Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Welcome back!

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. I spent about a week visiting relatives in Massachusetts. Since my parents live in Florida, we don’t get up to Massachusetts very often. So from that perspective, it was good to see everybody again. From another… Well, one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older and presumably, though probably not proportionately, wiser is that I’ve become more aware of what’s going on under the surface of things. Underneath that polite veneer that’s presented to the world, and which as a child I assumed there was nothing behind – that we were just a big happy family with no politics or strife. And that’s not to say that we aren’t, but my god… It drives me nuts just how much into everyone else business they insist of getting, and how much petty sniping goes on in terms of who’s thinks what, and who said what, and who didn’t go to who’s party, or who’s more generous or more stingy, who got the better gifts… Holy hot hopping hell, it’s like going around the table at Thanksgiving and everyone declaring how good everyone else has it! (And realize that these folks are all very well off! No one’s losing their house, or living on the edge.) But seriously, I could never stand having that many people up in my business all time! Oh my God… It drives you nuts after a while! (And the relative lack of that in my life is one of the advantages of living where I do!)

Anyway, we’re home now. And I must say that while overall we DID have a good time, there were some interesting political discussions that happened on this trip that I’d like to share with you all. I’ll say up front, that most of these I was little more than an observer or a devil’s advocate. For the most part I’m keen to let the family partisans fight it out – no one’s really listening to anyone else anyway, or has any intention of changing their position, so I’d rather not waste my breath burning bridges.

The first involved the Massachusetts State Law regarding care for the elderly. In Massachusetts, as in many other places, If a person cannot pay for their own long term care - and let’s face it: if you don’t have a lot of money, LTC insurance and a decent source of income into retirement, few can – then when you need to enter a nursing home, the state will provide this service, taking care of those elderly and indigent people who can no longer care for themselves. These facilities are not great places of course – the one in question was a real shithole. And yet… the costs are still astronomical. Well beyond what most people could afford even for a short time, let alone indefinitely. Now, when you are in these institutions, you are now a ward of the State. The State gets your pension, your social security, and gives you just a small weekly allowance (to spend on what, I wonder? No one ever leaves the building!) They also take any assets you have, to cover the costs of your care. If you own a house? The state will take it. Car? Same. (Etc…) There are ways around this, of course. Since laws are written by lawyers, to give more work to other lawyers, there are trusts and other estate planning tools that will allow your family to keep most or all of these assets. One has to wonder why you would write a law, and then immediately create another law whose sole purpose is to circumvent the first law, but that’s the biggest problem with politics and legislation. Beyond any Liberal or Conservative issues, the primary problem is that laws are written by legislators who are primarily – like 90% of them – LAWYERS. And their “secret agenda” is not Liberal or Conservative per se - it’s primarily to drum up more business for lawyers. If they can write a law that will result in more law suits? Or that can further complicate tax law or estate law and thus make even more work for tax and estate lawyers? They’re all over it.

ANYWAY… Feel as you will about the idea of the State taking your house, or about the fact that if you pay a lawyer to write up a new trust every couple of years, your family can keep the house, the fact is that caring for the elderly is expensive. And SOMEONE, SOMEHOW needs to pay for it! The real point of contention, and where my Father – a staunch Conservative, Republican, borderline Tea-Party type - started chiming in is that in addition to what I’ve mentioned already, Massachusetts does what they call a “five-year look back” to see if you made any large gifts over the past five years. And if you did? The State can go after the recipient to get them back! Again, this sounds really unfair, but MANY States have these look-back periods. They’re basically meant to prevent people from giving their assets away to family in order to get around paying for the care they’ll receive from the State. And, while it seems like it sucks at first, when you think about it, it’s basically FAIR. Well… My father’s having none of that: To him it’s bullshit that the State would take property, let alone look back five years and take it from other people! Now, he understood WHY they do this. He KNOWS that people could easily cheat the system, were it not for the look back system. So I asked him: How would you pay for it then? Shitty a lifestyle though it may be, this is a necessary, expensive service that’s being provided! Why is it wrong to ask the recipients of that service to pay whatever they can for it? I then added the kicker, reminding him that the alternative was socializing it, through higher taxes, spreading the cost across everyone, and making everyone pay for it. That’s a solution that I don’t really have a problem with: it would be part of my overall health care system. But I KNEW he’d never go for it. And, big surprise, he admitted that he had no ideas for alternatives, although he did point out that the family themselves used to care for their elderly relatives in house. (Yeah: Back when you could raise a family on one income, and people didn’t live nearly as long!) Anyway, I learned a long time ago that you can never get a Conservative to admit he’s wrong, but if you can get them to admit that they have no ideas? Count that as a win. For me? I just see it as evidence that Conservatives are basically whiny little bitches who want something for nothing. (And in this case a Government handout and socialized medicine! Imagine that!) But PAY FOR IT? What kind of liberal nonsense is that?!

