Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mitt Romney's Taxes or... Barack Can't Run on His Record

There is all this talk about Mitt Romney's taxes.  Demands that he release his tax returns, to prove that he paid taxes.  Make no mistake, everyone demanding his taxes be released knows he paid taxes.  They just want everyone to see how much he made and how he took advantage of different deductions, adjustments and credits.  I guess we're supposed to begrudge Mitt Romney for being smart and successful.  I find it funny that it is coming from the guy who fought tooth and nail to avoid releasing his birth certificate and still hasn't released his college transcripts.

This is just more class warfare tactics.  If Romney's taxes were questionable, the IRS would have been all over.  That's what they do.  So, if Romney's taxes were legal and let's say he paid $0 in taxes, what does that mean?  Did he break the law?  Is it illegal? Is it wrong?  Does it make him "stingy?"  Actually no.

In order for Mitt Romney to have a low tax rate, he would have to take advantage of certain deductions, adjustments and credits on his taxes.  These "loopholes" are ways for the government to steer our behavior to get what government wants, and reward us with lower taxes.  We are basically, helping the government and cutting government out as the middle man.  Why should the government subsidize something when they can just encourage us to buy it?  The government wants us to drive more fuel efficient cars?  Boom.  There's a loophole for that.  Government wants us give to charity?  Boom.  There's a loophole for that.  Solar panels on your house?  Simply buying a house?  Loopholes for those as well.

So why don't the rest of us get these?  Short answer: we do.  These loopholes are available to us all.  The lesson you learn real quick is that the amount you need to donate to charity to max out that loophole is A LOT.  The amount of medical expenses you need to rack up to max out that deduction is A LOT.  Hybrids are more expensive.  Solar panels are expensive.  Buying a house is expensive.  Student loans are expensive.  If you were to legally take every loophole you could, you'd go broke.

Think about this.  If I want to deduct healthcare expenses.  In order to deduct that it has to be more than 7.5% of my AGI (it goes up to 10% as part of Barack's, "no middle class tax increases" line.  Make no mistake, this is a tax increase on the middle class).  If my AGI is $40,000 that means I have to have $3,001 in medical expenses to qualify.  So let's say I rack up $6,001 in medical expenses.  What does this loophole yield?  $750.  That's it.  If I was just going for the loophole I spent $6,001 to get out of $750 in taxes.  If I didn't need medical care, I'd just prefer to keep the six grand and pay the $750 in taxes.

At the end of the day, this issue has already been addressed.

From Judge Learned Hand, "Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury.  There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes.  Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands."

And from the Supreme Court in Gregory v. Helvering, "The legal right of a taxpayer to decrease the amount of what otherwise would be his [or her] taxes, or altogether avoid them, by means which the law permits, cannot be doubted."

In other words, it is completely legal and OK to not pay taxes if you do so legally.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hitler was a Dog Lover, or the Politics of Mutual Exclusion

Or perhaps I should call this, "How journalistic partisanship has ruined journalism."  By extension it has ruined us.

In recent weeks we have had a series of high profile, tragic, shootings.  There was the Colorado movie theater shooting and now the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  I'm sure everyone knows the story.  The thing that I find frustrating aside from the fact that these things happened anyway is the reporting.

If you've been paying attention, you've already heard it.  If not, then I apologize for being late to the game.  Within a couple of hours of the Aurora shooting, ABC's Brian Ross went on the air and said that James Holmes was a member of the TEA Party.  Keep in mind that at that point we didn't even know the exact number of people murdered or injured, but Mr. Ross darn sure knew that the murderer was a TEA Party member.  Of course this was false, and a backward pseudo-apology was issued.

This is not the only instance.  Last year there was Jarrod Lee Loughner ran amok and shot several people, including Gabby Giffords.  Shortly thereafter Politico ran this article all about how the DHS is investigating Loughner's "ties to a hate group" which turns out to be a website.  They make sure to mention that:

"The feds are reportedly probing whether shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner has ties to what they describe as an anti-Semitic, anti-government hate group that has ads for tea party organizations on its website."

