Thursday, August 12, 2010

AH-HA on Taxes- A Beginning

Since I am absolutely pumped about running for office, and having done my fair disclosure-ing for the time being (oh, I will apprehend more sins to disclose as soon as it is cool enough to swing and cogitate on the porch without broiling any brain cells, can’t spare even one), I thought I would let float some of the planks in my platform. I guess politicians still have platforms with planks but am not sure as few of those boys and girls actually answer a question directly, or at least when I am watching, they do not.

Let me wrestle, today, with taxes. Neither of our two political parties is to be believed about any issue domestic or foreign, but when it comes to the topic of taxes, all you need to know is that whichever bunch can make political hay to stay wedged in office by moaning and lying and obfuscating about taxes will do just that. I am going on record right now as being of the mind that we have to pay taxes, period. I have yet to find a way to have anything without paying for it, except for the free tomatoes I got today from my friend George, expert tomato grower. I also believe that any reasonable person who will separate herself from the moraine of politico-speak will agree that taxes are necessary. The real problem with the topic is that none of us really knows if we are spending too much on taxes or not enough. To enlighten us what we really need is an honest, careful analysis of just how much actual taxes people and corporations pay and if the amounts and rates are fair and necessary. Let’s take folks like you and me, I will call us just-folks because the figures on income earned to qualify as middle-classed is all over the yard. Just-folks can pretty much tell from our tax-returns what our code-rate is and how much we pay for taxes, but I am guessing we do not know our actual-tax-rate. Consider the following two special interest deductions that many millions get every year: many of us get a deduction that we take for granted and that’s the deduction we get for the interest paid on our mortgages. About 70 million of us get this special interest deduction that costs the treasury billions in revenues every year. And it is a tax benefit that all do not enjoy and that makes it special. In the same vein, take kids: kids are expensive to society, expensive to govern, expensive to educate, expensive to maintain. So how come the more kids you deliver the more money you get to take off your tax bill? A couple who decides that no kid or one kid is environmentally and economically responsible is penalized by paying more taxes than the couple who has a dozen rug rats. In 2004 (with all the technology in this country that’s the most current I can be), there were about 82 million mothers in this country and most mothers had 2 children; so, 164 million deductions walking around at how many thousands of dollars each? I do not know what the total loss in revenue is for this special interest group; I do know there’re a bunch of zeros in the figure. But if you enjoy either or both of these basic deductions and did not take your tax paid and divide it by your income, you do not know your actual-tax-rate. Politicians do not want you to know what your actual-tax-rate is because it is easier to scare the hell out of you or make you mad by citing the code rates which for most are higher. Sometime, I am going to make a list of all the little deductions folks get in addition to the home-owner deductible and the kid-deductible, and I am betting I will be amazed at all the minutia in the tax code that adds up to billions of lost revenue every year. My points are that when you set up your budget, if stuff costs more than your income, you don’t give yourself deductions and that if you do not know your actual-tax-rate, you are not informed and are easy prey for some windbag of a politician to frighten or anger.

Next, permit me jump right onto the politics of corporate taxation: there is a group of politicians who are constantly screaming that we need to lower taxes on corporations so that they will hire more people, make more money to invest in Merica, and put more people to work, and well you know the theory about how corporate profits trickle-down to benefit you. Plus, politicians are forever yapping about corporations moving over-seas because the tax rates here are way too high. Oh you know, Ireland’ tax rate on corporations is 7 percent and here it is 35 percent. I ask about both theories: how does you spell h-o-r-e-s-h-i-t? First, no politician can point to any place in this country where profits are trickling. Profits are going to investments in developing countries and to the PACs of politicians. Furthermore, your politician is not telling you that the real reason corporations move is that they pay multi-mega-way less in wages and benefits there than they pay here. Remember how NAFTA was supposed to elevate wages and standards of living in Mexico? The Problem is that we do not know actual corporate tax rates, but we ought to. That’s the only way to begin to make sense in an argument about corporate taxes. Certainly you know that corporate deductions and subsidies are so damned numerous it would set a polychepalic’s heads to spinning just trying to tabulate them. But we ought to know what every corporation’s actual-tax-rate is the same way you know your batting average over at the slow-pitch-league because both are or should be easy to get. I am willing to bet my fresh-off-the-press-hundred-dollar- bill to your stale, cop-worn donut that in many cases the actual-tax-rate comes way below the tax-code-rate. So, as a nation, let’s quit talking about tax-code-rates and start talking about actual-tax-rates. Only when we know corporate America’s real tax rates can we begin to understand what needs to be fixed in that tax department.

Before I leave you, I do think a great idea would be a gigantic bonfire for all the tax codes; burn every tax code. That would work for me, but it won’t get me elected because every single line of deductibility in the voluminous tax code has a separate constituency that does not want to give it up. They will vote to cut your deduction but fight like a hell-bound Presbyterian not to give up theirs. Consequently, all incumbent politicians, at every level, will double-lie about the labyrinthine tax codes in double direct proportion to the number of constituents who will vote for them if the codes stay in place. Politicians do not want to address the silliness and sloppiness of the tax codes because the deductibles and subsidies are the tools that get them re-elected.

I do not want to close with your thinking I am advocating more taxes; I am not. I just want you to know that I believe taxes are necessary. Your tax dollars should be spent frugally and fairly. People who get paid with tax dollars should do a hard day’s work and be accountable for the job that they do. Stuff we buy should be necessary, not bought for the benefit of some special interest group who dumped a squllion dollars into some campaign fund. I know that’s naive to think the process of taxation could be simplified, but hell, it might be naive and great, at once. Next time, out of the cesspool of tax codes and regulations, I will pump some examples of tax exemptions and subsidies that many, individuals and corporations, enjoy. That ought to perk you right on up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Fog Was Lifting a Voice Come Chanting

I had an epiphany last evening while old Fuzz and I sat on the porch sweating, smoking El Dominicanos Mezqino, and cogitating; so much was flying through my brain about all that’s up and down in Merica that, out of the fog lifting up across the back of Aqua Acres, came a cerebral zap so strong it made me inhale a choking draft of cigar smoke: I should give up on the bitching, moaning, educating and run for office. So, I am officially announcing my coming out as a politician. I haven’t made up my mind just what I will run for, but if there were a king, I would run for king, sounds good king, King Woody. But it might be for US senator, for president, or for mayor of Bacon Switch.

So here go my initial disclosures and my declaration of willingness to be vetted for public office:

I got married real young in what was in those days called a “had to” marriage. A lot of embarrassment and struggling were had by all, but for most of it we made out OK. So there, get over it and now you don’t have to run around telling all my potential constituents, “You know, he “had to” get married,” making it sound like, “You know, he stole cattle and lived with them in the mountains during the winter.”

I smoked some dope when it was good dope and made you giggle and think you actually enjoyed Bob Dylan’s voice. Now, I am all for legalizing marijuana and selling it, in nifty, art deco packages at the local AB & M Center. In fact, I am all for taking away the subsidies for peanut growers, oil companies, ethanol makers and giving a two year subsidy to any small business man who wants to get into a start up marijuana farm. I am also prepared to give patents to any who come up with specific, identifiable hybrids of weed that can be used in cooking, cleaning, medicine, or baseball bats. And while I am at it, I would legalize bulk, pulp hemp which should do a great job in revitalizing some farmers and replace pine as the product of choice for pulp paper production. I could care less if a bunch runs amok into a field to get high; hell, you can get high on oak leaves if you smoke enough. Oh, yes one other dope scandal to declare: I nipped some of my mother’s medical methamphetamine so that I could stay up nights studying for exams. It worked; I passed plus had an interesting conversation with some dude who wasn't sitting at the end of my bed.

I am guilty of spending a mini-fortune on cheap beer and Irish whiskey and dinners at various gin mills and honky-tonks from Maryland south to Florida and Delaware west to New Mexico. Like many, I caught a DUI; I am not particularly proud of all this; I am just saying, now you know, and you don’t have to go digging through my Master Card payments or trash cans to find out where I spend my bucks or what offenses I committed (the picture of me driving through the camera and a red light in Seaford is still on my refrigerator because the photo flatters me). If you care, I haven’t had a drink in seven years not that I am to be trusted simply because I don’t drink anymore. Once,back in the 80s, when I told a neighbor,that, at that time, I was not drinking, her mouth popped open and she asked what was wrong with me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong so I went over and had a couple of martinis with her and quickly felt a whole mess more normal.

I was late a couple of times filing my tax-forms, no excuse, just late. But I do not think I was ever late if I owed the government money. And while I am on the topic you might as well know that if elected I will cancel the tax codes, not taxes, just the codes that are full of loopholes and exemptions for just about every major constituency that lobbies DC. In fact, if elected, I promise your tax form will be a cheap post card, made from pulped hemp, which states “Sign Below If You Did Not Earn More Than 2000 Dollars in Untaxed Revenues. “ This would be followed by “Check Here if You Made More and Send a Check for 25 Percent of What You Earned.” That’s it folks. I know H&R Block and all the similar companies would go out of business but so would most of the IRS and the remaining could spend major time investigating the real crooks, the bankers, politicians, and dope dealers who do not pay taxes.

I am positive I will think of some more sins that I will report in later blogs, but I will tell you up front, you ought to get over my sins and take care of your own: I will stay out of your sins if you stay out of mine, if you get my drift. But to be fair, I won’t bother disclosing stuff I have gone public with; you already know, of course, if you have been a regular reader, that I am cheap as Seniors’ Night at IHop. Later, I will divulge my positions on education, choice, Cuba, homosexuals, religion, The Constitution, Wall Street, DE lawmakers, immigration, and whatever else I figure to be germane to my candidacy so that voters will know all they can about me. I will close this blog up by admitting that I am thinking of hiring the airline dude who snapped and jumped down the emergency chute with a couple of beers under his arm for my public relation head. Of course I will have to wait for him to get out of jail; certainly he will go before Maxine Waters or Charlie Rangel will. I am pretty sure the woman who tossed a beer through the McDonald’s drive-up-window would be a likely candidate for Secretary of Defense; she will be out of the slam in 20 or so days pending good behavior. Hell, if she can snap so over not being able to get a Big Mac at 6 AM I imagine she should deal just right with the fquwacking Taliban.

I will close with giving my party-of-one a name: The Anti-Hypocrisy - Has Answers Party ought to do. I will in future blogs give you more planks from the AH-HA Party. Have a good one and hug an unemployed teacher when you drop off your basket at the food co-op.

Thanks to Woody once again for my title.