The American people havent much left to call their own with the exception of their Social Security trust fund. And the only reason it hasnt been mutilated like Medicare is because it is totally supported by workers contributions or payroll tax. The government was originally chosen to facilitate the program only as an expediter, wherein the Treasury collected the workers FICA and sent out benefit checks to beneficiaries. Other ancillary congressional functions such as increasing the FICA tax or lifting the income cap to generate more revenue if it was perceived that Social Security (SS) was unable to pay all the retirees was also within their purview.
Beyond that, the government was not to tamper with the basic makeup of SS, since it was an independent program that did not rely on federal appropriations to pay its way.
But trust the government to abuse anything they can manipulate. Corporations also wish to divest themselves of SS because the tax rate employers pay per employee is 12.4% on earnings up to $106,800 per individual. In 2016 the fund will be able to draw on the surplus. In 2016 the government will have to start repaying the $2.4 trillion borrowed from SS. After 2016, the government can no longer borrow SS surplus money.
As a consequence of the $2.4 trillion payback looming in 2016, there have been numerous attempts to privatize the SS entitlements program whereby Wall Street can devour part of the workforces hard earned retirement income and the $2.4 trillion will be voided or annulled.
The reason for this introduction is toward indicating that Congress is being hard pressed by the corporate cartel to, once again, attempt to disembowel Social Security. A new commission has been convened called The National Commission on Federal Responsibility and Reform, which intends to rein in the national deficit by putting the bite on all federal programs they expend money for except the military, costing $2 billion a day, the national debt and, Obama said offhandedly, the entitlements after signing the agreement.
Mind you, Congress didnt pass this reform bill, nevertheless, a handful of congresspersons and the president took it upon themselves to determine the extent they are going to bleed essential domestic programs in order to slow deficit spending.
But we can deduce by Obamas past performance in office that this program was contrived for one primary reason, to undo SS as a retirement program by siphoning off vast sums of its revenue into an unreliable stock market.
By so doing, SS will become an investment venture for beneficiaries, with all the pitfalls inherent in stock speculation.
Republicans have sought, for many years, to abolish SS, saying it is a welfare program. Do they, the retirees, wish once again to give the Republicans control of our government? Unless they have a death wish, people better shun the Republican Party as leaders of our nation. They oppose virtually every social program benefiting people such as single payer health.
The icons of this country, such as Coors Bradleys, Koch Brothers, Olins and other hard-right multimillionaires, bankroll the Republican Party. They are a driving force in expediting Republican ambitions at the polls and packing the halls of congress with lobbyists. They set up organizations such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation as propaganda mills to espouse their concept of governing. Their immense wealth and control of the media gives them a huge advantage in shaping peoples thinking. Alongside these industrial giants are the religious factions that are politically motivated.
What we are witnessing here today is a full-blown corporate rebellion riding roughshod over the American people, who are still ridden with fear and apprehension foisted on them during the Bush regime. Its that apathy that emboldens the corporate predators to disregard public reaction. The entire thrust of Republicanism is to establish a two caste system the rich and poor. That objective is well towards its culmination. Were ensnared in the greatest economic downslide since the Great Depression of the 30s and those buffoons elected to manage our nation are plotting to deep-six SS defies anything imaginable. How much more will Americans tolerate before they retaliate?
Port Orford, Ore.
Regarding Wayne OLearys Jobs, Jobs, Jobs column (4/15/10 TPP): Jobs exist working on the railroad. Rail is the most efficient form of land travel. A high-speed passenger rail network with Chicago as its hub has been in the works since 1996. Similar ones were planned for Texas and Florida, and the California legislature was working on one too. All of these are shovel ready and can become a reality pronto with a New Deal-like commitment. The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to establish post offices and post roads. Mail used to be sorted on passenger train mail cars from city to city. A single rail line provides logistic support for 125,000 GIs, so federal high-speed passenger train funding has homeland security applications as well. The transcontinental railroads were funded by federal land grants with no regard as to their profitability. They got pioneers into the frontier. High-speed passenger trains everywhere will keep parts of the United States from becoming fly-over country. Once people see it up close they want to stay. And its jobs, jobs, jobs.
Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.
I mostly agree with Richard L. Morgan (No apologies for Obama, Letters, 3/15/10 TPP). However, I am left wondering: How does Mr. Morgan conclude that restoring gun freedoms which were commonplace back when America truly was a constitutional republic, will now cause it to implode?
It would seem more accurate to conclude that the last century of increasingly restrictive and ineffective gun laws coincides with the decline of our constitutional republic.
Richard J. Beukema
I heartily agree with Bob Burnetts 10 Dangerous Visions for Desperate Times [4/15/10 TPP] for America. Getting money out of politics is definitely the first step; without that, nothing will ever change for the better. Regarding end monopoly capitalism, I would add that we need a Constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood. To increase education funding I would strongly insist that we need a second large stimulus package now to create jobs, for without that, what good is all that education (I am living proof of that)? And jobs now = deficit reduction later, when we can afford it. Regarding the Senate, we should just abolish it altogether. It is an unnecessary and inefficient layer of bureaucracy. The fewer the politicians, the better.
Now we just need a national, non-party-aligned progressive strategy to turn these visions into a New Reality!
Its not a third party this country needs; a second will do, a real alternative to the Republicrat Party (which is really the Reprivatecrat Party). And not the phony Tea Party, for that is really a Me-Me party, in fact the screaming Me-Me Party, as we all saw in the health care debates and town meetings. And not (no offense) the Progressive or Populist parties either; however noble once, theyve been used up or subverted.
