Tag Archive | "Social Security"

The Dark Horse

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Frequently dubbed the sport of Kings, horse racing provides the origin of the phrase “dark horse,” an unknown horse on which handicappers have difficulty in establishing betting odds.  Later, the term was broadened to apply to any unexpected winner.  In American politics, the term was first applied to James Polk who, in 1844, wrested the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination from a field of well-known candidates en route to winning the Presidency that year.


2012 is shaping up as a similar type of year – albeit, on the opposite side of the ledger – as Republicans seek a savior to help them recapture the Presidency, lead America back to its capitalist roots, and rescue the Grand Old Party (GOP) from its own historical proclivities.  Noted for its pattern of nominating the next person in line (i.e., the runner-up in the previous Presidential election cycle’s nominating process) – particularly when running against an incumbent President, the Party has nominated such lackluster candidates as Bob Dole and John McCain, candidates who were not really in step with the Party’s conservative mainstream.


This cycle, it appears to be Mitt Romney’s turn.  Lacking the passion and conservative chops that the Party’s faithful desire most, Romney has been challenged by a host of candidates whose primary credential for the Presidency is that each is not Mitt Romney.  And so, we have seen the rise and subsequent fall of Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul (whose fall is still in progress).  Thus, it appears likely that when the smoke clears, a bloodied Mitt Romney will prevail as the Republican Nominee.


But, something is different this time.  Hailed as among the most defining elections in our nation’s history, the 2012 Presidential Election – coming as it does at the conjunction of the Great Recession, jobless recovery, declining middle class, rising income inequality, worldwide financial crisis, international political and social unrest, exponential growth in healthcare costs, and growing class of senior citizens expecting to receive entitlements in the form of Social Security and Medicare to which they have been paying taxes their entire lives –  may well determine America’s future course.  Are we still going to be a country “of the people, by the people and for the people,” or will we go down the same road as previous republics such as the Roman Empire?


Some, many in the broadcast media included, want the United States to become a European-style social democracy.  Founded on the principles of personal liberty and economic freedom, America and its capitalistic system have been viewed by many as a “shining city on a hill.”  Yet, unfettered capitalism and its close relative, free trade can create a cold, cruel world for those who do not attain at least a middle class income – a class which, by the way, is ceding many of its members to poverty.  Capitalism and free trade care nothing about people, only about costs and profits.  And, our public policies, economic system, and the rise of multi-national corporations are among the most significant reasons why American jobs are being exported to other parts of the world.


Yet, not everyone in our society must adhere to the laws of competition.  As was evident during the economic crisis of 2008, we live in a country that practices Socialism for the wealthy and Capitalism for the working class.  Taxpayer dollars have been used to bailout corporations and financial institutions, despite the fact that these enterprises created the situations that bankrupted them and ultimately used bailout funds to reward their executives through lavish bonuses.  Social Security contributions are still being dumped into the general tax fund and used for projects other than that for which they were intended.  Whatever happened to the Social Security Lock Box?!?


Among the most tried and true paths to wealth in our country is by gaining elective office.  Our political leaders are all extremely well off financially.  They live by a different set of rules, have their own healthcare system, and exempt themselves from many of the laws that they pass (e.g., laws preventing those with insider knowledge from profiting by virtue of that knowledge).  Yet, absent a significant bankroll, the little guy seeking entry into the national political scene is largely shut out; unless, of course, he can secure the support of wealthy Godfathers to whom he will be indebted when he assumes office.  And, when it comes to running for the Presidency, outsiders are not welcome regardless of their financial status.  Remember Herman Cain.


Social programs that make life in America a little less harsh and cruel to the poor and working classes are deemed welfare.  Yet, subsidies to industries (like the now bankrupt Solyndra) are termed investment.


Charity is the balm of a capitalistic society, the salve that eases the consciences of today’s Ebenezer Scrooges – the one percenters like the members of Congress and the captains of industry enriching themselves on the blood, sweat, and tears of their underlings.  Like the unrepentant Scrooge at the beginning of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, they seek profits first, with their consciences and concerns for others running a distant second.


