I understand that Halloween is a lot of different things for a lot of different people and I understand that some of today's popular celebrations associated with Halloween have pagan roots stemming from the ancient Celtic festival, Samhain. This harvest festival of the Druids ushered in the New Year, beginning on the evening of October 31, with the lighting of bonfires and the offering of sacrifices. As the Druids danced around the fires, they celebrated the ending of the summer season and the beginning of the season of darkness. It was also believed that at this time of year the invisible "gates" between the natural world and the spirit world would open, allowing free movement between the two worlds.
During the 8th century in the diocese of Rome, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day to November 1, officially making October 31 "All Hallows Eve," some say, as a way of claiming the celebration for Christians. However, this feast commemorating the martyrdom of the saints had already been celebrated by Christians for many centuries prior to this
time. Pope Gregory IV broadened the feast to include the entire Church. Inevitably, some of the pagan practices associated with the season persisted and have been mixed into modern celebrations of Halloween.
Halloween didn't become an American holiday until the immigration of the working classes from the British Isles in the late
nineteenth century. While early immigrants may have believed the superstitious traditions, it was the mischievous aspects of the holiday that attracted American young people. Younger generations borrowed or adapted many customs without reference to their pagan origins.
Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday, but many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. But what about Christians?
As I mentioned earlier - I am not a Christian. Which means I needed to do a lot of research in order to receive some type of
What I have learned is Christian perspectives on the observance of Halloween are strongly divided. Some believers feel
complete freedom to observe the holiday considering the modern-day Halloween activities of most to be harmless fun, others believe that participating in Halloween is a form of involvement in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness, and many boycott or ignore it.
With no direct references to Halloween in the Bible, resolving the debate can be a challenge.
Rather than providing an answer, the purpose of this article is to cause you to ask yourself questions and think about your convictions on this issue if you are a Christian.
Are some Christians trying to remove themselves from the world? Ignoring Halloween or celebrating it with believers only is not exactly an evangelical approach. Aren't they supposed to "become all things to all men so that by all possible means" we might save some? (1 Corinthians 9:22)
There are many other Bible verses similar to this, but nothing that specifically warns against observing Halloween.
As Christians, why are they here in this world? Are they here to live in a safe and protected environment, guarded against the evils in the world, or are they called to reach out into a world filled with dangers and be the light of Christ?
Halloween brings people of the world to their door step. Halloween brings their neighbors out into the streets. Is there not various creative ways to seize this opportunity for developing new relationships and sharing their faith?
Is it possible that their negativity toward Halloween only alienates the people they seek to reach? Can they be in the world, but not of the world?
Could they not have limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique opportunity with their neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children -provided they are not stingy -can improve their reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further Christian interests.
From a non-Christian point-of-view on Halloween: I remember asking my Father (a Christian) a long time ago about Halloween and this is what he told: "It all started long ago - even back before Christ was born. In what is now Britain and France, people called the Celts, observed the end of summer with pagan rites. They believed a lord of death sent evil spirits into animals, who then roamed around all winter playing terrible tricks on people. To escape, you had to wear a disguise, so that the evil spirits would think you were one of them.," Dad explained. "Centuries later, Christians came along and tried to change the holiday from a festival of fear to one of joy. October 31 eventually became All Hallows' Eve. All Hallows' means all holies or all the saints. The Bible says every true Christian is a saint. We celebrate all saints. That means if you had a brother, sister or grandparent who loved God and died, you remember that person. You'd celebrate the joy those loved ones are experiencing in heaven and remember the good times you had with them when they were alive."
I believed him then, as I do now, but like most Americans, I take a rather irreverent/indifferent view of holidays. President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran's Day--all just a day off from work. Thanksgiving: an excuse to get stuffed. New Year's: an excuse to get drunk. Independence Day: an excuse to start a brush fire.
