29 July 2010

The "Greedy Geezers" Lie Rebuted: Social Security Protects The Disabled!

Back in the forties and fifties, my grandfather called Social security an "Old Age Pension" and sadly today all too many, who should really know better, have the misconception that it's only protection for older workers entering retirement.

The facts belie that pervasive misunderstanding.  According to the Social Security Administration, nearly a third of men (3 in 10) and twenty-five percent (1 in 4) women will become seriously disabled before retirement age.  Disability brings with it severe and unexpected financial burdens and hardship.  Studies show that if a 50-year old , without expensive private disability insurance, suffers a two year period of disability, that person can lose over $1-million in retirement assets.  Social Security provides protection against poverty in retirement years and benefits to the disabled individual's family members, especially their children--children account for 20% of the 1.8-million recipients of SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance).

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

SSDI provides cash benefits to eligible, disabled Americans. The program provides monthly benefits to people who have worked in the past and paid their Social Security taxes. Compared to SSDI, private disability insurance generally is not adjusted for inflation, is not designed to cover children of disabled workers and is not available to workers with disabilities and other health problems.

Who pays for SSDI?

When you work, 85 cents of every Social Security tax dollar you pay goes to the Old-Age and Survivor’s Insurance (OASI) trust fund which pays monthly benefits to current retirees and their families and to surviving spouses and children of workers who have died. The other 15 cents goes to the SSDI trust fund to pay benefits to people with disabilities and their families.

Who is eligible for SSDI?

In order to qualify for SSDI, an individual must (1) Have an eligible disability; (2) be the primary wage earner of their family; (3) have paid their FICA taxes; (4) be younger than the Social Security retirement age; (5) be insured for benefits; and (6) go through an application process.

Who Receives SSDI?

Nearly 8 million disabled workers, more than 1.8 million minor children of disabled workers, over 930,000 disabled adult children and almsot a quarter million disabled widow(er)s.
And, despite the lies, misunderstandings and exaggerations regarding Social Security and SSDI, no one is getting rich from receiving SSDI: There is no flat rate that beneficiaries receive. Instead, the disability benefit is linked through a formula to a worker’s earnings before he or she became disabled with annual payments up to only $25,570 for a person who had earned $90,000 while still healthy.
In 2008, disabled worker beneficiaries received an average monthly benefit of only $1,063.10. Once a person hits retirement age, they are automatically switched to regular Social Security retirement benefits.

Did you know?

For a young worker with a spouse and two children, Social Security provides benefits that are equivalent to disability insurance worth $465,000.  About 22 percent of families with disabled workers live below the poverty line. But without Social Security, their circumstances would be even worse!

To reach an SSA office near you, call 1-800-772-1213.
· Online: Visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityonline/

27 July 2010

Union Veterans Hope To Inluence Other Veteran 's Groups

All too often people with common interests find themselves not trusting the other and failing to see opportunity to act in their own self-interest.  I think this situation is readily apparent between members of the various veteran's organizations and unions.  Both groups care about America, and both groups have memberships of men and women with strong inner codes of decency and fairness; what some would call basic blue-collar values.  But, we often see both groups misunderstanding or misinterpreting the motives and intent of the other with cynical politicians using "hot-button" issues to keep divided the two constituencies .

In response to this situation, the National AFL/CIO, two years ago to the month, launched its Union Veterans Council with initial plans for state councils in Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Virginia and West Virginia with union activists currently planning expanding by establishing state councils or union-veteran led events in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Oregon and Arizona.

As I write this, there are over 12-million union members who are also military veterans and hundreds of thousands or retirees are veterans, with an untold number of union families with relatives actively serving or recently released from military service.  This is a powerful constituency.  When they speak, veterans and union members do well to listen!

The Union Veterans Council includes representatives from 20 unions and labor organizations who come from every branch of the military.  It is chaired by Navy veteran Mark Ayers, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL/CIO, who served during the Vietnam War.  The Co-Vice Chairs of the Council, Ann Converso, United American Nurses President, and J. David Cox, American Federation of Government Employees Secretary-Treasurer, have between them over fifty years of combined service in the Veteran Administration.

Through their website they have already identified over 4,600 e-activists who want to stay engaged with the movement and over 400 union veteran spokespeople.

They are bringing together top union leaders who are also veterans to strategize and mobilize union veterans at all levels of the union movement.  During the 2008 elections, Vietnam veteran and IBEW member, Jim Wasserman, appeared in a TV ad explaining why Republican Presidential Candidate, John McCain's agenda was all wrong for working people.  His words were a legitimate and welcome contrast to the inflammatory and divisive attacks by previous ad-hoc and spurious veteran's groups such as the Swift Boat crowd.

