Thursday, March 29, 2012

On My Mind Tonight

I watched Paul Ryan discuss the Republican budget on C-Span tonight.  Taking questions from the audience, Mr. Ryan was asked how he justified not raising taxes on millionaires while cutting programs that serve the poor.
Mr. Ryan replied that the questioner's formulation was incorrect for this reason:  the tax on millionaires proposed by the Obama administration would raise the taxes on small businesses that make over one million dollars a year.  Since these businesses are the main source of job creation, the effect from the tax increase on millionaires would retard economic growth.

Here is my problem.  According to Forbes, there are over 400 billionaires and over 12,000,000 millionaires in the United States.  (It is projected that, by 2020, there will be over 20,000,000 millionaires in the US.)  These are individuals, or people.  These are not corporations.
It has been my understanding, and I'm quite sure that of the American populace, that talk of taxing millionaires applies to people, or households, that have income larger than $1,000,000 per year.
Mr. Ryan is saying that the tax applies to any entity that makes over 1,000,000 dollars per year, whether an individual or a corporation.
Obviously, one side or the other is confused about (or distorting) the context in which the tax debate is taking place.  Or am I missing something here?  I would dearly love to recieve an honest and informed answer.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When buying gas didn't hurt.

Around 50 or so years ago, it was not a disagreeable experience to pull into a gas station for a fill-up.  You may think I am referring to the price of gasoline then but no.  After all, everything was less expensive than today.

No, I recall for your consideration that, as a rule, the following took place with every sale at the pump.  You did not have to leave your car.  You had already driven over an air hose which activated a bell inside to alert workers that a customer was at the pumps.  You were greeted at your car door and asked how much and what kind of gas you required.  While the gas was being pumped into your car's tank, the employee cleaned your front and rear windshields, and raised your hood to check the oil, water, and battery.  For FREE.  At sale conclusion you paid the employee money for the gas.  If you were due change from your payment, he walked it out to you and thanked you for your business.
Another curtesy available to any driver was to have the air in the tires checked.  For FREE, although a tip was usually proffered unless the driver decided to check tire pressure himself.
If a motorist was planning a trip, one could walk inside the station and find a display of road maps for a dozen or so states as well as a national highway map.  All maps were FREE.

Once upon a time (as they say in fairy tales) such courtesies described above were considered good business.  Retailers sought customers by being agreeable and offering advantages designed to cause customers to return.  This attitude was spread out through many business enterprises at that time.

In the 1970's things began to change.  Business people decided that America wasn't a society anymore.   We were an empire, a global mover and shaker.  All type of markets were available and huge profits could be had without the close attention to detail and customer satisfaction previously seen as important to the bottom line.  Accounting and marketing replaced the social and moral values of community enterprise.  The stockholder replaced the customer as the focus of attention.

Another feature that was lost in this change, albeit inadvertently, was the disappearance of jobs.  Many teenage boys found part-time work at gas stations where they earned money and learned responsibility.
Finally, please don't call this nostalgia.  We still have cars that need gas.  We still have stations to provide the gas.  There is no reason why the same curtesies and amenities we once enjoyed could not be reinstated today.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

On My Mind Today

Iran asserts it is not working to build a nuclear weapon.
Israel asserts it does not possess nuclear weapons.

Of these two, which is the bigger lie?