Archive for Monday, May 27, 2013

Letter: Voting power

May 27, 2013

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To the editor:

People between the ages of 18 and 39 are angry. They are angry with predominately white, older (over 50) people who are financially sound and make all the rules. People like me — aged 58, white, male and not quite financially sound. The worst part is they have every reason to be. More importantly, they have every reason to change this country for the better and they can!

Young people don’t believe they can change anything through conventional methods like community action and voting. How would they know? Their voting percentage for the last two decades is as low as those over 50 is high. People 18 to 30 voting in the same percentages as the 50-plus group would change this country overnight. In one national election, young people could determine the face of Congress — liberal conservative, tea party conservative — you name it, they can call it.

The rules we live under have been invented and imposed on all of us by the older, wealthier and largely white and self-serving among us. Why not? They engage, act, vote, get elected and call the shots.

I know those 18- to 30-year-olds don’t believe they stand a chance in the face of American politics. Pull out your palm device and Google national elections by age categories and voting trends for the past 20 years or so and decide for yourselves. Then vote and make this a better country for you, my kids, my grandkids and me.

Comments

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

The system is so rigged in favor of incumbent parties, that 99% of congressmen seeking re-election win their seats.

When youth tried to participate in the system by peaceful protest through the occupy movement, established powers deployed riot police, arrested and removed them.

Incumbent powers have realized that with enough negative adds, attack dog Fox "News" coverage and anti-government rhetoric, they can keep young people from believing in government and retain power for themselves.

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

It was a largely peaceful movement dedicated to changing public policy through non-violent civil disobedience.

It only became violent when the police swooped in with dogs, tear gas, shields and truncheons.

Disagree with them, their goals, their tactics or even their wardrobe but don't lie about it.

The reason they ceased to exist is that they ignored the basic tenant of human organization - successful organizations need strong leaders.

Our form of city government suffers from the same problem - lack of executive leadership. Government by committee is a recipe for failure and stagnation.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

I only remember the dogs when the group refused to leave private property or to relinquish public property to the public. I recall a great deal of restraint.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Blogs!! I can find just about anything among the blogs. HBow about WP, NYT, WSJ and the like??

msezdsit 2 years, 3 months ago

Real change in this country is likely going to bring violence by the oppressors. Just think if the tea party was attacked like the conservative right wing attacked the occupy wall street.group. The amazing thing is the very people who attacked the occupy group are now complaining because they were brought under scrutiny. Which brings us back to the point of this lte

The right wingers lead the charge when it comes to our government using violence as compared to those wacky left wingers who seem to always want to find a peaceful solution. It is interesting that the real promoters of violence are so quick to blame the OWS group for being violent. It isn't as complicated as the chicken and the egg when figuring who is the source of violence.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Good rebuttal Don't Tread on Me. Lets see if lj can dispute your facts or if he will just admit defeat.

deec 2 years, 3 months ago

Most of the violence was initiated by undercover police officers and other government agents. You can easily google it.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

My gut reaction is to say really? But my distrust of the government overrides that response so I simply say, maybe.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Blogs!! I can find just about anything among the blogs. How about WP, NYT, WSJ and the like?? In the beginning there was little suppression. As the occupancies continued and began to disrupt the public in general more force was used. Same with left in the sixties.

Who attacked the occupy movement? The city of Oakland is anything but conservative. From where does this ignorance come?

Ken Lassman 2 years, 3 months ago

Therefore the 18-39 block of voters should continue to not to vote? Seems to me you've just listed reasons for the young voters to organize, as did the LTE author. There is strength in numbers. I wish social science/history teachers would make their students choose a political campaign to work on. Or maybe the girl and boy scouts, 4H, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc. I guess non-profits couldn't be involved in electoral politics, but why shouldn't enfranchisement in the political process be an explicitly stated goal of our educational system?

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

'cuz then people would vote and participate. Incumbants don't want that to happen.

They deliberately depress turnout through voter ID laws, negative ads and mud slinging. If everyone turned out to vote we would be a very liberal nation.

The only way for entrenched (by definition conservative) officials to retain power is to suppress the vote and scare people with threats of terrorism and the gay "agenda".

Voter turnout can't be a goal because it would cost incumbents their seats.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Right better not talk about threats of terrorism. Instead lets blame YouTube videos instead.

The Boston bombing didn't happen nor did the Fort Hood massacre. Oh wait that wasn't terrorism, that was workplace violence.

Threats of terrorism are real and they should be discussed just like the President did in his latest speech.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Occupy might have been more successful if they spent more time articulating a cohesive point of view instead of raping women, disturbing the peace, defecating in public and destroying property.

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

You can always point to outliers in a group to try and discredit them.

If you look at the GOP through the lens of Sen. Larry Craig, Gov. George Ryan, Congressman Tom Delay, then the GOP are a bunch of corrupt, power hungry closeted homosexuals who like to have sex in public bathrooms.

All in all the occupy movement was a peaceful protest dedicated to turn of the century republican goals like social justice, progressive taxation and environmental preservation.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

I think the GOP would be successful if it didn't have sexual deviants like Craig in its party.

And, I stand by my statement that the Occupy movement would have been more successful if it could have articulate a cohesive position and didn't have rapist in its midst along with large numbers, not outliers, who opening broke the law and destroyed property.

Liberty275 2 years, 3 months ago

How many rapes, public defecations or peace disturbances happened at tea party rallies?

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

Also Fred, I'd like to point out that far more rapes and sexual assaults (and for that matter public defecation) took place in the military than at occupy protests.

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

Yep - The military has a substantially higher incidence of sexual assaults per-capita than the civilian population at large.