Home and property ownership, hailed as the American Dream and one of the pillars of our society, is a farce, because you never really own your property if you cannot afford the taxes.  Many seniors living on fixed incomes have become increasingly aware of this situation as their fixed incomes vanish before the tidal wave of increasing property taxes and costs of living.  What will become of the American Dream?


In this great struggle to reclaim the soul of America, we the people can only hope for the emergence of a dark horse who has the best interests of our citizens and country at heart.  Then, perhaps, we can create a new America where individual freedom is tempered by compassion, and we reclaim our place as the moral and economic beacon to the rest of the world.


The Choice is Yours

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On Monday, September 12, 2011, CNN hosted the Tea Party Republican Debate.  Hosted by Wolf Blitzer, the panel consisted of eight Republican candidates, contestants, if you will, for the 2012 Presidential race.


Each candidate was given one minute to respond to questions concerning his or her plans for remedying the broken government in Washington DC.  If the candidates came under fire, they were allowed 30 seconds for rebuttals.  The outcome, of course, was that more time was spent on rebuttals than questions.  With skeletons being dragged out of the candidates’ closets (the rattling bones of prior statements made by those hopefuls), it was a great day for the Democrats.  The only non-politician with no skeletons to rattle was Herman (Citizen) Cain.


Tea Party members from across the nation asked candidates what course of action they would take in certain scenarios.  Some answers drew applause, while others were booed.


One of the hotbed questions was how the candidates would address the ticklish issue of reforming entitlements, particularly Social Security, while still being accepted as runners in the Presidential race.  Some candidates viewed Social Security as a government-controlled Ponzi scheme.  Others spoke of fixing the problem by instituting age limits and “opt out” features.  Whatever the recommendations batted around on stage, it was clear that, going forward, Social Security would be a watered down version of the original system.  We cannot afford to pay out benefits at the rate we are currently doing.


President Roosevelt’s dream for a self-supported system of mandated retirement was based upon a pyramid payout system plan.   New American workers contributed to that plan in order to fund retiring American workers in an unending flow of revenue.  FDR’s plan worked beautifully until the advent of the global economy and the outsourcing of American jobs.  Once those jobs dried up, so did the revenue needed to sustain the plan. Although now considered an entitlement, it was really an annuity based upon the contributions of the workforce.  Social Security was, in essence, forced savings taken from workers’ paychecks, savings that enabled everyone — until now — to retire at the age of 65 and enjoy their Golden Years somewhat free of financial burdens.


Examined by other nations, Social Security was considered a model system because of the low administrative costs associated with providing pensions to American workers. Was candidate Rick Perry correct when he labeled Social Security a Ponzi scheme?  Or was Social Security the dream of an American President driven to improve the quality of life for the American people?


Right now, when all the chips are on the table, it looks as if Perry was right … but who should follow Bernie Madoff to jail?   Should it be our illustrious Statesmen in the Senate and the House — those who made Social Security a ghost of its former self?   Is not grand theft considered a crime, and are the people who commit such acts not considered criminals?  Under our justice system, are criminals not be tried and punished if found guilty?  And if this is an indication of the New World Order, is this the American spring?  If so, God help us all summer, fall, and winter come along!


Maybe the Tea Party should have asked how, if the nation’s coffers are so depleted, we can still afford to pay out Congressional pensions without benefit of scrutiny.  As they say in the provolone factory, “Something sure does stink here.”


Ben Franklin postulated that, when heads of State gather to debate an issue, “Neither a fortress or a maidenhead will hold out, once they begin to parlay.”  Ben’s is about the best advice we’ll get when it comes to reforming anything in this government.  As my old friend Al Nagle would say, “It looks like we’re done boys, done crisp!”


What will befall hardworking taxpayers who once looked forward to what they’d paid into and were promised?   At heart, the question is, “Who can we, the people, trust?”  Who indeed?  I guess we’ll find out when the 2012 election is over. 


