The Berkeley-Albany Bar Association has been on a huge roll this year.  First we had a local expert on the U.S. Supreme Court speak at our January monthly luncheon, giving us the complete 411 regarding what the court had been up to this past year.  Not a pretty picture.  It’s really hard to eat rubber chicken and contemplate Anton Scalia at the same time.  But I took lots of notes.  But then I lost them in the process of getting my apartment renovated.

Then, two months ago, we had a tax-law expert tell us all about Congress’s latest new IRS laws.  It was also totally informative and I also took a whole bunch of notes.  But then they got lost too.

However, regarding taxes, it doesn’t really matter what kinds of laws that Congress does or does not pass when it comes to you and me — not while rich people are being allowed to hide approximately 32 trillion dollars in offshore tax loopholes; money that, unlike your and my money, will never ever be touched by the IRS.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “[32 trillion dollars is] roughly the size of the American and Japanese economies combined, according to the report from James Henry, a former chief economist at McKinsey & Co.  And the figure only includes financial wealth, not real estate, yachts or other assets held abroad.” http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/23/business/la-fi-mo-tax-havens-20120723.

The rich really are different from the rest of us — especially when it comes to cheating on taxes.  We go to jail.  They don’t.

In 1950, corporations paid 40% of America’s taxes.  And now they pay almost zip.

This month’s speaker at the BABA luncheon was a psychiatrist and he spoke to us about how to prevent substance abuse and mental illness.  Fascinating.  “It’s mostly genetic,” he said.

Apparently if one of your parents or grandparents was nutzo or addicted, there is a 25% chance that you will be too.

“Most substance abuse and/or mental illness shows up in adolescence,” the speaker continued.  Great.  Now all we gotta do is keep our teenagers from being teenagers.  Problem solved.

If only I myself had been able to somehow jump over those crucial hazardous teenage years.

Then the psychiatrist gave us six main signs to look for as flags for future mental illness.  I think I had at least five of them — but then I already know that I’m crazy because I keep hopelessly believing that Mankind is basically good, that world peace is possible, that we will someday give up letting Wall Street and War Street be our gods, that the internal combustion engine causes climate change and that too much television is bad for you.

PS:  Here are the six main flags for mental illness.  Enjoy.  But once you realize that you too (and almost everyone else in America) are also officially crazy, then you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

1.  Feeling that “something’s not quite right”
2.  Jumbled thoughts and confusion
3.  Being fearful for no good reason
4.  Hearing sounds/voices that are not there
5.  Declining interest in people, activities and self-care
6.  Trouble speaking clearly.

PPS:  I just scored an actual solar-powered Lucky Kitty over in San Francisco Chinatown the other day.  How crazy-good is that!