While it is true that many veteran organizations seem to represent only the viewpoints of a jingoistic and reactionary right-wing the Union Veterans Councils provide validation for union and other veterans who do not share such extremist views.  Union veterans are leading walks, work site visits and round-table discussions talking to union members and veterans about key issues.

Personally, as a veteran of the Marine Corps, I find it refreshing and exciting to know that there are other veterans just like me that value the progressive and liberal dreams and aspirations on which our country and the union movement were built and who are working to deliver that message to other union members and veterans.

One of its key resolutions is to "encourage union veterans to take leadership roles in other veteran's organizations and strive to form coalitions and alliances with other veteran groups around union veteran's issues".

To learn more, just click on their website which is linked above.

26 July 2010

Yet Another Deficit/Social Security Lie

Well, here we go again.

The war is on, as I warned everyone a couple of months ago.  Those same people who brought you the housing bubble, bail-outs, failed banks and auto-manufacturing giants and 401k plans whose assets dropped faster than the mercury in the thermometer at Antarctica in January are going after the one program that is always on time, always in the correct amount and which keeps millions upon millions of seniors, retirees, widows, orphans and the disabled out of poverty--Social Security!

If you, after reading this, do not get up off your butt and do something, we will lose it.

Here's the latest foray from the rabid right and hucksters, lairs, thieves, cut-purses and mendicants of Wall Street.  And, guess from whence it comes--did you guess Neel Kashkari?  Oh c'mon, you remember Neel doncha?  During the bail-out, he was in charge of administering the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for the U. S. Treasury's Office of Financial Stability.  Sounding familiar?  Maybe the $700-billion of our tax dollars tossed out in the pig-sty that is today's world of  as banking and finance will shake your recall a bit.

Actually, it is somewhat of an insult to swill sucking hogs the world over to compare them to our Wall Street bankers and financiers.

After this successful road-agent like looting of the national treasury on behalf of those "too-big-to-fail" and "troubled" financial institutions, Kashkari donned sackcloth and went into the woods for a period of self-appraisal and navel concentrating, but now has emerged as an expert on "entitlements", i.e. Social Security.

Writing on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, Kashkari asserts, "The fiscal crisis in Europe has awoken Americans to the enormous challenge we face from entitlements. The promises our country has made over the past few decades, combined with changing demographics and rising costs, have put us on a path to national insolvency. Unless we control our deficits..." You can read the entire article HERE.

Allow me, please, to suggest this:  Every time these right-wing stooges use entitlement, i.e. Social Security, in the same sentence as "deficit" understand that you are being lied to!  And, as I said last week, there are lies and then there are god-damned lies.  And, once again, I will leave it to you to decide what sort of liar is Kashkari.

And never mind the arrant hypocrisy hissed by Kashkari's forked tongue (after all he's done quite well for himself now working for a company that profited in the millions from holdings which were part of the Fed's buybacks) and just focus on this very simple, irrefutable fact which puts a lie to every "deficit based" attack on Social security:  Social Security in no way contributes to the deficit.  It is funded, with around a trillion dollars in reserves, from contributions of workers and employers into a trust fund

It is a lie to link the deficit and Social Security.  Their obvious motive is this.  The Republicans want to latch on to that trillion dollars in order to claim that they solved our deficit crises without raising taxes and to turn over to their wet-palmed masters in the counting houses of Wall Street all future contributions.

In the nasal words of that hill-billy financier, Ross Perot, "It is jest that simple"!

22 July 2010

Republicans: Always Jerks, Even Back In Play-School

Yesterday we learned that the Republican Senators, having lost their effort to deny unemployment insurance compensation payments to millions of long-term unemployed Americans, engaged in parliamentary tactics to delay the bill for 30-hours.  Yep, delay the inevitable for 30-hours, Out of pique, they added a full additional day to the time that worthy (formerly employed) out-of-work Americans will go without money to pay rent, hunt for jobs, buy groceries, make mortgage or car payments, or take care of a pressing health need--or just simply get by!

What is with these people? you must wonder.  Well, if you remember former Texas Governor, the late Ann Richards' description of George Bush as a man born on third base bragging to the world that he had hit a triple, you will have some clue.

I have written before of this insane sense of "entitlement" felt by Republicans.  They are "entitled" to be in charge, they are "entitled" to have things their way, and they are "entitled" to tell the rest of us to toe the line, or else!  Or so they think.