Entitlements Plus: Congressional Pensions at the Expense of Social Security

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The very word “entitlements” has plunged our nation into controversy fraught with fear, shame, and righteous anger.  With respect to their entitlements, both retirees and current contributors now live with a feeling of unease with respect to Social Security pensions, or the impending lack of those pensions.


Mandated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a safety net for American workers, Social Security was conceived as a sort of savings/pension plan, to which those workers contributed.  Upon the retirement age of 65, workers were compelled to leave the workforce to enjoy the Golden Years, living — in many cases, primarily — off the funds paid into their Social Security accounts.  Retirement at the age of 65 had an additional benefit: once the retiring workers had left the workforce, new workers would be hired.  Those younger counterparts would, in turn, continue the flow of revenue into the Social Security system.


The amount that each retiree would receive was based upon the number of Quarters he or she had worked, with a maximum monthly payout of $1,000.  If the employee had to leave his or her job early (for reasons other than retirement at the age of 65), payouts from Social Security would represent a reduced amount of money.  In a sense, Social Security was an annuity paid for by the contributor.  Instituted in response to the Great Depression of the 1930s that left many Americans jobless and penniless, Social Security was a brilliant, self-fulfilling plan based in logic and compassion.


And, it worked!


Since the inception of Social Security, the cumulative monies collected and held in escrow grew to a vast amount.  And here’s where the system was corrupted, for apparently, the amount was too vast for a greedy and/or inept government (take your pick) not to misappropriate.  We now hear that the system needs to be reformed because our government cannot continue payouts as more people reach retirement age.   Although many wars and natural causes have resulted in a loss of contributors, these reasons cannot have been enough to empty the coffers.  Avaricious and incompetent hands did that!


To the average American literally banking on Social Security on which to survive during his or her retirement, government killed the goose that laid the golden egg.  The rhetoric now spewed by Washington, DC as to why the plan is foundering includes the following yammerings:


1.       The plan was not designed to handle longer life expectancies.

2.       Social Security is considered an entitlement we can no longer afford.


And the list of drivel goes on.


What our legislators failed to mention was the global economy that has created havoc in the American workforce, stranding millions without jobs and now, without hope of the respite via Social Security. Cheaper foreign labor and governmental regulation have outsourced jobs to foreign soil, through American corporations seeking higher profits and an avoidance of taxes.


Social Security contributions came from the American workforce.  It also stemmed from the employers who’d hired and used that workforce to create fat profit margins for themselves.  But as long as cheap labor exists elsewhere in the world, we can expect more of the same in the future.  All of these elements sound the death knoll for a mandated government pension plan for the American people.


With the unemployment rate hovering around 9%, the latest government forecast has predicted that it will drop to about 5% in 2017 or later.  Gee, that’s only six years from now!  And if history teaches us anything, the dip in unemployment during the Great Depression did not occur until the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, for The War Machine creates jobs.


Although the recovery looks glum, there still remain some industries that cannot outsource their labor overseas.  These include mining, transportation, energy, and farming.  However, regulation and a fixed minimum wage have hampered the ability of these industries to hire new employees.  So I guess these things will be the next to achieve reform.


However, all is not lost.  There are yet bright stars on the American horizon with respect to employment.  These, of course, are governmental jobs, beginning with:


1.       The President of the United States

2.       All members of Congress

3.       Employees of governmental agencies, bureaus, and departments


All of the above enjoy Entitlements Plus — entitlements not relegated to the scrap heap in resolving our financial problems.  The entitlements include Congressional pensions.  In January 1942, members of Congress voted to extend pensions benefits to the legislative branch under the provisions of P.L. 77-411.  P.L. 77-411 was formerly limited to the Executive Branch alone.  Two months later, the bill was repealed due to public outcry.  After the end of World War II, and again in 1946, P.L. 79-601 extended pensions to the legislative branch, under CSRS.   The justification was that a pension plan would attract younger members to the legislative branch and encourage older members to retire.  But this, of course, never happened.  Why would anyone wish to retire from a job with such great perks?  Most of our lawmakers die in office!


