Saturday, June 13, 2009

FairTax in A Minute – Does the FairTax burden the retail industry?

All businesses are tax collectors today. They withhold income and payroll taxes from their employees. Moreover, the vast majority of retail businesses operating in states with a sales tax (45 states currently use a sales tax) are already sales tax collectors. Under the FairTax, retailers are paid a fee equal to one-quarter of one percent of federal sales tax they collect and remit. In addition, of course, retailers no longer bear the cost of complying with the income tax, including the uniform capitalization requirements, the various depreciation schemes, and the various employee benefit and pension rules. Finally, the economic growth resulting from the aggregate, beneficial effects of dramatically lower income tax compliance costs and no payroll or income taxes, customers having substantially more money -- the greatest influence on retail sales -- and a reasonable fee for collecting the FairTax, all ensure that retailers do quite well.
Ask for An American

I want to share with you some great information that I found out purely by accident. I believe it can also save and create jobs in America while giving people better customer service.

So how many times have you called a companies service phone line and found that the rep. can barely speak English? Once with a major mortgage company it was so bad I demanded to speak with someone who spoke English. Right at that moment I broke the code, the secret password for customer service.

Come to find out that every American company using overseas operators must transfer you to an American rep. By saying......."I want to speak to a representative in America" (don't take no for an answer on this).

This was confirmed by the American rep. That they must transfer you after that request. I've tried it on a half a dozen major companies including cable, bank, phone and mortgage companies. It works every time and I actually get my issues taken care of.

Last thing to help save even more jobs.... Don't use the automated check out lanes they are pushing at the big box stores. Once again I found out that if we use those check outs rather than cashiers people lose their jobs too. I've refused to use the automated check outs and have had two cashiers already thank me for help saving their job.


True? I don't know, I haven't had reason to test the "code" yet. Maybe you or my other reader knows about this?

As for the automated check out lanes, I don't use them. I'm sure the stores that use them say it is to help out the customers, so they don't have to wait in line. Well.....excuse me, but can't the store hire cashiers to man the registers they already have?

It's a pet peeve I've had with Walmart for years. They build stores with 20-30 checkout registers and have maybe five open. On a really good day, I've seen eight or ten open. I have NEVER seen more than half of the registers open in any Walmart I've been in, even during the busy Christmas season. I shop at Walmart often so I know whereof I speak on this matter.

Unlike other people, I like Walmart. I shop there often. But really, where else is there to shop? I won't go to the mall - especially at night or on the weekend. Too many gangbangers wandering around (it's not my imagination or fears. I work in law enforcement and know the gang situation). My top complaints about the store, however, is that there is never anyone to be found to ask questions of (such as where to find an item), and there are never enough registers open.

Wait. I'm wrong about one thing I just wrote. Electronics and the garden section seem to be exceptions, and there is usually someone blocking an aisle in the grocery area stocking shelves. There is usually someone in jewelry, automotive, and, of course, in the pharmacy. Anytime I've seen an employee working in, say, the clothing department, it's been noteworthy.

It's sad, really. Along with the discount pricing you get discount service. And honestly? Sometimes the discount pricing isn't so discount anymore.

Hints from the Internet

Goodbye Fruit Flies

To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2 with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Friday, June 12, 2009

She looks like…

"You know, she reminds me, she looks like the flight attendant who won't give you a second can of Pepsi. No, you've had enough. We're landing. Looks like the waitress at the coffee shop who draws a little smiley face on your check. Have a nice day."

"She looks like the dip sample lady at Safeway. She looks like the nurse who weighs you and then makes you sit alone in your underwear for 20 minutes. She looks like the Olive Garden hostess who says, 'I'm sorry, your table isn't ready yet.' She looks like the infomercial lady who says she made $64,000 a month flipping condos."

"She looks like the lady at the bakery who yells out '44! 45!' She looks like a real estate agent whose picture you see on the bus stop bench. That's who she looks like. She looks like the lady who has a chain of cupcake stores..."

These are comments made by David Letterman about Governor Sarah Palin, a sitting governor. I’m not going to comment about how juvenile, crass, sophomoric, and just plain stupid these remarks are. I won't comment on the example he's setting for his son. That would be giving him even more publicity than he’s already gotten.

