Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CREDO: Texas Schoolbooks

Credo is one of those organizations that I love to read up on. Most of the time I don't agree with them. And, when I need to look at an issue, the odds are they are already there with an opinion I inevitably oppose.

They sent me an email about the Texas fix on textbooks and offered me a shot at an email to the authorities. I freely admit that after reading up on the issue, I used the "suggested" letter as a launching point.

Here is my letter:

I am writing to support the proposed amendments to the Texas essential knowledge and skills (TEKS) for social studies.

Historians, college professors, and teachers have expressed concerns about the accuracy and balance of the new TEKS standards. And I am similarly concerned that students in Texas public schools who rely on these textbooks will be improperly educated and ill-prepared for higher studies.

I am also convinced that the concerns expressed are more politically oriented than by academic standards.

Texans' trust in the State Board of Education's decision-making process should not be misplaced. Nor should the board add content at the expense of factual information in the books already.

So long as the changes are factual, then add them while leaving the rest of it as well. Texas and America deserve a social studies and history text that provides a three-hundred-sixty degree coverage of the issues that shaped our great State and Nation.

The inclusion of fact based commentary from all areas of the political spectrum can only serve to elevate the bar. Since Texas leads the nation in so many areas; Why not this as well?

Do not bow to political pressure from anyone, on any side.
In fairness, here is Credo's site on the issue http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/texas_textbooks/?rc=tw
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Income Tax Injustice: Invasion of Privacy

The Income Tax is the single largest invasion of privacy perpetrated against the American people in our short history. I know you don't believe me. I know that most people are worried about government intrusion and spying on citizens. But, actually, by law you are required to yield up your most intimate secrets. J. Edgar Hoover would be so pleased.

Who are you? This question is answered in the opening of all the tax forms. Without going any deeper into the form let's look at just a few questions we can ask and answer.

  1. How many people live in your home?
  2. What are their names, ages, genders, and SSN's?
  3. How long have they lived with you?
  4. How long have you been married?

Pretty scary huh? It almost makes the census obsolete. And since the IRS holds your information a minimum of seven years...

If anyone other than the IRS asks you can tell them to go to the devil. After all this is America right? Don't we have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Isn't invasion of privacy considered to be anti-American? Sure, as long as we don't try to apply that standard for the government.

Based on the (required by law) truthful answers you provide you can also answer these questions.
  1. How many income producing sources do you personally have?
  2. How many income producing sources does your household have?
  3. Do you or any members of your household have health insurance? If yes, how much does it cost?
  4. Regardless of your health insurance situation; Does any member of your family have a recurring medical issue?
  5. Did you or your spouse change jobs? Get a raise? How is your business faring in these times?
Assuming that your head is not in the sand, it should be clear that the income tax poses an unacceptable degree of intrusion into your private life. We've only scratched the surface. These are not the only questions that can be asked. Just lay out your last ten tax returns. Compare all the information on them and you will see many other questions that will pop right out. Now imagine a person with an ax to grind being able to get to all this information on you. Think on it, sleep well.

Next post: What if you try to opt out?

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Income Tax Injustice: Tax Withholding

April the 15th of any year has to be a cursed day in this country. Obviously, I am talking about the Constitutional abomination known as the income tax. Every year at this time I end up in a rant because the frustration has grown ever higher. I'm going to try something different. Instead of ranting I am going to deconstruct things about the abomination that utterly tick me off. Come with me, let's take a look.

As usual, I get to pay. This time it is because my wife and I have a total of six jobs for the year. We both changed jobs and we both held a second job. The problem is that the withholding system is stupid. It assumes you only have one job. If you have a dual income family (and nowadays who doesn't?) the amount held back will usually be too little.

Withholding is calculated based on the employees projected annual income assuming no raises or promotions. The problem is that multiple income sources, when added together, often equal a higher (unexpected) tax bracket. So, at the end of the year you get a whammy.

Additionally, if you are working at a low paying part time job, there is a required minimum of about two-eighty per week before withholding kicks in. You don't notice that little to nothing is held back because the overall check is so small. However, at the end of the year it adds up to several thousand dollars in untaxed income. Even if your other jobs are holding back at the highest possible rate it may not be enough to cover the total liability.

The biggest injustice of the withholding system is that the taxpayers lose sight of precisely how much government costs. Instead, they bank on getting the maximum tax refund possible. After you have loaned the government your money, interest free no less, you are so happy to get some back that the idea you should be angry never occurs to you.

The alternative of course is the Fairtax. HR 25 continues to sit in limbo for about the tenth or eleventh year in a row. We'll talk more about that in another post.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How To Stop Piracy

I cannot believe some of the things I have been reading in the news about the Somali Pirates lately. I've read that there are people who question the legitimacy of hiring private security to deal with these thugs. I've read about how legitimate naval ships of the line are reluctant to simply dispose of these vermin because of a potential media backlash. It's freaking insane.

Piracy is nothing more than a specialty or subset of the larger epidemic of terrorism. I firmly believe that the best way to deal with a pirate is to summarily execute them and dump the body.

To those who want to know how to tell a pirate from say.... an honest wandering Sailor..... let me help you out.

If he came aboard your ship, armed, and tried to take it over...... He might be a pirate.

If he was a part of your crew, apparently mutinied, and his friends boarded your ship once he set you up...... He might be a pirate.

Do you see where I am going here? Simple rules for pirates: Kill them. Film the killing. Broadcast the tape worldwide so wannabe pirates can make an informed decision on the risk/reward ratio of their potential profession. Repeat until all pirates are dead and wannabe pirates get the message. Do not apologize for killing them and broadcasting the killing. Repeat as required until... oh we said that.

Simple really.

A site detailing the execution dock in London. We need this in every port city in the world.

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