Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Novus Dignus Maximum -- Maximum News Worthy

- To my knowledge, we still have a war going on. Some of you agree with that war, some of you do not.
- Health care reform is on the plate with heated opposition on both sides of the line.
- Tax hikes are a good possibility for most, and an almost absolute for some.
- Crime is still crime -- ugly, present and unavoidable.
- Social Security matters are being overshadowed by seemingly more serious issues and our educational system is still in the sewers of yesteryear.

But you know what folks? We have bigger issues at the moment that need, no, they demand the full attention of our news mediums for an early morning headliner -- Donald and Shirley Ross were held up for 15 minutes because they didn't wear their seat belts.

For Pete's sake, seriously? This is the topic at hand? I'd rather watch another full-day of Michael Jackson filler with 35 minute infomercials about the latest foot-scrub from Europe than to waste my time trying to concern myself with why two people who should have buckled up like the law dictates try and get out of a ticket by turning it into a media fiasco.
Did anyone else read into every detail they could find about this to get to the truth? I tried to, not out of sincere interest in their plight, but to satisfy my curiosity as to why in the world this would make such a blockbuster of a story.

Truth be told, and I don't believe it has been, I genuinely believe the accused to be at fault for the seat belt violation. Here's why:
1. First and foremost, traffic law requires the use of seat belts in all 50 states, period, no exceptions save for the few that did not apply in this instance.
2. From what I have learned in my own past experiences, a police officer isn't going to hand out 5 tickets for negligent adherence to a seat belt law to an elderly family, unless someone in the vehicle got wise and pulled out the famous: "Ain't you got something better to do than to harass us?" Smart-assed is as smart-assed does.
3. The reports I've studied also say that they were detained (they make it sound so cut-throat and violating) for a total of 15 minutes and it caused them to miss the burial. Now, if they were in the funeral procession at the time they were pulled over, then how in the world did they miss the burial unless the person behind the wheel of the Hearse was a former Formula 1 driver who was taking curves sideways and 95mph, slid into the cemetery with the rear door open, allowed centrifugal force to throw out the casket and land perfectly into the grave while a front-end loader had a bucket of dirt waiting overhead to be dumped in as soon as the coffin hit the bottom. I can picture a guy with a stopwatch timing all this, sporting a smile as his "pit crew" broke yet another record in the Spokane 500 Body Burial Cup.

I don't often quote a comedian, especially ones that are extreme in their politics as far as left vs. right, but I feel this fits perfectly...

"The problem with common sense, is that people think it's common."
~Dennis Miller

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What my income equates to, is none of your business


Tax the rich! That's the general consensus for left wing extremists when it comes to our federal income issues. I'm going to try and stay objective about this, since everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is an opinion that could lead to, and in a way already does, an adverse affect on people's individual financial futures. Flat tax "rate," is the only way to go in all fairness to our citizens, the poor and the rich? I'll start with a piece I read on Wiki, and it's as follows:

...Opponents of the flat tax, on the other hand, claim that since the marginal value of income declines with the amount of income (the last 100 of income of a family living near poverty being considerably more valuable than the last 100 of income of a millionaire), taxing that last 100 of income the same amount despite vast differences in the marginal value of money is unfair.
Click here for full article

They just don't get it, do they? Flat tax, or even progressive tax, is not based on a set number to be taxed out of someone's income as described above, but a set percentage of said individual's income. An American citizen's income of $35,000 being taxed at 15% equates to $5,250 headed to our government; whereas an American citizen's income of $235,000 being taxed at the same rate of 15%, sends $35,250 their way...that's more than the first person's annual income altogether. Our government is still getting more out of the latter citizen's payday, and since it's a percentage, the effect, for all intents and purposes is just as heavy a burden as the former's and in the end, I thought we were responsible for our own actions, and more so to the point, inactions when it comes to our financial futures.

I'm a simple guy, with a simple career and I fall in the $50,000 annual salary range which will make my taxable income for 2009 a nice 15%, I can live with that; in fact, paying taxes is probably the most direct way of saying "I have a vote."

Now, if I thought with a communist state of mind, I would involve myself with other people's incomes and demand that people who made more than me, be taxed at a higher rate than me. Oh, wait...that principle already exists.

