Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Just How Secure is Social Security?"

Subject: Interesting Facts About Your Social Security

Just in case some of you didn't know this.  It's easy to check out.  It doesn't matter whether you are Democrat or Republican.

Interesting Facts:

Social Security Cards, up until the 1980s, expressly stated that the number and card were not to be used for identification purposes. Since nearly everyone in the United States now has a number, it became convenient to use it anyway and the message, NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION, was removed.

Our Social Security:

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary.  It is no longer voluntary.

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program. Now the amount is 7.65% on the first $90,000

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year. It is no longer tax deductible

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the general operating fund would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program. Under Lyndon B. Johnson the money was moved to The General Fund and Spent.

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income. Under Clinton and Gore up to 85% of your Social Security can be taxed.

6.) Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month we now find that we are getting taxed on 85% of what has been paid into the fund.

The money we paid to the Federal government to 'put away' may be of interest:

Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent 'Trust Fund' and put it into the general fund so that Congress could spend it?
A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the Democratically controlled House and Senate.

Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?
A: The Democratic Party.

Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?
A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the 'tie-breaking' deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the US

Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?
A: Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments. The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into the program.

Then, after violating the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you it is the Republicans that want to take your Social Security.  Although I still think that is the game plan, I believe it is predicated on the premise that the Republicans want to avoid having to pay back the liability that was created by violating the "trust" and using the funds for purposes other than what was originally intended when the Social Security Program was established.  To allege that Social Security is totally funded seems a bit of a stretch.  Rather, the government has an outstanding liability to the Social Security Fund that will be required in order to restore integrity to the fund.  This only confirms that both major political parties feed from the same troughs of corruption and big money. A crook by any other name is still a crook.

A solemn trust should be treated for what it is --- an inviolate commitment between the government and the people that can only be changed by approval from the voters.

Nowhere will you find the Social Security Act labeled as a “Presidential, Congressional or Political Slush Fund”.

I still operate under the belief that a “democracy,” is a system of government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” where the actions of the elected must be approved by the electorate, regardless of their political persuasion. Did I miss something?  Truth and responsibility should be applied equally, not selectively. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
September 18, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

“We Are Beyond Procrastination; If Not Now, When?”

The lights have been extinguished. The bunting has been taken down. The emptiness of space echoes hollow. The lofty speeches and inspirational rhetoric have fallen silent. All has been consigned to the ages, eventually to become faded memories and, ultimately, forgotten. The political conventions in Tampa and Charlotte are nothing but historical events in the vast labyrinths of time. It is now up to us to make something meaningful, lasting and good from the promises embodied in the endless exhortations, all of dubious sincerity and of questionable value to a nation of people, gripped by a pervasive fear of the unknown, and a feeling of helplessness to do much about it. Never, in the history of this nation, have we been so devoid of a moral compass to guide us, one that will ensure that each among us will be accorded their just dues as members of this republic. We are gripped with a pervasive greed and corruption on a scale never witnessed since the days of the Great Robber Barons. Never have we had cause to be totally suspect and fearful of the motives of those who, ostensibly, were elected to serve us.

Our two major political parties are completely compromised. They serve not us, but the most evil and avaricious among us. Every conceivable manifestation of the worst traits of mankind is evident in our everyday lives. We are without leadership and statesmanship to guide the ship of state and get us back on course. Right is dismissed as the folly of those who naively believe in the best about us. Wrong is blithely accepted as just a part of our everyday lives. Within our complacency lie the seeds of our ultimate demise. Those who perpetrate the transgressions against the people are never identified and held to account for their egregious and despicable conduct against us and all we stand for. The fox is guarding the chicken house and telling us, the victims, what and how much will be tolerated by the systems they deem appropriate for our common welfare.

The system is rigged against us. Every facet of our lives works, not for us, but against us. Every institution and branch of government summarily ignores the common welfare and plunges headlong into everything that will serve their interests at the expense of the common good. And they get away with it! Those who call them out on what they do to us, rather than for us, are identified within the system as the enemy of the people. The forces of what were put in place to protect us are now aligned against us. Those of us who dare to insist on what is right are demonized and cast as enemies of the people. The sophisticated instruments of surveillance are aligned against those who dare to speak out and peacefully demonstrate against a system that is there to serve those who have anything but our best interests in mind. The most basic of our rights as citizens of this country; the right to vote, is literally being stolen from us lest we use that right in an effort to bring order and our democracy back into line with what was intended by the Founding Fathers. The jury is still out as to how successful they are likely to be.

