Epiphanyblog

All about ideas…

So Much to Talk About….

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For a Friday roundup, here are a few stories that are not making the headlines.

…House Speaker John Boehner May Have Broken the Law

Speaker of the House John BoehnerIn signing a contract with an attorney to defend DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) before the House had appropriated the money, Speaker of the House Boehner may have broken the law.

According to a story on Huffington Post:

The matter was taken up…

during a House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Thursday.
Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.) pressed House General Counsel Kerry Kircher on the matter. Although the contract states that “the General Counsel agrees to pay the Contractor for all contractual services,” Kircher said he was told by the House Republican leadership that no funds would come out of the Office of General Counsel’s budget for this purpose.

Dan Strodel, the House’s chief administrative officer, is the man who, according to Honda’s office, would ultimately write the checks to Brancroft PLLC. But at the hearing, he also said he had no knowledge of where the money would come from.

“Given Rep. Honda’s concern, I hope he will join us in efforts to recoup any costs from the Department of Justice — which is supposed to be defending the law in the first place,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Honda believes that Boehner’s agreement could be violating the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits “involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated for that purpose.” Knowingly violating the law could lead to being fined or imprisoned.

A source familiar with House finances told The Huffington Post that Honda may have a case. The House General Counsel signed the contract and agreed to pay the funds. But since he has admitted that his office doesn’t have the money for this case, House leadership would have to have the funds reprogrammed or transferred from other House accounts. The source said that transfer should have been executed before Kircher signed the contract with Clement and Bancroft.

Leaving religious beliefs aside, I think spending federal dollars to defend DOMA is probably a losing proposition. The reason I say “probably” is because this case, if it ever goes to court, will go to the Supreme Court and who knows what the SCOTUS will do, considering their decision on Citizens United gave nearly human status to corporations, non-profits, and unions that is no where to be found in the Constitution or any previous decisions. (At this point the only things these organizations can’t do is run for office or vote. Sounds like a perversion of the founding fathers beliefs to me. Can you imagine Madison defending the monopolistic British West India Trading Company by saying it had First Amendment Rights?) Nevertheless, there’s nothing in the Constitution in speaks to marriage – unless the defense is the “…promote the general Welfare” clause and even that might be a stretch.

…Talking About Tax Fairness

I’d be willing to bet that most wage earners pay more in federal taxes, minus FICA, than 15%. Income statistics show the average American pays 20.4% in federal taxes. But John Paulson, the billionaire hedge fund manager, only pays 15%. Why? Because his income comes via a special tax break that allows hedge fund managers incomes to be considered capital gains so they pay income taxes at capital gains rates. It’s a special “pass through” income tax break that applies mainly to hedge fund and investment managers, also known as a “hedge fund loophole.”

Want to know how much someone like Paulson makes in one hour? Probably more than an average employee makes during his/her entire working career.

If your job paid $50,000 a year and you stayed at it for 47 years, your tally for a lifetime of work would be $2.4 million. Not bad — but hedge fund hustler John Paulson pulled down that much last year.

Most of us would consider an annual income of $2.4 million to be a windfall, but it didn’t take Paulson a full 12 months of work to pocket his windfall — or one month, a week, or even a day. That’s how much he made an hour. Yes, Paulson could’ve worked one single hour in 2010 and hauled off a paycheck equal to what a typical household gets for a lifetime of work.

Income & Tax Comparisons

Given the deficit and all the talk in DC about cost cutting, including all of those for vital services and programs that help the middle class as well as the working poor, can someone tell me again why billionaire hedge managers – who adds next to nothing to the real economy – pay 5.4% lower federal taxes than average working Americans?

By the way, Paulson is the same guy who spent a few million on his birthday party then bellowed a couple of months ago that any increase in his tax rate was akin to Nazism. Explain to me why I should feel sorry for him, especially since he’s one of those (hedge fund) speculators that’s causing food, gas prices, and other commodities to be higher than they should be?

…Let’s Talk Education

According to Education Week, California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has introduced a bill that would eliminate funding for 40+ education programs.

A few of the programs Duncan’s bill would scrap are the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program; Teaching American History; Excellence in Economic Education; and Reading Is Fundamental.

I know there are a lot of things wrong in our educational system, but please don’t blame it all on so-called greedy teachers. (By the way, do you really know how much teachers earn and the number of hours they really put in on their jobs?)

