Saturday, November 18, 2017

End State and Local Tax Deductions? Think again!

    I am waiting to see what the Senate does, but so far, for the first time with this Administration, I am not pleased.

    The proposed legislation to overhaul the messy tax system does have two very good points:

    (1) making corporate taxes less punitive so American industry does not go overseas. Even the high (individual and family) taxing Euros understand this concept, as their corporate taxes are low.

    (2) It is also wonderful to eliminate the messy and convoluted Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), something even people like me who prepare tax returns for a living often find surprising.

    The original motive for the AMT in 1969 was to insure that some wealthy individuals who had completely sheltered their income, often in government bonds, still had to pay up. However, inflation since then has now subjected millions of taxpayers to this byzantine mess.

    And frankly, if some wealthy Americans want to own nothing but Government debt, good for them. The rates of returns on such bonds are substantially lower than normal securities, and I would rather have wealthy Americans own the national debt than wealthy foreigners.

    However, there are some Republicans who are just giddy about removing or limiting itemized Federal deductions for state and local taxes, thinking they are punishing those higher tax (presumably Democrat) states. They really should think again:

    1. Don't we want more governmental programs handled at the state and local level. Frankly, I would be happy to watch all state taxes spike up, if, in return, certain Federal departments were abolished, and their functions returned to the states where they belong. (Education and Public Health as two examples). If we discourage state and local taxation, we discourage (New) Federalism, which is what I thought Republicans were all about.

    If government aid programs are to exist, they should be at the state and local levels as much as possible. Federalism matters.

    2. Lots of Republicans in "red" states pay higher state, local and property taxes too. A "tax cut" that causes the tax bills of millions of individuals to jump up, people who played by the rules as they best understood them, for decades, is political suicide. The people such a gambit hits are those like me who zealously itemize--and we vote Republican.

    Well, we vote for Patriots first, Republicans Second, and yes, lots of political bozos have an (R) after their names, but you get the idea.

    3. As my father has discovered, deducting medical expenses is something that typically does not happen for most taxpayers, but when it does, it does "Bigly", as The Donald would say.

    4. Moreover, isn't this double taxation?

    I know this idea seems like political dynamite to some pundits, but they really need to think it through, please.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Partial Obamacare Repeal? Think STEP ONE....

So many True Republicans are wailing and gnashing their teeth over an incomplete repeal of Obamunist Care that Trump is now behind.

Let me humbly suggest a better way to look at this:

Those or us disappointed with this partial repeal, although we are absolutely correct, should instead cheer it as "STEP ONE" and get to work on Steps 2 through....10?

The left didn't get to Obamunist Care outright. They had Medicare, Medicaid expansion, Medicare Part D, covering minor out of pocket stuff like birth control, covering this for this group and that for that group, etc.

Trump is a wheeler-dealer. We all knew that. He wants to partially repeal and declare some kind of victory.

How to handle that?

Get to work on a better bill that repeals more Obamunist crap, implements more market forces, brings health insurance costs down, avoids the "moral hazards" from "Pre-existing condition" caterwauling to demanding minor things like birth control be covered by insurance (gee-what would oil changes and car insurance cost if oil changes were paid by 3rd party car insurance?), and so on.

And pass it and let Trump bask in the glory of signing THAT.

And so on, and so on, and so on.

Yes, dishonest Demunists and wimpy RINOs/Cuckservatives/Vichy Republicans will always be in the way. Duh. We knew that from the get go.

Just repeat after me: STEP ONE.....

NOTE: Don't think "half a loaf is better than nothing", which implies we are done with it.

Think STEP ONE, which means another bill to undo more Obamunist damage. And another, and another.

Or think, "Get the ball rolling...."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Celebrate Valentine's Day--Leftists and Islamunists hate it!

I used to be very cynical about Valentine's Day. Another day to sell stuff, I grumbled, and I was embittered and cynical about romantic love back then.

However, as Jamie Glazov eloquently points out, any event that both Leftist Dupes here and Islamic Savages over there bitterly oppose MUST have some good in it! They both bitterly oppose it for the same reasons as well, reasons that go beyond mutual hatred of Western Civilization (although that obviously is a motive as well).

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!!

