Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Internal Revenue E-Filing Scam

Last September 60 Minutes reported on a scam costing billions each year. Sunday June 28, 2015 they gave an update. No significant progress reported. In fact the scam is growing rapidly. It is so simple anyone can do it. All that is needed is a SSN and date of birth. You fill out a bogus form with any numbers you chose then request a modest refund of $1,500 or so. On the average within 7 days the check is in the mail. It can be sent to a prepaid debit card. The IRS will send the money to it. It can be spent until all funds are used up and then discarded with no chance of locating the owner. This has been known since 2008. The senate Finance Committee has reviewed this three times; in 2009, 2011 and 2012 without correcting. The so-called experts predict it will grow and exceed $21 Billion by 2016. With the added exposure by 60 Minutes, no doubt many others will try their hand at something so simple. The reason given for the E- IRS tax form is to help those who don’t have a bank account which means they would have to pay to have checks cashed. In other words those highly paid individuals promoting this program are willing to have us robbed of Billions in order to continue for what must be a very few families. I can tell you as a former member of private management, that within days of realizing a new programs failure, it would be shut down. I am sending this to my elected officials requesting that they order the IRS to immediately stop E-filing and require all taxpayers to use paper forms and send in, as I have always done, together with all required W-2 and other forms required. At the very least the IRS should be allowed to not refund money until the proper forms are in their hands. How can we ever recover with known scams like this being allowed to continue? Jack B. Walters June 30, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Follow-up article on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Two days after composing my article on TPP I received the latest edition of the Atlantic Magazine. There was one article which intrigued me and had at least some bearing on my original attempt. By the way I only received responses from four people. What follows are the writings of Mr. Derek Thompson whose article was “Technology will soon erase millions of jobs. Could that be a good thing? The End of Work”. He uses Youngtown, Ohio as the basis for his theme. While he describes the devastation correctly, blaming it on technology is wrong. The loss was due to lower cost producers in China and elsewhere, not technology. “The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one of its residents can site with precision: September 18, 1977.” “For much of the 20th Century, Youngtown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a medium income and a home ownership rate that were among the nations highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after WWII, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that grey September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression.” “Youngstown was transformed not only by an economic disruption but also by a psychological and cultural breakdown. Depression, spousal abuse, and suicide all became much more prevalent; the caseload of the area’s mental-health center tripled within a decade. The city built four prisons in the mid-1990s_a rare growth industry. One of the few new downtown construction projects was a museum dedicated to the defunct steel industry.” “Youngtown’s story is America’s story, because it shows that when jobs go away, the cultural cohesion of a place is destroyed.” “The share of prime-age Americans (25to 54 years old) who are working has trended down since 2000. Among men, the decline began earlier; the share of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the 1970’s.” All in all, about one in six prime-age men today are either unemployed or out of the workplace altogether.” “Since 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen by almost 5 million or about 30%.” “Most people want to work, and are miserable when they cannot….There is a loss of status, a general malaise and demoralization…. “The transition from labor force to leisure force would likely be particularly hard on Americans, the worker bees of the rich world. Between 1950 and 2012, annual hours worked per worker fell significantly throughout Europe by about 40 % in Germany and the Netherlands but only about 10% in the United States.”….” Germany promotes job sharing. The government gives incentives to cut all workers hours rather than lay off some of them during hard times.” This proves to me that government can get involved to work with industry. Have you ever heard our government get involved in this way? The bulk of this article is the prediction that over time technology will make labor obsolete and how to prepare for those times by providing important things to do which are done for satisfaction not money. To learn more I suggest you go to your local library and read the entire article. It is timely and important. I want to finish this with my own comments about continuing to send our jobs overseas with the additional breakdown of our America culture. It is so obvious to me but to no one else it seems. Never-the-less I will try again. Wouldn’t you rather have Americans fully employed, supporting their families and paying taxes rather than spend countless billions on welfare in all its forms and prisons which appears to be our only growth industry. There are many ways to improve American productivity. Government could assist. Instead of the TTP why not lower business taxes in our country. Why not lower the stringent government edicts which cost great sums and have the effect of making it harder to compete. Why not absolve all industry from paying health care costs. Other countries do. I have read that health care is the highest component in the cost of manufacturing an automobile in America. Onerous law suits with outrageous penalties must be curbed. I don’t understand how any company can survive with this sword hanging over their heads. These are just some of the ways government could aid American industry. There are many more. Why can’t elected officials or the readers of this article understand that we cannot survive? I mentioned previously about our national debt of $18 Trillion. In today’s paper there was an article about China having a surplus of $21 Trillion. I ask you which country is doing the best and which country will overwhelm the other? Jack B. Walters June 27, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) won approval by the Senate yesterday with a vote of 60 for to 37 against. The irony of this whole process is that most Republicans support President Obama and most Democrats are opposed. The prediction is that the House will follow suit and approve today. There will then be a following Bill to provide funding for retraining those American workers who will lose their jobs; not only manufacturing but also service. Ask yourself if the other countries are providing for the loss of jobs as we are. The answer is no, as they, one and all, will garner new employment for their people. I firmly believe that America is the only country to not strive to maintain a healthy workforce. On this point I agree with Donald Trump. We are the suckers; we are stomped on and are sucking the hind tit, as the old expression goes. It might not be nice but it does make the point in a forceful manner. I know that most who I decide to send this to will be in agreement with passage of TPP. These for the most part take the position that the rule of comparative advantage should rule in all cases pertaining to world trade and therefor it is only right and proper that our high paid workers should lose their jobs by sending to these Asian countries similar to the loss as a direct result of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Presidential contender Ross Perot was right when he referred to it as a giant sucking sound of jobs leaving America. I request that you use Google and listen to Mr. Perot during his debate with Clinton and Bush. Just enter Ross Perot 1992. He answers a question. Too bad he didn’t get the chance to save American jobs. I have also heard some of you denigrate unions as if they were evil. I doubt if any of you ever had to contend with them as I did. The concept of unions was to have some leverage to improve wages and working conditions. Back in the 1900’s President T. Roosevelt, as a Republican, realized the enormous power of the industry barons of the day and did what he could to improve their lives. My father in the 30’s was active in Lockport, N. Y. in getting the CIO to represent the employees of Harrison Radiator Company, a subsidiary of General Motors. At the time there was a company approved union which was supposed to give employees a voice but was not effective. It wasn’t until 1938 that the 40 hour week was secured. Google AFL-CIO and you will find information about the union. I do believe that they were useful and that the workers of America saw improvement all thru the decades until mid-1970. I was the manager of a tire factory during this period. Foreign competition was surging. Boatloads of tires were being unloaded at the docks with products from Japan (Bridgestone), and Europe (Pirelli and Michelin). These were quality products produced in new factories rebuilt after WWII with modern equipment and reliable workers. This was the time American union employees lost their focus. They refused to accept that we were entering a new world and that we had to lower our cost and improve quality if we were to continue to exist. The labor strife was painful. It was during these years that the great progress we had made was diminished. Many factories were closed or downsized. This continued in the following decades with continuing loss of factory jobs. By 2000 service jobs started to be outsourced at an accelerating rate, so it wasn’t just manufacturing. Not being active in the workforce today I have no personal knowledge that the attitude and understanding by labor union officials has changed to reflect the reality of competition as it exists today. I can only hope that they are willing to assist management as American Industry struggles to compete. I know I have read that European Unions have adjusted. There are even Union officers on the Boards of many companies. This is the reason they have been able to continue paying good wages and still compete. Now I want to ask you to reflect upon the demand today to increase the minimum wage to $15/ hr. for hamburger flippers. These wage increases are being granted by different States and is surging across America. They are for jobs that can only be done in America as the franchises are located in America. Having worked in factories most of my working years I believe that those jobs deserve higher wages than hamburger flippers in order for those workers to become part of the middle class as they were 40 years ago. This is nearly impossible today as there is always some country willing to have their people work for low wages with unsafe conditions, without regard for the environment, labor unions and health care cost. These are among the many reasons why it is nearly impossible for America to compete. Of course, we do have the exception of the military industrial system. These industries are protected from foreign competition. They are located in every State and those involved will fight to the death to continue their favored status. How can I get you to understand? All it seems people care about is getting the lowest price without regard for the loss of decent paying jobs for Americans. I refer to them as the Wal-Mart generation. I continue my lone avoidance of Wal-Mart but I will admit my resistance is starting to weaken. I have read recently that they are refusing to purchase pork from producers who put sows in steel crates without the ability to lie down and rest. This is a barbaric practice in my opinion. Wal-Mart with its enormous purchasing power can demand anything. The main reason I have boycotted them is the sure knowledge that they have pressured American manufacturers to send their factories overseas in order for Wal-Mart to purchase their products at a lower cost. Now I want to switch gears and come at this from another angle. 