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One Way to Save Social Security

Submitted by Ken Watts on Thu, 09/22/2011 - 16:28

Last time, I explained why the "Ponzi scheme" line about Social Security that the Republicans have been pushing was nonsense.

At the end of the post, I pointed out that the other Republican line—the idea that Social Security is about to go broke—was equally false.

Which brings me to the graph below:

It takes a little explaining, but bear with me, because it's worth the "Aha!" at the end:

Based on data from Emmanuel Saez at UC Berkely Department of Economics and the Social Security Administration.

The line on the graph represents the Social Security base—the cutoff point, above which people don't have to pay into social security.

Ponzi Schemes and Social Security

Submitted by Ken Watts on Tue, 09/20/2011 - 15:27

There's been a lot of loose talk among conservatives recently about Social Security.

Social security is simply the way Americans have decided to pitch in together and make sure that our elderly and disabled don't end up starving on the streets.

This isn't surprising, since the people who sponsor the right-wing propaganda machine are generally both wealthy and unscrupulous.

They would very much like to elimate anything that makes the middle class stable enough to feel like fighting them politically.

The basic argument they make is something like that old joke about the restaurant: "The food there is awful—and the portions are way too small!"

  1. It's somehow dishonest and wrong—a "Ponzi scheme".
  2. It's going to go broke too soon—it won't be around for our grandchildren.

The first charge is simply absurd. Consider the following definition:

Home Economics

Submitted by Ken Watts on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 17:30

I've been thinking recently about the national debt—about the deficit, and the way we deal with it as a nation.

I don't know what conservative politicians (a group who have very little in common with the average conservative citizen) were saying in the forties and fifties, but by the time I became politically conscious, they constantly repeated one theme.

The idea was that the average American family had to balance its budget, and so it was reasonable to expect the same from the American government—the government should not be going into debt.

Even as a teenager, I had trouble with their reasoning.

I didn't actually know any families who had no debt.

As noble as the idea of a debt-free household might be, it was certainly not a possibility in my neighborhood, unless you used the word household in a way which excluded an actual house.

My parents had debt. My friends' parents had debt. That was how you financed a decent lifestyle.

Some people paid it off by the time they were old, some didn't.

So, I rejected the politician's conclusion about the government.

But I don't reject the analogy.

Letter to a Terrorist (Written on 9/11/2001)

Submitted by Ken Watts on Sat, 09/10/2011 - 19:35

I wrote this on the afternoon of 9/11, still in shock from the morning's events. It expressed my deepest fears about the consequences of those events: fears about the spiritual dangers that confronted the world and my country on that day.

It seems fitting to reprint it now.


Letter to a Terrorist

We are ordinary people.
We are not leaders,
Not politicians,
Or generals,
Or priests.
We are not professors in a think tank,
making policy that affects your country.

We are ordinary people,
Like the painter on the hundredth floor.
Like the man who cleaned the toilets on the ninety-first,

Or the secretary who answered the phone,
Who only wanted a paycheck
To put food in her baby's mouth.

We are ordinary people,
And even we know
That it is not reason enough
That you hate our country,
Or that you believe,
Even with all your heart,
That it is evil.

It is not reason enough
For the bodies of brothers,
The twisted broken bodies of wives,
The charred remains of fathers and friends.

It is not reason enough
That you think we have done you enormous harm.

It is not reason enough
For the weeping of families
And the weeping of children,
For the screaming and panic and pain,
For the deaths of ordinary people
Who never wished you any harm.

They never wished you any harm.
We are like them. We are them.
We know.

It is not reason enough
That you think you're on the side of God,
And believe we are the devil.

We ordinary people have a certain wisdom, too.
We are not stupid or unfeeling.
We understand
That your anger may be real,
We understand this even in the midst of our own.

We understand that you may have lost loved ones,
That you may blame us for the loss.
We have felt pain
And anger,
Even before you lashed out at us.
We know what it is like to rage with righteous anger.

We feel it now,
Toward you.

But don't you see?
Don't you see
That even if you were right,
Even if we were all those things you hate,
That by this act,
By slaughtering these innocents,
You would only have become like us?
Have become the thing you hate the most?

Even if we were like that?
Even if you were right?

The next time you plan to lash out in anger,
The next time you are tempted to vent your rage
On the custodian with a mother to support,
Or the fireman searching for a stranger to save,
The next time you are tempted in your righteous fury,
To wage war on the innocent to punish the guilty,
You will only become the thing you hate.
You will only become the thing you hate.


And pray,
For the sake of the innocents around you,

As we pray,
That our leaders, too, will remember,

That our leaders

Two Labor Day Proposals in Detail

Submitted by Ken Watts on Wed, 09/07/2011 - 13:26

So, back to my proposals:On Labor Day I posted two proposals, and a series of random thoughts in general support of them. This post outlines the proposals in more detail.

  1. Raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and even more on the large corporations.
    1. You can see from what I said last time that this is not an anti-rich proposal. It would be to the advantage of the entire country, including the super-wealthy, to keep the fruit of our labors from pooling in the hands of a few where it does no one (not even the few) any real good, but

Two Proposals

Submitted by Ken Watts on Mon, 09/05/2011 - 15:49

I have a couple of proposals on this Labor Day, and some random thoughts to go along with them...

First, the proposals, then the the thoughts, and then some explanation of the proposals.

The proposals:

  1. We should raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and even more on the large corporations.
  2. We should spend some of the money generated by the proposal above to create a large tax cut for small businesses which hire employees.

The random thoughts:


Submitted by Ken Watts on Sat, 08/20/2011 - 16:02

government (guv'·ern·ment) n.

Government  (guv'·ern·ment) n.

1. A system constituted, ordained, and established by the People to 

1. A nefarious and unwarranted intrusion by an exterior agency, which

2. form a more perfect Union

2. undermines attempts to divide and conquer the states,

3. establish Justice

3. inhibits the rightful use of coercion and power,

4. insure domestic Tranquility

Hello Again

Submitted by Ken Watts on Sun, 08/14/2011 - 18:36

First, to all of you who emailed me during my long absence from these pages, thank you for your concern.

I am finally finding my way back to normal life, and will be posting more frequently as time goes on.

I've just completed a much needed, and major, overhaul of the mechanics of the site.

If you are registered (it's free!) at the mull, you'll find that posting comments is much easier and formatting them is more flexible. You'll also notice that the search option works much better now, with some help from Google.