Category Archives: Jason Thiel

Newest Tax Reform a Huge Blow for Working Americans

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

On December 22, 2017, President Trump held and emergency bill signing in order to sign the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. This bill cuts the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, effective in 2018. The seven income tax brackets stay, but the rates of each bracket are lowered, the individual tax rate drops to 37%, it doubles the standard deduction, eliminates personal exemptions, and repeals the estate tax. These individual tax changes expire in 2025, but the corporate tax cut is permanent. This is an outraging piece of legislature to be passed at a time like this. To be middle class you should be making $200-250k a year, and the majority of America makes around $100k or less. This bill is going to cripple the middle class while handing huge tax cuts to billionaires and corporations, so that they can stack their money higher and watch the rest of America suffer.

Tax reform is incredibly complicated, and the details of this bill are still being analyzed by the media, but the changes listed are the main tenants of the bill, and create the problem we’ve had in this country with trickle-down economics for the better part of 30 years. Corporations, when given tax cuts and subsidies, do not invest in their employees. Some may invest in some new factories or a new department, but the wealthiest corporations in this nation have the finances to do that whenever they want. One part of this legislature about business that sticks out is that it allows companies to repatriate the collective $2.6 trillion they have held in foreign stockpiles, at a one-time tax rate of 15.5% on funds and 8% the value of physical equipment. This type of ‘tax holiday’ was administered in 2004, and was measured to have not done much to boost the economy. Most companies were reported as distributing repatriation checks to their shareholders, rather their employees, in order to boost investment and increase their stock value. This is the same thing they do with the cuts to their actual tax rate. They may invest a little in employees as PR, to keep enough of the public divided on whether or not trickle-down works, and then they send the rest to their shareholders and executives. This goes to show how we’ve seen this same legislature tried multiple times in recent history, seen it not work, and continued to do it.

To focus a little closer on the legislation for individuals, the Tax Policy Center broke down the bill and determined that it helps higher-income families disproportionately more than the rest. Families and individuals in the lowest-earning fifth of the population would see a .4% income increase. Those in the next highest fifth would see a 1.2% boost, then a 1.6% and 1.9% for the next two-fifths. The highest-earning fifth would receive a 2.9% income boost, which is not where the money needs to be going. This isn’t a tax cut for the working class citizen, it’s a boost to the already thriving members of society. Additionally, the budget-conscious party added $1.5 trillion to the national debt, while creating $700 billion in growth due to the repeal of the ACA individual mandate, which will throw 13 million people off of health insurance because they no longer receive the necessary subsidies needed. This will hike health insurance costs because less people will be able to afford care until they need emergency care, which is exponentially more expensive than preventative care. The U.S. Treasury, which is still a partisan bureaucracy, claims that this bill will bring in $1.8 trillion in new revenue, under the assumption that Trump passes his infrastructure spending plans, deregulation, welfare reform, and other of his promises. In reality, this number is pure speculation, given the current turbulent path of our Commander-in-Chief and his agenda. Given that this revenue is over 10 years, and we already have $20 trillion of debt, it isn’t going to fix the immediate problem of hitting the debt ceiling.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a disgrace to modern democracy and the rights of people to have a fair shot at earning a living and providing for their families. It gives corporations and rich elites more fiscal power that they don’t need, so they can sit on the money that the common man is sacrificing so much to try to attain. Eugene V. Debs once said, “Those who produce should have, but we know that

those who produce the most – that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.” These words couldn’t be truer of today’s world. I’m not advocating for communism or total wealth sharing, but oligarchy and social democracy can’t coexist, and for some reason people think they can.

Seniors Reach Final Stretch

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

Being a senior is all about perspective. For some people, high school is their nightmare, their worst enemy, and they couldn’t be happier to escape it. For others, it’s a dream, filled with love, wonder, and adventure. Of course, those are two extremes, and plenty of us fall right in the middle, where some days we’re on one side, and some days we’re on the other side. All I can really comment on is how I feel about seniority.

Kentlake has arguably changed more in the last 4 years than in any of the years past. My graduating class has, to some degree, seen the end and beginning of eras. In the four years I’ve been at Kentlake, many faces that defined Kentlake for years before my class showed up, have left. Chuck Stowell, Dave Harris, Dr. Potts, Scott Simmons, Pamela Cressey, etc. From my point of view, which is heavily influenced by arts and academia, it seems like a huge chunk of the Kentlake “roster” has changed. The policies and attitudes of the replacements for these staff members are different, and that change has been noticed.

