Monday, January 26, 2009
a) Our government has not been able to stop the flood of drugs into the USA despite spending $50 billion every year for the past 30 years;
b) Americans are spending over $65 billion yearly on drugs despite their illegality; and
c) The 50 billion spent trying to keep drugs out could be better spent educating Americans against drugs (just as we educate against alcohol and smoking)
d) Medicalizing access to drugs for addicts would reduce crime, thereby saving money usually spent on the criminal justice system and saving many lives.
e) Legalizing drugs would be an open admission of the fact that millions of Americans who use drugs are not criminals (just as those of us who drink alcohol are not considered criminals).
f) Legalizing & taxing drug sales would take billions away from terrorists whose principal source of support is drug sales; and best of all
g) Taxing drugs will put billions of dollars into the US Treasury and deprive the terrorists of their principal source of income.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Fact: The federal tax code favors homeowners over renters, through mortgage interest deduction.
Solution: Figure out a way to level the playing field, perhaps allowing renters to deduct all or a portion of their rent as homeowners deduct their mortgage interest.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Many of us can afford to pay something for a medicare doctor visit so......
In addition to putting medical records online and saving millions, why not charge something, even if a minimal amount, for those who still earn over $250,000 after entering medicare? (Many people don’t need medicare to be completely free and could help support it instead of being a drain on it and many would do so gladly. We are certainly not rich and yet we would gladly pay $5-25 per doctor visit, for example, to help those who cannot afford it.) Don't forget we over 65'ers are the largest growing demographic so if we each contributed something for each doctor visit Medicare would be funded.
Friday, January 16, 2009
The NY Times editorial, Government’s Promise, Jan. 20, 2009, complains there is nothing in Obama’s plan to stop foreclosures. Here’s one idea that should be considered: the Federal Government should take over /buy foreclosed houses and RENT them back to the "owners" as subsidized rental property.
One reason for this mess is the shameful lack of affordable housing for hard working Americans. Most working Americans had to borrow and go into debt because their salaries did not go up.
Renting these foreclosed houses back to their owners will:
1) allow Americans to stay in their homes
2) taxes will be paid to hard hit towns
3) neighborhoods will stay intact (not boarded up)
4) working families will have a decent place to live
1. Do not pay out to people earning over $500,000/yr after retirement.
(Perhaps let them consider their payments tax deductable contributions to help the entire country.)
2. Lower the payroll taxes on 95% of workers. To pay for this realignment of funds, raise the payroll tax on workers earning over, say $500,000. (The cap at $102,000 is way out of date. The average NYC Fire Department worker now earns $180,000 and the average Municipal Worker earns $107,000 per NPR this morning; thus the $102,000 cap is way out of date). The percentage taken out for payroll taxes should increase exponentially on salaries over $500,000. You should know that people earning $250,000 in big cities are not rich; they can barely pay their mortgage and put the kids through school, so the hikes should start at $500,000 and make the % slide upwards exponentially after $500,000 and $1million etc.
Help the consumer with Bank and Credit Card Regulation
1. Make certain predatory mortgages illegal, such as:
a) interest only mortgages
b) ARMs that go up more than 2% over the length of the loan
c) mortgages with pre-payment penalties
2. Forbid Bank Leveraging 30 to 1
Regulate banks so that funds are leveraged not more than say five to one.
3. Prohibit credit card companies from sending unsolicited credit cards and checks to people. I receive many such offers I do not want. Poor people may use these cards & checks and get further into debt.
4. Limit allowed balances on credit cards in accordance with income, as is done in France. Also limit the interest rates companies may charge on late balances. High rates were supposed to discourage spending but they only benefit rich bankers and do nothing to stop the poor from going into debt. I cannot tell you how many of my friends have overdue balances and think they are paying the introductory rate of 4.5% instead of the 28% they are actually paying.
5. Require Credit Card bills to show the balance due and the interest rate being charged for late payments in ¼ inch high letters in bright red ink.
6. Limit bank fees.
These slip through unnoticed onto many Americans statements.
Even after being reprimanded Wachovia continued to slap fees for absolutely nothing (except to make the bank richer) onto my statements. Only after I challenged the fees did the bank agree to remove them. Many working people do not have the nerve to challenge the bank and/or do not notice the fees.
7. Prohibit the Float
Banks should not be allowed to hold my money and earn interest on my money for several days before making the funds available to me, the owner of the funds. Working people may suffer most from this unfair practice.
8. Regulate Mortgage Bundling, Upfront Fees, Appraising business and Sales of Mortgages
Mortgage companies should continue to own (and thus care about) all mortgages they buy; do not allow firms to sell and resell mortgages whereby they make their money upfront on fees. The current system means that mortgagors don't care who buys the loans or if they are good quality or sub-standard. The current system hurts the middle class borrower and benefits only the banks.
9. Start charging .25 on the sale or transfer of stocks, bonds, and other financial assets including the variety of exotic financial instruments.(See Bob Herbert column, Jan. 13, 2009, NYTimes).