Goodbye to “For Better or For Worse.”

So today (Sunday, August 31st, 2008) For Better or For Worse puts out its “Last Strip,” the strip where we learn what the characters do with their futures. Of course they’re all happy (insofar as what we’re given).

Of course, much of the attention given to the strip over the past few years was watching how bad things could get. More interesting was reading the people snark over what they wish the cartoon would do, picking over every little “wrong” that Lynn did, didn’t do, could have done or intended to do.

Makes me wonder whether Charles Schulz would have survived the internet age (that will be a separate post).

Anyway, I remember being a fan of For Better or For Worse. While I didn’t hunt it down every day, it was a good comic to read, and one could ignore it for months (or years) and pick it up again. Like a good soap opera, only with a steady cast of characters.

So when did it go bad? I have three suspected points:

  1. When Lawrence was outed.
    While daring at the time, it’s obvious in hindsight that Lynn suddenly became scared of a portion of her fans after that. Even though the “history” of Lawrence’s outing has a positive spin on it, it’s obvious that she was strongly affected by the negative criticism from some fans. Maybe otherwise she would have had the kids snoozing with their boyfriends (especially Liz’s “gay” boyfriend, who I think was made gay so as to keep certain fans from thinking that Liz was sleeping with him).
  2. When April Almost Drowned (Farley Died for April’s Sins)
    I understand that Farley had to die at some point. I also have no problem with having Farely spend the last moments of his life saving family (although Farley not waking up one day makes better sense – that I’ll agree with). However, this seemed to lead to a sad tendency of Lynn to pile on extra drama when something big happened. Notice Michael falling for Dee after realizing she was in the accident he was shooting photos for, the house fire when Mike’s about to publish, Liz’s future husband saves her from rape at the time Liz decides to return home, and Jim’s repeated heart attacks/strokes whenever the plot needed to move along.
    The fact that there alwasy needed to be drama piled on drama when something big was happening seemed to say that Lynn didn’t feel that what was going on was able to hold people’s attention.
  3. Michael, Meet the Kelpfroths.
    Suddenly you see a family forced to be evil forever. Never mind their back story (my guess is that they may have tried once but decided to accept their childlessness, and are retired and probably unable to afford a move elsewhere), suddenly you have a couple forced to be ugly and bitter AND live underneath a noisy family AND suddenly be treated as the lowest form of life on the food chain AND forced to take on bad habits as their only way of striking back. For me, the last straw was Mr. Kelpfroth walking outside with the recycling ( the implication being here that the useful stuff was being put out, leaving the trash behind) and smoking a cigar when, from the upper part of the house the words “Do You Small Some Trash Burning” are uttered. An anvil plowing into Wile E. Coyote would have been more subtle.

After that, things became not so much predictable but forced. Liz falls in love again with her childhood sweetheart, Michael started publishing once a year, Jim was held on life support for much longer than he should have, and Lynn spent enough time doing past stuff that didn’t make any sense other than to rewrite history. If it weren’t for the snarkers, I’d probably long stopped.

But she’s gone and started rewritting history full-time (at least that’s what she’s saying she’ll do from here on in). I can now ignore her forever.


Is America Becoming a Feudal Country? Part 3: Regressive Taxation

In the first part of this series, I talked about the gutting of our surroundings for a few extra bucks by the poor and desperate around us. In the second part of this series, I talk about the gutting of our government via “privatization.” Now I’m going to talk about some of the outcomes of this “privatization.”

More to the point, I’m going to talk about how taxes become shifted from the rich to the poor by simple dint of the rich being the government. While in a reasonably representative government (whether it be via votes or via dictatorship) the rich take on a larger percentage of their income as taxes; whereas in a feudal society the poor are taxed at a higher rate than the rich.

The reason is obvious: Since the rich end up being involved directly in the governance, it makes sense that they would be given less of a tax burden. And the rulers, of course, would have little or no tax since they themselves would be the government.

