HE SAYS:

I wrote this post well over a month before the election and without regard as to who might win since I believe the sentiment to be valid no matter who, in fact, won. 

As you read this, the Presidential election is over and the people have made their choice.   Now, all of us must accept that choice and hope that our President does a good job and can find a way to fairly and equitably fix the economy as well as keep us safe from those that would seek to harm us.

When I first voted in a Presidential election, I was an idealist and voted for George McGovern who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon.   I was devastated and felt like the country would never survive such a travesty.   Over the years, sometimes the candidate that I supported has won and sometimes he has lost.   In each case, the person elected was never as good as I had hoped or as bad as I had feared.   The power of the President is limited by the political process and by the checks and balances created by Congress and the Courts.   I also have learned that people who are elevated to such a lofty position usually rise to the occasion and try to do the right thing for the country and not just play favorites with their specific constituency.

Regardless of whether or not my candidate has won, I always try to remain optimistic about the future of our country in the belief that no one person, not even the President, can change who we are as a nation or irrevocably alter the things that make our country great.

Like everything in life, we all must take the good with the bad as nothing and no one will be perfect.  So, when it comes to politics you could say that every bowl of cherries also has some pits or sometimes we have to accept that every bowl of pits will also have some cherries depending on how we feel about who won.

On Monday, Joe comments on the need to make our Constitution more relevant to today’s world in “Is The US Constitution Still Relevant?”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

Election Day will soon be upon us and we will all have the opportunity to exercise one of the most important rights we have as citizens in a democracy, the right to vote for our elected officials, including our President.

I am not promoting in this post either candidate in this Presidential election.   Both men are intelligent, accomplished, and, hopefully, are well intentioned.   That is not to say that I do not have a preference; however, I also try in good conscience to vote for the candidate that I believe will do the best job for our country.  Of course, as we all do, I tend to follow my own self-interests but I also recognize that the outcome of any Presidential election is about all of us and is bigger than any one of us.

On a day to day basis, the political process is a tug of war by and between such competing forces as lobbyists; private and public interest groups; political pundits, bloggers and media commentators; focus groups; protestors in the streets loudly shouting their point of view; and back room power brokers quietly whispering their point of view.   However, on Election Day, all of that becomes the sideshow and the only thing that matters is our vote, the power of the ballot.   For better or worse, on that day through the collective will and wisdom of the voters we choose the person who will lead all of us for the next four years.

On Election Day, don’t abdicate your rights and duties as a citizen, vote and be heard.

On Wednesday, Joe comments on the election in a post written well over a month before the election and without regard to who might win in “Every Bowl Of Cherries Has Some Pits”. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

There is an informative video making the rounds from Dick Morris, a former campaign manager for President Clinton.   This is of particular interest since it is a Democrat warning of the tax consequences if President Obama is re-elected.    The examples used in the video mostly pertain to a family with a combined income of $250,000 although the tax increases promised by President Obama will also have an impact on those making less than that amount.   Dick Morris asserts, for example, that a family with an income of $250,000 will pay about $37,000 more in Federal income taxes each year and that a family with an income of $150,000 will pay about $15,000 more in Federal income taxes each year.   Watch the video for the details.

Your first reaction may be that it is a great thing to increase the taxes on those that are perceived to be rich or, perhaps, you are simply indifferent since these taxes may not affect you.   I would suggest that this large increase in taxes should concern not only families making $250,000 a year and families who aspire to make $250,000 a year but everyone since the less expendable income anyone has will affect us all.   Dare I mention that there is also the notion of fairness since households with $200,000 or more in income earn about 26% of all reported income but pay about 47% of all Federal income taxes collected?*   This discrepancy gets lost in the hysteria over the claim that the so called rich do not pay their fair share.

Sure, the government will have more money from these taxes but when was the last time you actually trusted the government to use our money wisely or to directly help its citizens?   This kind of “trickle down” economics never seems to work.   Think about where all of that stimulus money went.   Whereas, people with expendable income spend it in their communities, buy large ticket items like houses or automobiles, buy more discretionary goods and services, go out to restaurants more often and, generally, spend that money for the benefit of small and large businesses.   All of this spending provides the residual benefit of increasing the sales tax revenues for state and local governments.   Also, people earning more than $100,000 a year provide a majority of all of the charitable contributions made in this country.**   Finally, these people are usually the ones who operate successful small businesses and who create a good deal of the private sector jobs in this country.

