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Archive for October, 2011

Medicare–Will it be there for Us Oldies?

29 Oct

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To listen to many members of the democrat (or is it democratic?) party you would think that the republicans are going to eliminate Medicare altogether.  If not eliminate it, the liberals in congress postulate that republicans will certainly take away the benefits of Medicare from those of us in our twilight years.  Even the president is hinting that Medicare for the elderly is in jeopardy.

I’ve not heard one republican say that taking away Medicare for those of us already retired is a possibility.  Not one.  And I’ve heard a lot of them talk about the need to revamp Medicare before it goes under.

Now I’m on Medicare and have been for some time.  It seems to provide a fairly good base to keep one from most cataclysmic health crises.  Obtaining some complimentary coverage makes it fairly good I think.  I’ve not had any major health issues so I’m really not in a position to evaluate it.  However, I trust that when I need it, hopefully later rather than sooner, I’ll be backed up sufficiently to protect my meager savings.

In the late seventies I had grave concerns about the longevity of Social Security.  Some midcourse corrections made during Reagan’s time in office kept it on a somewhat solid footing….until now.  It might have stayed that way had funds deposited in the so called  Social Security Trust Fund not  been loaned out in order to allow congress to rack up spending on other things. The solution back then was to increase the taxing structure quite significantly.  Such a solution does not look very appealing to me this time around.

The point is that it’s time once again to make a midcourse correction.  And it will probably have to be rather drastic.  Medicare is facing collapse and we are facing a looming disaster should Obamacare survive the courts or a weak-kneed congress and a self destructive president fail to terminate it.

I think a drastic overhaul of our taxing system in general and some tinkering with Medicare is long overdue.  I also think that the constant barrage of negative half truths and out and out lies oozing from the president’s mouth must also be stopped.

We can be divided to some extend and survive.  But to draw battle lines so firmly in the ground, encouraging class warfare, and denigrating the opposing party the president may very well bring about the Armageddon we’ve heard so much about.  Not in the Biblical sense of course.  Because no matter how hard he tries, or how much he moans and groans, he can’t bring about the level of damage that will befall us during the end times.

The President must grow up and quit whining.  He must get down to the business of governing.  He must stop sending “all or nothing” bills to Congress.  If he doesn’t nothing is what he will get.  That might make for good political fodder, but in time, the public will catch on to his tactics.  Politics like his might work in Chicago, but they will not work from a national platform.

Cutting spending should come first, including banishing Obamacare from existence and replacing it with a health care system that is effective and fiscally sound.  Then throwing out the complicated, massive taxing structure we have now would be in order.  It is neither fair nor balanced.  Finally, we must overhaul Social Security and Medicare to make them fiscally sound well into the future.

Easier said than done?  Indeed.  But it is possible IF our leaders rededicate themselves to LEADERSHIP, rather than “PARTISANSHIP.”

 

Disobedience–What’s It To Ya?

26 Oct

Everyone has a little, and sometimes a lot of disobedience in their genes.  It pops up anywhere from right out of the womb up until the day we die.  It’s expressed in many different ways.  It might be curled up in a cry, or boiling over in a rage.  It might be civil or it could be destructive.   It might be hopeful or it might be “in your face.”  It might be expressed singularly, or perhaps emanating from a mob.  When you get right down to it, it is in the eye of the beholder.

By definition disobedience is the failure or refusal to obey rules or someone in authority.  Rules take all forms and shapes.  Generally a rule is imposed by someone or a group of individuals.  When the group grows to the realm of being a government it is often presented as a law.  The difference between a rule and a law is generally evident by the severity imposed when disobeyed.

You no doubt have seen disobedience demonstrated by the youngest among us.  And by groups that are aggrieved over some issue or the other.  Some civil disobedient groups garner great respect, others quite the opposite.  Some are fighting for great causes, others petty contrivances.  Often they are a combination of many causes.  Some last only a few hours, others days or weeks or more.

How you look at various types of demonstrations may very well depend upon your age.  If you lived through the civil rights demonstrations you may view them very differently than if you were in the mist of the Watt’s riots (I suspect many of you haven’t heard of the Watts riots), or the demonstrations against some war or the other.  How you react may depend on the way the demonstrators are dressed, the language they use, the signs that thrust at you, whether they fight the police, break windows, burn down stores or simply march by in a show of unity.  Or perhaps you think the demonstrators are simply pawns controlled by the likes of labor unions, political parties, or people of very different ideologies.

Whatever you think of the demonstrators or what they are demonstrating for you know that in this country, they are generally given at least a modicum of respect because that is the way American’s are.  We respect the right to protest.  That is right up until their right to protest morphs into an infringement of the right to disagree.  If a protester is flinging his or her fists about, then his or her right to do so ends at your nose.

