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JDPriestly

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Member since: Sat Dec 6, 2003, 04:15 AM
Number of posts: 44,923

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I posted this in response to someone who said that taxes should not be raised to require

those who work hard and accumulate money and run businesses to pay for those who don't work.

It's about what protects the right to property.

I would like to remind all DUers that, contrary to the teachings of the right-wing and corporations, the right to private property is not "natural." The right to private property exists by force. If someone steals something from you, you can only get it back by persuasion or by force.

Who or what enforces property rights in our country? The police who are controlled by the government.

In feudal societies, a hierarchical structure of nobility and everybody else controls the government and owns the property. The nobility enforces its own property rights.

Our government is democratic meaning that the people as a whole control it (supposedly). Thus, it is the people as a whole through the government that enforce property rights. Any property you think you own, you own only because the government is willing to enforce your right to that property.

Corporations understand this. That is why they work so hard to control the government. A system in which corporations and businesses control the government and its enforcement capacity including its police power and military, is called "fascist." The NAZIs were a form of fascism.

So, when you work for something and think you own it, ask yourself how you will enforce your ownership rights.

The answer is that you will support a government that enforces your ownership rights and protects them on your behalf.

We think we own businesses and build them and create them. But we can only do that if the government protects our right to own, build and create them.

The Republicans and conservatives in general want to use the government to protect the property and other rights of the rich -- of those who have won the biggest prizes in the game to acquire property.

In feudal societies, the rich, the owners, wisely provided work, shelter and food to those in need. They claimed to do it as a religious obligation. They did it because they feared going to Hell if they didn't. Hell for the rich is no property rights. If the rich fail to take care of the poor, the rich will lose their property rights. That is because when the rich fail to take care of the poor, fail to share, the poor take from the rich. But the only way the rich can enforce their rights is through brute force. The rich, even in a feudal society, need enough physical support from the poor and middle class to be able to enforce their property rights.

So next time that someone tells you that they don't want to pay higher taxes to support people who don't work, ask him whether paying higher taxes to support the poor and the jobless is really such a high price to pay for domestic tranquility that secures the majority of his property rights.

That's what it boils down to. You refuse to share with others; you run a huge risk of losing what you have. The survival of the fittest bit that so appeals to libertarians is not so appealing when you think that a society in which only the "fittest" can survive becomes very brutal very quickly. Ayn Rand is a fraud. She never understood social interaction. I have wondered whether perhaps she was extremely autistic.

Property exists in our democratic society because of a social agreement among us to enforce an individual's right to property. That is part of what our Constitution is about.

. . . .

The Koch brothers want to control the government because they claim a lot of property rights that they want the government to protect.

Here is an example of how the government protects and enforces property rights:

During the foreclosure crisis, the banks went to court and got orders permitting them to foreclose on mortgage debtors in default. The sheriff or other official

(As an aside, the irony was that the banks had used an unofficial, extralegal method for recording their interests in the properties, so the entire foreclosure process in many cases, although enforced by the courts, quite probably did not comply with the rules that enable the government to enforce the banks' claims to the property. I find that very ironic. The banks broke the law, but sought to rely on the courts that enforce the law to help them out when borrowers defaulted. Typical right-wing, short-sighed, illogical view of life and society and property and how things work.)

That's the way our country developed. Land was cheap. Some of it was simply homesteaded.

The government gave it or sold it for very little to people who were willing to farm it. Government divided the land, maintained a system of records so that people could buy and sell and establish their ownership of the land. The government is sovereign, has the right of eminent domain and can take the land back when it wants if it pays fair value.

The railroads were a public/private partnership. The government gave much of the land, and the private investors built the railroads.

The federal parks that Theodore Roosevelt established on public land across America are the basis for an infrastructure of tourist and travel businesses. People come from around the world to see Yellowstone and other great American parks. The parks are infrastructure. Government investment in those parks inspired many people to start businesses in travel, sports equipment and all kinds of associated businesses. Many individuals and companies profit from the infrastructure that the government saved and keeps safe and enjoyable.

Across America, in our parks, our schools, in our public buildings, on our bridges, we use infrastructure that was built by the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression. We are a richer country because of those investments.

During the Eisenhower era, the government funded and built a highway system that stretches across the country and connects us all. That infrastructure facilitated trade and, like the railroads, brought the country together. Ask trucking businesses whether government spending on infrastructure helped them start their businesses. The answer is obvious.

Our government investments in early computers and in space exploration led to the internet, to new ways to transmit communications and all kinds of private businesses.

Entrepreneurs feed off the discoveries at universities especially the sciences and humanities. Pharmaceutical companies rely on a lot of basic research done in American public universities and by the NIH.

You might be surprised at how many musicians who make lots of money for the corporations that distribute their records learned to play instruments or sing in school music programs. (Pre-Reagan, there was a lot more music in the schools than there is now.) Same for art. Kids discover their talents in schools, and then they use those talents that they discovered at school in their businesses.

The expression, "use it or lose it" applies to the talents of people as well as their muscles and minds. As a society right now, thanks to austerity and the recession that preceded it, we are not using our skills and our abilities and so we are losing them. We really are. That is why the government needs to step in and spend what it must to keep people using their skills and abilities. Because otherwise those skills and abilities will be lost.

