Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Entitlements Question


For a long time I have been following the political arguments about Federal Entitlements pro and con. It is not an easy problem to deal with and the political rhetoric is not helping. There is a difference between welfare like food stamps in the farm subsidies and entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.

Welfare comes in many forms and is an out and out give away for a variety of reasons. One is to help the poor and the other is to promote a segment of the business world like farming, energy, transportation, and others. Our federal government gives away a lot of money in the altruistic endeavors.

Entitlements like Social Security and Medicare are a form of insurance that people pay into through out their working lives and are thus entitled to the benefit payments when they qualify. In the beginning the Social Security trust fund was a separate thing from the Federal budget. It was supposed to be invested and draw good interest for an ever growing fund to support citizens when they retire. Then politicians noticed this giant fund sitting all alone and moved into the budget to show a balance that wasn’t there. Bad idea!

It was also an easy way to sell Treasury Bills and all of the Trust fund is invested in T’ Bills supporting our national debt. Everyone knew that when the baby boomers start retiring that one day we would have to start paying off some of those T bills and the day has come. Soon more people will be leaving the work force than entering it. That should solve the unemployment problem except for the fact that many baby boomers are relying on Social Security for their retirement and need to work part time to make ends  meet. I get almost $1,200 a month from SS and that would not be enough. Thank God for my pension and investments.

Added to this problem is that politicians found that increasing the benefit to retired people with the cost of living increases [COLA] was a way to curry favor from voters.  It worked but it wasn’t paid for. Well not entirely paid for but we did have an increase in our payroll deductions. As a minister I filed Self-employment Taxes and had to pay in the 15.3 percent of my wages to SS and Medicare. That was a lot of money for me to pay quarterly and there were no deductions that would lower it.

Now there are some politicians who are using the word entitlements as bad thing and are trying to get rid of them. While something needs to be done about the cost to the federal budget cutting off a lot of retirees who depend on this paid for insurance benefit is not fair. To do nothing about this problem will also not be fair for the whole thing will collapse. This is one of the most difficult questions facing our country and we need to work together to solve it.  Sadly it looks like co-operation in Washington is not going to happen any time soon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Work for a good marriage

In the American society we often find that both husband and wife are employed. The pressures of conflicting demands and too little time for each other creates stress on the relationship. With all the distractions couples can easily forget that a strong, caring, and loving relationships need constant work.

With out constant attention to the relationship a marriage can wither without either noticing the decline. Couples can slowly and quietly drift apart.  Many couples remain married in name only and others live in a loveless relationship. At this point all kinds of events can trigger the dissolution of a marriage. The situation may seem hopeless to one or both and they start looking for comfort else where then infidelity, argumentation, alcohol or drugs take control. Anger can then come to a head and a rupture occurs.

There is help for the marriage. Many churches and counseling services offer ways to work through the issues and refocus the relationship. IT takes a lot of work and often more work than would be needed if the couple had worked on it all along. Meaningful communication is the key to renewal. Get help before it is too late better yet plan for it at the start of the marriage.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What is Good Politics?

I wonder if I will ever witness good politics. That assumes that it is possible to have good politics and perhaps that is very debatable. The main problem in having good politics is that once elected people become self-interested in re-election and later to be employed as a lobbyist or government agency. As the mayor of a small city I can feel the allure of power and wanting to be in control. A politician is a person who has the power to make his or her preferences law and there fore mandatory for others.

In our hi-tech society it may be unlikely that state or federal government can operate on an ethical basis. There are always special interest groups that desire consideration for their position and are willing to pay for it. Ethics may state that one holding office can not accept money for supporting that special interest but there are always ways around. Sometimes there are irreconcilable differences between special interest groups that get sorted out on the side lines out of public sight.

Money talks and a lot of money shouts. Politicians seeking re-election listen to the shouting. We the people need to pay close attention to the shouting and make our voices heard above the din. That is not an easy thing to do but it is the price for good politics.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CIA Created Troubles

For many years I have known and the government has denied that the CIA had over thrown the freely elected government of Iran and installed the Shah in 1953. They were also responsible for the overthrow of many other elected governments in Central and South America. Who knows where else?

Now actual government documents prove I was correct and the CIA admits their actions. I think that it is outrageous that our government worked to oust elected forgin governments and set up dictators around the world. In a very real sense our CIA is the root cause of our problems today in the Middle East and most important Iran. If we had promoted democratic governments then we would not be having the trouble we have now. It makes me wonder if the CIA is behind what is happening in Egypt now.

The CIA should be an information gathering only organization and not the secret dirty tricks establishment it has been. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Random Thoughts

“Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead.  We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces.”   
1. Trust is paramount and extremely fragile and it should be safeguarded at all cost.
2. Honesty is the path to trust with out it you cannot build.
3. Complacency WILL eventually kill a relationship.  It is a long slow painful torturous death worse then dying.
4. Words, when said, cannot be taken back, and can be sharper then any knife. The difference, the wounds they leave may last a lifetime, and still never heal. Beware.

5. There is always some Truth even in jest.  Jest cautiously.