Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Discussions with liberals

I spend a lot of time reading as much as I can from both sides of the political aisle so that I can keep myself properly informed. It is a great way to make sure that I am able to form my own opinions. At times though it is very frustrating when I run across an article in a newspaper that is so factually inept that my first instinct is to go into the comment section of the website to try and make my case. This was the case when I read the article entitled "Smearing like it's 2003" by E. J. Dionne Jr. It appeared in Mondays Washington Post, and when I went into the comments section I quickly decided to give up any attempt at correction or even sanity. The absolute drivel and outright filth in the comments section was an eye opener.

So this brings up a question that I have not found an answer to; How do you hold a rational political discussion with a liberal? My original thought for this post was to take apart the article line by line and refute it with facts. But, after reading the comments another thought came to me. I really don't know what the answer is because every time I have tried the discussion quickly disintegrates into an emotional rant or worse, name calling. At this point I have two choices; either try to continue the discussion without sinking to their level or; laugh and walk away from the whole thing.

If you try and continue it is very hard to stick to facts (they have stopped listening by now anyway), and once the inevitable name calling starts it is over anyway. It is funny to note that name calling is always the end result from the left.

I decided to try the "laugh and walk away" tactic. I must say that the results are much more satisfying. You still end up with a few names thrown at your back, but it is fun to hear the frustration.

The only civil conversation I had was with a professor through email. I didn't get any names thrown at me, but I also never got any answers from him. He started with a question which I answered with great detail and loaded with facts. I ended with a question for him to answer, but got nothing in response except for three more questions. I let this continue one more time and yet again got nothing but questions. In the end he did compliment me on my knowledge and said I could have a PHD in political science. This was all fine and good, but he still refused to ever support his positions. I never got any answers from him. I expected more from a professor, but that was my mistake.

I guess my advice is this; if you find yourself trying to talk politics with a liberal don't lose your temper with them, and never sink to their level. Sometimes the best thing to do is just laugh and walk away.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jim Doyle's definition of a tax

Wisconsin's Governor must have absolutely no idea how businesses operate or capitalism works. Governor Jim Doyle was elected to his second term this past November, and in both of his campaigns he promised all of us that he would not only not raise taxes, but would additionally put in place a "tax freeze". Okay, enough of you out there bought his load of bull to get him re-elected. I want to go on record right now and say, "Don't blame me because I didn't vote for him."

Doyle spent last week talking to various news outlets trying to explain how all of his increases do not qualify as tax increases. Some of his logic is sophistry, but some of his explanations make me wonder if he knows anything about businesses and how they operate. Doyle is proposing huge tax increases on cigarettes, oil companies, hospitals, replacing the 2% cap on property tax increases to 4%, and possibly removing the QEO for teachers. There are also fee increases proposed on vehicle registration among other things that don't get called taxes, but let's get real. If you have to pay something I don't care what you call it; it's a tax.

Doyle's proposals amount to a 1.7 billion (yeah, that B as in BILLION) dollar increase in taxes and fees that you and I are going to have to dig into our pockets to pay for. The worst part of the whole thing is the way Doyle is trying to "spin" all of this. He thinks the average Wisconsinite will believe him when he says that his oil company tax won't be "passed on to the consumer." He actually called this tax increase a "no brainer." He is trying to tell us that language in his increase would keep oil companies from passing on the increase to consumers. Come on, does he really not know how businesses operate? Businesses always pass on their costs to consumers, and paying taxes is one of the costs of doing business that gets passed on. I'm not picking on oil companies here either. All companies do this; if a company can't cover the cost of doing business AND make a profit they won't be in business very long. Oil companies will get this tax money back. They can call the increase to the customer anything they want and there isn't a darn thing the Governor of Wisconsin can do about it.

Democrats always say that they are "for the little guy." How, if that is actually true, can Doyle justify increasing the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 77 cents a pack to $2.02 a pack. Who is this going to hit the hardest? A "rich" person who smokes can absorb the $1.25 increase per pack a whole lot easier than a "poor" person. Doyle says the increased money would help cover the costs of health care and help wean people off of smoking. Huh? If he really believes this will help people stop smoking then he would have projected the money this will generate a lot lower. The whole thought process behind his increase is wrong. But, he knows that no one will object to this because even smokers won't raise any objections to it. If democrats really want to help the little guy why not out law all tobacco products? They will never do this because while they say they are against smoking; they sure do like all of the tax money collected on the backs of tobacco.