40 years ago America was working. There were no drug problems, there weren’t millions living off of government handouts like food stamps, workers comp, rent subsidies, free cell phones, free or low cost medical care, etc. These were not needed as Americans had jobs, paid taxes and supported their families by the dint of their personal effort. We, as a people are often conned into thinking of things as they are, not what they were. I am totally convinced that most students today are not learning American history. If they were I believe they might be more vocal in demanding a return to those days of not so long ago. The Democratic Party defended the working force then. The Democratic Party of today buys votes by giveaway programs which leaves millions of able bodied Americans living off the dole and not contributing to the benefit of society. I am equally convinced that the race problems which are getting worse every day are at least partially the result of young black men who cannot get a decent paying job. As to them abandoning women to raise children without their support, this I blame on government programs which have the direct result of removing fathers from homes. For those of you who are enjoying high stock prices, I believe I can assure you stocks will continue to rise as the Corporations will increase their profits. Right here, I guess, I have lost you, as who wouldn’t want their portfolio to grow. I can only request that patriotism and love of country would be more important than a soaring stock market. The long and the short of it is that our country is dying. We are $18 Trillion in debt and it is growing astronomically. Do you really believe that this is not critical to our survival? Congress keeps approving more costly programs without regard to the increase in debt. Our foreign adventures continue to suck us dry without ever providing the satisfaction that the Trillions spent or the lives lost are worth the cost. I have composed this in utter frustration knowing full well I don’t have a chance in hell of convincing anyone or making a positive contribution. Jack B. Walters June 24, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Defending Beef- a book report

The Case for Sustainable Meat Production The Manifesto of an Environmental Lawyer and Vegetarian Turned Cattle Rancher By; Nicolette Hahn Niman I have a friend whose daughter and son-in-law own a ranch in New Mexico. They presently have a herd of cattle of 19 head. Working together they are trying their best to raise cattle the right way which means range fed. He asked me to read this book and then write a report. He knows that writing reports on important books is something I enjoy doing. I have just finished reading, so here goes. As usual I will add my own comments. In my opinion, the author did a credible job of pointing out the advantage and the necessity of including beef in the food available to humans. Much of the world’s surface is unacceptable to crop planting. That is where cattle are the most productive. Their interaction with the earth is beneficial to it. They chew the grass, step on the soil and leave their droppings and urine as they move along. This encourages grass to growwhen exposed to sunlight. The depressions allow rain water to puddle and the nutrients to be added. She was, and still is, a vegetarian. She married a man who was and still is a rancher. She helps him on the ranch by doing any chore necessary. She firmly believes that living on a ranch among animals is rewarding and beneficial to understanding and appreciating the relationship. She doesn’t explain why she personally doesn’t eat meat. I believe that adds persuasion to the words she writes. She strongly condemns modern animal husbandry, particularly as practiced in the U.S.A. This process which is largely dependent on drugs is unnatural and has little or no concern for the wellbeing of animals. They no longer are considered animals but merely products to sell. For most of their lives they are confined to feed lots as they are being fattened as rapidly as science will allow. I spent 23 years of my life living in Iowa. The stench as you neared a confinement was atrocious. I often wondered how people could live and work in those conditions, never mind how it was to be a cow or pig herded together like that. The other phenomena I experienced was the step by step process of farmers being driven from their farms as the mega farms took over. I felt then and I still do today, that it was wrong. Raising families on farms is the healthy and wisest way to rear children. They learn work habits from an early age and assume their responsibilities as normal. Interacting with live stock of any kind brings them to appreciate what life is all about. There is another book I read which I recommend to you. It is called “Soil not Oil” by Vandana Shiva. I wrote a book report on it February 14, 2010. It was an article published in my third book entitled “Still Angry”. In it she points out the tremendous expense of energy in the production of food when the same result could be attained by families living on farms as millions did just 40 years ago. The largest farms receive the greatest government subsidies. They and Agri-business and drug companies all benefit the most while rendering the greatest harm to the environment through polluting land and water. I can assure you that in the current debate in Congress about granting the President authority to make trade agreements, that counties like Japan, who have traditionally defended the small farmer, are being pressured once again to let our mass produced and hugely subsidized agriculture overwhelm them and close them down. It is my sincere hope Japan will not cave. I might add that we continue to pressure Europe in the same fashion while they have continued to support small farms as being beneficial to maintaining their landscape and livelihoods of those families. After NAFTA was approved the process of lowering tariff protection was begun, in short order reducing to zero in Mexico. Millions of farmers were forced to enter the U.S. when they could no longer sustain their families with their produce and meat from their small farms. There is much in this book of a technical flavor far beyond my limited knowledge. It adds to the truth of Mrs. Niman’s words that she writes from knowledge and experience. The conclusions drawn make complete sense to me. If our elected leaders would only reflect on the harm their programs are inflicting on our country and the world they might find the wisdom to reverse the process towards small family farms. Not only are the chemicals harmful to the land she believes that they are harmful to people as well. She is convinced that obesity is caused more from huge intakes of sugar and carbohydrates than from eating meat. In conclusion beef and other livestock raised in a humane fashion are not only essential for the survival of humans but also add to human joy and good health. Grains alone cannot sustain human life. Grain together with domesticated livestock can and will. I highly recommend reading. Jack B. Walters May 31, 2015