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A pro-life bill

I am pro life. Here is what I think needs to be law.

Support for mothers and children

Other forms of supporting life

Everyone will support that right? Because they believe in supporting life. They aren't really punishing women for getting pregnant, are they?

Posted on January 27, 2018, 6:55 pm

Donald Brown

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I'm working on my health and it's going great

4 years ago I got off the diet merry-go-round and I've never been healthier or happier. There were a few who assumed that meant I was going to go crazy eating and gain hundreds of pounds, but nope - that's part of the merry-go-round ride. Here's what I'm doing.

Step one. Love your body. I've got a MAGNIFICENT body. It's a gift. With it, I can walk, run, dance (not well but who cares). I can lift things, move things. When I'm upset, I can breath deeply and it helps calm me down. I love this body. And it deserves taking care of.

Step two. My body deserves to be feed good stuff. It needs vegetables, it needs good lean meat, it needs grains, it needs to be fed properly so it can do all those wonderful things. So, eating better is a goal in itself. I've developed a fondness for carrots and bananas (separately, one attempt combining the two did NOT go well). No taste for brocolli, but that's fine, so many wonderful things to eat that I love.

Step three. My body deserves to be active, because that makes it stronger. So far, I've been going for long walks. Would love to scrape together the money for an adult trike (balance isn't that great for a bike). I do this because my body gets stronger and because I enjoy it.

"But wait", some say, "What about your weight goals? What weight do you want to get down to?"

There are none. I treat my body well, the weight will take care of itself. According to the doctors I've lost a little weight, but that's irrelevant. It's not to change the shape or size of my body. It's to make my life and my body even better than it is now.

No, it's not easy and there are slips. I've got 40+ years of programming. My body is my enemy. There's a skinny person inside that fat shell struggling to get out. The size of your body means you have FAILED, and you must punish it into something else. Count calories to make sure your body is getting less than it needs to maintain itself. And every bite you eat, you need EXERCISE as punishment for eating it.

But I recognize the programming, and I understand the slips, and I get back on the dance as soon as I can.

Will this turn me into a skinny person? No, but 40+ years of yo-yo dieting didn't do that either. This is to become the best me I can be.

If only we taught kids this. Love your body. Good food is a reward to your great body. Being active is fun and make you stronger. Instead it's clothing size and weight, they get very messed up relationships with their body, and mentally and physically they suffer.

Posted on January 25, 2018, 11:21 pm

Donald Brown

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Why businesses hire people

There are two reasons businesses want to hire people.

First, "I need more people but I just can't afford them" -Jobs are constrained by money

Second, "I see an opportunity to make a great profit by meeting consumers' demand for some product, and I need to hire people to meet that demand" - Jobs constrained by demand: if there are customers for Gizmos® I'll hire people, if there aren't customers for Gizmos® I won't.

In the current climate, most large corporations aren't really constrained by money. Many have cash just sitting around in liquid assets. Those that don't have assets that can be used for loans. So, if they say the opportunity to meet demand, they'd already be hiring the people to meet it. A tax cut for them won't create jobs, because it won't change demand.

Small businesses ARE constrained by money, they have limited cash flow and limited ability to borrow. So yes, tax cuts for them CAN create jobs.

And, of course, tax cuts for consumers are the best bang for the buck, because consumers buy stuff. Put more money in their hands, they'll buy more stuff, creating demand which creates jobs.

The current Republican Tax plan gives some consumers a small tax break - for now. Not all. If you have significant expenses for healthcare, or education/student loans, or morgage interest rates, or other deductions that are going away - your taxes may go UP. And those who are getting a small tax break, those are all temporary. The doubled standard deduction gets phased out. Tax cut rates, phased out. The Republicans are doing that to get under an arbitrary increase in the deficit - and are trusting future Congresses to make them permanent (thus increasing the deficit even more) but that may not happen. So this bill does NOTHING to boost demand and to some degree reduces it.

The part that is permanent is a HUGE tax giveaway to the large corporations and benefits for very rich people (by sheer coincidence, Donald Trump). Who aren't constrained by money before the tax cut so no jobs will be created.

If we were in a crashing economy, where even large corporations were cash constrained, a tax cut like this might make sense. Reagan and Bush tax cuts were made in troubled economic times. It's questionable how much they actually helped, but it was a time where "We've got to do something" was obvious. But, as Trump tweets every morning, we've got a strong economy. Huge profits. Soaring stock market. Low unemployment. Workers may not be doing so well, the jobs that are available aren't great and don't pay enough, but for the corporations who get the big tax cut - things are GREAT. The tax bill will just move more money out of the hands of most of us and into the hands of the rich guys.

Which is the goal - but not what they're saying. They are LYING.

Posted on November 28, 2017, 8:49 am

Donald Brown

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In defense of Vernon Dursley

Vernon Dursley is one of the cruelist characters in the Harry Potter series. He treated Harry horribly, he hates magic, doesn't like anything that isn't "normal". JKR has said that Dudley couldn't have a child that is a Wizard because nothing related to magic could flow from his lineage.

Forgive me, but I think she's wrong. Because he's got one redeeming factor. It's a huge redeeming factor in this universe. It's love.

Vernon loves his wife greatly, and she loves him. He loves his son, though he expresses it poorly and spoils the boy. In the first volume, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, when Hagrid breaks into the hut on the island, Mr. Dursley stands in front of his family, hiding them from this apparently threat (not quite successfully for Dudley). He fears magic, but he wants to make sure that anything done hits him first.

