Thick-overcast clouds amongst some early sunlight this Thursday morning here on California’s north coast, and once again, feels cold. Not all that cold, though, right now near 50 and forecast is for the low 60s sometime today.
Rain for tomorrow, but looks like it could come anytime — new rainfall totals for December from the NWS, and my area 118 percent of normal with nearly 10 inches recorded.
Supposedly, rain falls on the good and the bad — just depends on whether you’re sitting in the catbird seat. Last week, Pew Research released a poll that revealed looking down dims the eyesight (via UPI): ‘The poll showed 54 percent of America’s most financially secure agreeing with the statement, “Poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.”‘
Except be poor, and labor with an “inequality tax” sucking from the bottom up.
(Illustration: Salvador Dali, ‘Alice’s Evidence,’ found here).
Instead of a “let-them-eat-cake’ routine, a reality check should be in store, but who reads the fine print.
Yesterday, from International Business Times:
Middle- and low-income Americans are facing far higher state and local taxes than the wealthy, according to a new report assessing tax data from all 50 states.
In all, the analysis by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) finds that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent).
ITEP researchers say the incongruity derives from state and local governments’ reliance on sales, excise and property taxes rather than on more progressively structured income taxes that increase rates on higher earnings.
They argue that the tax disconnect is helping create the largest wealth gap between the rich and middle class that has ever been recorded in American history.
And as we quickly approach another tax season, the US collector of taxes, the Internal Revenue Service, has mutated into a slow, trembling bunch, unless you owe, of course — via the Washington Post, also yesterday, concerning National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson’s annual report to Congress, in part a kind of agency collapse:
Olson, who serves as an official watchdog over the IRS, has long complained about the agency’s diminishing ability to respond to taxpayers’ needs as political battles over the national debt have led to ever-deeper cuts in agency funding.
This year, however, Olson ranked taxpayer service first on her “most serious problems” list, under the heading: “Taxpayer Service Has Reached Unacceptably Low Levels and Is Getting Worse.”
The long slide is vividly illustrated by a single metric: The agency’s ability to answer the phone.
In 2004, a high water mark, the IRS answered 87 percent of calls and taxpayers had to wait on hold only about 2 and a half minutes, the report says.
In the teeth of the financial crisis, in 2009, the IRS was still answering 70 percent of its calls after average wait times of about 9 minutes.
Since Republicans took control of the House in 2011 and began demanding sharp cuts at agencies other than the Pentagon, however, IRS customer service has deteriorated rapidly.
Answered calls fell to 61 percent in 2013 and 64 percent last year, a slight uptick due primarily to lower call volume, the report says.
Worse, to worser still.
Another governmental self-regulator, this the blemish-free CIA — via Yahoo:
A CIA panel Wednesday cleared agency officials of any wrongdoing when they accessed the computers of a Senate committee investigating the agency’s involvement in torture. The finding ended a yearlong dispute marked by angry accusations of “hacking” and criminal misconduct.
Instead, the panel — whose members were appointed by CIA Director John Brennan — faulted the agency’s own outgoing inspector general for suggesting in a report that there may have been grounds to discipline five officials at the agency.
people more concerned about politics
Details and more at McClatchy.
Last month, the real culprit to most Americans was the apparatus for running the country — from Gallup: ‘2014 was also the first year since 2007 that the economy was not the top ranking issue, and it was the first year ever in Gallup records that dissatisfaction with government topped the list.’