ANOTHER YEAR ON A FIXED INCOME- Marilyn Armstrong

We got our taxes done.

This used to be a big deal because we got so much money back at the end of the year. Then Reagan changed everything and we got back less than half we’d gotten in the past. Now, on a fixed income, we get pretty much the same thing every year.

This year we got a little more Federal, a little less State, but the result was essentially the same as last year.

Not a big deal, but it beats out nothing. It’s the only “lump” of money we get all year and I’m hoping it’ll be enough to get the chimney fixed.

I’m still a little punchy with the upcoming fix up to the bathroom and trying to snip whatever payments I can downward so that maybe we can get through this alive. Getting out of AT&T and into US Mobile brought $40/month back into our account. I’ve got a few almost finished accounts and when they are done, we’ll have another $100 maybe?

It’s the fixed income thing.

Prices go up, but income never goes up. We haven’t had crazy inflation, yet the price of food has been slowly rising. Heating oil has risen. Trash went down a little, but taxes went up too. And somehow, our “low-end” cable package keep crawling upward. A dollar here, two dollars there, another five in that corner.

We dumped cable and got “YouTubeTV” and haven’t looked back. Of course, we still have to keep paying Charter for Wi-Fi and somehow, the price of Wi-Fi is now more than our original cable bill was. Funny how that works.

We don’t get “big hits” of income change, either positive or negative — but over time, since we’ve been on a fixed income, it has eroded by 15%, give or take maybe another 5%. That’s with low inflation, mind you. If inflation rises faster, we will be in trouble.

There is nothing to be done about it … other than winning Mega Millions of course. I suppose we should buy a ticket. Just in case.

“PROVOCATIVE” QUESTION 16: GOVERNMENT IS JUST ANOTHER MENU

Fandango’s Provocative Question #16

So the question is:


“Should taxpayers have the option to explicitly say what they don’t want their tax dollars spent on?”

I think we settled this during our revolutionary war. We explicitly demanded that only voters can be taxed. We never suggested we have the right to choose what we pay for. We don’t get a menu of selections, check those that suit us and refuse to pay for the rest.

In this benighted world, here’s my neighborhood.

My right-hand neighbor hates cops. He doesn’t want to pay for them.

The guy on the left resents school taxes.  He never had kids. Never wanted them. Doesn’t feel like paying for education no one in his family is going to get.

Down the road, that guy has a big powerful SUV, so he doesn’t care if the roads are plowed or not. If you can’t get through, well, too bad. Why should he pay for your transportation? He’s got his own.

The then there’s the one on the opposite corner. He doesn’t believe in government at all. He doesn’t feel obliged to pay for anything. He’s the creepy guy who wouldn’t turn his hose on if his neighbor’s house was on fire. You want him choosing which taxes to pay? Maybe he’s part of a group and none of them will pay anything at all.

We settled this. Long ago.

Taxes exist in law. We pay them because we are legally required to do so. You don’t have to like anything about the government, governor, Congress, or the school board. Or the cops, the town selectman, or the Mayor.

There are laws and we abide by them.

Government is not lunch where you get to pick whatever you want from any page on the menu. No picking and choosing which parts of the government you support. The closest you can get to that kind of choice is voting for whoever will support the programs you support. That’s what makes a government.

The picking and choosing from different parts of the menu is not a government. It’s lunch.

THE SHINBONE STAR – REBLOG By NATHANIEL R. “NAT” HELMS

TIME HEALS OLD WOUNDS . . . UNLESS THEY’VE TURNED GANGRENOUS

A self-imposed exile from the machinations of Donald Trump is a good thing. It is like spraying Febreze Clean Linen scent inside your skull until the rotten stench is completely covered. Two weeks wasn’t long enough to fully enjoy it, but it is a start.

A real exile from Trump means no cable news, newspapers, Facebook memes and rants, not answering taunts and jibes and no light-hearted political discussion with the neighbors.

