Thursday, June 21, 2012

Social Security and Ron Paul

A recent story on the Huffington Post read that "Ron Paul Admits He's On Social Security, Even Though He believes It Is Unconstitutional." I passed this article on to social media because it matters. It matters that people understand that Ron Paul has a different perspective about what is important and personal to him and what it means for others.

Upon setting this article lose among my followers, a few interesting interactions begun to occur. Some had the knee jerk reaction that Ron Paul is a hypocrite and made no bones about it. Others defended Ron Paul's actions by justifying his reasoning.

Neither one is wrong. Those who view Ron Paul as a racist, a misogynist and a liar are also going to view him as a hypocrite.

Those who are inspired by Ron Paul's rhetoric feel that a hero of the people has been insulted. His ardent followers can't wait for ideology to become real. A Ron Paul presidency would ensure - at least in the ideological portion that has nothing to do with reality - legalized drugs, eliminating the department of education, and the Federal Reserve.

What the article from the Huffington Post highlights is that what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.  While Ron Paul has stated that older adults would continue to receive benefits into a system they paid into, younger adults could opt out of the system.

It makes sense, right? if we contributed, we should, like Ron Paul, reap the benefits. Unfortunately, the ideology stops there, at the threshold of reality. Reality has a tendency to be unpleasant because consequences make a brutal impact in people's lives.

Reality - Young people feel invincible. Feelings are not facts and Ron Paul does not go into the pesky details of reality.

17 yr old with traumatic brain injury
in a coma after car accident
via ABC news
What Ron Paul does not tell his followers is:  "This is a fact: You are twenty-five years old, you have not contributed a dime towards Social Security and when you leave here tonight, you will be in a horrific auto accident that will leave you permanently disabled and in need of 24/7 care for the next few years. Maybe for the rest of your life. You will be in agonizing pain. You will need others to take care of you and above all, this is going to cost you money that you will never have."

Now what?

It could easily be a work-related accident. Workmen's Compensation Insurance will only carry the injured twenty-something for a few months, maybe two years. After that, he can go sit in a corner and beg for sustenance alongside the other homeless, decrepit, mentally ill and destitute individuals.  If there is any consolation in this scenario is that they will all be in the same age bracket because people of Ron Paul's age and status in society, will be doing just fine. With or without, Social Security.

Just like Mitt Romney and everyone in his circle. Just like the Koch brothers or Donal Trump or Rush Limbaugh. It is very easy to take the high road when you don't have to choose between eating twice a week and keeping warm.

Ron Paul's idea of "liberty" means you are on your own. Nothing can be more appealing to a healthy twenty-something than to be free of "government interference" and feel as free as the wind. Unfortunately, a nation of laws without social structure that provides for all the things young people "feel" will never need is rather oppressing. Especially when they realize no adult has given them a second thought if things don't go as planned.

Who does not understand the ideology of living on your own and answering to no one? - How about keeping the extra $100 a month and blowing it on something cool? What young person would not want to keep 100% of his paycheck to spend and live for the day? - Hey! that's another bag of weed and if Ron Paul becomes president he has stated that all drugs will become legal. Waa Hoo!

Homeless Veteran
Ron Paul wants people to do as they please. If they choose to pump raw heroin into their veins, so be it. But if their brain is fried and in need of medical assistance, rehabilitation services, food to eat and shelter... well, that's just too bad. Ideology shies away from crossing reality's threshold. The light is too harsh.

Young people won't have to worry about high tuition and a college education because once the public school system is gone, they will be lucky to know how to read and write. Those in college now may very well be the last bastions of education. No safety nets, no Pell Grants, no tuition-waivers and most of all, no restrictions on usury terms for college loans. This is "freedom?" this is "Liberty?" - No, this is the ugly reality of this meme of  "freedom from government intervention."

Judging from the inability of some college graduates to differentiate from "Their" "There" "Their's" or "Your" and "You're" with our current system, it would be interesting to see what new turn our language takes with an absent DOE.

I can identify with the feelings of those who listen to the ideology because I have felt the same way  not that long ago (at least that is what I tell myself). When I was in my twenty's I resented having to pay taxes or into Social Security and Medicare.

I was invincible and that was my money. I earned it all and I knew best how to spend it. Old age was a long ways off and after all, I had gone to college, was educated and a dedicated hard worker.  I was the recipe for success. Just like everyone of my friends.

See? I knew better. I was on top of the world and the stupid government was harshing my mellow.