Any of us seniors can tell you that throughout all that change, it was rocky. The road through high school, or really anything in life, is quite bumpy. But if you play your cards right, even the worst things can have some sort of positive impact on your life. High school, for many is a defining part of who we become. It’s an experience that, at least for me, has forced me to decide where right and wrong is in many situations, as well as decide what kind of life I want to live, both morally and for a career. Not everybody decides on those things in high school, but regardless of when it is, this experience impacts you greatly. I personally cannot wait to leave and pursue my dreams and passions, and many others feel the same. But whether or not you think high school was good or bad is irrelevant. It shapes who we are and is the beginning of everyone’s journey through the world.

Net Neutrality Needed to Keep the Internet Going

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

Net Neutrality is something that sort of exists as a background mechanic of the internet age that prevents corporations from ripping off the working man in another way. Before now, many people didn’t know what net neutrality was or how it helped them. Now that the FCC is considering repealing it, it’s gaining interest throughout the country. Repealing such a crucial part of internet policy will lead to corporate greed running rampant online and when paying for internet service.

For those that do not know what net neutrality is, it’s a policy that runs behind the scenes on the internet that prevents corporations from tacking on extra charges to access domains, purchase and upgrade internet packages, and when creating domains. It says that there cannot be a pay wall acting as the only reason a person cannot access a website. It also mandates that internet service providers cannot tamper with your internet speed. This keeps the user in control of what they browse for and what they look at. In 2015, activists pressured the FCC to adopt many net neutrality rules that are now in jeopardy thanks to Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai. On December 14, the FCC plans to vote to repeal the net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration. This is disgusting. In an already corporate-based world where big businesses are frequently allowed to cheat the people and the government, the Trump administration, and more specifically Ajit Pai, think that the next best step to “drain the swamp” is to provide corporations with another outlet to abuse the working class.

This administration’s mentality regarding corporations is so backwards, as they seem to talk about how greedy everyone is, and then just throw money and opportunity right into the pockets of corporate executives. Repealing net neutrality would do nothing less than allow them to dig further into the pockets of middle class Americans. People who just want to watch Youtube or Netflix, run a website for their small business, do their taxes, buy health insurance, any number of things people use the internet for in an affordable way. Small businesses will find that they won’t be able afford to pay for their domains, and they’ll have less outlets to advertise their businesses. Additionally, working families will have a hard time paying their internet bills, as corporations will be allowed to slow down their wi-fi speeds in order to force families to pay more for upgrades, causing many people to lose access to the internet and the plethora of information and resources it provides. Kids in school will find it harder to keep up with their work without internet access at home. It will increase the educational divide in this country, throwing more people in poverty back into poverty by further obstructing them from receiving an education comparable to those with more money.

The FCC’s disastrous plan to repeal Obama’s rules on net neutrality will cripple the middle class and destroy opportunities for families to experience the “American Dream”. Kids will find it harder to keep up, small businesses will take a huge hit, and families will lose an amenity that has become all but necessary, while big corporations will continue to thrive and increase their wealth even more than they already have. In a country where we already have massive wealth inequality, we cannot afford to pass more legislation that cripples the middle class.

Retreat From Iran Deal Carries Potential Consequences

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

On January 16, 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency completed its verification that Iran had complied with the Iran deal. This meant that Iran’s breakout time went from two or three months to 12 months or more. This deal, negotiated by Obama and his administration, was the climax of over a decade of diplomacy and negotiations between world powers and Iran. It created a consensual agreement between the major powers and Iran to allow the international community to monitor Iran’s fiscal dealings involving nuclear materials and power. If they fail to comply with a condition, the international community will slap sanctions back on them, destabilizing their economy and making it harder to build any sort of nuclear weapon.

Since then, this landmark deal has been threatened. Donald Trump ran his campaign with the promise of retreating from the Iran deal, claiming that it was “a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence.” He believes that it doesn’t go far enough to ban Tehran from building nuclear weapons or intercontinental missiles. In October, he announced that he wouldn’t certify that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement, forcing Congress to either reimpose sanctions or come up with a solution, whether it be changing the rules or completely leaving altogether. Trump threatened to leave the agreement if Congress couldn’t come with a satisfactory solution. This may be a bigger task than he realizes, as any legislation would require 60 votes in the Senate, which means that Republicans would have to garner support from at least 8 Democrats.