Look at the Middle Ages. What you have is a group of serfs whose purpose is to feed themselves and everyone else. Everything they made was subject to taxation, and if things got really bad they suffered the brunt of the pain. Above them were the landlords. They (of course) had the responsibility of defense and warmaking AND of making sure their serfs made it through the summer to the harvest, as such they had a lighter taxation to the Kings. Kings, of course, had to concern themselves with other kings; they paid a lesser portion of their taxes to governments.

And the people on top? The Clergy. They lived tax free, service free and complete with monopolies in knowledge and the ways to heaven.

So how does that fit what’s going on in the United States? Sure, churches are still untaxed, but they’re hardly seen as the all-powerful forces they are, with the power of life and death over people. That has been handed over to our corporations. Needless to say, the special rules that have been passed so that they have lower tax rates and higher levels of benefits than actual people.

Then there’s “Captial Gains.” At high enough levels, the rich can claim their income is actually “Captial Gains,” which comes at a rate of 15%. This is about what the lower levels of income tax is at.

Mind you, at this point of time the tax rate is still mildly “progressive.” There’s plenty of items here that could easily push it to true regressive (the poor paying a greater percentage than the rich).

Such as the Social Security tax, which is a steady percentage on both Employee and Employer up to $93,000, at which it stops. There’s plenty of fees for stuff (which, when done for government-run stuff, actually stands as a form of taxation). Then there’s the payday loan stores and check-cashing places, which act as de facto taxes on the poor even though they go to private corporations. Various tickets rachet up rapidly on people who are unable to pay for their tickets immediately; mainly the poor. And, of course, we have selective prosecution of various laws set up to punish the poor for the criminal activity of being poor.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see and development in this country of a “value-added tax” with these three items going on:

  1. Social Security still taxed off people’s checks (complete with the $93,000 limit)
  2. Food taxed at the same rate as everything else (yes, the rich pay more for their food. Fact is, they can afford to. Good food is amazingly expensive in the United States, while the bad stuff is still cheap and strangely getting cheaper.
  3. “unearned income” (dividends, capital gains) is untaxed. That’s right, the money gotten from watching other people putting their noses to the grindstone is considered more sacred than the money earned from putting one’s nose to the grindstone.

And through this set of circumstances we have a legal, fully effective regressive tax.

And at that point the proper words to say would be “Welcome to Feudal America. Your Job: enjoy your serfdom, feed the rich.”

Just Desubscribed from the New York Times…

NYT Changes Story As Blogger Is Reading It!

Yes, I’ve heard the constant drumbeating of the neo-con right. Didn’t do anything.

Then I heard about how news standards were dropping, both with the dropping number of newspaper and the shrinking newshole. Again, the neo-con right seems to do the complaining.

Then I heard the left. The same people who make a point of cohabiting with Faux News because “everyone knows it ain’t news.” Everyone, that is, except a group movers and shakers who run Fox News, and millions of people who use Fox News to get their information.

But there comes a time when there’s enough stuff coming at you that you end up not being able to fully trust the information, even for informational purposes.

One case was with the 2004 CBS “revealing” of the proof that Bush was allowed to skip his service, using papers that were obviously forged to the point that even the Audience couldn’t believe what Dan Rather was saying. Never mind that they tried to fly this bit of news in 2000 and failed to get their desired response (mainly because Gore decided he’d rather not become president if it meant he owed the Blacks).

So where’s CBS News now? About to be outsourced to CNN. While creative enough to try out something new with Katie Couric, the resulting reputation of CBS News from Dan Rather’s tenure (who inhereted a news program with a stellar reputation which was able to stop wars) was so bad that even Katie Couric’s appearance couldn’t stop the free-fall (it may have sped it up as she was seen as the expert of fluff during her years at NBC).

So what’s the issue with the New York Times? Simple: you’re a newspaper. Even on the web, you’re expected to put out stuff meant to be permenant. Changing a news item after posting is a definite breach of protocol, something that brings doubt upon people.

Just ask CBS News.