Gerald (Jerry) Zezas
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Yeah, but we’re way too smart for that now…

In the 16th century, many in Europe thought that the earth was flat. Columbus and others proved differently. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?

In the 17th century, we didn’t know that gravity existed. Newton proved differently. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?

In the 18th century, we believed that we could subjugate the natives who lived here and justifiably kill them by the millions We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?

In the 19th century, we thought that black people should serve white people, by force if need be, via slavery. After a while, we capitulated to some degree, “allowing” blacks to become 3/5 of a citizen. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?

In the early 20th century, we believed that women should be subservient to men, that they weren’t smart enough to vote, go to college, or own property. Later in the century we still treated blacks like third-class citizens, hanging one for whistling at a white woman, keeping them from voting, and referring to them as “niggers”. We beat and discriminated against gay people, just for being gay. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?

In the 21st century, we still have people who believe in a book that was ostensibly written nearly 2000 years ago, before any of the above enlightenment occurred, when we still didn’t know where the Sun went at night. When we stoned infidels. When you would kill your wife for infidelity. When eating shellfish or pork was tantamount to murder. When prostitutes were stoned to death. Where stealing or taking the lord’s name in vain was a sin, but raping a woman wasn’t.

We really haven’t learned a fucking thing, have we?

Dependent on being Independent.

After hearing about the 10,000th person brag that he or she is not a slave to either of the parties and that he or she is “independent”, I can’t help but offer a dime-store definition of the two prevalent political parties.

If you are generally pro-gun control, believe in equality of the races, LGBT rights and that government can help people, you can call yourself whatever you like, but your beliefs align with the left, which is represented by the Democrats. If you vote in favor of your personal interests, you vote for the Democrat.

If you are generally against gun-control, racist (or are constantly denying that you are) and anti-LGBT rights and believe that government is usually a bad thing, then, like it or not, your beliefs align with the right, which is represented by the Republicans. If you vote for your personal interests, you vote for the Republican.

Call yourself whatever you like. But the majority of voters (with some variations) come down on one side or another of the above descriptions. It is your beliefs that align you with one party or another, not whatever self-serving moniker you chose.

Those of us who call ourselves one or the other are not slaves to our political overlords who can’t think for ourselves. We’re just not phonies who feel the need to feebly distinguish ourselves by claiming to be something which has little, if any, real definition but sounds as if we arrived at our opinions through some loftier erudition than did everyone else.

If You Believe That Jesus Could Heal The Sick

I’ve read about the healing power of Jesus Christ in various areas of the New Testament. In some cases, according to legend, he laid his hand upon the sick person. In some cases he waved his hand over the sick person and in some cases he just spoke some words to the sick person, and they were ostensibly healed.

Now, if you are disposed to believe that these occurrences are true, then I would like you to ponder a few things. Keep in mind that I don’t doubt whether Jesus lived, or whether he had followers or whether he was truly considered by many to be the son of God. I have no information to dispute any of those things and, although the burden of proof is always with the declarer of a supposed fact and not the denier, I’ll leave that debate for another time.

What I want to discuss is the premise that a person, or spirit if you prefer, could have been imbued with the ability to remove a disease from a human being and, if so imbued, why he or it would have been so selective in doing so, especially for that person or spirit who has been labeled the “son of God” and a man of peace, forgiveness and love of all creatures. Why would that person, that spirit, that god, forgo all of the presumably thousands or possibly millions (I’m not sure how many people supposedly lived on earth during so-called “biblical times”) of others who were sick or injured. Since medical science was much less advanced than it is today, I would imagine that a much greater percentage of the population was in need of such healing. But it was only bestowed on those who were fortunate enough and actually came into contact with Jesus and were humble enough to beg for this healing. Why not the rest of humanity who was in such dire need?

Many will answer this question using platitudes and hair-trigger responses which have been concocted and stored in the arsenal used by believers to counter arguments of logic. They will stretch credulity and suspend disbelief in an effort to avoid any doubt or logical dissonance associated with the story of Jesus.

The question at hand is why, given the powers that the new testament assigns to Jesus, would anyone with these powers, whose motivation was presumably as pure as the driven snow, not simply decree that all sickness on earth, now and forever, be stricken and cast into hell? If Jesus truly had the power to heal, why did he limit the use of those powers to the few people who were fortunate to have heard of him and be in his presence?

Isn’t it much the same as the answer for so many of these questions? Doesn’t it make perfect sense that this thoroughly logical and reasonable question will go unanswered for eternity because if Jesus could, in fact heal the sick then it would be logical that he would heal all who were? But then there would be actual evidence, would there not? If every human on earth had suddenly become devoid of illness now and forever there would be a historical record of that occurrence, would there not? Something as profound as the eradication of all disease from humankind is something that theists could point to and say, “see, there’s your proof that Jesus was the son of God”.

And that’s why the story, as told, is so far from being even remotely believable. Yet it is also why, once again, in order to believe it, we must, in that small window in our minds, forgo logic and reason, and just accept that something which can’t possibly be true, is.

