If You’re Right About Trump, I can say ‘Thank You’, but if you’re wrong…

Are you prepared to adjust your lifestyle for another downfall?   I recently viewed the movie “The Big Short”.  It’s based on true events, recounting the housing market crisis in 2007-2008 where a few highly intelligent investors bet against the housing market and made a huge profit in spite of the mass economic devastation caused around the country.  I had to watch the movie twice in one sitting because I could not believe what I had just watched, wondering where was the public outrage at the practices of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and big banks.  I assume people couldn’t become too enraged because they were too occupied trying to keep their assets and lifestyles from unraveling too fast, or it simply went over a lot of heads.  For me personally, I witnessed part of the housing market fraudulent activities when I worked for a bank in the mid to late 90’s.  The Clinton administration enacted The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for banks to lend to lower income residents and businesses.  It’s intent is to ensure that banks use fair lending practices to those who have little to no assets.  I saw for myself people defrauding this regulation.  It usually happened one of three ways:  1) customers who usually did not qualify for the standard bank loans were granted loans through CRA with inflated rates, causing the debt to increase over time, creating a higher debt to income ratio for the life of the loan, which ends in default (unpaid); 2)  customers using their parents’ assets to secure loans, also known as ‘projected income’, monies that are likely to be earned in the future (an inheritance for example); 3)  customers who actually had large assets forge or omit their actual earnings to obtain a low rate loan (ex. a business using the financial records of a smaller subsidiary to benefit its growth).  I’ve seen the rich defraud IRS through loan applications.  I remember one in particular that astounded me the most.  It was a customer who was a certified public accountant (CPA) that would come to the bank weekly in a different Mercedes Benz to make his deposits.  They were always a few thousand a week.  He applied for a commercial building loan and listed his prior year income around $25K, and provided prior tax returns proving it.  However, his business had assets “worth hundreds of thousands” (according to my manager at the time), so the bank decided to overlook his reported income and grant the multi-million dollar loan in spite of the low income reporting.  I remember the bank manager being perplexed about the situation.  I was a Head Teller at the time, so I was a part of the management team, consisting of me and two branch managers.  We had a conversation, and the branch management found granting the loan completely unfair.  However, they had to do it because the executives in headquarters approved.  The branch manager was particularly upset because another loan applicant who reported $100K income was denied a similar loan.  What further discouraged me in the banking industry is how they impose fees on customers who cannot afford them, yet give “free banking” to those who could afford to pay.  I remember my assistant manager explaining it as a “courtesy to keep the customers’ money with the bank”.  These practices industry wide had a snowball effect over the next few decades, causing the calamity of the housing crisis of 2007-08.

So what does any of this have to do with President-elect Donald Trump?  Directly, not much.  He didn’t bank where I worked (as far as I know).  Indirectly, history has proven that the wealthy protects their assets first, and try to make your wealth a part of theirs as well.  Trump has given Americans many reasons not to trust him, and I believe we are all waiting with bated breath to see what’s about to happen next.  But, what he’s proposing doesn’t look good for the middle class or lower income portion of the population.  I am especially concerned about his plan to revamp that tax system to include cutting out head of household filings, no taxes for incomes less than $50K, and the wealthy only paying 15%.  It’s very simplistic and easy to understand, but has horrendous consequences and creates a slippery slope that erodes democracy.

The Repercussions of Cutting Head of Household (HoH) Filing

Ending higher refunds to single parents will cripple the consumer economy.  Most single parents use the refunds for shopping, down payments for cars and homes, purchase vacations, and the smarter ones catch up or pay off debts, invest or add to their savings.  The consumer economy is dependent on the tax refund season.  Don’t think so?  Then why all of the “bring in your refund and you’re approved” advertisements for consumer, home, auto loans?  Tax preparation companies constantly advertise their “rapid refund” high rate loan options against tax returns.  They make millions from the products.  For millions of single parents in this country, tax season is the paid holiday to catch up on Christmas debt, and pay for Easter.  Taking it away will not only take income from the household itself, but millions of other households within the aforementioned industries will have to operate with a declination of funds.   I’ve read reports of the HoH elimination proposal.  What I haven’t read is how doing this will benefit the tax base or consumer economy.  Most recently, I’ve read news articles stating IRS will delay the process of HoH filing this year because of fraudulent returns in the most recent years totaling over $10B.  If that’s the case, scrapping HoH seems like a perfect solution; however, another solution is to hold IRS more accountable for its processing and audit procedures.  At face value, the multi-billion dollar tax fraud problem and the slow rise of the working class seem to correlate, meaning as more people went back to work, they found ways to increase their refunds.  I believe if the IRS were to investigate instances of fraud on an individual basis, the greater number of offenders will be in the higher income working class rather than the working poor.  However, it’s the working poor families that will be punished by the termination of HoH filing.  Moreover, the highest number of single family households are parented by working class white women.  So for all of you women Trump supporters, you voted in favor of taking food out of your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins’ mouths.  You voted for your sister to continue to have to struggle making ends meet, and taking away probably the largest chunk of money they’ll receive at one time within the year.  Should Trump have his way and it passes, which is highly likely with a Republican dominated Congress, I can say ‘thank you’ if it proves to be a success.  I’m a humble person.  It’s not difficult for me to say it.  But if it’s a failure, are you prepared to make room in your household to help out the sister and her family whom you voted to bankruptcy without being able to claim the head of household status the next coming years?

No Taxes for Annual Incomes Less than $50,000

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  The potential to make up to $50,000 a year federal tax free sounds like a dream come true.  People can easily become homeowners, build their nest eggs, lay a financial foundation for future generations…Right?  I’m not certain of that.  According to Social Security Administration:

about 67.4 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the $46,119.78 raw average wage. By definition, 50 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to be $29,930.13 for 2015.  (2016 Wage Statistics available mid October 2017)  https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2015  

That means more than half of America’s population will be excluded from paying federal taxes. I’m no expert, and expertise isn’t required to conclude that any nation or government entity will have trouble operating if more than half of its population is not paying taxes.  Vital programs that benefit the sick, elderly and poor will have to be terminated.  Monies for federal grants and projects will not be supplied.  That affects education, businesses, healthcare, everything that relies on federal funding.  It is historically proven when government decides to “trim the fat” or “cut the pork”, they always cut into a major artery and cause a metaphorical bleed out that leads to a slow and agonizing death of the poor.  The perfect analogy to describe this phenomena is demonstrated in the movie “The Big Short”.  They use the game Jenga to describe the housing securities collapse.  The same principle applies to the tax base.  Take away from the less fortunate of the population, which is the base to our economy, and the whole thing collapses.  Would you like to sacrifice what you’ve already financial structured to commit to a complete rebuild of the system?

Payment of taxes ensures our participation as citizens within the government as well as maintaining infrastructures like roads, buildings, and programs.  Residential neighborhoods and commercial sites are based on the level of taxes that its occupants can pay.  It’s how the dilapidated conditions of inner cities were created.  People who cannot afford to pay higher taxes do not receive the same level of service from the government.  Those that dwell in the suburbs pay higher taxes and as a result, live in better conditions.  This disparity reaches over into the practices and mindset of government officials.  State senators represent causes that provide more funding and lobbying, and pay little to no attention to those who cannot afford it.  In other words, more than half of America will not get the same level of service if they were to stop paying taxes.  Are you ready for your tree-lined neighborhood to get an inner city make under?

