Category Archives: Taxes

Boon for Biz: Healthcare Mandate Upheld

“Chief Justice Roberts sides with the left”   says the liveblog of the SCOTUS from HuffingtonPost. They’ve upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. It is being treated as a tax by the courts – that is the interpretation. There is a provision of a sort of state’s rights caveat, but conservatives may be disappointed and shocked, especially with Roberts. What is being parsed here is one of the factions of the conservative movement.

The Official Opinion on the ACA Act:http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf

“The Left” liked the mandate because they are empathetic to all, Roberts liked it – more likely – because it goes a long way in marrying private interests with government requirements in which the values responsible are questionable.

The values of the ACA supporters are up for debate, but the values behind for profit health care are not. If the legislature and court are going to uphold the idea that the government can tax and require Americans to buy a product or service, the least they could do is insure that service has Americans best interest in mind – not theirs. This decision is a victory for empathy among the people but also for Big Business related to the the health care industry. It’s a blow for individual choice but a victory for a sense of a shared human (American) condition.

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Book Burning Party!

Clever reverse psychology campaign. Risky, but clever, and it worked very well. I would not doubt that in some areas of this country, there are those that think a library roast would be just fine.

What can be learned from this is that a powerful frame – even your opposition’s frame is the most important thing in messaging. All of the publicity was just about the celebration of book burning, not a soapbox of reasons and policy discussion. The discussions happen amongst the people, publicity is about grabbing someone and getting them halfway there – to support your idea. Frames are about evoking imagery we already know. The frame of book burning is powerful and very negative; that frame did most of the mental work for this campaign. Getting the word out about it was just “boots on the ground” (and on Facebook).

Resorting to this type of campaign is not exactly genuine, it is manipulating and using the reactionary state of mind we are constantly in. Our current culture eschews critical thinking in favor of knee jerking. Could this type of reverse psychology be used for other issues? All of the ideas that spring to mind are horribly offensive either in content or concept – which is why they may work.

  • A list of debilitating diseases accompanied by a “euthanasia clinic” for those who have them and aren’t able to afford medical care.
  • An announcement that a huge tax break has passed with the understanding that instead, your pay will be garnished and directly sent to BP, Bank of America, Blackwater and Pfizer.
  • A news story about an obscure town in Idaho who’s school board is majority wiccan and they have required prayer in school and posted the coven’s covenant at the high school entrance.
  • A proposal to adjust labor and civil rights laws to allow discrimination based upon how virtuous your romantic life has been, proof of pre-marital sex or divorce is grounds for discrimination and termination.
  • An anti-abortion rally that requires each participant to sign up and pay dues to be an adoptive parent and financially support pregnant women.
  • A requirement for all newborns to register for military service.

You get the idea. It is a sad state of affairs that these are the tricky tactics we consider to simply secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is that difficult to get folks to participate in democracy. Reality TV? Sure. But reality? It moves so sloow!  Without some fantastic entertaining, exploitative, or outrageous element, it’s hard to get noticed.

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Sharing our Marbles

How to Get the Rich to Share The Marbles is the title of an article by Johnathan Haidt, psychology professor, printed in the New York Times in February. It explains the psychology around “sharing the spoils” behavior. I’m jumping right to the punch with this quote from the article, then I’ll work backward explaining how we got here:

If the Democrats really want to get moral psychology working for them, I suggest that they focus less on distributive fairness — which is about whether everyone got what they deserved — and more on procedural fairness—which is about whether honest, open and impartial procedures were used to decide who got what. If there’s a problem with the ultra-rich, it’s not that they have too much wealth, it’s that they bought laws that made it easy for them to gain and keep so much more wealth in recent decades. Continue reading

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Listen…A Giant Sucking Sound

Ross was right. Ross Perot was right.

1992 was my first presidential election as an eligible voter. I was engaged and trying to figure out where my value system fell and what I believed in. I was already tired of the two party system and could not understand why we continued to have one. I was excited that Ross Perot was running as a somewhat viable third party candidate even though I didn’t know a lot about him. I voted for him.

Today, I am not sure that I would do anything differently knowing what I do. He certainly had one part right, the “giant sucking sound”. He explains:

Economics is not my forté, but Perot put’s things in a frame I can understand. When we take away the levies that keep our wages high, we are going to find a lowest common denominator of a wage along with the rest of the globe. American business is motivated by money to forget about everything but the bottom line – no worker considerations, no health and safety practices, no carbon counting. If Americans want those bothersome things to be considered – fine – but then industry will simply no longer be American.

The 1% and the global corporations that prop them up are taking American workers down a few notches. We (the masses) got a little full of ourselves, kind of empowered, and had a bit too much extra spending money for their comfort. We’ve had our heydey (hope you were alive/enjoyed the 1950s), and now it’s time to return to serfdom (that’s mid-evil speak for a life of servitude to another).

The 1% would prefer it if you were born into poverty, were desperate for the most basic survival essentials (we are so much less mouthy about government when we are focused on being cold and hungry), and weren’t aware of opportunities for expression or liberty (they take up too much time in which you could have been making a profit for them).

I don’t remember a whole lot about that campaign season but I do remember this quip about the giant sucking sound and the point about NAFTA. Ross was right. He may or may not have been a decent President, but he predicted what is happening now. The value of human life and livelihood is nil to the 1%ers. American values of freedom, democracy, expression, and the idea of the commons are being squeezed out in favor of the value of capitalism. What’s the big deal about values? They’re everything. Without American values, we are just a bunch of people at the mercy of those that can bully us.

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TED and the Question of “Job Creators” as “The Creator”

TED is kind of a big deal these days. The format is pretty simple, you get X amount of time to talk (from 5 to 18 minutes I believe, depending on the event and venue), you have to beat out other presenters to get that space, you have an audience, they film it, and you may or may not become an internet sensation because you were so brilliant in your concise and exciting presentation. It costs money to sit in the audience, and those on the stage are very “staged” – very rehearsed, made up, props ready, everything just so so that the spotlight is on whatever edutainment is about to knock our socks off. Well, sit down, there is a rumble of discontent among those following TED talks.

Nick Hanauer is a venture capitalist that did a short TED talk which can be found here. His man point was that taxing the rich benefits most people in a society (including the rich), and that the meme of the rich as “job creators” is completely false, it belongs to the buying power of the middle class.  This idea isn’t brand spankin’ new, but it is short and simple to understand. News organizations in the MSM pick up Frank Luntz’s “job creator” meme and attach it to the wealthy without skipping a beat. It is refreshing to have someone call out this new invented and presumed correct term, and actually call it into question – something our daily news rarely does. Hanauer didn’t just call out the term “job creator” as being attributed to the wrong class of people, he also called out the language – “creator”. I agree with Hanauer, the word “creator” is in there for a very real reason – it harkens to the Creator and gives a nod to the wealthy class that they are god like or god approved, in their benevolence to the rest of us. Continue reading

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