More Taxes....

Letter to my Legislator about Taxes:
I live in your district and I voted for you in the last election.

Well, I guess that the "T"-word is a necessary evil in a society like ours.

Regarding Glenn Hubbard - yes, he needs and deserves a voice, and oh, hum, it is the same old stuff. I am certainly in favor of tax reform. Heaven knows that our tax laws are a mess. But Hubbard's suggestion starting with "no tax on capital gains or dividends" reveals his agenda, which is to soak the poor and middle classes, and make the rich, richer. The rich are the ones who would have the most to gain in removing the tax on capital gains and dividends.

My alternative, in a nutshell, would spread the burden in a manner more fair. My plan would work in three ways, a "three prong plan" to spread the tax burden more fairly and justly.

First, consider the local government use of a real estate tax. This is a tax applied on ownership of real property. Thus we see that a tax on ownership is just as valid as a tax on income.  So, the first prong of my plan is to also tax wealth - let's apply a federal tax to real estate, stocks and bonds. How would this work?  This would be a simple tax on ownership of stocks and bonds and real estate, say only one percent per year. 
This is significant.  With the value of the NYSE and NASDAQ of about $24 trillion, plus privately held business worth over one million dollars, plus real estate holdings over $500,000, a rate of just one percent would be at least a third of the Federal Budget. And with the rising value of stocks, it seems to be a fair application. The stock market has risen, on average, about 12 percent per year. For the last 100 years. A one percent tax on value of stocks and bonds would not reduce the GNP. I would exclude a first home up to a value of $500,000 and also exclude IRA/401(k) retirement plans from this tax, as well as small business. 

Second, I agree with Hubbard regarding a Sales Tax. It would be a consumption tax, which a tax payer could avoid just by not buying stuff. A Federal Sales Tax would  be applied to all goods, imported goods as well as locally manufactured goods. Our taxing of income hurts local manufactures and foreign imports have an advantage, being manufactured without high income taxes applied to the workers. If we taxed sales, then the imports would be paying an equal share. This would be a 5 percent sales tax.  A new national federal sales tax could also be used to fund a single payer medical insurance fund, which I also support, also helping level the manufacturing "playing field".

Third, let's reduce the income tax rate to about 5 percent and eliminate all deductions. This would make the whole tax process so much easier for the taxpayer, and eliminate the major part of the whole tax bureaucracy, and I think it would allow all those current tax cheats to come back into compliance.  With my other two suggestions, this reduction of income tax rates to five percent is affordable, because the Sales and Ownership taxes would cover the reduction in Income tax. 

The total tax income to the Federal Government would remain the same as it is today, and thus cover the same budget.  But the sources of government income would be divided in thirds: one third from equity and real estate ownership tax, one third from sales tax, and one third from income tax.

I am against using the income tax laws as a "social engineering" tool.  Currently, our tax system is not just to raise money for the workings of the government, our tax system is used as a social engineering carrot and stick. I feel that the social engineering aspect needs to be separated from the important aspect of financial support for our government. Mixing the two has not benefited either function. If you want to give money to college students, home buyers, farmers, or people who buy green cars, then do it, and do not mix this function with taxes. I really hate that our government uses the tax system for social engineering. 

Regarding my first suggestion of taxing wealth. Our current system lets the rich (like, say, Bill Gates) own billions of dollars of stock and never pay a penny until taken as "income". Let's get real. And apologies to Bill, but he is such an easy and obvious example.

The plan has another built in fairness. First, let's review the current tax laws.  Consider two people, a person who makes $100,000 per year and has a net worth (stocks, house, etc.) of about $100,000 and a person who has a net worth of 10 million and takes an income of $200,000.  Under the current tax laws, both would be paying a total tax bill of about 40% (including medicare, local taxes, etc.).  So, the first person is paying 40% of his income, but that is 40% of his net worth.  The second person is also paying 40% of income, which in dollars ($80,000) is twice what the first person is paying, but it is only eight tenths of one percent of his net worth.  In terms of net worth, the second person is paying nearly nothing, less than one percent.  Not very fair.

Under my plan, the total tax on the first person would be reduced to about 10% of his income and net worth.  His house and his retirement plan would not be taxed.  His income would be taxed at 5%, and adding local taxes, a total of 10% or so.  However, the second person would be paying about 50% to 75% more, due to his net worth holdings.  The tax on the second person still will be a very small amount in comparison to his net worth.

My study shows that the combination of these three ideas would fully finance the Federal Budget, and do it in a more fair and equitable fashion.

The legislator who successfully implemented these types of improvements to our government would earn an honored reputation and place in history.  You are probably thinking that this is a radical nut writing to you.  Maybe so.  Certainly my ideas may seem to be radical, but these ideas are not so new or far out.  I hope that you will consider these ideas when the Taxes issue comes up next in Congress.  Seriously.  You might just make History.



The Bilderberg Group

For something very interesting....

See the  http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2007/11/06.html
and the Turkish newspaper article high priests of globalization http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=74608

And it's not just in the US. The Bilderberg Group and its parallel groups, among which are the CFR, the Trilateral Commission (founded by David Rockefeller and Brzezinski), the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) based at Chatham House in London, and their interlocking memberships are at work throughout the Western world and are endeavoring to get their hooks.

Also, his book http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0977795349/ctoc



Happy Birthday to me.


Today is my birthday.  I have taken the trouble today to plan out the rest of my life.  Here it is:

53 - 2007
54 - 2008
55 - 2009
56 - 2010
57 - 2011
58 - 2012
59 - 2013
60 - 2014
61 - 2015
62 - 2016
63 - 2017
64 - 2018
65 - 2019
66 - 2020
67 - 2021
68 - 2022
69 - 2023
70 - 2024
71 - 2025
72 - 2026
73 - 2027
74 - 2028
75 - 2029
76 - 2030
77 - 2031
78 - 2032
79 - 2033
80 - 2034
81 - 2035
82 - 2036
83 - 2037
84 - 2038
85 - 2039
86 - 2040
87 - 2041
88 - 2042
89 - 2043
90 - 2044

Now, you should understand that I am not planning on dying at age 90.  I am simply not planning my life past that age.  
You can see that even the planning that I am doing is not so involved.  I am just marking my age each year.  Is this an issue with you?  You think that life planning should include dreams and desires, loves and compassion's?  Well, that may be true.  However, the only sure thing that I can predict is that in thirty years I will be thirty years older. Or dead.  And of course, paid my taxes.  
You are right about hopes and plans, though.  I did do a list of things that I enjoy and have on my "to-do" list.  
Hike or Bike -
    Appalachian Trail, hike from Georgia to Maine
    East Coast Greenway bike from Florida Keys to Maine
    Iceland - all around bike ride.  There are hostels every 30-50 kilometers, easy for a biker.  
    Newfoundland - all around bike ride.  You could camp anywhere there, it is so unpopulated.
    to live, retire.  The problem is that Israel now is not the same as the Israel that I lived in from 1974 to 1986.  Then, the country was still in the middle east, developing.  Now, it is so developed, that the "developing status" was removed.  In order to live in a place like the Israel I remember, I would have to live in Jordan or Lebanon.  Ironic.
Pay Off Mortgage.
    I took a 15 year mortgage when I bought the house three years ago.  I didn't want to have to be paying a mortgage after I would be retired.  Was that a good strategy?  If I will be retiring to Israel, then i will be selling the house and who cares if the mortgage would be paid off then?  This is sort of a conflict in monetary policy, personal style.
Write books
    Mostly interested in SF.  However, I haven't written much, and if one hasn't written much by this age, then when will he ever?  
Ham Radio
    I find that Ham Radio is a big time waster.  I like having a working station, and having a place to putter around.  But to spend any large amounts of time on it seems to take me away from other pursuits.
    Be their Grandpa.  Funny how this got pushed so far down the list.  Guess I just take it for granted.  
    Coast Guard Auxiliary. I volunteer to go on patrols on boats.  Totally other people's boats.  That is the idea.  The famous quote is that a "boat is a hole in the water where you throw your money."  So I don't.  I don't have so much money that I can afford to throw it in a hole in the water.  But as a Coastie, I have plenty of opportunity to go out on the water and have a good time at US Government expense.
    Buy my own boat and use it.  Maybe after i retire and if I don't move to Israel.

And if those are things that i am planning, what is it that I am giving up?
Yes, I did have other plans.  But some things get lost or dropped with time.  
Higher Education
    I am talking about a masters or PhD.d.  I don't capitalize these because the value to me has become less and less important.  I was in a masters program at one time.  But the little Jewish college never offered anything that I was really interested in.  They did offer a course in "Amos Oz" the Israeli author.  It would cost me $900 to read all of the books.  I said to myself that I could read them for free.  I don't need to pay tuition to do that.  In fact, almost any course is available without tuition.  I think the most important advantage of a college education is all those contacts that you make and keep for future employment opportunities.  I ended up reading all of Amos Oz's books, some of them in the original Hebrew.  
    This is probably not going to happen.  To be a synagogue rabbi.  I am close with someone who is a rabbi in a shul, and you know, he is frustrated in that job.  If I do not need it, then it is better not to have it.  
Radio Talk Show
    I tried this also.  You know, it is a stretch to go from having your own amateur radio station to performing on a commercial radio station.  I was nervous before each show, and i didn't like that feeling.  But the main headache was selling advertising time to support the show.  

And there are things that I am not now planning to do, but I may come back and do or take them up.
   I have written five sefrei Torah, and uncounted tiffilin and mezuzos.  I might come back to that in the future, and i am not "writing it off" so to speak.  I sometimes compare this sort of "writing" to the job that I am doing now (well, not really right now, right now I am wasting the taxpayer's money...).  I liked the work, and all.  It is basically working for one's self, I can work when I want, and such.  Problem with that is that I am so lazy that I don't get started until 11:00 am some days.  But that was in my "youth", maybe now I will be a little more disciplined.  The "pay" is a bit less than what I am doing now, but if I didn't need so much money, the hours would be much better.  
    Actually, I am teaching two periods a day currently.  High school.  I have taught as college adjunct also.  Boy, are these kids wild!  The principal supports me, though and we are removing a couple of kids from the class.  They can do that in a private school.  
    I have thought of starting my own business, everything from restaurant (bad idea) to Solar panels for private homes (good idea).  Maybe.  



the Science Fiction club

    Sometimes, your mind can be just wandering, as you browse through old books or magazines. Something you find in and expected place will open a new viewpoint.  And something you find in the most unexpected place will change your life. 
    At the Baltimore Book Fair last year, the best booth belonged to the Science Fiction club.  Why was it the best one, in my humble?  They were giving away free books and magazines.  I picked up a sack full of old Analogs, Asimovs, and Fantasies.  By "old", I mean 1978 vintage old. 
    The expected epiphany was to read or re-read these 30 year old stories that were written then as if they would be written in the future.  Reading these stories today, I am empowered with vision and observation that the writers couldn't have but wished that they had. 
    Observations such as "the engineer picked his teeth with his slide-rule."  (Written before calculators.)  Or a scene where the main character has all sorts of high-tech gear, like video cameras in his eyeglass frames, but he needs to find a phone booth to make a phone call.   But in defense of the writer, the phone booth had video-phone capability. 
    A similar observation takes place with a re-reading of Clark's epic 2001, A Space Odyssey.  Why Dr. Clark placed his novel at the turn of the century I don't know, but as of that date we neither have manned expeditions to Jupiter nor Moon bases, nor thinking computers.  Computer programming is still at the level of a glorified library card index.  Computers still can not think, although pattern recognition programming technology is fairly well advanced. 
    At the 1939 World's Fair in New York, it was predicted that by 2001 everyone would commute to work in a "flying car".  So, where is my flying car? 
    Two aspects of living.  First, living in the present and reading about the future.  A science fiction story, a good one, will transport your to the future of the author's design. 
    Or, living in the future and reading about the future.  By this, I mean reading these old science fiction stories.   Not only judging how the author did or didn't get it right, but also looking at your own time from your own past.  It doesn't matter whether the story brings me my flying car or an atomic desolation and despair.  Expectations and hopes dashed; fears unrealized. 
    Looking back at today, I think that things have not changed that much.  If at all.  If anything has changed, it is I, and only in a few aspects.  I have become more observant, and less angry.  But that is another  blog.
    Things have not changed.  Things like relationships.  I was disappointed to read in the newspaper today that echs percent of our city's youth do not graduate High School, are in jail, and so on.  What happened to raising the younger generation to love, be happy, self motivated and successful, as we all promised to raise our kids when we were all starting out?  We failed to be any different than our parents, and it looks like our kids will fail to be any different than us.  In that respect. 
    My first transistor radio; I was in the fourth grade; I soldered a good pair of headphones to a jack that fit the radio; I walked around with it.  The adults and the other kids thought me as a geek.  Of course, twenty or thirty years later, everyone I know walks around with headphones.  I should have written a science fiction story about a world where everyone wears headphones - it would have been right on the money.  Ray Bradbury, in his Fahrenheit 451, has a character that listens constantly to a radio the size of a hearing aid, stuck away in her ear. 
    Some SF stories talk about overcrowding overpopulation.  People living on top of each other, little personal space.  All of the land covered in buildings.  I love it; when I close the story and come back to the real world, it is like time travel back to a simpler time.  That's right, the real world is like living in the past for me.  Example: Huck Finn by Mark Twain.  Huck and Jim float on a raft down the Mississippi, and go for miles without seeing any towns or settlements.  Try that today.  You probably couldn't get away from man-done development.  I would guess (although I haven't been there) that you would constantly see buildings and roads as you floated down the river.  Jim today would not get a mile down the river before the slave cops pulled him in.  But that is just part of the beauty.  Living in 1850 with Huck and Tom, and predicting that the riversides would be very developed by 2007, the author would predict how slaves would be guarded and protected on a much better level.  In 2007, Jim would just not be able to get away. 
    Sometimes, I picture myself, coming from the future, an overpopulated, crowded future.  And now, thank Heaven I have arrived a hundred and fifty years in the past, in 2007, where there is still undeveloped space and relatively fresh air.  Like Captain Kirk, who was born in Iowa but works in space, I (imagine that I) live in the future but sleep in the present.  Thus, reading science fiction makes one appreciate the present. 

