• Category Archives Social Commentary
  • Thank you rich people, for paying your taxes.

    We have a problem in this country, and no one seems to know how to solve it. The rich don’t want to pay their taxes, and thus essential and even life saving programs suffer from lack of funding. I can’t say I blame the rich mind you. The libertarian side of me recognizes that it might not be so fair that such a small sect of society has to pony up for so much of what society needs. Then the human in me steps in and says, it doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not – it’s not fair that so many people in this country can’t afford healthcare, or that public schools, are so terrible due to budget cuts. Still – I go back to the fact that if I were rich, if money I worked hard for was taxed at such a high rate, I would be a little miffed. Heck, I get miffed by looking at my measly salary and seeing all that the government takes from me on a regular basis! It makes me wonder if there’s a better way. While said better way will probably never be found, there is something we can do. We can say thank you.

    Before I go on – I want to make sure to say that the rich aren’t the only ones being taxed unfairly. Taxes pretty much suck all across the board, and we all pay a lot more than we should. Still, the top 1 percent of income earners pay about 50 percent of the annual income tax revenue. Compare that with the bottom 80 percent (which most of us are in). We pay about 15 percent. That’s quite a difference. And again, I hate my tax rate – it’s too high. So before I say thanks to the rich, I’ll say thank you to every taxpayer in America. But especially a big thanks to the rich.

    Thank You indeed.

    Seriously, thank you rich people who don’t dodge every tax you can. You make our country great. You save lives. You provide healthcare to children. You give people the chance to better themselves. You give veterans services they need. I realize that some of you don’t see the value in some of the services provided, but that’s just how this country works. I for one don’t really see the value in spending so much on, say, building a new ship for the Navy or the latest superweapon. Still, some people do. But I digress. My point being is that your sacrifice is serving the greater good. You should be proud of this absolutely patriotic thing you’re doing. It helps so many of your fellow Americans.

    It’s personally helped me. I’m disabled, and relied on social security for four years of my life. Your investment in me made me have a better life. Without that money, I would not have been able to attend college. There, I not only got a degree, but also the confidence in knowing how valuable my skills are to others. I became a contributing member of society because of you. Besides, if you add up all the money the government gave me in those four years (including pell grants) and compared it to the amount of federal taxes I’ve given the government, the government has a net gain. Yes, not everyone is willing to better themselves, and sure, there’s a few bad apples that want to game the system – but I’m willing to bet that most of us want to be self sufficient. Most of us want to earn our own way.

    But why should we have to say thank you?

    Now that I’ve said thank you, both collectively and personally, I want to spend some time talking about why we should say thank you. Honestly, it’s just courtesy for one thing. We all learned to say please and thank you in Kindergarten for little things. We say thank you to those who serve in the military. So why wouldn’t we say thank you to those who pay the majority of the collective bills (including the military’s bills)? Going beyond that, there’s the old adage: you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. While this may or may not be true in the literal sense, it is true in the metaphorical sense. People are more likely to react positively if you present a positive attitude and demeanor yourself. Likewise, ordering and bossing people around – even for the right thing to do (like funding schools, hospitals, etcetera) – is going to provide a more negative response. Thirdly, it’s about “melting Pharaoh’s heart.” Ok, sure, a lot of rich people are greedy (close your ears and eyes rich people – or maybe this won’t work). But maybe, just maybe, if we make them feel good about what they’re doing, they’ll be a little more willing to put aside their greed. We are all human, and unless you’re a psychopath, I believe we all want to do the right thing despite our carnal desires and nature.

    Finally, it will stroke their egos. money and power are driving forces to the financially successful, but so is self image. If this helps their self image, perhaps they’ll be more willing to pay their taxes. Perhaps it could even become a status thing. I realize I’m an idealist here, but imagine a world where instead of people like Donald Trump hiding their tax returns, they proudly display them to all who asks. Heck, maybe we should take a page from the military, and give medals to people who pay x amount of taxes. Maybe even have certain levels – if you pay 45 percent of your income in taxes, you get a green medal. If you pay 50 percent, you get a silver one. And so on. Maybe we even denote the 100 or so people who pay the most taxes. Imagine some rich guy going about his daily routine, proudly displaying a medal saying he paid more taxes than anyone else. Like I said, I’m an idealist. But then again, it might work.

    We seem to be fighting a losing battle as far as taxes goes. More and more burden is being shifted onto the middle class, and less and less being upon those who can afford it. The current administration doesn’t seem to care about social programs (or people in general), and congress is too ingrained in old ways to do anything about it. We have a fight on our hands, and in some cases it’s a life and death struggle. People should not have to worry about medical expenses. People deserve to be able to better themselves by going to school. People deserve the right, the pursuit of happiness so promised us in the Declaration of Independence. We need to change our strategies if we actually want to get anything done. I realize saying “Thank you for putting your greed aside and doing the right thing” doesn’t seem like something we should have to do, but if it helps – what harm will it do? Besides, as I said before, it is the polite thing to do. So, thank you rich people. Thank you for paying your taxes. Please continue doing so. Please help us in our own pursuit of happiness. I realize it’s a sacrifice, but your sacrifice is greatly appreciated and patriotic.

     


  • Even if I’m wrong, I’m right and that’s why I write….

    IS this right or wrong? Whatever, this article won't be as awesome as this. But it will be more confusing!

    Wrong or right, I have no idea what to write, I just know I need to write. The reason I need to write is because I want to be a success. I want more hits to my blog, and I read something somewhere saying if I post more often, I’ll get more hits. I also need to make sure that if I write the right stuff, I’m not wrong. Does that sentence make any sense to you? Well, it shouldn’t – but it makes my readability score turn green and that means more hits from Google and Bing and Yahoo. I’m supposed to repeat certain words several times, like write, right, wrong, and other things. This will make my score right and right is not wrong. And even if I’m wrong, I’m right.

    You might notice that this entry has no content….that’s ok because content is secondary to visibility. You need to market yourself even if you have nothing worth saying….especially if you have nothing worth saying. Just say something…anything….Say how much you love cheese but don’t give a reason why. Say how much you hate dinasours, but make sure you can’t spell the world dinasour. And for heaven’s sake, make sure no one edits your mispelled words! It’s not about the art, it’s not about your creative flow….it’s about marketing…it’s about SEO and making yourself monitizable. Is that a word? Doesn’t matter – I just made it a word. Why? Because even if I’m wrong, I’m right.

    Actually, forget everything I just said…I wrote. People don’t google unique things! People Google the same words over….like weather or gmail or porn or google or flowers or pill indicator. Yes, pill indicator is on the list of most googled terms – sitting at number 26. So, there’s a ton of people staring at random pills and saying “hmm, I  wonder what this does!” Scary thought!

    My readability just dropped to ok, instead of excellent.  I better use short words now. I am short, I am not long. Oh, I  speak in small words. Also, I speak in short sentences. Plus, I am right even if I am wrong. Hmm, that doesn’t seem to be working….it’s dropped to “needs improvement.” I wonder why….I said I was right. I said I was right even if I am wrong! Writing for computers is hard.

    Ok, I did a little edit and got my score back into good territory. Apparantly, I started too many sentences with the same word. That’s….actually a helpful tool. I mean, in this case, it was a matter of stylistic choice, but in general that’s a useful thing. There’s one thing I do need to improve upon here though – I don’t have any subheadings.

    Here’s your damned subheading

    Happy? Good. Ugg, can I rant now? Seriously….the very fact that they want us to use subheadings is because people refuse to read! They just want the basic point – without the prose or the explanations or the….ugg. You get the point. Why do we even have writers if no one is going to read anything? Maybe we should just start making short lists. But I digress. Oh, it’s also saying I haven’t used a “focus” keyword in a heading….sooo

    Here’s your damned wrong subheading

    There….. I also need to add some links to external pages. so. www.google.com. Does that work? Oh, wait….internal links. Random link, coming up! Now we come to the payoff!

    Yep – there you have it. I’ve officially gotten in the green on all the categories. That’s just how simple it is to write. Sure, the tone of voice changed halfway through. I also have to say that some of this just didn’t make sense….but here we go. I wrote over 600 words on utter nonsense. As long as the automated scripts and search engines are happy, evidently I should be happy as well. What a load of crap.

    Wrong....so very very wrong. And gross as well.