Trump’s discontent with Iran is founded in the belief that they can’t change from the terrorist nation they’ve been in the past. He has blamed them for harboring terrorists, holding hostages, and working with North Korea, dating back to 1979. He has suggested that Iran cannot change from the nation that supported Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban. Trump has claimed that their two favorite chants are ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel,’ which has no evidence behind it.

Critics of Trump have said that he risks isolating the US diplomatically, which would give up intrusive gains in monitoring Iran’s nuclear dealings. Other major powers in the deal have responded by saying they will not renegotiate, as the current deal is landmark and cannot be outdone at this time. Whether Trump will get his way due to the gridlock in Congress, or they’ll find a way to resolve this diplomatic shakeup without causing too many international problems, is a good question, and one that could really change the world we know today.

Claims of “Digital Blackface” Cause Divide

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

Nowadays, tons of people use emojis and gifs, thanks to the revolutionary era of smartphones and the internet. New chatting services and apps like Snapchat and Facebook have paved the way for the use of emojis, gifs, and other forms of online expression. These seem quite harmless and comedic, as people use them to enhance comedy with their friends as well as just express emotions. Even then, people have found ways to turn this into a controversy. There have been diversity quarrels over the colors of the emojis, and the ratio of dark to light-skinned emojis that are available. None, however, have been more embarrassing and disturbing than the idea of digital blackface.

Digital blackface, according to a video put out by BBC News, is the idea that by using emojis and gifs of black people in a joke, you are being racist in a similar manner to when white actors would put on “blackface” to portray a black person in a comedic way. Now, yes, I suppose it’s fair to say that using a gif with a black person to enhance your comedy can be using a black person in a comedic way. But, where the difference lies is in that people use those gifs and emojis without regard to color. For instance, a funny gif of Kevin Hart doing something is used for comedic purposes, as he’s a funny and popular comedian, in the same respect as a funny gif of Tom Hanks or some other famous white celebrity could be used to enhance a joke.

Now, you can totally make an argument that because of certain aspects of racism throughout history, blacks and whites have become so culturally different that they are represented differently in gifs. The comedy of blacks is different than whites and thus the issue isn’t in using the gifs, it goes much deeper. Anyone can use a gif to back up a racist comment, but at the end of the day, it’s the comment that’s racist, not the gif.

This whole argument about digital blackface in gifs and emojis is an example of the cult of outrage that is causing so many problems. The radical left cannot continue to be hypersensitive to cultural appropriation and racism, causing them to start drama over meaningless objects and topics, which destroys their cause and their argument by making all feminists and civil rights advocates look like “triggered snowflakes.” Does that mean we should ignore actual cultural appropriation and racism? Absolutely not, but getting mad at hula dolls and black emojis isn’t the way to make you look like an advocate for racial equality, it makes you and your whole political look like idiots.

NFL Players Kneeling: Pro vs. Con

by Jason Thiel and Evan Swearingen – Staff Writers

Pro

The NFL has been something that has brought Americans together for decades. Families and friends get together to watch their favorite teams battle it out on the field. Of course, there have been controversies and it causes arguments and drama, but at the end of the day, the sport generally brings people together. Because of this, these players have a huge influence on their viewers. Kids idolize these people as heroes who persevere through the worst of the worst in order to attain success. So, why is it so insulting for these heroes to take a stand for what they believe for? Why is a large portion of the country, including our president, chastising them for using their rights laid down by the founding fathers to speak up for what they believe in?

First off, because I respect the rights of these players to take a knee or lock arms, I also understand that people have the right to speak out against it. Both are examples of free speech and expression, which are protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, I have an issue with people who think that these players should be fired or that they should not be doing what they are doing. For example, President Trump encouraged the coaches to fire the players who took a knee during the anthem, which would be a blatantly obvious violation of the First Amendment. Shouldn’t the President of the United States understand what the basic rights of free speech are, that are outlined in the document that regulates him and our government? It is like trying to play a sport but not knowing any of the rules. You just sort of grab a ball and run around until you get tackled, hit with a bat, slip on ice, etc. Anyone who did that would look like a bumbling baboon with no intelligence or coordination.

Additionally, a lot of people have taken the stance that the players should not be taking a knee because it is disrespectful to our flag. This is something that is just backwards. People have fought and died for this country to protect the rights that the players are using, and they have absolutely every right to do it. They are not gunning people down to get back at the government, they are taking a knee during the national anthem to peacefully protest certain things that are happening in this country. I respect if you are a veteran and feel personally upset, but you have to remember that objectively, they can and should stand up for what they believe in, peacefully. I acknowledge why people would feel upset that the players are doing that, which is respective a different perspective. That same logic needs to be applied to these players by the people upset at the NFL, because otherwise our country will continue to polarize until it’s irreversible.

Con

Across the nation, athletes on professional teams have been debating if kneeling instead of standing for our national anthem is a righteous way to protest injustice and police brutality against minorities.

American people, due to overexposure, have become numb to the real message of the Star-Spangled Banner: Homage to their soldiers that have faced tragedies and died to protect the United States, and recognizing the colony’s victory over the British, resulting in the United States’ value of freedom. Using that given freedom to protest what gave them freedom is not only an oxymoron, but disrespectful to the fighting soldiers and veterans as well. The song is about the United States’ triumph over opposition. Not standing for that is not thanking veterans for their service.

It is an issue that our national anthem is played entirely too often, causing this disconnect between Americans and what their national anthem stands for. The national anthem has no real right to even be played at many sports games except for international ones. Sports do not symbolize freedom or respect for troops in any way. However, while sports is absolutely no place for politics, the national anthem is certainly no platform to protest police brutality because it inherently communicates that American values are worthless, even if that’s not the intention of those who protest.

Some may argue that it is okay to kneel for the flag instead of standing for it because it exercises the citizens’ first amendment right—specifically, the right to peacefully protest. While this is true, and citizens absolutely have the right to not stand for the flag, that doesn’t mean

that they should. Kneeling for the flag still argues against freedom and respect, which ends up being morally grey at best.

Standing versus not standing is so much more than a battle of patriotism. Some may even view that kneeling is patriotic by bringing an issue to light, in an attempt to better this country. This is not to downplay the problem that is police brutality on minorities, but there are definitely better ways of bringing those issues to light in a way that doesn’t disrespect others.

Dress Code Enforces Unnecessary Censorship

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by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

Have you ever read Kentlake’s dress code? Do you understand the rules? Or have you ever seen somebody been dress coded? Although many might say yes to these questions, if asked to elaborate, most of us wouldn’t be able to list the rules accurately. People don’t know the details of the dress code. And in addition they don’t know the purpose of the entire dress code and it’s individual parts. A lot of people will probably say that it’s to prevent revealing clothing at school, and although that’s not wrong, it isn’t the entire answer. The dress code is intended to keep students dressing “comfortably in a manner that is considered professional in preparation for real world career/vocational expectations.” The expectation from students is that they dress in a way that is not distracting for other students.

These distractions are mainly to prevent sexual distractions in class, like for instance a girl wearing a very revealing top and short shorts would distract a lot of guys in class, preventing learning. That’s a perfectly valid reason to have a dress code, because that is something that infringes on the learning experience of students as well as possibly encouraging the guys to do something hormonal and irresponsible. This same principle is used to prevent guys from wearing revealing clothing as well, which is why guys can’t show up to school shirtless or with clothing that reveals their crotch.

Another reason they have a dress code is to prevent distracting references to drugs or alcohol on articles of clothing. This, on the surface, seems like a valid rule, but do not always judge a book by its cover. Obviously, for the same reason kids cannot be naked in class, you cannot have pornographic or overly sexual images on your clothing, but where do we draw the line for drugs and alcohol? Is it really distracting to have a Budweiser logo or a marijuana leaf on your shirt? It is not. Speaking from personal experience, nobody notices when you have that kind of a shirt on, and even if they do, it does not become a class distraction. It disrupts learning more to have the teacher stop and dress code you for wearing it, because then they must stop class and you have to leave to put on a new shirt in the office.

The school system has a belief that on top of it being a distraction, these logos also encourage kids to drink and smoke. This could not be further from the truth, as this is not one of the reasons that kids and teenagers decide to drink. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “environmental factors, such as the influence of parents and peers, also play a role in alcohol use. For example, parents who drink more and who view drinking favorably may have children who drink more.” It does not make sense to have a rule that does not protect anyone, and in reality, infringes on my 1st amendment rights to freedom of expression. Not every kid has control over the clothing they have available to them at home. They may have hand-me-downs and do not endorse underage drinking but need a clean shirt to wear to school.

We need to rethink and rewrite the dress code at Kentlake to accurately address the issues at hand. If the school actually wants to help crack down on underage drinking, then we should not be giving teenagers more things to rebel against, given that rebellion is a major cause for partaking in illegal activities. Get out and encourage our administration to reconsider these rules to accurately reflect the fight against underage drinking and smoking, and you can save teenagers from alcoholism.