Hell, they start early and they really are not all that hard to spot from playschool on: "Teacher, Teacher, Johnny is not coloring inside the lines, see how pretty mine is" = Republican.  Or in grade school, out on the playground, "I want to be pitcher, and if I can't be pitcher, I'll throw the ball over the fence!" = Republican  Or more simply, "I'm going to tell on you" = Republican.

What about in junior high?  Weren't they the little punks whose hands would pop up to remind the teacher, "Weren't we supposed to have a test today?"  And, in high school, weren't they the ones that got placed in the college prep classes regardless of their being dumber than a wet sack of Brazos River sand?  And the rest of us? well' that's what shop, auto mechanics and cosmetology classes are for, regardless of how bright we might be.

By college they'd developed significant social skills such as the "I am soooo superior" sniff, or the condescending nod to obvious subordinates, and my all time favorite, the assumption that the way is being paved for them and if they just play the game there will be BIG payouts awaiting them, which they will gladly trickle down to the "little people" who behave properly.

And somewhere along the way they all pick up this sense of being victimized.  Oh yeah, despite controlling most of the wealth, having access to the best educations, investment opportunities, finest homes and neighborhoods and memberships to the best golf courses, they feel somehow deprived if any of the rest of us happen to acquire a higher standard of life...somehow, they must think, that would deprive them of something!

They become peevish and worried, much in the same way fundamentalist Christians fret that someone somewhere is enjoying life, and do their utmost to stymie, stall or impede anyone else trying to advance in life.

So we need not be surprised at the latest peevish ploy of the Senate Republicans.  They have always been nasty little buggers; but now, they are just older, richer and more powerful versions of that little jerk in seventh grade algebra who invariably raised his hand on Friday to remind the teacher, "Weren't we supposed to have a test today?"

21 July 2010

Health Care Reform - Big Gains For Seniors

Officially it's called The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but most of us just call it the Health Care Reform Bill--that is unless you're a right-wing nutter, then you stupidly call it "Obamacare".

Regardless of what it is called, it has many, many very positive changes for seniors.

 Let's start with the the "Doughnut Hole".  Starting this year (2010) it provides for a $250 rebate to seniors falling in the doughnut hole. In 2011 it will provide a 50% discount on name-brand drugs and initiate a government subsidy for generic drugs (7% in 2011).  In 2013 there will phase in a 2.5% subsidy for name-brand drugs and by 2020, the doughnut hole will be entirely eliminated.

Free Preventative Services & Improved Care commence in 2011.  Starting next year seniors will receive FREE annual checkups.  And all co-pays and deductibles are eliminated for mammograms, colonoscopies and other critical preventative screenings.

Elder Justice Act & Nursing Home Transparency.  Nursing homes and home-care companies receiving federal money will have to conduct pre-employment background checks on job applicants.  They will also be required to disclose all owners, operators, suppliers, financiers and others with whom they do business.  Complaint procedures will be simplified and $500-million will be earmarked for: Adult Protective Services, A Long-Term Ombudsman Program and Staff Training.

Reins In Medicare Advantage Plans.  It begins in 2011 a phase out of the 14% overpayment to Medicare Advantage plans and requires such plans to spend at least 85% of premiums on patient care, instead of profits.  Such plans can no longer charge higher deductible than original Medicare.

Improves Auditing For Medicare Fraud and Abuse. From streamlining prepayment reviews to increased funding for the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Fund the new bill puts in place stronger reviews and controls.  It also puts into place strong new requirements for community mental health centers that provide Medicare partial hospitalization services. 

Other exciting changes include emphasis on community-based health care and new provisions enabling seniors to age "in place" rather being forced into demoralizing and dehumanizing "Nursing Homes".

These improvements and additions to Medicare, along with other provisions of the bill promises to extend the solvency of Medicare by at least 12 additional years.

All in all, seniors should be proud of what they've obtained in the health care reform process and they should be prepared to tell the insurance and drug company owned Republicans to "take a chill pill and call back if the condition worsens!"

20 July 2010

Seniors Gouged By Hospitals Hiding From Medicare Auditors

"Under Observation" - Surprise Hospital Bills Hit Seniors!

An unintended glitch in Medicare rule is hitting a growing number of seniors with thousands of dollars with non-reimbursed hospital bills, according to a recent article in Bloomberg Business Week.

