Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The GOP on Taxes and Spending - An Analogy

We've heard the nation's budget woes being compared to the average family, over and over again, usually with an eye towards making the point that if you can't afford, you don't buy it. Makes good sense, but the other side is rarely mentioned: you can't afford it, you get a second job...

My point here is one of revenue and I'm going to follow the family analogy. The parents are the wealthy, the teenagers the middle class and the children are the poor. The family has a budget, the parents make the money and pay the bills, the teenagers do chores around the house and the kids live off the state. Make sense?

Okay, perfect. Now let's GOPify it.

Mom and Dad want to take a few more vacation days, buy a little more bling, dine out a little more often, etc. Hell, they've worked hard for it, might as well enjoy it. The teenagers are asked to get jobs to help cover the household budget and spend more time looking after the kids so Mommy and Daddy can visit Paris, New York, Rome.

The teenagers, new jobs in hand, aren't making enough to cover the budget holes left by Mommy and Daddy's smaller contribution, so Mommy and Daddy suggest spending less on school supplies, food, toilet paper and cough syrup, and further suggest broadening the revenue rolls by sending the little kids to work.

With the lemonade stand in full swing and the teens working overtime, plus doing more chores around the house, using less toilet paper, etc, the budget holes still loom larger. Mommy and Daddy's answer - a few more parental holidays, further cuts to household spending, plus a couple more firearms for home protection.

Tax revenue is the way our federal government pays for things to keep our house in order. It uses tax dollars to pay for the FAA, the FDA, the Forest Service meteorologists who help schedule timber burns so you don't have to suck smoke, the roads you drive on, the National Guard troops working to clean up down in the gulf states, and on, and on, and on. With everyone losing their jobs, revenue plummets, yet the GOP has taken new revenue off the table. Closing loopholes, expiring tax breaks for the wealthy, all are off the table. Further, they fight time and time again to reduce the amount paid by the wealthy and big corporations.

The GOP wants to fix our economy by spending less on running our country, asking more of the middle class and broadening the tax base to include taxing the very poor. I cry BULLSHIT!

I'm starting to wend a ways off topic, but I need a good rant, and the GOP needs to hear it.

Over the last 67 years corporate income taxes have gone from 35% of federal revenue to only 7.9%. The very rich get off cheap because capital gains aren't treated as income, and they hide the rest offshore. Big auto, big oil, big bottom vulture capitalists pay less than the middle and it stinks - and I'm a business owner!

You think I'm worried about the $.20 extra I pay each year to help ensure Pell grants are still available, and not the $100s I pay to cover tax breaks given to some of the biggest corporations in America, or the huge chunk of change I contributed to the auto and banking bailouts, or maybe the huge job losses from poor regulation of Wall Street and the repeal of Glass–Steagall?

The GOP wants to regulate my personal life, say who I can marry, impose their god on me, deny me something so simple as a game of nickel-ante poker on my home computer, deny women the right to choose even in cases of rape, and a million other personal regulations, but they want to eliminate regulations on industry. How the hell does that make any sense?

Why would I trust a party that wants to tell me what I can and can't do, while stripping every protection we have, protections that ensure clean air, clean water, due process, voting rights, etc.

Screw you, GOP...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gmail Doesn't Get It

In another life, when I'm not ranting and raving about this or that, I work in Internet retail. The company I work for sells stuff through a secure website with a shopping cart and ships product to customers around the world. Now let's bring Gmail into the conversation.

As part of the sales/shipping cycle we communicate with our customers via email. First, at the point of sale we send the customer an order confirmation email listing the products they ordered, the amount they paid and the shipping address they provided - no links, no ads, nothing but the basics of the customer's order for their records and review. We also then send the customer their tracking number at the time their order ships - again with no ads or other BS.

Along with direct replies to customer service inquiries that's the sum total of the emails we send, but Gmail has decided to spam them. The company has jumped through all of Gmail's hoops, sent several inquiries and gained no traction whatsoever.

The end result has been a glut of angry calls and emails complaining: "You've taken the money off my card, but I never got a confirmation or anything - what's the deal?"

Okay, all fine and dandy, I have a valid complaint, but I've asserted that Gmail doesn't get it. I can back that up with basic logic.

Gmail has aggressive spam filters so that Gmail users don't have to scroll through page after page of spam - a good goal by any account. Unfortunately, the filters have gone one tick too far and now online merchants are stuck telling Gmail users "please check your spam folder, scroll through page after page of spam and mark the order confirmation email as not spam, or you'll never get the tracking number either."

Gmail's filters, designed to protect users from seeing all that spam, are now so aggressive that false positives are forcing users to review their spam folders. Rather than seeing a couple unfiltered spam emails in their inboxes, Gmail users are now forced to scroll through hundreds of spam emails to find a needle in a haystack...