Dear Mr. Trump, regarding your invitation to be on your “Honor Roll”…

Those who follow me on Twitter know that I am still a registered Republican. Now because I believe in Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Voting Rights, Minority Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Worker Rights, Human Rights, Rule of Law, Morality and Ethics the current GOP base who so adore Donald Trump call me a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and for that I say Thank You!!!

Now, because I’m still registered as a Republican, I get campaign ads and donation requests all the time from the GOP and their candidates. This weekend I received one from supposedly Donald J. Trump himself. Now it was full of lies and misrepresentations so it’s possible it came from his desk, but it was also written in grammatically correct English so I’m not so sure. Actually it comes from the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee” who’s tag line on their ads is “He brought us back” which should actually read, “He’s bringing us backwards”. But no matter. Below I scanned the mailer and added some commentary to what they are lying about. Thought you may enjoy this.




Right versus Wrong, Good versus Evil

People often say that we are born inherently good but learn to become “evil” as we grow older or conversely some say that we are born inherently evil and self-serving only to learn to control our reptilian brains and be kinder to others. I don’t accept either premise. I know there are scientific studies out there that purport to prove either proposition. Some studies reference animal behavior showing how by nature they work together, that it’s instinctual and they will say that we as animals are the same. However, you can show how some animals are instinctually self-serving and go by survival of the fittest. So as animals, why wouldn’t that also apply to us? Now it’s true we as animals do have instinctual tendencies. However, unlike most in the animal kingdom, our brains grasp far more about our environment, our existence and our place in it than other species. The nature of our so-called developed brains often override any instinctual characteristics the human race may have. That being said, I’m of the opinion that as humans, we are born with a clean slate regarding how we view the world, our environment, our place in it and from the time of birth throughout our developmental years and beyond, how we are raised by our families (or lack thereof) and our environment determines what kind of person we become and more importantly, what kind of society we end up with.

Environment determines how the people who exist within it will think and those people together determine the values not only of the society they are a part of, but what is considered right or wrong, good or evil as those terms do tend more times than not to be relative, determined by the collective of the society as a whole. Environment is the physical locality where you exist, the views of those who raise you (what they consider good, evil, right, wrong, productive, unproductive, important, unimportant, ethical, unethical, moral, immoral etc. etc. etc.) and the views of your neighborhood, city or town, county, state, nation as presented to you by media, social media, word of mouth, etc.

Over time, societies develop a sense of what is considered right and wrong, good and evil from their environment. The “movers and shakers” of society influence the “clean slates” of the new humans in that society. They begin to teach, they begin to preach, they begin to set examples, they begin to get airtime and/or social media time and certain behavior is either rewarded, punished or held indifferently.

As we develop we begin with a clean slate on just about everything short of breathing, eating and defecating. Learning to do certain things like driving, cooking, hunting, playing instruments, math, etc. we have to learn and often we must choose to learn them or not. At first, those skills are difficult and confusing. However over time and practice we become better at them, we improve the more we practice such skills. It’s the same with human interactions with others and doing what is considered to be right or wrong.

From a young age we all quickly learn what our society considers to be right and wrong. You then have a choice. You chose to start doing what is considered right and good. The more you do it, the better you get at it and it becomes habit. You chose to start doing things that are wrong and evil, the more you do it, the more that behavior becomes habit and second nature. The environment around you often present rewards and/or consequences for such behaviors that determine if you continue to go with one path or another. If the nature of your environment simply ignores you doing certain behavior, then there’s no consequence beyond possible getting some recognition for doing it, but no punishment. So for the desire of getting attention and not getting in trouble for it, you continue to act in the same way until it becomes habit. And as we all know, habits are tough to break.

