Tag Archives: economy

Turkey Tax Theory

For over 30 years I have insisted on cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. I say “insisted”. It is my right as the head of the family. As a man. I decide these things. I know better than anyone else how to cook a turkey, so I take control. End of discussion. (Right, dear?)

I have a very sound theory of turkey cooking. First, you buy a turkey.  Then you cook it. Simple. Common sense.

Of course some folks might look to socalled “experts” when it comes to cooking turkey, but not me. They look in cook books and on line videos and some even ask grandma. But not me. I have a theory and I am sticking to it.

Now, the cookbook “experts” will tell you to cook a turkey at 325 degrees for a certain length of time, depending on the size of the bird. So much for experts. I have been using my own theory for 30 years. Ignoring the experts.

Here’s my theory.  I get a 15 pound turkey. Now, the “experts” say that you should cook a 15 pound turkey at 325 degrees for 3-3 1/2 hours. Balderdash. My common sense theory says  this is a waste of time. I don’t want to wait 3 1/2 hours for a turkey.  So, using common sense and math (Well, a calculator) my theory says this.

Cooking a turkey at 650 degrees will shorten the cooking time by exactly one-half. So, my turkey will be ready at 1 1/2 hours or so. No reason to wait for 3 hours. Simple. To the point. Common sense. A theory any idiot can understand.

I have been cooking Thanksgiving birds like this for 30 years and EVERY year, I mean EVERY year, the turkey ends up charred on the outside, partially cooked on the inside and a smoking mess. There is always a problem with the smoke filling the kitchen and the smoke alarm going off. I solve that easily by opening windows and disabling the smoke alarm ahead of time. Clever. The volunteer fire department is on retainer.

Why does the turkey always burn? For the first 20 years I figured it was a bad batch of turkeys. Not my fault. So I tried every turkey under the sun. I cooked each of the following , in order:

Honeysuckle, Butterball, Jennie-O, Norbest, Shay Brook, Riverside, Foster Farms, Boar’s Head, Plainville Farms, Trader Joe’s , Nature’s Promise, Perdue, Smithfield, Organic Prairie, Carolina, Pilgrim’s Pride, Applegate, Private Selection, O Organics, Cooper Farms.

As fate would have it, every one of these turkeys ended up being defective. They all burned.  They all filled my kitchen with smoke. Sad. Very sad. I thought maybe you just can’t get a decent turkey nowadays.

But then I thought. Wait. Maybe it’s the oven. So, I bought a new oven. Nope. Same problem. No matter what turkey I tried or oven I tried the end product was the same. I know that if only I had the right turkey and right oven my theory would be proven. It is just a matter of time. No amount of evidence can dissuade me from my theory.

Which brings us to the latest Tax Plan.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan had a great theory. A SPLENDID theory. Increase spending on the military. Give money to the rich by lowering taxes and they will create jobs. The economy will BOOM and unemployment will disapper. So, he put the theory into practice.  George H W Bush called it “voodoo economics” and said it would not work. By 1982 the US economy had experienced a recession and unemployment had RISEN to 10.8%. The GDP declined 2.7%. Opposite of the growth expected. Still, despite the evidence, it was a good theory.

In 1990 there was another smaller recession. This time George HW Bush was president. He had run on the slogan of “No New Taxes”. A great theory. Unfortunately circumstances beyond his control led him to abandon that theory and call for “revenue increases” to stabilize spending.  But he still had a good theory.

In 2001 George Bush had a theory. If we cut taxes on the wealthy they will invest in US jobs. GREAT! Wonderful theory. So, Congress cut corporate and individual taxes to stimulate the economy.  And he theorized that we needed to de-regulate big business. Too many restrictions were just strangling these major corporate and financial institutions. So, de-regulate we did. Excellent theory. Of course, it would take a few years for the effects to be felt. But the theory was sound.

And the effects were the biggest recession since 1945. Growth tanked to a negative 5.1%. Unemployment rose to 10%. Big money investors with all that extra capital did not create jobs in the US. Deregulated financial institutions simply made bad loans with investors money and went bust. (Well, they didn’t go bust, they got bailed out. Another theory. Too big to fail… even when they do).

When President  Obama left office unemployment was about 4%. A relatively stable rate. And there were no Obama-era recessions.So, the economy is back on track and continues to chug along. No reason to tamper with it.

BUT, we need to follow theories, not evidence. So, Congress is proposing the biggest tax breaks ever while proposing a massive increase in military spending . In 2015 the USA spent more on the military ($ 597,000,000,000 that’s billion) than the next 10 nations combined. The US spent more than the total spent by China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, UK, India, France, Germany, Japan, S Korea and Brazil…COMBINED). This is not to suggest the US does not need a strong military, but this seems a bit excessive. Spend more, take in less. Voodoo economics, anyone?

So, once again we are following a theory that has been shown to have no evidence supporting it, IF the goal is a stable , fair economic system. But the theory sounds pretty good.

For my part, I continued to use my theory to cook my Thanksgiving turkey. Despite the naysayers. OK, so it got burned again this year. No turkey for Thanksgiving. On the positive side, my wife has made a standing reservation for Thanksgiving at Hop Sing’s Chinese Restaurant.  She is  no theoretician. And I am developing a taste for Mu Shu Pork.

http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/roast-a-turkey

https://www.ranker.com/list/best-turkey-brands/ranker-shopping

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Read_my_lips:_no_new_taxes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

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Filed under Budget, Congress, Debt, Democrat, economics, Economy, Free Trade, GOP, jobs, Politics, Republicans, Society, United States

The Economy or The People?

Watching parts (I have a weak stomach) of the GOP debate on the “economy” I think I finally figured out the problem. I am slow, I admit.

The first question by the Fox Business/ Wall Street Journal panel exposed the issue pretty clearly. Should the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour? Which is about $31,000 per year according to the panelist.

The answer, across the board, was NO. It would hurt “the economy” to raise the wages of people now making maybe 7 or  10 or 12 bucks an hour. It would devastate the economy to have poor working people making a little more to spend.

Trump, by is own admission a billionaire, sees nothing but ruin if a fast food worker were to get a few more bucks. And Carson agrees.  The end of the US “economy” as we know it. Catastrophe.

Another question asked by the panelists was about the great disparity between a CEO average pay and that of one of his workers. It used to be 20 to 1. Now it is 300 to 1. I don’t think any candidate ever actually responded to that one. The non answers were clear. No problem.

So, what seems clear to me now (as I said, I am slow) is that the GOP candidates have a completely distorted world view of what an “economy” is and what an “economy” does. Or is supposed to do.

Simply put, an economy is how goods and services are organized and distributed in a given society. The purpose of an economy should be what? To be organized so all members of a society have a chance to benefit from the wealth of that society. If not, then we must assume the “economy” has, as it’s central purpose, the organization of goods and services to benefit only a portion of the society.

The GOP concept of an “economy” seems to accept the second concept, that the economy should be organized to help only portions of society.. The economy to them seems to mean only one thing. How much profit is generated for the investor class. While they talk about “job creation” they are really talking about cheap labor so that investor profits will be higher. Not job creation so workers can have a decent life. Or participate in the overall economy in the broadest sense.

Now there is nothing wrong with investors making a profit. That is how the capitalist system (flawed though it is)  works. Since investors are allowing others to use their money  they deserve a reasonable return. But what is not reasonable is defining the “economy” ONLY in terms of investor profits. It skews the argument and is not a realist view of what an economy is all about.

When the GOP candidates say that a higher wage for workers hurts the “economy’, what they mean is a higher wage for workers cuts into investor profits. Which is true. Of course, taken to it’s logical conclusion one could argue that slavery is the best system for the “economy” because it reduces all labor costs for the investor. Hence, a slave economy, by definition, would be the “strongest” economy under the GOP world view. Tried that once, if I recall.

The GOP candidates, with real concern for the plight of poor Americans, pointed out that 1 in 5 kids now live in poverty. But their solution to this is NOT to raise the minimum wage so these children and their parents can escape poverty. Somehow, this system of keeping poor people underpaid is “good” for the economy. And it is, if you define the economy as the GOP does. A system designed to promote investor profits.

For the Democrats the challenge is simple. Help folks understand that the GOP definition of the economy is narrow and incomplete. Not evil. Not anti- poor.  Not racist. But simplistic and wrong. An economy is more than profits for investors. It is a system that is supposed to work for ALL members, not just a few.

A productive economy is one that is balanced so that workers who provide the labor to create profits benefit from that labor. And they benefit to such an extent that they can take advantage of the wealth they create. Investors also benefit by making a reasonable rate of return on their investments. A balanced system that recognize both halves of the equation.

