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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

Voter Fraud Confirmed

The Donald's delusion about voter fraud by poor people, especially African Americans, appears to have been largely implanted by Kris Kobach, secretary of state in Kansas and wannabe elsewhere.  He was briefly entrusted with a national mission to investigate this non-reality, but that lasted only a minute and a half -- until even The Donald had second thoughts. Kobach  since has been trying for other appointments, but his fellow Kansas Republican, US Senator Pat Robertson, acknowledged to the Kansas City Star, "we can't confirm him."


So I was grateful to see that Kansas courts recently tried several cases of voter fraud:  I was grateful because it demonstrated a point that I've been preaching for years.  There wasn't much fraud, but the most significant defendants were older white men who were voting in both Kansas and neighboring Colorado.  You may remember that I've said in this column before that I've talked with two newcomers here in Florida – older white men – who assured me with perfect sincerity that because they own property in both places, they legally could cast ballots both here and Up North. 


I'm sure a lot of them are doing that.  There have been calls for a national voter database to prevent this and other confusion/corruption, but I doubt if that will happen any time soon.  Yet there isn't any reason why states couldn't begin chasing this kind of activity on their own.  Our new Secretary of State Laurel Lee, wife of our own State Senator Tom Lee, could connect with her office's equivalent in Pennsylvania or New York or Massachusetts, where our tax-avoidance snow birds have their alternate homes.  It would be easy to create the software to compare the two databases and find the guys who think that money entitles them to more than one vote.  It's in the interest of democracy.


Speaking of Software and Tax Avoidance


I see that Sweden handles its income tax in the exact reverse of our system.  Whereas we put the burden on the payer (and his/her lawyers/financial advisers, who profit from it), the Swedish equivalent of our IRS sends a bill for what it thinks you owe.  If you disagree, you can appeal, of course, but wouldn't it be wonderful not to have to originate the annual paperwork yourself? 


Our Florida property tax system is similar to Sweden's income tax system.  We elect both our property appraiser and our tax collector, and the latter sends a bill based on information from the former.  If we think the assessment is wrong, we can appeal – but almost all of us send the check.  Or even more likely, the bank that holds our mortgage pays the tax out of our escrow account.  It's very simple compared to the IRS.


So why don't we use the property tax system for the national income tax?  See above:  because the income tax is an employment program for accountants, lawyers, and endless financial "services."  Millions of private enterprise jobs depend on complexity in the public system, and still more jobs are created by lobbyists whose chief occupation is getting tax exemptions from Congress.  It's still another case in which we should emulate Scandinavia. 


The Coming World


And here's what we shouldn't emulate:  the UK and its current relationship with the EU.  Our Mother Country went off the rails when it voted to leave its European economic partners in the Common Market.  Poor Prime Minister Theresa May is the sacrificial lamb chosen by the controlling Conservative Party to implement this insanity, and the more she tries, the more voters seem to regret their original decision.  She can't call for a new election, though, because of the strong possibility that her Conservative Party would lose to the Labour Party. 


So she is stuck with trying to get enough Conservatives to grow a backbone and support any of her many proposals to implement the voters' so-called will.  As is customary with conservatives, they are busy ducking reality -- and especially the reality of whose out-of-control campaign rallies created this mess.  That would be Boris Johnson, the British equivalent of Donald Trump.  Like Trump, he was born in New York City to wealthy parents, and if you'll check Johnson's image, you'll see that they look enough alike to be brothers.


His full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and with citations, Wikipedia says that he has been accused by critics on both the left and right of "elitism, cronyism, dishonesty, laziness, and of using racist and homophobic language."  They forgot xenophobia.  Both he and Trump are seemingly cosmopolitan men who have traveled the world, but they won elections by appealing to those who seldom travel – and by telling these provincials that strangers are to be feared.  Latino strangers in the US, Middle Eastern strangers in Britain, anyone anywhere who doesn't look like the longtime majority. 


But even if the UK does leave the EU, it will be just a blimp in history.  Separation of the human family is the way of the past, and always has been.  Ever since diverse desert tribes combined to become Israel and Jordan and other homelands to us all, and ever since those peoples moved on from Greek and Italian provinces to become Anglos and Saxons and ultimately Brits and Europeans, the pattern is to join together, not to rent asunder.  On our side of the water, we combined thirteen colonies into the United States, and in less than two centuries, we were fifty states with none choosing to separate.


So will go the world.  The League of Nations began about a century ago, and I'm betting that in another century, the United Nations will be a genuine global government promoting true peace and freedom.  No one will remember Theresa May or Britain's current Conservative Party.  If Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are remembered, it will be with amazement at how far we departed from good sense.  Anyone wanna bet?


Random Questions


  • While I've done my gardening in the record-setting warmth of this spring, a verse from Song of Solomon has been running through my mind.  As I remembered it from childhood, the key part was "For, lo, winter is past; the rain is over and gone; and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land."  For the first time in these many years since Sunday School, I asked myself:  "voice of the turtle? Do turtles sing?  And for that matter, did they have them in the arid Middle East?"  That's probably where the question would have ended back in the day, but now I can go on the net.  It seems that modern biblical scholars are amending the verse to say "turtledove," but I grew up on the literal truth of the King James Version and never once thought about singing turtles.
  • Why did no one eat elephants?  This thought occurred while watching "Animal Kingdom," so I looked up that, too.  Turns out that some modernists say they did – and do, in parts of Africa.  I've read lots of books, both fiction and non-fiction, about this part of the world, and none has mentioned killing elephants for their meat.  For their ivory, yes; and for protection in stampedes, yes.  But they don't seem to have routinely killed elephants for other reasons, unlike our Native Americans, who killed the similar-sized buffalo for food, as well as clothing and housing.  Our main sources on everything ancient, the Bible, mentions many animals, but not elephants (although, for dramatic effect, they often are seen on Noah's ark).  Early humans also appear to have put a taboo on the eating of tigers and lions – but these animals have big teeth and will happily dine on you, too.  Elephants are herbaceous and don't set out to eat other animals, including humans.  Ditto with buffalo – and yet it never was taboo to eat buffalo.  So many points to ponder.
  • OK, this is different, but here's another sort of question:  what are we going to do about Port Richey and its crazy mayors?  Beyond that, what are we going to do about the whole phenomenon of beach communities where people with too much time and money treat government as a game?  Think back to Seinfeld's parents in their Florida retirement home, where life centered on who was going to sue whom about whatever.  It's humorous, but these insular and elitist communities also waste tax money, and that issue should be addressed.  See below. 
  • In case you'd never thought about the above question, let me remind you of the four Belleairs in Pinellas.  Just plain Belleair is biggest of the towns, with a population a bit over 4,000.  Belleair Bluff has some 2,000 people, while Belleair Beach has about 1,600.  Finally, Belleair Shore has a population of a mere 114 people -- and most of the 147 acres that the city claims is under the Gulf, which means you and I can't swim there.  Hillsborough County has many, many precincts with populations larger than this "town," yet the Belleairs and other tiny municipalities within urban areas spend money to maintain city halls and to elect mayors and commissioners.  Then they complain about excessive government.  And they probably vote in more than one place, too.



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