Not paying federal taxes also leaves citizens prone to increased taxes at the state level, resulting in higher costs of living.  One thing I know for certain, is when the federal government changes its policy regarding finances, the state government and private sectors are ravenous vultures, plucking on the fading carcass of household incomes.  Case in point is the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp program.  I can recall around 2005-07 or so, grocery and food prices increased significantly.  It was around the same time that food stamp participation was at historically high levels.  With more of the population receiving federal aid, grocery and other major store chains increased their prices.  I was not on the program at the time.  I was dutifully employed by Montgomery County Police Department; however, I was a single mother, and one hundred dollars could no longer fill my cart and feed my family for a month.  It increased to well over three hundred dollars a month.  I’ll admit, I was unhappy about the unemployed person in the check-out line who could easily swipe their EBT card to pay for their food, then go home and rest, while I had to use the money from working sixteen hour night shifts to pay for mine.  But as God’s will would have it, I became unemployed in 2011 due to health issues, and ended up feeding my family using the SNAP program from 2011 to 2013.  I’ve also participated in the WIC program over the years when my children were under the age of five.  Those programs are vital and necessary for the working poor.  In 2012 or 2013, the Republican Congress decided to cut funding to the program.  It wasn’t until after the cuts were made that it was discovered that 55% of the program’s participants were military families.  Is this how government and private sector should treat their constituents and consumers?  And even though funding was cut, the grocery store prices remained and increased in most instances.  If federal taxes are eliminated for lower incomes, I would assuredly believe the states will increase property and business taxes, banks will go back to unfair lending practices,  and consumer prices will increase because they will assume that households will have more to spend with less federal taxes to pay.  All of those increases could accumulate to actually be more than paying federal and state taxes at their current rate.  So, the plan to eliminate taxes for lower incomes certainly has a nice ring to it, but it can lead to devastating results.

The Wealthy Paying Only 15% Taxes

I’ve never been financially wealthy, but I can assume that a flat tax rate of 15% rather than different rates for different types of taxes is more convenient.   However, those different types of taxes go to funding programs.  If the taxes are eliminated, so are the programs.  This includes business taxes and regulations that provides funds for fair and safe labor standards, small business grants and loans, infrastructure development and healthcare.  More jobs may be created, but monies for small business start-ups will be jeopardized. Cutting the taxes of the wealthy is another simplistic plan with complicated results.

Taxation is our representation within this democracy.  It is proven that people with more money have more power.  Paying the fair share for what can be individually afforded is our voice.  However small and feeble, it exists.  If we don’t pay taxes, our voices no longer exist and other civil liberties can fade away just as well, without us having the power to stop it.  This is the very definition of oppression, when those who are in power attempt to gain more power by sifting the least of the population.  I wish President-elect Trump was more descriptive about how his plans will benefit all Americans because I do not trust ‘just wait and see’.  I’d rather be prepared the best that I can.  Or as an adage goes, “pray for the best, prepare for the worst.”   My coffers are empty.  I have nothing to lose (I think).  My piggy bank has been slaughtered and fried for bacon a long time ago.  However, for those that live high on the hog, and think you’ve been called to supper to get fatter by the upcoming administration, are you certain that you’re not being called to the slaughterhouse?

There are only two things I heard out of Trump’s mouth that captured my attention, and make me feel hopeful.  The first one is controversial, when he stated to the African-American community: “What do you have to lose?”   In my personal aspect, that questionable statement is correct.  My answer is a resounding:  Nothing that you’d want or can legally obtain.   I don’t have anything financially to hoard and keep safe.  If his plan works, then I’ll gain a new piggy bank, with the hopes to upgrade it to a hog.  For that, I can say thank you for his leadership in spite of my disagreement with his overall personality.  I’m not going to act out of my character because of his character or anyone else.  I’m prepared and hoping to thank President-elect Trump for financial success of this country.  But if it fails, I’m already at the bottom and know how to survive with millions of others.  President-elect Trump mentioned that he wanted to provide tax alleviation and support to families with stay-at-home mothers.  Well, that is me.  I am a stay-at-home mother by my choice.  It is the best support to provide for our autistic son, who has several delays and disorders. I would love for my companion to get a tax break for agreeing to be the only wage earner in our household, but not at the expense of millions of single parent households by passing HoH filing elimination.

My optimism is for my own personal growth the next four years.  It doesn’t matter if the president was Trump or Clinton.  To quote a gospel song:  “What God has for me, it is for me.”  I do not believe the occupant of the White House has a direct affect into my personal daily decisions.  I’m going to be me and take care of mine regardless.   This blog is mostly a reminder to those that pray, don’t forget to watch.  The Holy Bible (NIV) in Luke 21:36 says:  “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Tamika Trammel is a Christian-Urban fiction author.  She has written two novels:  18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1 and The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher.  Both available in soft cover and eBook with any online retailer including Amazon, B&N, and Facebook Store https://www.facebook.com/18yearsgraceandmercy/shop/?rid=504785346257613&rt=9&ref=page_internal.  Connect with Tamika on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter @18graceandmercy, IG mikameekauthor and WordPress

