William Thien

Archive for February 2018

Because of the holiday I had Monday off and was watching the morning show/news/whatever you call it and the two talking heads, both females which I shall not name, were interviewing one of America’s best athletes who had just won a Silver Medal in a skiing competition. This was his second contest and he was very proud of his success winning the medal as all Americans should be. He was beaming with pride. It was great to watch.

So, these two talking heads were interviewing him about the great moment and ‘how did it feel?’ and ‘what were you thinking at the time?’ and it was all very exciting to watch.

Then, as if to derail the athlete’s magical moment and that of all of the American’s who were watching and enjoying his success and that of the country’s, one of the imbeciles interviewing him asked him something to the effect of, “so how was it getting over your substance abuse problems after the last Olympics?”

Luckily, the athlete kept his composure and he brought his hand to his face to keep from grimacing, it was clear, (who wouldn’t) and he responded that he was glad things were better or something like that. It’s not really important what he said in the context of this observation.

What is significant is that it appears to me that The United States is way down in the medal count during this Olympics. At least that’s what the sports casters are saying. And there really is no reason for it at least that they can see.

I tell you there is a reason. In any other country on the planet that athlete would be seen as a national hero. The gleam of the metal he brought back, Silver, would be seen as a brilliant, shiny gleam that brought great pride to the country as well as to the athlete as a result of his outstanding performance. But not in America! No, not with a venomous corporate media that is willing to destroy the very morale of every athlete at The Olympics and that of the country merely for the sake of ratings (and who knows if the “surprise!” question about the athlete’s substance abuse problem even did anything for the ratings).

Imagine the questions that arose in the minds of all of the other athletes on the team that were watching the interview or that heard about it. Gee, if I win a medal and get interviewed, are the media going to ask me about my personal problems, weaknesses? Has the media been out there digging up dirt on me that I don’t know about.

Imagine what that does to the athlete. You know what it does? It demoralizes the athlete. It causes the athlete to second guess themselves. Such questions by the media are the introduction of doubt into the mind of an athlete that must believe, that must believe they can do it, that they can overcome the incredible physical and mental pain many of the events cause to the athlete, that they can overcome a mindset of defeat in order to achieve success.

That question was such a diversion from the wonderful moment, so destructive jab, a poisonous production call (I’m sure someone on the interviewer’s headset told her to ask the question), the question was such a shock to the athlete and the viewer that it could have been meant to be nothing other than a slight, meant to be destructive to his morale. There can be no question.

Were I there, within arms reach of that producer or the interviewer, well ask anyone who knows me, there would be no telling what would have happened.

That was uncalled for. There was no need for that comment at all!

If you ask me, the media needs to learn a lesson or two or three or maybe a whole lot of lessons about what they are doing to this country.

Yes.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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The founding fathers didn’t see corporate America coming when they were around and there is one quote by George Washington that I believe were he still alive today he would have expanded upon a bit and that is:

“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”

I believe were Washington still alive today he would have added “and corporations.” at the very end of that statement.

The operative word in that quote is “abuse” as in “abuse them.”

Modern American corporations, particularly media corporations, often take in more revenue and have more power than entire states in the union. Such corporations are subject to fewer laws and have more authority and control over our lives as their reach is greater even than the borders of the land. Consolidation of resources and complete and total control of the marketplace means that such corporations can ABUSE, ostracize, ridicule, and even make it impossible for citizens to live comfortably and without fear of persecution or access to resources within a given community or the country for that matter, making daily life more uncomfortable, more unsettling than any government could. Corporations often act that way because they can, not because they need to in order to be profitable or to protect themselves but because our elected make it possible for them to do so, removing layer upon layer of regulation that protect the consumer and giving corporations carte blanche to do whatever they want, whether it makes those corporations more profitable or not. It’s clearly an absolute power corrupts absolutely thing.

So, were George Washington still alive I believe he would have expanded upon his quote and it would say something more like:

“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government AND CORPORATIONS.”

I’m not saying we should start shooting up corporations, nothing like that. Rather, I’m saying if corporations don’t act in the best interest of the public and individuals, they should not expect the protection, whether they seek it in the courts or the media, they should not expect the protections of the government and tax payers from a response in kind to their own transgressions against the people whether they be an individual or people in the plural sense.

