Wednesday

The Grooming of America

People often think that when the Holocaust happened it was overnight. They may not consciously realize they think that but many of us tend to think that Germany went from perfectly normal to killing Jews in a matter of days.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Have you ever heard of grooming a victim? By definition, Grooming is, “The predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.”

We are being groomed. Much as Germany was groomed.

The Jews began seeing wide-spread persecution almost immediately after Hitler took office as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. However, the mass extinction of Jews didn’t begin until after Kristallnacht (aka Night of the Broken Glass) in November 1938.

That’s a 5 year span of time.

During that 5 years, the German people were being groomed.

Many were outraged at how their Jewish friends, neighbors, and co-workers were being treated. Until they weren’t. Many remained outraged but kept silent. Many helped families escape; risking their lives to do so.

But many? Agreed with the actions of the German government. They had reasons to justify the actions; cruel though they may have been. The soldiers carrying out the progressively more heinous actions? Just doing their jobs. Not to be blamed. No accountability.

He who knows not his history...

God help us.

"First they came for the Socialists Mexicans, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialists Mexican.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.


Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."  -Niemöller

Homemade Tomato Paste

I sent my best friend a pic of my chili today which included a jar of my homemade tomato paste. Her immediate question was why had I not yet put that instructional on my blog.

As I’m clearly obligated to do.

Her wish is...almost...my command.

In the "good ole days" before I was a single mom working full-time and going to school...I would have just taken the time to make y'all a batch complete with step-by-step pictures.

But you're not getting that from me.

I will tell you that you won't regret making your own homemade tomato paste. It's easy, it tastes amazing, and is full of so much more flavor and health than the store-bought version. (That last part is totally scientific. I know because I made it up. But it sounds like it would be true.)

I mean just LOOK at the color in that sauce!

Homemade Tomato Paste, Canning

Homemade Tomato Paste, Canning
You can really see the color here after it's opened.
Homemade Tomato Paste, Canning, Vegan, Sweet Potato Chili, Crockpot
Tomato Paste topping Vegan Sweet Potato Chili
And no...making it isn't extremely difficult and doesn't even require canning. You can keep the final product in the fridge or freezer should you so desire.

Over on The Kitchn, Marisa McClellan does an excellent job of doing MY old job. She'll tell you how to make and preserve Tomato Paste and even has excellent links through her post on how to make and preserve other homemade tomato products including Tomato Sauce.

This blog is an excellent resource for those looking to cook from scratch and preserve foods!

Tuesday

Will The New Tax Law Affect You If Signed Into Law? How?

So many stories are floating around about what the new tax law means that I felt it was time for me to once again do what I did with the health care law and break down the changes for you line-by-line; as best I can. As with the ACA, this is a major bill that is way too big for me to cover in its entirety. As such, I will highlight the major areas. However, rest assured that I am reading the bill in its entirety. I will start with the amendments then continue with the bill from the start.

The likelihood that HR1: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has now passed both the House & the Senate with promise of being signed into law by the President, will actually become law is pretty high.

Because this is long, I will also do as I did with the ACA and will post this as I get each section finished. I'm simply working this around my life as I can and will add to it as I'm able.

For most of these changes, I'm not going to give my opinion on them one way or the other. I'm just giving the facts, Mam!

Bottom line, though? The lower class and lower middle classes will be hit HARD.

Shall we get started?

*Right off the bat, there are some obvious changes to the Earned Income Credit.

Current income limits:                                              New law limits:




                         Single     /  Joint                                  Single    /   Joint
-No children:  $15,010   /   $20,600                          $16,969   /   $24,969
-1 child:          $39,617   /   $45,207                          $15,000   /   $20,550
-2 children:     $45,007   /   $50,597                          $15,000   /   $20,550
-3 children:     $48,340   /   $53,930                          $15,000   /   $20,550

Plus, at the maximum amount of income earned, the amount received will be less. Current amounts earned at the maximum income amounts vs. new amounts at max income amounts:

Current income limits:                                              New law limits:

                         Single    /   Joint                                  Single    /   Joint
-No children:  $510       /    $510                               $3,928      /    $5,780
-1 child:          $3,400    /    $3,400                            $3,578      /    $4,901
-2 children:     $5,616    /    $5,616                            $3,675      /    $5,035
-3 children:     $6,318    /    $6,318                            $4,456      /    $6,103

The new system is clearly designed to favor and reward those who are married and those with no children; regardless of marital status.

*Minimum tax rates & taxes due on higher income brackets defined as incomes starting at $200,000 increases. (All of the numbers below use standard deductions rather than itemized for simplicity. I have also rounded the numbers for simplicity and space.)

