Property rights are under siege

Americans are accumulators. Acquiring possessions—owning things—is part of the American dream.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that 65% in this country own a home. Many times, it’s the household’s greatest asset. An even greater percentage owns a vehicle. 

A home and a car—safety and freedom—are the bare minimum of what is worked for and hoped for by most in this country. Some want more, and their dreams evolve into owning a business and increasing wealth. Not everyone is willing to take that risk. But for those who do it successfully, a business is an additional, proud possession.

According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, there are six million firms with employees on payroll. Companies usually have storefronts or some type of commercial space. An additional 26.5 million are non-employer businesses or the self-employed who solely operate their business. Many of these entrepreneurs also have storefronts.

Homes, cars, and businesses. It’s a lot to protect, but it’s never been a problem.

Until now.  

Soft-on-crime policies have encouraged the destruction of storefronts, the theft of merchandise, the vandalism of homes, squatting, car jackings, car vandalism, robberies, muggings, and more.

Law-abiding citizens can’t even expect to keep their shoes on their feet.

A young couple was robbed of their phones and shoes during a recent teen violence spree in Chicago that included setting cars on fire and damaging property. And although Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson did not condone the violence, he showed little empathy for the assault on property rights when he said, “…it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities. Our city must work together to create spaces for youth…”

It’s hard enough being a victim of property crime. Now, in a land of lawlessness, the homeowner, car owner, and business owner are ignored and excuses are made for the perpetrators.

Many elected officials, and others in government, do little to put a stop to the lawlessness. It’s beginning to feel like tyranny.

The Declaration of Independence states, “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpation, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States.”

Replace the words, “King of Great Britain” with “lawlessness.” One can understand how the colonists felt.  

Several businesses in Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, New York City, and other areas are moving, at least in part, due to safety concerns.

When businesses flee, there’s a rush by crime deniers to put out statistics that don’t align with personal experiences. Some cities will state that crime is declining, but residents see something different.

And no spreadsheet is needed to observe that all or part of large corporations are moving out of high-crime areas: Citadel, Caterpillar, Boeing, Tyson Foods, Amazon and many more companies as well as lots of retail outlets and restaurants.

Taxes are an issue, but so is safety.

The founding fathers fought against and freed themselves from the tyranny of the King of Great Britain and established the United States of America. Now, property rights are again under siege. Our task is not as difficult as the colonists, and yet we accomplish less. We are not asked to pledge, “…our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” in order to restore security of private property. Instead, citizens must simply pledge to vote for the law and order candidate.

Nothing will change until that happens.   

Or, we can vote for the progressive, soft-on-crime candidate and go without shoes.

Make term limits kick in when national debt climbs

Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Lincoln was speaking, in 1858, about those supporting or opposing slavery—the ultimate division in our land.

Today, our country is again divided. Cable news talking heads and politicians say it is Republicans versus Democrats, Conservatives versus Liberals, or as Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has stated, normal versus crazy.

But those words mean less to the average American. Our country is built on families. It seems every extended family has Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, normal and even crazy people. Political identity may create some tension, but most still stick together as families.

The real division is—just as it was in 1858—an issue of justice. The house divided today is the average citizen’s expectation of fairness versus the powerful and elite’s flagrant disregard for fairness.     

Corruption is growing. It can be found within wasteful, trillion-dollar bills, bloated government bureaucracies, and “too big to fail” corporations bailed out by taxpayers.

There’s a lot of work to be done to reinstate fairness, and our elected representatives aren’t helping matters.

Think of the national debt as a corruption barometer. According to, the national debt is at 31 trillion. It’s a factual indicator of either complete incompetence or a clear abuse of power by the Beltway elites. What’s best for the country and its citizens takes a back seat to what is best for the politician and holding on to a powerful seat in Congress.  

Term limits legislation could take care of this problem, but it takes legislators to pass it. That won’t happen. And the argument that citizens can institute term limits through voting doesn’t always work that simply. Incumbents have name recognition and access to financial support that makes it difficult for them to be unseated.

But there may be another way—tie term limits to the national debt.

