I Have a Gripe

August 6, 2011

POTUS, Congress and the S&P

It was announced last night after the markets closed that the S&P downgraded America’s “AAA” rating to “AA+,” claiming a variety of issues, including the political tone in D.C. and lack of specific plans to reduce the nation’s debt, to name a few. There was push back from the Obama administration, citing a potential “math mistake” in S&P’s calculations, however, the rating agency still moved ahead with the downgrade.

Now, in my opinion, there is plenty of blame to go around. You have the Congress, which is about as organized as a kindergarten class; you have our “Deflector in Chief,” who is the champ when it comes to blaming and delegating to everyone else; and finally, you have the S&P, who didn’t see the recent recession coming and thought all the questionable mortgages that got us in trouble was a great idea.

Here’s the best part of the whole mess – China took full advantage of this opportunity to lecture us on how we manage our bills. We are borrowing from our enemies and giving money to countries that hate us. Does anyone else see an issue with this?

What we should really do is take a hard look at where our funds are going and make a conscious decision to help our citizens FIRST. We also really need to look at the tax code and both really have everyone “pay their fair share,” to steal a phrase from our President. Right now, 51 percent of all citizens do not pay income taxes of any kind. So, our country is expecting 49 percent of the citizens to carry the load for everyone. This is an impossible task. By moving to a flax tax, everyone is truly part of the solution.

We also need to really address and develop a real immigration policy. Illegal immigration is a huge suck on the economy that is unnecessary.

So, where is everyone right now who should be handling this issue? Well, President Obama is at Camp David and Congress is on summer break. Awesome. Here’s an idea – how about you all come back to work, check your egos at the door and do your job!

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?

February 16, 2011

My Perspective on the Budget

So the President released his budget plan this week and of course the GOP has their own plans. Of course, this lead me to want to jot down my thoughts on how to handle the budget.

Now first and foremost, I am far from a financial genius. I do, however, have a brain and on occasion, have been known to use common sense. To me, this is a common sense approach to spending.

First, can someone explain why the budget is still printed…on paper and ink? Anyone ever hear of a secure sharepoint? They definitely need to look at Congressional/Presidential printing. I would think that could save a nice chunk of change.

Next, look at all the places around the world where we have military bases. Do we really need all these different bases? Close some of those bases and reassign those troops stateside. That would both save money and bring home our wonderful military so we aren’t spread so thin.

Third, address illegal immigration. Now, before you go off the deep end on me, hear me out. Illegal immigration goes beyond an immigration policy or national security. It sucks up valuable resources, such as public education, ER care and other social resources. This all costs money. If we get our act together by resolving our illegal immigration policy, it will solve multiple problems at once.

Now, let’s address Congress. First, they should stop automatic pay increases. Whether or not they vote on the increase, they get it. Additionally, in order for Congress and the President to get what we “common folk” have been dealing with, they should each take a five percent paycut. Additionally, everyone is complaining about public employees, their benefits and other so-called perks. In order for a member of Congress to be vested FOR LIFE, they must serve for five years. New Jersey teachers must teach for 25 consecutive years to be vested. How about some outrage on that? Five years? Seriously? Also, upon retirement, they receive 80 percent of their salary as a pension. For starters, drop it to 70 percent. Finally, they should contribute three percent annually to their healthcare coverage both while in Congress and when they “retire.”

Moving on to the Department of Education. Cut it out completely. It isn’t needed and all it does it use its funding to stick its nose into local affairs. It just makes things more complicated.

Next up, Social Security. Let’s face it, more people my age believe that Area 51 exists than they believe that they will get what they have paid into Social Security. And to be clear, Social Security, like unemployment, is not an entitlement. An entitlement is a gift from the government. Welfare and Medicaid are entitlements. Our taxes go to social security, therefore, it is not an entitlement. The President should follow the recommendation from his debt own commission and raise the retirement age. Additionally, you should be allowed to “opt out” of Social Security. I would rather have that money in my check and decide how to invest it than leave it to the government.

Finally, move to a flat tax system. This way there are no loopholes, everyone pays in, regardless of their income level and has a vested interest in what happens to our nation. Currently, two percent of the wealthiest individuals pay over 40 percent of the taxes and will never use any of the services they support. Everyone, regardless of income level, should pay taxes. Otherwise, it is just a handout, which prevents people from feeling the pride of providing for their well-being. Additionally, just think of how many jobs could be cut. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to see a smaller IRS?

Well, that’s where I would start. I think these cuts would provide a solid start in getting federal spending on a real cost-cutting plan.

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.

October 30, 2010

Should the President Stump for Fellow Dems?

So, here I am watching President Obama stumping for Dick Blumenthal in Connecticut. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I would love to hear from my readership on this thought.

I know that both parties have sent the President and/or First Lady to stump for their fellow party members during a campaign. However, should they be doing that? Let’s face it, it isn’t cheap for the President to fly around and when he goes anywhere, it is on the taxpayer’s dime, not the party or the candidate. The same should go for the First Lady. We pay for her travel as well.

The President is supposed to represent all Americans, not just those in his party. Therefore, I really believe once he gets into office, he shouldn’t be allowed to stump. Regardless of party. Period. When the President partakes in partisan rhetoric, he only represents those in his party and potentially alienates the rest of the nation.

So, am I being overly-sensitive? I would love to hear the thoughts of my readers.

November 18, 2009

Welcome to My Snarky World

I believe everyone should use the common sense God gave them. Unfortunately, not everyone does. This blog will document my rants and raves of those who make me crazy.

To give you some background:

  • I am a fiscal conservative
  • I am a social moderate
  • You (unfortunately) can’t legislate to prevent stupidity
  • If you can’t talk on the phone and drive at the same time, using a hands-free headset really won’t help

Stay tune on my regular rants.

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