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Is Anyone in Washington D.C. Smarter Than a 12th Grader?
A Home-schooled Scholar/Athlete Has Tough Questions for Obama and Congress.
I'm very proud of my daughter Dakota. She is a 17-year old high school senior who has been home-schooled since birth- literally. She has never seen the inside of a classroom. The results? She has attained perfect SAT test scores; has become a world-class athlete (representing her country at World Cup fencing events); she gave her dad's nomination speech for President of the United States live on C-Span at the age of 16; and she puts her dad- and every politician in America- to shame with levels of intelligence and common sense rarely seen within the city limits of Washington D.C. Her college choices? She has applied to the best Ivy League colleges in America- including 7 of the Top 10 highest rated (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report)- including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia, Penn, Brown, and Duke.
But it is her political views that I believe America desperately needs to hear. Dakota and I watched the evening news together the last few nights- now there's something you'd only hear from a home-school family. Her observations led me to realize that no one in Washington D.C. has either the intelligence or commonsense of a 12th grader. Now there's a great new TV game show concept- pitting teenagers against Congressmen! The winners should get to run the country. I'm betting on the teens.
Dakota's first thought was so simple it was brilliant. We watched a news story on the failing U.S. Postal Service and its projected $200 billion shortfall over the next decade. Their brilliant solution: ending Saturday mail delivery. Dakota remarked, "But dad, they did not even mention cutting jobs, or cutting salaries, or reducing pensions, or making retirees pay something for their own health care? This is nothing but a band-aid. It will never work." A 12th grader figured it all out. I propose putting Dakota Root in charge of the U.S. Postal Service. Trust me, it could only produce a dramatic improvement.
Next up: Healthcare reform. Dakota and I together watched the news that Congress had just passed the historic Obamacare bill. Dakota had a few crucial questions that no one in Washington bothered to answer. "Dad, why would we hand healthcare to the same people (government) that have managed the Postal Service into bankruptcy? How is it possible that the same people that are projecting over $200 billion in losses for the postal service will now run healthcare without losing billions...or trillions? If free healthcare for retirees of the postal service is busting the budget, how can we afford free healthcare for everyone? How can we add over 30 million new people to the healthcare rolls without adding trillions of dollars in cost? Also, where has universal healthcare been a successful program? If our medical system is so terrible now, why do Canadian citizens come here for treatment? This whole bill defies reason. Someone is obviously lying to us."
Breaking Bad: California vs. the Other States
by Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters
Version 1.71 Revised 21 August, 2010
Updated version online at: www.RiderBlog.NotLong.com
Here’s a depressing but documented comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is breaking bad, and getting worse (I keep updating this fact sheet):
California has the 3rd worst state income tax in the nation. 9.55% tax bracket starts at $46,349 for people filing as individuals. 10.55% tax starts at $1,000,000 http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59_es.pdf
By far the highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 8.25%. 7% is next highest (does not include local sales taxes)
California corporate income tax rate (8.84%) is the highest west of the Mississippi (our economic competitors) except for Alaska.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/bp59.pdf Table #8 -- we are 9th highest nationwide.
California’s 2010 Business Tax Climate ranks 48th in the nation.
Fourth highest capital gains tax 9.55% http://www.thereibrain.com/realestate-blog/capital-gains-tax-rates-state-by-state/109/
Highest gasoline tax (averaging 67.4 cents/gallon) in the nation, 4 cents above second place Hawaii (July, 2010). http://www.api.org/statistics/fueltaxes/ (also highest diesel tax)
California is ranked 14th highest in per capita property taxes (including commercial) – the only major tax where we are not in the worst ten states. But CA property taxes per home were the 10th highest in the nation in 2008.
One of the highest state vehicle license car taxes. 1.15% per year on value of vehicle, up from 0.65% in 2008.
California’s 2010 “Tax Freedom Day” (the day the average taxpayer stops working for government and starts working for oneself) is the 7th worst date in the nation – up from 28th worst in 1994, but down from 4th worst last year CA “improved” only because of our state’s soaring unemployment rate – the new tax dodge!
In 2009, 24 states raised their taxes at least 1% to collect $28.6 billion. California’s taxes went up about $11 billion – thus we were responsible for about 38.5% of all the state tax increases in the nation. http://tinyurl.com/2009-CA-Tax-Increase-rank
California has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation. (July, 2010) 12.3%. National unemployment rate 9.5%.
For the 2007-08 school year, the Los Angeles Unified School District spent $$29,780 per student. The district also has the country’s second lowest graduation rate of 40.6%. http://www.calwatchdog.com/2010/08/20/lausd-spends-30k-per-student/
CA public school teachers the 2nd highest paid in the nation after NY. The average 2008-09 CA educator salary was $69,093 – 7.25% higher than the previous year’s $64,424 average.
http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/010rankings.pdf Page 21, table C-18
1 in 5 in Los Angeles County receiving public aid. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-welfare22-2009feb22,0,4377048.story
California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 36% of the country’s TANF (“Temporary” Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients – more than the next 7 states combined. Unlike other states, this “temporary” assistance becomes much more permanent in CA.