Recently I began substituting. I’ve been working at various schools covering a wide array of neighborhoods of varied socioeconomic strengths and weaknesses. Prior to this, I worked over 30 years with the probation department, supervising at different times both adult and juveniles and getting to know the backgrounds of these people that led to them ending up in the system.  I was substituting for a 5th grade class in a rather affluent neighborhood. The day prior to me substituting for this class, there was an incident in the cafeteria where the majority of students were loud and disrespectful to the staff trying to maintain order. They began to taunt and harass one women to the point where she was in tears. So the next morning one of the school counselors came to each class to reprimand the students for their behavior and advised that it would no longer be tolerated. However, as this is a public school the students knew very little beyond calling their parents would be the consequence. After she left some of the kids started laughing about the threat. They laughed about the woman who cried the day before. They started talking about why it was empty, why their parents wouldn’t care, and all this with me listening, as if I wasn’t there. These kids were choosing to be disrespectful towards adults

Now we all know how we as kids treated our substitutes and little has changed. So I had problems trying to maintain order in the class. A few of the kids continued to do the same “wrong” things in class despite me calling it to their attention and trying to get them to focus on their assignments. As these kids were getting my attention, some of the other students appeared upset over the situation, while others enjoyed it and tried to get the same attention by exhibiting the same behavior.

So I decided to have a talk with them, using the same forceful tone of voice I used with convicted criminals. It got their attention so I then explained to them what I once did for a living. I explained to them that they all know the difference between right and wrong and that by continuing to do the wrong thing all the time makes that habit. It ends up getting worse, like a rolling snowball.

Then I told them that the behavior some of them were choosing to involve themselves in, by their own personal choice would likely lead them into running afoul of the law they if they choose to not change it. I told them that even though they are children, they are legally required to abide by all the same laws adults do and that I’ve worked with ten and eleven year olds held in a Juvenile Probation Detention Center. I told them their current behavior reminded me of the kids held on detention. Most took what I said seriously and I could see the wheels spinning in their heads. However, as to be expected a couple of these kids just continued on. One child try to draw more attention to himself by acting out more. I told the rest of the class to ignore him. So he said something to the effect of “fine, then I’ll just kill myself” and mimicked shooting himself in the head. He then went to his next class and did the same thing there but also rummaged through his backpack like he was trying to find a gun. The school went into lockdown.

I found out the next day that this was a new student who had been causing problems since starting, he’s been a “ring-leader” of other students getting into trouble and his parents won’t hold him accountable. He was suspended and his parents are upset for how he was treated and singled out.

Reflecting on this, it occurred to me that our society is devolving into what we once considered to be wrong and evil is now permissible and such behavior is a means towards success. More people have been raised and permitted to get away with such bad behavior as children and then through their adult years. They have never been held accountable for that behavior, even rescued for doing it. Some have become powerful.

They end up being followed and praised by others who also have never been accountable for behavior most of us find abhorrent. They present an argument, belief, ideology that such behavior is acceptable, and is the “new normal” and should be permitted. I’m of course speaking of Donald Trump, his family and his base of support from people who have grown up thinking and doing racist, corrupt, evil, cruel things to others without serious consequence. Their behavior and beliefs are now habit and part of their nature. They’re trying to recruit more people to join their ranks. If successful, we can expect our society to become one where bullying, corruption, theft, racism, bigotry, misogyny, hatred becomes the norm for the majority. The leadership in the GOP, Fox News and Social Media is working to spread this belief and few if any are trying to counteract it.

The society we live in is the product on the values our citizens learn and make second nature. Too many of us are comfortable living in a society where all the things we were raised on, that were considered good for growth and stability are now tossed aside for a society where self-centeredness, cruelty to others, obtaining personal wealth by all means legal or otherwise is acceptable regardless of the cost to others. If we as a society continue to say and do nothing to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior, that’s where we’re heading.

If on the other hand you want to maintain and grow a society where good works and deeds are second nature, then start rewarding people for exhibiting positive qualities and punish those who do the opposite. Don’t excuse evil behavior at home, work, school, the streets, our halls of government, media or social media. Call out bad behavior and reward good behavior. We can’t escape the society we are born into and raised in, but we can determine what kind of society it is by being involved. Oh, and maybe it is time to bring back corporal punishment in Public Schools. Just a thought.


The Taxing Issue of Taxation

You all know how the saying goes, “nothing is certain but death and taxes”. However, for generations now the Republicans have been working tirelessly to end taxation (or so they say) far more than they have been working to extend healthy lives. When you look at their campaign rhetoric and legislative agenda and accomplishments, every election cycle taxation is too high and nearly every year in nearly every legislative district they control they have cut taxes. However, you need to look past the bumper-sticker approach to their mission and examine the reality of and need for taxation. Not just taxes in general, but taxation in a way that is fair to the people, generates sufficient revenues for the necessities of government while also expanding the economy in such a way where everyone comes out better. It is possible because it has happened before.

