Living in California, I have an advantage...a crystal ball of sorts...in seeing the direction this ship called The U.S.A. is headed.
  
Let me look into my crystal ball, and tell the future for you.

California has the highest income tax rate of all the 50 states.  


California is also the largest employer in the state.  Yes, the state government employs more people than any private or publicly traded business in the Golden State.


California has two cities so far that have declared bankruptcy.  The main obligations the cities of Stockton and San Bernadino are failing to meet are government employee pension and benefits programs.


Unfortunately, there are not enough people paying California's highest tax rates to supply the union negotiated contracts for public employees to receive their guaranteed retirement benefits.


Let me be more specific.  


Every union represented employee of the State of California, and every union represented employee of each city in California receives a guaranteed lifelong retirement pension if he/she completes the contract negotiated time filling the chair in the job, no matter how well he/she performed it.  


This pension is not tied to any Mutual Fund or Stock Market Investment.  

It is 100% GUARANTEED. 


Don't you wish your IRA or 401K didn't fluctuate with the market? 


Consequently, CalPERS (Public Employee Retirement System) is $87Billion (yes that's with a "B") underfunded, because the funds collected and invested are nowhere near the $225Billion guaranteed in the union contracts.

Some teachers in my local school district are a perfect example.
  • One Kindergarten teacher receives over $80,000 in pension PLUS over $25,000 in fully paid medical, dental and vision benefits each year.  
  • Two other married retired school teachers received over $170,000 a year in their combined pension. Unfortunately, the wife recently passed away, but her husband continues to receive her full share of the pension - still $170,000 a year total.  

Gee, I wonder why the husband is currently looking for some tax breaks, because he now is in the upper-middle class - the very socio-economic class his angry, anti-CEO union reps have fought against. 

This pensioner is now trying to find ways around the very taxes that continue to pay his pension.  


Taxes in the state of California have had to increase to try and catch up to the bleeding that is uncontrolled spending.


Consequently, large and small businesses are leaving the Golden State in droves - actually they are being enticed to move by other states like Texas and Arizona.


How does this relate to my crystal ball, you ask?


California is the golden canary in the economic underground mine shaft, and that canary is suffocating, because the mine is quickly spreading the toxic fumes of government overspending dictated by lobbyists and unions.


The Federal Government is going the way of California.


The foggy mist in my crystal ball whispers the following in my year:
  • The Federal Income Tax Rates must increase for everyone (not just those making over $250,000/year) in order to keep up with the raising of our debt limit.
  • The Federal Government will become the largest employer in the country.  How many jobs did Obamacare create in order to double my personal healthcare insurance?  Yes, my coverage stayed the same, but doubled in premiums and yearly cap, but my Federal Government can give me a handout to bring them back down to the same affordable level prior to The Affordable Care Act.  (Thanks for your willingness to help me pay for my healthcare increases with your taxes.)
  • Taxes will continue to increase, but won't be able to keep pace with spending and pensions.
  • Large and small businesses will flee to other countries (wait, isn't that already happening?)  Can you say "苹果"?  That's "Apple" in Chinese.
  • The U.S.A. will go the way of the Roman Empire, and implode under it's own weight.

I know I sound as doomsday as Professor Trelawney, but I don't just whine.  There are a few ideas I have to pump fresh air down this mine shaft, and they are all centered around what I learned raising my kids - People rise to whatever expectations you set, and are more confident when they are more self-reliant:
  • Ban all unions from any public employment organization.  We have a choice to shop at companies whose union employees contribute to their products.  We don't have a choice to pay the taxes that support the salaries, and union dues that give a guaranteed pension even beyond death to someone who also can't be fired for poor performance.
  • Ban all lobbyists (retired politicians will then be forced to get real jobs at normal salaries.)
  • Transfer all government pension plans to IRA's, 401K's or Social Security like every other American.
  • Transfer all medical, dental and vision plans held by government employees to the same private payer insurance plans held by every other American before Obamacare became the "UnAffordable Care Act."
  • Fundamentally change the welfare and disability systems to include temporary benefits that are paid during an equally paid re-training program to get individuals with able bodies and minds to work, and on the road to self sufficiency.  Every part of the government that relates to government assistance, welfare and disability must talk to every other part, so they all work toward the same good for people in need.
  • Workers whose unions have negotiated them out of a job, and sent their jobs oversees can ask those unions for some of their dues back for re-training.
  • No government employee, from the President on down to the last Federal/State Project Manager has a guaranteed pension.  I'm sure a good book deal can be had, but I would self-publish if I were you.
  • Politicians are required to have worked a "real job" in the private sector for a minimum of 10 years prior to holding any public office.  Hopefully, this will give them some idea what kind of life their constituents live.