I’m a capitalist conservative and there times even I believe that. Shhhh! I’m not supposed to say anything, though, so don’t tell anyone I did say it.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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If you watch all of the teachers being attacked on Youtube and of course you can’t miss all of the school shootings in the news, you could only conclude that being a teacher or working in a school is one of the most dangerous jobs in America today.

So why is teaching one of the lowest paid professions?

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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The thing about extremely violent video games is that often they are little different from the simulators the military use to train soldiers and airman to kill the enemy, except the players are different. The line between fantasy and reality is purposefully blurred in video games to make them more attractive to kids and the media knows it and is behind it.

You can bet if there was a video game that was designed to allow the player to kill media types, reporters, producers, cameramen in order to win, you would hear no end of screaming and shrieking coming from the media about how evil the game is. Maybe someone should invent that video game and make it as popular as possible. Maybe then the media will admit they are the ones behind the mass murders we are seeing so frequently since the advent of these violent video games.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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If there is any question that kids playing these video games won’t have the outcome society desires of the new generations, just have a look at some of these outtakes. And if there is any question that Hollywood and the media aren’t speaking up enough about how video games are teaching America’s children to kill each other, well several of these games have also been made in to movies. So the media have a dog in the race. Of course they are going to blame the mass shootings on guns and not video games.

Let’s not forget that when I say “the media” I am also talking about cable companies today and internet service providers who enable play across state and country lines using the internet connections they provide. With no parental supervision of this type of activity, it is only a matter of time before a child develops into a sociopath and displays psychopathic behavior. Kids play these games until they can’t stay awake any more. They fall asleep killing things, each other. They go into a dream like state killing. They are addicted to these games. Teachers tell me they see kids playing these games on their cell phones during lunch and in the classroom. See this link where a video will appear showing some of the most violent video games kids play:

To 10 most violent video games that children play

 

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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Why haven’t the media asked the question: “Did the Florida High School shooter play first-person shooter computer games?” All the kids play them today. Teachers tell me students play them every time they get a computer in class. The games are ubiquitous, in every American home. No wonder there are so many shootings. We had guns before we had first-person shooter games, long before we had first-person shooter games. Now instead of studying kids practice shooting at each other.

Reprint from Nov 8, 2017:

A while back I suggested that the reason a number of the larger computer manufacturers were chiming in on the gun rights issue was because computer manufacturers find gun sales to be in direct competition to that discretionary income which Americans use to purchase firearms, to purchase firearms instead of home computers, that is. I still believe it is the case. Yet that observation is only half of the story in my estimation. That’s not all.

What nobody in the media or anyone appear to be doing is amassing any data on whether or not the mass shootings were perpetrated by people who also play first-person shooter games on their computers and on the devices sold by those computer manufacturers and related corporations that hook up to televisions. Nobody seems to be seeing if there is a direct correlation, but we can all be rather certain that more people than ever, adults included, are playing first-person shooter games on their computers.

The data will show that for certain.

I believe there is a direct correlation with first-person shooter games and the increase in violent crime in The US. Even the games that are not branded as first-person shooter games frequently involve violent, psychotic scenarios where shooting unarmed human targets is involved. With each level, there are new targets as the tension on the screen builds and builds and builds until eventually there are no more levels for the addicted gamer to conquer. What do they do next to get their fix? Has the line between fantasy killing and reality already been erased by that point? Does the gaming industry know it? I think they do.

It is my opinion that the reason the media are not discussing the correlation is because the larger manufacturers of such games and computers that drive the games also own large shares in many of the media outlets. Instead, the computer manufacturers and video game manufacturers chime in on gun ownership to shift the focus.

I might add that Hollywood is in bed with the computer gaming industry. How many movies have you seen that were originally computer games? No wonder Hollywood is calling for gun control all of the time. Clearly it is a diversionary tactic. Does Hollywood know computer games and the related movies are blurring the line between fantasy murder and reality? I think they know it.

I would not be surprised if the families of victims of mass shootings along with a creative litigator could make such a correlation and began to take legal action against the manufacturers of such first-person shooter games and the related equipment used to generate the gaming environment. There is more money in the gaming industry than in the firearms industry, to be sure.

The manufacturers of the games are after all directly responsible for the “experience” and “the environment” resulting from the games, are they not? Yes, of course they are.

Instead of focusing on gun ownership in America, maybe we should be taking a closer look at the computer gaming industry and Hollywood. Americans have owned guns since the beginning. In contrast, an increase in mass shootings and the broad social acceptance of first-person shooter games are a relatively recent phenomenon.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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Two presidential election cycles ago during a debate with President Obama Mitt Romney made a rather famous comment that “corporations are people.” Romney didn’t mean that corporations are made up of people, rather, that the law views and gives similar rights to corporations as are provided to people.

Romney’s comment flabbergasted many in an ignorant population that was unaware of this seemingly peculiar legal arrangement. How can corporations be “people,” many asked? That’s ridiculous.

But it is true. The law views corporations as persons. Seriously.

The problem I have with that arrangement, that corporations are given a sort of personification under the law is that corporations, if they were indeed persons, would often be akin to historical figures such as Hitler or Stalin.

Corporations line up at the socialist government trough to reap taxpayer dollars while often treating the public like chattel. Not all corporations act like that, of course, there are many ethical corporations operating successfully, but you can bet if they can get away with such behaviors, many will do so. In fact, the law says corporations must act in the best interests of their shareholders and as a result, corporations often commit rather extensive social and environmental atrocities to achieve that goal, walking away from such activities in the future if undiscovered by the public, calling the result of such activities “externalities.”

Some of the most diabolical corporate behaviors, I believe, are the open sharing and sale of information about consumers, spying on consumers, spying on consumer internet usage, moving about in society attempting to persuade consumers through physical activities, innuendo, and suggestion, aggressive marketing methodologies, hiring private detectives or paying locals with access to enter in to personal quarters while a person is away, mocking individuals in advertisements because advertisers see a chance to increase sales by identifying people of certain cultures and values in a community and focusing on them to increase sales, as well as many other activities that I am sure you would agree are socially toxic, if you knew they were occurring (you may already know). The government does absolutely nothing to prevent such behaviors, also.

Letting corporations involved in the most egregious behaviors walk among us, if they are indeed viewed as “persons” by the law, is no different then that letting mass murderers and sociopaths walk among us.

What am I talking about? Yeah, Bill, what the heck are you talking about! I’m talking about proper regulation, regulation that is not in the excess but that may even enable higher profitability, regulation that protects the individual and regulation that protects the environment while simultaneously protecting a corporation’s right to conduct business in a lawful manner. The move for the last couple of decades has been to de-regulate every industry. In other words, let corporations do whatever they want. I think that is a mistake in the long run, particularly with regard to the internet and those industries that produce products that pollute the environment or that have a negative consequence on American society and culture.

Were a person to commit activities that some of our most influential corporations are involved in that person would be arrested. But a corporation, as viewed by the law as a “person,” walks away scott-free from such prosecution for those activities.

So, I just wanted to make that personal distinction of mine available to you, that even though corporations are persons as viewed by the law, many of them are the most socially toxic of persons, taking advantage of human needs and desires and abusing the public through anti-social activities, lobbying our elected to enable such behaviors by changing the law, and attaching themselves to individuals and the American public for their own gain while were a person to do the same things, they would not be among us for much longer.

I say all this being a conservative and believing in a capitalist system and economy. A candidate who is a conservative and believes in a free market economy like I do but also believes such corporate excesses must be addressed will certainly have my ear during the upcoming election cycle.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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As tax time approaches once again I wanted you to read one of my most popular essays, America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird. I have debated often about socialism and communism in The United States and how socialism and communism are implemented through the tax code and in that way their effects are less obvious, though still pernicious. I will be talking a lot about America’s tax code in the next couple of months. To my friends and colleagues who utilize the tax breaks I speak of, I say, use them. Don’t feel guilty for my meager commentary on what is unfair about them. Were I in your shoes, I would do the same. But know they must change. The tax code must be made fair. It was in fact the unfair tax code during colonial times that led to the formation of this country and I don’t see that things should ever change in that regard.

America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird

An associate of mine was telling me that he had received a substantial tax refund this year and when comparing it to mine I was rather surprised as it was many thousands of dollars more. During the time that we have worked together, he has received close to a year’s salary in total tax refunds more than I. That’s substantial and a bit of an insult to me since we have the same position and are paid exactly the same. We are not businessmen so we do not have a large number of operating costs we can write off. We both make the same amount of money. He is married, I am not, but that was only a minor difference. The major difference between his tax return and mine was that he has five children.

On his tax return each of his children represented a large deduction to his earnings and as a result, he received a substantially larger tax refund than I did. At first I thought, OK, raising children is expensive these days, why shouldn’t he get some help from the government (that’s us the taxpayers, by the way)? But then the thought occurred to me (I didn’t tell him and I hope he doesn’t read my blog) that his children are going to public schools and at times he has used public services for medical support of his family. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. It is good that we offer the best public education in the world and can provide medical support to families in need.

But to give him a tax break substantially larger than mine when in fact he uses more public services than I do, uses more services in a substantially greater amount than I do, seems like foolish and definitely unfair tax policy. What is essentially happening is that I am paying for his children to attend school and to obtain free health care. The tax break, the deduction that he receives is possible because I do not receive the tax break. In essence I am paying to raise his children. That’s how they offer him a tax break. They take it from me in some way or another and give it to him in the form of a deduction.

In the region of the country where I live there is a bird that lays its eggs in the nests of other birds and then lets the other birds rear their young. The name of the bird is The Brown Headed Cowbird. It sneaks up to another bird’s nest when the other bird is away foraging and deposits its egg in the other bird’s nest. When the bird that is out foraging returns to the nest, more often than not they simply begin incubating the Brown Headed Cowbird’s egg along with their own and then they rear the fledgling as if it was their own. Sometimes the host bird can’t raise its own and is only able to raise the fledgling of the Brown Headed Cowbird due to diminished resources in that vicinity and the voracity of the Cowbird fledgling.

It occurs to me that much like the unwitting bird who is rearing the Brown Headed Cowbird’s egg, the invader’s egg, a parasite as defined by ornithologists, I am paying to raise the children of others. If you ask me, that is unfair tax policy. Some might say, well that’s just the way it is, and I myself, I’m not certain I have a problem with that really.

But perhaps many of the problems we have with balancing governmental budgets, many of the problems we have with massive abuses of the huge system of entitlements we have in this country stems from the perception that people have originating from the tax code. Can we afford to have another child? Heck yea! It’s a tax break! And as families have more and more children using more and more government services, we as a country are at a loss for how to pay for those services used because we in fact give people a tax break for using them. In a sense, that is what is happening. And similar tax policies apply to corporations as well for conducting certain types of business or using certain types of resources, natural resources even.

No business in their right mind pays people 100 percent of the cost of their products to purchase their products. You will not find one truly successful business that says, “we will give you five dollars for every hamburger you buy from us.” Instead of you paying us, we will pay you. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Until of course it comes time to pay all those people behind the counter, the servers, the ones cooking the food, the maintenance people. Where is the money? Well, boss, we gave it to the customers. Well, where are they? Get the money back! They are at the restaurant across the street eating with the money we gave them. Well whose harebrained idea was it to give them the money in the first place?

It seems to me that if we want to balance the country’s budget and the budgets of all of the states and municipalities we need realistic tax codes and policies that address budget disparities, tax policies that somehow seek payment for services used and not payment to the users, particularly the Brown Headed Cowbirds of America.

It’s only fair.

Or, how about this? Do you have a Brown Headed Cowbird living in your back yard? Check this box for your standard Brown Headed Cowbird deduction, and if you are a corporation, double the deduction.

Copyright © William Thien 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

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This week’s pay will be the first check with the lower tax rate based upon the new Trump Tax plan that I will see any benefit. Turns out that I will receive an extra 2.81 percent after taxes, not as much as I thought I would receive but better than nothing.

The way you can figure out what increase in pay you will be taking home after the plan takes effect on your check is to subtract a previous check with the same hours on it from a new check with the identical number of hours, then divide by the previous total, and then multiply by 100, or:

NEW check – OLD check/OLD check x 100 = Increase in pay in percent.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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