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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Day of the Lawbreakers

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This week’s post is being posted in all my blogs as I feel it is that important to be presented everywhere.  Enjoy this week’s post.

 

When I started thinking about what I was going to write about this week, I was pretty much at a loss, not because of lack of topic rather which topic I was going to discuss.

 

That was until this morning, when everything nearly came crashing down physically.  If ever you thought that laws could be broken, today was the day and it happened in spades.

 

It all started around 8:30am this morning.  I live down a dead-end street clearly marked as such.  I also live on a road perpendicular to a busy road where 18-wheelers drive down constantly.  Usually everything is fine with no problems that was until today.  Apparently, according to some GPS systems, my street is a shortcut pass-through to the place where these trucks are supposed to go, which is very wrong.

 

Today, one dumb truck driver ignored all the dead-end street signs and decided to travel down my street.  The problem was that the driver was unable to turn is vehicle around given the brick business building across from my house.  As ugly fate would have it, in the process of trying to turn his truck, he rammed the corner of the brick building significantly enough to knock several bricks out of the building and cause significant damage to it.

 

When the driver tried to straighten his truck, he moved the trash bins out for collection up further into our yard then proceeded to turn his vehicle up onto our lawn doing significant damage to that along with cracking our driveway.  After the driver got out of my yard and parked his vehicle across the street on the side of the building, I went out to go over to the police car that was there during this entire incident.  As I was approaching the police car, I saw the truck driver approaching my lawn to put the trash cans back at the end of our yard.

 

At this point, I yelled over to the driver on “who is going to pay for the damage done to our lawn?”  Either the guy didn’t hear me or didn’t want to hear me as he stepped into his vehicle and drove away.  I talked to the cop and asked him what I was supposed to do as this guy did significant damage to our yard.  He refused to write-up a report for the damage done.  The cop said that it was OUR responsibility to contact the company for what had happened and to get a settlement from them.

 

Isn’t it the police’s responsibility to collect information on property damage, not the citizen to having to deal with the truck’s owner?  Apparently the cop was much more interested in the damaged building without caring at all about the damage done to our lawn.  Is this what we really pay cops for, to let stupid people destroy people’s property with no ramifications?

 

This was just the beginning of just where the day went downhill with lawbreakers.  The second one came from uncle.

 

For the first time in about 10 years, my aunt and uncle came to visit us from Texas.  Apparently his wild cowboy ways has gotten the best of him.  As first of all, he really doesn’t like wearing a seat belt while driving.  Since we went several miles with him unbuckled it bothered me that we could possibly get stopped because of his ignorance.

 

To add insult to injury, he made a left hand turn on a red light onto a busy road.  It is apparent that he has no respect for the rules of the road.  Where are the police when all this is happening?  Probably the cop was taking a break after the truck/building/lawn accident.

 

It seems to me that the police have their priorities all messed up as they don’t do what is important and do a half-ass job at what they do.  It is not surprising that my day with my relatives ended 3 short hours after it began.  I wish them good luck that they don’t get stopped by ignoring some simple road rule.  It is no wonder why so many criminals get away because the cops don’t do their job.

 

Thankfully, I had enough time to write this post while staring out the window looking at our torn up lawn and the damaged building across the street.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring…maybe that will be next week’s post.

 

Giveaway of the Day

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Everybody loves FREE.

 

What if somebody said that you get a new software program every day for FREE?

 

You might jump on that idea, right?

 

However, you may want to reconsider that idea if you belong to the site “Giveaway of the Day (link here).

 

While this site does offer a few decent programs (emphasis on few), the majority of the programs could be considered either junk or just simply crap.  All of the programs are utility type programs (sorry no games here) that range from disc defraggers to uninstallers to video players.  This is what the bulk of programs are in their daily selection.

 

Some of the programs are gems as I have downloaded a few and use them many times.  However, there are some things to keep in mind before downloading any programs from this site along with things to avoid:

  • AVOID crippleware.  These are programs that stop working after 6 months or a year and give no warning that it does until it is too late.  It is bad to get attached to using a program only to find out that it no longer works.
  • AVOID programs from foreign countries.  While “Made in the USA” might be great, many of these programs come from foreign lands and could possibly contain spyware or worse unknown viruses.
  • Read user comments carefully.  Many times they will offer alternatives that are better than what is offered and be 100% free with no strings attached.
  • Only install a program if you REALLY need that kind of program.  While having 50 defraggers may be nice, you don’t really need that many nor should you have that many.
  • AVOID blocked websites.  Trust your antivirus program if it blocks the home page of the program’s creator.  This could be sure sign of trouble.
  • Check system requirements.

 

I recommend this website, but only if proper care is taken.  Consider downloading a program if and only if you have an absolute need for it and not just because you want a new toy as it could cause trouble with other installed programs.

 

I am nor giving a rating to this site as the product changes daily, but everything on this site well organized enough to make an educated decision as to whether to download a program or not.

 

Happy downloading!

Is Technology Bringing Fear to America?

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Editor’s Note:  I am putting this post in all my blogs this week as I feel it is important for all to read.

 

Yesterday I was asked on one of the social media sites that I belong to the following question:  Could you live without my cellphone?

My answer was that I didn’t have one nor will I ever will.

Almost immediately after that I received a comment from someone who I never knew who gave the one word response “lame”.  At this point I realized that this person was being offensive and showing their obsession with the technology all in one word.  I decided to delete this comment without any further thought about it.

This brings me to the point of this post:  Is technology bringing the fear to America?

I believe the answer is simply “yes”.  I have a few examples in the last week that proves this idea.

 

Point # 1:

I believe that if people were paying more attention last week during the Boston Marathon somebody, anybody would have seen the two guys drop their knapsacks near the garbage cans.  I think people were so obsessed with either using their phones to film the people that nobody ever looked around to see what was happening behind them.  All these people seemed so obsessed with what was going on in front of them that they were not paying attention to what was happening around them.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, people on cellphones don’t pay attention period.  This is part of the reason why I don’t own one.  I want to pay attention to what is around me.  I want to experience the world and not just keeping people posted on my doings on Twitter and Facebook.

It seems that the only camera that caught the criminals in the act was a store surveillance camera or at least that is all the FBI is saying they have used.

 

Point # 2

The stock exchange experienced a minor flash crash last week after a posting from Twitter of an attack on the White House.  This was posted from a hacked AP account.  Of course, nobody checked any other sources to verify this information and took it as fact and the stock market dropped by 150 points in less than 5 minutes.  This leads to the point of should people rely on one place like Twitter to receive their news when there are many other reputable sources of information.  Did anyone not think of checking at least one other source?  It is sad to think that so many people rely on only source. It is funny how technology can do so much damage so fast.

 

Point # 3

Last week Congress rejected the expansion of the background checks for gun purchases.  What are they afraid of?  Being rejected by a system which would prove them incompetent of owning a gun or do they just want to make the NRA happy while causing anger to those who have lost family members especially at Sandy Hook.  A system that should be used to protect people is being ignored and not expanded is not the way to go.  The NRA is just allowing those who shouldn’t own guns to purchase them under the table with no oversight.

 

Point # 4

Going job hunting?  Filling out that job application now is basically a futile attempt online by dealing with a process that is usually less than satisfying.  Since more and more companies are going this route, the application process gets longer and longer and seems to be more of a personality test than a job application.  What is worse about this is that many times rejection happens instantaneously and sometimes a few hours/days go by before that rejection happens.  Nonetheless the rejection usually happens if you don’t meet company criteria to the letter.  Never an interview and never anybody ever sees the application.  Only the computer sees your application and they are not the best judge of your character.

 

In conclusion, people are obsessed with their phones and not paying attention to the real world therefore allowing those that can create harm to do their duty with nobody looking.

 

People trust unreliable sources thus causing panic when it should not exist.  Double checking information with someplace else would alleviate this problem.

 

Fear of somebody’s past should not be the basis to reject expanding background checks or prevent somebody from getting a job.  Sadly it seems that a deeper background check is done on potential employees than is done on gun sales.  Does this mean that we can trust people with a gun, but we can’t trust them with our money?  Sounds like misplaced priorities to me.

 

Overall, the fear in America is created by the technology that controls our lives.  We should control it and not have it control us.  Now is the time for people to put down their phones and look at the reality around them.  Otherwise the fear will grow worse and much deeper.

 

 

 

Update on Newsweek Subscription

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On Sunday, I received the following response from Newsweek:

 

Dear Mr. Brown,

Your subscription has been transferred to the digital edition of Newsweek. Your subscription will not be transferred to an alternative print publication. Please verify if you wish to cancel the remainder of your digital subscription.

 

It appears that the company is offering NO alternatives to make me really happy.  I have requested what amount they will give me if I take their “Money Back Guarantee”.  I will keep you posted in this bad customer service issue.

Gun Control and Mental Illness

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Certainly there are no words that can express my feelings for what happened in Newtown, Connecticut this month.  What I can express words on is that this could have been avoided if only we had tighter gun control laws.

The bad thing is that it seems that everybody wants to blame “Mental Illness” as the cause of the events.  Seriously, is this the excuse to be used on every violent incident now?

