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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How do you steal Social Security?

Paul Krugman has a good summary of the economic theories in play during the Great Recession. It's an interesting read if you haven't been following him since Enron collapsed like I have.
One of the many things he's said consistently is: Some of them see the crisis as an opportunity to dismantle the social safety net. And just about everyone in the policy elite takes cues from a wealthy minority that isn’t actually feeling much pain.
I'm going to refer to those who want to dismantle the social safety net using a phrase from Jim Hightower, the title to his book Thieves In High Places or TIHP's for short.
So how do you take down the social safety net? Okay social security works on the principle that those working contribute which pays for those receiving and when you retire the younger ones keep the program going. As long as there are a substancial number of workers more than retired the trust account keeps growing. THIP's started drooling over the Social Security trust the day it was created and about to grab all that wonderful cash. To the greedy there is never enough money. So what plan did they come up with? I'm not an insider but this is one way it could be done:
  • Control the Media. This can't be done if there are owners of News Broadcasts, radio stations and newspapers who let Woodwards and Bernsteins run amok. Reagan deregulated the media and the limit on how many stations and newspapers one person or corporation could own and soon all our news was in the hands the TIHP's. Spin everything the way the Billionares want it and the zombies watching their televisions will believe it. Remember Citizen Kane? Wife: Really, the things you say in your editorials, what will people think?  Kane: What I tell them.
  • Buy all the politicians. Citizens United may have paved the way lately for unlimited contributions by the rich, but the cost of campaigning since 1948 with the introduction of television turned all of our politicians local, state and national into money whores. Since TIHP's own all the propaganda outlets this lets them buy politicians so they can use their product so what you give with one hand is given back to the other. A nice closed system.
  •  Dehumanization. As with all things you want to destroy it has to be dehumanized. Ronald Reagan started it with his Welfare Queens feeding the lie that all those getting foodstamps don't need them. This led to Bill Clinton "Changing welfare as we know it." A neat trick when you can get both political parties to do your dirty work for you.
  • Fear tactics. Tell the Big Lie over and over again until everyone knows it's true. The baby boom will use up all the money in the social security trust. We can't afford universal health coverage. Illegal immigrants are ruining this country. These lies strike at the pillars of the safety net. It makes people doubt their future, while reducing the number of workers paying into the system to keep it working.
  • Ruin the economy. The social safety net after all isn't anyone's concern if there's only a few unfortunates using it and what money is spent on it is relatively small. Well Reagan launched the attack by deregulating the Savings and Loans. A few at the top partied hardy wiping out over a Trillion Dollars of tax payer money, but the elite took some hits. Keating and some others went to prison even. The agencies then in place shut down the institutions in trouble, reorganized them, stabilized the industry recovering much of what was lost. What FDR put in place worked, but for the TIHP's it worked too well, so they again reached out to Good Old Boy Bill Clinton who signed the bill ending the Glass-Steagal act. This was the bill that as Paul Krugman and others said kept banking boring. I cost the tax payers 800 billion dollars that the banks have been sitting on like a dragon watching over it's pile of gold for the last six years.  If our economy doesn't recover to the pre-2008 level until 2020, how much money that would have gone into the social security trust under a normal economy is lost? We are looking at an economic lost generation. A generation the social security trust depends on for its continuence. This alone explains why the stimulus was labeled by the media as a failure the minute it was passed and austerity has been the accepted economic policy ever since, even after five years of dismal failure to revive the economy. If your'e going to raid social security you have to starve it first.
  • Fight expensive, futile and needless wars. Trillions of dollars spent with no end in sight running up a huge national debt with nothing to gain. Both King George I and his idiot son bragged about winning, but what did they win? To win there has to be something that was better before the war than after it and that hasn't happened.
  • Tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the middle class. Before Dubbya stole the 2000 election when it came time to figure my income taxes I didn't need to pay, and didn't get a refund. My tax preparer did a good job of keeping a ballance between what was owed and what we earned. After Bush's tax cuts we had a rude awakening because the tax code raised the deduction percentage to income so high that even with a mortgage and medical bills we never reached that percentage resulting in a $1,500 to 2,500 increase in taxes all eight years of his miserable reign. Obama has settled things down again. Those whose income was under $250,000 did not get a tax cut instead they paid more, but no one in the media ever pointed this out. The middle class was also hit with higher property taxes, sales taxes, and governmental fees while getting few pay raises.
  • Kill the unions. Good Old Uncle Ronny started this by busting the Air Traffic Controllers Union and non-stop union bashing by every Republican over the last fifty years. Transferring jobs overseas has effictively destroyed the unions in the private sector and now they are focusing on Police, Firefighers, civil workers, state workers, teachers. Anyting goes wrong blame the unions.
  • Privatize everything. Schools, prisons, road repair, motor vehicle liscensing and registration, redlight and speeding tickets with cameras where the private corporations gets most of the money. This destorys one of the mainstays of the middle class: government workers with good salaries, benefits, and job security and turning it over to minimum wage drones.
  • Make the sick and elderly an economic burden. Didn't Ebinezer Scrooge when told that there are poor and sick who may die say it best? "Then it will decrease the surplus population" Never let there be universal health care, affordable nursing care for the disabled and elderly. Why should octogenarians and older keep drawing their social security checks. Cut off all medical care and bury them. Only the rich should live this long and have the luxury of decent doctors and facilities. It looks bad when minimum wage drones live longer than Billionares. What else explains all the lies, screaming and caterwallering about the National Health Care Act? Of course even to get this sickly and weak national health coverage it was purposely turned into a poison pill for the unemployed and minimum wage workers.
  • Raid the Social Security Trust Fund. It started again under Reagan. The screaming that the roof was going to cave in and something had to be done. He fixed it by raising what is withheld from our of pay checks. No one likes a pay cut. It didn't need to be fixed, but this started everyone being worried, and then the news media starts telling everyone going to college that by the time they retire there won't be a social security. Then with the new media telling everyone something needs to be done again, the TIHP's come up with a plan to turn the trust over to Wall Street. Maybe they were a little too obvious with this, because when Dubbya after stealing the 2004 election tried to sell it he hit a brick wall. Oops maybe their lies didn't have everyone that scared yet. Now they've shifted to a voucher system.
The one thing I know about the TIHP's is they never give up and they hold all the cards as long as people keep electing their lap dogs.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oh My!

Wife called this morning, someone at work picked up an abandoned dog and wanted to know if anyone wanted it. We have a persnickety cat and a German Shephard that's two years old and still very much puppy. We'd talked just this morning before heading out to work that the mutt needed a companion to help settle him down. So I said yes.
A little later a guy called and I gave him directions to the office. He showed up with an adorable looks like a mix between a small fox terrior and a border collie. Wife wanted me to drive up to her office and he was fine sitting in the seat next to me on the way up. All the ladies in her office had to hold  him and pet him, he just ate it up. On the way back he insisted on sitting in my lap. I don't know why people spoil small dogs like this because it's not easy trying to drive that way. Son came up and took him home now the debate is on over the name. I keep telling everyone to wait until we get home and can discuss it, but they keep texting me with suggestions. Evidently he's getting on with the other mutt, not too sure about the cat.

My client took me out to lunch today for Administrative Assistant day. I've never thought of myself as a secretary, (more of a gloried gofer) and since I bill him and am not an employee it caught me by surprise. It was a nice lunch.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Catch up

  • I'm still working on the story Bona Dea which is about bringing the Good Goddess back to life who starts a religion of Love and Happiness to restore and rehibilitate all the damage that's been done on the planet by evil forces that destroy everything to make money. Whew! Got all that out in one sentence. It's not only complicated in trying to write from a New Age point of view, but I've chosen to write all the narrative in present or future tense. At 33,000 words after dusting off a short story to turn it into a novel in November it's proceeding slowly, but I feel my writing improve in this process.
  • Novels Fan Plan, Stephanus, and others in the works are on hold right now, but that's the good thing about having more than one iron in the fire. When I get blocked on one story I turn to another work on it a bit and pick up where I left off on the other story with fresh eyes.
  • Last week I did a lot of driving between the office down to the courthouses in Los Lunas and Bernalillo. Part of me wishes this screwy case will finally close so I don't have to drive so much, but the other part kind of likes cashing the checks this case is putting into my bank account. The week before I did get a lot of writing done, but generated no income. Still nice to have a place where I can sit and write undisturbed.
  • Taking daughter down to Los Cruces Friday. She's going to the State Democratic Convention meeting on Saturday. While she's rubbing shoulders with all the politicians wooing her vote I'm hoping to get a round of golf in on a course I haven't played before.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Even A Blind Squirrel

The Legend of Bagger Vance: Walter Hagan says, "Even a blind suirrel gets an acorn everyone once in a while."

Got up early today to walk the Dam Nine at Arroyo Del Oso. I felt like beating the heat and wind of the afternoon and tomorrow another storm is set to hit. It was nice with no one ahead of me so I set a good pace and comfortable rythem which always makes for a good round. I parred the two par threes, which is good, but nothing spectacular. I don't want to think about what happened on #7, but it's about the hardest par 4 in the state. Then came #8. Now I'm not a long bomber so I usually reach the green on my third or fourth shot and settle for a bogey or double bogey. Average for someone with a 29 USGA handicap. I hit my usual drive just barely getting over the arroyo of pebble size granite and around a 170 yards from green. I hit a left fading right second shot with my five wood which landed a good thirty yards short of the green. I was anticipating a pitch and maybe a putt or normal 2 putt for par or bogey. The closer I got to the green I couldn't find my ball and slowly it dawned on me it rolled up onto the green about ten feet from the red flag pin. Miracle of miracles I sank the putt for a birdie. I've been playing on this course for over ten years and a par on this hole is difficult. Needless to say the biggest problem was the fact I played alone and where's the fun in having a great score on a hard hole and no one to share it with. So before putting I took a picture of where my second ball landed as partial proof that I actually did it. By the way I parred the last hole, which I very seldom do as well.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prayers and Sympathy

Prayers and sympathy to all those injured in this senseless bombing of the Boston Marathon and also to the families of those who lost loved ones. May those who committed this crime be swiftly brought to justice.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tiger Woods Compromise

Tiger Woods had a bad 15th hole on day two of the Masters. The best I can figure this is what happened: His approach shot hit the flag stick and bounced into a water hazzard. He then had three choices A. hit from the drop zone B. rehit from his original spot or C. In a straight line from where the ball entered the water on the other side of the hazzard he could drop as far back as he wants. He didn't like the drop zone saying the grain of the grass was against him and it was soggy, so he dropped a couple of yards behind the drop zone.
He suffered a bogey on the hole and no one whether tournament officials or news commentators thought anything was wrong with his drop. He finished the round, signed his scorecard and by end of play the officials verified all scores as official and that should have been the end of it. In my humble opinion.
Enter some pinhead who calls the tournament officials overnight to basically say Tiger couldn't, according to the rules, drop from behind the drop zone and that when he signed the scorecard without a 2 stroke penalty the card is inaccurate and he should be disqualified.
Purists would say the rules are the rules and that's that. Well there are loopholes for every rule in golf. Or should I say compromise rules.
I'm a different kind of purist which says the rules should be overseen by officials in real time like just about every other sport. Some pinhead watching on TV may see a guy throw the first punch which starts a fight in a football game or basketball game, but the official only saw the retaliation and player 2 gets the flag or foul. You don't after the game is over and score is official then say oops someone watching the game on TV says that was a penalty on the other team and they should lose the game. There would be riots in the streets of the team shafted by such a ruling.
So there are two sides here: Side A says he broke a rule and should be penalized even if it is over twelve hours since play ended and the card was ruled official by end of play. Side B says once all scores are ruled official they're set in stone and can't be changed even if some pinhead using HDTV and a pause button is technically correct.
Enter the compromise HDTV rule, which says Tiger is not disqualified, but does have to accept the two stroke penalty. That turns hole 15 from a bogey to a triple bogey. That's tough, but better than being disqualified and losing whatever money he's going to collect at the end of the tournament.
Side A fusses because he should be disqualified for signing an inaccurate scorecard.
Side B fusses because the score was ruled official by the end of play and should stay as recorded, no delayed penalty.
As with all compromises both sides get a little of what they want and aren't happy because they didn't get all that they want. But it is a practical solution to stop the argument and get on with playing the game.

On a later broadcast the information I had was incorrect (surprise surprise) Tiger took a drop at the original spot saying he stepped back two yards. On picture evidence using divot marks he was only a few inches off from the original mark- so the two stroke penalty was assessed because he opened up his big mouth and shot it off without thinking.