Nevertheless, hope sprang eternal for those in Congress.  The Social Security Amendment of 1983 required all members of Congress to participate in Social Security, beginning January 1, 1984.  As Social Security and CSRS benefits sometimes overlapped, Congress called for a new, Federal employee retirement plan to compliment the former plan.  Enacted in 1986 and named FERS, it placed all new members under its plan, while older members were free to remain in CSRS or enroll in FERS.


The amount received by retiring Congress members is calculated in a formula that considers:


1.       The number of years served

2.       The average pay for the top three years in term


For example, a member of Congress with a three, top-year average salary of $153,000, with 22 years served, would be eligible for an annual pension of $84,645.  Not bad compared to Social Security!


This plan was not passed without contention from a few lawmakers who still clung to old-fashioned values and plain old logic.  Longtime Congressman Ron Paul would not participate in the plan, publicly decrying it as “immoral and hypothetical”.  North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble did not participate in the plan and actively campaigned against it.


And the controversy continued.  In 2003, when James Traficant was expelled from Congress, several members tried to pass a bill that would prevent their expelled brothers from receiving their pensions.  But the bill was stalled.  It was later dropped altogether, after being sent to the House Administration and Reforms Committee.


This action led to the passage of the Federal Pension Forfeiture Act, also known as The Duke Cunningham Act.  Introduced by Senators John Kerry and Ken Salazar, this law stated that members of Congress must forfeit their pensions as a result of one of more of the following crimes:


1.       Bribery of public officials or witnesses

2.       Conspiracy to commit an offense or to defraud the United States

3.       Committing perjury while denying the commission of bribery or conspiracy

4.       Subornation of perjury committed in connection with false denial or testimony of another


Provided the legislators toed the line with respect to bribery, perjury, and conspiracy, their Congressional pensions remained intact.  These pensions featured tasty fringe benefits, not limited to healthcare and junkets, all at the taxpayers’ expense.  They probably termed worldwide excursions “junkets” after the colloquial phrase, “Junk it,” which means that when it’s all used up, you junk it!  Despite our founding fathers’ visions for a government devoid of royalty, our greedy lawmakers had other plans for taxpayer monies.


So, when it comes to Entitlement Reform, you can bet your bottom dollar … and it may very well be your bottom dollar — that CSRS or FERS will escape reform.  Just plain old Social Security will be the scapegoat, as will the people who paid into the plan and were relying upon it to literally feed, clothe, and house them in their retirement years.  Once again, it looks as if we’re going to bend over and take it.  Doesn’t it? 


 

Held Hostage: Grandma and Grandpa!

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Imagine, if you will, a horrific scenario in which your beloved grandparents are kidnapped.  You fear for their well-being.  You hope that the call will come, and come in time, instructing you concerning the amount of the ransom and where it is to be delivered.  Most of all, you pray that you have enough money to cover that ransom; if not, the unthinkable will happen.  You check your bank account and your secret stash of cash; you even beg for financial assistance from everyone in your circle of family and friends.  But no one has enough money, even together with your coffers, to rescue your grandparents.


How terrible is this scenario?


Well, it’s worse than you think, for it’s not a scenario!  It’s not a scene from a thriller, and it’s not the stuff of a paranoid mind.  It’s happening right now, right here in America.


Down through America’s history, our political leaders have always safeguarded the interests of our citizenry against foreign threats.  They’ve done so with stern warnings to the foreign powers, with trade embargos, and even with military action.  From the shores of Tripoli to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have been protected from the unthinkable and the unconscionable.  But, our government has done nothing to safeguard us against a threat right here on our own soil, a threat issued by our very lawmakers.  That threat is the theft of our Social Security.