But, I have to wonder how the flight attendants of the world now think about Letterman. Or the waitresses, the ladies who work at grocery stores giving out samples, nurses, restaurant hostesses, women on infomercials, bakery workers, real estate women, or bakery store owners. Whatever you might think of these careers, or the women who persue them, these are hardworking women, who work in industries that demand exceptional public service, and in some cases, at very low pay - especially for the job they do.

Letterman has denigrated every one of these careers by insinuating that they are somehow less than that of, oh, say, a late night talk show host who simply sits behind a desk and makes chit-chat with Hollywood types or someone who is simply the flavor of the moment. I notice he didn’t say anything about bleached blondes with enhanced boobs who make a living reciting lines that someone else wrote.

Yes, Letterman owes a real apology to Governor Palin and both her daughters, but he also owes one to the women whose career choices he dismisses as being worthy of a punch line in a joke.

I hope Letterman isn't planning a plane trip, or a trip to a restaurant, grocery store, or bakery store. I hope he's careful about his choice of real estate agent. And, with his health history, he sure shouldn't be making fun of nurses.
Hints from the Internet

Get Rid of Ants

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it 'home,' can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

I have had success with this tip. I read in a magazine to use cornmeal, so I bought a large box and sprinkled it around the foundation to my condo. I didn't see ants for months.

Speaking of which, I think it's time to reapply the cornmeal.
FairTax in A Minute – How are state tax systems affected, and can states adequately collect a federal sales tax?

No state is required to repeal its income tax or piggyback its sales tax on the federal tax. All states have the opportunity to collect the FairTax; states will find it beneficial to conform their sales tax to the federal tax. Most states will probably choose to conform. It makes the administrative costs of businesses in that state much lower. The state is paid a one-quarter of one percent fee by the federal government to collect the tax. For states that already collect a sales tax, this fee proves generous. A state can choose not to collect the federal sales tax, and either outsource the collection to another state, or opt to have the federal government collect it directly. If a state chooses to conform to the federal tax base, they will raise the same amount of state sales tax with a lower tax rate -- in some cases more than 50 percent lower -- since the FairTax base is broader than their current tax base. States may also consider the reduction or elimination of property taxes by keeping their sales tax rate at or near where it is currently. Finally, conforming states that are part of the FairTax system will find collection of sales tax on Internet and mail-order retail sales greatly simplified.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cure for Constipation

Procedure now being taught in all medical schools:

If you are bothered by occasional or frequent constipation, look in the mirror and repeat the following phrase three times in succession when symptoms occur:

"My financial and personal well being are totally in the hands of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Geithner, Rahm Emmanuel, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Al Gore"

If that doesn't scare the shit out of you, then you are probably destined to be backed up for the rest of your life.
Hints from the Internet

Some info about clothes dryers

The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.) He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material . I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. Well .... the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh - that's what burns out the heating unit.

You can't SEE the film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box ... well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush at least every six months.

He said that increases the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that!?! Learn something new everyday! I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that. So, I thought I'd share!

Note: I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water ran through a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it ... the water ran right through the screen! There wasn't any puddling at all! That repairman knew what he was talking about!

From Kitten: I read about dryer sheets some time ago and quit using them for the most part. I still use them occassionally, mostly because of static cling. Dryer sheets do make towels nice and soft, but I also read that it causes the towels to be less absorbent. So I guess you need to decide what's most important to you.

I read another article that said to use liquid softener on, say a washcloth or other such material, throw into the dryer with a load of clothes instead of a dryer sheet. I haven't used this idea (trying to use up the dryer sheets I already bought), but I plan to try it out. If anyone else has, please post the results!

Oh, and here is a guilty little secret of my own: My dryer wouldn't start one day. I was quite put out as it had been running just fine. I had uniforms to dry for work the next day, and I was low on funds for a repairman or new dryer. I thought to check the lint filter and sure enough it was full! I hadn't remembered to clean it out in some time, I guess. That was a fire just waiting to happen! Once I cleaned the filter, the dryer ran just fine.

Grandma's Hands

Grandma, some ninety-plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands.

When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled.

“Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,” she said in a clear strong voice.

“I didn't mean to disturb you, Grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,” I explained to her.

“Have you ever looked at your hands,” she asked. “I mean really looked at your hands?”

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.

Grandma smiled and related this story:

Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.

They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor.

They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war.

They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.

They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse. They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand.

They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.

These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life.

But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of God.

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home.

When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.

I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.

FairTax in A Minute – What happens to charitable giving?

