This week I joined thousands of my fellow North Carolinians to protest the General Assembly’s extremely un-representative actions that are tearing apart the fabric of society in our state. People of all races and walks of life came together in support of voting rights, education, and economic justice. The NAACP-led coalition was truly a “big tent,” including preachers, doctors, mothers, farm workers, lawyers, elected officials, people looking for jobs, LGBT activists, Planned Parenthood, and more, all gathered to insist that the needs of all the people in our state be considered and represented by the General Assembly. About 1600 people joined in the rally, including 150 people were willing to be arrested as they expressed their opinions inside the General Assembly. The Raleigh News & Observer has extensive photo coverage online, which I highly recommend. It really hit home to me to see many of my friends arrested in this manner.
Since the Republicans gained control of the State Senate, State House and Governor’s Mansion, our elected officials have acted like the state is their plaything, for the amusement of their cronies and the very rich. I recently heard about a scientific discovery that haunts me as I think about the lack of representation we are getting right now. Scientist-historians at the Library of Congress have found a draft of the Declaration that shows the work in progress of creating a new kind of nation: Thomas Jefferson had written the word “subjects” to describe the people of the 13 colonies, but he then obliterated it and replaced “subjects” with the word “citizens.” This reminds me that our country really was a bold experiment that required courage and creativity. It was DIFFERENT to think that the power and legitimacy of a government came from the people, and existed to serve the people, rather than an all-powerful King. The Republican majority in North Carolina would like to act like the whims of the 110 Republicans in the state House and Senate plus Governor Pat McCrory and his “budget director,” conservative mastermind Art Pope, can dictate the future of 9.75 million North Carolinians with no consequence. The Moral Monday protests are showing otherwise, and are capturing the attention of citizens across the state and even the nation.
I am speaking as someone who technically might “benefit” on a very superficial level from Republican tax cuts. My tax bill might go down a little bit, but along with many people at Moral Monday, I see the well-being of the state of North Carolina as more than a slightly increased bank account balance. I certainly don’t want a tax cut for the well-off to be created on the backs of struggling families. What do I want to see? I want my child and all children to have a solid public education, as mandated by our NC State Constitution. The Republicans have cut vital Pre-K education for thousands of kids, eliminated a BILLION dollars from the education budget, and want to divert public school money to private school bills through vouchers.
I want families who are struggling economically to have a safety net to help them make it through this recession. The Republicans have slashed unemployment benefits as families are still struggling.
I want all children to grow up in healthy families. The Republicans want to kick pregnant women out of Medicaid, and rejected federally-funded Medicaid expansion to 500,000 North Carolinians who could have gained health care. I want my daughter to have medically-accurate sex education and access to reproductive health care as she grows into an adult. Republicans want to legislate medically-inaccurate, conservative political language into public school sex education; are putting up obstacles to health care access to teens (requiring notarized parental permission for STD screening or mental health care); and are attacking reproductive rights every chance they get. You may have heard more about the legally-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds in Virginia, but our lawmakers decided to stick it to women first here first in North Carolina.
Twelve years ago, my family was drawn to North Carolina from Silicon Valley by the dynamic software company Red Hat. We love it here. We plan to live and work here for the rest of our lives, but truly feel that the strength of our state is under attack right now. Businesspeople I talk to want to be able to hire people within, and recruit employees to North Carolina based on excellent public education, beautiful environment, and a healthy state. As a business owner myself, I am dismayed and embarrassed by the destruction being wrought by the Republican majority. 2014 is coming sooner than we think–and we need the citizens to stand up, demand to be heard, and turn back this tide as soon as possible.
“Why I’m being arrested” by Carol Teal
“North Carolina’s Tug-of-War” by Chris Kromm, Sue Sturgis, The American Prospect
What happens when a state becomes more progressive and more conservative at the same time?
Planned Parenthood’s “Mad Men” protest. “We like watching Mad Men, but don’t want to live in it.”
Legislation to Watch list by NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina
[I plan to add additional links and photos later but want to share my impressions now as a work in progress.]
Time is flying by. If you have kids in school you are most likely feeling the vortex of the end of the year approaching (or even here this week in some parts of the country).
The truest thing I heard as a new mom was, “The days are long but the years are short.” Now I feel the acceleration of time more than ever. Months race by, feeling like not much more than a week or two at times. I haven’t been writing as much in Mojo Mom mode lately, but a recent piece by psychologist Madeline Levine inspired me. In her New York Times article “After the Children Have Grown,” about the transitions beyond the mothering years, her concluding paragraph felt like a great jumping off point to me:
In order to continue to parent our grown children well, we might usefully acknowledge and start to prepare for the separations that start early and accelerate in high school. Gracefully and gradually, we must eventually give up our front and center position in their lives, learn to be quieter, to give fewer answers and to ask more questions. Our children’s independence is a reminder of how much we had to give and all that we have accomplished. It is a pleasure to remember that it is not a form of abandonment but an expression of a job well done — and is something to keep in mind as we move back into the center of our own lives, in ways that will make our children proud.
No matter how old your children are, what can you be doing now to prepare or the road ahead? It never ceases to amaze me to realize that for many of us, we will spend more years of our life in relation with our adult children than we spent raising them. Levine’s article touched me so much because she was writing as a woman with a big career, who still acutely feels the losses of the end of mothering three young sons who are now grown. It is a different perspective than we typically hear–even career Moms get the end of childhood blues sometimes–and her writing is heartfelt and eloquent.
I am disheartened by the female infighting that has cropped up around Sheryl Sandberg’s new book and website, Lean In. Unfortunately, conversations among women who have different perspectives have quickly broken down into women who mostly agree on many important issues calling each other bad feminists.
What is going on? Several things, I think:
* Pre-publication media puts out snippets of information which understandably leads people to make snap judgments before the whole book is even available to read. The media loves controversy so is also prone to publishing controversial excerpts (remember The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother excerpt in the WSJ, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”?) an then fanning the flames when strong feelings arise.
* Women are sensitive about work-life-success-balance-parenting issues, and judgments. I understand why. We live in a world where we are easily criticized for our “choices” (actions that may have been decided by free choice or necessity or circumstance) and we can become defensive or judgmental ourselves. I know that I get triggered by the ideas discussed in Sandberg’s book. There are two sides of the coin: it can be empowering to think that women can do more things that will help them lead and succeed. But at the same time, it can be exhausting to see how far we still have to come, and think that we have to do more, do more, do more….making ourselves acceptable through the magic of effortless perfection, an unattainable ideal that sets us all up to fail.
* Sandberg was frankly unlucky to have her book and website launch come at just the same time that Marissa Mayer ended telecommuting for Yahoo! employees. It is therefore easy to lump Sandberg and Mayer together as tough women CEOs who are giving more ordinary women a hard time, whether or not that is true.
* Is there a double standard? As high-powered privileged women, Sandberg and Mayer are being judged pretty harshly for not representing Everywoman, but would Jack Welch, Jeff Bezos, or male Silicon-Valley execs be expected to do so? In the case of Mayer, probably not, though it seems pretty unfair that she got to build a nursery for her baby right next to her office, while at the same time making a blanket proclamation that took away telecommuting from ordinary employees. In the case of Sandberg, who is consciously starting a social movement, she really needs to consider a wide variety of women’s needs and experiences. But we need to read Sandberg’s whole book to know whether she takes the whole system into account, rather than expecting women to solve everything themselves on an individual level, or just make themselves better to succeed in a man’s world.
As reported by Lisa Belkin on the Huffington Post, Sandberg acknowledges the need for both individual effort and systematic change:
“This is the ultimate chicken-and-egg situation. The chicken: Women will get rid of the external barriers once we achieve leadership roles. The egg: We need to eliminate the external barriers to get women into these roles in the first place. Both sides are right. They are equally important. I am encouraging women to address the chicken, but I fully support those who are focussing on the egg.”
So what does this have to do with my grandmother and the “Kidpower screen door”? I learned the hard way with my grandmother that if we have to agree 100% to be able to talk with one another, we are going to miss out on a lot of valuable communication. I loved my grandmother but I was really intimidated by her, particularly when I was young. She was not soft and cuddly, but flinty, dedicated, smart–and a product of an entirely different era than I was. Her mother was actually a women’s rights supporter from the early 1900′s, and I feel that I come from a long line of incredibly strong women, but my grandmother was a young married mother in Peoria, Illinois in the 1940′s and 50′s. She went to the same high school as Betty Friedan, but a few years earlier. So there she was in the crucible of the pre-feminist, pre-Feminine Mystique era, in may ways trapped in the Mystique, whether she would identify her life that way or not. She was very smart and college educated, but her husband (my grandfather) refused to let her get a paid job outside the home, even when her youngest child went to college, because that would make it look like he was not doing his job supporting her.