For an ostensibly "Christian" nation, America pretty much drops the ball with regard to Easter; in Europe, especially the Catholic countries, they shut everything down for up to two weeks. I find it something of a disappointment to have to put up with all the cloying hypocrisy of living in a Christian culture and miss out on the theologically concomitant pageantry.
America reserves its greatest cultural-commercial efforts for Christmas. I have deeply held beliefs about the proper observance of Christmas, but they are restricted to myself and my family; I don't consider my Christmas to be public property, and I eschew all attempts to conflate my celebration with community spirit. Which brings me back to Halloween. With Halloween, I get the greatest sense of community
My first experiences of it were of course trick-or-treating; My second experience, I took upon myself the duty of passing
out candy on Halloween. I would make a half-hearted effort at getting into a theatrical role, but I never seemed to get into the Halloween spirit. I realize now, in retrospect, that my generally alienated adolescence necessarily prevented me from understanding the social role I should have been attempting to fill. I moved out into an apartment and my proximity to trick-or-treaters dropped dramatically. I carved pumpkins and wore costumes to work, but I NEVER avoided any Halloween parties. Am I lush? No, I was just young and liked parties!
It's only been in recent years that I've realized the qualitative difference between my feelings for Halloween and those for other holidays. Of course moving into a house and having children helped greatly.
Now, Halloween is about craving pumpkins, costumes, trick-or-treating with my children. In other words - making memories with my children.
I close with a recommendation to give serious thought to the appropriateness of judging another for observing or not observing Halloween. We do not know why
another person participates in the holiday or why they do not. We cannot
accurately judge the motivations and intentions of another person's heart.
I believe the most appropriate Christian response to Halloween is to study the matter for yourself and follow the convictions of your own heart. Let others do the same without condemnation from you. Perhaps the answer to the Halloween dilemma is ... there is no right or wrong answer! I believe one's unique convictions about Halloween must be individually sought, independently found, and personally followed.
Happy Halloween Everyone.
Well first of all, asThe Huffington Post
spotted: “there’s already a 999 plan out there, in a land called SimCity 4.” The game’s default tax settings are the same as Cain’s, and in case there was any confusion, The Huff Post’s scorching exposé included a screenshot
from the 2003 best-seller.You have to admit the strategy of basing your tax code off a game and trying to sell it to Americans with a catchy phrase might make good business sense (if anything, Mr. Cain is a smart business man. He has a Master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University. He became the regional vice
president of Pillsbury’s Burger King division, the President and CEO of
Godfather’s Pizza, and the President of the National Restaurant Association), but what may be smart for business may not be so smart for the bottom line in politics.
This is being shown in Mr. Cain's recent surge in a number of polls, but now that it's under scrutiny, its flaws are surfacing.
The Tax Policy Center has conducted a more in-depth analysis
on how Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would redistribute the federal tax burden. It found that 83.8 percent of all taxpayers would experience a tax increase, and in some cases that increase would be substantial.
Thanks to Jay Bookman of The Atlanta Journal Constitution
for providing us with a chart based on the Tax Policy Center analysis.
As you can see, for those making less then $10,000 a year would see their after-tax income fall by 20 percent. If you make $20,000 to $30,000 a year would see their after-tax income fall by 16.2 percent. Those making $40,000 to $50,000 a year would see their after-tax income fall by 11.1 percent.
Inversely, those making between $500,000 to $1 million would see their after-tax income rise by 11.7 percent and those making more than $1 million would see their after-tax income rise by 22.4 percent.
As you can see, this chart does not include the impact on taxpayers with incomes of more than $500,000. The reason is because those numbers are so huge that they throw the entire illustration out of scale!
For example, those making more than $1 million, the average savings under the Cain plan is $455,247. In fact, if you make over $200,00, you'll have a positive average savings. In other words, you'll make money.
Now, maybe some Americans are fine with all this (if make over $200,000). Maybe the conservative Republicans who have rallied to Cain’s side, making him the co-leader in the nomination process, think this is a wonderful idea that would really turn this nation around.
Me, not so much.The Tax Policy Center table.
If you are curious about Mr. Cain's alternative to Social Security — a private retirement plan modeled on one instituted a generation ago in Chile, check out this article by MICHAEL WARREN - Associated Press.FACT CHECK: Closer look at Cain's retirement model
Ugggggggg! I hate Mondays!
I'm sure that I am not the only one who feels like this and everyone generally hates the first day of the work week.
You have to admit - Monday Sucks!
Even if you don’t damage your mind with alcohol; its hard to get the proverbial ass in gear and get moving after a relaxing day off. And scientific study by Marmite confirms that Mondays really do indeed suck. I know, you already knew, but a confirmation by science doesn’t hurt.
As reported by the Telegraph, the findings of the study indicated that many people don’t smile on Mondays until 11:16 am, and that half of us won’t turn up to work on time. Mondays also tend to be fairly unproductive, with only about three and a half hours of actual work getting done. Also, we prefer to ease into the week rather than tackle it head-on first thing Monday morning.
Is it a wonder why it’s the least favorite day of the week?
Wait a second. A flashbulb going off! An idea is actually making it through the fog that is my mind - lets make Mondays suck a little less and lets do it for every Monday!But how?
Laughter! Yes, laughter is the best medicine and Lord knows I could use some now.
And the best thing of the day - a new Bad Lip Reading video!
Don't you feel at least a little better? I know I do.
I'm still laughing at Mitt Romney laugh.
Oh by the way, you Mamma is puggy - face it.
Please, the GOP outcries over the phantom menace of voter fraud escalated after 2008. Why? Because Obama's candidacy attracted historic numbers of first-time voters. In the 29 states that record party affiliation, roughly two-thirds of new voters
registered as Democrats in 2007 and 2008 – and Obama won nearly 70 percent of their votes.
Bill Clinton told a group of student activists in July. "Why is all of this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate" – a reference to the dominance of the
Tea Party last year, compared to the millions of students and minorities who turned out for Obama.
If you think about it. Have you ever heard of a fake voter showing up on Election Day claiming to be someone else? Do teens get fake IDs so they can go to the polls?
Republican legislators say the new rules, which have advanced in 13 states in the past two months, offer a practical way to weed out fraudulent votes and preserve the integrity of the ballot box.
The states that have already passed voter-suppression legislation account for 171 electoral votes in 2012 – 270 are needed to be elected president.
In a time when about half of voting-age population turnout to actually vote, we should be making voter laws easier and not harder. Adding further steps in order to vote does this. Adding costs that some people cannot simply afford does this.
Now don't get me wrong, every voter should demonstrate that they are who they say they are before voting. That form of proof should not include restrictive documentation requirements like overly burdensome photo ID or redundant proof of citizenship requirements that serve to block millions of eligible American citizens fromvoting. American citizens should not be subject to costly restrictive documentation requirements that limit access to the polls.
Studies show that as many as 12% of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students. Many citizens find it hard to
get government photo IDs, because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one needs to get ID) is often difficult or expensive to come by. At the same time, voter ID policies are far more costly to implement than many assume.
It is a fact that making it easier for voters increases votes.
A perfect example of this is in NY State where four bills which would result in increased voter participation, a more efficient Board of Elections and make ballot casting more convenient have been introduced by state Senator Michael Gianaris
The lawmaker said,“The upcoming special elections remind us of the importance of voting. As we quickly approach 2012, it is vital that we make voting an accessible and convenient process in order to maximize turnout. Every ballot counts and New
Yorkers must be able to exercise this valuable right as easily as possible.”
The four bills do the following:
•S 1970 facilitates voting by designating libraries, local housing authority buildings and public high schools as participating polling sites that offer voter registration forms, renewal services and change of address services.
•S 1972 allows for Election Day Voter Registration so new voters can register to vote up to Election Day itself.
•S 1974 would enact the Automatic Voter Registration Act, and provide for the automatic voter registration of persons at least 18 years old based on motor vehicle and tax records.
•S 1978 removes the requirement that voter registration be completed at least 10 days before Election Day.
This is how democracy works! Not these moves to roll back voter-access laws across the country has been radical and unprecedented. They have been the most significant cutback in voting rights since the Jim Crow laws and poll taxes. It could cause more voters to lose their opportunity to cast ballots than the margin of victory in two out of the past three presidential elections.
It would seem that Republican controlled state houses plans around the country are coming to fruition.
But the right to vote is widely recognized as a fundamental human right. The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy. It is a cherished right that we had to fight for in order to achieve. It would seem that the fight is not over.
The Second Bill of Rights was a list of rights proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the then President of the United States, during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944. In his address Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement, a second "bill of rights". Roosevelt's argument was that the "political rights" guaranteed by the constitution and the Bill of Rights had "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." Roosevelt's remedy was to declare an "economic bill of rights".
Excerpt from President Roosevelt's January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union:
“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."
In this time and age, is there anything more profound or true?
O'Reilly: "So he takes a cheap shot at his country that has done everything to get him out of there, then makes this kind of remark...so Gutfeld, do we send him back?
Greg Gutfeld: "You know, as much as we would like to...aren't they from Berkley? This was just said to impress their friends back home, to look cool, and get on the Rachel Maddow show."
O'Reilly: "But this pinhead, he finally gets out, the state department had done everything to get him out and he bashes his country!"
Arthel Norville: "I have no sympathy because they shouldn't have been hiking there in the first place. That's ridiculous--you don't hike in that area. It's not like America doesn't have any beautiful hiking areas."
O'reilly: "Yeah, hiking on the Iranian border--that's what I want to do on my next vacation."
Are they serious? What the hell is the matter with them? Are they so far right that they can be so uncompassionate...so unsympathetic? Can they not even phantom the thought what these two young men went through?
Ok, it's enlightenment time:
"After 781 days of prison, Shane and I are now free men," a jubilant Joshua Fattal announced, hours after he and Shane Bauer landed at Kennedy International Airport.
Safe on US soil, the two spoke for the first time in public about their ordeal of more than two years at the hands of Iranians — accused of spying for their country by illegally walking across the Iran-Iraq border.
They say they simply got lost while hiking with another American, Sarah Shourd, who was released last year.
The three paid a brutal price for their adventure, they said, "Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them,"
Added Bauer: "How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?"
Bauer was himself beaten and Fattal forced down a flight of stairs, Shourd told reporters.
And though their families wrote them daily letters, they had to go on repeated hunger strikes to receive the letters, the men said.
The two managed to hold on to reality by reading letters sprinkled with news of what was happening in the world, Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, told The Associated Press.
Eventually, they were told — falsely — that their families had abandoned them.
Until their release, the last direct contact family members had with Bauer and Fattal was in May 2010, when their mothers were permitted a short visit in Tehran.
"Solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives," Fattal said, "We lived in a world of lies and false hope"
"Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them," Fattal said.
Added Bauer: "How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?"
Bauer was himself beaten and Fattal forced down a flight of stairs, Shourd told reporters. (By VERENA DOBNIK Associated Press, September 26, 2011)
Because of this simple statement by Bauer: "Two years in prison is too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in American and Iran"
You want to condemn them and to send them back. That they wanted to impress their friends back home, to look cool, and get on the Rachel Maddow show ( I wish!).And O'Reilly says - "But this pinhead, he finally gets out, the state department had done everything to get him out and he bashes his country!"
What the heck was that? Because he used the word American?
This is where I get confused or Mr. O'Reilly is living in his own little dream world. Because Mr. Bauer is right!
I suppose this was alright too.
You know, I am starting to wonder about O'Reilly. Does he honestly believe the things he says or thinks?
Talk about the "dumbest thing of the week".
Or wait, maybe it was about you quitting your 10 million a year show if your taxes are raised by 4.5 percent?
Here is a few facts:
$3 trillion of the U.S. budget deficit was caused by tax cuts to the rich under the Bush administration.
THE RICHEST 1 (ONE) PERCENT OF AMERICANS POSSESS MORE WEAKTH THAN
THE COMBINED WEALTH OF THE BOTTOM 90 (NINETY) PERCENT!
Do you realize what the above statement means? The bottom 90% is comprised of:
1) Every member of the middle class
2) Every member of the lower class
3) Half the members of the wealthy upper class
That means the top 0.1%, which is just one in a thousand, possesses more wealth then all these people COMBINED
In the late 70's, the richest 1% owned less 9% of income!
How did we get to this point in our history? I will discuss this in greater detail in my next article "The War Against Middle Class
Until then, here's something that may exasperate you: Some of the world's biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy a far lower tax rate than you do--that is, if they pay taxes at all.
According to Forbes, General Electric, last year the conglomerate generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion. Avoiding taxes is nothing new for General Electric. In 2008 its effective tax rate was 5.3%; in 2007 it was 15%. The marginal U.S. corporate rate is 35%.
Hewlett-Packard earned pretax income of $9.4 billion, but managed to keep their tax rate the same as someone earning less than $33,950 a year. How did they do it? Book profits at lower-tax foreign subsidiaries.
Verizon has a lovely 10.5% tax rate (don't you wish you had the same). That’s better than a long term capital gain. Although Verizon earned $11.6 billion in pretax income, they have diverted much of their income through foreign wireless partner Vodafone
Chevron paid $8 billion in taxes on $18.5 billion in pretax income. So why did they make the list? Chevron only sent Uncle Sam a check for $200 million. The rest was paid abroad in lower-tax countries. I think they should change their logo colors from red, white and blue to something more representative of the Caymans
We all know Ford and other car makers have been skidding since the recession began. The struggling car maker still managed to earn $3 billion in pretax income. The beauty? Ford only plunked down $69 million in taxes — a 2.3% tax rate. Not bad considering all the other subsidies, bailouts, and cash for clunkers we’ve already given as gifts to one of the oldest car manufacturers in the world.
ExxonMobile did pay $17.6 billion in taxes on $37.3 billion in pretax income. However, unlike Chevron, none of Exxon’s taxes were paid in the US. That’s funny … I think they sell a fair amount of profitable gasoline here.
Bank of America earned pretax income of $4.4 billion in 2009, yet the financial services super market tallied up a $1.9 billion tax benefit. How could such a travesty occur? Bank of America scoured the tax code for deductions like $860 million in tax-exempt income, $670 million in low-income housing credits, and a $600 million loss on shares of foreign subsidiaries. Making matters worse for the US Treasury, Bank of America has a provision for credit losses of $49 billion which will carry over for a long, long time
Molson Coors paid no taxes in 2009, and was actually paid $14.7 million by the government. The company used its UK and
Canadian based businesses to house gains, paying lower taxes in those countries. Coors also deferred taxes to future years.
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Cliché, sure, but it's also truer than at any time since the Gilded Age
.The poor are getting poorer, wages are falling behind inflation, and social mobility is at an all-time low.
If you're in that top 1%, life is grand, but the rest?
Here is a few facts about the rest:
(Source - Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States: 2010 - Highlights
• The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent — up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1
• In 2010, 46.2 million people were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.
• Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 9.4 percent to 9.9 percent), for Blacks (from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent), and for Hispanics (from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent). For Asians, the 2010 poverty rate (12.1 percent) was not statistically different from the 2009 poverty rate.1
• The poverty rate in 2010 (15.1 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available.
• The number of people in poverty in 2010 (46.2 million) is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
• Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for children under age 18 (from 20.7 percent to 22.0 percent) and people aged 18 to 64 (from 12.9 percent to 13.7 percent), but was not statistically different for people aged 65 and older (9.0 percent).
America is getting poorer. As you can see from the above report, 46.2 million Americans are now living in poverty. The number of those living in poverty in America has grown by 2.6 million in just the last 12 months, and that is the largest increase that we have ever seen since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959. Not only that, median household income has also fallen once again -that makes three years in a row! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States dropped 2.3% in 2010 after accounting for inflation. Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.
Should we be excited that our incomes are going down and that a record number of Americans slipped into poverty last year? Should we be thrilled that the economic pie is shrinking and that our debt levels are exploding? All of those that claimed that the U.S. economy was recovering and that everything is going to be just fine have some explaining to do.
The Republicans dare to call a tax increase on the rich "class warfare"?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) made the comment in floor remarks in which he welcomed President Obama's plan to raise taxes on thewealthy to help reduce the deficit."More than anyone else, these millionaires and billionaires benefited from Bush tax cuts and contributed $3 trillion to our deficit, to help plunge this nation into a financial hole," Reid said on the Senate floor. "A balanced approach to reduce our deficit means those who have benefited the most from policies that created our deficit should also help solve our deficit."
Greed has always existed and it always will, but when it's unchecked by government, which has been happening since the 1970s, it festers on itself. It becomes outsized and it badly distorts the economy.
When self-interest of politicians and corporations rises to a level of greed that overwhelms the economic state, people start using the power of corruption and business to undermine the way politics and markets should work.
Click For Full Size Image
What happened in the Bush era (and present day) was that people worked in their self-interest and in the interest of greed. They didn't just take more risk.They were not deluded. They knew what they were doing and knew what the outcome would be.
Since the late 70's, tax rates on the very rich have plummeted. Between the end of World War II and 1980, the top tax bracket remained over 70 percent — and even after deductions and credits was well over 50 percent. Now it’s 36 percent. As recently as the late 1980s, the capital gains rate was 35 percent. Now it’s 15 percent.
Not only are rates lower now, but loopholes are bigger. 18,000 households earning more than a half-million dollars last year paid no income taxes at all. In recent years, according to the IRS, the richest 400 Americans have paid only 18 percent of their total incomes in federal income taxes. Billionaire hedge-fund and private-equity managers are allowed to treat much of their incomes as capital gains (again, at 15 percent).
The great irony is if America’s super rich paid taxes like they use to the long-term budget deficit would be far lower. This is why a tax increase on the super rich must be part of any budget agreement. Otherwise the super rich will make the income and wealth gap far wider.
Worse yet, average working Americans who can least afford it will either lose the services they depend on, or end up with a tax burden they cannot bear.
Greed has really drove this decade: money and self-interest in the extreme drove very bad decision-making by politicians and on Wall Street, which in turn, it's important to emphasize, deeply harmed the American economy.
The corporate world is plagued by an insatiable desire for wealth and power. And Republicans are no better than those financial whores who helped get us into this mess. They put personal gain over the people they are elected to serve.
Question: what if wealth is acquired unjustly at the expense of another’s liberty? Do they just sit back and allow it to happen? Do they eventually rise up and seek justice?
I have a feeling time is running out.
The U.S. Postal Service is at risk of defaulting and may not be able to come up with the money for a $5.5 billion payment due to the government on Sept. 30, according to the New York Times. The paper also said that the Postal Service may be forced to suspend all mail deliveries this winter if something isn't done soon by Congress to shore up its finances.
The service already has said it likely will close at least 3,700 post offices and
300 mail processing plants nationwide as part of cost cutting, resulting in the lost of 220,000 postal jobs (120,000 proposed through layoffs, 100,000 through attrition), and has discussed moving to five-day delivery of mail.
How can this be possible? Has email initiated the demise of the United States Postal Service??
Obviously, the United States Postal Service has suffered tremendous losses over the past several years as email, texting and other forms of communication have increased in popularity, but the answer is NO
This is the historic fabrication that Republicans would like Americans to believe about the second oldest department or agency of the present United States of America
. (Some interesting historic facts about the USPO.)
