Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Future of America, Taxes, Political Analysis, & Predictions after Super Tuesday

So, the results from last night are very interesting. I feel as though our nation is on the cusp of a coming hard time, no matter the results. The current trade deficit because of petroleum prices is taking vast sums of money out of our economy. Every time you fill up your gas tank, unless you buy from Sinclair, you're most likely putting money into the economies of Venezuela, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, or Norway.

I recognize that the people who make more than $250k a year pay 40% of personal income taxes in this country, and I recognize that if you are married and have a child, you don't pay any federal income taxes unless you make above $30k. However, the tax situation in our nation is still not appropriate. I'm not talking about fair; I mean appropriate for the amount of government that we receive. Certainly lowering taxes makes people happy and gives them more money to spend, but the government is spending money that we don't have. We're getting a dollar's worth of services for 90 cents. We're borrowing 10% or more of our budget from the Chinese and other holders of 30-year T-bills.

The Gross National Debt

Something has got to give. We're at war, but we're lowering taxes? It doesn't make sense. No one is being asked to sacrifice anything, save the people who decided to join the military, which is made of the lower class and lower-middle class segments of our society (for the most part).

Now, who doesn't hate taxes? I don't particularly care for them, but when I see what kinds of services that money brings in relation to the rest of the world, which I have toured and seen by the way, then I am thankful that I live in a place where the taxes are used to benefit others. A recent study has shown that, for example, a dollar's worth of food stamps, actually brings $1.67 back into the economy via paying the grocery store employees' salaries, the transportation workers' salaries, the farmers', etc. Those people all earn money, and pay taxes on that money, which stimulates the economy. Giving large tax breaks to corporations on ad valorem taxes does precious little to stimulate the economy.

I also am fully aware that allowing the richest members of society to have more free capital allows them to reinvest that money in job-creating enterprises, yet this is no guarantee that they will. Taxes exist for the benefit of all; there is never a promise that you will receive back in proportion to the amout of taxes you pay. I don't want to live in an economy like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, or Baldomero Lillo's "La compuerta numero doce," where the workers' needs take second fiddle to the riches of the owner.

So when I hear Mitt Romney say that he wants to make it so that "seniors" (I hate that term) don't have to pay Social Security taxes on income they earn past retirement age it makes me angry. Everyone pays into the system for the benefit of all! Just because you've reached your retirement age doesn't mean that if you have earned income you're suddenly exempt. He's trying to buy votes. I see flawed reasoning here; by his reckoning then, anyone without children shouldn't have to pay property taxes because their kids aren't in school!

When someone mentions a flat tax, I immediately stop listening to anything they say; ever notice that only rich people like Steve Forbes and Jack Kemp advocate for the flat tax? When politicians mention repealing the "death tax" I realize that they are pandering to the rich. I don't know anyone rich enough to have to pay the so-called death tax, save maybe my dad's best friend. Most of us don't need to worry about this. The indisputable fact is that the estate tax is paid only by multimillionaires and billionaires, the top one-half of 1 percent of the wealthiest households in the U.S. Yet, some of our wealthiest people are honest enough to see the benefits and reasons behind this tax: George Soros, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet all disagree with repealing it.

So, taxes are a serious issue. Even though I don't make a lot of money, and a tax increase would have a serious impact on how much money I would have to live off each month, I am in favor of increasing federal income taxes back to where they were in 2000. The monetization of our national debt has allowed us false prosperity in the last decade. The housing boom and now its bust is part of a cycle created by the defacto printing of money by the Federal Reserve system. All this wealth created during the housing boom is ephemeral. Your house is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and given the market costs right now, the vast majority of home purchases in the last 5 years are upside down on their mortgages. Things got out of hand. The economy cannot live by housing booms alone. I want a president AND Congress who will address these issues. I want massive public investments via university research, government labs, and NASA into technologies that will lesson our dependence on foreign energy sources, and thus leave far more capital in our economy and not in the hands of rogue nations who are essentially our enemies that we allow to suck at our financial teets. Every dollar you spend at Citgo trickles down into the economy of Venezuela via the megalomaniacal policies of Hugo Chavez (of course other companies also purchase oil from Venezuela, so boycotting Citgo isn't as effective as you might think, not to mention that it employs 4,000 Americans). My point is that we should do eveything possible to lesson our need for petroleum. If we could cut our demand for gas by 15%, the price would drop, the air quality would improve, and well, the new technology created could do wonders for our economy as we manufactured and licensed to the rest of the world. Using corn to power our cars is stupid, corrupt, shortsighted, and will cause famine in our places around the world. Corn ethanol produces negligibly more energy than it takes to produce it.

So I want a president who will address these issues, a president willing to invest tens of billions of dollars in promising domestic energy sources and technologies. A president who is willing to invest in HIGHER EDUCATION and stop overly-taxing the middle class through student loans to pay for previously affordable education from state universities. A president willing to see that access to the "world's best healthcare system" doesn't mean shit to the people who can't afford access to the "world's best healthcare system." A president who sees that finding, capturing, and bringing to trial Osama Bin Laden should be our number one national security issue. A president who isn't afraid to publicly ask the world for help in maintaining Iraqi security while they transition through a rough spot. A president who doesn't call it "illegal immigration" and "amnesty" but who sees the benefit that immigrants bring to our country, recognizes the security risk by having an uncontrolled border, makes a legal way for people to come here to work (thus ending the need to cross in the middle of the wilderness in the night), and grants a humane way for those already here (who are good members of society--not gangbangers and lazy deadbeats) to stay here legally. And, finally, a president who isn't afraid to raise taxes to pay for these programs.

I don't know if any of the current candidates match what I want, but I know that Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Huckabee ARE NOT the kind of president I want. So, I'm left with Barack Obama and John McCain. I like McCain, I think he's a decent man. I like Obama, maybe, sort of. I hate legislators as presidents. We need a third candidate, and true moderate, one with vision. I don't see it happening ever though.

I think Obama is the nominee. He won Utah, Alabama, and Idaho. It is noteworthy that a black man could win lilly-white Utah and Idaho. Times are a changin'.

Hispanics gave California to Hillary. After Mitt Romney anti-immigrant rhetoric of the last few weeks, is it any wonder that he didn't take California? Seriously? Mike Huckabee is screwing up Romney's campaign. If Huckabee were gone, we might have an actual race, but now it looks like McCain's got it all wrapped up. To all my Mormon friends who have been goo-goo eyed of Romney nomination, I told you so. He will not win it. People will not elect a Mormon president. It won't happen. Maybe in 30 years, but Mitt Romney's not the guy to do it.

I think politicians who want to run for president should have to resign their current political office after the officially declare their candidacy.

Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. John McCain will be the Republican nominee.

Obama's running mate is unclear. McCain would be a fool not to run with Colin Powell.


Anonymous said...

Mac. This is Nathanial Gardner. We studied an MA together at BYU for a while. I have been trying to find you email because I have been wanting to contact you . I have sent you a message at your email ´' Thanks, Nathanial

daniel said...

it seems Mit is out, right?

i'm watching the news and debates from here (Brazil), Mac, and what i see in the republican party is the complete predominance of clichés over ideas - "this is the greatest nation in the history of the entire planet" is the funnier; if at least it is the greatest nation in the modern history, only, hehe.

i like US culture (music an literature), but the politicians give themselves no respect.

and, regarding your comment in my blog, about the number of brazilians in N. Orleans: as we like to say here, "há mais brasileiros do que gente", hehe.

até mais.

shawnse said...

Hi Mac,

You and I used to have debates on taxes and such ... I think you have become a tad more financially liberal?

I like what you wrote! And I think you and I are actually in complete agreement!

The only difference is that I don't trust republicans to do it. To me, if you have view like this ... you actually hope that the Democrats start leaning further to the left....



shawnse said...

Hey Mac,

Two links for you (I just skimmed them ... but the graphs say a lot).

I have a third link the I recall seeing ... I'll let you know if I find it.


shawnse said...

And a nice graph that clearly illustrates our current housing bubble:


Mac said...

Yeah Shawn, I'm much more moderate than I used to be. I'm sick of eight years of Republican lies after eight years of Democrat lies.

That last link was really interesting. The housing bubble in Vegas is especially bad. A lot of Mickelle's family lives in that region of the country...not good.

I want a third party so badly in this country, but no one inspired me anymore. They're all a bunch of liars.

Oh, and definitely, Cheers!

shawnse said...

Hey Mac,

Are you able to read the three links that I posted? After I look ... on my screen they are cut off by the blog system....

Just in case (and for others?) here are the three links again:

1. The richest 1 in 10,000 pay less than half in taxes than the did just 30 years ago (and everyone else's taxes are about the same). This is not government "for the people"....

2. And yet the richest 1 in 100 now earn more than twice the percentage income than they did just 30 years ago (while everyone else is consquentially making relatively less)

3. And the housing bubble is clearly out of control ... and hasn't even begun to correct itself yet

Oh, and besides the tax issue. Mac, I totally agree with you about the energy issues too. [but no links here]

1. The Unites States is seriously at risk of loosing its wealth to oil producing countries. Due to our being so geographically dispersed ... energy is probably more important to us than any other country.

2. The United States should invest billions of dollars into researching alternative energies. If/Once we find the solution ... energy issues will bring money into the US ... instead of leaking it out by the boat load....