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.






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.


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.


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.



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.


Clinton vs. Trump

9 September 2016

It’s blame Hillary for everything. If it rains, it’s Hillary’s doing. You catch a cold, it’s all Hillary’s fault. Ad hominem arguments usually work in political activities, and they are working splendidly in this campaign.

The only — only — chance Hillary Clinton has of beating Donald Trump is to set loose the dogs.  Mock his orange face (the Great Pumpkin) and his rug. Harp endlessly on his bankruptcies and business difficulties.  Find people whom he’s hurt and get them out in the spotlight. Drag the Trump U lawsuits down the road for everyone to see. Get the women(s) he violated to go on the stump. Dig up every atom of dirt there is and make each a cause célèbre.  Start up a few websites to spread every rumor you can find.  Trump has a notoriously thin skin and rattles easily so catch him out in his lies and hang a vicious sobriquet on him, like “Disingenuous Don”.

Electing Donald Trump will be like drinking syrup of ipecac: It’s nice and sweet going down, but a bit later you’ll be sorry as hell as you puke up everything in your guts. Problem is, once he’s elected, there’s no throwing him up. Trump will be in our guts for four years.


The Olympics

10 August 2016

Well, it’s that time again: the Olympics.

Jo and I, accompanied by our friends and neighbors, sat down to watch them Monday night.  What did we see?  Swimming.  OK, so we watched the Olympics Tuesday night and, again, what did we see?  Swimming.  Nothing but goddamned swimming.  Swimming, swimming, swimming and more goddamned swimming.

Oh, we also saw a bunch of pixi-like children jumping and rolling around on the floor and swinging like monkeys from the parallel bars. Meh.  But I did get a glimpse of Volleyball, beach style, with all the hotties in their little 2-piece swim (gaaack, there’s that word again) suits. Yum.

What I want to know is where’s the Greco-Roman wrestling?  The hammer and discus throw? Archery? All the good stuff? I’ll tell you where; in the daylight hours so no one can watch them. All we get is a force-fed diet of swimming.

I hate swimming, and if you read my post of long ago, you’ll know why.  But in that post, I was talking about a pool, like in the Olympics but the really hateful version of swimming is in a lake. The water is like pea soup – green and opaque – and foul things float in it.  You get swimmer’s ear, pink eye, itchy skin, athlete’s foot from the changing room and you stink like dead and dying fish. To ice the cake, there’s always some debris on the bottom, lurking just beneath the sand and scum, and you invariably cut you foot on this stuff and end up with a raging infection. The beach is no better.

Of course, in the lake, just as in the pool, there is the sacrament of pissing in the water.

To close out this observation on the Swimlympics, did you see the male swimmers?  To a man, they looked to have been manhandled by a squid. Red sucker marks all over the place. What’s with that?

Just before they go in the water, the male swimmers slap themselves silly like flagellant monks and begin to quiver as if hit by a Taser.

Finally, the big moment arrives and they jump in the water.  Once in, they kick and thrash their ways across the pool, back and forth and back and forth until one of them touches the pool’s wall ahead of the others and the officials measure this timing down to a gnat’s ass. I saw one fellow beat another to the wall by 0.01 seconds – one one-hundredth of a second – and on the basis of that infinitesimal difference, one man goes home a hero with innumerable offers to endorse everything from jetliners to prophylactics. The other guy, the one who touched the wall just one one-hundredth of a second later, goes home a nere-do-well hump with his tail between his legs. The one man gets the gold and the glory (and all the women and all the money) while the other gets the silver, which means nothing.  Its like the difference between a rib-eye steak done to perfection over an open flame, and a hamburger patty desiccated to a crisp on a McDonald’s griddle.