Why the Right is Wrong on the Assault Weapons Ban

  • o    In response to a question raised by Ask Nod on Facebook………Ask Nod “Roger that. Just rationally explain the dichotomy of Chicago’s current dilemma and how a decade of banning assault weapons from 94 to 04 made an appreciable difference in the unmitigated slaughter of humans and I’ll start voting per your instructions. I’m easy to convince. Try using facts rather than emotions. I sit and wait at your knee with parted lips and straining eyes, sir. I’ll be your huckleberry. I promise.”
  • o     

 

Ok, let’s see if I can make heads or tails out of ‘the facts’ so I can get my loyal huckleberry to vote as per my instructions. I suppose I should resist the expansion of the Assault Weapons Ban discussion by excluding Chicago blight of one on one murder, and I will. What I will address is what happened, and what may have happened between the years of 1994 and 2004 during the past Assault Weapons Ban. In this way I won’t be diverted by obfuscation and dilution. You see Huck, it’s not a dichotomy, it’s a false comparison. Let’s both stick to the facts.

 

First this http://election.princeton.edu/2012/12/14/did-the-federal-ban-on-assault-weapons-matter/

This data is expressed using the FBI definition of a mass shooting which is 4 dead. 

Assault Ban Chart

Years

Shootings Per year People shot/year
1982-1994

19

1.5

25.5

1995-2004

16

1.6

20.9

2005-2012

27

3.4*

54.8*

*p<0.05 compared with 1995-2004. Since the expiration of the gun ban in 2004, the number of shootings per year has doubled, and the number of victims per year has nearly tripled. Three of the bloodiest four years shown here occurred since the expiration.

 Next  ……..

I, Brad, analyzed this data and eliminated the incidence of attacks with assault rifles and other weapons to determine (purely speculative I admit) what might have happened if they did have assault rifles rather than the pistols, bolt-action rifles, or shotguns that the shooters used.

In the following table, I, Brad, have identified and highlighted attacks that resulted in106 dead from non-assault rifles and 144 wounded between 1994 and 2001 – This data does not include incidents after May of 2001.

What would the body count have been if the shooters had assault rifles? I only counted the dead and wounded in mass shootings where a weapon other than an assault rifle was used. Clearly if an assault rifle had been used, deaths and injuries could have been much greater.

So how is it that you, Ask Nod,  say the ban on assault rifles during this period didn’t work? I submit that the ban saved many lives. Can you show me how I’m wrong?

http://www.vpc.org/studies/wguncont.htm

Information for the chart has been gathered from a wide variety of publicly available news sources, which are often unclear and contradictory. Although every effort has been made to obtain the most accurate information possible, contradictions may exist between this chart and other sources. The determination as to whether a gun was obtained legally or illegally was made based on the law in effect at the time the firearm was acquired.

Description

Casualties

Firearm(s)

Status of Firearm(s)

Santee High School Santana, California March 5, 2001

2 dead 13 wounded

.22 Arminius eight-shot revolver Legal
The White House Washington, DC February 7, 2001

1 wounded

.38 revolver Legal
Navistar International Corporation Melrose Park, Illinois February 5, 2001

5 dead 4 wounded

SKS 1954R rifle Remington 12-gauge shotgun Winchester .30 rifle .38 revolver Legal
Edgewater Technology office Wakefield, Massachusetts December 26, 2000

7 dead

AK-47 assault rifle 12-gauge pump-action shotgun .32 pistol Legal
Backstreet Café Roanoke, Virginia September 22, 2000

1 dead 6 wounded

Ruger 9mm pistol Legal
Santos Linguisa sausage factory San Leandro, California June 21, 2000

3 dead

Beretta 9mm pistol Walther .380 pistol Legal
Lake Worth Middle School Lake Worth, Florida May 26, 2000

1 dead

Raven .25 pistol Legal
Wendy’s Restaurant Queens, New York May 24, 2000

5 dead 2 wounded

Bryco .380 pistol Illegal
Pittsburgh Suburbs Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania April 28, 2000

5 dead 1 wounded

Smith & Wesson .357 revolver Legal
National Zoo Washington, DC April 24, 2000

7 wounded

9mm pistol Illegal
Mi-T-Fine Car Wash Irving, Texas March 20, 2000

5 dead 1 wounded

9mm pistol Illegal
Theo J. Buell Elementary School Mt. Morris Township, Michigan February 29, 2000

1 dead

Davis Industries .32 pistol Illegal
Radisson Bay Harbor Inn Tampa, Florida December 30, 1999

5 dead 3 wounded

Lorcin 9mm pistol Charter Arms .38 revolver Legal
Fort Gibson Middle School Fort Gibson, Oklahoma December 6, 1999

4 wounded

Taurus 9mm pistol Legal
Northlake Shipyard Seattle, Washington November 3, 1999

2 dead 2 wounded

Glock 9mm pistol .32 pistol .22 rifle Illegal
Xerox Office Building Honolulu, Hawaii November 2, 1999 7dead3 wounded Glock Model 17 9mm pistol Legal
Wedgewood Baptist Church Fort Worth, Texas September 15, 1999

8 dead 7 wounded

Ruger P85 9mm pistol .380 pistol Legal
Laurel, Maryland September 9, 1999

2 dead

Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol Illegal
North Valley Jewish Community Center Los Angeles, California August 10, 1999

1 dead 5 wounded

Fully automatic Uzi machine gun Glock Model 26 9mm pistol Illegal
Atlanta brokerage offices Atlanta, Georgia July 29, 1999

13 dead 13 wounded

Glock Model 17 9mm pistol Colt 1911A1 .45 pistol Legal
Illinois and Indiana July 4th weekend, 1999

3 dead 9 wounded

Bryco .380 pistol Ruger .22 pistol Illegal
Heritage High School Conyers, Georgia May 20, 1999

6 wounded

.22 rifle .357 Magnum revolver Legal
Columbine High School Littleton, Colorado April 20, 1999

15 dead 23 wounded

Intratec TEC-DC9 assault pistol Hi-Point 9mm Carbine  Savage 67H pump-action shotgun Savage 311-D 12-gauge shotgun Illegal
LDS Church Family History Library Salt Lake City, Utah April 15, 1999

3 dead 4 wounded

Ruger .22 pistol Legal
Triad Center Salt Lake City, Utah January 13, 1999

1 dead 1 wounded

9mm pistol Legal
U.S. Capitol Building Washington, DC July 24, 1998

2 dead 2 wounded

Smith & Wesson .38 revolver Legal
Los Angeles, California May 28, 1998

2 dead

Two .38 revolvers Legal
Thurston High School Springfield, Oregon May 21, 1998

4 dead 25 wounded

Glock 9mm pistol Ruger .22 rifle Ruger .22 pistol Legal
Westside Middle School Jonesboro, Arkansas March 24, 1998

5 dead 10 wounded

Remington Model 742 .30-06 rifle Universal .30 M1 Carbine replica Davis Industries .38 two-shot derringer Double Deuce Buddie .22 two-shot derringer Charter Arms .38 revolver Star .380 pistol FIE .380 pistol  Ruger Security Six .357 revolver Smith & Wesson .38 revolver Legal
Connecticut State Lottery Headquarters Newington, Connecticut March 6, 1998

