Sunday, December 30, 2012

Good riddance 2012!

DEZEMBER 2012, December 2012
DEZEMBER 2012, December 2012 (Photo credit: eagle1effi)
It is a thrill to put 2012 behind us. As years go, this year was a disaster.

I just wish it were as easy to turn the page on politics and gun violence as it is to turn the page on the calendar. It seems we have experienced an all-time low in repulsive behavior on those two fronts.

Since I've been paying attention, I have never observed more petty, abhorrent, vile behavior as during the 2012 GOP election season. Fox News'  outright lies would have been humorous, had the stakes not been so high. Still, they had the trust of large numbers of people who actually believed them. The entire staff under the moniker of 'media' accomplished near decimation of an already suffering communication industry. Who can trust the media now, after all that has been done to destroy journalistic credibility by what we now know to be an admitted farce?

The GOP campaign, led by corporate giants with nearly unlimited amount of cash thanks to the wrong-headed conservative U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision tried to steal the election through no-responsibility campaign ads. Fortunately their candidate for president was a buffoon with little to no campaign smarts and zero integrity. His handlers weren't much better. I'm so grateful that enough of the public woke up in time to cast ballots for the incumbent.

But even more disheartening than the election debacle was the horrific gun violence in 2012 where 16 mass shootings resulted in 88 dead. The last one--on December 14--the needless slaughter of 26 innocent people, including 20 precious, little first-graders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, may be and should have been the final straw to break the back of an undisciplined society gone awry.

The incident of worst-nightmare proportions brought a President to tears and so affected the general public that cries for better gun laws have begun to echo across the nation. Still, that is little consolation for the tiny unsuspecting east coast town that lost its innocence.

Changing the way the country looks at gun violence could be a start in the long road to help the healing. An end to gun violence could help if that were the end of the story. But it isn't!

Sadly, some of the same voices that supported artificial news during the presidential campaign are the same ones that now cry for more guns, not less. The National Rifle Association, which many fail to realize is little more than the marketing arm of the gun manufacturers lobby, has some of those same Fox News devotees squarely in its sites. They see no reason guns shouldn't be placed in the hands of school teachers to keep the students safe. Never mind that it didn't help at Columbine High School or at Ft. Hood where weapons actually belong and are issued to all the soldiers there.

It is unbelievable to me that anyone could believe that more guns could keep people safe from gun violence. That is like saying that keeping water in a toddler's bathtub will deter drowning.

I'm sick to death of the excuse that guns are for protection. Too often guns purchased for protection simply result in injury and death during a heated argument, or in an instant of despair resulting in suicide, or perhaps an accident by a curious child. Responsible gun owners should lock their weapon securely. So what kind of protection is that? Gun owners want it both ways, but it doesn't work that way. Protection from bad guys would require access to a loaded gun. Protection for family members requires locking away and securing the gun and ammunition.

Though this is a discussion that will likely span the entire new year, at least it is has begun. It is a topic that is long overdue, which is reason enough for optimism in the coming new year.

So once again, we wipe the slate clean. A new beginning with high hopes where anything is possible is upon us. Our future begins now. What we do with it is our choice.


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ending gun violence must start with open discussion

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...
The United States Constitution
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Like so many people across the country I am sickened by the recent school shooting tragedy in Newtown, CT that slaughtered 28 people, including 20 innocent young children.

The number of gun-related deaths in this country makes is inexcusable. It has gotten to the point that people are afraid. I'm afraid.

I don't buy the fact that everyone should carry a gun. In fact, if I hear one more person say that if those teachers or the principal was armed, this wouldn't have happened. I am at a total loss to reconcile that kind of thinking. Less guns are needed on the streets and in public places; not more. Guns are hideous! The people that use every excuse as to why they have a love affair with them are worse.

No longer can I tolerate that whole second amendment rights tirade. The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written long before the kind of carnage assault rifles can create was conceived. Guns were meant to create peace and protection; not devastation and death. Yet that is the ugly reality. The second amendment is at best, outdated. People think nothing of updating their bathroom fixtures, but the laws we must live by, not so much.

Shouting gun control from the highest rooftops has no affect. There has to be a renewed discussion about not just changing the laws, but changing the attitudes.

I've found that good and decent people who think they are doing the right thing by arming themselves to protect their homes and families may in fact be a big part of the problem. The following is eye-opening and should be seen by every law-abiding citizen that supports carrying a weapon.