I have written exhaustively about the lack of leadership in our system of government. All of that information is there among my previous writings for the interested reader to explore and draw his own conclusions. It would be redundant for me to attempt to recapitulate the extent to which we have been betrayed by both of the major political parties and those who profess to serve those of us who elected them to office.

The Republicans are hell bent on pillaging and plundering our entire political, social and economic systems for the benefit of the super rich at the expense of those who work for a living. They have perverted our system of government, and the social and economic systems that were once there to ensure opportunities for everyone to share equally in the prosperity and opportunities of this great nation. All they claim for the general welfare of everyone, at the end of the day, simply ends up in coffers to feed their insatiable appetite for more and more, but less and less for those who labor in their service. They have laid claim to a divine right that intends for them to enjoy a life of luxury and plenty, based on all they have stolen from the mouths of those who hunger for an honest portion of our national treasures. The price they exact for their service to those who own and feed the system is serving as their minions against those of lesser means who rely on a system of justice and fairness. They mock human decency.

Democrats, who were once seen as the champions of the average and the working people of this country, now depend on the same largesse as their Republican cousins. They, too, must rely on returning favors to the rich and powerful in exchange for their own political, economic and social survival. They, too, have become masters at the art of deceit, seducing us into believing they stand for something more noble and altruistic on our behalf. They share a place at the troughs of corruption and greed with their kindred spirits from the loyal opposition. Both profits handsomely from those they profess to serve and from whom they exact more in order to fuel the engines of their ambitions.

The tools of deception and manipulation are shared by both political parties. Both have become masters at leading us to believe they are there to serve us. Neither is credible.

Wyoming folk wisdom used to say, “A man is only as good as his word.” That should serve as a cardinal lesson for President Barack Obama. I would ask you, how many of those who claim their place in the service of this country and the people who put them in office have measured up to that standard? How many people have been held to account for their part in illegal wars? How many of those people have been held to account for the part they played in gaming our system of finance and banking for their own personal gain? How many promises made by our leadership have resulted in criminal charges and indictments for their conduct as public servants?

Name me just one. They have managed to define the rules by which they will play and our government has dutifully complied, thereby enabling every last one of them to get off Scott free as they gamble with our wealth and plunder the national treasury. Who among those elected to public office have served as their loyal enablers while they engage in outright fraud against the people and the nation they are sworn to serve?

Credibility is defined as “when one’s actions are consistent with his words.” How many of the myriad prominent and influential servants of the people could actually pass the smell test?

This country is on the brink of catastrophes unthinkable in our recent past. We are facing the ominous consequences of global warming. We are facing the prospect of widespread famine and a life of scarcity. We are facing the growing consequences of outsourcing the engines of our economy through unfavorable trade agreements and currency manipulation. We are starving our national treasury of the resources necessary to meet the challenges of an ominous future because of our inability to see through and beyond the grand deception of what the super rich claim to be rightfully theirs. We are depleting the tax revenues necessary to ensure the viability of the social network required to take care of the needs of the common people of this country. We are feeding a military apparatus that is totally out of control by buying into the ever-present notion that there is a real threat to our national security behind every tree. The military/industrial complex is siphoning off resources that could be better used to alleviate the real human suffering among our own, rather than the bogey man about to consume us all.

I don’t see much hope for things to get appreciably better after this next election. The two-party system is pretty well insulated from any real consequences for their behavior against those of us who have supported them in the past. Because I see the Republicans as the worst of the alternatives, I will vote for the least of the alternatives among the Democratic Party and hope for the best.

However, folks, we simply cannot rest on our laurels after the polls close in November. We have to join ranks and work to completely purge our government and all that is subsumed under that label of the massive corruption that has such a stranglehold on our society and our country. The two major political parties have not served us well. It is imperative that we take stock of the alternatives and work together, shoulder to shoulder, to clean up the corruption and restore confidence in the system that is there for all of us, not just a select few.