The military is an important and honorable institution, but it needs to start putting offenders in Leavenworth instead of just discharging them with a demerit on the offender's record.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Per capita compared to the occupy movement?

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Went on a numbers search and found no clear direct comparison but using numbers from several sources the numbers suggest that reported sexual assault in the military is about twice as likely as in the general population (adjusted for age).

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Moderate. I agree, based on recent reports sexual abuse is a problem in the military. Even if it was less than the general population any abuse should not be tolerated. And, I certainly wouldn't try to minimize sexual abuse by any group by pointing to a worse group.

verity 2 years, 3 months ago

True that---and it'a used way too often on these boards as an excuse for any kind of bad behavior.

Lisa Medsker 2 years, 3 months ago

They don't discharge the offenders. They promote them. They 5-13 the victims.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Most of us learned at a very early age that two wrongs don't make a right and others bad behavior doesn't justify our bad behavior. But I suppose you disagree.

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

I was not saying it is right, I was eviscerating your ridiculous statement by pointing out some facts.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Your trying to minimize it by comparing it to another group that commits more crime. You can usually do this unless you're talking about someone like Hitler.

Why is my statement ridiculous? What was their message? There was no unified message was there? And do you really disagree that they would have been more successful without the rapes than with them?

Simply saying you won does not make it true.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Guess LJ is still trying to Google the occupy message.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 3 months ago

I have more of a problem with politicians beholden to campaign contributors. If politicians weren't crawling over each other to please the big monied interests and instead were in office to represent the average jane and joe that they are supposed to be there for, they could stay as long as they wanted.

The problem with term limits is that it doesn't touch that problem at all, and if you look at the research, you'll find that the longer folks stay in office, the better they understand the system to actually get something done. It's kinda like at your job: sometimes it's good to have someone working with you who has been there a while and can remember when they tried this before, how they've never tried that even tho it's obviously the source of the problem, who really makes decisions, etc. Some career politicians are good allies and can help you accomplish what is in the best interest of the community, but the best thing we could do to help those good ones is not to set term limits, but to demand some serious campaign reform that, for instance, makes it illegal to use the amount of campaign contributions as a criteria for accessing the politicians and political process, by providing a base of public funding for campaigns, by implementing campaign reforms being advocated by groups like Public Citizens, etc.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Does this include the NEA, the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers, the Public employees unions? It works both ways and under the constitution the right to petition your leaders is clearly there.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 3 months ago

If a politician is spending as much time raising contributions as he or she is helping the individual consituents of his/her district, and doesn't have time to meet them face to face unless that person is a major contributor, then the system is broken and needs major overhauling. And those issues are not dependent on what political stripe the major contributor is wearing. Furthermore, part of the reason we have lockstep politicians who cannot think outside the memos sent to them by the party (think Lynn in our area) is the clout the parties have in raising funds for the politicians of their party, and how they use those funds to essentially bribe them to tow the line. This is wrong.

Liberty275 2 years, 3 months ago

"Why could we all not get behind term limits for our Congress?"

We already have virtual term limits. They are called elections. Why are elections not good enough?

Let me ask you this. How would you like me telling you who you can vote for? You wouldn't like that much I'd guess. How about I tell you who you cannot vote for? Do you like that better? Well that is exactly what term limits do.

If you still want your choice of representatives arbitrarily limited, petition for an amendment. They did that with the presidency, that's why GW Bush only won twice.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Larry - you're right. This has been going on since time began. Down with the man chants still echo in my head from the 60s.

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

Kids are less active now though. Bring back the draft and start sending them to die in the jungle and they'll get really interested, really fast.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

And predominately "white" (we are 85 % of the population) seniors are "angry" with the petulant, ignorant, "children" making such stupid statements.

The people who run this farm may be preserving their elite status. That said there are 30 year old among that group (trust fund babies and the like).

Focus your anger at the right target.

kernal 2 years, 3 months ago

Moderate, I think your data of whites being 85% of the population is outdated. According to the 2011 Census, non-Hispanic white persons in this country are 63.4%.

http://quickfacts.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Hispanic is not a race!!!! They are Caucasians.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

I am not sure what you meant to say but Catholics are not a race either.. Mestizos are Caucasian

If you are going to play the race card, get the races right.

Now if you want m to play with religion, ethnicity, national origin or any of the many other silly matters we use to separate ourselves rather than working together go to it. Does get very messy. I wonder how a Catholic, Irish Bostonian relates to a Jewish, Hispanic Brazilian??

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

Younger people also need to get used to the fact that older people are going to be working longer. Unless we have strong economic growth, this means fewer jobs for the young.

Due to funding cuts to state schools and the ever increasing financial appetite of professors, administrators and union employees, these kids are creating massive amounts of debt to get an education, only to find there are no real jobs for them.

Of course they are mad, but they are also disillusioned with the system.

Who wants to go and vote for the lesser of who cares?

tomatogrower 2 years, 3 months ago

Of course, the older generation might not have to work longer hours, if the corporations hadn't raided their pensions, so they could give their CEO's big bonuses and pay checks. They would be retired, and a young person would have the job. But pity the rich guy. He just needs more money for a nanny for each child, a trophy wife, horses, a yacht, $500,000 weddings, etc. So what if that older peon worker just wanted to spend more time with their grandchildren and take care of their garden. That's a stupid retirement, isn't it? Silly peons, don't they know their place in life?

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

Silly tomatogrower - Don't you know that the rich and moral among us need at least 2 trophy wives?

Heck, Newt had 3!