So fast-forward 40 years and imagine me talking to her about Hillary Rodham Clinton in the early 1990′s when I was fresh out of college, making my way in the world. I was impressed by Clinton and by the fact that she had her own work and identity. The one time I tried to discuss this with my grandmother though, I said something awkward about how it was inspiring to me that Hillary Rodham Clinton did more than just work inside the home and take care of her family, and my grandmother immediately teared up and said, “Why isn’t that enough?” I was so embarrassed for hurting her feelings like that. That pretty much closed the door on further conversation, but I really wish she was still here to talk to, because being older and more experienced myself I can appreciate where she was coming from: how smart she was, how hard she worked for her family, and how she operated in a world with very constraining options. But at the time, the differences in our perspectives were just too great to overcome. We would never say something hurtful to each other intentionally, but when we reached awkward territory, we didn’t have the skills to keep going without hurting each other. As a result, we were not able to talk honestly and to learn as much as we could have from each other.
So I honestly wish that my grandmother and I had more genuine common ground, and I also wish we had the technique of the “Kidpower screen door” to help us. I am excited to share this because my Mojo Mom and Kidpower worlds have finally intersected! Kidpower founder Irene van der Zande and I are collaborating on the new research project (and soon to be book), Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.
But the “screen door” idea is directly from Kidpower. Screen doors let in air sunshine and keep out bugs. The Kidpower screen door is a mental technique for filtering out hurtful language while collecting important information being conveyed by someone who might be harsh or insulting. If a teacher says to her student, “Your work is late! You are so lazy and you need to turn in all the work that is due,” that is a combination of insulting language and important information. The kids should not throw out all that information into the trash (as they would do with a purely insulting comment). They need to filter out the insult, being called lazy, but take in the information that they need to complete their work.
I am not saying that Sheryl Sandberg’s work is insulting, but it might trigger strong emotions in readers about differences of opinion or approach. The Kidpower screen door can still help. The Lean In book and website, might contain a lot of great information. It’s almost certain that I won’t agree with all of it, but I should not just throw the whole book into the trash the first time she says something I disagree with. I watched one of the videos on the Lean In website, the training on “Power & Influence” by Stanford professor Deborah Gruenfeld. The video teaches us about different ways to present ourselves, “playing high” or “playing low” status, and how both techniques can be useful. I definitely had a mixed reaction to the presentation, but I did learn something from it. It is odd in part because Gruenfeld brings to the forefront things we don’t think about consciously very often, body language, power and influence. It was frustrating and depressing to be reminded that women have to walk a very narrow path of safety–a combination of authoritative, yet also approachable, that is difficult to navigate. Too approachable and you aren’t taken seriously. Too authoritative and you are too uppity, or bitchy, or “who does she think she is?” But Gruenfeld is not necessarily trying to say that is how things should be; she is describing where we are now.
Lot of material to put into the hopper, and filter out using the screen door when necessary. I have ordered Sandberg’s book and I plan to post a full review after I have read it.
I have many thoughts about Sheryl Sandberg’s new “Lean In” project, but before I get into the heart of that discussion, I just wanted to give a shout-out to women’s circles. Whether you call it a support group, a consciousness-raising group, a sewing circle or a Mojo Mom Circle, women have been gathering to talk and plan since they first sat around a campfire–which is to say, forever. Doing it in a thoughtful way with a group of women whom you trust can change your life! I am part of an Advisory Circle of about a dozen women. We have been together in an evolving form for about six years now. We’ve provided support, inspiration, guidance, advice, and collaborative career opportunities for each other. Our circle has intentionally focused on career development as well as personal support, and we have generated well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars of business opportunities for one another. So it’s not all banana bread and a shoulder to cry on, though we are good at that too!
Women’s Circle resources include:
The free Mojo Mom Party Kit that I offer though this site is a good way to get started, particularly if you are looking to gather a group of new mothers. You can receive the party kit by instant download by signing up on my home page, www.AmyTiemann.com or www.MojoMom.com The party kit goes along well with my book, Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family.
The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and The World–The Essential Guide to Women’s Circles A classic book by Jean Shinoda Bolen.
Books by Renee Trudeau: I got to know Renee well when we worked together on the collaborative book, Courageous Parents, Confident Kids: Letting Go So You Both Can Grow. I appreciate her wisdom and compassion as she guides mothers. I highly recommend her books, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and her brand new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. Renee offers Personal Renewal Groups for mothers, organized through her website.
