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Tue, 13 Apr 2004
  /politics/usa  
Cutting taxes, non-Republican style

Tax season is here, and I just did mine. Along the way I came across a table of the tax rates for 2002 and 2003, illustrating the Bush tax cut in action:

Single 2002 $0 to $6,000 10% $6,001 to $27,950 15% $27,951 to $67,700 27% $67,701 to $141,250 30% $141,251 to $307,050 35% $307,051 and up 38.6% Single 2003 $0 to $7,000 10% $7,001 to $28,400 15% $28,401 to $68,800 25% $68,801 to $143,500 28% $143,501 to $311,950 33% $311,951 and up 35%
Not only does the cut benefit the wealthy on an absolute dollar amount, but even on a percentage basis! The wealthy get 3.6% off, the middle class 2%, and the poor zippo.

Many pundits have commented that tax cuts must benefit the wealthy disproportionately no matter how you engineer it, but it's easy to put the lie to that. Just raise the standard deduction. The wealthy do not use the standard deduction, because they itemize mortgage interest, investment losses, yada yada yada. Only those at the bottom of the tax food chain are using the standard deduction. Want to cut taxes for them? Raise the standard deduction $10000. As an added benefit, you will reduce tax fraud. The higher the standard deduction, the fewer folks will itemize. Less itemization = less fraud.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2004
  /politics/usa  
Rock the Vote

Like many Californians, I voted today.  I knew something was up when instead of handing me a ballot, I found a smart card in my hand.  Turning around, there they were:  the new voting machines,  little touchscreen terminals with small privacy flaps on the sides.

Going through the touchscreens was clearer than finding the tiny numbered punch holes on the old style ballots.  At the end there was a summary screen showing how I had voted.  I had left some votes blank and it told me, giving me an opportunity to go back.  I was much more certain that I had expressed my intentions correctly then I ever had been with the punch ballot.

But I am far less certain that my vote is being recorded correctly.  In the end all I have is glowing screen.  Before I had a physical token, the punch ballot, that could be reviewed by me before submission, counted and recounted by machine and by hand.  Now I have nothing.  We will never know if my vote was recorded properly.

Let's get the voting process back to the stone age, where it belongs.  We'll put the votes on stone tablets.  Rock the vote.

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Sun, 03 Aug 2003
  /politics/usa  
Not a Pledge of Love (Starr Crossed?)

Kenneth Starr simply cannot resist slinging legal mud at whoever threatens his idea of American Corporate Dominion Under God.  Now he has inserted himself into the Supreme Court case of Newdow vs. The Pledge of Allegiance, and his contribution is that Newdow is a bad dad, and doesn't have standing to litigate.  Apparently Linda Tripp has not recorded any confessions of anyone going down on Newdow yet, though.  Give her time.

Left out of all this is the real issue: what it the real constitutional meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments when applied to state funded education?  This was tackled succinctly by the 9th Circuit Court in it's decision.  Scan down to section D: Establishment Clause, for the real meat.  It's a straightforward application of the Lemon test, which has served the court well in these issues when it has the nerve to use it.

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