I Have a Gripe

November 26, 2010

Small Business Saturday

Filed under: Economy — alvb1227 @ 10:13 pm
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While we all like the convenience of the “big box” stores, we know that the backbone of this country is small business. Tomorrow is “Small Business Saturday,” which has been primarily sponsored and advertised by American Express.

Now, let me say first and foremost I think this is a great idea and I seriously hope people will embrace this idea and support their local town’s business. However, I do find it funny that in recent years American Express has embraced the importance of small business after all the financial mismanagement of large companies. I am sure they lost their lungs during the economic downturn. As these larger companies continue to solidify, I hope they do not forget those small businesses that get them through thick and thin, year after year.

So, if you are planning to do some shopping tomorrow and the rest of the holiday season, I hope you spend at least a bit of your shopping dollar at local businesses.

November 22, 2010

Breaking News: Which is Right?

Filed under: Laws,Security — alvb1227 @ 7:52 pm
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So I signed up for both CNN and Fox News “alerts” a long time ago. They are simply a one-line breaking news story synopsis with a link to the complete article on their website. I received an alert from each news organization today with information regarding the same story. Each had a different twist:

CNN: — Ingmar Guandique convicted of first-degree murder in 2001 death of D.C. intern Chandra Levy.

Fox News: Jury convicts illegal immigrant of murdering congressional intern Chandra Levy.

As I said; same story, two very different ways of reporting.

If you look at the CNN alert, it fails to mention Ingmar Guandique is here illegally, as well as simply referring to Chandra Levy as a “D.C. Intern.” If you look at the alert from Fox News, it doesn’t mention the Guandique’s name and the year of the murder.

Obviously, the fact that one didn’t include the year of the murder and the other doesn’t mention that she was a Congressional Intern is hardly the point here. Personally, the fact that this murderer is here illegally is an important part of the story. Possibly CNN didn’t want to further politicize the story further by bringing a very charged issue into the alert, keeping the focus on the poor woman that was murdered. It goes without saying, I am just guessing here.

Personally, I think the fact that this dirt bag is here illegally is an important fact. If he wasn’t here, this woman would still be alive and her parents wouldn’t be grieving for their daughter.

I just found it interesting. I would like very much to hear your thoughts.

November 17, 2010

The TSA and Privacy

Filed under: Security,Terrorism,United States government — alvb1227 @ 12:42 pm
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OK, I have an announcement. My husband and I actually disagree with each over the recent uproar with the TSA, enhanced pat-down techniques and touching someone’s “junk.” Shocking, I know.

Where We Agree…

We both agree that our government has been in reactive mode since 9-11 instead of proactive mode. Richard Reid tries to light his shoes on fire, so now we take off our shoes. There was a possible attack with liquids, so now we can’t take large bottles on board. By the time we have a procedure or technology to catch the last attempt, they have moved on to the next idea; such as toner cartridges. This is not what we should be doing. We realize this is not a conventional war and these people are just plain crazy.

We both also agree that the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the same group that is responsible for the Ground Zero Mosque, is really pushing their luck. They are asking for a search waiver for Muslim women due to religious beliefs. Whether anyone wants to admit it out loud or not, it is Muslim lunatics that killed 3,000 people on 9-11 and are repeatedly trying to blow us up. If they know women will not be screened, what is to stop a man to dress as a woman in a burka, or use a woman as a suicide bomber? If the TSA, Janet Napolitano and the President agree to this, then they are dumber than I ever thought.

Where We Disagree…

My husband believes that we should do whatever we are asked, whether it is a pat-down or a full-body screening process. Since these individuals are constantly changing the game, this is the only way currently to protect Americans and the flying population as a whole. If you don’t want to go through these procedures, then you shouldn’t fly. Period.

I believe we should take a page from El Al and partner with them to learn their techniques and implement as many of them as possible. El Al does not use these type of techniques and has a superb history of keeping their passengers safe. We just have to be willing to admit we don’t know everything, listen to their suggestions and ask for help where needed. This includes that all-terrible word – profiling.

As I mentioned in my piece on 9-11, I have only been on a plane once since then and before I flew, I wrote a will and needed Xanax from my doctor. My husband and I have great plans to hopefully travel in the future to places like Alaska, England and Rome. That means going on a plane. However, I still don’t feel safe and do not want to subject myself to someone seeing me essentially naked or having such an invasive pat-down that I should get a date out of the deal. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I don’t think we are asking all the right questions.

November 11, 2010

The Debt Commission Proposal and Common Sense

This week the Debt Commission released its preliminary findings and suggestions and as many said, there’s something in it to offend just about everyone. I am one of those people.

As usual, this proposal hits a disproportionate population. The top earners in this country already pay close to 40 percent of the taxes. This hits them even harder. The Commission also calls to eliminate several tax deductions the middle class utilizes regularly, such as the mortgage interest deduction and the child deduction. They have also proposed a 15 cent increase on the gas tax. They are claiming that this is not their complete findings, but a way to start a conversation.

This hits the middle class hard. Unless you live in a major metro area like New York City, you have to drive to work. While the mortgage interest deduction isn’t huge, it is a nice incentive to those who purchase a home. The so-called rich already pay a ridiculous amount of taxes and they are more often than not the small business owners who work to grow their businesses and create jobs. Additionally, while they pay into social programs the most, the large majority will never utilize the programs they fund.

I still say people are overlooking some key points. First, we need to go back to some core principals. Should the federal government really be providing healthcare, a retirement fun (i.e, Social Security) and other social programs? I say no. For example, if Social Security is cut, that can put a substantial amount of money back in people’s pockets, which they will have the option to put back into the market through product purchases, save for a down payment on a home or save in their own retirement fund.

When it comes to healthcare, we should absolutely provide whatever care our vets need. Period. However, Medicare and Medicaid should be eliminated over the long-term so as to not jar our current elderly that rely on those programs. Instead, how about allowing individuals to purchase health insurance over state lines in order to find the most competitive price? This allows the free market to be more competitive so individuals can shop and compare to find what they need.

There needs to be a limit to what social assistance individuals receive. We have all  heard of families on Welfare for generations and the current idea being floated around Washington to have open-ended unemployment. I believe this nation should provide a hand-up, not a hand-out. Give people the tools to learn a skill, get a job and take pride in themselves by becoming a contributing member of society, and ultimately pay taxes to help sustain the nation.

I also believe illegal aliens are sucking up a huge amount of local, state and federal resources. From having to educate illegal children to  employers not checking identification to ensure they are hiring legal Americans. There should be stiff penalties for companies who hire illegal aliens and we need a tougher immigration policy. This directly affects the size of different programs and the costs associated with them.

I also think we should consider going back to the gold standard. Prior to the gold standard, we had no debt. It forced the government to live within their means and set a budget. Just like families all over America. There were times in the past it was suspended, such as during the Civil War, but it was reinstated.

Finally, I still say we should go to the Flat Tax (also called the Fair Tax by some). This makes sure everyone plays an active role in keeping our government moving forward. Currently, close to 50 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes of any kind. They have no personal stake in the federal government. I find this completely unacceptable. This would eliminate the IRS, saving millions upon millions while taking in more taxes from the population. According to individuals like Tim Geithner and Charles Wrangel who have claimed ignorance due to the complicated tax code. Why not simplify that code by using the Flat Tax? Problem solved.

Now I am hardly a financial scholar, but I think we as a nation are making a huge push to find common sense solutions to these seemingly complicated problems. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us if we have the intestinal fortitude to take the step and develop them into real solutions.

November 6, 2010

Reid and “The Dream Act”

So this past week, Harry Reid defied all logic and was re-elected to the Senate; and not just by a slim margin. At first, I was just stunned. However, once I thought about it, I wasn’t that surprised.

Harry Reid pandered obviously to the Hispanic community by pushing his “Dream Act.” That gave him approximately 63% of the Hispanic vote, which no doubt, is what pushed him over the top. Honestly, I don’t understand how legal Hispanics would support this measure after they followed all the rules to come to this country.

What is The Dream Act you may ask? This works to provide illegal immigrants with an easy pathway to citizenship that includes entitlements such as a free college education. Just in case you aren’t sure how I feel about this idea; this makes me completely nauseous.

This essentially rewards illegal behavior, just because they have been here a long time or had an anchor baby. In an economy where parents can’t afford to send their own children to school, Senator Reid wants to use tax dollars to create a huge new entitlement rewarding people who are here illegally by giving them a free ride to college. Shameful.

Let’s forget for a moment that our economy is imploding, millions are out of work, meaning the feds have less taxes coming in and our national debt is spiraling out of control. We definitely cannot afford a huge new entitlement program for a group of people who shouldn’t be here and certainly do not deserve it.

I really hope the current Congress does not fall on their sword for their leadership one last time and vote for this ridiculous program. It is because of the overall dissatisfaction of the general population of the agenda the Congress and Administration have forced down the collective neck of all Americans they were voted out. I hope they also realize that it is due to the obvious pandering of Senator Reid to his Hispanic constituency he actually made it through the decimation of the current Congress.

November 3, 2010

2010 Election Wrap-Up

Well, the 2010 elections are thankfully over. Robo calls will stop invading our homes and those ridiculous commercials will finally go away. However, before everyone starts to look at the 2012 election, I thought I would do a “wrap-up” of the elections that took place yesterday…of course in my own personal opinion.

The Good…
First off, I am thrilled that Nancy Pelosi will no longer be holding the gavel. I’m sorry, when I look in her eyes, you can just hear the Loony Tunes theme. She is seriously a few fries short of a happy meal. I think Ohio Rep. John Boehner will do a good job, as it is presumed he will be the Speaker of the House, but as I am sure all those who were elected last night, he needs to proceed with caution and know that all of America will be watching.

I am personally very pleased that my Representative, Rodney Frelinghuysen defeated his two opponents to claim a ninth consecutive term in the 11th Congressional District. While he is an incumbent, I believe he has done an admirable job representing his constituents. No matter who I have ever asked about his, regardless of party affiliation, they all say the same thing about Rep. Frelinghuysen; he works incredibly hard to represent his district and makes sure he says in touch with everyone who takes the time to write, call or email.

I can’t believe this had to even be a question on the ballot, but only in NJ. New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure to prohibit the state from diverting money from its unemployment-benefits fund, after governors and lawmakers took $4.6 billion from it between 1992 and 2006 to plug budget gaps. So basically, they are now forced to follow the law. Imagine that.

In the governor’s races, I would like to congratulate Rep. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, a Republican, who has become the state’s first female governor as well as Tea Party-backed South Carolina Republican, state Rep. Nikki Haley, who was elected to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, also her state’s first female governor. I am also very pleased that Republican Jon Kasich, a former chairman of the House Budget Committee, defeated Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. I think these are great choices for their respective states that will help begin to move their states forward.

I am also very happy to see that Marco Rubio won in Florida. In my opinion, he truly represents “the American dream.” He started from meager beginnings, the son of immigrants who fled Cuba. He never forgot his roots, which to me, is incredibly important. I would definitely keep an eye on this guy. He is bound to do great things for our country.

The Bad and the Ugly…

First off, I can’t believe Senator Reid from Nevada, Representative Rangel from Harlem and Rep. Barney Frank of the fourth district of Massachusetts  won back their seats. I have to tell you, if those districts and states continue to go down in a giant ball of flames, I have absolutely no sympathy for their constituency. They get what they deserve.

I really don’t see Jerry Brown doing a lot for California to help pull them out of the rut they are in. I hope I am wrong, but I am sadly, not very hopeful. I am equally disappointed that Barbara “Call me Senator” Boxer was re-elected. This woman is incredibly smug and way too liberal for my tastes.

Speaking of California, I have to say I am sorry they voted down Prop 19. Now, for the record, I am not this major pot-head some believe, but let’s face it, one of the real reasons marijuana is illegal is because William Randolph Hearst owned major forests and wanted to make sure they were used for paper manufacturing. For those who use pot, if it is taxed and controlled like a business, it would generate funds for California, which are definitely needed, and the marijuana would be of higher quality because it would be grown in a controlled manner, thus avoiding potential purity issues. I hope they give this another try in the future.

It is About “We the People…”

Ultimately, I hope those who were elected to office last night remember one thing; it is about “we the people,” and not “we the politicians.” I am reminded of a scene in an 80’s Goldie Hawn movie “Protocol.” We will be watching you all…like a hawk.

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