything back.

Some people think that if you cut taxes to people with money, there will be a trickle down effect as they create more jobs and hire more employees, who will then have their wages to spend.

This might be true 1) if rich people had to spend the extra money they earn. They don't. They can just pocket it away. In a Swiss bank account. 2) if rich people had to spend the money at home. I suspect that many of them rich people don't vacation in Minneapolis, but rather on the Carribean, the Riviera, wherever rich people go, where their dollar is worth more, and there are palm trees and no Floridian hurricanes. I also suspect that the richer you are the more likely you are to buy imported clothes, imported food, imported cars. So alot of that money is going out of country. 3) if rich people opened factories and created jobs at home. . For the most part, the trend is to close factories at home and open them abroad. Why would they pay an American $7 or $15 an hour when they can pay someone $1 an hour, a day or a week, in another country? Their tax cuts are allowing them to fly to China and open a McDonalds there. It would be lovely to think then that the happy Chinese wageearners buy American goods. Hell, it would be lovely to think that American workers hired in America bought American goods. Actually, America has a huge export/ import imbalance. Many white collar jobs are being outsourced to India. Y'all are exporting your jobs and your money and the rich cats are gettin richer and are getting tax cuts so they have to reinject less of their profits into the US infrastructure.

Interestingly, some people think that producing more goods so that the price comes down and down is a super huge thing for the world. I don't know... I walk by dollar stores and discount stores absolutely bulging with cheap goods. Unsold cheap goods. Good produced so cheaply that the people producing the goods get poverty wages. So much goods that they spill out of hundreds of similar stores on thousands of similar streets all over the US. Cheap cheap cheap. Overflowing. Vendors harrassing you as you walk down the sidewalk to buy yet another made in Taiwan or Indonesia or Ukranian pair of plastic flipflops, a second, third, fifth set of vinyl suitcases, only a dollar, buy more buy more. We are back to the place where each person only needs so many of each thing before it becomes redundant. Surplus. Too much. You only have so much closet space, so many feet to put flipflops on, only so much vacation money to use your suitcases. And for the producers, you have to manufacture thousands of an item in order to make a living. You need to sell thousands of dollar items in a month to pay the rent on your store. We are floating in unsold clothes of this year's style, and beanie baby ripoffs and xmen lunchboxes.

So, with all these great tax cuts what do I see? Rich people getting richer and outsourcing. (Invest in Iraq and rebuild it, don't invest in downtown Detroit, which let me tell you, as I have seen it with my own eyes, really really needs rebuilding). Middle class people are losing the white collar and blue collar jobs that made America in the 50's and 60's one of the places in the world with the most affluent middleclass, and they are unemployed or reemployed in the service sector. It is hard to pay for a two car garage, a college education for three kids, and an SUV when you work at McDonald's or delivering pizza. I know. I used to work at Burger King and Christophe Van Houtte coffeeshops. And even the US service industry is sweating. Lower class people are getting an average of $100 back from their tax cut bonanza, and that amount of money doesn't pay for the missing healthcare for their kids. And I see a whole country spending money on smart bombs to shock and awe, sort of like a really really expensive fireworks show, while it goes deeper and deeper into per capita debt. Bush started with a surplus of $127 billion, and by his second year in office had a $600 billion deficit. If a housewife did that with your household budget you'd chop up her credit card, not tell her she can keep more pocket money and up the kids' allowances. If your husband spent past his credit limit on machine guns, guard dogs and alarm systems for the house and you couldn't afford pencils for your grade two kid's schoolwork, or aspirin and bandaids as a result, you'd wallop him alongside the head, not say "oh, give less of your money to the household budget, keep it to spend as you like". Here is a good quote:

" As people grow richer, their appetites for newer and jazzier consumer durables taper off, and the things they want more of include health, education, clean air and safety from threats both foreign and domestic. These things are often provided by the government. To starve the government with tax cuts is to misread this trend. "
from the Washington Post. mmmm.

So you know what? Yeah, I get really tired of hearing from my government that my taxes are due. And you get really tired of hearing that the tax cuts are for the rich. But you know what? Both of those are true. And repeated because they continue to be true.

But in general, I am happy with what I get here... free doctor's checkups and treatments (including sutures in my eye, laparoscopy for infertility, surgery to remove a lump in my breast, visits to emergency), university tuition fees that are some of the lowest in the world for world-class education, streets where the murder rate is ridiculously low, etc etc etc.

So, yeah, I grumble, but I am not clamouring for new tax breaks anytime soon. Only accountability of the spending of it. Which is a different thing.

And now, I really know more about America than I ever really wanted to know. tah and goodnight


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previous meanderings - future past

Goodbye Michael. May your next life be kinder to you. - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
Taking Care of Your Cows - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
Saint Joseph robs the cradle and eats spaghetti - Sunday, Jun. 14, 2009
sticky notes and broken irises - Friday, Jun. 12, 2009
The FOODCOMMANDER - Monday, Jun. 08, 2009


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