Taxation is as old as society itself. No matter the type of governance a society has, no matter the type of economics that prevails in that society, revenues must be generated to meet certain needs to keep that society in existence. Why is that?

When you live beyond a small communal society, certain things need to be addressed. Things like food supply, living accommodations, skills, education, safety from the elements, and security from those who may mean harm. As the society becomes larger, encompassing more people of more diverse talents, skills and needs over a larger territory, these requirements only grow and become more specific, more complex and more expensive. Communes and small communal communities often rely on bartering for skills and services. However, bartering loses values when the needs grow and become more complex. Thus money comes into play not only to pay for goods and services among a growing population and society, but for the governing institutions to ensure the security and existence of the society it governs.

So larger societies over larger territories require roads, infrastructure, transportation, abilities to bring in water, remove trash and sewage. As technologies improve, specialized skills sets are required to build and maintain these more complex systems. Food and water supplies must be monitored and checked on to prevent disasters. Regulations become necessary to ensure the society that things are built and maintained properly, food supplies and water is safe, air is clean, streets are safe, people are properly educated, institutions are properly staffed to aid in both local, national and international security and diplomacy, militaries are created, trained, supplied and maintained to defend against enemies, relief agencies need to be created for natural and not so natural disasters. The larger, more complex and more populated the society the bigger the need to provide for it to keep it functioning, expanding and stable.

This all of course requires revenues from taxation, which has always existed. Now in years past, only the vulnerable were taxed, forced to provide money for the elites that controlled the society to pay for those services (often known as the “commons”) to keep things in check. Peasants who had little were often forced to pay more than they had to keep the society functioning and the Kings, Caesars, Emperors, Lords, etc. in control and prosperous. Often if a wealthy person ran afoul of the ruling class, the family was stripped of its wealth and the money was used to pay the troops, civil servants, build the roads, infrastructure etc. the keep things moving along. Over time, people began to resent this iniquity in society and slowly things began to change.

Taxation itself never went away, but as democratic Republics began to emerge where the people in theory governed themselves via representatives they voted and paid for (taxation for representation) then the tax system slowly became fairer. Those with the most paid the most, those with the least paid what they could. Certain goods and services that only the wealthy could afford would be taxed to help fund maintenance of the commons. In the case of our country, over time our population, especially after the Great Depression and the epidemic of poverty that swept the nation, came to the realization that government of, by and for the people needed to help the neediest of the people to keep society from collapsing upon itself. The impoverished, the elderly, the sick, the uneducated were a drain on the productivity of the nation. The expense needed to care for individuals was beyond the abilities of most families. This realization actually predated the Great Depression and it was during the Lincoln Administration, trying to bring in enough revenue to fight the Civil War from a population that could barely make ends meet began imposing the first truly “Progressive Tax Code” where the wealthiest who benefitted the most from a stable secure society paid more to maintain it because they could.

Now to continue with this, the wealthiest ended up paying more towards the cost of maintaining our government. Now to be fair, there were poorly implemented spending programs that came up, things that had little to do with maintaining a functioning society. This gave the Corporations who have to bring in the most profit they can and the wealthiest ammunition to go to Congress and argue that government was too big, taxing everyone too much and it had to end.

After World War II, there was a 90% tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. That was the tax rate on the books for the millionaires. Revenues collected were used to pay off the debt ran up for the war, fighting the depression and building a modern infrastructure in the United States under Republican President Eisenhower. However, what isn’t well known about that time is that special tax loopholes were inserted in the tax codes that only benefitted the wealthiest. So the effective tax rate was far less than 90%, but higher than it is today. During the Kennedy run for President, he proposed cutting taxes which he did, but he also eliminated many of the loopholes thus keeping revenues coming in about the same. However, that isn’t told, especially by the Republicans. It was this time they ran on saying taxes were too high for everyone, all government spending was wasteful, government was too big and it had to end.

