Soap Box

My very own cute little soap box!

Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Tax Exempt Status for churches

Posted by eemilla on March 5, 2011

While I agree with the recent Supreme Court decision in favor Westboro Baptist Church’s right to be completely disgusting and abhorrent and absolutely hateful and disrespectful, it firms my opinion against tax exempt status for churches.

The IRS requires organizations claiming tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code to refrain from being action organizations, which prevents them from supporting or working against both legislation and political campaigns; however, we all know that churches participate in the political discourse in this country and tell their memberships how to vote.  However, “churches” like Westboro Baptist stick to their message of hate and refrain from ever mentioning legislation or candidates; therefore following the letter if not the spirit of the law.  The Family/The Fellowship enjoyed tax exempt status until 2009 while they posed as a church; the home on C Street (which was considered a church) provided highly subsidized lodging to both Republicans and Democrats (including Representative Heath Shuler) all the while actively influencing legislation in this country and abroad.  Recent research has validated the Church of Latter Day Saints involvement in passing Proposition Eight which altered California’s constitution to restrict marriage to one man and one woman.

Many argue that churches deserve the special tax status for the charitable works that they perform in the community, and while I would regret to see modest churches that actually do good works in the community suffer, I wouldn’t mind at all seeing mega churches with huge ostentatious buildings contribute to the tax base.  If they truly follow the words of their holy book then they don’t need the tax incentive to perform these good works, and driving around any town or city in this country most churches have way too much money in their building funds.  Furthermore, our First Amendment provides for a separation of church and state, and frankly, I do not see the need for taxpayers to enable churches to proselytize anymore than James Madison did.

Our current budget concerns are bringing some important programs to the chopping block, but we cannot cut our way out of the deficit; revenues will have to be increased.  Federal heating oil assistance is being cut, teachers are being laid off, and projects for mass transit are mouldering, but churches like Westboro Baptist don’t have to pay a single cent in taxes on their assets?  Much like defunding NPR and PBS, removing churches’ tax exempt status will enable them to fully enter the political arena rather than secretly participate.


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Shame on you, Congressman Shuler!

Posted by eemilla on November 11, 2009

Abortion is legal.  The best way to stop abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.  Before Roe v. Wade, well heeled women went out of the country to have their abortions performed, and less well off women went to illicit abortion providers who may or may not have been medically trained.  As a result, women died.  It is infuriating that Congressman Shuler (and the other representatives) would vote to restrict a right that is so intensely personal.  Every child born should be a wanted child.  How many children have you adopted or fostered Mr Shuler?

Congressman Shuler issued a press release stating that HR 3962 doesn’t provide enough reform or control enough costs.  However, if that were the case why bother with voting in favor of the Shupak amendment that would restrict access to abortions for ostensibly less than wealthy women.  Why didn’t Congressman Shuler present anything to the Small Business Committee that would have provided better cost controls or more reforms?  What reforms are Congressman Shuler looking for?

His press release states that he supports “many of the provisions in HR 3962”, but other than cost control he doesn’t specifically state where the bill’s reforms fall short.  On his Small Business page he points that healthcare costs have almost doubled since 2001 and that businesses are facing the decision of whether to pay for health insurance or lay off employees, but his solution on that page is to allow businesses to band together to create coops which would work within the existing system that Shuler says is “laden with waste, fraud and abuse” (from today’s press release).

The Senate is next so pick up your phones and call your Senators daily to remind them how you feel about our healthcare system.  I’ll be reminding mine that unlike them I don’t have free healthcare.  I don’t get to choose my doctor because my health insurance company does that for me.  For my annual physical, I have to schedule my appointment about six months out, and then I should expect to wait one, two, or more hours to be seen by the doctor.  Due to the huge price difference between the group and individual market, my employer choses my health plan.  If I were on the individual market, my only real option for health insurance company would be Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC; although they are not considered a monopoly BCBSNC collected over 96% of individual health insurance premiums in North Carolina in 2008.  I’ll also be sure to mention the millions of uninsured (like our friends who work forty plus hours every week, but still cannot afford health insurance) that the private market has failed.  I’ll voice my support for moving away from the fee for service paradigm and moving towards the rewarding healing the sick one; I’ll also share my dream of taxing the hell out of those prescription drug ads that harass me constantly to ask my doctor to please give me a prescription which might help the selectively fiscally conservative get on the bus.

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Do state legislators really deserve free healthcare?

Posted by eemilla on June 13, 2009

With the budget crisis looming for counties, cities, and states across the country, cuts are being proposed to mental health services and education among other things.  To their credit they did cut their own pay just like the state employees down the chain, but in the middle of this crisis our state legislators are wasting time with bills to amend our state’s constitution to deny rights.  

As healthcare isn’t that important for the weakest members of society, I bet the state legislator’s could save much more money by cutting their own health insurance.  Most of them are older and are probably prescribed a plethora of pharmies, which as well all know (especially those without health coverage or with only basic major medical coverage) cost a lot. Additionally, being a state legislator isn’t even a full time job, and how many of their constituents have health coverage working either a full or part time job?  I have never worked a part time (or even a full time job) in which my health care was provided free of charge.  Even if one does have health coverage, it certainly isn’t free, and I would wager one month’s premiums that it isn’t as good as what the legislators provide for themselves.

I’ll be sending this to my elected officials, and I hope you will join me.  I will also bring them to task for wasting time on a stupid Constitutional amendment to deny citizens’ rights and trying to break down the proud tradition of the separation of church and state.

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I hate PMI.

Posted by eemilla on February 20, 2009

I recently filled our taxes, and I was reminded about the tax deduction for PMI payments that we don’t qualify for because we purchased our house a year or so too early.  I hate Private Mortgage Insurance.  Especially in light of this economic meltdown, I am so angry that we have to pay this insurance to protect our mortgage company (which by the way was bought out by a larger bank that has now received bailout funds because they allowed even shadier folks than us to get loans without PMI) against our shady, risky selves, and before this mortgage meltdown I understood why the banks would want to protect themselves from borrowers who didn’t meet all of their underwriting guidelines.  Now that all of these sub-prime loans have gone belly up, why isn’t PMI saving the day?  One source says because not all sub-prime loans were required to carry it.  Well, I don’t want to carry it either!  Since we have to carry it, can’t we at least deduct its cost from our taxable income?

We got an appraisal after the two year mark, but we hadn’t appreciated enough to get rid of PMI.  We have been making improvements, and we will continue to make more as we are able squeeze extra money out of the budget.  However, with the housing prices staying steady or falling it looks like we will be stuck paying PMI until this mess is over.  I was hoping Tuesday’s announcement might offer some good news for our household, but it doesn’t seem so.  

On the bright side, I love this house and my neighborhood.  I just wish my PMI payments were knocking the principal down or being socked away to rip up this carpet.

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Stimulus and Upcoming Bank Bailout Redux

Posted by eemilla on February 15, 2009

With all of the ongoing discussion about the economy and the soon to be signed stimulus bill, I wanted to throw my two cents into the mix.  

Read the rest of this entry »

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How Should We Get Big-Money Influence Out of Congressional Elections?

Posted by eemilla on January 3, 2009

My comment on the HuffPost was truncated due to space, so I expanded it a bit here.

More on Voting
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The Durbin/Specter solution [to tax broadcast networks in order to finance elections] is great as long as it applies to all for-profit networks; I propose that the networks be offered the option of either providing broadcast time or paying the tax. The provided air time would be required to be either in prime time or a slot of the candidates’ choosing; I feel this method would provide more exposure than relying on the big four.  Alternatively, all networks that chose to provide air time in lieu of the tax would air a series of debates.  As presidential campaigns command more attention from the general public, it only makes sense that the financing reform would start with a national debate. Any thought of subsidized elections must enact campaign limits so that the price of campaigning doesn’t continue to grow.  We often focus just on the dollar amount; in the last election the three longest running candidates were also supposed to be serving US Senate terms.  Allowing career politicians to neglect and retain their incumbent seats while campaigning to rise to higher office (at any level including municipal) creates another barrier for average citizens to participate in our democracy; most small businesses couldn’t bear the cost of an employee being on leave for two years, and I am not sure how many Americans could afford to stop focusing on breadwinning for two years to run for office.

Finally, any discussion of campaign reform has to include the opening of the races; I want to vote for the best candidate whether it is in the primary or not, and the best candidates may not be in the same party.  There are more than two parties in this country, and I am ready to add those other voices to the mix.  I hope that by providing the Green or Libertarian perspective I may be spared of another debate focusing on a candidate’s patriotism as evidenced by the presence or absence of a lapel pin.  Ending the Democrats’ and Republicans’ strangle hold on the Commission for Presidential Debates is essential to any meaningful reform and any meaningful debate.

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Big Three Bailout?

Posted by eemilla on November 14, 2008

While I cannot imagine anyone who would argue that failure from the Big Three US auto makers would be devastating to our slumping economy, I am enraged that anyone is even suggesting that Detroit deserves a bailout.  The financial industry has been overly greedy, and no, I don’t believe they deserved a bail out; however, Detroit has been in jeopardy since the eighties.  I watched Roger and Me over ten years ago.  Since the Big Three seem to blame all of their financial woes on their pensions and the credit crunch, it seems to me that they should’ve gotten behind universal healthcare years ago.  However, I think we should be realistic and place the blame where it truly belongs: greedy short sightedness.  Detroit should not have stood in the way of producing higher fuel efficiency vehicles for the past twenty years; they should have gotten behind universal healthcare.  Research and development money should have been spent on more fuel options not more cup holders and DVD players. 

It is outrageous that this bailout was passed in the first place, and who is going to be brave enough to stand up and say enough is enough?

I am not an economist, but I want the bailout to stop going to corporations that have been exacerbating the gap between the classes in this country; I am angry that although the banks have been given the cash injection, they still don’t want to lend.  It disgusts me that Congress has no problem writing checks to major corporations with huge accounting departments that should know better, but there is never enough money for healthcare.  There is never enough money for a public transportation initiative, and even after the August 2007 bridge collapse which followed the 2005 levy failure, there isn’t enough money to maintain the existing infrastructure of this country.

Enough with excessive and reckless corporate welfare; help the unemployment and underemployment problem by putting people to work on both our aging infrastructure and the infrastructure of new energy.  Follow Senator Clinton’s plan to give funds to cities and local governments so they can purchase foreclosed homes, and help homeowner’s get their stupid and reckless loans refinanced; if taxpayers have to help out people that made bad decisions and should have known better, I would rather help out those that don’t have finance degrees over those that do.  Assistance should go to actual citizens not corporations.

Not that I do not enjoy a lump sum payment from out of nowhere, but I think it would be pandering and ill advised to dole out another economic stimulus payment to the general public.  I don’t recall exactly where I heard this, but someone said that a repeat of the recent payments would be a nice boon to China and Mall Wart as everyone would rush to buy another big ticket television or maybe just more cheap, plastic crap.  Besides, spending too much is part of what created this nasty mess.

Sacrifice and conservation are on the menu for the foreseeable future, and I hope we can take this opportunity to improve our country and economy.

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Thank you Representative Henry Waxman

Posted by eemilla on August 1, 2008

I know it has taken much, much too long, but regardless thank you Representative Waxman for attacking the shameful abuses of defense contractors.  I hope this brings more justice to fruition than the contempt charge for Karl Rove is likely to bring.

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