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Don’t wait for politicians to take the lead

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A Message to Working People: an essay by Robert Reich former labor secretary……        Your typical wage is below what it was in the late 1970s, in terms of what it can buy. Two-thirds of you are living paycheck to paycheck. Almost 30 percent of you don’t have steady employment: You’re working part-time or on contract, with none of the labor protections created over the last 80 years – no unemployment insurance if you lose your job, no worker’s compensation if you’re injured, no time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours a week, no minimum wage, and you have to pay your own Social Security. Over 37 percent of you have dropped out of the workforce altogether because you’ve become too discouraged even to look for work. That’s a near record. As if all this weren’t enough, the schools and infrastructure on which you rely have been neglected, and the ravages of climate change — droughts, fires, and floods – are worsening.

Yet the American economy is twice as large as it was in the late 1970s. As a nation, we are richer than we’ve ever been. We could afford to do so much better.
None of this has happened by accident. Those with great wealth have translated it into political power. And with that power they’ve busted labor unions (to which a third of private-sector workers belonged in the 1950s but now fewer than 7 percent do), halved the taxes they pay (from a top marginal rate of 91 percent in the 1950s to 39 percent today, and from an effective rate of 52 percent then to 18 percent now), cut safety nets, deregulated Wall Street, privatized much of the economy, expanded bankruptcy protection for themselves while narrowing it for you, forced you into mandatory arbitration of employment disputes, expanded their patents and intellectual property, got trade deals that benefited them but squeezed your pay, and concentrated their market power so you pay more for pharmaceuticals, health insurance, airfare, food, internet service, and much else.
This is bad for everyone. Even those at the top would do better with a smaller share of an economy that was growing because the middle class was expanding. And they’d do better in a society that hadn’t become so angry and susceptible to demagogues blaming immigrants and imports for what has happened.
But none of this will change unless we change it. No single person – not even Bernie Sanders, had he become president – can do what needs to be done, alone. You and I and others must continue to organize and mobilize. Do not find refuge in cynicism. Change is slow, and at times seems hopeless. But change must come. Do not wait for politicians to take the lead. We are the leaders.

Want to take control of your wages…? Begin here  Read the rest of this entry »

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Rent a Car Like a Pro

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Renting a car is such a common part of the travel experience that you’d think the process would be straightforward and transparent, yet somehow it is anything but. Among all your options, there are some things you don’t need to do and should do when renting a car. Below are a few tips to get you on your way.

Don’t Purchase Prepaid Gas

Prepaying for gas may seem convenient but it means you’ll pay for a full tank of gas, even if you return with the tank half full. Most rentals are on a “get it full, return it full” fuel policy. If you return a car with less than a full tank, the rental company refuels it and adds it to your bill at a per-gallon charge that can be double or triple the going rate.

Inspection Checklist

Always inspect the inside and outside of the rental car before leaving, or dropping off the vehicle. Look for scratches, scuffs, loose parts, working power windows and mirrors, and more. Anything that could potentially be considered damage should be photographed and or recorded. Make the company aware or you might end up paying for it. Never assume that a ding is too small to warrant noting or that the car company already knows about damage. If it’s not listed on the car condition form, speak up.

Avoid “Extra” Rental Fees

Drop-off charges, additional drivers, and additional extras are what you’re most likely to encounter. Drop-off charges are an extra fee if you drop the car off at a different location from where you picked it up. Adding additional drivers to your rental agreement may result in a surcharge. Some major companies allow a renter’s spouse or domestic partner to drive the vehicle at no extra cost. GPS navigation, child seats, roof racks, and satellite radio are some of the most common additional extra costs that could cost you $3 – $25 a day.

Feel the Freedom

Renting a car allows you the freedom to gallivant around and enjoy new places. You have the advantage over public transportation with a car that fits the nature of your trip, family members, and travel companions. Enjoy the luxury of making as many stops as you want and follow the route you consider interesting.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Stay tuned Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel.

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Les Heichel

Surge365 Business Associate

http://www.SmilesPs.biz

“Dear IRS, Please take me off your mailing list.” Charlie Brown

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In a famous Charlie Brown cartoon,
Charlie is sitting at a typewriter
pecking out a letter saying,
“Dear IRS,
Please take me off your mailing list.”

About 20,000 taxpayers will be on
the IRS’s randomly selected mailing
list soon BUT THAT’S NOT A BAD
THING!

These 20,000 letters from the IRS
are not letters to be feared because
they are not audit notices.

WHAT ARE THEY?

Those 20,000 envelopes contain
surveys that ask taxpayers to
estimate how much time and money
you spend on matters relating to
complying with income tax requirements
— recordkeeping, tax planning, tax
return preparation, etc., etc.

An additional 24,000 surveys will go to
‘business’ filers such as corporations
and partnerships.

WHY THE SURVEYS?

Be assured that the reason is NOT that
the IRS cares.

My guess is that there is a Congressional
committee that wants to simplify the current,
outrageous tax system, and they have the
IRS collecting proof of how onerous the
current, convoluted, unmanageable Tax
Code is, so that it can be simplified.

WHAT SHOULD YOU TO DO IF
YOU GET ONE OF THESE SURVEYS?

1. Do not ignore it. This is YOUR chance
to help do something about tax simplification.
Here’s how…

2. When estimating the time it takes YOU
to comply with the outdated, overly-complex,
unfair tax reporting requirements do NOT
under-estimate the time tax it takes you
to deal with it. I’m not suggesting you
‘exaggerate’ the time it takes you; I’m just
saying…

3. When filling out the questionnaire,
remember the purpose of this exercise —
to provide proof that our tax system needs
to be overhauled and simplified.

If YOU get one of those 20,000 surveys,
please take the time help provide that
“proof.”

It is rare that an individual taxpayer gets
the chance to “weigh-in” on the important
and overdue need to simplify the Tax Code,
but 44,000 individuals and small business
will get that chance soon.

Don’t waste your chance to “vote.”

Now, THAT’s a “Tax Tip You Can Bank On!”

Helping THOUSANDS to SAVE a BUNDLE,
Ron
Ronald R. Mueller, author of “Home Business
Tax Savings, Made Easy!” available at
Smiles Travel Agency
http://budurl.com/lnnt

Written by Les Heichel

August 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm