Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Is It with Pop-Ups?

I can't go to certain sites without having to close off some pop-up advertisements which somehow have figured out how to get around the pop-up blockers. Why do we even need pop-up blockers? Why don't advertisers have more consideration?

Then there are the ads that are already on the page, which is fine, but when I accidentally move my cursor across them, they expand and cover what I'm trying to read, and I have to hunt around the edges for a spot to click on to close them. Sometimes that's hard to find.

Then there are the pop-behind ads. A flicker on the screen is all you see, but then when you close the page, you can't go to bed or open any other programs without having to close a NetFlix ad or an ad for a mortgage company.

What I want to know is why in the world any of these advertisers, NetFlix, The Economist, or any mortgage company think I would spend a penny of my money on what they're offering when they have pissed me off so much. I have thought about subscribing to NetFlix the way I subscribe to, but the more of these ads I have to close out, the less I intend ever to spend a cent of my money with such people as these.

Why would anybody spend any money on companies that are so irritating in their advertising?

Three letters: WTF!?!?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

On Taxes

This may be rehashing previously-covered territory, but it nonetheless warrants airing lest it be forgotten.

Taxes are the dues we pay for living in a functioning society. True, there is "waste fraud, and abuse," as every politician who wants to cut the budget is quick to point out. But given the alternatives, we are better off being taxed than living in anarchy.

Warren Buffett, the second-richest man in the world, points out that he pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary does. What kind of sense does that make? He's right about class warfare: It is going on and his class is winning.

Our taxes pay our politicians' salaries and those of their staff members so that they can run our government effectively. Whether they succeed is a question of whose party is in power. Our taxes keep our roads maintained, our water processed, our air breathable, our airwaves free for us to use to listen to the telephone and radio and to watch videos on our hand-held computers. The airwaves were regulated for television until they decided to go digital, and even then, the taxes we pay keep the current system regulated so that we can get the programs we want (that is, our choice of what is offered to us). On and on.

So, when taxes are raised, we get prosperity. I challenge anyone to name a tax increase that wasn't followed by prosperity, or a tax cut for the rich that was not immediately followed by a recession.

Looking back over my lifetime, I remember times of prosperity fueled by the taxpayer-funded GI Bill in the 1950s. During that time tariffs were much higher than now, and we had a strong industrial base to our economy. We had a cotton mill or two in every small town in Rutherford County when I was growing up there, and people made a reasonable living working in them.

Now we have "free trade" and low tariffs, and the only residents of the furniture factories here in Caldwell County, to quote Carl Sandburg: "[A]re...the rats...and the lizards."

Back then the top marginal tax rate (which started at $200.000 a year) was 90%, and everyone prospered. Kennedy cut taxes, and the economy stalled. Inflation followed as Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam. Still, Johnson put a surtax on income taxes and the budget was balanced for 1968.

Reagan cut taxes, and a recession followed. The next year he signed the largest tax increase in history, and Republicans are still bragging about the prosperity that followed. Clinton came in and raised taxes on the richest one per cent, and Democrats are still bragging about the prosperity that followed.

And now to health care: I would rather pay an extra $50 in taxes so my grandson can have a nurse on his hospital floor at midnight than the extra $100 dollars that I'm currently paying in health care premiums so some CEO can have maid service on his yacht.

Okay, so once I proposed a Maximum Wage--a one hundred per cent tax on every dollar of compensation over $5 million a year. I proposed that income at that level earned from entrepreneurial endeavors be taxed at normal rates. I still feel that way, but I am ready to reduce the Maximum Wage tax to 90% the way it was in the Eisenhower era. More prosperity for all would follow, and the government could start climbing out of the huge national debt hole we're in. Especially if we close the Cayman Island loophole.