By: Celia Murray; Columnist
Lately signs and bumper stickers have been popping up all around advocating the “Fair Tax.” The problem is that the proposed fair tax is exceedingly unfair. Even proponents of the FairTax concede that taxes are a necessary evil – if we are to have essential government services, a military for instance, we must pay for them, and the only way government has to produce revenue is through taxes. What the so-called FairTaxers urge is the elimination of income, estate and payroll taxes along with the dismantling of the Internal Revenue Service, and the imposition of a massively high - 30 percent! - sales tax on everything.
FairTaxers reading this will immediately object. “No, the rate is 23 percent,” they proclaim. However, in reality, the FairTax plan has a tax exclusive rate of 30 percent. FairTaxers get their more palatable 23 percent rate by calculating the tax as if it were already incorporated into the price of goods and services, or a tax-inclusive rate. Calculating it the conventional way that every other sales tax is calculated (the tax exclusive rate) yields a rate of 30 percent. If the distinction sounds confusing, it can be explained through an example. If a product costs $100 and the sales tax rate is 30 percent, you would expect to shell out $130 when you purchase the product. This is exactly the amount you would pay under the FairTax. Proponents of the plan manipulate the numbers by changing the manner in which the rate is calculated – on your $130 purchase, you paid $30 in sales tax which equals 23 percent of the total amount you shelled out, so they disingenuously claim their plan proposes a 23 percent sales tax.
Printed in the October 15, 2009 edition.
By: Fred Johnson; Columnist
Who says Obama hasn’t accomplished anything? Maybe he hasn’t reigned in North Korea or Iran, but he has declared war on Fox Cable News. No, Fox News hasn’t brutally suppressed its own citizens protesting a corrupt election, nor have they been building atomic bombs beneath a mosque. Fox has been doing something far worse. They have criticized the Obama administration and they have informed the American people about some of his radical appointees (like Van Jones) and have exposed just what Acorn is. And even worse, Fox Cable News has been telling the American people just what is in the Health Care bill and how much it will cost the American people.
This is a call to action. Fox is already never called on during press conferences and Obama made a point to pointedly exclude Fox when he hit every other network a few Sundays ago to tell us how wonderful the healthcare plan would be. But now White House communications director Anita Dunn said that she thinks that the Fox News channel offers "opinion journalism masquerading as news." Interestingly, she used CNN and the New York to speak out on “opinion journalism.”
Fox News is fighting back. Fox's senior vice president for news issued a statement saying: "It's astounding the White House can't distinguish between news and opinion programming. It seems self-serving on their part."
The Obama administration should be careful in their new war. When Obama criticized Rush Limbaugh last spring, telling Congressmen to quit listening to him, Rush’s ratings soared. Fox News’ ratings already the other cable news sources like CNN and CNBC. During some time slots more people are watching Fox than all the other cable shows combined. With this new boost from Obama, Fox may also overwhelm the major network shows, like ABC, NBC and CBS.
By: Dick Hodgetts; Columnists
Father Tim Gallagher is one of us. A normal kid from Madison, he played football for Coach Alvin Richardson who saw him evolve from a shy kid to a young man. He attended St. James Catholic Parish when it had only 10-15 families. Tim is son to two very strong personalities who left an imprint. His Dad: John Gallagher encouraged him in his faith, took him on periodic visits to the Monastery in Conyers, and taught him the difference between right and wrong. His Mom: Rebecca Gallagher, a nurse, gave him a strong sense of caring for others. She taught him that a lot of weeds have to be chopped in the garden before one harvests. It’s a good lesson when one eventually decides to commit to the Priesthood. He would tell you when he went his own way, and left his parents home, becoming a Priest was the least likely decision he would consider. As in a lot of homes, this one was split in its faith commitment. Dad was Catholic, and Mom was a Southern Baptist. From the outset, Tim learned that one can address spiritual needs in a variety of ways. This is a Catholic youngster who attended vacation bible school at Antioch Baptist Church. We all helped form him. Where ever he goes, part of us is with him.
By: George Warren
Ben Bernanke is now making the same mistake Alan Greenspan made in 2001-2002. Greenspan kept the interest rate at 1 percent for nearly 18 months, allowing a speculative bubble to build up on easy money; leading to the crash of 2007. You could borrow money for any project with no qualifications. Because the 2007 crash was worse than the 2001 crash, Bernanke lowered the rate all the way to a range of 0 to .25 percent and continues to leave it there.
This policy hurts the average American and rewards the high flying speculator. Why? The average American is now trying to reduce his credit balance and increase his savings balance. For this, he is rewarded with interest on his savings cut to .85 percent for a 12-month CD, but his credit card rate is raised from 9.9 percent to 13.9 percent. Of course, it makes it easier for the Feds to carry the $1.6 trillion more debt they borrowed in the second quarter of this year, six times the amount borrowed in the same quarter last year. Their debt is considered more credit-worthy than any one in the world. But how long can it last?
Furthermore, the banks rescued by the taxpayer made net new loans of $559 billion in the first six months last year. This year, they are instead calling in loans at a net rate of over $1.5 trillion. At the same time, Goldman Sachs Investment Bank still has its capital leveraged at 9 to 1, with a great deal of it invested in highly speculative derivatives. They have already accumulated another $16 billion bonus pool to be divided among their big-dog securities traders at year end. Easy to do when you can borrow for practically nothing, and invest the proceeds in exotic high paying gambles such as derivatives.
When I first saw her, she captivated my attention as a bowl of Cookies and Cream after a 40 day Lenten dessert fast. I walked quickly to the porch’s edge. She was extraordinary. I fell a bit in love.
With a spider.
Her huge, glossy wagon wheel web spanned an eight-foot square opening between columns, ceiling and spindle rail. Wow. She constructed that gargantuan silken masterpiece in one night and my bed’s rarely made before noon.
Being incredibly left-brain deficient, I marveled at her workmanship. Looking real close, I spied a tiny framed civil engineering diploma from Georgia Tech up in the tippiest regions of her web -- having minored in polymer and fibers.
She was furiously swathing a bug in silk. Spiders produce all kinds of silk to wrap their eggs, build webs and cocoon prey. The web strand’s strength pound for pound is stronger than steel.
How does she do it? What vitamins does she take? She stopped her wrapping and got quiet. All my questions must have bothered her. It’s okay. I’m not a conversationalist either; I’m much more comfortable with a pen. Then looking at her web I realized, she must be a writer too!
She moved to the center of the orb, lip-locked herself to the silken ball containing a smushed roach (I like to imagine it was a roach) then drank with gusto. I understand that as well.
How did I know my friend was a she? Well, she sat in a web and had a rather large bottom. Sorry, but she did. Male orb-weavers are smaller and generally don’t spin webs. They wander the earth looking for companions. Once they mate -- the men folk ramble off. How dreadful.
Girlfriend, we’ve got to talk.