Government Handouts, Tax Evasion and the Penalty for Higher Education

I’ve been thinking about this post for the past few days. I’ve been watching various news outlets and trying to decipher the truth through the crap. I have to say, it’s a pain in the ass trying to find legitimate news. Every site has a bias, and even the ones that lean towards my spectrum of politics are owned by folks who’s best interests are the opposite of my own. Regardless, I must make do with what I am given.

Everyone has a theory on what is wrong with the US. Aside from trying to litigate religious beliefs into law, our other favorite thing to do is blame the poor for the countries woes. Every day you are bombarded by comments from politicians about Welfare Queens, Makers vs Takers, etc. In all honesty, they are just talking points. There is no mother living in an inner city with 15 children, living off the government, driving a Lexus and using an iPhone. Every state has a cap on the amount someone can receive in welfare assistance, and it’s not as much as you think. These tactics are all a ruse to hide the truth behind a smoke screen. The real issue with government handouts is what corporations receive every year. Whether they are “Too Big To Fail” or responsible for a financial crisis, we will just throw money at them every year. Meanwhile, they outsource their labor and pay their CEO’s these outlandish salaries while they pay their employees a pittance that barely resembles a living wage. Let’s take a look at what the US Government pays out to Corporations vs Regular Welfare.

For the record, here is my source of info: 2013 Budget: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/budget.pdf

If we consider the tax breaks and loop holes to some very specific corporations along with the corporate welfare totals, it gets a little crazy. I feel like we should include these because it’s something that results in a difference of billions. I also feel it should be included, because the amount given isn’t really returned to the government in any sort of way. I feel like if it’s being given to assist a company in it’s success, it should be considered corporate welfare. In the 2013 budget, $59 Billion (or 3% of the total budget) went to regular welfare that your average citizen benefits from. Medicaide is also included in these figures. The amount of corporate subsidies, tax breaks and other assistance amounted to a whopping $92 Billion. That’s almost 50% more. These funds go to companies like Wal-Mart, which has largely destroyed your “main street” stores. Meanwhile, these companies are in the news because their employees aren’t paid enough to live without government assistance. In a way, the funds that go to these employees also go back to Wal-Mart as the majority of the employees will buy their groceries where they work to take advantage of an employee discount. When you look at it that way, Wal-Mart is double dipping their dirty fingers in the communal pot. Frustrated yet? If you aren’t, you will be after you realize that Wal-Mart is far from the only company that does this. The oil industry is also guilty of these situations.

priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2012/05/FIN.USCapitolSubsidyGraphicFlyer.pdf

The Federal Government gives between $14 and $52 billion annually to oil, gas and coal companies. Meanwhile, these same companies declare record breaking quarterly profits. Any attempt to reduce or limit these subsidies are defeated in Congress. This is because of the massive lobbying that goes on in Washington that goes against our better interests as citizens. While we have people barely scraping by, these corporations pay their executives salaries that would make your head spin, all while holding out their hands to the government.

The tax evasion portion of this little burst of belligerence comes to us via the GOP. The wealthiest Americans have been paying less and less in taxes in a broken homage to Reganomics and his “trickle down” theory. Taxes are necessary. I begrudgingly pay mine because those funds go towards the social programs in place to catch me if I were to fall, and they also use those funds to keep our infrastructure strong. Since the 1950s, the taxes on the wealthiest Americans has been on a steady decline. With the ability to hold funds in off shore accounts, the relabeling of the estate tax as a “Death Tax”, they have plenty of money to support lobbyists that want to cut their taxes further. Currently, in Maryland, there is no tax whatsoever assigned to inheritance. Previously, the Estate Tax would kick in if the estate was worth over 5 million. The very idea that the people who found success in this country, or rather, their descendants, would have to pay taxes on those funds seems to be absurd.

What I consider absurd is the fact that as these people continue to not pay a dime in taxes, our country is crumbling around us. Paul Ryan recently submitted a budget that lowered taxes (again) for the wealthiest Americans and included vicious budget cuts to the social programs in place to benefit those at the bottom of the Income Inequality Ladder. I feel like it truly has become an Us vs Them sort of situation. I’m sure everyone has read the reports about how the US closely resembles Europe during the 19th century where all the wealth was held by a select few, and the rest of the populace was middle class at best. It took two world wars to break up that disparity in Europe, and given that it’s unlikely we will have a situation like that, we either need to find a compromise or we will face economic collapse. The Fed has been a bit squirrelly in that they have been purposefully keeping interest rates low, and have been gradually devaluing the dollar over the course of seven years. When the house of cards collapse, the rich will be able to pick up the deck and shuffle the cards again and only be slightly to moderately affected. The average person, however, will find interest rates on mortgages and cars sky rocketing and the gap will widen further.

When the government can’t collect the funds they need in order to run the country, they have to get it somewhere. Anyone who got student loans after high school knows the painful cost of those loans. This is the penalty for higher education. Unless you come from a family of means who can somehow afford the sky rocketing price of higher ed, you have to take out a series of government and private loans that each come with a hefty interest rate. My mother is STILL paying off her college debt and she’s nearly sixty years old. People were told their whole lives that if you get a degree, there will be jobs waiting for you. Anyone who’s graduated in the last ten years can tell you how true that is, barring a highly specialized degree. Even then, the jobs may not be there. I think that we would benefit from having our populace as educated as possible. The fact that the government rakes in billions in interest from the backs of the students in this country is alarming. I feel like if the taxes were adjusted to a more realistic level and cuts were made where there is blatant room for adjustment, we could avert that burden and allow our young people to concentrate on getting as much education as possible.

Someone can only contribute to society if they have the chances to reach the levels of education needed to actively make a change. Right now, I fear for the average education level of our citizen base. We need to come together as a people and realize that we all need to contribute in order to make this country succeed. That means that the incredibly wealthy may have to go back to a tax burden they already carried in the past. Depending on where you are on the Economic Ladder will actively modify how important a certain sum of money is. For example, one hundred thousand dollars is a sum that would change someones life. From the poor, it could provide opportunities that they would never see in their lives. For the middle class, it can mean the difference between renting for the rest of their lives versus buying a home. For some, it’s what they make for doing eight hours of work. The fact that the reaction or meaning of such a sum is so broad is troublesome.

Now, many people will say, “They have the right to enjoy their money! They earned it!” That would indeed be a fair statement, if the majority of the wealthiest Americans hadn’t inherited that wealth. Those actual people didn’t work for the money they have, their parents or grandparents did. So when you compare these people to your average person working 40+ hours a week and barely scraping by, who is the maker and who is the taker?

I live in one of the best countries in the world. Our homeless live better than a lot of people in the middle east. This doesn’t mean we can’t improve it. That doesn’t mean we can’t improve our global image either. Your average human outside of the US describes us as being fat, lazy, over zealous in faith, stupid…..Our government is called tyrannical and imperialistic. It doesn’t have to be this way. We all need to come together and make sacrifices to improve our country. I feel like the wealthiest need to come forward and be willing to play ball. Honestly, they would benefit from having a strong middle class that can support all the companies and stores that they own. I really don’t want to see this country become Feudal England in which there are Lords and Peasants. It never ends well. History has show that, beyond a shadow of a doubt. The common saying is, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” I would like to add, “And those who can, are dragged kicking and screaming into repetition by their leaders.” I don’t have an answer to this problem, aside from what I’ve already listed. I do know that we need to make changes, though. I just hope our leaders see the same thing and stop breaking their own arms jerking themselves off.

 

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The way that I see it…

I have a conflicted mind when it comes to Politics. Yes, I can easily be classified as a bleeding heart liberal. However, I don’t think our current politicians really differ very much. They may have an R, D or I in front of their names, and they might have a slightly unique flavor, but they all leave the same bad taste in my mouth. The conservatives confuse the ever living hell out of me though. Somehow, they’ve managed to convince their constituents that it’s the poor that are the source of America’s problems. That because there are so many folks who depend on “Government Handouts” to survive, that our country is falling apart.

Naturally, the solution is to cut taxes on the people who actually do have money. The whole trickle down economics model has been proven hundreds of times over by various economists that it doesn’t work and actually hurts us more than helps us. The distribution of wealth in this country is way off. Now, you are probably thinking, “I know all this already..”, or at least I hope. The sad part is, I can’t rely on my side of the isle to actually change the standard. Even if the House and Senate were controlled by the Democratic party, and we had a Democrat for President, I still don’t think it would change. We started cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans back in the 80’s and right now they are paying the least amount of taxes in our history.

Now, when  I file my taxes and I look at the percentage, I sit around 20% – 25% of my income. During Mitt Romney’s last futile run for President, he disclosed that he had paid 13% in taxes the previous year. Why exactly should a man who runs a few companies and basically fucks them over to benefit the share holders before the original company declares Bankruptcy and closes it’s doors, get such massive tax breaks? These aren’t the people who are keeping our economy alive. It’s your average workers that do that. If you have a citizen base who can barely afford housing, they certainly aren’t going to go out and be able to buy pleasure items. Income increases have become stagnant across the country for your average American. The cost of everything else, however, has most certainly gone up.

Now, I’m no economist….I have to base my opinions off what I read. I don’t have a solution for this issue aside from wiping the entire House and Senate and starting over again. What can you do? The Supreme Court just opened the doors for political bribery via campaign contributions and corporations have been deemed to be people. There are no lobbyists pressuring Washington for laws and regulations that are in our best interests. It’s not one side or the other, it’s become the Rich vs the Poor. The middle class will slowly vanish, and if certain groups have their way, there will be a working class and a ruling class. That happened back in the middle ages until the local peasants got pissed off and rose up and burned the castles to the ground. The only problem with that, is that technology has increased more than one hundred fold. Any attempt at uprising would likely be deemed “Domestic Terrorism” and the response would be swift and brutal.

I don’t see how people can be surprised when I tell them I don’t want kids. Why would I want to raise a child into the world that is developing before my eyes? I already worry over what it’s going to be like twenty years from now! I feel like human greed has taken over, and that our populace has been duped into thinking the rich have their best interests in mind, while the poor are the actual bastards here. I mean, they should just stop being lazy and get a job! I don’t have a solution. I wish I did. Even if I did have a solution, I wouldn’t have the power to change it. What is someone supposed to do when everything that they watch unfold with their country is out of control and off the tracks? I mean, we don’t even know all the countries we are in conflict with.

It’s frustrating, damn it. Idiots have managed to become our leaders. People who think Russia can be seen from their back yard, or that a women’s body shuts down her reproductive system so she can’t get pregnant if raped…People who think the Earth is 6,000 years old, or believe that Evolution is “just a theory…” People who have absolutely no care or concern for the environment. People can call me a hippie all they want, but I’m not going to think for one fucking second that preserving the planet we live on isn’t a good fucking idea. If we keep drilling, or poisoning our seas or drinking water…We will eventually go extinct and Nature will roll the dice again after the planet heals itself. I just wish that in the age of us being the smartest we’ve been since we first climbed down from the trees, we acted with a bit more common sense and intelligence. A guy can dream, can’t he?

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Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!!!

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Sunday evening is when I will be traveling to DC to see Shpongle. Originally, this crazy man was supposed to be playing on Valentine’s Day, or Shpongletine’s Day, if you will. Unfortunately, he had trouble with his visa and had to cancel the first night of the show. My girlfriend and I were so stoked! A Friday night show…We didn’t have to worry about jobs the next day…

Now, things happen…I definitely understand that. What I don’t understand is why they moved this concert from a Friday night to a Sunday night. Fortunately, I was able to take off work so I would be able to stay for the entire show. My girlfriend was not so fortunate. If there is one thing you will find from reading my blog, is that music is pretty much my absolute biggest passion. The only thing I love more than going to shows or festivals, is going to shows or festivals with the love of my life. These guys really screwed the pooch on the reschedule. It’s all fine and good for the kids who really don’t have to worry about much, but for those of us with careers or day jobs it makes it difficult.

I will say, I’m very much looking forward to hearing the Desert Dwellers perform. I’m also sure that Simon knows that this was supposed to be the opening of the tour and will throw down extra hard for us. A guy can dream, can’t he? It’s also his new light show that we are looking forward to. I have been actively not watching videos from his tour because I want to be surprised by it’s glory. When I saw him in Philadelphia, he had just debuted his old light show, and I didn’t think it could get more ridiculous than that. If you’re curious as to what I am talking about, I urge you to take a moment to look at this:

Back? Stunned? I certainly was. I have a few friends who’ve seen the new light show because he’s been in their area and without spoiling it, they only make me want to see it more. Tickets are sold out, but I’m sure there are tickets on Stubhub or any of the other various places to acquire tickets. I’d recommend going if you are into this sort of thing…It is definitely a night to not be missed, despite being on a Sunday evening!

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Yet another topic not intended for polite conversation…

Ok, so everyone has seen the epic battle raging on in the media and internet about Creationism. Fundamentalists are pushing for it to be taught along side Evolution because its “only a theory”, and they feel that they have a theory as well. There are a few major flaws with this. Science takes observable evidence, and drafts their thesis. Then, the scientific community scrutinizes every single detail in attempts to prove it wrong. It’s not until after it’s been thoroughly peer reviewed, that it’s given any clarity at all.

Christian Scientists (the word is laughable), do not have bachelor degrees in biology, physics, geology, astro-physics, etc. much less doctorates. Some of them call themselves Doctors with degrees from uncredited schools in Biblical Science or Biblical Theory, but these can be assigned online from shady websites for the right price.

They also take the information found in the Bible and then find evidence to support their ideas. You don’t find fragments of history and match them to your book, all while ignoring the other observable evidence in the field. It’s inherently dishonest, and it’s creating generations of idiots. People who truly believe that scientists are all part of the evil, atheist agenda. It’s appalling. Similar people started the campaigns to stop parents from vaccinating their children. They claim the government and other science agencies are poisoning our children, or causing Autism. The only thing they are managing to do is to create a society where people with immune system deficiencies can be at risk because the normal healthy people are carriers of diseases like the mumps, measles and other nasty strains.

My biggest issue, is that when the faithful attack science and claim the Earth is 6,000 years old, they are only hurting their cause. They claim Yahweh is omnipotent, and that the Bible is the Word of God. If that’s the case, then it’s wrong. I feel like these people, in efforts to show the power of their savior, seriously limit his range and power. Personally, I am atheist. I take what our astrophysicists have gleaned from the Universe, and I accept it as fact. In the event a scientist makes a stunning break through and proves things to be different, I will alter the way I view things. The fundamentalists on the other hand, leave no room for movement. It has to be written in stone, this way or no way. Believe, or face an eternity in Hell.

The earth isn’t the center of the universe. Shit, we aren’t even the center of our own galaxy. We are on the outer rim. The lights in the sky aren’t lights affixed in place in the firmament. They are planets and stars that are billions upon billions of miles away. There are other galaxies, other clusters…Super clusters, if you will…Each of them capable of having a planet like ours.

While I don’t personally believe in a divine force, just because the Universe is so vast doesn’t mean there isn’t room for faith in a divine force. Admittedly, it’s harder to stretch the imagination or concept of faith to that point, especially if you believe in a divine force that is a humanoid, or humanoids. If you believe in the divine as a concept, it becomes much easier.

Let’s not make the error of assuming that today’s mythology wasn’t someone’s religion. All the Greek and Roman Gods & Goddesses….People can chuckle and think, “How silly…Worshipping all those Gods..sacrificing bulls and whatnot.” Yet, the most prominent religions today have strange rules and rituals. Sadly, the majority of organized religion stands for oppressing the female gender, and preventing other people from having the freedom to live their life how they wish. I have absolutely zero problem with people finding enjoyment and fulfillment from their religious beliefs. When I take issue, is when they are trying to turn their beliefs into laws, or forcing said beliefs on others. When your belief structure preaches love and acceptance, but only gives out hatred and intolerance, there is a major problem. Christianity is one of the largest religions in the world. Especially if you include all the off-shoot cults..errr…sects of the “original” teachings. Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostal….The list goes on and on. Each will tell you that the other is wrong and that only their select group are the ones that really have the fast track to Heaven.

God is all powerful. He can change your life in an instant, and knows every hair on your head. He can create great joys in your life! Yet, he needs MONEY! Your money! Churches are tax exempt. Regardless of religions, if you pass the 14 point test, you gain tax exempt status. Churches don’t have to submit the same forms that other non-profits have to submit every year either. So you have massive donations coming in, and no accountability or transparency as to where these funds are going. You also have the preachers at the pulpit talking about the evils of Democrats and that everyone needs to rally behind a Republican candidate. Last time I checked, political platforms had to pay taxes.

I think the entire thing has gotten out of hand. This post has been all over the place, but honestly, there are a ton of red flags that religions throw up every time I see/read/hear about them. It’s sad. If the Jesus they allege to worship came back and saw the current form of his Church, he’d weep. I don’t even call these folks Christians anymore. They don’t worship Christ. They worship Paul. If you’ve read the Bible, you will know that Paul was a woman hater, a drunk, and a warlord. Yet, even as I type this, I realize that none of the Gospels were written by the names at the top. These were all “translated” over the years, and the Council of Nicaea decided what books would piece together the Bible, and how they would read. Pro-Tip: The Council of Nicaea was in 325 A.D. per the Roman Calendar. Jesus lived to be 35, if I’m not mistaken. By that math, the Bible was drafted and put together 290 years after his death. Ever play a game of telephone? A message can’t even make it across a room of 20 people without changing. What do you think is going to happen when the holy texts are translated over and over again? Do you think it was possible that the translators may have been politically motivated?

These are the things that keep me from organized religion, and I solely focused on the most prominent in my country. The sad thing is, the top three religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) are all fighting and killing each other while they worship the exact same god. All three believe that Yahweh is their God…They disagree over who the savior is, or whether he’s even arrived yet. It’s sad. I feel like we are in a time when our intelligence is obviously at it’s peak, yet we continue to have stunning examples of how it’s not, every single time another Church is out there trying to get Creationism taught in public schools.

