Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

National Debt

September 12, 2017

I am concerned about our national debt.  We continue to spend more money than we take in.  Every month we create a bigger problem for our nation.  If our government were a family or a business, it would clearly be heading towards bankruptcy.

Can a government go bankrupt?

For a family or business, this problem is pretty straight  forward.  You must reduce your spending, increase your revenue or a combination of both.  I imagine that it is the same for a country.

Our leaders need to be taking this more seriously.  It is not enough to reduce the annual deficit.  We must eliminate the annual deficit and begin paying off our debts.  Cutbacks in spending is the first step.  Of course, people will be unhappy when something that they care about is reduced or dropped, but tough decisions need to be made.  Families do it all the time.  Businesses do it all the time.  Our country and our leadership need to distinguish between those things that we truly need to have in our budget and what things we can do without.   If you do not want to eliminate programs then you must reduce the amount spent on each.    The total expenditures should not exceed the total income.

Revenue could be increased by reducing or eliminating some of the many tax credits that are offered both to businesses and to individuals.  Tax rates also could be raised.  Taxes were higher back in the 90’s, but I seem to remember it as being a fairly prosperous time as a nation.   At the end of the Clinton presidency, we actually had a surplus.  Unfortunately, the first thing that President Bush did was to give that money back to the people and lower tax rates.  The tax rates should have been left alone.  The surplus should have been used to start paying down our debt.

We have a problem and it is getting bigger.  Our politicians need to make the tough decisions.

We can encourage them to act by creating awareness and calling for action.

We can contact our senators and representatives and tell them that this is important to us all.

 

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Minimum Wage

February 19, 2015

People like to suggest that raising the minimum wage is in response to inflation.  I would suggest that raising the minimum wage causes inflation.

If a gallon of milk cost one dollar ten years ago, and today a gallon of milk costs four dollars we recognize that the gallon of milk has not changed.  Rather, we look at it as inflation and consider it to be a bad thing.

When minimum wage changes, the product itself, a basic hour of low-skill work hasn’t changed.  The cost has been inflated.

Another way of looking at it is to say that what two dollars used to purchase, now requires seven dollars to purchase.  The thing being purchased hasn’t changed.  The value of the dollar, what the dollar will buy, has changed.

When we increase the minimum wage, we devalue the dollar.

I am not an economist and I am not going to go back over the last fifty years and see the precise changes in minimum wage and the effect on the economy.  I have, however, been living through the last fifty years, and in my observation, raising the minimum wage causes economic turmoil.

The minimum wage is meant to be a starting point for employment.  As workers develop skills and demonstrate a solid work ethic, they may be rewarded with higher paying jobs.  New workers entering the job market take their place and the process moves onward.

When the minimum wage is raised it has an affect on what other employees are paid as well.  People often view their pay in relationship to the minimum wage so to keep employees, wages across the board need to go up.  Higher wages means higher operating costs.  These costs are passed on to the consumer, resulting in inflation.

Currently, people who make minimum wage may be eligible for a variety of assistance programs from the government.  These include food stamps, rent assistance, utilities assistance and other programs.  These programs help people to live a better life while making minimum wage. Perhaps we could add an option of financial training.  We should help to teach people how to live on their income, rather than beyond their income.

People should look to better themselves by finding better jobs, not by trying to force employers to pay more for an hour of basic labor.

Raising the minimum wage is a bad idea.

Syrian Involvement

August 29, 2013

I am gravely concerned about the action that our country may take in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Earlier this year, I read a newspaper report that Russia believed, as a result of the chemical analysis of the earlier attack, that the rebels had used gas in an attempt to provoke the US into joining the fight.  They had reached this conclusion because the analysis showed that the chemicals used were of an inferior quality than what the Syrian’s have in their arsenal.    I consider this to be a very real possibility.  The rebels have much to gain by American involvement.  There may be someone among the rebels who has the capability to manufacture and to use gas, and who could justify this action to their own satisfaction.

I am very concerned that military action on our part will have grave consequences for us.   I am concerned that it is a cost that we cannot afford.  I am concerned that we may find ourselves backing a group that we will later regret backing.  I am concerned about what response Russia, and the Muslim community,  will make to our involvement.

This is not our fight.  It is a civil war.  It does not involve us.  Neither party is innocent.  I believe that we should stay out of this conflict.  I do not believe that we should be supporting either side in any way.

Big Brother?

June 13, 2013

Apparently we are being watched.  Well, not all the time, but our online visits and our phone calls are being monitored.  By this, I do not mean that they are actually listening in to our phone calls, or reading our emails, but rather they are tracking what sites we visit, and where we  place our calls.This has upset a lot of people.  It is considered by many to be an invasion of privacy, an act of spying on the American people.

For whatever reason, this particular action by our government does not bother me.  Certainly our government does other things that bother me, and maybe this action should, but it just doesn’t.  I have always known that our internet servers, and our phone companies have had this information in their records, so I have never considered it to be truly private.  You know, just a secret between me and whoever-it-is at the corporation.  You can’t lose what you never had.

I also understand that it can be beneficial.  That it is one more tool in the war against terror.  It is an act of diligence.

Of course it could be misused.  Instead of seeking out terrorists, it could be turned against any interest group.

Like any other weapon in our arsenal, or tool in our tool bag; it needs to be used wisely, carefully, and with supervision.

 

ACA Loophole

March 21, 2013

I was reading in my local paper an article about changes that the County Conservation Board would be making in the future.  They regularly employ individuals for seasonal work.  These employees work forty hour weeks, some of them for more than four months.  Under the Affordable Care Act the county will be required to provide health coverage for these individuals.  Some of these people are actually retired, covered by Medicare.  The county will still be required to provide health coverage under the ACA.  Anyone working more than thirty hours a week for more than four months  must be provided health insurance or the employer will face penalties.

