Since Nov 24, 2000

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A Fair Question about Fair Tax
MONEY finds flaw in 'FairTax' bestseller [FairTax myth busted by major magazine]
Fair Tax - Straightening Out Some Confusion
FAIR TAX BOOK- 2nd Ed. Revisions
President's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform Final Report- Nov 2005 : Chapter 9
Fair Tax, Foul Politics [NRO on FairTax]
Fair Tax, Flawed Tax (Bartlett, WSJ)

FRED IS FANTASTIC! (After-action report McLean, VA Sept 2007)
The Reagan Public Viewing- Freeper Thoughts [June 2004]
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Judge says alcoholism no disease
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Recovering Freeper In Need

If You Suspect You Might Have A Drinking Problem (An Open Letter)
written Dec 2004 by RobFromGa

To Any Person Who Suspects They May Have a Drinking Problem,

I have written this to describe my experiences of the past 14 months as I have worked to resolve my drinking problem. Everyone is different and I do not propose to be an expert on this topic, but I have my own personal experience and I am sharing it in the hope that it might help someone else to solve this problem and change their life.

For the rest of this letter and a bunch of great responses, click on the link above... or for just my complete letter, scroll down on this page (below)

For occasional stories regarding Addiction Recovery, join the ping list...

How I Got Started on this FR Stuff
My First Two Posts Nov 24, 2000

Atlanta Bush/Cheney Rally at CNN Center - Sat. 11/25, 11:00 AM!
Posted by RobFromGa to EarlyBird
On Fri Nov 24 10:17:30 2000 #6 of 31
Everyone tell your friends to stop whining about the OUTRAGEOUS tactics used by the DEMS to try to steal the election. Come tomorrow Sat Nov 25 at 11am to Centennial Park and show them we are not going to take it. We ARE NOT out of the woods yet. Be there. Rob

Posted by RobFromGa to mercy
On Fri Nov 24 12:30:07 2000 #90 of 181
I fear that too many of the Free Republic people will sit and send messages while the Republic withers. GET OFF-LINE AND IN THE STREET, we must TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY or we have no one to blame. The other side spent their money to buy the votes, they have nothing left to pay them to support their positions. We, on the other hand, are acting from our conscience. Now is not the time for Sunshine Soldiers or Summertime Patriots, GET OFF YOUR COMPUTERS and be heard. I'll see my fellow Georgians at Centennial Park this Sat 11/25 at 1pm. GO US Supreme Court, make your voice heard for 2004 and beyond!

To Any Person Who Suspects They May Have a Drinking Problem (An Open Letter)

Written Dec 2004 by RobFromGa

I have written this to describe my experiences of the past 14 months as I have worked to resolve my drinking problem. Everyone is different and I do not propose to be an expert on this topic, but I have my own personal experience and I am sharing it in the hope that it might help someone else to solve this problem and change their life.

I have now been sober for 14 months without a drop of alcohol. This is not a long time as compared to over 25 years of heavy drinking, but I also know something else: I am totally confident that I will never drink again.

In that 14 months I have made it through two football tailgating seasons, over a hundred business lunches and dinners, numerous trips to Germany where beer flows like water, parties, picnics, Super Bowls, a Caribbean cruise, several family vacations, ups and down in life, etc. All things that I thought “required” alcohol.

Fortunately, I did not have some event that caused me to hit “rock bottom”. (I could have had many rock bottoms but I was lucky). Some people need to lose their job, lose their family, kill or seriously injure someone in a car accident, end up in prison, or many other horrible things that alcohol (or drugs) can cause in order to gather the will to quit. Some people think that “bottom” is the only thing that can make a drinker quit for good. I have met many people who proved to me that this is false, you can make such a decision without going through the horrors. But in some ways it is tougher to take the first step.

In every other way, it is much easier to skip the “rock bottom” step and I hope that this letter helps at least one other person to avoid the lost job, lost marriage or prison route to sobriety.

Last October, I made a firm decision to quit and I followed through on that commitment. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I had similarly tried to control my drinking or quit at least 100 times before.