On a different but related note let’s look at the flak being generated over the news that Mitt Romney paid an effective tax rate of 15% on $20 Million of income.   First, let’s be clear that we are talking about $3,000,000 in taxes.   Just to put this in perspective, Romney’s taxes represent about the same amount of taxes paid by 400 middle class households assuming a median income of $50,000 also at an effective tax rate of 15%.   More importantly and what is never mentioned in the debate is that the 15% tax rate paid by Romney was on investment income at the Capital Gains rate and not on wages.

This is significant in that the money Romney used to invest and generate that income would be money previously earned and already taxed.   To compare his tax rate paid on investment income to that paid by a wage earner as if Romney is getting an unfair tax break is deceptive and dishonest.   There are valid reasons to impose a lower tax rate on investment income so as to encourage investments that help our economy, as an incentive to take the risks involved in any investment, to reward investors for holding the investment for a year or more in order to be entitled to the lower tax rate and in recognition of the fact that the money used to make those investments has already been taxed.

Do the math and decide if it really adds up to a better country.   Regardless of where you stand on the upcoming Presidential election, you should, at least, look past the hype, know the facts and understand the consequences of your choice.

*IRS data from 2009 the most recent year calculated on the IRS web site.   Also to be noted is that households making $1 Million or more have on average an effective Federal tax rate of 29.1% whereas households making $50,000 to $75,000 have on average an effective Federal tax rate of 15%.  (IRS data according to the Tax Policy Center as reported by Fox News)

**2005 Google study for the Center on Philanthropy, page 19

On Monday, Joe ponders the legalization of marijuana in “Hazy Dazes”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

Based on recent news, the post originally scheduled for today has been changed.

HE SAYS:

With one off the cuff comment from Mitt Romney, the 99% suddenly became the 47% as the rallying cry of the liberal media, pundits and President Obama supporters.

Let’s get to the truth behind the comment.   Mr. Romney is correct in stating that those people who, for whatever reason, have too little income to pay income taxes and, more to the point, rely on the government for support and benefits in one form or another would never vote for a candidate that wants less government involvement in so called entitlement programs.   This is simply a fact of life and not a moral judgment on this portion of the electorate.   Why should Romney care to tailor his campaign toward those who would never vote for him?   Do you suppose that the Obama campaign spends any time on the concerns of the rich and successful business community?

It is no more appropriate to say that Mitt Romney does not want to lead low income people if elected than it is to say that President Obama does not want to lead the high income portion of the electorate even though he wants to stick them with higher taxes and impose more governmental control over them.   The fundamental difference between the two, as I see it, is that Mitt Romney wants to create a climate where people can work to achieve their own prosperity whereas President Obama wants to dispense with that effort and simply redistribute that prosperity from those who have already achieved it to those who have not been able to achieve prosperity on their own.    Each candidate is framing their message accordingly not based on being judgmental but on the reality of who constitutes their core supporters.

What I hate about the political process in this country is how contrived it can be when people cynically and deceptively try to exploit any comment or remark into an agenda to discredit the candidate they already don’t like.   It becomes gotcha politics as each side waits to pounce on any real or perceived misstep of the opposing candidate instead of carefully weighing all of the pertinent and relevant facts to determine who truly would be the best leader for our country.

I don’t care who anyone votes for but what I do care about is that people make their choice wisely and not based on sound bites, contrived hysteria and outrage, or pseudo-scientific charts and graphs plastered all over social media trying to define the now slighted 47%.

On Monday, Joe reflects on the fact that we all benefit from each other in “Nothing New Under The Sun”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

We have all heard of the satirical fairy tale of the emperor who paraded before his subjects without any clothes; however, no one was brave enough to acknowledge the obvious and everyone was cowered into pretending that the emperor was decked out in his most regal attire.  Of course, this tale was told to expose the very human frailty of being easily intimidated into ignoring the truth so as not to incur the wrath of those in power.

Could this sort of mass disregard for the truth still happen in our presumably enlightened and free society?   Yes, most assuredly so.   It happens whenever the shrill voice of powerful political and social activists, media hounds, and demagogues who pontificate and incite protests about their latest cause or injustice while they pretend to cloak themselves with the truth and righteous indignation causes people to accept their false pretenses and abandon any real search for the truth.   Granted, it is no longer about the fear of physical harm but it is about the fear of the social and economic reprisals that can be inflicted upon you if you speak up and do not, at least, appear to go along with their program.

You know as well as I do that whenever an incident occurs that fits their agenda, the same worn and tiresome ministers of strife, conflict and power along with their minions come out in force to dictate the social discourse and to create a whirlwind of hysteria over whatever injustice they can conjure up with their invective rhetoric, usually, without any concern over the truth of the matter.  Their self-serving and misleading interpretation of events becomes everyone else’s reality.  They are the emperor and we are the cowering subjects in these real life fairy tales.

I am both astonished and frustrated by how easily people are either whipped into a frenzy of outrage or subdued into submissive acquiescence by these adept but deceptive purveyors of discord and discontent over any event that they choose to latch onto as their latest cause.   Looking for the truth becomes an inconvenient but readily dismissed obstacle that is lost in the sideshows created by these professional rabble rousers.

In reality, any legitimate cause and every real injustice is best served by first seeking out the truth and then forming our own considered opinions so that we can address the issue with reason and not by bowing to the influence and pressure of others to abandon any search for the truth.  If the emperor has no clothes, don’t be afraid to say so.

On Monday, Joe questions and comments on the notion of animal rights in “Do Animals Have Rights?”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

From the title you might guess that I am going to promote the idea that our politicians should all be possessed of impeccable lives that are above reproach.  On the contrary, I believe that is an impossible standard that often sabotages our chances of electing very capable even if flawed people.

We have reached the point where anyone who runs for any public office is put under a microscope and is discredited if any misstep, mistake, episode of poor judgment, or any fleeting moment of indiscretion is found in their past.  I am not suggesting that we consider serial killers or sexual predators as our leaders; however, by demanding perfection, we limit our choices to a very small pool of people who either have never done anything wrong or, more likely, never got caught.

There is a saying that the unexamined life is not worth living.   I take that to mean that it is only when we recognize and resolve our inner conflicts that we are able to evolve and become a better person.  I think that people who have been tested by their mistakes are stronger from the experience.

So, why would we want flawed people running our government?   Because that is who we are, we all are flawed and imperfect people.   I suggest that we should prefer the imperfect individual for public office.   I think that real people who have lived and learned from their mistakes are better equipped to lead than someone who has not known what it is like to recognize and overcome their imperfections and flaws.  We live in an imperfect world and we need people who have led real lives with real problems and have a real understanding of what life as we know it is all about.

The Media, social commentators, and various and sundry political pundits have hounded all but the most bland and sanctimonious people from politics.  Let’s embrace and elect genuine people who possess all of the self awareness, life skills, and depth of feelings that can only come from living a life that has had some hard knocks and personal setbacks.

If we are going to give someone the power to make the rules, we should want that person to have walked a mile in our imperfect shoes.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

Now that Election Day is upon us, it is easy for the political pundits and media to define everyone by a simple label.  He’s a Republican, she’s a Democrat, or we’re not sure who he is so we will call him an Independent.  Well, don’t try to label me so easily.

I vote for the candidates that best represent my values and beliefs regarding how our government should govern and how our society should function.   It is true that my values and beliefs are usually similar to the platform of one party over another, but, I reserve the right to vote for whomever I believe are the best candidates regardless of what they are called or how they label themselves.  

I believe in free enterprise and the proposition that the government should not be in the business of running private industries.  The problem with government-run programs is that there is no profit motive and no incentive to operate efficiently and without waste.  Then you have the problem of the weight of government bureaucracy that slows down the decision making process causing the programs to become more complicated and cumbersome then is necessary. Certainly, the government should impose reasonable rules and regulations as long as they do not stifle the free flow of the marketplace.  Health Care Reform may prove to be a great example of the government taking a troubled industry and making it worse by trying to get into the health insurance business.  

I believe in low taxes and less government spending.  Fewer big bailouts and more help for small businesses, the backbone of our economy.   I also favor more control over our social programs.  We as a society should help the needy, but not forever and not in all ways.  There will always be a core group of people who will never be able to take care of themselves due to severe disabilities or health problems and they should not be abandoned.   For the rest of us, it eventually comes down to sink or swim.

Well, you may have guessed my favorite party by now, but, still don’t put that label on me.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?