Netflix is a good hiding place. A more extreme alternative is Devotional Hour with Sister Marie, the wizened old nun who provides solace on a local Catholic television show. Five minutes cured everything. Even with great alternatives available, actually weaning oneself off the Trumpian titty is like quitting smoking without a nicotine patch. His nefarious influence is everywhere.

Perhaps the most revealing thing about such an experience is discovering that people who must work every day to care for their kids, dogs, and homes don’t often give a tinker’s damn about politics. It takes a particularly powerful whiff of Trumplandian swamp gas for them to even notice all is still not well in Washington, D.C. They apparently leave all the angst for old retired people who won’t suffer too long no matter what happens.

Several other discoveries jumped out immediately. The Trumpian Wall saga has run its course across the emotional nerves of my neighbors. So have mass shootings, the endless litany of #MeToo sexual peccadilloes and reports about election campaigns so far in the future they are irrelevant. The baffling Mueller probe is seen in the same light as all the other probes getting shoved in people’s keisters in the name of New Age correctness.

My hardworking neighbors know that a Saudi journalist named Khashoggi was chopped into mincemeat by lackeys of some medieval Arab prince who won’t be touched; that war in Syria and Afghanistan may be over but don’t count on it; and that some big, bald-headed guy on TV when they arrived home Friday was in a pointless pissing match with the Democrats. None of it touched their lives.

What really pisses off Mr. and Mrs. Working America is finding out that they aren’t going to get the income tax refund they used to use to buy a little fun, the really unimaginative halftime show at the cliché’-rich Super Bowl and that the constantly rising price of food and gas never gets factored into those glowing reports about how rich America is.

Just ask a working mom who looks forward to taking the kids for a week at the beach that won’t happen this year because she didn’t get a useful tax refund. Ask the tradesman who tolerated his union dues going to Democrats, thinking their expanded presence in the House would improve his life. Instead, they are using his money to buy a bully pulpit to promote themselves without accomplishing much else.

Perhaps the most illuminating people to talk to are the mid-level government employees where I live that are wracked with doubt because they spent all their savings just to survive Trump’s 35-day government shutdown. They are imminently aware that another shutdown is still in the cards. They are equally certain that at some point a shutdown will wreck the economy the same way it already has wrecked their households.

The so-called Trumpian base, the badly informed working class folks who turn to anyone who offers them red meat, are confused and angered as well. They thought their lot would have improved by now, said one of my forsaken buddies while buying donuts. We’ve been punching holes in targets together for 30 years and he still can’t bring himself to say he might have been wrong about Trump.

My old buddy lives in a trailer court down the road. He lives there because he can’t afford a house. He can’t afford a house because he earns a $1,000 or more a week during the working season and still can’t save enough for the 20-percent down payment. Despite all the news stories about how the country has run out of skilled and unskilled labor, he doesn’t have a job.

His mobile home costs $780 a month plus utilities. His wife doesn’t work because they can’t afford daycare for his three kids. Being a union laborer doesn’t provide much work in the dead of winter, he said. Unemployed union laborers go on the extra board and draw $280 a week unemployment that they hope will last until the spring thaw. The only thing being a cherished veteran got him is a VA house loan and lip service. Meanwhile, Republicans who supported Trump in Missouri are again trying to introduce “right-to-work” laws because they think laborers like my friend are paid too much.

I learned a lesson from this experience. To move forward, the country must clear its head, put its feet back on the ground and wean itself off the milk of Trumpian discourse. Hate holds only bankrupt answers. Trump’s forte is lies. It is time for Democrats to go around him, under him, over him or through him, the way illegal aliens would get past his useless border wall.

The presumption that time heals all wounds is misplaced. Time only heals wounds that don’t turn gangrenous.

Democratic leaders need to spend less time blaming Trump’s egregious behavior for the country’s wounds and begin binding them instead.

GOOD MORNING FRIENDS, BIRDS, AND A SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

This is another one of those “lost days” for me. There seem to be more and more of them, like I’ve been saving them up. But the suitcase got too small and everything is bursting out and blowing all over the place.