Social Security: that which your grandparents and your parents paid into with their own blood, sweat, and tears.  Social Security: that which the U.S. government removed from your loved ones’ pay checks and vowed to keep safe, so that your family members could draw upon those funds in their golden years, after they had retired.  Since its inception during FDR’s Presidency, Social Security has been sacrosanct.  Never before has it been threatened with a kidnapping and, for all intents and purposes, an astronomical ransom.


Now, for the first time in our history, Social Security will be the first head to roll off the chopping block of National Debt.  Our country is deep in the hole.  And although we have until Tuesday, August 2, 2011 to determine a solution to the problem of our National Debt, the shot has already been heard around the world.  The global economy has already gone into a nosedive as a direct result of our financial tottering.   Much closer to home, however, the senior citizens of the United States of America will be the first and most vulnerable population to suffer from this unresolved debt.


Simply put, senior citizens will not receive what we’d paid into, and what we’d been promised, if our Powers That Be cannot reach a workable consensus come Tuesday.  For a President to even entertain the notion of robbing the elderly to offset a portion of the National Debt, let alone announce this via the media, is disgraceful!  And, despite this mortifying national situation and the very real danger to retired persons, we have yet to hear any of our so-called leaders raise their voices in defiance of such an act.


Where are our statesmen that put country first?  Don’t strain your eyes looking for them, for they are all dead!  Of all the places from which we can borrow from Peter to pay Paul, Social Security should not be on the table as a bargaining chip against insurmountable debt.


Why not put foreign aid into play as a bargaining chip?  If we can afford to give aid to 149 of the 159 counties in the world, and if we halt that aid, those monies would more than satisfy the budget.  Look at the big losers of World War II: Germany and Japan.  They have a better economy than the USA and yet, we insist upon giving aid not only to them, but also to 90% of the world.  As they say in Denmark, “Something stinks here.”


It sure does!


Why is it that our government cannot agree on a solution to our rampant debt?  Well, we have always had adversarial government, that’s why.  Our two-party system is always at each other’s throats, with one side blaming the other and both sides spinning their wheels with no forward motion.  “United we stand, divided we fall” is a nice sentiment, but rarely has it been a reality here.  Robbing senior citizens of the money they need to survive — their own money — is not the answer.


It’s probably too late to save Social Security from eminent disaster.  By the time the budget is saved, how many senior citizens will already have been rendered homeless, literally starving on the streets, due to the incompetence and greed of our lawmakers?


Yes, it will be too late for what our government considers to be a “disposable” population, so what can we do going forward?  I have a few suggestions.


1.  Candidates for Congress and the Senates should have no party affiliation.  They should answer only to the people of their individual States.  The resulting governing body would then select the President and the Speaker of the House from their group.  There would be no need for a Vice President.  In the event that the President cannot fulfill his or her duties, the highest-ranking officer (the Speaker of the House) would replace the President and continue until the term of office comes to a close.


2.  Terms of office should be revised to two years for all offices in government.


3.  The government would fund the costs of elections.  There would be no campaigning.  Each candidate would express his or her views and his or her promises, once, and publicly.  After that, the voters would elect the officeholders.


Over the years, our legislators have become a cadre of fat and lazy robber barons. Paid off by lobbyists representing huge corporations and large special interest groups, our politicians enact certain laws, and blatantly disregard other, in order to pander to those who grease their palms. Meanwhile, the private citizens who actually voted those politicians in are being giving the shaft.


Unless our entire system changes, in some manner similar to the guidelines I have listed above, our current legislators will probably die in office … still fat, still lazy, and still raping law-abiding citizens of their rights under the law!


Forty-four Presidents after the founding of our nation, we stand at the precipice of disaster.  President George Washington is probably spinning in his grave as the great country he’d envisioned goes down the toilet.


To What Are You Entitled and From Whom?

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Once again, the word “entitlements” crops up in the quest to save the American economy.  The hew and cry of our elected officials is, “We cannot afford Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for the underprivileged citizens of America.”  Our officials throw words like “unsustainable” and their ilk around, to describe the situation of the richest country on this planet.  Yet, other countries of the world can afford the same entitlements for their citizens!


