Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dinosaurs living with humans, 911 caused by the US government, astronauts seeing UFOs, Christ found on the moon

A "conservative" Christian was down at the Friday Peace Vigil to harass the vigil; or maybe he would say "witness the Bible" to them. Most folks were shouting at him, or ignoring him, but I tried to have a civil conversation as he approached me with his Bible.

We got on the topic of dinosaur and human footprints and he thinks dinosaurs and humans were here at the same time. I kept saying that the geologic evidence doesn't show that. Dinosaurs lived millions of years before humans. He doesn't buy the science that contradicts what he thinks the Bible says. I pointed out that one can believe just about anything; including some of the peace activists who think 911 was caused by our own government. I don't believe our government caused 911 by setting explosives in the buildings, tho some of my friends at the vigil do believe that.

He then started talking about a corporation, that he used to work at, where rumors were rampant. The conversation ended on a friendly note where we kind of agreed how gullible people can be and how easy it is for rumors to spread. I think the conversation actually ended when a friend of his tugged on his arm and said, I think it's time to go; like time to go eat or something.

Then I was talking to another person, about the space program, and he was saying that quite a few astronauts relate experiences of seeing UFOs while in space, but the government is hiding much of the info. I was a bit skeptical so I brought up the story of a former astronaut who "found Christ on the moon." It's a memory I have from TV news in the 1970s. Upon looking it up tonight, I found it was Jame's Irwin of Apollo 15.

Lots of claims out there. I'm fairly open minded, but skeptical.

Reading the story of Irwin, he was working hard on the moon in high heat as his drinking water tube wasn't functioning. With thirst and the sweaty work environment, NASA was noticing his heart was showing signs of stress. At one point, he was having trouble with a scientific instrument and prayed for help. Christ appeared and helped him set up that experiment. Upon returning from the moon, he became, basically, an evangelist. Christ appearing, but skeptics might think he was a bit under duress in that hot spacesuit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Maybe corporations pay less income tax overseas, but wealthy individuals pay more. We could do that here in USA to incentivize business investment.

Republicans are pushing for a corporate tax cut. They say business and corporations pay 35% taxes in USA while only having to pay 15% taxes in Canada. Lower corporate taxes in other developed countries as well. I can understand that logic, but what they don't say is that wealthy individuals pay higher taxes in Canada and most other developed countries. Maybe business gets more of a tax break, but wealthy individuals pay more.

I think the tax talk needs to do a better job differentiating between business and personal wealth.

I can see trying to reform taxes to create incentives for people to keep their money in business creating American jobs. Invest in the business, rather than the personal wealth that's spent on second homes and so forth. The wealthy, in this country, inflate things like the housing market by investing in already existing asserts; houses, collectables, famous paintings and so forth. Maybe the tax code should be modified to encourage people to put their money to work in a jobs creating business instead.

If we get a corporate tax cut, we shouldn't have it for nothing. Raising taxes on wealthy individual's personal income would be needed to balance that.

I know that some folks, on the left, would totally oppose any tax cut to business; especially corporations. They say that corporations find all the loopholes and don't pay much in taxes anyway. They really don't pay 35%. To some extent, that could be true. It's like a he said, she said kind of argument.

Another problem with the business tax cut idea is that artificial intelligence and automation is taking away many of the well paying jobs. Even if the business environment, in USA, is improved to make it more of an even playing field with other countries, there is no guarantee that lots of good jobs will follow.

To some extent, corporate culture and rampant materialism is the problem. We need to learn how to strive for quality of life. Part of quality of life could be developing business and a meaningful career so I can still see the logic in trying to help business to some extent. On the other hand, we also need to learn how to create quality of life in spite of whether the economy is booming or not.

I sometimes listen to Larry Kudlow on the radio who talks about corporate tax cuts, but people like him seem to never talk about balancing this with other taxes. It's all cut, cut, cut. Personal income of the wealthy, in this country, is vast and personal income taxes are much lower in USA than other developed countries such as Canada.

Some conservative economists say that just about any tax cut can be paid back from the taxes paid by increased economic activity caused by the tax cut. They always say that, but I'm sure there's a law of diminishing returns here. If tax cuts were always the road to prosperity we could conceivably cut taxes to 0 for maximum prosperity. I know, with the law of diminishing returns, this has to stop somewhere.

Other factors effect prosperity as well, such as environmental constraints; not just regulation that conservatives talk ad infinitum about. There are true constraints posed by the environment and the people living in that environment. Water shortages, lumber shortages, lack of space, traffic gridlock, you name it. Taxes are only one part of the picture.

Elon Musk has done a lot with his wealth to invest in new business frontiers such as Space X and electric vehicles. This is the kind of thing I can see as an argument for incentivizing investment in American business. On the other hand, it seems like most American business leaders and wealthy individuals are more risk averse.

The true bottom line should be quality of life which may, admittedly, be hard to measure. A good question to ponder is, are the wealthy helping us to do great things as a society or are they just hoarding money?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Upper middle class, rather than just the 1%, needs to pay more taxes

I think it can be a mistake when the left just vilifies the 1% income bracket. In the culture wars, part of the 1% tends to lean left.

Income disparity is a big problem, but I think it goes beyond just the 1%. Ideally, we should strengthen the progressive aspects of our income tax system. That means higher income people should pay more including 1% paying the most. With a more progressive tax system, other higher income people would pay more as well. The 1% would be at the top so they would pay the most, but other upper income people would, most likely, pay more also.

Income discrepancy also means that upper middle class has gotten way ahead of most of the rest of society. Possibly the top 20% needs to pay more, but I don't have a definite figure. The goal wouldn't be to draw a line around a certain group of folks just to vilify them. It would be to have a more progressive tax system. Upper income people could still be a welcome part of our communities.

Taxes do generate revenue for government, but another effect could be to tame some of the inflationary forces in, for instance real estate, where prices can go way out of line with other things in the economy. Housing prices can go up around 10% per year while the overall inflation rate, including most wages, is around 2%, for instance. I'm not citing exact numbers, but more the concept.

The income of upper middle class is a big part of what drives the lack of affordable housing for lower income people; including what could be called most of the working class. Upper middle class has created an inflated market for housing as home values skyrocket in many locations. Other things like the high fees charged by many professionals, such as doctors, drives a lot of the problems with access to healthcare and so forth.

If I were to redo the tax code, I would make the graduated tax steeper, as it was before the so called Regan Revolution. I would also provide some relief for business. If wealthy and upper middle class wish to invest their money in job creating business, there could be deductions. One doesn't want to smother business with taxes. On the other hand, if the money is just kept as personal income and used to drive up already existing investments such as real estate, I would increase the tax on that. It wouldn't have to be too punitive, but migrating more toward a progressive tax system could help bring some balance back to our economy. A healthier and more balanced economy could bring benefit to all.

Friday, September 08, 2017

My 2017 bicycle trip photos now posted to Flickr


Pictured: a grain elevator in Davenport, WA.

The photo album from my most recent bicycle trip to Pullman is now on Flickr. Open to the entire web. No need to log into anything.

When you click on each individual photo in the album, captions will appear at bottom left. Some of the photos have longer descriptions also for telling the story of my trip along with some childhood memories.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Debt ceiling is like an alarm clock they alway hit snooze on anyway. Might as well turn the damn thing off.

Maybe Trump and the Democrats can work together to get rid of the debt ceiling. It's like an alarm clock that keeps ringing and they always hit the snooze button.

In my opinion, the debt ceiling is just a token effort to rein in federal spending that's always broken anyway by such needs as hurricane relief, military spending and Medicare. It's like an alarm clock that gets in the way cause it's never headed. It keeps ringing causing political and financial turmoil and they always hit the snooze button anyway. Might as well shut the dam thing off if they aren't going to get up for it (so to speak) anyway.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Accepting the reality of the population that is here

Even the Republican Congress might pass legislation to, at least partially, accommodate the dreamer children. That's the children who have been brought to this country as children, but aren't officially citizens.

Paul Ryan, who normally says some pretty bad things, has said about the dreamers. "At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know." Coming from Paul Ryan, that's somewhat encouraging.

Maybe something can get done tho I don't really trust the Republicans. They now just about own this country and it's issues, however. They now get the blame and have the obligation to try and make it work.

Part of the immigration issue is the fact that there are more people that have come to USA than the legal quotas for immigration allow. Those quotas are set by Congress. The quotas can be adjusted to better reflect the reality of who's here. Better reflect who's here and, in many cases, already working in our economy.

A big part of the issue is world population growth. The numbers keep getting bigger. The numbers and the quotas that have been set by Congress in the past don't match.