Category Archives: Totty

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Rule Five Friday

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (1)Granted, for any right-of-center blogger, the IRS is pretty much low-hanging fruit for a good rant.

But let’s go for it anyway.  Here are ten tax facts the IRS doesn’t want you to know.  The first two:

This is shaping up to be a tough year for the Internal Revenue Service…and, potentially, for taxpayers. Not only is the agency hobbled by budget cuts, but it faces more demands due to Obamacare and rampant tax-related identity theft. Customer service will be worse than ever.

The IRS ideally projects an image of efficiency and fairness. But as a government agency, it also has to inform citizens about its inner workings. Gleaned from its public documents, here are 10 facts the IRS would probably rather the American public did not know:

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (2)Related: 10 Surprising Tax Deductions in 2015

1. It’s unlikely that you’ll get audited. The IRS audited fewer than 1 percent of individual returns last year and this number is likely to drop again this year due to budget cuts. The IRS budget approved by Congress this fiscal year is $10.9 billion, down from $12 billion in 2012. The agency has about 17,000 fewer staffers than it did in 2010. Meantime, it has to deal with a surge in tax refund identity theft (see No. 6, below) as well as complex new filing requirements related to Obamacare.

Of course, the odds of getting audited are a lot higher for some taxpayers. If your income is over $1 million, your chances of getting audited jumps to 11 percent. And there are plenty of additional red flags that can trigger an IRS audit.

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (3)2. Calling us for help is a crapshoot. If you need to speak to an IRS agent, you may be out of luck. Last year, 35.6 percent of phone calls went unanswered by customer service representatives. But this year the IRS projects only 43 percent of callers will get through to an agent after a wait of 30 minutes. That’s an average, notes National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, in a January report to Congress. That means some days will be “truly abysmal,” she says.

Well, hell, thanks to the IRS and the bureaucrats and politicians that pass the laws and make the regulations that comprise tax policy, plenty of days are “truly abysmal” for taxpayers, too.

The U.S. tax code is, at last and best information, somewhere close to 80,000 pages.  The truth of it is that nobody understands this monstrosity, not even the IRS agents who are supposed to advise the citizenry on their tax returns.  My own dear Mrs. Animal can testify to that; she has been doing our taxes for twenty years, and as our business has grown, gone international and become more complex, so has our tax filing.  When our kids were growing up, they knew Mom was a little cranky around tax time and made allowances.

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (4)Why should that be the case?

A truly fair tax code should be simple.  A truly fair tax filing should be along the lines of “Enter your income form all sources on line A.  Multiply your income by .065 and enter that on line B.  This is your tax liability.”  I’d be willing to exclude, say, the first $30,000 (or whatever number makes sense) from taxation.

I’d much rather have the Fair Tax, but I’d settle for an honestly flat tax.

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (5)Instead, we have an 80,000 page monstrosity that manages to punish success, reward failure, and support a fair-sized army of tax accountants and lobbyists.

In what way is this anything but a catastrophe?

President Obama has made noises about tax reform, which in his lingo means raising tax rates and coming up with new taxes and fees.  The new GOP Congress has made similar noises, which in their case almost certainly means putting a fresh coat of lipstick on the same old pig.

Why isn’t there a Presidential candidate out there willing to talk about this?

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Rule Five Friday

2015_01_30_Rule Five Friday (1)I’m really beginning to warm up to the idea of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a Presidential candidate.  Here is a relevant video from RealClearPolitics; partial transcript:

“I think any realistic candidate has to be in by this summer,” Walker said. My budget will come out next Tuesday, for the fifth and sixth year in a row I’ll lower property taxes. I want a few months to get that job done. But I’ll be in New Hampshire and South Carolina and back in Iowa, and we’re going to be talking about these issues for the next several months. We’re excited where we can take this country.”

“And if you were going to give me odds of you running, what are the odds?” Hannity asked.

“I don’t think it’s ever been good to bet against me,” Walker said. Certainly in the last three elections for governor in the past four years, I wouldn’t be betting against me in a race like this either.”

2015_01_30_Rule Five Friday (2)And an article from The American Conservative; excerpt:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s appearance at Iowa’s first major cattle call for Republican presidential candidates has attracted a lot of buzz.

Walker has never been a great orator, but he was able to win multiple standing ovations from the conservative crowd. It’s enough to make some Republicans wonder: does Walker make as much sense in practice as he does on paper?