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

We would be much better off if the people would not vote for immoral politicians. I don't understand how you can expect good results from a politician that cheats on their spouse, has sex in bathrooms, text half naked pictures of themselves openly use drugs or fail to pay their taxes.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

If we eliminated immoral politicians, there wouldn't be enough left to vote for :-)

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

jafs, gotta call BS on your assertion. There a lots of moral politicians. Why there is....oh heck forget it you're right :)

verity 2 years, 3 months ago

ljwhirled, you have a strange definition of trophy wife if you think that is what Newt's were/are. ;-)

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Haha...good one. But then again Newt is no trophy himself.

Richardson_Snyder 2 years, 3 months ago

It's surprising that no one has brought up the gerrymandering which has created a great deal of one-sided voting precincts to benefit those state politicians in majority throughout the country.

If there is one thing I appreciate the Kansas Courts for doing, it was to redraw the districts after our legislature held our state in limbo for long enough to gain national attention (again) as the last one to elect its federal representatives to congress.

This is a serious enough problem that corporations and financially powerful political groups have dedicated enormous resources to manipulate and control. 36 states are republican-run, and thus disinfranchise state elections for a more balanced representation of their populaces.

Until we (re) educate ourselves over arcane state and federal constitutional voting procedures, we are most certainly going to continue seeing a deterioration in the respective congresses throughout this country.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

I agree gerrymandering is a problem. Draw straight vertical and horizontal lines over the state. Tweak a little for population and even so as not to split counties but keep it as straight and horizontal as possible

rtwngr 2 years, 3 months ago

I would point to where this demographic is getting its voter information. I would submit that the protestors of the 60's/70's were more in tune with news from a variety of sources which did not include social media or the reality television shows. More thought was put into the arguments against Vietnam and Nixon of that day. Now, these mush heads get their news from E/T, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, and Jersey Shore. I think you would be surprised to find out how many voters, under the age of 30, cannot identify a picture of the major players in Congress and the White House. I would also bet they couldn't tell you what the first four amendments to the Constitution are, name their Senators from their home state, or tell you the name of their Governor.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I bet that many voters in other demographics are similarly uneducated about basic facts of our government.

Would you be in favor of a test in order to vote, that includes such topics?

What's the 3rd amendment? I don't know it off hand, although I know 1, 2 and 4.

My questions on a test would focus more on how our government works, so that people don't think the president is some kind of dictator, and understand how the minority party in Congress has a lot of power, etc.

One very interesting idea would be to give all prospective voters the same test that immigrants have to pass - I imagine the results of that would be very surprising.

ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

I surprised myself by actually knowing it. Quartering of troops.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

jafs - your test would eliminate a lot of people. Make it simpler like who is the Vice President. Many would still fail :)

Jay Lenos man on the street segment shows how unknowledgable voters are.

Lisa Medsker 2 years, 3 months ago

"Show me Benghazi on this map" would get rid of quite a few, but would probably be considered a form of gerrymandering... ;-)

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Heck, ask them what country Benghazi is in and they'd fail. To be truthful I am not sure if I could pinpoint Libya on he map let alone Benghazi. I kind of have a minds eye view where it is but wouldn't bet that Id get it right.

Lisa Medsker 2 years, 3 months ago

The fact that you write pretty coherently indicates to me that you are definitely, functionally literate. I would be willing to bet you could find Libya!

Liberty275 2 years, 3 months ago

"One very interesting idea would be to give all prospective voters the same test that immigrants have to pass"

That's patently unconstitutional. You cannot discriminate against voters because of mental capacity. Even talking about a poll test is repugnant,

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Could be.

But, when voters aren't well informed and educated, they won't make well informed and educated decisions.

DD and learning disabled folks aside, why shouldn't everybody be able to pass that test? If we require it of immigrants, shouldn't existing citizens know it as well?

According to some folks, voting isn't even a constitutional right.

Liberty275 2 years, 3 months ago

Voting isn't a right, at least at the federal level. However, literacy tests are illegal under statute and a violation of the 14th amendment.

"why shouldn't everybody be able to pass that test?"

Because whether you can vote depends on if you are a citizen, not what you know. Do you think the government makes ballots in different languages because they are nice?

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

As I said, you could be right, that it can't be done. How is it a violation of the 14th though? Everybody would have to take the test, so it doesn't violate "equal protection" as far as I know.

But, in theory, I still kind of like the idea - if we have a bunch of uneducated uninformed voters, then we'll have a lot of uneducated uninformed outcomes.

You're comparing languages to knowledge of the fundamental principles of our country? Those seem to be very different kinds of things to me. And, if it's not a right, then how does being a citizen automatically qualify you for voting?

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Funny, of course they didn't get their info from social media in the 60 s - it wasn't invented yet. The closest thing to social media back then was a bathroom wall m

Mike Ford 2 years, 3 months ago

I actually graduated from McLouth and registered to vote as a Democrat in Oskaloosa in 1988. I have voted for twenty five years now and don't fall for the racial tactics used to keep 19th century sanity challenged gop politicians like this state has now is power. I visited an antique shop in Dearing, Kansas, just south of Independence,Friday, where the shop owner had a President Obama as a scarecrow with racist epithets on his window. I remember reading about southern Kansas being a klan stronghold in the 1920's and this antique shop owner looked to be 70 or 80 years old. As I got onto US 166 to go west to Caney I went through Tyro, Kansas, where Kansas politician virgil peck is from. This is the guy who suggested shooting illegal aliens from a helicopter like hogs a year or so ago and got off with a handslap from Governor Brownback after this comment. Rural people in Kansas need to vote with their concern for society as a whole and not be motivated by fear and code words.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't speak code so maybe you can share the code words and what they actual mean. It would be helpful and appreciated.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Name one code word I've used. I politely asked a simple question and you attack instead of providing the info so I could better understand your POV.