5 dead

9mm pistol Legal
Caltrans Maintenance Yard Orange, California December 18, 1997

5 dead 2 wounded

Chinese-made 7.62mm AK-47 assault rifle Legal
Heath High School West Paducah, Kentucky December 1, 1997

3 dead 5 wounded

Ruger .22 pistol Illegal
Pearl High School Pearl, Mississippi October 1, 1997

3 dead 7 wounded

.30-30 rifle Legal
R.E. Phelon Company Aiken, South Carolina September 15, 1997

4 dead 3 wounded

9mm pistol Illegal
Four states (MN, IL, FL, NY) April 27 – July 15, 1997

6 dead

Taurus .40 pistol Illegal
North Hollywood, California February 28, 1997

2 dead 16 injured

Multiple fully automatic assault rifles including an AK-47 type Illegal
Empire State Building New York, New York February 23, 1997

2 dead 6 wounded

Beretta .380 pistol Illegal
Albertson’s Supermarket Lakewood, Colorado April 28, 1995

3 dead 1 wounded

Grizzly .50 sniper rifle  SKS 7.62mm assault rifle 9mm pistol .32 pistol Legal
Walter Rossler Company Corpus Christi, Texas April 3, 1995

6 dead

Ruger 9mm pistol .32 revolver Legal
Corpus Christi, Texas March 31, 1995

1 dead

Taurus .38 revolver Legal
DC Police Headquarters Washington, DC November 22, 1994

4 dead 1 wounded

Cobray M-11 assault pistol Illegal
White House Washington, DC October 29, 1994

none

Norinco SKS 7.62mm assault rifle Illegal
Seattle, Washington April 5, 1994

1 dead

Remington Model 11 20-gauge shotgun Legal
Brooklyn Bridge New York, New York March 1, 1994

1 dead 3 wounded

Cobray 9mm fully automatic machine pistol Glock Model 17 9mm pistol Illegal

 

As I conclude this posting, let me encourage my faithful huckleberry to not let his emotions get in the way as he counts the dead and wounded in the mass public shootings. And please, if you, my huckleberry, chose to extrapolate this information by imagining the shooters using assault rifles with high capacity magazines rather than the pistols, shotguns, and bolt action rifles they did use, and come up with a far greater number of probable deaths and injuries, don’t let it affect your judgment; especially when you do the body counts amassed in our schools nationwide. After all, it’s not an emotional issue is it? It’s just numbers right?

Feel free to comment, and if you desire, you may continue your slightly cavalier approach to massacre and your mildly condescending tone. I don’t mind, really I don’t. Thousands might, but I don’t.

 

 

 

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Gun Control Ideas for 2013

Gun Control – What does and doesn’t work

First let me begin by saying that currently the U.S. citizenry is considering implementing some kind of‘gun control’, or better put, we are considering some way to decrease the epidemic of gun violence in our country. We are NOT considering a ‘gun grab’ as purported by the fat drug addict guy, Rush Limbaugh, or by other right-wing reactionary drama queens.

The citizenry, and our elected representatives, have been moved to act in light of the epidemic of mass public slaughter in our schools, movie theaters, and public gathering places. We are tired of it, it’s just that simple.

Let’s stop for a moment and review our gun laws. We are guaranteed the right to bear arms by the second amendment. This amendment was put into the US Constitution to provide the citizenry the ability to fight the government (remember that we had just defeated the King of England and his colonial government) in the event that the government became oppressive. It guaranteed our ability to overthrow tyrants. The second amendment has nothing to do with hunting and the use of the “hunting” analogy when discussing the second amendment is simply a way to divert the conversation from the intent of the second amendment.

When someone says, “Why does a hunter need an assault rifle to kill a deer?” it’s just a way to minimize or refocus the intent of the second amendment. Clearly a hunter does not need an assault rifle to kill a deer, unless that hunter has no skill in marksmanship. The same is true of someone who ‘needs’ an assault rifle for self-protection: either they are not well-trained in the use of firearms, or they have way too many enemies.

The second amendment was designed and written in a time when they didn’t have assault rifles however, and we didn’t have machine guns, or any semi automatic rifles or pistols, or hand grenades at the time, we had muskets. That’s right, the second amendment was written so that the American people could own muskets and also so they could be formed into a citizen driven militia.

In those days we could clearly win a war against an oppressive government with muskets. We did so in the late 1700’s when General Washington defeated General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781.

Today, as I write this blog entry, it’s 2013, some 232 years later. I ask you, if the government became oppressive to such a degree that we the people chose to revolt and overthrow the government, would we be successful if we used the weapons we currently have at hand?

Could we defeat any army if all we had were revolvers, single shot hunting rifles, semi-automatic pistols, semi-automatic rifles, and or assault rifles? Remember we’d be going up against fully automatic weapons, both light and heavy machine guns, fragmentation grenades, RPG’s, mortars, rockets, both light and heavy artillery, flame throwers, air craft including helicopter gunships, fixed wing aircraft with 20 mm cannons, machine guns, guided missiles, rockets, and bombs, ships, tanks, armored personnel carriers, claymore mines, and all manner of weapons. Could we? Of course we could not.

So, after a closer look, it appears that we’ve gone past the point where an armed population can successfully combat an oppressive government. It might be time to come to grips with that reality.

The NRA tells us that the proliferation of guns is not the problem. Lets look at that for a moment; in the 1930’s the congress drafted and passed the National Firearms Act. That Act was in response to cries from the public to regulate what were considered ‘gangster weapons’ such as machine guns and sawed off shotguns. People were being shot down in the streets by gangsters who owned machine guns, which were legally obtained during that time period. The NFA was passed in 1934, and since then only two murders have been attributed to machine gun use.

Clearly, banning machine guns worked.

Banning the public use of hand grenades has worked as well. Here’s an excerpt from an article about the practice of fragging in Viet Nam. “During the years of 1969 down to 1973, we have the rise of fragging – that is, … hand-grenading your NCO or your officer who orders you out into the field,” says historian Terry Anderson of Texas A & M University. “The US Army itself does not know exactly how many…officers were murdered. But they know at least 600 were murdered, and then they have another 1400 that died mysteriously.

According to this article, there were from between 600 and 2,000 fragging deaths in Viet Nam between 1969 and 1973. There have been fragging incidents in other conflicts as well, but there have been no fragging incidents here in our homeland. Why is that?

Clearly the answer is that hand grenades are not available to the general population. Can you imagine the body count at Sandy Hook if they were? Or the body count at the movie theater in Aurora Colorado? Or at the political gathering in Arizona where Congresswoman Gifford’s was gunned down?

Some things that might work are fairly dramatic and include;

… putting armed guards in every school, but then what do we do with movie theaters and other public gathering places? Do we put armed guards in them as well? How do we pay for that? How many armed guards in each public place?

… arming teachers. Again, what do we do at movie theaters and other public gathering places? Do we arm the kids who are in charge of selling us popcorn and candy? Do we hire ushers and arm them? How do we get the lights on and prevent mass panic so the ushers don’t shoot the wrong people? And what do we do with the public gathering places? Do we simply arm everyone in attendance?

… disarm the Nation? No, that’s a really bad idea and would lead to unnecessary bloodshed.

Here are some more things that might work and are less dramatic than the ideas listed above;

… Responsible gun ownership. If you own a gun, OWN the gun, take responsibility for it’s safety. Keep it out of the hands of your sugar addled children who play violent video games all day and secretly plot to kill all of their classmates.

