Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, April 21, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, April 21, 2018 


Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Kevin Barry


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Merri Jill Finstrom

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Renee Quenell

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden


The tax season is upon us. I’m no CPA, but let me offer advice 
and consolation to my fellow taxpayers.

Q. Dear Tom: My CPA told me that a tax bracket is a heavy, 
metal object that the government uses to hit you over the 
head every time you succeed in pushing your income up. Can 
you elaborate? - Annoyed in Minnesota

A. Dear Annoyed: Your CPA is correct! There is one silver lining, however. The 
recent tax-reform bill includes six brackets that run between 10 percent and 
37 percent, but there is no tax on the first $9,525 in income, and the standard 
deduction almost doubles, from $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers, and from 
$12,700 to $24,000 for married couples who file jointly. If you have a middle-class 
income, you’ve likely seen a nice little bump in take-home pay. But taxes are still 
high, as the next question will reveal!

Q. Dear Tom: Like you, I contracted my writing services to a big technology firm 
last year. Well, I received my first 1099 and the taxes I owe are way more than I 
planned for. Why are my taxes so high? - Desperate in Des Moines

A. Dear Desperate: The short answer is FICA, the Federal Insurance Contributions 
Act. It requires you to make contributions to Social Security and Medicare. The 
7.65-percent contribution rate combines the rates for Social Security (6.2 percent) 
and Medicare (1.45 percent). When you were an employee, your employer paid 
half of your FICA bill. As a self-employed person, you must pay both halves on 
your first $127,000 in income - a whopping 15.3 percent, which is nearly $20,000!

Q. Dear Tom: Despite the considerable taxes we pay, why the heck does the federal 
government spend billions more than it takes in? - Concerned in Connecticut

A. Dear Concerned: Regrettably, there continues to be a lack of seriousness about 
budget deficits. According to , we have $21 trillion in debt right 
now. We are poised to resume trillion-dollar deficits in a few years. That’s partly 
due to reckless spending, as demonstrated by the budget Republicans just pushed 
through. But as the Hoover Institution argued in a recent Washington Post op-ed, 
it also has to do with entitlement spending. As baby boomers retire, Medicare and 
Social Security are poised to explode. Hoover says we must reform and restrain the 
growth of entitlement spending.

Q. Dear Tom: I thought it was Republican tax cuts that are causing the deficit to 
worsen? - Tax the Rich

A. Dear Tax: Some argue that point. Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and 
four other economists penned a Washington Post op-ed in response to the Hoover 
Institution op-ed. They say tax cuts and unfunded wars, not entitlement spending, 
are the biggest culprits in our budget woes. However, the Congressional Budget 
Office says the tax cuts will boost economic growth and create 1.1 million jobs 
over the next decade, which will generate increased tax receipts. It’s a complicated 

Q. Dear Tom: Let me get this right. After Republicans cut taxes and increased 
spending, now they are trying to push through a balanced-budget amendment? - 
Incredulous in Indiana

A. Dear Incredulous: As of this writing, House Republicans planned to vote on 
a balanced-budget amendment. The Washington Post said it has no chance of 
passing because it would require Democratic support in the Senate, followed by 
ratification by three-fourths of the states within seven years.

Q. Dear Tom: All this talk about taxes, debts and deficits is making my head hurt. 
Can we change the subject to something less complex? - Hurting in Houston

A. Dear Houston: Absolutely. I will now accept questions about the many conflicts 
in the Middle East.

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood,” a humorous 
memoir available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist 
and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using 
this column in your publication or website, contact or call (805) 
969-2829. Send comments to Tom at

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You don’t want to live in my state.

Sure, it’s beautiful. The weather is great.

And most people who live here are nice, 
good, successful, talented, smart - except 
when it comes to politics and voting.

That’s when a majority of Californians 
fall somewhere between crazy and 

For several decades the liberal Democrats 
that my fellow Californians keep 
electing to state and local offices have 
done their best to turn our paradise into 
Hell for conservatives.

Everyone knows about our criminally 
high taxes, idiotic environmental regulations, 
fiscal irresponsibility, unsolvable 
homeless problem and our Welcome 
Wagon policy toward illegal immigrants.

Lately we’ve created sanctuary cities and 
become a sanctuary state.

You’d think it couldn’t get worse out 
here on the Left Coast.

But the stupidity of our liberal politicians 
is infinite, as the supervisors of Los Angeles 
County proved earlier this month 
when they approved a $550,000 pilot 
program to deal with the local homeless 

Proposing a solution that could only 
have been dreamed up in La-La Land, 
the county wants to pay homeowners 
like me to let homeless people live in our 

Not in colorful tents and sleeping bags. 
In cozy new tiny houses or refurbished 
garden sheds and converted garages.

I think I’ll pass on the idea, without trying 
to make a NIMBY joke.

But I’m sure all of my goodhearted, Hillary-
loving, BMW-driving neighbors will 
be signing up to make the county’s pilot 
program a big success.

Keeping a homeless person in your backyard 
like a pet is the kind of solution you 
get from government when you live in a 
one-party state run by Democrats.

Unfortunately, because of a dumb constitutional 
amendment approved by 53.7 
percent of our voters in 2010, the future 
of Republicans and conservatives out 
here looks grim.

Most people east of the Hollywood Sign 
have never heard of California Proposition 
14, a.k.a. the Top-Two Primaries 
Amendment, and have no idea how 
much damage it did to our state’s political 

Prop 14 was an 
amendment that established 
a type of 
primary election in 
which all of the candidates 
for a specific 
statewide office like 
governor or the U.S. 
Senate - whether 
they are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, 
Communists, etc. -- are listed 
together on the same primary ballot.

