Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We have much to do

There’s a time and a place for everything, including political expression about the imperfections of America and its political leaders.  

Some things are sacred or at least they should be like, for example, our National Anthem.  

Those who choose to stay in the locker room, sit or doing something else other than how to best be present when our National Anthem is played, speak for themselves and a small and ungrateful minority of our great country.  

100% of the time, no questions asked, I will stand.  I'm an American and a Veteran and proud of it!  The nuances of America the imperfect at times are challenges to be accomplished so, my fellow Americans, let's get to work because we have much to do.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, September 22, 2017

Real tax reform it'll not be

Fall has arrived and this means it’s time for another round of federal tax legislation.  This time, our political leaders in Washington tell us it’ll be a tax reform one.

Some of us will don blinders and earplugs sparing us of all the tax reform facts, figures and rhetoric coming from our favorite media sources. 

Tax reform is a nice soundbite offering a perceived something for everyone.  For those at the bottom of the economic totem pole, hopefully, it’ll tax rich folks and corporations not paying their fair share.

For those at the top, maybe it’ll correct a perceived flaw of using our tax system for other than assessing a tax on income earned.  Like, for example, giving earned income and other welfare-like tax credits putting taxpayer monies in the hands of those who’ve not earned it.

Our political leaders like giving us tax reform and tax relief and they do it often.  In the last 60 years, we’ve had at least 20 rounds of federal tax legislation promising more tax reform and relief.  Three times, what was enacted can best be described as tax reform.

In 1954, we had the enormous and reform-minded 875-page Internal Revenue Code of 1954.  It was the first comprehensive revision of our federal income tax system since its origin over 40 years earlier in 1913.  This first round of tax reform legislation, considered by some to be the most monumental overhaul of our federal tax system because it changed over 3,000 tax laws.    

Fifteen years later was a second round of tax reform, the Tax Reform Act of 1969.  It made major changes to the 1954 tax laws. 

Seventeen years later, we had President Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986.  Some commentators described it as the most complex tax reform ever because it required over 180 follow-up technical corrections.

Since then, 31 years later, we’ve had another 17 rounds of federal tax legislation giving us more tax relief but none having the “reform” word in their titles.  This means we’ve not had any tax reform for over three decades because legislation can’t be tax reform unless it has the reform word in its title, right?

History tells us we need tax reform legislation every so often to fix abuses created from previous tax relief legislation.  Politically, for best results, it’s something meant to be rinsed, washed and repeated. 

Last year when campaigning for President, we learned of then candidate Donald Trump’s tax law proposals, theme-based tax reforms that supposedly would make America great again.  Who wouldn’t want this?  Not me, and probably not you.

As Congress now prepares for 2017 tax reform legislation, the devil will be in the details advocated by a brigade of special interests, all hoping to benefit from federal tax reform legislation.  One thing is certain, it takes more than the “reform” word in the title of federal tax reform legislation to deliver meaningful and real tax reform. 

President Trump learned a valuable lesson earlier this year from the failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, so he’s now courting Democratic support that’ll be necessary for bipartisan tax reform.  Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats have stipulated certain prerequisites needed for bipartisan tax reform.  Great odds exist even though their dating has just begun. 

A pig wearing lipstick is still a pig.  Reforming abusive and complex tax laws takes more than legislation having the reform word in its title. 

What’ll it be, this upcoming federal tax reform our political leaders will give us?

More pages to the about 3,000-page Internal Revenue Code with new complicated laws ridden with loopholes providing tax relief to some but, real tax reform it’ll not be. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, September 18, 2017

When boys worked

One of the diamonds in the rough in my father's journey with death a little over four years ago was the time I spent in conversations with him about his yesteryear memories growing up in Sacramento.  His mind was still sharp and his memory still excellent.  In today’s Pierini Fitness blogflection, I’ll share one account of his when he was a young boy growing up in Sacramento.   I believe all middle-aged men will relate to his experience.

