How About Maybe This?

5 February 2017

American politics is coarsened beyond anything I would have thought possible at the turn of the century.  To be sure, politics is politics and one side always finds fault with the other, but this?  Today we see families and friendships blown asunder because one’s a Democrat, the other a Republican.  One is the Scum of the Earth, the other is the Issue of the Devil.  Over time, each side has only listened to itself, causing a self-reinforcing spiral down into extremism and nonsense.

A recent example is the Supreme Court nomination of a man who is, by all accounts, is a decent fellow.  Decency notwithstanding, one side sees him as the Savior of Family Values, the other sees him as the Wrecker of Personal Liberty.  One side sees him as the apostle of financial prudence, the other sees him as stingy, insensitive and cruel.   Up until Scalia croaked, you could look at any case brought before the court and, based on its political spin, predict exactly how it would be decided.

An aside: A fellow I know said that Democrats want to tell you what to do in the board room, the Republicans want to tell you what to do in the bed room.

Scalia (unarguably recalcitrant and partisan) said this, “… politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically”.   Of course, in large measure, Scalia was right: A president, selecting as nominees, only those who pass through the filter of partisan correctness, contributes to the problem we have with the Supreme Court.  Contributes mightily.

Of course it’s too late to do anything about it now.  Trump has picked his man based on the man’s politics and religion. And that means some people would like to crown him with a laurel wreath and ride him through the streets in a royal triumph.  Other’s would like to string him up by his heels in a gas station and use him as a pinata.

There will be other Supreme Court nominations coming along soon, so before the vacancies occur, let me suggest a way to pick nominees that will help quiet our worst impulses.

Whenever a vacancy comes up, the sitting president will ask the bar associations of all fifty states to submit the names of three members they deem best qualified to sit on the court.  These names will come from a popular vote of each bar’s membership.  The names will be put in a fish bowl and the president will reach in and draw out, at random, three names.  These names will be publicized for all to see and after examining the three, the president will pick one.  A process like this would pretty much assure that nominees to the Supreme Court will no longer be hacks, cranks and toadies.  And who but hacks, cranks and toadies — the very people we are trying to weed out — could find fault with this concept?  Sure, people will still be miffed their guy wasn’t nominated, but they’ll be comforted by knowing the guy who did make it wasn’t the stuff of nightmares.

Imagine a Supreme Court that would say — by eight-to-one votes — a woman has a right to get an abortion at any time and, in the next breath, rule  she can walk about the streets, unhindered, with a .45 strapped to her hip?  The Golden Mean will have been achieved and that, dear reader, will cool the passions and prevent our republic from going down the toilet.

— And now that I think on it, this process might be a good way to weed out the unqualified for all elective offices.

-Merlin-


A Possible Solution

22 January 2017

To hear Paul Ryan go on about it, America is chock-a-block with parasitic welfare recipients and moochers. Well, it’s not as bad as the Speaker would have us believe, but it is a problem.  But the problem lies in human propensities not money.

Years ago, I was a Guardian ad Litem (a.k.a. Court Appointed Special Advocate) out here in Washington. We are apostles for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.  I won’t get into a full description here, but if you want to know more, go to http://snohomishcountywa.gov/881/VGAL-program and read all about it.

All of us in programs like the Guardians ad Litem see that:

  1. The vast preponderance of children who are abused and neglected come from impoverished parents.
  2. The parents are unschooled and ignorant and are satisfied with the situation. This, of course, explains the poverty.
  3. Many parents are of low IQ.  Like one of my colleagues said, “They’re as dumb as dirt”.
  4. Over 50% of the parents are felons and junkies who are incapable of looking after their own selves, let alone their children. Of the remaining 50%, most are simply felons and junkies who haven’t yet been caught.  This includes booze and tobacco.
  5. A few have, or keep, jobs.  Most don’t work.
  6. These children’s lives are truly horrifying. They live with beatings, starvation, rapes and an utter and complete lack of love and concern.
  7. Almost all of these children were unplanned and are unwanted.

By the time we see these kids, most are so bent out of shape by their home lives that they carry the baggage with them into adulthood and, in turn, foist it on their own children.  As the old saying has it, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree” so the phenomenon of multi-generational poverty continues in an unending concatenation.

Surely the Speaker’s ire does not extend to the poor devil who came down with a grody, incapacitating disease a week before his employer unexpectedly folded up. If this poor wretch and his family are not to be put out on the street to sleep under a bridge until death takes him, he’ll need general assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and perhaps more. If simple pity doesn’t move us to provide these things out of our taxes, surely the prospect that this person will soon be back to work as a”contributing member of society” should settle the issue.

Now Speaker Ryan, being a good conservative, measures everything by loss or gain. Money rules.  Parsimony is his watchword, with cruelty coming in a close second.  Well, I have a plan that will satisfy the Speaker’s thirst for thrift while at the same time, putting an end to the woeful cycle of poverty.  It’s quite simple, really.  Here it is: Give each poor person, man or woman, whither or not they’ve been dragged into the child welfare system, $20,000, cash money, to be surgically sterilized. Tubal legation for her, vasectomy for him, all expenses paid.  After the operations, each gets to spend the night in a special low-intensity ward of a hospital where they’ll also get a nutritious dinner and breakfast.  In the morning, as soon as the doctor says they are ready to go, each is handed an envelope containing the promised 20-grand. If the man and woman are a pair, with or without benefit of clergy, they get to take home $40,000 to squander as they please.  Not bad.

An Aside: As this cohort of parents are mostly drunks and junkies, $20,000 will buy all the booze and dope they could ever want.  Consequently, there will be many overindulgences which will result in death, further reducing the numbers of people on welfare.

Gad.  Just think of the savings.  According to the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/18/cost-of-raising-a-child_n_5688179.html), the cost of raising an American child to age eighteen is $304,480 (adjusted for inflation) so that $20,000 or $40,000 looks pretty cheap, No?  And let’s not forget all the government services the issue of their loins will require: Special Ed. nutrition programs, psychologists and, for some, cells in the juvenile detention center. We save on those too.

Of course, this $20,000 will not prevent the conception and birth of just one child, it will prevent the conception and birth of many as these kinds of people breed like flies.  From my experience in the Guardian ad Litem program, such “families” usually produce three children so the savings to the taxpayer will be almost a million dollars.  Think on that for a moment.  Almost a million bucks!  And no more underclass!!

Of course this proposal will outrage the politically correct.  They will see it as an affront to humanity.  But these days, political correctness is out the window so this proposal should have no trouble being put into law.  Speaker Ryan will be pleased.

Now let’s turn for a brief moment to theology for many of the churched will object to this plan.  They maintain the Grand Realm is packed to overflowing with little souls chomping at the bit to have a life here on Earth.  I think if we could be flies on the wall, we might hear something like this:

Little Soul: Angel, dearest. When do I get to go down to Earth?

Angel: Well, I don’t have any gestating fetuses right now.  I was thinking Bill and Betty Tosspot might by ready to get a bun in the oven, but they each took the twenty-thousand simoleons and got fixed, so . . .

Little Soul: But Angel, why would they do that?  Don’t they know I want to be born on Earth?

Angel: Perhaps, but I think you should consider yourself lucky.  Bill Tosspot takes his belt to his two other kids at least once a week. A while back, he put out a cigarette on one kid’s cheek.  As for Betty, she gets falling-down drunk at least once a week and the kids have to call 9-1-1- before she comes to grief.  Besides, she turns her tricks on the living room couch, and you don’t want to see that.

Little Soul: Oh.  Well.  OK . . .  Maybe I’ll just run along and play for a while?  If you ever find a vacant fetus that’ll be born to people in a nice gated community, will you let me know?

Angel: Sure thing, kid.  Have fun.

-Merlin-

 

 

 


Social Security – Keep It or Kill It.

15 January 2017

Who wrote this? A Demopublican or Republicrat?

Back in 1959 when my dad died, almost everyone had a pension waiting for them when they hit sixty-five.  You’d get a fancy watch, a goodbye party, a pat on the back by the boss, handshakes from your colleagues and out the door you went.  A month later you got your first pension check.  If you were a union member, you usually got a pension from the brotherhood as well.

A pension.  This was part of the promise the company made to you for your decades of toil on its behalf.  These pensions were mostly the result of unions.  Pension were part of the negotiated compensation packages and while not generous, pensions took care of you.  Companies could afford these pensions because most people died in the harness before they were eligible for retirement.  In my dad’s case, cancer took his life when he was fifty-nine, six years before reaching the magic number of 65.  No pension there.

Back when Social Security was developed, most people earned their bread by back-braking toil that left them spent and used up with broken health long before age sixty-five, then they died.  If they lived beyond sixty-five, they didn’t live long.  Social Security was there to prevent these ruined old men and women from living in dire poverty.  Oh, sure, the scolds on the TV money shows put their noses in the air and sniff that it was the old farts’ own fault because they didn’t save.  Well I’ve got news for the scolds: People didn’t make enough to save.  In any case, along came FDR and Social Security which was — and still is — a compulsory savings plan.

Now it’s 2017 and pensions are things of the past, as are the unions that got them.  Now, people have to rely on the pathetic 401k plans and outright investments (mutual funds, real estate investment trusts, etc).  The trouble is these things are not reliable, as recent history has amply demonstrated.  You can get seriously burned.  Witness Enron whose collapse left many people stony-assed broke.  Of course the miscreants who skinned the investors were jailed, but that’s small comfort to the thousands whose dreams of a comfortable retirement went down the drain.  The only thing they had left was — you guessed it — Social Security.  With the death of traditional corporate pension plans, Social Security has become America’s pension plan.  For most of us today, there is nothing else.

Of course, some say Social Security is nothing but a con.  A Ponzi-like scheme that takes from the young to give to the (always deemed improvident and undeserving) old.  Yes, it does — just like the insurance policy you buy from Prudential or The Hartford or whomever.  It’s the good old free market.  Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Now, as to how much you “contribute” (their word, not mine) to your Social Security account: If you are an employee, you see the FICA deduction on every pay stub.  But that’s only half; the employer kicks in an equal amount.  Your FICA is $50, your boss kick-in another $50 for a grand total of $100. This is why Social Security is solvent.

Another seldom-recognized fact: Social Security is not part of the Federal budget.  It stands alone.  It’s independent.  To say that because the Federal budget is a mess, Social Security is a mess too, is disingenuous.

If Social Security is not as funded as well as could be, and should be, it’s because Congress keeps plundering the Social Security fund to pay for such things as pet projects and wars.  Yes, wars.  Why haven’t your taxes gone up to pay for a set of wars whose price tag, buy some accounts, is over $1,000,000,000,000?  Because Congress plundered the Social Security fund to pay for them, that’s why.  If we had prevented Congress from touching the fund, or interfering with its management, we’d all be retiring at age 50.

So, then; we should keep Social; Security, but with some provisos.

  1. Social Security remains outside the Federal budget.
  2. Congress keeps its mitts off.
  3. To reduce the temptation of raiding the fund, there will be a hefty War Tax levied on all taxpayers whenever Congress sends troops overseas to fight.
  4. FICA will apply to every dollar earned: Salary, commissions, investments, hedge funds — whatever.
  5. As with FICA, there will be no cap on incomes.
  6. Estates providing $5,000,000 or less to each heir will be tax-free.  Over that, the estate will be treated as a Social Security contribution.  It will be liquidated and the proceeds will go directly into the Social Security trust fund.  NOTE: This proviso should be especially appealing to those who heatedly admonish others to stand on their own two feet and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

We keep Social Security.

-Merlin-

 

 

 

 


Demopublican or Republicrat?

9 January 2017

The poisonous state of American politics is intolerable.  If we do not find a way to rein it in, we’ll go the way of Italy or France — or, God forbid, Venezuela.  We’re like a dog snapping at its own tail while ignoring the T-bone steak sitting in its food dish.  What to do?  What to do?

Well, first thing is tune your radios to some music of your choice and eschew the cranks, demagogues, braying asses and mountebanks that spew 24/7/52.  Most of these self-proclaimed “journalists” are cast in the mold of Billy Sunday or Che Guevara and are as dumb as dirt.  I’ve listened to a few and read their pamphlets and wonder if they can find their hind-ends with both hands.  With hysterical tractates and infantile slogans, they bend the minds of those who tune in or subscribe to their yellow rags.  They strive to outdo each other in one preposterous notion after another.  It’s gotten so bad . . .  Well, its gotten bad.

We need to discard our two political parties.

I propose two new ones that will be built on reason and logic — of course if we strove for those two characteristics, we’d have only one party, the Pragmatists but as there will be too many nuances and side issues to be accommodated in the Pragmatists, factions will emerge so we really need two.  I propose the Demopublicans and Republicrats.  These two should accommodate about eighty percent of our population.  The rest of our body politic (and we all know who they are), can form noisy little parties of their own where they can gather and wear lampshades for hats.  This will provide lots of material for stand-up comics.

The one thing was must avoid, at all costs: Messing with our Constitution.  It ain’t broken, so let’s not fix it.

In coming posts, I’ll talk some about the Demopublicans and Republicrats and their common interests.

-Merlin-


An Open Letter to the Electors.

14 November 2016

Alexander Hamilton said the Electoral College was to ensure “the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”  

“Endowed with the requisite qualifications”.  If a candidate for County Executive out here in Snohomish County were to have publicly and cruelly mocked and humiliated a handicapped man, that candidacy would end that instant.  Donald Trump is a man who not only mocks the handicapped, but who welches on his agreements, fails to pay tradesmen for their work, dodges his taxes, fleeces trusting students and is sexually deviant.  Does he not also fall short of the “requisite qualifications”.  Indeed he does!

So the American people are wondering: Why is the Electoral College about to give Mr. Hamilton a thumb in the eye and getting ready vote for the candidate who:

  1. Fails the “requisite qualifications” test, and;  
  2. Lost the popular election by more than a half-million votes?  (So much for the one-man-one-vote idea.)  

In voting for Trump, you, the Electoral College, will be thrusting an unqualified loser down unwilling throats.  Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to put country above party.  It’s time to do two, necessary things:

  1. Give Hillary Clinton the victory she so clearly won at the polls and, more importantly;
  2. Prevent a dreadful incubus from holding the highest office in our land.

-Merlin-


A Prediction

9 November 2016

Here, in no particular order, is what’s going to happen now that Republicans will have the Congress, Presidency and soon the Supreme Court.

Republicans will control all branches of government so they can never be dislodged.  It’ll be like the Communist Party in China or the old Soviet Union.

National parks will be opened to mining and commercial exploitation.  For example, a 4-lane highway will descend into the Grand Canyon to serve all the new hotels and tourist traps that’ll line the banks of the Colorado River.  An open-pit mine will be located at the foot of Bryce Canyon.

All forms of climate control will be discarded. Phoenix will be 120 F in the summer and have to be abandoned. Our middle states will become arid from the Gulf to the Canadian border.  All the farmers will go bust.  Canada will become the new Breadbasket of the World.  The states of Old Dixie will become turbid swamps while the desert reclaims California.

Our rivers will once again become running sewers and our lakes cesspools.

Labor laws will be rewritten to effectively kill unions.

Government programs that help disabled people will be cast aside.  Old mental institutions will reopen and new ones built to provide custodial care for the “unfit”.  Treatment will consist of minimal care.

The Supreme Court will be salted with cranks like Robert Bork.  The Bill of Rights will be hacked to pieces.

The FBI will become the American Gestapo.

Muslims will become the new Jews.

Food stamps will be eliminated as they are only used by the “takers” who want “free stuff”.

Farm subsidies will be eliminated.  (Oops, didn’t think of that, did we?)

Roe vs. Wade will be shit-canned so hello coat hanger.  Any woman caught getting an abortion will do ten years in the pokey.  Miscarriages will be assumed to be abortions unless proven otherwise.  New blue laws will all but eliminate birth control, save for Vatican Roulette.

Women who are raped and made pregnant must carry the fetus to term.  Just think, a victim and her husband will have a new bundle of joy crawling around on the rug.

Medicare will join Medicaid in having a means test.  If you have so little that you qualify, what you get will be a voucher with which to buy an “insurance policy”. Said voucher will have tight and insufficient limits, e.g., a $100,000 over your lifetime.  If you get a treatable cancer but the treatment costs $100,000, that’s it.  From then on, everything comes out of your own pocket or some astronomically expensive supplement and you are on your own.  Hello sickness, my old friend.  I’ve come to torment you again.

You’ll still be able to have all the guns you want, but the firing pins will be kept at the police station and you’ll have to file a federal application to use the firing pins but only for a limited time – one day in hunting season, perhaps.  Or the production of ammo will be proscribed.

The libel and slander laws will be rewritten so critical and unflattering comments about you-know-who can be squelched.  These new laws will soon be expanded to cover private individuals.  The penalties will be both civil and criminal.

State initiatives will be crushed under federal preemption laws.  For example, minimum wages will be capped by a federal law (at about $7.00) and the federal laws against weed will be reinforced with a cruelty not seen since Nixon.

Anti-discrimination laws will be repealed as a drag on business.  Red lining will become legal once again (can’t affect property values, can we?).

All the enterprising immigrants who’ve come here to become business people, doctors, engineers and the like will be spooked and go to China where they’ll be welcomed and cosseted.

Sex crimes will be winked at and seldom punished.

No only will prayer be reintroduced to our public schools but Sunday worship will be mandatory.  Attendance will be taken and if  a person misses too many services, they’ll be fined.

The Art of the Deal will be required reading in Middle School

Funding for education will be cut to the bone and what’s left will be given to the states as block grants.

We’ll continue with perpetual war in the mid-east so we plebeians can be distracted and pacified.  Iran will be included.

Russia will invade eastern Europe so as to reconstruct the Soviet Union – all with the blessing of Putin’s toady in the white house.

An ill-begotten trade policy will precipitate a trade war like the one that precipitated the Great Depression.

Old Dixie will lurch back to life and all but secede.  Emboldened, by this, Texas will do likewise, followed by the West Coast.

In tearing ourselves apart, we will become a Second World country and China will become the world’s hegemon.  The 21st Century will be China’s.

A constitutional convention will be called to rid ourselves of that pesky Bill of Rights and establish a Presidency for Life.

In an effort to prevent our country’s total ruin, we’ll have some form putsch followed by a civil war.  That, or a military coup d’état before things go too far down the chute.

So, so sad.

-Merlin-

 


What To Do!

1 October 2016

I know a fellow I’ll call Wayne.  He lives in a wheelchair.  Well, more than a wheelchair; it’s like an Astronaut’s seat in the old Apollo moon ship – a recumbent couch that is molded to the occupant’s body, i.e., rib cage, shoulders, spine, pelvis and thighs.  That’s everything but his arms and head.  I’m told the reason for his form-fitted couch/seat is so Wayne won’t get pressure sores.  This couch-like seat is secured to the wheelchair’s frame so when Wayne is installed, he’s: 1). Sitting more-or-less upright, 2). Comfortable and 3). Constrained.   After all, he’s in his chair from dawn to dusk, except for the times they remove him to change shitty diapers.  An enormous web belt runs across his lap to make sure he stays in the chair.  This is because Wayne sometimes bursts into a paroxysm of what we take to be laughter.  When they come on him he guffaws, hoots, bellows and thrashes like a live salmon tossed on the shore.  Bystanders must stand clear as his right leg wildly flails about (the Jets place kicker should have leg like Wayne’s).  If it weren’t for that belt, Wayne would be on the floor.

Wayne is way fucked up.  He’s blind, mute and deaf.  Some ghastly misfortune happened while he was in the womb.  Wayne has Cerebral Palsy so he never sits still.  His right leg moves but his left one sits lifeless, hanging onto the footrest.  His head has a slow rhythmic nod that only stops when Wayne falls asleep.

Wayne’s hands are in his lap and from his left hand, the middle finger sticks up and is plucked backwards non-stop by his right.  The plucking has gone on for so long the middle finger goes back past the vertical so it looks broken.  Of course Wayne’s body is atrophied and wasted.  There is no muscle tone, everything is flaccid.

Then there is the matter of Wayne’s head.  It’s way small but of normal appearance.  His open mouth reveals a clutter of dark, carious pegs.  Something like Brownian Movement keeps his head constantly going, except when he naps.  Wayne’s large, blue eyes move independently, much like a chameleon’s — and this is most disconcerting, believe thou me.

I’m Wayne’s minder, I tend him when he goes out from his residential facility.  We go to dim and dark places where we will cause no trouble and where I can observe him, and I have observed:

  1. Wayne cannot eat normal food so he’s feed some sort of nutritious gruel.  Wayne has a good swallow reflex for when I hold up a paper cup full of juice, he leans into it and opens his lips but more like an infant sucking than in a man drinking.
  2. Some of the sounds Wayne makes are grunts.  They mean Wayne is shitting in his diaper, and he will sit in it until the little bus takes him home in a couple of hours.
  3. He doesn’t respond to touch and I don’t believe he feels pain.
  4. The paroxysms are not laughter as I originally assumed.  I think these paroxysms are actually seizures.
  5. There is no one home.  The form sitting before me in the wheelchair is an empty vessel.  The physical Wayne probably died as the result of a botched delivery and while the body was resuscitated, Wayne’s spirit fled.  What sits before me now is nothing but a reanimated corpse — a zombie.

Does Wayne have any sense of life or is he nothing but a bunch of fucked up reflexes?  I vote for the latter.  I think anyone who is around Wayne for very long will come to the same conclusion.

So what to do?  What to do?

In ancient times, a baby with Wayne’s problems would have been placed on the ground and a 4-man rock dropped on his head.  With today’s medicine we can keep zombies like Wayne alive until Hell freezes over.  Wayne is old enough to have salt-&-pepper hair, so he’s been kept alive for quite some time already.  The big question is: Are we doing the Wayne’s of the world a favor by keeping them alive with our heroic measures?   I don’t think so.  I think zombies like Wayne deserve top-notch palliative care but no life-extending measures should be applied.

Many of the Abrahamic faiths would turn to the holy texts for guidance on this.  And so we shall, but pay close attention to Ecclesiastes 3:1–8.  Read it carefully.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

-Merlin-