Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, April 6, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, April 6, 2019 


Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee



Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 




Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton


Tax season is upon us, which gives us a choice: Laugh or 
cry. I choose to laugh. Dave Barry offers useful advice 
for getting through this trying time:

“It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather 
up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up 
that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.”

You got that right, Dave! For the sin of being self-
employed, I spend hours navigating a sea of receipts, 
which I share with my CPA, who tells me I owe $5,000 
more than I feared I would.That’s why this quote from 
an anonymous pro athlete resonates with me:

“I want to find out who this FICA guy is and how come he’s taking so much of 
my money.”

Officially, FICA stands for the Federal Insurance Contribution Act tax, which 
funds Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for some 60 million beneficiaries. 

Unofficially, I believe FICA is a Latin term for “hammer,” and the government 
uses that hammer to bludgeon the self-employed who have even modest 
success. Herbert Hoover presided over the stock market crash that signaled 
the Great Depression, but he got this one right: “Blessed are the young, for 
they shall inherit the national debt.”

In February, the U.S. posted the largest budget deficit in its history, adding to 
our already unimaginable debt. Somebody has to pick up that tab. And that 
“somebody” will be the young. Though polls show most millennials favor 
socialism, Dan Bennet offers hope that they’ll come to their senses as those 
massive bills come due: “There’s nothing wrong with the younger generation 
that becoming taxpayers won’t cure.”

Two quotes posted on the IRS website particularly agitated me:

“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.’’ - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. 
Supreme Court Justice 

“The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence 
of government.’’ - James Madison, U.S. president 

Hey, Ollie, I don’t mind paying taxes for a civilized society. It’s paying for the 
uncivilized part that grates on me. And Jimmy, I’m happy our government 
exists, but does it have to be so big? Three of our thinkers make great sense, 

“What the government gives, it must first take away.” - John S. Coleman

“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The 
taxidermist takes only your skin.” - Mark Twain

“The best things in life are tax free.” - Joseph Bonkowski

The great Will Rogers’ wit and wisdom is always helpful at tax time: “It costs 
10 times more to govern us than it used to, and we are not governed one-tenth 
as good.”

“The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf.”

“The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time 
Congress meets.”

I wish you and all Americans the best of luck as you sort through receipts and 
curse about never-ending tax obligations. 

Here’s an old joke to help cheer you up: 

The IRS commissioner is on a D.C. sidewalk. A mugger jumps out of an alley 
and says, “Give me all your money!” 

The commissioner says, “You can’t do this to me! I run the IRS.” 

“In that case,” says the mugger, “give me all of MY money!”

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood,” a humorous 
memoir available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor 

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What do most Americans know about science?

If a March 28 Pew Research Center poll is to be believed - not 
nearly enough. And at a time when knowledge and facts are 
under assault as they have not been in recent memory, that’s 
a problem.

On the upside, about eight in 10 respondents to the new Pew 
poll knew that increase resistance is one of the big concerns about the overuse of 
antibiotics.And more than three-quarters know that an “incubation period” is the 
time when a person has an infection - but isn’t showing any visible signs of it.

But only about four in 10 people were able to correctly identify the main components 
of antacids. Those are “bases.” And I’ll admit, I’d forgotten that one.

In general, “there are striking differences in levels of science knowledge by education, 
as well as by racial and ethnic group,” Pew researchers found. “Men tend to 
score higher than women on the science knowledge scale, but gender differences 
are not consistent across questions in the scale.” And here’s the finding that sticks 
out: Pew researchers found that “political party groups are roughly similar in their 
overall levels of science knowledge - although conservative Republicans tend to 
score higher on the scale than do their more moderate counterparts.”

That matters because scientific issues of huge importance now inform our policy 

In Pennsylvania last week, for instance, a self-described “climate contrarian” who 
acknowledges that human activity is heating the Earth, but who - unlike a majority 
of scientists - also believes the potential consequences are overblown, got a star 
turn before the state House’s oversight committee on environmental issues.

Despite a scientific consensus to the contrary, Gregory Wrightstone, a geologist 
with ties to the natural gas industry, spent an hour arguing that increased carbon 
dioxide in the atmosphere is a good thing.

Encouragingly, based on a December 2018 Morning Consult/Politico poll, more 
Americans find such views as Wrightstone’s total poppycock - even with that 
knowledge gap identified by the Pew poll. They agree that climate change is caused 
by human activity and they’re concerned by the consequences. More than two-
thirds of respondents to the Morning Consult/Politico poll were concerned about 
the results of last year’s National Climate Assessment, which says climate change 
could cause billions of dollars in economic losses. But less than half the Republican 
respondents to the poll said they were worried about its findings, compared to 87 
percent of Democrats and two-thirds of independents.

Republican respondents to the poll were “about as likely to consider President Donald 
Trump” as credible on environmental matters as they were scientists. Trump, 
by the way, expressed skepticism on the study by the government’s own scientists.