How ominous.  The two are obviously in bed with each other.  It's obvious.  That is if you are a child or an idiot.  I find it hard to believe that someone with the level of education to write for a major publication doesn't understand how Internet ads work.  Here's a quick primer, the ads you see on the Internet are based on a) keywords embedded by the webmaster to get the most amount of traffic; and b) the cached data on the visitor's computer.

It is almost certain that the journalist who wrote the article saw TEA Party ads on the site BECAUSE THEY WERE BROWSING FOR THE TEA PARTY!!!  I'm willing to bet they were browsing for the TEA Party to find the very link that their browsing habits produced in the form of a targeted ad.  It's a lock that their Google search bar holds the phrase, "jarrod lee loughner tea party."  Just as Brian Ross's obviously contained, "james holmes tea party."

This sort of thing happens all the time.  Whenever some madman goes on a killing spree there is a race to see if this this nutjob a righty or a lefty?

Now I am getting to the important part.

If some nutjob shoots up a bunch of people, or blows up a building, it doesn't matter if they are liberal or conservative, TEA Party or communist, Republican or Democrat.  Nutjobs and their political alignment, group affiliations aren't mutually exclusive.


Hitler was a dog lover, that's why.

When someone tries to make these ties between really bad people and their political affiliation they are actually trying to say that political ideology is to blame.  Another famous example is that serial killer John Wayne Gacy was a Democrat.  Here he is hanging out with Roslynn Carter:

That absolutely does not mean that Jimmy Carter has dead boys buried in the rose garden of the White House.

So again, Hitler was a dog lover.  By the line of thinking we have been exploring, that would mean that all dog lovers were genocidal maniacs.

Here is the most important part of what I am saying.  If someone is trying to make that connection we are talking about...  They are trying to pull the wool over your eyes.  They are attempting to manipulate you.

So remember, the next time someone tries to tell you that all Democrats are pervs because of Anthony Weiner; or because of Larry Craig, or some such.  Be sure to tell them that Hitler was a dog lover.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Great Chicken Debate - Part 1

As you may or may not have heard, apparently Chick-Fil-A hates gay people.  Actually, that’s not true at all, despite what you may have heard.  Where does all this controversy come from?  Dan Cathy made the following statement to the Bapist Press:

“We are very much supportive or the family -- the biblical definition or the family unit.  We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.  We give God thanks for that.”

Someone please tell me how that is an anti-gay, well, anything?  He is not bashing homosexuality, he’s not attacking anybody.  He is merely voicing his support for the idea of one man/woman marriage without divorce.  Where’s the problem with that?  Where is the intolerance?  I’ll tell you where the intolerance is in just a second.

What is Dan Cathy’s real sin?  It’s his lack of tolerance.  New tolerance, that is.  In more reasonable times tolerance meant something different than it means today.  In more reasonable times, tolerance meant that you “put up with” something that you didn’t necessarily agree with.  You “you lived” with it, you dealt with it.  Live and let live.

I am not a fan of wide brim baseball caps, I think they look stupid.  However, when I see people wearing them I don’t go out of my way to tell them they look like a d-bag.  I will not snatch it off their head and stomp it in the dirt.  I tolerate it.  When someone is driving under the speed limit, I either slow down or go around.  In other words, I tolerate it.  When my neighbor puts diarrhea brown siding on her house, I tolerate it.  I don’t say crap, even if that is what it looks like.

Were I intolerant of these things, wide brim hats would be stomped, slow drivers run off the road and ugly siding ripped off houses.

But that does not fit in with the newspeak version of tolerance.  Now tolerance is synonymous with advocate.  Dan Cathy didn’t bash gays, he didn’t never even mentioned gays in his statement.  But he failed to advocate homosexuality.  His failure to properly promote and support gay marriage means that he is “intolerant.”

As a result, the “tolerant” crowd have made themselves known by harassing, slandering and attempting to bankrupt, not only Chick-Fil-A but their employees as well.  Who’s intolerant again?