Let’s just all stop paying taxes

I propose that everyone pay only 17% tax at the end of next year.

This goes for you who pay nothing now.  Buck up and throw some money to the roads, education, and national defense.

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Fixing Education is Simple yet Difficult.

Students need inspiration and aspirations.  Teachers provide most of this and do a great job educating those students are engaged.

The bottom scoring students are largely from households where poverty and chaos rule the roost and aspiration takes a back seat to survival.

Why would a student give a crap about homework and grades when they have to deal with the instability that may be happening at home?  You can’t blame teachers in this scenario.

It’s a difficult fix.  It’s a fix that requires leadership from the community.  It’s a fix that can’t be attained by throwing money at it.

We need to help parents be more supportive of their children/students.  It’s not hopeless.  This can be fixed but it will require the entire community to open eyes and identify the problem.

Parents, help your kids with homework.  Tell your kids that getting an education is necessary to move onward and upward in life.  Tell your child/students to behave appropriately and listen to the teachers and faculty.  Parents, by all means meet your teacher and attend the parent/teacher conferences.  If you find this difficult and continue to claim to be a victim, you better overcome it because you will always be stuck in victimhood and run the risk of continuing the negative cycle.

So… legislators and politicians.  Don’t blame unions.  Don’t try to scapegoat bad teachers.  Start helping parents and craft your policy accordingly.  Offer incentives to families (not school districts) for good grades and test results.  Leverage fishing and hunting permits (discounts etc), car insurance rates, grocery gift cards, clothing gift cards, sports tickets.  Be creative.  You can do it.

We can do it.

I Believe…

It’s been awhile since my last “I Believe” rant/blog/tome.  Flashback to 2010 “I Believe”.

Here goes…

I believe Android and iPhone devices are equally good.  I believe there are too many crappy apps.  I believe the tablet will contribute to obesity.   Too much time is spent on internet and not enough of that time is spent expanding your knowledge of your political representatives.

I believe Mitt Romney is too wealthy to run for President for anything other than altruistic motivations.  I believe that Obama loves his country but does not understand capitalism.  I believe Obama is being pushed around by senior Democrats and believes his own bullshit.

I believe we need to walk and ride bikes more for jaunts less than 2 miles.  Solar power is not the full answer.  Electric cars require more energy to recharge thus more need for coal burning and nuclear power plants.

I believe we need a triple IPA.  I believe pot should be legal.  Everyone should grow their own grapes.

I believe sports that only really exist because of the Olympics and require an individual to commit full time and be subsidized to train are a menace to those who participate in them.  I believe we should quit romanticizing the Olympic process and give young people their childhood back.  I believe steroids and other performance enhancing drugs should be allowed.

I believe Americans will be taxed more and the quality of individual health will stay the same or get worse.  I believe government can’t fix a problem.  Being a perpetual victim will never be a benefit.  I believe in the individual to rise up and take control of  their situation.  I believe we help the less fortunate.

I believe locally grown produce will fail in a drought.  I believe you have the right to be a vegetarian and not have the right to judge my beef consumption.  I believe veggie pizza can be considered a vegetable.  I believe we should consume less milk and breastfeeding past 1 year old is odd.

I believe politicians are stupid by claiming we have a simultaneous hunger AND obesity problem in this country.

I believe student success has more to do with parental involvement than teacher involvement.  I believe both are needed.  I believe you can’t build a new school and expect better results from students.

I believe people love their cars and mass transit in the midwest is a lost cause.  I believe Harley Davidson motorcycles are obnoxiously too loud.  I believe Smart Cars are too small and the driver is implying judgement on others.

I believe actors should help tell stories and not be political activists.

I believe Krispy Kream donuts are overrated, cake donuts are superior, and sprinkles are annoying.

I believe “50 Shades of Gray” is just what the women of America need to break them out of their shell.  I believe “Real Housewives…” are fake, boring, and prove that women truly hate each other.

I believe we spend too much time and money on paid coaches and fancy uniforms for youth sports in pursuit of the low percentage dream of a college scholarship and even lower percentage of playing professionally.  I believe this country needs more engineers and fewer midfielders.  I believe in walking past the white kids asking for money to pay for their out of town sports tournaments.  I believe we can organize teams outfitted with simple tshirts and shorts on locally taxpayer funded fields and produce quality individuals.