Start with a generous term limit of 18 years—three terms for a senator and nine for a representative. Then tie national debt performance to it after that. If debt is less than it was when the politician originally took office, an additional term will be allowed. And continued to be allowed as long as the debt continues to fall.  

Call it “qualifying term limits.” Make politicians qualify for the right to run for additional terms beyond 18 years.   

It would be an embarrassment for any candidate to refuse the idea of qualifying term limits. Wanting to hang on to a job after 18 years in which the national debt only increased—is just plain whining.  

Something more interesting could happen, though. Votes may no longer fall strictly along party lines. If qualifying term limits were in place, second thoughts might be given to recklessly spending trillions.  

Never underestimate a politician’s need for self-preservation.

When our national debt returns to zero, qualifying term limits would no longer apply. Politicians could stay for as many terms as they can get re-elected. It’s called a bonus for doing a good job.

Some will say that emergencies require policies that increase the national debt. But Americans know that most emergencies are greatly exaggerated by lawmakers.

It wouldn’t even take legislation to make qualifying term limits happen. Every member of Congress has an official website. Challengers running for office have websites, as well. During the next campaign season, pressure each candidate to make a public statement of support or opposition to qualifying term limits and to permanently post it on the website. It will make a difference to voters who expect fairness.  

Lincoln went on to state, “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

This nation cannot endure with the average citizen seeking fairness and a land it is proud to pass on to the next generation while the powerful and elite seek personal gain at the destruction of it.

Let our beloved house stand for fairness.

The missing leg of retirement’s three-legged stool

A history page from the Social Security Administration website states that, “Social Security benefits were said to be one leg of a three-legged stool consisting of Social Security, private pension and savings and investments.”

But perhaps a better way to think about the three-legged stool is forced contributions to Social Security and Medicare through payroll taxes, all voluntary efforts to increase retirement wealth, and answering the question of, “Then what?” after reaching retirement age.

The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935. Medicare payroll taxes were added in 1965. Between Social Security and Medicare, employees contribute 7.65% of every paycheck to fund these two programs. Employers match and add 7.65% for every employee. Between the employee and employer, a total tax of 15.3% is tagged for that worker’s benefit at the time of retirement.

Paychecks were different before these forced contributions. Employees could keep an additional 7.65% of their paycheck. Employers weren’t matching 7.65% for every employee either and were free to use that money in ways that benefited the business—perhaps even providing raises with it.

Before 1935, the first leg of the three-legged stool was to voluntarily create your own nest egg—by spending less and saving and investing more. That’s how our ancestors did it.

The second leg of the three-legged stool is now Social Security income and Medicare insurance.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Social Security and Medicare will become insolvent in about 10 years. If Social Security is still around when you’re ready to retire, though, there are decisions to make.

The longer you put off retirement, the higher the monthly Social Security payment becomes. You may also have a job that you enjoy and is helping you build that alternative retirement account.

On the other hand, you can’t get something from nothing. If Social Security funds are dwindling quickly, you might want to consider drawing earlier rather than later—even if it means the monthly payment will be lower.

This option is only possible, though, if you’ve done a good job with the first leg of your retirement plan—creating wealth that is sufficient and independent of Social Security.

Total income taxes are another consideration. Run the numbers to see what makes the most sense.

And now we’ve arrived at the missing third leg of the three-legged stool.

When Social Security was created, it made work a nasty, four-letter word. It created a society that just couldn’t wait to retire and do nothing.

As we age, we might not have the stamina, physical health, or even desire to continue knocking out a 40-hour work week.

But it’s important to remain a productive member of society. Everyone has something to offer.

Acclaimed journalist, Morley Safer, worked in broadcast journalism right up to his death at 84. He slowed down and did less. But he still did something. His last story aired on 60 Minutes, just two months before his death.

He lived a life of productivity.

The Bible speaks to taking a day of rest every week. But nowhere in the Bible does it talk about doing nothing fruitful during your golden years. There’s no 11th commandment that states you shall have the right to play golf for the last 20 years of your life. King David was a warrior to the end.    

If your health allows it, the missing leg of retirement’s three-legged stool is to not fully retire.

Before retirement age, work, save and invest. If Social Security is still around when you hit your 60s, wisely consider your options. And at post-retirement age, find a way to continue to be a productive member of society.   

