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Class Warfare is Alive and Well in America- Politics

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Historic tax rates

When the Bush tax cuts expire shortly, the highest personal federal tax rate will reach 45%. In my state and many in this country the effective overall tax rate for individuals will be over 70% and in some states much higher.

There was virtually NO incentive in the current economic stimulus package for small business owners and certainly no favors done for high earning individuals.

Why exactly should people in this country continue to have the passion for excellence? Why is it we should continue to risk everything to start new companies and innovate when the message from the Federal Government is ‘go ahead and earn all you like because we’re going to keep taking.’

At a chilling crossroads

With the enormous burdens of health care and cap and trade staring at us, we’re clearly at a chilling crossroad. We all define success differently. But it’s not specifically about the wealth but about the desire for success and the reward for it that should drive us all.

That drive is going to die a certain death in our country if we don’t respect and nurture it. Right now…it’s easy to bastardize the successful because politicians are hell bent on taking as much of that success as possible.

Realtor, Speaker, former Indianapolis radio personality. Least prettiest person ever on HGTV. Crashed in a helicopter and a Cessna 182. Seven lives left. Blessed by an amazing family!

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Stew Keene

    November 1, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Greg,

    Well said and honestly this is a very scary time for those who wish to achieve anything substantial as individuals.

    So sad…

    Pretty soon I’ll be calling you comrade.

    Stew Keene – Home Smart Realty
    Scottsdale, AZ
    480-220-7491

  2. MIssy Caulk

    November 1, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Greg, well the ones left could go on Strike like in Atlas Shrugged.

    Actually with what happened in the NY23, and looking good in VA and NJ gubernatorial races, I am encouraged. We have come back from the depths of despair before. I am optimistic about the heart and soul of the American people to rise up from the ashes once again.

  3. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    November 1, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m really feelin’ for those poor millionaire whiz kids that needed millions of dollars to stay on at AIG and other large financial institutions after they helped toss out economy in the toilet. Oh… taxpayer millions, by the way, not their own hard work…MY hard work.

    They gambled and lost. Ayn Rand would have said, “C-ya.” but, no, they’re “too big to fail” so the “successful” people needed a big, fat Government handout to stay afloat and keep you and me out of a breadline.

    It took you 3 minutes to acknowledge that there are people in this world/country that may not have the ability to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”.

    Truly successful people (by that I’m meaning people with a lot of money) don’t have a problem with contributing to the society that has enabled them to be successful whether it’s through taxes or voluntary contributions to charitable organizations or putting in their time to help out.

  4. Tim Wilson

    November 1, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    To answer your first question, plenty of people have a “passion for excellence” that does not directly correlate to how much they are, or are not, paying in taxes, Greg.

    Maybe your personal definition of “passion for excellence” is no different than your definition of “passion for personal financial gain”. Good for you.

    Does your own “passion for excellence” include the production of your videos? I can’t tell.

  5. Greg Cooper

    November 2, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Ken….isn’t it ironic that the current administration….the one ‘for the people’ specifically gave billions to these companies to save them which unltimately led to companies like Goldman Sachs paying millions in bonusus. Truly successful people do not mind contributing but it should be their choice…not government dictated. How much or of your and my money went to the jerkwads at GS, AIG, et all? How much went to cover the 100,000+ people who fraudulently got $8000 checks for the 1st time home buyers. My point is the more the government gets involved the more it mucks it up. Let the cheating bastards fail and leave my hard earned money alone.

    Tim…in a capitalistic society we are rewarded in many ways. Having the government take from us for programs overrun by fraud and deceipt is not a reward for one’s passion for success. Perhaps I want to have success so I can buy my parents a new house. Maybe it’s because I want to give more to the hospice for the homeless in my area which I do regularly. Maybe I want to take 500,000 1 dollars bills and roll around naked in the middle of them in my front yard (kids don’t you try that at home). Whatever it is, it’s MY DAMN CHOICE…not the federal government’s. Oh…sorry….I thought this admin is one that believed in personal choice. My bad.

  6. Mack McCoy

    November 2, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Well, this is bullshit. Real accomplishment types do not go to the beach because they’re not getting paid enough or because they have to pay too much in taxes or because their efforts go to help some deadbeat go on a wife-beating bender.
    Half-a-century ago, our fathers/grand-fathers were willing to build businesses and lead companies for a fraction of the rewards available to us today, and at pretty similar tax rates.
    How many times do you have to be reminded that the typical CEO in the ’50s was paid 30-50 times more than the average worker in his company, today the rewards are ten times that?
    If this is what we’ve become – a generation that won’t excel because it doesn’t pay enough – then, we don’t deserve as much as we’ve got.
    If you’re slacking, don’t blame it on the tax man.

  7. Benn Rosales

    November 2, 2009 at 11:37 am

    First off, the backdrop of your video is amazing… I’ll take two.

    I guess we’re about to find out if it is what the country wants in this next election cycle- it should be telling to see some of these races 2010 and their outcome.

