Monday, March 28, 2011

On Hiatus

Partly due to an extremely busy schedule at work, an extremely busy schedule after work now that spring has arrived and a wee bit of writers block, I don't have a thing to post. I think I am in need of a vacation and fortunately, despite the business surrounding me, I am forcing myself to take a few days off next week to join my wife at a conference (all expenses paid since she won a contest) in San Diego for four days. Not sure that I have a plan on what I will be doing while she is attending meeting all day but I imagine I'll survive. Suggestions are welcome and I do have a rental car so driving is an option. Right now, all I have is one day on the beach and two evenings spent dining with her boss and colleagues which unfortunately means I will probably have to dress up. Whale watching? Let me know.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mall Walkers

It hadn't been a good day. I had gotten the lawn raked, the garden shack organized, some minor repairs done around the perimeter of the house, swept out and organized the garage and unearthed the lawn mower for a pre-spring tune-up so it had started off nice. After getting all that accomplished, I decided a trip to town was in order. I got some lawn care supplies, some bathroom remodeling supplies to finish up that job which I started last fall and then swung by the mall to drop off my wife and daughter while I swung to another store to get some liquid dish detergent since we were completely out. I quickly dashed into the store, picked up two bottles and made my way back to the check out stands. They were swamped five deep so I made my way to the express lane and that is officially when my day started going down hill.

There was only one person in the express-ten-items-or-less lane and she had already been checking out for some time evidently when I arrived. I counted 47 items that she laid up on the counter after I arrived and then to my horror, 23 coupons that had to be scanned. Then she had some sort of store discount coupons that had to be scanned, then a credit card for another portion and finally a check. Fifteen minutes later, I finally got to lay my two bottle onto the checkout stand.

So there I was sitting on some benches in the mall waiting for my wife and daughter to finish up when I saw them. I have seen them numerous times but hadn't thought much about it but in my fowl mood, suddenly I was in the mood to ponder. Here it was, 72 degrees and sunny outside with a mild southwesterly breeze and these two people were weaving in and out of the people slowly shopping their savings away. Yep, they were mall walkers.

The two mall walkers were walking at a good clip but on a busy Saturday afternoon, they were having to check up behind others who weren't there for their health. They would brush around the offending knot of people occasionally dropping an evil eye and accelerate back up to full speed. This mall is a tiny mall by American standards, one that was in its prime in the early 80's but now barely even qualifies as a mall. It has perhaps two hundred yards of interior perimeter for the mall walkers to utilize. So it wasn't but fifteen minutes later when they were on their tenth(?) lap, that I saw a lady innocently stroll out of a shop only to be t-boned by one of the mall walkers hard enough that she dropped her bags. The mall walker huffed out an apology and took off again why the shopping lady picked up her bags and glared after them. Perhaps they had done their number of laps or perhaps the shame of taking someone out caused them to skedaddle but I never saw them again.

Why on a perfect day, would someone trade the tree lined sidewalks, for the most part deserted of people, for the fluorescent interior of a strip mall packed with slow moving people? Why give up ever changing scenery for counting how many times this time by J.C. Penney is? All I could think is what a shame?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

At War With Libya... Again

First lets be honest that what is happening in Libya is a civil war. Let's also be honest that our participation in it is also war and goes beyond a simple 'no fly zone.' (This is also unconstitutional without Congressional approval but a whole other blog post.) We are choosing a side and bombing targets and killing the people running them on the ground. We have bombed tanks, artillery units, military and air defense stations which to me, is well beyond just keeping Khadaffy's airplanes from flying in the air. At a time when our economy is still fragile, when overspending is and will continue to be a huge issue, and we are already still at war with two countries, do we really need a third war to go with that plate?

Libya 'No-Fly-zone' (2011)
Operation El Dorado Canyon (1986)
Egypt-Libya Campaign (1942)
Libya (1806)

Less than 30 years after our nation began, we were at war with Libya and from the list above have been off and on throughout the ensuing years. Yes the war in 1806 is probably what I would consider a 'just' war because we were rescuing our citizens kidnapped by pirates and the 1942 campaign could be considered a part of the overall scope of World War II. But like the current war, the one in 1986 is similar in that we don't have a dog in the fight. It was someone else's fight but because we felt Khadaffy had slighted us in the past, we ran with it to provide justification for our bombing the heck out of the country. Two years after our dalliance in Libya, our bombings were paid off by Khadaffy with the ordered hit and deaths of 189 US Citizens aboard Pan Am Flight 103. Unless Khadaffy is killed this time around, how do we think he will repay us for another romp in a Civil War that doesn't threaten our sovereignty in the slightest way?

