Our newsfeeds are bombarded with so many stories about excessive use of force within the police department that it’s almost shocking to read something about cops that is the exact opposite. Now, I know that the vast majority of good deeds cops do go unreported because they are not sensational stories. The headline, “Cop does something nice” does not sell much of anything. And so there is a silent majority of cops that do their jobs and get little to no fanfare. And much has been written about the more and more common tragedy of a law enforcement officer shooting an unarmed civilian. But that’s not what I’m here to do today. Today I went and found a “cops do something nice” story. And I’m going to tell you all about it.
Meet: Heroes, Cops and Kids. A community organization comprised of Dallas Police officers, teachers and other community leaders created to be positive role models for the community and its kids. From their website, “We strive to promote good behavior, good decision making and to teach coping mechanisms for peer pressure.”
Well, that sounds delightful. BUT -- the cynical side of my brain immediately thought, “I bet it’s kind of racist. I bet it’s a bunch of white cops that go into poor black neighborhoods and tell the kids to stay off crack.”
Hrrmmm. Not exactly. In a moment where I must remind myself that my paranoid lefty-liberal brain is not always correct. (I try not to say that out loud too often -- I have a reputation to protect as a liberal know it all!).
So, what does Heroes, Cops and Kids, do? Well, basically, they dress up as superheroes and visit terminally ill children. They also work with communities to build positive relationships between the police and the community. A portion of their mission statement from the Heroes, Cops and Kids website:
"...WE CATER TO CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, CHRONIC ILLNESSES OR BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS TO ENRICH THEIR LIVES AND ENERGIZE THEIR HEARTS ...
WE ARE A CHARITABLE, TAX EXEMPT, 501(C)(3) ORGANIZATION. WE DON'T RECEIVE FUNDING FROM ANY STATE OR LOCAL AGENCY. WE SOLELY RELY ON VOLUNTEERS AND DONATIONS TO ACHIEVE OUR GOAL.
WE'LL BRING "THE STORM" TO ANY BULLY THAT STEPS IN OUR WAY! WE SUPPORT THE ANTI-BULLY MOVEMENT AND TEACH PROPER RESPONSE AND REPORTING OF BULLIES!
THIS ORGANIZATION INCLUDES A DIVERSE BACKGROUND OF INDIVIDUALS WHOM HAVE DEDICATED THEIR TIME AND RESOURCES TO STOP BULLYING!”
Okay. I’m on board.
Meet Officer Damon Cole, founder of Heroes, Cops and Kids. Officer Cole has several hero costumes -- Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Ironman and he even owns a tricked out Superman Dodge Charger.
Cole’s Twitter account is littered with photos of his visits to children’s hospitals, some of which he flies to and some of which he drives a thousand miles to get there in time. All on his own dime. Of course, now, through his charity he can accept donations. And I hope it works because he has literally spent tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars costuming and tech'ing up -- his car, the costumes, his Batman costume alone has multiple gadgets and his War Machine costume has speakers that can blare music from within the armor. Which, apparently, the kids love.
In a fun, “life imitates art” moment, Cole, dressed as Batman for an off duty charity event, busted a man shoplifting DVD’s -- one of which was, “The Lego Batman Movie.”
Now, through his charity Cole can accept donations. He also has a team of volunteers that support, assist and costume up on their own. Reading about their organization, watching their videos and scrolling through their photos -- well, it even warms my dark liberal heart. I seriously love these people.
Heroes, Cops and Kids -- well done.
To book an event with Heroes, Cops and Kids or to contact them for further information you can find them here.
Now that Republicans’ plans to repeal and replace Obamacare are all but dead, GOP Congress-men and -women will be working to preserve their jobs by accomplishing something -- anything. Now it seems the Republican budget proposals will get in the way of their next big project -- tax reform. But there is a lifeboat out there for Republicans, if they’re willing to accept a hand from a Democrat.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) reintroduced S. 3529, otherwise known as the Progressive Consumption Tax Act (PCTA), back in December. And while the bill wouldn’t do what many Republicans would like and get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, it would re-purpose and shrink the IRS and make tax collection a lot easier. It would also make it so most people would no longer owe individual income taxes, and it would reduce the corporate income tax rate to one of the lowest among industrialized nations.
“How?” you ask. Well, revenue once created by income taxes would be replaced by revenue created through a consumption tax, which is a tax on goods and services consumed rather than a tax on income. It’s a lot like a sales tax, except Cardin has proposed what’s called a value added tax.
A value added tax is collected from each producer involved in the production chain of a product rather than the end consumer. So if a manufacturer buys $40-worth of product from other manufacturers earlier in the production chain, puts its own labor and materials into it and sells it for $100, the value added by that manufacturer is $60.
Why a value added tax? It’s more likely to be paid. Compliance is believed to be better when the tax is collected at all stages of production rather than the final stage, when the product is purchased by a consumer from a retailer. Both a retail tax and value added tax would produce identical revenue if compliance is perfect, and collecting at all stages of production would help ensure that is the case.
Cardin’s proposed a 10-percent, flat tax because it simplifies taxation, facilitates compliance and enforcement, and doesn’t allow for distortions based on product type. The few exemptions to the consumption tax are financial services, “which are difficult to handle within a VAT and are often exempted, residential rents, and sales of existing residential housing.” So you won’t pay taxes for your accountant or broker, rent or mortgage, or the sale of your home.
According to the independent and nonprofit Tax Foundation’s Taxes and Growth Model (TAG), the plan would raise the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) 4.4 percent, increase the stock of capital used in production by 15.2 percent, and create 1.1 million jobs. It would also increase after-tax income for rich and poor, so every American would have more money with which to stimulate the economy. In fact, real after-tax hourly wages would increase 6.5 percent.
That all sounds great, right? But will it pay the bills? In short, yes. Cardin’s plan is designed to raise at least as much revenue as the current income tax system does, and the rate can be altered, but the revenue created can never be more than 10 percent of GDP. That doesn’t mean the percentage can’t increase, but the U.S. tax revenue as a percent of GDP was 26.4 percent in 2015. Cardin’s plan would refund taxpayers any revenue over 10 percent of GDP.
Do you see how Cardin’s plan creates more revenue despite a lower percentage of GDP? Tax revenue, whether a consumption tax or income tax, is linked to economic growth. The more economic growth, the more tax revenue. Increasing the U.S. GDP 4.4 percent is no small feat. As of 2015 numbers that’s almost $800 billion, which would cover the entirety of the Republicans’ proposed military budget and then some ($621.5 billion).
Why should Congress enact a consumption tax? Well, much like healthcare, the United States is behind a lot of developed countries when it comes to taxation. About 150 countries have a consumption tax, most of which were established decades ago.
The consumption tax would also allow the U.S. to tax imports and subsidize exports without violating current World Trade Organization rules (WTO), which Donald Trump would love, even though economic theory indicates a border adjustment tax would end up trade neutral. But that’s what House Republicans want, even though, “Economists can show that the House Republican plan has the same effect as abolishing the corporate tax altogether, introducing a VAT, and then cutting payroll taxes.”
That makes the Republicans’ border adjustment tax nothing more than a political ploy that plays to its base, but that’s what Republicans need -- a political ploy that plays to its base. That and an accomplishment like tax reform. It ain’t gonna be healthcare or a budget anytime soon. So work together, Congress, and we can all get what we want.
Enacting a consumption tax is about as bipartisan as it gets. Republicans get to help corporations. Democrats get to help the poor, and Republican Congress-men and -women might get to keep their jobs. But apparently it’s a nonstarter for most Republicans -- unless you tell them otherwise. You can use Countable to keep your Congress-men and -women accountable to you. I urge you to contact them and tell them you want a progressive consumption tax. It will save every American money, and allows Americans to save and invest.
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