Member since: Sat Dec 6, 2003, 04:15 AM
Number of posts: 42,900
Number of posts: 42,900
propose a budget or a member of Congress who would vote for a budget that contained the chained CPI or any measure that would cut Social Security benefits.
Fact is that if you get Social Security benefits and have an income of over $80,000 per year, you probably don't keep much if anything of your Social Security benefits. You probably pay taxes of that amount to the federal government. (And maybe even more in taxes than that.)
If you make more than $40,000 per year and receive Social Security, you also pay more in taxes than your rate would normally be on Social Security.
Everyone else on Social Security is receiving an average or below-average income and thus should not have a benefit cut.
Cutting Social Security is the equivalent of giving an employee a permanent pay cut -- that cannot be changed. A lower pay that can never be raised.
I totally and unequivocally will not support any budget or anyone who proposes a budget with cuts to Social Security.
Don't make people prove they are poor.
Some seniors did not pay enough into the Social Security system to qualify for benefits that exceed the poverty level. At this time, those seniors qualify for things like food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid which are PAID OUT OF THE GENERAL FUND and which raise them above the poverty line in most cases.
It sounds wonderful, absolutely benevolent, to propose that the lowest Social Security benefits be raised. Great idea. But that is not the idea. The idea is to TRANSFER the cost of paying for the extra and very essential benefits to these very poor seniors TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY FUND and then cutting the earned benefits of those who paid into the fund and receive slightly higher benefits.
Are "some people" getting rich from Social Security? Are they living "high off the trough?"
Here is a fact:
What is the maximum monthly Social Security retirement benefit?
The maximum benefit depends on the age a worker chooses to retire. For example, for a worker retiring at age 66 in 2012, the amount is $2,513. This figure is based on earnings at the maximum taxable amount for every year after age 21.
That is $30,156 per year.
Granted 2080 hours at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per year totals only $15,080 per year. But to get $30,156 per year you would have to have earned pretty much the maximum salary of wage subject to Social Security taxes for a number of years. But the average Social Security recipient received $14,760 per year -- slightly less than minimum wage. At least $100 of that $14,760 probably went to pay for Medicare for that senior. Some seniors pay much more. I know someone who is retired, on Medicare and has to pay $300 per month for her Medicare based on the health insurance company that her former employer chose to go with.
There is really a lot of misinformation about Social Security out there.
I am posting this on my DU diary or blog so that I and others can refer to it in the future.
For minimum wage link:
Email this page
What is the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker?
The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,230 at the beginning of 2012. This amount changes monthly based upon the total amount of all benefits paid and the total number of people receiving benefits.
Posted by JDPriestly | Sun Apr 14, 2013, 03:42 PM (0 replies)
Posted by | Wed Dec 31, 1969, 07:00 PM ( replies)
on jobs and as a result impact on wages and ultimately on tax revenues.
It's a daisy chain of bad policies that lead to financial ruin.
Posted by JDPriestly | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 04:33 PM (1 replies)
The negotiations to lift the debt ceiling will be used to wedge as much as possible out of programs that haven't been raided yet. Just wait and see.
The Obama administration and the Republicans have now separated the issue of middle class tax cuts from cuts to Social Security and other programs.
The current generation has been excused from paying the higher tax rates that we who are now retired paid all of our lives. Now that those tax cuts for the middle class have been preserved, when those of us who are now retired or disabled are asked to make a "shared sacrifice," we will be told that our reminders that we paid these higher tax rates are irrelevant since the tax issues were negotiated way back January.
Dividing the cuts from the tax issues is just a nasty strategy to make it easier to harm the truly poor. Just another blow to the very elderly about 10-15 years from now who will be living in pigsties instead of decent nursing homes because of the cuts to Social Security.
Social Security and the other programs of its type that help those who cannot work are still very much in jeopardy.
It is too early to rejoice.
Many DUers do not think strategically. But rest assured the advisers to the politicians do.
This is a political strategy to divide Democrats. It is very clever, and I expect it will work.
Posted by JDPriestly | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 03:28 PM (1 replies)
No prisoner deserves to be treated like Manning has been treated, neither before nor after conviction.