Why was I able to quit this time as compared with the previous 100 attempts? This is a very good question. The only answer I have come up with as to is that this time I was really ready to quit for myself alone. I was truly 100% sick and tired of the way alcohol affected me and I wanted a different life. All the other times I was, in some way, not really ready to control my drinking. The bottle was still in charge. I tried many tactics: I’d only drink on weekends, only drink after 5pm, only drink at parties (almost anything can become a party in such a plan), only drink beer, only drink wine, only drink hard liquor, only drink things I didn’t like the taste of (I know it sounds nuts but I was nuts), only drink every other week, quit for a day, quit for a weekend, quit for a week, quit for “this vacation or event”. I tried every way to quit in the world to stop drinking except the way that eventually worked for me.

If you are reading this and you know someone that has a drinking problem and you want to help them, you must understand that you are at a severe disadvantage. This is a condition of the mind more than a condition of the body and it is nearly impossible to bring another person to a mental place where they can admit that alcohol is causing more pain in their life than the pleasure it brings. Because a drinker can hardly imagine life without alcohol. It is with us at many points of our thinking and decision making process. We make plans around alcohol and drinking, not all of the time but enough.

If this does not sound like you at this point but you still think you might have a problem, I am not going to tell you that you are OK with your drinking, I will only say that you don’t have the same problem that I was facing so my experience may be of little value to you. I do know people who can go for long periods with nothing at all, then they “binge” and drink to pass out. This is obviously a problem, but not the problem that I have experience with. For 25 years I drank to excess. I often did not get "drunk" but I was always under the influence. For many of those years I drank daily, sometimes starting at 6am and going till 2am the next night. I am not proud of this but it is the truth.

As a problem drinker, you probably associate most of the “fun” you have in life with alcohol in some portion and are worried that without alcohol you will become a dull, bored person with no joy in life. You probably think that there are some things where you will always have to drink to enjoy. I know I worried about that, and I can assure you it is false. You will enjoy life more when you quit, at least that has been my experience. Even that Caribbean cruise and college football tailgating.

I first started drinking in High School. I don’t feel that it is necessary to recount the whole story but I drank to blackout on a number of incidences. Other times I just got really drunk and did stupid things that put my life at risk. I drove many times when I had no business on the road, and it would not have taken much to have had a series of events happen that would have changed my life for the worse. In college, I made good grades at a top Engineering school, while drinking heavily. It was a joke that I would study with a bottle of Jim Beam next to my desk.

As I got into the business world, and specifically into sales, drinking is a daily part of business life. At least that’s what a drinker thinks. And for people who do not have a problem controlling it, drinking is a wonderful part of life. The occasional party or business dinner and a few social drinks to move the business forward are great. But I was never able to do that—for me it was five, ten, fifteen drinks. Into the late hours, with not enough sleep, feeling like crap the next morning when I should have been at my best. Then repeating the same behavior each night. And I was very successful, and I thought drinking was part of the success.

I rationalized that with my talent, the drinking was part of who I am, and that even at 50% I was still more capable than most others so it wasn’t necessary to control myself.

I know this is getting long so I’ll get to the point: One Friday last October I was driving down the road. I hadn’t had a drink in two days and was in one of my “quit drinking the rest of the week” attempts. Rush Limbaugh announced that he was going to a Rehab Center for his drug addiction to resolve his problem. This for some reason got through to me. I called two people that I am close with and told them that I was not going to drink one drop of alcohol until Rush came out of treatment. (Telling these people I had made this decision helped me).

I told myself that after thirty days, I would decide whether I would drink again in a more controlled manner or stop completely. I did not have the luxury of taking the time off from work to enter treatment, but since Rush was going in, he was in there for both of us.

I did not attend AA (although I will talk about AA later) but I was clearly at the first step of their program. It is a very simple concept:

I admitted that I had a drinking problem and that I wanted to do something about it. I can tell you that if you are really at that point then you can fix yourself. If you are not at that step, then there is nothing that anyone can do to help you and I hope that you stay alive, and intact until you reach that point.

After about a week of sobriety, I stopped thinking about alcohol very much. I threw myself into work and tried to start losing weight as well. By the second week I made the decision: “I WILL NEVER DRINK AGAIN” and I wrote that in my journal. I recognized that a bottle of booze is an inanimate object that is simply poison to me and that it cannot force itself into my body. I have the control over whether I use my arms to bring the poison to my lips. And I choose not to allow that to happen ever again.