Legislators and school districts have a lot do with how well our kids are educated and what they’re taught. I won’t name names but shouldn’t science and other subjects be a matter of learning rather than political statements or ideology?

I know a lot of people say the Federal Government shouldn’t be involved in education; that it’s a local matter. But I grew up all over this country and have a different perspective.

When my family moved from Ohio to Georgia and Florida, I excelled because I was so far ahead of those schools. Then when we moved to New Hampshire, I scrambled hard to catch up and was nearly put back a grade. When we moved to California a year later, I coasted for two years at the top of my class. But in New Mexico, I struggled to keep up. During my pre-college years, I had a first year Algebra teacher who as the boys sports coach barely knew more about math than I. I had a chemistry teacher who stated in response to my questions of why a certain math formula was used, “it’s done that way, because it’s done that way.” And those are not even the worst experiences I encountered during my primary and secondary education. Surely, all of our kids deserve a better, more even or equivalent education regardless of school district or state than the ones I had.

But a lot needs to be done. Right now, American student test scores barely exceed those of some Third World nations.

Find your state’s ratings here:

International state graph of Educational Standings

But sometimes money is not everything. It’s often more about what you as parents demand of your elected leaders. You know, school boards, elected officials, administrators. If you’re really interested in how well your school district is doing on its rate of return for your investment dollars or comparing your school district’s ROI in comparison to others, check out this interactive chart.

Kinda makes you think doesn’t it?

There’s a great deal more going on that needs to be highlighted, but I’ll save it for another day. What I will say is that each and every person needs to read as many news sources as possible – left, right, center and otherwise. It’s the only way to honestly get all the facts; then put aside your political idealogy and let your mind consider all options and ideas. That’s kind of what our founding fathers and mothers did when they were thinking about this new nation and its new Constitution, so surely we can follow in their footsteps to create a better “commonweal” for us and our children.

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Written by Valerie Curl

May 14, 2011 at 9:56 AM

3 Responses

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  1. Re: Fairness in taxation

    If you want to make guys like Paulson your target, you should also have to make some further disclosure. Such as the following:

    1: The wealthiest 1% of the population earn 19% of the income but pay 37% of the income tax. The top 10% pay 68% of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50%—those below the median income level—now earn 13% of the income but pay just 3% of the taxes.

    2: While the income in America is skewed toward the rich, our taxes are skewed far, far more. So who’s to say what’s fair?

    Leftist’s think they’re the ones who should make these decisions, but they get and keep their jobs by promising to give the majority funds and benefits that they haven’t earned, by “legally” stealing it from those who did earn it.

    The rights of the government in our allegedly free country are the rights that the people themselves have and delegate to the government for orderly enforcement. As I don’t have the right to steal from my rich neighbor if I’m in need, then how can I possibly delegate that right to the government?

    The irony is that everyone could be a lot richer and the country could eliminate its debt, and all income taxes if it would only get out of the way of the free enterprise system, and let us greedy capitalists pursue our profits. Try to remember that it’s not in the interests of the rich to keep everyone else poor. If that happened, who would be around to buy the products and services that the rich are selling?

    The reason why is that the left doesn’t even understand the concept of wealth. They think of wealth as something that exists in a static quantity in the universe, with the only question being how it should most fairly be divided. They don’t understand that wealth is CREATED, primarily because they’ve never participated in the process. Look at their leaders, Obama, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Pelosi, Reid… and you’ll see that not one of them has ever contributed to the economy in a private sector job that was involved in the production of wealth. In a way, the same is true of a big portion of the Hollywood elite. While they’ve worked hard and made lots of money, making $10MM to $20MM for a movie, or $500M for a concert, gives them a pretty warped view of what it truly means to go out to work and make a living.

    I’ve tried to explain this to several of these people, with the following example since I’ve spent much of my life as a builder:

    “A man buys a piece of raw land, and with his own ingenuity, skill and sweat, he takes the trees and the rocks and the dirt on the property and uses them to build himself a home. The difference in value between the raw land, and the land with the home on it, is wealth created by that man…”

    Most of them still don’t get it though… All they can see is a man who owns a big house, while others live in hovels, so of course they decide, due to their unbelievable arrogance and conceit, that everyone would be better off if THEY were in charge of splitting up the wealth… We heard it in the clip of Van Jones, “Give THEM the wealth! Give THEM the wealth! Give THEM the wealth! The key word there being “THE” wealth… He only sees that big pile.. because he’s probably never put in a full day of honest productive work in his entire pathetic life.