Medicare expanded a pilot program in December 2008 aimed at conducting audits to cut fraud.  Since then, the number of patients nationally who placed in long-term observation has increased and therein lies the problem. Under Medicare rules, patients who are listed "under observation" face 20% co-payments that they would not if actually admitted to the hospital.  Furthermore, expensive aftercare is not covered at all!

The "under observation" classification was to be designed when there is not an immediate diagnosis, or if it is determined the condition is not normally treated under "inpatient" care.

The problem is that hospitals are extending the the use of the "under observation status" in order to hide behind it so that Medicare auditors will not challenge them on patient admissions when cases lie between inpatient and outpatient.

Barbara Easterling, president of the 4-million grassroots senior activist organization, Alliance for Retired Americans is calling on Congress to clean up the problem.  "In the past, hospitals and physicians were on their honor, but no more" she said.  "Congress needs to make it clear that anyone who is in a hospital for 24 hours or more is considered an inpatient.

Click HERE to read more.about this critical problem.

19 July 2010

Seniors Beware: You Did Not Cause The Deficit!

Fiscal Commissioners Demonize Senior Programs

Despite the obvious and readily verifiable proof that our current budgetary deficit is the direct result of George W. Bush's tax breaks for wealthy individuals and greedy, unregulated, international corporations; two wars of invasion and occupation fought on the national credit card; and a near bottomless chasm of recession and unemployment with diminished real earnings and property and 401k values, America's seniors, its disabled, its widows and its orphans are being targeted as helping cause the deficit.

Recently, the co-chairmen of President Obama's Fiscal Study Commission, while calling the current budget deficit a "cancer" that will destroy America from within, (damn, sounds almost McCarthyesque doesn't it--The Enemy Within) unless Washington takes tough action.

The two leaders of the fiscal commission issued their ominous forecast singled out Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as "consuming" more than their share of revenue.  Well there are liars and god-damned liars, I'll leave it to you to decide which category fits Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles the two co-chairs of the commission.  But, without any doubt, each is some sort of liar.

Social Security does not "consume" revenue!  Each of these men know this.  Social Security is funded by contributions from workers and their employers and has somewhere around a trillion dollars "in reserve".  That is fact, and to suggest otherwise is a bald-faced lie and an attempt by both politicians to launch an inter-generational war by suggesting that Social Security is a tax burden for future generations.  It is not!  And that suggestion, is within itself another lie!

They are floating other "trial balloons", hinting that Social Security should be "privatized" and handed over to Wall Street thieves and mendicants.  The very same hellish fiends that gave us the current recession, unemployment, bail-outs, derivatives, and the swap markets.  Right!  Just the very people we could trust to make things wonderful.

Another of their ploys is to suggest that increasing the retirement age to 70 would "save" Social Security and reduce the deficit----and watch their hands closely enough and you'll see which shell hides the pea!  Or, and I like this one, phase out or end the Cost of Living Adjustments....there's the pea, there's the pea!

Alright, I will concede that unless something is done, in a decade or two, the Social Security Trust Fund will face some challenges.  But, clearly, and oh so simply and so utterly fairly, the answer to that is raise the cap on earnings.  Did you know that as it is right now billionaires such as Bill Gates pay no more into Social Security than some average Joe or Jane making around $120-thousand a year.  Hardly seems right does it?

The Center for Economic and Political Research (CEPR) has released an in-depth analysis that shows that if the draconian measures suggest by Simpson and Bowles were adopted the effect on low and middle-income families would be devastating. You can find it HERE.

The truth is that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have helped generations of deserving Americans to stay healthy and out of poverty and to attempt to balance the budget on the backs of older people, widows, orphans, and the disabled is heinous.  And when that notion is based on lies, it rises to the level of a crime against humanity!

13 July 2010

Republicans Just Don't Get It About Social Security Privatization!


What the hell is it with these damned Republicans?  To me they appear to be the sort that if they had brains they would take those brains out of their brain pans and roll them in the dust giggling and drooling at the fun of it all.

We are in what many are calling the "Great Recession"; trillions lost on wall street, housing values and equities dropping faster than Aunt Maggie's panties at the drive-in movie, 401K accounts mere shadows of the promise they once offered, five people chasing every available job, and long-term unemployment protection tossed under the bus for political expediency.  Got it?

Well sure you do, unless you happen to be a Republican.  If you're one of them, likely you're all for another run a privatizing Social Security...yeah, hand over to the mendicants, thieves, liars and cut-purses of wall street the most effective and best managed social safety net program in America. Just give the notion a moment's reflection, would you: Our Social Security Trust Fund in the hands of the very (nary a damned one of them is jail where they should be) people who gave us the worldwide economic crises we now are floundering about in.

Don't take my word for it.  Here from the Alliance for Retired Americans weekly report to members.

"House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) stated this week that he is unsure whether the Republican Party will revive their 2005 movement to privatize Social Security. Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a member of the president's Fiscal Commission on addressing the national debt, released a budget blueprint that included dramatic cuts to Medicare and Social Security before effectively privatizing both systems.

Boehner has distanced himself from Ryan's blueprint without mentioning where he stands, leaving many advocates for seniors uneasy about the fate of these programs should Republicans return to power. "Representatives Ryan and Boehner must not have seen what I saw when we put unbridled faith in the markets and Wall Street," said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. "We need to continue our work to protect Social Security.  It is a valuable lifeline which has kept millions of retirees out of poverty."

At least, in this sole instance, bar-hopping Boehner recognizes a truly bad notion!   But, all that proves is that a stopped clock gives the correct time twice a day.

12 July 2010

RIP: Frisco (2004 - 2010)


About five years ago, I can't tell you the precise date, (but my wife could as she writes these sort of events down on a calender and files it away for future reference) we adopted Frisco.  And, since I'm being careless with the the exact date, I may as well admit that adopt is probably not the exact word for what happened between us and Frisco.

Maybe rescue, or liberation, or even intervention in a death sentence would be the more exact term for what happened between us and Frisco.  He was in the pound, condemned to die and up against his penultimate day on earth when we went to check him out.

I can't tell you why we went there after I saw his picture in the newspaper..  Fate?  Whim?  No, not that--we're not the sort that takes on a pound dog based on a whim.  We even took our dog Daisy with us to see how they would get along, observed him with the kittens and asked twenty-gazillion questions.  No, it was not a whim.  Maybe fate, as there were weekly pictures of beguiling dogs in the newspaper each week and we never before, or since, felt compelled to act on those.

Frisco, was, at best reckoning, a "street-dog", cast away and probably on his own for six months or so.  He was a survivor and maybe, at some level, I identified with him--a tough former street kid used to getting by on wit and moxie until the Marine Corps straightened me out.  Maybe I thought I could be his Marine Corps.

I'm fairly good at handling dogs and quickly had Frisco responding to all the basic obedience commands and some very rigorous deprogramming of targeting and attacking our cats.  But, there was a glitch in his wiring somewhere that made him exceptional, and not in a good way.  It wasn't just that on occasion he would "drop a command response" and not in a way that it was a training issue; he would make an obvious choice of disobeying.  Now, part of this could be attributed to the breed.  You see, he was a Pyrenees-Golden Retriever mix and Pyrenees are noted for this trait...some less informed see it as obstinacy.  It really does not anthropomorphize in that way.

Pyrenees are one of the earliest breeds, if not the first, and have been breed through the millenia to be autonomous and to decide who or what lives or dies.  Their wiring is that basic and simple.  Thus, Frisco never really adapted himself to the rules of the "pack" as most other dogs do. He was 120 pounds of autonomous animal with jaw strength of at least 3,000 pounds.  I worked with him a lot and truly believed that I had him under control, but was always very cautious with him: head-halter, muzzle, short lead and always, always, always under observation.  Cautious the way one is with a loaded gun.

Frisco trained to a crate, we called it his "hooch", and each night at 8:00 he would be handed a treat which he would carry to his "hooch" gurgling in delight before settling in for the night.  He wanted nothing more, except he really would have liked to climb up in my lap like a puppy...someone, in his puppy days, had encouraged that behavior, I think.  He was a "talkative" dog and never hesitated in offering up an "opinion" about whatever was going on.  In his best moments he was a delight...but, the gun was always loaded and cocked!

He never gave up his habit of targeting cats and once bit my wife and last week turned on me with a snarl and bite attack.  I was nimble enough to avoid it, but later that day he attacked our other dog, Daisy, and gave her a nasty gash over her eye. A half-inch another way and she would have lost that eye!

The cocked gun was becoming a short-fused time-bomb.

The next day, while he was left alone in a room with the door closed he attacked and mauled one of our cats who unbeknown to me had been under some furniture in the room.  I managed to get him under control and the cat ran out (we have not been able to find him since) and I got Frisco crated.  It had become obvious that Frisco was a danger--what if he got out and attacked neighborhood children or pets, or a child come to the door in that split second when he was off leash en route to his crate, would he burst through the door and attack?

