Thursday, August 31, 2017

Are Churches Stealing 71 Billion a Year from the Government?

The headline reads:  If the Churches Paid Taxes, Everyone Would Only Pay 3% Taxes

First off that's utter horsecrap. There is no "cost to the government from church exemptions. All it means is that the government doesn't take 71 billion dollars of money from people who have already been taxed because they gave money to their churches. Taxing that same money again is not only unfair, but it takes away from the charitable activities that the church already does. It's a propaganda ploy - appealing to personal greed to turn you against churches. The "video" offers no facts, only a clip of a wealthy looking fancy church which is supposed to make you angry. Their reasoning is all based on the idea that the government owns everything and anything they don't take from you is robbing from them.

Let's say the feds gave it all to "feeding the hungry", which they won't do and which by the way is one of the things the churches already do with that money. It won't all go to feeding the hungry. Between 40 and 60% of that money will get eaten up paying for the salaries, supplies, benefits and the buildings in which they have their cubicles for bureaucrats who mismanage the food benefits program and generate useless paperwork for each other; dribbling out what's left to people the government thinks "deserve" to receive food assistance and deny it to them the first time they lift their heads even a little bit above the poverty level.

But, the government reduces your food stamps as you make more money.  That works out to virtually no transition period at all.  They simply reduce your benefits so that you can't afford the added expense of working (travel, clothing, meals at work, etc.). In effect, the benefits reduction keeps you at or near the poverty level until the cut the benefits entirely. So, practically, there is no transition period. Instead, the government programs strategic reductions only serve to extend the time during which you remain at the poverty level.

Talk about glass ceilings!  The gains we made with welfare to work back in the 90s have been virtually done away with in traditional "war on poverty" programs and with Obamacare, the glass ceiling was replaced with an iron one. On in which if you make a little extra some month you go from being on Medicaid to being offered a replacement policy on the Health Care Exchange that costs you more per month than you are making. And if you don't pay it, the IRS was going to make you pay a fine with money you don't actually have.  Of course, they can always take your refund in April. How's that for a hidden tax.  So basically, now if you want to rise above the poverty level, you have to accept that, for a time you will be paying to the government, more money than you make.

Of course this means you don't eat, you don't go to work because you can't afford it, and you can't pay the rent. So, it's better to remain safely below the poverty line where you are dependent on the government. And that, I think is the point. We are creating a dependent voting block that is is being programmed to accept extensive government intervention as the new normal.

Taxing churches will not save the government anything. There is no line item in the budget where the government pays churches to exist. There is only the gleam in the eye of some progressive Democrat looking for votes by creating another expensive government program that grows the size of government, gives it more power and hires more people to work for it.

Taxing is nothing more than a legalized form of systematized robbery from churches, supported by people who hate religion and would like to see religious institutions and people disappear from society. Christianity is the new progressive left's version of the Nazi's evil Jews. You will notice that no one is calling for the World Wildlife Fund, The Sierra Club or Media Matters to be taxed. Why pick on churches?

Because atheists don't like churches and the progressive socialist movement has been, at its heart, an anti-religion movement.
They blame religion for all wars for instance, conveniently ignoring that the only time religions have had armies was when they were government religions. Governments wage war. Megalomaniac dictators, kings and emperors wage wars. Not too many pastors wage war, although some did during the American revolution and the Civil War, but that was about patriotism, not religion. One religion that does wage war is Islam, although to be fair, Islam forms a government first before it wages any kind of war other than terrorism.

Anyway, if someone tells you churches are stealing money from the government, ask them if the Red Cross is stealing from the government.
How about your local art museums, zoos, your public schools, universities and wildlife rescue organizations?  Are they stealing from the government too.

And how many times is it okay for the government to tax your income? Already they hit you for taxes on your business and then hit you again for taxes on your personal income from the same business and now my "progressive" friends want to take a chunk out of the money that has already been taxed at least twice just because I put it into the collection plate at church.

Here's the video with all its reasons why churches should be taxes. Decide for yourself.
Did you notice there were no reasons, other than a visceral reaction to someone having and expensive church building. Taking money from people is not a cost to the government. It's simply letting people keep what is already theirs and do with that money what they want to do. So I'll thank these collectivists to keep their hands out of my wallet and out of the church's offering plates. Be careful my "progressive" friends. Just because they say they are progressive, doesn't mean they are truly moving forward. We are, in fact, reversing course toward a revival of the two class system of the Dark Ages - noble leaders and peasants. The only other class is the soldier class and we know what they are used for. Even way back then, the noble leaders of governments pretty much left the church alone. When the government starts stealing from churches, though, it has truly gone beyond the pale.