2015_01_30_Rule Five Friday (3)Consider that Walker took on public-sector unions in labor-friendly Wisconsin and won. Ohio Gov. John Kasich picked much the same fight and lost. Counting the recall election, Walker has thrice taken the best shot national Democratic and liberal organizations can deliver and won each time in what can fairly be described as a blue state.

Governors Walker’s first foray into the hustings is interesting as well:

And that’s the main reason I’m coming to favor Governor Walker as a candidate.  Like Mitt Romney, he’s been through the national wringer; unlike Mitt Romney, he’s taken everything the major media outlets and the political Left has been able to throw at him and went on to win three elections, in four years, in a blue state.

Walker has some fiscal chops.  Wisconsin’s residents are enjoying continually lower property taxes.  The state’s budget deficit has been dramatically reduced.

2015_01_30_Rule Five Friday (4)He’s a self-described evangelical Christian, but he doesn’t seem to wear it on his sleeve.  To yr. obdt. that’s not necessarily a plus, but as long as he’s not overtly vocal and pushy about it, it’s not necessarily a minus either.  My stance on social issues remains the same as it’s always been:  I really don’t give a damn what people do, as long as they leave me alone.

The combination of fiscal sanity, some private-sector experience and proven campaigning expertise on what can only be described as hostile territory could make Governor Walker a very strong candidate – in a GOP field consisting mostly of luke-warm to lousy 2015_01_30_Rule Five Friday (5)candidates.

It’s going to be an interesting election cycle.  But then, most of them are.

And it looks like the Democrats’ heir apparent may have some competition waiting in the wings.  Excerpt:

They have called Senator Elizabeth Warren “an extremely attractive candidate” in the 2016 presidential campaign. They have said that she is the “hottest commodity” in the Democratic Party and that she has demonstrated the “passion and intensity” that Hillary Rodham Clinton lacks.

Those glowing compliments are not from the liberal activists who are trying to persuade Ms. Warren to challenge Mrs. Clinton, who is expected to be the party’s leading contender in 2016. They come from conservatives who are eager to drum up a contentious Democratic primary and who see Ms. Warren, a first-term senator from Massachusetts, as best positioned to weaken, and potentially defeat, Mrs. Clinton.

Yes, an interesting election cycle – very interesting indeed.

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Rule Five Friday

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (1)A couple more bits of insight on the recent State of the Union, this first from the Weekly Standard’s Fed Barnes:  Obama Blows Smoke.  Excerpt:

We know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending.  But how in the world does “middle class economics” work?  After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did. 

Instead, he confused a cause with a result. Middle class economics, he said, “is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an economic policy.

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (2)Let’s be honest about this much; President Obama doesn’t have an economic policy.  What he has is a healthy dose of 1960s style Keynesianism with a healthy dose of class envy rhetoric thrown in to stir up the Left.  And to be fair, the GOP has (so far) not done a very good job of articulating an alternative.

How about talking up some real tax reform, like the FairTax?  How about concrete proposals for dealing with our Ice-Age style, mile-thick glacier of Imperial debt that is creeping steadily down on our children and grandchildren?

Here’s another, this from National Journal’s Ron Fournier:  Does Obama Believe What He Says Anymore?  Excerpt:

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (3)President Obama ended his State of the Union address where he started his political ascent—offering to be a leader who produces can-do bipartisanship in a divided, dysfunctional capital.

“Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns,” he told a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. “Imagine if we did something different.”

Yes, imagine if rather than empty promises, the president could report two-party progress on big issues like immigration, climate change, social mobility, and the debt and deficit.

Actually, you don’t need to imagine. Such leadership exists in this country—just not in Washington.

201501_23_Rule Five Friday (4)And, indeed, this is true.  It’s going on in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker has reined in that state’s runaway finances.  It’s going in in Michigan, where Governor Rick Snyder has dealt with Detroit’s fiscal nightmare and worked out the state’s problems with unfunded pension costs.  All around the country (well, not in California, where the lunatics continue to run the asylum) state Governors are accomplishing what the Imperial City is helpless to address.

Maybe, in 2016, we need to stick one of these Governors in the Imperial Mansion.

