Thursday, November 29, 2012

Politics Threaten Well-Planned Personal Security

You've all heard about the "Fiscal Cliff" and the related political scramble toward the end of 2012. If nothing is done, January 1 will usher in many financially-onerous effects on the public. Some changes will affect businesses, but do not be mistaken about the very real impact on you and me.

Temporary payroll tax cuts will expire, causing worker's paychecks to be reduced by 2%. Shifts in alternative minimum tax will affect millions of taxpayers. The tax cuts from 2001-2003 will be rescinded. Many government programs (including Defense, Medicare, and Education) will be in line for deep cuts. If these changes occur, the reaction will likely spark another recession.

Possible alternatives that are being bandied about are very concerning. There has been a lot of talk about higher taxes for "the rich", or closing tax loopholes. But who decides who are "the rich"?

The really frightening stuff I'm hearing discussed are possibilities such as:

  1. Taxation of existing wealth (as opposed to income). Never mind that we already paid taxes on what we have, which came from work income. This is double-taxation.
  2. Elimination (or reduction) of homeowner mortgage deductions. How many more people will lose their homes if they don't have this deduction?
  3. Social Security ineligibility for individuals with more than a certain amount of net worth. This is not an entitlement. This is our money that we earned that the government promised would be paid back to as retirement income. We counted on that.
  4. Dividend income for investors could become taxable, further discouraging investments and economic growth. Given that companies already pay tax on their profits, this would be another form of double-taxation.
There is a very real possibility that our elected government officials will be threatening the long term plans of millions of citizens who have worked hard to earn what they have.

If you aren't following the news on this, I strongly suggest you stay tuned in. I'm fearful that some of our country's basic principles are being threatened. These are the types of threats that spark actions generated by fear and uncertainty. Companies will stop hiring and eliminate positions - again, and unemployment will rise at the same time unemployment benefits will have to be cut. People will take their money out of investments to hoard cash and precious metals. What other adverse reactions will there be when people feel their well-being and way of life is under attack?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Speak Thanks

Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to enjoy family and friends. We "give thanks" for all the blessings in our lives. My thought for today is to be sure we "speak thanks" to anyone and everyone in our lives that make us feel loved and happy. Let what's in your heart overflow and be expressed from your lips.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy this beginning of the holiday season. Share the love.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Back to the Movies

I used to love to go to the movies. Back in the 70's and 80's not a weekend would go by without me seeing the latest new release. I even stood in line for hours to see the first Star Trek movie. So I'm not sure when and why I stopped going. There are several possibilities... My life got busier once I had a career, and movie theaters got yucky - the seats were disgusting, your feet stuck to the floor from all the spilled sodas, and too many other patrons were rude and distracting. I like watching a good movie in my pajamas, from my own sofa, where I can pause the action if I need something to eat or to run to the bathroom.

In recent memory, I've only been to the movie theater for several movies I REALLY wanted to see on the big screen. Titanic (1997 at Mann's Chinese Theatre in LA - thanks, Thom), Chicago (2002), Dreamgirls (2006), and Cowboys and Aliens (2011 - couldn't resist Harrison Ford AND Daniel Craig). I've always enjoyed Bond movies; and when the reviews started coming out for Skyfall, I wanted to go. We made plans with friends, bought tickets online, and headed to the afternoon matinee yesterday.

Skyfall is the best movie I've seen in a long, long time. (No Spoiler Alert necessary, by the way.) The story line is easy to follow, but solid and has impact. It's personal this time, for Bond, for M, and for the excellently creepy bad guy played by Javier Barden. New characters are introduced: a young and cocky Q who needs further development, and a government official barking at the heels of Judy Dench's M (who holds a few good surprises).

This may sound counter-intuitive, but there was a simplicity to this movie I loved. They didn't jerk us all over the world from scene to scene merely to show off glamorous locations(although there was just enough). The cinematography was beautiful, and avoided digression into that annoying dark, brooding lighting in which you can hardly see what's going on. Characters we already know were developed into people to whom we could relate. There were chinks in Bond's armor, and M's job was threatened. The "Bond Women" were only tangential to the story - not useless, whining women with torn bodices distracting Bond. The action was spectacular, and convinced me that some film reality is now influenced by the improbable stuff in video games. How many ways can you craft a chase scene? You would think that all the ideas and stunts were used up by now, but no! This movie elicited a few chuckles , some collective gasps, held breath, and a hint of damp eyes.  I enjoyed every minute.

All this and my feet didn't stick to the floor. Perhaps we're back to the movies.      

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Emotional Vertigo

Ron and I arrived back at home in Prescott late yesterday afternoon.  I’m suffering a little separation anxiety after spending so much time with Mom during her recovery from heart surgery.  While in New Hampshire, there were several mornings where I felt a little vertigo – a sensation of whirling or tilting that affected my balance.  It seemed to be caused by some sinus drainage settling in my ear, but I think it was exacerbated by my emotional condition.

What could have caused me to suffer what I am calling emotional vertigo? 
Photo by Althea Haropulos
(manipulation by Laurel)
  • Gnawing concern and lingering fears about Mom’s progress after surgery
  • Insidious beeps and shrieking alarms ever-present in the hospital and nursing home
  • Grinding exhaustion from sleeping with one ear at alert for signs of distress 
  • A less than optimum diet, and fractured sleep
  • Empathy for Mom’s frustration and discomfort
  • Guilt that my ability to be there full-time would draw to a close
After almost four weeks, Mom’s condition improved to a point where we felt she would benefit from a return to normalcy in her life.  We had done what we could do during our stay, and it was time to go home.

During the first night at home in our own bed, I still had issues… Waking to think I should walk down the hallway to check on Mom, and trying to recall the schedule for the next day – visiting nurse, therapist, and medical technician.  What might tempt Mom’s appetite for lunch?  Oh wait; I’m at home in Prescott.

Thank goodness that Althea and Jason are there to continue to help Mom through her healing and return to her cherished everyday life.  I'll do what I can from a distance.

Me?  I’m treating my emotional vertigo with doses of my own normalcy – long, deep breaths of our desert mountain air, gazes across the familiar landscape, dinner and conversation with friends last night, the comfort of our own bed, and plans to golf with the girls this afternoon.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Wishes for You

I've spent many, many hours in the past month in medical care facilities, around people whose bodies and senses are terribly vulnerable.  My own mother is bouncing back slowly from the most invasive procedure I can imagine - open heart surgery.  Mom must make changes to her way of life to protect what has been repaired, insure her recovery and recapture what is important to her.  It's not easy.  These wishes are for her, as well as reminders for me and others who struggle to do the right things to stay healthy, active, and engaged with the best of life.

May your world be brighter and more colorful,
and scents surprisingly sweeter.
May your appetite be responsive to healthy temptation,
and nourishment easily consumed.
May your body respond to your bidding with ease,
and your muscles feel renewed.
May your sleep be sprinkled with dreams of comfort,
and your day enhanced with energy.
May you be at peace with your existence,
and greet each day with joy.

Those are my wishes for you.