Is there anything dramatic or exciting about being an expat? On the first part of this week’s Goldstein on Gelt show, Doug meets Chris Pavone, author of The Expats, a novel that he wrote while living in Luxembourg. Chris had worked as a book editor in New York City for 20 years until his wife was offered a job in Luxembourg, and he became a stay-at-home dad to their young children while living in Europe. This experience became the backdrop to his book The Expats, a best-selling thriller. Find out more on this weeks show.Doug Goldstein, CFP®
Posts Tagged ‘taxes’
Sitting in the CNN studio today, with an earpiece jammed in one ear and a microphone clipped to my jacket, the disembodied voice of some CNN guest urgently proposing that the government take advantage of historically low borrowing rates to invest in infrastructure howled in my ear. Without a monitor, the voice had no body belonging to it. It was the muse of liberalism. The idiot angel standing on the shoulder of Uncle Sam crying out, “Spend, spend, spend.”
In 1 Time Warner Circle, all the elevators play the CNN feed in small monitors. On the floor, there is more of the same. There’s no escaping CNN in the tower of the corporate parent of CNN. Like some cheap production of 1984, it’s everywhere and nowhere, one long commercial break for the country’s least popular news network, whose most famous figure is doing his talk show on Hulu, still in his trademark suspenders while his third-rate British replacement shrieks nightly about gun violence.
CNN is irrelevant, but in the ugly Time Warner Center, part shopping mall, part unfinished pile of construction equipment arranged to look like two skyscrapers, defacing the view outside Central Park, it’s all that matters. In the CNN bubble, it’s still vitally important and incredibly influential, even if its most influential moment in the last ten years consisted of two shameless doughy buffoons screaming at each other about gun control.
If America ever goes the way of CNN, then it too will be reduced to some badly designed urban skyscrapers full of important people talking importantly about issues while outside the world has moved on. The disembodied voice in the backlit wilderness cries out that we must invest more in infrastructure. “America built the Panama Canal. They said it couldn’t be done and it revolutionized commerce.”
But where exactly is our Panama Canal? For that matter, where after years of insane deficit spending is our anything? What infrastructure achievement has the shovel-ready administration managed to achieve? What has it done besides rename a few areas after politically correct figures and set up some monuments to the destructive energies of the left?
In December we learned that the National Park Service had spent $1.5 million to restore the graffiti on an Alcatraz water tower put there by leftist American Indian activists in the 70s. Their manifesto read, “We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for $24 in glass beads and red cloth.” But 24 bucks in tourist junk would be a bargain compared to $1.5 million spent during a recession to preserve the sort of leftist idiocy that trolls today leave in comments sections.
That water tower is Obama’s Panama Canal. It’s as close as we’re going to come to it. Either that or one of those light rail schemes that gets funded, but never goes anywhere. These are our expensive monuments to a left that occasionally talks like Stalin, but runs things like Castro, talking incessantly without anything to show for it except a bigger mountain of bureaucracy overhead. This is our CNN government full of commercial breaks and breaking news bulletins, but utterly unaware of its own irrelevance. It can still spend money, but it can’t move out of third place.
There is no Panama Canal project in the works. No great plan to revolutionize commerce and transportation. Only a sad failed attempt to get Americans to switch to electric cars which mainly existed as a way of shoving more pork into the orifices of Obama’s donors.
China can build things, for better or worse, because it has the manufacturing capacity to get things done. America no longer has manufacturing capacity, it has bureaucracy. China makes products. America makes government. We make government at home and we export it abroad.
If any country wants to know how to make a big expensive and unwieldy government ruled by the threat of someone screaming racism and someone else promising free birth control for perpetual grad students who one day hope to teach other perpetual grad students or perhaps file lawsuits on their behalf, then we can do that. If you want us to teach you how to make things, go look up some of our books from the first half of the last century. They may have something of relevance to offer on the subject. The America of 2013, whose government is in its own CNN tower, does not.Daniel Greenfield
Tax attorney Dave Wolf, a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Tax Section and a member of the appeal committee for Maror monies in Israel, tells Doug how to deal with U.S. tax laws when living abroad, which tax amnesties are available, and what would happen if you tried to renounce your American citizenship.Doug Goldstein, CFP®
Are you an American citizen now living in Israel or any other country? If so,have you been paying all your U.S. taxes? You might not be aware that you still have tax obligations to the IRS, even though you are paying taxes to your current country of residence. On this weeks Goldstein on Gelt show, Doug speaks to CPA Ron Zalben, who talks about the FBAR and FATCA tax forms, what they are, and why it is so important to file them.Doug Goldstein, CFP®
The Israeli elections last week saw a meteoric rise of a centrist party, and disproved near-universal forecasts of a rise of the religious right.
What do last week’s elections say about Israel’s future defense policies?
Israelis returned Netanyahu to the prime minister’s seat, meaning that the electorate would like him to continue to steer the country through this chaotic and dangerous era. The elections results also showed that voters backed Netanyahu’s hard work on tackling the Iranian threat, but remained deeply concerned over domestic issues, which Netanyahu’s last coalition of ultra-Orthodox and nationalist parties failed to address.
Lapid, located on the center-right of the political map, is no dove. He is pragmatic; he does not hold ideological or religious objections to an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, but has recognized, rather, that Israel has no peace partner.
At the same time, Lapid and his party have expressed displeasure over the fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been able to score victories over Israel in the diplomatic arena. Lapid has therefore called for reopening talks with Abbas, if only to prove Israel’s willingness to pursue a peace plan.
Lapid has also advocated a unilateral dismantling of far-flung outposts in Judea and Samaria, while consolidating the major settlement blocs — with or without a peace agreement.
On the most critical question of all — whether Israel should launch a military strike on Iran — Lapid has limited himself to calling on Netanyahu to do a better job of coordinating Israel’s position with that of the U.S.
He expressed concern over the dysfunctional state of relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, and the ramifications of poor relations on future efforts to stop Iran.
In all likelihood, Lapid and his new party will join Prime Minister Netanyahu in forming the next coalition. If he joins the government, Lapid is expected to support Netanyahu’s main focus — stopping the Iranian nuclear program.
How did Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid [There Is a Future] party — whose members have never sat in parliament — overnight become the second largest political force in Israel?
The answer resides in the quiet and growing alarm mainstream Israelis are feeling over the way the country’s resources are diverted to serve narrow minority interests at the majority’s expense.
Lapid merely pointed out problems that were known to all, but also promised to repair the glaring flaws, while enjoying a clean-cut image, free of the political baggage that had tarred the old guard in the eyes of much of the electorate.
Lapid’s campaign highlighted the fact that middle class Israeli families — the engine of the country’s economy — are struggling to make ends meet, yet significant funds are being diverted to support a parallel ultra-Orthodox society, which has its own education system. Many of those who study at ultra-Orthodox seminaries do not end up joining the workforce, and remain dependent on state subsidies.
While a majority of secular and Orthodox national-religious Israelis risk their lives to serve in the military and protect their families, most ultra-Orthodox do not (although a growing number are.)
Lapid’s proposed solutions: A universal draft to the army or civilian national service for all Israelis, and limiting the number of state-sponsored seminary students to 400 (the current number of students is 60,000).
Lapid has also called for a change to Israel’s proportional representation system, to decrease the number of political parties, thereby limiting the ability of small parties to extort special privileges from ruling coalitions.
Israelis are also outraged by economic oligopolies, which are inflating prices of basic commodities, as well as the failure of past governments to protect citizens from exploitative corporations. The only exception to this is the outgoing communications minister, Moshe Kahlon, who reformed regulations and introduced new competition into the mobile phone industry, resulting in plummeting prices, and as a result became a national hero.
A significant numbers of hardworking Israeli families are in perpetual debt, while others — due to the inflated housing prices as a result of the state owning 93% of all lands, as well as bureaucratic red tape slowing down the construction process — are unable even to dream of owning their own home.
The old guard of Israeli politics is perceived as being out of touch, and tinged by cronyism, as well as by apathy to the common person.Yaakov Lappin
Police are preparing for Arab riots, as Otzma L’Yisrael political leader Michael Ben-Ari and his party’s supporters are planning a march inside the Arab town of Musmus in the Wadi Ara region on Tuesday.
They will be marching under the slogan of, “Without duties, there are no rights.”
Ben-Ari claims that many Israeli Arabs, and even entire villages are not not paying taxes, building illegally, and generally ignoring the laws of the state.
Police are expecting a large, and potentially violent counter-protest in the village. Residents of the village have called for a general strike today, and hundreds have been reported as protesting at the junction at the entrance to the village.
Musmus is located just north of Um El Fahm, and 13 miles east of Zichron Yaacov.Jewish Press News Briefs
There was a time when the United States government ran on hooch. Hard up for cash, taxes on whiskey and beer funded the Civil War. With 40 percent of government revenues coming from liquor taxes, alcohol made the dramatic post-war expansion of government possible so that by the 20th Century, the Federal government would have been unrecognizable in scope and function to a man of the 1800s, but would have been all too familiar to us.
The Department of Education was created in 1867, the Department of Justice in 1870, the Department of Agriculture in 1862 and the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903. Within that time, the Federal government had become concerned with every aspect of life throughout the country. After the Civil War, the same whiskey taxes that had paid for cannons, aerial balloons and widows’ pensions began paying for the transformation of the government into a booming engine of social change.
During the same period that the government was being unrecognizably reshaped, the major cities were being transformed by a tremendous immigration boom. Immigration had made it possible for the Union to win the war by providing an endless supply of fresh bodies to throw into the fight. German, Irish and Jewish immigrants came by the hundreds of thousands and made the Union victory possible.
Republican Progressives had looked forward to freeing the slaves, but were far less enthusiastic about filling the country with Catholics and Jews, who were not only bound for Democratic precincts, but did not share their faith. Germany had produced a liberal variant of Judaism that was rather close to Unitarianism and had prospered nicely among upper class Jews in the United States, but the Jewish immigrants who were arriving were members of a more traditional faith in Russia and Eastern Europe. But it was the Catholics who truly worried them.
The Draft Riots during the Civil War had to be put down with the military and the armories were a hulking reminder that the cities could go up in flame at any moment if the Democratic Party’s radicals chose to light a match. Those same Catholic immigrants had been invaluable to building the Union, but with the South defeated, and the expansion of the Union underway, they had become a problem.
Progressive reformers cast an uneasy eye on the slums and the Democratic political machines that ran them and pursued a grab bag of strategies for curing their ills, from birth control to temperance to socialism.
The progressive vision of a New America was being funded by liquor taxes, but a combination of bigotry and health-nuttery, which was another of the elements of the modern country taking off, brought quite a few reformers around to temperance. Associating Catholics with liquor, they went after liquor itself. But liquor could not be outlawed, without also outlawing big government.
For the practical politician the link between liquor and big government was a web that should not be touched. The drinking American was making big government possible and should be left to drink in peace. But progressive reformers are ever deaf to such logic and quick to cut Gordian knots. Faced with a liquor revenue problem, they contrived a solution in the form of the personal income tax.
The personal income tax was unconstitutional, but with the end of the post-Civil War era and the revival of the Democratic Party as a progressive political movement, the country had entered a period where the Constitution meant very little. During the Wilson and Roosevelt administrations, that document, then not very much more than a century old, had come to be regarded as an outmoded work with very little relevance to modern times.
The Anti-Saloon League, rising out of the mists of an uncertain time, had assembled a coalition encompassing Klansmen, Suffragists, Socialists and Preachers focused on a single-minded agenda, but pushing whatever laws it had to along the way to reach its goal. And the road to Prohibition lay through such policy territories as the personal income tax.
Prohibition today is remembered mainly for the quaint scenes of smugglers and lawmen chasing each other on dark roads, speakeasies where liquor made in massive illegal stills was served and the end of national integrity as an age of national hypocrisy was ushered in by wet politicians who voted dry. But Prohibition as a phenomenon matters little compared to the ways in which the campaign to achieve it and then hold on to it transformed the country.Daniel Greenfield