That’s all for now, folks. I’m sure more will come.

 

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The hits just keep on coming…..

Here’s another one that’s sure to cause a fecal vortex shit storm all over my social circle if I actually voiced it…..Children.

People have kids all the time. People call it “The Miracle of Birth”. There is nothing miraculous about giving birth. Or having kids. You don’t get a trophy, award, or special treatment because you did what you are genetically programmed to do. I’m not suggesting that people who don’t have kids should get special treatment either, but I would suggest that parents should consider the childless. They are likely that way for a reason. If one of your friends, in response to you telling them you don’t want kids, says “Oh, you will change your mind some day!” or “I just don’t know how I even LIVED before I had kids.”

My other favorite is “Oh! You think you’re tired? Try working all day and coming home to hungry kids!” For some strange reason, Mothers think that just because they farted out a few kids that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY for your day to be more severe than theirs because they have some screeching fuck trophies at home. It’s rude, inconsiderate, and makes perfectly normal people go absolutely crazy when they are dealing with Super Mom. Continuing that analogy, I am the goddamned Lex Luthor of Super Moms. I can’t exactly air this sort of business on my Facebook, because so many people I know have kids.

Now, I’m in the jam/electronic music scene. Lot’s of summer festivals that are full of incredible music. You show up on a Thursday and don’t leave until Sunday or Monday morning. Music usually goes from 10am to 4am. It’s a blissful, hedonistic, wonderland that adults can take part in. Yet, people bring their children. Festivals get labeled as “family friendly” and I really think it’s nuts. People get ::WASTED:: at festivals. Drug use is common, and most times, in the open. Why would people want to subject their children to this? I have seen toddlers and even younger during my travels. It’s irresponsible.

Amusingly, I feel the same way about dogs at festivals. I have a hard enough time feeding and watering MYSELF, much less a dog. I also love my dogs, and know they would be absolutely miserable at a festival. It’s hot, the music is loud, strangers are everywhere, there are other dogs…The list goes on and on. Wow…I really got off subject, didn’t I…With that, let’s get back in the correct lane.

Back to the kids thing. I could sit here all day and list off a slew of reasons why I think kids, and over zealous parents are a pain in the ass. Instead, I’d like to make a request of parents and parents to be. Just know that it’s absolutely possible to live a full, affirming life without having children, and suggesting otherwise makes you sound like an epic bell end. Please just understand that it’s perfectly fine for an adult to actively decide to not reproduce and be absolutely fine about it. Be smart with what you expose your children to. Children will mirror their parents, so if they are with you while you are getting fucked up at a music festival all weekend, or partying your asses off at the house, they will emulate your behavior.

This doesn’t mean that parents can’t have fun! They just need to find someone to watch their kids. Parents, friends, an actual sitter….Do what you have to do in order to prevent your kids from observing you in your indulgences.

I will also say, this doesn’t apply to all or even most parents. It’s really just the kind of person someone is. I won’t assign a percentage or anything like that, but everyone who reads this can think of a couple people they know that act like this. If you can’t….It could be you! 😉

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Well hello there….

I had been considering making a blog for quite some time now. I am a snarky, cynical, opinionated bastard so if you’re following, you may be in for a roller coaster ride of laughter, tears, anger and pure bliss. I’m also a vehement liberal, so if you’re a conservative, you likely won’t find anything but aggravation. You are still welcome to comment and be yourself! As the very nature of this wonderful beast we all surf on all day is chaotic and outspoken, so should you.

Let’s get started then shall we? I want to start with a topic that gives me more heartburn than eating Taco Bell with a large extra pulpy orange juice. Chemtrails, and the people who think THEY are plotting against us. Trust me folks…The government doesn’t need to disperse chemicals in the air to fuck us all over. They are already doing that with the policies they enact. I feel like conspiracies like these are there for people to latch onto so they feel like they are “in the know” and a part of some secret group who really knows what is going on. Conspiracy Theorists are almost religious in nature due to their belligerent disregard of scientific fact, and holding the opinion they do simply because “They Know”.

Instead of worrying about chemtrails, or cloud seeding, or other nonsense…..Worry about the fact that the oil companies are spilling oil all over the place. Into our water supplies, oceans, lakes, etc. News flash! If we poison the waters on this planet, our demise is close to follow. Some people will read that and immediately start screeching about it being a bunch of hippie bullshit, but honestly, it’s just a fact. Instead of searching for something shadowy to fear, fear the repercussion of not having drinkable water or seas that can support life.

That’s all for now, more belligerence to come as the mood strikes!

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