… Stiff penalties for parents and others who allow their firearms to get into the hands of children, or criminals.

… Restrict the right of criminals to own guns. No felon should be allowed to own a gun, no offender with a violent misdemeanor should be allowed to own a gun. No one who is named in a TRO (temporary restraining order) should be allowed to own a gun while that TRO is in effect.

… Banning assault rifles, and the import, manufacture, or sale of replacement parts for any existing assault rifle (including high-capacity magazines) for the next 100 years would work (as banning machine guns worked, and as keeping hand grenades out of public ownership has worked).

So let’s recap, no one is talking about a gun grab or taking away our weapons. And remember that the second amendment has nothing to do with hunting. And remember that I’ve just shown what does work in a historical context (like banning machine guns and hand grenades). And remember that the second amendment is now so antiquated that it will not provide the protections we need against an oppressive government. So let’s work with what we have, let’s find a way to decrease, reduce, and prevent wholesale gun violence while at the same time taking safeguards to keep the government accountable to the citizenry.

We can do it if we keep our False Outrage to a minimum.

 

 

 

 

 

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To my friends on the Political Right

 

To my friends on the Right – Let’s find some common ground.

We all know that political discussions can get out of hand. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and express my views on some subjects in an effort to find common ground. I know it’s there, and I’ll meet you half way or more. We are one people, we just feel differently about some things. But I suspect that we feel the same about many things too.

I’ll start with the Tea Party list of 15 non-negotiable Core Beliefs as published here: http://www.teaparty.org/about.php

1.       Illegal aliens are here illegally.

Brad says, “Yes, I agree 100%. I’ll go further, I don’t think anyone except natural born, or naturalized US citizens should get full rights under our laws.

2.       Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.

Brad says, “Yes, I agree 100%. I’ll go further; I also support efforts being made to bring both our investment money, and our jobs back to the United States.”

3.       A strong military is essential.

Brad says, “Yes, I agree 100%. I’ll go further; as a combat veteran, I don’t like war at all, but I understand the need for wars from time to time. We’re not on this planet alone right? I think we should change the way we wage wars. I prefer the Chinese model, invade, kick ass, and leave.” Wars cannot be won by fighting on defense.

4.       Special interest groups must be eliminated.

Brad says, “Yes, I agree 100%. I’ll go further; I am on record on Facebook, and here on my blog,  endorsing efforts to get money and special interest groups out of the political system. I don’t particularly like the name, but a great effort that I support is being undertaken by a group called http://www.the99declaration.org/ and I support the effort made by Common Cause http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4764307

5.       Gun ownership is sacred.

Brad says, “Yes I agree with the second amendment but I think ‘sacred’ is too strong of a word. However, We the People need to protect against governments run amuck and that’s one of the core reasons the second amendment was put in the Constitution. I am a full-fledged 2nd amendment guy. Gun ownership carries its own responsibilities which we cannot forget. In the wrong hands, guns can be used in the wrong ways. It’s a delicate balance that we continue to seek as times change rapidly. It’s my opinion that a citizen should be able to lose their right to bear arms as well. Say convicted felons, anyone convicted of a violent crime, those with diminished mental capacity, and maybe some others.

6.       Government must be downsized.

Brad says, “I am not sure what that means exactly. The growth of government has been in response to demands by the citizenry. Here’s a quote on that from Teddy Roosevelt in his 1910 speech and the New Nationalism. “The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows. Again, comrades over there, take the lesson from your own experience. Not only did you not grudge, but you gloried in the promotion of the great generals who gained their promotion by leading their army to victory. So it is with us. We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.”

So, in light of knowing that government has grown to protect the citizenry from being financially raped by the rich and powerful, I can’t say I agree with number six 100%.

7.       The national budget must be balanced.

Brad says, “I agree mostly on this but not 100%. I feel that We the People should have the right to use deficit budget expenditures in times of crisis. For instance, in a war we could not have a balanced budget and expect to produce the required arms and pay for the wars without deficit spending. This has been true since the first time we borrowed money from France to fight Spain under the Jefferson administration. Here’s a quote from Jefferson, “”Then I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and encumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation. Then, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. ME 7:455, Papers 15:393

Let me point out that during WWII, our national debt was far greater than it is now (as expressed as a percentage of GDP) yet we paid if down in fairly short order. I don’t believe that we should create debt without demonstrating how we will retire that debt, and or by demonstrating how that debt or lack of it would benefit future generations.

8.       Deficit spending must end.

Brad says, “I do disagree but see point number 7 for an idea of why I feel this way and what limits I feel should be placed on the deficit spending.

9.       Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.

Brad says, “I have to disagree. They are clearly legal and have been used by Nations over the centuries for various reasons. Government stimulus works as proven in the late 30’s by FDR, and again by FDR in the early 40’s and by Kennedy in the early 60’s and by Bush in the last ten years and by President Obama recently. However I don’t feel we should just give money to failing businesses. Not at all, but if we as a people feel we want to invest in that business and can expect a reasonable return, then I’m for what might be called a ‘bailout’ today. But the way I see it, it could be an investment if done properly. Like GM where We the People bought a share of GM as there was no private money around that they could access. That saved GM and millions of jobs and We the People get to sell the stock back at three times what we paid for it, which we’ll do when the stock fully recovers. I do feel that bailout and stimulus plans should show how we’ll be paid back by the companies that we bail out. I am not for corporate welfare. But I do think that it’s a National Security issue at times to keep some business viable.

10.   Reducing personal income taxes is a must.

Brad says, “I don’t agree 100% but do agree that personal income taxes should be flexible in prosperous times and in lean times. We can and do use income tax reductions to stimulate personal spending and it appears to work. The Bush and Obama stimulus packages (via the Bush tax cuts, and the Obama tax cuts) have proven to have a multiplier effect of 1 to 1.8, meaning for every dollar we as a nation applied to stimulus, that dollar generated a dollar eighty in GDP. That’s a pretty good return.”

11.   Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.

Brad says, “I don’t agree. The point that can be made for reducing business income taxes is that business with have more liquid capital to spend on expansion, production, and hiring. Right now we have a business community that is more liquid that ever and they are not spending, they are not hiring, they are not building. So We the People have been spending via deficit spending and unbalanced budgets to get the economy going again. Business is not doing their fair share and has been using the lobbies and special interests to get favorable tax status. That must end. Today it’s not a question of liquidity; it’s a question of confidence. While the world wide economy suffers as it is, the business community is playing it safe and hoarding their money. Why lower thier taxes? 

12.   Political offices must be available to average citizens.

Brad says, “I agree 100%.”

13.   Intrusive government must be stopped.

Brad says, “I agree 100% until I think of getting on a plane with folks who may be carrying a bomb. At those times I feel like agreeing less than 100%. I agree 100% that the government should not be intrusive beyond the boundaries that the electorate sets for the government.”

14.   English as our core language is required.

Brad says, “I agree 100%.”

15.   Traditional family values are encouraged.

Brad says, “I agree with traditional family values, however in my family we were taught to embraced diversity, so I support both traditional and non-traditional families. To me freedom and justice for all means exactly that, for ALL, not just for those who conform to past values and attitudes.”

In summation, I’ve clearly noted that I agree with 11 out of these 15 ideas. I’ve met you more than halfway and I’ve clearly explained myself and have not denigrated the positions I don’t agree with. So can we find some common ground?

