A Democracy of Trivial Pursuit
Some days it is difficult to believe that thousands of men and women have given their lives to protect the freedoms and rights we have. Day after day during various election campaigns, I watch pointless polarized arguments over trivial minutia rather than serious debate about the real issues that we face and that are of concern to us all.
The mainstream and social media become aflame with opinion, most of which is unencumbered by something as inconvenient as facts or analytical thinking. It is noise and buzz and chatter that is passed along as if it actually meant something.
The presidential election in the United States will cost upwards of $10 billion and has already consumed the better part of a year. It is an obscene expenditure and parody of democracy and for all that time and expense, what have we really learned?
Not much. People have lined up to support the President or the challenger with mindless partisan rhetoric they parrot endlessly. When confronted with real facts, they spin, dodge and weave with more dexterity than an NBA point guard.
For months, for example, the left has been whining about Mitt Romney’s tax returns and they were finally released; more than 550 pages of them in fact. The documents even included returns for the past few years which was over-kill but nonetheless, it didn’t stop the hyperbole or even slow it down. Instead, people now criticize how much Mr. Romney actually paid or talk about his off-shore accounts or, if you’re a Democratic U.S. Senator, accuse Mr. Romney of falsifying his returns.
It’s almost as if people can’t think for themselves any more. They’re just ventriloquist dummies with a political party’s hand up their ass making their mouths work.
Even sheep think more independently.
I had a comment left on my blog yesterday that referred to Mitt Romney’s tax rate as a joke. I’ll tell you what’s a joke. It’s people who can’t think beyond their bias, people so bereft of the ability to think critically and so unwilling to examine facts objectively, they’d rather sink with the ship than let go of whatever opinion they cling to so desperately.
Let’s look at the facts, not the spin from either side, just the facts of Mitt Romney’s tax returns.
Mitt Romney’s income is primarily investment income which is taxed differently than salaried income. There is a reason for this. Investment income has already been taxed once. Consequently, just as all Americans who earn investment income, Mr. Romney received a rate reduction under the tax code because of the nature of his income. Barrack Obama, by contrast, earned most of his income in the form of salary which is taxed differently but in the end, it all amounts to the same thing.
Both men followed the tax code as it is written into law. Because of his sizable donation to charity, Mr. Romney earned a very large tax deduction which reduced his tax rate to 14%. That charitable tax deduction is available to every American citizen and is in place to encourage people to contribute to their communities through charity.
It should be noted that Mr. Romney did not take the full allowable charitable donation tax deduction even though he was fully entitled to do so.
In 2011, Mitt Romney earned $42 million. He paid $6.2 million in taxes, donated $7 million to charity and another $4.1 million to his church. In other words, far from being the greedy, evil 1% money-grubber that the Democrats were desperate to paint him, Mitt Romney paid taxes and made donations equivalent to 41% of his income.
The national average for charitable donations is approximately 3% of income. Mitt Romney donated slightly more than 26% of his income.
Those are simple facts but it won’t stop the left from accusing him of not paying his fair share. They will whine that he should have paid more in taxes rather than give to his church and to charity. Don’t try to make sense of that attitude. I’ve wasted too much time trying to figure it out and the logic escapes me.
So how does the evil capitalist stack up against others with a dog in this race? Let’s take a look at some of his critics and supporters.
In 2011, Joe Biden and his wife donated $995 to charity on income of just over $300,000. At 0.3%, that doesn’t come close to the national average even though it is a significant increase for the Biden’s over previous years when they donated less than 0.1%. It doesn’t, however, measure up to former Vice-president Al Gore who, along with his wife, donated 7% of their income to charity during his last two years in office.
To their credit, President Obama and his wife have increased their charitable donations as their income increased. In 2011, the President donated 5.7% of their income to charity and the President took 100% of the allowable tax deduction as is his right under the tax code. Senator John McCain, another right-wing capitalist pig, donated 25% of his income. Newt Gingrich donated less than 3%.
How much a politician, or anyone for that matter, contributes to charity is a personal decision and has nothing to do with whether or not they are capable of governing and leading the country. But look at all the time that has been wasted and that will continue to be wasted on this non-issue. There was no smoking gun in the Romney tax returns but consider how much time and energy were squandered over it to the point that it was like watching a dog worrying a bone. There was no meat left but that dog just kept on gnawing anyway.There are people across America right now and, indeed, around the world asking a far more serious question than how much tax did Mitt Romney pay. The question many are asking is:
What in the hell happened to the United States and to Americans?
The United States used to be a nation that applauded success. It celebrated initiative and achievement. Much of the world’s great industrial and technological advancement came from Americans like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and countless others. Along the way, they created hundreds of thousands of jobs and provided significant prosperity for people across the country and around the world.It was called The American Dream; a nation where anyone could rise up from nothing and become successful.
Americans were an innovative, creative and positive people. Now it’s all whining and accusation; a negativity that borders on manic depression. Success is vilified and accomplishing wealth has become an evil thing. It’s sometimes seems like America’s best days are behind it and the country we once knew and admired no longer exists.
Even the President demeaned the idea of individual accomplishment and success with his “you didn’t build this” comment. That statement is so unlike the attitude that built the United States, that it is astonishing that any American politician would actually think it let alone say it out loud.
It wasn’t so long ago that America was the strongest nation in the world and the president was considered the world’s most powerful leader. It wasn’t strong simply because it had a large standing army and enough nuclear weapons to destroy the solar system. It was attitude and character that made America strong. There was a national pride and confidence that is long gone.If other nations didn’t always agree with U.S. foreign policy, they respected the focus and strength of American resolve and determination. Now, teenagers and thugs with guns, rocks and homemade bombs attack American consulates and terrorists kill its diplomatic staff without reprisal.
Where once America stood strong against those that threatened it’s security, it now apologizes for having offended those that attack it.
The nation’s economy is in the toilet, unemployment is a disgrace, poverty is on the rise, random violence is breaking out in cities across the country, the country’s foreign policy is a confused mess and through it all, Americans are arguing about a candidate’s tax returns or the president’s birth certificate, the latest Romney foot in the mouth gaff or how often the President has played golf.
Give me a break!
While I grant you it would be a wonderful thing for a nation to only have to worry about trivia like that, the simple reality is that they are not only unimportant, they are inane in context of the state of the union and the world today.
There are 23 million Americans unemployed and more than 26 million who go to bed at night not knowing from where their next meal will come. Half of those people, 13 million, are children. The true unemployment rate is over 10%, the national deficit has jumped from $10 trillion to $16 trillion in just four years and neither Congress nor the White House showed enough leadership to have come together and successfully passed a budget during this administration.Despite that, those who support the President are more focused on accusing anyone who doesn’t of being a racist.
Despite a fast approaching deadline that will see program spending slashed by $1 trillion and taxes increased by as much as 5% unless Congress and The White House arrive at a solution, Congress has adjourned until after the election season and the President was too busy chatting on The View and David Letterman to attempt to negotiate a deal. This despite the fact that the bond rating agencies have issued a strong warning that the United States is facing another downgrading of its credit rating. That will result in even higher interest payments on the national debt, further depriving the government of much needed money to fund its operations.America has lost its influence in the world. Despite entreaties from the President to not attend, 127 countries attended a conference in Iran this past week. So little influence does the U.S. now have, even the Secretary General of the U.N attended despite a request from the President that he not.
Two men are running for president. It is probably the most serious responsibility in the developed world but very few, including the candidates themselves have offered serious and informed debate on the real issues. It’s all attack, spin and counter spin. Anyone who believes that approach to selecting a world leader will provide a future guarantee of prosperity and security for the nation is seriously deluded. It is a circus of misinformed, polarized opinion and nothing more and which will accomplish even less.
I have always liked and respected the United States and I particularly like Americans. I have always found them a friendly, compassionate and dynamic people. If they were sometimes arrogant and opinionated, they were also fiercely loyal and invariably the first to arrive with aid at the scene of a natural disaster somewhere in the world. We could always count on America and Americans to be among the first to offer a helping hand to those who needed it.
We now live in a era when it is more important than ever before to know who your friends are and upon whom you can depend. It wasn’t so long ago, we all knew we could depend on the United States as trading partner, friend and ally. Today nobody, including some of America’s closest allies like Canada and Israel, really know where they stand with the United States. If your closest allies are scratching their heads in wonderment, you can only imagine what those, who didn’t like you to begin with, are thinking.
It makes me wonder what happened to this great nation and I’m not alone. People around the world, including many Americans are asking the same question.
And that, my friends, is a far better question to ponder than Mitt Romney’s tax returns or all the other trivial nonsense being screamed across the mainstream and social media these days. If Americans want to regain the country they once had, they need to examine both the record of this President and the campaign platform of his challenger with an objective and critical eye before making a decision when they go to cast their ballot.
The simple truth is that in this new and very dangerous world, Americans can no longer afford the luxury of mindless partisanship and ill-informed debate.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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