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Friday, May 13, 2005

Who Pays for Pensions?

Washington Post editorial:

"Who Pays for Pensions?

EVERY TIME a company promises a pension benefit, taxpayers are potentially on the hook. The company is supposed to put aside money to back its promise, but if it goes bust without doing so, a government agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., shoulders its obligations to workers. By the end of 2004, this government backstop had taken over pension plans whose liabilities exceeded assets by $23 billion, and the current trouble in the airline industry seems likely to inflate that total. Somebody has to pay for this, and Congress appears to think you should.
the proposals to limit additional liabilities being dumped on the government have been countered by business lobbyists, whose clients want to keep forcing taxpayers to underwrite their pension promises. A requirement that companies should fund such promises within seven years is regarded as impossibly draconian; the idea that risky companies should pay higher insurance premiums is regarded as unfair. If the lobbyists get their way, the deficit at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. is likely to grow. And if it's not going to be plugged by adequate premiums, it will have to be plugged by taxpayers."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

LP Article - Outrage of the week -- The Real ID act

National Libertarian Party:

--Flying to see a relative in another state? Don't forget your papers: Domestic travelers could not pass through airport security checkpoints without a passport or a 'Real' I.D. card.

--Want to serve your country? Apply for a passport first: Prospective military enlistees could not meet identification requirements with only state issued identification.

--Want to get a job? Not without federal documentation: The INS I-9 form is a required document for all U.S. workers. Section Two of the form requires identification to be examined by the employer. As no federal agency will accept 'old' driver's licenses, your I.D. would no longer be valid. Be sure to bring your passport along to your next job interview.

From the LP Blog - Smearing Christian Judges

National Libertarian Party:

"Smearing Christian Judges

By Paul Gaston

People calling themselves Christians are gathering once again for a crusade against what they consider to be the secular humanist subversion of Christian values. This time the object of their wrath is the judiciary. In the wake of the fanatical and fruitless assaults against the judicial system for letting Terri Schiavo die, the Family Research Council will convene tomorrow what it calls 'Justice Sunday,' a live simulcast to pit Christian values against 'our out-of-control courts.'
The burgeoning assault on the American judicial system by right-wing Christians is an integral part of their attack on 'godless' secular humanism. According to them, secular humanists nurture a culture that promotes abortion; encourages gay marriage; prohibits prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance in permissive schools that indoctrinate students with Darwin's 'theory' of evolution; preaches moral relativism; and generally threatens to subvert the Christian foundations of the republic.
What these self-avowed Christians do not acknowledge -- and what the American public seems little aware of -- is that the war they are waging is actually against other people calling themselves Christians. To simplify: Right-wing and fundamentalist Christians are really at war with left-wing and mainstream Christians. It is a battle over both the meaning and practice of Christianity as well as over the definition and destiny of the republic. Secular humanism is a bogeyman, a smoke screen obscuring the right-wing Christians' struggle for supremacy."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Matt Miller in The New York Times:

Wanted: Responsible Demagoguery

"You'd never guess from the Democratic hysteria that President Bush's plan to "progressively index" Social Security is an idea we liberals may one day want to embrace. So farsighted Democrats who want to (1) win back power and (2) use that power to fix big problems should quit carping about Bush's evil "cuts" and punish him instead with what I call Responsible Demagoguery: harsh politics that leaves sound policy intact.

Why do I say this? Start with this poorly understood fact: Under today's system of "wage indexed" benefits, every new cohort of retirees is guaranteed a higher level of real benefits than the previous generation. Workers retiring in 2025, for example, are scheduled to receive payments 20 percent higher in real terms than today's retirees. Today's teenagers are slated to get a 60 percent increase. When Democrats cry about "cuts," they mean trims from these higher levels."

How about John Kerry on Means Testing (as a candidate, on Meet the Press):

  • SEN. KERRY: Tim, we're going to have a bigger economy. We have more Americans who are working. We have the ability to grow out of it. Now, if we don't do that--let me give you an idea. You and I earn a lot of money. We're very lucky. If you live to be 85, Tim, do you think it's right that somebody who earns $30,000 a year after you've gotten all your money out of Social Security, after you've gotten everything and more than you paid is paying you money? I think there are plenty of ways to look at things. We don't have to tell Americans it won't be there, because it will be there. And we certainly don't have to cut benefits to pay for George Bush's unaffordable tax cut. [Emph. added] - Ridge reveals clashes on alerts

And so we get an admission that the Shrub played the politics of fear. - Ridge reveals clashes on alerts: "Ridge reveals clashes on alerts

By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says."

Laws that make no sense

Midwifery bill faces resistance in Missouri Senate:
"Under current law, it's a felony for someone to offer services as a midwife, even though it's legal for an untrained person to oversee a home birth.

'Anyone can catch a baby in this state,' said Debbie Smithey, president of the Missouri Midwives Association. But when a person is trained in midwifery, 'that's when it becomes a felony.'

Smoking Memos and Wounded Labour

FMNN Editorial-Market Analysis:
"If only the 'smoking memo' -- dropped like a bomb into the middle of last month's UK campaigns and proving once and for all, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the case for the Iraq war was cut from whole cloth by George W. Bush and tailored at Number 10 Downing Street for a British audience -- had come into play last October rather than this April, John Forbes Kerry would be reporting to work each morning at the Oval Office. Not that he'd deserve it -- the Democratic Party continues to function as a wing of the War Party -- but the Republicans would not have run the table as they did." / Home UK - US real wages fall at fastest rate in 14 years / Home UK - US real wages fall at fastest rate in 14 years

If this keeps up, it wouldn't be a cut to change the way Social Security "benefits" are calculated, it would be an increase...

(Currently the rate of increase in "benefits" is tied to the rate of increase in wages -- Progressive indexing would tie the increase to inflation (i.e. the rate of increase in prices.))

Editorial: War of the absurd / Citizen soldiers do their duty, but lose again

Editorial: War of the absurd / Citizen soldiers do their duty, but lose again

Yet again, another way our "volunteer" armed forces get screwed....

Let's see if we can add them up --

And people wonder why the military can't make their recruiting goals anymore? Imagine that -- less people are signing up to go to a foreign country that is no threat to us die anymore.

Can you feel a draft coming? Let's hear it for the chicken hawks!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fact -- Social Security "Cuts"

Bush Proposes Slowing Growth of Social Security Benefits for Future Retirees

Democrats call it a "cut." Compared to what?

April 29, 2005

Modified: April 29, 2005


President Bush announced April 28 that he is embracing a proposal to address Social Security's financial shortfall by slowing the growth of future benefits for higher-income and middle-income workers, but not for lower-income workers.

Bush said, "I propose that future generations receive benefits equal to or greater than the benefits today's seniors get." Democrats called the proposal a deep benefit cut. But which side is right? Would benefits be equal, or would they be cut?

Both sides have a claim to accuracy, but neither is giving the full story and thus leaving citizens confused. The fact is that the current Social Security benefit formula would cause benefits for future retirees nearly to double in buying power over the next 75 years, even after adjusting for inflation.

What Bush is proposing is a plan that freezes benefits at their current buying power for upper-income workers, while other workers would continue to see benefits rise faster than inflation.

Compared to the buying power of benefits paid to today's retirees, that would not be a "cut" for anybody. Compared to the rising level of benefits provided by the current formula, that would mean a "cut" for upper-income and middle-income workers. And for the bottom 30 percent of earners, those making $25,000 a year, there would be no "cut" at all.

Read the full article.

Your Papers, Please....

Hey, call your Senators NOW to stop the creation of what are essentially internal passports that will be able to track our every move. This is what is supposedly the price of protecting our "freedom."

Read what Rep. Ron Paul has to say about it.

Here's the original bill (HR 418).

Now they're trying to sneak it through as an amendment to the spending bill (I think it was on military spending) that the House passed last week.

The Not-So-Secret History of Filibusters - New York Times

The Not-So-Secret History of Filibusters - New York Times

"I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest," the senator said. "Surely we Republicans aren't that desperate for victory. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system." -- Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine.