TIME FOR NO. 2: PLANET ANNOUNCES ‘VICE TURKEY’ IN CONTEST … plus … THE ‘FISCAL CLIFF’: WHAT IT IS, WHY THE ANALOGY DOESN’T FIT, AND WHY IT MIGHT ACTUALLY PRESENT AMERICA WITH A GOLDEN OPPPORTUNITY
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, DEC. 3, 2012) — Now that we have awarded the Turkey of the Year Award (Joe Pinhead‘s nomination and application for Judge Bethsaida Sanabria-Vega), THE PLANET wishes to satisfy the voices of many who called for a runner-up.
No. 2, which appropriately enough can also refer to a cedar-colored excremental bodily function, tries harder. The second-place finisher has the satisfaction of knowing his status is exalted while at the same time not having to accept the pressures of first place, for remember, it is always lonely at the top.
THE PLANET announces assistant superintendent of schools, Pittsfield director of vocational education Frank Cote, as the No. 2 Turkey of the Year, or Vice Turkey.
A Free House, Paid for by Taxpayers
This man came mighty close to topping Da Judge, and that took some doing. One would think that running roughshod over the First Amendment would have allowed Judge B S-V to breathe easy. However, Cote gave her a run, and not in her nylons, for having the unmitigated gall to rig the building of a free house (paid for by taxpayers) by Taconic High School vocational students for his own secretary, Lynn Whitney. Cote counted on the old standby that enables most of the corruption to be found in the cesspool of Pittsfield politics, namely, a toothless, fat, lazy, and compliant Body Politic, a corpulence collectively known in this instance as the School Committee (Cote’s prime enabler) and the City Council (which had a chance to stop this outrage in its tracks but didn’t).
Consider Cote invited to lunch when THE PLANET dines at the fabulous, famous Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass., with Mr. Pinhead and Ms. Sanabria-Vega. He will not be seated at the main table, but he will be most welcome to dine on any of the scraps and leftovers of our lunch.
Congratulations, Frank Cote.
FISCAL CLIFF? WELL, AT LEAST IT ISN’T CLIFF NILAN!
A philosopher posed this question: What would you rather be, a fiscal cliff or Cliff Nilan? Since THE PLANET took our one-and-only undergraduate philosophy course Pass-Fail (we passed), we would not be qualified to weigh in on such a Question for the Ages. We would guess without knowing, of course, that most intelligent people would choose a fiscal cliff, for at least while free-falling the long way down, the person would at least keep saying, “So far, so good.” With Mr. Nilan, dealings do not afford even that small comfort.
What is the Fiscal Cliff?
We have heard much of late about the so-called “fiscal cliff.” We shall continue to hear even more, much more, in this month of December. What is the fiscal cliff?
Oddly enough, it is at once an international, national, state, and local issue, for it has to do with money, that dirty stuff that more than oil, gas, hydro, wind, sun, coal, shale, and anything else you can name provides the energy that drives post-post-modern industrialized “first-world” life. it also lets you live in your home, put groceries on the table, and, if you’re on the dole, but cigarettes, booze and Scratch tickets.
THE PLANET presents this brief primer on the fiscal cliff, to help our readers understand the fuss. We shall follow with a few thoughts of our own.
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WHAT IS THE FISCAL CLIFF?
By Peter Gorenstein
Special to PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
Lawmakers in Washington appear to be making little to no progress in avoiding the impending so-called fiscal cliff. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Friday the negotiations are “almost nowhere.” On Thursday Boehner rejected a proposal from the Obama administration saying that the Democrats need to “get serious about real spending cuts.”
President Obama’s offer continues to call for higher taxes on the wealthy and an extension of the payroll tax cut. But Republicans say they will not agree to a plan that raises taxes.
As the country continues to head toward the fiscal cliff, this Just Explain It helps to make sense of what it is.
On December 31st, most of us would like to be thinking about a prosperous new year ahead…drinking bubbly and singing Auld Lang Syne with friends. But there’s a chance we could be singing a different tune if President Obama and Congress don’t agree on measures to avoid the fiscal cliff.
First, let me explain what the fiscal cliff is.
The fiscal cliff refers to the potentially disastrous situation the U-S faces at the end of this year. At midnight on December 31st, a number of laws are set to expire. If the President and the Republicans don’t reach an agreement before then, Americans could face broad government spending cuts and tax increases on January 1st. The combined amount would total over 500 billion dollars. Those 500 billion dollars equal about three to four percent of the nation’s entire gross domestic product. This is what’s referred to as the fiscal cliff.
If there isn’t a resolution, here are the specifics of what will happen.
Taxes would go up for almost every taxpayer and many businesses. The Bush-era tax cuts, which tax relief for middle and upper-class tax payers, would be a thing of the past. So would President Obama’s payroll tax cut which added about a thousand dollars a year to the average worker’s income.
Government spending would be slashed. That means less money for most military, domestic and federal programs. $26 billion in emergency unemployment-compensation would be gone. Medicare payments to doctors would be reduced by $11 billion. Federal programs would take the biggest hit. They stand to lose a total of $65 billion.
If the fiscal cliff isn’t avoided, some investors will be hit hard. Those who receive qualified dividends could see the tax rate on those dividends go from 15% to almost 40% in 2013.
Many business owners believe going over the fiscal cliff will cripple the economy, triggering a deep recession. They fear demand for their products or services will decrease because consumers will have less money to spend. It also means that they won’t be able to afford new hires or expand their businesses. Since most Americans would be paying more in taxes, they’d be less inclined to make big purchases, like a home or a new car.
None of this is set in stone, but that’s part of the problem. Markets, businesses and people in general hate uncertainty. The fear of the unknown facing us at the beginning of next year is exactly why so many people are so worked up over the fiscal cliff.
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Would falling Over Really Be That Bad?
OK, there you have it. Now, let us suggest the unthinkable. Could falling over the cliff be good in the long run for America? Let us make several points:
* The “fiscal cliff” is a cheap, bumper-sticker summary designed to induce fear and hysteria. The latter, and not sound, bipartisan reason and logic drive politics today in this country. The “cliff” analogy does not describe the nature of what will happen if nothing is done by midnight, Dec. 31.
* Politicians count on Americans believing the frightening headlines so they (We The People) will be less inclined to get active in their taking back their government.
* Virtually no one in charge of “solving” the problem understands the economy. America’s economy, a tarpit of horrific debt, has long since entered into such complication that there isn’t one person alive who truly knows what’s happening, beyond the fact that the insane American addiction to debt will one day come to roost. The fiscal cliff is scaring the bejeezus out of Washington, D.C., because a lot of them jerks are wondering: Will this be the reckoning? It’s a reckoning long overdue, and the sooner it comes, the better off we will be in the long run. Problem is, with pols worried only about re-election, there is no “long run.”
* The “reckoning,” an economic equivalenti of Dec. 21, 2012 on the Mayan calendar, will arrive, one day or another. The sooner it comes, the better our chances to recover.
* Here’s a reality almost no one has talked about: In economics of as grand and complex a scale as the U.S. economy (and with it, the global economy), things don’t happen in the flick of a light switch. That’s why the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (generally regarded as the most credible source of analysis and explanation of the federal budget) says “there will be little immediate effect of the tax increases and cuts” that will go into effect on Jan. 2. That is why the “cliff” analogy isn’t accurate.
* The CBPP analysis point out that the cuts in spending will not occur all at once but over a period of several years. The image of “falling off a fiscal cliff” belies this reality.
* Taxpayers, too, will not see an immediate reduction in cash flow. The same is true of most of the fiscal cliff tax changes. “The CBPP points out — again quite correctly — that the individual income tax increases will not immediately reduce taxpayers’ cash flow by the total but rather by a very small amount. And the increase in the alternative minimum tax for those who become subject to it for the first time in 2012 because it isn’t fixed by Dec. 31 won’t be felt at all until each taxpayer files her, his, or their tax return for the year. Given that a taxpayer doesn’t typically receive the W-2s they need to file until later in January, that means that there will be plenty of time to deal with this retroactively before it starts to bite.” (Stan Collender, “Campaign for America’s Future.”
* Most of the dire scenarios politicians like to paint about the consequences of the “fiscal cliff” are vague, general, and unspecified. That’s the best way, of course, to frighten people and give hysteria reign. Pols love that.
* The debate over the “fiscal cliff” has been almost ENTIRELY along ideological lines. This tell us that little if anything can be believed from the mouths of mainstream politicians, economists, or anyone else who has “chosen sides,” from the rabid right to the looney left.
* The “cliff” actually offers a great opportunity to once-and-for-all reform the tax code and install a flat 15% tax.
* The cliff offers an even better opportunity, a golden one, to finally confront the right-smar-bastard that got us into the mess in the first place: Deficit spending.
* Higher taxes and excessive debt on any level — national, state, local — crush economic growth and prosperity, as Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski of the city of Pittsfield only too well know. Mayor Dan Bianchi and a compliant city council once against decided to raise taxes on homeowners and business, assuring an even harder time of making ends meet for both.
Ladies and gentleman, rather than have the clowns in Washington “fix” things and prevent the fiscal cliff, THE PLANET says, “Let’s take the plunge.”
AGAIN, AGAIN … NOT THAT SHE EVER KNOWS OR EVER WILL WHAT GOES FROM HER, SHE SITS AS SHE SPEAKS: “THERE IS NOT DESTINY ENOUGH TO KEEP A DREAM FROM TURNING ON ITSELF.” YOU’RE WRONG, SUSAN.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.