I went to Mississippi once

mississippiI went to Mississippi once for a one day sales call. We flew from Chicago to a northern Mississippi city, drove from airport to factory, made our presentation, and retraced our route.

I don’t know much about Mississippi, other than how to spell it. “Can you spell Mississippi?” was a frequent challenge in early elementary grades. I do know that Mississippi is a very poor state.

While waiting for the meeting to start, I remarked that Mississippi looked different from what I had imagined.  Our client was on to me in an instant. You are from the North; you expected to see black men in chain gangs didn’t you? He had my number–I had anticipated something like that. Our client went on to explain that Mississippi was nothing like that, at least in urban centers. He asserted that he was an Easterner himself and was not prejudiced against any racial group. I had already put my foot in my mouth, we were there to do business not to argue, I kept my head down after that.

Mississippi is next door to Alabama, another very poor state. We hear much lately about Alabama values. What are Alabama values? Are they the values of a recently arrived factory purchasing agent, of a white male politician, of the rural poor?

Are Mississippi values, or Alabama values, what keeps those low tax States poor? One might think so. Are President Trump’s values Alabama values? He says so. How about Tom Reed’s values? Do they help keep NY-23 poor?

Tom Reed’s supporters often claim he is doing exactly what they want and expect him to do. This is a surprising claim–Tom doesn’t often advertise his votes, so other than dogged opposition to even the most reasonable firearm regulations, one might think few know what Tom has done. Rather than base their support on facts, or even alternate facts, Tom’s supports have faith in him and the Republican Party. It may be faith in the GOP that motivates Alabama voters to vote for the Republican no matter what.


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How did they do on tax reform?

reed tax 3In August, while Tom Reed and his wife were junketing in Europe, the GOP published 31 reasons for tax reform. Many of these were silly or false, but by their own standards let’s see how the GOP did.

On Aug. 9 we were told there are too many tax brackets. Tax rates should be flatter, they say. Flat means those who have more than they need would pay less, those who have less would be asked to pay more. The reforms would reduce the number of brackets without making taxes much flatter (less progressive); let’s give them a C.

On Aug. 10 we were told that America has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. Whether or not this is true,  the tax reform bills surely do lower corporate taxes; they deserve an A for that.

On Aug. 11 we were told that the cost of filing business tax returns affects productivity. I am not aware of any reform that would lower the cost of filing; they deserve an F.

On Aug. 12, we were told that our broken tax code punishes us for hard work with high rates, uncertainty, and complexity. The tax reform bills do lower rates for corporations, but not so much for individuals. They deserve a C for that.

On Aug. 13 the message was that lower corporate taxes will encourage investment, create jobs, and increase wages.  The tax reform bills surely do lower corporate taxes; they deserve an A for that.

C,A,F,C,A — not too bad by GOP standards. But on the standard of what is reasonable and good for American, not nearly so well.

Interested readers are invited to grade the GOP themselves on all 31 reasons and on their own opinion of the merit of the proposed reforms.



Posted in Congress, Political, Taxes | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Tom Reed’s website revised

logoIn November, 2017, Tom Reed’s website changed. The revised site is slick and attractive, and there is one important change–the link to “media” (op eds and press releases) is gone. Articles previously filed by title are now filed by a non-descriptive document number. All are now filed under “news.”

Links to Reed’s press releases and op eds on “New NY 23rd” are no longer valid, but the articles may still be found by searching. For example, searching for “taxes” finds many articles including this one from 2012:


The title of this 2012 op ed is “Focus on Spending and Solutions, Not Taxes and Blame”

Over the years Tom’s website has become slicker but less informative. For example, in 2015 a link to Tom’s financial disclosures disappeared. Tom’s facebook page also changed in November–visitor comments are now disallowed.

Tom’s press releases document how his views have evolved over the years. It is good that they can still be found by searching. Searching here on “New NY 23rd” also turns up much interesting reading.





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Roots of sexual harassment run deep

This  article was written by Lee Marcus of Arkport (Steuben County). It was recently published in Hornell Evening Tribute. She is also the author of “Hearts Afire: The Story of Moonwhistle School.” 


What’s up with men? At this point, it is too long to recite, the list of high-ranking men in government, industry, and entertainment who are in the news because of credible accusations by women of sexual harassment, assault, and even pedophilia. ”…and when you’re a star, they let you do it,” once said America’s current president, notoriously bragging about his own apparently casual abuse of women.

What’s up with women? I guess we’re not going to take it any more! I remember, with a mixture of horror and pride, watching Anita Hill in 1991 testify before Congress that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when she worked for him early in her career. Hill was a picture of dignity, sincerity, and bravery facing a committee of white men whose scorn itself bordered on harassment. The committee refused to allow at least one corroborating witness to testify, and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) accused Hill of perjury. In the end they shoved her testimony aside. Thomas still sits on the Supreme Court today. Congress, having dispatched with his accusers, would seem to have signaled to high-ranking men everywhere that sexual harassment is an entitlement, and to women that we can like it or lump it.

