Independent Democracy

Thought provoking commentary

What will you do with your tax rebate check?

By June, approximately 117 million people will get $600, $1,200 (+ $300 per child) rebate checks in an effort to “jump start” the economy. It’s all really a joke in my opinion. All it does is increase the national debt even more and if the “jump start” theory works, it will line the pockets of the businesses who most people will eventually spent the money with.

The plan is a national embarrassment. In addition to the $100 billion cost to simply give away money to millions of people, it also provides $50 billion in tax breaks for businesses. Are you kidding me? Unless a business is going under, why must we give a tax break to a company that’s already profitable? In addition to the profit the businesses will see as people spent their rebate check with them, we’re going to increase their profits even more with tax breaks. All this does is line the pockets of shareholders. We’re actually giving tax breaks to companies even though they already pay millions of dollars in salary to their CEO’s. We’re giving tax breaks to companies who fire Presidents and CEOs while they give them millions of dollars in severance pay as they walk out the door. Sorry, no CEO is worth $50 million a year in salary.

Where do people think this money is coming from? Do we have money tress growing on the grounds of the Treasury I don’t know about? One of the problems with our economy is the growing foreign debt and our government policy of spending money we don’t have in tax revenue. When individuals do this long enough, they eventually declare bankruptcy and destroy their credit. When the U.S.A. does it, we sink deeper in debt with an IOU to our children.

Imagine what our country COULD do with $150 billion. We could spend it on renewable energy initiatives and give away the electricity generated for free. We could use it to shore up the Social Security coffers. We could start offering free health care to children. We could repair the 500+ bridges in the country that are considered “structurally deficient”. We could upgrade our schools, pay teachers more, increase pay for our military personnel, improve mass transit in our smog filled cities, etc., etc., etc.

Now I know the $150 billion wouldn’t pay for all of any project I just listed. But aren’t those a more pressing “need” than free money to 117 million people and tax breaks for profitable companies?

I will take the $$ and throw it all in my IRA. I know that’s not what big government wants me to do with it, but that’s too bad. I’ll need this “loan” later when taxes eventually go up to “pay back” this Christmas in June check or when Social Security goes bye bye due to the money well running dry.

What will you do with your Christmas in June bonus check?

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January 24, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, Money, News, Politics, Random | , , , | 1 Comment

Zacarias Moussaoui tipster gets $5 million reward

By MATTHEW LEE and LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writers

The Bush administration paid a $5 million reward to a former Minnesota flight instructor who provided authorities with information that led to the arrest and conviction of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Two colleagues questioned why he got the money.

The recipient, Clarence Prevost, was honored Thursday at a closed-door ceremony at the State Department, although the payout was secretly authorized last fall by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Justice Department, U.S. officials told The Associated Press.

The reward from the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program is the first and only one to date to a U.S. citizen related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the officials said.

It is also unusual because Moussaoui, who was imprisoned at the time of the attacks, was never named as a wanted suspect by the program. The program mainly seeks information about perpetrators or planners of terrorist acts against U.S. interests and citizens abroad.

The State Department would not identify the recipient, citing privacy and security concerns.

Two administration officials, however, said the reward went to Prevost, a key witness at Moussaoui’s trial who has previously spoken out about his involvement in the case. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Prevost, 69, is a former Navy pilot who later flew for Northwest Airlines and goes by his nickname “Clancy.” He was Moussaoui’s flight instructor at the Pan Am International Flight Academy outside Minneapolis.

No one answered at an apartment listed for Clarence Prevost in a residential hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., an upscale Miami suburb. Calls to a number listed to Prevost were not answered.

None of the immediate neighbors who were home Thursday evening recognized his name, but a hotel concierge who declined to give his name said he sometimes chatted with the Minnesota flight instructor. The concierge described him as tall, thin, and unassuming and said he never had mentioned any involvement with the Moussaoui case.

He was one of several people who worked at the flight school that Moussaoui attended in August 2001 and who alerted the FBI to his suspicious desire to pilot jumbo jets.

News of the reward came as a surprise to two other Pan Am flight instructors, Tim Nelson and Hugh Sims, who also have been credited with tipping the FBI to Moussaoui and were honored by the Senate in 2005 with a resolution that commended their “bravery” and “heroism.”

Sims, in a phone interview from Fort Myers, Fla., said he didn’t want to comment “till we get a few things straightened out.”

“He was certainly there but he didn’t call the FBI. I have no idea why he received the reward,” Sims said.

Prevost said during the trial that he urged flight school officials to call the FBI and one day an agent showed up to ask him questions about Moussaoui.

Sims recounted meeting Moussaoui at Pan Am on a Monday, and said that two days later he and Nelson each called the FBI separately.

“Clancy had a part of it. Whether he continued to expand on his portion of this, that’s fine,” Sims said. “Today has been a very large surprise for me.”

Nelson was talking with family members Thursday evening and was not immediately available, his wife, Jodie Quinn-Nelson said. She said the reward “was given out to the wrong person” and said her husband was upset.

“We’re just kind of dumbfounded with what happened here,” she said.

Prevost and the others said they thought it was strange Moussaoui wanted to learn to fly a Boeing 747 despite the fact that he had little flying background.