    There are several ways that the government could pay for all of the legitimate functions that it is responsible for providing if they only understood the nature of wealth. But they don’t, and until we get someone in control who does, we’re doomed to continue down this collectivist path that has proved over and over again that it cannot possibly work.

    “You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931 – 2005

    Swemson

    May 15, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    • Rather than argue your Ayn Rand-Libertarian-Cato Institute philosophy, I refer you to an article which I think more closely defines my beliefs and I suspect that of most American families:

      Actually, “The Rich” Don’t “Create Jobs,” We Do by Dave Johnson.

      Valerie Curl

      May 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      • The author of the article you refer to has an overly simplistic understanding of the cycle of job creation. There’s many steps between the reduction of the taxes levied on the rich, and the actual creation of jobs.
        Besides, I never said the rich shouldn’t pay taxes. I merely raised the question of how much their “fair share” ought to be.
        My economic philosophy however addresses several other factors that have an indirect effect on the jobs issue.
        The first thing we need to define is what the proper role of the government is, and in so doing, we can then determine what it’s going to take to finance said proper functions of government.
        The second thing we need to look at is what the various ways might be to raise this funding.
        If you combine the two issues, you can then see that there’s no justification for most of the money that our government spends, and once you arrive at a reasonable level of spending, you can then determine what the best way to raise those funds might be.
        I believe that the primary remedy for our financial woes, which will if implemented also solve the jobs problem, in addition to cutting government spending, is to have the government divest itself of the huge % of the actual land area of the country that the federal government allegedly “owns”, along with all of the mineral rights that go with it. One of the biggest lies of our times is the idea that we’re running out of key resources such as fossil fuels, and that using them hurts our environment. While some types of pollution are a real problem, CO2 is not one of them. CO2 is plant food, and an essential part of the life cycle on earth. The entire environmental movement is a fraud. The planet is fine. If you want to hear a very entertaining point of view on this issue, I highly recommend that you listen to George Carlin’s take on the issue. It’s right on!.

        The entire legitimate budget of the federal government could be financed by a sane policy of management of our natural resources. America has the largest reserves of fossil fuels in the world. Rather than buying our energy from our enemies in the middle east, we could easily produce everything we need right here, plus an additional amount sufficient to sell to China & Japan in order to eliminate our national debt. This would have the added benefit of taking away the funding of our enemies, because the rest of the world needs to sell their products to us, and if they can get paid for their exports with American energy resources, they’ll gladly buy them from us rather than from our Islamic enemies. Besides, those resources belong to the American people, not the Agenda 21 crowd represented by the UN, George Soros, and the globalists of the ruling elite.
        While the taxation / job creation issue is not as simple and direct as Mr. Johnson thinks it is, there is indeed a clear relationship between the two. It is an incontestable fact that every time the taxes on American people have been lowered, the economy has grown as a result. When the economy grows, jobs are created. As more people get good paying jobs, their disposable income increases which makes the demand for more products and service rise accordingly. As I said in another post, it’s not in the interest of the rich or of American business for the middle and lower classes to be poor. Once you understand how wealth is created, you’ll realize that everyone, with the exception of government bureaucrats, benefits from a free and prosperous economy. The left attempts to blame the economy on the rich in order to hide the fact that they and their failed policies are responsible for the sorry state we’re in. They promote class warfare to disguise the truth. It’s not a matter of the rich vs the poor, and never has been in this country. Everyone will prosper if we can only get the government off our backs.
        The majority of American families that you refer to are sadly too unsophisticated to understand the details on these issues. They have their hands full just struggling to survive, and consequently they vote their wallets, and tend to believe whoever tells them that they’ll GIVE them the most. It’s not the government’s job however to take care of us. We can take care of ourselves.
        I suspect that you’re a well meaning product of our higher education system who has been spoon fed a false version of the history of America since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Having gone through the same system in the early 60’s, I further suspect that I’m about 20 or so years older than you. Churchill was right when he said: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re young you have no heart, & if you’re not a conservative when you’re old, you have no brain!”
        You clearly have a brain my dear. The problem unfortunately, as Reagan said, is that “so much of what you know, just isn’t so”
        fs

        Swemson

        May 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM


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