Unfortunate Fiscal Reality: “Someone kill grandpa before the taxes go up”

Grumpy Old Man

When the laws pertaining to estate taxes make their switch in January, many families will lose millions of dollars compared to had their rich family members passed away earlier. Currently, the tax is set at 35% for estates valued at the inflation-adjusted $5 million minimum. The new laws drop the government bounty number down to $1 million and increases the tax to 55%.

That’s right – if you’ve worked your whole life to accumulate wealth that can be passed along to your family when you die, the government will take more than half of it. Why should your family prosper from your work when there are plenty of government expenditures that could use the money more effectively? That is, at least, the thinking in Washington DC today.

As CNBC points out:

Many families are faced with a stark proposition. If the life of an elderly wealthy family member extends into 2013, the tax bills will be substantially higher. An estate that could bequest $3 million this year will leave just $1.9 million after taxes next year. Shifting a death from January to December could produce $1.1 million in tax savings.

As unfair and inhumane as it sounds to hope that a family member dies in time, it’s a real dilemma. It isn’t just the family that has to battle with the personal conflict of greed and/or fairness versus loving and honoring a family member. It’s the dying wealthy family member themselves who are likely aware of the tax burden that they’re survival puts on their family.

Check out some of the statistics and facts in the CNBC article, then ask yourself about the callous nature of the government under which we live. Why does everything have to be done in dramatic fashion? This wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue if the changes were incrementally spread out over time. The “death deadline” is such a dramatic change that it is definitely affecting both the moral integrity of the family members as well as the personal end-life desires of the dying person for many families in the country. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to make the changes less dramatic, to lower the threshold and raise the tax a little at a time every year for several years? Where is the planning and the forward thought in Washington?

This isn’t the type of problem that affects most Americans but it is a clear highlight on the poor fundamentals that drive our government.

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Essential Tool for Criminals: The Journal News Posts Legal Gun Owners’ Names, Addresses

The Journal News

Dear Criminals in or near Westchester County or Rockland County, NY:

You have a new ally to assist you in your criminal activities. The Journal News through it’s lohud.com property has furnished you with the names and addresses of people who possess legal handgun permits. No need to worry about getting surprised by someone with the upper hand when you’re preparing to commit a crime. Just cross-reference your target address with the interactive map that The Journal News has provided you and know whether your intended victims are likely to have a firearm in their house. Why take the risk of getting shot when The Journal News is there to protect you?

Better yet, if you do not currently possess a firearm, simply wait outside one of the houses on the map until everyone leaves and break in knowing that you’re likely to find a firearm that you can use to commit your crimes. Remember, The Journal News is here to make your jobs easier.

As The Blaze and other publications have already pointed out, real journalists on both sides of the political spectrum are reacting negatively to the publication of interactive maps by The Journal News that reveal the names and addresses of legal gun permit holders in two New York counties. These are not people who committed a crime. They are not people who deserve to have their privacy trampled on. These are people who have been called out by a newspaper because…

…actually, there’s really no good reason that a rational human could possibly come up with to justify this action. They aren’t going to intimidate anyone into getting rid of their guns. They aren’t giving useful information to people in these neighborhoods; despite what The Journal News might believe, people are not checking the map on their street and saying, “Oh my goodness, there’s guns here! Let’s move, Earl. We’re not safe – Betty Sue down the block is packing!”

With no possible benefit to the community they serve and the fact that they are putting their own communities at risk by publishing this data, one can only conclude that The Journal News did this strictly for ad revenue. A pageview play is the only thing that would remotely make any sense. Why else would a publication be willing to put its readers in danger and assist criminals unless they were profiting from their irresponsible act?

I was hesitant to even link to the story, but you’ll want to see it. You will find it whether I link to it or not. You will want to try to grasp how “journalism” has fallen so far.

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Gun Focus is Distracting the Country from the Underlying Problem

Guns

The discussion has been predictable. Ever since the Sandy Hook shootings, the media, the government, and people around the world have focused the various debates around guns. The circumstances surrounding this and other shootings over the past couple of decades across America have been heart-wrenching. The victims and their families get some of the attention, but what really seems to interest society is the driving force behind the madness (why would anyone do that?) and the accessibility of the tools of death represented by assault rifles, sniper rifles, and even handguns.

Why is there so little focus on the deterioration of moral values? Why are so few even considering the possibility that society is turning their faith away from God and towards the “science” of psychology and that this shift may be the root of so many of the bad things that seem to be taking over the world around us?

Guns have been available to American citizens since the dawn of the country. Murderers have been around since Cain slew Abel. Sick and evil people have done sick and evil things in the past and will continue in the future.

Are guns really the problem? Keep in mind, I am not a card-toting member of the NRA. I do not own a gun, though I have rented guns at the range from time to time. My perspective is not necessarily centered around whether or not certain types of guns should be banned. My perspective comes from a fear that the deterioration of the country’s moral compass, the decline in the number of true Christians and Jews, and the reliance on psychotropic drugs as well as pseudo-sciences that dominate the mental health arena have done more to contribute to the perceived rise in baseless killings over the past two decades than any gun laws (or lack thereof) could ever remedy.

The perspectives of both the NRA and the current administration clash, but neither are right. Guns may or may not be a part of the problem. Guns may or may not be a part of the solution. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the greater part of the problems (and the real solutions) have nothing to do with gun laws. The underlying problem in America and around the world is that God is not being feared, His word is not being respected, and the path of distraction that we continuously choose to follow is leading us further away from the answers.

Instead of asking how guns can be kept out of the hands of people like Adam Lanza, we should be asking what could have been done to prevent Adam Lanza from wanting the guns in the first place.

When We Go Over the Cliff, Will the GOP be Blamed?

John Boehner

Yes.

Let’s put aside for a moment the concept that raising taxes is not the answer. Let’s forget for this discussion that dramatic cuts in spending is the only possible way to get out of the financial mess that this country is in. Let’s assume that bi-artisan understanding of economic responsibility is too hard for both sides to swallow and that it’s much easier to get re-elected by blaming others and opening up the purse-strings to “buy” votes. Let’s just look at the way that this is all being handled.

The left is pointing to the right and the right is pointing to the left as far as assigning blame for the impasse that is plunging us towards a cliff that will damage the country’s economy, reputation, and future. The difference is that the the left is making their points by positioning themselves well in front of the media and through social sites. The right, on the other hand, is simply pointing fingers. It’s not playing well to the people. It’s not playing well for the press. It’s definitely not playing well on social media.

When will the right realize that they have to protect themselves when times like these come about? In reality, they never will. It goes against the nature of the party and the conservative movement in general to garner public support through anything other than the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is very ugly as it pertains to the fiscal cliff and the left is masterfully spinning this to fall squarely on John Boehner and the Republicans in Congress.

Conservatives, it’s time to hope for the best but plan for the worst. If we do go over the cliff, it will be extremely important to make sure as many people as possible understand that the roadblocks were placed squarely there by the left, that the GOP attempted to compromise twice during negotiations without an inch given by the administration, and that it’s not about protecting the rich but rather about protecting the future of the country. Arm yourself with the facts and push forward towards better days. If we go over the cliff, we’ll need to buckle down to make sure that the right decisions are made in the future.

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The Only Way to Save the Country is to Eliminate the Ability to Run for Re-Election

Vote

There is a huge problem in the way the American political system works. It isn’t the politicians necessarily that are the problem, at least not at the root level. The problem lies within the system type itself, around the differences between popularity and legacy, and with the way that Americans have been programmed over the last few decades.

The tough choices are the ones that won’t get made. Why? Because tough choices that will benefit the country in the long run are unpopular today. The most obvious example of this is the unbelievable level of spending that has taken over Washington as well as states like California. Everyone on both sides of the political fence realize that spending must be cut in order for the country to survive for more than a two or three decades. This is a fact that has been established by multiple financial projection models. Some models say the country is due for a complete fiscal implosion by 2020. Other push it as far off as 2045. ALL of them point to an implosion at some point in the near future.

Unfortunately, cuts in spending are unpopular. They require sacrifices to be made. Americans have no problem with sacrifices as long as it’s not them making the sacrifices, so the trend has been to find the smallest groups that will be affected by cuts and target them first. Today, we’re in a situation where many of the easy cuts have already been made. It’s the big cuts that need to be made to make the country’s future fiscally conceivable.

Big cuts lead to lost elections. In a world where politicians live and die by their own re-election potential as well as the potential of their party’s continued victories, neither side is willing to make the cuts. Republicans who would make the cuts don’t win. Democrats who would make the cuts keep their opinions to themselves.

For there to be any chance of a future, America must reform the entire election system. This means establishing election laws that remove the potential for re-election. It means that governors could not run for Congress when they’re time is done. It means Congressmen could not run for Senate after their term.

The biggest roadblock to such a system would be the President. They have to come from somewhere. There are a couple of ways to go about this, but the one that makes the most sense is to have candidates that have taken a “time out” from politics. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be involved in some way. Just not in an elected way. If a governor wants to run for President, they cannot do so until they have left office for a minimum time period.

This would do a couple of things. First, it would make the runs sincere. Jumping back into the political ring after a four-year hiatus to play in the real world after a term in the Senate means that they have time to truly study the world of politics, understand the things that are making the country and the world tick, get out there and touch the people, and rest their minds for a chance to take over the most important job in the world.

It would also prevent problems with current positions. Had the Republicans won the election, Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan would have had to have been replaced.

Finally and most importantly, it would allow current politicians to focus on their jobs. It’s not fair to America that for a year, we technically do not have a focused President. From mid-2011 through November, 2012, President Obama had one important thing on his mind – getting re-elected. The problems that faced the country and the world were not a focus other than how they affected his election chances. The same could be said of 2003-2004 George W. Bush, 1995-1996 Bill Clinton, and 1991-1992 George H. W. Bush. In the last two decades, we’ve had an unfocused President for 1/5th of the time.

This concept is far from perfect. It’s also much better overall than the current system. We are sinking. The unpopular but necessary cuts that must be made in spending will not be made as long as there’s politics running the politicians. We need leadership. We need politicians judged on their legacy, not on their campaign abilities. In a world where campaign promises often determine the results of elections, it’s unfortunate that so few can be kept with re-election still on the table.

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