Do more. Need less.

If the federal government knew how to do this—work hard and spend less than it takes in, consider options wisely to keep programs afloat, and remain continuously productive—there would be no need for the Social Security talk.

Ten-year adventure with Facebook ends

People have a tough time doing what they know needs to be done.

Congress won’t balance a budget. The federal government won’t secure our borders. Mainstream media won’t provide objective reporting.

Is it any wonder that the average American also has difficulties doing tough things? Our job is to build, work at, or create a better life. If each of us does that, whatever it looks like for every individual, we will together honor and strengthen our country.

But sometimes we won’t. And don’t. Even in small matters.

Recently, I celebrated a ten-year anniversary with Facebook.

Facebook hasn’t always made me happy during that time.

There are the usual grievances:

Too much scrolling time. The intention is to spend a few minutes with the app. But often, I’m still scrolling 20 or 30 minutes later. And that’s just with Facebook. Most also have YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. That sounds quite exhausting.

Too many ads popping up. I instruct Facebook, through account settings, to stop showing the most annoying ads. But for every ad you get rid of, Facebook has two or three new ones that it pushes on you.

Too many inappropriate posts. This one is subjective, but you know it when you see it because you find yourself thinking, “I wish I hadn’t looked at that.” 

Too many scammers trying to hack into accounts. Getting your Facebook account hacked is like hitting a deer with your car. It’s not if it will happen, but when. Danger is constantly lurking. 

Too much consistent failure trying to be present to hundreds of people. It’s just not feasible.

There are issues with Facebook. But it’s a social norm to be on social media, so you hang in there.

The flip side is that it’s fun to share part of your life with posts. And friends and family have warmed my heart over the years by tagging me with their shared photos and thoughts. They also made me laugh out loud at times with their photos, links and articles and thoughtfully challenged my thinking on some topics. (I know this to be true because I just saved 334 photos from my Facebook account to my smart phone. The collection is going to make a stunning Shutterfly memory book—my best of Facebook.)

If I were 20, 30 or 40 years old, I wouldn’t be giving this another thought. But there’s something about being 59. When there are fewer years ahead of you than behind you, you start to get a little protective of your time and how it’s spent.

For many people my age or any age, Facebook is a perfect way to spend their time and provides a ton of enjoyment. If it’s creating a better life for you, stick with it.

For me, though, it’s time to move on. I’m a “ten-year girl.” After about ten years, I tend to get bored with stuff and want to try something new.   

It would be a lot easier to just keep the account and carry on. And on and on and on. But I’m not Congress, the federal government, or the mainstream media. I think, reflect and act.  

Soon, I’ll be deactivating my Facebook account. I hope to see my family and friends in other places and spaces. I am on Snapchat and Twitter, although I don’t know if I can really say I’m “on” those platforms if I don’t actually send personal snaps or political tweets. I’m going to work on that.

See. That’s what’s exciting. Doing something new.

For ten years, I walked through the forest of Facebook. It hasn’t been enough of an enchanted wonderland to make me want to stay. It’s time to head for the clearing.

Peace out.

Rural Iowans’ wish list

San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Brock Purdy, got the challenge—which means opportunity—of a lifetime. His first professional football start was against arguably the greatest of all time. Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in town. “Mr. Irrelevant,” the last pick of the 2022 NFL draft, didn’t request this script. He was ready, though, to flip it. Purdy, and a great supporting team, defeated Tampa Bay 35 – 7.   

Turns out Purdy was never irrelevant. Just someone who was given a chance and then did something with it.

Rural communities in Iowa have challenges, too. Despite that, they want the ball and the opportunity to show what they can do with it. Give them a fair chance. They’ll take it from there.   

Fairness, though, isn’t always a given. Rural Iowans know when the playing field isn’t level.

Start with Iowa roadways.