    Getting back to frequency of writing….actually that’s something I’m hoping to do. It will be tough, but I have a lot of quality things to say. I realize I made a big fuss about quality over quantity earlier, but sometimes there’s room for both. I can put out two quality posts a month. Aaron has it in him!


  • Setting goals: traveling the road to failure?

    Most of us at some time in our lives have set a goal. Sometimes we achieve said goals, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes our goals are small – maybe we want to go to bed at a certain time. Some of our goals are larger – maybe we want to pay off our credit cards in two years. Some of our goals may even be extremely ambitious – maybe we want to be the very first person, or at least person of our gender, ethnic group, et cetera to do a certain task. For instance, maybe Hillary Clinton had set the goal to be the first woman president, or maybe Micheal Jordan had set a goal to be the first NBA player to – whatever basketball milestone he achieved – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we stop this! Or at the very least, thoroughly examine what we set as goals. But why? Why am I telling all of you to reject what society has drilled in our head from day one? Simple; the very goals we are setting because society has told us that’s what we need to do, are destroying our society!

    Let me back up a little. Firstly, let’s examine what a goal actually is. The word goal most likely stems from the middle English word “gal” which means obstacle or barrier. The very first usage of the actual word “goal,” was from the 15th century and meant the end point of a race. Ok, sure…sounds simple enough. A goal is, in a way, the end point of some sort of competition. But said competition is exactly what we need to question. With every goal we make, we must ask “who are we competing against?” Sure, at times, we are only competing against ourselves. However, so many other times, we are competing against others. Say that your goal is to be the first person to set foot on Mars. That’s an ambitious dream and most of us will celebrate your accomplishment with you. However, at what cost? Firstly, no one else will ever be able to say they were the first to set foot on Mars. Is that really fair? What makes you so special that out of the seven billion people on this planet, you alone get to say “I’m first to set foot on another planet.”? Are you really that amazing of a person? Nope! While you trained a lot more than others – and let’s be fair – you deserve it more than most of us – you’ll still be setting yourself ahead of say, your team you traveled with to Mars. You are probably mission commander, and you probably earned that position. However, maybe if the mission had happened a year later, the person sitting next to you in the pod as you descend to the surface of Mars would deserve this honor. Doesn’t matter – you took that right for yourself. All because you set a goal for yourself without questioning if you deserve it more than anyone else in all of humanity, both present and future. Ok, but what if my goal isn’t so grandiose? What if my goal is to go to bed a little earlier. There’s no harm in that, right? Well…maybe there is. That’s what I’m asking you to consider. If you want to go to bed say, a half hour earlier, that means you will have to cut a half hour of activity from your schedule. What are you doing with that half an hour? Are you engaging with other humans? Are you doing something that might ease someone’s burden? Maybe you’re cleaning the toilet, maybe you’re talking to loved ones. Maybe you’re just vegging out in front of the boob tube, but maybe you’re part of a neilsen family and that show you no longer watch because you go to bed early gets canceled! A little hyperbolic – but my point is that every single goal we make can have any number of consequences on other people. Going back to the first person on Mars, said person isn’t just taking away the tilte of “first” from all of present and future humanity, but they’re also dedicating a lot of time to do so. How much time away from their family did they take to accomplish this goal? Heck, how much money did we, the taxpayers, pay for this goal to happen?

    This brings me to my next point – many of our goals take more than just ourselves to accomplish. And yet who reaps in the glory of accomplishment? Ourselves. Still, we must learn to thank those that make our goals possible. The first man on Mars will be a giant turd if they don’t thank their fellow mission mates, ground crew, and family for all their sacrifices so one person can achieve what no other human will ever accomplish again. Not to mention the politicians who allocated funds to the mission, and those of us who pay for the mission with our tax dollars. The person who wants to get to bed early should probably thank their spouse for cleaning the toilet for them, and the friends they’re spending less time with. Oh, and if the goal is to save X amount of dollars? Well, let’s just remember, money is a finite resource, that means someone else doesn’t get that money which you’re hoarding. Maybe you need to thank the propriateers of establishments you’re not spending money at because of your goal to save money.

