Tag Archives: musings

How to Save Social Security

24 Apr

There is really nothing wrong with the Social Security system in our country. Social Security is funded via a payroll tax on all income up to $110,000. You pay 6.2 percent and your employer pays 6.2 percent. And since those numbers were set in 1983, and for the next 30 years or so those payroll taxes provided more money than was needed to pay out benefits to retirees and left a pretty whopping surplus…something like 3 trillion dollars worth of surplus!

But did the surplus get invested in high yield bonds or stocks or anything else that would guarantee that 4 trillion dollar surplus to grow like it should have, astronomically, like say, if it had belonged to the Koch brothers or Walton family or any other billionaire worth his or her billions?

No. Instead Congress borrowed it to spend on its pork filled spending programs, gigantic wars and tax cuts for the wealthy, rather than raise additional taxes or balance their budgets, and then they put treasury bonds up as collateral for the borrowed surplus with a promise to repay at 4% interest, which of course is chump change, to any real investor, let alone a trillionaire, like we Social Security Trust funding taxpayers are supposed to be.

But today the SS fund no longer brings in as much in pay roll taxes as it pays out in benefits so it’s time for the Federal Government to pay its debts… And now, Just like any degenerate gambler, who knew all along that he was never going to pay up when the time came to cover his losses because his losses were simply going to be too big to repay. So what are we hearing from Congress now? “Oh no! The SS program is broken. It was never meant to work. There are too many people taking and not enough people paying into the system. It was all a Socialist scam!” Which of course are all lies because our Congressmen simply don’t want to pay back today, what they have been borrowing and spending over the last 30 years of yesterdays.

Nice, huh? Especially since “borrowing” the surplus SS funds is a polite term that Congress has been using, rather than the correct term of “stealing”, because in order to repay the “borrowed” money Congress will have to borrow money. Which would be like that degenerate gambler saying to his creditors, “May I please borrow some money from you so I can pay you back?”

So what to do? Well first the SS Trust Fund needs a champion…a billionaire manager or board of managers who represent the fund and the taxpayers, as opposed to the degenerate gamblers who have been fraudulently managing it. Then that SSTF manager can let the federal government refinance their treasury bond loans as Government “Student Loans”. You know, the ones that the government provides for our students at 8% interest and beyond. The ones that the government has made 41.3 billion dollars worth of profit on in 2013 alone…and that’s a higher profit level than all but two companies in the world. And they would be Exxon Mobil and Apple!

And if we refinanced the Social Security debt as student loans then, as per federal law, those loans would have to be repaid and could never be forgiven…not even if the federal government declared bankruptcy!

Right now our students owe over 1.2 trillion dollars to the federal government that they must repay at outrageous interest rates while the federal government owes Social Security about 3 trillion dollars at a modest interest rate that most Congressmen are now saying they can’t repay! Ain’t that America? Well, it shouldn’t be.

And don’t listen to any politician who says that he knows how to solve the Social Security problem by dissolving it, especially those who are bought and paid for by the Koch brothers who have said in the past, “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.” …And they are currently spending over 1 billion dollars on a Presidential candidate who will do just that, if he is elected.

It’s just too bad that the American Congress has borrowed America’s money. Just like everyone else they have to make good on a loan and pay it back, with interest. Otherwise they all need to step aside, resign their positions as elected leaders and let honest American men and women fill their posts and honor America’s debts. If we can promise to repay the Japanese and Chinese governments the trillions of dollars that we owe them and yet refuse to forgive the trillion dollars that our children owe us…then we can certainly honor debts to ourselves without boo-hooing about how expensive it’s going to be…can’t we?

And Anyone who says otherwise is a degenerate opportunist who needs to go straight to jail!

Live to Eat

22 Apr

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Sun Trust bank has revealed that many Americans can’t save money these days because…they eat it! Not literally of course…it’s just that they spend it all at restaurants in exchange for eating food.
The poll found that as many as 44% of American households that earn 75,000 dollars or more a year, describe their households as “living paycheck to paycheck”  because they dine out too much.