And what destroys creativity, what prevents people from starting businesses is partly the hopelessness of the bad economy but also the sense of inadequacy, of not having the skills and abilities they need to succeed in a business. People also, as others have said, are not starting businesses because demand is weak.

You can't start a small business no matter how good your product or services if your customers can't afford to pay you. People who don't have jobs can't afford to spend money to keep new businesses going.

Government spending on infrastructure and education and job creation in infrastructure and education is probably the only way that we can get our economy moving at this time.

We also need to improve our trade balance by putting the brakes on out-of-control imports.

Libertarians see human interaction as two-dimensional when in fact there are many

dimensions to human interaction.

One of those dimensions is the set of social rules that governs how we interact. Government is the expression of those social rules. That's all it is.

Language is a rule. We all agree on what words mean. That makes human communication possible. Different societies have different languages, but all languages have rules. (Chomsky was a linguist. He attempted to identify the universal rules of language. Maybe that is why his views on government and society are so interesting.)

The minute you agree on language, you agree to be governed by that language. There is no escaping that linguistic government.

The minute you agree with others to speak a language that is mutually understood, you have implicitly agreed to an entire series of rules that eventually become government in one form or another.

Whether you are enslaved by the government that controls your society or are freed by it, you are governed and are a part of government, in the form that organizes your social interactions and therefore your society. Like it or not, admit it or not, you cannot communicate without the agreements that comprise language, and you cannot exchange goods or live with other humans without some set of agreements that constitute government. You can call it something else, but you have to have government if you are going to interact with others.

The libertarian utopia could only exist in the extreme version of Rousseau's society of misanthropes who live entirely without contact with other human beings. A true libertarian is a wild man with no language. Which is a funny thought because most people I have known who thought of themselves as libertarians were pretty egotistical. They were always among the first to want the approval of other human beings, among the first to want to tell others what to do, among the first to start advocating for imposing social rules on others.

Libertarians think they want to live in a society without rules. So do two-year-olds. The cure for libertarians might be to teach a class of two-year-olds for 24 hours a day. They would soon understand why we create governments to impose and enforce social rules.

So, just how much money are those lazy seniors getting from their Social Security?

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.

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/5/~/maximum-social-security-retirement-benefit

That is $30,156 per year.

That seems like a lot compared to the $15,080 you earn working 2080 hours (40 per week) at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for a year.

But that $15,080 per year sounds pretty good to the average Social Security recipient who was receiving $14,760 per year as of January 2012 -- even less than our friend earning a minimum wage.

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/13/~/average-monthly-social-security-benefit-for-a-retired-worker

And at least $100 per month or $1,200 of that $14,760 is taken out of the Social Security benefit to pay for Medicare before that senior ever gets his money. That brings the basic Social Security/Medicare benefit down to $13,560 per year.

The poverty guideline for one person is $11,490.

http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/13poverty.cfm#guidelines

So, Social Security keeps the average single senior just $2070 above the poverty guideline limit. Keep your husband or wife alive, hon, because if you lose him or her, it's tough sledding ahead.

Some seniors pay much more for their basic Medicare than $100 per month. 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 for her.

Our co-pays for Medicare vary from $5.00 to hundreds of dollars depending on what procedures we have done and where we have them done. I am enrolled with Kaiser. It's probably the cheapest or at least one of the very least expensive Medicare plans. To go basic Medicare in L.A. is complicated because you have to pick doctors, specialists, etc.

To be so lucky as to receive $30,156 per year from Social Security, you would have to have earned pretty much the maximum salary or wage subject to Social Security taxes for many years. And most people don't do that.

Remember, the very rich, people like Romney or Pete Peterson, don't take much, if any of their millions in income that is subject to Social Security taxes. They receive capital gains and other forms of income besides, only approximately the first $110,000 of wages or earned income is subject to the payroll or Social Security taxes.

So the very rich are not benefiting or losing that much from Social Security or payroll taxes. Many of them don't pay much at all into it. I cannot understand why they are even concerned about it.

Social Security is ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THE BUSINESS OF RICH PEOPLE LIKE PETE PETERSON AND HIS MILLIONAIRE BUDDIES AND THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR NOSES AND THEIR DIRTY FINGERS OUT OF IT.

There is really a lot of misinformation about Social Security out there.

I am posting this on my DU journal so that I and others can refer to it in the future.

For minimum wage link:

http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/minimumwage.htm


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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.

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/13/~/average-monthly-social-security-benefit-for-a-retired-worker

You got it. I would never support a budget or a president who would

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.

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/5/~/maximum-social-security-retirement-benefit

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:

http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/minimumwage.htm


Email this page
Share

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.

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/13/~/average-monthly-social-security-benefit-for-a-retired-worker

Thanks. It's a game to distract Americans from the real issues of imports and their impact

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.

We don't know what the whole deal will be.

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.

It isn't that Manning is so much more deserving.

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.

Compare: Soldiers who were convicted of committing acts of

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.

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500257_162-696043.html

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_torture_and_prisoner_abuse

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.
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