So if I own three heads of cattle and my neighbor only possessed one, I should give him one as well so we are even? Despite the fact that somewhere along the lines I stepped forward and earned an additional two heads of cattle whereas my neighbor did not? You're right, I'll let the government step in and tell me how much I am allowed to keep out of my earnings compared to someone else who didn't follow the same path I did which would have gotten them to the same point that they obviously want to be in or they wouldn't have accepted something that belonged to me?
Fact: People have a right to only own one cow if that's what floats their boat.
Fact: People shouldn't be penalized because they chose to have a higher standard of living and got off their rear-ends and did something about it because they wanted to own three.

Hello? This is the United States of America, I thought capitalism is what this country runs on. So if someone applies for student loans, which if you are in the poverty level of this nation's income it's almost impossible to be denied funding, and sacrifice their time by going to college and putting forth a 110% effort in their studies, obtaining a degree, pursuing their goals with a burning fury to be career oriented and successful, just to turn around and actually make a little something out of theirself and have a solid financial future, plus, put in the ungodly hours that business executives, lawyers, doctors, highly paid professionals in general do and let's not forget the holy grail of incomes: salespeople, then all that should earn them a nice slap in the face by some committee or the IRS telling them that because of all their hard work and efforts they should be placed in a higher tax bracket, or percentage, than joe-blow who tried his hardest to be the cool kid in high school and sluff off with his grades, or maybe the drug addicted pill head who also got their start at a young age by slinging his wares at parties and what have you, when both of whom decided to do nothing more with their lives than to work at Wendy's and enjoy being taxed at either the 10 or 15% tax rate depending on subtle variances in their career paths?

Tax the rich at a higher percentage than the rest of us? The people who have built up these multi-billion dollar corporations, do you really think it was easy for them to accomplish such a task? As easy as they make it look on television anyway? Or do you care? Does effort count for nothing? Of course, you will always run across the argument that "There is no way they made that kind of money without stepping on someone along the way or involved themselves in something illegal." You know what, you are probably right, and being the self-righteous, problem free and law-abiding citizens that you and everyone claim to be, you have a right to make that determination just based on their incomes alone; but again, I feel the need to backpedal a bit, no one is problem free and you would be surprised at how many people do not live this so-called clean life without any regrets or feelings of guilt towards some of their actions that have most assuredly impacted other people and their lives, trust me, it's a shorter list. We live in a free enterprise (until it's time to pay the piper) driven society, folks; now if someone has committed a crime, even a white collared offence, then I'm the first one to say "burn them at the stake," but aside from that, they (our government) either need to change the rules a bit to keep people from being taken advantage of in financial matters, or quit crying about it when they (business owners) were simply too slow the day it came time to run across that finish line and break the yellow tape first. Enron? To hell with them, fry em'! Tax the rich at a higher rate, just because they're rich? To hell with you.

A good example off the top of my head:
Let's say I build a company from the ground up, it's probably going to fail the first few times and I might even have to declare bankruptcy along the way. So after five or ten years of getting it right through hard work, pure struggle and opposition at every turn, I finally make it to a point where my company has an annual gross income of let's say, $10,000,000. Now, let's say it's a manufacturing business and I have around 2,000 employees working for me, and jobs are something this country needs more of right now anyway. I have already contributed to this country in three ways...
1. Even if I were to pay the same tax rate as everyone else, let's say it was 20% ($2,000,000) across the board for everyone, that's still generated income that was not there before my company came along.
2. That's 2,000 American citizens who are now employed, of which probably 1/3 where not beforehand. Citizens who now have a paycheck which will be put right back into our economy in some form or another.
3. Not to mention, the medical benefits my company would be providing for them; plus, I believe in the American worker, I would go out of my way to ensure I did everything in my power to include incentives, bonuses, employee shareholdings, stock options and the like. However, I'm not going to lie to the viewers of this posting, if it came down to not generating a profit in all this, well let's be honest instead of naive -- changes would be made, but to a minimal degree.
Point is, that's 2,000 +/- people that now have a standard of living that they did not have before.

Now then, everything listed above should not be made to appear as though becoming a business owner was done out of saintly actions, I did this for the one thing that each and everyone of us feels like or has felt like they could use more of from time to time -- money, plain and simple. Money isn't everything, true, but again with the naivety, it does give you security, a better quality of life and let's face it, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy being able to buy my wife the things she desires and to ensure the members of my family did not "go without." Can you blame me?

All that being said, for all my time and sacrifice, I get punished for doing well. I become an example as to what happens when you step up and do something with your life. Do not sit there and pretend that every single person who lives within the poverty income level of this country could not have done anything about it other than allow their government to step in and do something about it for them at the expense of others. I do believe, however, that there should be some sort of intervention that involves our government stepping in and doing a massive overhaul on our welfare system; too many people go without that deserve not to, and too many people live off the fruits of our labors when they are more than capable of pulling their own weight.

