Sunday, January 3, 2016

Politics - This, That, and the Other


How much of Donald Trump's early presidential campaign success is attributable to his not being a Washington insider? It is difficult to determine, but we are hearing more and more folks, including some of the candidates, express hope for a President from outside the Beltway, new blood so to speak, someone not steeped in the old politics. Trump, and earlier Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and some of the various governors, have enjoyed poll popularity over the insider candidates. If space between the new president and the old DC ways is what the people want, the people might want to be careful what they wish for. Do you remember 2008 when a then Washington outsider, a first-term DC newbie senator with only four years in office, won the presidency on the wings of a "Hope and Change" motto? Since then we have had nothing but rancor and malfunction between the executive and the legislative branches, and polarization among the American people. It shows that picking an outsider for president is not necessarily a prescription for harmony and progress in the federal government and satisfaction among the electorate. If Trump wins, would he be able to exert sway over the Congress? Would Washington suddenly morph into a model of cooperation and good judgment? Hah! Yeh, you bet. I suspect we could count on four or eight more years of stalemate, bickering, and ineffective government.


Many things puzzle me, but one I understand the least is the slogan "We must take back the country!" When people say this I wonder who took the country, when did they take it, and where did they go with it? Apparently, the slogan is a metaphor for government having done something offensive to the right wing. Does it mean someone breached the Constitution? Does it mean white, Anglo-Saxon, protestants no longer constitute a majority? Does it mean foreign labor has relegated American manufacturing to second place? Does it mean the rich now have all the money? Does it mean having a President with an un-American sounding name makes us hostages to the Middle East? Does it mean we should demand that Pittsburgh start belching smoke again? I just do not know what it means. The only people I have heard threatening to "retake the country" are frustrated libertarian-type thinkers who seem to eschew any form of governmental intervention in any facet of American life. Those people apparently think the United States has been hijacked somewhere along the way and that we should mount up, strap on our six-shooters, form a big posse, and rescue it.

The Other:

One other thing, I am getting tired of people claiming that Social Security is an investment program when in actuality it is simply, by design, a federal welfare program, no different than food stamps or Section 8 housing. People often cite payment of payroll taxes as their "premium" that funds their future SS income. Thus, they think they are "investing" in Social Security. It is not so. Our payroll taxes go into the same federal accounting black hole as do our income taxes and all federal taxes. By collecting taxes, including payroll taxes, the federal government destroys dollars. It always pays for all its spending with newly created federal IOUs, that is, new US dollars. In short, we pay taxes, we do not pay premiums, and the federal government can and does fund SS independently of any tax collections. Only the people who meet the eligibility requirements of SS receive SS payments just as only the people who meet the eligibility requirements of food stamps receive SNAP payments. If you are one of those who bitterly despise federal welfare you should, in good conscience, forego your Social Security checks when the time comes. In the meantime, if you want to complain, complain about rising payroll taxes that reduce the national money supply, pay for nothing, and fool you into thinking you are investing in Social Security.

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