Which brings me to the point of the end game. The reason I was so opposed to the Iraq war was that we had no end game and really we still don't. We have installed another corrupt regime that is friendly to us and our hoping that if and when we finally leave it will still remain friendly. With Libya, the Current Occupant has pledged that we will not use ground troops. We have proven twice with Iraq and once before with Libya that an air campaign does nothing but slow down the progression of what is happening. It still happens and the only way to stop that is boots on the ground and a loss of America's most precious treasure, blood. Now that we have chosen a side, that of the 'rebels', we have to see it through. If we don't kill Khadaffy as we say currently we aren't intending to do, the best case is a divided Libya which means a constant military presence, something we can't afford to do. If we kill Khadaffy, we will probably end up like Iraq with a huge vacuum and twenty people as corrupt and ruthless as the former dictator waiting to fill the void. Perhaps the 'rebels' will eek out a victory and Khadaffy scoots to where abouts unknown, we have now handed a victory to a group of people who didn't 'earn' it. Like anyone who is gifted something, you never really appreciate it until you've put in your sweat equity or in this case blood equity. We weren't given our independence as a nation, we earned it. Libya citizens need to earn their independence.

Finally and most importantly, we need to start only engaging foreign powers when our sovereignty is threatened. The reason is that we can't financially or with the blood or our soldiers, afford to keep paying the price of foreign wars. We simply can't afford to be the world's cop policing moral crimes. Where do we draw the line? Bahrain? Yemen? Syria? Saudi Arabia? Iran? The rest of the world needs to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps or eventually, our interaction on the losing side will cause them to pull us underwater by our bootstraps.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Little Abbey-isms

As we pull up to the private house of the lady who watches my daughter when she isn't in preschool, I suspect my daughter has been listening to my GPS unit:

Daughter: We're here, destination on right!

*****

As a preface of sorts, my daughter visited an optometry office during preschool and it made quite an impression on her. She has always constantly asked if things are good for her eyes since. We were sitting down to a Filipino breakfast of rice, eggs, and longanisa, the latter being a sweet sausage of sorts when the following conversation occured. My daughter ate all of her longanisa but hadn't yet touched her egg or rice.

Daughter: Can I have more longanisa daddy?

Me: Eat some of your eggs and rice first.

Daughter: Is the longanisa good for my eyes?

Me: No sweety, but the eggs are good for your eyes.

Daughter: Is longanisa good for my tummy?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Reunion

Well it happened and the person that flinched first wasn't who I thought it would be. You see when I graduated from high school nearly 19 years ago, I and my other seven classmates and one foreign exchange student went on our way and we never looked back. In fact, I went 17 years without seeing a classmate at all and then a couple years ago, I saw five in the space of a couple months. But then things went back to normal and I figured all would be good until we neared the summer of our 20th class reunion or perhaps the 25th.

Then this past weekend, I got an email from the foreign exchange student who had found my address and she told me that she was going to be visiting the U.S. here this summer and thought it would be great to see everyone in a class reunion. Would it be possible if I tracked everyone down and arranged it?

At first I thought it would be a lot of work but due to my incredible cyber stalking sleuthing skills, I think I have it well under control. I first made a list of all seven of my classmates and any information that I knew which pretty much was nothing. I knew four of them most likely still lived in my home county but only knew the address of one of them. I decided to start on one of the harder ones whom I had run into at a gas station and who had told me that she and her husband were leaving for Germany in a couple weeks to live while her husband was stationed there. I remember asking who her husband was and her telling me and me knowing who it was but for the life of me I couldn't remember. All I could remember it was someone from my home town. I picked up the phone book and started scanning through the three pages of names of everyone who lives in that town which amounted only to somewhere shy of 200 entries and soon found who it was I was looking for under the B's. The number was dead of course but there was another person with the same surname whom I vaguely remembered as his younger brother. I called him and soon had the number of my classmate who was now living in North Carolina while her husband was in Iraq. I was on a roll.

I have reached four more of my classmates with two still outstanding. I've left phone message and sent a message via a social network site that one belongs too and I am in contact with a person who works with the younger brother of the third. I tried calling another of the latter's younger brothers and he didn't have a phone number, married name or address so I'm guessing I'm dealing with some sort of family estrangement.

This whole thing would have been much easier ten years ago before everyone had cell phones and started dropping land lines rendering most paper directories obsolete. I find myself calling siblings and parents still with land lines to obtain cell phone numbers of those who don't. Hopefully the rest of the work will be easier than the handful of hours I have spent so far and perhaps by this time next week I can wrap up the duty of class reunion organizer. Later this summer we will then hold our 19th year reunion which I'm guessing if things go as I predict, will be the last one we will probably have for awhile. Maybe the next one will be our 31rst or some other odd number. After all, our class of eight and one foreign exchange student was anything but typical.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Katie!

Another weekend in the urban jungle because Dr. Wife was on call again on Sunday so we went to mass on Saturday evening and ate at my new found favorite Chinese restaurant that I blogged about a few weeks ago by the name of Kwong Tung. A few weeks ago we had the chance to try the dim sum on Sunday and it was excellent too but this night was strictly ordering off the menu.

We entered into the menu and sat in the same booth we have the last two times we have been in the restaurant. Mostly because there is very few people in the restaurant so we always have a choice of seats and it is by a large fish tank that keeps my daughter occupied. Unfortunately, I learned this last time it is also next to the booth where a regular sits every Saturday night and has for the last five years.

The first time I noticed him was our first time there when he seemed like one of those lonely guys who has nothing better to do but eat at the same restaurant every night and takes great pleasure in trying to carry on a conversation with a wait staff who seems less than enthused that he is there. Sure enough, he came in a few minutes after us and sat down in his booth but announced loudly to Katie the waitress that he wasn't going to order right away because he had a friend who may or may not be coming by and that he would be waiting for awhile and possibly would be switching tables so that they could talk. I looked at my watch and according to his announcement to Katie, his friend was twenty minutes away.

About the same time, a couple guys walked in and started shuffling tables together telling Katie that at least fifteen people were shortly arriving. Because as I stated before, this place is always deserted, the entire staff seems to be the owner who cooks and Katie. Naturally Katie was getting busy and the man behind us heard the same thing we did and called out, "Katie," as she walked by getting more drinks for the crowd of guys pouring in.

"I'll order a half order of crab rangoon," said Dan (I later learned that was his name) behind us.  I looked at my watch and saw that barely five minutes had passed since Dan had told Katie he wouldn't be ordering right away. So went the evening as Katie busily kept trying to get drinks and taking orders for the large group and Dan behind us kept shouting "Katie" every time she walked by ordering more food (still ten minutes left before his friend was going to get there), wanting more of this, or that. Finally his friend was obviously near from the conversation he was having on his phone and I heard him tell Mike that he had already ordered because he hadn't thought that Mike was coming. I checked my watch, still five minutes before Mike had said he was going to arrive.

By this time, we had finished up with our meal that consisted of a steamed Tilapia and Spicy Northern Beef on fried noodle sticks, both of which were excellent and had been waiting for Katie to catch up and stop by so we could get a couple of boxes for the leftovers and get our ticket. But Dan kept shouting Katie every time she walked by asking for this or that, informing her that his friend was coming any minute and hoping she could get his order in without having to wait until after the large group was served. I had finally decided that Katie wasn't going to give us any attention with the large group and Dan taking it all up, so after she delivered yet more drinks to the large group now over twenty strong and taking up half the tables in the restaurant, I put my hand in the air to flag her down as she walked past. She was still a good fifteen feet from me and had just noticed that I was trying to get her attention when I heard Dan shout, "Katie!"

It was all I could do to restrain myself from giving him an evil eye and if Katie had ignored us for him I would have at least said some choice words but she stopped at our table and requested that I would like a box for the leftovers and the check. Another ten minutes would go by with Katie still bring more drinks, appetizers and food and yet no boxes. Dan shouted Katie another two times and his friend Mike finally arrived. I finally stood up and walked into the galley to get a box when Katie looked up from getting more drinks and told me that she was getting me a box. I wanted to say that obviously she was getting drinks and ignoring everyone else for the large group and Dan but I just bit my tongue and stood there until she came back and finally got me two boxes.

As I was boxing up our leftovers, Dan was loudly telling Mike that he had been coming to this restaurant every Saturday night for five years and always sat in the same booth. I almost ran up the aisle the other way and ended up waiting at the cashier's stand for another five minutes until I could pay and leave. The last thing I heard as I made my way through the front door was "Katie!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rat

My parents live out in the country and apparently at just the right distance that people want to drive when abandoning their pets. Over the years, we have adopted what we could and gave a cold shoulder to the rest as they continued into their new lives which almost always ends in death. My dog Ted which I have blogged about extensively is a good example of a pet that was dumped and that we adopted. I can also think of Trixie, Suzie and Polly as other dogs that we adopted. However scores more of dogs have been encouraged to continue on their journey.

Cats also get dumped but we pretty much have a survival of the fittest policy. Those that straggle up to our farmhouse generally get fed and those that don't eaten by coyotes. We do that for a couple reasons. Two many cats on the farm leads to diseases such as distemper and also we generally try to control the population by fixing them and so their is an expense factor involved. Currently we have three cats, Wild Man, Tiger Lady and Tough.

Last fall an entire litter of young kittens were dumped on the gravel road at the end of my parents driveway. Not needing or wanting the expense of six more cats, my mom did the responsible thing and called all the area animal shelters which as normal, were completely full and had waiting lists only. The six kittens were added to the list and five of the six were promptly eaten by coyotes that evening. The sixth cat had a little bit more street smarts and somehow made it down the long driveway to the house. My daughter instantly fell in love with the tiny kitten and when asked by my mom for a name, promptly called him Rat.

I loved the irony in calling a cat Rat and so despite my mom's protests, the name stuck and she eventually adopted the name too. That was back in October of last year. My daughter singled him out and would always play with Rat to the point of telling the other three to shoo whenever they came. Rat loved to follow her around and chase strings that she drug behind her as she ran around the farm. My daughter talked of Rat every time we told her we were going down to the farm and I encourage it since Rat was truly the first cat or dog that she has really wanted to play with and of whom was not scared a bit.

When the call came last week that Rat had met a tragic end as outdoor farm cats sometimes do, I wasn't sure how my daughter would handle the news. I knew she was old enough to understand death and needed to be told the truth and so we proceeded to have a conversation. When I broke the news, she started crying which was hard to see as it was possibly the first time I have seen her cry tears of genuine heartfelt sadness. Fortunately, they lasted only about thirty seconds before she started asking questions of how, why, what heaven was like, when will she go there, when will I go there, etc. I answered all as honestly as I could while keeping it all on an almost five year old level and assured her that death for both her and I was a long ways off. My daughter learned about mortality for the first time and though it is a shame that it happened so quickly, it had to happen sometime and I'm glad that it was a kitten down on the farm that she only saw occasionally and not someone or something more significant.

So for my daughter, God speed Rat. Thank you for the happy times you gave my daughter and thank you about life's lesson. For me, give a playful swat to a large reddish brown dog that goes by the name of Ted if you see him.

Friday, March 11, 2011

High Gas Prices Cause Me To Laugh All the Way to the Bank

We all have choices. You can commute long distances to work or you can live close to work. You can drive a fuel efficient car or you can drive a gas guzzler. I live close to work and drive a fuel efficient car. That is my choice. I have heard numerous coworkers of late complaining bitterly about the gas prices and they all share two things in common. The live far away from work, at least compared to me, and all drive full sized trucks. Those are their choices. They all reason that they need their trucks for occasional hauling and can't afford to have yet another vehicle that they need to insure, register, etc just for commuting. They also say they like living further away from work for a variety of reasons. So it got me to thinking what the actual financial ramifications to their decisions are. So I compared my situation with one who works 50 miles away.

The variables for me were:

  • 4 mile round trip commute
  • vehicle that gets 36 miles/gallon
The variable for my coworker were:
  • 100 mile round trip commute
  • vehicle that gets 16 miles/gallon
Both of these are actual distances and mileage and I figured on current gas prices of $3.50/gallon for an average of 220 working days per year. Doing the math, my gas bill commuting back and forth to work for the year is $78.00 and theirs is $4812.50 meaning I save $4734.50 per year because of the choices I made. That is quite a bit of wampum that my coworker could use had they made a similar choice as me. For example, it would almost completely fund a Roth IRA for their retirement, something that they currently admit that they don't do because they can't afford to.

Granted not everyone wants to live in town, including me and not all areas offer the same appeal so giving up the 50 mile commute for one that is 2 miles is not always an option. But lets say that if my coworkers were to trade in their Chevy Avalanche for a Honda Civic to commute. They would cut their gas bill down to just $2138.89 per year or a savings of $2673.61 over what they are paying now. That is more than enough to cover the cost of registration and insurance for the vehicle and if bought used, would pay it off in short order. Or if you traded vehicles, not only would your insurance and registration costs go down as well as the depreciation costs since you would be trading into a cheaper vehicle, but almost $2700 a year would pay for a lot of delivery charges for those times when a car just isn't big enough.