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Live in a Dream World

Varying views about how to end gun violence include polar extremes with every argument in-between. Some want the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution amended and brought up-to-date. Some believe every person should be armed. Others believed guns should be banned completely. With such a disparity of views about this important problem, one or none of those may be the answer. It may be a combination of them, or one that hasn't yet been proposed. But one thing is for certain--the discussion has to happen. Too much blood of innocent victims has been shed. All sides need to come together to solve this problem and return the United States to the a peaceful and caring nation our forefathers tried to create.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No I will not pay taxes on my two cents worth on taxes

Wait just a damn minute!

Let the tax rates expire; going over the fiscal cliff; the wealthiest two-percent; closing loopholes; blah, blah, blah. Here is the issue. Middle Class Americans pay enough taxes. In fact, for some of us, it is unbelievable how many taxes we pay. Property tax; income tax; personal property tax; death tax; marriage tax; utility tax; ENOUGH!

The tax code is ridiculous 
My poor husband freaks out every year when he has to do our taxes--and we are simply retired folks living on a pension. Our taxes are easy. We can't afford to buy anything, so we don't have many deductions--just our home mortgage. People structure their finances around the money they will get back from their taxes each year. Why is this such a difficult issue? Why do we get a refund anyway? Shouldn't we simply pay the proper amount of taxes all year? Have taxes ever decreased; we know they always increase.

Should we rewrite the tax code? 
What a stupid question? Of course we should rewrite the tax code. No guideline should be 71,684 pages in length, yet that is what the 2010 tax code was. As we say on Facebook, WTF!

For me, the ultimate slap in the face was the implementation of a utility tax. I recall the first time I heard about it. I was writing for a newspaper, covering a local community. They said they wanted to implement a utility tax to make enough money to repair a flooding problem. They claimed the tax would be temporary. Oh yeah, right. It didn't take a rocket scientist to predict that was never going to happen. They would be permanent alright. They are!

When we retired, I learned that no only do we have to pay utility tax, but we are paying personal property tax. This was a new one on me--that was ruled illegal where I used to live.

Too many taxing bodies have their hands out 
Today, we pay taxes on everything. Each unit of government, and there are way too many of those, plays the game of how much can we soak you before you have had enough? I'm crying Uncle! I suppose it is a sign of the times. People want instant gratification. No one wants to plan for their future anymore. We are living for today. Government is the same way. But, they are spending our money!

Then there is the tea party
For years I've told my friends, "We should have a tea party." I never meant we should become crazy mirrors of the Ku Klux Klan, as the current national tea party has done. What I meant was that there should be an effort to follow the guidelines of our ancestors--to insist there be no taxation without representation. Taxation in this country is insane because spending other people's money is just so easy. Government officials are no longer leaders; they are merely spenders.

There is no right or wrong political party 
Both political parties at all levels of government are guilty of creating an environment where the rich have it all and the rest of us struggle to get by. I no longer consider myself to be a member of the Middle Class. My future as an aging baby boomer is not financially pretty. I feel as though I am being taxed to death. When I consider a service, such as satellite television, for example, I'm actually shocked when the bill arrives. The final bill never resembles what I was quoted. State, local, and federal taxes make my bill unrecognizable. And then there is the phone bill, which is probably the best example of how not to run things. There are fees for things I don't even understand on what has become a multi-page two-sided document. Why is a telephone bill more than one page anyway? What are all those crazy charges?

The optimum word when talking taxes is SIMPLIFY! 
It is my favorite word of the day because it defines so succinctly what has to be done. The complexities that are compounded regularly must end.

Simplifying the tax code is necessary without prejudice against the poor or in favor of the wealthy. I don't advocate Herman Cain's 999 plan by any stretch. I don't want an across the board rate necessarily, because all issues have a gray area. They should be accounted for, but with the proper motive--the benefit of the majority of people. That does not mean loopholes to drive a car through just so rich folks can grow their wealth at everyone else's expense. That means using reasonableness and common sense wisdom.

That probably means the end of Grover Norquist, who has his own agenda. The only agenda should be for funding government necessities, cutting waste, eliminating unnecessary perks, and adding fairness. Taxes don't have to be a necessary evil. They can be useful tools to make all our lives better. Shouldn't that be what we all strive to accomplish?