Thursday, September 29, 2011


Here we are – heading into a new election cycle, the Democrats against the Republicans, with perhaps a few Independents thrown in there for good measure. What are we arguing about?

National policy, to be sure. Tax policy? Check. Entitlements policy? Check. The Democrats seem to believe that heath care should be a right, not a privilege. The Republicans think otherwise, or at least that’s how it seems.

The Democrats seem to think that we should have a fairer and more balanced tax structure that ensures that the wealthiest among us and corporations are paying their fair share of taxes. The Republicans seem to think differently. Interestingly, a lot of the wealthiest Americans also think that they should be taxed at a higher rate than they currently are taxed today.

But are we to tax the so-called “job creators”? What will happen if we do? How will jobs ever be created in the good ole US of A? Well, the job creators, or at least a lot of them, are creating jobs overseas. Not here. They are also the same folks that the taxpayers have bailed out in the last several years, like Citibank and Bank of America and GE and General Motors. Where are the jobs? We saved these corporations, and what do we have to show for it now? Have you tried to refinance your mortgage lately? Good luck! (If you aren’t already facing foreclosure and potentially bankruptcy.)

So, was Obama untested, a little naïve, perhaps a little not-ready-for-prime-time when he was elected in 2008? Perhaps so. But, he’s no longer untested, no longer unready, no longer naïve. He’s learned the hard way. He tried to compromise, he tried to make nice with the other side, and they stymied him on nearly every turn. I am happy to see a more vigorous and combatant President Obama. I’m happy to see him threatening vetoes and taking his case to the nation. It’s about time, if you ask me.

We have a huge responsibility next fall: Are we going to elect another George W. Bush clone or are we going to reelect President Obama to finish the important work that he has started? Is it possible that this country would elect Sarah Palin, a woman who didn’t think it important that she completed her term as Governor of the state of Alaska, President? I don’t think so. This person doesn’t know how to finish something she starts.

I urge the American people to think long and hard about the choice facing us next year, and vote Obama.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It’s time to pay our bills…

The previous occupant took us into two wars without asking Americans to sacrifice anything, he instead asked us to go shopping. He also decided that that was a great time to enact a generous prescription drugs bill that wasn’t paid for and to cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, those that the Republicans like to call the “job creators” these days. Well, they got the tax breaks, but they stopped creating jobs. Instead, they shipped jobs and profits (that would otherwise be taxed) overseas.

These tax-evading companies are scofflaws. They know precisely what they are doing. It’s legal. But it is wrong. They are funneling money into Ireland and Denmark and the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes on their HUGE profits, and there is no legal recourse that the United States government can take, because it’s all legal. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.

The United States Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision earlier this year in the Citizens United v. FEC case that corporations were “citizens”, and therefore entitled to the first amendment protection to free speech, specifically as it applied to political speech. Well, if they are entitled to the right of free speech as protected by the Constitution, then they are also responsible to contribute to the general Treasury.

Why is it that wealthy folks who earn most of their money from capital dividends pay only 15% on their income when most of us pay a good deal more than that, on a percentage basis? Why is it that Warren Buffet himself has balked at the fact that his secretary and the rest of his staff pay a higher percentage of they pay in taxes than Buffet (a billionaire) does? Because he thinks it is fundamentally wrong, that’s why! And, he’s right. Why should his secretary be paying 25 or 27 or 29 percent when Buffet is paying a fraction of that?

As President Obama said in his Rose Garden speech earlier today, “This is not class warfare… this is math!” Indeed.

It is math. Plain and simple. And, it’s about time we start realizing that we can’t get something for nothing. That’s what the last decade was about. We’ll fight two wars, but there will be no sacrifice. We’ll enact a generous new prescription drug benefit, but there’ll be no sacrifice. We’ll cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but there will be no sacrifice. Who is – or who did – peddle myths?

It’s time to pay our bills. And, we are all going to have to gird our loins and tighten our belts. There is an old saying, “To whom much is given, much is expected in return.” It’s time for those who have profited from our corporate-leaning tax structure and wealthy-leaning tax structure to pony up a bit more to help our country recover and rise like a Phoenix out of our current ashes.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Being Tested

We’re all tested from time to time in our lives.

The boss wants something extra quick, the kids need fill-in-the-blank, several torrential rainstorms follow one after another flooding your basement, or worse, you know, tested!

Well, it seems my wife and I are in one of those patterns again. Nothing like a hurricane or a flood, mind you. Just serious enough to demand immediate, urgent attention. The other day, one of our tenants called to say that she was smelling gas in her bedroom when she came home from work every evening, and that the back doorknob wasn’t working properly, and that the bathroom sink was draining slowly, despite their having tried Drano. “Okay, we’re on it,” I said.

It so happened that I had to teach for 8 hours the following day, so my ever-the-trooper wife took care of the drain and the doorknob and called the gas company. They came out. They found a leak. They told us that they’d fixed it, but also said that we needed to make sure that our tenants never hung anything on the gas line pipe in the closet where the meter is. So, we decided we’d install a closet rod to provide something for our tenants to hang their clothes on that wasn’t the gas line pipe.

Go to Home Depot. Get the materials. No problem.

But, while we’re installing the new closet rod we smell gas. A lot of gas. The day after the gas man was out and told us it was fixed. So, after successfully installing the new closet rod, we (my wife, actually) call the gas company again. “We’re smelling gas. Could you please come out and see what’s going on?” Turns out that there’s another leak, a second gas leak. They fixed the first yesterday and the second today.

Fortunately, no one got hurt; nothing blew up, no serious harm done. But it was a trying day nonetheless. Smelling gas while hanging a curtain rod is alarming. Knowing that there has been gas leaking into our tenants’ environments for some days, or, God forbid, weeks, is also alarming. But, here’s a shout-out to People’s Gas, who did a good job at solving the problem(s) this time. The last time we had to call them it was a nightmare, but I think I posted a blog about that then.

Meanwhile, we have been tested a bit, but we are passing. We persevere. Next up? The quickly heating up presidential campaigns. Who do you think should be nominated on the Republican side? Do you think there should be a Democratic challenger to Mr. Obama? I’d love to know!