People, we have opportunities afforded to us that most other countries do not; in fact, just look around at most of the legal immigrants who move to this country and do extremely well for themselves. That's a big factor of my not being too upset with immigration. If someone wants to work and make an honest living, then by all means I feel they should have the same rights as we do, so long as they pay their own way, pull their own weight, and pay their own taxes. In fact, that's my key point in this article, don't put your lifestyle on me. Speaking of immigration, you want my opinion on why people get so upset with immigrants? Because immigrants don't mind the work and they know what it's like to be poor, they could give you a thirty five page dissertation on the subject I'm sure. I respect a hard working person, immigrant or native. Who knows what kind of struggles they've seen and/or been through. Yet here they are amongst all this opposition, trying. That's what counts, effort; and if this country chooses to penalize people for their efforts, then I feel nothing but shame for those that agree with the penalties, and disgust for those that feel entitled to leech off the royalties of the "rich."

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Friday, July 31, 2009

If you're an integral conservative, then I must be on the wrong side.

The O'Reilly Factor. Another opinionated news medium which not only approaches topics with the single minded method: "We're right, so you must be wrong," but it appears to also discredit what a lot of society's members consider to be a worthy political stance -- a conservative republican in the United States; which by today's popular opinion among the liberal left, Republicans may as well be members of the Klu Klux Klan.

First, let me give all the kudos I choose to give to this program in a single statement. I enjoy how The O'Reilly Factor covers issues that seem to me to be news worthy and actually matter at the end of the day; even though they did cover the death of Michael Jackson, which I felt should have been limited to a quick notification of the facts and then tossed aside to make room for the next subject, they didn't drown me in their coverage with repeated and rhetorical sentiments full of utter nonsense, especially concerning "who gets what" in the will and so forth. Aside from this, The O'Pinion Factor not only keeps my temptations high as far as changing the channel so I can view facts, figures and statistics somewhere where they actually stick to the news, it also makes me realize that yet again poor representation destroys the represented.

America, is O'Reilly how you actually view the rest of us conservative thinkers? You may as well judge all books by their cover's if that is the case. I say this now and only for myself, although I'm sure many would agree, Bill O'Reilly not only does not speak for me, he hasn't the first clue as to where I stand in my politics. He reminds me of the type of person that will vote straight-ticket on election day, blindly; Whereas I myself, have always felt that you vote for the person and their politics, not the party they represent.

For starters, how does such a character have the audacity to consider himself a self-respecting journalist, when the majority of his broadcasts consist of finger-pointing, name calling and turning a blind eye to a lot of truths he leaves ignored when threatened with being discredited, or wrong; big deal, being wrong can happen and will happen to the best of us. Of course, that's the funny thing about sticking to the facts, they're facts, how could you be false if facts are what you adhered to with proper integrity standards for your work?

I flipped on the television this morning around 4:30 am, EST, give or take an hour or so, I wasn't totally focused on the time, and I watched this man debate with a professor from Columbia University (I cannot remember his name) concerning Bill Maher's statement on America being a "dumb country." Unfortunately I cannot quote anything that was said verbatim, so anything I write in the previous and following blog entries will be paraphrased. The whole argument boiled down to the education level of the average American citizen within a certain age group, and demographic I'm sure. Both sides of this debate did not deviate from the view point that education and intelligence are one in the same entity. It was killing me to watch this. People, I cannot express this enough,...intelligence and education are two totally different things; they're not even apples and oranges, they're apples and car tires. I've met some highly educated idiots in my time who couldn't tie their own shoes until they read a "how to" book, asked around and then gave it three trial runs, and by that same token I have also ran into quite a few individuals who didn't so much as have a high school diploma yet were utterly brilliant when they committed their minds to a task. An education is worthless if you don't have the intelligence to use it, it's a tool and nothing more. This whole debate came about by having something to do with Sarah Palin's education level, her being a graduate of Idaho State U and still having a 54% approval rating upon her resignation. They compared her to a political figure in Massachusetts who was a Harvard grad with only a 30+% approval rating.

