Why I Didn’t Caucus in Maine

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Writer’s warning:  The following post may contain material that may be offensive to some people.  Reader is advised.

 

Spoiler alert:  This post contains information that it is a major part of my other blog about Staples.  If you don’t want to know things ahead of time just skip that segment when it comes up.  It will be indicated as such.

 

It was 32 years ago this year that while in college I took a course called “Introduction to Political Science”.  This 3 time a week, 50 minute course was probably one of the most interesting courses that I took during my time in college.

 

It was during this time that the primaries of the 1984 election were happening and much of the conversations in class were the discussion of that.  Since I sat in the front of the class, I always had to turn around to see who was talking and to listen intently to what they were saying.  Of course, it was also a good excuse to look at the pretty redheaded girl Rebecca, who sat right behind me and seemed attracted to me (that is a story for another post).

 

Since this was a core class, the room was filled of people with various majors and the love or hate in the political system.  We did have a textbook but it was rarely used except for the occasional test we took.  The professor was retiring after this semester and seemed to let the class run loose with their various comments of the current political environment.

 

While the conversations were always cordial, one thing was obvious:  the people were not deciding this or any other Presidential election.  It are the delegates who make all the decisions no matter what the will of the people is.

 

Sound familiar?

 

This is exactly the same sort of thing that we are seeing this Presidential election cycle.  We have states that have primaries, caucuses like Maine, and others like Colorado, where the residents don’t even get a vote.

 

Really, does all this seem fair?

 

Of course not, while people in Maine spent hours in line for a chance to caucus in their town or a nearby one, I figured that this time would be better spent elsewhere and not wasted on expressing my political choice.

 

Now the question is what political choice?

 

This year it seems that people are picking the person who they hate the least rather than those that they really support.  This is exactly the way that I feel this time around.

 

Sorry people, I am not really attached to any candidate this time around nor do I think that some should even be elected at all.  However, now that the field has whittled down to 5 major candidates, I think it is fairly safe to give my opinion of each of them.

 

First we have the three Republican candidates:

 

By far the furthest ahead for now is Donald Trump.  He is the most outspoken person on either side and enjoys putting people down and calling people liars or stealers.  Overall, he does have a good point as many states award their delegates at disproportional level.  You can have the most votes, but still lose in the delegate count.  I call it math gone wrong and Donald may have hit on something that has always been part of the establishment.

 

In second place, we have Teddy Cruz.  I call him Teddy because he likes to use the name Ted as part of the word “Trusted”.  To me, he cannot be trusted as he seems to have connection to SuperPACs and has his people send out false emails saying to vote for him as his competition were going to be dropping out.  While he seems to talk like someone who should be more of a preacher, his actions are less than religious.

 

Lastly we have John Kasich.  Ironically, this guy sits in fourth place in a three-man race.  Marco Rubio, who dropped out a few weeks ago, still has more delegates than Kasich does.  Unfortunately, Kasich seems like he is the most qualified and part of the establishment that everyone is avoiding in this election cycle.  Every interview that he is in, he seems to get angry that people have already cast him off as a no-chance candidate.  Do we really want an angry guy to be our next President?  Why do I keep thinking that this guy is going to change into some big green creature when he gets angry?  (To those who remember the old “Incredible Hulk” TV show of the 1970’s, you will understand the reference.)

 

 

Now the Democratic candidates:

 

The most well know Democratic candidate is Hilary Clinton.  Given her email scandal, she may be more qualified for the real life “Orange is the New Black” or maybe she is trying to be just like us by saying that she always tells the truth.  If you believe that, then you have not been reading my other blog as liars seem to be running rampant.  How many of us really want a 3rd Obama term?  Do we really want to continue to fail?

 

The other Democratic candidate is Bernie Sanders.  This socialist wants to change the country in ways that would destroy our economy.  He wants to ignore the ISIS problem.  He wants to break up big banks, but has no clue on how to do that.  He wants to have free college and healthcare for all, at the expense of big corporations and raising taxes even more on the general public.

 

I have a couple of Facebook friends, who seem to be very supportive of Sanders’ social destruction of our economy.  It is unfortunately that they don’t understand that such radical behavior would cause huge job losses and many companies to leave the United States.

 

 

****Spoiler Alert****

 

During my time at Staples, I wound up in the hospital because of a leg problem caused by them.  It cost thousands of dollars for the treatment that I needed during my weeklong stay in the hospital.  Because I had used my insurance, I received a letter threatening me that I would be terminated if I did not follow the procedures that Staples had in place regarding using vacation time to offset my time in the hospital.  While I did not follow that directive, I was constantly harassed on a weekly basis by the management because I required the use of a stool because my legs were still infected and I was still being treated by a doctor.  They kept asking when I would no longer need the stool because they felt that I was abusing the “privilege”, despite the fact that I had my leg constantly wrapped in bandages to help it heal.  Seven years later, I am no longer under a doctor, but walking is difficult and standing in one spot still hurts significantly.  Sadly, Staples was always in denial of the harassment and just considered me a “bad employee” after my termination.  This is why I have not been able to get a job since as their lies have continued to follow me all these years later.

 

Do we really want people like Sanders to have businesses dictate the healthcare of employees?  Given my own case, let me say that NO employee should have be subjected to the type of harassment by the management just because they needed to use their insurance.  Under a Sanders administration, employees would be fired for similar reasons as I did.

 

Sort of puts forth the following quandary:  Does Sanders support big business to destroy its employees?  My answer is yes.

 

***End of Spoiler Alert***

 

So overall, I expect that the delegates this year will pick someone to alienate most people in both parties.  There is no reason to think otherwise given that how fractured the parties are this year.

 

My personal choice this year right now is NONE of the ABOVE.  I could only imagine what that same “Introduction to Political Science” course would be like this year.  I know it would not be as civil nor would it have Rebecca and I together in it.

 

Sometimes if I could turn back that clock…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I Didn’t Vote This Year

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Yesterday was Election Day in the United States.

 

I did not perform my civic duty as I usually do for one very simple reason: there was just nothing I cared enough about that would sway the general vote.

 

This year no Congressional seats up for grabs/

 

No governor position to fight for.

 

And last, no Presidential election this year to vote on.

 

That didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in some of the elections going on around the state of Maine.  I just wish I lived in some of the other communities to vote on some of the important things that were happening in other towns than my own.

 

I will now give comments on some of those other elections.

 

First up is the Lewiston mayoral race.  For anyone who has read this blog will realize that I have written about current mayor Robert Macdonald a couple different times in recent years.  He is most popularly known for his comments against the growing Somalian community in his city.  This has now caused him to have several opponents for his job as mayor.

 

However, under Lewiston rules, if nobody gets at least 50% of the vote (which they didn’t), a runoff election must be held with the top two candidates to determine a winner of the mayor position.  His opponent, Benjamin Chin, is of Chinese descent and may play a factor toward supporting the immigrant population.  So this runoff may be more an election of the immigrants vs. those who don’t want the immigrants.  Personally, I see Macdonald recapturing his position and will continue his dislike toward the immigrants flooding his town.

 

Portland had 2 interesting referendum questions on its election ballot.  The lesser of the 2 questions, as confusing as it was, now will allow developers to build properties no matter how much it destroys any scenic view within the city.  This basically means that people who pay big money for those wonderful ocean views may lose them to some greedy developer.  Maybe people didn’t understand the question or maybe it was twisted in such a way that nobody could understand the ultimate result of the question.

 

The second referendum question of greater importance was to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for all employees within the city limits by 2019.  While on the surface this would sound wonderful, most small businesses fought this one hard as it would create massive layoffs and possibly have many businesses leave the city.  Thankfully, this was defeated by a 58% to 42% margin.  However, and this is a big however, the city will be raising the wage to $10.10 starting in January.  This means that Portland, Maine will be the 7th highest minimum wage in the country.  I expect to see many businesses to start leaving or scaling back very soon.  Let me point out as a side note that in the near 13 years I worked at Staples, I barely got above the $10.10 rate at the time of my termination.  I think Staples is probably glad they don’t have a store within the Portland city limits as they would probably close it just to save money.

 

Speaking of Staples, my own city of South Portland had one of its city council seats up for grabs by a former Staples sales manager.  I would never vote for the guy because I felt the type of antics that he did to get himself fired from Staples was unprofessional and uncalled for.  What makes it worse for him was that he had a strong ethic to wanting to make the city more business friendly.  While this sounds like a great idea, it throws all the regular taxpayers under the bus and not being supported.  Thankfully, the taxpayers agreed and he was soundly defeated.  Ironically, 7 of my Facebook friends are mutual friends of his, but I am not.  Maybe he is still bitter over being fired from Staples?

 

Overall, this election year was a ho-hum year for the most part with some key issues being decided locally and around the country.  However, next year I will definitely be voting in November as I want to make sure that I cast my ballot for the proper person to be our next President.

 

Until next year…. No I will have posts before next November (I hope).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxes (What else on this day?)

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There is not a better topic on this day to talk about other than taxes.

 

Yes, taxes.

 

However, this is not about those taxes due today.