In most local and State governments across America, comptrollers oversee the fiscal responsibility of the government they represent.  Comptrollers are the ones who control spending. I didn’t know if an Office of the Comptroller existed at the Federal level, because I’d never heard anyone from the Federal government mention it.  So, I wondered, who does oversee and control the spending by our Federal government?


In pursuit of the truth, I typed this question into an Internet search engine, which yielded this result: “The House of Representatives (Congress).”


This is no one, individual Comptroller.  Instead, the House Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over all taxes, tariffs, and other revenue raising measures, including:


  • Social Security
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Medicare
  • Enforcement of child support laws
  • Temporary assistance for needy families (the Federal Welfare Program)
  • Foster care and adoption programs


The Constitution of the United States requires that all bills regarding taxation must originate in the House of Representatives, a mandate that makes the House Ways and Means Committee very influential.  Its counterpart is the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.


Chairman Charles Rangel of the 111th Congress came under the investigation of the House Ethics Committee and had to step down until his case was resolved. However, Rangel’s leave of absence was considered a resignation.  When his pro tempis successor, Acting Chairman Pete Stark resigned, Sander Levin stepped in until the Republicans won the House.  Upon that victory, Dave Camp became the new Chairman.


Now that we’ve gotten that straightened out, who is watching the store?  With these two committees overseeing all revenues, how on Earth are we in debt?  If one person — say, Tim Geithner — were making the decisions, we could understand it.  But with two committees, it’s hard to swallow.  Sounds like trouble, right here in River City, with more problems for the House Ethics Committee.


There is an old Biblical quote, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”   But our lawmakers in Washington are far from Godly.  As human beings, they are subject to all temptations.  So, how can we, as a nation, trust them?


The same people that bestowed the entitlements upon us now want to revoke them, because the two committees did not have the foresight to create an exit strategy.  Before they’d decided to reform programs that affect the welfare of the American people, you would think that they might have considered attacking wasteful spending.  Under the category of “wasteful spending” falls the following:


  • Constructing the Bridge To Nowhere
  • Saving marsh mice in San Francisco
  • Saving tiny fish drying up in the San Joachim Valley
  • Sending military and financial Aid to 148 of the 192 countries in this world (see the video clip in the article “Who’s Getting Hosed” on our site).
  • Last but not least: The self-proposed endowments of our elected leaders, which make their future rosy even as the rest of the country gets flushed down the toilet.   I think they took a page out of Emperor Nero’s book.  As you may recall, he fiddled while Rome burned.


The answer to the question of how we tax and spend should be “by the will of the American people.”  Maybe it’s time to elect an ad hoc group to oversee the guys who hold our nation’s purse strings.


Before I leave you to cogitate on this, I’d like to sum up with a quote posted in a little mom and pop store during the Great Depression.  It read, “In God we trust; all others pay cash.” 


Who’s Getting Hosed?

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An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly (Fox News)


The burgeoning file of viewer responses to Bill O’Reilly’s recent “Who’s Getting Hosed” program, is about to gain another addition; namely, my considered opinion.  


In case you missed the program, Bill’s discussion with Ms. Sarah Palin touched upon entitlement reform.  As an 85-year-old survivor of the Great Depression and World War II — in other words, as someone who has seen “the best of times” and “the worst of times” — I believe that my perspective is both relevant and valid.


I remember when FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) mandated Social Security as part of the New Deal (National Recovery Act).  After the crash on Wall Street and the resultant demise of too many American banks, FDR also ushered in other safeguards to protect the American people from another financial disaster.  He based his actions upon the theory that the economy depended upon the purchasing power of its people.  It was a theory that seemed to make a lot of sense.


By implementing shovel ready jobs (the WPA) and restoring trust to financial institutions, our nation slowly moved forward.  FDR also encouraged the growth of the Labor Movement as a tool to compel industry to raise the wages of workers by 93%.  Whether the implementation of this plan would have accomplished recovery, we will never know, because WWII intervened.