Back in the days when the CEOs made only 20 times as much as the average worker the economy was better than it is today.  Investors made good profits and paid their fair share of taxes. Guess what? The economy worked for most people. Yes, some were poor. But the investor class did ok.  Not a single member needed food stamps.

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I’m Entitled…A Deal’s A Deal

Some states, New Jersey and Michigan come to mind, have decided that pensions for teachers and other public employees are too costly. So, they have cut back. Changed the rules. Old people have become too expensive. People retired, thinking they had a deal. Then the rules were changed. After the game was over.

First, a true story. A guy who delivers my firewood also takes down trees. I’ll call him Luke. I asked Luke to look at a massive cherry tree in my yard and he said he could take it down for 50 bucks. That was a good deal. A 30 minute job. Luke came back in his coveralls with his chain saw and well, it wasn’t as easy as we thought. The tree got caught up. He had to take down another maple next to it. Then he cut up the trunk into usable pieces for me. Took about 2 hours.

Now, it comes time to pay Luke. I give him the $50 and try to give him more. No. He won’t take it. I said, look, you took down two trees, cut them up, the job was much bigger than we thought. Take some more money. No. Luke would have none of it. His exact words. “A deal’s a deal”. End of discussion.

I taught in NY schools for over 30 years. Put money into the retirement system. Every check. My wages were so low that, as a professional teacher there were years when my family was eligible for welfare. WIC. A college degree, graduate school, a teaching certificate all lead to welfare subsidy. Which is okay. I knew what I wanted. Worked every summer to make ends meet. But I paid into the retirement system. Every check. Social security. Every check. Medicare. Every check. Just like public employees in Michigan and New Jersey and Wisconsin and Kansas and every other state in the union.

Am I ENTITLED to my retirement check? You bethcha. I paid in and took lower wages for a reason. A deal’s a deal.

I started working at 16. Paid Social Security. Paid Medicare. Paid federal taxes. Paid state taxes.
Now I am retired and I get free money from Uncle Sam. Social security every month. Now I am on Medicare. Am I one of Mitt Romney’s 47% ? ENTITLED? You betcha. I deserve it. A deal’s a deal.

I get more than a little irritated at the “young gun” GOP governors who are trying to balance their budgets by stripping pensions and retirement plans. Cutting taxes on the better off citizens and taking dollars out of the pockets of retirees. They have no clue. They have no understanding of what people in the past gave up to get those guaranteed pensions. They have no shame. They have no integrity.

They are deaf to the basic contract. They do not believe that “A deal’s a deal”.

Maybe I should order them some firewood. And have Luke deliver it. Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Luke would rub off . But I doubt it.

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Filed under Christie, Debt, economics, Economy, Education, GOP, government, neoconservatives, Republicans, Taxes, tea party

The Job Creators Strike Again

The 114th Congress, controlled by the GOP , has now voted to approve the XL Pipeline. The Senate will probably follow suit. It is not clear if this vote actually means anything, since the State Department has not yet completed it’s required study of the pipeline. And the POTUS cannot act to approve it until the State Department makes it’s recommendations. And it is quite possible that President Obama would approve the pipeline anyway, if the State Department so recommends.

But facts and the law will not stand in the way of the Job Creators. The GOP Job Creators. Their dedication to creating jobs has no bounds. The policies of Reagan’s Supply-Side Economics (called “VooDoo Economic”s by former POTUS GHW Bush) have created millions of jobs since the 1980s. That is the good news.

The bad news is that those jobs were created overseas. China. Vietnam. Mexico. Or in states well below poverty level wages. Alabama. Georgia. Tennessee. Good for CEOs and the upper 1 %. Not such a great deal for the middle class or workers. Not such a great deal for taxpayers since so many full-time employees are also on Food Stamps. We may pause at this point to recall that these Job Creators fought very hard to prevent the US from helping the auto industry keep the jobs already created. Tens of thousands of jobs. Good paying jobs with no one on Food Stamps. Saved by the bail outs and TARP. Job Creators hated them. Predicted the end of freedom in America if we saved these jobs. (That catastrophe was somehow averted.)

So the XL Pipeline is not a new triumph for the Job Creators. They have created short term low wage jobs before. For the honor of piping the filthiest oil on the planet across the water tables of the plains states the US will be rewarded with thousands of jobs. Over 1,000 miles of 36 inch pipe. Carrying unprocessed, unrefined thick crude oil . Across water resources. Across farmland and grazing land. What could go wrong?

The pipeline will create 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. Good jobs. Unless they are given to non-unionized, low wage immigrant labor. And these jobs will last a long time. Well. Two years. Then they end. Then the housing built for the temporary workers lies vacant. The boom in the small towns goes bust. But there are more jobs. Permanent ones. Jobs that are here to stay.

The best estimate of the long term permanent jobs servicing the pipeline is 35. And 15 more part time jobs, as well. 50 jobs. The economic impact of these 50 jobs is hard to gauge. The GOP Job Creators have been beating their chests and thumping their …well…their whatevers, for 50 permanent jobs. For 6 years they have battled to get these 50 jobs.

While infrastructure rots and schools crumble, the Job Creators are narrowly focused on 50 jobs for their oil company donors. Not thousands of police officers to make cities safer. Not thousands of teachers to help our students. Not firefighters. Not computer technicians or scientists. Not increased training for new doctors and nurses. Nope.

The Job Creators have spent 6 years whining about 50 jobs. That’s about 9 jobs per year. Fewer than one per month.

A great start. At this rate the Job Creators will have the US economy booming along with full employment by the time the sun burns the Earth to a crisp in 1.1 billion years. But, hey. You gotta start somewhere.

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, economics, Economy, GOP, government, jobs, Neoconservative, Politics, Republicans, Senate, Society, Taxes, US

Thank you Mr Yoder

Congress recently passed a giganormous spending bill. It was for over 1.1 trillion US dollars. That’s a lot of paper. In numbers it looks like this 1,100,000,000,000. That is more M and M’s than you can shake a stick at.
A lot of that loot goes to luxuries like food stamps, housing for the poor, homeland security, etc. But thanks to Congressman Yoder of Kansas, a fiscal conservative, some of that loot may be coming my way. Kansas, as you may or may not know, is now facing millions of dollars in debt as a result of the “Tax Cuts for Billionaires” program instituted by GOP governor Brownback. Have no fear, like Christie of New Jersey, Brownback intends to raid the public employees pension plans to make up the difference. It worked for Christie. Fiscal conservatism at its best.
But, back to Yoder.
Congressman Yoder was able to slip the Citibank bailout provision into the new budget. Written by Citibank and debated by …well…by no one. No time to debate. It was slipped in at the last minute. (Where are the howlers who were screaming at Obamacare because they only had 6 months to read it before the vote?) This provision allows Citibank (and others) to make those risky bets on certain derivatives and have those bets covered by the US taxpayer if they go bad. The same risky bets that helped lead to the financial meltdown and bailouts of..oh..many, many years ago. I can’t remember. Was it 1929 or something like that. Ancient history. Couldn’t happen again.
At any rate, I assume that because corporations are people that means people are corporations. Makes sense to me. Right?
So, as a corporate entity I plan to fly to Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
I will take my life savings (too embarrassed to give you the amount) and place is all on number 43 . One spin of the roulette wheel. Win and I am a millionaire. (Well, maybe if I win 8 times in a row). All my money. One risky bet. What could be better? This….
And the best part is this. If I win, I get to keep my winnings. Hurrah!. If I lose I will claim I am a bank. I will claim I made a risky bet. The taxpayers will cover my losses. Then, guess what ? I can simply bet again.
So, thank you, Mr Yoder of the bankrupt state of Kansas. Thank you for looking out for the little guy.
Las Vegas, here I come.

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Filed under Christie, Conservatives, Debt, Economy, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, obama, Politics, Republicans

Ebola and ISIS Solved by the Election

It wasn’t long ago that we faced two major crises. They had to be faced. Enemies had to be defeated. The very existence of America, nay, the existence of the human race was in the balance.

Appealing to us to stop the dual menaces of Ebola and ISIS, the GOP candidates cried for action. Before it was too late. They knew that Obama was doing nothing. The Dems were doing nothing. Only quick, decisive action could save the republic.

Ebola was spreading like wildfire. African immigrants were sweeping across America spreading the disease like a plague. As Glenn Beck and others pointed out, Mr Obama was seeking to infect Americans with Ebola as part of his secret master plan to …uh…anyway. And Obama and the Dems were doing nothing. Elect the GOP and rid America of this plague!

ISIS was out of control. Murdering. Raping. Pillaging. Destroying cities and towns and imposing Shari’a Law on the world. And Obama and the Dems sat by and watched. Perhaps even secretly supported the Muslim Brotherhood. Elect the GOP and defeat ISIS. Take some action, already.

