Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Federal Tax Benefits Pale in Comparison to Damage Done to Charitable Giving and Churches

I've finally been able to compare the tax forms and tables from 2017 with the new ones from 2018. I'm not impressed.

The supposed massive raise in the standard deduction is not that massive. Though they increased the standard deduction by about $6,000 for singles and $11,000 for couples, they did away with the $4,050 exemption per person deduction. So that makes the actual increase about $2,000 for singles and $3,000 for couples.

Switching the exemption dollars to standard deduction makes it difficult to itemize medical or charitable expenses and get anything back. So, those with significant medical outlays are hurt as are charitable agencies and churches since donating to them gives no tax benefit to the average person, even the average generous person.

2017 form 1040
2018 form 1040
This is a poor trade off that the Republicans own the blame for (227 of 239 Republican representatives and all 51 Republican senators). I much prefer a system that encourages charitable giving, supporting churches and giving a break to those who have significant medical bills or who are paying off mortgages even though I personally had no problems in the medical or mortgage areas. The extra couple of hundred dollars off my tax bill isn't terribly significant in contrast to the damage to societal values that this new tax system encourages.



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Many Merry Christmases from Hamilton Beach


My cousin just sent me this picture of her using our grandmother's 70+ year old mixer to mix cookie dough today.

 It was made by Hamilton Beach. That's a lot of service from a well-used mixer.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Remembering William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley, Jr., was born November 24, 1925, ninety-three years ago.

He was my most admired political thinker. He taught me that values are at the center of politics. That it was really conservatives and those who support the free marketplace who care about the poor and victimized.

His summations were a call to follow what is good, right and true.  He loved Whittaker Chambers and Alexandr Solznhenitsyn.

He was a devoted Christian. He was, by the grace of God, my friend.

Here's what he said in conclusion at a debate in Portland in 1973 in defense of individual freedom vs those who admired Chinese, Russian and Cuban societal "discipline" to make a better society.



Transcript:
"Yet in today’s climate set by the revolutionary left in America, metaphysical defenses of man are somehow just a little embarrassing, irrelevant. Even Whittaker Chambers, the ardent counter-revolutionist, would make gentle fun of the inflexible defenders of the individual. Of the late Frank Meyer, for instance, whose implacable book which is called In Defense of Freedom, was current when the Republicans suffered their great congressional defeat of 1958. 'If the Republican Party does not find a way to appeal to the mass of the people,' Chambers wrote me at that time, 'it will find itself voted into singularity. It will become then something like the little shop you see in the crowded parts of great cities in which no business is done or expected. You enter it and find an old man in the rear fingering for his own pleasure oddments of cloth, caring not at all if he sells any. As your eyes become accustomed to the gas light, you are only faintly surprised to discover that the old man is Frank Meyer.' 
"I submit to the critics of American Society, if they are really concerned about the restoration of the individual, they should begin by focusing on him and his reliance on the marketplace. Focusing on those oddments of cloth by a familiarity with which a few men know to hesitate not at all when someone asks the question, 'Is it wrong for the State to tell the writer what to write?'. 'Is it wrong for the State to tell the scientist what to study?' Those few who don’t hesitate for a moment to answer, 'Yes, it is wrong. It was always wrong. It is now wrong. It will forever be wrong.'
"The old man with the oddments of cloth is fingering some of the great truths that permit us to penetrate the circumlocutions by which we are somehow persuaded that we serve the individual by moving against the principle institution through which the individual exercises what freedom of movement he is left with. Or by suggesting that we can make a profitable beginning by a revolutionary renunciation of the religion which tells us in the words of Ecclesiastes that 'God has made man upright'.
"The whole subject is strangely, quietly, sadly as we meet so often in America in the college campuses and elsewhere for the purpose of deploring the free marketplace. But, in Russia people go to the only free marketplace available–the black market. And pay their 80 rubles a month wages for a single novel by Solzhenitsyn. And there in Russia, whose rulers denounced the marketplace fifty years ago with a blaze of [indistinguishable] and a rain of bullets aimed righteously at the temples of teenage girls and a hemophiliac boy in a cellar at Ekaterinburg, there in Russia fifty years after the advent of socialism there are old men and old women and young men and young women who transcribe by hand, not for profit, from Radio Liberty risking prison by the very act of listening to it the latest novel of Solzhenitsyn. Word after word. Sentence after sentence. A process that takes them months to complete. Resulting not in thousands, let alone millions, of copies, but in a few dozen or perhaps a few hundred. The oddments of cloth. 
"But it is worth it if we are to rescue man from the tools of ideology. Worth everything to preserve those oddments. To make them available to those who are graced with a thirst for them. The books of Solzhenitsyn accumulate even as the disdain for the institutions of freedom perversely accumulates. For an understanding of which paradox we find no help at all in Marx, but a considerable help in Jesus, whose servant Paul observed, “'that though our outward man perish yet the inward man is renewed day by day.'”