The alternative we need embodies a concept, that of us, that hack pols, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives find very difficult to grasp. Their party of globalized usury and consummate selfishness (which they misdefine as individualism) will be swept away by our party, the U.S. Americans (USA) Party, which is really what Boston harbor in the 1770s was all about!
West Islip, N.Y.
Ellen Brown (Deficit Fear Mongering, 4/1/10 TPP) is onto something. Printing money against investment with interest only profits those who lend cash already printed in short supply with respect to public need for exchange of goods and services that is, printed in such low volume as to support the power of a banking and speculating elite. Money is just a medium for the necessity of exchange. At some point, we will all have to get over ourselves and do as Ted Rall suggested some months ago: set everyones rate for work at one dollar per hour. In the meantime, perhaps a middle ground of one dollar per hour for work requiring no education, two dollars for work requiring training or an elementary education, three dollars for work requiring a high-school education, and so on will soothe peoples egos and desire to be rewarded for their own natural abilities above and beyond what is the median. But it would be a shame if for the sake of vanity or hubris over the efforts we might take to acquire the skills we need to do the work we choose to do, we as a society continued on the old, tired, and destructive path of allowing some peoples labor and, ergo, lives to be cheap so that some other peoples lives might be prosperous.
South Orange, N.J.
Nate Pedersen (Bad Timing Crushed Progressive Wallace, 3/15/10 TPP) does well to remind us of the Progressive campaign of Henry Wallace in 1948, noting sadly, in conclusion, that he received only 2.4% of the national vote, failing to carry a single state. Thats true, but its often forgotten that Wallace virtually matched the popular vote of Strom Thurmonds States Rights candidacy (1,169,000 for Thurmond, 1,156,000 for Wallace).
Yet Thurmond is remembered because his votes were concentrated to win electoral votes in a few Deep South states where African Americans were systematically disfranchised, while Wallaces vote was widely distributed and thus won no electoral votes.
Yet another reason to can the Electoral College!
X-raying passengers bodies seems to be the up-coming solution the fashion-vogue answer to terror in the skies these days.
Big-businesses will pounce at this golden opportunity to create great profits by rolling off all those X-ray machines for every airport in the world!
Great for the job-economy too! Lots of permanent secure jobs with the Federal Security Agency. The insurance companies will wring their hands with lust as they will be asked to underwrite insurance policies for the security of every one of these new employees.
And giving security high visibility will pacify and ease the minds of the consumers who will feel more secure flying hence, willing to endure those five hour lines.
And its great for McDonalds and other airport vendors. People get hungry standing in those long lines.
After all working through the CIA, Interpol, FBI and other Secret Service federal agencies is too damned invisible to appease the general public. Besides, there is no profit in that. No consumer desires are watered, not even water-bottle vendors. Only a handful of jobs are created for the elite and educated.
Maybe the corporations can fake a few more sky incidences so as to raise stocks, secure their profits and make that new system bullet-proof!
So, clothes off everybody!
Doris M. Carter
As I read all the interesting pieces and letters in TPP, I think I must remind everyone that none of us could be elected President or probably to any high office. Some have tried and failed. We are a very small minority living in what is essentially medieval America with one conservative party and the other that has become not a political party but the American Taliban with the slogan Our way or no way! That is what Obama has to face and he is learning that he can no longer hope for cooperation in any way. I supported and worked for him and I knew that he had to appear non-threatening and safe. He has managed that and he is confronting much the same situation as FDR. I loved FDR and feel the same with this extraordinary man. I feel lucky that I survived Bush and wonder that Obama is able to function at all. I knew FDR was not perfect but neither am I or anyone. But this is the best of all possible presidents.
David N. Campbell
Its an appalling figure: $1 million to keep one American soldier in a war zone for one year.
I dont know just how much it cost the Marines to keep me in Korea in 1953, but Im sure it was a mere fraction of that, and here is one of the reasons:
The military hadnt hired out its care and feeding to profit-hungry corporations.
We set up our own camps, provided our own transportation, did our own guard and security duty, dug our own trenches and bunkers and latrines, cooked and served our own mess, did our own laundry with soap and scrub brushes, repaired our own vehicles, mended our own tents, and maintained our own weapons.
We did not have KBR, Blackwater or Halliburton to guard us, feed us and supply us, or build fortifications, stores, cybercafes and movie theaters for us. We expected primitive camping and thats what we had.
The politicians and pundits who rant about the high cost of educating American civilians and keeping them healthy dont mind shoveling billions into the insatiable maw of their beloved, privatized military-industrial complex. And they dont balk at starting unnecessary, endless, unwinnable wars to keep it humming.
Many of Americas big problems could be solved by taking half the money that goes into that black hole called the Pentagon, and it wouldnt diminish our national security to do so.
In fact, a healthy, prosperous, productive citizenry is more secure than a sick, fearful, militarized society can ever be.
Shrink the Pentagon!
James Alexander Thom
The World Is Spheroid
Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat) and other dishonest intellectuals have been lying for so long that we need to set their record straight. India and China do not affect the world in the same way. India has a long history of relatively democratic institutions, while China has none. India runs a trade deficit, while China accumulates huge reserves of US dollars. China crushes unions in order to export more than it imports, and millions of poor-but-honest workers in Africa, Mexico (and, yes, the US, too) lose their jobs.
From The Progressive Populist, May 15, 2010
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