Economic growth requires tax reform

Wake Up America !

We have placed ourselves in a very dangerous place economically. We are out of step ideologically with the rest of the world with our “free” economy and “hard-core capitalism” yet we insist on being part of a global economy. As a result we have given up our “labor “ segment to the rest of the world, as if we were too privileged for manual labor. The result is massive unemployment and economic unbalance.  History would tell us that this is a system that generates unrest, revolution, and agonizing adjustment.

Is there an adjustment to our thinking that would resolve some of our problems? I believe there is.  It is a combination of two ideas put forth before separately and rejected.  If packaged as a concept we could put our nation back to work. The two ideas are the “Flat Tax” on all manufactured goods which has been put forth often in recent years, and a new idea, which has been named the “employee tax credit rebate” which would financially encourage employers to hire taxpaying US citizens……

The flat tax does not need much clarification. It is simply a “National Sales Tax “ paid on every manufactured product sold in the USA regardless of its point of origin.  For the initial discussion it could be 5%, and would exclude a food products and services.

The tax rebate idea is at present very simple. Every manufacturer paying a “flat tax” would receive a rebate for every employee who pays Federal income Tax. We would suggest a 100% rebate to encourage recovery from our unemployment problem.

The strongest incentive for these changes is the current status of our “broken” tax system which is horrendously expensive to implement and virtually impossible to control. We spend billions of dollars monitoring and collecting taxes that is both unnecessary and ineffective. It is simply broken and needs to be discarded.

The Search for Leadership

Does anyone else share my concern and disappointment for the present status of our search for a new President? I think we need a “Do-Over” to try and move those at the top to the bottom of the list. Some strange inexplicable force has caused us to get this process upside down!

What are we looking for? The ability to brag, bully, pout, and insult your opponents? When I was raised, these were all considered “BAD BEHAVIOR” ! Our present top candidates have these characteristics “honed” to perfection!

So what characteristics do I think are important? Well I am glad you asked!  Intelligence, statesmanship, diplomacy, and good temperament are the top four characteristics that come to my mind. A good leader has to interface with the extremely intelligent, the completely irrational, the belligerent, and the divinely informed and inspired. That is a tough job for the very best of us.

I think that Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Martin O’Malley, and Marco Rubio would qualify. These are listed alphabetically. When you are asked to name your favorite candidates, please do not include braggarts, bullies, and those of mean temperament.  Focus on those who are focused on issues and solutions. We have a lot of problems to solve, a lot of changes to make. We need real leadership, not wealth, economic success, or debate skill.

Acceptance of the Unknown

Acceptance of the Unknown

I have spent most of my life firmly believing in human intelligence;  and that we possess a vast amount of knowledge regarding the universe in which we exist. Today I have concluded that I was wrong.  Although we have explored nearby planets and multiplied our knowledge base many times since I was a child………… ignorance still rules.  We are still in the very low percentages of the total knowledge and understanding of our universe….. perhaps some fractional slice of 1%……. So what?

Can we do better? Should we do better? Must we do better? What would we change? My first enemy would be arrogance; the type that stems from the “vast knowledge” that we claim to possess. Far too many of us are quick to judge the “ignorance” and the beliefs of others as being wrong, with an implied “ and only we are right” .   However if we reverse the telescope and recognize the limited 1% that we presently “see” or understand, we can cast away the constraints of arrogance and open our hearts and minds to what is yet to be learned.

If we teach our children nothing else…… we must teach them this!

There are critically important questions that we must all consider now and try to find better answers.  My own arrogance stimulates me to present a few.

Is there a limit to how many people we can sustain on our planet?  If so, do we try to manage population irrationally ( war & famine ) or rationally ( birth control).

Does the reduction of plant life in combination with the combustion of fossil fuels for heat, transportation, and energy create the possibility of an atmosphere that will not sustain mammalian life?

Is there any purpose or benefit in “protecting” our planet for the full period of its natural life? This might be 100 million years or more, as opposed to 100 years or so continuing with our current plans, policies, and refusal to accept scientific evidence if it interferes with economic growth.  How in the world do one become more important than the other?

I

Peering into our economic future

I had a rude awakening yesterday. I was watching a TV show called “Shark Tank” where new product and service ideas are presented, presenting the “sharks” with an opportunity to support the ideas with investment. This becomes a sorting process, bringing the best ideas to market.

A young couple had designed a wonderful new product, made of plastic. The molded components were manually assembled and packaged for shipment, creating a huge labor input for final delivery of the product to the retail seller.

The inventors were patriotic as well as clever and wanted to have the product made in the USA. Unfortunately the “sharks “ were not so patriotic, bundling their offers of investment with an insistence that production be moved offshore to reduce product cost to a minimum. The owners tried to resist but the investors were insistent.  Their cost target was to be less than 20% of the product retail selling price. To do this the product had to be manufactured offshore.

