A Simple Way to Save Social Security

To save Social Security just raise the cap on earnings that are taxed to pay Social Security. After one earns $106,800 dollars they stop paying the tax on higher income.

At the same time the USA spends more on military than the rest of the world combined and unlike Social Security military spending is unfunded.

Those who say we need to raise the retirement age to protect Social Security use this argument as a way to out benefits. But they never consider reducing military spending or consider that the rich should pay their fair share.

The Social Security fund has no real money in it. It has Treasury Bonds for the money spent on stupid wars. China also has a pile of Treasury Bonds for the money they loaned us to waste on stupid wars. Pres. G.W. Bush wanted to put Social Security in the stock market. The Wall Street greed hogs would have eaten it up and for sure now there would be deep cuts in Social Security. ...

While the jobless and homeless grow in America so does the number of millionaires. The global millionaires make up 1% of the world’s population but they hold more than a third of the worlds wealth.

Last year one of these super rich in the USA paid $1.3 million for an antique 1795 penny. What kind of enjoyment can one get looking at that penny?

Back in the 1930s there was a rich woman who was real smart about making money in the stock market. But she lived like a poor bag lady and was the worse kind of greedy miser.

Her young son had a leg infection but she as too cheap to pay a doctor. The son in pain went to his poor father who sold everything he had to pay for a doctor but it was too late and the boy lost his leg.

The son inherited his mother’s wealth and he would set up tables of food on his property on weekends and invite the poor and homeless while he sat at his upstairs window and enjoyed watching poor people eat. That must have been more enjoyable than looking at an antique penny.

Al Hamburg
Torrington, Wyo.

Pay the Debt

Re: Amy Goodman’s “Time for Deficit Doves” column [9/1/10 TPP]: Amen! “Cutting Social Security isn’t the answer. Cutting war spending, and bringing the troops home, is. This is the job for the deficit doves.” Social Security is making money through 2037. The Associated Press said on Feb. 8, 2005, that removing the Social Security salary cap completely would put $105 billion a year into the Social Security Trust Fund. This should keep it making money for the American people forever. The 2000 federal income tax rate was to pay off the national debt in a generation, and President Gen. Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower’s administration had a top federal income tax rate of 91%. That $6 trillion war budget did not exist before 2000. If we gung-ho, pull together, like we did in World War II, our deficits should go away soon, without reducing Social Security.

Joseph Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.

Different Measure

Mark Engler ends his excellent piece, “Gulf at the Gas Station: Can We Figure the True Cost of Our Oil Dependence” [9/15/10 TPP], “We can only correct for the catastrophe oil has wrought by living according to a different measure” than the economic calculus of the libertarian so-called “free market.”

TPP printed my letter [“Return to Ag, 9/1/10] promoting a movement toward more nutritious, locally-grown organic food. I titled that movement, “Your Money or Your Life.”

In response to Engler’s article, the “different measure” we need is away from a market-driven economy toward a life-driven economy which would measure production in terms of life produced, not money made, of costs to life lost, not capital losses. We would need a whole new vocabulary based on the value of life to displace that which only speaks in terms of monetary profit, a very difficult prospect, since we now measure our lives in terms of how much money we make and how much money things cost.

In his book, Slow Money, Woody Tasch points out that “It is estimated that in a gram of soil, there are billions of single-celled organisms and millions more multi-celled ones, as well as over four thousand species, most of them not yet named or studied by scientists.” The life in this soil is extinguished by over-fertilization by Big Agriculture. “It takes roughly a millennium to build an inch or two of soil,” says Tasch, “[and] less than forty years, on average, to strip an inch.”

A friend once told me canned green beans today are less dense than those preserved many years ago. I have no way to confirm this, but less density suggests less nutrition, less life, and I’m guessing it’s a result of farming that is more focused on current yield and greater monetary value without regard for “life” value. Such practices would be reversed under a “different measure” focusing on the production of life rather than profit.

Ethologists identify three basic hierarchic ranks among social animals: alpha, beta and omega. Applying those rankings to humans, if alpha is king, the beta are courtiers, the omega serfs. The alpha makes his own rules, eats first, mates first, and is self-appointed judge and jury if anyone gets out of line.

By accepting proponents’ argument that the market “rules,” we elevate it to the rank of alpha. Its only currency, its only “life,” comes from cash. In contrast, human life is measured by biological needs: nutritious food, clean air, clean water, the love of family, good health, etc. In this new social construct where the market rules, however, humans have become the beta or the omega, their ranking determined arbitrarily by how much revenue each can generate on behalf of the master. If we become wealthy, we may migrate to the level of beta, or courtier to the “king,” but only to the extent that we are willing to shill for this master. There is no place in such a construct for social services on behalf of the omega masses (Social Security, Medicare, victim’s advocacy shelters, etc.), for they do not generate revenue for the market-king, but are seen to cost money. There can be no social contract in a system that values only money.

Democracy provides government of the omega, by the omega, and for the omega. It’s time we humans create a new life-driven economy to displace the so-called “free” market one that has clearly run its course.

Nancy Churchill
Princeton, Ill.

Cut Military Spending

It is curious — and significant — that in Robert Borosage’s long article on “Rebuild America” [9/15/10 TPP], not once does one of his polls — or he himself — mention military spending, a mammoth factor in deficit spending and a major obstacle to civilian investment and spending.

Military overspending for our present wars, past wars and preparation for wars should be part of every relevant poll, or its inclusion should be demanded. No campaign for America’s future is feasible without taking it into account.