Without a doubt, he would and no amount of "training" would reverse that.  It is just how Frisco was wired.

The situation was deteriorating and after talking with a couple of trainers well-experienced with the breed we decided there was no recourse but to have him euthanized.

Our vet gave us some tranquilizers for him and I rode in the back seat with him in my lap for the ten mile journey to clinic.  He was so sedated that I wasn't certain that he knew that at last he was getting his way, and lying in my lap.  I held him as he died and I cried as I am crying now.  He was my dog, and as difficult as he was, I loved him.  He was my dog...and I loved him.

I dug him a grave, as big and deep as a human grave.  He was, after all, 120 pounds. And I buried him with his food bowl and a treat for the journey to Rainbow Bridge where there are several very worth animals waiting to welcome him and to ask about how I'm doing.

Today, I took apart his crate, burned his blankets and vacuumed the few stray hairs and found one of his old treats he had stashed under his blankets.  He shared my extra-bedroom turned office with me and now he is gone and someday soon the tears will stop.  But, for now..they flow.

08 July 2010

Retiree Leader Sets Deficit Commission Straight on Social Security

Testimony Transcript: Ed Coyle, Executive Director, 
Alliance for Retired Americans
My name is Edward F. Coyle, and I am the Executive Director of the four million-member Alliance for Retired Americans.  We are a grassroots organization of retirees from labor and community-based groups.

Retirees are deeply disturbed by talk coming out of this Commission about cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age.

Social Security is one of America’s greatest success stories.  It has kept generations of seniors out of poverty.  It did not, I repeat did not, cause these deficits.  The fact is that Social Security currently has a surplus of $2.6 trillion. 

The federal government does not fund Social Security - it is a fiscally conservative, self-sufficient program with a dedicated source of revenue. It is an efficient, rock-solid program, with only one percent of funds going to administrative costs.    I challenge the Commission to find a federal program run as efficiently and effectively as Social
, and one that is financially solvent for many years to come.

No one dislikes the federal debt more than today’s retirees.  They do not want it to be the legacy they leave behind to their children and grandchildren.  Is our federal budget deficit too large?  Yes.  Is it Social Security’s fault?  No.

Earlier today you heard from America Speaks.  Retirees are greatly disturbed that they are recommending increasing the retirement age to 69.  Not only would this reduce benefits which, as I said, have nothing to do with the budget deficit, but it would be devastating to American workers, particularly those who work in physically demanding construction and service sector jobs. 

Americans in their late 50s and 60s are already bearing the brunt of layoffs and benefit cuts from the recession.  Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are struggling to keep or find jobs.  Many people this age face health
problems in these years.  Simply put, many workers cannot continue in their jobs until they are nearly 70.

The Alliance for Retired Americans strongly rejects the gloom-and-doom, sky-is-falling predictions that Social Security is going bankrupt.  Not only is this factually untrue, but it is a malicious scare tactic to divert attention away from the root causes of our deficit - unwise tax
and spending decisions by Washington over the past decade.

To further strengthen Social Security’s financial structure, the Alliance for Retired Americans supports raising the payroll tax cap - currently at $106,800 - for the wealthiest Americans.  Right now, someone like Bill Gates is paying the same in Social Security taxes as a
$106,800 worker.  Experts have said that raising the cap to 90 percent of all wages would fill one-third of a projected shortfall over the next 75 years in the Social Security Trust Fund.  This change would only increase taxes on six percent of all workers, but would further
strengthen Social Security benefits for the remaining 94 percent of workers when they retire.

In conclusion, retirees care about more than just themselves.  They worry about their children and grandchildren in these difficult times.  Will they ever get to retire?  And if so, what will be there for them? At a time of rising cynicism toward government, particularly among young people, it is more important than ever that our nation fully honors the
promise of Social Security.

07 July 2010

B.P. Headlines In 2111


Am I the only one who has noticed that it is the same collection of mindless yahoos that used to shout and chant "Love It or Leave It" with high dudgeon , who then morphed into the self-rightious, post 9-11 uber-patriots who tripped over each other racing out to K-Mart and Wal-Mart to buy their yellow-ribbon, stick-on patriotism and who so often sported (improperly) waving flags on the windows of their gas-guzzling SUVs, who are now sporting the "Secede" bumper-stickers.  Same bunch of crack-brains, I'd say.

Same collection of damned-fool, self-contradictory, nimrods showing off their pathological and congenital stupidity!