Feel free to comment but know that your comments here are moderated by me. No flaming allowed but it’s fine to disagree civilly.

 

 

 

 

 

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Obama Care Approval By Section

According to a new poll released by ABC/Washington Post, a majority of folks are not overwhelmingly for or against the law as a whole. However, the number of folks who say they disapprove is higher than the number of folks who say they approve. This is most likely due to the constant slamming of the ‘Obama Care’ concept by the right. The number of people who report that they approve or disapprove of the law is as follows.

However, when you break the law down into its component parts you get a totally different view of how folks like or dislike the important points of the law.

And more….

Still more…

So while folks say they don’t like the law, they do like it’s component parts. The scare tactics used by the right have tainted peoples view of the term “Obama Care” when it’s used to refer to the entire bill, but those same scare tactics don’t work when you look at the components of the bill. This is very illuminating.

I would guess that the individual mandate (supported by the GOP until it was written into law) will be the sticking point.

I would also guess that since the overwhelming number of people who were polled on the components really like the components, that if the Supremes strike down the law, the Democrats will simply go back and re-write it as a single payer plan. Since the majority of republican voters responded favorably to the majority of the provisions in the law I expect it be enacted in one way, shape, or form in the near future.

See my post http://bradgolding.com/?p=1 to see how and why We the People have every right to enact this bill.

 

 

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I tried to get away from politics by going fishing…

I love ocean fishing. I grew up on the California Coast and now live on the northern part of the coast among the redwood trees.

When I was very young, perhaps three or four, my uncle had 5 fishing boats in a town called Crescent City just north of where I lived as a child.

In those days the ocean was teaming with fish, crab, abalone, shrimp, and all manner of sea life.

In those days the forests were thick and seemingly endless.

But in those days we didn’t understand that our national resources, like fish and trees, were limited. We treated them as if they were unlimited because we had a ‘free market place’ that was nearly unregulated by our elected government.

By the time I was in my thirties those endless resources we all but gone. Up and down the coast from Monterey to Crescent City the population of fish was so dramatically low that Monterey closed down their huge canning plants, and all cities to the north that relied on fishing did much the same.

This was a crisis and no one was watching…almost no one. But the population noticed and started to make their voices heard. As a result, the fishery has been protected. If not for that protection, I could not go out and fish for Salmon this summer as there wouldn’t be any wild salmon. The salmon most folks buy at the market are farm raised salmon now days thanks to the massive and unrestricted commercial over fishing in the past few decades.

Our elected government even bought out many of the fishing vessels to decrease pressure on the fishery and to be fair to the fishermen.

But we didn’t act in time for certain populations. Sardines were once very plentiful off the coast but not so much anymore. I don’t belive there is a sardine fishery on the west coast anymore except for bait fish.

Abalone used to be so thick you could walk out at low tide and pick them off the rocks. There were no limits for commercial divers. Now there are very few abalone and commercial fishing on the north coast is forbidden. If this action were not taken, we’d have no abalone left.

Silver Salmon were so overfished that even sport fishermen cannot take them.

Ground fish, or rock fish were so over fished that current regulations limit the depth and the number you can take. I’m happy we took the steps to protect our fisheries.

We now have regulations at the demand of the population, the general citizenry if not the commercial interests. We gave them an environment friendly to commercial interests by not regulation the industry and they almost took all of our resources. They fished with abandon and without regard to the damage they were doing.

Our forests were being clear cut on a wholesale level. What trees we didn’t use as lumber, we ground up to use as hog fuel in power plants. It was free so what the heck? But soon enough the trees and the forests started to disappear, and so did the lumber mills, and the railroad the carried the lumber to market.

So, I tried to get away from politics by going fishing but it didn’t work. But thanks to the government responding to our (We The People’s) demands that the fishery be protected and regulated, I can still go fishing and eat fresh wild Salmon.

Big Ling Cod

Ok, now what regulations did you want to eliminate? And do you think enterprise will self regulate? Can you show me an example of when and if that ever worked? Didn’t think so…

 

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This is the real deal. Citizen driven change!!!

I fully support this movement to change our constitution to reflect the desires of We The People. Please check it out and support it if you can. I didn’t write this, it’s an email I received today. You can check them out at www.the99declaration.org

The 99% Declaration

Greetings patriots and revolutionaries!

We’ve made so much progress! The venue is paid for and more than half of the election costs are now covered. Funding for the election of delegates is still needed and we hope to help Delegate Candidates more with their campaigns and travel expenses. Please help us if you can afford it. Donations may be made here through PayPal or by sending a check through the mail to: The 99% Declaration, P.O. Box 190, Red Hook, NY 12571. Support the Delegate Candidates by donating here to the blind trust.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work to change the electoral, tax, education, healthcare, economy and social system?

We have a mere 82 days until the online polls open on June 1st and the election of delegates to the National General Assembly begins. Between now and then we need your help to make this happen. Therefore I am asking for volunteers to for the following positions which are open to everyone: delegates, voters and volunteers. Obviously people with experience in the field of expertise will get preference.
1. Delegate Hotel/Dorm Coordinator. This person or persons will be responsible for calling the hotels in Philadelphia to seek discount hotel rates for our delegates who will arrive in Philadelphia the night of July 1st and stay until the morning of July 5th. A good place to start is The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau at http://www.philadelphiausa.travel/
2. Fundraising Coordinator. We are looking for a person with fundraising experience to form a fundraising committee to plan and organize online and offline events to raise money to pay for the election, helping delegates travel, hotel discounts and advertising, security, insurance, equipment rentals and miscellaneous expenses that arise.
3. Venue Coordinator. This person or persons should be an event planner to help with the day to day operation of the National General Assembly from July 2nd to 4th. Responsibilities will include going to Philadelphia early to make sure the room will be set up properly and all of the equipment properly set up. This person will also be responsible for ordering the identification tags the delegates will have to wear to get into the convention and to post the security company we are hiring at the appropriate spot. This person or persons will also recruit volunteers to host the registration tables at the conference and help us run the event smoothly. Attention should also be paid to delegates with any special needs.
4. Security Coordinator. This person will contact the approved list of security companies, explain our needs and then take bids so we can award the contract for the security at the convention. You will also be responsible for dealing with the police and security when the 878 delegates walk from the venue to Independence Hall the afternoon of July 4th for the press conference and rally. The city has already approved the parade route and march permit. They will be closing streets and providing a police presence.
5. Delegate Volunteer Housing Coordinator. Some of our delegates will not be able to afford even discount hotel rooms in Philadelphia so we need people in philadelphia to seek volunteers willing to house a delegate or two from July 1st to july 5th. This job is best suited for a person who lives in Philadelphia and has a good contact list of people who might be willing to do this.
6. Delegate Travel Coordinator. If we can raise the money, we will be assisting delegates in paying for the cost to get to Philadelphia. Possibilities range from giving people gas money, to bus or plane fair and even chartering buses from state capitals. Carpooling can also be arranged by coordinating with the State and District coordinators (see below).
7. July Fourth Coordinator. This person will assist Michael Pollok in planning the press conference and rally on the afternoon of July 4th in front of Independence Hall. Tasks include inviting celebrity speakers (the letters are already prepared, they just need to be mailed and have follow-up). You will also be calling a list of vendors to invite bids to provide the stage and sound system for our speakers. Additionally, you will make sure there is adequate water available and possibly invite vendors to come and sell food and other items during the rally and press conference on July 4th. We will be having our rally across Chestnut street from the front of Independence Hall in the park near the Liberty Bell. The permit for this event has already been submitted and approved. See http://www.nps.gov/inde/index.htm
8. Media Coordinator. This person or persons will act as a booking agent to call radio stations and television stations to get our delegate candidates on air to talk about the 99% Declaration and National General Assembly. Should have experience doing this.
9. District Delegate Coordinator. Every district should have one Coordinator to work with and assist the delegates in their voter registration efforts, fundraising and recruiting at least one man and one woman to fill the two seats in your district. The District Coordinators will also assist the State Coordinators in their job (see below).
10. State Delegate Coordinators. We need at least one person to be the Delegate Coordinator from each state and DC and PR. So far we have State Coordinators for VA, CA and MO. Some states with only two delegates like Wyoming or Alaska may not need a coordinator. This critical job has five specific functions:
1. Hold a weekly conference call with all the delegate candidates between now and July. During these weekly conference calls the delegates will plan town hall style meetings to take place in each district at libraries and other public places to meet constituents and register voters for the online election.
2. Discuss weekly with the delegate candidates and work on your state’s top ten list of grievances and solutions. Each state delegation (including PR and DC) will be expected to submit a list of top ten grievances and solutions by no later than June 20th. These 52 lists will then be compiled into one master list after removing duplications. This master list of grievances will then be voted on by the delegates during the two and one-half day conference in Philadelphia. This will be done by projecting each of the proposed grievances and solutions on giant screens and then holding electronic votes by all 878 delegates on each point. Although the final number of grievances in the petition will be decided by the delegates, it is strong urged that the grievances not exceed ten or the message will get lost. The final ten points should be non-controversial issues that pertain to getting money out of our political system, abolishing corporate person hood, regulating Wall Street and the banks, reforming the political system so everyone has a chance to get on the ballot and all voters have equal access to the polls. It is suggested but not required that the delegates stay away form social “wedge” issues that will not be supported by the majority of the 99% of Americans. It is our belief that, just like the founders of this country, a group of people can find ten serious problems in this country and agree that those ten issues should be addressed by the government FIRST. Remember, if this National General Assembly on corporations, politics and the economy is successful, other Assemblies will be held to address social and other issues. If we bite off more than we can chew here, the petition will not be taken seriously by the American people or the government. But if the delegates write ten points that the public supports, the spineless politicians may be forced to actually do something despite the wishes of the their corporate masters.
3. Discuss how to fill empty delegate seats (http://www.thenationalgeneralassembly.org/) in your state and register as many voters on our website as possible (http://www.the99declaration.org/vote/). This is our most essential task. For this assembly to be legitimate, a significant number of people must vote in the election to confer credibility and support. Our goal is 250,000 but Votenet Solutions, Inc. the company we hired to run the online election, can handle any amount if need be. Without voters, it will just be another self-appointed GA. We will have a voting system in place but we need you to help us reach out and sign up the voters. You can sign other voters up by using our voter registration form (click here). All you need is to have that person give you his or her email address, home address in the district and signature. You may then register those voters and mail the filled out forms to the address on the form in case of a challenge to the vote tally.
4. Plan and hold fundraisers in your state to help the delegates pay for their trip to Philadelphia and hotel stays. You will work with the Delegate Travel Coordinator to make sure you state’s delegates have a way to get to Philadelphia and back and you will work with the Delegate Hotel/Dorm Coordinator and Delegate Housing Coordinator to make sure they have a place to stay.
5. Preparing press releases for your state and then sending those press releases to Michael Pollok for distribution using the press release service we hired. Local and regional press release are free under our subscription but having a press release go out on the wire services costs between $400 and $600 depending how widely you wish it distributed. There is also a 900 word limit before additional costs are incurred. Both State and District Coordinators are welcome to take advantage of this subscription service.
11. Volunteer Coordinator. This person or persons will get emails from new volunteers who sign up through our web page and will respond to find out where that person is and how best they can help one of the people holding the ten jobs above.
12. Agenda and Delegate Voting Coordinator. This person or persons will work with Michael Pollok to write the agenda for the three day meeting. He or she will also help go through all 52 top ten lists to remove duplications and compile the final list of grievances to be voted on in Philadelphia. This person will also help perfect the electronic delegate voting system we are working on so the delegates can efficiently vote on each proposed grievances.
13. Entertainment Coordinator. This person would work with The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (http://www.philadelphiausa.travel/) to help delegates have fun and relax when they are not working on the petition for redress of grievances. There will be many exciting events going on that week in Philadelphia to celebrate Independence Day.
This efforts must be a bottom up effort to succeed so now is the time to step up and fill these rolls. Our priority is getting people registered on our web page (http://www.the99declaration.org/vote/) and filling the empty delegate seats (http://www.the99declaration.org/become_a_candidate) and then “if we build it they will come.”

If interested in any of these jobs, send a short statement of interest with your qualifications to michaelpollok@the99declaration.org. Time is short so please get these to me ASAP. In your message, put the name of the position you are seeking in the subject line and also tell me any other job you are willing to fill. Thanks for all your help so far and I look forward to working with you.

And finally, remember to invite your friends to join in drafting this historic document and to register to vote!

Onward and Upward to Philly!

Michael Pollok
The 99% Declaration

http://www.the99declaration.org/

The 99% Declaration • Post Office Box 190 , Red Hook, NY 12571
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The Politics of Envy?

I’m sure we’ve all seen the following chart which shows the growing disparity between the income growth of the top 1% of tax payers, and all other groups.

This chart has caused quite a stir among pundits, taxpayers and income earners in the United States and rightfully so. The right, and the rich, and their hired pundits have called the reaction ‘The Politics of Envy’ meaning the left and the left leaning pundits have stirred up the pot of discontent by using envy as the driving force.

This chart comes from analysis of a report by the CBO for which I’ve attached this link:

http://www.box.com/s/zjqkoqs3fglt427324sn

According to this document, the top 1% have benefited greatly from changes in tax policy and the other income groups have not. It occurred to me that if that was true, I should be able to track those policy changes and see how and where this inequity came from.

They, the right and the rich and their pundits, feel that those of us who are not in the top 1% of income earners are just jealous of their success and wealth.

That’s simply not the case; as I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, it’s not that we’re envious that other’s have more money, it’s that they have access to the politicians who create the policy that enables the very rich to get richer while the rest of us remain about the same in relation to our incomes in previous years. And it’s our suspicion that our politicians are more than willing to sell influence to the highest bidder.

Before we look at the charts and policies that changed income distribution in the United States, lets explore what forces the top income earners could apply to the politicians to influence this massive shift in income.

Lobbies and Lobbyists: The very rich can and do use public relations firms to advance their agenda’s. This is totally legal but it’s not an avenue open to the average income earner.

Campaign Contributions: The very rich contribute huge amounts of money to campaigns. In return they get access to the politicians, and perhaps even the promise of influence sharing. This is especially alarming in light of the Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme Court which allows unlimited cash contributions to Super PACs.

Ear Marks: The super rich, just like many businesses, can donate to a campaign and reasonably expect a return on their investment via earmarks. This is common and observable and will be covered in detail in a coming post.

Favors: You and I may not be able to contact our elected representatives and offer them favors in return for favors because we just don’t have the access. The rich do.

OK, let begin looking at the original chart and notice that all income groups experienced gains in income that were fairly equal before 1981. Then things began to change in favor of the top 1%.

What happended in 1981?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 Signed by Ronald Reagan

  • Individual income tax reductions. Reduced marginal tax rates 23 percent over three years; reduced maximum rate to 50 percent and maximum capital gains rate to 20 percent; indexed income tax brackets, personal exemption and standard deduction for inflation beginning in 1985; and provided new deduction for two-earner married couples.
  • Capital cost recovery provisions. Replaced facts and circumstances and the AssetDepreciation Range guidelines with Accelerated Cost Recovery System. Faster write-off of capital expenditures under simplified rules. Most equipment written off over 5 years, structures over 15 years. Allowed liberalized safe-harbor leasing rules, which effectively allowed companies to sell tax losses.
  • Estate and gift tax provisions. Permitted unlimited marital deduction: increased estate credit to exempt from tax all estates of $600,000 or less; and reduced maximum estate tax rate from 70 to 50 percent.

Here’s a chart showing the effects of that 1981 tax policy change:

 

 

 

 

I apologize about the fuzzyness of the chart, but the math isn’t fuzzy at all. It’s very clear that folks who earned above $200,000 benefited by a net change (reduction) to their tax bill to the tune of $ 58,250 per year.

But that’s just the beginning, here’s a chart showing what happened in 1986.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax Reform Act of 1986 signed by Ronald Reagan

  • Individual income tax provisions. Lowered top marginal tax rate to 28 percent; increased standard deduction to $5,000 for married couples; increased personal exemption to $2,000; and increased earned income tax credit.
  • Repealed two-earner deduction, long-term capital gains exclusion, state and local sales tax deduction, income averaging, and exclusion of unemployment benefits. Limited IRA eligibility, consumer interest deduction, deductibility of passive losses, medical expenses deductions, deduction for business meals and entertainment, pension contributions, and miscellaneous expense deduction.
  • Reduced top corporate marginal tax rate to 34 percent, and tightened corporate minimum tax.
  • Repealed the investment tax credit and lengthened capital cost recovery periods.

As you can plainly see from the charts, the income of the super rich continued to rise (with a few exceptions) steadily while the income of the bottom 99% (it’s just a number here, not a movement, but I can see how they got their name) continued to remain farily stable in comparison.

Let’s move to the era of ‘Read My Lips – No New Taxes’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 signed by G.H.W.Bush

  • Individual income tax rate increases. Increased top statutory tax rate from 28 percent to 31 percent, and increased the individual alternative minimum tax rate from 21 percent to 24 percent. Capped the capital gains rate at 28 percent. Limited value of high income itemized deductions: reduced by 3 percent times the extent to which AGI exceeds $100,000. Modified the bubble: temporarily created the personal exemption phase out applicable to the range of taxable income between $150,000 and      $275,000.
  • Payroll tax rate increases. Raised the cap on taxable  wages for Hospital Insurance (Medicare) from $53,400 to $125,000. Extended social security taxes to state and local employees without other pension coverage. Imposed a supplemental 0.2 percent unemployment insurance surtax.
  • Earned income tax credit (EITC) expansion and other low-income credits. Adjusted EITC benefit levels and phase-in and phase-out rates for family size. Created a low-income credit for the      premium costs of health insurance that includes coverage for children.
  • Income tax base erosion. Extended expiring provisions: tax credits for research and exploration, low-income housing, business energy, targeted jobs, and orphan drugs; tax exemptions for mortgage revenues and issue bonds;  exclusions for employer-provided legal and educational assistance; and 25 percent health insurance deduction for the self-employed. Extended and      created new energy producer tax benefits: extended non-conventional fuels credit and tax incentives for ethanol production; created a new credit for enhanced oil recovery costs; amended percentage depletion; reduced alternative minimum tax preference treatment of energy items. Created a small-business oriented credit for accommodations for disabled persons.      Modified estate freeze rules. Eliminated appreciation of certain donated property as a minimum tax preference item.

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993

  • Individual income tax rate increases. Imposed new higher tax rates of 36 percent and 39.6 percent. Increased tax rates and exemption amounts under the AMT. Permanently extended the itemized deduction limitation and the personal exemption phase-out legislated in OBRA 1990.
  • Corporate tax rate increases. Increased corporate tax rate to 35 percent on income above $10 million.

Please note that these policies didn’t help the rich get richer, rather they increased the taxes on the rich. Let me remind you that G.H.W. Bush was a one term President.

Let’s continue to drill down, here’s what happened in the Clinton years:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997

  • Estate and gift tax reductions. Boosted the present law unified credit beginning in 1998 from $600,000 per person to $1 million by 2006. Also indexed other estate and gift tax parameters, such as the $10,000 annual gift exclusion, to inflation after 1998.
  • Capital gains rates reduction. Reduced capital gains tax rates from 28 percent and 15 percent to 20 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Please do notice that the top 1% made constantly huge gains during the 8 years of Clinton’s presidency. This is not only due to tax policy changes that helped the rich, it’s also due to the massive deregulation that occurred under Clinton. We’ll explore that in an upcoming post.

Of course the benefits to the top 1% didn’t stop with Clinton, next we have another two term president who put his own fingerprints on the tax code:

 

 

 

 

 

 

In answer to the recession of 2000, G.W. Bush passed the following tax bills with remarkably telling titles:

Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA)

  • Individual income tax rate reductions. When fully-phased in 2006, levied a new 10 percent rate on the first $12,000 of income for a married couple ($10,000 for a single head of household and $6,000 for an individual); the 15 percent rate begins thereafter; reduced 28 percent rate to 25 percent, the 31 percent rate to 28 percent, the 36 percent rate to 33 percent and the 39.6 percent rate to 35 percent. Repealed the phase-out of the itemized      deduction and personal exemption by 2008. Made the 10 percent bracket retroactive, resulting in refund checks of up to $300 for individuals and $600 for couples 4-5 months hence.
  • Estate and gift tax reduction and elimination. Gradually reduced the estate and gift tax rate from 55 percent to 45 percent by 2007; raised the effective exemption from $1 million in 2002 to $3.5 million in 2009. Eliminated the estate tax portion entirely in 2010 in lieu of a capital gains tax with high disregard ($3.3 million) for transfers to a surviving spouse.

Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 (JCWAA)

  • Depreciation allowances. Allowed additional first year depreciation or expensing equal to 30 percent of the adjusted basis of qualified property.
  • Five-year carry back provisions. Allowed five-year carry back of net operating losses  (NOLs). Temporarily extended the NOL carry back period from two to five years for NOLs arising in taxable years ending 2001 and 2002.

Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA)

  • Accelerated provisions of EGTRRA (2001). Expanded child tax credit to $1,000 per child for 2003-04, reverting to present law (2001-enacted phase ins and outs) in 2005; expanded 15 percent tax bracket and standard deduction for joint filers to double the ranges and levels for single filers for 2003-04, reverting to present law in 2005; expanded 10 percent bracket for 2003-04,      reverting to present law in 2005; implemented 2006 rate schedule: 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent, 35 percent; increases individual AMT exemption amount by $4,500 single and $9,000 joint for 2003-04.
  • Capital gains and dividends. Taxed capital gains with a 15 percent rate for most gains and 5 percent for gains of moderate income taxpayers for 2003-07; becomes  5 percent/0 percent in 2008 and reverts to present law in 2009. Taxed dividends with a 15 percent/5 percent rate structure for 2003-07, 15 percent/0 percent in 2008, reverting to present law in 2009.
  • Depreciation. Increased bonus depreciation or expensing to 50 percent for physical asset purchases for 2003-04, reverting to present law in 2005; increased section 179 (100 percent) expensing by raising expensible amounts from $25,000 to      $100,000 and the phase-out threshold amount from $200,000 to $400,000.

