Today's Note From a Madman
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Cute Story (and True)
My Wife: I'm going to buy a snow blower. It's going to snow tomorrow and I don't want you to have a heart attack.
Me: I'm not going to have a heart attack. I'm stron, like bull (said with a funny accent - you had to be there).
My Wife: I'm going to the store.
(45 minutes later, my wife comes home)
My Wife: I dodn't buy the snow blower.
My Wife: It was $700
Me: How much did you want to spend
My Wife: No more than $500
Me: So, let me get this straight... For $500, you don't want me to have a heart attack, but for $700, you'll take the chance.
It's kind of like President Bush's strategy in regard to energy plants and mercury poisoning. It's not okay to pollute, unless, of course, you can afford it.
Wolfie's Excellent Adventure and Our Bogus One
President Bush has nominated Paul
Wolfowitz to head the
You all remember Paul Wolfowitz, don't you?
Isn't he the guy who was the architect of the war in Iraq?
Isn't he the guy who, when asked by a Senate Committee how many soldiers had died in Iraq (at the time, 783 soldiers had perished) answered, "About 500 or so?"
Isn't he the guy who said, "The war in Iraq would pay for itself." Hasn't it cost the US taxpayer in the area of $200 Billion Dollars so far?
Social Security Moments
A letter from NJ Rep. Rush Holt to Eddie Konczal:
Dear Mr. Konczal:
Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to the Bush Administration's plans to privatize Social Security. I appreciate hearing from you, and I apologize for the delay in my reply
Social Security continues to serve Americans well. It provides a foundation of retirement income which permits seniors to live in dignity and helps relieve younger family members of the obligation for their support. Without Social Security, half of all seniors would fall into poverty. In addition, Social Security is more than just a retirement program. In fact, 38% of all Social Security benefit dollars goes to disabled individuals, spouses of retired and disabled workers, dependent children and survivors
The creation of Social Security was bold in 1935 and some have been critical of it ever since despite compiled evidence of its success. Critics of Social Security have presented exaggerated and even false claims about the finances of Social Security and they have created an elaborate budgetary shell game to hide the true costs of privatization: a $2 trillion hole that would have to be financed by saddling younger generations with more debt, increased payroll taxes, and decreased benefits to current retirees.
Though you would not know it from all the hyperbole in the current debate, Social Security is in pretty good shape. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, without any changes at all, the Social Security program can pay all benefits through at least 2052. In other words, 20052 would be the first year that Social Security might not be able to pay one hundred percent of all expected benefits. After that, it could still pay about 78% of benefits. Congress and the President need to fine tune the system to make up for that 22%, not upset the program that has worked so well for so long.
Over the next 75 years, the total shortfall for Social Security would amount to just 0.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Meanwhile, over that same period, President Bush's tax cuts just for the top one percent of earners (a group of people whose average income exceeds $350,000) will cost 0.6 percent of GDP. In total, these tax cuts will cost 2 percent of GDP over the next 75 years - or five times the projected 75-year Social Security shortfall. The current system could be made financially sound for the indefinite future with adjustments in the tax code far more modest than those enacted in 1983. Those adjustments could be selected from a list of possibilities affecting the income to Social Security or its outlays.
Privatizing Social Security is certainly not the answer. Any potential increases in yields from private accounts would almost certainly be wiped out by the rising debt burden heaped on the young from financing the transition, which could cost as much as $2 trillion in the first ten years. In the meantime, payroll taxes would have to increase or benefits would have to be cut in order to cover the shift of money into the private sector.
Importantly, 10 million people under age 65 with disabilities receive benefits: 5.2 million people with disabilities depend upon Title II disability benefits, 3.5 million depend upon Supplemental Security Income disability benefits, and 1.3 million depend upon a combination of both. The President's current proposal fails to address their needs at all. Any changes to Social Security are critically important to people with disabilities. It appears to me likely that if funds were diverted from the Social Security program to private accounts it would be necessary to reduce disability benefits.
Claimants for Title II and SSI disability benefits can be particularly vulnerable to privatization. The current average monthly benefit of people with disabilities in the Social Security Disability Insurance program is $834. People with disabilities of working age in the SSI program have monthly benefits that average $428. In either case, any reduction in those benefits would be unbearable and those beneficiaries would not be helped by privatization.