The war, as it turned out, solved the unemployment problem; by 1942, the New Deal had been repealed, with one exception.  That exception was Social Security.  In the years that followed the war, our economy grew by leaps and bounds. Enterprising homebuilders, such as Levitt, launched a campaign to supply modest dwellings in suburbia.


The housing boom gave birth to increased sales of household goods and automobiles.  The advent of television and televised commercials elevated consumer demand for these products and thus, further heightened the employment rate.  Wall Street experienced phenomenal growth in the decade spanning 1950 to 1960.  The economy was humming along nicely.  Could it be that FDR was correct in his assumption about the spending power of our citizens?


The Cold War with Russia and the resultant Race to Space added to our economic growth.  Larger paychecks produced record sales.  Merchants invested in shopping malls and thus was coined the phrase, “Shop til you drop.”  It seemed as if, to paraphrase an old song, happy days were here again.


In the midst of this explosive growth, labor unions were riding high.  Collective bargaining agreements produced wage increases that did not translate in terms of dollars in the workers’ paychecks for their 40-hour workweek.   However, these increases paid for fringe benefits: time and a half or double time for working weekends and/or holidays, healthcare insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacations, and paid holidays as well as paid time off for a death in the family.  These benefits were agreed upon by both employer and unions.   Might you call this, “Sharing the wealth?”


Today, these fringe benefits have been removed from the bargaining table.  Unions find themselves giving back hard-won gains in order to keep their members employed.  Through automation and outsourcing, American industry has created the atmosphere ripe to kill the goose that laid the golden egg (Social Security).


Personally, I feel that President Roosevelt was on the right path to national recovery by increasing the purchasing power of our people.  But, his dream died as we decided to become involved in a global society; the same society that has outsourced manufacturing, IT, and so many other jobs overseas.   Social Security emerged from the need to address the American worker once he or she left the workforce.  Call it Socialism or Social Engineering, the bottom line now is, how, as a nation, do we address this problem?


In listening to some of the proposed plans, I have to wonder about the pitch coming from former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.  He wants to have the credit card companies invent a foolproof Green Card for guest workers.  I have to wonder what planet he lives on, given the fact that consumers are in the throes of the greatest period of unemployment since the Great Depression.


As I listen to the rhetoric about reforming Social Security by grandfathering a portion of the recipients and offering bailouts to those that do not qualify, I cannot help but feel that this is a most callous approach proposed by our leaders.   To put this into perspective, how do you think the average person would feel if the insurance provider he endorsed welched on him?  Suppose that provider announced that it could no longer afford to pay out settlements genuinely due him?


Social Security funds have been used and abused by our government to balance budgets and wage wars.  The so-called “lock box” brought to light by the global warming expert, Al Gore, is filled with IOUs.


As our concerned leaders of this nation and representatives of media continue to expound upon the dire straits of our economy, I have not and probably will not hear that similar reforms be enacted upon the endowments/entitlements of our elected officials.  With their hefty pensions, terrific healthcare coverage, and campaign war chests, no wonder our governmental officials die in office.  It doesn’t pay, literally, to die anywhere else!


There is a message circulating on the Internet via Representative Ted Poe (Republican, Texas).  It concerns the squandering of American taxpayers’ money and how the squandering was authorized by the Congress of the United States.  A picture paints a thousand words.  So if you want to see your government in action, play the video below:



 


In answer to Mr. O’Reilly’s question, “Who is getting hosed?”, the answer is, “We the people!


America, Your Expiration Date May Have Arrived

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Expiration-Date1

Nothing – in the history of the world – conceived, engineered, built, or otherwise created by Man has any real permanence.  All of Mankind’s towering achievements are subject to inevitable decay and destruction.  Whether a structure, philosophy, society, or form of government, each is inherently flawed by the limited thinking and understanding of its creator(s); thereby, containing within itself the ultimate cause of its own demise.