Let's turn the story around Vernon's standpoint. He met this woman, and fell in love with her. He lives a quiet normal life and expects to continue living it. Yet when Petunia tells him about her very very non-normal sister, he doesn't storm out demanding Petunia never see him again. He accepts Petunia. Meeting the husband of her sister goes badly, he doesn't understand what is going on in this man's life (and I find it unlikely the leader of the Marauders wouldn't have pulled off something on him). He loves Petunia, but he hates magic, he finds it terrible. And he really hates James.

Then, on November 1, the day after Halloween - a child is left at their doorway. The son of Petunia's weird sister and her terrible husband. There's a note included saying that their parents were killed by magic (magic's no good, just like I always thought) and that the boy will grow up to be a wizard. The rational thing for Vernon to do is insist that the boy be dropped off at an orphanage, let them deal with the risks of a magical boy. But no, it is Petunia's relative, so they raise him.

Strange things do happen around the boy growing up, the boy was becoming one of those terrible wizards. He made the window go away and risked the life of their dear boy! And soon after the boy uses his magic to threaten his boy, letters come to ask the boy to come to Hogwarts. No, absolutely not.

They try to avoid the letters (why can't they accept NO for an answer), go to an island, and this giant breaks down their door, threatens the family, gives Dudley a pig's tail, and then takes their boat leaving them stranded on the island. Nothing there to make him feel better about magic.

Then there's a FLYING CAR AT HIS PROPERTY that can be SEEN, ripping out the bars he put in. Destructive magic.

His nephew turns his sister into a balloon and THREATENS HIM!

In Goblet of Fire, the ruddy magicians blow apart his living room!

There's nothing in Vernon Dursley's life to make him think better of magic in all of his encounters. (Conceivably, that could change while he's on the run with his family in Deathly Hallows, just as Dudley came around once he realized Harry had saved his life.) That nephew has been a constant problem, disordering his nice ordered life and causing problem after problem.

And he keeps his nephew anyway. Probably at the insistance of Petunia, but he keeps his nephew. He puts up with all of it.

That is love.

No, I am not saying he is a good man. He can be cruel, he has very little imagination. He has no tolerance for things that don't fit in his ordered life. But he has love. Tom Riddle's story makes it clear that the ability to love is what makes one redeemable.

If I could talk/bribe JKR into writing one more story in the Harry Potter timeline, it would be to know what happened in Deathly Hallows when they were on the run. He'd have to see magic being used to protect, to serve, to do good things. He'd have close and continuing contact with two wizards who were risking their lives to protect his family. I think he'd still like his ordered life (without magic, thank you very much), but I think he'd also appreciate that there are good wizards who kept his family alive.

Posted on October 15, 2017, 6:05 am
Last updated on October 15, 2017, 8:58 am

Donald Brown

Tax Plan (revised)

Trump's minions are out lying about his tax plan. So here's one that would do much of what he's claiming.

First, double standard deduction. That can simplify a lot of people's taxes. As for other deductions, we can discuss, but they were put in place because standard deductions don't always accurately reflect someone's available income. State and Local tax deduction stays - no one should be required to pay a tax on a tax.

Corporate Tax Rates - Right now federate corporate tax rates vary from 15% to 35%. I'm very much open to changing the income levels where the the various rates hit (if you're earning less than 100,000 in a business, 15% is very reasonable). But cutting them all to 20% is unreasonable, and excessive. Politics being the art of the possible, I'd be willing to cut it to 32%/33%, something in that range.

Non-corporate business taxes, also known as "pass-through" rates. Trump actually has a bit of a point, that small businesses often use pass-through rates and that they can be a real impediment to doing business. But, not all pass-through businesses are small. So, have a special tax table for pass-through businesses. Simple solution: same tax table as Corporate tax Rates.

Alternate Minimum Tax - it says, though I wouldn't be opposed to tweaking the income levels and rates.

Capital Gains: Long Term gains will be defined as capital goods purchased more than 5 years ago - this will be phased in (2 years in 2018, 3 in 2019, etc). Long term rate remains at 15%. Short term gains are treated as normal income.

Personal Tax Rates: (This is changed from the first publication). All current tax rates are cut by 20% (rounding up to a tenth of a percentage point). So the 35% tax rate goes to 28%, current top rate of of 39.6% becomes 31.7%.  BUT...

  • New bracket, for income over $600,000 - 50% - relive the great old days of Reagan
  • Another, for income over $1,000,000 - 70% - remember the great days of Camelot?
  • Final bracket, income over 10,000,000 - 90% - Everyone loved the 50s!

(Note: for those not aware, this means 50% of income AFTER the first $600,000, 70% of income AFTER the first million, etc.)

Also, three huge new tax deductions.

  1. Money invested in a new business in a way that they cannot take it back is fully deductable INCLUDING from AMT calculations. If you pay a year's rent for a building, purchase equipment, etc. - both a personal deduction AND a company deduction.
  2. For the first ten years of a new company doing regular business, the tax is prorated: 0% first year, 10% second, 20% third, etc.
  3. Major expansions/new divisions can apply for the same discounted tax of that portion of the business as above for new businesses. 

(Those will require technical skill in writing to be sure that it cannot be abused by creating a "new business" that is actually an old business)

Estate Tax: Covered elsewhere. Converts tax on estate into income for recipients, capital goods are acquired with a basis of 0. Taxes paid when sold, but nothing need be sold to pay taxes.

Great deal of negotiation to be done, and neither side is getting everything they want. But this would be a rational bit of tax reform without throwing money at the rich.

Posted on October 1, 2017, 10:48 am
Last updated on October 8, 2017, 4:12 pm

Donald Brown

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