Friday, December 17, 2010

An idea whose time has come...again?

"Tax the rich, feed the poor/Till there are no poor no more"
-"I'd Love to Change The World"; Alvin Lee

I am not a political person, nor am I a fiscal expert. But sometimes someone suggests a course of action that just makes sense. Case in point: if you click on the football picture in the right-hand column of the blog, you will be taken to this site, a recent column by Dr. Michael I. Niman from the weekly newspaper Artvoice. Let it be noted that his "official" fields of expertise are in journalism and media studies. That said, it doesn't take a degree in economics to see that the present system of taxation in the US does not work.

Understand, I have no grievance with the rich, especially those who have worked to achieve their level of success. But the rich of previous generations understood that they needed to bear a much greater tax burden than those in the lower- and middle-classes. Indeed, their acceptance of the principle allowed a strong middle class to form in this country, as well as allowing vital protections for the lower classes.

Google "tax the rich", and you will find many articles, taking one side or the other on the issue. My finance-impaired brain has tried working through as many of them as I can, and I have yet to find an argument against taxing the rich compelling as those in favor of increasing tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. I am particularly in agreement with one of Niman's points: since many of the legal functions of the nation protect the assets of the wealthy, it is in their best interests to help support that system through increased taxation.

Taking one person's opinion as gospel is always a dangerous act. So go ahead and research the idea for yourself. I believe you will come to the same conclusion as I have; we need to tax the rich at a higher rate than currently assessed. The Tea Party came to its current level of influence through grassroots involvement from many people. If you believe that America needs to again "tax the rich", please get involved, if only to tell your friends to read this blog, or research the question for themselves. Sitting on the sidelines could prove fatal to the America most of us believe is our nation at its best.

-Mike Riley

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hard Sell

As someone who considers himself a good American, I believe a first-time voter should affiliate with a political party;your prejudices concerning the political system need to start somewhere. Growing up in the time and place I did, becoming a Democrat was almost inevitable. So I became, and have remained, a member of the Dems for around 30 years now.

Please understand, though, that my affiliation does not include a financial commitment to the future success of the party. Number 1, joining the Democrats is usually not the first step to wealth and prosperity. Not at the level I'd be at, anyway. Number 2, it's not like the Democrats, on those rare occasions they've been in power in Washington, have made any tangible effort to leave me better off. Besides, it's one thing to support a party's stance on issues. But you don't want to encourage them.

So what am I to make of an e-mail I received from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week, explaining that the party still has hopes of shoring up the results of November's Republican tidal wave at election time, but only if I cough up a few bucks to help out {I don't know who's coughing up the bucks to help me out, but my hopes are frankly set low}.

Let it be said, though, that the Democrats do pay attention to the world around them. Noting how much money PBS takes in by offering little more than beads and trinkets at exorbitant rates, the DCCC has opened something it calls "My Democratic Store", soliciting donations in exchange for, well, why don't I just show you some of them [please believe me, these are actual items from the "Store". I'm not clever enough to make this up]?

Exhibit 1; an autographed copy of [soon-to-be] former Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi's book, Know Your Power. Given the Democrats' failures at such relatively simple tasks as passing legislation when they held both Houses of Congress and the White House, what any of them, and especially Pelosi, knows about power is uncertain at best. For a somewhat lower price, you can get an un-signed version of the book [I hate to bash my home town of Buffalo, NY, but the situation reminds me of the contest someone held once; first prize was a week in Buffalo.
Second prize was two weeks, and Third place had to stay all month. My apologies to Buffalonians everywhere].

Staying with Pelosi-oriented memorabilia, how about a three-gallon popcorn tin, celebrating Pelosi's two years as Speaker? Besides the fact that it resembles nothing so much as a trash can, one would note that an item like this is more kit ch than respectful collectible. It reminds me of all those "collectibles" made in England any time one of the Royals marry [If you want even a percentage of all the Prince William and Kate items eventually coming to market, you'd better start shopping now.

Just about everyone in the room recognizes this item, I trust; an exact replica of the "onesies" worn by classic newspaper comic strip star "Li'l Dem" [reading this strip as a child is just one more reason I became a Democrat]. Or am I just mixing this up with the Yellow Kid?

I don't know; I'm hopeful that the Party can find its financial footing without assessing members dues. But knowing how much trouble the Buffalo Bills Team Store is having getting rid of jerseys from ex-players Terrell Owens and Trent Edwards, just to name two, I'm not optimistic.

Happy Holidays, btw...

-Mike Riley

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bloggers Unite For Haiti [But We're Wasting Our Time]

When I came here to write this post, I saw that my last collection of mutterings were about Human Rights Day. Nothing wrong with that, of course; the struggle for human rights, unfortunately, is, and probably always will be ongoing, in one form or another. Still, there are many issues under a topic like that, and plenty of opportunity for a blogger worth her/his salt to fill space in a way that Could Actually Make A Difference.
That noted, WHY IN HELL ARE WE BLOGGING ABOUT A DISASTER SO CATACLYSMIC THAT IT ACTUALLY HAS MADE THE POOREST NATION IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE WORSE? I mean, come on, people! The news media of the world have sent their best reporters, photographers and commentators [where these people were when Haiti was running up an 80% poverty rate is a question these news organizations should ask themselves when this is all over]: stories, reports and images are across every possible information source [so much so, in fact, I'm not even taking time to add them here; if you want to know, you know - if you don't care, nothing anyone presents is going to matter].
The point is, we know. We've seen the destruction. The bodies in the streets [one Haitian official, asked early on for a death toll estimate, started at 50,000. He then went up to a half-million. Let that number roll around your brain for a minute. Then he got to what probably was the only real answer: nobody knows. And honestly, nobody probably ever will...]. The physical and societal infrastructure flattened. We know. Either we do something, or we don't.
If your answer is: we don't, thanks for reading this far. You may as well head elsewhere, though; there's nothing else for you here today. If your answer is: we do, the American Red Cross is a good place to start [if you live outside the US, your local Red Crescent/Red Cross are reliable places to donate money. And, if I understand this right, money donations are the best way to help. Apparently, relief agencies, whenever possible, purchase needed supplies as close to the site of the disaster as possible. It helps the economy of the devastated country by putting money into circulation]. In some areas, banks, stores, and other businesses are taking donations [just be careful that the location you choose is legitimate; scammed money helps no one but the scammer]. On the right side of this blog page, you'll find a link badge for the group Doctors Without Borders, a group I've personally admired and respected since I first heard of them. Please consider them at donation time.
I don't really think you needed this commentary to get you to do what's needed. But, if it was helpful, I'm glad. This is one time we need fewer bloggers and more contributors...