Marta Hernandez

Recent Posts From Marta Hernandez

“Wealthy” households living hand-to-mouth

Princeton economists Greg Kaplan and Justin Weidner, along with Giovanni Violante of New York University recently concluded something we already knew: those our government tries to paint as “wealthy” actually own a lot of assets they cannot readily access, and are living paycheck-to-paycheck, much like the poor, at whom the government focuses aid.

And because these people, for the most part, only have access to their regular paychecks, “The wealthy hand- to-mouth… behave in many respects like households with little or no net worth, yet they escape standard definitions and empirical measurements based on the distribution of net worth,” conclude the economists.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to pass around a collection plate for these poor souls. They are, for the most part, educated, and the financial shocks they experience only last a couple of years. But if you’re wondering what happens to these people’s money, let me give you a personal example.

Pretend I have a house. Said house is worth $500,000. I have $50,000 in a 401K plan. I also have a job. Said job pays me $150,000 per year. One would think that I’m sitting pretty, right?

Well, no. Not really. I can’t exactly sell the house right now. It’s not easy. It requires resources I just don’t have right now. I can’t take money out of my retirement plan – not without substantial penalties that will cut my $50,000 significantly. My job is great, but 35 percent of my paycheck disappears. After federal and state taxes, Social Security, and medical and dental deductions, I’m only taking home 65 percent of my pay.

That still seems like a lot, right?

Should we get involved in Ukraine?

Ukraine is a complicated question worldwide. It is a relatively large Eastern European economy – certainly the biggest, after Russia, among the former Soviet Republics. It is also a major natural gas conduit for sales of Russian natural gas from Russia to the European Union.

As such, it’s important to Russia, not just as a transit point for natural gas to its biggest customers in Europe, but also as a large economy that exports a lot of its agricultural products, its workers and its steel to Russia. Having an economy such as this in the Russian-led customs union would lend legitimacy to an organization the Russians have been trying to transform into a European Union-type economic alliance.

In this post I’m going to attempt to lay out some issues, as well as some possible outcomes and solutions.

First, let’s get something straight. There have been rumblings that the U.S. government has somehow been funding the protesters in Ukraine, hoping to topple the corrupt, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. This is a silly idea. Why would the United States work to create a power vacuum? Why would the United States want to facilitate the rise to power of Julia Timoshenko, who by many accounts is just as corrupt as Yanukovych AND has ties to organized crime? It doesn’t make sense.

Inmates running the asylum

If you haven’t heard yet, college football star Michael Sam has publicly come out of the closet and announced he’s gay. In a sane society, this wouldn’t be a big deal. Sam wouldn’t have to make this announcement as if it’s some kind of divine revelation, and the rest of America would continue watching football and drinking bad beer without worrying about with whom Sam chooses to spend his free time.

But, of course, we’re not that country anymore. We’re not a nation that considers one’s sexual orientation a matter of a person’s personal life. Those on the left are treating Sam like a national hero who personally climbed the walls of the compound at Abbottabod and killed Usama bin Ladin. Those on the right, are of course, scrambling to pass laws to ensure Sam will not be allowed to play professional football.

What?

That’s right.

You read that correctly. At a time when we are facing an incredibly volatile world environment, riots in the Ukraine, strained tensions with Russia, a civil war in Syria and demonstrations in Venezuela, just to name a few, coupled with a sluggish economy at home…

…some in Washington are busy trying to legislate Teh Ghey™ out of existence.

According to the Hill newspaper, Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman says he’s preparing a bill that would ban gay athletes from joining the NFL, and that he’s got political support for the bill.

No, this is not The Onion. This is The Hill.

And this is not a joke. This is Congress.

Oh, pardon me. It’s the same thing.

The problem with fingerprint-recognition guns

Ed Markey

The Hill newspaper reports today that Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D-umbass) will introduce legislation to require all firearms produced in the United States to be equipped with advanced fingerprint recognition technology.

The monumental stupid and elitist of this suggestion could only have come from someone whose tongue is firmly implanted in the nether regions of Mothers for Justice and Equality, Project R.I.G.H.T. and other organizations dedicating to destroying the right of the people to keep and bear arms, stomping all over the Second Amendment and sporting a big, red “F” rating from the NRA.

A generally untested technology mandated for all firearms purchases? What could go wrong?

Well, imagine the following scenario.

You are a woman peacefully having dinner with your spouse and children. All is calm. All is peaceful. And then…

Three armed thugs stage a home invasion, threatening you and your family.

Your husband grabs his gun, equipped with the latest fingerprint-recognition technology, but the thugs mow him down in a hail of gunfire.

You grab your spouse’s pistol, hoping to protect yourself and your children, but unfortunately, the pistol does not recognize your biometrics. You and your children are helpless.

Oh, but you have your own gun that recognizes your fingerprints? So what happens if both of you are hurt or worse? Do you expect your children to grab your pistol and attempt to place it in your cold, lifeless hand in order to unlock its defensive power?

Georgia mulls protecting gun owners

Politico is reporting that Georgia politicians are mulling broader protections for gun owners. The latest plan is to ensure that people licensed to carry a gun will avoid arrest if they accidentally bring their firearms into the security checkpoint at Atlanta’s airport and if they willingly leave the security line, acknowledging their mistake.

It seems to be pretty commonsense legislation that would protect law-abiding citizens who make an honest mistake.

So is it any wonder the union that represents airport security screeners opposes the measure?

“The public has had 12 years’ notice that guns are prohibited,” said a statement from David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees. “Sooner or later they need to take responsibility for violating the law that’s meant to protect our officers and the traveling public.”

Really?