That was then. This is now. Read: a woman’s body belongs to herself. She is not legally subject to your insults, your entreaties, your hands, or your genitalia. She will not remain silent, for she knows that sexual harassment is not about sex. It is about power, and specifically, about holding hers at bay.

Have we turned a corner?

We may be in the process of turning a corner. But there are still problems to come, to wit: we are still raising girls and boys as if they were two separate species.

In the 1990s I owned a family day care in San Francisco where my clients and I attempted to raise children free of gender expectation of all kinds. There was no pink or blue in our school, except when I wanted to mess with it, e.g., painting a big, metal dump truck pink. The parents and I were thoughtful about the language we used, so we didn’t talk about big, strong boys or fawn over girly dresses. We promoted ball play for all children, because it teaches important skills and concepts. We worked at building a book collection that equally celebrated male and female protagonists. This project required hard, constant, mindful effort; but in the end, two things happened: 1) each child got to explore all of the experiences offered, not half of them due to gender expectations, and 2) our children did not segregate themselves by gender, but mixed and matched spontaneously, based on things like common interest and developmental stage. That’s what we learned from them: that gender segregation is a cultural artifact, not a natural phenomenon.

That this was a better way to raise children became apparent to everyone involved, and was often remarked on in public places like the neighborhood park, where several times strangers asked me the funniest question, “Where did you get these wonderful children?” I learned to ask these observers to look more closely and tell me what they saw. Never once did one of them notice that our children were the only group in the park not segregated by gender. When I pointed it out to them, they were shocked. One woman gasped and said, “How do you get boys to play with girls?” unwittingly voicing the exact prejudice that, once taught to children, results in the debacle we witness today in the workaday world: that male is the anointed class, female the “other.” We should stop teaching that. Now.


Posted in Ethics | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Payroll tax withholding

tax reformHe (Rep. Tom Reed) said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday he’s most focused on seeing a final bill get to President Trump’s desk by the end of the year. That, he said, would result in new withholding tables and/or rates that Reed said would show savings in pay stubs for many.–Steve Buchiere, Finger Lakes Times

Taxpayers can choose how much is withheld from their pay by filling out Form W-4.  Many choose to end the tax year with a refund rather than an outstanding liability. Having more or less withheld has no effect on how much is owed. If tax law changes do result in revised suggested withholding tables, taxpayers could enjoy more take home pay, but they also might face an unexpected bill for tax owed on April 15. Don’t be too quick to celebrate–many of us will owe not less but more.

Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate

Complete this form so that your employer can withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. Consider completing a new Form W-4 each year and when your personal or financial situation changes.


Tom Reed claims workers who have payroll taxes deducted will see increased take home pay. Even when true, this is is deceptive.

  • Hourly and salaried employees may not benefit much if at all from proposed tax law changes.
  • Lower deductions won’t necessarily reflect how much is due at the end of the year.

Tom Reed is working hard to convince his constituents that proposed tax law changes, which mostly benefit corporations and wealthy individuals, also benefit them. His political advertising tries to make truth seem radical, extreme, and unruly. Voters should beware.



Posted in 2018, Congress, Constituents, Political, Taxes | Tagged , | 3 Comments

H.R.38 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017

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The House is expected to vote today on H.R.38 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. Here is the CRS summary, which may not be up to date:

Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017

This bill amends the federal criminal code to allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.

A qualified individual must: (1) be eligible to possess, transport, or receive a firearm under federal law; (2) carry a valid photo identification document; and (3) carry a valid concealed carry permit issued by, or be eligible to carry a concealed firearm in, his or her state of residence.

Additionally, the bill specifies that a qualified individual who lawfully carries or possesses a concealed handgun in another state: (1) is not subject to the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm in a school zone, and (2) may carry or possess the concealed handgun in federally owned lands that are open to the public.

The above summary may not be up to date. CNN reports:

The bill (H.R.38) is a top priority of the National Rifle Association, and since leaving committee it has been combined with an additional measure that is designed to update the federal background check system after holes were exposed by November’s mass shooting at a church in Texas.

Rep. Reed is a cosponsor. Have we learned anything from experience with firearm violence? Not much yet, evidently. Why link needed improvements to background checks with a bill to loosen firearm regulations? Why weaken regulations restricting handguns in school zones?



Posted in Gun Violence, Reed's Views | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

Problem solvers address infrastructure

riponOur mission is to find bipartisan solutions to our nation’s most pressing issues, which include making drastic improvements to our infrastructure. –Rep. Tom Reed.

LaHood and Rendell stressed the need for solid infrastructure funding.

He (LaHood) added, “We can’t rebuild America unless we have funding and that starts with raising the gas tax.”

Does Tom Reed now agree raising the gas tax is necessary, one wonders?


Posted in Reed's Views, Taxes | Tagged , , | 7 Comments