Friday, March 23, 2012

A Change of Pace.

At this time of year, mid-March, in most years you are likely to find me outside wielding a snow shovel or a bucket of salt and sand. However this year you are much more likely to find me wielding a fishing rod! Instead of bundling myself up in layers of clothing, boots, gloves, a scarf and a hat against the Mad March Winds, I am instead lightly clothed in summer pants and a thin summer shirt. Yes, the world has gone crazy. We have been enjoying temperatures in the 70's and even the 80's for 2 or 3 weeks now with no sign of it abating.

Flowers like the daffodils have not just come out, they are almost finished! I have already mowed the lawn once, blossoms and flowers are everywhere. Birds and fish are ubiquitous, as of course are weeds and insects.

As I often seem to do, I planted early. Let's hope this will not bring the wrath of Mother Nature down on me!

A couple of years ago I bought a snow blower, after the "Snowstorm of the Century". We have had very little snow since. Of course! I anticipate no more heavy snow until the snow blower rusts up solid and is unusable. This year I prepared by placing a bucket of salt and sand and a snow shovel outside of the back door And also outside of the front door. I dug out a selection of waterproof gloves, boots and coats, as well as hats and the inevitable scarf, and placed them strategically close. None have seen service. In fact I replaced the buckets of salt and sand and the snow shovels back in the basement. Nervously, I have to admit, but that was a few days ago and 'they' are still calling for warm weather. Today is warm and sunny with temperatures expected to top 80 degrees.

What can I say? Dare I say Climate Change?

Food Waste Friday.

Nothing much ever seems to go to waste around here. How could it with my favorite saying being, "I will eat anything that doesn't eat me first!"

If by some miracle something does escape my roaming appetite, there are the Chickens who will gladly fight me for it, or the fish in The Lake, or the Final Frontier of The Compost Heap!

Nope, nothing for the Food Waste Friday Folks again, I am glad to say.

David The Silver Fox.


Once again there is a thick fog over the area. Most mornings I wake at around 6.00 AM. For the last two weeks when I pry open my eyes and peer out at my world I am greeted by a blank wall of fog. As I lay there, with my mind running at a million miles an hour, the fog horns sounding from time to time - why are they so few? - I contemplate the coming day, it's delights and it's fears.

Of the Delights there are many, the biggest of which is Julia's smile. But this won't come yet as she is still asleep. Then there are the antics of The New Cat - Monty - the friendliness of our "Old" cat Muffey, my morning cup(s) of coffee, the view of "My" Lake and it's teeming wildlife, a walk outside to pick up the morning newspaper, checking my e-mails, maybe seeing my neighbor Mike, watching The Lake come alive - usually this is a varying process of The Lake being like a mirror, or not, and the sun coming up - that always happens! - and as it comes up it "Sets fire" to the trees on the other side, it causes The Still Lake to ripple, or sometimes it causes the rippling Lake to calm. Always the birds appear, flying over, landing, fishing, fighting, splashing or just sitting. If I just sit and watch The Lake I might see a Muskrat or a Snake swimming across, a bunch of Cormorants fishing, little Diving Ducks, a Great Blue Heron winging across looking like a miniature Pterodactyl. Sometimes there is a surprise - a Buzzard or even an Eagle and very rarely a deer, a fox or a raccoon. Any or all of these could happen today.

Then there are The Fears. I imagine that we all have these? At least I hope that I am not the only one. There are the Terrible ones, too terrible even to contemplate, like Nuclear War, the Death of a Loved One or Republicans taking power. Then there are the Mid Size Fears such as illness, an accident, losing my job, the economy getting worse, what will be in the news today, and a host of others, then finally the Small Fears - are we out of milk, do I have enough coffee, am I going to have to cut the lawn again, what's for dinner, what - it's laundry day AGAIN.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A new form of taxation.

Dare I say a BETTER way of taxing us?

I propose a three tier taxing system.

The first tier would be very simple and very easy and everyone would pay, albeit at a much lower rate than at present.

The second tier would be difficult to escape, but it would be possible to limit how much you pay. It would be easier for poorer people to limit how much they pay.

The third tier would almost be voluntary! While it would not be possible to escape it completely, you would be able to decide not to pay it. And if you did not pay it you would be healthier and not only you, but everyone else would be better off!

So here goes;-

Tier one, a flat tax that increases as your income increases. I suggest 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25% rates, based on income. The tiers would need to be set. Up to a certain amount a person would pay 5%, then on the amount OVER that first level the rate would be 10%, and so on. The higher levels would only be on the amount OVER the previous level, not on the entire income earned. This is the same as it is now. But the rate would be MUCH lower. There would also be NO deductions, allowances, loopholes etc. You report your income and you pay on that income.

Tier two, a sales tax. To pick a number I suggest 5% for the States and 5% for Federal. With no tax on food, medical and services. This would reduce the bite on essentials and help people with lower incomes more than the richer. I see you being able to reduce the amount of tax you pay in this level, although it would be difficult to impossible to escape it completely. But you can see that someone with a very low income who could only afford the essentials like food and medicine would pay little tax, while someone with a large disposable income would be paying more tax as they would buy more. It would also be difficult to avoid this tax as it would be added at the source, or even before the item is priced! (One possibility here might be a couple of levels of tax, for example 5% on most items but a higher rate on luxury goods like expensive jewelry, cars, boats, planes etc.)

The third tier, a "Health and Safety" tax. Many people would be able to choose to avoid this tax completely! Anyone who did pay it would not only be hurting themselves financially but also their health, and/or the health of us all and of the Planet. Quite simply there would be a substantial tax on such things as Cigarettes, Alcohol, Fat, Sugar, etc. We would be able to CUT DOWN ON THE BAD STUFF, stuff that hurts us, and save money! we would get stronger and healthier and wealthier! Who could argue with that?

We would also tax Carbon, Gasoline, Cars (The bigger they are the bigger the tax), Pollution - or Polluters, etc. Again we could reduce our use of scarce stuff, CUT DOWN ON POLLUTION AND HAVE CLEANER AIR AND WATER. And save money doing it! And breathe cleaner air and drink cleaner water and have healthier kids and us! Who could argue with that?

We would also tax Guns, Ammunition, Speeding, Murder, Rape, Theft, Drunkenness (in public), Assault, Violence, etc. WE WOULD ALL BE SAFER. And save money doing it. Who could argue with that?

With my idea the total tax paid would be the same. (Actually it is obvious that we need to increase our tax level as we are not collecting anywhere near enough taxes to pay for even basic services. But that is another thing.) So the tax paid would be the same. It would just not come from income alone. Instead the lions share would come from the bad stuff that we do to ourselves, our world and our fellow man. This would give us a reason, and an excuse, if we need one, to stop doing bad stuff.

Don't take so much of our hard earned money, tax us for doing things that are bad for us and everyone else. This should also cut down on our Health Insurance premiums as we would all be healthier! And cut down on money spent on insurances - by cutting down on speeding etc. Less of our money would go to prisons, people might think twice for example if they were going to lose money if they are violent. Money for all those crimes would be confiscated and used to pay for the prisons.

Want to keep more of your money? Do good stuff. Be good to yourself. Be good to the Planet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

HOWEVER, apparently people in the US kill more people than in, say the UK. Some figures, just for interest of course, (All figures are per 100,000 people) : -

Gun ownership. US 89,000. UK 6,000 15 times as many.

Murder by gun. US 6.24 UK .13 48 times as many.

Accidental death by gun. US .58 UK .02 29 times as many.

Suicide by gun. US 7.23 UK .33 22 times as many.

Now maybe it is just coincidence, but I do notice that gun ownership seems to increase the number of deaths by gun! Also the number of suicides and accidents by gun. Now to a person like me who is fascinated by numbers and figures it is clear that guns kill people. The more guns people have, the more people die by the gun - ergo Guns Kill People.

What is further of interest is that in the US the numbers all show that although gun ownership is "only" 15 times higher than in the UK, murder by gun is 48 times higher, suicide by gun is 22 times higher and accidental death by gun is 29 times higher.

Common sense or the law of averages would say that all those figures should be 15 times higher - the same as the number of guns higher - but instead we see figures of 22X, 29X and 48X which is of interest to me. Does it mean that instruction in gun safety is better in the UK than in the US, or that the UK has safer guns than the US, or that people in the US are more angry or unstable or less civilized than in the UK? Surely not, but certainly there is something about either the guns or the people in the US that causes them to murder and commit suicide by gun at a much higher rate than almost any other country in the world.

Another figure that will almost certainly be brought up in any argument by gun proponents in the US will be gun ownership in Switzerland which is 47,000 per 100,000 of the population. US murder rate by gun is 11 times higher than the murder rate by gun in Switzerland, accidental death rate by gun - US is 5 times higher - and suicide by gun in US is only 1.3 times higher than in Switzerland!

All great fun - for someone who enjoys figures.