I will ask again, please share some of the code words and what they mean because I don't know them.

Edit: since my original post I did think of one. Is this code for something. "Light -skinned and no negro dialect"

Richardson_Snyder 2 years, 3 months ago

Truth is that those of us who are parents must be personally responsible teaching our children (one way or the other) about our governments' functions. Regardless of philosophic differences here, it seems to me an important part of our civic duty to make sure our children know what our federal, state and local governments are, how they conduct themselves, and why it is so important to participate.

Surely we all agree on this?

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Don't call me Shirley, but yes I do agree and I do practice it. And, despite being very opinionated to which regular posters can attest, I try not to bias my lessons. Instead, I try to give the straight facts or at least both sides.

One of my recent lessons was on the three branches of government and separation of powers. Checks and balances are important to the long term viability of country. Dissent, debate and disagreement are part of those checks and balances.

When free discussion is stymied we become victims of the bully du jour. anonymous speech is important too because it allows the voicing of opinions that might be attacked. Yes, that can be good and bad, but without a anonymous speech via the federalist papers for example, we may not have the USA.

bevy 2 years, 3 months ago

I have done the same with my kids (two are adults now, one in high school) and I was appalled to hear the two eldest tell me that their votes didn't count, so why bother? I had to re-educate them on that idea, and they voted!

Of course they still had the same problems I often do - chiefly not seeing anyone on the ballot that I really wanted to support! I'm tired of voting for the lesser of the evils.

msezdsit 2 years, 3 months ago

Real change in this country is likely going to bring violence by the oppressors. Just think if the tea party was attacked like the conservative right wing attacked the occupy wall street.group. The amazing thing is the very people who attacked the occupy group are now complaining because they were brought under scrutiny. Which brings us back to the point of this lte.

The lte also points out the real reasons why the right wingers are so devoted too creating laws that most likely will deter voter turnout. Imagine that.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

What do you call the IRS withholding tax exempt status on tea party groups? Show me a similar attack on the OWS groups.

msezdsit 2 years, 3 months ago

I am referring to the 24/7 attacks on OWS by the conservative spin machines and especially limp balls and faux bed time stories. If you missed that I can't help you. And, as I have posted several times already, I will one more time for your benefit.

The catastrophic republican supreme court ruling "citizens united" created, among other disasters, a false identity that caused a firestorm of conservative republicans to file for 501c4 status. The head of the IRS was a republican. The whole premiss of 501c4 is to be able to hide what your really doing. Republicans wrote the laws that also intentionally lack oversight for these groups further contributing to their intended lack of transparency. The entire purpose of the label "tea party" was to avoid paying taxes.This is what caused the so called "red flag" not the IRS. This created an impossible situation for the IRS but yet the IRS is still expected to do their job and evaluate whether these groups (again by fault of the republicans) are paying their taxes. All of this plus the lopsided weight of the shear numbers of conservatives (8.5 conservatives to 1.5 others) caused the the appearance of singling out a particular sector of the population. Now the republicans are blaming Obama for the trap they are fully responsible for. You can't blame the IRS for being upset with these groups for setting them up. Lastly, the very nature of these groups existence is a red flag for being scrutinized. The scandal is purely and wholly rests on the republicans.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

So Obama is wrong when he criticized the IRS for what they did? If the IRS didn't do anything wrong then why did Obama fire the head of it and place the person responsible on admin leave?

I don't put much credence into what partisan talk show hosts spout off about so yes I probably did miss it. Your bias shows as much as theirs does so just like I turn them off, guess I will do the same with you. CLICK

msezdsit 2 years, 3 months ago

"So Obama is wrong when he criticized the IRS for what they did? If the IRS didn't do anything wrong then why did Obama fire the head of it and place the person responsible on admin leave?"mertz You fell for the trick hook line and sinker with this comment because it is the truth you prefer. Doesn't matter to you if it is complete BS. You like chicken nuggets and you were served chicken nuggets end of story for you.

Absolutely! The democrats are always sucking up to the republican spin machines. The republican game is always to make up as many outrageous lies as possible and 1) If Obama does respond that means their lies are valid.(the one you fell for) No matter what he says, it will be spun and spun and spun and he will then be accused of lying and oh, now we have a scandal and we have to have firings and impeachment is imminent. 2) If he doesn't respond than he is the most secretive administration in history and he's clearly hiding the truth which is whatever the republicans make up . Either way he is guilty and the lies have traction. You people think that if you can just make up so many lies that they overwhelm Obama that they then become true. Then they are repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated so many times they must be true.

Obama should have stood his ground and called it like it was. The tea party groups absolutely should have been under intense scrutiny by the IRS and probably the FBI and the DOJ. Their purpose was to be able to deceive where they got their money, where they spent their money, and deceive everyone on what the purpose of their group that was filing for 501c4 really was. The IRS was supposed to determine, with zero transparency granted to these groups by law, if they were paying their taxes . The IRS has to find out as much about these groups as they could before they granted them 501c4 status because after they were granted this status, the republican supreme court ruling and the laws republican congress passed made what should have been against the law legal. After the status was granted it was to late for the IRS to determine if these people paid their taxes. I like the way you can't defend yourself so you don't. You can't factually disprove any of my points because they are the truth. ClICK to you.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

They didn't withhold it - in fact, none of the groups scrutinized failed to get tax exempt status.

They also didn't "squelch" political speech, as some on the right have claimed - these groups were always free to speak and spend money - the only question was whether or not they deserved tax exempt status.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

jafs, I trust what you're saying is correct, but wouldn't you agree that singling out groups based on their views why ignoring similar groups based on their views is wrong.

