Archive for taxes

The Obvious Solution to the Debt Crisis

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , on July 13, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

I preface this blog post with this qualification: I’m in no way an economist or a debt specialist. Sometimes, I can barely keep track of where my own money goes. But with all the hullabaloo about how we’re going to alleviate some of our nearly $15 trillion dollars of debt, I felt it was time for someone with no experience in monetary matters to step in.

I’ve noticed that a lot of times, people can’t find a solution to anything because they are too deep into the game. Economists and Congresspeople can’t agree on a solution because they know too much. The best revelations come when a neutral third party takes a look at something and points out the obvious that was apparently overlooked.

Hello. I’m your neutral third party.

From what I’ve gathered from various news sources, there are three major elements that are being discussed: raising the debt ceiling, cutting spending, and raising taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Republicans don’t want to raise the debt ceiling or taxes, but they want to cut spending. Democrats don’t want to cut spending, but would rather we raise the debt ceiling and maybe or maybe not raise taxes.

There is never only one solution, regardless of the problem, and the same is true in this situation. We can’t just cut spending. We can’t just raise the debt ceiling. We can’t just raise taxes. There needs to be a combination of the three.

I call it my Everyman’s Common Sense Debt Solution™, and while it is a combination of the unpopular elements of the three components, they are all equally important to solving this crisis.

First, we must raise taxes on the richest 2% in America. I’ve talked about taxes before (twice even), and I stand by my statements: people who make more money should be expected to help out more, as the lower and middle classes can’t do it alone. Increasing taxes on the rich will provide us with more revenue to repay our debts.

Second, we must make spending cuts. It’s easy to say, but inevitably the question comes up: what do we cut spending on? Different parties, as well as different people within those parties, will disagree on which areas we should cut spending. Personally, I feel that spending should be cut in regards to the military, via bringing all of our troops home from all over the world; prisons, via eliminating or modifying some of the punishments to some of the more minor crimes; and government salaries and benefits, because you were elected to help the American people, and maybe you can do that if you had salaries and benefits similar to the American people.

I should note that spending cuts means cutting spending, not cutting spending while raising spending in other areas. The latter is not cutting spending; it’s redirecting spending. And that doesn’t solve anything. If you’re going to cut something, cut it, and have that be that.

Finally, as a safety net, we should raise the debt ceiling. This final measure is in place because the first two measures won’t work right away. If something goes completely awry in our tax raising or our spending cuts, at least there is some wiggle room to work with.

When all three items are in place, I can pretty much guarantee that we will see some change in our national debt. If it works, our debt will decrease. If it doesn’t work, our debt will increase, and we can see what works and what doesn’t. One thing is for certain, this plan will work much better than the fighting and stalling that is currently in place.

President Obama, Rep. Cantor, Speaker Boehner. Your move.

Teachers and Taxes

Posted in current events, opinion with tags , , on March 4, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Since Wednesday’s entry, I decided to pay a little more attention to the Wisconsin teachers union situation. In reading up and watching reports on TV (including the great satire of The Daily Show’s segment “Crisis in Dairyland”), I’m learning that one of the main reasons this is such a national story is that, in an effort to cut the deficit, Gov. Scott Walker is trying to cut the flow of tax dollars to unnecessary programs, which, in his opinion, includes public school teachers.

Again, the assumption is, public school teachers are technically part-time workers: they work five days a week, from 8 AM to 3 PM, and they have three months off of work. And compared to other workers, they have an incredibly high salary for doing such a small amount of work. Teachers are greedy and power hungry, and don’t deserve a lot of the benefits that they are receiving.

According to Salary.com, the average salary for a public school teacher in the US is just under $51,000. Comparatively, a Top Government Affairs Executive (which was Salary.com’s definition for both “State Senator” and “Governor”) is a little over $164,000.

With my basic knowledge of what each job does, I can see that these salaries are disproportionate to the duties involved. Teachers must provide educational opportunities for a wide range of kids with many different learning styles, deal with constantly complaining parents about how their children are being treated unfairly, plus a variety of other duties: meetings, conferences, lunch room duties, parking lot duties, grading papers, writing and grading tests, and keep up to date on current educational trends.