When the State of California goes bankrupt, I'll know the nation is not far behind, but I won't say I told you so. 

I'll just start learning Chinese.

Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left
 
 
American Flag over San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge
The ideal days of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are far behind us as Republicans in the House try to finally get rid of the Affordable Care Act by defunding it while funding a higher national debt. 

I wish Mr. Smith would return.  

Better yet, I wish our politicians would actually work for us rather than themselves and their parties.

Current political motto:  Self ~ Party ~ Unions/Corporations ~ Lobbyists ~ Constituents

My ideal political motto:  Constituents ~ Party ~ Self

You can find my take on the current Stopgap funding bill vote coming up on Friday in my article on Yahoo! News.  

I would love your opinion.


Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left

 
 
I woke up today.
Today is my birthday.
Today is another day with no mistakes...yet.
Today's mistakes will certainly lead to tomorrow's wisdom.
I hope I wake up tomorrow to apply one, and learn from the other...again.


Today, I appreciate breathing.
Breathing leads to laughing, and I absolutely LOVE laughing!
The laughter of my kids is the best.
When they make me laugh with an inside joke, I can't believe how lucky I was to wake up.


The sunshine, fog, heat, rain and snow are all welcome when I wake up.
I woke up to sun, then walked the dogs today.
I woke up, and was thankful for the amazing man who has been waking up by my side for 30 years.
Flaws and all, I'm glad he puts up with mine too.
I'm glad I know the difference between annoying flaws and downright dangerous ones, and hope the same for you!


I woke up today, and finished my 50th year of waking up.
Here's to year 51...may I wake up to greet every day of it.


Thanks for sharing the days with me, and here's to waking up tomorrow.
See you then.


Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left

 
 
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Ask any new mom who consciously made the choice to stay home and raise her own kids if she is 'living the dream,' and I guarantee her answer will be, "ABSOLUTELY.....except when I'm not."


Once the bills settle in from the change in lifestyle required for a one income household in the 21st century, this dream mom job might shift, and cause her to become a solo-entrepreneur to make ends meet.


I've been living that dream (that has sometimes felt like a nightmare when I've had only three hours sleep) for the past 10 years, and I have some tips for success I outline in my Yahoo! Voices article:


  • Prioritize throughout your day, and use the kids' needs to your advantage.  



  • Let your goals evolve alongside your kids.



  • Organization is key...except when it's not.






Are you a solopreneur mom?  If so, or if you want to be, please share your ideas below!

Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left


 
 
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I have to give credit where credit is due.  When our dinner conversation last night turned to the news of the day, which included scientists creating beef in a lab, my youngest, Riley, said, "Mom we won't have red barns in the country anymore, we will just have white lab buildings."

Here again...out of the mouths of babes.

Hubby started talking about 30 years from now, sitting around the table saying, "You can't even tell it's not real."

My oldest corrected Dad on the fact that it will still be real, etc., then said, "I hope I'm not sitting at this table still in 30 years." (can you tell he just turned 15?!)

*Sniff* Mom moment when I realize he will be grown and gone sooner rather than later.

Seriously, though...fast forward 30+ years, and we will no longer have packaged meats and butcher shops in supermarkets.  We will probably have egg cartons along side, beef cartons, chicken cartons and pork cartons, all packaged with stem cells, and we will have a countertop growth chamber for our protein staples.  We won't even need to be scientists to grow our own meat.  The patented stem cell growth system will be automated, like a bread maker.  Only, this will be a meat maker, and the scientists who patented the process and the meat maker will be leading the NASDAC in genetic engineering growth stocks.

Will this solve the world hunger crisis?



Probably not.  (The world will always be divided into the haves, and the have-nots.)


So, before you run out and invest in this scientist's company during it's initial IPO, think about the other things that will be affected by this "manufactured beef":


  • What's going to happen to the fertilizer industry?
  • Where are we going to get our leather products?
  • Where do we get the bovine stem cells?  *hint - pregnant cow embryos anyone?
  • How do we handle spontaneous genetic mutations in our kitchen that produce green hamburger patties?
  • What do we do with all the grassland now available?  *hint - anyone need more GMO soybeans?



