Thursday, June 30, 2011

What if we really did cut out the tax "loopholes"?

Republicans in the default or no-default negotiations are now making noises that they're willing to contemplate getting rid of "loopholes" in the tax code to achieve what they will accept as deficit reduction. Of course, my loophole is your sacred cow and there ain't no such thing as deficit reduction. But let's dream ... and consider a modest proposal.

I'll call it the Simple Tax Act, because that's what it is: a tax code that is nothing more than a schedule of tax rates and a few simple definitions. Ten pages, max.

No mortgage deductions, no housing tax credit, but no oil depletion allowance and no fancy depreciation. Just levy X taxes on Y income (or Z profit).

Keep progressivity: lower brackets should pay smaller proportions than higher brackets. Keep the grand givaway of taxing corporate profits rather than income (define allowable "expenses" only as cash and carry items, no fancy deeming of anything that is not an actual exchange of goods, services and money ... bye-bye, Ken Lay). Even keep low (but not zero) inheritance and capital gains taxes.

Because that's the little secret: if everyone pays a fair share, each one of us can get to pay little less to balance the budget and get our goodies, like the occasional chest-thumping war or three, Medicaid and Medicare, federal student loans, etc.

What's more: eliminate all the deductions, credits and allowances and you don't have to file a tax declaration at the end of the year. What gets deducted is what you owe! Period. Bye-bye April 15 deadline. Let's have a tax parade and cookout, instead ... I'll bring the hot dogs.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So a House is not a Home, what now ... ?

Stardate 64935.8

Am clearing out my place so it can be renovated. I was persuaded to post something I thought trite and self-referential on this matter by Carol of Carol's Vault, a fantastic blog site on freeware and open source software (plus occasional excursions to other regions of the mind). Blame her. But, heck, this is a web log, right?

Now that my home is virtually empty I realize that the old trope "a house is not a home" is true. I've lived 30 years there. Now I'm finally getting rid of the museum of a family that no longer exists, which has surrounded me for a about a decade, I realize that the real charm of the place lay in those absent people.

Two boys jumping on a trampoline (yes, a trampoline!) in the middle of a living room.

A Mom pasting a verse from Proverbs on the back of the cubpoard door.

Two boys reading, or playing or working (ha!) on their laptops, next to each other on a sofa, without speaking.

A Dad spending a reading vacation on the balcony, devouring neo-Father Brown detective novels set in Detroit.

One boy building a fort in the living room (the trampoline gone); another in their bedroom. playing "music" capable of drowning out street-repair drills.

And on and on and on ...

Now only the Dad lives here. It's not so spectacular a place without posters and books and bunk beds and religious images and all that gone. Still, he's committed to moving out in a pine box. Where else could he live?

Friday, June 10, 2011

What did Papa Heinz feel when he turned 59?

When my father turned 57, two years before he died, I composed a poem although there was no reason, other than my own inexperienced youth, to suppose his death was anywhere near. I laughed when people said "he died so young" two years later, yet surely he had no idea.

I said for years that I would welcome going at the same age. As I got closer, however, my tune began to change: I like being alive, warts and all.

Upon turning 59 today, I have already thought and rethought this. When I turn 60, next year, I'll heave a sigh of relief. Then keel over. Just kidding! (Or perhaps the joke will be on me.)

It would be worthwhile to know when one will die. A friend was diagnosed with a terminal disease, given a few years and spent all his savings before dragging on in poverty for a decade longer than predicted.

Doctors know nothing! My plan is to stay away from the medical money extraction machine as long as possible, to age in place to avoid feeding tubes and the like, and generally to go gently into that night. The plans of mice men men, right?

Still, if I die this year, say six months from now to match the exact life span of my father, I can't say I'll go with much too much fight. Barring some unforeseen development, of which life is admittedly chock full, I have done just about all I'm going to do and I'm plum out of new ideas.

Oh, last thing: I called my father Papa Heinz drawing on the fabled 57 varieties of ketchup in an old slogan. Thank your stars I speared you the poem.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Why change-hopers should join the GOP

Sarah Palin was right. That changey-hopey thing didn't really work out for us on the Left, after all. Of course not. To get the kind of destruction fierce enough to pull out capitalism by its very roots we needed a Republican, and not just any mild-mannered, Amtrak-hating former POW, but a Tea Partier.

After all, it takes a Republican to really ruin things, not just merely mess them up.

Herbert Hoover gave us the Great Depression. A little more Republican inaction could just have thrown capitalism overboard for good in the 1930s. If only that fast-talking Franklin Delano Roosevelt hadn't come along!

Indeed, in the mid-1930s as the economy began to sprout its first buds of recovery, the Republicans in Congress started rending their garments over deficit spending (sound familiar?). They put the brakes on the New Deal and prolonged the Depression by five years.

