Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rot roh, I'm at it again...

There are two things I'm very passionate about in life.  One is peanut butter M&M's, the other is same sex marriage.  OK, I'm passionate about more than that, but these damn M&M's are just so good, I can't stop eating them!  For real though, the issue of same sex marriage is extremely important to me.  Obviously, I'm not gay.  I am happily married to my absolute best friend, Nichole.  No, my reasoning is because I believe in equal rights, no matter what color your skin is, what religion you follow, what year you were born, or who you sleep beside at night.  We are all equal.  Sure, some have better athletic abilities, or superior public speaking skills, or the ability to do math without a calculator, but at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and deserve the same love and respect as everyone else. 

This week, the Maine Attorney General, Charlie Summers, approved the language of the citizen's initiative to allow same sex marriage in Maine.  I know, we've been down that road before, just a couple of years ago, with the effort falling short at the hands of the Maine voters.  Well, I think it's time to try it again.  New York just passed a law allowing same sex marriages to be legal, and I'm hopeful Maine will be able to do the same thing.  This much I know for sure, I'll do my part to help collect signatures and spread the word.

Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking ill thoughts right now.  That's fine, I know not everyone feels the same way as me on this subject.  That being said, let me just toss some ideas out there for you to chew on.  How does the marriage of two people you do not know have any bearing on your life?  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2005, 2.23 million people were married.  How many of them did you know about?  You should be outraged, all those weddings really affected you 6 years ago, right?  What's that?  It had no bearing on you whatsoever?  Oh, that's right.  So, why is it that two people of the same sex bothers you? 

One argument I've heard is, what happens next?  If we allow two women to marry, what's to stop someone from marrying their dog or their truck.  They love their truck, why can't they marry their truck?  OK, besides the fact that this is just ludicrous, I'll offer you this.  When your dog, or your truck can sign their name on the marriage certificate, you feel free to marry your dog or your truck.  Until then, that is just a nonsensical argument, and I am not able to take you seriously.

Look, this issue appears to be very left vs. right.  Democrats, for the most part, want this to pass.  Republicans, for the most part, want this to fail.  Based on that, I have a question.  Republicans continuously claim that they want government to get out of their way and stop restricting them.  Then, in the same breath, want the government to ensure that marriage equality is outlawed.  So, which is it?  Less government restrictions, or just certain government restrictions?  I love the argument for smaller government.  All that means is smaller government for things you don't want.  It'll be status quo or larger government in areas you are concerned with though. 

Why do we care what ANYONE does behind closed doors?  Seems to me, this would be for each individual to decide for themselves.  If two people are happy, who am I to tell them they can't have everything that I have?  With a divorce rate of 1 out of every 2 marriages, who the hell are we to say that two loving, consenting adults can't marry?  No, let's not let that happen, but if Newt Gingrich, mister family values himself want to get married again, that's totally fine.  Come on, this is a silly argument.  We are all equal members of society, regardless of who we lay our head next to at the end of the day.  It's time that we treat each other equally. 

I'm going to close by quoting two musicians, with much different backgrounds.  I've got a very diverse music collection, and this will prove that.  My first quote is from the song "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye.  In it, he says the following:

"You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today"

while the other line is from "Changes" by Tupac:

"I got love for my brother, but we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other.
We gotta start makin' changes, learn to see me as a brother instead of 2 distant strangers."

See, the point of each song is to point out that there is no difference between you and me.  We need to stop demonizing people because they don't act or look like us, and remember that we are all humans, and at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters.  Deep down, we all want the same things, and you know what, we deserve the same things.  I'm just saying...


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crisis averted, sort of...

As you have certainly heard by now, the debt ceiling was raised on Tuesday, avoiding a potentially catastrophic situation.  Talking heads across the country have been giving their thoughts, and depending on which side of the aisle you are on, the deal was either really good or really bad.  I'm far from a pundit, or a talking head, but I've got a few thoughts on the "deal".  Here goes...

First of all, to call it a deal means that each side at the negotiating table got something they wanted, while having to give up something else they may have wanted.  With that in mind, this was NOT a deal.  Sure, President Obama won't have to go through another debt ceiling debate in his first term (assuming he gets re-elected), but to quote Speaker of the House John Boehner, "I'm pretty happy" because he got "98 percent of what he wanted" in the legislation.  In short, one side of the debate getting 98% of what it wanted seems to be about as far away from a compromise as possible, especially considering how far apart the two sides were in the negotiations. 

In other words, Democrats lost in this deal, and that would be due to President Obama completely caving in and allowing the Tea Party to dictate what would happen.  As a Democrat, this whole process sickened me.  Do we spend too much money?  You bet.  Do we bring in too little revenue?  Sure thing.  There is absolutely wasteful spending going on in Washington, but to sit here and say we only have a spending problem is absolutely untrue.  The one example that has come up a lot lately is that of General Electric.  They made $14.2 billion in profits in 2010, yet they received a $3.2 billion tax credit!  If you find nothing wrong with this picture, I don't even want to talk to you.  You are so wrong I don't even want to waste my time arguing with you.  Look, I'm not one to punish success.  However, there is no reason that me and my puny salary should have to pay taxes every year and GE, a giant corporation making billions of dollars walks away with a fat check from the government.  That is a giant problem!

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, that I want to punish success.  Not true, not even a little.  Truth is, I hope to make $14.2 billion in profits someday, and when that happens, I would fully expect to pay taxes on that profit, not get a check.  Asking those that make $250,000 and above to pay their fair share is not a lot to ask.  Again, I know what you are going to say.  The top 20% are already paying the bulk of the total tax burden while the bottom 40% pay little to no taxes.  I've heard that line from so many people over the past few weeks.  First of all, that is a complete lie.  Second of all, poor people pay less in taxes than rich people, as they should, but it's very far from zero.  Low incomes account for many that pay little to no taxes.  Senior citizens receiving SSI don't pay taxes because it is exempt from federal taxes.  Plus, the tax code provides benefits to low income earners with children (child tax credit, earned income tax credit).  Also, to say that Joe, who works at McDonalds for minimum wage, bringing home $15,000 a year should be paying more in taxes is just insane.  Joe can barely feed himself, let alone pay for housing, feed a family and pay for reliable transportation.  Meanwhile, Johnny Hedge Fund Manager is bringing home $500 million a year, and is able to pay just a small portion of that money due to loopholes.  Johnny HFM is certainly paying a higher amount than Joe, but paying more would impact him much less. 

Anyway, while I think that the Democrats lost this battle, the real loser in all of this is the American people.  We took this one on the chin.  We may have avoided a default, which would have hurt us even worse, but the cuts that have been agreed upon are going to hurt average, every day Americans like you and me.  Add to that the loss of faith we have in our elected officials, and the fact that they are really only concerned about their next election, not doing right by us, and we came out on the losing end, big time.  Good news is, in just a few months, the new Super Congress will start the next argument of what will get cut next, all while refusing to include any revenue in the argument.  Maybe Canada isn't looking so bad after all.  I'm just saying...