Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why I'm Not A Feminist, Pt. 1: Domestic Violence

Third wave feminism - a term that encompasses the latest trend of feminism and its attendant "battles".  I find myself shaking my head at this movement, because I see woman spouting rhetoric about equality while in reality asking for special treatment.   It's not good enough that woman now have the right to own property, the right to vote, the right to choose her career, even the right to choose what to do when she's pregnant.  No, now society needs to treat every woman like a special snowflake.  Nowhere is this more apparent than Twitter.

The hash tag #YesAllWomen has made the rounds at Twitter, a multitude of third wave feminists haranguing readers with trite messages about domestic violence, rape, harassment, and wages.

The level of arrogance in these tweets astounds me.  There seems to be some base assumptions:
  • that most men sexually harass or rape women
  • that society encourages such behavior
  • that men don't work or don't work hard enough to earn their income
  • that all men are responsible for the behavior of those who commit violent acts
It's almost unconscionable, how all men are being portrayed as evil and all women as victims.  Someone actually have to make a hash tag #NotAllMen to combat the attitudes found within the #YesAllWomen tweets.

Today, I am ignoring all the ranting about rape, harassment, and wages.  I will cover those topics next week.  Today, though, I want to discuss domestic violence, otherwise known as intimate partner violence (IPV).

 If a woman becomes a victim of IPV, she has several options.  There are at least 2,000 shelters for her to turn to, found from a plethora of websites.  There are several hotlines for her to call to get the same information, as well as programs to help her obtain housing, legal advice, clothes, furniture, and whatever else she needs to get out of her abusive relationship and start over.  She can even show up at a fire station or police station, and receive help finding a shelter.

But if a man is a victim of IPV...  I want you to try something.  Go to Google and search for "find a women's shelter".  The search returned a list of women's shelters in my area, all of them for women who are victims of domestic violence.  

Now search for "find a men's shelter".  Go on, I'll wait.

This search brings up information about homeless shelters.  There is not a single hit for helping a man who has been abused.  Not one.

You might think that we don't need men's shelters, but according to the CDC, in 2011 more men were victims of IPV than women.  Yes, you read that correctly.  About 5,365,000 men were victims of IPV, while only 4,741,000 women were victims of IPV.

This is not a singular phenomena either.  Unless you define "domestic violence" as being violence against women (which some people do), then men make up anywhere between 40% and 55% of domestic violence victims in the United States alone.

But women have society backing them and protecting them.  Women have the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 that provides funding to investigate and prosecute violence against women.  Where is Violence Against Men Act?

Society doesn't even see violence against men as a problem sometimes.  Watch this video to see how people react differently when a man versus a woman gets publicly bullied.

You see, society tries to protect a woman from abuse, but laughs at a man who suffers from virtually the same abuse.

In terms of domestic violence, I am definitely not a feminist because this is not a women's issue.  It's not a men's issue.  It's a societal issue, and it's past time to treat men with the same respect that we treat women.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Taxes, Taxes, Everywhere! But Not A Penny to Spend...

Tomorrow is the American Tax Day, a date when most Americans turn in their income tax forms with either relief (because they either owe little money or qualify for a refund) or dread (because they owe a LOT of money).  But it matters not how much you get back, the complexity of the forms and tax law creates a constant undercurrent of unease as questions whisper in the background:  Did I fill out the forms correctly?  What if the law changed?  What if I misunderstand and get audited?

The tax law is hard to understand and open to misinterpretation.  The IRS provides a tax guide for 2014, an almost 300 page publication that covers the basics of how to file taxes.  While I applaud the tax guide, I still think that taxes take too much time and effort for everyone, with loopholes galore for people with the time and money to find them.

The answer, I believe, is to redo the tax system and remove all the tax credits, deductions, and complicated law.  Instead, all employers should pay taxes for their employees with each paycheck.  Period.  No Tax Day of Reckoning.  No worry about filling out forms.  Nada.

The amount of tax to be paid needs to be based solely on income, with the amount owed determined by a set percentage for each level of money earned.  To explain this, let us first look at the following table.

Money Earned Percentage of Tax Paid
$0 - Federal Poverty Line 0%
Federal Poverty Line - $50,000 10%
$50,000 - $100,00015%
$100,000 - $200,00020%
$200,000 - $300,00025%
$300,000 - $400,00030%
$400,000 - $500,00035%
$500,000 - $600,00040%
$600,000 - $700,00045%
$700,000 and up50%

Everyone pay the same percentage of tax over the same amount of money earned.  So no one pays tax on any money earned up to the Federal Poverty Line.  Then everyone pays 5% of whatever money earned between the Federal Poverty Line and $50,000, but still pays no tax on money earned that's below the Federal Poverty Line.

Let me give you a few examples.  For these cases, we'll assume the Federal Poverty Line is $20,000.

Example 1:

    Sue earns $30,000 as an administrative assistant.  Her tax bill would be:

$0 - $20,000$0
$20,000 - $30,000$1,000
Total Taxes Due$1,000

Example 2:

    Everett earns $87,400 as a computer programmer.  His tax bill would be:

$0 - $20,000$0
$20,000 - $50,000$3,000
$50,000 - $87,400$5,610
Total Taxes Due$8,610

Example 3:

    Nancy earns $238,000 as a fashion designer.  Her tax bill would be:

$0 - $20,000$0
$20,000 - $50,000$3,000
$50,000 - $100,000$7,500
$100,000 - $200,000$20,000
$200,000 - $238,000$9,500
Total Taxes Due$40,000

Example 4:

    Sid earns $3,575,000 as a professional athlete.  His tax bill would be:

$0 - Federal Poverty Line $0
Federal Poverty Line - $50,000 $3,000
$50,000 - $100,000$7,500
$100,000 - $200,000$20,000
$200,000 - $300,000$25,000
$300,000 - $400,000$30,000
$400,000 - $500,000$35,000
$500,000 - $600,000$40,000
$600,000 - $700,000$45,000
$700,000 - $3,575,000$1,437,500
Total Taxes Due$1,643,000

In the end, those who make the most money pay the most money, with a cap of 50% taxes on even the most wealthy of individuals.  

Now I understand that the table of tax percentage is merely a stab in the right direction of a fair distribution of taxes.  But the idea behind it all - that everyone pays the same amount of tax for the same money earned - is an equitable division of tax burden.  No one who lives in poverty and makes less than the poverty line needs to pay taxes - they need to save money and get training to get a better job.  But someone who makes millions of dollar per year can easily afford to pay more.  Plus, this method of taxation reduces the amount the IRS needs to spend, lowering the federal budget.

Of course, we still need to simplify how businesses do taxes.  But if we can get the government to redo personal taxes, it would be a start.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Review: "The Unleashing" by Shelly Laurenston

The Unleashing (Call of Crows, #1)The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The Unleashing" begins a new series by Shelly Laurenston. Set in the same universe as "Hunting Season", this story follows Kera Watson from when she first awake as a Crow to when she finally gets the hang of her second life.

A little background for those who haven't read "Hunting Season". In this universe, the Norse gods, goddesses, and other divine entities are alive and kicking. These beings recruit humans to belong to the Clans and work for the Gods. Odin recruits pure-blood Norse women as Valkyries and pure-blood Norse men as Ravens, his current day warriors. One of the Norns (Norse fates), Skuld, offers murdered women of any heritage a chance for a second life, provided she pledges her loyalty to Skuld. Skuld is a derivative of the Old Norse verb skulla, which means "that which should become or needs to be". The women are known as the Crows, and they fly around collecting Norse artifacts that have fallen into human hands, killing evil people, and generally causing chaos and destruction.

Back to "The Unleashing"... this novel begins at the end of Kera Watson's life. You learn that she was interrupting a mugging and/or rape behind the coffee shop where she works when the assailant stabs her in the heart, leaving her for dead. A nearby Raven witnesses the murder and asks Skuld to intervene. Skuld does her thing and viola! Kera's second life begins.

I truly enjoyed watching Kera come to terms with her new reality, learning how to fly, learning how to land, but mostly learning how to deal with her sister Crows. Ms. Laurenston creates believable and likable characters, and I found myself rooting for various people throughout the story. There is an overarching story line, but I don't want to mention more than that.

I love Ms. Laurenston's writing style, because I get so involved in the story I lose track of time.

I hope those who like urban fantasies will give this book a chance.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review: "Boundary Crossed" by Melissa F. Olson

Boundary CrossedBoundary Crossed by Melissa F. Olson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Witches and Vampires and Werewolves - oh, my!

(Okay, there are no actual werewolves in the story, but the number of vampires and witches makes up for it.)

Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Kindle First program.  I've never read anything by Melissa F. Olson before, so picking this book felt like a bit of a gamble.  But the gamble paid off big time, because I read it in one sitting, in one day.

"Boundary Crossed" is a wonderful novel about a woman who wants to save her dead sister's daughter from vampires who want to kidnap her. Melissa F. Olson created a new world, one where vampires, witches, and werewolves live hidden among foundings, or regular humans. Most of the time, those of the Old World limit their interactions with humans. But some vampires suddenly take interest in a little 18 month old girl, and her aunt Lex takes an interest in the vampires.

As a reader, you go with Lex on a journey learning about the Old World people. I love how Ms. Olson carefully explains the world to the reader through Lex's eyes - never dumping information but also not withholding information. The characters we meet are believable, with understandable motives and emotions,
from the would-be kidnappers to the resident witches to Lex's family.

There is a bit of romance going on here. Lex meets a vampire named Quinn,
who works with Lex on tracking down the people behind the kidnapping. Ms. Olsen almost sets up a love triangle (groan) but nicely sidesteps it. I never got a feeling of extreme attraction between Lex and Quinn; instead they are learning about each other, becoming friends, and also experiencing chemistry.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes urban fantasy. I have high hopes for this series.

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