                                                           2016 tax tables:             New law tax tables:

Ind:         $190K-$413K         $46K   +33% over $190K                    n/a
Ind:         $413K-$415K         $120K +35% over $413K                    n/a
Ind:         $415K+                   $121K +39.6% over $415K                 n/a
Ind:         $200K-$427K                       n/a                         $46K  +35% over $200K
Ind:         $427K+                                 n/a                         $125K +39.6% over $427K
Mar, jt:    $231K-$413K         $52K   +33% over $231K                   n/a
Mar, jt:    $413K-$467K         $112K +35% over $413K                   n/a
Mar, jt:    $467K +                  $131K +39.6% over $467K                n/a
Mar, jt:    $400K-$480K                     n/a                          $91K +35% over $400K
Mar, jt:    $480K+                               n/a                          $119K +39.6% over $480K 
Mar, sep: $116K-$207K        $26K  +33% over $116K                     n/a
Mar, sep: $207K-$233K        $56K  +35% over $207K                     n/a
Mar, sep: $233K+                  $65K  +39.6% over $233K                  n/a
Mar, sep: $200K-$240K                    n/a                          $46K +35% over $200K
Mar, sep: $240K+                              n/a                          $60K +39.6% over $240K
HOH:      $130K-$211K       $27K   +28% over $130K                     n/a
HOH:      $211K-$413K       $49K   +33% over $211K                     n/a
HOH:      $413K-$441K       $116K +35% over $413K                     n/a
HOH:      $441K+                $126K +39.6% over $441K                   n/a
HOH:      $200K-$453K                    n/a                        $44K   +35% over $200K
HOH:      $453K+                              n/a                        $133K +39.6% over $453K

Basically, unless your income is over $200,000, you won't be affected by this change. If it does, then you might be; regardless of how you file your taxes.

*The corporate tax rate is increased from 20% to 28%. If you think this won't affect you, as the consumer, even though your taxes aren't personally being raised here...then you don't understand how business works.

*A "charitable" deduction will be allowed for 25% of tuition payments made for "qualified religious instruction" between December 31, 2018 and January 1, 2021.

What qualifies as "qualified religious instruction"?  I will quote, verbatim,
     "For purposes of this subsection, the term `qualified religious instruction' 
     means academic instruction or training regarding a particular 
     religion (including tenets, doctrines, beliefs, rituals, 
     customs, and rites) of a type not generally offered in public 
     school curricula, which is provided by a teacher or other 
     instructor who is certified as having had significant post-
     secondary religious studies."
 
So there you have it. For the record (warning, opinion ahead) I don't agree with this measure. Yes, I am a Christian. No, I do NOT agree with this. I don't believe the government should be giving a deduction for some types of education if it is not giving a deduction for all types of education...and to that end, allowing those with kids in public school deduct expenses THEY spend on their kids as well. Because anyone with a child in public school knows that a public school education isn't a free one either. But I digress.

*The mandatory health insurance tax imposed through the Affordable Care Act is hereby repealed through this bill. To confirm all of what this bill repeals, I would have to go back and read the entirety of the referenced sections of the ACA which are being struck through and mentioned as being repealed. However, the only thing specifically mentioned as being repealed is the health care tax. As such, it is the only thing I will mention. That being said, it appears, based on the wording, that there is a large section of the ACA that would actually be repealed should this bill be signed into law. As someone who has benefited from portions of the ACA, I find this a bit disheartening. While I didn't think the ACA was the best solution, it was better than nothing. It was a start.

*The Dependent Care Credit will see changes:

                                                          Current Limits:                      Changes with This Bill:

Income limit to receive full credit:   $15,000                                  $30,000
% of allowable expenses:                  35%                                        50%
% of allowable expenses:                  20%                                        35%
Dollar amount credited-low end       $3,000                                     $6,000
Dollar amount credited-high end      $6,000                                     $12,000
Refundable credit?                            No-not currently                     Yes, this will become refundable

*Tax credits will be extended for alternative fuel vehicles. Previously, this credit had expired on December 31, 2016. However, this credit has now been extended to December 31, 2021 which means it should cover anyone who purchased an alternative fuel vehicle this year as well.

*The amount a person can gift you after death without taxes has been lowered to $9,149 per year.  After that:

$9,150-$12,700 = taxes $1,839 + 35% over $9,150
Over $12,700 = taxes $3,082 + 39.6% over $12,700

*I'm not going to list all of the details as it varies and in some cases, they've removed the amounts (odd) and have just left it open for interpretation (I guess?), but tax benefits have also been extended for the following energy efficiency items. Most of these had previously expired on December 31, 2016 as well.

-Solar electric (extended until 12/31/21)
-Solar water heating (extended until 12/31/21)
-Wind energy
-Fiber Optic, solar cell, geothermal cell...and I don't know what other kind of crap they listed here. Sorry, guys. This is way out of my league. I need an engineer or someone who understands this stuff to write this part of it, I guess.

*The President doesn't benefit by this act. Seriously. There's a section in there that "certifies" this. *eye roll*

*Permanent income tax relief for the middle class. Whereas the previous section laid out income brackets where taxes where increasing, this section details income brackets where taxes will decrease. (Again, all of the numbers below use standard deductions rather than itemized for simplicity. I have also rounded the numbers for simplicity and space.)

