Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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I’m done with this

Pretty sure I’m done commenting on the election. The only poll that matters is less than a week away. I may stray and toss out an occasional comment when I see something so utterly simpleminded, half-baked and downright ignorant that I just can’t hold back, but I’m going to try to not do so.

I don’t make idle threats or predictions about elections, but if I wake up next Wednesday to find that Trump will be our next president, I will seriously have to consider whether this is a country in which I want to live. I will be personally humiliated and truly scared for our future. I’m not sure what my options will be.

I’ll finish by saying that I can not fathom the hatred I see for the person who DID release her tax returns, DIDN’T file bankruptcy 4 times, has NEVER been accused of raping a minor, worked her entire life in the service of others BEFORE she made lots of money, and actually seems to LIKE the country of which she wants to become president. I just don’t get it. Fingers crossed for Tuesday. I don’t know if I can watch

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Ivanka Trump has Stockholm Syndrome

I heard Ivanka Trump the other day defending her dad against accusations of sexism and racism by citing the number of blacks and women he has hired over his career. This is a typical white-privilege response to a much more complex set of issues.

White slave owners allowed their slaves to raise their children, attend to their wives, and cook their food. They allowed their black slaves to see the most intimate and vulnerable sides of their lives. But there is no question of their profound racism. Why is that?

Men who beat their wives or treat them like second-class citizens allow their wives to cook, clean, raise their children, handle money and know their innermost thoughts and weaknesses. But there is no question that wife-beating men are profoundly sexist. Why is that?

Donald Trump has likely hired hundreds if not thousands of woman and blacks over the course of his career. He has likely allowed them to handle money and potentially make decisions that could have a negative impact on the profitability of his companies. But the comments he has made about women and the fact that he “has a black person right over there” suggests that he is a profound racist and sexist. Why is that?

The simple answer to all these questions is that racism and sexism do not negate usefulness. Just because I think you’re less human than I, just because I think you’re of lower value than I, just because I believe you should have fewer freedoms and rights than I, does not mean I don’t want you to clean my toilet, or mow my lawn, or raise my children, or use whatever talents you have to put money in my pocket.

My willingness to exploit you does not trump (for want of a better word) my disdain for you.

Ivanka Trump may be what we consider an intelligent woman (at least from outward appearances) in that she’s somewhat successful at trading on her father’s name, well-educated and articulate. But who in the world could possibly have been more indoctrinated into the Trump bullshit train than she? Her doting, adoring father has used her looks to his advantage her entire life, and she, of course, believes whatever daddy says.

Stockholm Syndrome is defined by Encyclopedia Brittanica as: A psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. I report, you decide.

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Happy for Hillary

The more I hear Trump speak, the happier I am that we nominated Hillary. To the politically naive, ideology trumps logic. To the politically savvy, pragmatism and compromise rule the day.

Those of us who have seen more than one campaign understand the concept of “moving to the center”. It’s what candidates do once they’ve won the nomination. The reason they do that is because most Americans don’t like radicalism. They prefer a reasoned, calming voice. Trump is a radical, as is Sanders.

Those in the middle who lean one way or the other will prefer, if they must vote for a radical, to vote for one whose ideology more closely comports with theirs. Given the choice, however, they are likely to vote for someone closer to the middle, as they are.

Virtually no one who is leaning toward Trump’s radicalism would ever imagine shifting so far left as to vote for Bernie-but it’s a much shorter distance from Trump to Hillary since Hillary started in the middle.

For those who truly feel that Trump is an embarrassment to thinking people everywhere, Bernie was never even remotely an option. Staying home is.

Elections aren’t won by “revolutionaries”, whether real or imaginary. They are won by those who display the ability to lead, and a thorough understanding of the subject matter which requires that leadership.

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.

Why We Fight

There are those of us who feel the need to comment when we see inaccuracies, injustices, inequities and incoherence. We feel it our obligation to engage in the chaotic wonderment that is modern political, social and cultural disquisition, with its vulgarity, ad hominem rejoinders and sometimes grade-school level rhetoric. I call it the “I don’t care if you’re right. Your mother’s a whore” syndrome.

We feel the need to address those securely swaddled in the cushy bedding of mediocrity and minimal information decision-making in an effort to reveal their philistinism, if not to themselves, but rather to those who cast an errant eye on the proceedings, curious, but not yet willing engage for fear of tripping over their own words. We know you’re there, and we want you to stick a toe in the pool because sometimes it feels as if it is we alone who are fighting this fight.

In investing, when the stock market drops, there is often a movement of money away from equities to commodities like gold, silver, and other more stable investments like real estate, etc. It is typically referred to as a “flight to quality”. It is an acknowledgement that one’s investment strategy is wrong, or that the market has changed and one must alter one’s method of investing as well.

We rarely see this in the political arena. We rarely hear anyone admit that their particular candidate has not measured up to one’s strategies for investment in the future and, therefore, must engage in a flight to quality, by embracing a new candidate. We stick with our guy because he or she “speaks the truth” or some other such dime-store pedestrian twaddle, no better scrutinized than the modern-day version of a bumper sticker, the Facebook meme.

If foolish ideas go unchallenged, even for a short time, they become platitudes and start to appear as truisms (the Second Amendment was written to help citizens combat tyranny) that people forget were never true, just repeated more than the arguments that counter them. For every single public comment that is untrue, there must be multiple countermanding comments to prove its falseness.

To those who say that we should “give it a rest” and “not be so angry all the time”, I will respond that I’m glad your argument didn’t prevail when we were fighting slavery, women’s suffrage or the anti-war movement and civil rights legislation of the 1960s. And I’m grateful that those who protested kept yelling at the top of their lungs until justice was served.

I am proud to include myself within their ranks…

Conservatives have very high moral standards. Just don’t ask them to demonstrate any.

When I was learning to fly some years ago, the ability to stop a plane in a very short distance when landing on a runway was a badge of honor. We would practice short-field landings and brag about how few feet we needed to get the plane on the ground and stopped. Sort of like what naval airmen do to practice carrier landings.

Well, the son of the owner of our flight school would brag that he could bring a Cessna 172 to a stop in under 1000 feet at our home airport, which had a 5000 ft runway. (that’s the part to remember in this story). His bragging would be quite irritating at times so we decided to put him to the test. We all got in our planes and flew to a local field that had a 1500 ft runway and gave him a chance to show us all how it was done. Every time he tried, he had to go around, (pilot speak for not being able to stop in time and having to apply the throttle to take off and try again). After numerous attempts he finally gave up and we all started for home. Upon our arrival, we all sat around the pilot’s lounge and ribbed him about it and asked why the short-field king had done so badly. His response was classic. He said, “I’m still the short field landing king…just not on short fields!”

That experience reminds me of the way many Conservatives view the world. To wit:

Remember when we became very concerned with the birthplace of our President?
Then came Ted Cruz, born in Canada.

Remember when cheating on your wife was grounds for impeachment?
Then came Donald Trump with multiple cheating scandals on his various wives. And David Vitter with his hookers.

Remember when first ladies were supposed to be the moral equivalent of librarians?
Then came Melania Trump posing nude.

Remember when having children out of wedlock was shameful?
Then came Sarah Palin defending Bristol’s two out-of-wedlock love-children.

Remember when Richard Nixon bragged that his wife wore a “Republican cloth coat”, to indicate what a humble man he was? (in the 1950s)
Then came Donald Trump bragging about his mansions and jets.

Remember when having errant family members was an embarrassment for a President (Roger Clinton selling drugs, Billy Carter and his beer drinking, Neil Bush losing $1 billion in the bank he ran)?
Then comes Ted Cruz bragging that his father ran out on his mother, defended Castro, then found Jesus.

The point to all this is not that Progressives are any better than Conservatives. They’re not. We’ve had more than our share of scandals. The point is that Conservatives constantly claim the moral high ground. They claim to be the most patriotic and ready to defend the country, but not a single Repub candidate has served in the military. They claim to be the party of morals, but they have had an equal amount of sex scandals as Progressives.

Has anyone ever taken a poll outside a Planned Parenthood office and ask how many of the women seeking birth control are Conservatives? How about abortion clinics? Does anyone want to bet that just as many Conservatives are “baby killers” as Progressives? Go down to the Food Stamp center and see if they’re all Progressives since good Conservatives ostensibly “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”.

I talked to a died-in-the-wool, lifelong Conservative the other day who had his lower leg in a cast. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he’d been injured and that the doctors had injected stem-cells into the muscles to facilitate healing. I asked him how he could reconcile his party’s stance against stem-cell research while he as benefitting from it.

His lack of introspection was revealed in his glib response. “Progress”, was what he said. Interesting choice of words, wouldn’t you say?

Guns and Bibles

“The bible will humble you, and a gun will tumble you”. That’s in quotations because it’s not original, but I can’t remember where I heard it, so there’s no attribution. Sorry.

I’ve concluded that religion and guns are opposite sides of the same coin. They both purport to protect those who fear the most fundamental aspects of life.

One pretends to protect you from the wrath of your fellow man. The other pretends to protect you from the wrath of that which you’ve been persuaded is your savior. How ironic that you’d feel the need for protection from either.

Both suggest that life is an entitlement. Neither has ever been able to prove it.

I’ve never checked, but I’d bet quite a sum that the overwhelming majority of the NRA membership self-identifies as Christian. On Facebook they can usually be found clicking away in pious outrage. I know. I am the recipient of more than my fair share of it.

To many of my Christian friends, that may reek of irrelevance. To me, well..

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