The top two vote-getters - even if both 
are Democrats or Communists - are the 
only candidates that advance to the general 
election in the fall.

Though Prop 14 sounds like it was imported 
from Venezuela or Cuba, it was 
supported by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger 
and big liberal newspapers like 
the LA Times.

But the major political parties, the ACLU 
and anyone with half a political brain 
saw the phony reform for the disaster it 
has become.

Opponents charged that Prop 14 was 
designed to limit voter choice, which it 

They knew it would often result in two 
candidates from the same party facing 
off in general elections, which it has.

Given the Democrat Party’s large plurality 
in California, in the fall that we usually 
have two Democrats running for 
U.S. Senator, two Democrats running 
for governor and two Democrats running 
for many U.S. House seats or state 
legislative offices.

The politics of my beautiful state today 
are rigged and Republicans have become 
an endangered species.

A Republican’s vote no longer counts. 
The state GOP doesn’t really exist.

And a conservative candidate for dog 
catcher has to be a billionaire because 
she’ll get no money from the Republican 
National Committee or anyone else.

California’s only hope for a better future 
is that things will get so bad there’s 
a huge backlash that produces a political 
miracle in 2020 like the one that put 
Donald Trump in the White House.

It’s a long shot, but crazy things can happen 
in California.

Not too long ago, 
an anonymous 
commenter on 
one of my columns 
concluded that I 
took my stance 
on a particular issue because I “hate 

A couple of days later, a progressive 
friend who wanted to warn me about a 
hateful tweet aimed at a Muslim lobbying 
day at the Pennsylvania Capitol, jokingly 
observed that she tried to keep her feed 
“a happy bubble of the like-minded” but 
this one had slipped through.

These two incidents speak volumes about 
where we are as a country these days. 
We’re deeply entrenched in our own 
worldviews, taking comfort among those 
who agree with us, and peering cautiously 
over the battlements at those who believe 
differently from ourselves.

The schism is years in the making. But 
it feels more pronounced now in a time 
where bias confirmation is king, and 
whole communities of the like-minded 
(on the left and right) are no further than 
a click away.

An October 2017 Pew poll found fewer 
Americans, in the time of peak Trump, 
harbor a mix of conservative and liberal 
viewpoints than they did during the Bush 
era in 2004.

Overall, not quite a third of Americans 
(32 percent) now take a roughly equal 
number of conservative and liberal positions, 
that’s down from 38 percent in 
2015, and off the cliff from the 49 percent 
who did in 1994 and 2004, Pew pollsters 

“Reflecting growing partisan gaps across 
most of the individual questions in the 
scale - even those where both parties 
have shifted in the same direction,” Pew 
pollsters concluded. “Republicans and 
Democrats are now further apart ideologically 
than at any point in more than 
two decades.”

I’ve written at length about the breakdown 
in our culture when it comes to 
agreement on the basic facts that underlie 
our political debates, and the corrosive 
effect that social media has on our 
shared dialogue.

And now that we know that foreign 
agents were actively working to inject 
misinformation into the 2016 campaign, 
maybe that breakdown is more easily explained. 
Though it’s no less unsettling.

Still, in the five-plus years since I made 
the jump from being a political beat reporter 
to an opinion columnist and editorial 
writer, I’ve been struck by this notion, 
harbored by some (on the left and 
right alike) that it’s no longer enough to 
merely disagree with someone, you have 
to “hate” them as well.

The premise that I hate conservatives is 
laughable on its face. And though It feels 
ridiculous to even have to say it loud, I’ll 
say it anyway: “No, I don’t hate conservatives, 
I disagree with them.”

That’s because hating someone requires 
you to actually know them. And I have 
too many friends from across the spectrum 
for that ever to be the case.

Yes, my conservative friends and I disagree 
on matters of policy. And, yes, we 
debate those policy points vigorously. 
But we’re just as likely to kick back on 
our bar stools and talk about shared interests 
in film, music, books, baseball 
and, oh yeah, our children and families.

One of the great perks of my job as an 
opinion page editor is that I get to read 
- and publish - some of the best opinion 
journalism from all across the political 

Sometimes, the stances taken by the writers 
I publish drive me absolutely batty. 
Sometimes, they make smile or move me. 
But I always come away having learned 
something new, my horizons expanded.

Yet, here we are, with some of us claiming 
that we “hate” people we’ve never 
met simply because we disagree on politics, 
which, as has been observed time 
and again, isn’t for the faint of heart.

Disagreements about politics have been 
with us since Pericles.

Still, they can be healthy because the 
right kind of disagreement results in the 
kind of compromise that makes for good 
policy and law. The my-way or the highway 
that colors our politics right now 
isn’t the way forward.

The encouraging thing is that potential 
solution - actual knowledge - lies no further 
away than the newsstand, your public 
library, laptop or your mobile phone.

All you have to do is reach out for it and 
make an honest effort to engage in ideas 
different from your own.

It’s no further away than an earnest conversation 
with someone who disagrees 
with you. It requires you to actually listen, 
but the hard work is worth it.

It’s always worth it.

Mountain Views News

Mission Statement

The traditions of 
community news-
papers and the 
concerns of our readers 
are this newspaper’s 
top priorities. We 
support a prosperous 
community of well-
informed citizens. We 
hold in high regard the 
values of the exceptional 
quality of life in our 
community, including 
the magnificence of 
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Integrity will be our guide. 

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