Also hilarious, to me anyway, is hearing someone like my dad (a very wealthy man, I should add) talk about how we should just go to a “flat tax.” Now… first off all, he’s a deficit hawk, big time. Granted, he’s your typical Right Winger when it comes to the deficit: Lower Taxes (huh?), cut entitlements, trim defense (at worst), no earmarks, no pork, etc… in other words, basically shitty ideas that will do nothing to fix the deficit, and do great harm to the economy and to people’s lifestyles. But when he talks about a flat tax, I wonder if he’s even capable of basic arithmetic. Because if you assume a rate that doesn’t INCREASE the deficit, YES, his rate would go down, but the rates of ~98% of Americans would go UP. A LOT. When 1% of you population make 20% of the income (note: I just made that up – whatever the actual numbers are, it pretty bad) you cannot lower their tax bracket without raising everyone else’s, if you (1) want everyone to have the same rate. And (2) don’t want to increase the deficit / debt. So… why, you might ask would a Conservative be so much in favor or RAISING everyone’s taxes? I don’t have a clue. No, my dad’s not a stupid man. A bit self-centered in his perspective maybe, but he’s not DUMB. He just suffers for the typical Conservative’s disease of completely lacking logical consistently, self-awareness and principled pragmatism.

Another bit topic of conversation was the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” To which I say, “It’s about damned time, and what the hell took so long?!” But my Brother in Law was in the Navy and my Cousin was a Marine, and they’re both Conservatives – my brother-in-law to a kind of annoying, Sean Hannity degree, my cousin to a more psychotic G.Gordon Liddy / Mike Savage degree. And of course, despite the fact that they both served with gays, whether they knew it or not, this was of course going to signal the death knell of American Military Dominance. Putting aside of course that we spend twice on defense what England, France, Russia and China do combined. Putting aside that almost every other non-Muslim country has already done the same thing, and it’s had no impact. Putting aside that polls showed that even 70% of White Evangelical Christians supported its repeal… It all over. We’re doomed. And it seemed like everyone else (most of whom range from Massachusetts Democrats to Massachusetts Liberals) just LOVED to get my cousin torqued up about it, and get him going on one of his homophobic rants. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good rant as much as the next guy, even when I disagree with the speaker. It’s fun to see a man feeding off his own hatred, anger and fears. It’s fun to see someone just lose it. I know. I’m human too! But as I listened to him, a theme started to emerge that I found rather… disturbing.

I can’t really cite any one thing he said, but he acted like the Marines were their own entity. As if they were a club that could make their own rules and their own policies, rather than an arm of the democratically elected Government, created to enforce theirs. He acted like the Marines existed only to fight – which, yes, they do – but beyond that, as if their whole raison detre was fighting for fighting’s sake alone, or for any reason they alone saw fit, and that other factors, like actual foreign policy and actual American Values like freedom and equality were not the REASON they were fighting. I’m not going to suggest that he speaks for all Marines, but to hear him going off, in an almost thug-like, borderline-Nazi manner, you’d think he thought that it was the Marines, and the mentality of Marines like him that decided (not SHOULD decide, but ACTUALLY decided) what they should be fighting for, what the country stands for, and how the laws should be made and that somehow anything that goes against that fascist psychosis somehow constitutes a betrayal of our brave men and women in uniform. But answer me this: If you’re in the Middle East fighting a bunch of misogynistic, theocratic homophobes, and yet you DON’T believe in religious freedom, or equality, then WHAT THE FUCK ARE FIGHTING FOR?! At that point, you can only be fighting for fighting’s sake. I don’t believe, as he does, that America is betraying that part of the Military by allowing Gays to serve openly. I believe that for many years, large parts of the Military have been betraying American values by not respecting, supporting and fighting for what America actually believes and stands for: Equality and religious freedom.

And one point he actually said, “I don’t judge them [gays], but they’re deviants!” Remember what I said about lacking self-awareness?

Of course, the TSA and Muslim profiling came up. At which point I had to point out (again) that the terrorists were not the ones with long beards and turbans, but rather the clean-shaven ones wearing suits. Also that a turban was rarely indicative of a MUSLIM, and far more often indicative of a HINDU. And that the average Hindu hates Muslims even more that then average American bigot does. Now this lead to a brief conversation about other religions, and which point my Mom asked me what religion “those kids I went to school with were.” I knew the ones she meant: The ones who wore turbans and never, in their life, have cut their hair. To which I answered that they were Sikhs. My brother-in-law chimed in, adding that they “wear daggers around their necks” which is technically true, but also a grossly misleading oversimplification. After which my Father commented that it was a religious with “weird beliefs.” I asked him, “What religion DIDN’T ask you to believe weird things?” and then said, “Do you know what you call a religion without weird beliefs? SCIENCE. (And maybe Philosophy.)” That earned me a wink and a nod from my Uncle, by far the most liberal man in the room, and one of the most liberal men I know.

Speaking of weird beliefs… Do notice how some people will believe anything about someone they don’t like politically?

There was an article – on the front page of the Boston Globe no less – about the fact that the late Senator Edward Kennedy’s dog died. (Yes the Kennedy’s are still royalty in Massachusetts to the point where the death of a dead Kennedy’s dog is front page news!) Now… I noticed something in the article that, I thought, revealed either a gross display of bad taste, or a complete lack of self-awareness on the part of the late Senator. The dog’s name? SPLASH. Seriously. A guy who will forever be remember for driving his car off a bridge, drunk, into a river and allowing a female campaign aid worker to die in the icy water… named his dog SPASH. Now… although I’m not a particular critic of the late Senator, I found this point to be at least a bit perversely humorous - my favorite kind of humor - so I pointed it out. At which point Sean Hannity my brother-in-law started talking about how Kennedy often used to “joke about killing that woman,” and how he was such a scumbag, etc… Now… He works at the Pentagon. And he does occasionally rub elbows with people who actually may have had conversations and even a relationship with the late Senator. But the way he told the story? “I heard,” “People say,” that sort of thing? Just makes me file it under “People will believe anything about someone they disagree with politically.” I don’t know if it happened or not. I have no idea. It could have. But what I do know? Is that a Conservative’s burden of proof is fairly low, when it comes to bad things being said about Progressives or Liberalism.

Anyway, while it was still a good time overall… It’s definitely good to be home


----------------------------------------------------------------

BTW… There’s was this John Stossell thing that ran on Fox while we were up there that I’d like to debunk, but this post is long enough, and that’s a post that should probably be its own post anyway.

9 comments:

  1. The flat tax not only fails empirically, it can't even get off the ground logically. The whole thing is a braindead emotional kneejerk to make taxes fair. These idiots tell their kids that life isn't fair, but they still want to force fairness on large-scale policy with big consequences?

    I want the tax policy that produces the best results, and I don't care how unfair it is. Even if we can win an argument that the best tax policy is also the fairest, there should be no time wasted in the effort.

    If someone says that the rich (read: "small business owners") are being treated unfairly, the correct answer isn't "no they aren't", it's "boo friggin' hoo, crybaby".

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Conservatives are basically whiny little bitches"

    Ahhh, good to have you back! I am tired just reading about the assaults on your liberal defenses! It sounds exhausting! I fortunately come from a liberal family except my mother who actually cried when Nixon resigned! I used to have to drive her around and her car has a Bush bumper sticker but I kept a magnetic radio station bumper sticker hidden under the mat in the back seat and would slip it out and cover the Bush one before driving her car. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  3. As of 2007 (before the current recession which will make the numbers even worse), the top 1% of earners took in 23.5% of the income. To put that in context, the bottom 50% of earners took in only 12-14% of total income.

    Far more grim is the picture painted by wealth inequality (the top 5% of Americans own over half of the wealth in the U.S.; the top 20% own over 80% of it).

    The tax code is written in such a way that compliance, beyond a certain level of wealth, is, for all intents and purposes, voluntary, and that's not "voluntary" in the way all tax compliance is legalistically said to be voluntary--that's "voluntary" as in you only pay if you want to pay. Big Oil is the most profitable industry on earth; it is the lowest taxed industry in the U.S. (the biggest companies not only pay nothing, but get huge subsidies from the government every year).