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Rule Five Friday

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (1)Maybe the European Community needs a Second Amendment.  Europe’s Leading Rabbi:  Jews Must Begin Carrying Guns.  Excerpt:

One of Europe’s most prominent Jewish organizations is petitioning the European Union to pass new legislation that would permit Jewish community members to carry guns “for the essential protection of their communities,” according to a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The European Jewish Association (EJA), which represents Jewish communities across Europe, says that gun license laws must be altered following a string of deadly attacks on Jews in France and other European countries, where anti-Semitism has been growing at an alarming rate.

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (2)The recent attacks, including one on a Kosher market that killed four, “have revealed the urgent need to stop talking and start acting” in a way that empowers Europe’s Jews, according to a letter sent Tuesday by EJA General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin to EU leaders.

The EU, which has enacted very stringent gun control laws, should empower and train Jews to be proficient with guns in order to maintain their safety, according to Margolin.

Sauce for the goose, Rabbi Margolin; if European Jews should suddenly have the right to keep and bear arms, so should other European citizens.

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (3)For it’s a sad fact that Europe, like most of the supposedly civilized world, denies a fundamental natural right to its citizens:  The right to self-defense.  It is perhaps belaboring the obvious to point out (as many on the Left will do) that one person with a concealed handgun may not be effective against two or more trained terrorists with automatic rifles and maybe grenades.   On the other hand, it’s also not inconceivable that an armed citizen, perhaps with the advantage of surprise, may take one or more terrorists out before any official response arrives on the scene – maybe saving some lives in the process.

But an unarmed citizenry is utterly, totally helpless.  It staggers belief that Europe prefers things this way.

2015_01_16_Rule Five Friday (4)The linked article concludes:  “Bottom line: Only the Police and intelligence can protect France’s Jews from terrorism,” (Rabbi Abraham) Cooper said, noting that it is expected French authorities will continue boosting defenses. “If the government doesn’t, then there is no long range future for Jews there.”

“In the meantime, additional steps by the community to train and defend Jews from hate attacks are appropriate, necessary, and prudent,” Cooper said. “I pray that all these steps will help.”

Again – sauce for the goose.  If the ability to defend one’s self against terrorists is good, then the ability to defend one’s self against criminals is good as well.  Maybe Europe should take a look at the bigger picture.

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Rule Five Friday

2015_01_09_Rule Five Friday (1)With the 2016 Presidential election season already under way (yes, I know) certain elements of the GOP are already forming the circular firing squads.

The battle cry of the circular firing squad crew?  “RINO.”  “RINO,” or “Republican In Name Only,” is a term all too often used to describe any member of the Republican Party who disagrees with the speaker on any given issue.

Both political parties are made up of a spectrum of voters.  The Republicans include libertarians, social-issues voters (generally referred to in the media as the Christian right, ignoring the fact that there is a Christian left as well) deficit hawks, defense hawks, small-business owners and advocates, economic conservatives and a leavening of old-style blue-blood country club Republicans.

2015_01_09_Rule Five Friday (2)And members of any of those groups may, in a stunning exhibition of the No True Scotsman fallacy, are prone to loudly denouncing members of the other groups as “not conservative enough.”

In 2012, this very kind of argument may well have handed Barack Obama his re-election, as any number of GOP and GOP-leaning voters denounced Mitt Romney as “not Republican enough.”  Some of those voters went third party; some didn’t vote.

Now, yr. obdt. is on record as opposing the Jeb Bush candidacy.  The primary reason for opposing the younger Bush is simple; he probably 2015_01_09_Rule Five Friday (3)can’t win.

Here’s the reality:

In January 2017, either a Republican or a Democrat will be inaugurated as President.  The new President won’t be a Libertarian, or  a Green, or any other minor party; s/he will be a Republican or a Democrat.  That’s it.

A vote for a third party, no matter how they align with the individual voter ideologically, is in fact a vote for the major party candidate the 2015_01_09_Rule Five Friday (4)voter wants the least.  A vote withheld, just the same.

The same thing happens on both sides, though – witness Florida in the 2000 election.  Were I Ralph Nader, I still wouldn’t feel comfortable showing my face at any gathering of Florida Democrats.

Back on track:  If GOP voters are serious about winning in 2016, then they should settle all of the inter-party squabbling in the primaries, and then once a candidate is decided, shut up and get him/her elected.

The lesser of two evils, after all, is still better than the greater of two evils.

So, True Believers, how would you define a “true” conservative?  A “true” Republican?  What hot-button issues turn you on to a candidate – or off?

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