Personally, I respect demonstrations that, when all is said and done, the venue used to demonstrate is left uncluttered and in at least as good a shape as it was before the demonstration began.  A good, healthy debate doesn’t need to result in the destruction of anything.  I believe that accomplishing one’s desires doesn’t need violence or unruly acts of violence if the issues at hand are of any consequential merit.  But then again, that’s just me.

 

Black on Black

22 Oct

Ever notice that in the observation of a black person evaluating another black person there is no such thing as a “good,” “honest,” “honorable” man (or woman) that is of a conservative bent?  Interesting.

Seems that if you are black with a conservative bent, in their eyes you automatically become an “Oreo,” “Uncle Tom,” “white-man’s lackey”, or just plain “traitor.”  The theory is, I guess, that there must be some gene that went berserk at the moment of conception otherwise you would be a liberal.  What else could explain it?

How sad it must be to be judged by your racial peers in such a manner.  Think about it.  Constantly being told that unless you fit the mold you are no better than the scum of the earth.  Such drivel can only come from someone filled with so much jealousy that it virtually oozes from every pore.

Having worked hard to better oneself is, in most other instances, a good and noble thing.  The higher in rank these black people go the more criticism they get.  Especially if they are politically inclined.

Think of the good that one can accomplish for one’s race.  Think of the multitudes that can benefit from such great role modals.  One would think that your peers would honor and solute you.  But not if you are black and conservative.

What possesses someone that time after time draws such irrational conclusions?  I surely can’t say….if for no other reason I’ve never had to walk in their shoes.  But, it makes no sense to me that you feel compelled to drag a certain segment of your race down whenever they move higher up the scale.

Come to think of it, the same phenomena seems to apply when liberal women judge conservative woman.

There does seem to be a common denominator in these two cases.  And just what is that?  It’s called “liberalism.”

It’s that “if I can’t have it, nobody can” mentality that pervades the mind of many if not all liberal thinkers.  I guess that is why they so favor a government that accomplishes the same thing, i.e., create a level playing field, even if so doing it drags the “achievers” down to the level of the “takers.”

Do you think that Martin Luther King would be proud of those blacks that have marched up the ladder of success?  I rather think he would.  But then, I don’t think he was a liberal.

 

Any Interest in Our Interest?

15 Oct

Every month the United States has to borrow money in order to pay its debts.  Considering that we need to borrow about forty percent of our monthly obligation, it is understandable that we have lost our will to be fiscally sound.

Imagine what this kind of spending might look like in your monthly budget.  Say your income is, let’s see, $1,000.  But you are having a little trouble corralling your buying habits.  But, golly, gee whizz, it feels so good having all that stuff.

Then one day the mailman (if there still is a postal service) hands you the letter you’ve been ignoring in your mailbox.  “Forgot this,” he says with a face resembling a doctor telling a parent her child had just died.  You thank him, then gingerly tear open that dreaded missile from your creditors.  You feel a tiny knot in your stomach.  By the time your fingers clutch its contents that knot has grown into the size of a watermelon.  With trembling hands you finally retrieve its contents.  Sweat is dripping from your brow.  You can faintly see a message typed in red bleeding through the paper.  That was something new.  It hadn’t been on any of the previous bills.

The once crisp paper begins to get soggy as tiny droplets of sweat intermingled with tears sink into its surface.  Bold red letters scream out, “$1,700.  Pay it now, or lose your credit rating all together.  Time is running out.”  (You should be congratulated a bit because you only need to borrow thirty percent rather than the government’s forty)

What to do?  Searching your wallet you find your one remaining credit card.  The one that is now being threatened for destruction.  You decide to cut back on your spending…not next month though, the one after that.

The experts tell us that by next year, this country will be borrowing $600,000,000,000 to pay its bills.  Forgive me if I placed the wrong number of zeros behind that six.  I get confused.  But unlike our leaders, at least I know I’m confused.  Right or wrong, the number I’m trying to say is $600 billion.  That is roughly the amount the Pentagon spends annually.

Now it doesn’t take a genius (but apparently more intelligence than a congressman possess) to guess that the interest on all that borrowed money is huge.  Think of it.  Where is most of that interest going?  Well, if not solely to China, at least a sizable amount goes to those that don’t like us very much.  And they, no doubt, are using that money to fund their armies.  Armies that one day may just be used to make us pay up and who knows what else.

How does that make you feel?