I had a chance, last night, to meet Tom Berry, who is challenging Republican, Jeb Hensarling  for the (TX-5) U.S. Congress.  Berry, a retired working-class guy, had a lot to say about how and why we need to get the lobbyists' money out of the election process.  I found that particularly to the point, since Hensarling is currently being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for contributions from lobbyists that give the appearance of vote buying by the lobbyists of an industry to be affected by Hensarling's upcoming vote.  In fairness, we note that Hensarling has denied any wrongdoing and others on the same committee are also under investigation.

The same lobbyists also have made contributions to other politicians who are not under any sort of investigation, which merely shows, in my mind anyway, that the money gets spread around like grass-seed and if some of it takes root...well, you know the rest I guess.

And, I'm imagining lead stories like this in whatever form the 2110 media takes:

Scientists Find Hint of Life in Bayou

Researchers from Texas A & M University yesterday revealed that they have found what they believe to be living organisms in the brackish waters of Black Begonia Bayou, thirty miles east of New Orleans.  Flander Flapdoodle, the lead scientist on the Opec funded research project said, "We're very excited to find what we are certain is amoebic life forms that were taken from scrappings of rocks on the shores of the bayou".

"It's been pretty much a "dead-zone" for the past ninety-years or so", he said.  "Oh, there's some of those crazy Cajuns that stuck it out, but there's honest debate whether or not they qualify as a life form."

Nettie Boudreaux, a longtime bayou resident, scurried on her six legs out to the road to tell reporters that, "She warn't surprised none, because she's had at least five dogs, twelve kittens, the neighborhood gator, and two children eaten by something or other over the past two-dozen years or so."

"It ain't just those savage howls and green glow at nighttime that scares me, it's them there fireflies as big as eagles thet git thet job done", she continued.

As the reporters were leaving, she shouted out, "Don't go yet, I jest heard a great new Aggie joke!"

Officials the British oil company, B.P., called a press conference at their villa on the Riviera this morning to announce that they believed they had a final solution to the century-old oil spill...the well was running out!  An unidentified executive said also that Nettie Broudreaux was a gadfly out to cash in on a piece of the company's $500-trillion world indemnity fund.  He went on to state that her claims were ridiculous and that her "weirdness" was not from environmental damage, but due to her being a descendant of several carnival side-show freaks who had dangerously inbred.

"Besides, we're protecting our investors, the American public and our stockholders by maintaining a system that has not paid out a single claim in one-hundred years", he said.  "That fund started at a few billion a century ago, and now it is all the way up to $500-trillion, and we didn't get there by paying claims or honoring commitments.  By God, let them eat tar balls if they don't like it!"

06 July 2010

My Jaws Are Locked: Our Kids Are In A War & Who Cares?


My jaws are locked, or as I  said as as young, hard-charging Marine Corps non-commissioned officer, "My friggin' jibs are jacked!"  Why?

It's the stupid war(s) stupid.  And, just to set the issue straight, my anger and outrage is not new and part of the new-found sense of protest that seems to be coming alive in America.  You want some proof?  Cool.  Here's a column I wrote for the Columbia Daily Tribune back in March of 2002.  CLICK HERE

I offer it simply to affirm to you, dear reader, that I was among the early few whom from the git go, were standing up against our dry-drunk, sociopath-in-chief, who, amidst a cheering populace waving flags and adorning their houses and vehicles with yellow ribbons from K-Mart, launched a war of invasion and occupation against a non-combatant--and, in world law and diplomatic terms, "non-belligerent", sovereign nation that had done us absolutely no harm.  Unless you think sitting atop a large percentage of the world's remaining oil reserves is a great wrong.

We have lost to death in Iraq, so far, at least 4,413 of our young men and women serving in the military who often were on multiple, endlessly extended and under-armored deployment.  Somewhere around 32,000 have been maimed, wounded, blinded, scorched, injured and afflicted with PTSD.  And, we've identified a whole other new (initial-tagged) result of  combat, TBI-Traumatic Brian Injury.  It is estimated that somewhere around 30% of returning troops suffer from the devastating injury!

We have squandered at least $925-billion in tax-payer money to cost of war, missing, stolen, or lost monies, missing, stolen, or lost weaponry and equipment, contractor malfeasance, misfeasance, over-charging, and questionable billings (Cheney's Halliburton).  CLICK HERE FOR DETAILED ACCOUNTING 

In Afghanistan, where, if you recall, the mission was to capture or kill Bin Ladin, drive-out Al Qeada, and remove the supremacy of the Taliban.  Except for our dismal failure to hunt down and kill Bin Ladin (what good would a dead arch-enemy serve?) we were fairly successful  in the others until Bush diverted our attention and resources to Iraq.