And A full 71% of Millennials with the same household income, say that entertainment and dining out expenses devour most of their extra income, making it almost impossible for them to save money for that possible future “rainy day” or other important living expenses that one might encounter in the future, such as weddings, vacations, children etc…

The bank commissioned the study to try to find out why folks and families aren’t saving more money. Similar studies on spending habits have uncovered that Americans now even spend more at restaurants than grocery stores. In January alone the country spent 50.4 billion dollars…eating and entertaining themselves at restaurants! Together, at home and in those restaurants, Americans spend over 100 billion dollars each month on food. That’s over 1 trillion dollars spent on food each year in the USA!

Yow! That’s a lot of eats! And wouldn’t you know it, that as of 2013 there were also 108 million American dieters, making 4-5 dieting attempts per year and spending close to 70 billion dollars on dieting and weight loss! That’s a whole lot of money spent on attempted weight loss after eating and gaining weight…when you figure that you could have just not eaten the food in the first place. Imagine the savings then?! I’m sure that Sun Trust Bank can…but we Americans would rather bight our tongues and eat them… rather than save money…or at least that’s sure how it seems.

But get this! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, when it comes to consumer food purchases, Americans spend the least on food consumed at home compared with just about every other country in the world…and our spending on food — proportional to our income — has actually declined since 1960!  In fact, the average share of per capita income spent on food fell from 17.5 percent in 1960 to 9.9 percent in 2013.

So we, the richest citizens in the richest country in the world, could really be rich…if we’d just stop eating all of the profits…at bars and restaurants!

However, even in America, the less you make, the bigger your food spending will be relative to your income. For example: In 2013, people in the lowest income bracket spent an average of 3,655 dollars annually on food, which was 36 percent of their total income, while people in the highest income bracket, spent about 11,000 dollars annually on food, which was only about 8 percent of their earnings. So rich folks can spend 3 times as much on food as poor folks do but at 4 times the savings…so to speak. Go figure!

Which begs my final thought on the matter. Why do all of the wealthiest Americans get so bent out of shape about providing food stamps for the poorest and hungriest Americans, When it’s already 4 times more costly for the poor in America to eat, as a percentage of their income? Especially when eating seems to be our country’s national past time, with over-eating a close second?!…and besides, if we all really needed more money for ourselves, then, rather than taking food stamps out of hungry parent’s and children’s mouths…we could just as simply stop putting extra food…AKA our extra cash…in ours!

Let’s face it, rich Americans have more food to eat than anyone else in the world, and also love to show off about how fancy and extravagant they can be about eating it…But give a hungry guy a food stamp and watch him try to buy steak or lobster or even a cold soda so he can get in on the national orgy and enjoy a little fancy eating too, and we all want to burn him at the stake!

And if you just saw that as a barbecue metaphor…I rest my case.

Water, Water Everywhere but…

18 Apr

Captain Kirk to the rescue! William Shatner, of Star Trek fame, is proposing a project on the west coast of the USA to build a pipeline from Washington State to Lake Mead in California. The cost? 30 billion dollars…which he hopes to raise through awareness, donations, government support… or whatever.

And I say, why not? We build pipelines for the flow of oil and gas all over the United States and no one ever argues about the cost or about building them in the first place. Below is a map of all of the oil and gas pipelines that we have criss-crossing the country now. That’s a lot of pipe! Only thing is you can’t eat or drink oil or natural gas. And where would you go with your car filled with either if there’s no water there, when you get to wherever it is that you’re going?

We have lots of water in some places and not very much, if any, left in other places and California is one of those places… and it has less than one year of water left! So what’s the plan if disaster should strike and our largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables in the country and one of the largest economies in the world, runs dry?