After his arrest, Moussaoui sat in jail for 3 1/2 weeks on an immigration violation, saying little to investigators before hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or crashed in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11.

The Minneapolis FBI agents who responded to the tips were unable to persuade their superiors in Washington to seek a national security warrant to search Moussaoui’s belongings and laptop computer.

Moussaoui later confessed to being the “20th hijacker” and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2006 after a trial marked by numerous outbursts, conflicts with his lawyers and questions about his status, if any, within Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.

He told jurors he was to have piloted a fifth plane on Sept. 11 and fly it into the White House.

But after the jury decided against sentencing him to death, Moussaoui recanted his testimony and denied any role in 9/11, saying he lied on the stand because he assumed he had no chance of getting a fair trial.

Rewards for Justice, which was created in 1984, has paid about $77 million in rewards to more than 50 people.

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Associated Press writers Doug Glass in Minneapolis, Minn., and Laura Wides-Munoz in Coral Gables, Fla., contributed to this report.

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On the Net:

Rewards for Justice: http://www.rewardsforjustice.net

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, Military & War, Money, News, Politics | Leave a comment

What companies do you boycott and why?

Here’s an interesting question:

Do you boycott companies that don’t line up with your values or have wronged you in some way?

A few examples of this I can think of:

  • A person who believes in protecting the environment refuses to shop at a retailer known for harmful environmental practices.
  • Someone who avoids a company because some of their policies are unfair in that person’s view (for instance, many people think Wal-mart’s policies towards its workers are unfair.)
  • A couple who doesn’t buy from a particular manufacturer because that company promotes products that are inconsistent with their religious beliefs.
  • People who don’t support certain businesses because of what those businesses don’t do (such as they don’t offer benefits to same-sex partners.)

Are there any companies you refuse to do business with because of their stance/actions? Who are they and why do you boycott them?

I’ll start this off. I currently boycott Wal-mart, Fox News, and Jiffy Lube.

First I’ll start with Wal-mart. I’ve had more than a few unhappy experiences at Wal-mart. In addition to not liking the store for the damage they do to the businesses around them, low wages, lack of health care for all employees, and forbidding of organizing by their employees (unions), I’ve had repeated bad shopping experiences there. Long lines is not a fair trade off for saving 75 cents on a bag of dog food. Can’t they afford to open some more checkout lanes before the line gets 20 customers deep? After all, it’s not like they pay their employees much above minimum wage. (No disrespect to employees of Wal-mart. I have no issues with the people who work there. It’s better to have a minimum wage paying job at Wal-mart than no job at all. My problem is how the company treats it’s employees and the damage it does to a community.).

There was one time about a year ago I shopped there out of convenience and bought a bunch of stuff for my office. A couple of days later I went to another store just for kicks to check out their prices for the exact same items. Out of the 13 items I bought at Wal-mart, 11 items were cheaper at the other store. I was so aggravated, I returned all 13 items and haven’t shopped at Wal-mart since. Low prices my ASS. How does a company who supposedly offers low, low prices still make a gagillian dollars in profit every year? I really dislike Wal-mart.

Next is Fox News. That news network (and I use that term very loosely) is very far right biased. I’ll admit, other networks like CNN and MSNBC are not totally innocent, but neither network is in the league of Fox News. The outright lies and right-wing propaganda that spew out of that news department is pathetic. Just this week, anchor John Gibson joked at the death of Heath Ledger because he played a gay guy in the film Brokeback Mountain. See my previous post on the subject. How disrespectful is that? I’ve always said that if the acronym CNN wasn’t already used, Fox News could use it and call themselves the Conservative News Network. Then they could change their catch phrase to: Fox News, we lie you decide. Or Fox News, we lie you idiots watch us.

Jiffy Lube, it may be convenient, but I don’t need some jackass trying to sell me (each time I go there) an overpriced set of windshield wipers, a fuel injection thrust cleaning, a radiator reverse flush, an A/C recharge, or a brake fluid stabilizer (or whatever dumb ass phrase they use). There was a time I did go to Jiffy Lube out of convenience. But after repeatedly getting harassed over and over again to purchase one add-on service after another, that wasn’t needed, I just got tired of it. I would say no to one item, they would mention another, and another, and another, and another. They would go down their list of overpriced services and I would have to reply with no, no, no, no, and no. And it would happen each time I went there, guaranteed. It got to a point that I would always answer the right answer after every question.

Mr. Evans, when was the last time you had your fuel injector cleaned? Last month, I don’t need it done again. Next. Mr. Evans, when was the last time you had your cooling system reversed flushed? I did that last week, I don’t need it done again. Next. Mr. Evans, when was the last time you had your dip stick serviced? None of your business. Next. And it would go on and on. It felt like I was being cross examined in a court of law.

I finally just got tired of it and never went back. It’s been more than 4 years now and I’m happy to say my dip stick still sticks and my fuel injectors still spray (man, you have a dirty mind).

Anyway, please leave your reply if you have any companies you avoid. Tell me who they are and why you boycott them.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, Fun Stuff, Helpful Resources, Humor, Money, News, Politics, Random | , , | 2 Comments