Charitable contributions depend on one factor more than any other: The health of the economy (not tax benefits). As a wide range of economists agree on the economic expansion the FairTax delivers, charitable contributions benefit also.

For all of the money that pours into churches every Sunday and into a broad range of charities every day, only the 30 percent who itemize get any tax benefit. The other 70 percent have given and keep giving with no tax benefit whatsoever.

The FairTax allows people to make charitable contributions out of pre-tax dollars. Thus, those generally less affluent taxpayers who do not itemize see their cost of charitable giving go down under the FairTax.

Finally, the wealthy make decisions on charitable giving based on the cause. Once they have determined the cause is worthy, their contribution is structured to maximize the gift and minimize the tax. But the intention to give comes first; taxes simply determine the structure -- rarely the amount -- of the gift.
FairTax in A Minute – Do corporations get a windfall with the abolition of the corporate tax?

Corporations are legal fictions that have not, do not, and never will bear the burden of taxation. Only people pay taxes. Corporations pass on their tax burden in the form of higher prices to consumers, lower wages to workers, and/or lower returns to investors. The idea that taxing a corporation reduces taxes on, say the working poor, is a cruel hoax. A corporate tax only makes what the working poor buy more expensive, costs them jobs, lowers their lifestyle, or delays their retirement. Under the FairTax Plan, money retained in the business and reinvested to create jobs, build factories, or develop new technologies, pays no tax. This is the most honest, fair, productive tax system possible. Free market competition will do the rest.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FairTax in A Minute – What about the home mortgage deduction?

The FairTax has positive effects on residential real estate far beyond this narrow question. Today’s homeowners, if they itemize (and 70 percent do not), pay their interest with post-Social Security/pre-income tax dollars. They then pay their principal with post-SS/post-income tax dollars. Those who do not itemize get no advantages at all. Under the FairTax, all homeowners make their entire house paymentwith pre-tax dollars.

With the FairTax, mortgage interest rates fall by about 25 percent (about 1.75 points) as bank overhead falls; this is a huge savings for consumers. For example, on a $150,000, thirty-year home mortgage at an interest rate of 7.00 percent, the monthly mortgage payment is $999.12 for principal and interest. On that same mortgage at a 5.25 percent interest rate, the monthly payment is $830.01. Over 30 years, the 1.75-percent decrease in interest rates in this instance results in a $60,879 cost savings to the consumer. Finally, first-time buyers save for that down payment much faster, as savings are not taxed.

Under the FairTax, home ownership is a possibility for many who have never had that option under the income tax system. Lower interest rates, the repeal of the income tax, the repeal of all payroll taxes, and the prebate mean that people have more money to spend and have an increased opportunity to become homeowners.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Beanzawave - Coming Soon to Your....Laptop?

heinz microwave

Heinz has developed this prototype microwave which is powered by your laptop via a USB cable. Great idea for those who find it difficult to get away from their desks.

It would be great in my workplace. We work 12-hour shifts, and apart from two 45-minute breaks, don't get away from our work areas. Most of us pack lunchbags with snacks and cold drinks, but sometimes we need hot drinks. Our control rooms can get cold some days and a hot coffee or tea would be a welcome addition.

At the very least, it's a cool, new gadget, that if the price comes down, could be a welcome addition to most work stations.

Find out more here

Monday, June 08, 2009


Oliver came into my life in 1995. I had just lost a cat and was considering getting another to be a companion for Dollie. A co-worker was looking for a home for her daughter's cat, Oliver. Her daughter had just had a baby and Oliver wanted to snuggle with the newborn. Everyone was concerned that he would smother or otherwise harm the baby. I discussed it with my husband and a few days later Oliver came to his forever home.

Oliver had been almost a feral cat for the first part of his life; if not feral, then certainly homeless. He was living at the Tropicana plant when my friend's son-in-law brought him home. We don't know just how old Oliver was when he came to us; we were told about two years old. Dollie was two, so I just assigned the same age to Oliver.

Oliver had been neutered and had his front claws removed. Dollie still had hers and, to my personal knowledge, was well versed in the use of said claws. I didn't think it was fair for Oliver to be nearly defenseless, so Dollie went to the vet and was declawed and spayed. It had to be done, so I figured it best to do it all at once. More on that story another time.

Oliver moved in while Dollie was gone, so of course he thought he was an "only" cat. When Dollie came home from the vet, they had to be separated for a few days; when one was out, the other was locked in a bedroom. I know they had to be aware of each other, but neither sought out the other.