I would be equally upset if the IRS targeted liberal groups. Wrong is wrong - I am an American first, libertarian conservative second.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes. If that's what happened.

The IRS did in fact target liberal groups under Bush - were you equally upset about that then?

As I've said in other posts, the real problem to me is that we have a lot of different possibilities for tax exempt status, all of which involve different guidelines and rules. After the CU decision, the IRS said their applications doubled. Meanwhile, their funding was probably cut. So they were trying to do more with less, which never works out well.

According to my father in law, the law about 501c4 groups was and remains that only "exclusively" social welfare groups qualify for that status, but the IRS weakened that to "primarily" social welfare groups. If that's true, then it's clearly a problem - whatever the law is should prevail, and groups that aren't "exclusively" social welfare groups should be denied tax exempt status.

And, even if it's somehow ok to grant that to "primarily" social welfare groups, although I don't see how, determining what the "primary" function of a group is is very subjective, and open to interpretation. Without clear objective criteria for doing that, the whole thing is open to abuse by political groups masquerading as social welfare groups.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

When you say all those scrutinized received the tax exempt status, that's somewhat misleading. Sure, they did, but some had to wait years. Meanwhile they were having their personal taxes audited and having their businesses audited. Shall we dismiss the harassment simply because the tax exempt status was eventually granted?

(As is frequently the case, my source for this story was from listening to an NPR report)

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes, they had to wait.

The other stuff I don't know about, and would need more details, but it sounds incorrect on the face of it.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes they had to wait, which may have been due to the increase in applications combined with inadequate funding/staffing. How quickly do you think groups that combine social welfare with political activity should be approved for tax exempt status?

The other things you mention I haven't heard about, so I'd need more details to form an opinion. But, being audited is always a possibility - nobody's exempt from that. And, if they weren't doing anything wrong, then there isn't a problem, right? That's been your line for a while.

Do you have any thoughts on the main substance of my post?

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Listen, if applicants had to wait simply because there was an increase in the number of applicants, that's fine. If it was due to lack of funding, that's fine as well. But it seems pretty clear that's not was happening. People have been reprimanded. The acting director was essentially fired. And one person is pleading the fifth. What was not happening was routine delays caused by the reasons you suggest.

What was happening was harassment. I'm trying to remember the numbers I heard years ago, but it was something like 1% of IRS returns are audited in any given year. To say it's coincidence that these people had both their personal and business returns audited in the same year that they applied for tax exempt status for their outside activity stretches credibility way beyond the breaking point.

The main substance of your comment, that too many groups that are primarily one thing being given tax exempt status even though they are likely something very different ... again, we have a too complex taxing system. Too open to interpretation. Too subjective. And the more clever your tax attorney, the more clever your accountant, the more access you have to those, the less clever your IRS worker is compared to those attorneys and accountants, well, you get the picture. The more of this we'll have.

Then again, maybe that's the point. Congress writes laws that they know will be circumvented by those with clever lawyers and clever accountants. The President signs those bills into law. This Congress and past Congresses. This President and past.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I never said it was coincidence.

But, as far as I know, the IRS can choose who to audit - if so, then you want to change the rules, which is fine. However, you've made the argument numerous times that if something is legal, then it's fine. So, that would apply here, I would think.

And, if they didn't do anything wrong, then...

Of course, people are being reprimanded, etc. We live in such a contentious political atmosphere that it would be impossible for those in power not to, if they want to retain any chances of being re-elected. And, for some, even the appearance of impropriety is enough to warrant such action.

Like many on here who always look for "who to blame" about something.

I maintain my view, so far, that this was a relatively minor inconvenience for the groups scrutinized, and that perhaps all such groups should be scrutinized as much, and/or that only "exclusively" social welfare groups get tax exempt status.

Focusing on "who to blame" for the scrutiny while ignoring the much larger issues is a mistake, in my view, and it's one that people make all the time with politics.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

As far as you know, the IRS can pick and choose who to audit. I'd say that's wrong. Can they audit only blacks? Only Muslims? No! Picking and choosing based on one's political beliefs will certainly have a chilling effect on free speech and would certainly be frowned upon by a judge. I think what you are assuming to be legal is in fact illegal.

People are either being wrongfully reprimanded and fired or they did something wrong and are being reprimanded for that wrongdoing. One of those two statements has to be true. Which of two positions would you like to defend?

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Well, I thought we had "innocent until proven guilty" in our system.

That would mean that unless/until they've been tried and convicted of a crime, they're innocent of it.

And, as I said, they could have made mistakes, but not exactly the ones that they're being accused of.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Innocent until proven guilty ... in a court of law. In this forum, not so much. And at their workplace as well. Then again, if their disciple or firing was unwarranted, they have the right to seek redress in that courtroom. Think they will? I don't.

BTW - You made the suggestion that the IRS expand their scrutiny while I said that we the people would likely have little stomach for an expanded IRS role and a much larger and more intrusive IRS. Any thought as to how you might accomplish your stated goals with such an expansion? Or do you think the people want a bigger, badder IRS?

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm not going to play that game with you anymore, wherein I suggest improvements and you bat them down.

People can be fired or reprimanded for things that aren't illegal - those are two different arenas.

msezdsit 2 years, 3 months ago

"Meanwhile they were having their personal taxes audited and having their businesses audited."

I don't think you know this. I think you are assuming this to be true and just using NPR to give yourself validity.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

jafs Isn't it evidence enough that the IRS was wrong to have Obama say they were wrong and to fire the head?

Don't you read my posts? I said it is wrong regardless of the group targeted and Bush gets no pass from me. Wrong is wrong.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Maybe, maybe not.

Given today's political climate, Obama had to do that, I'd say, since the R are playing serious "gotcha" politics about anything and everything they can drum up.