In today’s “Ask Amy” column, a man wrote in to get advice about the fact that his son’s wife had decided “(after three years of trying to have a baby) that she just doesn’t want to be a parent.” And the letter writer and his wife were concerned that they couldn’t get their daughter-in-law to talk to them about this.
Amy Dickinson rightly advised him that as much as he cared about this issue, it was not his business and “this crisis should not be mediated by someone who does not have a personal stake.”
But advice-giver “Ask Amy” missed a golden opportunity to talk about the fact that you just cannot assume that you know what is going on in other people’s lives, minds and hearts. What does “three years of trying” to have a baby represent? Obviously they were open to having children. Maybe she had a medical problem that she does not want to discuss with her in-laws. Maybe she had a miscarriage. Maybe they endured expensive, painful, or inconvenient fertility treatments. It could be the height of cruelty to ask this woman why she doesn’t “want children.” Of course it is an issue between the couple, to decide whether they would then want to consider adopting a child, but it is nobody else’s business.
I feel sensitized to this issue because I have been through this myself to a degree. It was easy to get pregnant with my daughter. During that time I was a school teacher, so my husband and I “started trying” in the fall, so that I could have worked through June the next year. Our baby was born at the end of August, so it took us less than 4 months to get pregnant. A few years later, we decided we would welcome a second child, but this time I did not get pregnant. I went in for a fertility evaluation, and the basic result was that everything looked fine, my hormones were okay, and there was no obvious reason why I could not get pregnant. The next step would have been to get a hysterosalpingography (HSG) examination,* which is an X-ray exam with injected dye. Honestly, even that seemed like an invasive step that I was not eager to take, especially it it would need to be followed by more invasive steps. Or I could have taken the drug Clomid, which facilitates ovulation, but might result in multiple births. We looked at both of those options, and considered the experiences that friends had with fertility treatments, and decided, “No, thanks.” We just didn’t want to go down that road. If I was trying to conceive my first child, I would have been willing to try more technology. But as it was, we had one wonderful child, and our hands were pretty full at that, so we decided to just keep trying and accept whatever happened at that point. We were open to a baby or another several years, but as it worked out, I never did get pregnant again, so today we remain a happy family of three.
I am fortunate that no one has ever grilled me in an obnoxious manner about why I “chose” to have an only child. IF it comes up, I usually just say, “we were open to having more, but it wasn’t in the cards. And, one was enough to rock my world.” So having one child was not exactly a choice, as in, not exactly life following my Franklin-Covey detailed master plan, but I have found that since there is in fact no such thing as an ideal life, I am happiest when I am able to appreciate and accept the pretty darn wonderful life that I have been given.
*Looking back, I know I could have endured a hysterosalpingogram, but my personal reaction to it told me a lot about how I felt about embarking on the road of fertility treatments. Today I just read that this exam itself sometimes clears out a blocked fallopian tube. I wonder if that’s really true. If I had known that at the time, maybe I would have made a different decision. On the other hand, this blog post “Hysterosalpingogram–the patient’s version” by moosh in Indiana, reminds me about why I passed on the HSG test.
Cross-posted from the blog at www.DoingRightByOurKids.com–which as you will see will be a major focus of my work in 2013. More to come…..
Visiting India can provide a shock to the system–the sights, the sounds, the colors, the social issues, often seem more intense than I am used to back home in the US. On this trip we landed in India in the middle of an unfolding social crisis, as the country confronts the gang rape and resulting death of a 23-year old paramedical student in New Delhi. The young woman has not been named publicly, but has been called “Nirbhaya” (“Fearless”) by The Times of India. There are many many instances of sexual violence in India, but the rape and murder of Nirbhaya has become a flash point that has launched protests and has people saying, “No more!” Protest signs featured in the newspaper say “We do not wish to be treated as goddesses. We wish to be treated as equals.” “Don’t you dare tell me what to wear. Teach him not to stare.” And, “We will not cry. We will remember.”
This heinous crime reveals problems at all levels of Indian society, from a power imbalance that puts women at the bottom of the heap, to corruption within the 93% male police force, and sexist comments and perceived indifference shown by the government. Large protests in New Delhi to condemn the crime have been met with official resistance that seems more concerned with the safety of the politicians than the urgent concerns of the citizens.
The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, visited Mumbai University two days ago, just after the young woman died, and he did not mention the crisis in his comments.
A spotlight is also being shone on the fact that a shocking number of Indian government officials face sexual assault charges themselves yet remain electable. Laws need to be reformed along with prosecutions. With over 600 rapes reported in [New Delhi] in 2012, only one conviction was obtained.
The attitudes and need for education of boys are being discussed. Quoted in The Times of India, a man named Sonu Nigam said “North Indian boys have a different mindset. If I’d lived there longer, maybe I would’ve become like that, too. They must be taught to respect women. They feel every woman will satisfy their hunger. Punishment is important, but education is far more important.” And a man named Ranveer Singh said, ” I’m here as part of the youth of the nation and I feel pissed off, ashamed that something so despicable has happened in our country. I am standing here as part of a collective voice I hope some positive change takes place now.”
Indian actress Leeza Mangaldas has a commentary on CNN.com World that I highly recommend. In part she says:
Misogyny has long permeated our textbooks, our pedagogy and our parenting. In fact, it runs so deep that it reflects itself even in our linguistics. The Hindi phrase most commonly used to describe sexual violence or rape against women is “izzat lootna,” which means “to steal the honor of.” Another Hindi word used for rape, “balatkar” (or “bad act”), is considered so erudite and technical that it’s barely ever used. (Its English equivalent would be “coitus” instead of “sex.”) So, for the most part, we’re stuck with “izzat lootna” — and the necessary question: Why should a rapist be given so much credit? Rape is a criminal act of force and perverse subjugation. When a woman is raped, her most fundamental rights as a human being are violated. Yet, she is just as honorable as she ever was. Honor cannot be stolen. It can only be surrendered. Surely in the act of rape, it is the perpetrator, not the victim, who surrenders honor. The brave girl from Delhi died with her honor intact. Her rapists will live in ignominy.
When one travels it is equally important to reflect on the lessons that apply to life back home. As I was reading about Nirbhaya and the problems with the Indian police force, I was also reading The New York Times editorial, “The Military’s Dirty Secret,” describing new research that documents pervasive sexual assault within the US military. Sexual assaults at the three military academies are at a record high. A survey of Afghananistan and Iraq veterans showed that “23 percent of women reported at least one sexual assault….Offenders were nearly always other military personnel, often of a higher rank.” Rape by one’s own comrades in arms appears to create an “unjust, largely hidden burden for women in combat zones.”
There is much more that can be said about the US military’s failure to confront and appropriately prosecute sexual assault–there was a great deal of reporting and advocacy on that front in 2012–and I will address that in a later post.
But to conclude this travel post, I will also draw the contrast of seeing Indian women contemplate arming themselves with more guns to defend themselves against assault, juxtaposed with news that the NRA is proposing more armed guards in schools to defend against the next Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
I can understand the desire for an immediate fix in response to these tragedies. Yet I don’t believe that more guns are the answer. You can see in the US military example that even when everyone is armed, that did nothing to solve the problem of sexual violence among service members. Instead, we are with the challenging, vital work of working on all levels of society to make a safer world for everyone. My pledge for 2013 is to finish writing the book Doing Right by Our Kids, in collaboration with co-writer Irene van der Zande. We are creating resources, online and in book form, that will help all of us find ways to keep ourselves safe, and make changes in the world.
The problem of violence has roots and tentacles in so many aspects of our society–from attitudes, to social customs, to laws. Because of the pervasive nature of violence in our society, now more than ever, I believe that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. That is a challenge, but one that I pose while offering strategies for change. In 2013, I invite you to be part of the solution, and pledge to bring you many ways to make the world a safer, more respectful place for everyone.
“Nirbhaya’s story: Why is freedom still denied to midnight’s girl children?” by Rupa Sengupta, via Times of India.
“10 reasons why India has a sexual violence problem” by Olga Khazan and Rama Lakshmi in The Washington Post blog.
Congratulations to Kidpower for the brand new new video that demonstrates their safety training in action: empowering kids to stop bullying, abuse and violence.
We hope you’ll watch the video and share it!
Kidpower teaches kids many safety strategies by having them practice skills based on the simple yet powerful principles, “Be aware, take charge, and get help.”
Learn more about Kidpower’s excellent work, and access free resources at www.Kidpower.org
I am writing my next book with Kidpower founder and Executive Director Irene van der Zande. You can learn more about that project at our Doing Right By Our Kids website.
I have the world’s most basic math question about the Romney-Ryan tax plan. It is so basic that I am embarrassed to ask it, but if I don’t know the answer then maybe that means that a lot of people don’t know it, so it’s worth asking.
Romney says his tax plan is to cut tax rates across the board by 20% and then to make up the difference in revenue by eliminating tax deductions and loopholes. He won’t specify which deductions he would eliminate until after the election, which is extremely unhelpful, but the subject for another post because my math question doesn’t depend in which deductions are eliminated. My question is about what Romneny means by cutting tax rates by 20%.
From Romney’s site, here is the description of “Mitt’s Plan”:
Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates
Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate the Death Tax
Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Usually in the real world, when you cut something by 20%, if you imagine getting a 20% off coupon, you would multiply by 0.8 to get the new amount. If you wanted to pay for a meal that that cost $20, with 20% off would save $4 and pay $16. I believe that is the mathematically correct definition of reducing something by 20%.
But I have noticed that when percentages get discussed in the news, politicians, pundits and reporters often just subtract the percentage. For a hypothetical example, say the news reported, “Death rates fell 2%, from 12% to 10%.” Mathematically, reducing a death rate from 12% to 10% is actually lowering the death rate by 16.7%, not 2%. (If in a population of 1000 people, 100 people die instead of 120, mathematically, 16.7% more survivors.)
So when Mitt Romney says “Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates” I wonder whether he is saying, if your current income tax rate is 20%, will the new rate be 16% (20* 0.8), or 0% (20%-20%)? That is such a huge difference in terms of revenue impact you absolutely cannot evaluate his program without knowing that answer.
Here is an example using current tax rates–note that because of the way marginal tax rates work the example is a little more complicated than I would like but here goes:
Single taxpayer, no children, under 65 and not blind, taking standard deduction;
$40,000 gross income – $5,950 standard deduction – $3,800 personal exemption = $30,250 taxable income
$8,700 × 10% = $870.00 (taxation of the first income bracket)
$30,250 – $8,700 = $21,550.00 (amount in the second income bracket)
$21,550.00 × 15% = $3,232.50 (taxation of the amount in the second income bracket)
Total income tax is $870.00 + $3,232.50 = $4,102.50 (~10.26% effective tax)
So what would Romney’s tax rate cuts mean? If “across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates” is accomplished by what I would consider a mathematically correct 20% reduction in tax rates, then the first income bracket tax rate goes from 10% to 8%, and the second income bracket tax rate falls from 15% to 12%. Then this citizen’s effective tax rate becomes 8.19%, and this individual saves $826.50.
Single taxpayer, no children, under 65 and not blind, taking standard deduction;
$40,000 gross income – $5,950 standard deduction – $3,800 personal exemption = $30,250 taxable income
$8,700 × 8% = $696.00 (taxation of the first income bracket)
$30,250 – $8,700 = $21,550.00 (amount in the second income bracket)
$21,550.00 × 12% = $2580.00 (taxation of the amount in the second income bracket)
Total income tax is $696.00 + $2580 = $3276 (~8.19% effective tax)
For this same taxpayer, if “across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates” is done by subtraction, this taxpayer would actually pay no income tax at all because the tax rates were 10% and 15% to begin with–the effective tax rate is 0%! That may sound great in one way, but the government just lost $4102.50 in revenue that will have to be made up for elsewhere.
For a million dollars of income in the current 35% tax bracket, would the tax under Romney then become:
35% * 0.8 = 28%, new marginal rate of 28%?
or 35%-20%, new marginal rate of 15%?
That is the difference of a very wealthy person paying:
Current 35% marginal tax rate is $350,000 in taxes paid.
28% marginal tax rate would = $280,000 taxes paid
15% marginal tax rate would = $150,000 in taxes paid.
Either way this is a big tax cut, but I would like to know whether in this case the wealthy individual would pay $70,000 less, or $200,000 less!
And it all depends on understanding percentages, math that you probably bugged your sixth grade teacher about with eternal question, “When will we ever need to know this?” And the answer is, NOW!
***When I find the answer, I will share it here. I will reach out to the Romeny campaign and see if they can answer it for me. Even if I get the answer, I thought it was interesting and alarming that someone like me who is following the election very closely didn’t know the answer to this question.***
Someday I’ll be living in a big ol’ city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?
