Notes from around the Human Experience…
WHILE WE WERE OUT: It took almost a year but the Republican Party – in control of both the White House and Congress – finally was able to pass something more substantive than a motion to adjourn last month when Congress passed a tax reform bill, which was signed by President Trump before Christmas.
Dry, Technical Matter: Substantive tax reform in this country must include two things: simplification of our tax code and reducing the amount of money our government takes from us.
Fly In The Ointment: The GOP plan does neither of these things. Our tax code will still have over nine million words and the IRS will still give out incorrect information one-quarter of the time. Every American making more than $38,700 will be required to give at least 22 percent of their income to the government and some will be required to give one-third of what they make.
FunFact: It will still cost individuals and businesses over $400 billion to pay their taxes.
More Dry, Technical Matter: There are still seven individual income tax levels ranging from 10 to 37 percent, depending on your income. The top rate came down a bit, and the minimum income required to pay it went up and there might – or there might not be – some modest relief for wage earners, but for a lot of us paying our taxes will still be an exercise in pulling our hair out.
Some Philosophy Crap: The government is not entitled to 37 percent of anyone’s money, rich, poor or somewhere in between. Some will say they are entitled to none of it. They have a point.
Gaylon For Congress…Vote Early, Vote Often: On the campaign trail for both the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives we’ve supported a flat tax of no more than ten percent – and ideally five percent – on individual incomes. The government is not entitled to any more of our money than this. A flat tax would simplify our tax experience, too, with individual returns consisting of a single sheet of paper.
Oh Yeah: The new law also reduces the tax on corporate profits from 35 percent to 21 percent.
Gaylon For Congress…Vote Early, Vote Often II: This is 21 percent too much. As a business owner pointed out to me one day on the campaign trail, a corporate tax is nothing more than an expense he passes on to his customers making it, in essence, another tax on us and we are taxed enough and deserve better.
The Bottom Line: The GOP took a flier on substantive tax reform and did nothing of substance. Their plan will do nothing to provide the low tax environment America needs for a flourishing, long term economy. All they did was some intra-party dickhandling, hoping we’d believe they actually did something. Don’t kid yourself; they didn’t. The GOP continues to show they are utterly incapable of governing.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! A Roman named Mecurius is elected pope on this date in 533. Mecurius takes the regnal name John II, the first pope so to do. He did this because he thought Mecurius – after the pagan god Mercury – was not appropriate for the papacy. John II died in 535.
3…2…1…Blastoff: The Soviet Union, still well ahead of the United States in the space race, launches Luna 1 on this date in 1959. Designed to crash into the Moon, an incorrectly timed burn, however, ensured Luna 1 got no closer than 3,725 miles of the Moon. It eventually settled into orbit around the Sun, somewhere between Earth and Mars.
How Quaint: Among other things, Luna 1 discovered the Moon lacks a magnetic field and it made the first direct observations of the solar wind.
This Should Work: President Richard Nixon signs a bill lowering the speed limit to 55 mph on this date in 1974. The new law – which could not have been more widely ignored had prizes been issued for non-compliance – was designed to save gasoline during an OPEC oil embargo.
Great Moments In Scotland Yard: British police arrest a suspect in the Yorkshire Ripper murders on this date in 1981. The Yorkshire Ripper had murdered 13 women from 1975-80. Peter Sutcliffe would plead not guilty to the murder charges, but did plead guilty to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility and seven charges of attempted murder. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 concurrent life terms.
Let Us Pray: Sutcliffe advised authorities that God had directed him to kill these women, though God has never spoken publicly on the matter.
Home Sweet Home: Now 71, Sutcliffe was returned to prison in 2016 after years in a mental hospital. He has been attacked numerous times while incarcerated, including an attack that left him blind in his left eye.
Quotebook: All they ask of God is a kind of spiritual minimum wage and in return they are ready to give up the sweets of life – which God also made, let me remind you. – Robertson Davies, The Lyre of Orpheus
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The Suez Canal was Ferdinand de Lesseps first attempt at building a canal. It was completed in 1869.
Today’s Stumper: Over the centuries, how many popes have been named John? – Answer next time!