Mr. Shatner admits that he doesn’t know how to build pipelines and he may not be able to raise 30 billion dollars but someone needs to get the ball rolling and he hopes to start rolling it by creating a conversation and raising some awareness. If Congress can support and advocate for more needless oil pipelines, and get behind the transport and pumping of billions of gallons of water into fracking holes to free up more natural gas just so we can all “prosper” a little more…then why can’t they come up with a plan to move potable water from where it is to where it ain’t so that we can all “live longer” too?

So, I agree with the Captain…with all engines, warp speed!

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

16 Apr

Well, if she’s smart, and why shouldn’t she be? She’s in Latin America where she belongs. Why? Because that’s the most positive place on the planet! At least according to a recent Gallop poll in which an average of 7 in 10 adults worldwide report experiencing lots of enjoyment, laughing or smiling often, feeling well-rested, and being treated with respect…

If this is news to you, like it is to me,  then it might be time to move to those countries where folks feel the most positively happy about their lives…and that would include the country that is numero uno in happiness: Paraguay! As in Para-gay. As in Para-happy! Their positive experience index is a whopping 87! And they’ve topped the list 3 years in a row! Which begs the question…Where is Paraguay, anyway?

The United States is tied for 19th with a PEI of 78, which isn’t bad I suppose, but just about anyplace south of the border would be an improvement for us Northern Americans since Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Columbia, Honduras, Venezuela and El Salvador all scored higher. So go figure! Because whenever I read the paper or watch the news I’m told that they’re fairing so poorly down there that they can’t wait to sneak into here! but I guess…someone forgot to tell them!

Of course you could also take a quick trip up north to the only place up there, that would be Canada, and get happy too…but they’re only 1 point happier than us at 79. So why bother?

However, You definitely want to avoid the least happy place in the world which scored only at 36 in positive experiences per person. That would be Syria. Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan all scored in the 50s and Iran, and Israel came in at 63 and 66 respectively.

So all in all the world wide poll kinda shows us that the Holy Land is not a very Happy Land…while the New World is apparently worlds of fun! So it just goes to show you that if you’ve got something old, rather than fight over who gets to keep it, better to just trade it in for something new…and get happy!… No es así?

Double Identity!

14 Apr

Well, it has finally happened! I apparently am suffering from an identity crisis…and all because my bank has just informed me that I can’t withdraw any money from the drive-up or teller window unless I show them 2 forms of identification! Who do they think I am anyway?… Do I know?

They take my money just fine without so much as a how-do-ya-do…but when I ask for some…just some… of it back? They can’t tell me, from Bonnie and Clyde! The Teller was very nice, and I know it’s not her fault nor her policy, and she gave me my money (this time) with only my driver’s license as ID…(you know, the one that I could only get when I proved who I was by showing 7 points of Identification to the State of New Jersey) oh, AND MY FACE! Did I mention I had my face with me? My face??? The same one I’ve been wearing for 60 years… this May!

She said, “I can give you your money this time because we know who you are. But next time you’ll need to have 2 forms of identification. I guess It’s because of all of the bank fraud and fake IDs going around these day.”

Really? How is it possible that people are defrauding their own banks, where they do their banking,  with fake IDs…IN PERSON?!?! Did I mention that I was wearing my face at the time? And did you notice that her sentence had “We know who you are” in it? That’s probably because I have been going to that bank for 30 years, looking like I always have looked…except a little older each time…with the same ID and the same bank account and the same FACE! And…did I mention…THEY KNOW WHO I AM!

It is now easier to go buy a gun, with one ID (or none?) return to the teller window, and then just hold up the bank and get my money that way, than it is to ask for it politely with 1 ID and a bank check and a signature. And I’d probably get away with it too because when the police showed up the teller would be like, “Gee officer, I don’t know who the man was. All I saw was his gun and 1 form of ID! He could have been anybody… I guess?”

I just hope I don’t live to see the day when I show up to the bank with my bag of IDs, personal attorney and birth certificate and hear the words. “Money? What money?”

Lesser Children of God?