To me, this all seems obvious but so many people I mention this too seem completely baffled. Especially when my coworker and I have both been in this situation for almost eight years now. Granted the gas prices haven't always been this high but had they been, I would have pocketed an extra $38,000 due to my choices. More than likely I have pocketed $25,000 over that eight years over my coworker. That my friends is a whole lot of wampum.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Thousand Little Tin Foil Pieces

Back in the urban jungle this weekend, we decided to go eat at A'Dong's Vietnamese restaurant which I have raved about before on this blog. I have eaten there dozens of time and every time the food was outstanding and the service very good. However this time was a different story.

It was definitely busier than it has been in the past when we had eaten there and so after getting seated, I was mentally prepared for a long wait. The place has several dozens of tables, perhaps 60 or more, so there was plenty of seating and as the minutes went by, the head guy kept seating people while those of us who had been there for awhile waited for him to at least come get a drink order. When there were no more people waiting to be seated and yet half a dozen open tables all cleared and set for service, the head guy proceeded to clean other tables and make mixed drinks for take out orders. Their mixed bean drinks are fabulous and thus popular take out items. Yet there were at least six tables with people looking around trying to catch the eye of someone to take their order, including me since we had been waiting there the longest of them all. Finally perhaps twenty minutes after we got sat down, we were able to flag down another girl who normally runs the cash register and she took our drink order, appetizer order and meal order all in one shot.

Despite the long wait to get our order in, our food came out probably a little over five minutes later so I have to give them credit for that. I had tried something new which was number 109 on the menu since the name is actually written in Vietnamese and described as beef fried in tin foil and served with vegetables and lemon sauce. It sounded good. When it arrived, they set three plates before me, one with this huge mound of tin foil wrapped packets, one with six slices of cucumber and a hunk from the core of a head of lettuce with a bowl of the lemon sauce on the side and a third plate with rice. Usually I have an idea on how I am expected to eat something but with this one I had no clue. I suspected that you were supposed to take some of the meat from a couple of the foil packets and wrap it in the lettuce with perhaps a cucumber slice and dip it into the lemon sauce and eat it with the rice but the core of lettuce is not meant for wrapping. It only breaks when bent or folded.

I finally decided to just unwrap all the individual packets of tin foil, each one smoking hot from being fried and inside each one was a little tiny morsel of meat. It took my fifteen minutes to unwrap them all thoroughly burning my fingers on the foil and in the hot meat juices that dribbles out from the packets. I put all the pieces of meat on the plate next to the rice and ended up with perhaps one cup level full of it. I ended up taking a fork full of meat and rice, dipping it in the lemon sauce and eating it that way. While it was good, it lacked flavor and was more work to eat it than I generally like to exert when dining out. My hands are still red from handling the tin foil packets as I write this. Moral of this tale: only go there when they aren't busy and don't order number 109.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In Which I Woke Myself Laughing

It was about 5 AM and I woke myself up howling with laughter, a first for me. I have woken up on the very rare occasion with cold sweats and cowering with fear, I have woke myself up falling from unimaginable heights but I have never woke up laughing. Since my wife and daughter were still sleeping, I stuffed my guffaws with a wad a blanket and got myself under control.

I was in the Middle East staying at the home-away-from home of Richard Engel from NBC Nightly News with my family and my parents. We had just been to look at some impressive religious monument where Richard told me over and over again that I must not take a picture of the prophet Mohammed and we were now walking through the gift shop. I had wandered off by myself into the far back corner and was looking at these exquisite glass masks made to look like tiger faces when my father came walking up behind. He exclaimed that these Indian Tiger masks were extremely rare and reached out to point at one when his finger touched it and it immediately collapsed into a million pieces. I heard my father exclaim shit under his breath and turned quickly to one side hitting another mask and knocking it to the floor where it also shattered into a million pieces. Oops he said.

I silently turned around and started walking in the other direction towards the door pretending like I had seen nothing and heard nothing when out of the corner of my eye, I caught my father hot footing it towards the door like his feet were on fire and his ass was catching. I lost it and as soon as I made it outside the gift shop I started laughing in deep guffaws and that is when I woke up. I'm not sure why I found it funny and I certainly have no clues as to the meaning of the dream. Any Freud's out there?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Wisconsin Protest and the Myth About the Rich and Their Tax Breaks

“It’s not about the money” we here over and over on the evening news as the relay the daily information on the protests in Wisconsin yet in the background you see signs that say ‘Tax the Rich’.  “It’s about gutting collective bargaining” is another popular slogan yet isn’t the essence of collective bargaining all about money? Let me present to you some facts.