    I’ve been down, had to take help, and refused because of the value of my one so-called asset- my car. I was turned away and told to sell it for any equity I might have. I looked at my car and said it’s a dodge dynasty, it’s worth nothing more than what it means to help me look for jobs. I realized at that moment that the government agency I was standing in was telling me that until I was at rock bottom, there would be no help to sustain me. That was the very early 90s. We have a culture of divide and conquer, class warefare, and it’s not going away, it’s how we’re controlled, it’s how they get elected- this will not change until there is a true 3rd party, and I think that party may look a lot like a tea party.

    What Americans need is a choice that levels the rhetoric to reality, and in our system of government, regardless of which of the two parties you support, you essentially only have one choice in the box, both are the same.

  8. Tim Wilson

    November 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Benn,

    I agree with you on your last point– both of the dominant parties are wanting, and often seem to have been blended into one giant mess. But we have to salute them in one respect because in their own “passion for excellence” (which according to Mr. Cooper means “maximized personal financial gain”) they have learned how to game the national system of government and compete successfully against the rest of us– and are rewarded for their “excellence” by lining their pockets with dollar bills to roll around in. They are just better at competing and “excelling” than the rest of us.

    Greg,

    Keep up the fight, man. I support 100% your right to do that, and when you are victorious I will congratulate you. This is still America, after all– and when you win, you win. No problems. One question about the super wealthy, though: how long was it before the owners of the property in your video came out and ran you off their lawn?

  9. Greg Cooper

    November 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Let me see if I can boil this down. First of all the video is an extreme example intended to start discussion. It is not about the super wealthy because those people rarely have a grasp of reality anyway. For those who know what I’m about, I wouldn’t live in that monstrosity behind me in the video if it were given to me. My central question and the MAIN point is…how much is too much for the government to take and when does it begin to diminish our collective desire to reach higher? There seems to be no limit to how much we’ll take from people and make no mistake, today it may be about those making in excess of $500K per year but tomorrow it will be about those making $300K…etc., etc.

    Tim…while I understand your distate for my take I do appreciate the sincerity of your position. For the record my team has that property listed….it’s an atypical take back. You can see the tour on my web site at http://www.gregcooper.com. Was a strange week closing on a 150K bungalow and then going to shoot the video immediatly after I showed the estate behind me.

  10. Portland Condo Auctions

    November 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Before anyone freaks out about higher taxes, take a look at some of the countries that can successfully tax and spend the money properly to the benefit of the entire nation. Sweden has the best healthcare and education without question, and they also have pretty high taxes.

    If you want to live in a first world nation, be prepared for taxes. If you like Ayn Rand so much, move to Somalia where they dont just like her core beliefs, they LIVE it.

    -Tyler

  11. Tim Wilson

    November 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Greg,

    I did go and look at the tour…. Wow…. I could easily live in just the GARAGE of that place… wouldn’t even need the pool house…even though I think you are completely full of it, as one Realtor to another, I do sincerely wish you good luck with that one.. we have to stick together at least a little bit…. 🙂

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Politics

The House Judiciary antitrust investigation holds big techs’ feet to the fire

(POLITICS) CEOs of Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon set to testify in House Judiciary Committee antitrust investigation hearing today.

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The House Judiciary Committee is closing in on the end of a year-long investigation into tech giants Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, to evaluate possible antitrust abuses. CEOs from all four companies were set to testify on Monday, July 27, 2020. The hearing has been pushed back to Wednesday, July 29, to allow members of Congress to pay respects to civil rights leader Representative John Lewis (D-GA) who died of pancreatic cancer on July 17.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have all agreed to testify. This will be Bezos’ first time in front of Congress, whereas all the others have testified before on different matters. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was invited to testify by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), but is expected to not attend.

The Antitrust Subcommittee began the investigation in June 2019. Each business has been the subject of scrutiny for their roles in dominating their respective industries and playing an outsized role in market competition for smaller businesses. The Committee is interested in evaluating current antitrust laws and whether they apply to, or should be updated for, these mega corporations. They have already heard testimonies from smaller companies like Sonos and Tile about these companies’ alleged monopolistic practices.

The focus of the investigation for Apple is on the App Store, and whether it has implemented policies that are harmful for app developers. Google has a tight hold on the online advertising market. Amazon – which during a five-week period early in the pandemic saw an increase in value equivalent to the total value of Walmart, the world’s largest firm – has been criticized for its treatment of brands that sell on its e-commerce platform. Facebook is being investigated for its acquisition practices, cornering the social media market with purchases like Instagram.

Amazon is expected to face additional scrutiny for its treatment of warehouse workers during the pandemic. Facebook and YouTube (a subsidiary of Google) have been the subject of regular criticism about monitoring hate speech on their platforms, and their treatment of the workers responsible for doing so (Facebook in particular).