 

Occupy (fill in the blank) vs The Tea Party

12 Oct

Much in the news lately is the protestations of the groups around the country formed under the umbrella known as “Occupy.”  I’ve heard some say, “At last there are some protesters to counteract the Tea Party.”  They somehow draw a distinct unsurmountable difference between the two “movements.”

But, under closer inspection one can find that there is a great deal of similarity between the two groups.  Both are expressing a great deal of frustration over what is going on in this great country of ours.  That frustration manifests itself differently, but it would be foolhardy to draw a broad brush over either of the two groups.

To be sure, there are elements in each group that foster extreme positions.  The approaches taken to express these frustrations differs, largely driven by the percentage of “extremists” therein.  The degree of this difference can be measured by the number of arrests that are made.  Clearly, the “Occupy” group far exceeds the number of arrests as compared to those in the Tea Party.  This measurement is far and away a more precise indication of the groups intentions than simply taking note of the messages portrayed on the signs they carry.

Another measure that denotes a difference between the two groups is the amount of organizing that is carried out centrally as opposed to generated locally.  The demeanor of some of those organizing organizations translate directly to the demeanor of the “gatherings” conducted locally.  For example, whenever union organizations are at the forefront, you can be sure that the actions taken at those protests will tend toward violence and major disruptions rather than just demonstrating peacefully.

Sure, the rhetoric in the Tea Party gets intense at times, but pushing and shoving, fighting with the police, and the breaking of bones is never evident at their gatherings.

To over simplify, the major issues driving the “Occupy” group seem to boil down to: Income Equality, Demonizing the wealthy, and blaming the corruption of Wall Street as the primary cause of our economic dilemma.  Whereas, the Tea Party is more focused on intrusive government, massive spending and out of control regulation as the genesis of our economic woes.

My point in all of this is to suggest that the underlying cause powering these movements is “frustration.”  That being the case, it seems to me that drawing up impenetrable battle lines between the two is unproductive.  The Tea Party should try to connect with those in the “Occupy” groups that have similar interests.  Now I have no idea how many in the “Occupy” group would come on board.  I suspect that there may not be too many of the large urban area groups that could find common ground with the Tea Party.  But I’ll bet that a sizable portion of the groups outside the big cities can have a productive meeting of the minds.

So, let’s not let our “knee-jerk” reaction drive a wedge between us.  Rather, let’s seek out commonality and build on that.  Less fighting among us will more quickly bring about the solutions we so desperately need.  Let’s give it a shot anyway.  Oops, bad wording.  Let’s give it a try.

 

Steve Jobs–A World Changer

08 Oct

The world has lost a giant.  Steve Jobs spent the better part of his short life figuring out ways to make our world better.  In spite of the frustration thrust upon us because we were always so far behind the learning curve, he struggled to invent ways to make the complex, simple.  His world was magical.  He put much of that magic at our finger tips.  With the flick of a finger we can transform a tiny box into a collage of whatever our minds conjure up.

I think back at the times I’ve dabbled in his world.  Before Jobs was born, Thomas J. Watson, the brains behind IBM, once postulated that the world would only need two or three computers at most.  At least that’s what I was once told anyway.  About the time Jobs was three or four years old I was writing crude programs for a Bendix G15 computer.  That was the first computer the University of Wyoming ever had.  By the time he was nine or ten, it was the IBM 360 that pushed out answers to the problems I wanted solved.

When Steve Jobs turned 21, he started on a course of action that would prove Watson’s vision incorrect.  But, this was no longer a vision.  In reality it was a world where every man, woman, and child would need two or three and even more computers?

In 1980 I bought my first computer.  Yes, it was an Apple.  A few years later, I purchased one of the first personal computers that the Oregon Department of Transportation had.  Yes, it was an Apple.

Then because PC’s were more geared toward the needs of engineers, I spent the next twenty or so years sans an Apple computer.  Then along came the iPod.  I quickly rejoined the club.

Jobs‘ genius bloomed.  A whole plethora of gadgets, big and small flooded the world.  The company that Jobs and his partner started fell on hard times now and then, but eventually grew into one of the largest generator of profits ever.  Every time he showed up to unveil a new product, Apple stock skyrocketed.

It is sad to think that his life ended at only 56.  Few human beings have impacted the world more than Steve Jobs.  We will live more fulfilled lives because he graced this earth.  It has been indeed interesting to live through those years along with him.  Now I know what it must have been to watch Ben Franklin come forth with his ideas and inventions, or to have lived when Thomas Edison was lighting up the world.  Steve Jobs ranks right up there with those two giants.  He will be missed.

 

Is a Job a Job?

05 Oct

The latest stimulus proposal that President Obama has sent to Congress (disguised as a jobs bill) is another attempt to throw money at a problem.  In this case he wants to create jobs.  He proposes several different ways to accomplish this aim.