So the public cannot be allowed to make a mistake without having lives, livelihoods and records ruined by an agency that has had so many abuse allegations leveled against it that it has become a sad joke? This same agency that forced a cancer survivor to pull out her prosthetic breast, whose employees frighten small children, and whose employees sexually assault women at gunpoint, wants a zero tolerance policy for law-abiding citizens who make an honest mistake!

Did you really think Bloomberg’s Mayors group was about safety?

In 2006, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg started a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). The group’s mission was ostensibly to keep America’s “communities safer by keeping illegal guns out of dangerous hands.”

Apparently MAIG’s definition of “dangerous hands” is “your hands.”

It comes as no surprise that the petty, pathetic, sniveling despot’s ultimate goal is not what it seems. Since Bloomberg ascended to his dictatorial throne, he’s been working to control the lives of every New York citizen. From trans fats, to salt (resulting in a ban on food donations to homeless shelters, because the hungry homeless are more concerned about sodium intake than… you know… STARVING TO DEATH!) to sugary drinks (a ban deemed unconstitutional by a court with just a little common sense), Michael Bloomberg became the anointed Prince of Peremptoriness in the city, taking it upon himself to “save” New Yorkers from themselves.

So it’s no surprise that he would want to ban guns – not just keep them out of dangerous hands, but ban them outright. It’s also not surprising that he would lie and obfuscate to legitimize his group of gun grabbers.

Coincidence? I don’t think so

Gerry Connolly

At a recent Congressional hearing, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-egenerate, VA) dismissed out of hand a TEA Party leader’s concerns about being targeted by the federal government after her group filed an application for tax-exempt status.

During a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that took place Thursday to examine the alleged targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status by the IRS, Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of the King Street Patriots, testified about the increased scrutiny she, her family and her business faced from multiple federal agencies soon after she applied for a tax-exempt status for her conservative group.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ATF, IRS audits, FBI visits… According to Engelbrecht, during the 20 years her business has been in existence, not once did she get the scrutiny she received after filing paperwork with the IRS to grant her King Street Patriots tax-exempt status.

Not once.

Your needs are not a claim check on my means

welfare state

When I was in high school, I made a big decision for the rest of my life: I decided I would become a lawyer. To that end, I decided I would attend an Ivy League college, study day and night, apply to law school, and make six figures by the time I was 26.

Things didn’t work out quite the way I’d planned. For one, I found my newly-acquired freedoms away from my parents to be a slight distraction from my studies, and I realized that my Ivy League education wouldn’t get me much if I didn’t actually attend classes.

The second obstacle to my grand plan was that I actually found pre-law course work dull. I liked foreign languages and creative writing. I liked history and politics. I couldn’t imagine myself sitting in a library 12 hours every day, digging through case law, written in a language that resembled English, but that required the Rosetta Stone to decipher.

No thanks!

So after graduation, and after spending a year temping and bartending, I decided I would join the military – not as an officer, but as a mere enlisted Soldier. Why? Because the job I wanted to do in the military did not have a path for officers. So I became a disc jockey – or a Broadcast Journalist, as the Army calls them.

A few years later, I left the military after completing my contract, and I got a job as a news anchor and reporter at my local radio station. Local radio did not pay a lot. I started my broadcasting career making $22,000 per year, working sometimes as much as 12 hours per day, including some weekends and most holidays. At that point in my life, it was OK. We had one child, an inexpensive home we were renting in a rural area, and I knew that this was just the start for me.

Philip Seymour Hoffman – A Life Wasted

Philip Seymour Hoffman

A few days ago, Americans were shocked to find out that Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose. Hoffman was an incredible, versatile actor – a massive talent, whose repertoire included the roles of Plutarch Heavensbee in the second and third installments of The Hunger Games films, as well as Truman Capote in Capote and Freddy Lounds in the disturbing and frightening Red Dragon. Hoffman’s immense gift for acting – for becoming these complicated characters, requiring a complete abandonment of self and the occupation of others’ minds and souls – shall be missed.

The man that he was… not so much.

I know about drug abuse and addiction. Someone very close to me chose to destroy his life with heroin and alcohol. He and his wife abandoned everything, including their children, just so they could continue shooting poison into their bodies. They were offered the opportunity to get clean – all expenses paid – and to get their children back at the end of their journey. They declined. They chose heroin. They chose alcohol. They chose to destroy their bodies, and at the end, they caused their own demise.

I have no sympathy for these people, because they made their choices. They destroyed lives, and not just their own lives, but the lives of their children and their parents. His father spent his retirement income bailing him and his wife out of jail, buying him treatment, purchasing the clothing and food they would not purchase for their children, because what little money they had was usually injected into their veins.

I take no joy at their demise, but I certainly have no sympathy for them.

Moms Demand Action seeks to make more Americans victims of gun violence

Every once in a while, America experiences a tragedy that is so heinous and agonizing, that the sheer unimaginable horror of it sends the nation into a tailspin of shock and tears on a mass scale. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America were just such an event – an event where every one of us watched our televisions in horror, as planes filled with innocent people flew into buildings filled with innocent people, killing thousands.

The mass murder of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 was another such event. We watched in horror as the details of the mass murder by Adam Lanza filled our television screens. America held its collective breath as the body count mounted. Little children… how could this happen?

Almost immediately, the calls for gun control began.

The media screeched about a gun violence epidemic.

Sports retailers buckled under gun control pressure and began to “re-examine” their gun sales policies.

CNN’s Piers Morgan beat an obnoxiously loud drum to destroy the Second Amendment of a nation for whose Constitution he has nothing but disdain.

Marta Hernandez

Contributor


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