Weekly Letter to President Obama
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INAUGURATION,   January 20, 2009

Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape

To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.

The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.

Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.

--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
---  Native American proverb
January 4, 2013

Mr. President:  Why are there so many mass shootings in the U.S.?  Banning assault
rifles does not answer the fundamental question; moreover, modern pistols are also
deadly, some even capable of firing high-velocity body armor piercing ammunition.  
There is also the nagging thought of Switzerland, which issues an assault rifle to
every male of service age to maintain and train with annually; yet, it is not similarly
afflicted.  It is true the U.S. is a highly competitive society, currently under severe
economic strain, where there is a tendency to step over society's failures falling by
the wayside instead of helping them up and supporting them until they are again able
to join the rest.  Here too, however, there are other countries under greater stress,
Greece, Spain and Italy for example, and of course many, many developing countries
where the problems of daily living for some are almost unimaginable.  So what is it
about the U.S. that prompts so many individuals to go on a shooting rampage of
unconnected innocents?  Surely, if we need a commission for anything, this must be
at the top of any list.

This week also the 'fiscal cliff' was averted, and we have a deal.  The upshot is the
payroll tax, regressive as it is, is raised back up by two percent to 6.2 percent.   When
the payroll tax cut was introduced, the "Making Work Pay Tax Credit" (benefiting
lower/middle income tax payers) was eliminated.   The tax cut is gone now, but the tax
credit has not been put back.  Thus working families will no longer have that tax credit
to offset against their tax bill, and the two percent increase means a $1000 tax
increase on $50,000 of income and over $2000 more in taxes for earners up to the
payroll tax cut-off of $113,700.  Of course the cut-off favors the wealthy.  So what
happened to the shared sacrifice?  True, couples earning above $450K will pay
higher taxes on income above that number but they will not be paying any payroll
taxes on over three-quarters of that income.

The big noise on this 'fiscal cliff' game was the deficit.  But the deal does nothing to
reduce it; instead, the numbers projected actually raise the deficit by another $4
trillion over the next decade.  The truth is we would have been better off if the tax cuts
had been simply allowed to expire.  It would have also delivered a major psychological
advantage to Democrats in that the issue would then have changed from raising taxes
to that of cutting taxes in a time of high fiscal deficits.

But then, the stage could not be set for persuading the public of the need for cutting
social programs while the wealthiest in our country get away with the lowest taxes in
living memory.  What was that saying again?  He who pays the piper calls the tune ...