As a young boy growing up in Sacramento in the 1930's, my Dad began his working "career" in 1938 at age 12 as a morning newspaper carrier for the now-defunct Sacramento Union. It was hard work, early every morning 7 days a week come rain or shine, delivering 100 newspapers on a Skid Row route on K Street between Front Street on the west and 6th Street on the east.

Many of his customers were people residing in some of the seedier hotels in an area known as Skid Row.  Therefore, he had to get off his bicycle often and hike up flights of stairs delivering newspapers to those residing on upper floors.

His typical work day began by waking up at 4:00 a.m. and leaving the family midtown Sacramento home on 24th and D Streets shortly thereafter. He rode his bicycle about a mile to 20th and M Streets where he picked up his newspapers.

All the newspaper boys met there to fold their newspapers and then load them on carrier bags sitting on top of their bicycle handlebars.  My Dad would then pedal his bicycle a little over one mile away to his Skid Row route. 

If everything went according to plan, he’d start tossing newspapers to customers around 5:30 a.m. and his entire route took slightly over one hour to complete.  He’d normally be done one hour later. 

The work was hard, the pay modest and, like a businessman, he had to do his own collections.  And like a businessman, he had some bad debts.  This is because some customers would sometimes move and stiff him.  If he had a good collection month, he’d make about $15 a month. 

He used his money to keep his bicycle - "business vehicle" - in tip top operating condition. He’d also use some of his earnings to fuel his young boy growing body.

All that early morning hard work gave him a big appetite so he’d sometimes stop for a bite to eat on the way home. The original Jim Denny's on 16th Street between I and J Streets was one of his favorite stops.  It was a small restaurant with no more than a dozen seats, always full so he’d have to stand and eat most of the time. Since Jim Denny’s was 24 hours a day, he could get an early morning warm hamburger for the whopping price of a nickel. Inflation existed then like now and soon thereafter that burger doubled in price to a dime.

Another favorite of his was Star Lunch, a Greek Restaurant on K Street between 4th and 5th Streets, where he could buy a delicious hot dog for 15 cents. If he was extra hungry, he’d buy two "dogs" for a quarter or "two bits".

If doughnuts were his favor, he’d stop at U.S. Bakery on H Street between 21st and 22nd Streets. It was owned by the Zanze Family and their warm early morning doughnuts were among Sacramento's best. There my Dad would sometimes barter, exchanging an extra leftover newspaper for a couple freshly-made doughnuts.

After these early morning appetizers, he’d return home, eat breakfast and get ready for school which then was James Marshall Elementary School at 28th and G Street.

He continued this newspaper boy job while attending Sutter Junior High School but years later when attending Sacramento High School, he changed jobs and started delivering newspapers for the Sacramento Bee.

The Sacramento Bee was an afternoon newspaper and this newspaper job was an easier route with better pay. His route was 50 newspapers delivered to homes on G Street between 28th Street on the west and Alhambra Boulevard on the east.

My Dad said about half of his friends worked like he did as a young boy growing up. That was then and this is now. Those were the good olden days in Sacramento when boys worked.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A rich middle-aged man

I’ve made several fellow middle-aged men roar a belly laugh during conversations talking about money when calling them a “rich white guy.”

“GASP!” you privately ponder wondering of this chief executive blogger is a bigot.

Well, I’m not, I’ve learned in doing this little name-calling is its amazing ability to get middle-aged men thinking about who they are financially.

I’m also amazed how often my fellow middle-aged men I’ve name-called “rich” quickly reply they’re not rich but, rather, only comfortable.

So, whether you’re rich, poor or somewhere in the middle is a matter of your personal sense of who you are financially. Sitting in a room with middle-aged man Bill Gates, the rest of us are relatively speaking “poor.”  He’s a middle-aged man financial giant.

How about a frame of reference?  Let’s focus on a middle-class middle-aged man.

A study done in 2016 by the Pew Research Center found that the American middle class lost ground in many metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2014. Middle class, or middle-income, households are those with an income that’s two-thirds to double the U.S. median household income or, for 2014, income ranging from about $42,000 to $125,000.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines rich as “having a lot of money and possessions.” Which begs an answer to the question of what’s a lot?

