New U.S. Tax Plan: I’ll Be Spending My Retirement Paying Down The Increased National Deficit

Yes, you heard right. Someone had asked the question “Hey, what are you going to do in your retirement?

Yes, now that American House and Senate passed the new “Tax Reform (Tax Plan)”, this unfortunately is going to be the fate of many, many Americans.

This is for the Electoral College and the people who voted for this current president, who is causing a ripple effect of greed, pigs feeding at that swamp trough (the so-called swamp draining that was to take place, yeah, that never took place – it expanded in a somewhat vicious and explosive manner). Folks, you sure picked a winner, one who is causing some real pain and angst to spread across the country, now and over the next decade… Lovely, isn’t it…

 

Here, let’s take a look at an example of another individual who believed a “wonderful new tax plan” would change the state. That individual is, the wonderful Kansas governor (just being facetious here), Brownback, as he tried to impress and win the hearts of all those wonderful Kansans. Brownback, back in 2012, started putting in place a massive tax cut scam, err, scheme to show the country that he could do that successfully and grow his state.

That did not happen. Many of the steep tax cuts put in place, ahhh, they were repealed already or are in the process of going the way of the DoDo bird (last seen sometime in the mid-17th century). After the tax cuts started hitting, you know (well, many of the logical and long-term thinkers knew) that school budgets were going to be cut. They were.

Also, city employee staffing (fire fighters, police and housing budgets) was also cut to help make up shortfalls. Here are a few more ‘fiscal policy’ victims that hit Kansas (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/zorn/ct-kansas-brownback-trickle-down-tax-fail-zorn-perspec-0621-md-20170620-column.html):

Public schools were planning to close early for lack of operating revenue. Kansas was shorting pension funds, skimping on road improvements, cutting Medicaid and slashing outlays for state universities.

Here is another quote from the article that is simply brilliant:

“It absolutely should put an end to the theory that tax cuts for the rich end up helping everybody, but you can’t kill it. It’s a vampire idea. No matter how many times it’s proven wrong, it keeps coming back.”

 

So, what is the lesson with these so called “tax cut plans” that will grow the economy?  And if you wish, ask the successors to Reagan and then even Bush (41) how they might feel about tax cuts. If the former was alive and the latter was allowed to answer.

The lesson is, which I am quite sure you already know the answer. When you cut taxes, the state and the nation take in less revenue. Then, how does the country or state make up for that shortfall – well, of course, you cut services everywhere. Cutting services makes for an excellent model of spending less money. However, when services are cut, the average citizens start getting hurt, big time.

  • Needed services see reduced hours and/or reduced staff (which in turn puts an extreme workload on the remaining staff members).
  • Fire in your neighborhood, hmmm, let’s see how many trucks are available since they took a hit in staffing (and if you need EMS, well…. they may be understaffed as well)
  • Hospitals, doctors and nurses – well…. You might want to bring some aspirin with you because, as the tax cuts kick in, there is no mandate to have individuals have medical coverage – and when many of these who do not want medical coverage all of a sudden have an emergency, where do the go? Yes, they go to the emergency room. And what does that do, why, yes, the young man with the blue baseball cap, needed services get sucked into the emergency rooms along with the need for more funding and it has to come from somewhere. So be warned – do not get sick, there may not be enough regular medical coverage to handle the mundane, day to day medical issues (tax cut sucked up any extra cash lying around).
  • Nice, serviceable roads to drive on, forgeddaboutit, they fall into disrepair – causing you to suffer car / truck damage. Be sure to up your vehicle insurance as you’re likely to have more bent wheel axles from bad roads (and yes, failing bridges).
  • And do not forget about national and state parks and other areas – they may be closed or have reduced hours as immediate victims of revenue shortfalls due to this ‘grand tax plan’… You might have to re-think your vacation/week-end plans.

Then, what is the result of multiple services being cut, wait – why, yes, the older guy in the Hawaiian shirt – you hit it bang on, states start imposing cost hikes on many things in the state. And, oh yes, the young woman in the brilliant teal blouse, you are correct – the states start begging, dang, sorry, requesting the federal government for hand-outs, errr, more funding relief.

So, yes, again, so – what are you going to be doing over the next decade as this ‘grand’ tax cut plan starts biting while the national deficit continues to balloon with that purported $1.5 Trillion figure (which I am fairly certain it will swell far beyond that) is tacked on to the CURRENT national deficit.