Meanwhile, “Top Government Affairs Executives” think up bills that will benefit the people they represent while simultaneously sticking to an agenda that, for the most part, does nothing for the people the represent. Then they propose those bills amongst much infighting and virtually no discussion, whereupon they vote on said bills. They make television appearances and talk about the opposite agenda that is interfering with their work. They get many phone calls and emails from their region or state asking them to vote a certain way on an issue, which they mostly ignore. Then they write books and go on extensive book tours. For many of these people, they spend most of a year debating whether or not they’ll run for president.

Both of these positions are payed through tax dollars. And yet Gov. Walker wants to cut salaries for teachers.

I’ve talked about taxes before, and while I agree that deficits should be reduced, I don’t agree with cutting necessary funding. Teachers go through a lot of crap every day. Their work day may end at 3 PM, but their duties continue on late into the night. I’m friends with one of my professors on Facebook, and I regularly see him on late at night, planning lectures and working on different assignments. And he only teaches a few classes.

Public school teachers work themselves to death every day, and they deserve a lot more than they’re getting.

If Gov. Walker wants to reduce the deficit in Wisconsin, he should really cut costs where it counts: some of his salary and benefits, some military spending. Keep costs steady with public workers and teachers, and work to spend less in general. There’s also the option of raising taxes on the wealthier of the state, which is an unpopular position to hold, but by bringing in more money, you can do more with your money.

I urge those who support Wisconsin teachers to stay strong. Gov. Walker will eventually have to back down, and no amount of bullying will change that.

A Taxing Contradiction

Posted in current events with tags , , , , on August 27, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Taxes are interesting. They come out of our paychecks every day, and no one is really sure where they go. Some complain that there are too many taxes, because their paychecks don’t give them much. Others think that taxes should be gone forever, because they don’t really do anything.

Taxes are only a hot-button issue these days because the tax cuts for the rich from the Bush Presidency are about to expire. Some politicians are saying that it will be crucial that these tax cuts expire, as it will help to stimulate the economy. Others say that it is foolish to introduce more taxes in such an unstable economy.

Even the Tea Party is hopping on the bandwagon, calling for the elimination of taxes. “Taxed Enough Already,” read the signs, in a call to reduce wasteful government spending by reducing the amount of money they can waste.

What everyone seems to be ignoring should be a common sense thing: taxes are crucial to running America, and a lot of America is in shambles because there isn’t enough money to do anything.

Taxes pay for pretty much everything that we take for granted. A short list of things that taxes pay for:

  • Public Schools
  • Road Maintenance
  • Street Lights
  • Medicare
  • Unemployment
  • Emergency Room Care
  • Public Transit
  • Social Security
  • Police
  • Fire Department
  • Ambulances
  • Military
  • Garbage Services
  • Utilities
  • Prisons

And those are things that I came up with off the top of my head. There are probably so many other things that our taxes pay for that we don’t even realize pay for.

What’s really sad about this whole thing is that many politicians feel that it’s some big insult that people who make more should pay more in taxes. It makes me wonder if anyone is thinking any more.

The “American Dream” might be to make a bunch of money and have that be your measure of success, but if it is at the expense of my fellow American, then I’m done chasing the dream.

People who make more money should be expected to help out more than those who are hovering around the poverty line. It’s idiotic thinking to assume that by having a lot of money you’re just free to keep all of that. If I had that much money to spare, I would donate whole, multi-million dollar paychecks toward taxes.

There are roads around the country that are being unpaved because there isn’t enough money for upkeep. Street lights are being turned off because the city can’t afford to keep them on all night.

The lower and middle class can’t do it alone. The Bush tax cuts need to expire, and the rich need to quit whining. A lot of rich people think that making a big show of giving a lot of money to charity should be enough to get them off the hook. “Hey, look! I’m doing something great! Look how awesome I am!”

But giving to charity doesn’t stop a lot of public schools and police stations closing. Giving to charity doesn’t fix the roads. Giving to charity doesn’t provide for better health care. The rich should have to pay their fair share, and maybe even more. It’ll help us improve our economy, and it’ll definitely help to improve America.