American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (AJCA)

  • Provisions related to repeal of exclusion for extraterritorial income (ETI). Provided transitional relief for taxpayers subject to the ETI repeal by allowing a tax exclusion of 80 percent in 2005 and 60 percent in 2006 of extraterritorial income; created deduction relating to income attributable to U.S. production activities.
  • Business tax incentives. Increased section 179 expensing from $25,000 to $100,000 and increased the phase-out threshold amount from $200,000 to $400,000;  included software in section 179 property; and extended indexing of deduction limit and phaseout threshold through 2007; instituted 15-year      straight-line cost recovery for qualified (1) leasehold improvements and (2) restaurant improvements, through 2005 only; provided S-corporation reform and simplification; repealed 4.3-cent General Fund excise taxes on various fuels usually through 2005 or 2006; and modified application of  the income forecast method of accounting; provided incentives to film and      television production and repealed some taxes on distilled spirits, wine, and beer, among other incentives.
  • Provisions  relating to tax relief for agriculture and small manufacturers. Provided  that the General Fund be used to pay all alcohol and fuel and excise taxes; provided outlay payments (in lieu of excise tax credits and refunds) to producers of alcohol fuel mixtures; and provided tax credits for biodiesel (again, from the General Fund); extended some bonus depreciation rules for certain aircraft, among other items.

Tax reform and simplification for U.S. businesses. Provided incentives to reinvest foreign earnings in the U.S.; installed new interest expense allocation rules; re-characterized overall domestic loss; applied look-through rules for dividends for certain section 902

In terms of making the super rich even richer, the most effective Presidents have been Reagan, Clinton, and G.W.Bush. Good job boys.

Let me also note that while the income of the top 1% rose from about $100,000,000 a year to over $350,000,000 a year. Their share of the nation’s wealth also grew at astronomical dispreportions to ours.

While the Bush tax cuts helped reverse the post 9/11 recession, they were not the driving force behind the economic recovery. We can attribue that not to Supply Side economics, but directly to Demand Side economics.

We’ll explore this in a coming post.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tornado Help and a conservative effort to help that I like

This is a copy of an email I received from one of my conservative friends. I don’t care about politics in this instance, I just wanted to get the word out so if you feel like helping, this is a great way to start. Back to politics tomorrow. BG

I just got off the phone with Gary LeBlanc who heads up   Mercy Chefs — a dynamic “boots on the ground” agency that   takes mobile kitchens to disaster sites and provides thousands of meals to   victims and volunteers.

Gary and his team are already on the ground in West Liberty, Kentucky, where   a mile-wide tornado with 140 MPH winds ripped through the town leaving a   terrible path of destruction in its wake. The death toll from these   tornadoes has reached 39 and Gary says that to make matters worse, the region   got hit with a winter storm last night that brought snow and plummeting   temperatures.

As I write, Gary and the Mercy Chefs mobile kitchen are providing hot meals   to victims and volunteers in West Liberty as well as Crockett — a   neighboring community that was also totally devastated. The Mercy Chefs   mobile kitchen is set up near the heart of the devastation. Entire buildings   have been leveled or destroyed beyond repair, including the West Liberty High   School.

Gary says Mercy Chefs provided hundreds of hot meals yesterday and will   provide about 1,000 hot meals to victims and volunteers TODAY and then   1,000-1,500 meals every day this week as this community tries to cope with   the disaster. In neighboring Crockett, Gary’s team was met with tears from   the community as Mercy Chefs were among the first to provide relief.

According to Gary, it costs about $2.50 to provide a hot meal to a victim or   a volunteer. That’s the raw cost. It’s hard to put a value on a hot meal for   a family that just lost a home or for a volunteer who is working to bring   some semblance of relief to those who have just lost loved ones or seen their   lives devastated.

I told Gary I would get the word out to some Grassfire friends.

This is an opportunity to help in a practical way TODAY. It costs just $10 to   provide a hot meal to a family of four; $30 to feed 12 people TODAY in West   Liberty; $50 to feed 20 people; $100 to feed 40 people. Here is a link directly   to Mercy Chefs’ donation page where you can contribute.

Mercy Chefs has already served over 200,000 meals in places like   Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, New York, Arkansas and Alabama. Your gift is   fully tax-deductible and since I know Gary personally I’m confident that   Mercy Chefs will put your gift to work to help provide hot meals to   victims and volunteers in West Liberty starting immediately.

Thanks for your consideration,

Steve Elliott
Grassfire Nation

P.S. Again, Gary and his Mercy Chefs is already   feeding families today in Kentucky. It costs just $2.50 to serve a hot meal   to a victim or volunteer. Please help as you can. We are directing you   straight to Mercy Chefs’ donation page to help expedite the process:

GO HERE TO HELP   MERCY CHEFS PROVIDE A HOT MEAL TO A VICTIM OR VOLUNTEER TODAY IN   TORNADO-RAVAGED KENTUCKY.

View the Weather Channel panoramic images of Main Street in West Liberty:
http://www.weather.com/outlook/weather-news/news/articles/west-liberty-before-after_2012-03-04

+ + + + +
Grassfire Nation, a division of Grassroots Action, Inc., is a million-strong   network of grassroots conservatives that is dedicated to equipping you with   the tools that give you a real impact on the key issues of our day.    Copyright 2012 Grassroots Action, Inc.

+ + Comments? Questions?

http://www.grassrootsaction.com/r.asp?U=78907

I’m leaving the link in as a favor, I don’t agree with most, or at least much, of what they stand for, but I do agree with helping my fellow Americans when they’re in need. BG

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The 45% Solution – Conversations with a Libertarian

A week ago I was talking with a friend who happens to be a Libertarian. He mentioned that 45% or so of the people don’t pay income tax…the perception is that these people are somehow defeating or avoiding the tax code and are freeloading off the 55% that do pay income taxes. These people are pointed at by the right as ‘free loaders’ and lumped together with those who don’t contribute to society.

Of course that position got me thinking and I decided to drill down a bit.
I asked him if that number, the 45%, included all individuals like older folks on fixed incomes, or folks below the poverty line, or folks who commit tax fraud, or high schools students, or households or what? He didn’t know but still felt the 45% were freeloading off the 55%. He felt it was indicative of an ‘entitlement society’ being created by President Obama.

I didn’t know enough about it except to ask questions. He had no answers, only opinions.

So, using Google, I typed in the phrase” 45% of households don’t pay income tax” and found many articles. I started with this one from CNN dated 4/18/2011

http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/14/pf/taxes/who_pays_income_taxes/index.htm

I suggest you read this article but I’ll recap it here in the interest of brevity. As it turns out, 45% of households don’t have a tax liability at the end of the year. This represents about 69 million households. Of those 69 million households, 68% have household income of less than $50,000 annually. About 12.5% of those households earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per year. As income goes up, the percentage of households in the upper income groups that don’t owe taxes at the end of the year declines. If you look at the households that make between $100,000 annually and $1,000,000 plus annually, the aggregate percentage declines to 4.7%.

 

 

 

At first glance is appears that my friend may have had a valid point. But I drilled down further and found that “other data from the IRS show that the tax bite on the very highest income taxpayers has fallen as their incomes have risen. In 2007, the top 400 individual tax returns had an average adjusted gross income of $345 million, up from $47 million in 1992. But their average tax rate was just 17%, down from 26% in 1992.”

I was amazed that the top 400 returns had an average adjusted income of $345 million annually per household. That’s what I call ‘real money’. I was further amazed to find that those 400 household paid 26% in income taxes in 1992, but in 2007 their tax rate was down to only 17%.

How did we get here? According to the article there are two main reasons. First is a simple result of the economic downturn. But the second reason is very revealing: The tax code is filled with hundreds of tax breaks to encourage economic activities the government favors, tax experts say. For instance, the law offers credits to supplement the wages of low-income workers, help families pay for college and encourage them to buy homes and have children.

Temporary tax policies, such as the Bush-era tax cuts and the tax breaks passed under President Obama, have also increased the ranks of the non-payers.

If most tax breaks were removed, the Tax Policy Center estimates, the percentage of households with no federal income tax liability would drop from 45% to 27%.

That last sentence indicates that the solution is pretty simple. The easy way to increase the amount of households who pay taxes could be down to 27% if we, as a nation, removed most of the tax breaks.

Let me make it even easier, if we let the Bush tax breaks expire in 2012 we’ll be fine. Even if we moderate the tax breaks for the middle class, we’ll be fine. If we approve the so called “Buffet Rule” we’ll be fine.

What’s most glaring is the decline in tax liability for the top income earners.

Folks on the right call this “the politics of envy” meaning that we in the middle income brackets are just jealous of folks who have fat bank accounts, huge incomes, and low tax liabilities; after all these are the ‘job creators’ according to the right.

Wrong. It’s not that we’re envious of the rich, it’s that we’re tired of the rich manipulating the politicians we elect by plying them with money to modify the tax code in their favor. You and I don’t have this type of access to power and that’s what I find offensive.

That the super rich and powerful have successfully manipulated our government to modify the tax code so they pay an average of only 17% is nearly criminal in my mind. That’s not equality, that’s cash register government.

When I pointed this out to my Libertarian friend he said, “Well, all I want is a fair tax code.” Me too.

We’ll explore this concept in another post.

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Conversations with the conservative right

This conversation resulted from a group email from one of my ‘right’ leaning friends….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The content of this parody is what really hacks me!!  We as a country are broke and spending more money as a country rather than building an environment which allows business to thrive and do the hiring and building will bring about our demise….we are screwed!”

Dave

My comments via return email…

We are not screwed, we are on track to do great things as a nation. It looks to me like we’re still trying to restore the promise of the American dream into the hearts of ALL the people, not just business.

What really worries me is that the political right is trying to limit the rights of people that don’t drink the Kool-aide.

It’s my opinion that the Tea Party, and the agenda of the ultra right is so much like the Taliban’s agenda in Afghanistan that it worries me. If the political right ever takes over, your wife will be wearing a burka, (very much like a Nun’s habit) and you, an educated man, will be imprisoned for sharing an enlightened view.

I remember mentioning to you that the Tea Party had failed to initiate any attempts at legislating the 15 MUST HAVE things on their agenda and you responded “Well Brad, the Tea Party is only two years old” as if that was an excuse for their lack of productivity.

Your President and mine has only been in office for three years Dave, and he’s done quite a bit to move our country forward and it’s working.

But no one on the political right , except Mitt Romney, gives the President any credit for his great works.

Dave, in my America, liberty and justice for ALL means exactly that. Not liberty and justice for all of those that agree with you, not liberty and justice for all of the folks the same color as you, not liberty and justice for all who go to the same church as you, but liberty and justice for ALL. To me, it means ALL citizens of our great nation are equal. Just as I believe the Grace and Promise of Christianity is for ALL people, I believe that our rights are equally universal.

The political right is seeking to restrict the rights of many people only to enhance their own ability to advance and justify their bigotry and hatred. If we get on track with the political right , women will be taken out of the work place, forced to be homemakers, forced to leave their careers, and our country would be at the mercy of the American Taliban. That worries me.

But we are NOT screwed Dave, because Americans like me won’t let that happen. We will NOT allow the country to go backwards to the days of division and injustice and slavery.

Dave, if you can limit someone else’s rights, they never really had rights at all, they had privileges. If, as it says in the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

So if all our rights come from God, who among the American Taliban has the right to change that?

I invite you to read my blog www.bradgolding.com and comment if you like.

And let me ask you this, if you mean that we can create an environment which allows business to thrive (like GM’s record profit?) we’ll have more opportunity for the rest of us, then why is that not the case today when capital has more funds and more wealth than ever before in the history of the nation, then why don’t they get off their asses and start creating jobs and opportunity? Your basic argument is full of holes if we look at history, and I mean current history. Look at this simple graph from Mother Jones magazine:

This is from 2007 and it shows that the environment for business has never been greater. The top 10% of the people in the nation control 73.1% of the wealth in the nation. Where is the investment in creating more manufacturing? Where are the jobs? Where is the ‘trickle down”? Note: The 2007 data (the most current) doesn’t reflect the impact of the housing market crash. In 2007, the bottom 60% of Americans had 65% of their net worth tied up in their homes. The top 1%, in contrast, had just 10%. The housing crisis has no doubt further swelled the share of total net worth held by the superrich.

By creating an environment where capital will create more jobs by giving them better tax breaks and less regulations to cope with we are offering up our savings accounts for them to sack, and our earth for them to rape. No thanks Dave, that’s not what the majority of the American People want. You are holding and defending a minority view point that is not based in fact, it’s based in fear.

Why don’t you go ahead and forward this to your mailing list? Some might spit out their Kool-aide.

I think your worry is that “The Government” (which you seem to feel is an alien body) is spending too much money. Dave, we the people, are using the Government to help us get through a very difficult time that was created by business (I call it Capital). We are in essence a nation that was on the brink of disaster and we’re crawling our way out. We are using our ‘credit cards’ to get  through this,  and we’re accumulating debt. We’ve been in debt before Dave, and we’ve always paid it off.

You’ve mentioned that you don’t want to leave debt to your grandchildren. I wonder how you feel about paying for World War Two? I mean, to provide stability in Europe, we have hundreds of bases there at a cost of billions a year. You, Dave, pay for that because our father’s believed it was a good idea to stabilize Europe after WWII, after all, we learned from post WW I that defeating Germany and then just walking away was a sure fire way to enter into the conditions that led to WWII.

I also believe that the political right is spouting this poison about reducing regulations and taking away rights of people in order to line their own pockets, or as you’ve put it, to create the environment in which they can line their own pockets. I don’t see any other answer to their behavior. The political right is certainly not known for this principal from the preamble to the constitution: We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union (not a less perfect union), establish Justice (that’s Justice for All) , insure domestic tranquility, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE (not just their own welfare)…

We the People demand full rights for all, we know we’re spending money we don’t have, but we know that by doing so we ARE creating an environment where Capital can thrive, but not without a public consciousness (provided through regulations), we won’t let Capital rape the country for their benefit so we can eat crumbs.

By the way, I wrote this in Feb. of 2012. Please join me, I just can’t get back to 1950.

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