Jeanne Riha
Corvallis, Ore.

Hatred’s Alive and Well

In your 9/15/10 edition, Donald Kaul revealed the truth that the remaining members of the press are afraid to say; they do not want to anger Liar Limbaugh and Coward O’Reilly.

During October 2008, America experienced an economic catastrophe caused by the Republican international business community, the public became aware that the Iraq war was an unnecessary waste of trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives, the Bush administration was exposed as the most corrupt subsequent to Nixon and the Republican vice-presidential nominee was so ignorant that she could not remember that the last name of her opponent was Biden.

Under such circumstances, the Democratic nominee should have won the election in a landslide. Instead, President Obama received 53% of the popular vote.

In the redneck states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia, Obama received a smaller percentage of the popular vote than John Kerry received in 2004. My definition of such a state is one with a small percentage of African-American residents and a high percentage of white residents who are classified in the lower socio-economic-educational level.

Racism, hatred, ignorance and fear are alive and well. The establishment is sure to exploit them.

Stephen Landuy
Quincy, Ill.

Celebrate Freedom, Not Hatred

Let me praise your writers, Greg Palast, Amy Goodman and Gene Lyons, all of whom wrote about the Islamic center controversy [9/1/10 TPP].

• Greg Palast for making me laugh at hate groups and other confederacies of dunces posing as concerned patriots;

• Amy Goodman for her humanistic approach to the madness of 9/11; and

• Gene Lyons for his laconic, invaluable civics lesson about our Founding Fathers’ intentions regarding religion: “No establishing, no prohibiting, period.”

That an Islamic group wishes to build an Islamic center close to ground zero, where a few Muslim fanatics murdered nearly 3,000 Americans, is an opportunity to prove to the world that our nation is built on freedom, not hatred.

Why should anyone even argue about it? Let the Muslims build their Islamic center near ground zero! Terrorists might be able to murder innocent people, and bigots might be able to convince some fools that all Muslims are evil, but no one can destroy the solid structure of our great nation, or misdirect our ideals.

David Quintero
Temple City, Calif.

Separate Church and State

To the ever-increasing number of those who question this president’s religion, while proclaiming to honor the US Constitution, allow me to quote from Article VI: “... shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification ...” The very first freedom of Amendment I of the US Constitution is that of religion. This was no mistake! The Founding Fathers knew first-hand how tyrannical any state-endorsed religion can become.

In 1797, during the earliest days of this republic, after George Washington’s signing, Congress ratified the Treaty of Tripoli. Article XI states, “The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine.” How’s that for speaking of original intent? The Pledge of Allegiance did not include the phrase “Under God” until 1955, during the height of the Cold War. Its insertion was to elevate “We the People” above the “Godless Communists.”

Don’t interpret this letter as a condemnation of religion, but in support of a core founding principle, that being the “separation of church and state.” It is time that facts replace myths when it comes to Civics 101.

Wayne C. Taylor
Bethlehem, Pa.

Cons Won’t Give Up

David Sirota, in his 9/15/10 article, “Insanity is Déjà Vu All Over Again,” is right about how we forget the lessons of history. But that’s not an accident. As Barbara Streisand sang, “...what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.” That’s why, it seems, Republicans are still running for government offices when, actually, it seems we’d be better off if we ran them out of offices — long ago. They do want to repeat (and repeat and repeat and repeat ...) their same old policies — and they think it will get a different result: “We just haven’t done this hard enough/often enough/perfect enough/happily enough/sincerely enough to get prosperity for all, peace forever and love unbounded. And the Democrats just mess up our plans!”

People seem to think war is the way to peace, and if we only had bigger, “better” wars, people would be better off. The history records on that is clear, but then we’re told, “Yeah but this time is different! This time it will really do all that!” That’s how the last century started. That’s probably how all wars started. Look at how all wars ended.

There is no reason why anyone has to know only the events and findings of their own few moments on planet Earth. And if that’s all they know, they don’t know very much. But even knowing history does not guarantee that history won’t be repeated. We have to learn from history. That’s what gives wisdom. “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish,” says Proverbs 12:1.

No one is ever totally right, or always right. No one is totally wrong, or always wrong. “Changing government” these days would require real debate and choosing the best solutions for the country and the most people. And it won’t ever be one-and-for-all, so we’d better get used to it. That this can’t be done more economically, with all these money and business people involved, seems ... un-American! We’re supposed to be the example of democracy to the world. So how’s the world these days? They’re copying us, all right. We all can do better, can’t we?

Cheryl Lovely
Presque Isle, Maine

Against the Grain

I have much sympathy for Roberto Rodriguez’s efforts to preserve and transmit the culture and accumulated knowledge and understandings of life in the world and of the spirit of indigenous American people. However, in [“What Officials Don’t Want Arizona School Kids to Know,” 9/1/10 TPP], he makes an assertion that is patently false: that maize is the only crop in the history of humanity that was created by humans.

All grains, including corn, began as wild grasses, the seeds of which in various parts of the world were collected and processed for food. Humans selected for the development of their modern cultivated forms by taking seeds that were bigger, provided more food per seed, and were easiest to process (see www.answers.com/topic/the-natural-history-of-wheat). I am not in favor of banning Raza Studies; I think such a curriculum is essential to preserving world human history, but I am not in favor of attributing to one group of people a contribution that is not uniquely its own.

C.C. Halitsky
South Orange, N.J.

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2010


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