 

This is about taxes that could happen here in Maine in the coming months.  Even though these are happening in Maine, some of them may apply to other parts of the country as well.

 

Some of these taxes are disguised as fees.  One such fee (tax) applies to a new one that just started today in Portland, which makes me glad that I don’t shop in Portland.  A 5 cent charge has now been implemented on every plastic and paper bag that a shopper uses also the Styrofoam cups have been banned as well.  While I don’t have a problem with the latter, I do have a problem with the bags.

 

When I go shopping, I always try to use the self-serve checkouts whenever possible.  The reason for this is that I like to have things bagged my way, which can’t be done if some rude cashier rings you up.  I always at least double bag all my purchases as the bags never seem to be strong enough to hold much of anything before they start giving way.  So on average, I would be using about 6 bags or at a cost of 30 cents per purchase.  Do this a couple of times a week every week and it adds up quickly.

 

Of course, I hear those of you say “why not just bring your own reusable bag?”.

 

As someone who worked in retail for about 25 years, I have seen that many of these reusable bags are nasty looking.  Many look like they have been rolled in a mud puddle for hours.  Do people even ever think about washing their bags?  I don’t think so which is why I use a clean new plastic bag.  It is certainly more sanitary even though it may not be environmentally friendly.

 

This is what it all boils down to.

 

That point of being environmentally friendly.

 

Don’t these people realize that much of the garbage around town may come from those people who don’t even live in town?

 

While it may make them have that “feel good feeling”, in reality the real polluters are countries like China and India, which dump thousands of pounds of garbage into the water every day.  Portland, Maine is just a small dot in the big problem.  It may be a right step, but I feel it is a step in the wrong direction and hurt more people than it helps.  I certainly would not want to be behind someone in line who is using a dirty bag, germs are spread to easily nowadays.

 

Now while this fee (tax) has been implemented, the governor of our state has decided to create his own nightmare legacy by wanting to implement some sweeping changes to the tax bases.

 

Here are just a few of them and my comments about them:

 

  • Eliminate the state income tax. While this is a great idea in concept, how he plans on making up for it will hurt more than help.
  • Putting a tax on services like plumbers, haircuts and repairmen. Consider that some of these people rely on tips; many will see their tips reduced or disappear completely because taxes will be added to their services.  End result will be less money to those who perform services and more money to the unneeded state system.
  • Expanding and raising the sales tax to between 6 and 6.5%. This would be great if it would not hurt the ordinary state resident unlike what governor thinks that tourists would pick up the bulk of this increase.  Also doesn’t he know that tax-free New Hampshire is right next door?
  • Remove the homestead exemption tax on everyone over 65 years old. This would be great except most homeowners are younger than 65 and will get no benefit from this change.
  • Eliminating sales tax exemption for non-profits. This has been abused for years by those so-called non-profits, mostly churches and charities.
  • Lowering the corporate tax rate. This only gives company’s a fatter bottom line and unfortunately the money is not passed along to employees as a pay increase.

 

Overall, the governor’s plan is to shift the tax burden from business to its residents.  Is this a good idea?

 

Not if you want to live in Maine.

 

So if I was governor what would I do?

 

In the order listed above, my solutions would be:

 

  • Keep the state income tax. While it may seem like an outdated burden, it still raises revenue where it needs to.
  • No tax on services. I think that those who provide a service should get a tip and most who pay for those services take the tip from what they give the person at time of service.  Just a bad idea period.
  • I would lower the sales tax back to 5% or better yet lower it to 3%. Lowering the tax rate will allow more money in people’s pockets and will allow people to purchase more therefore.  The state needs to be more competitive in its rate.
  • Keep the homestead exemption for everyone. Since many homeowners have mortgages, giving them a break would be more than desired.
  • I support the taxing of non-profits. In my 25 years in retail, I saw this abused by those who were buying personal items and calling it a non-taxable business expense.  But since the information is submitted to the state regarding every tax exempt transaction and those rejected by the state are subject to the business to pay not only the applicable sales tax, but a fine as well.
  • Raising the corporate tax. While many may say this would be counterproductive to business, the truth is that many businesses have been given reductions in everything from real estate to employee benefits.  It is time that businesses really pay their real fair share.

 

 

While some may disagree with some of my plan, I think that it creates a much fairer playing field as I don’t cater to the special interests of businesses or any group.  Even if you live in another state, I think you will find that my suggestions would make for a more fair system.  If you agree with what I have written, let your representatives know or better yet run for political office yourself and influence the change of our tax system.

 

After all, shouldn’t taxes be fairer even though death isn’t?