Solitary confinement is difficult enough, but it should not be the job of the prisons or pre-trial jails to attempt to obliterate a prisoner's personality, perhaps their ability to remember accurately or to speak coherently through sensory deprivation and humiliation, especially before trial.
Manning is not more deserving than other prisoners. He is just better known.
In addition, there is a lot of sympathy for Manning because of the suspicion on our parts that many of the "secrets" he revealed were being kept secret simply because they were embarrassing to our military and also to our diplomatic corps, not because their secrecy had any strategic importance.
The disclosures of Manning reminded us of the corruption, immorality, cruelty, carelessness, moral laziness, error and bullying that occurs in war. It reminds us that the embedding of journalists with our troops has prevented us from seeing the ugliness of war and of what a nation like ours does to civilians when we fight a war.
Manning reminded us about the killing and death, of the suffering of innocent journalists, of small children in war. And since so few journalists have had the courage to talk graphically about the horror of war in recent years, we are very grateful to Manning for telling the truth.
So much silence and so many lies, and then there is Bradley Manning just telling the truth. It was just so honest and refreshing.
Yes. He is alleged to have broken his oath. And that is a serious matter. I agree with you on that.
But then, had he not broken his oath, we would not have the evidence of the crimes that he revealed, so that causes us to give him some credit along with condemnation.
We have to thank Manning for asking, with his revelations, the simple question: Is war worth it?
The answer is clearly no. In particular, the War in Iraq was not worth it. All the killing of innocents, of the merely angry who were not any real threat to our national security, the revenge, the heartlessness, the cunning, the use of weapons that dehumanize the victim and make them into computer targets.
So we are grateful to Manning in spite of his disloyalty because he went beyond his duty to a place of honesty. It's just so refreshing.
I think that if he committed a crime, he should have been treated with respect like the human being he is and given a fair trial. Under the circumstances and after what he has been through, he cannot be given a fair trial. The military justice system is more on trial here than is Bradley Manning. It's a real shame.
Posted by JDPriestly | Wed Dec 5, 2012, 03:33 AM (2 replies)
mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib:
An Army reservist who appeared in several of the most infamous abuse photos taken by guards at Abu Ghraib prison was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison for her role in the scandal that rocked the U.S. military's image at home and abroad.
The sentence for Spc. Sabrina Harman came a day after she was convicted on six of the seven counts she faced for mistreating detainees at the Baghdad lockup in late 2003. She faced a maximum of five years in prison, though prosecutors asked the jury to give her three years.
With credit for time served, Harman's actual sentence will be just more than four months.
The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and March 2006, eleven soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancée, Specialist Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten years and three years in prison, respectively, in trials ending on January 14, 2005 and September 26, 2005. The commanding officer of all Iraq detention facilities, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, was reprimanded for dereliction of duty and then demoted to the rank of Colonel on May 5, 2005. Col. Karpinski has denied knowledge of the abuses, claiming that the interrogations were authorized by her superiors and performed by subcontractors, and that she was not even allowed entry into the interrogation rooms.
. . .
The prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi died in Abu Ghraib prison after being interrogated and tortured by a CIA officer and a private contractor. The torture included physical violence and strappado hanging, whereby the victim is hung from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back. His death has been labeled a homicide by the US military, but neither of the two men who caused his death have been charged. The private contractor was granted qualified immunity.
Who fares better in the US military prisons and justice system?
Someone who violates the law and mistreats prisoners?
Or someone who blows the whistle on perceived violations of law?
Can a bully expect a lighter sentence than a person who speaks out from a compassionate, if arguably misguided motive?
We shall see.
But I recognize that a part of me is in all of them.
There are moments in life, in the life of a nation as in the life of a person, in which the underlying moral fiber of the nation is tested.
Is there a moral rectitude that supersedes all else?
Do we confront our own evil and allow ourselves to be judged and condemned by others?
Or do we cower behind the rigid application of rules to condemn that part of ourselves that is honest and open about our mistakes and misdeeds?
Manning is a challenge for our nation and for our military. What happens to Manning may predict whether we survive as a free nation or whether we become a nation that lies to itself and hides its ugly truths.
Sometimes the path between insuring the security of our nation and destroying the very freedom and human values that make our nation worth securing is very hard to find much less follow.
Posted by JDPriestly | Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:19 AM (1 replies)
individual who is involved in liberal politics, they feign outrage about the person's sex life -- an affair, nude pictures on the internet, something, always something sexual.
\I think it is a psy-ops technique. They don't have to kill the person. They just destroy the willingness of people to say that they think highly of him (or her).
People are taught as small children to be very ashamed of sexual matters. Only very mature people overcome that shame and accept themselves.
I have been watching this. Face it. Sex is all over TV, the movies, the internet. It is something we hate and enjoy, fear and cannot resist all our lives. Sex and love are closely intertwined. We humans need physical contact. And there is a thin line between asexual and sexual contact.
Therefore, on a deep, emotional, psychological level, we all have a lot of conflicts about the behavior of others and of ourselves in this area. We hide things about our sexual feelings even from ourselves. That makes us vulnerable. And when we feel vulnerable we are weak and lack courage. That is why it was torture for the American soldiers at Abu Ghraib to ridicule the prisoners about their sexuality.
One way to destroy the willingness of people to stand up for an underdog or to admit to liking a person who may be your political or social rival is to associate shameful sexual behavior with that person. Kids in early adolescence, for example, will tease a bright kid about "liking" the class nerd or the ugly girl. And the classic case is picking on the effeminate boy or the masculine girl or even accusing someone of being a sissy or a lesbian for a cruel laugh. Takes courage and unusual self-confidence on the part of another teenager to defend the kid being taunted about his or her sexuality. Same for adults.
As a woman, I am particularly aware of this. When I reached the age of 50 and began to "lose my looks," or at least feel that I did, I had a sense on the one hand of liberation and on the other of sadness for the loss of a youthful appearance.
The liberation was the interesting emotion and the wonderful gift. It was the result of no longer being viewed primarily as a sex object by half of the human race.
So, the "shame on you" for being a sexually attractive/attracted person card no longer is played against me or other women of my age. That is why I am so interested in what I think may be the either instinctive or strategic and purposeful use of sex scandals to cause us to feel revulsion about certain people who are prominent in politics.
I think that the Swedish sex charges against Assange are rather contrived. Technically there may have been a rape. But it would be very difficult to prove that rape occurred. I think this is an attempt to destroy Assange by shaming him and anyone who defends his publication of information embarrassing to our government. It is psy-ops in my opinion.
Sorry this is long-winded, but I am just now figuring out this psy-ops angle. It is what has been bothering me about a number of situations like this from Spitzer to Edwards to Wiener to some of the hypocritical Republicans.
Oddly enough, behavior that damages millions of people, behavior like war and all the killings it involves, like depriving people of healthcare, like permitting people to subsist without a roof over their heads, like the horrible conduct of the bankers (MF Global comes to mind) does not reach that deep psychological nerve in us that causes us to look at it again and again and feel revulsion. But a juicy sex scandal -- every time. It's like a conditioned reflex.
Posted by JDPriestly | Mon Aug 20, 2012, 03:18 AM (0 replies)
Many fools even think that, if they just work hard, they can do as well as Romney and Ryan have done.
They don't stop to think about all the advantages and good luck a Romney has to have, that millions and millions of people around the world work really hard and do their best and end up hungry and poor. And that lots of those people are right here in America.
This truth does not sell. The rich don't like it because it makes them look like they have more than they deserve (which most of them do). Businesses don't like it and won't pay to have it told because that story does not sell their products. And the poor don't like it because it makes them feel hopeless and depressed.
But it is the doggone truth.
For every Romney, there are hundreds of thousands of people who would simply curl up and die for hunger and no place to live if we allowed our country to be dragged into the Ayn Randian model that Ryan and Romney want to foist on us.
Fact is, that Romney had huge advantages that the rest of us never had -- a well known, successful father who came into his power at a time of great economic expansion in our country, educational opportunities that very few are given, a name that got him in the doors in high places, and a community of Mormons who see him as the ticket to acceptance for a rather conglomeration of ideas and theories.
As for Ryan, he came from a middle class family -- father a lawyer, but his wife's family is wealthy. (Properties with oil and gas for one thing.) So he too had a huge lucky break that very, very few get, regardless of how intelligent or charming or willing to brown-nose to the top they are.
