November 29, 2017

TaxScam in a nutshell

Here's what I think we need to know about the highly partisan version of tax "reform" now being pushed through the senate:

1. George W. Bush passed massive tax cuts and what we got was....permanent prosperity? Oh, wait, it was the biggest crash since the Great Depression. I'm not saying the tax cuts were the sole cause, although they did contribute to the financial bubbles that led to it. But it's obvious that tax cuts don't guarantee growth or prosperity or economic stability.

2. This is a Trojan horse. The massive transfer of wealth to those who already have it will eventually crowd out funding for things like Medicare, Medicaid, student aid, food security, housing etc.

3. There are plenty of "starve the beast" Republicans who want that to happen. They hope a crisis will force cuts to domestic programs.

4. Then there's the whole thing about adding $1.5 trillion+ to the deficit for no good reason.

5. Whatever cuts some middle class people will get is a sugar high. Those cuts are temporary, while cuts to corporations and the wealthy are permanent.

6. Due to the tilt of the programs towards the wealthy, people in 19 states, including West Virginia, will eventually pay more in 2027 than they do under current law.

7. Then there's the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which will greatly increase the number of uninsured Americans and drive up costs for everyone else.

I mean, golly, what could possibly go wrong?

November 26, 2017

Thoughts on seeing bears

My daughter, sometimes referred to here as La Cabrita, is a seriously educated woman. As in doctorate. Most of her views on the world are fairly conventional, with a few exceptions.

One such exception is her oft stated conviction that a zombie apocalypse on the order of The Walking Dead could actually occur.

In her words, "that **** could really happen!"

( Another, sad to say, is her belief that living in trees would be a solution to that problem. But that's a digression...)

Her other main odd belief is that bears are intelligent, consciously malevolent evil creatures which exist only to do humanity harm.

I disagree with this assessment, thinking of them more as wild, large and somewhat dangerous dog cousins with strange sleeping habits which should be left alone but which are otherwise cool.

Although the black bear is the state animal of West Virginia, I haven't seen a whole lot of them here. My closest views were had in Washington state, Vermont, and Florida.

Now there's a triangle. Talk about going to extremes...

My closest encounter happened while walking with the Spousal Unit and dogs in the Vermont woods, when we saw one coming down from a tree.

This happened at the same time as Pope Francis' visit to the US. My mind naturally ran to two common rhetorical questions: "Is the pope Catholic?" and "Does a bear relief itself in the woods?"

I took that as a sign from above and made it a point to try to answer every question in the affirmative for the next month or so.

Most recently, I was jogging on a trail in Florida that ran by the edge of the woods. The trail ran for about .75 miles long and I was on lap two or three when I saw something in the distance. I asked myself whether that bush or tree was there on the last lap. When I got closer, I saw it standing on all fours, kind of like pictures I've seen or gorillas. Then it got up and walked away.

Florida bears have a reputation, justified in my opinion, of being pretty chill. I kept running the loop but reversed course in order to give it time to get away--and not to push my luck. 

Still, there was a feeling of awe, fascination and a bit of an instinctive spine chill at seeing such a magnificent creature.

I hope I get the chance to feel that again. From a suitable distance.