I believe Facebook and other social networking websites have brought people together much like camping in a small cabin for 5 days.  After 3 days, you are closer but at the same time sick of their babbling and ready to get home.

And… wait for it…. And I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days…

I won’t release MY tax returns…

Why should I?  Am I being audited?  No.

Why should Romney?  Is he suspected for criminal behavior?  Not that I can tell.

Dear taxers (play on “birthers”), here is what you are going to find in those tax returns.  1. Romney is wealthy and has been for a good number of years.  2.  He has leveraged the tax code to an advantage of paying less in % of taxes.

That’s it.  End of story.  What is it you want?  I suspect you want more proof that the Republican candidate is a “1% ‘er”.  Well, he is.  Get over it.

Romney spent his working life making private sector companies profitable and economically competitive.  He was not a community organizer rallying up citizens for some cause.  Romney did what all productive Americans do.  He worked and paid his taxes.

As a conservative, I don’t find Romney to be the most charismatic figure head running for President.  I believe he will do fine and follow sound conservative principles as a President.  I think he has the ability to compromise with Democrats (he was the governor of a liberal state that passed a health care law for crying out loud).

So what if they guy paid 14% in taxes.  He followed the laws.  People don’t get rich by throwing money into a hole (like the federal government).

I’d much rather see Romney in the white house than another term with Obama.  If there is a Republican dominated House and Senate, I don’t care who is in the white house.

We have lost our way…

We have lost our way

As I watch news talk shows and listen to the hosts and guest discuss the problems of our society, government and news stories, there is always a common question that comes to mind.  Don’t you think this problem is rooted in a cultural misdirection?

I say this in my head over and over.  Our cultural misdirection are forms of instant gratification.  The American Dream still lives but it seems people are not taking advantage of the opportunities that exist.

Whether you are discussing education, labor costs, federal budgeting, or healthcare the root of the issue can trace back to wanting something for nothing.

Education is not a funding issue.  Education is a value issue.  We have to value the education.  Value comes from the elder care takers of the student.  In its simplest form, parents must instill the value into the child.  We have lost our way on this tenet of our society.  If more parents took a more active role in the students life, more schools would be successful.  As any teacher and they would tell you this.  Teachers would prioritize parental involvement way above salary in terms of making education more successful.

High labor costs are often rooted in unions and minimum wage.  Smart organizations will modify their bidding to market value.  The more intimidating of unions will hike up the bids and demand a larger stake even at the risk of putting workers on the sidelines.  We lost our way.  We want something for nothing.  Government workers should be paid equally as the same job function as private sector workers.   Unions can be useful as a collective force, but when they power grab, they hurt themselves and the economy as a whole.

Budgeting at home is a challenge for many people.  But we have to weigh our wants and needs to create the financial balance.  Those who have more wants tend to incur debt to make that happen which can lead to troubles later.  Federal budgeting is a disaster right now.  Something as simple as only spending what you can collect in taxes from the people, is derailed because we want something for nothing.  No matter who you want to blame individually or collectively (democrats or republicans), the fact remains we don’t have a budget.  The argument is spend less or tax more.  We want something for nothing.

Healthcare is the grandest example of “something for nothing”.  Healthcare is trying to fix itself by throwing money at it.  The real fix to a healthy community is the individual who needs to take care of themselves.  Our instant gratification has lead us to obesity.  Obesity leads to diabetes and cancers.  I simplify, yes, but you do recognize that your chances of good health go up when you keep yourself fit and healthy.

We have lost our way.

We can find it again.  Every individual can do this.

Earn more than you spend.

Learn everything you can.  Be productive and valued.

Don’t feed your ego with money.   It’s not about money, its about respect from peers.

To solve a problem, you must identify the problem.  Just because an answer feels good, be sure it addresses the problem even in the face of unpopularity.   In most cases, the identification of the problem is the hard part.  The fix is the easy part.

Take care of yourself physically.  Instant gratification with food, tobacco, drugs, or booze can quickly lead you down the wrong path in the long run.  In the same methodology of finances, burn more calories than you consume.  Exercise.  Sweat at least once a day.

Avoid advertising.  Throw out flyers, catalogs, and other mailings that suck you in and try to convince you to purchase something.  You will be happier for it.

Get 8 hours of sleep.

Work hard and hug your kids.