I have noticed that there is an inner “voice” that I have (he stays fairly silent now) that in the beginning used to put thoughts in my mind like: “surely you can just have one, you’ve been good”, “it’s a beautiful Fall Day, surely you could just do the social drink”, “you’re in the Caribbean for Gods’ sakes, shouldn’t you at least have one Margarita to celebrate your sobriety”. When my mind lets the inner voice talk, I quickly reassert control and think about the serenity that I have found since I quit drinking.

I need to stop writing now, the family is waking up, but I will write another letter tomorrow morning which describes these 14 months and what other tactics I have used in my sobriety.

I hope that this helps at least one other soul out there. Feel free to post questions or suggestions.

FReegards, RobFromGa

Chapter 2. Is there any value in AA or similar Twelve step Programs?

As I said previously, I am sharing it in the hope that it might help someone else to solve this problem and change their life. There is also a another reason for sharing my experience, it is my way of giving back some small part of what has been given to me by others. If I can help one person to find the peace that I have found by helping them to explore their addiction, it will have served its purpose. And writing this is a way to help crystallize my own thinking on what has worked for me, and what has not.

If you are out there and worried about your drinking, the first piece of advice I gave yesterday was to make a decision to stop drinking for at least a long enough time to make a final decision about whether to quit for good. At this point you only need to admit to yourself that alcohol is something that you cannot manage as well as you would like, and that you are going to do something about it.

I will again make the disclaimer that this is MY experience, and I do not have so much pride as to think that I have one way that will work and that all others ways are wrong. Now back to our story, where I had made the decision to quit and I was in the first 30 days of sobriety (Rush was still in his rehab center).

Nothing much eventful happened through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I was spending a lot of time reading about goal setting and self improvement, and I was a different person through those holidays. I actually did not have any urges to drink and it was a wonderful season.

Near the end of the year, I was talking with a friend who I knew from past experience was in AA. He knew I had quit drinking and he asked me whether I had been to an AA meeting. I told him that I hadn’t and that I didn’t really feel like it would do anything for me. He told me that I should keep an open mind about it and that I might find value there.

He told me something that stuck with me. He said that I appeared to be doing well in my sobriety but that I was not out of the woods and that I would never be 100% safe. He told me that I needed to build up a layer of resistance around myself that was so thick that the worst possible scenario of events would not cause me to resort to drinking. My paper-thin resolve was not going to be enough to see me through this problem.

I disagreed with him somewhat, because as an alcoholic we tend to know everything, and be right about everything, but I did make a goal for myself after the new year to attend an AA meeting.

So, on January 6, I went to my first AA meeting at a place near my house. It was pleasant enough and the people at that meeting were friendly. For the first time, I was able to tell my story to a group of people who understood exactly where I was coming from. It was stunning that you could be so open and free with things that you would never tell another living soul, and yet here you are in a room full of strangers and you spill out part of what is inside you. And there are others there that nod their heads, and hug you and give you encouragement because they have been there before you.

I made a deal with myself that I would go to at least 30 meetings over the next 90 days and see what I could learn. I live near Atlanta, so I decided to go to one of the main AA places, and I found a group of people that are from all walks of life, on a given day 50-100 of them. This became my home group and I have been to a lot of meetings.

I would strongly urge any person who feels they have a problem with drinking to attend an AA meeting in their area. There are many types of meetings, in my experience there is a short reading for the day from one of the AA books, and then you just go around the table and share your thoughts on that topic. If you don’t feel like talking, you pass, simple as that. In the group that I am in, there are people there who have been coming for twenty-five years or more and they have seen it all.

There are many things that I received from the people I met at AA.

First, and most important to me, I lost a sense of loneliness that I had always carried but not known that I was carrying. Let me explain. This is not the kind of loneliness that comes from being alone. I always had people around me, and I was not alone physically. I was alone in my problem. I did not realize fully that my drinking problem is a “normal” thing for millions of people, and that I was able to grow from their experiences as well as my own. I did not need to lose my family to hear that story repeatedly. I did not need to lose my job, I could hear others explain that pain to me from all walks of life. I did not need to go to prison—I talked with people who are just out of prison.

