Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Asian Earthquake Fund www.oxfamamerica.org

After last weeks protein diet, I had planned to serve up some “hot potato”. However, it is a sad fact of life ... world events have a way of changing things – reality has a way of telling us there is a time when we think, “there but for the grace of ...”

Such is the events and my reaction to the Boxer Day earthquake, resulting tsunamis and ongoing reports of the catastrophic changes to millions of lives – the body count now threatens to rival all American casualties in World War II.

Possibly hundreds of thousands dead in hours – euphemistically, “an act of a deity”; in reality, it is something which, based on current technologies, could have been forecasted.

The quake was at a point on the “Ring of Fire” where three tectonic plates join. The ring encircles the Pacific Ocean; movements on the plate transmit through Japan to both American continents.

It can, and has, happened here – in Alaska, California and Mississippi; the latter two are overdue for a repeat of the massive quakes which occurred, respectively, in 1906 and 1811.

In a world where we are intent on fighting meaningless wars, nature has a way of reminding us of that its own arsenal of destruction far surpasses ours – the quake approximated, or exceeded, the force of 11 nuclear bombs being detonated simultaneously at one location.

Whole towns vanished – like Maine, tourist and fishing economies – national infrastructures gone.

OXFAM – Asian Earthquake Fund (800-77OXFAM or www.oxfamamerica.org) – is one of several organizations equipped to help. For those still haunted by Xmas spirit, that an opportunity for a soul enriching gesture – one which would certainly meet the approval of Matthew’s rabbi.

The final business of the old year done, let’s shift gears – looks like governor’s reverse mortgage idea is being shot down; score one for the neighborhood economic Grinch.

On a positive note – well deserved kudos go out to the Belfast city manager for recommendations on the property tax reform problem so delightfully botched by our governor.

The award for applying Occam’s Razor goes to ... Terry St. Peter. St Peter, no known relation to the biblical personality, has posited doubling the homestead exemption as the most cost effective means of lowering property taxes. This would raise the homestead exemption to $14,000.

Noting that our governor has asserted his intent to affect an 8% reduction in property tax burden – with an increase in benefits for homeowners through the Property Tax Refund Program.

Utilizing St. Peter, the dual objective would be immediately achieved by an $10,000 increase in an exemption – bringing it to $17,000 on homes valued under $125,000.

There would be no attack on non-resident ownership or camps; rather enhanced reward for Maine residency – which might encourage vacation visitors to become retirement residents. Cheers to St. Peter for a KISS solution. Simple, logical, achieves objective – so we know it won’t happen.

Keeping it simple – depending on voter stupidity – can work both ways. Our President is out to prove that – in a very demonstrative fashion. He’s going to raise our state tax about 20 percent.

Did I hear a collective “WHAT!”? Yep! If Bush has his way – and red voters are all behind him – he’s going to eliminate the Federal deduction for state and local taxes.

For the average taxpayer, the elimination of that deduction means a 20% to 25% increase in State tax components – or about a 5% increase in the average total tax burden. Bush needs to fund his Crusade.

A one line change in the federal tax code is all it requires – KISS ... and he’s raised your taxes.

OH! He’s also planning to cut Federal Medicaid contributions, while making the tax cuts for the rich permanent, and borrowing $1 trillion (or more) to cover the cost of crippling Social Security.

Duck’n’Cover – In the 50's we learned to fear a red menace. A good Republican, Joe McCarthy, championed morality – reds he saw under every bed now own both White House and Congress. ______________________________________________________________________________

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