We had a long summer of nothing much going on, preceded by a long slow winter and spring, suddenly, as summer rolled around … everything went wild and crazy. For us, that is. For someone else, probably not so much but we don’t move fast.

I never seem to have a whole day to just relax. Or even a  half a day.

Squabbling Juncos or a Junco and a Nuthatch. Hard to tell.
The reddest bird of all birds
The red one’s lady friend
Chickadee and Goldfinch
Early Squirrel

Tomorrow we get our taxes done. I’m hoping for the best and hopefully, we won’t have another government shut-down and we’ll actually get our refund. This year. Like … soon. Because we need an infusion of money.

Finances are running a bit thin. And did I mention that it’s gotten very cold again with sleet and snow and maybe freezing rain tomorrow? But not to worry because it will be 50 degrees by the weekend, at which point, it will all melt.

ARE WE DOING PRODUCT ADVERTISEMENTS?

You aren’t kidding? This isn’t a joke? Because QUICKEN | THE DAILY POST is not supposed to be an advertising ploy for some other company. I’m more than slightly perturbed by this. I hope this is a one-off, not something likely to continue because there are an awful lot of advertising links in this world.

This is so out-of-character, I’m at a loss to say how I feel about it.

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Is it because we are nearing the time when we — as in regular citizens of the U.S. of A. — pay our taxes? Of course, I mean those of us who still actually pay taxes by which I do not mean our president who has spurned taxes in favor of government loopholes.

No, I mean the rest of us clowns, many of whom could really use a few of those loopholes.

Garry and I have always paid taxes and in giant lumps when we were both working. I sometimes got frustrated with it because I imagined how much we could have used that money for other things. Mostly, I got it. Taxes are the price you pay to live in a world that takes care of people who don’t have your job or money. I want to live in that world, be a part of it.

I used Quicken or a product like it during the years when I needed a way to make sure the numbers in my accounting was something like the numbers the bank had. Then I used it when I was in business for myself and I needed something to manage invoices … and again during the few remaining years when the bank didn’t have the same software.

Now, just about every bank from the most local to the biggest in the world has everything. I don’t need a separate application to prepare taxes. I’m not planning a retirement: I’m in it. It’s a bit late to decide what to do now.

72-money-etc-082216_007
QUICKEN? Yes! Look it up. Maybe those of us who use it will get a special discount?

I can’t help but wonder why WordPress would choose a this specific word which is connected with a particular application known for use with taxes.

It seems odd, maybe even fishy. Don’t you think? I mean, it’s not like “band-aid,” which is a product so ubiquitous it has become generic through use … or even Coke, which has done much the same thing. This is a unique product with special uses for this season, the season we Americans call “tax time.” I would not like to think this is … gasp … an advertisement!

As for me, nope. I don’t use it.  Along with a few million other people. I’m pretty sure whatever else we do around the WordPress corral, advertisements are not it.

TAX TIME WITH ROYALTIES

I am a professional author. I know this because I collect royalties from a book I wrote. Today, I got two 1099 forms from Amazon. One is for the Kindle version of my book, the other for the paperback (trade) version.

The total for 2015 was … are you ready? $6.89 for the year.

The_12-Foot_Teepee_Cover_for_Kindle

I don’t know how I spent all that money. It leaves me breathless. The good news is I’m pretty sure 2016 has already proved more lucrative than all of last year . It’s only the beginning of February, but I’ve breached the $10 bottom line and may hit the heights of greater than $25 — the amount at which the I.R.S. wants to know about you.

This is probably the only time that having the I.R.S. notice you feels good.

teepee book shelf

It turns out that giving my book away for free (or almost free) does not generate royalties. I remember one month where the total royalty was 5 cents and many months of royalties direct deposited to my account which were much less than a dollar.

That being said, I’d rather you read it and find it worth the time, than have it molder unread — the fate of most books of this type.

teepee book back

To all of you who “read me” this year and were kind enough to tell me you enjoyed my book, thank you. Very much. Though “The 12-Foot Teepee” may not generate a lot of money, your enjoyment makes me feels rich.