I also talked to people who were just like me, in that they did not hit a hard “bottom”. This is both a curse and a blessing because some will say that you need that terrible pain seared in you to keep you from thinking you have been “cured”. So, the first thing I got from AA was the knowledge that I am not a freak, that I have a problem shared by many, and that everything that I have done wrong isn’t close to as bad as it could get if I start drinking again.

Just hearing the emotional stories of people who had quit, and who are now coming back to AA and admitting that they had started drinking again is enough for me to build my armor against a relapse. I learned that one can learn through the experiences of others as it pertains to alcohol, and there is intense value in doing so.

The second main value that I got from AA is spiritual growth. I had not given any real thought in over twenty five years to God, and my relationship to him. The AA program is built upon the concept of a Power greater than ourselves who helps us with our problem. I have always believed in a Creator and so this part I was OK with.

Now let me say right now that, at least at the AA meetings I attended, there is no one going around checking up on people and keeping tabs on what step you are on, and how well you are doing. In that respect, this is a self-paced program, you move at your own speed, you pick out what works for you and you leave the rest for later. That was my approach. I did not dismiss anything out of hand as incorrect-- I just looked for ways to apply what they were saying to what I believed.

It is time for me to do some other things this morning (I think I will go to an AA meeting) so I’ll close for know. Sometime soon, I’ll write the next part of this. Thanks for reading this far…


Note: Someone asked about Non Alcoholic beers. I stayed away from them for the first six months, but then I saw President Bush drinking one on his campaign plane, so I figured what the heck. In the past eight months, I have had probably four occasions that I have drank three or four of them and it has not been a problem for me so far. I have not brought them home by stocking the fridge with NA beers and chugging a twelve pack every night. I also do not go to bars and drink them while everyone else gets plastered, that would be tough to handle for me. But if I am in a setting where a few NA beers are appropriate, I drink them and I don’t think it has harmed me. Your mileage may vary.

Chapter 3. What’s God got to do with it?

As I stated previously, the AA program is built upon the concept of a Power greater than ourselves (our “Higher Power”) who we surrender to in order to solve our problem. I have always believed in a Creator and a higher power is not a problem for me, per se. But many people come to AA with no belief structure at all and they are encouraged to find their higher power where it can be found. Many use the “AA group” as the power in the beginning, after all it is a group who have been down the path before and have confronted and “solved” the addiction problem.

My problem was not in identifying the Higher Power, but with the concept of “surrender”. The big question in my mind this past year was: am "I" in charge of me, or must "I" give up control? I always have thought that we were given free will to do what we wish with our lives and that we have responsibility for our actions. That is the core of my personal philosophy and my Conservative polical viewpoint comes straight from this philosphy.

But we were given much more than free will. We were given our wonderful mind which can think and reason. It is truly an amazing creation, and it is quite unfortunate that we are not given an Operators Manual about how to use it most effectively.

But even more amazingly we were given a spirit or soul which can dream and plan and which is not “physical”. I think that this is the core thing about human beings—our bodies are chemicals assembled together, our minds are complex physical processing/storage facilities, but our “spirit” is what makes us who we are. Our spirit is a collection of information, experience, beliefs-- it is a pure information "state". And it is a gift.

We either challenge our spirit to do greater things, or we lose hope and allow it to wither and die. I could not and still do not understand the concept of “surrender” that they are talking about.

I listened and I did not attempt to hijack the program, but instead I chose to take from it the good that I got from it.

In early March, I wrote in my journal:
“don’t try to change AA to fit my world view- not everyone is the same as me and AA may be the only hope for people in different circumstances. Don’t destroy that for others, I have no program to offer them in its place.”

But I do not pretend that I have gotten to where I am today alone. I have already said that I was helped by other people in the AA group. I was also helped by many alcoholics before that chose to write about and find solutions for this character defect. I also have received help from God in many ways:

1. I asked God to help me in coming closer to him, and to understanding his purpose for us.

2. I periodically count my blessings- I make a list of those things that I was born with or that have come into my life through nothing I did to deserve them- my life, my liberty, my country, my health, my wife, my intelligence, my parents, my children… the list can be quite long when you start thinking about it. All of these things were given to me and could have been withheld.

3. I ask him to keep me safe from those forces that would harm me, not only as it relates to drinking but that is a big one.

