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Archive for August 11th, 2012

Given the state of the federal budget, many are the cries for reductions and taxations.  But where to slash?  Push Granny off the cliff?  Where to raise?  Those lucre-loving denizens of Wall Street?  On only one target can both sides comfortably settle:  those blood-sucking federal employees, those lard-butts who sit around Washington all day doing crossword puzzles and pulling in twice what the average American wage-earner earns.  Let’s face it, nobody likes paying taxes; why not dun the tax-takers?

So I thought I’d introduce you to your Friendly Neighborhood Fed so you could get an idea of where at least some of your tax dollars really go.

Well, yes, some of them do go to Washington to support Congressional Representatives and Senators, not to mention whoever currently inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  (Yes, I know who currently inhabits it, but not even he can live there forever.  At least, not as things stand at the moment, though I wouldn’t put it past him to have himself declared President for Life or something.)  Some tax dollars do go for farm subsidies, transportation subsidies, medical research, defense, education, student loans, etc., etc., etc.  In fact, so much goes out on all of this that I’m wondering why people fixate on federal civil-service employees as the Source of All Our Ills.

Oh, wait, I forgot, they don’t do nuttin’.  Well…almost nuttin’.  They do the medical research.  They process Social-Security claims and income-tax returns, and those nightmarish FAFSA forms so well-known to college-loan applicants.  Not a few of them put their lives on the line for you and me (and earn peanuts doing it, incidentally) – we call them soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.  But there are also the people who guard the president, ensure that smugglers are caught, try their level best (with sometimes outright hostility from Congress and the administration) to keep our borders safe and minimize the effects of illegal drugs.  And there are the people who, since 1971, have been making sure that you get home in one piece at night (OSHA, to be specific).

They don’t all work in Washington.  Most of them, in fact, work ten or twenty miles from where you live.  They pay taxes the same as you do, not only state and local and property taxes, but federal income taxes – which means they pay a portion of their own salaries.  When they drive to work, they buy their gas at the same gas station you do; when they take mass transit, they pay the same fare you do.  The health insurance they get isn’t the same razzle-dazzle cover-everything plan that the Congress gets; it’s the same Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan as yours, with, possibly, one exception:  They pay a portion of their insurance coverage, something I never had to do when working in private industry.  They make co-payments on their medical care, too.

When they go out to eat, they eat at local restaurants.  Their kids go to school with your kids, unless they attend a parochial school – and maybe yours do, too.  The houses on which they pay property taxes look like yours, to a greater or lesser extent; some have larger homes, but some have smaller homes, too.  If they live in one state and work in another, they pay state income taxes to both states, same as you do.  They shop at the same supermarkets you do, and get their hair cut by the same barber or hair stylist that you use.

Strikes me that an awful lot of your tax dollars are being plowed back into your community, via federal civil-service workers.  Naive idealism?  Not really – I’ve been married to one for over forty years.

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‘Tis the summer of a presidential election, and the Sound of the Candidates is heard in the land.  I don’t know what it is about our tiny state, which only has two electoral votes, but every four years, we get slammed with political ads and visits from campaigners, often beginning the year before.  I don’t know about other New Hampshirites, but by this time, I’m heartily sick of it all.  This isn’t why I became a monarchist, but I can’t help reflecting that in a constitutional monarchy, anyway, our choices would be limited to something much more relevant:  local elections.

Of necessity, much of our television programming comes from our neighbor to the south, Massachusetts, and the race for Senate there is on the national radar screen.  Two years ago, when the ubiquitous Teddy Kennedy finally went to his eternal reward, the Senate seat he had occupied for so many decades was up for grabs.  Now, owing largely to the Kennedys, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed some time ago from being a bastion of Republican probity to being a test tube for Democratic social change, so the Democratic candidate for this race, State Attorney General Martha Coakley, was considered a shoo-in for the Senate race; her competitor, Scott Brown, didn’t even receive financial support (and only lip service) from the Republican Party of Massachusetts.  No matter.  Scott Brown drove his blue truck from one end of the state to the other, literally door-to-door.  He’d stop at diners and coffee shops and local fairs, introducing himself, listening to what people wanted out of their Senate representation, explaining what could and would not be possible for him as a junior Senator; but he listened to people.  And in the political upset of a lifetime, he won the Senate seat.

A new six-year term for that seat begins next year, so he’s having to do it all over again.  This time around, his opponent is a Harvard professor by the name of Elizabeth Warren.  The ads for both candidates are thick, so the hubster and I have had plenty of “face time,” as it were, with Professor Warren.  She reminds us both of, big surprise, a teacher:  wire-frame glasses, short, bobbed hair, very earnest in her presentation, much shaking of her head as she makes her points in favor of her platform, which I won’t go into because it’s a standard Democratic platform.  At least once per day, we’ll note to each other that we expect her to start shaking her finger at the voters as she tries to impress upon them how bad they were in electing that nasty man two years ago.  Naughty, naughty.

I guess this campaign garners so much national attention because no one ever expected a Democratic candidate to lose any election in Massachusetts – despite the fact that two of its governors, within living memory, have been Republicans – certainly not a candidate for the “Kennedy Seat in the Senate” (or, as Scott Brown pointed out last time, “the people’s seat in the Senate”).  Also because of the gaffes this woman has made in her campaign, such as the one where it came to light that she had claimed minority status as being “part Cherokee,” and then it turned out she was something like 1/32 Cherokee.  She based her claim on members of her family having “high cheekbones.”  Hey, I have high cheekbones.  They came from my Russian ancestors.  Why doesn’t she claim to be part Russian?

The latest ad, though, is a doozy.  In her oh-so-earnest way, she starts out by describing the “trillions of dollars” college students owe on their student loans, then goes on to excoriate “Washington” for making this happen, and makes the point – somewhat – that if you elect her, she’ll Clean Up the Mess in Washington.  Huh???  It’s her own Party that’s in control of the federal government.  Sooooo…whose mess is in Washington??  What am I missing?

Closer to home – that is, back north of the border – we have yet to hold our State primaries for gubernatorial candidate (governors of New Hampshire serve two-year terms).  Last night there was a news article for one of the candidates running on the Democratic platform.  He’s a retired Marine, he runs a bed-and-breakfast somewhere north of where I live (together with his wife), and he made a point of stressing his respect for life:  “If I see a spider, I’ll pick it up and put it outside.”  Nice.  My husband does the same thing.  But my husband is not a member of the Party that has institutionalized, as a major plank in its platform, the destruction of unborn human life.  Does this candidate even realize the inconsistency?!  If he has so much respect for life, why is he a Democrat?!

Not to mention the Democratic Party’s fallback portrayal of Republicans as the Party of the Rich, robber barons sending jobs overseas (inaccurately described, incidentally, as “outsourcing” – it’s actually “off-shoring”) while accumulating billions in Swiss bank accounts – oh, unless they’re Bible-totin’ Rednecks with gun racks on the back of the pickup truck.  Bible-totin’ “rednecks” aren’t notoriously wealthy, so people, which is it?

I used to work for a man who would regularly exhort us to be “consistent in our inconsistencies.”  Musta been a Democrat.

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