Tag: taxes

Choose Your Dystopia

Within the landslide of inanity, insanity, and alternative facts that has gushed from the Trump administration thus far, one true statement has miraculously emerged.

This was when the Minister of Misinformation said that Trump would renege on his campaign promise to release his tax returns because “people don’t care.”

And she is correct. Most Americans don’t give a damn about Trump’s taxes, nor do they care that he is breaking his word. Hey, most Trumpkins don’t even see it as the tiniest bit problematic that the president has myriad conflicts of interest and doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution and that pesky Emoluments Clause.

So it’s clear that Americans are just fine with the executive brand functioning as a get-rich-quick scheme for a select few. Hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if shilling for the Trump brand becomes an overt job duty for administration officials… wait, what? Oh, that has already happened.

This is plutocracy, where the ruling class derives its power from its wealth, with no regard for what’s best for the nation.

But wait a second. I thought we were heading into neo-fascism. That’s where a horde of grotesque political movements — ultranationalism, populism, anti-immigration sentiments, nativism, xenophobia, and so on — coalesce into a situation where an unpredictable strong man runs roughshod over liberal democracy. Good thing, then, that Trump has nothing but respect for our system of checks and balances, such as his adoration for our judicial system… yup. So maybe this is a more accurate indicator of our national predicament.

Now, you might ask, “But what about all this Orwellian nightmare stuff I keep hearing about? Isn’t that what’s going on now?”

 

Well, it’s true that Trump and his flunkies have mastered doublespeak. For example, they can claim massive voter fraud (despite a complete lack of evidence), while simultaneously insisting Russian hacking is a myth (despite an overwhelming amount of evidence). Hell, they can insist the sun was shining when we know it was raining.

By the way, the president insists that “he has ‘solved’ Latinos’ fears of being under attack by his administration.” That, my friends, is impressive 1984 jamming.

Of course, it’s also possible that we are also living in an autocracy, which is a system of government where one person rules with absolute power.

As some commentators have pointed out, “Trump will try hard during his presidency to create an atmosphere of personal munificence, in which graft does not matter, because rules and institutions do not matter.” And this approach “will create personal constituencies, and implicate other people in his corruption. That, over time, is what truly subverts the institutions of democracy and the rule of law.”

More bluntly, America has handed “power to a man who has spent his whole adult life trying to build a cult of personality around himself,” and that “everything we know suggests that we’re entering an era of epic corruption and contempt for the rule of law, with no restraint whatsoever.”

OK, that’s pretty grim. So let’s try another direction. Maybe all this is just America’s flirtation with kakocracy. You know, that’s rule by the absolute worst.

If so, it will not end well. Many commentators believe that with this group of reckless clowns, impeachment or removal of the president under the 25th Amendment are real possibilities. But even if that happens, Trump “will do much more damage before he departs the scene, to become a subject of horrified wonder in our grandchildren’s history books.”

And even some conservatives are saying that Trump’s presidency “will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars.”

At that point, we will enter a whole new dystopia — maybe one that doesn’t even have a name yet.


#MoreThanALabel

Recently, the good people at Simmons College asked me to take part in their blog carnival.

carnival-1

Well, how could I say no to anything with the word “carnival” in it? Will there be rides? Will there be virtual cotton candy? Can I get my picture taken next to the bearded lady? (Note: it is no longer socially acceptable to make fun of women with facial hair, so please mentally delete that last sentence).

In any case, it turns out that the blog carnival is part of the #MoreThanALabel campaign to shine a positive light on immigrant communities, defy labels, and combat the stigmas of being an immigrant.

Now, I am not an immigrant. I was born in New York City, which many conservatives will tell you is not part of the “real America,” but alas for them, it technically counts as the USA.

As I’ve stated many times, being born here is not an accomplishment. It is pure luck.

However, my mother is an immigrant. She came here from El Salvador in the late 1960s, and she has now been an American citizen for longer than she was a resident of her native land.

Many of my cousins are immigrants. They came here as kids and have become citizens, started careers, and raised their own children.

One of my cousins has done multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, really, how patriotic can you get?

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how successful the immigrants in my family have been. Nor does it matter that immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born Americans. And it doesn’t even count that immigrants pay plenty of taxes and have a net positive impact on the economy.

That’s because a huge percentage of Americans are convinced that their lives suck because of all those people who were born south of Texas. And those Americans cannot be reasoned with.

So while it’s great that the #MoreThanALabel campaign is working to improve the image of immigrant communities, I’m just too cynical to contribute much of an uplifting narrative.

You see, I’m through with trying to convince xenophobes that immigrants belong in America. That is backward logic. It is the racists who represent the worst of the USA, and they always have.

And before everybody gets crazy, let me issue an obvious disclaimer: I’m not saying that everyone who has issues with immigration reform or is a conservative is a racist. Again, I’m not saying that. It would be absurd.

But the racial element is there, winding around the debate. It makes movements like #MoreThanALabel a necessity. No other group has to take such great efforts to convince a segment of the American population that they are human beings.

Still, the good news is that immigrants will persevere. Each new generation of arrivals struggles to its feet and establishes itself as part of American culture. It is an inevitable process, and it will go on and on.

So, if you need me, I’ll be hitting this blog carnival’s Tilt-a-Whirl. See you there.

 


Cogito Ergo Sum

You may remember the big news that the winner of the last month’s Powerball lottery was a resident of Puerto Rico. When I found out, I glanced at my watch and said, “Offensive tweets starting… now!”

Yes, social media got a little more absurd, and a lot more bigoted, when patriotic Americans found out that a Latino had won the huge prize. We got the usual “I thought this was America!” and outrage that “an illegal” had won the lottery and just plain racist insults directed at the winner. Many of these thoughtful individuals were incised that some swarthy person in a foreign country — who doesn’t even pay taxes! — nabbed all those randomly chosen dollars.

But of course, as we all know, Puerto Rico is part of America. Residents are American citizens, and Puerto Ricans pay federal taxes including Social Security, payroll, import/export taxes, and Medicare.

However, those little facts are no match for ignorance, prejudice, and self-rightous rage.

Still, the idiocy displayed over the Puerto Rican Powerball winner was no match for an even more head-snapping display of stupidity, which occurred around the same time.

You see, the state of Vermont is considering adopting a Latin state motto. Plenty of states have one, and Latin flows freely through all kinds of US institutions.

oregon motto
But when the story broke, one news station was swamped with angry emails and comments from god-fearin’ Vermonters who “were mad not because of the change in motto, but because they believed that Latin was the language of Latinos.”

One truly doesn’t know where to begin.

Should we point out that Latin is not Spanish, but is actually the dead language spoken by the Romans? Or that English derives much of its vocabulary from Latin? Or that, despite their insistence, English is not our official language? Or that the motto “E pluribus unum” is…  oh, never mind, it’s all too overwhelming.

Linguistics, general knowledge, and common sense aside, the main point is that many Americans are prejudiced toward Hispanics to the point of absurdity. And they are more than willing to put that hatred and stupidity on display.

Well, I have one thing to say to this people: “Res ipsa loquitur.”

Basically, it speaks for itself.

 


No Relaxing Allowed

As I’ve written before, we Hispanics are known for our fierce work ethic.

Think of immigrants slaving away at grueling tasks that native-born Americans refuse to do. Or consider that last year, “the number of Latino entrepreneurs grew more than white, black, and Asian entrepreneurs.”

Yes, we sure like to work. It’s unfortunate, then, that so many Hispanics who reach old age have nothing to show for it. This is because “fewer than half of … Latino workers have retirement plans on the job, leaving the vast majority of them with no savings designated for their golden years.”

hammock

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


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