Doyle's tax on hospitals amounts to nothing more than a shell game in which he not only gets to punish hospitals that do well, but also get federal money in the process. In a democrats mind any money that the federal government offers must be spent. Even if you have to raise taxes to do it. Where does he think this federal money comes from? Once again, we the tax payers have supplied the federal government with the money that Doyle wants. He tries to claim that hospitals will end up getting more money in the long run. That only works if the State makes good on its promise to give them the money. If I ran a hospital I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. Once again Doyle misses the main point that the cost of this new tax will be passed on to its customers who happen to be sick.

At what point will the public tell Doyle enough is enough? Are we all just sheep who do what ever this Governor says? If that's the case then we really do deserve the government we elect.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A New Beginning (final thoughts)

Whenever someone hears my story the response is always the same with some differences in the wording. They always say to me, "At least you got hurt at work...You must be rich now".

If this had happened to me in almost any other state it would probably be true. Unfortunately for me, the state of Wisconsin has it's workman's compensation laws set up so that an employee can not sue their employer for an accident that happens while at work. Even if it is proven that the accident was the fault of the employer. Even though work comp pays the injured party's medical bills and a percentage of their wages while they are recovering, work comp stops paying once the person is considered "medically plateaued".

While the system usually works well for a person that is able to work again after healing, the few who are injured to the point that they are unable to work again fall through the cracks. In fact, the only recourse a person in this situation has is to try to get work comp to continue paying them the small pittance they were getting before. This is only accomplished by employing the services of an attorney and it is a very long process during which time the injured party is subjected to various interviews and doctor's appointments in an effort to prove that you are either faking, or at least not as bad off as you think. It is very humiliating, and the whole process makes you question yourself. In the end, you end up either having a hearing in which everything gets dragged through open court; or, you settle with work comp and end up with a percentage of a percentage of what you were making before you got hurt.

You see, if the ladder that broke had been purchased by my company, in other words an outside vendor, then both my employer and myself could have sued that vendor. My employer would have recouped their work comp expenses, and I could have sued for lots and lots of money. The first question my employer's work comp insurance carrier asked me was, "Where did the ladder come from?" Since Quad built the ladder themselves I was out of luck.

They (Quad) even told me that the wooden ladder was rotten and it was their fault it wasn't in better shape. Doesn't do me a darn bit of good. There was nothing I could do with the information anyway.

Once it became apparent to everyone that I couldn't work anymore (I think I was the last one to realize) I was no longer a productive employee. All of the friends that I had from work stopped contacting me because I was now just a liability and a number to the company.

I never expected flowers or anything from the company during any of my four surgeries and stays in the hospital. A card would have been nice, or any sign at all that they were sorry.

I worked for a huge company, and even though they didn't legally owe me anything, they could have made some sort of good will gesture. Everyone raves about what a great company they are to work for...Just don't get hurt badly...some wounds heal more slowly than others.

A New Beginning (part 2)

Years have passed since my accident, and time has granted perspective. Yes, it took me a good five years to come to terms with what happened to me. But, I will say this now; I would not change what happened to me back then. By becoming disabled at a young age with young children I was handed a gift. I was "forced" into becoming a stay-at-home dad while my wife went into the workforce. The gift was being able to be home and watch my two young children grow into the people they are today. I was able to form a bond with my kids that most men are not able to achieve. Sure, I had to deal with the guilt of my wife becoming the bread winner of the family, but where is it written that the man must be the sole provider? We as men put pressure on ourselves, and more often than not we judge and define ourselves by what we do for a living. My family doctor told me at the beginning of my ordeal that I needed to be careful of slipping into a depression. The reason he said was that men define themselves by what they do and if a man loses the ability to work they also lose their measuring device. It turned out to be very good advice as I battled through my own depression.

I am now able to define myself not just by my occupation (stay-at-home dad), but by the accomplishments of my family and the time we spend together. I also now feel the need to give back to others. I spend time giving back through Boy Scouts and other endeavors

It may sound hard to believe that I would not change what happened to me, but I really believe that I was handed a gift that I had to figure out for myself. It may have taken longer than some for me to figure, but it is true that "through hardship we grow stronger".