The hearing is set to occur virtually in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Watch the hearing live at 12:00 p.m. EST Wednesday, July 29 on the House Judiciary Committee’s YouTube channel. Please do note the hilarious irony of streaming a Congressional antitrust hearing on YouTube, which is owned by Google, which is owned by Alphabet, which is testifying at said hearing. God Bless America.

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Additional unemployment benefits outside of the CARES Act

(POLITICS) Unemployment is at an all time high in the United States and individuals need to be aware of reapplying for additional benefits.

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June saw some additional jobs in the US and unemployment fell as of early July, but CNBC advised pausing on any celebration just yet, saying that “The employment crisis is still worse than any time since the Great Depression, the country’s worst economic downturn in its industrial history.”

The unemployment statistics in our country right now are really scary – especially for individuals and families that see a looming deadline of July 31 for the supplemental $600/week provided by the Federal Government through the CARES Act put in place in March. There are discussions on extending these benefits as many families have not been able to replace their incomes or find new employment opportunities, but it doesn’t seem like anything has been finalized there yet. Congress is in the middle of a variety of options:

  • Discontinue the additional $600/week but allow those on unemployment to continue to file and receive their state benefits (usually up to 26 weeks or possibly extended up to 39 weeks by The CARES act)
  • Send out additional stimulus checks (Congress is currently exploring a $X Trillion stimulus package)
  • Extend the additional funding (on top of the weekly amount allotted by state) but cut it from $600 to $200
  • It’s also been put on the table in the House of Representatives “The Heroes Act” to extend the additional $600/week until January 2021 ($3 trillion).

There are some additional benefits that are available (different than the funds by the CARES Act), but you may have to reapply for them. So, make sure to check your state’s unemployment pages and your filing status. Some states do not require you to reapply and you can continue on with extended benefits.

According to CNBC, “The additional aid expires after the end of the year. (This is a different program than the one paying an extra $600 a week through July 31.) For some reason, the [Department of Labor] has taken the position that people have to file for the additional PEUC benefits,” said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.”

No doubt that this can cause additional stress and uncertainty especially when you have questions about your filing and are unable to get through to someone on the phone. With the way that the unemployment cycle is setup, technically July 25 is considered the last date for that cycle (and July 26 for New York), so be sure to check and see what the next steps are for you if you are currently filing.

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How will pausing the reopening of states impact the recovery of the economy?

(POLITICS) The resurgence of COVID-19 has left Americans with a lot of questions about our nation’s economic future. That ambiguity is seemingly a feature, not a bug.

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COVID-19 reopening economy

The rest of the world watched as the United States dramatically reopened “the economy” last month. Now, it seems we’ve changed our minds about that.

The White House has repeatedly said that it will be up to individual states to form their own pandemic response plans moving forward. But letting local governments devise their own solutions has produced large gaps in their preparedness, as well as profound confusion around the best practices for balancing the country’s public and economic health.

California, which represents the largest economy in the US and the fifth largest in the world, was one of the first states to put serious quarantine restrictions in place. The decision to relax those orders only came after anti-lockdown protestors demanded that Governor Gavin Newsom reopen the state’s beaches, businesses and churches. Newsom may now regret this capitulation as California just called for a second round of statewide lockdowns.

Other state legislators are slowly following their lead, as the threat is becoming very dire in some places. Florida, for instance, is now a global hotspot for COVID-19 and Miami is being called “the new Wuhan”. The state is also currently struggling against another wave of unemployment, partly because their economy is heavily dependent on summer tourism (which has persisted despite the spike in cases, but not nearly at pre-pandemic levels).

Florida, California and Texas are altogether responsible for 20 percent of all new COVID-19 cases globally.

Every state is fighting two battles here. Coronavirus relief efforts in the US are still seriously underfunded, and most health organizations here lack the resources to effectively test and treat their communities. But the problems that have emerged for workers and small business owners, like evictions and layoffs, have also been devastating in their own right.

In essence, the United States reopened in an effort to curb the nation’s financial freefall and ballooning unemployment. Economists predicted at the beginning of July that reopening would allow the US to avoid a recession, and all would go smoothly. These projections likely did not account for a spike in cases that would halt this economic rebound.

That’s not to say the circumstances here haven’t improved at all over the past months; currently there is no acute shortage of ventilators, and doctors have had some time to refine their strategies for treating the virus. Overall, the national unemployment rate is slightly declining, while working from home is going so well for companies like Twitter and Facebook that they will be permanently switching much of their staff to remote work.

By comparison, though, New Zealand took the pandemic much more seriously than the US did, and they are objectively in a better position now in all respects. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cracked down hard and early, closing the country’s borders completely, and instituting rent freezes nationwide. As a result they have virtually eradicated COVID-19 within their borders. A report from S&P Global also expects New Zealand’s economy to recover quickly compared to the rest of the world.

While this tradeoff seems like a zero sum game – as if we have to pick either our health, or our wealth – it is not. In fact, we could very well end up with neither if our lawmakers don’t proceed with caution.

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