Today, February 14, is Valentine’s Day, the sacred day that intimate companions mark to celebrate their love and affection for one another. If you’re thinking about making a study of how couples celebrate this day, the Muslim world and the milieus of the radical Left are not the places you should be spending your time. Indeed, it’s pretty hard to outdo Islamists and “progressives” when it comes to the hatred of Valentine’s Day. And this hatred is precisely the territory on which the contemporary romance between the Left and Islamic Supremacism is formed.
The train is never late: every year that Valentine’s comes around, the Muslim world erupts with ferocious rage, with its leaders doing everything in their power to suffocate the festivity that comes with the celebration of private romance. Imams around the world thunder against Valentine’s every year — and the celebration of the day itself is literally outlawed in Islamist states.
This year, for example, the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan banned the celebration of Valentine's Day in public places, and at an official level, and prohibited all electronic and print media from covering any festivities or mentioning of the occasion. Several cities across Muslim-majority Indonesia, meanwhile, banned people from celebrating the day. In the city of Surabaya, a group of school students, which included many girls wearing the hijab, denounced Valentine's Day. In Muslim-dominant Malaysia, the group The National Muslim Youth Associationdirected females not to use emoticons and perfume in a pre-Valentine's Day message.
Last year, Pakistan also banned Valentine’s Day, calling it an “insult” to Islam and warning that "strict" action against anyone daring to celebrate the day in any part of Islamabad. In the past, Valentine’s Day activities were disrupted by Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's main religious party, but in the last two years the state and court now get involved to ban celebration of the day. Back on Valentine's Day in Pakistan in 2013, supporters of Jamat-e-Islami took to the streets in Peshawar to vehemently denounce the Day of Love. Demonizing it as “un-Islamic,” the Muslim protestors shouted that the day had "spread immodesty in the world." Shahzad Ahmed, the local leader of the student wing of Jamat-e-Islami, declared that the organization will not “allow” any Valentine’s Day functions, warning that if Pakistani law enforcement did not prevent Pakistanis from holding such functions, that the Jamat-e-Islami would stop them “in our own way." Khalid Waqas Chamkani, a leader in Jamat-e-Islami, calls Valentine's a “shameful day.”
These Islamist forces in Pakistan cannot, of course, completely succeed in preventing couples from showing love to each other on this special day, and so many Pakistanis still cryptically celebrate Valentine's Day and exchange presents in secret.
In Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia last year, and as always, Valentine’s Day was outlawed. Under the Islamic regime in Iran, for instance, any sale or promotion of Valentine’s Day related items, including the exchange of gifts, flowers and cards, is illegal. The Iranian police consistently warn retailers against the promotion of Valentine’s Day celebrations.
Over the years, Islamic religious leaders and officials in Malaysia have warned Muslims against celebrating Valentine's Day. In Saudi Arabia, the morality police outlaw the sale of all Valentine's Day items, forcing shopkeepers to remove any red items, because the day is considered a Christian holiday.
Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are carrying the torch for the Indonesian Ulema Council in Dumai, Riau, and for the Education, Youth and Sport Agency in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, both of which issue a dire warning each year to people against celebrating Valentine’s Day, stating that the Day of Love “is against Islam.” This is because, as the Indonesian Ulema Council 2011 judgment explained, Valentine’s Day takes young people into a "dark world.”
Malaysia's State mufti chief assistant Mat Jais Kamos always keeps his mind focused on that dark world and so, in 2014, a few days before Valentine's Day, he ordered young people to stay clear of celebrating the Day of Love: “The celebration emphasizes the relationship between two individuals rather than the love between family members or married couples," he affirmed, and department officials backed up his command by distributing leaflets to remind Muslims of the 2006 ban on Valentine’s Day issued by the state fatwa council. In Islamic Uzbekistan, meanwhile, several universities habitually make sure that students actually sign contracts promising not to celebrate Valentine's.
All these Islamic outcries against Valentine's Day reflect myriad other efforts to suffocate the day of love throughout the Muslim World. For instance, in Aceh province in Indonesia every year, Muslim clerics issue stern warnings to Muslims against observing Valentine’s Day. Tgk Feisal, general secretary of the Aceh Ulema Association (HUDA), has stated that “It is haram for Muslims to observe Valentine’s Day because it does not accord with Islamic Sharia.” He has stressed that the government must watch out for youths participating in Valentine’s Day activities in Aceh. One can only imagine what happens to the guilty parties.