Let’s set the record straight: If the Postal Service was
not subjected to a USPS-specific congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. As it is, it is the only federal agency required to do so: It must pre-fund these benefits some 75 years into the future
on a massively accelerated schedule, which costs the Postal Service $5.5 billion annually.
If it were not for this unique health benefit pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service would have recorded a cumulative profit of $1 billion from 2007 to 2010
Also, due to an accounting error, legislation also is needed to return a $6.9 billion overpayment into the Federal Employees Retirement System to the Postal Service.
The United States Postal Service is financialy sound. This postal-only mandate accounts for 100 percent of the Postal Service’s $20 billion in losses over the past four years. The $47 billion the Postal Service has deposited into its retiree health fund over the past four years would have been available for operating costs.
The Republicans has bee trying to privatize the US Postal Service for years and on December 20, 2006, President Bush signed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006
passed by the Republican led Congress. It was this bill that introduced the health benefit pre-funding requirement that sabotaged the USPS to force the post office out of business and bust the unions.
The USPS is an independent government agency and is expected to be fully self-financing and receives essentially no tax dollars. It pays for it's operations through the sale of it's services and products. Recognizing the need to address their financial losses themselves, the USPS has put forth a number of proposals about cutting back on the offerings of the Postal Service. Such drastic measures demonstrate the agency’s ability for internal reform, and suggest that privatization is unnecessary to restore its financial balance.
However, proponents for privatization claim that the cost to consumers would be reduced by removing the mail service from government control. How they arrive at this pretense is beyond me. Common sense and market prices suggest otherwise. A 44 cent stamp will get a letter delivered in two to three days. According to USP and FedEx website, two-day delivery of a similar letter to the same destination will cost between $20-30 dollars. Even if you used USPS Priority Mail, it would cost less then $5 dollars.
The loss of the USPS as a low cost competitor would grant USP, FedEx, and other private shipping companies greater ability to increase their costs, secure in the knowledge that consumers has no alternative when sending mail.
What about online retailers? Do you think they will absorb the increased shipping cost? Of course not, they will pass it onto their customers.
There is bright light - H.R. 1351 (United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011), a bill introduced in the House by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA).
According to the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), "The Lynch bill would prevent the financial collapse of the USPS – without reducing mail delivery, closing thousands of post offices, eliminating hundreds of mail processing facilities, firing 120,000 workers or ending collective-bargaining rights. It would allow the Postal Service to apply billions of dollars in pension overpayments to the congressional mandate that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees."
"Unfortunately, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has another idea. Word on Capitol Hill is that Rep. Issa is blocking consideration of H.R. 1351. Instead, he has introduced a bill that would destroy the Postal Service as we know it. His bill (H.R. 2309) ignores the cause of the USPS financial crisis: It would do nothing about the pension overpayments or the pre-funding requirement. Rather, it would establish a “solvency authority” with the power to unilaterally cut wages, abolish benefits, and end protection against layoffs. If H.R. 2309 is enacted, thousands of offices throughout the country would be closed.
At the same time, the Postal Service is proposing legislative changes that would authorize management to eliminate Saturday delivery, lay off 120,000 workers and remove postal employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and from federal retirement plan"
We, the people must step up and save the United States Postal Service. After all, the Postal Service has served us faithfully for 236 years .
"We are mothers and fathers. And sons and daughters. Who every day go about our lives with duty, honor and pride. And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. Ever" -from a USPS TV commercial
Just to let you know, I started writing this post last night and I woke up this morning to this little bit of news - SAT reading scores drop to lowest point in decades
As you can see, it isn't only reading!
Surprise! Surprise!Wasn't this perfect timing! You have to love when a plan comes together!
But seriously, just how stupid are Americans?
According to this article from the Associated Press (3/1/06) “Homer Simpson, Yes -- 1st Amendment 'Doh,' Survey Finds"
"About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the fictional cartoon family, according to a survey.
"The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms."
It would seem, pretty stupid, when we come across headlines like this.
Or perhaps you do know it when you see it? Or Is it just because you are uninformed….unaware? If the answer is yes, then doesn't that mean you are ignorant?
Unless we attempt a definition of some sort, we risk incoherence, dooming our investigation of stupidity from the outset. Stupidity cannot mean, as Forrest Gump (Love this movie) would have it, stupid is as stupid does.
For me, this excerpt from Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth About the American Voter by Richard Shenkman
“Five defining characteristics of stupidity, it seems to me, are readily apparent. First, is sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who's in charge. Second, is negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events. Third, is wooden-headedness, as the
historian Barbara Tuchman defined it: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts. Fourth, is shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country's long-term interests. Fifth, and finally, is a broad category I call bone-headedness, for want of a better name: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears.”
I argue there is hard evidence pointing incontrovertibly to the conclusion that millions are embarrassingly ill-informed and that they do not care that they are. There is enough evidence that one could almost conclude -- though admittedly this is a stretch -- that we are living in an Age of Ignorance.
It would seem that this should be an Oxymoron considering our unprecedented access to information. After all, we can now watch developments as they occur halfway around the world in real time. Unlike our parents, who were forced to rely mainly on newspapers and the network news shows to find out what was happening in the world; we can flip on CNN and Fox or consult the Internet.
Our access is indeed extraordinary, but the Oxymoron can be traced to our mistaking actual consumption of the information.
Is it any wonder then on the basis of their comprehensive statistics, Delli Carpini and Keeter concluded that only 5% of Americans could correctly answer three-fourths of the questions asked about economics, only 11% of the questions about domestic issues, 14% of the questions about foreign affairs, and 10% of the questions about geography. The highest score? More Americans knew the correct answers to history questions than any other (which will come as a surprise to many history teachers). Still, only 25% knew the correct answers to three-quarters of the history questions, which were rudimentary (aka simple).
What about young people? Certainly, with all the vast amounts of information available to them , we are not getting any dumber.
Another excerpt from Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth About the American Voter by Richard Shenkman
"They aren't watching the cable news shows either. The average age of CNN's audience is sixty. And they surely are not watching the network news shows, which attract mainly the Depends generation. Nor are they using the Internet in large numbers to surf for news. Only 11% say that they regularly click on news web pages.
Compared with Americans generally -- and this isn't saying much, given their low level of interest in the news -- young people are the least informed of any age cohort save possibly for those confined to nursing homes. In fact, the young are so indifferent to newspapers that they single-handedly are responsible for the dismally low newspaper readership rates that are bandied about.
In earlier generations -- in the 1950s, for example -- young people read newspapers and digested the news at rates similar to those of the general population. Nothing indicates that the current generation of young people will suddenly begin following the news when they turn 35 or 40. Indeed, half a century of studies suggest that most people who do not pick up the news habit in their twenties probably never will.
Young people today find the news irrelevant. Bored by politics, students shun the rituals of civic life, voting in lower numbers than other Americans.
It would appear that young people today are doing very little reading of any kind. In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts, consulting a vast array of surveys, including the United States Census, found that just 43% of young people ages 18 to 24 read literature. In 1982, the number was 60%. A majority do not read either newspapers, fiction, poetry, or drama. Save for the possibility that they are reading the Bible or works of non-fiction, for which solid statistics are unavailable, it would appear that this generation is less well read than any other since statistics began to be kept. "
The studies demonstrating that young people know less today than young people a generation ago does not get much publicity.
How much ignorance can a country stand? There have to be terrible consequences when it reaches a certain level. Maybe we are seeing those consequences. Can you say - The Great Recession?
But wait, most of you probably don’t even know what that is.
Do America and yourself a service, put down Facebook and open a news website or turn on CNN.