Happy Birthday, USA. It’s Time to Shine!

1-10259236_10153515755787925_696162760111206077_o“Fireworks had for her a direct and magical appeal.  Their attraction was more complex than that of any other form of art.

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They had pattern and sequence, colour and sound, brilliance and mobility; they had suspense, surprise, and a faint hint of danger;

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above all, they had the supreme quality of transience, which puts the keenest edge on beauty and makes it touch some spring in the heart which more enduring excellences cannot reach.” ― Jan StrutherMrs. Miniver

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Yep, that quote would be me. Next to Christmas, the Fourth of July is my absolute favorite holiday. First of all, I love fireworks. Period. But I also love the way it draws my nation together. We have a complex history and a lot of problems, yes. But there is and there never has been a country like ours. Most of us learn and grow from our nation’s mistakes. Though very diverse, there is one thing of which we are in solid agreement: America is great.

If you’ve never visited you won’t understand. And if you live and grew up here, it’s so easy to take for granted. Think about it. In the history of nations, never has a country had freedom and prosperity like ours. Never has a country cared for the world like ours. Never has there been an economy like ours.

I don’t blame anyone for leaving their country of origin to come here. Many go through great peril and cost to do that. As a citizen, I just ask a few things. Please follow our laws and do whatever is necessary to become a citizen. Be honest. Work hard. And learn our history. Take a Civics class to learn how our government works. Be educated on our current events.

Don’t believe everything you read in the media. Investigate the facts. In other words, become a well-informed citizen and think for yourself. Don’t let anyone “spoon-feed” you. America will offer you and your children the best life they could ever have. And don’t ever take that for granted. I don’t know any American that does not welcome you if you do this.

Now, onto the fireworks! I cannot close without drawing attention to these photographs posted on Dan Pope’s Facebook page.  He is a real top-notch photographer and friend of our family and I’ve featured him before. His link is on my sidebar. Dan is a fireworks nut like me. He captured these Friday night. And of all things, he caught this last one with a train rolling through. Nicely done, Dan!

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In closing, I’m posting this link to a  video of the Katy Perry song “Firework”, still an all-time favorite of mine on our Fourth of July. I think the words capture the human spirit quite well.

Shine everyday because–baby, you’re a firework!

Taxes Made Simple, Part II—I’m a Little Depressive over the Regressive

photo: Alexandria Sage

The email rocked me a bit. I thought it surely embellished. Its column format drew my eyes. Oh good. A quick read. Turns out, it was a  loooong column. But the hook set and its simple title captured with clarity.

“None of the These Taxes Existed 100 Years Ago”

That was a bold statement. It can’t be true. Or could it? I’ve accepted these regressive taxes as part and parcel of life, telling myself well, there’s nothing you can do about it so just shut-up and pay up. How many times have I laughed at that quote—“Two things in life are certain—death and taxes.”?

Suddenly a new thought surfaced—This seems excessive.
But had I ever questioned before? 

To be fair the list deserved some fact checking.  I checked several sources and, with exception of an outdated few, they are all unmistakably true. I read through some comments on Snopes and couldn’t believe one person excused them away and called them “fees”. Fees, taxes, tax credits (yes, we pay for those, too)—call them what may but they are money out of my paycheck above and beyond what I already pay. The list also included the line, “I think we left British Rule to avoid so many taxes.”

Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party: Wikipedia

I’m willing to pay my taxes and agree a few are necessary. But the term “fair share” is a bit out of hand when I look at this list of “regressive” taxes that all of us pay. Several caught my eye … IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax), IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax), Luxury Tax (what is that???).

And have you heard the latest? The United Nations wants to impose global taxes on citizens of developed countries to give to Third World countries to “end poverty.”
Yes, do an internet search. Somehow this one’s not getting the attention it deserves. {See related articles} We Americans know how our own “War on Poverty” worked. And now we might be liable to pay leaders of Third World nations who’ve demonstrated their own deficient use of their own resources? As Thomas Jefferson said, “Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.”