We need to seek out an effective way to take stock of all that is wrong with the way we do business, as a nation, and what means we have at our disposal to clean up the mess that impedes our ability to do a better job of governing. There are great minds out there we can look to who would be honored to be a part of such an effort. Those first to be excluded from a part in any such effort are those who may be seen as “sages” from the past in government service. They are flawed merchandise. We need a fresh perspective with a sincere desire to do what it takes to restore trust and confidence in our government.

Whatever is done must be grounded in the Constitution and only bona fide changes to the documents that created this democracy could be regarded as legitimate. The goal should be to improve what they put in place and to which we have subscribed for over 200 years.

What we do know, at the outset, is that the system is badly broken and is being exploited by those who would seek to radically change the intent of what they created. What we do know, however, is that Lady Liberty needs a tune-up and that can only be accomplished by credible individuals with the knowledge and the dedication to restore confidence and trust in what they created.

Every aspect of what is now subsumed under the mantle of our Federal Government should be subject to meticulous scrutiny that would ferret out conflicts of interest to what was originally created. That should include the institutions we have in place, the intent in creating them, how they function and the efficacy with which they have been used to govern this country, with an eye to making whatever changes would legitimately restore confidence in government. The House, the Senate, the Executive Branch, the Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve System, the entire Military Organization and all other “services,” and agencies that have been created up to the present time.

Paramount to such an endeavor should be (a) to get money out of politics, (b) to re-establish a completely independent press, free of ownership or control by any outside influence and whose sole purpose would be to “serve as the watchdog on government in the service of the American people and (c) to reinforce the role of the Supreme Court to that of judicial review and intent, totally free of any attempt to invoke political considerations or personal bias on the part of the justices, and (d) to forever break the stranglehold of the two-party system of government. In my view, the number of justices serving on the court should be increased in order to prevent the egregious performance we have seen with the current 5 to 4 majority rule. It might even be worth reconsidering the process and term limits whereby justices serve on the court.

I would begin by bringing together the leadership of the Green Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, and Buddy Roemer who recently tried in vain to launch a new political party leading into the coming election. From that forum, I would seek out the great contemporary minds who have proven to be genuine statesmen and stateswomen, above politics and vested self-interests. Some of the greatest minds in our history are with us today, particularly in constitutional law, economics, international relations, journalism, and other tangential disciplines that could and should be part of any such undertaking.

That group should create the method by which a diagnosis of the state of Lady Liberty is determined, and what methods and options should be explored in order to return her to the revered place she once held as a beacon to all of us in our efforts to create what was envisioned as the greatest form of democracy in the world. From the diagnosis should flow the plan of action to restore her health. That the patient is not yet terminal, albeit rather close, is cause for hope.

At some point we have to acknowledge that the evolution of our system of government has not necessarily been the best we could do. Values and behavior that was once considered reprehensible is now commonplace. Just because we have been complacent and less than rigorous on insisting that we preserve the integrity of our system of government does not excuse the fact that what we have today is far from what this country deserves. It is not to say, either, that any such endeavor will be anything but arduous and will require the highest standards of personal and professional integrity. At some point we have to collectively say “enough is enough.” We either fix it, not only for ourselves, but for future generations to whom we have a solemn obligation or we all go down with the ship. No amount of sugar-coating will change the severity of what we face. Time is not on our side. That is an inescapable fact of life, and no amount of wishing or selfish interests can change what we face. That greed is an insatiable appetite is an established fact. If we can’t stop it, then we must cut the head off the hydra and defer to the intellectuals and scientific minds that have it within their power to look beyond today and see a better future.

I took a shot at this subject and published a blog on December 24, 2010 titled “A New Federalist Party.” It isn’t a bad piece of work.

Lastly, I have been pondering how we like to think of ourselves as “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” If we are, indeed, one people, why do we persist in defining ourselves as subspecies of “Americans?” Why do we have African Americans, Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Latin Americans, and every other color and stripe of American, each with his own agenda of what their particular subgroup wants from the system? I cannot help but wonder how the “Native Americans” must feel amidst all these classifications, given that the United States Indian Service historically consigned them to the poorest real estate on the continent, classified them as savages and rarely, if ever mentions them as a part of the human race? We all share some responsibility for relegating them to the status of “America’s most forgotten people.” If we honestly seek to become one people, then why can’t we start working together toward a common future that will accrue to the benefit of us all?  

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
September 13, 2012