How will these beneficiaries, often having lower wages and shorter working careers, be able to build private accounts? Until the Bush administration is willing to address these questions, people with disabilities should be very concerned.
Some Members of Congress want to dismantle Social Security and replace it with individual higher risk investment accounts. I am not one of them. I will work hard to strengthen Social Security´s long-term finances so that it continues to provide a reliable, guaranteed base of retirement, disability and survivor´s income. I also believe that because Social Security goes to almost everyone, it helps to create an important sense of national community. Social Security helps to tie this country together. We must not forget that as we consider a you-are-on-your-own system of riskier investments.
I invite you to visit the Social Security Forum located on my website, at www.holt.house.gov. I hope you find the materials useful in staying informed on Social Security. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. If I can be of any additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
A Simple Plan to Fix Social Security
The NationalView plan to fix Social Security is a simple one:
1- Reduce the employee rate from 6.2% to 5.95%. The money will be collected, but refunded after the frst of the following year.
2- Everyone gets a refund of $595 sometime in the first quarter of the following year. This represents a refund on the first $10,000 of earned income. This refund will come just in time to pay for Holiday gifts or to pay down credit card debt.
3- Adjustments will be made on the CPI (Consumer Price Index).
4- The employer share will remain at 6.2% and be capped at $87,900. The cap on the employer share will increase every year based on the CPI. this will not inhibit employers from hiring.
5- By the year 2066, there will be an additional $12 Trillion Dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund.
This is a reduction in payroll taxes for 97% of the nation. There will be no need to reduce benefits or raise the retirement age.
The idea is to give people a few extra dollars in their golden years, to make sure that no one goes hungry and allow people to spend a few years free of work and worry. This will allow people to enjoy their grandchildren and to make memories that will last their loved ones long after they are gone.
Capital Gains Vs. the Rest of US
The next thing to go if President Bush has his way with Social Security is the Capital Gains tax.
Today, if you earn $50,000 in salary, you're going to pay somewhere in the area $17,000 in taxes. If you make that same $50,000 in Capital Gains, you will only pay $7,500 in taxes. A few years ago, when the Capital Gains tax was 25%, you would have had to pay $12,500. Tomorrow, if President Bush has his way and you earn $50,000 in Captal Gains, you will pay nothing, zero, zilch, bupkis.
It pays to be rich in the USA.
1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
12. None of these are read by the guy who is running the country into the ground.
-Forwarded to NationalView by Hillary Greenberg
The Republicans don't need Jeff Gannon or the Talon News Agency or their owner, GOPUSA. They have Brit Hume and FoxNews.
Follow the Bouncing Dollar - Where the Money Goes
an ingenious scheme:
The American People pay for a war
Their money goes to military contractors, including those whose stock is owned by George Bush (41) and Dick Cheney
The Iraqi oil is sold and the money disappears or is stolen by companies like Halliburton
And the American economy is being financed by China, who is slowly taking all of our manufacturing jobs away
Just because our brave soldiers are "called to duty" doesn't mean we have to put them in "harm's way."
If Iraq is the 2nd largest oil producing nation in the world, and we control Iraq, then why are our gas prices subject to the whims of the Saudi Royal Family?
I think that all news outlets that want to consider themselves legitimate should remove their White House correspondents immediately in response to the Jeff Gannon/ Talon News scandal. How great would it be if the major news outlets used the same pool reporters and television and radio feeds for their White House news?
Why would I say such a thing like this? Because it would make the press room and the fake press conferences into even more of a joke than the White house makes it by allowing "plants" into the press room. If the "legitimate" news outlets would "boycott" self-serving press conferences, then maybe America would take notice. Maybe the White House would have to have a REAL press conference once-in-awhile. Maybe Scott McClellan or President Bush would actually have to call on someone with a real, non-softball question occasionally.
Maybe the sheep in press clothing could then turn into the lions they used to be.
New Ways to Raise Revenue Locally
Towns and cities are less safe because more and more police have become revenue generators rather than defenders of the public safety. The more police that are stationed at arbitrary seatbelt checkpoints the less police are available to stop REAL crime.
Have you been to a New Jersey town lately? How about Houston Street in New York City? All over the New York Metropolitan area, police are setting up shop to give a seatbelt ticket or pull you over for going 21 miles per hour over the speed limit.
Townships and cities alike need to find new and creative ways to raise revenue. The loss of federal aid to states leads to the loss of state aid t o municipalities. They can't raise real estate taxes because the people in their towns will vote them out. They can't ticket businesses for not keeping their sidewalks clean because those businesses might move.
This brings an interesting by-product as well. lawyers are coning out of the woodwork to defend speeders in municipal court for a price and auto insurance companies get to raise your rates by about $100 per point for the next three and one-half years. So not only are you out the money for the speeding ticket, the money for the state surcharge, the money for the attorney, but you also get to pay an extra $400 a year for a ticket that claims you went 21 miles per hour over the speed limit, a four-point violation in New Jersey.
So, your speeding ticket that you received for going 56 on a 35 will cost you about $2,000 if your lawyer sucks.
This must be President Bush's New Deal!
response to "Increasing labor-force participation seems a natural response to
population aging," -Alan "Slim" Greenspan, Pat Thompson
Al Greenspan continues to "work" well into his seventies. For him work means sitting around making ridiculous statements.
How about the people who stand on their feet all day in front of a cash register, build roads, put roofs on buildings, drive trucks, etc. etc. There are a lot of people who will be physically unable to work long past 65. And since they never made a lot of money, their personal savings will be small and even current social security payments will be lower. The Republicans have conned Americans into thinking they are for the common person, while doing everything possible for their cronies, including emptying the lock box of social security trust funds into the coffers of their favorite corporations and millionaires.
A New York Times Headline
"U.S. Added a Record $666 Billion to Its Debts Abroad Last Year"
666? Are you kidding me? I always knew that the debts created by the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were the work of the Devil.
HEADLINES FROM THE HEARTLAND
The following was an editorial from the Montgomery (AL) Advisor. It speaks volumes:
March 16, 2005
Protester denied free speech right
The detention and attempted arrest of a protester by an Auburn University Montgomery campus police officer during President Bush's visit last week was unfortunate. You would hope that a public university would seek ways to encourage the exercise of free speech, rather than to limit it.
According to an AUM spokesman, the campus police officer attempted to arrest the protester, who was holding a sign saying "Stop the War," after she refused to move to a spot on campus that had been designated as a "free speech area."
Good for her. The free speech area near the university library would have been out of the possible view of President Bush, which would have essentially negated the whole purpose of her protest.
The woman, who refused to give her name, was detained but not arrested, but no thanks to AUM. A savvy city magistrate, Patrick Murphy, would not issue an arrest warrant because he recognized she had committed no crime. Murphy may well have saved AUM from an illegal arrest lawsuit.
AUM, like many other universities including Auburn and Alabama, had designated the free speech zone on campus long prior to the Bush visit. While we presume the university did not mean to leave the impression that students only have the right to free speech in that zone and only at the designated times, that is precisely what such designations always seem to imply.
Even a public university has a right to place reasonable limits on protests so that learning will not be disrupted. But to limit protesters to a place on campus out of sight of the presidential entourage went too far.
An AUM spokesman pointed out that the free speech area was established before the Bush visit. But the AUM policy allows "other designated areas" as well, and one within view of the presidential party should have been designated for those who wanted to carry signs, both pro and con.
In September a U.S. district judge overturned Texas Tech University's free speech zone policy, saying that campus areas such as parks, sidewalks, streets and similar areas are free speech zones whether the university likes it or not. The ruling said the university can designate additional spaces as public forums, but not fewer areas.
AUM and other public universities in the state should revisit the whole "free speech zone" approach. Surely it is not their intent, but they inevitably leave the impression that free speech is somehow discouraged elsewhere on campus. That is exactly the opposite of the message a public university should seek to send.
Kind of a Quote
"We didn't start the fire
But it's always burning since the world's been turning"
-Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire"
We didn't start it, but since GW Bush has been in office, he has certainly fanned the flames
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