17 Apr 2015

The double-standard of making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits "This is also what enables politicians to gin up indignation among small-government supporters who don't realize they rely on government themselves."

Poverty looks pretty great if you're not living in it. The government gives you free money to spend on steak and lobster, on tattoos and spa days, on — why not? — cruise vacations and psychic visits.
Enough serious-minded people seem to think this is what the poor actually buy with their meager aid that we've  seen a raft of bills and proposed state laws to nudge them away from so much excess. Missouri wants to curtail what the poor eat with their food stamps (evidence of the problem from one state legislator: "I have seen people purchasing filet mignons"). There are the states that want to drug-test welfare recipients — the implication being that we worry the poor will convert their benefits directly into drugs.
And on Thursday, Kansas blocked welfare recipients from spending government money at strip clubs (in legalese: any "sexually oriented business or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment"). It also bans them from spending money on swimming pools, movies, casinos or tattoos.
Sometimes these laws are cast as protection for the poor, ensuring that aid is steered in ways that will help them the most. Other times they're framed as protection for the taxpayer, who shouldn't be asked to help people who will squander the money on vices anyway.
But the logic behind the proposals is problematic in at least three, really big ways.
The first is economic: There's virtually no evidence that the poor actually spend their money this way. The idea that they do defies Maslow's hierarchy — the notion that we all need shelter and food before we go in search of foot massages. In fact, the poor are much more savvy about how they spend their money because they have less of it (quick quiz: do you know exactly how much you last spent on a gallon of milk? or a bag of diapers?). By definition, a much higher share of their income — often more than half of it — is eaten up by basic housing costs than is true for the better-off, leaving them less money for luxuries anyway. And contrary to the logic of drug-testing laws, the poor are no more likely to use drugs than the population at large.
The second issue with these laws is a moral one: We rarely make similar demands of other recipients of government aid. We don't drug-test farmers who receive agriculture subsidies (lest they think about plowing while high!). We don't require Pell Grant recipients to prove that they're pursuing a degree that will get them a real job one day (sorry, no poetry!). We don't require wealthy families who cash in on the home mortgage interest deduction to prove that they don't use their homes as brothels (because surely someone out there does this). The strings that we attach to government aid are attached uniquely for the poor.
That leads us to the third problem, which is a political one. Many, many Americans who do receive these other kinds of government benefits — farm subsidies, student loans, mortgage tax breaks — don't recognize that, like the poor, they get something from government, too. That's because government gives money directly to poor people, but it gives benefits to the rest of us in ways that allow us to tell ourselves that we get nothing from government at all.
Political scientist Suzanne Mettler has called this effect the "submerged state." Food stamps and welfare checks are incredibly visible government benefits. The mortgage interest deduction, Medicare benefits and tuition tax breaks are not — they're submerged. They come to us in round-about ways, through smaller tax bills (or larger refunds), through payments we don't have to make to doctors (thanks to Medicare), or in tuition we don't have to pay to universities (because the G.I. Bill does that for us). 
Mettler's research has shown that a remarkable number of people who don't think they get anything from government in fact benefit from one of these programs. This explains why we get election-season soundbites from confused voters who want policymakers to "keep your government hands off my Medicare!" This is also what enables politicians to gin up indignation among small-government supporters who don't realize they rely on government themselves.

GOP passes massive tax break for millionaires, billionaires

In recent months, high-profile Republicans, sounding quite a bit like class warriors, have complained bitterly about the wealthy benefiting most from the recent economic recovery. Even House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), without a hint of irony, complained that recent trends point to “exacerbated inequality.” The far-right congressman added that only “the wealthy are doing really well.”
 
It’s genuinely impossible to reconcile Republican rhetoric and Republican priorities in light of votes like these.
The House voted Thursday to repeal the estate tax, a longtime priority of Republicans that also spurred Democratic charges that the GOP is in the pockets of the rich. […]
 
The White House has threatened to veto the measure, and the bill does not appear to have the 60 votes necessary to break a Democratic filibuster and get through the Senate.
The final tally was 240 to 179, with nearly every GOP lawmaker voting for it and nearly every Democrat voting against it.
 
When describing Republican tax proposals, it’s not uncommon to talk about policies thatdisproportionately benefit the very wealthy. GOP proponents will say a bill benefits all taxpayers, but they’ll brush past the fact that the rich benefit most. This, however, is altogether different – today’s bill, called the “Death Tax Repeal Act,” quite literally benefits multi-millionaires and billionaires exclusively.
 
It’s not an exaggeration to say House Republicans, en masse, voted for a $269 billion giveaway to the top 0.2%. Under the plan, GOP lawmakers, who occasionally pretend to care about “fiscal responsibility,” would simply add the entire $269 billion cost to the deficit, leaving future generations to pay for a massive tax break for the hyper-wealthy.
 
Wait, it gets worse.
 
Asked about the bill this week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters, “[The] estate tax’s repeal is long overdue. Remember, all of this money that families have saved has all been taxed, much of it multiple times. And then if you die, we’re going to tax you again. I think it’s totally unfair.”
 
Regrettably, the Speaker isn’t just trying to give the hyper-wealthy a $269 billion tax break for no reason, he’s also confused about the basics of the policy he’s championing.
 
Even by contemporary GOP standards, today’s vote is pretty obscene. At a time of rising economic inequality, House Republicans have prioritized a bill to make economic inequality worse on purpose. At a time in which much of Congress wants to make the deficit smaller, House Republicans have prioritized a bill to make the deficit much larger.
 
At a time when prosperity is concentrated too heavily at the very top, House Republicans have prioritized a bill to deliver enormous benefits to multi-millionaires and billionaires – and no one else.
 
Asked to defend this, Republican leaders – the same leaders who balk at all requests for public investment, saying the nation is too “broke” to fund domestic priorities – say it’s only “fair” to approve a $269 billion giveaway to the hyper-wealthy.
 
It’s like Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens got together to write a novel, and Congress’ majority wants Americans to live in it.

Nikko Hurtado Brings Movie Characters To Life With Amazing Tattoo Art (23 pics)

Nikko Hurtado is a tattoo artist that creates amazing art. He has a knack for capturing the look of famous movie characters perfectly and his talent has allowed him to travel all over the world.























Abandoned in Antarctica The 1970s Airplane Buried in Snow

No one was injured when the Lockheed Constellation ‘Pegasus’ crash landed onto the icy fields of Antarctica on October 8, 1970. The ill-fated flight had run into a storm and was forced to crash land in impossible weather conditions. Where the aircraft dramatically slid to a halt nearly 35 years ago is the exact same position it lies today, half-buried in snow.

















16 Apr 2015

Girls With Tinder Bios That Are Too Tempting To Resist (15 pics)

Admit it, if you read these Tinder bios you would definitely be swiping right.