Wisconsin public employees contribute less than 1% to their pensions. Walker’s proposal requires public employees to pay 5.8%, still below the national average and that is the average of those who still do have pensions. The majority of Americans don’t have pensions at all.

Wisconsin public employees contribute 6% to their healthcare premiums. Walker’s proposal requires public employees to pay 12%, still less than half the national average of 26%.

Wisconsin’s budget deficit is $137 million. It’s projected to grow to $3.6 billion by 2013.

To me, these deals look almost like the collective bargaining units of Wisconsin have committed highway robbery of the Wisconsin taxpayer and now are upset that the taxpayer through the representatives that they elected are saying no more. It is all about the money and the fact that Wisconsin public employees want to pay far less for benefits than the rest of Americans do.


The solution according to the protesters is not to pay their fair share but rather tax the rich because they get so many 'tax breaks'.  What tax breaks do the rich get? I challenge someone to let me know the answer because honestly I just don't see it. Let's say person A makes $100,000 per year and person B makes $1,000,000 per year. Person A would pay $28,000 dollars in Federal taxes and person B $350,000 in taxes based off the 2010 tax schedules. If by break you mean that they reduce their income to gain a lower tax bracket, the next one down is for people making $373,650 per year and if person B made only $373,649 that year, they would still pay $123,304 in taxes. Everything in our tax code is graduated so that even on deductions, the poorer you are the better. Say person A making $100,000 year got a 20% 'tax break'. They would get $20,000. Now say Person B got only a 5% 'tax break' because they deserve to pay more since they are rich, they would get back $50,000 or $30,000 more than person A. I think people who use the phrase that the rich get all the tax breaks are thinking of that last example and seeing only that person B got $30,000 more than they did and conveniently disregard the fact that person B paid $322,000 more in taxes than person A did.  Remember, the 10% wealthiest people pay 90% of all taxes. The protesters in Wisconsin evidently feel they should pay 95% of all taxes.


Or as I saw in an email that I received awhile back, here is another way at looking at it.



Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the pay we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.
"Since you are all such good customers", he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20". Drinks for the ten now cost just $80. 
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"
"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Iowa: The Most Handicapped State In the Union

... and no I don't mean mentally handicapped though I suppose when I say my rant, you might think there are a few in certain positions that are mentally handicapped.

My wife, being a Filipina, loves to shop for discounts. She would love nothing better than to spend a Saturday afternoon in a strip mall going from one store to the next, stopping only at the deeply discounted racks and buying things for ridiculously small sums of money. She can outfit an entire week's wardrobe for what I pay for one pair of house brand jeans. Some of that is because I hate clothes shopping and will simply walk into a store and grab the first pair of jeans that meets my size and color requirements and pay for it, often times not knowing how much they cost until the cashier tells me so. But I digress so I can get back to my point.

Since my wife also doesn't like to go alone to strip malls, I often go with her and spend inordinate amounts of time in the parking lot with a good book so I can get some reading in and another favorite past time of people watching. What I witness is what appears to be a huge population of seemingly healthy people pulling into handicap parking spots, pulling their handicap tag out of the glove box, and literally rush walking into the store. It makes me wonder what their ailment is that required them to get the handicap tag in the first place though I suspect that most got them from their dead grandmother. What really gets the blood boiling is seeing some old lady in a big old Buick cruising by all the handicapped spots and finally having to park far out in the lot and shuffle in with her cane past all those cars of seemingly healthy people. I've always suspected that Iowa has a huge problem with handicap parking and people with ill gotten tags but never had the proof, until now.

Evidently some Iowa Senator also noticed this problem and pulled  a report on how many valid tags are out and about in Iowa. That number came back to 465,000 or in perspective, one handicap tap for every 6.5 Iowa residents. That a whole lot of handicapped people. We obviously are smart enough to know we don't have that many handicapped people but someone wasn't smart enough to put some sort of expiration date on the tags when they were issued requiring periodic renewals so if you received a tag in 1976, it is still valid for your 32 year old granddaughter to use on her Saturday afternoon shopping spree. And yes, I am deliberately using the feminine terms because I have never seem a seemingly healthy man pull into a handicap parking spot and pull a tag out of the glove box. They are always women. What does that say?

Addendum to the post: I neglected to say that the same Senator is proposing a bill that will make all tags carry an expiration date on them so that owners of them have to periodically get them renewed. The same bill will make all existing tags go obsolete at some future date and new ones will have a different color to make them easily distinguishable.