I Have a Gripe

July 15, 2011

The National Debt and Common Sense Solutions

OK, it is time for all the boys in D.C. to put their big boy pants on and use the common sense God gave them to resolve this budget issue. I have some suggestions; some are easy, some may take a bit of a spine, but they ultimately make sense.

First the easy ones…

The politicians keep talking about not being able to “cut checks.” I realized that they aren’t just using this figuratively. They are LITERALLY cutting checks! Who still does this? Transition over payments like Social Security and the like over to direct deposit.  How much could that save just in paper, printing and postage? If someone insists on getting a physical check, charge a $10 fee.

I mentioned previously about using technologies like secure Sharepoint instead of (again) wasteful spending, such as printing out the budget.

Now some tougher, but still common sense solutions…

First, MOVE TO THE FLAT TAX. Approximately 45% of the American population do not pay any taxes. That same 45% also utilize the largest majority of government resources. Everyone should pay something in taxes. While we are a very compassionate country, we need to switch from giving a handout to giving a hand up. By simply handing out money and/or services without actually helping to acquire something, those individuals are doomed to staying on the bread line. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Social Security needs help…a LOT of help. If you are under the age of 40, you should have the opportunity to opt out. Additionally, if you are under the age of 40, raise the retirement age to 67. When you reach your retirement age, you should get only what you pay into Social Security. If you didn’t work or pay into the system, then you get nothing. Period.

Take a hard look at “pet projects” to see which are working and which are not. Every project has its own set of fans, so some will be tougher to cut than others, but again, people must start to use the common sense God gave them.

Again, these are just a few places to start. Look at some of my other national debt common sense solutions to learn more.

What would you do?

April 23, 2011

The Truth About Property Taxes

Let’s face it, paying taxes is far from fun. It is, however, a necessary evil. This money goes to various local, county, state and federal needs and programs to help make sure roads are plowed, police are a moment’s notice away, and children are educated.

Now, we all have programs we want to see supported and ones we want to see cut. For example, I often hear people complain about how the majority of collected property taxes go to support the local school district when they do not have a child in school. There is something important to remember about this potential sticky point. The value of your home is in direct correlation with the quality of the local public education system.

Think back to when you were purchasing your home, what was one of the first questions you asked the agent? “How are the schools here?” Even when you are taken to a property by a real estate agent, they often start off with information related to the school system. They will even steer you away from certain towns because their school system may not be considered “of high quality.” Whether someone has a child or not, the answer to that question will definitely affect real estate buying habits.

Generally speaking, those who complain the most about their property taxes are the elderly and those without children. What the elderly forget is that when their children were going through school, someone else who didn’t have children in school was flipping the same bill. Maybe they forgot that little point. Others who do not have children are also paying towards that same school budget, which will help keep the value of their home up.

Now before you get a knot in your shorts…yes, there are certainly areas where money is wasted in the public schools and yes, as tax paying citizens it is our responsibility to understand what our tax burden is and how it is spent.

Why am I blogging about this? Well, if you live in New Jersey, like me, you know how high the property taxes can be. Due to the high tax burden in this state, many are moving away and some businesses have left for other states with a smaller tax burden. Add to that the current negative opinions of “those greedy, lazy teachers” and their union, there are many on a witch hunt to further vilify the connection between public education and property taxes.

Some also complain that their property taxes are too high. Well, that may be true, however, it is important to remember every home will be assessed differently. Do you live in an urban area or a small rural town? Do you have a McMansion or a small two bedroom colonial or condo? Do you live on the waterfront or on a small piece of property with no “major amenities” to speak of? All these issues are taken into consideration and go into the tax assessment on a property. If you disagree with your assessment, you are completely within your right to challenge it. It is important to remember, however, that if you go from a small house to a giant McMansion, don’t be shocked when you get a major increase.

To steal a line from our President, “let me be clear;” I am far from advocating for MORE taxes. Additionally, I don’t particularly mind paying my taxes. I just want to reduce the amount of waste involved and look at what taxes are being spent on – such as healthcare for illegal aliens. Cut that out and we could save billions.

Ultimately, by spending more time examining how to eliminate waste, instead of going on a wild witch hunt spending money unnecessarily, the taxes collected can go towards important things, like our police, fire department, school systems, infrastructure and more.

April 8, 2011

If I Controlled the Federal Budget…

So yet again, we sit and watch the children down in D.C. fight over spending, saving and the federal budget, real people understand what is involved in living within a budget. We all talk about “if I controlled the budget, I would do THIS.” So, here is the way I would control spending and the federal budget.

First, cut financial support for the following: Planned Parenthood, NPR, National Endowment for the Arts and ALL earmarks. If a project or plan needs funding, it should be able to stand on its own merit instead of being snuck in without notice.

Next, if an individual is in need of a program like Welfare, Food Stamps, WIC, etc., you need to show positive proof you are here legally. This will cut down on those who shouldn’t be here fraudulently taking advantage of a system in place for those at risk.

Third, change how Social Security is managed. You only get back what you pay in. You get one lump sum, tax free, at age 65. Period. If you didn’t work and didn’t pay into the system, you get nothing. Again, you need to show proof positive who you are in order to prevent fraud and identity theft. If you decide to work after age 65, Social Security will not be taken out of your paycheck.

Eliminate Obama’s so-called “health care reform.” Allow people to purchase across state lines and let the market set the rates. Let’s face it; if the feds can’t manage Medicare, how will they manage health care?

Secure the borders and deport all illegal immigrants. Now you may be asking what this has to do with the budget. Well, we spend billions on policing, arresting and housing illegals in jail. They enroll their children in our public schools and fraudulently collect entitlements. They cost us money. We would save money by securing our borders and shipping them back.

If you collect Welfare, you should “pay back” eight hours of work time for each week of entitlement you collect. This time could go to help out in their local community, such as working in the public library or planting flowers in a park.

Most importantly, move to a flax tax. This way everyone pays their fair share. Besides, if Timothy Geithner and Charles Rangel can’t pay their taxes properly, what chance do we mere mortals have? Yes, that was meant to be sarcastic.

One important change I believe should take place is that if a government shutdown takes place, military should be paid. Period. Right now, if the government shuts down, they aren’t paid. These individuals are putting their lives on the line and their families struggle without them. The very least we can do is make sure they are properly paid.

Well, there’s my “off the top of my head” list on how I would handle spending and the federal budget. What would you do?

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.

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