Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Deficit Timeline

"Tax cuts pay for themselves."

The problem is simply, they haven't and they won't.  The failed notion is that if taxes are low, this will spur long-term economic growth, because more people will have more money to invest with.  So, why are we running deficits, now?  Taxes are lower now than they were in the 90's, a period of economic growth and stability, not to mention budget surpluses.  In fact, when you look back over the past century, you'd see that the top tax rate is currently less than a third of its highest peak.

The point I'd like to make is that lowering tax rates doesn't raise tax revenue.  They simply don't, "pay for themselves".  When you cut taxes, you are going to have less money to operate government services.  President G.W. Bush offered tax cuts while at the same time going to war in two theaters.  His instructions to Americans were, "Keep shopping."  So, while U.S. soldiers were fighting and dying, American citizens were told it's better that you buy that new flat-screen TV, rather than pay for wheelchairs for returning veterans.

Taxes are gathered to pay for the stuff government does, all of it.  When "We" go to war, "We" have to pay for it, or "We" go into debt.  When you reduce the tax rate, you must reduce spending.  If you don't, you will go into debt.  This was true yesterday, it is true today, and it will be true tomorrow.

The economy is not going to solve or otherwise fix the deficit.  It simply doesn't work that way.  We must raise taxes to pay for our debt.


We must cut spending.

As Americans, we now have a decision to make, "Do we want to fund our current activities, or not?"  After which, we will be tasked with doing without for a while.  We have lived beyond our tax income, and there's a bill due now.  We have to do with less income or less government.  Now before you leap to the later, I'd ask you not to weakening our Union.  Taxes are gathered for all of us, and they fund the infrastructure upon which we exist.  So should we allow our roads, bridges, and social safety nets to collapse, or should we raise the revenues to fully fund their restoration?

In whichever case, there must be a reckoning with the direct correlation between the tax rate, tax revenues, and spending.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Abortion Compromise

"An abortion is killing a human life.”

     On the contrary. An abortion is terminating a pregnancy – and thus not allowing human life to further develop. Please note my absence of the phrase “a human life” in the previous sentence. My finger is a form of human life, as are my organs, as is the overgrown scar tissue atop an old wound.
     However, none of those things is “a human” entitled to individual rights. If any of these things offend me, I can cut them off without fear of these things suing me or someone else doing so in the name of my excised appendages.

     Our Constitution affords rights to individual humans. It makes no mention of groups of people, animals, body parts or parasitic life having the rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Individuals, alone, are deserving of these protections.

     So the question is, “When do we become individuals?”

     Rather than make an emotional or religious argument, I think we should allow our best technology to decide when the point of external viability is. Current medical technology puts that state of development at around six months. At which point, if born prematurely, the “not yet fully formed” fetus still has a strong chance of surviving – given that we have developed sufficient incubation chambers that can provide further support in place of a specific host. This, I believe, is the moment you become an individual. It is the moment you are no longer dependent on one specific host for all of your life functions.

     That said, at present, after six months of development, you “are.” So whatever the host agent does to her body, she is also inflicting this upon the unborn individual. Just like we would prosecute a parent for issuing drugs or tobacco to a one-year-old, so should we hold a would-be mother accountable for any harmful agent they consume that would otherwise have a detrimental effect on the growth and development of a pregnancy they intended to carry to term.

     The compromise should never be to prohibit an abortion before external viability, while holding expecting mothers after that point criminally responsible for actual child abuse.

     The flaw with the pro-choice movement is the blind eye they turn to such behavior. The flaw with the pro-life advocates is that they elevate the life of the unborn above that of the host mother. They even go as far as to say that a woman who is raped or molested shouldn't have the opportunity to seek an abortion. Herein lies their crime against civility. Making all abortions illegal, even in the case of rape and incest, would give rapists the legal authority to force any woman they choose to carry and have their baby. In what world is it alright for someone to have legal backing to force their will upon another? No one has the right to force their will upon another. Each of us are endowed with an individual right to pursue our own happiness.

     In the end, both sides are wrong on this issue. And they are all ignoring that their stance infringes upon another's freedom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Progress Through Progressive-ism

"Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, they're all the same, screaming about hope and change."

All the while traditional conservative republicans reply, "I want my country back."  So, how is it that 'backwards' is winning?  Hey look, we just turned the Gulf into a dead zone, why do we need to subsidize electric cars again?  How is it that "progress" became a bad word, or a notion to be dismissed rather than embraced?  Progress is how we got this far.

It was progress that got us to throw off the chains of King George and begin our Democratic Republic.  It was progressive to do away with slavery, the steam engine, and typewriters.  It will be progress when we finally get around to developing high speed rail for shipping and travel, and it will be progress when we stop using gasoline powered vehicles.  It was a good step forward when we developed heart and organ transplants, and yet there were conservative traditionalists that believed putting one man's heart into another would change the receiver for the worse!  We must employ science over beliefs, and use our best technology to solve our worst problems.