Until that fateful day when the vet gave the okay for them to meet. It was not a pleasant meeting, and took some time for Dollie to understand that there was another cat in our lives, and for Oliver to understand he was the "junior" cat. But they finally came to an agreement where they were able to live fairly harmoniously for 15 years.

Oliver bonded with my husband, Dale. He slept with Dale while I was at work, and was in his lap or next to him most of the rest of his day. He loved Dale's feeding schedule: when Dale ate, everyone ate! When Dale passed away, Oliver would come to me, jump up on my side (I usually sleep on my left side) and put both arms (legs? whatever) around me like he was trying to hug and comfort me. He did that every night for some time. As time passed, he did it less and less often, but every once in a while, he'd come back and hug me.

He would come to bed with me most nights and just lay on me. He'd nuzzle and purr into my ear, rub his cheek against mine and usually try to steal my earring or necklace. That's when I'd toss him to the end of the bed. He took it in stride and laid down and made himself comfortable.

Since Dale died, Oliver had lost a lot of weight, but seemed healthy. One reason for his weight loss was that he was eating twice a day, not twice an hour (not really that often, it just seemed that often). His fur was shiny, he could jump up into my lap or onto the bed and he seemed to move as well as ever, if not just a little slower. I'm not sure he wasn't blind in one eye, but knew what was going on around him. He wasn't mentally slow in any way, and was as pleasant as ever. I knew he probably didn't have many more years; he was at least 17 after all. You just never expect it to actually happen.

The other morning, after I finished getting dressed, I looked around to be sure all the animals were out of the bedroom. I usually count noses after I close the door and counted only three. I check back in the bedroom and when I didn't see him, asked the dogs where Oliver was. They knew and showed me. I realized that Oliver was gone almost right away. He was laying between a chest and coffee table in the living room. I'm not sure whether he laid down to sleep or just left us at that particular place. In any case, he had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

I buried him in the soft sand under my bedroom window. and put a large terracotta planter on the spot. On my days off I'll plant something in that pot. Something leafy, I think. He loved to eat the plants I brought into the house. I had to be careful to not bring in anything poisonous; he ate anything and everything plant based, from spider plants and philodendrons to a corn broom.

Goodbye Oliver. You gave me comfort when I needed it. You always knew when I needed the unconditional love only an animal can give. I hope I gave something back to you to show how much you were loved.

Go in peace, my furry little friend. You are missed and will never be forgotten.
FairTax in A Minute – How does this plan affect compliance costs?

It is estimated that Americans spend at least $265 billion a year to comply with the tax code -- nearly $900 for every man, woman, and child in America. That is greater than the current federal deficit ($205 billion). Billions of dollars in compliance costs are wasted each year, and we have nothing of value to show for this expenditure -- not one single productive service or product is added to our nation’s wealth. It is estimated that the FairTax dramatically cuts such compliance costs, perhaps as much as 95 percent.

FairTax in A Minute – Should the government tax services?

Service providers are not exempt from the income tax today, and should not be exempt from the FairTax. Services now account for well over one-half of the gross domestic product (GDP). Neither consumption of services nor consumption of goods should be tax preferred. And it is economically foolish not to tax the fastest growing segment of our economy. Competition, not politics, should determine what goods and services cost.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

FairTax in A Minute –How does the FairTax help seniors who have paid taxes on their retirement savings or invested in Roth IRAs?

Simply put, the FairTax is a revenue-neutral proposal, raising no more money than does the current system. The FairTax only changes where the money is raised, not the amount.

Additionally, some erroneously believe that people who have invested in Roth IRAs will never pay taxes on this money again. They may not know it, but they are paying corporate income taxes, employer payroll taxes, plus the associated compliance costs that are hidden in the price of every retail purchase they make. Under the FairTax, these hidden taxes are driven out of retail prices. And note, they can determine the amount of tax they pay through their own lifestyle choices.

Furthermore, used goods are not taxed because they have already been taxed once -- when they were new. Therefore senior citizens, like all Americans, do not lose purchasing power, but gain it instead. Moreover, the FairTax preserves the purchasing power of Social Security benefits, and seniors receive a monthly prebate so they don’t pay taxes on the purchase of necessities. Tax-deferred investments get a one-time windfall. Savings invested in any long-term, income-generating asset such as a stock, real estate, or a long-term bond that can’t be called, increase substantially in value. Finally, complex estate planning is an artifact of an earlier age.