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« November 2016 | Main | January 2017 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » December 2016

By Angelo Lopez on December 31, 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, it's a good time to reflect. On a personal level, the year has had it's good moments and it's had it's bad moments. The good moments outnumber the bad and I have several fond memories with friends and family during the past year. Next year I'm going to try to paint more and to work on a few children's book ideas that I hope to submit to publishers.

As a liberal Democrat, the political scene hasn't been so great. I'm dreading the upcoming Trump presidency. But for the sake of this country, I'm hoping that I am wrong about my pessimism of Trump's administration. In the meanwhile, there are two areas that I will be most focused on politically in 2017.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ken Poland on December 26, 2016

Tax Reform ?
By Ken Poland
Opinion | December 26, 2016
Taxes is certainly on most everyone's mind, this time of year. Everyone seems to have a little difference of opinion on just how to 'reform' taxes. The issues vary by geography, financial position, priority of public needs, etc etc. Local, state, and national taxes must be included in the formulas and who benefits, who pays, and how it affects society is a very important part of the debate.

How much government do you want? What is the function of that government? Who will benefit from each function? Who will contribute to the tax and how will it be equitable in relation to benefits?

We are a diverse society and no single answer is appropriate for all. We have extreme wealth, extreme poverty. There is extreme differences in education, health, age, and culture (race & sexual identity).

The one thing we all have in common is 'humanity'. All humans deserve respect and compassion from their fellow sojourners in life. Government cannot force respect or compassion. Government cannot force responsibility on any individual. Governmant can reward actions that show respect and compassion. Government can reward those who take responsibility.

We tend to think we live in a "democracy". Do we? True democracy allows absolute control by majority, regardless of how it treats the minority. No society has ever been sustained by this kind of government. Rebellion erupts and coalitions form. Dictatorships have tried to surpress rebellions but when the inequities are severe enough rebellion occurs. Survival is an instinct and majority rule cannot take that instinct away. Survival is the core basis on which human relationships are formed. Family, community, and country are all vehicles by which we hope to insure our survival. Majority or dictatorial rule will eventually destroy any of those relationships if minority needs are not met.

We are fortunate to have had some wise fellows who got together and devised a set of quide lines to allow the colonists an opportunity to form a government with just the right amount of restrictions and authority to create an environment that would meet the needs of humanity, as they perceived those needs to be. Was the first plan successful? Not really! They discovered there had to be some give and take (compromise & cooperation). The next try, a few years later, has been astonishingly successful. Was it perfect and sufficient in all matters? No! But, they were wise enough to provide means by which challenges could be made and amendments and corrections could be made. They did not establish a pure democracy. But, instead devised a republic based on democratic principles that protected the rights of a minority. Those minorities included race, religion, gender, economic position, etc. They were a little ambivalent about race, gender and economics. But, they specifically denied any religious favor, advantage or dis-advantage. Slaves (most of them negro), women, and non property owners were not given equal rights and privileges in society. The original constitution was not actually validated until after the first ten amendments were adopted. Since then, many amendments have been adopted and some recinded. Legislatures have adopted new laws, re-written laws, and recinded laws. Administrations have administered and enforced laws. The Judicial Branch has ruled on constitutional and administrative authority. The system works! And, I, for one, think we are indeed the greatest nation and will remain so. That is, if we each avail ourselves the opportunity and responsibility of debating all issues and voting our conscience.

Back to the tax issue! Taxes must be levied equitably in terms of ability to generate the revenue for payment. They must be distributed equitably in terms of individual needs and societal needs. The tax base must be broad and sustainable. We don't all agree on priority or the order of priority on these matters. However, taxes should not be used to attempt to equalize wealth or remove individual responsibility for self.

Taxes (all sources), service charges, and licensce & registration fees are all means of providing funds to operate society. It is mine and your moral and ethical duty to participate and honor that duty.

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By Angelo Lopez on December 10, 2016

A few days ago a friend sent me a link to an article describing how President-elect Donald Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's prosecution of his drug war and invited Duterte to the White House. Duterte has in turn praised Trump and said that he may not pivot the Philippines away from the United States after all, as he said he would a few weeks ago. I'm not really a fan of either leader. When I read of some of the things that they've said, I feel like I've entered some surreal world where traditional norms of civility and decorum no longer apply.

Duterte is left wing, while Trump is more right wing, but both share a similar leadership style: lashing out at critics; a contentious relationship with the press; and an admiration for autocrat Vladmir Putin. I think Duterte's use of extrajudicial killings is terrible. While some of Duterte's policies are beneficial to the poor and reign in the power of mining companies that have been the source of much human rights abuses in the Mindanao region, it's impossible to look past Duterte's support of extrajudicial killings. If I could vote in the Philippines, I wouldn't have voted for Duterte.

Both Duterte and Trump display autocratic detentencies. I read that the best approach to both men is to focus on their policies and not so much their personalities. Support those issues we agree on and oppose vigorously those issues in which we disagree. And keep a vigilant eye if they try to chip away at the civil liberties of those opposed to them.

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on December 2, 2016

What does it mean to be an American in the Presidency of Donald Trump? These past few weeks have been anxious times for me, but I've been reading articles advising liberal Democrats how we can still fight for our values within the institutions of the democratic republic that our Founding Fathers built for us. I still love this country, in spite of its flaws. I will continue to speak out and fight for the causes I believe in. Immigrant rights. Defending Muslim Americans from scapegoating. Supporting Black Lives Matter. Fighting for LGBT rights and marriage equality. Helping the poor and marginalized.

If there is any common ground with Trump and the Republican Congress, I'll support those issues. I just don't see that much common ground though. America has had troubled times in the past. I hope to gain inspiration from Americans who spoke out during troubled times: Martin Luther King Jr., Dalton Trumbo, Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Eugene Debs, Muriel Rukeyser, and many more. These Americans kept fighting for America to live up to its highest values when it was easy to lose faith in America.

Read more from this post here ...

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