The stupid government in my state mandated that all employers provide health care for their employees. Two difficult pregnancies and deliveries later, I was still oblivious to the fact that someone in my position without health insurance would have died.

My life, and that of my unborn children, was saved twice and it cost me a total of two dollars when I left the hospital with bouncy happy babies. Hawaii was the state with the best health care delivery system in the Nation. I was lucky to have moved there to work and live so early in my young life.

When my husband broke his back saving his co-worker in a horrific power plant accident, workmen's compensation did not cover the endless years of recovery. Stupid Government intervention required the private insurance to continue making payments (less than 2/3 of his usual basic pay) until he was recovered, rehabilitated through physical therapy or declared unrecoverable.

This gave us the "freedom" to continue eating and feeding the two bundles of joy. Granted we were not financially secure, but we were not living on the street.

We were in our 30's. Invincible? No. Not by a long shot. Reality and ideology clashes are often ugly.

Our story is not unique. We see people at the supermarket shuffling painfully along the isles. Some are disabled from accidents, others from birth. The fact is that they are young. Very young.

Some are in their early 20's others look to be about 40 years old, but living with conditions that will never go away. That is the reality of life for these young people and the people who love and help them along. Those of us who are still contributing to Social Security are doing it gladly.

We now know that we are not investing money in our own personal accounts, but to maintain a social structure that works for all of us.  The money that was taken out of our paychecks has gone to this general fund that was put in place decades ago to avoid having a multitude of destitute citizens begging for their daily bread in a soup line. Or freezing to death in the middle of winter.

Ron Paul is entitled to his social security benefits and so should everyone else. Not by "opting out" of contributing, but by continuing to contribute to our social structure. Because truth be told, no one knows when they will have to be Social Security recipients, not by choice, but by force.

One final thought is that if Social Security benefits are so offensive to a multi-millionaire, the right thing to do is to give it away to their favorite cause (often themselves) or return it to the treasury.  These are people who don't need the money and can ideologically boast that since they were forced to contribute, now they are "sticking it to the man" by accepting the funds.

This reasoning is not logical, nor believable. Especially when someone is worth millions.

Huffington Post: Ron Paul Admits He is On Social Security
USA Today: Ron Paul is Worth up to $5.2 Million
Other Articles That Might Interest You:

For additional clarity, I highly recommend this one: Social Security and Other Distractions
For an official clear version of where we stand financially, this one: Social Security Press Release: Social Security is Solvent
Social Security and Government Rant
Healing, Empowering and Thriving

Ron Paul Photo via

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

I shamelessly stole this photo posted on FaceBook by my friend Sandy. It is true that a picture speaks louder than words.  We can say the same thing for words and actions, but that is the subject of a much longer post. 

Happy Father's Day to all.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Privatize America: Destroy Unions

Huffiington Post: The Daily Szepz, Buying America
The Wisconsin recall has been touted on social media as a clear win for the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision. It turns out that corporations are people after all and boatloads of money is free speech.

Forty years ago, the above notions would have been deemed ridiculous if spoken aloud. Now, it is accepted as part of our daily political discourse.

Money, greed, envy, divide and conquer are some of the topics of the day and lessons that need to be learned by all if we are going to consider our form of governance, a democracy.

If we don't, a lesson to our children as they mature into their teenage years would go something like this: "In this country, money talks and the more you have, the more things you can buy. These include local, state and federal offices."

The overlords have an endless supply of cash and they are able to purchase messaging on media and billboards spewing lies and misinformation. They did this in Wisconsin and that was the testing ground for the November election.

Free-speech does not have to be truthful, it just has to be effective in order to achieve its intended purpose.

The pie charts of the amount of money that went into Wisconsin's recall election are simple enough for a child to understand, but mind-boggling on closer inspection. For instance, who in their right mind would spend millions of dollars to keep a job that pays $137,092? - It seems illogical because it is.

The fact is that no one spends that kind of money to continue receiving such a small paycheck. The paycheck needs to be viewed as petty cash. The real money is displayed on that chart and Scott Walker governor's office is just a place to work from on behalf of the overlords who have some sweet deals behind the scenes.

Most Americans don't look into the financial assets, off-shore accounts and business partnerships of the people they elect.  They are under the assumption that, like them, their elected officials live off their pay check and their sole reason for existing is to serve the community.

That's what government should look like in a democracy, but it is not the way it is. Corruption has been legalized and to make things even more unbalanced, only a selected few get to play their twisted game with our lives.

