The 2017 Tax Bill was signed into law today by President Trump. In a George Will op-ed piece that appeared today, he writes: “…a presidential assistant calls this year’s tax legislation ‘the most significant tax reform we’ve had since 1986.”‘ Which is like bragging about the tallest building in Boise. The 1986 tax reform radically simplified the tax code. Since then, the code has acquired more than 15,000 new wrinkles. The 2017 tax legislation might — this is difficult to measure — have managed the minor miracle of making the 70,000 page code more complicated.” My campaign’s tax reform, conversely, would make the tax system a whole lot less complicated. There would be an easy one-page form, for practically everyone — with a simplified progressive tax. Loopholes, etc., would be all but eliminated. (There are currently some 173 of them.) Why eliminate most? Because American taxpayers currently spend approximately $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year. Time that could be better spent. Money that could be better spent. That simple. For more on our tax policy proposal, see…
I was reading Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book Hard Choices today. In a chapter about terrorism, she states: “…we can see that violent extremism is bound up with nearly all of today’s complex global problems. It can take root in zones of crisis and poverty, flourish under repression and in the absence of the rule of law…” Good analysis. So to fight terrorism, common sense says a main front should be trying to impact, for instance, global poverty. A kid in a dead-end poverty loop in our cities are drawn to a: gang. A kid in a dead-end poverty loop in the Third World is drawn to a: terrorist cell. So how do we fight this? We take Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” international. Yes, the U.S. does help internationally already. But frankly, we could help so much more! If we tightened our belts: less food (66% of Americans are overweight); less luxury items (fewer air conditioners, fewer wide screen TVs, fewer cars with all the options, fewer unneeded new home additions…). Two things happen with this strategy. Terrorism decreases in kind. And one’s spirituality increases in kind. It’s a win/win. For our position paper on terrorism, see…
Reading USA Today this morning, I came across articles noting that: Scott Pruitt is dismantling a lot of the EPA; some 73 million American jobs will be lost to automation by the year 2030; and that will only be a concern if North Korea doesn’t put a nuclear warhead on top of a long range intercontinental ballistic missile they successfully tested yesterday. The range indicates it could hit anywhere in the U.S. at this point. So… climate change destruction, employment destruction, or, well, nuclear weapons destruction — which will render the latter two mute points. I once told a newspaper in Lancaster, Ohio, that my wife and I were running as “…concerned parents from the Midwest.” And we’re ‘concerned’ about leaving a world of chaos, or perhaps no world at all, to our children. I hope we get elected soon.
I was reading part of the book A Government As Good As Its People, by author Jimmy Carter tonight. He is quoted in it as saying during one of the debates: “We need to have a government that is sensitive to our people’s needs — to those who are poor, who don’t have adequate health care, who have been cheated too long with our tax programs, who have been out of jobs, whose families have been torn apart.” Yeah, okay, that’s a given. Yet look around all these years later since he said that. I have. It’s not pretty, as my Declaration Speech points out. Best nation on earth? One would seriously wonder anymore, huh. ‘Make America Great Again?’ How about: “Make America Moral Again”? Then things will systemically shift around. Just sayin’.
On a religious internet talk show I was watching today, it was noted that under Communist Russia some 60 to 100 million people/”dissidents” have been killed. Many of these people have been Christians. Later this afternoon I was reading the book: Why Lenin? Why Stalin? (A Reappraisal of the Russian Revolution, 1900-1930) — as part of my own “Russian Investigation.” The book noted: “The task of the professional revolutionaries… was to heat the peasant discontent to the explosion point, and then to let matters take their course until autocracy, the church, and all the other trammels of established authority had been destroyed.” It worked. What’s more, its my belief that the decline of morality in a society creates a void that is filled, no longer by God, but by “the state.” In America these days, morality is on a serious decline (60 million abortions, airwaves replete with sex and violence, crime rates off the charts…), and, concurrently, there’s been more of a push toward socialism here — the reason, for instance, for Bernie Sanders’ popularity… However continuing to live in a free market capitalist society, for now, I (“Joe the Painter”) worked most of the week painting a house that’s right next door to where I live. Rush hour has been a snap.
I’m just in the process of finishing up a couple outside house painting projects before winter sets in in Ohio. We’re also experiencing a good Schriner family soccer season. Our son Jonathan is a freshman on the Bluffton High School varsity soccer team. They just won the Division Championship and their school bus got a police escort into town the other night. Small town Americana at it’s best. Meanwhile, our daughter Sarah is a senior at Franciscan University. Her soccer team made it into the playoffs for only the second time in school history this year… On the campaign front, I have been spending nights updating our website and doing yet more research for our various positions. Note: I was just reading today about a scientific report out of Europe that says, unequivocally, that global warming is not only a future threat, but is here right now and playing havoc across the board (severe weather, more drought, climate refugees…). While the Trump administration is, basically, denying a lot of this, our administration wouldn’t. See…
I’ve been reading some of the book Why We Disagree About Climate Change by Mike Hulme. Cambridge Press. The author notes that the “Group of ’77” (political coalition comprising developing countries) includes a number of island nations where, because of dramatic sea level rising, may soon face “dislocation,” not much different than the waves of refugees now fleeing various wars. And: “The impacts on [these island nation’s] identity and social cohesion were likely to cause as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis,” Hulme writes. To extend the corollary… I once sat in on a graduate level law class at Notre Dame University (I was there to give a talk that night on campus). The topic of Saddam Hussein and his unconscionable gassing of the Kurds came up. [The overarching theme of this day’s class was around “human rights.”] I noted that if a lot of scientific studies are correct around global warming, America is, in a very real sense, “…gassing the world.” And that one, of many, of the consequences to this will be scores of displaced people. In setting off these types of what will be quite horrific events (for the victims), does this make us, in a very real sense: “a terrorist nation”? It got awful quiet in the room.
In between a number of house painting jobs recently (see: Joe the Painter), I’ve also been writing yet more freelance articles for our local newspapers on subjects that, interestingly enough, tie in with various parts of our platform. For instance, I recently interviewed a former Ashland University literary professor who is now running an innovative used bookstore in downtown Bluffton. She said she was dismayed at the number of youth these days who, outside of school, have never completed reading a book. It’s my contention (as well as a number of researchers) that, say, Xfinity TV, constantly streaming internet videos, and so on, leave little to the imagination. What’s more, this could well lead to, in essence, “brain atrophy.” Where when reading you have to picture characters, imagery, plot lines… This, in essence, is like “brain aerobics.” For more on our position on education, see… I also did an article on the Youth For Christ outreach in a hardscrabble neighborhood of nearby Lima, Ohio. Director Jared Diller told me that in the midst of the poverty and unsafe neighborhood there, Rally Point provides a safe haven. Some 40 volunteers from all over the county help there. Note: We spent five years in a hardscrabble neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, working with Catholic Workers there to make a difference in the neighborhood. See… And when I’m not painting, writing, researching, updating our website… I’m attending our kid Jonathan’s high school soccer matches.
Catching up on August/Sept… I did an article for the local newspaper on First Mennonite Church’s “Casket Ministry” here. A regular on-the-market casket costs, on average: $4,000. A First Mennonite casket, of comparable quality and crafted by church member “carpenter hobbyists,” costs: $450. A Habitat for Humanity home in the Third World costs, on average: $2,000. Think about it. We bury a dead American for close to the price of providing adequate housing for two families in the Third World. Lunacy, sheer lunacy. Our priorities in America are so out of whack. [One of our campaign research stops was at Habitat for Humanity’s Headquarters in Americus, Georgia, where we toured a model village that included some of the homes they build in the Third World. It was pretty impressive.] …Staying with this theme, I recently interviewed a Bluffton pastor, Brandon Mayden, who recently adopted a young child from an orphanage in Ethiopia. Why? Because, simply, there was a need and he and his wife felt like God was calling them to do it. Some years prior, Brandon and his wife had gone on a missions trip to Haiti seven months after the devastating earthquake (that killed 300,000 people) happened there. He said they saw countless children roaming the streets without parents. Yet even though they wanted to adopt one of the children then, the government’s rule was the potential parents had to be over 35-years-old. Lunacy, sheer lunacy. Note: And speaking of ‘lunacy’… Kim Jong-un has recently said Guam was in North Korea’s nuclear cross hairs. What’s not getting a lot of press play, if any, is the fact that the U.S. has North Korea in its nuclear cross hairs (with a whole lot more missiles). Think North Korea, oh, might be feeling threatened? We as a country would be foolish to look at geopolitical issues simply through a myopic, one-dimensional lens. See our position paper on foreign affairs to understand more about what I mean.
Continuing to catch up on July… I did a newspaper article about St. Mary’s Church here and their “Appalachian connection.” Each year an outreach team from St. Mary’s goes to Kentucky’s Owsley County, one of the poorest in the country. It used to be coal, tobacco and timber country. But no more. What’s more, the opioid problem there is off the charts. The St. Mary’s people paint, fix walls, floors… and as with Habitat for Humanity, the homeowners work side by side. St. Mary’s Pastoral Leader said to me the help is motivated by “justice issues.” And as St. Mary’s parishioners are exposed to such dire poverty, they not only realize how blessed they are, but they also realize that “…it would be wrong not to give,” she said. Our position on poverty points this out in spades. And as president, I’d try to mobilize way more help into our poverty stricken rural pockets, inner cities and into the Third World as well… Speaking of poverty, I did another newspaper piece in July on a downtown Bluffton thrift store that has this phenomenal outreach into El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ethiopia… It’s called the Et Cetera Shop and all the profits go the Mennonite Central Committee for it’s outreach help into the Third World. The Et Cetera Shop director said that, not only is all this a help to those around the world, but it also serves as a “recycling” hub in the midst of an ever evolving otherwise “throw-away” society. This is the kind of ethos that is reflected on our position on the environment. Note: On the lighter side… Every summer Bluffton University here hosts high school marching band camps. Those of us who live within a half mile radius of the campus often feel like we’re at a perpetual high school football game halftime show. (“When the players tried to take the field, the marching band refused to yield…”) Anyway, I was taking some photos of the Edison High School Marching Band for the paper. While the band is in Milan, Ohio, they call it “Edison” because none other than Thomas Edison (think: light bulb) is from Milan, Ohio. Milan is also the home of the annual Milan Melon Festival. So after taking the photos, I told the band my Milan Melon Festival joke: Question: Why does the Milan Melon Festival Queen need a chaperone? Answer: So she can’t elope. (Cantaloupe. Get it? I’ve got a million of ’em.) But you could tell that the band members were happy I didn’t tell them any more of ’em. LOL.