Category Archives: benefits

The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

Let’s Talk Teavana

Yes, I know, another post about tea.

In my last post on tea, I talked about shaking up the coffee-drinkers routine by adding tea to the mix. With different flavors for all palates, great health benefits, and less caffeine jitters, tea is truly a great option for people who are tired of coffee or want to add another caffeine addiction to their day (I, personally, drink both because I love having multiple beverages to choose from at any given time).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BGw-nFyoGAp/?taken-by=shadowforgess

 

Now I want to talk about bad tea, and how certain companies sell it by thriving off the terrible, terrible sugar epidemic in America.

Basically, I want to talk about Teavana.

Continue reading Let’s Talk Teavana

Looking to shake up your caffeinated drink of choice? Try tea!

Working, studying, raising kids, building hobbies, running a business, volunteering … the list of adult responsibilities goes on and on. It’s really no wonder that this overload of activities makes it a struggle to get up in the morning and stay focused throughout the day (the exhaustion always hits around 2 p.m. for me), and that’s why coffee is often considered an earthy, life-saving brew of caffeine and concentration.

This dependency on coffee is completely normal. According to statistics from E-Imports, a company that offers solutions and startup information to people who dream of owning and running a cute corner coffee shop, about 50% of Americans drink coffee. Out of the 50% who sip and savor a strong cup of joe, the average adult drinks 3.2 cups of coffee a day. I mean, who can limit themselves to only one cup a day? Coffee tastes good, and one cup probably only contains enough caffeine to get you through the morning (or, if you’re a coffee warrior, through a couple hours max).

Continue reading Looking to shake up your caffeinated drink of choice? Try tea!

Cough It Up! Overdue VA Claims Need to Get Paid

Exercising Your Public Voice- Post 4

It’s no small feat to deploy an army. Or to strategize and plan a battle, for that matter. The United States has a solid 237 year military history. We have one of the most powerful military forces in the world. So why can’t we figure out how to take care of our veterans properly? Because it hasn’t been a priority, that’s why.

And this needs to change.

The photo at the top of the page shows a room containing VA claims. Notice all the paper. Despite the fact that we can drop into a country and have fully functional, effective computer networks setup within 48 hours, 97% of VA claims are paper-based and an estimated 900,000 vets are waiting to start their lives anew and take advantage of the benefits they were promised to do so.

We made a contract with these veterans. As a country. They have fulfilled their part, but with an average claim currently taking 273 days to process, it can hardly be said that we have fulfilled our end of the deal. Re-assimilation back into society involves these benefits. Getting a loan, receiving an education, healthcare and mental health care are all essential.

Funding the VA has to be a priority, even if it means cutting our defense budget to accommodate these needs.

Use your democracy. Make your voice heard:

Let them know that we Americans support our vets.
Let them know that the current situation is unacceptable.
Let them know that may not be re-elected
if they don’t take immediate action.

For information, see Newshour’s report: 
Returning Veterans Face Huge Backlog, Disorganization in Fight for Benefits