As mentioned, the Saudis consistently punish the slightest hint of celebrating Valentine’s Day. The Kingdom and its religious police always officially issue a stern warning that anyone caught even thinking about Valentine’s Day will suffer some of the most painful penalties of Sharia Law. Daniel Pipes has documented how the Saudi regime takes a firm stand against Valentine’s every year and how the Saudi religious police monitor stores selling roses and other gifts.
Christian overseas workers living in Saudi Arabia from the Philippines and other countries always take extra precautions, heeding the Saudis’ warning to them specifically to avoid greeting anyone with the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” or exchanging any gift that reeks of romance. A spokesman for a Philippine workers group has commented: "We are urging fellow Filipinos in the Middle East, especially lovers, just to celebrate their Valentine’s Day secretly and with utmost care."
The Iranian despots, meanwhile, as mentioned above, consistently try to make sure that the Saudis don’t outdo them in annihilating Valentine’s Day. Iran’s “morality” police sternly order shops to remove heart-and-flower decorations and images of couples embracing on this day — and anytime around this day.
Typical of this whole pathology in the Islamic world was a development witnessed back on February 10, 2006, when activists of the radical Kashmiri Islamic group Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Community) went on a rampagein Srinagar, the main city of the Indian portion of Kashmir. Some two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops, burning Valentine’s Day cards and posters showing couples together.
In the West, meanwhile, leftist feminists are not to be outdone by their Islamist allies in reviling — and trying to exterminate — Valentine’s Day. Throughout many Women’s Studies Programs on American campuses, for instance, you will find the demonization of this day, since, as the disciples of Andrea Dworkin angrily explain, the day is a manifestation of how capitalist and homophobic patriarchs brainwash and oppress women -- and push them into spheres of powerlessness.
As an individual who spent more than a decade in academia, I was privileged to witness this war against Valentine’s Day up close and personal. Feminist icons like Jane Fonda, meanwhile, help lead the assault on Valentine’s Day in society at large. As David Horowitz has documented, Fonda has led the campaign to transform this special day into “V-Day” (“Violence against Women Day”) — which is, when it all comes down to it, a day of hate, featuring a mass indictment of men.
So what exactly is transpiring here? What explains this hatred of Valentine’s Day by leftist feminists and Islamists? And how and why does it serve as the sacred bond that brings the Left and Islam together into its feast of hate?
The core issue at the foundation of this phenomenon is that Islam and the radical Left both revile the notion of private love, a non-tangible and divine entity that draws individuals to each other and, therefore, distracts them from submitting themselves to a secular deity.
The highest objective of both Islam and the radical Left is clear: to shatter the sacred intimacy that a man and a woman can share with one another, for such a bond is inaccessible to the order. History, therefore, demonstrates how Islam, like Communism, wages a ferocious war on any kind of private and unregulated love. In the case of Islam, the reality is epitomized in its monstrous structures of gender apartheid and the terror that keeps it in place. Indeed, female sexuality and freedom are demonized and, therefore, forced veiling, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honor killings and other misogynist monstrosities become mandatory parts of the sadistic paradigm.
The puritanical nature of totalist systems (whether Fascist, Communist, or Islamist) is another manifestation of this phenomenon. In Stalinist Russia, private sexual pleasure was portrayed as unsocialist and counter-revolutionary. More recent Communist societies have also waged war on sexuality — a war that Islam, as we know, wages with similar ferocity. These totalist structures cannot survive in environments filled with self-interested, pleasure-seeking individuals who prioritize devotion to other individual human beings over the collective and the state. Because the leftist believer viscerally hates the notion and reality of personal love and “the couple,” he champions the enforcement of totalitarian puritanism by the despotic regimes he worships.
The famous twentieth-century novels of dystopia, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, all powerfully depict totalitarian society’s assault on the realm of *personal* love in its violent attempt to dehumanize human beings and completely subject them to its rule. In Zamyatin’s We, the earliest of the three novels, the despotic regime keeps human beings in line by giving them license for regulated sexual promiscuity, while private love is illegal. The hero breaks the rules with a woman who seduces him — not only into forbidden love but also into a counterrevolutionary struggle. In the end, the totality forces the hero, like the rest of the world’s population, to undergo the Great Operation, which annihilates the part of the brain that gives life to passion and imagination, and therefore spawns the potential for love. In Orwell’s 1984, the main character ends up being tortured and broken at the Ministry of Truth for having engaged in the outlawed behavior of unregulated love. In Huxley’s Brave New World, promiscuity is encouraged — everyone has sex with everyone else under regime rules, but no one is allowed to make a deep and independent private connection.
Yet as these novels demonstrate, no tyranny’s attempt to turn human beings into obedient robots can fully succeed. There is always someone who has doubts, who is uncomfortable, and who questions the secular deity — even though it would be safer for him to conform like everyone else. The desire that therefore overcomes the instinct for self-preservation is erotic passion. And that is why love presents such a threat to the totalitarian order: it dares to serve itself. It is a force more powerful than the all-pervading fear that a totalitarian order needs to impose in order to survive. Leftist and Muslim social engineers, therefore, in their twisted and human-hating imaginations, believe that the road toward earthly redemption (under a classless society or Sharia) stands a chance only if private love and affection is purged from the human condition.
This is exactly why, forty years ago, as Peter Collier and David Horowitz demonstrate in Destructive Generation, the Weather Underground not only waged war against American society through violence and mayhem, but also waged war on private love within its own ranks. Bill Ayers, one of the leading terrorists in the group, argued in a speech defending the campaign: "Any notion that people can have responsibility for one person, that they can have that ‘out’ — we have to destroy that notion in order to build a collective; we have to destroy all ‘outs,’ to destroy the notion that people can lean on one person and not be responsible to the entire collective."
Thus, the Weather Underground destroyed any signs of monogamy within its ranks and forced couples, some of whom had been together for years, to admit their “political error” and split apart. Like their icon Margaret Mead, they fought the notions of romantic love, jealousy, and other “oppressive” manifestations of one-on-one intimacy and commitment. This was followed by forced group sex and “national orgies,” whose main objective was to crush the spirit of individualism. This constituted an eerie replay of the sexual promiscuity that was encouraged (while private love was forbidden) in We, 1984, and Brave New World.
It becomes completely understandable, therefore, why leftist believers were so inspired by the tyrannies in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Communist North Vietnam and many other countries. As sociologist Paul Hollander has documented in his classic Political Pilgrims, fellow travelers were especially enthralled with the desexualized dress that the Maoist regime imposed on its citizens. This at once satisfied the leftist’s desire for enforced sameness and the imperative of erasing attractions between private citizens. As I have demonstrated in United in Hate, the Maoists’ unisex clothing finds its parallel in fundamentalist Islam’s mandate for shapeless coverings to be worn by both males and females. The collective “uniform” symbolizes submission to a higher entity and frustrates individual expression, mutual physical attraction, and private connection and affection. And so, once again, the Western leftist remains not only uncritical, but completely supportive of — and enthralled in — this form of totalitarian puritanism.
This is precisely why leftist feminists today do not condemn the forced veiling of women in the Islamic world; because they support everything that forced veiling engenders. It should be no surprise, therefore, that Naomi Wolf finds thehijab "sexy". And it should be no surprise that Oslo Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Unni Wikan, found a solutionfor the high incidence of Muslims raping Norwegian women: the rapists must not be punished, but Norwegian women must veil themselves.
Valentine’s Day is a “shameful day” for the Muslim world and for the radical Left. It is shameful because private love is considered obscene, since it threatens the highest of values: the need for a totalitarian order to attract the complete and undivided attention, allegiance and veneration of every citizen. Love serves as the most lethal threat to the tyrants seeking to build Sharia and a classless utopia on earth, and so these tyrants yearn for the annihilation of every ingredient in man that smacks of anything that it means to be human.
And so perhaps it is precisely on reflecting yesterday's Valentine’s Day that we are reminded of the hope that we can realistically have in our battle with the ugly and pernicious Unholy Alliance that seeks to destroy our civilization.
This day reminds us that we have a weapon, the most powerful arsenal on the face of the earth, in front of which despots and terrorists quiver and shake, and sprint from in horror into the shadows of darkness, desperately avoiding its piercing light.
That arsenal is Private love.
And no Maoist Red Guard or Saudi Islamo-Fascist cop ever stamped it out — no matter how much they beat and tortured their victims. And no al-Qaeda jihadist in Pakistan or Feminazi on any American campus will ever succeed in suffocating it, no matter how ferociously they lust to disinfect man of who and what he is.
Love will prevail.
Long Live Valentine’s Day.