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Oregonian Continues Circulation Slide in 2018

The 2018 Statements of Ownership published by the Oregonian in its October 12 and October 14, 2018 issues indicate the continuing slide of paid circulation.

The daily dropped from a paid circulation of 80,463 in September of 2017 to 68,704 in September of 2018. That's almost a 15% drop in one year.

The Sunday Oregonian is doing a little worse. Its paid circulation in September of 2017 was 113,348. This September it was 96,283--slightly more than a 15% drop.

Daily paid circulation is less than a third of what it was only six years ago in 2012 (68,704 compared with 219,997 in 2012).

My figures for the Sunday only go back to September of 2014, but only four years later today's paid circulation is less than half of what it was in then (96,283 compared with 203,031 in 2014).

These statistics don't include digital paid circulation, but the steep decline in the print version is not good news for the Oregonian, its employees,  the Newhouse family owners, or Portland.

Portland used to have two thriving daily newspapers, the Oregonian and the Oregon Journal. Now the one remaining is a shell of its former self, not to mention the loss of the Journal.


Friday, October 05, 2018

Fire Hydrants

One wonders how the first one got located in what is now the middle of the sidewalk.

The second is due both to placement on a sloped yard and owner lack of upkeep.

What were they thinking?



Friday, August 17, 2018

Scooters

Update: Got a picture of a young rider today--no helmet.

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Been seeing these a lot of places around. I've only seen three people riding them--all in their late teens or early twenties. I don't think any of them had a helmet on. Seems cool for that age group, though not for older people. And not useful for shopping or people with kids.

An Oregonian review answers some major questions like speed (15 mph), balance and safety issues (not the best).

Be interesting to see how they do here.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Signs of the Homeless Problem


These signs just went up near a small shopping mall in Portland. Might as well be done with it and say, "No homeless people sleeping in their cars or recreational vehicles allowed."

There have been recreational vehicles parked on the street right in back of the large supermarket from time to time as well as cars left there. One assumes they belong to people who are homeless and living out of their car or recreational vehicle.

I'm not sure how much good this will do. Just shove them into the neighborhoods near there where it would be hard to put up the no parking 10 pm to 5 am signs because home owners and renters use street parking for their vehicles. Though most people with recreational vehicles park them on their own property.

Not an easy solution for this. 

I'm kind of in the middle. A young friend of mine sleeps in his car and has for about five years. He doesn't do drugs and is clean and neat. Just isn't in to having to work full time to pay rent. Actually, he does outdoor preaching and wants to be free to do that. He supports himself by a private business of doing fencing, digging, sprinkler fixing and other such jobs, and could easily go full time but wants to spend his time in ministry. So he just does what he needs to pay gas, food, clothing, car insurance, cell phone and those kinds of things. 

Other neighbors I know have encountered homeless people going through their trash and recycle bins and leaving a mess--not to mention drug needles and paraphernalia left near homeless camps.

It's not an easy problem, and these signs are another one of the City of Portland's clueless responses.