I do not want to sound too cocky in all of this and I fear that it may sound that way. It may even be true-- it is a difficult thing to see in oneself, especially for someone with a big ego like me. I just really believe that we were given the tools to deal with our problems. And the main tool that we are given is our ability to make decisions (spirit) and take action (mind and body). God is helping me by giving me the tools, and helping me to dream the big goals, and He is keeping the adversaries at bay.

I continue to go to AA meetings at least a couple of times a month but not to keep me from drinking in the short term, but to increase my commitment to not drinking in the long term. I also go to share with people who are just joining and to give something back. And I am still learning and open to new thinking on this, even if I sound totally sure of myself.

I just keep it to myself about the issues I have presently with “One Day at A Time” as a long-term strategy. I recognize that the 24 Hours at a time method has worked for millions and given them their life back. Especially in the beginning it makes it possible.

I welcome comments from those who think differently on this subject, and I am not trying to say that what works for me works for everyone or is the only way to go. But if anyone else has tried to solve this problem through AA, and had problems with “surrender” then maybe what I have said here will help them resolve the issues. And I hope it will help me too!

I leave you with a quote from the Tao Te Ching (Chapter 4)

"With patience tangled cord may be undone,
and problems which seem insoluble, resolved.

When untangled by a cutting edge,
the cord in little pieces lies,
and is of little use."

So, I don't expect instant results, and I am not in a big hurry. I recognize that am closer to the beginning of this story than the end, I really understand that! And I know that I am not out of the woods.

Thanks for listening to my story (so far). FReegards,


PS: The book "A Million Little Pieces" by Frey is excellent novel (loosely autobiographical) about recovery.

The AA Big Book is also excellent, as is Living Sober.

A Fair Question about Fair Tax
MONEY finds flaw in 'FairTax' bestseller [FairTax myth busted by major magazine]Fair Tax - Straightening Out Some Confusion
FAIR TAX BOOK- 2nd Ed. Revisions
President's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform Final Report- Nov 2005 : Chapter 9
Fair Tax, Foul Politics [NRO on FairTax]
Fair Tax, Flawed Tax (Bartlett, WSJ)

What Will Happen Under a FairTax?

WAGES: It has been made clear by many proponents of the FairTax that they are expecting 100% of their current gross pay, and that many employer/employee wage relationships, including those for government workers are controlled by contract. So, we'll assume every wage earner gets to keep 100% of their current gross pay. Everyone can figure out for him or herself what that gives them in terms of a take-home pay increase.

BUSINESS COSTS: If we assume that businesses get to keep their half of the payroll taxes (7.65% of all payroll costs up to first $95k per employee), plus taxes on corporate profits (average <2% of Cost of Goods sold) and some tax compliance savings (being generous we'll call this 1% savings), this gives the business about 8% of cost savings with which to potentially reduce prices.

PRICES: For domestic goods, if we assume that the entire 8% is passed along to the consumer, this means that pre-tax prices will be 92% of present day prices. That $10 twelve pack will now be $9.20. Of course, the twelve pack of imported beer is still $10 pre-tax. Once the 30% FairTax is added, the price of the domestic beer will be $11.96 and the price of the imported beer will be $13.00 even. So, domestic prices will go up about 20% and imported item prices will go up about 30%.

GOVERNMENT EXPENSES: Since the government expects this plan to enable them to purchase the same things they purchase now, they will need to raise sufficient revenue in order to achieve purchasing power parity. Since they will be paying the 30% FairTax on every item, we can assume that for stuff they buy, they will see the same 20% price increase on domestic items and 30% increase on imported items as other end consumers. So they will need to increase their dollar intake by this 20%+ to enable them to buy the same amount of stuff. And, of course all government salaries will have the 30% FairTax paid on the salary, less the employer half of the payroll taxes, so this is a net 22.35% increase in the cost of the entire payroll of the US government (and states too, but that is another can of worms).

ENTITLEMENT COSTS: Since the social security payments are linked to CPI, when this 20%+ price rise slams through the economy all the social security checks will have to be raised to cover this massive FairTax caused inflation. They will rise by at least 20%, and a litle more because the basket of goods will include some imported items like oil. Medicare/medical expenses will have the FairTax added, for a 20%+ increase.

GOVERNMENT PURCHASING POWER PARITY: with the cost of Payroll, plus everything they buy, plus the entitlements, all going up 20% plus we can assume that the governement will need to collect approximately 20%+ more of the new inflated dollars in order to buy what they are today with today's more stable dollars.

