Tuesday, January 1, 2013
It's time for a look back and a look forward. You can read the prognostications I made on this date last year on my 2012 post. How did I do, eh? Did most of that stuff not fall into place just as I predicted?
As a person whose career was in the financial field, including eleven years at the IRS in various capacities, of course I have been following the Fiscal Cliff Fiasco closely. I don't have many issues with the outcome of the negotiations as we know them at this point. Of course the $450,000 cutoff point for the new tax rates is way too high: $250,000 is a far more rational figure. Unlike many far left wingers, I think the estate taxes are severe enough as negotiated. The most important issue I have is that the IRS concept of earned and unearned income, as mandated by the millionaires in congress, should have been thrown in the trash bin ages ago! The whole idea is a disgrace. If any income should be taxed higher, it should be the gravy from investments, not the meager wages of a poor, struggling family of four. The EITC should be the ITC. The massive numbers of filers of the Earned Income Tax Credit for children should have as simplified a tax form as possible. The unearned income crap needlessly complicates things. I am glad to see the capital gains tax raised to 20%, but that is still too low. All income should be taxed equally.
The blogs have been squabbling viciously over Obama's Chained CPI. This attempt by Obama to destroy the middle class once and for all cuts me to the bone. I feel strongly that this is and will be remembered as his NAFTA if he gets his way. I have always felt that NAFTA was Clinton's biggest mistake and the Chained CPI could be Obama's. This issue to me is second only to overpopulation as a definition of what has gone wrong with our economy and the soul of our once great nation. It has been crystal clear for a very long time that the millionaires and corporations of America do not give a rat's ass if they destroy the middle class by outsourcing, downsizing, and the general race to the bottom of the wage scale. I did not vote for Obama until I had to and I stand behind that concept. He is the lesser of evils and nothing more. He is good at war, but he sucks in standing up to the Republicans and his corporate masters.
I am reminded of one of Bill Hicks' most inspired comic bits. Bill barely lived to see Clinton elected. The legendary Austin comic had few grand illusions about our political system. He described the new President in The White House soon after his election. A few quietly serious guys in suits took the new President down to the basement. They sat him down and showed him a short film shot from a different camera angle than The Magruder Film, then asked the new president if he had any questions. Of course I seriously doubt that this has actually happened as stated in the joke. Haven't you ever wondered exactly who made the momentous decision to place an inexperienced state senator on the stage to give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2004?
My biggest concern is that this stupid little two-month delay in the cliff crisis will just prolong the agony until President Chickennuts gets the cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that he wants. Why does he want them so badly? First of all, because his ego and popularity are the forces that control him. His relentless need to be popular defines who he is. I am amazed that his fat head even fits through the White House doors! Will the dreaded Chained CPI pass in 2013? I hesitate to make that call, but I do think it is more than a little possible. Although I think Obama is an excellent face of America to deal with our foreign affairs, I think the nickname I gave him is appropriate for most of his domestic battles. He wants to help the American people, but not at the expense of incurring the wrath of his corporate masters.
The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday about four American corporate institutions that might go the way of the dodo in 2013. Sadly, I cannot agree more. They may not meet their demise this year, but we shall see it happen soon enough. The only questions are exactly when and in what order. Radio Shack, a Texas institution, was one of the first retailers to begin selling information about their customers. For this reason and others, I was a bigger fan of Lafayette Radio Electronics back in the good old days. What are they selling now that a customer cannot easily get elsewhere? Best Buy is caught in a retail shark sandwich between Amazon/J&R and Walmart/Target. I hate to see them go, but what can you do? They cannot undercut the prices of these competitors, no matter how hard they may try. Even their relatively small appliance market is under severe attack from Lowes and Home Depot. Penny's is going down? You mean they are still around? What are the hillbillies of America going to do when they no longer have the ubiquitous Sears & Roebuck catalog in their outhouses? What? You mean the Roebuck name and the big, fat catalogs have been gone for decades? Goodbye mall anchors!
Don't look for posts to consistently appear on this blog in the near future. I have almost completely ceased blogging. I have decided it is mostly a waste of time and creativity. All my energies of late have been put into my book projects, and that is the way things will likely stay for most or all of 2013. If you have read my 2012 post, surely you have realized by now that the infamous Fred book was a scam that has never come to fruition. The Blog Wars won. The American voters lost. I have disgustingly learned that the Cultural Elite of the Democratic Party is not a group that thinks like me. Look at the current slap-fights between Common Dreams/Firedoglake and Huffington Post/Politicususa. Have you caught on yet how much this is just like the infamous Babygate Blog Wars? I made only one short comment at Politicus about this topic: United we stand, divided we fall. I'll stick with that attitude.
The biggest issue we all face is still global warming and the overpopulation and over-consumption that drives it. At the rate we are going, I doubt that America will do much to change its collective mind about these issues in 2013. The political will still has its head firmly planted where it does none of us any good. The last two years have been chocked full of excitement if you are a weatherman, but very little seems to break through the fog.
Let's hope that twenty little first-graders who did not survive to experience the delights of Santa Claus in 2012 will adequately inspire our do-nothing Congress to finally clamp down on our rampant and rabid gun culture. I have lived in the South practically all my life. My favorite toys as a child were guns and I received my first rifle for Christmas at the age of ten. Most of the people I have known in my life have been gun owners. I still own a gun now. None of these validates the presence of military grade and style weapons pervasive throughout our civilian culture. The assault rifles, large magazines, and miscellaneous military and police paraphernalia need to go. I have no problem with other guns, including semi-automatic pistols with clips holding ten or less bullets. No one ever shot Bambi or defended his home with an assault rifle holding a hundred rounds of ammo. It's time to clamp down on Internet and gun show sales of these products, too. Maybe put some sort of limit on how much ammunition can be purchased by a single individual within a given period of time.
There is little question as to the effect mental instability has upon some of the individuals who carry out these mass murders. Surprisingly, the most detailed news story I have read on the latest mass shooting was in The National Enquirer. While the story was hot, I read the articles in the local Newtown papers. The Newtown Bee was a good second source. Aside from the direct tragedy of it all, the poignant issue I first noticed in the news was that the police and media held back as long as they could in describing the shooter's mental problems and the details of his weaponry. The fact that a shotgun was left in the suspect's deceased mother's car was repeated over and over. The fact that most, if not all, of the school murders were done with a military-style assault rifle was held back from the public for nearly two days. If you read the Enquirer article, you will learn that even the shotgun was unusual, a clue that Mom was indeed a survivalist gun nut, if not an outright Left Behind psycho. Guess what qualities she apparently instilled in her mentally disturbed son? I think the media wanted to hold back this information from the general public until the last minute. They knew that gun control issues would step back onto the table. Millionaires, corporations, and the media are the trifecta of evil control in America.
Some people think Hillary will be the next Democratic Presidential candidate. They are wrong. She is too old and too tired and she has done her duty. If I had the power to remove a decade from the ages of Hillary and Elizabeth Warren, I would do so in a heartbeat. As it is, I think the Dems are making a humongous mistake by not privately and publicly grooming a new youngster or two to replace Chickennuts. Hello, President Ryan (or Rubio or Jeb Bush or some other Republican). As the Firedoglakers are saying, if Obama succeeds in making the Chained CPI his NAFTA, the Democrats will lose in 2014, and again in 2016.
There is one thing I would like to see happen in 2013 that has little if any downside. It would boost the economy and save zillions in the federal budget. Take marijuana off the Schedule 1 drug list!!!