    I realize this entire stance sounds a bit entitled. I’m not standing in your way if you want to accomplish something. However, our society suffers greatly because we don’t ask what impact our actions, and in these cases, our goals, have on each other. When we set a goal without asking who said goal affects, we have already failed in reaching said goal (even if we succeed). When our goals rob our fellow man of prestige, time, money, and et cetera, perhaps we should rethink our goals.

    I’ll end this by saying I love hockey. When I’m at a hockey game, and the team I’m rooting for scores a goal, I cheer and yell and have no sympathy for the other team. When the other team scores a goal, I boo and hiss, because they took something away from my team. The antithesis of my goal rethinking philosophy is to realize that other people will have goals and even if they’re being selfish with said goals, it is just as selfish to not let someone accomplish a goal because we aren’t getting something. I’m not talking about something we need – sure if someone’s goal is going to keep us from getting enough sleep, food, shelter, et cetera – we should stand up for our rights. However, sometimes we have to let people have their goals even though it might inconvenience us. If your friend wants to get more sleep, you should probably let them do so. Don’t say you’re entitled to their time. And again, I really don’t care if you want to be the first person on Mars – more power to you! I’m even happy to pay my tax dollars to make this happen! Seriously though….don’t make your wife clean the toilet. She needs her sleep just as much as you.


  • What should one wear to the hospital?

    what-should-i-wear-today

    As many of my readers know, my mom has been in the hospital and at one point it didn’t look like she was going to make it. While she’s on the up now, she’s got a long road ahead – even now. If that wasn’t stressful enough, I’ve found myself putting a lot more stock in an everyday question. Every time I’ve gone to visit her, I’ve asked myself “what do I wear?” Let me step back….I have a lot of t-shirts, and unless I’m working – I tend to default to said t-shirts. I love my polos I wear to work, but they all seem so plain when I could wear a band t shirt or maybe something a little geeky. I think it goes back to my childhood – I went to a private grade school which didn’t allow for much. Boys were allowed to wear plain t-shirts, but shirts with any kind of printing were prohibited. An extreme example….I had this green and white shirt with an “Ocean Pacific” logo on the back. I decided to wear it that day and cover it up with a jacket. I started to get hot at recess, but the playground attendant wouldn’t let me take my jacket off because it was against the dress code. Never mind, the dress code was to prevent distraction during lessons and this was recess. Rules were rules, even if you’re drenching in sweat! Sidenote, the girls had it worse as dress code was pretty much a literal phrase….they had to wear dresses (or skirts). But getting back to my love for t-shirts, let’s just say when I switched schools in eighth grade, I wore printed t-shirts almost everyday. Just because I could.

    So…back to the hospital. The question that arose about what to wear vs what t-shirt I could or could not wear was the very real fact that my t-shirt could be the last thing my mom saw if she did pass away. Of course, it wasn’t just her – ICU in general is usually full of people who are on the brink of this life and the next. Of course it wasn’t just that – it was also the way I looked to family. My grandma hadn’t seen me with my beard until the day my mom was rushed to the hospital. I was wearing a dark green polo, and the combination really didn’t jive with her. She said I looked kind of scary! A few days later, she warmed up to the beard and told me it was the shirt. While this may or may not have been her overreaction – I still have not worn that green shirt since that day. And of course, that shirt is on the “do not wear to the hospital” list.

    Imagine this being the last thing you saw….

    But again, that’s a polo. What about the t-shirts? Of course, there’s some very obvious shirts one should never wear to a hospital (or, maybe anywhere, but oh well). A classic example is a Def Leppard “Hysteria” T shirt. Anyone that would wear this design to an ICU, ER (or even anywhere small children frequent) needs to get professional help; they’re obviously a full blown psychopath – no further testing needed! I can picture someone as they’re breathing their last… and seeing the two demonic faces in obvious eternal torment, and thinking – Oh crap, I’m entering hell, aren’t I? Another example: my “Spinal tap, None more black,” shirt. Probably less sinister than the Hysteria shirt, but still…a spinal tap t-shirt in a hospital? Yeah….probably not a good idea.

    The hordes of Hell have been replaced with Muppets!
    The hordes of Hell have been replaced with Muppets!