It has now even gotten worse as other things have been blamed for all the recent violence.  Amongst them include:

  • Movies – Let’s stop blaming movies for all the violence.  After all, I don’t know of many cars that fly through the air and have weapons in their front grill.  The blamers want to convince us that movies are the problem.  This has been blamed for too many years and foolishly.
  • Video games – I have heard this one ever since the 1990’s when games like Doom came out back them.  Do killing monsters really make people want to kill people?  I have didn’t buy it then and certainly don’t buy it now.
  • Music – Poor Ke$ha.  She is being blamed for her song of “Die Young” for being the inspiration for the recent violent acts.  I have heard this song many times and I don’t think the blamers get it.  Yes, this song gets me pumped only because I like it, but I certainly don’t feel violent because of it.  Of course, I still get pumped up over Britney Spears “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”, but then again that’s just me.

What we should REALLY be blaming are the things that really count and amongst them are:

  • NRA – One of the largest political action groups buys the people who make the decisions in Congress.  They wave their second amendment rights around like they were the American flag.  We need to get people in Congress who are not puppets of the NRA.
  • Gun Resellers/Retailers – Many states don’t do background checks before they sell a weapon and sometimes they ignore the laws anyway.  The laws vary from state to state which makes matter worse.  I remember when I was working at Woolworth, the rules were that the gun application would have to be faxed to Augusta and then wait about 3 days to get a response.  However, one time there was no response after 3 days so the salesclerk went ahead and sold the weapon anyway.  It turned out that one NEVER should have been sold after the report came back as being a risky person.  Nobody ever heard the end of that one.  Resellers have to act more responsible and keep the laws in mind and abide by them.
  • People like Norman Hamann – This nutcase needs to be in jail or a mental facility.  He believes his own fears allow him to walk around with a gun in his belt.  Sadly, I believe everyone else is scared of when he might crack and start using it.  What bothers me even more is that he thinks that it is ok to film his encounters with the police.  If anybody is mentally ill, Norman is the top of the class.

Sad to say there will be more gun violence if the real issues are not addressed.  It does not matter what the President does or Vice President thinks he can do will matter.  Mental illness is just a rubber stamp that I believe that everybody has if pushed far enough.  Even I was once called mentally ill.  I will have more to say about that in a future post.

The biggest question that has been asked lately is “Are we really safe anymore?”.  My answer is “I don’t believe so and never will, just don’t scare the children with that information.”

For now the only things we should worry about is the fiscal cliff or even worse the Mayan’s prediction of the end of the world.

 

Notice to all:

I will not be posting to this blog until after the first of the year as I feel that both the reader and myself need a holiday vacation from everything that has been going on in the world lately.  I plan on being back right after the first of the year with possibly a look back at the previous year and my look ahead to the next one.  So until then Happy Christmas and Merry New Year or something like that.

 

Lewiston Mayor Gets It RIght

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It would almost seem that Lewiston Maine mayor Robert Macdonald is cut from the same cloth as the state’s governor.  His recent remarks regarding Somalian people might be harsh, but I believe that they are truly justified.  It’s bad to think that somebody though would actually say it publicly.  I believe that a lot of people probably feel the same way.

Let’s face the reality.  We didn’t invite these people into our country nor did we force them to come here.  This state along with other states got screwed into taking these people whether they like it or not.  The mayor is probably angry at the fact that these people are taking many city resources without giving anything back to the community.  It costs money to educate their children and to make matters worse to teach these people English as a second language.  Many probably don’t care to learn the language and wish to rely on translators instead.  Again, this is an abuse to the system.

I remember going to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) a couple of years ago to try to get on the MaineCare system.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get on because I had no kids and they were no longer accepting any new people to the program.  Unless of course you consider that the majority of the people there in the lobby were foreigners who didn’t speak English and wish to get on some sort of state aid.  Why should they get onto a program when they have never worked in this country when somebody like me who needed it couldn’t get it?  Certainly our system is messed up and the Lewiston mayor is probably fed up with them.  I feel that what he said was certainly not out-of-place nor do I feel it was wrong.  If these people are offended, I say too bad.

Consider also that if we went to visit their country, women would be required to where their garbs and dress accordingly.  Why they can’t comply to our customs is beyond me?  After all, it is a two-way street.  Unfortunately, these people are all take and no give.

Feel angry is you ever felt like you lost a job to one of them — guaranteed it will happen if it hasn’t happened already.  The U.S. needs to get serious on immigration reform and stop the flow of people into this country.  This is causing more problems than any other problem in our economy.  Why is nobody addressing this problem?  Are they afraid of offending anybody..certainly the Lewiston mayor wasn’t at all?  Kudos to him…this country needs more people like that in politics.

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