    The "flat tax" schemes that have been thrown around for two decades aren't income taxes. They're consumption taxes, and are regressive, falling most heavily on those least able to pay. The advocates of these schemes use "simplification" as a selling-point, but that's a con-game, because there's no reason why the progressive income tax couldn't be made just as simple. It isn't complex because evil government bureaucrats took it on their bad ol' socialist selves to make it that way--it's complex because every special interest in the U.S. spent a fortune to buy legislators for the purpose of carving out their own little hole in it, their own little excuse for not having to pay anything. Nor is it the case that the "flat tax" is "fair." Those at the lower end of the wealth spectrum can't afford to pay more, and those in the middle can be significantly harmed by higher taxes. Those who have most of the wealth can pay higher taxes without suffering any real economic harm, and that's fair.

    The decades after the second World War featured incredibly steep, graduated taxes (the top rate was 70-90% in those years), income inequality sharply declined every year, unionism was the strongest it has been in U.S. history, and industry was heavily regulated. The result was that the U.S. became the economic powerhouse of the world.

    This all fell apart in the '70s, when the liberalism that had helped produce this prosperity went into decline.

    All right, I'll confess I cut-and-pasted most of that from something I'd written a few months ago, and just modified it to sort of comment on some of the things under discussion here. I'm having a really bad time just now, and I'm not really up to thinking about most things very deeply, or writing about them, either. I threw this out because it sort of fit that tax talk.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Considering DADT will doom America, we might as well just live with "Obamacare" and all the liberal evils, because they would make passing time better while waiting for our eventual eternal damnation... :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. One other thing... I recall an economics/political class that discussed the various tax systems and according to the professor, the flat tax was a beginning tax model because it was easy to implement (which is why I believe former Soviet Union states considered the taxes). As countries progress - especially into a capitalist system - there develops a need to create a more complicated tax structure.

    I may be getting some of the details off in my summary, and I can't really cite any info without digging through my old note books, but I am always reminded of this when I hear various arguments for changing the tax system.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Steeve – I couldn‘t agree more. Unfortunately our media LOVES shedding tears on behalf of the rich. Apparently it really sucks to be a multi-millionaire in America these days.

    @JLarue – LOL, my parents still have the W. magnet on their fridge. My mother had a W. sticker on her car (which is now my car) at one point, but one of my [liberal] aunts pulled it off at one point!

    @Classicliberal – I don’t know why blogger seems to think your comments belong in the spam-box. (I certainly don’t!) But I managed to fish it out and get it posted. Great points. (Which I’ll be borrowing at some point!) It’s amazing how easily led the idiots in this country are. (And thus even more amazing that the Democrats keep failing to lead them!)

    @Kevin – I’d say that you might have actually constructed the most effective argument against the flat tax possible: It was used by the Communists! Although… the fact that Jesus was a long-haired, sandal-wearing, hippy-liberal who gave the sick free health care hasn’t put them off of HIM yet, so… maybe not.

    Thank you all for your comments! It’s good to hear from you all again. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am laughing still about Kevin's assertion that we are all doomed to eternal damnation for the repeal of DADT. That statement says so much. So very very much.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh gosh, you have my sympathies having to deal with all of that political disagreement. Lucky for me, both my in-laws and my late parents are/were Democrats so we didn't have too many of those family disagreements. My aunt (mom's sister) is the one outlier. She was a Republican for many years and now she votes Democrat, but still has a number of weird(to me) beliefs. She says she is not anti-gay; but would probably agree with your family members about most anti-gay issues. I find we cannot discuss any of these things or I lose my temper! Good for you, keeping it together enough not to cause a war!

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Jlarue - Agreed, 100%

    @Mauigirl - Meh, it ain't all THAT bad. I find it more amusing than frustrating, most times. It's only bad when I'm asked a direct question (rare, since I'm still at the "kids" table with all the "kids" and all of their (and our) childeren) by someone who assumes I'll agree with them (you know: because I'm so smart!) and I'm forced to find a vastly more diplomatic way than I'd typically use here to show them how misguided they are and why. It's a lot easier, trivial in fact by comparison, to make that argument here, in my more *traditional* style. LOL

    ReplyDelete