(To get the whole story on Islam’s and the Left’s war on private love, see Jamie Glazov's book United in Hate: The Left's Romance With Tyranny and Terror.)

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Obamacare taxes to repeal

From the AP / Modesto Bee, today. Let's look at them one by one:

A look at the $1.1 trillion in taxes over 10 years imposed by former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The revenue helped pay for the law's expansion of coverage to millions of Americans.
The revenue estimates are by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation. They could differ significantly from whatever Republicans propose in their effort to erase the law and replace it:
—3.8 percent tax on investment income over $200,000 for individuals, $250,000 for couples: $223 billion in revenue over 10 years.
This first one is not surprising for Democrats--Tax other people to pay for subsidizing health insurance. However, as the overwhelming majority of people already insured have discovered, their insurance costs have still skyrocketed. Why? Perhaps we should examine other taxes below for a reason why....
—tax penalty on larger employers not providing health insurance to workers: $178 billion.
This one appears to be the stick to eimployers, as well as a carrot to the health insurance industry.
—annual fee on health insurance companies: $130 billion.
And here we go. We want health insurance to be more affordable, yet we impose taxes upon providers, which they will pass on in higher premiums, which will only drive the price of insurance up? How utterly counterproductive this is.
—0.9 percent Medicare surtax on income over $220,000 for individuals, $250,000 for couples: $123 billion.
In effect, Medicare is now being "means tested" with this action, not in terms of who receives it, but in terms of who pays extra for it.
—"Cadillac" tax on value of high-cost employer provided health insurance: $79 billion.
And here we go again. So if an employer has a generous health care and health insurance perk for their employees, the Obamunist government wanted to punish them. So benefits for these no longer lucky people will be cut. How utterly counterproductive this also is.
—deductibility of medical costs exceeding 10 percent of people's income, raised from prior 7.5 percent threshold: $40 billion.
So when people get hit with a catastrophic emergency, they will find it much harder to deduct it on their income taxes, if at all. "Affordable Care Act", my ass.
—tax penalty on individuals who don't obtain health insurance: $38 billion.
The Obamacare idea here was to compel more people to buy health insurance in order to spread the costs.

And yet, the age upon which dependent children can live on their parents insurance has been raised all the way up to 26! Now while it is true that people 18-25 make few demands upon the health insurance system (other than anti-depressants, a notable exception), the effect of Obamacare, with its sop to Millenial Generation college and postgraduate kids, was to reduce the number of people paying into the health insurance systems, despite this act of punishing affluent people who did not buy health insurance.
—annual fee on makers and importers of prescription drugs: $30 billion.
And here we go again! We want prescription drugs to be more affordable, yet we impose taxes upon said drugs, which will only be passed on in higher prices, which will only drive the price of them up? How utterly counterproductive this is.
—2.3 percent tax on makers and importers of some medical devices, exempts consumer products such as eye glasses: $20 billion.
And here we go again! We want medical devices to be more affordable, yet we impose taxes upon said devices, which will only drive the price of them up? How utterly counterproductive this is.
—$2,500 annual limit on employee contributions to flexible spending accounts for medical costs (cap grows with inflation): $32 billion.
Here's a thought: Why not treat Medical Savings Accounts like IRAs, with unused benefits that can be carried over--and invested--year after year? Naw
—10 percent tax on indoor tanning services: $800 million.
This is like a smoker's tax, only it is a sunbather's tax. Is there proof of sunbather's abuse and massive skin cancer outbreaks? And even if so, wouldn't measured doses in tanning beds be better than variable doses of laying around in the sun outside?

Although I must admit, while I have argued against excessive tobacco taxes before--past a certain point the taxes become punitive penalties rather than revenue raisers--here, they actually WOULD make a degree of sense, helping to finance health insurance and health care while discouraging an unhealthy behavior.

And frankly, since there is a push to legalize pot, THERE is a place to impose an array of new taxes, that could go to finance state and local health care programs for the poor stoners. After all, if tobacco smoke is bad for the lungs, how is weed smoke not?

Read more here: