PearlY 1 day, 13 hours ago on Editorial: Obama’s plan for free college isn’t really free

As for income inequality, let's be realistic - we'll never reduce income inequality while we continue to import millions of extremely poor, extremely uneducated people from other countries and try to convince their children it is best to self-segregate and resist assimilation. So if we are to be relatively porous in our borders while not assimilating the entrants, we'd better be prepared to accept a substantial and growing amount of income inequality.

But I personally think much of the hype over "income inequality" is just that - hype or more accurately political demagogy.

Far more important than "inequality" between artificial measures of "income" (that usually ignore the effect of taxes or welfare transfers) are inequality of living standards, and I defy you to argue with a straight face that living standards for the lowest quintile of the population are declining relative to the top quintile.

Less than 100 years ago, only 1% of homes had electricity and indoor plumbing. Now less than 1% lack them. Just in the last 20-30 years, the average living space per person has dramatically increased, along with the energy efficiency, quantity & quality of appliances, and access to clean water, safe sanitation, better trained policing, roads, schools, etc. Crime has dropped substantially over the last 40-50 years, benefitting the poor most of all.

Thirty five years ago, it would have cost the better part of a middle-income earner's annual pay to buy a computer with a 1MB hard drive - not counting any software. Today a minimum wage worker can buy a computer with a million times more capacity and loaded with software, with the pay earned in one month and still have enough money left over to pay the rent.

While public school education quality has declined in many areas, access to self-directed education for those motivated to seek it has never been greater or more accessible.

Even the poorest person in this country has access to emergency medical care of a quality not available to the wealthiest person in the world 20-30 years ago, and with a little effort, to non-emergency care equally superior.

So I'm more concerned that public policy not damage the higher living standards most of us, including the poor, have come to take for granted, than that "income inequality" be brought to heel.


PearlY 1 day, 13 hours ago on Editorial: Obama’s plan for free college isn’t really free

The reason I know you don't really want to hear conservative proposals is that if you did, you wouldn't depend on an anonymous poster on a local paper for your information, you'd look it up. You're sophisticated enough to know at least some of the organizations that offer such material but just in case - try the Hoover Institution, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, or for Washington State, Washington Policy Institute.


PearlY 2 days, 11 hours ago on Editorial: Obama’s plan for free college isn’t really free

We have a plan but it's 906 pages long and you have to pass it to know what's in it ;-)

But seriously, yes, the right is concerned about all of those things, as well as some of the root causes of those things. And the only unions most on the right object to are government unions, since a unionized ruling class that is also protected by civil service undermines accountability and democratic control of the government. Even if we wanted to destroy private sector unions, it would hardly be a top priority since they tend to destroy themselves over time as they fulfill their (legitimate) purpose and proceed to overreach.

And yes there are plans and proposals out there that address all those issues from the right, in ways that are far more likely to reduce the problems without shredding the Constitution than what the Left proposes. But I don't believe for one second that you'd "like to hear it." Your fingers are firmly stuck in your ears and I can hear the echoes of your "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, I'm not liiiiiistening!" even from where I sit at my computer.

Nor have we come anywhere close to market based economics over the last 35 years. Instead, we're reaping the inevitable results of policies enacted and errors made during the New Deal and the Great Society. You could go back to the predictions of market based economists of those times (including some on the Left like Daniel Moynihan) and see how unerringly prescient they were about what those policies would bring about. Or you can look at broad swaths of the Eurozone to see our future as we move closer and closer to their failed policies, for which the Left's solution, as we're seeing in Greece, is to double or triple down in the hope of coming up with yet another round of "other people's money."


PearlY 2 days, 16 hours ago on Letter - Voting is a right and responsibility

Can't disagree with anything you say. Gaming the government's programs is an entertaining hobby, but there's no guarantee of success.

Roth IRA withdrawals (assuming they meet other requirements) avoid showing up on the tax return as taxable income, so don't cause problems with Obamacare or senior exemptions.

Your retiree friend's income last year doesn't control the cost of health insurance this year; they can always report a "change of income" to back that $30,000 out for this year. It will cost them when they file their 2014 return though, since they'll have to pay back the advance credit used to subsidize their premiums last year. If they had a Roth IRA and took their withdrawal out of that, it won't be a problem for either year.

There will be millions of people who will find out they were "burned" with Obamacare, whether in terms of premiums or coverage or doctor availability, including anybody who believed anything or the Exchanges told them about how it works in practice.


PearlY 2 days, 18 hours ago on Letter - Voting is a right and responsibility

Nice. Get people to vote for increasing taxes on other people, whose budgets may be just as tight, while escaping any consequences for themselves - and call it "fulfilling a responsibility". If that isn't just a classic demonstration of how liberals think!

Mr. Siegel is right about the senior exemption as far as he goes - BUT seniors who rent or who live in assisted living facilities instead of their own homes might be warned that THEY won't be exempt from this property tax, which they pay indirectly through their rents, AND they'll be saddled with the taxes homeowner seniors avoid paying by taking Mr. Siegel's advice and claiming the exemption. And seniors who buy groceries or shop in local stores won't be exempt from the increased prices that will be passed along to them because the store owners pay higher property taxes. And their children and grandchildren won't be exempt both from the higher tax for the pool and the higher taxes overall that will be passed along when Granny takes Mr. Siegel's advice.


PearlY 2 days, 18 hours ago on Letter - Voting is a right and responsibility


The thing about the senior exemption is that it is based on "adjusted gross income" from your tax return with a few additional adjustments. So you can have a million in the bank in savings and retirement accounts, live in a million dollar house, and still claim the exemption if your reportable income is under $30,000.

So feel free to save for retirement; just do it in tax-protected assets, time your withdrawals carefully and you too can be a millionaire receiving a senior exemption. I'll qualify this year, though I haven't decided yet if I'll claim it.

By the way, the liberals reading this comment will conclude that the problem is that the exemption is not more thoroughly means-tested (counting wealth along with income). A better reading is that NO MATTER HOW you structure a government plan to micromanage and reward some people and punish others for how they choose to live their lives, people WILL adjust their behaviors accordingly and the attainment of your goal (in this case, helping struggling seniors stay in their homes) will cost much more than expected.


PearlY 4 days, 3 hours ago on Editorial: Obama’s plan for free college isn’t really free

As for the "more than a trillion dollars" supposedly spent on the Iraq War, well, figures don't lie but liars figure.

In the years before the Iraq War, we had 150,000 troops and massive quantities of war materiel staged in Saudi Arabia to enforce sanctions. When you count the cost of the Iraq War, do you deduct the savings from not having that personnel and equipment sitting in SA twiddling their thumbs and annoying Al Qaeda?

When you measure the payroll costs of US military personnel in Iraq, do you deduct the savings from NOT having those personnel back at home collecting unemployment checks and food stamps?

And the war did NO ONE any good? What about the 50,000 Iraqi children under 5 who were allegedly dying every year from sanctions under Saddam? Was that a Democrats' lie or did the elimination of Saddam and end of sanctions save all those lives? What about the Shia who were oppressed and victimized under Saddam and his Sunni regime? (Granted sometimes you wish both sides of a conflict could lose, but that's rarely an option.)

War is hell, but in the case of Iraq, I don't see how you can say that a sanction-laden Iraq under Saddam left no one better off when he was gone.


PearlY 4 days, 7 hours ago on Editorial: Obama’s plan for free college isn’t really free

Cute cartoon, but in the real world, those kids will be provided "navigators" and translators to help them fill out those forms.


PearlY 4 days, 7 hours ago on Editorial: Obama’s plan for free college isn’t really free

fatherof5, I have challenged you several times on your absurd claim that Obama has "shrunk the deficit". You KNOW, because I've laid out the numbers, that the only reason that claim can fool most people most of the time is because the only year Obama's deficits are compared against are the last budget year "blamable" on the Bush Administration when we threw away all restraints on bailouts and various "stimuli" to deal with the financial crisis - fiscal 2009.

Sure, if you compare any year to fiscal 2009, the deficit is down, but compare it to any other year of Bush's administration, and Obama's "deficit reduction" claim evaporates.

Here are the numbers, and just STOP trying to pretend that Obama has "lowered the deficit". It's ridiculous and makes you out to be a fraud and a shill, which I'd hate to believe of you.

Here are the Bush deficits by year in billions:

FY 2002 158

FY 2003 378

FY 2004 413

FY 2005 318

FY 2006 248

FY 2007 161

FY 2008 459

FY 2009 1413

Here are the Obama deficits by year in billions (including budgeted projections for years past 2014):

FY 2010 1294

FY 2011 1300

FY 2012 1087

FY 2013 680

FY 2014 483

FY 2015 564

FY 2016 531

FY 2017 458

Except for the year of the financial crisis tsunami, Bush's deficits over his term averaged $317 billion. Obama's averaged $800 billion and he doesn't bring the deficit back down to where it was before fiscal 2009 until 2017 - assuming he doesn't keep tacking on more giveaways - and then only by a measly $1 billion.

Obama did not inherit "huge deficits". He inherited ONE huge deficit, and chose to use that as his new baseline.

The history of our economy and our educational system the last few decades suggests that the dividends from "investing" in education have been paid out of the nations' reserves, which are now almost totally depleted.

I would venture to guess that a good 50% of the kids we are now sending through college are learning little of future value to themselves or the nation, and much that will come back to bite them in the rear.