That's fine, but I asked whether or not you were upset about it when he did it, and wrote about it publicly, etc.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Obama had to do it? Or what? He'd be hurt in his next election? Congress would refuse to work with him? Or what?

Or maybe you're just defending him because that's what you do. Just like others attack him because that's just what they do.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm not "defending" him - what's he being accused of by Fred?

I'm just pointing out that it's a political necessity for him to react this way.

Your questions are good ones - I'm not sure exactly what the political fallout would be if he failed to respond forcefully and like this, but I'm sure there would be some.

Ironically, not only am I not "defending" him, I'm saying that he's a politician, and not necessarily giving him as much credit for his "principles" as some might.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

There's an old expression, Jafs. If it looks like a duck, if it waddles like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

I'm not the only person in this forum who is suggesting you're an apologist for Obama. Apparently you're not seeing what several others are. You're entitled to every opinion you have, especially here, in this opinion forum. But I hope you take no offense if I say your posts sound like, well, ... quack, quack, quack.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I have no control over others' perception.

But, I know the truth about this issue - I have no idealized version of Obama, and see many places where I disagree and might criticize him.

The irony is that in their rush to crucify him incorrectly (in my view), many on the right miss good chances to criticize him based on reality. In contrast, the left leaning criticism seems more reality based, and more consistent (they aren't attacking him for things they loved about Bush, for example).

I think what you may be picking up on is that I find today's "gotcha" politics distasteful, and a distraction from the real issues we're dealing with.

Liberty275 2 years, 3 months ago

"Just think if the tea party was attacked"

They were attacked by the US government. I'd like to see representatives from the union that represents IRS workers brought before congress to determine if they played any role in the IRS scandal or if government workers came up with the idea themselves.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Tusc, you really have to learn how to reply to a post. exactly... What?

verity 2 years, 3 months ago

Personally, I think this letter is all over the place and lacks any proof that young people don't believe they can change things by voting or community action. But that aside, intentional or not, it places groups against each other, in this case, age groups. So we've got another big insult fest going.

Divide and conquer.

We're in this together.

Mike Ford 2 years, 3 months ago

nice to have comments removed.....I quoted actual statements I've witnessed on here in recent times especially before last November 5th. too bad someone didn't remove those comments before I saw them. double standards create uncensored reality right? one can go to yahoo news right now and see the comments on President Obama visiting Moore, Oklahoma, to know exactly what I'm referring to. Too much for the virgin ears of Lawrence, Kansas I guess.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

President Obama is our President. While I will strongly attack his policies that I think are wrong, unfair or partisan, I will not attack him personally nor will I condone slurs or hate directed toward him.

Mike Ford 2 years, 3 months ago

what you fail to acknowledge mr mertz is that your affiliation with wingers is partisan to begin with. the tea partiers policy of defunding government departments created a recipe for disaster. it's like willfully taking good tires off a car and complaining about the ride after your people advocated for removing the tire. this is what happened with the irs. your fund cutting policies caused the problem. and yes the cruz and paul bunch caused this so why do they gripe? I'm watching the family guy tea party episode where mr. petershmidt acts like a hardhat koch brother and gets peter and the rest of quahog to dismantle their city government and all heck breaks loose. it must suck to have cartoons clown you.

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

And what did I say to bring on this attack? You don't like me standing up for Obama? Is that what set you off?

BTW, I am not a tea partier and I am waiting for you to tell me what code words I use.

riverdrifter 2 years, 3 months ago

"Heck, ask them what country Benghazi is in and they'd fail. To be truthful I am not sure if I could pinpoint Libya on he map let alone Benghazi. I kind of have a minds eye view where it is but wouldn't bet that Id get it right." -Fred

This is a useful tool. I can usually get all but 2-3 of them. The 'istans' give me fits.

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/just_fun/games/mapgame.html

Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

Not sure why you just didn't reply to my original post instead of quoting it here.

Mike Ford 2 years, 3 months ago

libya has been occupied by France and Italy most recently in 1936. Muamaur Quadafi came into power in 1969. His reign ended a couple of years ago. Chances are the funds to pay for protection at the embassy in Benghazi were cut by the you need nothing republicans who cut pretty much everything and then cluelessly wonder why things happen. please wonder why the tree fell as you're having amnesia holding the ax I'd say.

Liberty275 2 years, 3 months ago

You 18 - 30 people get a say in everything, but you won't take away my say. That's how it works.

As for OWS, that was a joke with clowns running the circus. My fondest memory of that whole episode was that funny guy on top of whatever building it was downtown.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Still do not know why the 18-39 age groups are so angry at our seniors. I looked up poverty rates, income distribution and wealth as indicators of relative comparisons. I discovered the infamous Pew Report and all became clear.

Surprise from a poverty standpoint things are the same for both groups. I did note that social security and Medicare have had their effect. Poverty among seniors used to be double (1970’s) what it is today.

I drew wealth data from the Pew Report. Now I found that the same group when they were younger (1983) reported only 2% of the wealth that they have today. What the report did not clarify is that the growth was almost all due to the inflation in housing values. I wonder what it is now after our housing debacle. Maybe a blog?

When one looks at income today one finds that seniors have about half the annual income as those in mid years.

All my data comes from government sources or is as stated.

Taken as a whole there is nothing exciting in this information. There is no real room for anger. When you are younger you hold less of value and you make more money. When you are older you have a lower income but a higher net worth as the property you have acquired and paid for during your life time is counted.

Yes, data suggests that among seniors is a disproportionate number of the 1%. So what – the super wealthy are also represented among the mid-range of net worth. I would argue that the issue is really about the 1% and not about generational differences.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

jhf.