This morning while driving to school, my daughter and I listened to Taylor Swift’s song Mean as we drove to school. On the way home I was thinking about Mitt Romney and realized this could be a theme song for him. I can only hope that his campaign has reached the point of no return, his Macaca moment, jumping the shark, after videos surfaced that showed him disdaining, insulting and misunderstanding half of America, while speaking to wealthy private donors.
The videos are worth watching, and I encourage you to do so. Mother Jones magazine received and published the videos and they are still releasing more secret videos.
There is so much being written about the videos that I will keep my response relatively short, but I was struck by several points:
• In the videos, Romney finally seems relaxed and genuine, speaking off the cuff to a group of wealthy donors. He does not seem stiff, robotic and scripted. Unfortunately, the Real Romney comes across as devoid of compassion and understanding for at least half of the general public, and one has to imagine, maybe he only really understands and cares about fellow Republican 1%ers.
There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they’re entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. But that’s – that’s an entitlement and the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
I mean the president starts off with the 48, 49, 40 – he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax.
• Romney could have been speaking about the 47% of people who don’t pay in terms of the election, but he really didn’t frame it that way. He could have said he needed to focus on persuasion and turnout of the 5%-10% of swing voters who are undecided, but he didn’t frame it that way. He didn’t just say that he would never convince certain people to vote for him. Instead he said “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Wow, the only way to not be a hopeless loser is to be a rich Republican voter. Romney really and truly only seems to care about Republican 1%ers like himself. Memo to Mitt: the President is the President for everybody in the country.
• David Weigel on Slate.com reports that the 47% who receive government aid are not a complete overlap with the 47% who would vote for President Obama. Many of the people who rely on government programs are Republicans. Check out We Are the 47%: The Lousy Math Behind Romney’s Gaffe
• Romeny is aghast that 1 in 7 Americans receives food assistance, but he only seem to be concerned that the government is spending money, and not concerned at all about those actual families and the pain they must feel, not being able to earn enough money to feed their children adequately.
• Who are the people who don’t pay income taxes? Many of them are the working poor, and the elderly. These people pay many other taxes besides income tax. And if they don’t pay income tax it is because they have limited incomes. Senior citizens have paid into Social Security and Medicare for their whole lives, and now we are paying them back with benefits they paid for. It’s amazing that Romney uses income tax as a measure of one’s contribution to society, since we know that he pays very little (no?) “income tax” and instead pays a lower rate of tax classified as carried interest and capital gains. For excellent coverage on this issue listen to this morning’s piece from NPR’s Morning Edition.
• Mitt has no understanding of his own privilege. It’s one thing to be wealthy, successful and grateful. It’s offensive to be born on third base and think you hit a triple. Romney says he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth only to the extent that he was born in America. But being born poor in America is not so great, to put it mildly. We have seen that the American dream of working hard and getting ahead is more difficult to achieve than ever.
• Similarly, Romney proudly said he didn’t inherit his wealth, he earned it. But his parents paid for his boarding school, college, grad school, and his first house. That is the kind of privileged head start it takes to get ahead in America. Peggy Macintosh has written about the Invisible Backpack of White Privilege, the advantages that white people take for granted and don’t even see. It’s like being in a bicycle race with the wind at your back, while other people are cycling into a strong headwind. You don’t feel the wind when it’s at your back, but it is there helping you.
So there you have it, Real Romney laying his authentic thoughts on the line for his exclusive group of 150 donors. But we’ll see how that plays out with the other 314,402,531 Americans. It should be an absolute deal-breaker. For so many reasons, now beyond a doubt, Romeny is not fit to lead.
There were many memorable speeches at last week’s Democratic Convention: President Obama, President Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama got a great deal of deserved attention. But hearing more than 12 hours of speeches, there were many other speakers who stood out–some of whom were “regular” people: Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus, Zach Walls who spoke about marriage equality on behalf of his moms. And I could not neglect to mention former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who revved up the crowd with her Detroit auto industry inspired zingers. She had a sound bite for the ages when said that in Mitt Romney’s world, “the cars get the elevator and the workers get the shaft.” During the 6+-hour wait before the President spoke, Granholm really got the crowd revving.
One of my favorite testimonies was shown via video. Edith S. Childs from Greenwood, South Carolina, tells the story of how she got Barack Obama “Fired Up, Ready to Go.” She created a meme that fired up a movement.
It is an inspiring and charming story…watch it for yourself.