Elftones, Estate Tax (06/10/06)

Above is a photograph of the Elftones from their website.  

Tonight’s  Blue Rige Country Dancers  contra  at the Wintersun in Floyd features the the north Carolina duo:  fiddler Mara Shea (formerly  Beamish) and guitarist Roger Gold. with Kernersville, NC  caller Jim Roeder.  Says the Raleigh-based Mara  on the the Elftone  website,

I played a violin for lots of years before I found that it could be a fiddle, and that I enjoyed playing it that way. I grew up in New England, but didn’t discover contra dancing and the wealth of music for it until I moved to North Carolina and started going to contra dances in the early 1990s. I like dancing, but I really prefer playing for the dancers! One of my favorite things about playing for contra dances is making the music fit the shape and feeling of the dance.

 Roger, who is also a lutier in Swannanoah ,   adds that he knew at the age of six that he wanted to play guitar and persisted until his parents found a teacher. His started out with folk music and playing electric guitar before turnng to traditional old time, Celtic and beyong.  He says he like to

 “play” with the music; turning waltzes to klezmer, Bach into swing, and doing even stranger things to the tunes he writes….[and has]  yet to figure out how to …both [play the guitar and dance] at the same time.

Besides calling, tJim plays guitar with another contra dance band, Tremblay’s Dream, which concentrates on the music of Quebec.  His bandmates are  John Calhoun on fiddle and David Bailey on mandolin.

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Estate Tax Update:

Revelers were celebrating the date 6-6-6 in Hell, Michigan, and Paul Groenendal, one of dozens of leather-clad bikers there for the street party, wore horns glued to his bald head and joked he had ridden into town to “make deals and collect” according to Reuter’s Rebecca Cook in her June 6 story, “Hell shines in its apocalyptic moment in the sun.”

Meanwhile, Senators in Washington were scheduling a vote on their own deal with the devil, H.B. 8, Congressman Kenny Hulshof’s Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005.”

After various maneuvering, the debate failed to muster enough votes and the motion to invoke cloture failed by a narrow vote of 57 to 41 on June 8.

The New York Times’s Floyd Norris in his June 10 account, “The ‘Death Tax’ Lives on Despite Senate Republican Efforts to Kill It,” reports,

In 2004, the latest year for which data are available, just 736 tax returns were filed for estates worth $20 million or more, and only 520 of them paid any estate tax at all. Those that did paid just 19 percent of their values, but that came to $5.6 billion for the federal government, or more than $10 million per wealthy taxed estate.

Readers who share my opinion that ending the estate tax is not a great idea may be tempted to take a breath of relief. Don’t stop your efforts, however; you can be sure the other side isn’t.June 8, June 8  press release, “Sen. Pryor Flip-Flops : Arkansas Senator votes against any chance of repeal or reform of the Death Tax,”  Americans for Tax Reform’s founder and president Grover Norquist writes,

Today Sen. Pryor has shown his true colors.  Sadly, Pryor has sided with the likes of liberal Senators Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy rather than his constituents back in Arkansas. This is a sad day for all small businesses, farmers, and ranch owners, and most important the Arkansas voters who were betrayed by his vote. They will, eventually, not be able to pass down their family businesses to the next generation..

It just astounds me that Senators will not support permanent repeal of the Death Tax. Its (sic) clear a majority of Americans support its repeal and do not believe it moral to tax someone at their death. These Senators are clearly more concerned with spending our money than allowing families to pass down their hard work to the generations to come.

Bob Reich, in “Estate Tax Pyramid Scheme”, his June 6 opionion piece for TomPaine.com writes of the 18 families financing the effort to end the tax,

They’ve underwritten the massive PR drive that fooled most Americans into thinking the estate tax was a “death” tax that would fall on them. They posed as small businesses and family farmers, saying their livelihoods would be threatened unless the tax were repealed. In fact it’s hard to find a small business or family farm with an estate valued at more than $4 million. 

Four million is the amount currently allowed .  The repealers disingeniously argue that will revert to $1 milliion in the year 2010; however if the original measure had not been so outrageous, if it had provided for some sort of reasonable exception rather than total repeal over the ten years of the bill, it would not have required a sunset clause to pass.  I’m leery of the Congress’s willingness to go along with unsound policies but inserting sunset clauses. 

Just look at what happened with the Patriot Act, where the Senate killed a filibuster February 26, with changes that Arlen Spector agreed were just cosmetic.  “Patrot Act lipstick, , the February 17, 2006 entry on Charles Pugsley Fincher’s Page Two blog,  referring to a statement I couldn’t run down, but I remember hearing from Spector on C=SPAN,  about there being enough lipstick on that pig that folks could vote for it.  Fincher said in an aside, “if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig..”  Ironically, that’s one of Dick Cheney’s favorite phrases, as he said at a Washington Pennsylvania  rally October 27.

John Kerry is trying every which way to cover up his record of weakness. But he can’t do it. It won’t work. As we like to say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig. (Applause.) That’s one of my favorites

In fact, it’s such a favorite, he repeated it, with Specter in attendance, to a sympatheic crowd’s applause and laughter, (according to the transcript on his White House website) at another rally  in Nazareth, Pennsylvania  on October 30.

Now in the closing days of the campaign, John Kerry is trying every which way to cover up his record of weakness on national defense. But he can’t do it. It won’t work. As we like to say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on that pig, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig. (Applause.) It is a rough crowd. (Laughter.) We better leave for Hawaii a little early. (Laughter.)

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