Issues, National

Here’s a thought, how about no taxation without representation? The IRS shouldn’t even have the power to redefine what taxable “income” is to begin with. Employment “perks” suddenly cease to be such when you discover your effective tax rate going up, even though you don’t make more money. If they manage this, what’s to stop them from going after other pre-tax contributions?

Currently, free meals for employees, spouses and their dependents are excludable from income under section 119 of the Tax Code if the meals are for “employee convenience” and are provided on the employer’s premises. The IRS is also looking to clarify section 132, which says an employee entitled under section 119 to exclude the value of a meal provided on the premises is treated as having paid an amount for such meal equal to the direct cost of the meal. No more free meals for tech workers? IRS advances project that could tax on-site food perks, Silicon Valley Business Journal

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Division of Democrat and Republican Party members over time.

Division of Democrat and Republican Party members over time.

This plot data comes from the study The Rise of Partisanship and Super-Cooperators in the U.S. House of Representatives by Clio Andris, David Lee, Marcus J. Hamilton, Mauro Martino, Christian E. Gunning, and John Armistead Selden. It’s easy to look at a plot like this and see just how little “working together” our Congress does now, compared to the past. It’s also easy to see that, and realize why we’ve become so dysfunctional. When leadership can’t work together, it’s like divorced parents who hate each other fighting over who gets primary custody of their kid, and their kid just wants to go live with grandma now.

In yesterday’s post, I shared a video of Jimmy Carter talking about the oligarchy in America. He made one extremely poignant comment which applies directly here. Because this model is not sustainable, and it will be part of what breaks the back of stable American democracy. While he was referring to stopping the corrupting influence of money in Congress, this same sentiment applies to the problems caused by extreme partisanship. He said:

“It’s going to take either a horrible, disgraceful series of acts in our country that will turn the public against it and maybe even the Congress and the Supreme Court.” Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with Thom Hartmann on July 28, 2015

National, Politics

Congressional Partisanship Over Time, Visualized

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education
National, Politics

Just Educate

So this topic is a bit broader than just what we’ve gone through here in Kansas, but given our recent history with education, the stuff happening in Texas does have a certain flavor that we know well. What I’m referring to, specifically, is the news that Texas has recently approved the usage of “updated” textbooks. I say “updated,” because of the obvious argument from the detractors that the books are being filled with biased information. And I’ve made no bones about my opinion that we’re already doing plenty to ensure students don’t have the skills necessary for truly powerful higher reasoning.

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John Green nailed a discussion on the problems of health care spending quite a while back in a video many have seen. This followup is really interesting, and it’s worth appreciating the balanced look at what the law has and hasn’t done, and more specifically, how it isn’t really solving the problem.