 

In the world of consumable food products, we know that even those products that have been preserved in one fashion or another will spoil after a period of time or lose their nutritional value. Thus, we affix an expiration date beyond which that item may not be sold, even though it may still be edible for some time beyond its determined expiration.

 

In 1787, at the time that the Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and shortly thereafter ratified by conventions in the original thirteen states, Alexander Fraser Tytler (also known as Lord Woodhouselee), a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, analyzed the history of democracy and expressed the following:

 

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. [It] will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.  The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years.  During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:  from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back into bondage.”

 

Sadly, if Lord Woodhouselee’s analysis is accurate, America is well past its prime.  Perhaps, its expiration date has already lapsed, and we, its people, are living through that confusing period between point of no return and actual, recognized demise.

 

With $3 trillion in federal bailouts over the past 18 months, it appears that an apathetic America is evolving into a state of dependency on the federal government that would have appalled our Founding Fathers.  Insurance and financial giants AIG, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs owe their continued existence to the American taxpayer via our growing federal government, as do automakers Chrysler and General Motors.  What our economy would look like today absent these bailouts is uncertain.  What is certain, however, is that our record levels of indebtedness will be a drag on economic growth for years, if not decades to come and the bane of the existence of future generations.

 

Prior to the Great Depression, American citizenry and enterprise possessed a self-reliance and spiritual faith that propelled this Nation to heights unseen in the history of our planet.  Since that time, the quest for security has eroded personal liberties and created dependency on governmental largesse, even by many of our most self-reliant citizens and well-known companies.  The growth of entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and AFDC among others, while giving a helping hand to some, has had a narcotic effect upon many with estimates of up to 40% of the current population receiving payment monthly from some form of government entitlement program.    In commerce and industry, lucrative government contracts and protectionist trade legislation can spell the difference between profitability and failure.

 

The desire for security is both seductive and compelling.  It works at odds to the “eternal vigilance” required to maintain a free society.  Our Founders possessed an abundance of the self-reliance and spiritual faith of which Lord Woodhouselee spoke.  Self-reliance and spiritual faith are really, in the final analysis, the flip sides of the same coin.  With spiritual faith comes knowledge of the Truth of our Being – that our Creator is the source of all good and the only source upon which we can always depend.  Armed with the Truth, our Founding Fathers and their descendants depended not upon government programs but upon their expression of that Truth to confidently build a nation that became a beacon of hope to the rest of the world.

 

Today, that beacon has dimmed, shrouded by the burden of big government and the concomitant taxation and governmental intrusion into virtually every phase of the lives of our citizens.  Yet, many in the world still covet what we have.  Perhaps, we can save our country and the world by returning to the spiritual faith, knowledge of the Truth, and self-reliance that have built a great nation.  The Truth knows no limits and has no expiration.  If we embrace It, neither do we. 

Social Insecurity?

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Social Security

With the financial markets crashing around us and the rapidly disappearing job market, the future of the greatest country in the world does not look rosy.

 

The Great Depression of the 1930’s resulted in enactment of governmental regulations impacting the banking and financial industries, mandates designed to protect U.S. citizens from another widespread economic disaster.  Social Security was born to provide a safety net for citizens reaching the age of retirement (65), so that they could enjoy the twilight of their years.  The cost of delivering this program was placed upon America’s workers, who contributed weekly to the fund, directly from their paychecks.

 

One would assume that monies intended to cushion retirees from financial worries would have been protected from use by other government-sponsored programs. Unfortunately, the Social Security contributions were placed into a general fund, falling prey to the representatives we had elected to run our government.

 

Due to the current unemployment rate, the highest since 1967, we are starving the goose that lays the golden egg.  Bereft of funds, the Social Security system is projected to collapse in 2037.

 

The only shining star upon the horizon is the Mayan calendar.  Ending in 2012, the calendar portends the expiration of the world as we know it.  Maybe, we all should plan to revel at an End of the World party, financed by the unused Social Security funds as a last hoorah! 

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