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Ask your Congress

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | April 24th, 2019

There is more work in Congress than just getting re-elected

While doing our state and federal income taxes last week, I took a break to read the New York Times article, “Congress Doesn’t Seem To Care If Tax Season Is Miserable For You.” One could have a quick thought--or illusion-- that your elected representatives in state legislatures and Congress might care enough for your vote to listen to you just a little. If you think that, you haven’t been paying attention to today’s politics.

The following action in the House of Representatives on April 9 illustrates my point. The House approved a bill called the First Taxpayer Act. One might get the idea from the title that the reps were thinking of us. Don’t.

The bill contained a provision that would prohibit our Internal Revenue Service from developing a free online system so about 90% of American households could file their taxes in just a few minutes. After all, the government has all of the relative information anyway. But no, our reps voted to pass the bill! They even voted for a provision that would have prohibited the IRS from developing a free tax filing website.

Over three dozen countries have systems that do not require most taxpayers to even fill out a form (check Chile, Japan, and Great Britain for starters). Taxes are simply deducted from paychecks. Many countries mail out a completed tax form which citizens can certify as being correct. In Estonia, as an example, it takes less than three minutes to check the form.

We now have 74,608 pages of federal tax rules and guidelines
Back in 1980, President Ronald Reagan asked Congress to come up with a simple tax system. It took 18 more years for Congress to pass a law requiring the IRS to develop a website system by 2008. Barack Obama endorsed such a program in his 2008 campaign.

In 39 years Congress has failed to develop such a system, and now has added enough tax loopholes that reformers have determined we now have 74,608 pages of tax rules and guidelines. Have you seen the TurboTax ads? Its corporate owner Intuit has spent millions lobbying against efforts to limit demand for its computer filing services. H & R Block also has a keen interest in maintaining the status quo. Republicans are opposed to making filing easier, particularly by online methods, because they say it makes it easier for Democrats to increase tax rates.

Why has Congress failed us again and again? Why did it approve that act? It’s simple. The reps have been bribed by many millions of lobbying and campaign dollars from private tax preparers, corporations, from thousands of lawyers acting as tax consultants to the rich, and from thousands of tax havens scattered around the globe and in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

A citizen might think that the rich are audited by the IRS in much higher numbers because that’s where the money is. Let’s remember. The 400 richest Americans own more cash and assets than the poorest 150 million. Last year the IRS audited 381,000 poor recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit category, which amounted to 36% of all IRS audits.

There is only one answer to this outrage. We have to throw all the “takers” out, whether Democrats or Republicans. As my old pig farmer dad used to say: “These people are as useless to the common man as teats on a boar.” There is more work in Congress than just getting re-elected. That work is called governing. It seems most reps and senators concentrate on getting re-elected instead of governing for the common good.

In the latest budget, 24 cents of every dollar goes to the military. Five cents goes to troops while 12 cents goes to corporate military equipment manufacturers. Each taxpayer pays on average $1,704 to Pentagon contractors, $683 to troops for pay, and $833 for veterans’ benefits and health care.

Lockheed executives and shareholders cost each taxpayer $225. Lockheed CEO Marilyn Hewson made more than $20 million last year. The Lockheed F-35 soaks up billions. We get a four-star general cheap at $189,600. An Army private gets $20,172. In comparison, disease research at the National Institutes of Health runs $155 each, K-12 education at the federal level runs $100, and free and reduced school lunches and other child nutrition programs run $107.

In 2018, military contractors spent $127 million lobbying Congress and another $29 million bribing them with campaign funds. Let’s call it what it is.

What is Congress doing about inequality and climate change?
The same thing they’re doing about tax reform. Nothing. Sir David Attenborough at 92 is the world’s most famous naturalist, having traveled to every continent and hosted dozens of programs about cultures, climate change, and the natural wonders of our planet.

At the World Economic Forum at Davos, he warned the bigwigs, the plutocrats, the autocrats, the bankers, the hedge fund managers, and a world audience: “The Garden of Eden is no more. What we do in the next 20 years will determine the future for all life on Earth. The only conditions modern humans have ever known are changing and changing fast…We need to move beyond guilt or blame and get on with the practical tasks at hand.” Attenborough contends we should use the sun of the Sahara Desert for electric power and send it to Europe. Sounds like a good idea.

Speaking of tasks at hand, there is one on Mount Denali in Alaska, formerly known as Mount McKinley before we knew much about McKinley. There currently is about 66 tons of human excrement left by mountain climbers on the 20,300 foot mountain that is being exposed now by melting of ice and snow due to dramatic changes in Alaska’s climate. One day in February it was warmer in Anchorage than it was in Miami. If the excrement is exposed on the mountain it will look bad, smell bad, and possibly cause all kinds of human medical trouble in the valleys and rivers as it flows down the mountain.

About 1,200 climbers a year each spend 18 days on the mountain during the climb, with each depositing about eight ounces of poop per day. The rule today is that each climber, already carrying 100 pounds of gear, must bring 20 pounds of excrement back down the mountain in order to eventually complete total removal.

Why did King Donald appoint a climate change denier EPA head?
The new director says climate change is not his top EPA priority! What is his top priority? One guess. Yes it’s the fossil fuel industry’s profitability.

That leaves Americans with all sorts of climate-related problems to worry about. One happens to be the melting of permafrost. In 2016, above the Arctic Circle in Siberia, a reindeer carcass trapped in permafrost long ago, was exposed to the elements and released anthrax spores into nearby water and soil. Anthrax spores infected over 2,000 reindeer, thus decimating the herd. Herders were also infected and a boy died of anthrax.

Permafrost is an excellent preserver of various microbes and viruses we may know nothing about. Climate change scientists have revived bacterium which has been frozen in a glacier for eight million years. They believe such diseases as Spanish flu, bubonic plague, and smallpox may be alive in permafrost in many countries.

If the carbon dioxide levels keep rising we may not be able to think straight anymore. At a thousand parts per million of carbon dioxide, scientists have determined that human cognitive ability falls by 21%. Those darn scientists. At the current rate of increase we will reach that level by 2100, a year our great-grandchildren will easily reach.

Miami Beach property owners and developers are concerned about the effect of rising oceans on beach property. A major developer suggested: “I believe in twenty or thirty years someone is going to find a solution for this. If it is a problem for Miami, it will also be a problem for New York and Boston—so where are people going to go? Besides by that time, I’ll be dead, so what does it matter?”

He represents the perfect Trump voter: Care only about yourself, and don’t give a damn about your grandchildren or anybody else.

Is there such a thing as fake science?
I am somewhat surprised that King Donald has not been tweeting about fake sciences. Although he has five children by three wives, he claims he has never faced the reality of changing a diaper. This only certifies he is a psychopath. Maybe he doesn’t use the term “fake science” because he must know what is in a used diaper. Nothing can be fake about that body of science.

Have you heard a Republican Congressmen use the term “science” lately? Very few seem to believe in science. When talking about taxes, economics, and free markets the social sciences are not mentioned at all. But the social sciences developed over many years, have great effect on our culture.

Virtually all environmental scientists believe that humans have directly played a role in global warming and all of the recent disasters on every continent caused by changes in climate. Only a few of the 197 Republicans in the House of Representatives will admit that scientific fact.

King Donald and his evangelical Christian lemmings do not accept gender science either, a science that now recognizes we have dozens of gender identities under the broad LBGTQ rainbow banner.

King Donald is taking us back to the medieval timesPerhaps the presidential candidacy of Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend , Indiana will finally break the back of the Vatican’s view that homosexuals are “intrinsically evil” and evangelical Christian beliefs that an all-powerful Satan lurks behind every gay person on the planet.

Mayor Pete is a Navy war veteran of Afghanistan, a Rhodes Scholar who speaks seven languages, a devoted Christian of the Episcopal variety, and is a gay married man. He criticizes evangelical Christians for “saying so much about what Christ said so little about” such as abortion and homosexuality. Mayor Pete says “Where I think about where most Scripture points me, it is toward defending the poor, and the immigrant, and the stranger, and the prisoner.” He hardly sounds like a prosperity gospel follower or a man under the influence of Satan.

With the rapid acceptance of first-class status for the LBGTQ community by a large majority of the American people and the reception of Mayor Pete, a citizen might think we have a society that accepts all races and gender identities as equals.

But wait a minute. Conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians have convinced King Donald to return to the medieval times with the recent decision to ban transgenders from enlisting in the military. His stand on immigration is based on the white supremacy policies of David Duke, Steve Bannon, and Stephen Miller, all associates of those “fine” white supremacist marchers of Charlottesville.

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