I've looked, but haven't found anything online about the situation you described, where a family and business were audited just because of a connection to a conservative 501c4 group. Do you have a source I could check about that?

Also, I have to point out that being audited isn't like being thrown in jail without due process - it's a perfectly normal function of the IRS, and if you've paid your taxes correctly, nothing bad will happen to you. If there are problems, the worst that generally happens is that you'd owe back taxes (and maybe penalties and interest). If you've relied on an accountant, and did nothing wrong personally, you may very well be able to get the IRS to waive those penalties and interest (or convince your accountant to pay them).

I speak from personal experience - we had a small problem with the IRS based on our reliance on our accountant.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

As I said, my source was just listening to NPR. I have the radio on frequently and don't have the time to write down things like date, time, names, etc. Sometimes I'm driving. You'll have to assume I'm being honest just like I have to assume their reporting is accurate. (I happen to believe that of the news sources around, NPR is one of the most reliable)

I too, have been audited. It took over a year. I hired a lawyer in addition to the accountant I usually use. And while the tax numbers in the end wound up being pretty darn close to what I originally claimed, the extra fees paid to the lawyer and accountant was more than $20,000. Here's the deal, if my audit was truly random, fine. I take my chances just like every other tax paying American. If my audit was not random, if the IRS singled me out because someone in their office didn't like what I said, or doesn't like my race or religion, if it's because of sexual orientation or national origin, then what they did was punish me inappropriately.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't think you're lying, but I'm not sure your take on the story is the same as mine might be, if I heard it myself. So I'm curious to hear the original story.

I checked npr and a couple of different words that might apply, but didn't find anything.

Our situation took more time than that to resolve - the IRS moves at glacial speed. Did you have to hire a lawyer? If not, you could have saved that expense. Also, I think some accountants stand by their clients, and represent them in audits without charging more, or much more, especially if it's their fault you were audited. Maybe you need a different accountant.

Ours took responsibility for his error, and paid the penalties and interest involved. We just had to pay back a credit we didn't really deserve, which was fine with us, since we weren't trying to scam them. And, we were also able to get the IRS to waive those after a while, so he wound up getting them back.

We never hired a lawyer, and paid the accountant nothing for his extra time and work dealing with the issue. So it didn't actually cost us anything, other than time/energy/stress.

It was probably just a minor audit for us, though, only related to one issue - yours may have been more complicated.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

My audit was very complicated and as I did mention, I did hire a lawyer. That's where the extra fees came in. Of course, we've both said in the past that if you ask 10 accountants and ten IRS agents for an answer, you'll get 20 different answers. The results of my audit were so close to what we actually claimed, it hardly mattered worth mentioning. Documenting everything, that's what killed us. But due to the complexity, the lawyer fees cost us.

Again, if next year the IRS randomly selects me, fine. If they do so because the don't agree with what I'm saying, if they target me because I voted for the Libertarian candidate for President, if they target me because I think a flat tax is the way to go (eliminating much of the need for the IRS itself), then that would have a chilling effect on my freedom of speech. That's an activity the government should not be engaged in.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I know you hired a lawyer - the question was whether you had to do it, or chose to do it.

We've talked in the past about the fact that we don't itemize - this is one reason why. Folks who itemize and try to take every possible deduction (home office space, etc.) are much more likely to be audited.

Having to document all that stuff just isn't worth it for us, even if it might save a little money, when the trade-off is the higher likelihood of being audited.

Simplicity is a good thing to me, in many ways.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

When you own multiple businesses, a house and have a child, simplicity isn't an option anymore. (No more 10-40 EZ) When you sell all those and move to another state, purchasing a home and business, simplicity isn't an option.

I'm trying to imagine a circumstance of a person hiring a lawyer out of choice, rather than need. I can't think of such a circumstance and in my case, it certainly was a necessity.

Again, and something you keep not responding to, is that if it were done randomly (my audit), fine. If the IRS targets me because the name of my business is the "Flat Tax Cafe" or the "Libertarian Restaurant", then that's just plain wrong. In that case, it would be costing me $20,000 for the privilege of voting for Libertarians or for simply believing that a flat tax is better than what we have now. That's what the IRS did.

You're right that in this political atmosphere, gotcha politics is happening too much. Then agin, sometimes the gotcha is something more than a simple gotcha.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Well, of course you can't use an "EZ" form - duh!

But, you can still take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing. And, it's your choice to open your own business, etc., right?

I understand your point there - I'm just saying that the fact that it cost you $20K isn't the IRS' fault necessarily - it has to do with choices you've made that make your taxes that complicated as well.

If you made other choices, then it wouldn't have cost that much, and/or been that complicated.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Interesting way you choose to define my choice. I didn't choose to make the system complex. My only choices were to either itemize or pay 10 times what I'm legally obligated to pay. That's not a real choice. If I had a real choice, I'd choose to not be audited. That's not a real option either, is it? My only real choice was a bad one forced upon me. That's not a choice.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Well, the system is the way it is because of legislators, and we get to vote.

And, you chose to open two businesses, etc. didn't you? An employee has a much simpler time tax wise.

The more I hear about your business experience, the less and less attractive it seems to me to open one's own business - you have to work (according to you) crazy hours for a modest living, and your taxes are so **** complicated that dealing with an audit costs $20K.

We all have things in our control, and things outside of our control - for me, the best way is to find the best choices of the things I have control of, and not to try to control the ones outside of that. The serenity prayer is a good one - grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

We've considered a variety of options over the years, including being landlords, but decided the complexity wasn't worth it for us. And, we're thinking about retirement now, and have a lot of choices there as well. Buy or rent, live in town or out in the country, etc. Each has different positive and negative attributes, and we have to find the set of those that works best for us.