It simply has not happened wherever and whenever tax cuts, to help corporations and the “middle/lower” class citizens, are put into law. Tax cuts end up being repealed with taxes going up again by another administration. Most corporations and wealthy individuals do what I (joe citizen) do, reinvest that money in myself (maybe in a savings or, gulp, a ‘401k’ account) for my own future. The majority of the companies who were “supposed” to be re-investing in its workforce to grow the company and those workers and by extension, the country – it just does not happen.

Do you think it is going to happen with this new, ‘grand’ tax plan? An expansion of growth across all American sectors…  Hmmm…. Think long and hard and most of all – do your own research (move away from the conspiracy theorists and hate mongers), then make that determination.

Your retirement may be in jeopardy because many states are going to be going hat in hand to the federal government for those hand-outs for the average citizens – us. And who will be looking out for you, guess who – it is going to be up to you to ensure you have enough salted away in your nest egg. That or continue working until you’re in your 70’s and 80’s…

 

What happened to strategic thinking in our government?  Where did it go? Where are all the forward thinkers? There are supposed to be adults in the American Congress, Senate and White House. Wait, I forgot, many of them were pushed out of many federal entities because they were smart and they used science-based as well as evidence-based data to drive new ideas and to disprove invalid/incorrect viewpoints. (Golly, I really hope I won’t get into any trouble for using words the HHS is attempting to ban from scientific and other professional use in HHS & CDC – Fetus, Transgender, Diversity, Vulnerable, Entitlement and the two I mentioned {that is, if this actually is a true situation***}.)

We, Americans, cannot even put in place a decent equitable number of women and other ethnic groups of people in these institutions. This is because so many people are only thinking “right now, right here and for me only” – instead of what is ahead, down the road, 5, 10 or 20 years to be who we can truly be.

Leaders of the free world, hmmm, not sure about that anymore, it appears the best and brightest gave up and left a lot of the slower thinking, short-term thinkers and less savvy individuals in charge, those who appear to only want to line their pockets.

Our future of growth looks bleak, very bleak and it will take quite some time to recover to where we, Americans, are great again. It’s the people, all the people, not just any one party over the other – it is not Conservatives or Liberals or Libertarians or Green Party or Religious groups or Atheists or gays or transgender or old or young or women or men – it is the people who come together for common good.

What we have right now is: “Me, me, me – gimme, gimme – I don’t want to share. I don’t want diversity. I want people to be like me and that’s it.”  That is what is scary, the lack of diversity – those not willing to embrace diversity in all of its wonderful possibilities.

*** A Seven-Word Mystery at the CDC https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-19/a-seven-word-mystery-at-the-cdc

 

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Our Society… Our People… Our Country… Our World… Are We Doomed or are we treading on thin, dirty ice…?

Even though I am an eternal optimist, I am nevertheless heartbroken and wearily saddened of so many things unjust and wrong in our society, here in the “United” States and around the world. Also, this piece is for those who want to read a somewhat serious discourse on various topics.

The few things (of ever so many) that I write about here are nothing new. Many thousands and tens of thousands of others have written and are writing about some or all of the same things. I only want to add my voice and hope that maybe just one person will read this and hear, clearly, what I say. Maybe that one person will be an even better carrier to spread the message, the message of equality and fairness and respect to and of others.

It is not just up to leaders to provide guidance and direction but it is also the individuals in our society who can lend their voices to reflect winning words of: forward thinking, encouragement, equality, respect, collaborations and moving in the right direction. With all the many, many voices out there – some of which have very little meaningful things to say, while there actually are others out there who ‘do’ have good, strong and constructive things to say but are drowned out by the mean, snidely sarcastic and ill-meaning people all around the country.

It is up to someone who is magnetic, energetic and has enough of an audience to concentrate all the good messages into a good platform.  

Are we becoming a stagnant group of people, heading in the direction of the Romans, towards a failing society? No, not in the way of being decadent but rather in the way of just, well, dissolving into a meaningless group – wait, no, into meaningless ‘bunches’ of groups of people scrabbling over things that really should not cause the conflict, ignorance and suffering we are going through as a nation.  