And this is where science education comes into play. 

While there’s a renewed push by both policymakers and educators to stress the importance 
of “STEM” education (or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), 
the data suggests we still have some catching up to do.

In 2017, Pew researchers found that American students tended to fall into the 
middle of the international pack on math, science, and reading, according to one 
worldwide benchmark. Given that, it’s not surprising that the Pew poll finds that 
greater levels of scientific fluency correspond with greater levels of education. 
Americans with a post-graduate degree, for instance, got about four more questions 
correct than those with a high school diploma or less, Pew found. So what’s 
the cure?

It’s on the media to fill in gaps in knowledge - seven in 10 respondents to a 2017 
Pew Poll got their information from press accounts. And ditto for museums. 62 
percent came across their information that way in that same 2017 poll.

It’s often said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat its 

The consequences of failing to pay heed to science are even greater.

An award-winning political journalist, John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania 
Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at 
and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.



Donald Trump is celebrating his fake “complete exoneration” 
by pledging anew to throw 20 million people off their 
Obamacare coverage. Is this guy politically stupid, or what?

What a gift for the Democrats, who recently scored their 
biggest House midterm sweep since 1974 by decimating 
the GOP on health care. If Trump truly intends to revive 
the issue in 2020 by taking yet another crack at Obamacare 
(which, after nine years, is more popular than ever), Democrats 
are only too happy to oblige him. Senate Republicans 
know that he’s nuts to do so. They have no appetite 
to launch another kill-Obamacare crusade, having failed in 
2017, and having failed for nine years to come up with a replacement plan. But, 
as always, they’d rather quake in their boots than tell Trump the truth: That an 
umpteenth assault on the health law will imperil him and them in 2020.

They prefer to fret in private. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, has 
reportedly blamed the 2018 blue wave on the Trump-GOP’s efforts to gut Obamacare 
- with good reason. Because voters trust the Democrats on health care by 
a decisive margin, health care was the top-ranked issue in the midterms, and of 
those voters who ranked it highest, 75 percent chose Democratic candidates. Yet 
Trump still seems to think he has powers of persuasion beyond his base.

I’m frankly puzzled: If he couldn’t kill Obamacare when the GOP held the White 
House and both congressional chambers, why does he think he can kill it - and 
replace it with something he calls “spectacular” - when one of the chambers is 
Democratic? But that’s a rational question, and we live in irrational times. Trump 
wants Senate Republicans to craft a replacement plan, while Senate Republicans 
want Trump to do it. Which explains why Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief 
of staff, and John Barrasso, the third-ranking Senate GOPer, were so deceptive 
and evasive on the Sunday shows.

Mulvaney told ABC News that if Obamacare is killed, a Republican replacement 
plan would guarantee that everyone currently covered by health reform - including 
young people up to age 26, and the tens of millions of people with preexisting 
conditions - would be fully protected just as they are now. That is a lie. Every GOP 
draft proposal floated during this decade has imperiled people with preexisting 
conditions, by allowing insurance companies to charge them higher premiums for 
coverage. Meanwhile, Trump has endorsed a federal lawsuit, launched by attorney 
generals in 20 red states, that seeks to repeal Obamacare in its entirety - including 
the protections for people with preexisting conditions, a category that includes 27 
percent of all non-elderly adults.

So where’s the Republican replacement plan that would magically make everything 
OK, the plan that would provide the same protections as Obamacare but do 
them better? John Barrasso of Wyoming, the number three Senate Republican, 
was asked about that - multiple times yesterday - on “Meet the Press.” Watch him 
writhe, if that’s your preference (it’s not fun to carry water for Trump), but here’s 
the gist of how it went:

Chuck Todd: “It was in 2009 that we began the debate. It’s 2019. You guys have 
been talking about a plan to protect preexisting conditions for 10 years. And you haven’t 
been able to come up with one.” So what’s your plan?

Barrasso: Obamacare “has failed to keep its promises…This is on the American people’s 

Todd: “Should the American people expect an actual health care plan alternative from the 
Republican party this year?”

Barrasso: “The American people should expect to not have to be burdened” by Obamacare.

Todd: “A plan. Will we see a new plan from the Republican party about what their alternative 

Barrasso: “I’ve been working on a plan since the day I got to the Senate.”

Todd (with the punchline): You’ve been in the Senate for 12 years.

That last exchange tells the tale. Health care is simply not what Republicans do. 
Their brand is to slash taxes for the rich, crater the deficit, and signal national 
security weakness to the Russians. It’s impossible to know whether Trump truly 
believes that erasing Obamacare’s protections will rebrand the GOP as “the party 
of health care” (his words), or whether he’s just feeling his “exoneration” oats and 
playing offense for a few news cycles before finding a new toy.

Republicans on the ballot in 2020 had better hope it’s the latter.

Mountain Views News

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