10 Apr

The holiday of Passover has always been one that has intrigued me because it seemed to me to be the celebration of, or perhaps the commemoration of, a truly horrible event. That being the slaying of all of the Egyptian first-born children as punishment by God for Egypt’s transgressions against the Israelites… I.E. hundreds of years of slavery

Anyway, as the story goes, the Angel of Death makes his visit at the behest of God and punishes the Egyptians by slaying all of the Egyptian first born children, while passing over all of the Israelite first-borns because their families had placed a mark above their doors (as directed by God) to let the Angel of Death know that they were not to be harmed. Otherwise, apparently, the Angel of Death could not tell the difference…I guess?

So this was a momentous occasion for The Israelites who have celebrated this event and their subsequent removal from hundreds of years of slavery, for thousands of years since…but not so for the Egyptians, who not only do not commemorate this historical happening but also have never even mentioned it in their histories.

But it always gets me to thinking… Thank God the African Americans did not strike this same deal with their god! Who, as luck would have it is the exact same god as the god in the Passover story….you know…God! The Africans were enslaved for hundreds of years too, right here in America and helped build the great USA, and mostly against their will, if not entirely! And was the first-born of every American singled out for slaughter as retribution for their horrible treatment? Thank God, no. Nor did our president have to send our soldiers chasing them halfway across the parted Atlantic Ocean only to watch the entire army drowned before his very eyes…along with himself! Can you imagine how sorry everyone would have been if that had happened? (Africans excluded of course) And how well we’d be treating Africans now?

Instead there are people even today who would say to the African slaves’ ancestors, “Hey, get over it already. That was a long time ago. And besides look how well we treat you now!”

I know, I know, a new covenant was in place by the 15th century and God did not do that mass smiting of people anymore and America did have to fight the Civil War which was a horrible and tragic event that cost hundreds of thousands of lives..but still…not all of those casualties were in the slaving business, so what was the point? And it’s not like we ever did or had to really let the African slaves go anywhere nor even really say that we were sorry, nor have to feel the actual wrath of God, nor answer to him like the Egyptians had to…so to speak.

I don’t know. Maybe it just wasn’t such a big deal 300 hundred years ago, like it was back in the day, 3,000 years ago? After all people have been around on Earth for over 6,000 years so maybe how we miss-treat people now-a-days just doesn’t get our blood, nor God’s, boiling like it used to. Or maybe we’ve just learned how to forgive ourselves for the bad things that we do. Or perhaps Jesus just runs things differently than his Dad did, or…maybe, just maybe, (and at the risk of blaspheming here) we weren’t all created in God’s image…you know, the way he sees himself… in the mirror…

And like I said, it’s just that those Bible stories and religious holidays always get me to thinking…but what do I know?

It’s Priceless

8 Apr

Duke 68, Wisconsin 63: 2015 NCAA Basketball Championship final score

$1.1 million: Duke university president salary

$525,000: U. of Wisconsin System president salary

$9,682,032: Duke U. basketball coach earnings

$2,946,000: Wisconsin U. basketball coach earnings

$1.67 million: amount earned per conference per team in the field of 64

$27 million: Duke basketball revenue

$800 million: annual NCAA tournament Net in licensing deals

$9 billion: Amount bet by fans on the basketball tournament

Priceless: What student/athletes earn yearly and for participating in the NCAA basketball tournament

No seriously… priceless… as in 0, zip, zilch, Nada, nothing. And for the fans in the stands…

$27,711.00: Average UW-Madison student loan debt

$21,884.00: Average Duke U. student loan debt

Here in the USA we love to be entertained, and we love our entertainers.

Education and our students?… Not so much…

Oh yeah, and by the way, The NCAA is a tax-exempt, non-profit association…their chairman earns 1.7 million dollars per year and they just signed a 10.8 billion dollar, fourteen-year, contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting just to televise college games.

Also Priceless: 501 (c)(3) charitable status…at least it can’t hurt.

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