First (and I will only discuss a few of his tactics) he wants to send money to the states to prevent teachers from being laid off.  Now I come from a long line of teachers and I hold the profession up as one that is necessary and honorable.  But Obama did this in last stimulus bill.  Indeed it did keep a number of teachers from being laid off……for a year.  Now he wants to extend that bailout another year.  Such a tactic may be well and good if there is some expectation that at the end of the year the economy will be good enough for local government to keep them on.  Most economists don’t paint that rosy of a picture.  So will there be a round three?  Worse though is that federal dollars come with strings.  Strings that will eventually strangle or hang those gullible enough to take the handout.

Second, he wants to rebuild some of our infrastructure.  Now that would be an “investment” that pays good dividends.  It produces many primary and secondary jobs which will in turn create many other jobs.  And, once invested the improved infrastructure will be around for many years.  Again, however, though those pesky strings degrade the overall value of the investment.  Obama intends to use the money to fund “shovel ready” projects.  There are at least two major problems with this strategy, both of which plagued his first stimulus bill.  To become shovel ready, each job has an endless stream of regulations to satisfy.  Unless some of these are waved, there just won’t be the number of projects he expects.  So they really aren’t “as shovel ready as we had hoped.”  But fear not, you may rest assured that he will find a way to spend the money anyway.

Another hurdle to jump over is finding qualified contractors that are in a position to take on these jobs.  The capability of the contracting industry suppling the needed men and equipment is limited.  Sure there are many skilled laborers without jobs that can be enlisted to do the work, but the supply is not endless.  Bringing the industry up to speed will take time, which the President isn’t likely to wait for.

He is proposing to give up to $4,000 in tax credits for each new job a company brings online.  I wonder how many will do that knowing that Obamacare alone will cost several times that amount for each new hire they bring onboard.

 

Finally, he wants to “give loan guarantees” to speculative green ventures.  Do we really want our tax dollars used for that type of gamble?  If the ventures fail, as have already, then we just have to spend more money to re-train those that will be laid off.  I guess that’s ok with Obama because it is slinging more money around and building a stronger case for those unfortunate people to become even more dependent on the government.

We could accomplish as great deal more in creating jobs if we just cut back on the pesky strings and regulations.  Reducing taxes on businesses so they will want stay in America or even to bring some of the jobs back to the United States.  That wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

 

In Words I Can Not Fathom

01 Oct

I was wandering around downtown the other day and happened across several groups of  young adults.  They appeared to be around eighteen years of age.  No matter the group, there seemed to have one thing in common.  A constant stream of caustic vitriol gushed forth from all members of each group.  I’m not sure if they were communicating with each other or just stringing together whatever manner of words (if indeed you could call them that) emanating from their modern day brains.

Now when I was growing up there was something called “swearing.”  I was sensitive to that kind of language because, whether at school or at home, the use of such words would bring a sharp rebuke or even worse.  Heck, I can even remember being shocked when the preacher told of Jesus riding that ass to town.  I wanted to hang around just to see if my dad would pounce on him after the service.  I was really surprised to hear my dad call the vet concerning my newly acquired dog.  He actually said, out loud even, that he wanted “the bitch spayed.”

But I digress.  When I got home, I pondered what could have spawned such language or how did it come about?  How did they manage to get through even a day of school?  I assume they did go to school, but that may have been a bit of a stretch.  If you took away all the words that I thought might be a bit over expressive, the remaining words, no matter how they might be strung together, formed at best an incomplete sentence.  How on earth would one diagram their sentences anyway?  Did they ever have to do that in school?

Then, even more concerning to me was wondering about their future.  Now in my career I’ve dealt with all manner of people.  The very intelligent types (those with a bunch of letters strung out behind their names), and the more earthy types (those that feed us and protect us in all kinds of ways…one might say they are the salt of the earth).  Even when dealing with an irate contractor that didn’t want me to tell him to tear out and redo some work that wasn’t quite up to standard, I was faced with language that came nowhere close to what those kids were saying.  Or a maintenance man that had just smashed his finger with a hammer was more civil in his discourse.

Who would hire someone that presented themselves that way.  Tattoos may be bad enough, but this kind of talk is too much.  Can you imagine the company image surviving that?  I wonder what their written word might look like.  Again, I assume they can write.

But most troubling to me was wondering what they would say should they ever hit their thumb with a hammer.  Or if they were really, really mad at someone.  What words would they have in their arsenal to shoot at their antagonist?  Perhaps they would just resort to finding a gun to express their anger.

 
 

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