Those of us who are normal and suffering -- whether under 55 or over -- had better stick together. For those of you who are young, the 7 1/2% of your paycheck that you set aside in Social Security taxes (plus the other portion your employer pays) is safe and sound as long as we all pull together.
Ryan thinks that everyone is as selfish and corrupt as he is, and that we will divide into two camps -- under 55 and over 55. That's not going to happen.
And here is why.
We who are over 55 know that as soon as these Republican criminals would succeed in persuading those under 55 to give up their Social Security and Medicare, they would start a campaign to get rid of Social Security and Medicare for those of us over 65. They are just greedy you-know-whats and they are after our money.
For those of you who are under 55 and investing in growth stocks and thinking how well they are doing. Forget it. Once you retire, you don't risk that little bit of money in your 401(K) in growth stocks. You invest conservatively to protect the small nest egg you have. And for 99% of us, there is no way we could live off the interest and earnings. That's because interest rates in banks are at most maybe 3% and earnings on other things -- and on other safe investments, maybe 4%?? (Those low mortgage rates have a reverse side -- low returns to savers and investors who are loaning the money for those mortgages.) Sit down and figure how much money you will have to have saved to even earn $14,000 per year at an interest rate of maybe 2% average.
Unless you are either a fool or have a lot of money, you do not trade in stocks or try to pick stocks once you retire. And most of us do not have the savings to hire a reliable financial adviser. As for ETFs, if the market is down when you have an emergency, you are sunk. You have lost. So even saving and investing in the ETF markets will never replace Social Security and Medicare. Because Social Security and Medicare are there for you, whether the markets are bad or good, you at least get something.
A lot of people lost their homes because they trusted the nonsense that the Bush administration sold about how we could become an "ownership" society. An "owned" society is more like it.
Don't be fooled.
No matter how well you are doing now or how good you think your future will be, you don't want to put all your eggs in the Wall Street basket. You don't want to trust your final years to a bunch of greedy clowns on Wall Street, much less to Romney and Ryan.
Posted by JDPriestly | Sun Aug 12, 2012, 01:37 PM (5 replies)
The computer industry, for example, was the baby of government-paid employees working with private industry in WWII. That's where the technology that has so drastically improved efficiency and productivity in our economy was developed.
Bill Gates did not invent the concept of a computer. He developed the concept of the PC based on work done in WWII and thereafter thanks to government investment and contracts.
Interestingly, the leaders, the primary inventors and developers in the PC business (as opposed to the huge computers used by the military in the post-war, Cold War years) were born in and around 1955. They were part of the often maligned generation of the baby boomers. That's Bill Gates, for example. Bill Gates had access to a clumsy cold war era computer at his private school when he was a teenager. That is how he got his start. Most (not all perhaps) of the two or three key pioneers in the PC industry have similar stories.
So, in addition to working people, our increased productivity which has enabled the extremely wealthy to get where they are is owed not just to individual ingenuity, talent and hard work, but to a lot of government research, subsidies and infrastructure. That's why the 1% who have enriched themselves off the backs of the people who together paid for that technology need to pay back more in taxes to give this nation a good start on the innovation of tomorrow.
It's just too risky and not interesting enough to established businesses to do the fundamental research that leads to the kind of technology that the businesses of the future will need to stay innovative. Think of the pure math that is behind a lot of the technology of today. That very fundamental work that we don't even realize is done happens in universities. And whether those institutions are private or public, much of that work is done thanks to government grants by people who, quite often owe part or all of their education from kindergarten through post-graduate school -- to government schools and grants and programs.
Think of the frontiers of tomorrow -- for example, healing and using the oceans for more than just fishing and shipping. Dealing with climate change. Dealing with the new health challenges that climate change will bring. Dealing with the unimaginably difficult challenges of overpopulation. Trying to educate people not just to handle new technology but to live together in peace.
The aristocracy that the 1% dreams of creating does not and cannot deal with those challenges. Aristocracies focus on retaining their power, on increasing their profits and exploiting the energy of their vassals and serfs. They expand their holdings primarily (although not entirely) through war, not through creativity. They fund things that are useful to them. If the Middle Ages and pre-modern world are measures, they build an infrastructure based on maintaining the status quo. They are quintessentially conservative -- fighting to hold on to what they have and take from others, not innovate.
We can't let the 1% take over. We need democracy. We need a healthy government as well as a healthy number of smaller, competing businesses and industries.
The extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is the greatest of the immediate challenges that we Americans face. It is driving us toward a feudal structure with a hereditary elite -- the antithesis of the American dream and a sure prescription for failure.
Raise the taxes on the top 1% or 2% in this country. It isn't just about money.
They aren't going to create the kinds of jobs we want or need.
And, by the way, that bit about how selfish and greedy consumers are. It's the consumers who are in the 1% who are the most selfish and greedy. Especially nowadays, most people on this earth are struggling to get by, to feed and clothe and house their children and parents. Most people are not selfish and greedy. Most people are barely surviving.
Posted by JDPriestly | Fri Jul 27, 2012, 11:00 AM (0 replies)
be able to fight back quite effectively through surrogates. (That includes us, DUers.)
Sorry for the length of the rant that follows, but:
Let the right-wing arguments sink in and become old hat. In August, some Americans will begin to receive rebate checks from their insurance companies and honest folks will begin to ask intelligent questions.
Fact is, Americans are paying the equivalent of this "tax" for health care insurance now. We pay it to the health care insurance company and doctors of our choice. We will continue to pay for our health care insurance "tax," and continue to pay it TO THE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE COMPANY AND DOCTORS OF OUR CHOICE.
Most Americans will not pay this "tax" to the government. And those who do will pay a relatively small amount to Uncle Sam because they have figured out that they can get their health care cheaper that way. If you earn very little and can't afford health care, you do not have to pay either the insurance company or the government. Nothing changes for you either.
The things that will change are those that Papantonio mentioned -- more accountability as to how our insurance dollars, our "taxes," are spent, rebates of a certain percentage of our premiums -- of the part that the company does not spend on healthcare, coverage for pre-existing conditions, no denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, affordable coverage for most Americans, coverage for children under age 26 by the parents' insurance, more free coverage for preventive care, more cooperation and coordination among your doctors and between your hospital's doctors and surgeons and your family doctor (especially for seniors), less waste and fewer gimmicks like offering some seniors memberships in health clubs and charging that to the Medicare Advantage bill. (Which regular Medicare does not pay for.)
The bill will have its failings. They will have to be corrected. That's the way legislation works. The glitches get amended. But it's a great start.
And while I agree with Roberts that the plan is an exercise of Congress' tax and spend authority and not of its authority to regulate commerce, this is not a new tax. This is a "tax" that we have been paying, or at least most of us have been paying, for a long time -- at least since we became adults and started working. And if you are a woman or have a pre-existing condition (which nearly everyone over 55 has) and have been honest with your insurance company, chances are you have been paying a very high, trumped-up "tax," an unfair "tax" that will now be made fairer.
This bill will mean life itself for many, many children (and adults) whose pre-existing conditions have served as an excuse for exclusion from health insurance coverage.
This bill will mean that our emergency rooms are not filled with poor people who cannot afford health care insurance and who sit endless hours in the emergency room to get treatments a primary care doctor could render in his office more efficiently and economically.
It is human nature to be afraid of change. But this bill is not going to bring about threatening change. It will bring about positive change.
Remember when you were a child. You heard scary stories from other children and read frightening fairy tales and got terrified of the dark. You woke up, saw shadows and thought there might be monsters in the room. At camp, you huddled with your friends in a tent and tried to see who could tell the scariest story. Well, that's what Republicans do.
"The sky is falling. The sky is falling."
Don't believe it. The Republicans will, once again, be proved wrong by the facts. Let's just calmly inform ourselves of the facts and prepare to discuss them gently and intelligently. That is the best strategy.
We are going to have to be strong and unmoved by the Republicans' fear on this.
We are, as usual, going to have to hold a lot of Republican hands because they are going to work themselves into a frenzy over this. That's their high. They rev up the adrenalin and then they "feel good." Marijuana may be illegal, but working yourself into an adrenalin frenzy is not -- and that is what Republicans enjoy.
Reason and calm are the best remedies for Republican fear.
Posted by JDPriestly | Fri Jun 29, 2012, 04:17 PM (0 replies)