Don't say my 11yo and I didn't warn you.


Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left


 
 
American Flag over San Francisco Bay
In no other time in history, and in no other country but the United States have women enjoyed the same freedom as men.  Only 39 years ago, women were finally given the right to secure credit in their own names without the signature or approval of their husbands.  Couple that with our ability in 1920 to finally be counted as true citizens of this country who enjoy the right and responsibility of the vote, and we are poised to rule the world

Oh, wait...we already rule the world by creating and nurturing the next generation!  :-)

Well, here is my
article for Yahoo! describing what I choose to do with my freedom.

What about you?

What do you do with yours?


Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left

 
 
PictureRight before chopping off 10 inches!
2013 is the culmination of my 50th year of life.  All my over 50 Pixel Pals are nodding their heads saying, "Been there, Done that."  Of course, they know I'm only half way through this journey, and can understand my taking stock to see what's coming around the bend.

I, like all others before me, am feeling the clock ticking faster, and am responding with trying to do more by this mid-century mark.  So, here is my 05 by 50 list for your reading and laughing pleasure.

  1. Go Skydiving
  2. Appreciate my curves enough so that I can walk on a beach in a bathing suit without sucking in my stomach
  3. Chop off my long hair and donate it  (DONE!)
  4. Finish one of my novels
  5. Pay my monthly mortgage from writing




I'll keep you posted as time goes by.  I have until September 2013 to do these five things!


Here's to the next 50 years!


What did you do, or will you do by the time you turn 50?


Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left





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All that is left! LOVE IT!
 
 
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Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left


 
 
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Whatever you do, don't call him a "Writer!"
He is a thief, and a damn good one.
He is the only thief I know (all the others have not revealed themselves to me as thieves, or at least I haven't tied them to anything missing yet).
He steals the stories of lives, and tells them amazingly well. 

He is a Storyteller, and I would love for you to meet him.

Caleb Pirtle III

The picture to the left is quite misleading, because it looks as if this guy is retired, his only job now might be rocking on the porch or fishing.  Actually, he is one of the most prolific, engaging writers of blogs and books in my Tribe.

Caleb researches, writes and publishes blog posts daily - sometimes two or three a day - and somehow finds time to also write and publish fiction.  I love his writing style, and never stop reading one of his posts once I start, no matter the length.  In a time when lack of time is the driving force, his posts are a relaxation and a discovery all at once.  He always hooks me...always, and I stay to the end and often comment, because he also touches some emotion that makes me want to share.  How could you stop reading a post entitled The Secret of a Long Marriage with the line.... “It’s simple,” he said. “Me and my wife don’t play volleyball.”

Caleb's style is direct, and he hooks his readers with amazingly engaging sentences like, "He knew where the dirt lay and owned the shovel to dig it up" or, "Henrietta Lacks died in anonymity. Her cells were going viral......The men and women in the white coats became famous. The men and women in the gray flannel suits became rich" or, "Life is a cruel and terrible author. But life doesn’t write the final chapter."

I could go on and on, but that would rob you of the discoveries that await.

All of my favorite posts have an "aha" moment - Caleb is very good at creating these, and needs very few words to catch me.  

So, I invite you to sit back and read some stories.  Start here, and just click on a title that sounds interesting.  Before you know it, you will be looking at the clock and cursing.  It's not his fault you missed that appointment, because you were so engrossed in an amazing tale.  I know, I once forgot to pick up my youngest from school for that very same reason.....oops, did I just type that?!


Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left


 
 
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I am lucky enough to have a partner who loves yard work.

Unfortunately that wonderful, incredibly patient man is also a Tax Man, and is incognito until April 15, but the weeds don't know that.  So, every spring, the boys and I start the yearly clean-up of our yard.  It's the least we can do since he works 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I dread the chore at first, but as I get into a rhythm, it's wonderfully satisfying and cathartic.  Am I that messed up that I find writing material amongst the weeds?! 

After a full day of weeding, my hands represent my future 80 year old self, and my back complains louder than my hands......now on to the laundry with a head cleared of weeds just like the yard.

What are your chore comparisons?

Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom

@SayBumpandTweet
Everything MommyLoves
Say Bump and Take a Left