As Archie Bunker used to sing, we sure could a man like Herbert Hoover today.

Then there's Ronald Reagan, who gave us more national debt than all his predecessors combined, preached morality and dealt drugs (remember Iran-Contra?) and, for all his bravado, didn't stop a single solitary abortion. Now there's a man who understood the Vietnam War notion of destroying a village to save it!

And Dubya ... George W. Bush deserves a unique altar in the pantheon of Republican gods. He started two wars. Allowed a major U.S. city to be wiped out. Got the United States in the dock for torture. Plus he turned surpluses that ran as far as the eye could see into debt that made Reagan's look puny.

One more term of Dubya and there would be nothing left standing.

Think all that glorious maleficence is in the past? Think again. The Tea Party stands ready to get the United States to default on all its debts and get us all placed in the same deadbeat dock as Argentina.

So here's the choice, my fellow Good Lefties, are we just going to keep letting the Democrats take us for a ride? Or will we let the Republicans run this capitalist system into the ground as only they can do?

Lefties for Republicans, unite! We have nothing to lose but our votes.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Yayy! Champagne! Obama is selling Chrysler at a loss

We interrupt the planned blogging with a question ... 

What part of "buy low, sell high" does the Obama Administration not understand? An NPR "Morning Edition" announcer mused about White House cheering at the sale of the U.S. government's 8% stake in Chrysler. This is at a loss of $1.3 billion; or about 10%.

What are they celebrating?

If you'll recall, in March 2009 Obama announced that the U.S. government bought an 8% stake in Chrysler (in large, publicly held corporations a 5% stake usually gets you a seat on the board) as part of a deal involving the United Auto Workers, Canada, an "alliance" with Fiat, and writeoffs on the part of Chrysler creditors.

Now, Obama is selling that stake at a loss to Fiat — which already has plenty to lose if it walks away. What are "We, the People" getting for all of this subsidizing of U.S. and foreign megacorporations? Zip, zilch, zero, nada.

We're losing $1.3 billion. Rest assured that some politician will make up that by eliminating nutrition for infants or some such.

If this is such a great deal, why aren't the federal government of Canada and the Province of Ontario selling their combined 2% stake, acquired in 2009 as part of the same deal?

“We’ve never believed the government of Canada should be in the automotive business,” said Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at a news conference in Toronto. “But we have to look out for good value for Canadian taxpayers.”

Flaherty is a Tory, a cabinet member in a majority Progressive Conservative government. This is no flaming pinko member of the New Democratic Party, the socialist party that overtook the Liberals in the last election.

Why doesn't Obama care about "good value" for U.S. taxpayers?

Hello! The unemployment rate just went up this past month for the second month in a row. This is a smokescreen for predicted bad economic news. It's just as fake as "change you can believe in."

Here's the real Obama motto: soft, subsidized, all-expenses-paid socialism for corporations and the wealthy; hard-scrabble, you're-on-your-own capitalism for the rest of us.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

All good lefties should dump the Democratic Party

Yes, you read that right. I mean it. Presidential timidity in the face of an arrogant plutocracy convinces me that the only way to bring "change you can believe in" to capitalism is to destroy it. The Grand Old Party, not the Democratic Party, is the last best hope to achieve that goal, given that revolution has never happened in the United States and never will.

To be sure, Obama had many golden opportunities to show he meant his promises.

One handed to him on a silver platter was the collapse of the auto industry, the very emblem of U.S. capitalism's so-called "American Way." He was effectively asked to nationalize the industry -- everything but Ford. Indeed, the entire industry had behaved no better than a heroin dealer, addicting Americans to the car, its pollution, the garbage-producing waste of "planned obsolescence" and dependence on foreign oil.

In the name of capitalism, Obama decided to make government a silent partner.

Next came the much awaited health care reform. Yet universal health care was never even the avowed goal of Obama. Sure enough, the mafia of the American Medical Association, Big Pharmas and Slick Insurance -- everybody who wants to get their hands in the pockets of healthy and wealthy people in the name of "health care" -- made Swiss cheese of Obama's proposals.

They essentially won a continuation of the status quo, or even its worsening, for Citizen Average -- that's you and me.

Financial reform was the obvious next move, right? Anyone who watched policy from Reagan-era deregulation to the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, knows that what happened in 2008 was a planned heist by the titans of the financial industry. So far, they've resisted any significant change.

Then let's not forget never ending, always expanding war and Guantanamo. All of which Obama vowed to end.

Now I can hear Obama and his surrogates whining that none of this is this administration's fault and change just can't be done because of the present political circumstances. That's precisely my point.

The Democratic Party saved capitalism in the 1930s and saved it again and again, all the way to 2009 and beyond. Even the union hacks have woken up and are withholding their money at long last.

The Democrats are just not up to do the job. Next post: why the GOP is.