It is this narrow-view, this lack of thought that makes communities vulnerable to the ongoing manipulation.

Perhaps the most troubling manipulation of all is the influx of envy, so close to our reflections.  The  lack of understanding about our next door neighbors will be our undoing.  For those who thought Wisconsin was a local issue, they need to take a look at the laws being passed in their states and see if there is any resemblance to what has been taking place in Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Indiana and Ohio.

For those who see a pattern of Union busting and privatization, congratulations! that is exactly the role these governors and congressmen are getting paid to do. So far, they have earned every Koch penny. They are good minions.

As we discussed the Wisconsin recall, the news showed footage of Scott Walker making the  statement that the strategy was to  "Divide and Conquer." - This has always been the foundation upon which GOP tactics have been built. A clear distinction with democrats whose policies can only be reached through consensus and unity.

The tactics of division are as old as dirt and not invented by the GOP, but well used in creating dissent among the royals and their kin. A perfect example is the HBO series, Game of Thrones. Except for the magical creatures, Ancient history books have the exact elements of greed and division.

Spain was divided and through royal marriages, united. Warfare in Britain. Ireland. Scotland. Chinese dynasties, Japanese Feudalism... American division. Same elements, same successes.

Wars have been successfully planned and won on the basic principle of dividing loyalties. Why mess with something that works?

Greed is divisive. Self-interest is divisive. Fear is divisive. Envy is divisive.

There are some among us, unemployed or underemployed who look at union workers with envy. Specially those in the public sector. They are under the impression that their tax dollars are exclusively used to fund their salaries and benefits, but completely ignore the services these workers provide and the general public expects.  They also ignore that private sector union workers are heavily subsidized by the tax payers through benefits and loopholes that allow their employers to pay zero taxes.

Pension plans are largely funded by the employee's contributions and part of a benefit package that included less in salary up front but a promise, a contract, to be made up at the end of a person's working life. It is called, a pension plan.

Private and public sector unions have made tremendous concessions over the years in pay and benefits that have benefited the bottom line of corporations. Not the workers. These workers have earned every single penny in their paycheck and the promise of retirement benefits that the corporations are fighting hard to reduce or eliminate.

In the business world, this is called a breach of contract.

Companies go to court against each other to settle breaches of contract. What recourse do people have? People take to the streets and demand a government that works for them, or in Wisconsin's case, they initiate a recall because the blinders are off and everyone can see that the emperor, has no clothes.

Collective bargaining is not a dirty concept. It is an honest concept. It simply means that you agree to do a certain job for a certain amount of money and you have a right to live your life and not be an indentured servant.

It is a contract. A business contract between employers and employees.

Wisconsin voters seem to be under the impression that their neighbors with a Union job are somehow doing something wrong by being gainfully employed with pensions and living wages. They are under the impression that they are supporting these firefighters, police officers and teachers all on their own.

They are not. They signed a contract.

These civil servants have earned their paychecks and benefits all on their own. They pay taxes out of their paychecks, the same as everyone else. It is not their fault that the private sector is not as lucrative as it once was, nor is it their fault that their neighbor's private sector jobs have been exported overseas. Private sector employees need to look no further than their own employers to assign blame.

Jealousy. Envy. Divide and Conquer - It works. Why mess with it?

Wearing blinders to the outside interests with designs in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and other states is a good way of preventing voters from seeing how the corporations are spreading its reach. Perpetuating poverty and stagnation while forcing people into a mindset of gratitude for having a job is a a very powerful form of control.

We always expect to get what we pay for and the Koch Brothers are going to get every last dime worth out of Scott Walker.

The voters? - they will get what they voted for and when their public sector neighbors lose their income and benefits, they will finally smile and be satisfied because misery loves company.

Or maybe not. After all, empty neighborhoods and reduced services will have them complaining about public sector workers even more. If that fails, they'll blame the government.

By the time they realize what the 1% has done to our democracy, it will be too late.

Blinders and division. An effective winning strategy.

Related Reading:

Sunshine Review: Wisconsin State Government Salary

Support Our Communities: Create Jobs


The Power of Unions

Economics: Government Workers Cost Taxpayers Less

Minimum Wage, Health Care and Education

The People - The States

Saturday, June 2, 2012

People Say: Mitt Romney is As Clear As Mud

Planet PoV
For those who are following our "People Say..." series, you will be glad to know that Mitt Romney has "agreed" to a personal interview.  