I told a fellow middle-aged man who has lots of money and possessions that he was rich, but he disputed this tag and replied he’s only comfortable.  My reply was that to a homeless person pushing a shopping cart past my office collecting cans to recycle and earn spending money, he’s “filthy rich.”

It’s all a matter of perspective.

The bigger picture is true wealth is broadly defined and financial wealth is just one component of true wealth. There are faith, family, fitness and health components in any comprehensive wealth equation. Take away any one of them and even the most financially-prosperous wealth monger will feel like a poor middle-aged man.

Hopefully, today’ blogflection will make you think about who you are financially and to put you on guard for the day I might call you a rich middle-aged man. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sleeping later each morning

New research tells us letting teenagers sleep more would save America billions of dollars.  This is according to the RAND Corporation, a public policy research organization.

Their study reports that pushing school start times even just to 8:30 a.m. would reap the billions-of-dollars benefits after just two years with purported savings of $83 billion after 10 years and $140 billion after 15 years.

All thanks to a little extra sleep time each morning.

Since money doesn’t grow on trees, this middle-aged man asks the question, “From where do these savings come?”

Supposedly, from better student performance translating to improved high school graduation rates and fewer auto accidents.

This middle-aged man says let’s not limit this goal mine of economic benefits solely to what our young folks offer solely by allowing them to spend more time with Mr. Sandman.

Can you imagine the savings windfall by allowing middle-aged men more sleep time? 

As a minimum, there would be a parallel economic windfall with improved job productivity and fewer auto accidents.  Seems to this chief executive blogger the savings would be similar so let’s call it $140 billion after 15 years.

But there would be other benefits not easily expressed in dollars and cents. 

Like less grouchy middle-aged men roaming America reading to bite your head off if you say the wrong thing or look funny at them. 

This is a call to all middle-aged men to start doing our fair share to make America great again, adding to the American pot of gold by sleeping later each morning.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A good middle-aged man yawn

A recent internet news article reported that resisting contagious yawning is futile.  Researchers discovered that instructions to resist yawning increase the urge to yawn.

Darn, I just yawned after composing the last sentence!

Something else to learn from this recent research:  instructions to resist yawning alters how a subsequent yawn is expressed.  In other words, a full-blown lion yawn, followed by instruction to not yawn may be followed by smaller and repressed yawn.

So, regardless of whether you tell me to knock it off, realize there’s nothing you can do or say to stop me from a good middle-aged man yawn.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, September 4, 2017

See you in a couple days

Pierini Fitness is taking the day off this Labor Day 2017.  See you in a couple days.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, September 1, 2017

His sky is always blue over yonder

Always a breath of fresh air and a break from now burdens, challenges and toils of daily living, is some refreshing daydreaming thinking about tomorrow, best described as an infinite series of breaths and moments in a continuum of time beginning with the next breath and moment and, for best results, never-ending.

It’s a great American pastime we engage in from time to time.

This middle-aged man recently spent some time blue sky daydreaming and it was fun while it lasted.  But, now, his blue sky has ended, until the next time, and he’s back at it, in his now, trying to make the best of it while dodging and hurdling his now burdens, challenges and toils of daily living.

While daydreaming, he found himself mesmerized by inebriating images and visions best described as euphoric, hallucinating and intoxicating.  And, they existed in a visionary landscape of very blue skies. 

This middle-aged man likes a blue sky, physical and mental, of the adjective and verb varietals.

It doesn’t matter if my blue sky, the adjective, is not yet practical or profitable; it’s still my daydream to enjoy. 

Nor does it matter if my blue sky, the verb, is making impractical or, yet, unachievable plans; it’s still my daydreaming to enjoy.

What matters is I’m enjoying my blue sky, and all middle-aged men deserve quality blue-sky time for their sanity.

"Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see."
Verse from Blue Skies by composer Irving Berlin, circa 1926

So, this is something I'll continue doing from time to time, much like how someone enjoys a glass of fine wine after a hard day's work.

His sky is always blue over yonder.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Enjoy a video version of this middle-aged man reflection below