Saturday, January 15, 2005

Blogging Part II - even though there really wasn't a Part 1

Part 1 would be the post about Professional Blogging, posted earlier today. Sissy suggested that I leave LaShawn some answers and I think you should too, if you're a blogger. Here's the backtrack. Go read, answer the questions and enjoy LaShawn's blog.

I suppose I should explain a bit...duh! LaShawn is looking for bloggers to answer some questions about long you've blogged, why, would you quit, and have you ever taken a hiatus.

Like I said...go.
The Fair Tax

My earlier post on the Nebraska school house got me thinking about the Fair Tax. Wasn't hard to do, as getting the Fair Tax passed is one of my passions right now.

I have a cold and I just don't have it in me to post as I would like to. My energy is almost gone, but here is a brief summary of the Fair Tax from Representative John Linder's Congressional site. More information here.

The FairTax Act:
  • Repeals all corporate and individual income taxes, payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes and gift taxes.
  • Imposes a revenue-neutral personal consumption tax on all new goods and services at the point of final purchase. Business-to-business transactions and used products (which have already been taxed) are not subject to the sales tax.
  • Rebates the sales tax on all spending up to the poverty level.

Results of the FairTax:

  • Dramatically reduce the costs of goods and services by 20 to 30 percent.
  • Allows you to keep 100 percent of your paycheck, pension, and Social Security payments.
  • Gross Domestic Product will increase by almost 10.5 percent in the first year after enactment.
  • Compliance costs would decrease by 90 percent.
  • Real investment would initially increase by 76 percent relative to the investment that would be made under present law. While this increase would gradually decline, it remains 15 percent higher than under the existing tax structure.
  • Exports would increase by 26 percent initially and would remain more than 13 percent above the level under the current tax system.
  • Real wages will increase.
  • Increases incentives to work by as much as 20 percent in many households, leading to higher economic growth and efficiency.
  • Interest rates will fall 25 to 35 percent.
Representative John Linder of Georgia is the primary sponsor of HR25. You can access his site here, and the Fair Tax site here. Sunnye at The Sunnyeside has blogged about it here.
North Carolina Amber Alert

Amber Alert Issued for Two North Carolina Children

Posted: Saturday January 15 1:28 PM CT The Watauga County Sheriff's office and the North Carolina Department of Crime Control issued the Amber Alert after the children were abducted at gunpoint on Saturday afternoon.

Paul Canter, 2 yrs., white male, 2'7", 28 lbs with blond hair and blue eyes. Paul was wearing blue overalls and a long sleeve shirt.

Brianna Canter, 11 mos., 2'3", 18 lbs and is wearing a flowered long sleeve shirt.

Police say their father James Canter and their mother abducted them at gunpoint. The suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

See photos of the children and the suspects here.

If you have information contact Wataga NC County Sheriff's Office at: 828-264-3761

Yep, you've had your parental rights terminated and then abduct the children at gunpoint from the foster family they've been placed with really shows that you're good parent material.

Please, if you live in the North Carolina/Tennesse area and have information, please contact your local police or the Watauga Co SO at the above number. Help find these kids. They've been traumatized and need to get back to the foster family to resume their lives in safety.

Be careful. The suspects (I can't refer to them as parents), are considered armed and dangerous.

(This Amber Alert will remain at the top of the page until the kids are found)

UPDATE: The alert has been cancelled. The children were found safe, and the suspects taken into custody.


Does anyone want a Gmail account? I have several to give away. Email (see Email Me! in the sidebar) if you're interested.
Professional Blogging

I was reading somewhere, I've done so much reading to "catch up" over the last couple of days, I've forgotten where I read this, that bloggers should have to follow the same rules that journalists do.

There is a big difference between what I do here in My Little Corner and what a journalist does. I write for my own mental health and because I can. A journalist usually has a degree in some from of journalism or communications, and they do it for a living. A journalist is paid for what he or she writes. It makes no difference whether the journalist is writing an opinion piece for a column, doing investigative journalism, reporting on a local bank robbery, or a story about what happened at the mayor's wife's garden party last Sunday. It doesn't make a difference whether it's for a newspaper or broadcast news .

When you are paid for writing, you are expected to be factual and honest in your reporting. This is a job and your reputation rides on your honesty and reportage of what happened. If you have ties or a bias to a story you are doing, you are expected to disclose those ties, or keep your bias in check until the story is written. Had I written that I had memos about Bush's National Guard Service, no one would have paid attention. Dan Rather however, is a professional journalist. He is paid to report on the news. Unfortunately, his bias got in the way.