According to 2020 census data, about half of Iowa’s population live in 90 counties that are primarily or moderately rural. It’s not unusual for those living in rural communities to travel 20, 40, 60 miles or more, round trip, to get to their job, the grocery store or the doctor. That’s a lot of trips to the gas pump, and gas taxes are what pays for roads. Good roads are also necessary for economic development in small towns. It’s almost impossible to lure an industry, and the jobs it brings with it, without good infrastructure. Without jobs, small towns die.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, it plans to build or improve about 1,250 miles of roadways from 2022 – 2026. Most of these improvements are planned in or around metro areas with limited road projects going to rural counties. For example, the 10-county rural region of Northeast Iowa is slated to receive about 65 miles of road improvements or about five percent of budgeted projects.

Rural Iowans pay for a lot of roads with long-commute gas taxes. They just have to drive to metro areas to enjoy them.

Secondly, many small towns in Iowa didn’t have access to high-speed, fiber optic internet services until recently. Small towns—just like cities—depend on technology to grow businesses and compete efficiently. The Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program helped deliver needed broadband services to finally make that happen. These businesses aren’t guaranteed success, but at least they now have a fairer chance to compete. 

But while connectivity is improving in small towns, there are still many rural residences without access to high-speed internet. It’s a quality-of-life issue, especially for younger generations. The countryside will continue to empty out without it.  

Lastly, rural counties and local communities are struggling to provide adequate emergency health care and ambulance services.

A greater percentage of the elderly live in rural communities compared to urban areas, and they are primary consumers of health care. The Iowa Department of Public Health projected that by year 2030, 22% of the state’s total population will be over the age of 65 and living in rural areas. Needs will grow. Services may not be able to grow with it.

A few states provide some type of supplemental financial assistance to emergency medical and ambulance services. Iowa is not one of them.

There are only so many taxpayer dollars to go around. But the harder it is to obtain ambulance services, the more rural Iowans will question wasteful spending by the state. When allocating resources, every legislator should be asking the question, “Is this more important than leaving rural communities without access to ambulance services?”  

Rural Iowans pay a ton of gas taxes. They’re still waiting for more blanketed broadband coverage. And they have higher elderly populations that require access to emergency health care and ambulance services.

But they’re also like every other community in Iowa, whether it’s rural, urban or suburban. They just want a chance to succeed and to show that they’re not irrelevant.

Allocate resources fairly, and rural Iowans will put up the points.

Election night must be reclaimed

It feels like the voters’ ownership of elections is slipping away.

There aren’t too many events or competitions where we get to be active participants.

For most of us, we don’t have the skill set required to be a professional football or basketball player. No college was ever interested in signing us for our athletic ability. We can’t sing or dance well enough to draw adoring crowds on Broadway. No concert venue will sell out with our name headlining it. Hollywood doesn’t know who we are.

We appreciate those who ascend to the highest level of providing the masses with entertainment. Those ball players, singers, dancers and actors provide us with a little relief from the work week. Sometimes, diversion is good. And necessary.

But we fully understand that we’re only spectators during those events.

Elections are different. The Super Bowl of politics gives equal playing time to 150 million voters. We’re active participants. We vote on or before Election Day and are glued to a media source to watch or listen to results come in that night. Forget about whether it’s a red wave or trickle. A blue win or loss. The excitement of Election Day is a hallmark of a vibrant, participatory democracy. Voters are the ones bringing the game to an exciting finale.   

That’s our past glory. Things have changed.

Nobody ever used the word “patience” on Election Day until recently. Now, it’s becoming the awful, new norm. Voters are told to have patience for election results, and that it could take an additional day, week or month before we see the final score.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

First, properly prepare. The pandemic supercharged the mail-in ballot option in 2020. The Pew Research Center states that about 75 percent voted in person before Election Day or voted by mail. Sheer volume overwhelmed many unprepared election officials in 2020. But if that option is here to stay and will be widely used, it can’t keep being a surprise to administrators during subsequent elections. We all know the definition of insanity.

Next, impose a hard deadline of Election Day as the day that mail-in ballots must be received by election officials—not postmarked by Election Day and certainly not any days after that. One of the driving forces behind mail-in ballots is the convenience factor. If voting by mail is truly more convenient, nobody needs to wait until the last second to get a ballot in the mail. Citizens can either conveniently vote at their local precinct or conveniently postmark their mail-in ballot in plenty of time for it to arrive by Election Day.    