Yes, I will say it, I am a bleeding heart and at times I do wear it on my sleeve. At the same time, I am an eternal optimist and have been for many years. As well, I am a pessimistic pragmatist at times and because of that it causes a conundrum for some people are going to say “You can’t be all of those at the same time!” But therein lies some of the ignorance of some people – you actually can be those, it just takes some judicial balancing at various points in time.  

Look around; you don’t need me to give you specific examples of where we are failing many in this country or where things are just flat out wrong. You just need to open your eyes in your neighborhood, your workplace, your gym. You can see these things in your daily lives – if you would only remove your blinders and open your eyes and your mind.

Look at folks in wheel chairs or those who need to use crutches – those devices do not diminish their mental abilities. Some of these folks also have brilliant minds but so many firms will not hire them. This makes me angry to no end that so many handicapped (or disabled) individuals are simply blocked out of being hired. 

I am saddened that so many women are being treated as less than equal:

  • In earning less than their male counterparts in doing the same job
  • Not being as readily considered for leadership as their male counterparts who have the same experience
  • Because they have breasts and nothing dangling between their legs
  • Not being allowed to drive and/or obtain a job and/or education because they are women
  • AND being raped, around the world, while large numbers of men do not place much emphasis on this as being morally, physically and legally wrong (in some parts of the world, men believe the women deserved it…) – women are NOT chattel nor cattle
  • Or the coordinated moves against abortion, where many men are attempting to make decisions for pregnant women that is arduous enough as it is and for sure will drive many women to their deaths as they attempt self-abortions or those infamous ‘back alley’ abortions of years past.

Basically it is about the lack of respect that so many women should be receiving… 

I am saddened that people of different races are being treated as less than equal, solely because of the color of their skin.

This is a topic I could really go to town on because racism is still alive and well. It may not be as noticeable (overt) as it once was, it is just more covert today. But here is a tidbit on racism for some of you; many people do know they actually are racist because it is likely at their subconscious level just below their conscious awareness of how they interact with and treat others of different races. I’m not only talking about blacks and whites but all races.

Many people, not just in this country but around the globe, believe that ‘some’ races are inferior and should never have a voice in anything and are only worthwhile as cheap labor.

When a people (pick one from the past couple of centuries) are suppressed, kept ignorant (uneducated in school, politics and society) and not paid (adequately) for what they do – for what they are worth, then we should never be surprised that people of those ‘other’ races do not do as well as others who have been privileged to gain a) better educations, b) better jobs along with c) much better pay.

Massive discrimination is one result… Simmering resentment is another result…

Skin color is only skin deep. Just because your skin color and the skin color of your closest peers are the same – it does not make you and your peers the better person(s).

As well, good looks or less than good looks are only skin deep. Just because you look better than someone else, it does not make you the better person we would necessarily want to stand side by side with in moments of stress and hard times. We all sweat and bleed the same.

Repression and/or suppression of others, just to retain your place in life or your power is not the way it should be. That is wrong in all aspects.

I am saddened that people of various religious faiths treat those of different religions as somehow being inferior to them OR treating people of no religion as being flat out wrong in their view of a godless life. And yes, there are many of those kinds of persons in the different religious faiths – you know that. And yes, I do recognize that there are many in the various faiths who ‘do’ look at others as equals, so don’t get me wrong, I am not chastising all religious individuals.

Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness’, etc… MANY in each of these groups believe their god to be the ‘one’ true god. And the more extremely religious groups/individuals wholeheartedly believe that if you disrespect or ridicule or profane or disbelieve their god (you pick the religion here) – then you deserve to be ostracized (or killed) for failing to follow their faith.

Then too, many individuals of these same extremely strong religious treat women as secondhand, as chattel, fit only to work in the kitchen and in the bedroom, all the while remaining subservient to the men, even to boys. Some (many?) religions do not allow women any positions of equality or authority within their particular band of religion – because their bible, in so many words, states it as being wrong (I don’t get that)…

Discrimination… Stupidity… Ignorance… Education…

Backward thinking

Look, here’s another sample of backward thinking, gays and gay marriage. Are people just ill-informed or undereducated and are not aware that homosexuality and bisexuality has been going on for thousands and tens of thousands of years around the world – in Africa, in Asia and in Europe, long before the U.S. became a country.

Being gay is nothing new and nothing to be afraid of. If you’re not gay, then you’re not gay but don’t try to force those people who are gay that they are wrong in believing in that lifestyle and for feeling that way. Your hatred ‘and’ fear is of your own making and of your own possible feelings of inadequacies and insecurity or whatever other label you might wish to give to that.

I am willing to bet that you likely know a neighbor / co-worker close to you whom you believe to be straight, is actually gay. And on top of that, I am also willing to bet that you believe that that person is a “great” person to boot…

Why do so, so many people in this country (and around the world), here and now in the 21st century continue to live in the past or want to go backwards to days of unjustness, such as:

  • Witch burning
  • Exorcisms (because someone is epileptic)
  • Crucifixion
  • Separation of the races (because it is heresy for them to mix)

to name but a few…

Why aren’t more people stepping up and becoming forward thinking individuals? Is it because our education system is failing us? Is it because our political system is allowing religion to creep in where it should not and actual science be damned?

Are more people content to remain isolated in their own small self-filtered world, head ‘constantly’ down, peering into their smart phone or tablet with their earpieces inserted instead of looking up and around at those nearby?

The old ways of life are gone.

Our society and jobs

Because of the economy and confused state of employment, we need to pull together – in a much better fashion than the current state of bickering in political circles… Thanks to outsourcing and offshoring, which really started ramping up in the late 80s, it kind of took the wind out of our American sails. And so, because of that, the availability of lower cost labor in other parts of the world, we saw our jobs and old American way of life taper off, or disappear.

But today, as labor costs around the world continue to increase, as well as transportation costs, some jobs have come back to the U.S. but not nearly enough. Many have written on this topic(i.e. www.economist.com/news/special-report/21569574-offshoring-has-brought-huge-economic-benefits-heavy-political-price-story-so The story so far – Offshoring has brought huge economic benefits, but at a heavy political price Jan 19th 2013)

On top of that, automation, sophisticated computing and now robotics are taking away additional jobs, forcing more people to acquire to obtain more than high school education. And advanced education is no longer inexpensive.

I include this segment on the economy and society because this planet is becoming ever smaller every year due to some better living standards and access to traveling anywhere at any time. We need to be better. We need to treat each other better. We need to act better. 

Forward thinking

When are ‘more’ American’s, and others around the globe, going to wake up and start judging others by the character and content of that person’s heart rather than going by anyone’s superficial outward appearance (skin color, handicap, speech)???

YOU have to look at the whole individual and value the individual in that light. YOU cannot simply judge others by their outward appearance and/or by the way they talk. You have to take into consideration the totality of that person to judge that person and of course that means you will need to get to know that person to discover that, rather than making uneducated or baseless flip / snap judgments of others. Malcolm Gladwell talks about some of this in his 2007 book “Blink,” a book in which I recommend others read. You do not need to read the whole book to gain better insights, but I would recommend that you do. But be sure to read the part discussing “unconscious prejudices.”

You should strive, in your moments of snap thinking (or “slice thinking” ala – M. Gladwell), to do a better job when thinking of others and what you think about them. Go beyond superficiality – look beneath the surface, look at the sum of the person, not at the individual component of a person’s life.

Go deeper!

Earlier I mentioned that there are some great folks in wheel chairs or on crutches, here I expand on it. There are many phenomenal people who come from multiple diverse backgrounds, whether it is with a silver spoon or from the depths of poverty. There are many strong and amazing people today who can make a difference, regardless of their gender or race or upbringing, look at past people (and a few of the present) of influence:

Women – Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, Golda Mier of Israel, Joan of Arc and the young Pakistani – Malala Yousafzai

Men – Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela, Gandhi, Galileo, Booker T. Washington, Ralph Nader and Lincoln

These women and men refused to give up, they stood their ground and of course this is an incomplete list… I only hope if confronted with a difficult situation, you and I can be like them and stand our ground. And no, I do not mean like the stupidly written Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ nonsense.  

Then too, there are the older senior citizens and the youngest amongst us – don’t just cast them off and push them to the side just because ‘you’ think they are too old or too young to offer any fulfilling and informative thoughts and/or solutions to problems and issues of the day. They have valuable input too, sometimes they do not but don’t just discount them right off the bat. Listen to them, process their info and THEN make a “conscious” decision on whether to use or not use their information.

Remember, you do not know everything. Only those who think they know everything believe that, while those around them may disagree…

Our society, the infrastructure to the air we breathe…

As it stands, some people in our country (and around the world) want to have clean air, clean water, access to better living conditions, access to better medical care and access to vastly improved transportation. But we have so many in authority (or not) who seem not to care as much. Some of these people believe that it should only be their way that should be the norm (vouchers for medical care and education is a joke, even to me).

Some of these people in authority (or not) believe that the poor or unemployed should not have as much help financially as they are (or were) receiving and hence – their support should be cut.

Some of these people in authority (or not) believe that there should be more voting restrictions (and even more rigid gerrymandering – pick your group here, I’m not singling out any one group) in order to knock out any votes that could strip them of their position.

We should be conducting free and fair elections in every city, in every state – not reducing the days of voting, or the locations of voting, or even the requirement to show birth certificates or passports to prove citizenship (which of late is popping up in some states) because the threat of voter fraud is so worrisome.

Our society and humanity and fairness

So, why does it take disasters to bring us together, albeit for a brief time? That is probably the most disheartening of all in that it takes something of such an extraordinary measure for us to come together…

You know, when Rodney King stated “Why can’t we all just get along?” – many people derided that statement then and still do to this day. But, that is a very valid statement!  

What is happening to us? For many years, I have continued on in my life trying to improve myself and becoming a worthy role model for others to emulate. As we know, you cannot make anyone follow you and what you do. You can only show them the way and hope they pick up on the good that you are doing, whether it is in the work you do, the way you handle yourself in your social life or in the way you treat others.

The way you treat others shows a great deal about what kind of person you are – and many of you know it. Do you treat a poor, undereducated person as less than your equal and become patronizing or condescending to them?

How do you actually know that person is not your equal, do you really know that person? That person may have a masters’ degree, or even a doctorate from where they came from but due to bad luck, or the U.S. not recognizing that person’s advanced degree – you ‘might’ feel that person is not of “good” caliber or breeding. Is it because:

  • Of the way the ‘other’ talks?
  • That person has an accent that you are not used to?
  • That person just never had ample opportunities to learn better diction or oratorical skills?
  • Even better, is it because that ‘other’ is not as good looking as some are fortunate to have been in life?

These are all superficial things, what about the person inside – that is what counts. Does that ‘other’ have great integrity, ethics, kindness and/or generosity that YOU do not have and are jealous of having a lack of?  

There are far too many people among us who do not really care about others around them. All they seem to concern themselves with is the lining of pockets, primarily their own. And yes, some of these individuals make noise as if they ‘really do’ care about others but covertly, they just want to keep on lining their pockets, in any manner or fashion – even if it turns out to be illegal and the rest of us can just fuggidaboutit…

Note: You can watch a piece on the CBS Sunday Morning with Nancy Giles talking about TIPS where she is talking to the cab driver on that topic. The cabbie told her of a recent fare of two guys in the back with one on his cell phone as they are leaving the airport. The guy on the phone ends his call, tells his passenger buddy “I just made $6 million.” But after arriving at the passengers’ destination, the cabbie only receives a $1 tip… [www.cbsnews.com/videos/tipping-points-when-and-when-not-to-pay-extra/ Tipping points: When and when not to pay extra (Sunday Mar 23, 2014)]

We have too many people in power and leadership positions who want to retain power, by any method possible with complete disdain and disregard for those with a less fuller and rich life. And this is inclusive of people in public firms, private corporations and in government.  

People, we/you, need to get out more and talk to others. You need to talk to others WHO ARE NOT LIKE you so you can see and understand the differences amongst all of us and what makes this country what it is today. Maybe then, we can start making progress of building up all of us and making America the leading country of the planet again and not be the schizophrenic, indecisive, squabbling country that we seemed to have become.

There are many people who have something to say but do not say it because of so many others who instead of offering serious debate, discussion and/or constructive responses, they want to shoot the other person down with snide, sarcastic, rude, insensitive, offensive and threatening language.  

Are we doomed to become a stagnant and dying society, of Americans, of humans? Or are we going to continue growing, once we lift up everyone in getting everyone the chance to get an education and access to better health care? People can no longer seek out enclaves where they can live and be with others who look like and act like them, free of any real diversity.

Diversity is what is going to make our country, our world grow. Not religious growth. Not racial exclusion. Not gender bias. Diversity, collaboration and treating each other with respect and fairness are the answers to a bright and growing future.

Otherwise, we are doomed…