I am a blogger, not a professional journalist, news reporter or anything of the sort. I don't get paid for writing anything. I usually don't offer an opinion on something until I've read several different sites, news and blogs, on a topic, or I've done my own research, such as on The Fair Tax Act. The only payment I receive is when a reader says, "you really made me think about that" or "that was a really great piece you wrote on (insert topic)" or "I really like what you write and I've bookmarked your site" or when I look at my stats. My ego gets fed. It really jumps when someone says they've bookmarked me or blog-rolled me.

Reporters and journalists, people on whom other people rely to tell them the facts have to, or should, disclose personal information as it relates to a story. If Neil Cavuto on Fox reports on Nextel, he should disclose that he owns (or doesn't own) Nextel. I don't have to tell my readers jack about me if I don't choose to. I disclose what personal information I do so that you will get the idea that I have personal experience with this topic and know something of what I write. Again, the truth thing.

Bloggers do develop reputations. If we want readers to continue reading our blogs, and feeding our egos, we have to be as honest and ethical as possible. I don't want people, even people I will never meet, thinking I'm a liar. You may not agree with what I have to say, you may think I'm stupid, uneducated, ill-informed, and that I'm an in-bred mouth breather, but I don't want you to think that I lie. Many blogs are written to give information that the main stream media fails to report on. Most blogs are written to post an opinion or vent on that information. Most blogs are written for the fun and entertainment of the blogger. My livelyhood does not depend on what my readers think of me; a journalist's does.

There may come a time in the future that bloggers will be held to the same standards that professional journalists are. We may have to disclose our sources and we may have to vet our facts with three independent sources before we can publish our blogs. We may have to disclose that our second cousin's son works for Halliburton if we are writing about Bush or Cheney. I hope that never happens. If we bloggers are held to the same journalistic standards that journalists and reporters are held to, the Internet will develope into something else and will not be fun anymore. Blogs will be reduced to being a place to swap recipes and maybe the recipes will have to be tested before being published.

Graner Guilty

Army Spec Sgt Charles Graner of Uniontown PA, was convicted Friday on all five counts he face in his involvement in the Abu Gharaib prison scandal. The charges included assault (downgraded to battery), conspiracy, maltreatment of detainees, committing indecent acts and dereliction of duty.

In his civilian life he was a guard at a Pennsylvania prison. A senior guard at the prison, Michael Zavada, described his work as excellent and very disciplined, doing every thing by policy. Zavada praised his restraint in dealing with prisoners and his ability to follow orders. That might be the problem.

I work in a prison. Granted, it's a juvenile prison and things are much different than in an adult prison. But all guards, or Corrections Officers as they sometimes like to be called, know or should know, that if they are given an order that can be considered abusive or illegal, they don't have to follow the order. They can to "go up the chain" and question the order.

Now, I will be the first to admit that this can have consequences, such as retailiation. But, each and every human being, whether a prison guard or not, has an inner voice telling them whether something is right or not. When it's wrong you have two options. You can either shut down the volume on the voice that's screaming "this is wrong!" and follow the order, or you can listen to the voice and take the consequences of questioning the order.

Graner may never have stepped over the line in his civilian job. He may have been a paragon of virtue and the prime example of what a prison guard should be. But, when he went to Iraq, things were different. He may say he was following orders. If so, I think he knew these orders were wrong, and may even have resisted for a time. I'd be willing to bet that this prison environment, possibly being told that he can save American lives, and being in a totally different culture changed his value system. In any case, he shut down the inner voice telling him not to do this. I wasn't there, I don't know why Graner did what he was convicted of doing.

This is where I would ordinarily say it's all about character, and it is. But, I also won't say that I could retain my value system in an environment where I knew that the inmates I was guarding could have information that would save American lives. I don't know that I could have resisted if a CIA agent told me that this is what we needed to do to get that information. I'd like to say that if Graner had the character that he showed in his civilian job, he might be hailed as a hero now instead of facing time on the other side of the bars. And I could take the high and mighty road and say just that. But I won't.

He committed the crime. He's been convicted. He's going to do the time. Now he has the choice of pointing fingers and whining that he was only following orders, or taking responsibility for his own actions. Now is when his character will show through. And now is when I will say it's all about character.

Update: Graner got 10 years. From what I read on various news sites, he whined that he was only following orders. He said "he now knows that those orders were unlawful, but "at the time my understanding is that they were (lawful), or I wouldn't have done them," he said." and that "I didn't enjoy what I did there. ... A lot of it was wrong, a lot of it was criminal." He spoke for nearly three hours in an unsworn statement, which was not subject to cross-examination by prosecutors. Graner should hope his jailers know what's lawful and what's not.