FAIR TAX RATE: Assuming nothing else changes regarding purchasing behavior, size of the government, etc. this means that the 30% FairTax would need to immediately raised 20% (to 36%) just to bring in all the inflated dollars that are required to fund the govt at present level. The price of domestic beer is now $12.50 and the import is $13.60. This assumes no evasion and no reduction in spending by consumers on new goods and services when the large sales tax is imposed. (an unrealistic assumption by the FairTaxers)

SAVED MONEY: All dollars that are post-tax savings would be devalued by the FairTax inflation by 20% in terms of what they can buy with their hard-earned and saved after-tax money.

Does this sound like a utopia to anyone? Isn't it very likely that a 36% sales tax (or much higher like 50%) will cause consumption to suffer and/or transactions driven into a barter system or the black market where they cannot be taxed. And every dollar that is taken from the legitimate economy is another increase that is needed in the FairTax rate in order to feed the government the amount of money it needs.

Isn't is likely that we will end up with an income tax again on top of the FairTax when this all plays out?

And once people either stop buying, or buy used, or barter for services, or buy on the black market, or funnel purchases through their businesses for a tax exemption, it is very likely that the FairTax inclusive rate would be 33%-- which is an exclusive rate of 50%, making the problem worse.

What will the Real FairTax Rate Be? [Hint: much higher than the 29.87% they claim]

The FairTax plan makes the false ASSUMPTION that 23% inclusive will be enough to fully find the government at today's level.

FairTaxers generally agree that the FairTax will cause higher prices and FairTaxers think that these will be ok because the purchasing power is what matters. Wage earners will receive a pay increase with their 100% paychecks to compensate for the higher prices.

Domestic prices will rise about 18-25% after a small (max 8%) price cut and then the 30% FairTax is added-- and rise the full 30% for foreign items.

Stick with me here for just one more minute. The government will also need a "raise" to pay the higher prices (because the government pays the FairTax on everything too), and it will take the form of additional revenue that needs to be raised. That additional revenue can ONLY be raised by increasing the FairTax rate, there is no other source to generate revenue. So, the 23% rate when multiplied by 1.18 is now 27.1% inclusive, which is 37.2% exclusive.

And that assumes no reduction in the base. If we assume just the very minimum that the base reduces 8% due to reduction in shelf prices-- ie. no reduction in unit volume of sales, just an 8% lower price for everything, then we need to divide the 27.1% by 0.92 to get a new inclusive rate of 29.5%, which is 41.8% exclusive. And this assumes ZERO evasion, and the same exact level of unit sales as now.

Most recently the FairTax commission found that the FairTax Rate was grossly understated by the FairTax people and that the actual rate would have to be MUCH HIGHER than 29.87% exclusive due to 1)government paying itself tax and 2) erosion of the taxable base due to all factors. Just a 15% erosion in base, coupled with a Federal government costing 20% more than presently (the cost with the FairTax added) makes the rate 33% inclusive which is 50% exclusive.

The FairTax people need to go back to the drawing board and plug in the new reality where prices go up 18-25% and stick that in their models and see what somes out the other side. It won't be pretty is my expectation.

OK, FairTax opponent, if you're so smart, what do you think we should do to fix the problem?

I want to see elimination of corporate taxes, elimination of death taxes, additional reductions in the marginal income tax rates until we find that we are the Laffer optimal point.

In addition I want to see Social Security privatized, and I am willing to pay extra money to pay for those who were promised this benefit, and never receive a penny of it myself. I also want to see Medicare reformed from top-to-bottom. I also want to see Tort Reform to reduce the exorbitant costs of insurance on our medical costs. And we need to reduce the scope of the Federal Government to its constitutionally mandated responsibilities and get rid of the rest. The Golden Goose that is America is way too fat and needs to be put on a severe diet.

These are what we need to do, incremental improvements in what we already have. This is already working and we should keep at it...even Boortz seems to think so. Boortz (9/20): "...the economy continues to go like gangbusters. We are right in the middle of an historic economic boom. Don't let the mainstream media or the Democrats tell you otherwise...we've never had it so good...

Mark Steyn likes Freepers and is counting on us to save the world: