How stimulus can help your wallet
Congress appears close to finalizing the economic recovery plan. Here's a look at some of the likely provisions for individuals:
Make Work Pay Credit
One-time payments to those who don't work
Break for higher income families
Temporary deduction for car buyers
Temporary credit for home buyers: The bill doubles the size of an existing temporary home buyer credit to $15,000. It also would allow all home buyers to claim it. And it removes the requirement under current law that the credit be paid back. Estimated cost: $39 billion.
New college credit
Child tax credit
Earned income tax credit
Health insurance help for the jobless: The bill includes provisions to help eligible jobless workers pay for health insurance under Cobra. Cobra coverage allows newly laid off workers to keep health insurance provided by their former employers for a period of time.
Food stamp payments
Help for needy families
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Do We Really Care?
Reading the above CNN article, one question keeps popping up in my mind: Are all these bullshits our politicians can do now?
Yes, since the last Great Depression, we do take some good steps to improve our society, including mortgage rules. But, facing the new ages, can we afford the stupidity or laziness to just be a copy cat of FDR?
In my previous articles, I have figured out one main rhythm in our government popular songs: The Poorer You are, The More Benefits We Give.
Yes, in the hindsight of history, Roman Empire followed the philosophy of Christianity: to give to the poor. Historians said the empire focused itself on "re-distribution of wealth for the needy," but forgot "making more income to all." The pie kept shrinking; the empire didn't make it and finally confined itself into a small city Vatican.
Yes, we need to subsidize the misfortunate and further extend our hands out to help those falling down. We call it "charity cause." However, the charity activities used to be set aside for individuals and private organizations. Since we invented our Social Security, our government is getting more and more deeper into so-called "Public Charity"; and becomes the major player in the field to compete with private sectors, if not the most important actor.
I wonder if it is good for a government to be so deeply involved in the charity. Please don't get me wrong. I love to see our government to be generous to help. I have a big sweet heart to feel so sad when I saw the invisible situation our American poor folks fail in, such as I cried after reading the Tent City news.
[note: please see my article: A Funny World (17): Your Tent City? Or My Tear City? After I moved to Texas, I personally touched the poverty of America so that I set a rule for myself that is well known in my community: A neighbor can come to me to borrow $50 anytime in need. That's the credit line I can afford to do. It helped some to buy gasoline to work and to buy a bag of dog food to feed their pets in the last fuel surge. The money given is deemed to me a loss or donation; I didn't expect its return. But my neighbors did return the money when they got a paycheck, except two.]
The problem bothers me is: does our government have no other better jobs to do?
Go ask any student majored in political science: What is the major function of a government? Isn't it "governing?" Further ask: what is the difference between governing and daily management?
History tells us that a government set the rules for people and business to follow. A successful government did it simple, easily, and fair; while a failed one made it hard for public officials to understand and implement; or unpredictable to the general public at the worst. Just as some NEWS report recently: "Now the best for investors is not to do anything." Fully understandable, since our government changed game rules almost everyday in the past 1 year.
Very true as a movie commercial put: "There is one rule. That is no rule." Everyday the rule changes, your expected success of your decision-making turns into disastrous. Don't believe me? Go ask any option investor why he let his option expired after a new mandate surprised him? Some decent managers even closed their funds due to "no rule to play the game." How can we expect private investors come back to the investment world as Ben Benanke or Tim Geithner dreams of, if there is purely a jungle used to be full of normal market uncertainty which still can be controlled or calculated; and now even worse, mixed in so many unpredictable properties of constant legal changes made by government? A prudent investor will based on reason and profitability, not a Las Vegas gambler counting on his luckiness.
The most important factors in a good government game rule are focused on two things: 1) reward the good deeds and punish the wrongdoings pretty clearly; 2) encourage people believe to work harder since the rules outline the bare-bone theme: "the reward for working is better than not working and extending hands out." The rules give the motives for people to pursue his welfare at his own will, not depending on others, such as God, Heaven Mandate or a big brother government. Why USSR, a communist regime, failed? Simple, no incentive for an individual to work decently, let alone hard or creatively.
Now, let's take a good look at all the programs out of our government people? What can you see? Probably my eyes are simple and narrow that I can see only one thing in common: "the deeper you fall in poverty, the more benefits you are given." Well, how about the middle class or working class who is doing barely okay in this difficult time? Nothing if you are NOT falling down deeper enough, period.
In order to get those benefits, you have to fall down first, as the writer of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" said to TV in a mentor show that "you have to fail before you reach success." Some listeners couldn't believe what they heard from him. Do we expect the same things happen to our people as in the 30' depression, or our bureaucrats believe that is going to take place anyway?
Folks, I have a question for you: Do we take needed steps to encourage our people to face the challenge of the depression and work out the risks proudly and positively by themselves? Or we just make the rules to advise them to passively sit in home to be fed hopelessly, without lights at the end of tunnel?
It is good that we are unhappy about the slavery system to abolish it. However, did we make a needed social and economic process to really help a slave? In the realm of international power politics, there is a situation called "sub-colonization," which is worse than a colony under clearly and orderly rule of an imperialist power. No, history told us that we didn't at the time we set them free. We made a big mistake by just letting them free and wodering in the street without substantial assistance. We created a situation even worse than a slave with a benevolent master before the Liberation. That's why we have so unsatisfactory situations leading us to turnoil in 1960'.
Can we afford the same mistake in social context? I am just wondering: is that all our Washington or New York "elites" can put on the table out of their kitchen? Where is the beef? No other easy and better ways out in this downturn?
Sure, I believe, you know I don't think so!