tax day!!!

Thursday 15 April 2010

As hopefully my readers in the U.S. are aware, 15 April is tax day!  Because it falls on a weekday this year, you won’t get any extra days.  If you still haven’t filed your taxes, you should do that!  Even if you’re late, it’s OK.

I, personally, got a few refunds this year (based on my locations of employment), including a nice bonus from the federal government!  I still paid taxes, mind you, in terms of medicare and social security (not to mention sales taxes all the time!), but I was part, as an article I read notes, Nearly half of US household escape income tax (if  you can call me a “household”).  I’d make some comments about this fact, but I think it’s already been done well at another blog called the “Hillbilly Report,” for all you rural progressives out there, apparently c:

Instead, I want to talk about what all those income taxes that are collected are used for!  Perhaps one might say that only those 53% who pay income taxes should decide how they are used, and that might be an interesting way to go, but until that day, I’ll have my say.

There is a nifty little chart/flyer put out by FCNL that shows how income tax revenues are distributed.  As we continue to think about health care, we should not be surprised to see that 17% (or $532 billion) of such taxes go to health care costs (and that doesn’t include medicare!) — as the flyer notes, this “Includes Medicaid, public health, Indian Health,
National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and related programs.”  We also know that tax money goes toward things like transportation, education, and other “basic needs” we have in the lives we live.

However, what gets me is that 1/3, or 33%, or $1 trillion (also written as $1,039.5 billion) goes toward Pentagon spending for current and past wars!  That far exceeds the minimal 1%, or $36 billion, that goes toward “Diplomacy, Development, and War Prevention.”  And actually, the “war” percentage is lower than usual because we spent so much money on the bailout and government economic relief — that number was 43% a year ago and is expected to rise to 38% again in two years, even with our current President Obama.

What we see here is continued belief that what makes the U.S.  safe and secure, not to mention a country not to be trifled with, is our military strength.  They say “fences make good neighbors,” but I think having friends around you is even a better strategy in the end.  Instead of spending (wasting) money on wars and war machinery, we need to transform our country into one working for peace and reconciliation with countries around the world, recognizing that our differences need not mean hostility and war.  Especially in these tough economic times, we need to reduce war and military related spending and step into the world of diplomacy and peacemaking.  If not now, when?

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why i voted for dennis

Tuesday 4 March 2008

I suppose this could have maybe been more effective before the polls closed in Ohio, where I voted by absentee ballot this year, but I thought it would be apt to post today, too. I sent my ballot through the mail about 3 weeks ago, and if what I think I know about absentee balloting in Ohio is true, my vote probably won’t show up on the Internet or television tonight, but it will still be counted. And in the end, my singular vote probably won’t directly change the number of delegates who go to one Democratic candidate over the other (I pulled a Democratic ballot this year), it is important nonetheless. And while it’s obviously a race between Barack and Hilary, when I filled in the oval with my #2 pencil, it was next to neither of their names. Am I foolish? You might think so. But here’s why I voted for Dennis Kuchinich.

There are probably lots of reasons one could argue I shouldn’t have voted for Dennis: he “isn’t electable” (based on some poll figures and such), he stopped actively campaigning over a month ago (he was fighting to hold on to his place in the House tonight), he could never “beat McCain.” The list could go on, I’m sure. And those might be reasons you wouldn’t or didn’t vote for Mr. Kuchinich (as the NY Times would call him), but for me, those aren’t good enough any more. I’m tired of voting for whoever the Democratic candidate ends up being in November because she or he is surely “better than a Republican” and we know it’s really only a two person race anyway, no matter how many names are on the ballot (and who those other candidates would “take votes from,” leading to such a situation that occurred in 2000).

But that’s my problem: we too easily “settle.” Am I not to select the candidate who I feel would be the best person for the job? And if I don’t, why would the candidate I end up voting for have any incentive the change their ways to what I wished they were like? I mean, they got my vote the way they were, right? It’s not that I dislike Clinton or Obama — in fact, I would rather have either of them than that man from Arizona; it’s just that I like Kucinich better (much better, I might say). I don’t consider it throwing my vote away at all — I need to let me voice be heard, that I’m tired of “business as usual,” of playing games with corporations and “special interests” and all that jazz — and that I want our president and government to do what is truly best for all the people of this country and this world, not what’s best for those who will later help them fund their re-election campaign.

I’m sure there are some of you I still haven’t convinced, who will still vote for “the best of the rest,” but if you think it’s at least a worthy thing to vote for someone who stopped putting money into his presidential campaign in January, I probably should tell you why I marked Kucinich instead of one of the others promising “change.”

For one thing, Kucinich is a peace candidate. His main slogan was “Strength Through Peace.” We’ve heard promises of pulling out of Iraq (with certain conditions and time lines) from other candidates, but it’s more than just how you deal with one situation; it’s about an ideology. It’s about dealing through diplomacy and refusing to support militarism, handling misunderstandings and conflicts with conversation and discussion instead of bombs and bullets. Kucinich doesn’t believe “the best defense is a good offense,” as some do, but knows that the best possible situation is to not have to worry about defending from anyone at all.

Another issue is health care. Most people think providing everyone with adequate health care is a basic human right — especially in “the richest nation on the planet” — but people disagree on how to get there. Kucinich’s plan doesn’t perpetuate the current “for-profit” corporate business model of insurance companies and HMOs which causes some companies to seek out ways to get out of paying claims. It isn’t a plan that seeks to insure everyone by requiring them to have insurance or subsidizing them so they can afford it, a plan which creates an even greater profit for those making money off of health care. Kucinich wants a plan (which was offered by Ms. Clinton back in the 90s, actually) that rids us of the bane that are insurance companies and creates a single payer system — and if you think it would reduce our care or just don’t think it can work, watch Sicko.

I could go on about issues like trade and corporations and such (read “marijuana“), but you can look at his website if you’d like to know if you agree with him about other things. But really the point remains: “Why shouldn’t I vote for the candidate who I agree with the most?” (Take the test — for me Kucinich was an 83, Gravel an 82, and everyone else 38 or less.)

Editor’s note: after a short conversation with my Mom and Dad, I’d like to note that one could probably make a similar type of argument for voting for someone like Ron Paul, who my Dad voted for (Mom is an Obama-girl).