Caves, Creationism and Central A/C

The other day I heard one more in a series of diatribes from someone who had gleefully concluded that she had figured out the proof, the proof I tells ya, that creationism is the only true answer to questions regarding how we arrived here, and that evolution is simply illogical. I won’t spend too much time on the juxtaposition of creationism and the root word “logic”. It’s just too easy and snarky so I’ll leave that alone for the time being.

This woman’s evidence to back her theory? That the Earth is so perfectly designed for human habitation that it could not possibly have become that way through evolution. After all, how could something so perfect for us become that way in the slow manner that evolution would require? That would mean, in her severely restricted interpretation of nature, that there would have had to be a time when the Earth was not suitable for human habitation, and so could not have supported life as we know it.

This woman’s poor grasp of her surroundings has somehow led her to believe that our home, the Earth, is the most perfect place to live for human beings, and that only a loving and benevolent god could have made it that way. Let’s look at that, shall we?
Here in Florida, the summertime temperatures usually peak at around 95 degrees. Not too severe if you think about it, unless you’re naked and have no knowledge of how to build a structure to shade yourself from the sun. In the winter, temperatures get down to freezing in many areas, rendering our little planet uninhabitable for any animal which does not have a natural fur coat. And I’m just talking about Florida! How much hotter does it get in Equador, or the desert regions of the planet? How much colder does it get in New York, or Canada, or Alaska? This planet that offers us so much is completely uninhabitable by humans over most of its surface, until we learned how to build shelter and make clothing, initially by killing the animals who were better adapted to Earth’s environment and using their skins for protection.

What about the oceans? 70% of this wonderful place is covered in a substance that will kill us if we try to inhabit it. By that I mean sea water. The oceans of the world are effectively off limits to human beings for drinking, living or gaining nourishment, until we learned to swim, build boats and to fish. What a shitty way to make a planet for human inhabitants!

All of this says nothing about predators who would kill us for food if we hadn’t made tools with which to defend ourselves. We are some of the weakest animals on the planet. We have little or no resistance to poisonous insects and attacking animals or a myriad of other predictors and diseases.

And what about a natural environment in which to live? Lions and tigers survive quite well in their natural habits. Birds live and nest in trees. Snakes live under vegetation and rocks. Bears hibernate in caves. Where is our natural habitat, other than a three bedroom ranch with central AC and an attached garage? What part of Earth was designed by god for us to naturally inhabit?

The point is that our natural environment, as it was presumably designed for us by god, is a horrible place in its natural form. If we hadn’t learned to create artificial methods and tools to protect ourselves from it, we would have never survived as a species. Hell, even the lowly rat can survive in warmer and colder temperatures than we can without the addition of clothing. This god was apparently more concerned with the comfort of rats than of us.

We, my friends, are an anomaly. We developed through centuries of evolution for only one reason-our ability to modify the environment to suit our needs. We are only alive today because we can reason. If god were designing a place for us to live, wouldn’t he have given us more moderate temperatures, or a natural way to cope with temperature fluctuations, as he did with dogs, cats and rats? Wouldn’t he have given us a ready source of nourishment and shelter, and fewer enemies? Would he have made so much of the Earth covered in an uninhabitable ocean instead of providing fresh drinking water in abundance?

The only two things with which the earth provides us without any effort on our part are air and water. How can anyone, when he looks beyond the tip of his nose, think for one second that Earth was made specifically for us?

Trump reveals the true issue about abortion

I have said for years how unfair it is that abortion doctors are so attacked and regulated, as well as the fact that it would be they who are jailed if abortion is made illegal. At no point does anyone suggest that the person who initiates the process, the woman who is actually getting the abortion, should be punished at all.

This is purely a political decision. The specter of a 16 year old girl being jailed for having an abortion, displayed on the 6:00 news, would be too much for even the most militant anti-abortion idiot.

Why Bernie Sanders is Such a Risky Bet

If you look up the word Socialism, you get the following definition from Webster’s:

“A way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies”

If you look up Democratic Socialism, Webster’s has nothing. You must go to Wikipedia or some other non-scholarly source to find out what it is. Or, you can do what millions of people do all the time, you can get the definition from Bill O’Reilly:

“You can see that Democratic socialism where citizens still vote but are mostly told what to do by guys like Bernie Sanders is a system of subservience to a big central government. There is little power to the people.

Now the majority of those supporting senator Sanders have no blanking idea what he actually wants. They are hypnotized by the prospect of free stuff, education, healthcare, because, of course, they deserve that, why? Because the system is rigged by billionaires. So why shouldn’t Bernie provide for me and take from the greedy rich folk who have made their money by exploiting the peasants?

That’s right out of the Fidel-Che handbook. But again Talking Points submits many of those voting for the Bernmeister have no idea who Che was or who Karl Marx was or even who Fidel is.”

And that ain’t nothin’ folks.

Webster’s defines Communism as:

A way of organizing a society in which the government owns the things that are used to make and transport products (such as land, oil, factories, ships, etc.) and there is no privately owned property. How different is that from Socialism?

Now, folks, I’m not advocating that Bernie Sanders is a Communist. What I’m saying is that, as hard as it was to get someone named Barack Hussein Obama elected because of the assumption that he is Muslim and not a citizen, both of which were untrue, CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THE REPUB ATTACK MACHINE WILL DO TO SOMEONE WHO SELF-DESCRIBES USING THE WORD SOCIALIST IN THE DESCRIPTION? He actually admits it!

Many of you who like Bernie fail to realize that he has not yet been attacked by the Repubs because they are too busy fighting with each other. Once the get themselves a nominee, the anti-Communist rhetoric will come out in spades, with examples of failed Socialist states like Venezuela and Cuba, not to mention the similarities between Socialism and Communism. There will be ads with pictures of bread lines in Moscow, starving farmers in China and soldiers marching in North Korea.

Folks, I like Bernie’s ideas as well as anyone. I’m a lefty through and through, but we live in the real world, not the world of a Repub Congress going along with free college and health care for everyone with taxes going up on the rich. It can’t happen with a Repub Congress, and it can barely happen with a Democratic one. Bernie’s ideas may come to fruition one day, but today is not the day.

The Repubs don’t even want to vote on a replacement for Scalia for fear that Obama will appoint another Liberal! And these same people are going to give Bernie free college and health care?

Hillary may not be your first choice, but she is the best and most logical choice in these times.

Our Complex Tax System is Actually Pretty Good

Much is being bandied about by Repub political candidates on tax rates and the old chestnuts about “flat taxes” and “consumption taxes” are once again entering the conversation. For that reason I decided to explain modern tax schemes to those who may not understand them:

Flat Tax

The so-called flat tax is a simple levy on every dollar earned, deemed flat because everyone pays the same amount. This may seem much simpler, and it is, but mere simplicity is not a reason to change an entire tax code. Under this scheme, a person earning, say $30,000 per year would pay, say, 18% of his income or $5,400.00, considerably more than he pays now. That same person, earning $300,000 per year would pay $54,000, considerably less than he pays now. Most flat-tax schemes have been set at considerably lower rates than our current tax tables, begging the question as to the motivation of those proposing it. Flat taxes remove a large burden from high earners, who can afford to pay more taxes, and shifts it to low earners, who by their very nature, cannot.

Consumption Tax
This tax seems to make more sense to many. Rather than tax what a person earns, it would tax what they spend. On its face, it appears to be a fairer system, in that those who make a lot presumably spend a lot and, therefore, the highest burden would be with them. The problem is that those in lower income brackets tend to spend all or most of their incomes on basic necessities such as food, fuel and rent. These people have little disposable income from which to draw taxes, and so it would place an undue burden on them. They are virtually forced to spend nearly all their money nearly all the time, and have little or none to save, making 100% of their incomes subject to this tax.

Those with higher incomes and more disposable incomes can choose when to spend money and when not to. They can afford to save their money, rather than spending it, and would, therefore, be in a better position to keep their tax burden, on a percentage of income basis, lower than low-income people.

There are some who also suggest that this kind of tax would stifle spending-never a good thing for the economy.

Progressive Tax
The advantage of a progressive tax is that it’s based on the taxpayer’s ability to pay. The more one makes, the higher percentage of income one is able to pay. This premise is based on the fact that there is a baseline for how much it costs to live in modern society, and the further one is from that baseline, the more of one’s income is deemed to be surplus, and, therefore, available for taxation to benefit the greater good. It also allows those who do not make as much to pay less in taxes, thereby leaving more available to pay for everyday expenses like rent and food. It can also assist those in need by adding complexities like earned income credits, allowing low-income workers to receive money from the general tax account in order to help them survive.

It also creates more investment and charitable giving, in that those in the higher tax brackets, wanting to avoid high levels of taxation, will employ “writeoffs” by investing in tax deductible items such as charities or expanding their businesses by paying for factories and risking capital for new innovations. This, by extension, creates jobs and expands businesses. This is why when, during the 1950s when we had a maximum marginal tax rate of 92%, very few people ever actually paid that high rate. They were incentivised by these high rates to use their money for capital improvements in their businesses and expansion of industries, as well as investing in innovation, due to the tax-deductible nature of those types of investments. In this way, the marginal rate of 92%, although not actually paid by many people, may have contributed to the enormous economic expansion he U.S. experienced during the 1950s.

It is the most complex of all tax systems in that many “loopholes” are baked into it for various political reasons, but those loopholes do not mean that the system doesn’t work, only that certain interest groups have been able to get special treatment for themselves. These loopholes are purely political and have nothing to do with the benefits of the system itself. In general, it is the fairest of tax systems across the broad spectrum of incomes.

Some complain about the level of complexity of the current tax system for the average citizen. These issues have been largely resolved by the advent of personal tax software like Turbo Tax and the like. The simplicity of these software packages is such that virtually anyone who has earned their income from simple employment can do their taxes in minutes and avoid the expense of a tax preparer.

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