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Starting My Goals Before the Clock Strikes Midnight

My first goal for 2017:  Complete a blog entry on WordPress by 12:01 a.m. Arizona time.  I started around 7:45 p.m. to get a head start.  Not because it takes me more than four hours to complete my thoughts, and then write/type them in, but because I am a mother, whose time gets interrupted intermittently.  It’s also proof that achieving a goal takes a thought process of planning as well as action.   More importantly, the goal is set because I want to enter the new year doing what it is I hope to do for the remainder of 2017 and the years following:  write.  For the past several years of my life, an old saying that I used to hear my late grandfather Bishop John Trammel, Sr. say repeatedly during New Year’s Watch Night church services has come true:  “Whatever you’re doing at the start of the year, is what you’ll be doing most of the year.”  I used to dismiss this remark as a scare tactic to stay in church, and for many it was.  But for my grandfather, it was a truism to his legacy; therefore, it’s a blueprint for my life.  It’s the kind of ideal that has to be reflected on looking back, in order to follow steps going forward.  So, I am taking this moment to look back in order to see where I want to go forward.

I couldn’t imagine where in my life I would be without faith, other than lost.  When I was working for 9-1-1 in Montgomery County, Maryland from 2001 to 2011, I was almost always on duty bringing in the New Year.  The occupation is extremely stressful and can take a toll on physical and mental health.  The pay is great and overtime aplenty.  Office policies such as; last minute mandatory overtime due to scheduling shortage, off duty call-ins, and denied vacation leave were the pitfalls of the job (which happens too frequently).  My grandfather’s statement proved true:  I started out the New Year working a stressful job, and I worked it throughout the year.  However, it didn’t stop me from whispering a word of prayer and exultation.  I was very humbled and gracious for having that job which empowered me to raise two beautiful young women. There were so many other ways that I could have failed myself and my children (especially for being in my 20’s) that the stress inducing workplace was the best place for me to take care of us, for a little while.  In October 2010, my father’s battle with diabetes became serious with the first amputation taking place, and me leaving the job behind in 2011 to be with him at the scariest moments of his life.  Little did I know, that all of our lives were about to change dramatically.

For New Year’s 2012, my family celebrated with friends of my mother in their beautiful home in Arizona.  I wish I had known then what I know now, which is the art of networking, not just chatting.  Not that I heard anyone there was an aspiring author, but you never know who or what is needed in the future.  It’s a lesson learned, and I do not believe that party will be the last New Year’s Eve party I’ll ever attend.  Did I party all of 2012?  Not hardly, but I did begin to adjust to being a stay-at-home care provider, the desert life in Phoenix, and published my second novel:  “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher”.

I was back in church for New Year’s 2013 through 2015, and in those years, I did work within the church I was attending.  I used to present the announcements before the congregation, participate in intercessory prayer and other activities to keep my faith strong while caring for my family.

Last year, I entered 2016 on the road, driving a minivan with my mother, my three children (two are non-driving adults), and a dear family friend to Pearland, Texas from Phoenix, Arizona.  The trip was to attend a funeral.  In the first week of 2016, I was at a funeral.  The day before Valentine’s Day, my own father passed away.  And as the months of 2016 toiled on, other family members and iconic celebrities of pop culture were all making their heavenly march.  For many, 2016 was very grievous from beginning to end.  Many are glad that it is over, and more importantly, they survived.  People who were once a part of our daily activities are now a part of our daily memories.  It’s tough to move on from that, but very necessary.

It’s after midnight in my home state.  Happy New Year East Coast!

I hope I have proven the means to the end that I want to approach in a clear and concise manner.  I am beginning this incoming year sitting at my laptop, typing thoughts into internet space, praying the correct eyes, heart and mind read them eventually and be inspired.  (And now, I can keep going until the clock strikes twelve because my five year old son is asleep.)  This entry seems to be built upon a principle that is circumstantial at best, and that is true, if you do not know or trust God for yourself.   My grandfather’s admonishing statement is the same as saying, “humans are creatures of habit”, a statement I’ve heard and read repeatedly when describing human behaviors.  Moreover, Albert Einstein is credited for stating: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  I’ve concluded in my forty years of living life, that both my grandfather (a righteous man and full believer in Jesus Christ as our savior) and Albert Einstein (a great scientific genius) are both correct.  (Side note:  this does not make me a Christian scientist.  I do not practice nor study Christian scientology.)  I cannot expect to achieve my goal of becoming a best selling author by spending more time in places other than this laptop.  I must change my habits to make them work in my favor.  Since I am beginning 2017 writing a blog, I hope to end 2017 writing a blog, telling the strides I’ve made to complete the ultimate goal of becoming a successful selling writer.

It was important for me to start this blog ahead of time because I actually received holy confirmation through a word shared with me by a new client/friend that I met as recent as three months ago.  She shared with me last week Deuteronomy 15, the chapter that cancels all debts going back seven years.  The daily devotion said that God is bringing us into our seventh year, clearing the debts behind us, making us ready for the blessings before us.  As my friend was reading, it became clear to me that I was entering the seventh year because it all started for me truly walking in faith and not by sight in October 2010 with my father’s first amputation.  Anytime I hear a word, it always come from a place where I least expect it and it proves to be true.  Deuteronomy is not one of my favorite books in the Bible, so I hadn’t read it in a very long time (since childhood).  I was not expecting to hear my divine promise fulfillment is beginning from my least favorite part of the Bible.  (Side note:  My friend was slightly offended when I said Deuteronomy is my least favorite part of the Bible.  I do not intend to offend any readers with this statement.   My intention is to demonstrate how God’s communication is personally effective.)  And right now, as I am typing this post at 11:29 p.m. Arizona time, the ground is wet, the sky is cloudy, and heavy rain is in the forecast.  My boyfriend was just commenting negatively about it.  I told him it’s a good sign.  Rain is a blessing in the desert.  Not only that, it has not rained a single New Year’s night since we moved here.  So, to me, it’s already at a good start.  Now to keep it going…

I have been haunted on the internet by the advertisement for James Patterson’s MasterClass online teaching program.  It’s in every part of my internet interaction, including my boyfriend’s NFL searches.  I had bypassed it a few times on Facebook, but finally decided to look into it, and the comments about it.  I was very eager to take the classes, and started thinking of which bill I had to rob in order to pay the $90 entry fee, until I read the states where prohibited:  ARIZONA and Louisiana.  I live in Phoenix, AZ.  I am sorely disappointed.  I will not be able to participate in the contest to have the chance to co-author a book with Mr. Patterson all because of my state residency, a place that has been designated as #1 in the country for children with autism; therefore, ideal for raising my son.  Yet another form of self neglect or sacrifice that I have to make for the sake of my children and most importantly, obedience to God.  I had to give myself a pep talk.  I am truly, utterly dismayed that I cannot participate in the contest, but I can still take the classes.  I will do so for the learning experience.  I thought to myself how civil rights pioneers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks did not allow the law to get in the way of their achievements.  Besides, this is civil law, not criminal, so there is no risk of me going to jail or jeopardizing my freedom.  And even though it prohibits me from winning award money and career advancement opportunities, it cannot stop me from learning to recognize and act upon them within the law in the future.  I’m not yet enrolled, and I hope to be.  I contacted their online support team to confirm that I can take the classes without participating in the contest.

Even though this blog post is about me, I truly hope you as the reader can take moments to reflect upon within your own life, to have conscious thought and a plan of action to get to where it is you want to go.  If you’ve reached your destination, God bless you, and I hope you’re using your experience to mentor to others that are trying to do the same.  Getting from New Year to New Year is not the easiest of tasks.  The days are mixed of good and bad, take it or leave it, love it or hate it.  It’s been my personal experience that Jesus Christ gets me through it all with resounding peace and conflict resolution.  I do not make New Year’s resolutions.  I make daily resolutions.  Each day, I resolve to asking Him for serenity:  “accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can,  and the wisdom to know the difference.”  (The Serenity Prayer Reinhold Neihbur, 1892-1971).

Now that I have a few minutes left, I have to do some editing.  And then, the publish button, first goal accomplished.  Happy New Year everyone!

 

 

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