Some things we don't get to choose, like living on 10 acres in the country, but not being a bit isolated. So, yes, you couldn't choose not to be audited, that's not in your control. But, since simpler returns are less often audited, making simpler choices would reduce the chance, and also the difficulty and cost if it happens.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Jafs, it's clear you don't know how these tax issues work. If, say, a business sells a million dollars worth of whatever it sells, it may very well have 90% of that number in perfectly legal, allowable deductions. Things like rent, utilities, insurance, wages, worker's comp. etc. Not itemizing would mean paying ten times what you owe. Every business goes through this. Not itemizing would be suicidal for any business. And almost every business does it. Meaning every worker works for a business that has to go through this. Even making a suggestion that itemizing or not is a choice shows a lack of understanding as to how this works.

Maybe going into business for yourself isn't for you. One of the benefits is that you are no longer at the mercy of others who do take such chances. But if you do choose to put yourself at the mercy of others, don't be surprised when you're placed in a vulnerable position by people who make decisions that you neither have to worry about, you have that luxury, but they make decisions based on information you know little about. So while owning your own business has pitfalls, one pitfall I don't have is knowing that I might get fired tomorrow. I guess the choice you make, or others in your place make, is that tomorrow, you might get fired. It might happen for reasons you understand or it might happen for no reason at all. If it happens, shall I shrug my shoulders and say, oh well, it was your choice to put yourself in that position?

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Did you even read my post?

Yours seems oddly not responsive to it at all.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes, Jafs, I've read your many posts. And not to be rude, but it's clear you haven't a clue in the world as to how businesses operate. Suggesting things like itemizing or not is a choice is so ridiculous that it needs a good scoffing at. Previous suggestions like watching a reality show and getting good sound advice from that also needs a good scoffing at. Suggesting that getting audited by the IRS is something you choose when you go into business and then hiring a tax attorney is a choice, those are ridiculous suggestions. You're digging yourself a hole trying to twist the IRS's actions into some normal activity, trying to justify their outrageous behavior. (Not with me, but in their targeted auditing of Tea Party political groups.) Like these people chose to have their personal and businesses audited when they chose to become engaged in the political process.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I've never claimed to be a business whiz.

And, my comments about itemizing or not were more directed towards personal income taxes, not business taxes. You've asked why anybody might choose not to itemize if it saved them money - well, it's easier, requiring much less documentation, you're less likely to be audited, and an audit would be significantly less trouble if it happens.

Scoff all you like - you're the one working 80 hours a week, and paying $20K to deal with an audit, not me.

Being audited by the IRS is a possibility for all of us. I said that we all make choices, and all of those choices have upsides and downsides. If I choose to run a complicated business, then one of the downsides is that an audit will be more likely, and more difficult, than if I choose not to do that.

I find your presentation oddly "victim"-like. You're a successful businessman, running a business you like, in a long term stable marriage, a child in private school, etc. all according to your own posts. And, you've made all of those choices - to run the business, get married, have children, put them in private school, etc. And, yet you present yourself as "having" to do a lot of things.

In contrast, I've also made a lot of choices, but I see them that way, and don't feel I'm a victim - I've chosen where to live, whom to marry, whether or not to have children, etc. And, I'm comfortable with my choices. That doesn't mean they're without any downsides - it means that the combination of positive and negative attributes works for me.

I strongly recommend you consider looking at your life as a result of choices you've made - it's more accurate, and much more empowering, and if you don't like some things, you can make different choices.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

JAFS

The issue was about abuse of power. You kind of ducked that and switched to questioning the man's cost for an audit. Where you get the chutzpa to do that I really can not imagine.

Why would anybody pay more than they need???

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

jhf and I have had many conversations, and we're comfortable with each other and with them. If either one of us isn't, we're perfectly capable of telling each other that - neither one of us needs your intervention.

The issue was the IRS and audits. If one has simple taxes, then an audit isn't the nightmare that jhf experienced. And, whether or not one has simple taxes has to do with the decisions one makes.

So, if you (or anybody else) wants to make decisions which make your taxes very complicated, then you are making decisions which will make an audit more difficult, and costly for yourself.

Blaming that on the IRS seems wrong to me.

Now, did the IRS abuse their power? Maybe so, and if people were discussing whether or not the IRS has too much power or abuses it in a broader context, I'd be fine with that. But, few people are doing that.

Also, the issue of 501c4 groups, and how to determine what their "primary" function is isn't at all easy for anybody to do, including the IRS. That's another issue that I think warrants discussion.

As far as your overuse of question mark question, do what you like. If you think saving a little bit is worth complicating your life and taxes, go for it. But, then, don't complain if an audit is much more of a drag for you as a result, and you have to spend a lot of money on it. Personally, I don't find the complexity and risk of a difficult audit worth a small amount of savings in the short term.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Never been audited. Audit probabilities increase with complications and with wealth - IRS data. Some audits are for taxpayer compliance and even simple returns get audited. I suspect the fear of an audit is real.

I do not know about you but I went to college to (in addition to many other matters) TO EARN A COMFORTABLE LIVING.(caps unintended). Having investments complicates your return. Owning a business complicates it quite a bit. If nobody owned a business where would the jobs be?

I left the IRS issue with the "tea party" complaint. I am well aware of the 401c(4) issue. Helped establish the local homeless shelter as a business entity. Dealt with the crew in Cincinnati. They were fine with me but they were thorough.

Now my understanding is that Mr. Obama has acknowledged that the iRS did target the "right" side of our world. That should not happen - all should get equal treatment t as I am reasonably sure the shelter did.

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