Under Ronald Reagan, taxes were cut for everyone, that it to say the official tax rates were cut for everyone. What isn’t told is that the loopholes for the rich were placed back in the tax code in the years between Kennedy and Reagan and those loopholes remained when the tax rates were cut again. However, loopholes enjoyed by the middle and working class were eliminated almost completely. For example, Prior to Reagan, you could write off Credit Card and Car Loan Interest rates from your Federal Taxes. That was eliminated. So although tax rates went down, only the wealthiest ended up paying less taxes, the middle and working class ended up paying more to fund government. The concept of a progressive tax code was being turned on its head.

There was even a push from Republicans for a “Flat Tax” that they said would be fairer than the current code. They suggested that a flat tax rate for all Americans regardless of income would be fairer and bring in more revenue. Well consider that for a moment, in simple math terms, a person who earns more money a year will have even more money to spend on other things or ship overseas, a person who makes less would have less money cleared to pay for necessities of life like food, housing, clothing, education etc. placing them in greater need of government assistance. However, government is too big; remember?

So cuts to government programs implemented to help those who can’t earn enough to survive go away so those with more than they could possibly spend in a lifetime, get even more. Republicans want to replace the progressive tax code with a regressive tax code where the biggest tax burden is removed from the wealthiest and placed instead on the most vulnerable people in our country.

Another thing the Republicans won’t tell you is that they want a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution to balance the federal budget. Now they refuse to raise revenue to meet costs so that would require major cuts in government spending. They refuse to cut spending to the Military, so the cuts would have to come to programs like Medicare, Social Security, government agencies created to regulate medicine, food safety, water safety, infrastructure, police, disaster relief, education and supplements to individual States. Did I tell you? Each State in our Union is already required to have balanced budgets. Red States, usually the least prosperous in our nation ran by Republicans won’t raise taxes on the wealthy and business who do very well there thank you so they depend on Federal supplementary funding via numerous programs to balance their budgets. Now those who have corporations would say that they could provide for citizens was government does, you would merely just have to pay for it at a cost that ensures their profit margins, if you can. If not, well too bad.

By cutting taxes and eliminating spending or complete programs that actually stimulate the economy that in turn create jobs that in turn generate more tax revenue, Republicans have placed more and more on our credit card and no, we can’t deduct the interest rate on that card from our national debt. Their taxcuts have become more and more unfunded and untenable for our economy, especially with increased spending on our military. They still want more tax cuts and are now openly saying they will need to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for it. These programs came into being by demand from a nation in distress because most families needed assistance to survive in a society that’s continues to be more expensive and wages for the average worker isn’t keeping up with that inflation.

Our current tax code and spending priorities in this nation is a mess, no doubt about it. However the simple bumper-sticker campaign slogan of “Cut Taxes, Shrink Government” isn’t working for this nation and is leading us to economic and societal collapse.

The United States is the largest, most diverse, most advanced, richest nation in history. As such we require a well-funded and well-functioning government to regulate, monitor and nurture this society for the best interests of all citizens. This requires sufficient revenues from taxation that is fair and progressive. Spending priorities must be addressed too. Government spending that has a return on the investment include, but are not limited to Education, Healthcare, Food Stamps and Infrastructure building and repair. Our military spending is bloated and has little if any return on the money spent, even less if we actually continue to engage in wars we need not be involved in.

It’s a simple premise, those with the most can take on a greater tax burden with no loss to their standard of living. Corporations dependent upon an educated workforce, US infrastructure and transportation can afford to pay the nation back by paying taxes to maintain what they need and should pay for it instead of shipping their assets overseas or paying no taxes at all.

Remember, the last Republican tax plan reduced corporate and wealthiest Americans tax rates, but kept all the loopholes in for just them. Many pay little to no taxes, some are even getting money back for taxes never paid. Meanwhile working everyday Americans go paycheck to paycheck fearing loss of their social safety net because their needs don’t measure up to the wants of the wealthiest Americans and the Corporations they own.

Kennedy said it best, a rising tide lifts all ships. The American people are the tide. By progressive taxation to assist them in becoming more productive and successful, our entire economy improves, tax revenues increases, the national debt is lowered and even the wealthiest do better in an improving economy.

It’s the story of Post-World War II middleclass expansion that spanned into the sixties but was cut short in the 80’s by the Reagan “shrink government, cut taxes” fraud on the American people that has started our societal decline. The plan to shrink government and cut taxes ended up shrinking the middle class and cutting their wealth.

We need to turn things back to the right direction and not fall for this crap anymore.