And, in the worst possible scenario, ISIS and Ebola were working together to destroy America. Congressman Tom Cotton (now Senator) of Arkansas, Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Duncan Hunter and soon to be Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas (all Republicans) had absolute proof that ISIS agents infected with Ebola were crossing the border from Mexico. And Obama and the Dems do nothing. Take some action. Elect the GOP !

So, I was ECSTATIC when the GOP won the elections. Finally, we are going to see some action. These guys are no nonsense hombres with a will and determination to do what needs to be done. The message was clear.

Take action on Ebola TODAY. Declare war (which only Congress can do) on ISIS TODAY. Men of action needed in this crisis.

So, what the first thing Mitch McConnell is going to do? In his speech after being elected majority leader of the Senate he made it clear. His number one priority is a trade deal. A deal to ship more jobs overseas and allow foreign companies to bypass US law. No ISIS Crisis ? No Ebola solution.

And in the House of Misrepresentatives the first order of business? The very first vote taking by Boehner? A declaration of war on ISIS ? Nope. Funds for containing the spread of Ebola ? No. A vote on the XL Pipeline.

So, now that the election is over ISIS and Ebola are not longer crises. The real crises are the inability of foreign companies to bypass US law in trade agreements and the sometime in the future pipeline to carry Canadian sludge across the plains states.

What is the lesson to be learned ? There is no crisis too big that it can’t be solved by having an election.Horrible, republic-threatening problems and crises do not need real solutions. They do not need to be met head on. Emergencies can wait. Just have an election and all the issues that existed two days prior to the vote magically disappear.

If we had only known this in the old days. Just think. If we had held an election 3 days after so-called emergency of Pearl Harbor we could have won WW2 without firing a single shot!

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Filed under Conservatives, Elections, Foreign policy, obama

Thank You , Georgia,I’m Sorry

Having returned from a short trip to the south, including a visit to Savannah,  Georgia, I have to thank these southerners for their hospitality. We had a nice time in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. So, thanks. But today I saw a news article that causes me to thank Georgia politicians even more and tell the people of Georgia that I am sorry.

It seems as though Georgia’s legislature has decided to pass two laws regarding access to health care in the state. While I thank them for one of these laws, I am not sure about the second one.

First, a law which refuses to accept billions of federal  dollars to fund Medicaid for Georgia’s poor, especially the working poor. While the feds are giving states 100% of the costs of Medicaid this year and 90 % in the future, the politicians of Georgia have generously decided not to accept that windfall. And I thank them. Why ?

Well,  since the people of Georgia are paying taxes into the Medicare/Medicaid system they are helping support people in other states, like New York,  and getting nothing in return. This means that over the long haul more money will be available for participating states, at the expense of Georgia’s citizens. Thank you, once again. Very generous of you.

A second law is a bit more curious. Georgia, after all, prides itself on embracing  those freedoms we all hold so dear. Free  press. Freedom of religion. Free speech. Freedom of association. Which makes the next law a bit curious. This law prevents Georgia citizens from helping other Georgia citizens. It prevents them from helping others enroll in the ACA.

In other words, if a Georgia citizen FREELY desires to enroll in the ACA it is illegal for others to assist him or her.It is illegal for others to try to make that enrollment process easier. To give them needed assistance. It is the ultimate “anti-Samaritan” law. Seems kind of odd in a state where the word “freedom” is thrown around like a frisbee on a college campus. And belief in god is spouted even more often. But, so be it.

What are the ramifications of these laws ? Well, for one, the people of Georgia will miss out on billions of federal dollars in aid. The estimated 70,000 plus jobs based on the increase in health care availability (most in the private sector ) will not be created. Those Georgians without health insurance will continue to either get sick and not go to school or work, hurting the economy, or seek treatment at Emergency Rooms in hospitals. The most expensive treatment. Costing Georgia’s citizens even more money with increased health insurance premiums.

And , quite likely, the better health care professionals will seek employment in states with a more supportive attitude towards the medical needs of people.

All of this because a handful of elected officials hate Mr Obama. There is an old saying which applies: Cutting off your nose to spite your face.

So,  thank you Georgia for your hospitality and for helping pay for my state’s Medicaid coverage. And, I am sorry Georgians.  Sorry that you have to live in a state run by people with such hatred towards Mr Obama that they will allow you and your children to suffer. It is quite a dichotomy. Such nice folks. Such nasty politicians.

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