Wealth is more than a number.

Getting My Goodies

The articles in newspapers and online keep appearing, “proving” it’s Liberals who creates classes. It’s all our fault. My fault. I’ve done it by sucking the economy dry with all the benefits I get, all my entitlements. In the view of conservatives and most of the GOP, if we were all conservatives, there would be no classes. All men (but not women, I suspect) would really be equal.

It worked brilliantly for Louis XVI, so it ought to work in the U.S.A., right?

fat catsI have a flash for conservatives trying to prove the unprovable. Classes didn’t start here. They existed long before this country’s birth. Before there was even the concept of democracy, before elections or political parties. To say anything else is absurd and displays a level of willful ignorance that’s hard to accept. Well, hard for me to accept, anyhow. But then again, I’ve read a few books, know a bit of history. It’s obviously warped my point of view.

Reality Check

Classes exist in the United States because:

  • Some people have a lot and too many others have little or nothing
  • Our shameful legacy of slavery, genocide and oppression of all non-white and non-Christian people
  • Laws are not enforced equally and never were.
  • Classes exist. Always have, always will.

10-18-11-Class-Warfare

This quote from a popular columnist in the Washington Post makes me grind my teeth. Apparently facts, history, logic and reason are irrelevant:

The real tension in America today is not about black versus white but about liberalism versus conservatism.

Liberalism is about government as a political agent, not as a protector of individual freedom. By it’s very nature, liberalism creates political classes – whether based on race or gender or business interests. Those that get the goodies are happy. Those that pay for them are not. Tensions and animosities get worse, not better.

In the end, we all suffer because giving politicians more power means less growth and prosperity.

Things will never get solved until we finally take “e pluribus unum” seriously – that American diversity can only be finally united through one set of values, under God (Note: Whose God? Yours? Mine?), that enable freedom, one set of true (Note: Define true, please.) values for all.

RACIAL DIVIDE WORSE UNDER OBAMA – Star Parker: It’s time to take ‘e pluribus unum’ seriously Published: 11/02/2012

Really? I thought it was about poor versus rich, haves versus the have-nots. You know, the way it’s always been throughout history. Or have we decided that anything that didn’t happen before the last presidential election no longer counts? Shall we exclude all history that fails to agree with this single point of view?

Get the goodies? What goodies? Wait a damned minute. To what goodies do you refer?

You mean the Social Security and Medicare for which I paid for more than 40 years? I thought this was my money coming back to me as promised. My husband and I during our working years paid more in taxes than most people earn. Than most couples earn. We paid without complaint because that’s the way it is. And shockingly, we paid without complaint because we could and knew there were plenty of people who had nothing. We never minded sharing the wealth. How weird is that, eh?

class warfare 2

Are they referring to free public education? Paved roads? Medical care so I don’t have to worry I’ll die for lack of money to pay the doctor? What other goodies do I, or anyone else, get? You mean food stamps so really poor people and their children don’t starve? Those goodies? How about educational programs to help people develop skills to earn a living wage? Are those the goodies creating classes in this country?

What piece of the government’s infrastructure should we eliminate? How about student loans? State colleges? Hell, let’s just get rid of all free or subsidized public education. We can follow China’s fine example and put those lazy six-year olds to work in factories. Let’em eat cake, I say.

Let’s return to those Dickensian days of yore when only the wealthy could afford an education. Bring back workhouses, eliminate child labor laws, ban labor unions, dump the 40 hours week and go back to the good old days when the boss had all the power and working people no power or legal recourse. Let’s reset the clock to restore the dominion everybody by the rich and privileged few.

GOP-class-warfare

I am so tired of hearing about my entitlements. My husband and I worked our butts off for 40 plus years. The little bit we get back now will never equal the amount we contributed, but I’ll shut up about the unfairness of that if you’ll shut up about my “entitlements.” As a matter of fact, please, just shut up. Your silence would suit me well.

Until you have walked in my shoes, or better yet, until you have lost your shoes and had to walk barefoot and hungry, shut up.