We will always need the mail-in ballot option for our military stationed overseas, for the elderly, for those traveling, and for other good reasons. All those ballots can be received by Election Day.    

Lastly, follow the Bipartisan Policy Center recommendation that election administrators should be permitted to process early in-person votes and vote-by-mail ballots beginning at least seven days prior to Election Day. Processing means preparing ballots and then running them through tabulators. Tabulating machines can be set to restrict availability of the results of these ballots to anyone, including election administrators, until the close of polls on Election Day.

The work gets done ahead of time. Hard copies of ballots are securely stored using strict chain of custody protocols. The secrecy of the ballot remains intact.

Timely results are important to participants. If the score card is habitually withheld from the ones playing the game—the voters exerting the effort—they may lose interest. Maybe that’s the real and sinister goal of some, to turn citizens into passive spectators instead of active participants.    

Our elections must not devolve into a spectacle. Now is the time to ask your state legislators and election officials what they are doing to ensure that winners and losers will be confidently announced on Nov. 5, 2024.

It’s voters’ game day. We want it back.   

Be like Clete and the boys

There’s a photo collage that draws me in every time I see it.

It’s of my Uncle Clete and his three boys. All are in military uniform. Each in a different one.

Clete, now passed, served in the Air Force. Jim served in the Navy and now lives in Michigan. Darrell was a Marine and resides in Virginia. Bob served in the Army Reserves and now calls Indiana his home.   

Many branches, but one mission—to love and defend our nation.

Some families have a proud tradition of generations joining the same branch of the military and serving. That is so good.

But I love the “same, but different” message that emanates from this photo. All loved their country and served, but each was independent-minded enough to go his own way.

It provides the first teachable moment—think for yourself.

The election season is upon us. No one political party has all the answers. Or, maybe a better way to say it is that political parties try to have too many answers. Very few would be willing to sign their name to all that their party professes on its state platform. The 2022 Iowa Democratic Party Platform has 560 statements of support or opposition to particular issues. That’s a lot of red lines. Republicans are capable of churning out quite a few planks too.

If the average Iowa voter isn’t going to be in full agreement on these hundreds of items, it makes extreme party loyalty unnecessary. Instead, consider what’s most important this election cycle and then determine which candidate is best suited to deliver.

Think. And then vote for individuals who can also think for themselves.    

The collage of Clete and the boys are typical basic training photos. They show confidence and determination. They didn’t have their whole life planned out at the moment. They didn’t need to. All they had to do was the next, right thing. And the next. And the next.

It’s not always easy to do the next, right thing. That’s called courage.

Most have moderate political voices. It can be a little overwhelming to simply hang on to that voice when louder voices attempt to silence it.  But take on cancel culture anyway, and don’t give up on finding reasonable, common-sense solutions to needs. Do it today and the next. And the next.

Have courage. Vote for others who have courage.

Lastly, remember that we’re on the same team.

I put three kids through school who were all active in high school sports. We didn’t always win. On nights when we were getting clobbered, though, I would look at the opposing team and think about how at least some of these kids would likely go on to join the military. Then, they would be on my team. Team USA.

The world seems to spin out of control when the United States doesn’t show leadership or display economic and military strength. Our team needs to win.


Vote for the candidate who will put our country first.  

This election, Clete and the boys don’t expect us to don uniforms in order to love and defend our nation. But let us think for ourselves, be courageous with our beliefs, and put our country first.

And vote for people like that too.

Early retirees, with advanced degrees, can assist in education

Three sets of statistics are converging to form either a perfect storm or a perfect solution. The outcome is up to us.

And the stakes could not be higher. It’s about the education of our youth and offering them the same opportunity that every generation before them had—a chance to improve their standard of living through a quality education.   

The issues in play are: student learning loss from the pandemic, underpaid teachers, and rising early retirements in the general population from individuals with advanced degrees.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), about half of teachers had more students start the 2020-21 school year behind compared to a typical school year. Nearly two-thirds of teachers had more students make less academic progress. And 45% of teachers reported that at least half of their students ended the year behind grade level.

COVID was deadly for many, especially the elderly. But our youth suffered, too, through a disruption in learning.

It hasn’t been easy on teachers, either.