English: A Portrait of Thomas Jefferson as Sec...

Thomas Jefferson

How did this happen? I think another Jefferson quote says it well. If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”

Are we still inattentive?

I believe these regressive taxes are nothing more than Jefferson’s wolves’ in sheep’s clothing. In fact, I think the regressive tax needs a new name.
How about the “repressive” tax?

coins

Here’s the list. Try not to get too depressive.
{Yes, I know that’s not a real word. Too much Dr. Seuss!}

Peace,
Alexandria

The List:
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago…
And our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt.
We had the largest middle class in the world.

What happened?

Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax (Fed)
Federal Unemployment Tax (FU TA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge Taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Related articles:

Continuing along the same thread of Something New and Different by the Daily Post, the Tax articles a bit different than my usual inspirational fare:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/weekly-writing-challenge-and-now-for-something-completely-different/

Photos courtesy of Zemanta and Alexandria Sage

Taxes Made Simple | Part I, from the Guest Author

taxesTaxes. It’s the topic of the day. As the United States nears Election Day it’s the hottest topic on the table. I don’t pretend to be an economic expert but I do own a business, meaning I employ people {families}—meaning I pay business taxes. So I do know a few things. Experience has taught me a lot and I’d like to share some simple principles about a topic that is discussed, explained, over-explained, not explained, but mostly … not understood.

There are two basic types of taxes.
The first is equally given to both rich and poor—these are called regressive taxes. Examples are sales tax, taxes on cell phones, gasoline, etc. The other type of tax is a progressive tax and these taxes affect the wealthy more than the less affluent. Income taxes in America are progressive. Thus, the income tax rates increase as one’s income increases.

A favorite way to raise tax dollars is to tax business instead of people. It allows us to feel like we are taking money away from the rich people who own the business instead of the working class.
Unfortunately, this is merely an illusion. When taxes are raised on any business, the cost is added to the goods or services created by the company. This means if the company creates something used by all people {families}, then all pay the tax equally. If we are honest, we quickly realize that business tax is a regressive tax.

Business taxes have another negative impact.
If businesses have to raise their prices on goods due to higher business taxes, another country with a lower business tax can easily compete and make the same product for lower cost.

Tax Preparation

Higher priced products made in America compared to the same product made in the foreign country with the lower business tax means our products can no longer compete in the international market place.

And here the dominoes begin to tumble. This decreases the number of American products sold abroad. A decrease in American products means a decreased amount of American workers {American families} needed to make the product. A decrease in the number of American workers needed ultimately decreases the number of jobs to make those products within the United States.
And I don’t need to explain what unemployment is.

With this unemployment there is ultimately decreased tax revenue that could be generated here in the United States. The increased revenue could not just return us to a robust economy but could fund our government and all of its programs.

Another unfortunate by-product of high business taxes is that it encourages companies to report profits abroad. In addition, our high corporate tax rate compared to the rest of the world encourages companies to move their corporate headquarters abroad. This again decreases income reported in the United States that could be taxed. Plus, having a headquarters located overseas decreases employment within the United States. Keep in mind the headquarters employs workers {families} from their location.

General Mills/Headquarters #1

I realize that it’s nice to feel like you are “sticking it to the rich guy” who owns a company {families}. Unfortunately these taxes have the exact opposite result.

If you ask me, this is an attack on free-market principles that will lose. And who stands to lose the most? For starters, try the middle-class. Without a strong middle-class we cannot sustain jobs to provide for our families. What will this do to lower-income working families? What happens to the opportunities for our children? Without the revenue for the government what happens to the poor, the elderly, and the handicapped?

So again, who is the real loser?

Elderly Timorese in Suai Loro

How about our entire future?

Thoughtfully,
Steve

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Related articles

All photos courtesy Zemanta

Weekly Photo Challenge | Big

There it stands. There it has stood. Stood through rain, storm, tornado, ice. You name it. It has withstood. And it remains. It’s right down the road from me—a real eye-catcher. You can’t miss it. It gets your attention. And gets you to thinking.

Sometimes I wish it could talk, just like the Ents in the Lord of the Rings. What stories would it tell? I ho-hum drive by it all the time, and wonder.

It’s sheer mass may have withstood two wars—the one my country fought to gain its independence from tyranny and tax. But I know it must have been there for the other—the one where my country was so split it set us brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor.

Yes, we came together and united again. But at a very high price. I pray that never happens again but I fear it might. And it breaks my heart. But I must be strong, for the tree bids me be. It sets the bar.

Yes, this tree has stood through history. I’ve driven right by it in the midst of terrible storms and winds I thought would lift me away. Storm after storm I wondered if upon my arrival the tree would be split. Would it still be there? Would its strength withstand ripping winds and ice-laden boughs. Yes, every time it has.
To another part of me it’s become a faithful friend—a wave in the road, a nod of tipped branch, signaling my way home. Sometimes I just have to stop and spend a little time, looking closer.

I remember our first acquaintance of such.
And to my surprise I discovered the secret of its strength. It was not just one trunk bearing all the weight. Upon closer gaze I noted what sprung from its base. It was not just one tree. It branched out to three. For though the tree looked solitary, nothing could be further from the truth. The three massive trees wove into one.

Three huge, strong-beyond-strong, massive trees, intertwined from one expansive foundation.

One large, massive tower of strength. Strength that withstood storm and gale, war and peace, generation to generation. And the tree is one. The three unite, forming a stature rising to the sky, towering above the countryside, providing shade from heat, tenacity through storms, even a home for birds nests. A homethe tree is a home.

I hope my country—my fellow Americans, my neighbors, my family—can take a lesson from the tree.
Because I’m staking something big on it.

For you see, there’s someone else riding below its branches.

Our future.

Peace,
Alexandria

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
~ Winston Churchill

“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”
~ M. Scott Peck

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

Referring article:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/

Other entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Big
http://francineinretirement.wordpress.com/
http://esengasvoice.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://aysabaw.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/big-and-twisted/
http://joyandwoe.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://imexcited.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://eof737.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/
http://chrisbreebaart.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big-1/
http://theretiringsort.com/2012/10/13/so-big/

Less About Me

Greetings, I am Alexandria Sage and
this is the new “less about me” page. As humans we are complicated
creatures and cannot be summed up easily. I have a “more about me”
page, a different story of me—longer. If you’re still reading this
by now, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope you’ll
read on … and get to know “less of me”, which may be all you need
to know. But—just in case—there is always
more.

I like … words, art, flowers, dawn,
dusk, history—all of it, current events, cultural trends, peanut
butter and jelly, simplicity, excellence, hard, exhausting
work.

I have … a
lovely dwelling place, the sweetest canine, two fierce, outdoor
felines, a red four-wheeler, great health that comes at a high
price, a fulfilling job, compassion for the lonely and lost,
enough.

I can … keep a secret, water ski,
grow flowers, sing first soprano.

I struggle with … the usual
insecurities, failures, and frailties inherent in human skin, a
chronic disease, man’s cruelty to man and beast.

I love … family, friends, the smell
of children, the stories of old people, solitude, the Holy
Scriptures, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I am … a loyal friend, passionate
about nearly everything, including sleep and play, loved deeply by
my parents, husband, children, and siblings. a truth seeker, truth
examiner, truth finder, intrigued by philosophy, a dedicated
student of the Scriptures and follower of Jesus Christ,
so fortunate, old
enough.

I need … love, mercy, patience,
kindness, forgiveness.

I long for … legacy,
significance.

I want
… to decrease sadness and increase joy, to make a difference for
… everyone.

Peace,
Alexandria

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