California prison guards highest paid in the nation. http://www.caltax.org/caltaxletter/2008/101708_fraud1.htm
California is the worst ranked state for tax administration – another anti-business factor.
California now has the lowest bond ratings of any state, edging out Louisiana.
As of 2008, California ranks 46th worst in “lawsuit climate.” http://tinyurl.com/CA-44th-lawsuits
America’s top 600 CEO’s rank California “the worst place in which to do business” for the fifth straight year (3/2010). But here’s the interesting part – they think California is a great state to live (primarily for the great climate) – they just won’t bring their businesses here because of the oppressive tax and regulatory climate.
Consider this quote from the survey (a conclusion reflected in the rankings of the characteristics of the state): “California has huge advantages with its size, quality of work force, particularly in high tech, as well as the quality of life and climate advantages of the state. However, it is an absolute regulatory and tax disaster.”
California, a destitute state, still gives away college education at fire sale prices. Our community college tuition is by far the lowest in the nation. How low? Nationwide, the average community college tuition is almost four times higher than California CC’s. This ridiculously low tuition devalues education to students – resulting in a 30+% drop rate for class completion. In addition, 2/3 of California CC students pay no tuition at all – filling out a simple unverified “hardship” form that exempts them from any tuition payment, or receiving grants and tax credits for their full tuition.
On top of that, California offers thousands of absolutely free adult continuing education classes – a sop to the upper middle class. In San Diego, over 1,000 classes for everything from baking pastries to ballroom dancing are offered totally at taxpayer expense. http://www.sdce.edu
Protests about increased UC student fees ignore one crucial point -- all poor and most middle class students don't pay the “fees” (our state’s euphemism for tuition)! There are no fees for California families with under $70K income. Moreover, Pell Grants and federal tuition tax credits cover the total 2009-10 fee increases for nearly 3/4 of all undergraduates with household incomes below $180K.
California residential electricity costs an average of 37.2% more than the national average (far higher in San Diego County). For industrial use, CA electricity is 44.6% higher than the national average (December, 2009).
It costs 38% more to build solar panels in California than in Tennessee – which is why European corporations have invested $2.3 billion in two Tennessee manufacturing plants to build solar panels for our state.
Consider California’s net domestic migration (migration between states). From April, 2000 through June, 2008 (8 years, 2 months) California has lost a NET 1.4 million people. The departures slowed in 2008 only because people couldn’t sell their homes.
These are not welfare kings and queens departing. They are the young, the educated, the productive, the ambitious, the wealthy (such as Tiger Woods), and retirees seeking to make their pensions provide more bang for the buck. The irony is that a disproportionate number of these seniors are retired state and local government employees fleeing the state that provides them with their opulent pensions – in order to avoid the high taxes that these same employees pushed so hard through their unions.
As taxes rise and jobs disappear, we lose our tax base, continuing California’s state and local fiscal death spiral. This downward spiral must stop NOW.
Updated online at: http://www.open.salon.com/blog/Richard_Rider
To see the latest version of this “Breaking Bad” column, plus other goodies, go to my blog at http://www.open.salon.com/blog/Richard_Rider. This factsheet also is available as a 2 page Word file for printing.
How Congress Can Help The Economy
Last year's effort to stimulate the economy was effective only in saving state and local government jobs. Meanwhile, the private sector has lost 5.9 million jobs since 2007. http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=518614
And unemployment has risen to 10% http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm
Try something new. Stimulate the economy by cutting the cost of federal regulations, which will exceed $1 trillion this year. http://cei.org/cei_files/fm/active/0/Wayne%20Crews%20-%2010,000%20Commandments%202009.pdf
That would pay for 20 million $50,000-a-year jobs!
Creating new jobs is easy -- just make it simpler to do business in America. The economy crashed because of Federal Reserve credit manipulations and excessive risk-taking encouraged by government polices. It was too much regulation and political meddling that led to the problem, NOT a lack of regulation.
Instead of piling more burdens on top of those you've already created, please do this instead . . .
- make it less costly for businesses to comply with the tax laws, by simplifying them
- end Sarbanes-Oxley, which burdens companies while doing little to reduce fraud http://cei.org/articles/2010/01/17/sarbox-might-be-coming-end
- regulate financial institutions through consumer choice, and by allowing bad institutions to fail (no more bailouts!)
Most importantly . . . start following the Constitution's Commerce clause!
The Clause reads . . . "(The Congress shall have power) To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes."
The rule tells you that you can only regulate goods and services that cross state lines. You CANNOT regulate business activities that happen WITHIN a state. Congress must therefore stop . . .
- regulating the terms, conditions, and wages of employment
- regulating goods and services sold locally
By limiting the reach of Congressional regulation to *interstate* commerce, Congress will create more freedom for . . .
