Taxing

March 29, 2011

I just read about a most outrageous idea being talked about in some circles inside the Washington  D.C, beltway.  Some legislators and bureaucrats in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are discussing a new gasoline tax based on the number of miles driven. Rising gas prices and current fuel taxes are already  causing enough pain at the pump but now, certain politicians are seeking to raise new revenues to support federal spending  are considering taxing motorists for the number of miles they drive.

In a report released last week, the CBO said  vehicle-miles traveled — or VMT taxes — would be a ” fair “ way to charge motorists for the cost of using the nation’s highways and would encourage more efficient use of the highways than fuel taxes.

They plan to measure these miles by installing GPS devices in vehicles. So not only would you be burdened with yet another tax, but guess who will have to pay for the device and have it installed in your car?

In my 60 odd years as an American, this is perhaps one of the dumbest ideas yet to emerge from Washington.   It is so outrageous on so many levels I don’t know where to begin to describe its folly.

First, there are ALREADY multiple taxing mechanisms in place to heap hidden taxes on the American people. Take a guess on the amount of excise taxes you already pay for each gallon of gasoline? Why establish yet another bureaucratic device?

Second, charging taxes based on miles driven would have serious economic consequences and hinder the move away from fossil fuels to hybrid or electric vehicles.

The idea is invasive and smells of Big Brother. It  implies that the higher the mileage you drive the more of a wastrel you are. What about the millions of Americans who can’t find a job near their homes because of the sick economy and are forced to drive longer distances to work and feed their families?

The real wastrels are the scoundrels in Washington who can’t seem to get it. The American public is fed up with Washington’s  drunken sailor spending behavior and the sneaky ways it finds to fund its nasty habit.

Hey, Politicans! Do what the people want or get out. We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore.

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I am so upset, I need to take  a brief hiatus from writing Woody’s Blog.  During which time, I will be working on my tax return.  That’s figures right.

If I get everything finished, and have any money left over,  I might  go to the Harry Potter World and see if I can  acquire a spell to cast out the dementors** of Washington.

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** Dementors are soulless creatures considered to be among the foulest beings on Earth.

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Zhu Zhu Hair

March 28, 2011

 

The other day, I was playing ball with Bennett Woodrow. He was anxious to try out his little baseball and plastic bat .  As we started playing, I noticed he had nicely developed hand-eye coordination as he smashed the ball at me.

Taking a break from our fast paced action, I took off my baseball cap. He stared at my nearly bald head and asked,

“What happened?”

“What do you mean?”, I responded with all the grandfatherly pride I could muster,  thinking I am about to help my young grandson learn something new. Maybe give he some baseball knowledge.

” What happened to your hair?  It’s broked”

Me: ” My hair is broked?”

Bennett: “Who broked your hair?”

Understanding that he was referring to my lack of hair, I answered, ” Your mother broked my hair!”

“Oh”, he said as he stared in amazement at my male pattern baldness.

“My hair not broked”, he assured me as he put his hand up to  his ample locks.

Hair has become an issue in Aimee’s house lately. Yesterday I received a text missive from her about hair. This time it was Bennett’s big sister, Ellie at the center of the fallout.

Apparently, Ellie in her 4-year-old exuberance decided to have her Zhu Zhu pet play on top of her head.

Now, I must admit I never knew what a Zhu Zhu pet was until I looked it up while trying to figure out what the hell Aimee was talking about.  It is a hamster like toy with wheels.  It is supposed to run around on the floor like a real hamster.

A Zhu Zhu  is designed to entertain little kids. It is not, however designed to run around on little girls’  heads. Which is exactly what it did with a little help from Ellie. In doing so, the  rodent became inextricably entangled in Ellie’s  hair.

 Aimee not wanting her daughter to spend her life walking around with a Zhu Zhu for hat, cut a major piece of hair from the top of Ellie’s  head, freeing Mr. Zhu Zhu.

                                                                                    Miss Ellie with her sculptured top

Hey Bennett, Ellie’s hair is broked now…and mommy did that too!

Lunching on rage

March 25, 2011

There has been a spate of stories in the news lately regarding the improper behavior of some folks at the “dinner table”. Just last week a young woman was seen throwing pizza  at patrons in a restaurant while at 35,000 feet an airline passenger hurled her food at the flight attendant.

The following are three interesting episodes that happened this week  from the state of Florida.

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One Harold McCleery was arrested after he locked his girlfriend in a shed and threw cottage cheese at her.

The woman called law enforcement about her boyfriend after the 43-year-old locked her in a shed and threw a container of cottage cheese at her according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

The report stated that although the container holding the cottage cheese didn’t hit the woman,  its contents did.

Harold McCleery was arrested and charged for battery and false imprisonment.

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Vincent Gonzalez of Vero Beach was accused of assaulting his girlfriend multiple times with a McDonald’s cheeseburger, (they seem to be the weapon of choice in these instances) according to his arrest report.

The girlfriend told the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office she was sitting a car in front of her home, when Mr. Gonzalez would not allow her to exit the car. The woman then  threw Gonzalez’s drink out of the car window.  

In response, Gonzalez grabbed the girlfriend’s arm and forced the cheeseburger into her face. The couple then  stepped out of the vehicle and Gonzalez smashed the cheeseburger again into the woman’s face.

Deputies charged Vincent Gonzalez with battery domestic violence. He posted $1,000 bail Wednesday.

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 Bikini-clad Kimesia Smith, (31)  jumped on the counter at a Panama City Burger King and threw a 5-gallon jug and her burger and fries  at employees, Her three friends then littered the restaurant with napkins,  trays and condiment packets. She was on spring break with three of her four children and was unhappy with the service at Burger King. Nice role modeling there Mama Smith.

Miss Smith was arrested and taken to the Bay County jail on charges of simple battery after pulling a Burger King employee’s hair.

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It seems that more and more people are resorting to violence where food, especially fast food is being used as a weapon. It should also be noted that in many of these cases, cheese was  involved. Scientists are looking to see if any of this violence is the result of a type of  Little Miss Muffet syndrome;  a kind of cheese anger caused by the enzymes in curds and whey.

It is estimated that 40% of our nation’s food is wasted and thrown away. No doubt a large fraction of that waste was thrown in anger. That amount of food could feed millions of  folks around the world.

I know food fights have been seen on college campi from time to time, and even feted in the movie, Animal House, but come on folks.

Let’s stop the food violence now.

The Founding Fathers as framers of the Constitution took great care to limit the President’s powers to declare and conduct wars.  Alexander Hamilton wrote…

“The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. … It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces … while that [the power] of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all [of] which … would appertain to the legislature.”

The Constitution’s crafters followed through with this philosphy when writing Article 8 of the Constitution which expressly gives the power to declare war to the Congress.

So why are we now engaged in three wars in the Middle East with no Congressional declaration of war? 

The last time Congress actually declared war was when the country was in conflict with the Axis powers during WWII over sixty years ago.

Since that time, we have been involved in a dozen or more conflicts where hundreds of thousands of Americans have been killed or maimed. Why have the Presidents usurped Congress’ authority,  and why has Congress let them?

The Founding Fathers knew the horror of war and its lasting effects on the country. Apparently, today’s leaders have been keen to discount the stressful tragedy of war and the real human suffering it causes.

War is such a terrible thing, it should be entered into only as a last resort to defend America and American lives and assets. If a  war must be declared and entered into, it should be  resolved as quickly as possible using all available means. Our current military involvement in the Middle East had been playing out for ten years with no end in sight. What is the point?

Some people say today’s wars are about “stability” in the Middle East. But why?  Why do we care about a region of the world that has been unstable for centuries; a region that seethes with hatred, especially hatred of America?  

The only answer is oil… and America’s chaotic and confused energy policy that has been influencing the country’s foreign policy since 1973.

Develop a sustainable, self-reliant energy policy using controlled resources and the “need ” to go shoot and bomb  something will disappear. Energy security is the key to sovereign nation security.

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*The message of George Washington’s lengthy farewell address to his officers at Fraunces Tavern  (1783)

Flushed with pride

March 23, 2011

We were talking about saving water today. Donna said she needed to go to the drug store, but she did not want to take a shower and do the hair thing right then. I said, ( with my tongue slightly in my cheek) “Well, just go to the drive-in  and roll down the window just a little, so the stink won’t waft out.”

After she gave me a look, I said I would go to the drug store for her.

On the way, it got me thinking about instances in the past involving showers, toilets and water.

The first one that came to mind was about 20 years ago when Aimee was a teenager, It was about 11 o’clock on a  nice spring Sunday and I had just come inside from working in the garden. Aimee came down the stairs looking for something to eat while still in her pajamas.

I said, “Why don’t you take a shower get dressed and come outside, it is a beautiful day.”

I will never forget her response, “I just feel like lounging around today, besides, it’s Sunday, you don’t have to take a shower on Sunday.”

I don’t know where she got that bit of advice, but I chalked it up to teenage logic. I guess it was the precursor to the current practice of Soap Dodging. Her son Bennett, age 2 1/2 is now avoiding getting wet at all costs.

Ah,  grandparent revenge is sweet.

Soap dodging is downright antisepic when compared to a weird practice I observed in Florida a few years back. There was this couple who would sometimes come over to the house and visit. Naturally, on occasion, one or the other had to use the bathroom.  Well, one time, the woman returned from using the facilities and proudly announced that she had “saved us a flush.”

WHAT? I thought to myself,  Saved a flush??!!!

Sure enough, after they left, I found out the toilet had indeed not been flushed after use. I immediately remedied the situation, and thought,  that is taking water conservation a bit too far.

When I was a little kid, we used to visit my grandmother in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. She had no indoor plumbing and you had to use the unpleasant little wooden house out back. That woman in Florida would have been able to save a bunch of flushes!

I once calculated that it cost a few cents paid to the sewer district people for each flush. I am convinced the flush is one of the human race’s better inventions… and worth every penny.

language lessons

March 22, 2011

For as long as I can remember, and probably longer, there has been a debate in this country about the need or lack of need for new residents to learn to read,  write and speak English. Now, I never could understand why the debate existed in the first place, because the choices are so clear and compelling. But more about that later.

It seems that lately, some of the countries in western Europe have adopted a much more aggressive position on requiring immigrants to learn the vernacular language of the host country.

Italy has joined others like Austria, France and Germany to require immigrants to learn the language, so that  immigrants can better assimilate into the culture and contribute to society.

Meanwhile here in the United States, we continue to dance around the issue with monumental hand wringing and political correctness angst.

To me it is quite clear, if you are a new resident to a country, you should learn its language. No, you should WANT to learn its language.

Some immigrant advocates worry ( advocates always worry), that  such requirements will become more a conveyance for intolerance rather than integration. I  say it is natural and beneficial for all newcomers learn the language of their host nation. Remember, America used to be a “melting pot.” Now we have clans and interest groups often pitted against one another.

When I lived overseas, I did whatever I could to learn the language of the country I was in. It is simply impossible to understand a people, a culture, and a society without knowing the language. You miss so much humor, nuance and life’s details if you don’t.

Further, in a country like ours, unless you read, write or speak English, it is nearly impossible to compete for a well-paying job.

On the other side of the coin, I think native-born Americans in their lack of interest in foreign language skills are derelict and closed-minded. They forgo enormous opportunities which the command of a second or third language provides.

There are many very good reasons why Americans should be learning Mandarin, Spanish, or Hindi. They are the first, second and fourth most spoken languages in the world. English is third.

In addition, given our ever shrinking world, it would not be bad to be proficient in  Arabic, French, German, Japanese and  Russian. To stubbornly cling to only relying on our native tongue for communication, puts us at a competitive disadvantage in the world marketplace.

Last weekend, I railed about the TV wasteland that is rampant in our country.  Why does our media have to be based on foolishness and ignorance?

Hey TV people, why not replace Charlie Sheen and Linsley Lohan with Rosetta Stone and Berlitz courses?

It is just a coincidence

March 21, 2011

I am sure you have heard of the existence of force fields and vortices in the world. There is one in Sedona, Arizona and another in Machu Picchu, Peru. Certain Sherpa villages in Tibet also are reported to have a high incidence of harmonic convergence.In fact there are dozens of these calm, life is perfect type places existing in gentle harmony around the world.

However, given that there is also balance in most things in the universe, I know that are  places on earth  that produce some bad karma and harbor a least a bit of the dark side.  I am convinced that the recent shift in the earth’s energy may have  caused a shake up of sorts in the earth’s harmony, that has produced some strangeness to come over my household one day last week.

First, the trash man refused to collect my trash. He actually stopped in front of the house  (twice!) and looked in, then drove on. When  I called the company, they said, Oh, someone will come by later to collect it. No one came by later.

Then Donna informed me that I had better conserve my clothes as the washing machine stopped washing and it might be a while before it gets fixed. Not a big problem, but I am glad I had some advanced notice.

Later on that same day,  I mangled myself with a knife while cutting up some vegetables for a salad as I was trying to eat healthier given my advancing years.

I ate a cheeseburger and  apple pie instead, while watching a NCAA basketball game. 

During the last exciting two minutes of the game, the TV inexplicably decided to quit working. No amount of yelling, bashing or calling the Toshiba customer service “hotline” would turn on the recalcitrant TV. Later, AFTER the game the evil machine came back on just in time for Oprah.

Then, the toilet stopped flushing. Because of the critical nature of this event, I got right on it and was able to get it working again. But it got me to thinking. There is something going on here.

I decided to have a cup of coffee to help me  think things through.  Of course, the coffee maker started acting up and refused to make my coffee.  I am still on hold with Enzo, from the expresso maker company in Italy.

And now, I have resorted  to drinking Dali Lama green tea to get some good harmony going.

These things just don’t happen randomly, I don’t believe in coincidences.