We will begin with the retelling of this fable from the beginning.
On one of those unadvertised stops in his seven-year presidential campaign, Mitt Romney agreed to sit down for a one-on-one interview on his way to Utah to visit a sister-wife "close relative" and their her five daughters.

Me: “Hello, please have a seat. May I call you Mittens?”
Mittens: “No.”
Me: “Great, Thanks!”
Mittens: “No problem.”
Me: “You recently went to Las Vegas with Donald Trump to raise wads of money from Sheldon Adelson. You know he hates the United States and has the common sense of a brick. Did he fall for it? Did he sink another $10 million dollars for you into the losing campaign's black hole? – Just like he did for Newt Gingrich?”

Mittens: “Well…uhm, that’s a lot of questions. I had a nice time in Las Vegas and when I am President, I’ll make sure everyone knows I spend time here and to come over and visit.”
Me: “We are not in Las Vegas. We are in Reno.”
Mittens: “What’s the difference?”
Me: “About 500 miles.”
Mittens: “I bet you $10,000 is less.”
Me: “I don’t have $10,000 to bet.”
Mittens: “Why not?”
Me: “I am middle-class and broke.”
Mittens: “Can I be frank? – I mean is not like anyone is ever going to read this… You know, I get angry when people say they don’t have money. I don’t understand what your problem is. It is one of the easiest things to have and frankly, I think people like you are just lazy.”
Me: “I am not lazy. I have worked full-time jobs all my life. I have a college education, I am fluent in more than one language... Besides, it is not fair to categorize people as lazy when there are no paying jobs with living wages in most states.”
Mittens: “You expect living wages? See? This is what gets to me about you people. You have impossible standards. What else do you do?”
Me: "I am a writer among other things."
Mittens: "You write good?"
Me: "Well."
Mittens: "Well what?"
Me: "Never mind."

Me: “Let’s move on to another question. Are you a hunter?”
Mittens: “I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life." (He has hunted twice. Once at 15 and the second time at a GOP fundraiser)
Me: “In your long life as a hunter, what have you bagged? Beside Tea Party members.”
via Awkward Romney
Mittens: "I'm not a big-game hunter. I've made that very clear. I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I don't want to talk about this anymore."

Me: “Do you think that same-sex couples have a right to be married as a matter of legally entering into a contract – Like everyone else?”
Mittens: “I have always said that marriage is between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman.” He smirks and adds, “I know there are many circumstances where that is not possible, through death or divorce. I also know many gay couples are able to adopt children. That's fine."
Me: “So you think that gay couples should adopt?”
Mittens: “well, I said that it is legal in some states for same-sex couples to adopt.”
Me: “But you also said that it is okay for same-sex couple to adopt but marriage is between a man and a woman and children should be raised by heterosexual couples. I am confused, you are for the sanctity of marriage and for children to be raised by a married couple as a “family values” issue, but when it comes to same-sex couples, it is preferable for them to raise children “in sin”?”
Mittens: “I stand by what I said when I said it. Whatever it is I said. I stand by it.”
Me: “Do you think that everyone shares your views… whatever they were/are?”
Mittens: "I'm happy to learn that after I speak you're going to hear from Ann Coulter. That's a good thing. I think it's important to get the views of moderates." (Later, “moderate” Ann Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot")
Me: "You instigated a group of students to gang up against another student. They held him down while you traumatized him and cut his hair because you did not like that he was different from you and your group. Care to clean up your record here?"
Mittens: "Golly Gee Willikers! boys will be boys. What else do you have?"

By Topheerchris at Tumbler
Me: “Just between you and me, the spelling of Amercia was done deliberately, correct?”
Mittens: “Only my wife is supposed to get that name from me upon our arrival at a certain planet.”
Me: “Huh?”
Mittens: “I intend to run Amercia… I mean America, with the same precision and organizational skills I brought out during my tenure at Bain Capital.”
Me: “Are you saying you were a job creator at Bain Capital? Because my statistics show that not only companies lost their shirts, but hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, income, pensions and…”
Mittens: “My experience with Bain Capital is off limits, we can talk about something else.”

Me: “You brought it up, that’s not fair. But okay, let’s talk about the word on the street: They say Mitt Romney is a Polygamist and his birth certificate is fake. How do you respond to that?”
Mittens: “Oh, that reminds me…. Sorry, I have a plane to catch.”

Well folks, there you have it. Clear as mud.

Stay tuned for a future episode of Mittens and Trump.

Related Articles Across the Interwebs:

Chicago Sun-Times: Romney Does Las Vegas