                                               2016 tax tables:                New law tax tables:

Ind:         $0K-$9K              10% of taxable income              same
Ind:         $9K-$38K            $928 +15% over $9K     $952 +12% over $9K
Ind:         $38K-91K            $5K +25% over $38K                  n/a
Ind:         $39K-$70K                        n/a                    $4K  +22% over $39K
Ind:         $70K-$160K                      n/a                    $11K +24% over $70K
Ind:         $160K-200K                      n/a                    $33K +32% over $160K
Mar, jt:    $0K-$19K           10% of taxable income               same
Mar, jt:    $19K-$75K         $2K +15% over $19K     $2K +12% over $19K
Mar, jt:    $75K-$152K       $10K +25% over $75K   $9K +22% over $77K
Mar, jt:    $152K-$231K     $30K +28% over $152K                n/a
Mar, jt:    $140K-$320K                   n/                        $23K +24% over $140K
Mar, jt:    $320K-$400K                   n/a                      $66K +32% over $320K
Mar, sep: $0K-$9K            10% of taxable income                 same
Mar, sep: $9K-$38K          $928 +15% over $9K       $952 +12% over $9K
Mar, sep: $38K-$76K        $5K +25% over $38K      $5K +22% over $38K
Mar, sep: $76K-$116K      $15K +28% over $76K                   n/a
Mar, sep: $70K-$160K                    n/a                       $11K +24% over $70K
Mar, sep: $160K-$200K                  n/a                       $33K +32% over $160K
HOH:      $0K-$13K         10% of taxable income                   same
HOH:      $13K-$50K       $1K   +15% over $13K      $1K   +12% over $13K
HOH:      $50K-$130K     $7K   +25% over $50K                     n/a
HOH:      $52K-$70K                    n/a                          $6K   +22% over $52K
HOH:      $70K-$160K                  n/a                          $10K +24% over $70K
HOH:      $160K-$200K                n/a                          $32K +32% over $160K

*"Qualified military spouse" for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Military Spouses is amended to define a "Qualified Military Spouse" as:

     "The term 'qualified military spouse' means the spouse or domestic partner (as 
     recognized under State law or by the Armed Forces) of a 
     member of the Armed Forces.''

I will read and add more later, but I'll have to stop there for now.

















Mall Puts Out Emergency Alert for Stranded Husbands

Authorities at Galleria Mall in Las Vegas issued an emergency alert today asking all wives, girlfriends, mothers, significant others, or anyone who might be lonely to please come claim the hundreds of men who have been abandoned at the mall this holiday weekend.

Employees at the mall didn’t realize the severity of the situation until closing time Sunday when they were forced to shepherd out scores of men from stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Game Stop, and The Sharper Image.

“We even had to have security cut off the line at Starbucks so they could actually shut down for the night,” recounts one employee. “I think that’s when we realized the severity of the situation. We let them stay until Monday hoping some of them would just naturally wander out and go to work. Unfortunately most are still here, eyes glazed over, as if trapped in a mindless prison with no way out. Every woman or child who walks by; they look at hopefully. I've never seen such a thing in my life!"

Currently, officers are questioning each man individually to see if he remembers his name &/or the name of the person who brought him. Pastor Bill Mac who happened to be among the crowd, “With any luck, some of them will remember a phone number or address too...but in this day & age, that’s a rare find! I don’t even remember mine!”

Friday

Parents Devastated As Children Falter in Faith


Devastated parents, David and Cecilia Robertson of Holland, MI. learned Tuesday that their son had strayed from the blue Wolverine faith in which he was raised. “We just never could have expected something like this,” David said, “You think you're doing everything right...and then...your children just walk away.”

Cecilia recounts what she could have done differently to keep her son from “Going Green”. “We never even so much as allowed the color green to darken our doorsteps! It just wasn't allowed! Then, I looked outside at the grass which we took SO much pride in. What color was it? Green. We ALWAYS had to have that stupid green grass! Could WE have caused this?! Could this REALLY be OUR fault?” As Cecilia bursts into tears, David tries to comfort his wife to no avail.

In Oklahoma, the Dunstans are facing a similar story. Despite decorating their home and kids in orange and black year-round like a constant Halloween festival to show their OSU Cowboy pride, one of their children has gone astray. Jacob explains, “All we can do is pray. We can just take our child to the Lord and hope that he comes back to the light.” Holly, “You want to support your children. You want to let them know that you love them, no matter what path they choose. It's really hard, though, when they have literally chosen a path that is completely opposite to how you raised them. I mean, you don't want to call your child a sinning, heathen, devil child to his face, but...” Jacob, “It really makes you question yourself and your parenting. I mean, we have 2 other children! Are we going to screw them up too?”

The situation gets far stickier when the children decide to go to college at the opposing institution. Jacob still shudders at the thought of writing that check, but supposes he'd rather his child have A college education even if it IS at the University of Oklahoma. The Dunstans are currently searching to hire look-alikes to attend their son's basketball games as they don't think they can bring themselves to sit on the Sooner side even if it is to cheer on their son.
 
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