The words "dumb, stupid and moron" are first of all, hardly mature when it comes to respective journalism, but secondly, are also extremely opinionated when used on such a broad a scale as to describe the United States and its people; in fact, to say otherwise would be acting "stupidly" (Way to go, Obama). So thank you Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilly for broadcasting your prick-waving contest on television. You two are more alike than what you would like to believe, at least, in my opinion. If you combined their DNA's and cloned a human with the result, you would either get a perfect example of what staying in the intelligent middle really means, or you may just wind up with the world's worst facade on political opinion to this day (except maybe Hitler's).

Bill O'Reilly, after researching for other people's opinion on your show, one of the mainstays I ran across is that you are considered a loud-mouthed bigot, well, as far as the bigotry and rudeness, that is to be expected from most anyone, although it hardly excuses it; but one thing I did notice, is that you have a strong tendency to interupt people when they are having a discussion with you, especially when they are on the verge of making a point in the contrary to what you might be saying yourself. I consider this to be a massive weakness in a human being, not allowing someone else their voice, and you do this quite well. That's one of the fundamental rights of all American citizens, freedom of speech and although you do not physically deny someone this right, it seems that over the years you have figured out your own method to your madness when it comes to making someone else look like a fool by simply not letting them speak. In my opinion, you are a very weak-willed man, and again, you do not speak for me nor do you represent my views in any way, shape or form. If you have a strong enough viewpoint on a topic, then present it, but allow your opponents to do the same, otherwise your true colors will show brighter and brighter by the day, and I do not think you want your's to be seen.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Union. Yes or No?

You're working for a company, pick one, any one that has a unionized labor force, and your under the guidelines and work environment that entails specific jobs and titles that involve bidding in order to obtain a new position. For example, a Coal Mining Industry, let's say -- strip mining.
1. You are currently the operator of an excavator, and you want to train to become the operator of a front-end loader.
2. First, you check to see if that current position is open, and if so, you bid on the excavator position.
3. What you are bidding with is not currency but seniority, or how long you have worked at that particular job, job site and/or company in comparison to everyone else. That is what determines the amount of seniority you have.
4. If someone else has put in 5 years, and you have only been there 3, guess what? You lose out on that position.

Now, In a general sense, if both employees bidding on this position are equal in all aspects except seniority, then I would agree with that concept 100%. However, let's just say that Mr. 5 years of service tends to miss work, not enough to lose his job, but definitely a borderline case; and let's say you, Mr. 2 years of service, have not missed but maybe a day or two, for legitimate reasons. (ie. you really were sick, including a valid Dr.'s excuse, etc...). Now, let's also say, that not only do you put in 100% effort while on the job, you follow any and all guidelines set out by your employer, but you also keep complaints to their minimum, at least looking over the minor issues that will arise with any job (it's a job afterall, not a vacation); and not only that, long ago you realized that ever since you entered the adult world and started having to pay your own bills, feed your family and what not, that sometimes rocking the boat was a luxury that belonged to the 18 year old newcomers who still lived with their parents. That being said, Mr. 5 years is the total opposite of Mr. 2, do you still think he deserves the position both employees are pining over? I think not, but that's a personal opinion and should be taken with your own grain of salt.

In my opinion merit should outweigh seniority 100% of the time and without exception. I'm not trying to imply that anyone should go out of there way to be favorable to their supervisor(s) (some people label individuals like this a "suck" or a "brown noser"); no, I am simply saying:
1. Show up for work, every day you are scheduled to.
2. Do your best, at all times, not just when you feel like it.
3. Show some respect for your fellow employees, your boss, and your job in general. You may just have dependents that rely on your income, it's not always just about you.
4. If you feel a task is unnecessarily dangerous, then speak up; but don't complain about the toilet paper in the men's room not being the two-ply kind that keeps your bottom feeling soft and pampered.
5. Ensure that you follow the rules and regulations that are laid out upon your date of hire. Any complaints made thereafter concerning those guidelines should have been a consideration before you gave your word, usually in writing, that you would comply with the terms of your employ.

In the business world, as complex as it may seem, a lot of times it's far simpler than people like to let on. Follow the money and it all goes downhill from there. If your position is making money, and you are a good representative of that position, then relax, you need no protection for the most part. If however this is not the case, then more than likely you do not need to be there. If a company is not making money then it makes changes, plain and simple. If you yourself are the reason for your position not making money then wave goodbye, dramatically if you wish, for the end result will be the same. I've heard it said many times, a union keeps the lazy man working, and a business that turns a reasonable profit simply does not close it's doors. Pretty simple formula:
- Profit = Available work
- Available work done well = Paycheck
- Paycheck = Paid Bills + Financial security
- Paid bills + Financial security = Better quality of life

Another example is as follows:
1. You are on a construction crew as a helper for a carpenter, and you do very well.
2. You find a few minutes to yourself and you notice a pallet, or skid, of roofing shingles that need transported up top and the person in charge of that is either backed-up or simply taking his sweet time, so you decide to jump in and lend a hand.
3. The next day, in the union world, the person who was responsible for doing that job files a grievance against you for doing his job, when all you were trying to do was help.
No joke, ladies and gents, that's a real-world scenario and it does happen. In the situation just described, the union helped keep a lazy man his job, and also empowered him to penalize someone who was not said slacker; if he was simply backed-up and filed against you, then he isn't necessarily lazy, but he definitely felt threatened or was just being spiteful. The way it was when I grew up, you jumped in and helped just because it made it easier for everyone in the long run. Go figure.

In my own experiences, and in the experiences of others that I am acquainted with, a business with a unionized labor force tends to be far more expensive to keep the doors open on. Case in point:
Two different companies, one union and one non, produce the same product, we'll call the product "doomathingers," and the doomathingers are sold to the same retail outlets. The retailers in this example have a price they are willing to pay, and no higher. The non-union company has to pay their employees a wage, and if their labor force works full-time hours, they are required by law to provide a certain amount of medical benefit coverage, and a lot of times, if the company is in high standing and does well for themselves, more than over-compensates their employees, and I say this out of personal experience. Now with the unionized company, there is no telling what amount of funds are contributed towards their employees. It could be anything from paid medical coverage, to whatever the union decides their employers have to pay in the way of wages, benefits, bonus incentives, outrageous amounts of vacation time, sick leave, personal paid time off, ridiculous hours that are not as productive, and therefore not as financially sound as far as job security, so on and so forth.
That being said, both companies have "x" amount of money to work with due to the price set by their retailer client(s). Which do you think holds the higher job security? Well, if I were to be a company executive or owner, I would most definitely be losing less and less people due to position termination and lay-offs from the non-unionized labor force than the unionized one; but that speech doesn't sound as good to ol' Johnny blue-collar because his mentality is "Why should I make the company more money instead of putting it in my pocket?" Well, you have a point Johnny, but I'll guarantee you, I'll still have my job when you are on the unemployment line complaining about how you stood up and fought the man

And before we discuss wages, remember this folks, the government has stepped in over the years and regulated a lot of things that were highly exploited before the days of unions. Companies realize this, and they realize that in order to get specific jobs, or types of labor in general accomplished, they simply have to pay a decent wage or they will most certainly get what they pay for. You offer minimum wage for someone to sky walk across a steel beam that's 30 stories in the air, the people you do find willing to risk their lives for such a thing stand a good chance on being either under the influence of drugs, mentally ill, convicted felons, or illegal immigrants. Now again, we go back to saying nothing is 100%, but in this case, I'd be willing to say at least 75% accurate. In order to get me to do something as risky as the previous example, I'd without a doubt be hitting the liquor store on the way home each and every night just to calm my nerves enough to sleep, and to accept the fact that I'm being shown hardly anything for my efforts come payday.

The unions, back in their early years, had a huge impact on creating this country's middle class and was a needed element in our nation's work force; but these days, more often than not, a union exists just to keep that union in existence. Union dues are paid, and some one's pocket is just a little thicker than the rest. Do not be naive and think that this does not happen, constantly, everywhere.

The opinions I seem to run across concerning other people's views pertaining to union vs. non-union, are often surprisingly linked to that person's class in society. This is not always the case, but very few things are ever 100% when it comes to the variance in people's viewpoints. Johnny blue-collar seems to be my biggest opponent when it comes to any negative critisism I have for unionized labor systems; and for whatever reasons they give at the time of the argument, it usually boils down to one of two different reasons.
1. Their father was union.
2. They tend to be the very same people whose employment a seriously profit driven business would not think twice about terminating, especially after having already missed five sick days within a six-month time period; complaining daily about things that become more mundane each time; show poor work ethics and even worse company loyalty when it comes time to push a little harder in order to ensure their job's existance the following fiscal year.

You simply have to accept the fact that if you are making your company money, then you are an asset. If you are rocking the boat, or simply just becoming a cancer for the morale of your fellow co-workers, then sorry to say, but if you worked for me you may want to consider keeping an up to date resume at all times.

I cannot remember where I seen the following quote, so long as anyone reading this knows that these are not my words, but someone else's. I find them to hold a good bit of wisdom: "People need to get out of the union halls and take an economic class."

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