My point here is that conservative-ism and or traditionalism is holding us back, I'd just like to know how and why!?  What has status quo ever delivered us, but more of the same, literally???

We are more than we were yesterday, and our environment presents bigger and more complicated challenges every day.  Because this is true, we have to embrace change, or we will parish.  We need to evolve, we need to become something better, more capable, and more united, in order to face all of what tomorrow might bring.  It is "united we stand and divided we fall", not this to each his own tax cut to spend on what what his wants- garbage.

We need to progress, as humans, and we need to do so dramatically.  We need to leave behind us:  old dogmas, religious grievances, physical differences, and truly accept that there is only one standard for everyone.  I beg for progress, and hope dearly for it.  Moreover I decry that those who would rail against "Progressive-ism", are Obstructionists, plain and simple.

Progress is far too rare a thing these days, and we are all the worse for it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Entitlement Spending

"We shouldn't be paying people to do nothing, everyone should have to work for what they get."

I guess the best place to start this is to say that people don't starve to death, when there are people with food around.  I mean to say that the drive to stay alive will force the starving to lie, cheat, and steal if need be, in order to procure a meal.  So, providing for a minimal existence to those who can't or won't work is self preservation, or rather an effort to keep them from becoming criminals.

The problem with every entitlement program I have ever reviewed, is that none of them are designed to get people off of them.  They are hand-outs, rather than hand-ups.  They merely provide these needy folk only enough to barely scrape an existence out, which insures they will continue to need help, forever.  I only ask Conservatives to be aware of the fact that there is no one 'thriving' with or on Food Stamps, Welfare, Social Security, or Medicare.

Republicans can't or won't accept higher taxes, even when we are faced with a huge deficit.  Their solution is to cut spending, and their first priority is to do so to entitlements.  Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are over a third of our budget.  We pay this price because we decided as a society that we should provide for those who are not able to care for themselves.  While I have no problem with attempting to identify waste and abuse within these areas, cutting spending here, won't do that.  You'd have to raise revenue to fund such an endeavor, which may or may not pay for itself.  Cutting spend here is only going to squeeze those who can least afford to be taken from.

I don't understand what is compassionate about suggesting that we should provide the old and disabled with an even worse lifestyle, as though they are living high on the hog now.  In my mind, this is an area impossible to cut spending without endangering actual lives.  We are all going to grow old, and eventually we will all need to be cared for and looked after.  Do we all deserve to live off of hotdogs and mac & cheese, during this time, or are the old and disabled entitled to even less?

These safety nets are designed to catch those in need from hitting rock-bottom, and at present the nets are suffering gaping holes, that aren't catching their intended game.  Cutting spending to these programs will only see more financial pain among those who already suffer the most.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Patriotism Through Taxes

"We believe individuals know better than the government, when it comes to how to spend money."

I couldn't disagree more.  Individuals are usually selfish, single-minded, and not at all interested in a greater good.  This is why we left the State of Nature to form government, in the first place.  We gave up the individual need for immediate self-gratification, so that we could all sacrifice a little to provide for the basic needs of everyone.  Individuals don't build interstate highway systems, nor do they fund armies or societal safety nets.  They buy houses, boats, cars, TV's, fast food, and XBOX 360's.  

What has happened is individuals have been brainwashed into thinking that fully-funding the state is somehow a bad or unpatriotic act.  Conservatives rail against taxes, of any kind, even when we are running deficits.

People volunteer their time and energy to all kinds of endeavors, from local community groups to national organizations.  They do so, because there's a known sense of reward for sacrificing one's self to help those in need.  In fact, we even give awards to those who devote a lifetime to volunteering.  People are both honored and proud to volunteer to help others, and no one would crow about getting out of volunteering.  No one talks poorly about volunteer work.

Taxes on the other hand, are seen as something to get out of, sheltered from, and are dealt with as a burden to be avoided, rather than the honored duty to your fellow citizens, that they are.  Tune into any cable station and it will only be a matter of minutes before you see a commercial wherein someone is bragging that they owed the IRS $20,000, but only had to pay a fraction of that, thanks to "Tax Masters".  There is an entire industry dedicated to finding legal loopholes in our tax code.  

Our nation is in debt, and massively so.  We are hurting each other, our nation, and our future by dodging our financial duty to one another.  There would be no need to ever 'raise' taxes, if everyone was just willing to pay their fair share.  Taxes aren't exactly volunteer, but they fund a system that serves all of us.  At present, our system is underfunded.   

Pay your taxes, it'll do far more for your fellow man and yourself than any volunteer job you could ever do.