The GAO reports there were fewer public school teachers in 2021 than in 2019, and many teachers are considering leaving their job earlier than anticipated. It draws upon a National Education Association survey that puts that number as high as 55%.

Throughout the country, states and schools have struggled to provide salaries to teachers that are adequate. Iowa Code 284.15 sets a minimum public school teacher salary at $33,500. Minimum and what the market bears are two, different things. Still, posts that Iowa teachers with one year of experience can expect to make just $38,000 on average.

The spin on these numbers is that the cost of living in Iowa is less than in other parts of the country. That may be true, but the argument isn’t good enough. Teachers are finding other jobs paying more, without moving, and continuing to enjoy a lower cost of living.  

Teachers need a pay raise.

And then we step into the completely different world of individuals, with advanced degrees, choosing early retirement.

The Pew Research Center found that retirement among those 55 and older, who have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, rose three percentage points during the pandemic.

The uncertainty that COVID brought prompted many to end their professional careers earlier than anticipated. They didn’t know, though, that their 401k would soon suffer losses and that inflation would make it tougher to stretch their retirement dollars. Some will likely come out of retirement and rejoin the workforce.

And they could become the perfect solution to the challenges in education.

There’s something we know about people with graduate degrees in business, communications, computer science, engineering, environmental science, physics, psychology, and many other advanced degrees who enjoyed successful, professional careers—they’re not idiots. 

It’s possible that some of these individuals, in their post-retirement world, can re-imagine life in a way that can help our youth.

The problem of learning loss from the pandemic deserves our attention. It cannot be a headline one day and then forgotten the next. This is an “all hands on deck” moment.

Early retirees, with advanced degrees, may be able to help in the classroom. It would mean another look at what is required to be certified to teach in the state. Also, guidance from a mentor teacher would be crucial.

But the bigger problem is that they won’t do it for $38,000.  

Iowa is using $75 million in federal funds for a program that will encourage high school students to pursue a career in teaching by funding college credits. It’s something that might help dwindling teacher numbers, but it still doesn’t address new teacher compensation.

Nobody goes into teaching to get rich, but even a modest bump in salaries could be meaningful in solving education problems. It might be enough to prompt some early retirees to consider using their talents in the classroom.

Acknowledge learning loss, give teachers a raise, and start thinking outside the box on who can be admitted to the education club. Focus on results, not rules.

Not everyone has what it takes to teach. But some do.

It’s time to do something.

Taxes, consequences and choices

My grandkids like to play a game called, “Would You Rather.” Through barely stifled giggles, they present one preposterous choice to another. And now Grandma must choose. It’s a clever, little game. Ultimately, you learn more about the other person—what is valued.

Voters must make choices, too. Recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act makes that clear.

It’s another monstrous spending package that may have little or no effect on inflation. Many economists and studies like the Penn Wharton Budget Model from the University of Pennsylvania sounded the alarm. Still, the controlling Democratic Party pushed it through. Not a single Republican voted for it.

About $370 billion goes toward climate change initiatives. The Internal Revenue Service gets $80 billion over 10 years, with about half of that money going toward increased enforcement. And the 2010 Affordable Care Act, still not able to operate without massive subsidies, gets another $64 billion. That will buy us three more years of Obamacare.   

But there’s one piece of this legislation that deserves greater consideration by its critics—an alternative minimum tax of 15% for corporations earning a billion or more annually in income.

An initial concern was the issue of accelerated or bonus depreciation. Corporations (and all businesses) incur expenses and make purchases in order to stay competitive. These write-offs lower taxable income. There are two sides to running a business—generating income and managing costs. The final version of this bill, though, left in the ability to accelerate depreciation of certain purchases.

What’s different is C corporations will now face either a 15% minimum tax on its adjusted financial statements—the ones where they could announce banner years to their shareholders—or taxation through its regular tax forms—the ones where they could announce a loss or little income to the Internal Revenue Service. Corporations will pay the larger of either the minimum tax or the regular tax.  

We got to this place when it was learned, all too often, that enormous corporations with dominant market share were paying little or no federal income tax. 