Well, while it is difficult to put an immediate figure on the total accruing cost of this particularly misguided adventure in nation-building, it is known that congress has just authorized another $80-billion and at least, to the moment I am writing this, nearly 1200 troops have died.  And, to set the record straight, as far as we know, Bin Ladin is still alive and kicking, the Taliban is in resurgence and the narco-terrorists are still racking in profane profits from the opium fields while Hamid Karzai (elected president in a bitterly corrupt election) functions as little more than the mayor of Kabul! 

Yet, we drone on with our platitudes and good-guy, bad-guy world view in the nightly news while we at home feel no pain and make no sacrifice. 

And therein lies my anger and I've got to tell you, it is an immense anger.  I'll not go into all the CIA World Book reasons for why we should be fighting this war--look at a globe, look at China and Russia and then look at where we're digging in, and think of the game of RISK--I really think it is that damned simple.  And, I'll not burden you with all my left-wing reasons for why we need to extract ourselves from this particular lash-up, forthwith.

These wars have nothing to do with terrorism as such, but they do have to do with global position and strategy to contain and maintain our access to oil and other strategic interests, included new bases.  All of which will work to enrich the profits and further the global goals of our oil and defense industries.  But, that is not what has my jaws locked, hell that's the way it's always been.  Underlying every patriotic platitude of every war lie the  economic truths--corporate profits.

The thing of it is this, you and I, all of us and each of us, are cruising along as though nothing was happening out of the ordinary.  Where are the bond drives or special taxes to support and pay for the wars? where is the home-front mobilization? where is the rationing to reduce our demands for foreign oil? where is the day-to-day realization that we've set our warriors to their deadly tasks? where is the daily front-page reports of our progress? and for crying out loud, how is progress even measured anymore?

Yep, that's what has me pissed.  Our kids are fighting (they think for us) but, we're so cynical, so lazy, so self-absorbed that we can't even maintain a daily awareness of solemnity of their daily deaths, woundings and sacrifices.  My friggin' jibs are jacked!

01 July 2010

Unemployed? Send Your Resume to Congress & POTUS!


Since May 31, a short month ago, more than 1.2-million American unemployed workers (maybe an oxymoron-can you still be a worker if you're out of job) have lost their unemployment benefits because they have been unemployed for longer than 6-months.  Shame on them, lazy bunch of layabouts.

According to Nevada's Tea-Party (I am so happy to see that it is not Texas alone that breeds these insipid idiots) senatorial candidate, Sharon Angle, there are plenty of jobs out there, but "We have spoiled Americans so that think they can make more on unemployment than they can working".  Now, this is not the first time this comprehension incapacitated idiot has tripped over her tongue.  The simple truth is this:  There are roughly 5 workers for each single available job.  And, more horrifying, there are probably at least 5-million long-term unemployed who don't actually get the benefits even when the program is in play.

I will not belabor the complexity of those available jobs, except to say that the majority of them are entry level jobs traditionally filled by the young who, if left without jobs, often find the devil's work to fill their idle hands.

Yesterday, for the fourth time, the United States Senate said to unemployed working men and women, "Screw You!" and voted down re-authorization of extended benefits for the long term unemployed.  Yes, it is the Republicans who stymie this social safety net that provides minimal survival level income for the unemployed which is quickly spent to circulate and turn over several times to invigorate an exsanguinating economy.  But, it is also the ineffectual Democrats who manage to summon up crocodile tears but not the needed vote that deserve our attention.

Similarly, president Obama, remains isolated, aloof, and silent on this issue preferring, one supposes, to engage in photo-ops of stuffing his face with junk food of one sort or another.

While not quite rising to the level of genocide, the situation is one of cruelty and an affront to human decency.  We can't let this stand without a fight.  Here is what I recommend.

Today I e-mailed people I know in Washington that are closely associated with the labor movement to encourage AFL/CIO President, Richard Trumka, to launch a a nationwide campaign encouraging unemployed workers to e-mail, mail, or fax their resumes to Congress and the White House.  I would also suggest that you send a copy to the governor of your respective state as the program, while funded by federal dollars, are actually administered at the state level.

If you, or someone you know, is unemployed and wants a job send your resumes or letters of application to these addresses:

U.S. Senate; Click here for assistance

U.S. House;  Click here for assistance

The White House; Click here for assistance