Teaching your kids sports will benefit everyone.  Learning to lose is more valuable than winning.

Wear sunscreen.

Communicating via IM, email, or mouth.

Gratuitous Image

Sorry for the image.  Caught your eye right?

This is a followup to this old post ( http://craighope.com/wordpress/?p=1390 ).

I like Instant Messaging (IM) and I had it.

I like the “instant” feedback (duh).  I like that you can have multiple convo’s simultaneously.  I like that you can archive the conversation.

I dislike IM because it can be intrusive, bothersome, and too interrupting.  When you get an IM, you feel you have to respond immediately as opposed to email or a phone call.  Where you have multiple convo’s (a like) it is also a bother when you are having a convo and someone IM’s you and interrupt.  They don’t know you are having other IM’s going (not their fault).  I wish I could see how many convo’s others have going so that I can think twice about my need to IM then.

In my opinion, the best way to IM is to open it up during a conference call and have side conversations with your colleagues.  You can have a little sidebar while the conf call is going on then engage with better info.

People often misuse IM.  If your question, comment, whatever is something that can be responded to later, send an email.  When you send an email, people have the courtesy (mostly) to respond to do you in a timely manner.  An email (in my opinion) is something of a task that sits in my inbox that I will get to eventually.  Priorities range.

One thing I can’t stand is this.  I will send someone an email of minor importance but requires a response and that email NEVER gets responded to.  That pisses me off.  When you never respond, I interpret that as “I am not that important”.  To that I say F off!

Moving on…

I’ve witnessed this phenomenon where people refrain from using email for the reason that they don’t want their words “recorded”.  I don’t get this line of thinking at all.  In my estimation, no matter how you communicate your message will be remembered no matter if it is an email or not.   If you write, say, communicate something that later changes in nature of fact etc. that’s fine.  You have the right to retract or change your message.  Maybe its because people are afraid of being wrong.  I get that, but I also respect you more if you can admit you were incorrect about something.  Moving on…

What have we learned?

Use email when don’t need immediate feedback.  Use IM only if necessary, don’t overuse it.

 

Healthcare and a Mandate

As I write this, the Supreme Court is still hearing the arguments regarding the Constitutionality of the Mandate to buy health insurance.

My personal belief is that everyone should buy insurance coverage.  It is the prudent thing to do in order to take of yourself and your loved ones.  I also don’t believe that our system of government should force people to purchase.  I believe in that inherent freedom at the same time understand the reality.

So here we are.  You win Liberals.  You have once again created a program under the guise of basic human rights.  While at the same time with little regard of how to pay for it.   Like always you use the term “shared sacrifice” but it boils down to putting the burden on all the people.  Not all people, but the wealthiest of the people.

There are realities to funding something so large and so overreaching.   We are seeing it with Social Security, Veterans administration, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Let’s only talk about how to implement a “mandate”.  How do we enforce/encourage all the citizenry to get health coverage insurance?

The car insurance analogy gets tossed around.  The only difference is that we choose to buy a car thus we have to carry insurance.  This is a choice.  With your health, there is no absolute that can assure you never visit a doctor or ER which WILL treat you and then the costs get spread among the paying consumers.  You can claim you never get sick, but you can’t guarantee it.  If your religion dictates no medical attention or use of modern science, we can allow for that.  However, there may come a time when you are unconscious and end up in a medical facility needing treatment.  The people who don’t want insurance is a small portion of the entire population (maybe 5% or less).

I don’t know the answer to this 5% outlier.  My only thought is a national registry of exempt individuals based on either self insured (more in a second) or religious reasons.  If you are on this list, you don’t get treatment.  Sort of a like a living will or do not resuscitate order.  Maybe a “medic alert” bracelet equivalent.   If you claim to be self insured, you must keep a special account active and well funded.  That account must be referenced before treatment is administered.  This sounds somewhat complicated and when executed by a federal system, it is sure to be performed poorly.  If you ever receive treatment while on this exemption, you are then put into the system by way of the “penalty” that is added to your taxation.  Probably another can of worms.

Our health care system works from the Hippocratic Oath premise that everyone who needs treatment will get treatment.  If we somehow establish an exemption system where people can choose and accept the consequence of no treatment we can stop calling coverage a mandate.

Heck, it may pay for itself.  Those who refuse medical science probably live shorter lives.   I’m speculating.