- the unemployed to find work
- entrepreneurs to start new businesses
- small retail business owners to compete
- farmers to serve local markets
What you've done so far has violated the Constitution, and it didn't work. Do something that will work. Obey the Constitution. The people will take care of the rest.
- Government monies, the people's monies are not to be used for bailouts of utilities, airlines, or railroads. The people's monies are not to be used as charitable contributions no matter how poignant or emotional the cause. It is not the Government's business to be funding pork projects from the study of fleas mating habits in Georgia or hundred thousand dollar toilets in a national park. It also is not the business of government to be subsidizing 72% of legislators health plans with citizens monies. Nor is it the business of government to be subsidizing able bodied people on drugs, alcoholics or persons in need for whatever their chosen lifestyles. Government also should not be in the business of picking up the tab for the Supreme Court Justices in their jaunts around the world and legislators on their 'fact finding missions' which has they and their families visiting exotic lands at taxpayers expense. Government has no business in spending the people's monies subsidizing corporations through loopholed tax breaks, write-offs or relocating abroad.
- In the horrific aftermath of 9-11 Congress is appropriating some billions to compensate families and businesses. As tragic as this is and as unpatriotic as some might claim, no, the Government has no right or authority to compensate the victims or any victims for such events and tragedies. The Government can't seem to adequately fund the care and needs of veterans yet they quite liberally take this country into deeper and deeper debt throwing money at the entire world... borrowed money that is. Money that our children and children's children will not be able to pay off.
- I have worked with the homeless, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the mentally-ill thrown out of institutions onto our nation's streets. I am of the opinion that welfare as it is known... and that includes the billions not usually spoken of corporate welfare, is one of the gravest miscarriages of justice perpetuated on a people. I saw nothing but the grossest of abuses on every level in this system, from outright fraud to duplicity and subterfuge, on what agencies said they were doing for people. Welfare as I saw it did nothing but trap people in a vicious cycle of dependency and penalized if they tried to better themselves and break free. Drug dependency? We the American taxpayers paid for that crack smoked, for the heroin needed daily, the cocaine and everything in between. We with our tax dollars paid for food stamps that were cashed in at for fifty cents or seventy-five cents on the dollar at certain stores. This money and city welfare money was then used to buy drugs cheap in the city and turn a hefty profit selling the drugs in the suburbs. No favor was done keeping people zombified and crazed on drugs. Paying billions for a nonsensical drug war and buying drugs for those addicted with no programs to help people break free is and was insanity. We paid again and again as drug addicts having to feed $300 a day habits robbed, assaulted and murdered to get the needed money! The truly needy, for not all homeless as presented in the media are lazy ne'er-do-wells and addicts, suffered in the midst of this and were many times the victims. But even these monies are minuscule to the billions in corporate welfare with billionaires paying little to no taxes and getting refunds! Billions in subsidies written into law with the help of ever-ready corporate lobbyists running the show.
And so over the years generation after generation found themselves in ghetto tenements trapped in the welfare cycle, under educated and with no job skills. It was deliberate and purposed in my opinion to degrade and humiliate a whole race of people. With jobs scarce in the South there was an exodus to the cities in the North with men getting jobs in the mills and on assembly lines. When corporate America saw that profits could be much higher by moving plants to Mexico or Third World countries paying minuscule slave wages and no regulations to worry about they abandoned the plants here and moved from country to country leaving poisoned people and lands behind. We supported this carnage and dehumanized the peoples of the world by buying the designer clothes, the designer sneakers, the VCRs, TVs, automobiles, and plastic junk. Our ever consuming rampage from aluminum trees, tapestry rugs, to fancy ski equipment, and water sports toys, to naivety sets made in China! enslaved millions to lives of unimaginable abuse, and suffering. Meanwhile with mills and factories closed welfare became the only solution for those needing to survive in tenement hovels. Drugs poured in from every direction and the young saw easy money, a way to acquire those things that TV told them exemplified the good life. There were just so many service industry jobs to go around as stores don't locate in ghetto neighborhoods. If you've never been poor, Black, or lived in a rat infested tenement with no heat don't pontificate on what you would do. With drugs and drug wars over turf and stabbings and shootings the proud Black family of the South quickly disintegrated. I know I was there and listened to their stories. They begged city officials and police to help them rid their neighborhoods of this plague with little to no response. And so the despair grew and the young were killed or locked up. And so today instead of mills, foundries, auto assembly lines we have haunted desperate streets, decaying schools and children planning their own funerals. Our replacement for decent paying jobs is now a prison industry, a Wal-Marts, a Staples, a Home Depot, Manpower (day jobs), McJobs and casinos. Meanwhile Black leadership in the person of a Jesse Jackson goes about in his fancy car, camper, and clothes doing his insane mini-rap buffoonery to those in need! No Jesse doesn't live in the ghetto. Jesse hob-nobs with the corporate hucksters threatening to call a boycott if they don't pay up.
The people's money? Davy Crockett said it best in an article "Not Yours to Give".
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