And there beyond the pale my friend, lie the dragons in wait for us! And as one wry old philosopher so aptly put it, "Beware for thou are soft and crunchy and taste particularly good flambéed."
2017 by Tom king

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Fourth at Pimlico - Answering the Race Question

Arlo Guthrie once opined that, "It's the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement and all you gotta do to join is sing it when it comes 'round on the guitar."  Arlo had an objection to the Vietnam War so he made fun of those who were carrying it out. Arlo's was a slightly different objection to the one I had. Arlo wanted us to come home. I wanted us to go ahead and win it. Arlo got his wish. I didn't. Two million South Vietnamese died at the hands of their new government after we abandoned them. So much for peace and love.

Now we have a new war going and I'm rapidly becoming sick of it. It's not a war of liberation in Afghanistan or some skirmish in Yugoslavia to distract from the president's having got caught with his pants unzipped and an intern under the Oval Office desk. It's an uncivil war being fomented by idiots on the extreme ends of both political ideologies and it's time to apply a little ridicule and bring this to an end. Arlo had the right idea for how to go about ending a war, even if he was misguided as to how to do it so two million people wouldn't be exterminated.

It's time to make fun of the race war! A friend the other day claimed white people like me don't understand racism. "Have you ever been pulled over by a cop for being white?" he asked.

Well, yes, I have. It was 1am and my wife and I were cruising through South Dallas. Two cops, one black and one white pulled us over for being white and driving through a black neighborhood. I was polite to the officers and so they didn't search my car. Had I been a bit belligerent or been unable to produce ID, I'd likely have had to pop the trunk. They apologized and admitted they'd stopped me for being white in a black neighborhood.  In our battered, 1963 Ford, we apparently looked suspicious.

I don't believe in "races" as generally defined by political ideologues. Genetically speaking, there is but one race here at the top of the mammalian intellectual pyramid as far as I'm concerned.  That's the human race. Oh, for sure we have different breeds like dogs do.  Dogs come in chocolate, white, brown, spotted and striped varieties. Humans come in black, brown, tan, pink and varying shades of white (if you are an albino and lack any pigment whatever), off-white, tan, and red. Someone the other day accused me of being "born white".  Actually, I wasn't. I was born red. I was really unhappy that the doc dragged me out of my nice warm place and whacked me on the butt. I screamed at him till I turned a nice cherry red color. My tint actually changes with the seasons. I run from an off-white in winter to a pale red in spring and fall when my allergies kick in. In the summer I'm a nice tan color. There's a skylight over my shower, so I get some very nice all over sun if I shower between 10am and 2pm.

I think I'm going to initiate my own little anti-racism movement and here's all you've got to do to join. If you'd like you can wait till it comes 'round on the guitar. Here's what I propose. When you fill out your next government or medical form or some survey, and they ask what "race" you are, give them a smart-alec answer.  Here are a few suggestions:

Race (check one):
  • Formula I
  • The Mile Relay
  • The Third at Belmont
  • The Fourth at Pimlico
  • The 200 Meter Free Style
  • Slot Cars
  • Hot Dog Eating
  • Kayak slalom 
  • Steeplechase
  • The 220 High Hurdles
Or perhaps we should all just tick off the "Other" box and simply write Human.

© 2017 by Tom King

Friday, August 18, 2017

Don't Trust Your Feelings Luke!

This is not politics, nor religion.
Call it philosophy or education or philosophy of education. Whatever!  I keep getting called ugly names by people who don't know me because of my political orientation. If I had an alternative sexual orientation I'd have been alright. The persons in question would, in fact, have defended me for that, but because my "label" makes them feel uncomfortable. It can't be right.

I blame George Lucas and the Romantic Poets. For many generations now we have been telling kids that feelings were important. The romantic poets started it off with the inane idea of courtly love - 90% emotion and 10% stupidity. George Lucas finished it off by having Obi Wan Kenobi give Luke Skywalker the second most inane idea "Trust your feelings, Luke."
Feelings cannot be trusted unless properly trained. Let me 'splain.

You want to learn to hit a baseball but you've never done it before. You take a swing. It feels awkward. You swing again, your brain working feverishly to try and adjust the trajectory of the bat by making adjustments to your finger pressure on the handle at the opposite end of the bat from the end you are trying to hit the ball with. It's a difficult task and at first it appears awkward.

But after repeating the process over and over and over again, eventually you get good at connecting with the ball. When you do finally get it right, when you swing correctly it just feels right. It's actually a positive emotional response that lets you know more quickly that you're doing it right. It saves your brain time by building thicker neuron pathways that trigger proper bat swinging. It skips the upper brain pretty much altogether and goes straight to the brain stem. After that, you swing the bat almost without thinking. When you feel good about the bat and ball coming together, you're probably swinging the bat correctly and way more likely to connect with a solid hit.

We train all our emotional responses that way. Even responses to labels, political opinions, religious beliefs if processed repeatedly come to feel "right".  The more we reinforce our belief systems, the more emotionally attached to them we become and anything that challenges those belief systems provokes a visceral response. The more firmly held the belief, the more powerful the response. So what we have now are people who feel first and then think and often they never quite get to the bit about thinking.

This is how holocausts happen.
Feelings are, for the most part, trained responses. Nine out of ten "feelings happen as a result of a previous series of "thinkings" Feelings are designed to be a backup to reasoning. As we encounter facts and ideas, process them and decide how we feel about them, our brain thickens pathways to the matching neural responses (feelings). If we agree with an idea or experience enough times we soon automatically feel good. Soon the limbic system stops sending incoming stimulus to the thinking part of the brain and short circuits it to the brain stem and triggers "feelings" If we train ourselves to believe that something is bad, we soon automatically have bad feelings about it. Obi Wan, in some ways was wrong.

You can only "Trust your feelings, Luke" if those feelings have been properly trained. One of the hazards of eliminating all contrary ideas from a child's training is that the child learns an emotional response to certain "facts" if those facts are incorrect or lies, the child still learns to skip the reasoning bit and go straight to a gut feeling that certain things are wrong and certain things are right. We create precious snowflakes that way - unable to tolerate a difference of opinion because it doesn't feel right and therefore it must be wrong.

It's why liberal-trained college students react so viscerally to anyone who challenges the Marxist ideas they've been trained to believe through positive reinforcement from their numerically superior numbers of Marxist college professors. We are no longer teaching young people to think (which makes them more resilient) but to feel (which makes them less mentally tough). Why do you think colleges deploy counselors and safe spaces every time college students are exposed to ideas different from what liberal professors teach?
It's just sad.

© 2017 by Tom King

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Do I Want to Be Associated with Nazis and the KKK?

The 1924 Democratic National Convention
Affectionately known as the Klanbake!
There is a fiction that all conservatives are somehow allied with white supremacists and Nazis. I had one gentleman honestly ask me if I really wanted to call myself a conservative and be associated with Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK.  He said it as if I had some kind of choices. First off, I choose to be a conservative, not any of those three vile things. To associate conservatives with Nazis and the KKK is patently false.

The truth is the Nazis, KKK and alt-right are closer to the radical left than they are to people like me.  The left doubles down on Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals in that they label their political enemies  as extremists. I am a solid conservative, not an extremist.  I love everybody. I believe in free enterprise, equal opportunity for all, personal freedom and that the government should serve the people not vice versa. I believe in small government because power attracts the corruptible.  I'm a strict constitutionalist. I believe in freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. I believe in freedom of speech, assembly and the rest.

I constantly get called racist, a Nazi, etc.. While there are those kinds of people out there, I find just as much of it on the far left as on the far right. The prejudices are simply different. About the only prejudices they seem to have in common though is that they both hate the Jews for some reason.

I don't hate anybody, but my politics are thoroughly conservative.
In all my time with the Tea Party, I never met a racist in the bunch, although I met more than a few fake racists pretending to be Tea Party folk. I worked for years with bipartisan advocacy groups, so I knew the local leftists and recognized the little buggers.

I find "progressives" paternalistic, divisive in the way they promote what they call "diversity", and their foreign policy and military policies to be misguided if not downright dangerous.  But I don't call liberals "communists" unless they've actually signed up on the party and I don't appreciate being called a Nazi or white supremacist if I have given no evidence that I am.

Do I like being "associated" with Nazis or the KKK?  Hell no, but then I'm not the one doing the associating. It's liberals who insist on associating perfectly lovely people like me with Nazis and the KKK.

Besides Nazis were socialists and the KKK were Democrats. I'm a free market capitalist and Republican and therefore neither of those.

© 2017 by Tom King


Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Free Market Manifesto

For Bob

My wife's cousin, Bob, a loyal union man and Democrat whether he admits it or not, has a new talking point. It's actually the same old talking point from the last election that says conservatives only complain and that they have no "solutions". He concludes by suggesting that "you (that's me) spend less time on points indicating you are well read and pose solutions to the ills and maladies that you think are holding us back as a nation."  I keep quoting people who also have good points. He seems to find that troubling. Apparently I shouldn't appropriate the ideas of others, but rely only on original thoughts. Sorry, but I don't get talking points from the RNC or some George Soros sponsored media advisory nonprofit. I get my opinions and ideas from original sources and it's my habit to give credit where credit is due when I can. That's just my style. Not trying to show off.

Bob demands I pose solutions to the ills and maladies that are holding us back as a nation. Okay here's my manifesto on the subjects he suggests:

  1. Healthcare - Get the government out of it as far as possible. Put Medicaid and Medicare on a more business-like basis.
  2. Taxes - Reduce the size of government and reduce taxes accordingly so as to stop punishing economic risk takers who are the builders of a healthy economy.
  3. The environment - Make whoever makes a mess, clean up after themselves. Stop using the EPA to punish political opponents or to suppress economic development.
  4. Minimum wage increases - Quit artificially jacking up the minimum wage. It's an entry level wage. The economy will be healthier if we quit trying to solve income inequity. Workers will learn skills and go get better jobs and the shortage of minimum wage workers will inevitably raise wages for entry level jobs because employers will have to compete for entry level workers. Shut off illegal immigration so we don't have a fear-based slave worker population which keeps entry level wages for unskilled labor artificially low.
  5. Public works - Interstate highways are crucial to the movement of troops so is part of the defense responsibility of the federal government. Ports are essential to defense. Air traffic control and airports are crucial to defense. Parks and wilderness preservation is essential to helping maintain a healthy environment. That's a federal responsibility. Protecting interstate commerce is a public work. That's about it.
  6. Education - None of the federal government's business. States and local communities need to keep their tax dollars for education and handle education there instead of sending a hundred bucks to Washington and getting less than 50 bucks back for education.
  7. National security - We have too many bloated, self-important security agencies. Stop creating new ones but combine and reduce the size of them and have them actually enforce the law instead of deciding what we will tolerate for political reasons and what we'll enforce.  Make it cost less and work more efficiently.
  8. Worker protections - It's a state job, not a federal one. Workers are quite capable of protecting themselves. States are far more effective at protecting workers. Quit spending money on feel good programs, cut the DOL down to bare bones and let states handle their own business.
  9. Civil rights - The federal government has the duty through law enforcement to protect the rights of citizens under the constitution. Just enforce the law for crying out loud. 
  10. Untreated mental illness - Get the federal government out of it. Back in the 80s the Democrat congress passed a law making it virtually impossible for families to hospitalize their mentally ill family members. You practically have to kill someone to be committed anymore. This federal approach to mental health, backfired badly and resulted in millions of seriously mentally ill people signing themselves out of treatment centers and creating a massive homeless problem almost overnight.  
  11. Defense - (I added this one to Bob's list) This is a federal government responsibility. The military is to protect us from foreign and domestic enemies. This does not include American citizens unless those citizens attack their fellow citizens. They are not to be used for law enforcement in general. They are strictly here to protect American interests and security from foreign enemies and to protect Americans in the world. It's one of the few things the government does well, although politicians have used military funding to provide pork for their home districts. That needs to be dealt with. Reducing the size and scope of government will help the media and government watchdogs to spend more energy on those kinds of abuses of power.
  12. The economy/unemployment - (I also added this one to his list).  Quit diddling with the economy. Keynesian economic theories have resulted in more than half a century of economic meddling by government, often with disastrous results. Nixon's price fixing intervention through us into a recession. Carter inherited a  recession when taking office and proceeded to tryto various Keynesian style government interventions and only succeeded in making the whole thing worse. Inflation and interest rates soon reached their highest levels since the second world war. GHW Bush went along with Democrats on taxes and triggered a recession. Fortunately, Clinton had the good sense to not mess with Republican avoidance of meddling and tax reductions and saw the recession end and an extension of the Reagan boom for another 6 years. GW Bush allowed his Democrat congress to meddle with the economy in order to preserve funding for the war on terror and got a nasty recession for his troubles. Obama took over with a Democrat congress and proceeded to go full Keyensian, trying stimulus, taking over industries like healthcare, and increasing taxes on the rich. Unlike Clinton, he failed to cooperate with a Republican senate and house and extended his inherited recession by another. He proceeded to declare that five million unemployed had actually left the workforce on their own accord in order to create the illusion that unemployment was reduced. The solution to the economy is for the feds to quit diddling with it. I don't think they can do that. 
Basically, the solution for all of this is to reduce the size and scope of the federal government and make it more effective. I don't have a lot of hope that that will happen. Power attracts the corruptible and the federal government has become very powerful. We may have reached the tipping point to totalitarianism.

© 2017 by Tom King