The solution is likely to be either limit the employee to four months, or more likely, reduce the weekly hours to less than thirty hours a week, and hire more people to make up the hours.  This will allow the county to still get the work done and not have to provide coverage.

I strongly suspect that there will be a lot of companies that will take advantage of this loophole.  Instead of providing health care, they will simply have more employees, working less than thirty hours.

This, of course, will mean that their employees will make less money, and be legally responsible for their own health care.  This health care will be made available at lower rates, subsidized by the government, adding to the financial burden placed on our country.

In addition, the workers will most likely need to find additional employment, working a second job to provide enough income to meet their needs.

I am concerned about the future for workers, employers, the medical field, and our government.

Raising Revenue, but not Taxes

February 28, 2013

I have entered late into the political arena.  Last year, for the very first time,  I attended the local and district  caucuses.  It was an educational experience, and I think that I will continue to be involved at least to some degree.

Just this week, I had another first.

I emailed our state senators and our representative.

I have often thought that I should contact those who serve us, but until now, I have not ever taken the time.

I should have started these activities earlier in my life.  It was not difficult.  Democracy works better when people take the time to be involved.

Here is the email that I sent.

Message: Dear Senator, 

I, along with many others, am concerned about the budget deficit.  I would like 
to make a suggestion about how to raise income without raising taxes. 

Limit tax returns. 

As it is right now, individuals can utilize a whole variety of tax credits that 
can enable them to get enormous refunds that far exceed the tax money that they 
actually paid in to the system. 

It could be set that no one receives a tax return that exceeds the amount that 
was actually withheld from their checks.  They would still get their money back, 
but nothing extra.  

It would be necessary to adjust the W2s so that their was a distinction between 
money paid by the individual and money paid by their employer, or better yet, 
just don't show the amount paid by the employer.  The individual should only 
receive the money back that they paid.  

This would accomplish two things: 1. less excess money would be paid out for 
credits that exceed money received, and 2. the taxes paid by the employer could 
be kept. 

Technically, no taxes are raised, but the net benefit to the government would be 
substantial. 

Thank you to whoever actually reads this email, I hope that it will at least be 
considered.  

Sincerely, 

Curtis Girod
At this time, I have received basic form letters back from two of three that I contacted.  I also, noticed my misspelling of “there” with “their”  but I did not correct it for this post, since it was not correct in my original email.  I will need to be more careful.

At any rate, I would encourage you to be more involved in the political process.  Keep an open mind, be willing to listen, not just speak, avoid harsh rhetoric, and let us see if our political climate can improve with our participation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grassroots Politics

March 20, 2012

I am in my fifties.  This is the first year that I have participated in the local political caucus.  I also had the opportunity to participate in the county convention.  What this experience has shown me is that there is an avenue for the average person to be involved in politics.  If you feel strongly about issues, you can bring like-minded people with you to these events and it is possible to have an impact.  You simply need to be willing to invest some of your time, energy, and a little money and you can be a part of the democratic process.

It was also surprising to me the range of opinions that were represented.  I certainly did not agree with all of them, but I recognize that everyone has a right to their opinion, and a right to be heard.  It is my hope and prayer that, in the end, right decisions will be made for our country.  It was fun to be a part of the process.  Why did I wait so many years to get involved?

Traffic Cameras

February 23, 2012

Here in Iowa there are a number of cities that utilize cameras for both speeding and red-light violations.  The Iowa congress is debating banning the use of cameras for traffic law enforcement purposes.

I fully support the use of cameras,  for the following reasons.

Speeding and running red lights increase the risk of accidents.

People are less likely to speed or run a red light if they know they will get a ticket.

There will likely be fewer accidents in areas that utilize cameras.

People who are ticketed shouldn’t have been breaking the law.

People should not expect privacy on public streets.

Criminals do not deserve privacy so that they can break the law.

The income from fines can be put to good use.

Owners are responsible for their vehicles.  If a car is loaned to someone other than the registered owner, the owner should recoup their costs from the person to whom they loaned the vehicle.   If that is a problem, then people will be more judicious about whom they let use their vehicle.

I suspect that the only people who really oppose traffic cameras are people who habitually disregard traffic laws.

Oh…

Many people do habitually disregard traffic laws.

No wonder there is such a fuss.

Leadership Opportunity

February 21, 2012

Each year I hope that the president will present a budget that shows significant improvement by reducing the deficit.  Each year I have been sadly disappointed.  I do not want to hear about savings over a ten-year span.  I want to see changes in the current year.  No household, or business, can simply continue to operate in the red, talking about what they will do in the future.  They would go bankrupt, and/or, out of business.  Have we not learned anything from observing Greece?  Is there not a recognition of the urgency?  When will someone provide the necessary leadership and make the necessary changes?

Our country has a leadership opportunity.  Will someone please step up?

Helath Care Reform and the Catholics

February 9, 2012

There has been information in the news recently about further implications of the health care reform and the impact that it will have on Catholic institutions, such as universities and hospitals.  Simply put, these institutions will be required to provide coverage in their health care packages for their employees that goes against Catholic teaching.  Specifically, “preventative care” including birth control pills, the morning after pill, and RU 486, which is a medication that induces an abortion.

Catholic institutions do not forbid their employees to use these products, they simply do not provide for them in their health care package.  They do not provide them because of a conflict with their religious teaching.

Churches are exempt from this part of the reform, why not religious institutions?  This is government control of religious practice.  This mandate should have no place in a country that practices religious freedom.