In 2016, The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) identified 100 C corporations with the largest incomes. From that group, it selected 50 and studied tax liabilities for each. It was an impressive lot. These 50 companies held more than one-quarter of all assets reported from 1.6 million C corporations. Of those 50 companies studied, about one-in-five reported no federal income tax after credits.

Billion-dollar businesses argue that they have shareholders to satisfy. The Tax Foundation has been equally critical of JCT’s findings and states, “The corporate tax is also borne by owners of shares, including retirees and others…”

Everyone with a 401K or other retirement account, with even small stakes in large, publicly-held corporations, wants high-performing returns.

The Tax Foundation continues, “Corporate taxes do not come freely but rather at the expense of more investment, more job opportunities, and higher wages.”

That’s a legitimate argument. But the same is true for small businesses. Taxes paid by small businesses come at the expense of more investment, more job opportunities, and higher wages.

Keep in mind, small businesses account for about half of all private sector employment. They’re a big deal, too. But they’re also expected to pay their taxes.

This is one of those times when you can’t have both things, and it’s an uncomfortable choice.

Would you rather see the wealthiest corporations in this country pay their fair share of taxes, even if it meant your 401K would stumble—especially if the stock market is already struggling? Or would you rather look the other way when billion-dollar companies don’t pay their fair share of taxes, as long as it improves your chance to enjoy a high-performing retirement account?

There’s no one right answer, but have one. Then, own it.

Even children know that our choices define us.  

Healing after Roe v. Wade

This blog was previously published in the Des Moines Register.

Former President Bill Clinton stated that abortion should be safe and legal, but rare.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973. It made abortion safe and legal, but not rare. More than 63 million babies have been aborted in the United States in the past 49 years. That’s not a rare number by anyone’s standards. It’s what drove many to the ballot box, hoping that one day abortion truly would be rare.

The heavy lifting of the abortion debate—voting in candidates who nominate and confirm constitutional originalists to the bench—is completed. The Supreme Court recently sent the issue back to the states where it belongs.

Now we begin the next phase—lawmaking at the state level, which could look quite differently throughout the country. But common to all during this time should be a sense of healing and a desire to respect all life, including the mother’s. 

Three-quarters of the population believe abortion should be legal if the woman’s life or health is endangered by the pregnancy. About the same percentage believe abortion should be legal if the pregnancy occurs from rape. A woman’s life or health could be endangered if she shares a child with a rapist, especially in a nation that is soft on crime.

Most abortions, though, are happening for other reasons.

If there are 63 million babies being aborted, there are tens of millions of women who have had at least one abortion.    

In states that place strong restrictions on abortions, the concern is that abortions will continue at the same rate—they just won’t be legal or as safe.

It’s questionable if the abortion rate would remain the same under that circumstance.

When abortion was legal nationwide, it was used and used widely. Many have had not one, but multiple abortions. Legalization of something tends to lull us into believing it’s an acceptable activity.

Sometimes, it’s not.

Marijuana is now legal in several states. For many, the good old days have returned. But have they? In several states, the speed limit is 80 mph on interstates. Inexperienced 16-year-olds can legally drive that speed and will. But should they? Social media giants can be the messaging police and legally kick off anyone from their platforms, and they do. But is it fair?

Abortion was legal nationwide, and 63 million were aborted. But was it right?

Women who have had abortions are our friends, neighbors and family members. Most tend not to brag about it. That silence says so much. But because it was legal, it may have been enough to suppress doubts and move forward with the abortion anyway. The legality of it may have been the tipping point.

That’s the greatest tragedy of all.

Most of these women made the best decision they knew how to make, at the time they were making it. The fact that abortion was legal at the time likely factored into that decision.

It’s noticeable that the majority of these tens of millions of women are now painfully silent during this upheaval of abortion law.  

We all have to take some responsibility for creating a society where abortion has been the acceptable and permanent go-to solution to a beautiful surprise—a new life.

Through our indifference or our zealotry.

Through our vote or our failure to vote.

Through our courage or our fear.  

There will always be unplanned pregnancies. But there is hope that there will be fewer abortions, because the conversation has turned to the legality of it.

Then maybe we can get to a place where abortion really does become a rarity.

It will be a life-changer.