Another Reason to Fire the IRS

One-Room School Faces $10,000 IRS Fine
Jan 13, 6:57 PM (ET)

BAYARD, Neb. (AP) - A tax error totaling less than $40 has resulted in a $10,000 fine for the Hill Public School, a one-room schoolhouse.

The IRS informed the school district of the discrepancy on June 1, 2003, and wants the fine to be paid, Rhonda Maxcy, school board secretary, said Monday.

Maxcy says an accountant is to blame for the error, which he repeated a dozen times on the school's quarterly tax returns from 2000 to 2002. The school's stated amount withheld for several federal taxes was over the limit by $3.25 each quarter, she said.

"We weren't notified by the IRS as to why they let that go so long," Maxcy said.

Now the public is being asked to contribute to the fine. The school is even trying to raise $2,000 from the sale of its 1985 Chevy van, which takes its eight students in Kindergarten through 8th grade on field trips.

The school, which was built in the early 1900s, is one of a few one-room schoolhouses still remaining in Nebraska. One full-time teacher and one teacher's aid work at the school.

If I had $10,000 I'd write a check and then another one to retain a lawyer for the school. This is absolutely ridiculous. Is there anyone out there who doesn't believe the tax code needs to be totally reformed? And what is the accountant who made the mistake doing to help fix this mess? It was an honest mistake on the accountant's part, so I don't advocate getting out the tar and feathers, but this goes beyond, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake."

Who wants to bet this is the last year this one room school house will be open? I'm guessing the school will be closed down and the kids bussed miles to the nearest schools. How sad. The time spent on the bus could have been used being kids, playing ball, having snowball fights in the winter, and even doing chores. And maybe even studying! Study! What a concept. I rode a schoolbus. I know how easy it is (not!) to study on a swaying, noisy school bus full of other kids who don't want to achieve good grades.

I've written before about how getting rid of our current archaic, undeciperable by most living, breathing human beings, tax system would benefit you as an individual. I never gave a thought to a situation such as this. This school would not be in this situation if it didn't have to be a tax collection center. The school doesn't pay taxes, it collects taxes from its employees to send to the federal government. Think about it...what does a school do to have to pay taxes to the government? It takes money from the teachers in the form of payroll taxes. Am I wrong? Please educate me. Any other revenue I can think of should be in the form of fundraisers for the school and aren't those tax exempt?

It's time to get rid of the IRS.
Note: Thanks to my better half, Dale, for bringing this to my attention. He specifically thought it was something that needed to be blogged about in reference to tax reform and he was right. Thanks, honeybunch!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sunday Ramblings

Diplomad proves why the UN is no longer worthy of our support. You've just got to read this.

And I love And Rightly So!'s post on Evil, Darkness and God.

Michelle Malkin chimes in on malaria, mosquitos, and DDT. In the wake of the Tsunami disaster, maybe it's time to have another look at DDT.

In case you're interested, the New York Post Online reports that Columbia House is expanding its operations. It's joining with Playboy to start Hush and will sell pornography through direct mail and a website. I don't object to this because I have the choice to join or not. It's free enterprise and that's a good thing.

The Ice Age has come to Manatee County. We have a minor league hockey team called the Gulf Coast Swords. I have nothing against hockey, it's just that it didn't exist in Florida when I was growing up and I can't relate to it. Those of us who grew up in the South generally relate better to ice in glasses.

The Sarasota Film Fest runs January 28 through Feb 6. No stars have been announced, but officials did confirm that Peter Falk, Paul Reiser, and Levon Helm plan to attend. Falk and Reiser star in the film The Thing About My Folks which will make its East Coast premier on January 28 at the Van Wezel. Helm, of The Band, will be honored with the Jack Douglas Music Achievement Award.

Do you have money sitting in a forgotten account just waiting for you to claim it? Here's a site to look at. It's free, but I saw a warning on the referring site that the internet provider inserts ads that may charge you for services or products. I ran my name, but unfortunately, I've apparently gotten all the money that I'm entitled to. Dang it!

Condolences to the Kennedy family on the passing of Rosemary. As you may know, Rosemary was born with mental retardation and sent to live in the St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children in Jefferson Wisconsin. She was the inspiration for the Special Olympics, headed by her sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Did you know that the fattest city in the US, according to Men's Fitness magazine, is Houston, Texas? Seattle is the fittest. Apparently Men's Fitness hasn't been in Bradenton.

Fox apparently has refused a Super Bowl TV ad for Aireborne, an over-the-counter health product, because it shows Mickey Rooney's bare...uh...rear end. Give me a break. We're talking about an 84-year old butt. I think Fox is still reeling from Janet Jackson's wardrobe "malfunction." Here's a link.