Tag Archives: 2020

Political Propaganda and the Illinois Tax Amendment of 2020

The Most Boringest Post I’ve Ever Written…

Do you know what I’m going to bitch about here? Taxes. Yes, taxes. I might bitch about social media propaganda as well. Yay, right? Taxes, that thing that is as inevitable as death, the thing that got Al Capone tossed in jail because he avoided paying taxes, that thing that stresses everyone out at the beginning of each year because no one understands the US’s complicated and intricate tax law. Taxes. Yay.

Poor Phyllis. Strange that AARP is supporting the “Tax Hike Amendment”…

I thought I had a good segue lined up here, but I don’t. Anyways, lately on Instagram I keep seeing sponsored posts like this one. Something about Stop the Illinois Tax Hike Amendment. First off, this is unsettling because a few months ago I jumped ship from Facebook to get away from all the political shitposting/propaganda only to be greeted by this on Instagram. Luckily, this does seem isolated and for the most part Instagram is what you’d expect it to be; people posting pictures. Facebook has totally devolved into a political shit-tossing dump and even if it’s useful 10% of the time, the other 90% consists of people posting politically motivated shit in bad-faith arguments to ‘convince others’ about something that’s usually so dumbed down and logically flawed that it’s hard not to comment something picking it apart. Then the winds of shit really start blowing, Rand.

This Instagram image done got me all hyped up and pissy. Why? A bunch of reasons. The use of ‘trigger terms’ to make you think one thing. The poor old lady not wanting to pay more taxes. Something about “new powers to tax anyone at will.” Okay. The first thing about whatever this ad is trying to push is that it sounds too terrifying. No one wants higher taxes, duh, so why wouldn’t we all vote ‘no’ on whatever amendment it’s talking about? Hell, why did the Illinois State even put something so obviously dumb on the ballot for November when it’ll obviously be shot down by 90% of voters?

Oh wait, it’s because this image is flat-out propaganda sponsored by those who don’t want this amendment to pass, likely rich-ass Illinoisans. What does this amendment actually do?

Illinois, the state I reside in, has a simple flat income tax of 4.95%. Everyone is taxed at this rate no matter their income. I must admit it’s nice come tax time — you subtract any deductions, bust out a calculator, multiply your taxable income by 4.95% and, bam, there’s your tax rate — but this flat rate seems strange. If you look at the federal income tax, it’s a graduated tax, meaning the tax rate depends on your income, while our state has a flat rate. According to Ballotpedia, 11 other states have a flat income tax rate. Hmmm, that’s a strangely low number.

Speaking of Ballotpedia, they have a ton of information on this proposed amendment and if you’re a curious Illinois resident, check it out, do some research. It’s also interesting to see how the two sides speak about this amendment. The supporters, mostly democrats, have a PAC named “Vote Yes for Fair Tax,” while the oppositions, republicans and farmers, have PACs named “Say No to More Taxes” and “Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike.” Notice how one side claims ‘fairness’ while the other side claims ‘higher taxes.’ These are two totally different arguments. Will this amendment raise taxes? Maybe. Is it fair? Maybe. But these aren’t mutually exclusive.

Here’s a photo of the actual sample ballot and question regarding the proposed amendment. Surprisingly, it does a good job explaining what the hell the amendment actually does.

This doesn’t sound as bad as I was led to believe…

All this does is eliminate the requirement for a flat tax rate in the Illinois constitution. Is that fair? I don’t know, that depends on your view of taxation, but most other states do it this way. Is it going to raise taxes? Yeah, probably, but you’d also assume people with higher incomes, like really high incomes, are going to be taxed to death by Illinois while lower income households might see a small or moderate decrease. Is this good or bad? Well, it depends on what you think is good and bad.

My point here is that this is a subtle thing being voted on in a few months. It’s not the clear cut and dry “higher taxes!” that whatever PAC plopped this fucking ad up on Instagram is claiming. In my opinion the ‘fairness’ argument is a bit better because most people probably do feel that higher income households should pay more, but whatever. I was going to talk about that here, but that seems like it’d just make this an even messier rant. Maybe another time.

In a way this singular ad is representative of what is wrong with our current politics. An ad, one shitty ad on social media funded by people with money, can make people believe one thing when it is nowhere near true or accurate. They toss out a few trigger terms and bad words like ‘higher’ and ‘taxes’ and people immediately foam at the mouth, forming opinions from biases without even looking deeper than their Instagram/Facebook feed. That’s it. They’ll walk into the polling station, vote ‘no,’ possibly against their own benefit, just because something told them that “voting yes” will mean their taxes will go up. Like Billy Bob making $20k a year is going to be taxed at the same 20% that multimillionaires will be taxed at. No, probably not. But he didn’t do any goddamn research and follows right along with what is being spoon-fed to him by people that actually have reason to oppose the amendment.

My entire point is “Don’t be an ignorant voter.” When you see a political ad on social media or anywhere that claims something fucking ridiculously awful, look into it. Honestly I had no idea what this tax amendment was until I saw a ‘vote no on higher taxes’ ad and looked into it. Was Illinois trying to raise taxes? Was it really called “The Tax Hike Amendment?” No one would be that stupid to raise taxes with an amendment named that. When I found the actual proposal, I found nothing wrong with it. “Hey, wait, this is to eliminate the flat-tax rate. Fuck, I like that idea!” I’ve been telling everyone I know what the amendment does and suggesting they vote ‘yes’ on it. I guess that’s the end of my rant. Just don’t be a fucking troglodyte and do your fucking homework. Things you vote on do have real consequences, so go to the voting place knowing something. Don’t see the word ‘tax’ and vote no just because ‘tax’ is a scary word. Don’t think everyone in the government is trying to pilfer your wallet (but be wary at all times!). Don’t let social media sway your goddamn opinions. Google things, read about them, learn a little about taxes, fucking educate yourself.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

My Cynical New Year Sucked

“Hey, there’s my cynicism and negativity! I was wondering where it went. After being moderately positive the past few days I was worried I was going through legitimate changes. Good to know it’s still there.”

I live in the central time zone and this means we’re one hour behind New York’s time, it being in the Eastern US. This usually leads to the TV on New Year’s being changed to watch their New Year’s celebration because it’s kinda like the actual celebration for the entire US. I wonder how West Coast people feel about this, seeing New York do their thing three hours before their New Year, but maybe West Coasters don’t give a shit about New York and what they do.

I think we turned it to Dick Clark’s New Year’s 2020 (apparently the real title of this bullshit is Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020) immediately after the ball dropped. I noted this was on ABC because I immediately started to wonder what shitty network was covering the New York celebration. ABC. Those were the assholes.

The first thing to kill my mood was the total mass of people in Times Square. Probably tens or hundreds-of-thousands of people all huddled around for who knows how long. This always reminds of a Reddit thread I seen a long time ago where someone pointed out that people in Times Square are usually tourists; no real New Yorker would subject themselves to the unique hell that is the Time’s Square New Year’s Ball Dropping shit. Even stranger is that to actually be there you apparently need to show up like a half a day early. These people had been standing here waiting for 12:00 a.m. January, 1 2020 for over six hours, maybe more. And making this even worse is most wear diapers. If you leave to take a piss/shit you lose your spot. And it’s so cool to be there that you can’t do that! So in this crowd of maybe a few hundred thousand people I imagine them all with adult diapers filled with piss and perhaps shit and the torture of standing in a single area for a quarter of a day. How can you be happy with a filled diaper? Were these people really happy? Or were they miserable and just wanted those sweet social media likes and to maybe end up on TV?

After the actual ball dropped, the crowd seemed to thin quickly. But there were still the lingerers laying down in confetti with their significant others taking selfies. You know, for that sweet social media credit. Selfies everywhere. I get it — capture the moment — but shit. It reminds me of the St. Vincent lyric from the song “Digital Witness”: If I can’t show it, you can’t see me. The only reason to do anything in life is to take pictures of it and show others on social media. If social media never sees it, does it really happen? I was in New York! I was in Times Square! I wore goddamn diapers full of piss to do so! My life is so much more adventurous than everyone else’s!

Then there’s the jackass who proposed to his fiance on national TV. Oh boy. Let’s be as contrived as possible. At first I thought they were going to interview some random guy asking the usual bullshit questions. “How does it feel to be here? What’s it like?” I mean they sorta did this but the guy looked awkward like he had another purpose for being important enough to be interviewed, turned to his fiance, and did the whole typical proposal deal. “There’s no one else I’d rather spend this moment with,” he bends down on one knee and get’s a box out — here we go — “would you marry me?!” She cries, nods yes, and the crowd goes wild.

This was all about 12:10 a.m. New York time — 11:10 p.m. central time — and my mood was already spiraling down the drain.

Ryan Seacrest was hosting along with some lady (apparently Lucy Hale? Okay.) and when I turned to the channel there was like six Asian people joining him. I don’t know who the hell they were, maybe a k-pop group? And then there was some asshole dressed in a shiny purple outfit with tattoos on his face. Who the fuck was this? Some part of my mind that holds information I didn’t even know thought, “Is that Post Malone?” How the fuck do I know what Post Malone looks like? My mom is all about that dipshit and goes on and on about how good he his. “He can make a rock or a metal album because he’s that versatile,” she has said before. I still didn’t think I knew what he looked like. I don’t really listen to his music or care, but goddamn he was dressed like a douche.

I was thinking of posting a picture but, naw, fuck it. Google it if you really want to see him.

He was also drinking what I’m assuming was alcohol out of what looked like a red Solo cup. Part of me wondered what it would be like drinking alcohol on national TV. Did he have his cup and asked the producers if he could drink it on the stage? How would you feel drinking on national TV? Somehow I don’t think any of these thoughts occured to Mr. Malone dressed as awfully as he was.

Then we were gifted with a segment about the Powerball lottery or something. It was a drawing of a possible number between one and five. And whoever of the five people won would get a million dollars. Obviously this wasn’t a real lottery because what lottery has a one-in-five chance of winning a million dollars? It was a promo stunt. A way to ring in the New Year by telling people to play the fucking Powerball lottery. Fuck all to all those people who have gambling problems and made a resolution to change that awful addiction. Play the goddamn Powerball lottery everyday in 2020! Especially cringy was when the host asked the typical question to the new winner: “So how do you feel right now?!”

Then the Jonas Brothers. Once again I don’t really know their music and don’t give two fucks about them and don’t hate them, but it was strange to see them live. They’re a “boy band” apparently just like N’Sync and The Backstreet Boys were back in the 90s, and mostly the three stood on stage and sang songs while a band played all the actual music behind them. One of them played a shitty three cords for an entire song with a single barred finger on the fretboard. That was it? Why the fuck haven’t I record any music yet? I’m not an amazing musician but I can plop a song together with more than three bar chords. Fuck. I can even use a delay pedal!

Luckily the next song had a bit more going on where they actually played some music of consequence. Still, the backing band did most of the actual work. The crowd went wild, and wow, wouldn’t it just be cool to be there? What would it feel like to actually be there?!

That’s about it for the national TV bullshit. I migrated into another room and watched a Scott Manley video about the most important achievements in space in the past decade. Ya know, actual informative, interesting, and non-corporate-sponsored-fun-and-partying enjoyment. But what does it feel like to be part of the crowd?! Doesn’t that matter?!

It wasn’t finished yet though. A certain segment of my family used to love calling us at midnight to scream “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and fuck dealing with that. Many years ago I just stopped answering my phone, sometimes even turning the damn thing off. It would happen every year like clockwork because it basically was clockwork.

It’s been a bit different the past few years with the advent of fancy social media sites like Facebook. No calling is required now; all you need to do is find some gaudy, low-quality .jpg or .gif and spam it to your entire friend list on Facebook Messenger. Obviously it contains the cancer-causing and virulent phrase along the lines of “send this to all of your friends!” which apparently people actually follow. Maybe I should send images with my bank account number saying, “Send $100 to this account and God will bless you!” I’d probably be rich.

Since this family segment is also their own little family, I got the same image from four fucking people. Aunt, uncle, cousin, and somehow my dad. My dad went even more drastic with this image by posting it to his Facebook Messenger story. He has never posted a single thing to his story so I was actually surprised. “Dad updated his story? What? Why? Really?” I opened it up and it was the same fucking image flashing away, tempting my mind to finally have a seizure.

As much as this makes me physically ill to see again, I feel I need to post it. I’m sure you guys know exactly what I’m talking about but here it is anyways:

Let’s see if we can keep this moving to friends and family. (The double space is intentional between “this” and “moving”)

As much as the first hour prior and after the actual New Year sucked, my mental state is still pretty positive. It weathered the storm of my cynicism. I mean I’m still cynical as fuck, but everything else is positive. I think about the people I actually care about — not those insane fuckers in New York or those in Miami watching The Jonas Brothers — and hope they had a good night and will have a good 2020. I hope everyone achieves their potentials this year. Despite the cynicism, I’m trying to see today as a fresh start and will try to do my best in 2020 even if I am terribly flawed just as everyone else is flawed. 15 hours in and the New Year is pretty good so far.

New Year’s Resolutions (Don’t) Suck?

Note: I don’t want to write. I don’t want to post. I don’t want to think about the optimal time to schedule a post. But I have to: this post has a dictated timeframe with it being about the goddamn New Year. I simply don’t have a choice. So time to buckle down and force something out against my will. This is the struggle of blogging.

I’ve never been a fan of making New Year’s Resolution (as you can read here) but I recently watched a YouTube video by Veritasium that has somehow gotten me totally hyped for the New Year. (I’ll link it below if I can figure out how to do so. You know, learning WordPress and all…) Like I’ve bought into all the bullshit about it for some reason. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt like the past year or two has been an incomprehensible blur and I want a firm date to change my mindset and make small but perceptible changes to my self and my life? I don’t know. At this point I’m not trying to question my random positive mood here. I’m running with it as is because it is a rare and uplifting thing for me to do.

HOLY SHIT LINKING TO A VIDEO WORKED! ON POST 101 I’VE LEVELED UP!

If you didn’t watch the video, Derek explains a few key takeaway points about resolutions:

  1. New Year’s is the best time to set out to do something
  2. Despite #1 most resolutions fail because of the following three reasons:
  3. Resolutions need to be small and not too big or dramatic
  4. They need to be measurable and clear. Vague resolutions will almost always fail
  5. They mustn’t require a ton of willpower

When you’re given these restraints you instantly see the idea of resolutions as better than the popular pipe-dreams you typically hear spouted off. Instead of criticizing people for picking random and unachievable stuff like “be a better person” or “lose weight” you start to realize that maybe by picking smaller and easier to achieve things you might actually be able to fundamentally change yourself in the 365 366 days that are 2020 (2020 is a leap year?! Hello February 29th!). Given these restraints you might start to feel emboldened: maybe New Year’s Resolutions are a good way to start your journey throughout the New Year?

As for my actual resolutions, I’m leaning towards something like giving a single compliment to someone every day. It’s not dramatic, it’s measurable, and achievable but at the same time me going out of my mostly negative and reclusive shell to actually dish out compliments might do me good in the long run. Like Derek said, it’s the idea behind improving 1% a day which leads to massive improvements over time. Now that I think of this more, it does seem pretty adventurous too; what do I do on weekends when I’m only around family? Do I make a pact to only compliment strangers because complimenting family is too easy? Where I’ll have to compliment the denizens that inhabit Walmart or the local derelict gas station? There are some details to work out here for sure because I see some easy ways out for my future self. But I think it’s a good start.

Another possible idea I’ve discovered scouring Veritasium’s YouTube page (he mentioned putting resolutions in the comments) was to wake up early every day. I have a nasty habit of waking up at 12 p.m. after pissing away hours in bed looking a Reddit between 12-3 a.m. so this might help my mood, writing, blogging, productivity, etc. Other random and possible ideas I might settle on are reading something everyday, writing something everyday, and only drinking on Sunday. They are mostly small, easy to enact, and measurable (if I clear up the general “something” that is) so should be accomplishable, but as stated I still have two days to flesh out my ideas into something more concrete. Let me know what your resolutions are below so I might be able to steal them if they’re good enough.

New Year’s Resolutions suck. But this year I’m finding myself embracing them.

Closing Note: I’ve also had this terrible idea to make shirts hating on the New Year.