Linton, Aryans and Aristocracy

Yogi said "you can see a lot by looking".  Yes, you can. 
I've been looking in a book.  I don't know why I didn't take anthropology in college, but I didn't.  And even if I did, I probably would not have noted the same things that i am taking note of now.
The book is "The Tree of Culture" by Ralph Linton, Vintage, 1958.  I bought it on Amazon.  The library didn't have a copy. 
I got hooked on this by reading a science fact article by L. Sprague de Camp "The Breeds of Man", Analog, April 1976.  Here is the paragraph:

"True. The late anthropologist Ralph Linton thought that certain Aryan attitudes had survived in the aristocratic code of medieval and baroque Europe.  He sited the European aristocrat's reverence for the military virtues, his casual attitude toward sex and religion, his fondness for hunting, fighting and gambling, and his contempt for honest toil.  In pre-Revolutionary France, a nobleman caught earning money by any means so shameful as trade or manual labor was held to have forfeited his rank."

Mr. de Camp goes on to doubt the connection between people of "noble" lineage and the Aryans of 1500 BCE. 

However, linkage or not, the fact remains regarding the life philosophy of people who hold themselves to be "noble" or otherwise in a higher social class.  Dr. Linton, and his wife who completed the book after his death in 1953, provides further details in the book.  They mention the love of horsemanship, for example.  An aristocratic person in Europe would rather have his morals impinged than his riding ability.  So when use of horses gave way to the automobile, there was a certain transference to the auto.  Hunting and sports were held highly, and this sort of thing continues. 
I read this material, and it rang the bell for me.  Because I am a very different sort of person than the aristocracy.  I don't think that honest labor is demeaning nor does it lower one's social status. I am oh-hum regarding all sorts of sports and hunting.  And one's car does not delineate one's social status.  Of course, I am wrong.  That is the eye-opener for me.  For a great many people, this aristocratic image holds.  Cars and sports and business killings are everything. 
That explains a lot.  For example, boyhood friends that made such a fuss over sports.  I just couldn't see the value.  But to them, their linkage to sports was not just for the games, although there was a lot of that, but it also proved their social standing to their peers.  To say that "look at me, I am important, I have sports memorabilia."  That is also why players are so important.  And in real life, the people who have this self-image are also the ones that tend to be the ones in control, in management, or owners. 
I have found myself now filtering my image of the world through this lens.  When I see a celebrity or government official on the news, I think of how this Aryan culture is affecting them in their actions or statements. This attitude is instilled in them from a very young age.  Linton explains how, until recently (1953 in his case) that the upper crust aristocracy, that attended the very best private schools like Eton, actually received a relatively poor education.  However, they were instilled with "character".  That is, they knew their rightful place in life and society.  They learned to be brave, and outwardly honest, at least to peers.  Of course they could lie through teeth to commoners.  They received instruction to have (according to Linton's description) a "...casual attitude toward sex and religion... fondness for hunting, fighting and gambling, and...contempt for honest toil..." is instilled.  By the word "character", they don't mean a Boy Scout.