    Of course most of my t shirts were probably fine, but I decided if it was at all questionable, I probably shouldn’t wear it. I didn’t wear my Flogging Molly shirt because there was a skeleton on it – let’s not remind the sick what’s inside of them. I didn’t wear my Dead Kennedy’s t-shirt due to the fact that the word “dead” was in it. I didn’t wear my other Def Leppard shirt, the “Pyromania” shirt, because, well, I actually don’t remember. I guess I just felt it was a little too graphic. An explosion as seen through the scope of a rifle…..again….better be safe then sorry. I didn’t wear my Princess Bride shirt because it says “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, PREPARE TO DIE!” And I didn’t wear my Electric Mayhem shirt for the same reason I didn’t wear my Hysteria t-shirt – one look at Animal in chains, and they might have thought…I’m in hell and the demons are muppets!!! I didn’t even wear my deadpool shirts because….DEADpool. If the shirt had any macabre implications, real or imagined, said shirt was on the do not wear list.

    Going past the comfort of anyone in ICU, I had a selfish reason for not wearing certain shirts – I didn’t want the last thoughts of my mom to be – what a dork. I’m currently wearing a shirt that says “There are four lights!” with four dots over the text. If you’re clueless, it’s a Star Trek: TNG reference to when that Cardasians held Picard prisoner – snort. While it certainly isn’t my geekiest shirt ever, it does require a bit of geekiness to get the reference.

    RIP dude...RIP
    RIP dude…RIP

    And while another person might not have thought anything of it, my mind said “don’t wear this shirt! Your mom will think you’re a dork!” There’s a myriad of more obvious pop culture reference shirts. There were transformers t-shirts, several Star trek and Star wars shirts. There was Firefly in a bottle, and of course, there’s the Hodor quote shirt. It says “Hodor” – Hodor. Granted, my mom wouldn’t even get the reference…..but I was still worried. Almost all my geek shirts had to be put on the “do not wear” list.

    Finally, there was one more category I had to consider. If I wore a shirt that I really love, and my mom died while I was wearing that shirt, would I be able to wear that shirt ever again? Honestly, most of the shirts I love were already covered in the do not wear category – but I have a couple that had to be included on the do not wear list for this reason. I’ve got a “Pink Floyd – wish you were here” shirt that I love dearly. I’ve got a Cure shirt my girlfriend got me. I’ve got a couple U2 shirts. I felt shirts in this category had to be put on the DNW list as they’re really not shirts I want attached to tragedy.

    After all this I felt like I had one choice when visiting my mom (especially in the ICU). I wore plain, every workday polos. They’re comfortable, they’re ok looking, they’re non-offensive, and they’re forgettable. The biggest effect they might have on anyone around (aside from allegedly making me look scary with my beard) is that a lot of them have pretty, soothing colors. Purples, royal blues, lavender, and the like. I do admit…I avoided wearing any of my black polos – but that might be my own superstition. Then again….maybe all of this is superstition. They had us wear gowns when visiting her in the ICU, just as a precaution against microbes. So….seeing what we were wearing wasn’t all that possible. Maybe I just needed to control this….this one little thing in a time where so much was out of control.

    I did, the other day, break down and wear a t-shirt when I saw her. It was a “star wars coffee” parody of Starbucks. I kind of regretted it, not because the design. Not because I thought it might be scary or demonic or insensitive. I didn’t even care that it was a little dorky – I did, however, care that it was a little short. This is why I always get a tall size in shirts if I have the choice!

    I thought I ordered a TALL Americano with cream!
    I thought I ordered a TALL Americano with cream!


  • Morrissey vs Crowdfunding

    r-MORRISEY-WILLIAM-AND-KATE-large570

    Morrissey is an old man, shaking his cane, and yelling GET OFF MY LAWN. I mean, that’s like his dinner after all. OK, ok, the dinner part was an undeserved jab. I respect his dietary choices, though he doesn’t respect the rights of others to do the same, but that’s an entirely different story altogether. Morrissey recently said something downright ignorant and hurtful to independent musicians. Coming against all the musicians one finds on Kickstarter and gofundme, Morrissey stated: Crowdfunding Is Desperate and Insulting. This simply is not true!

    go vegeFirstly, music is a dream of many a people. Music is a very fickle business to get into, but if that’s your dream, then you should use all tools at your disposal to make this happen. Chase your dreams! Morrissey has been in the business for a long time, and has reached a point in his career where he can release a symphony of white noise and it would still sell a zillion copies because he’s freaking Morrissey. Good for him, but not all musicians have reached that point. Sure, I can see that someone of his caliber and popularity might feel a little desperate if they have to resort to crowdfunding to publish their music, but again – not everyone is Morrissey. Not everyone has the privilege and luxuries afforded by Morrissey.

    But the issue goes deeper than simple privileges afforded by big name musicians. Crowdfunding provides the musicians with the ability to not have to deal with a record company. The day of releasing an album through a big label, and then having it distributed to all the record stores is over. Artists no longer need that, and that’s a good thing. Record companies are notorious for taking more than their fair share of revenues. When all is said and done, the average musician (including Morrissey himself mind you) has to tour to make any money at all. Record companies provide a lot of perks – expensive studios, advertising, distribution, and the like. They also have a lot of staff that needs to be paid, overhead, stockholders, etcetera. If a band can sidestep the middle man, and just rent a studio themselves and distribute their music online, that’s a bigger cut for the musicians. That means they might not need to spend 200 nights a year on the road, just to feed their families.

    Stepping away from the monetary hassle, there’s also a certain amount of freedom a musician gets when they’re not tied to a record company. It’s common for musicians to have to sign a contract saying they must make X amount of records. This has led to things like Andrew Eldritch’s SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW. Sometimes bands just peter out before their contract lets them. You get bitter feuds in bands, you get crappy albums, and you get unlistenable music that doesn’t sell well. It’s a stable gig, sure, but it also sucks when one wants out of that gig. Crowdfunding means record labels don’t have that power over a musician. It also means the artist has the freedom to write whatever they feel inspired to write. They’re not pressured by their label to keep it clean, keep it radio friendly, or even to keep it in a certain style. Crowdfunding throws the shackles into the recycling bin where every other piece of scrap metal belongs!

    There’s another aspect that Morrissey doesn’t get, and that’s how crowdfunding creates a bridge between the musicians and the fans. As much as I wish I could be the former, I’m the latter. I’m a fan of the music. As a fan, the most hurtful thing Morrissey said was “What next? Do you want us to brush your teeth?” This statement makes me want to kick Morrissey in his nether regions and delete all the songs out of my library. He does not get that crowdfunding makes those of us who feel so connected to the music even more so connected! We can actually be a part of the process of making sure our favorite artists can publish their music. No, we didn’t write it, and no, we don’t own their music. But it fills us with joy to help. A band I’ve loved for a long time, Flemming and John, are making music RIGHT NOW because of crowdfunding…and I helped! My 43 bucks is getting me a copy on vinyl, but more importantly it’s helping put out the first Flemming and John album since 1999. No amount of swag can match that feeling – the feeling that I’m part of the album. morrgetofflawn

    Finally, crowdfunding allows fans to show our gratitude to the artists. I remember walking around downtown several years back, listening to Over the Rhine’s Ohio album. I loved it. It was part of who I was. I wanted to do more for OTR. I knew buying the album and going to their shows was good enough, but I felt like I wanted to do more. They were sharing their soul with me (and the rest of the world). This in turn fed my soul. How is 15 bucks for an album and 25 or so for a concert even beginning to repay that debt? Sure, a few bucks more in a kickstarter isn’t repaying that debt either – but it helps. Again, it gets the music out there. It helps them fulfill their dreams. That’s at least a start.

    Crowdfunding really isn’t a new concept. There was an album Willie Nelson put out in the 80s or 90 to pay off his tax burdens. He fully disclosed that he was in trouble and he needed the help of the public. A fifteen dollar CD would make sure that Willie didn’t go to the slammer after messing up on his taxes. Maybe Morrissey is just too far removed to realize the benefits of crowdfunding. Maybe he’s just an old dog who can’t learn a new trick. Maybe he’s just a jerk, and that’s why he and Johnny Marr will never get the Smiths back together. Maybe I’m being unfair with that last part. If I am, burn me at the stake, just make sure I smell the flames as they rise and my Walkman starts to melt. Now I know how Joan of Arc felt!