These venture capitalists are the designers of America. What we will be in the future will be greatly affected by the thinking of these economic leaders whose economic design parameters have a single focus; the creation of personal wealth for themselves.  The result of this limited focus is “economic blindness” with regard to America’s welfare, and future blindness with regard to the impact of our   crisis level problems; global warming, overpopulation, and limited supply of hydrocarbon fuel sources .

 

Syrian Refugees: To Do or Not To Do

Nothing dominates the current headlines more today than the Syrian refugee crisis.  And nothing dominates those conversations more than hatred, fear, and name calling.  From both sides.

For weeks we have seen video on the news of refugees attempting to flee the Syrian civil war, the merciless attacks of ISIS, the bombings made by various UN countries who can’t decide if they are backing Syrian President Assad or the rebels fighting against him.  Drowned children, screaming children, frightened children, distraught men and women.  fear, crying, loss, and death, heartbreak.

Thousands and thousands of refugees fleeing into other countries, seeking asylum.  Some countries taking them in, offering aid.  Other countries turning their backs, offering justifications for denying aid.  Then on Friday, November 13th, 2015, a few ISIS soldiers attacked multiple locations in Paris, france, killing 129 innocent people and wounding more than 350, almost 100 critically.  And as the details of the attackers unfolds, we have learned that at least was a French National and at least one was processed as a recent Syrian refugee.

Now, in addition to the numerous people ignoring the refugee crisis because “it isn’t our problem” or “we need to take care of our own” or “we don’t room” or “we don’t have money”, we now have those who point out the one known ISIS soldier hiding among the thousands of valid refugees.  Suddenly, the thousands of refugees who were too much trouble to bother with have all become potential ISIS soldiers.  Yesterday I saw a Facebook post that said “I have a bowl of 10,000 M&Ms and 10 of them are poisoned.  Any bleeding heart liberals willing to grab a handful?”

The sentiment of fear is valid, but the message is a good example of the tone of the discourse.  It connotes that only a “bleeding heart liberal” thinks the refugees deserve help.  It implies that a few bad apples require the whole bushel to be dumped.  What happened to the days we would consider sorting through the apples to find and dump the rotten ones in order to save the good ones?  Do people deserve less attention than apples?  This issue is not so simple as to be wrapped up, neat and tidy, and summarized in a short Internet meme.

The United States, along with Jordan, Russia, and France, have been bombing ISIS / ISIL positions in Syria for more than a year.  The United States has been supporting the rebel Syrians since 2011, first with non-lethal aid, then beginning in 2013 with training and weapons.  We must, as a nation, be willing to take responsibility for our actions.  The Syrian civilians were important enough for us to get involved with helping them fight against their leader, but not important enough to help once we have helped reduce parts of their country to rubble and destroyed their homes?  No!  The United States has a moral and ethical responsibility to follow up on the consequences of our actions.

Okay, so we have to help.  Now what?  Well, here is where things become much more complicated.  Bringing refugess to a new land where they do not know the language or the culture doesn’t seem like a reasonable solution.  Leaving them to fend for themselves in a war torn, ravaged homeland isn’t a reasonable solution either.  If we bring them here, we incur the costs of vetting them (remember the poisoned M&Ms), “room and board” while being vetted, travel expenses to their new homes, and obviously support for at least a year, and probably longer, while their learn the language and customs and find viable employment.  If we brought 65,000 refugess here (a number the media has reported often) and welfare runs on average $30,000 per year for an average family of 3, we are looking at costs exceeding $650 million per year for support plus costs to get them here.  I would say the costs could exceed $1 billion per year when other social costs are added in (medical, schools, etc).

This additional social cost is presented at a time when our current Republican Congress has repeatedly voted down programs to support our own military veterans, many of whom are causualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  People, and rightly so, ask why we would be supporting refugees when we don’t support our own veterans.  One good point is that the military veterans volunteered to go to war while the refugees did not.  Another point is that many among the refugees are children.  Do we not value the welfare of children in this country?  The answer to that is “no” and can be found in the rhetoric of the Right whenthey discuss the need to cut or kill the social programs in this country.  They don’t worry about the impact on the children, the sick, or the elderly.  Anyone on a social program is lazy, irresponsible, a leech, or the product of a leech who will become a future leech.

So, how do we address this abyss of compassion?  How do we address this failure to be responsible?  How do we reorient our moral compass?  How do we balance our ethical obligations with our citizens safety?  We face a fight of epic proportions in this country from a frightened citizenship who see ISIS in every dark-skinned person.  We are already hearing the screams of hatred and dissent against refugees.

Ideas?  Anyone?