Monday, December 13, 2004

Supporting Our Troops

Troops asking for armor are told to make do with spin. I guess D. Rumsfeld rides in an armored limousine because he's not as resourceful as our troops. Don't really understand why. Even an armored limousine can be blown up.

We have the finest military in the world for several reasons. We try to provide our troops with the best equipment and the best training. The military tries to develop the best leaders and is successful the vast majority of the time. We develop effective, complex logistics programs to make sure our troops are supplied with what they need, when they need it -- everything from food, weapons, and ammunition to tanks, trucks, and Humvees.

One of the important reasons that our military is the finest in the world is the resourcefulness of our troops. When confronted with problems, our troops find solutions. When confronted with obstacles, our troops come up with ways to work around the obstacles. Our troops don't sit on their hands and whine about problems, they find innovative and creative ways to do the best they can with what they have, while waiting for the leadership to come up with a permanent solution.

So, why are our troops scouring the landfills looking for scrap metal to armor their Humvees? Because they are smart, innovative, and creative. They know that it takes time for the manufactured armor to be delivered and installed. They recognize that they need to find a temporary solution to protect themselves. They have found their temporary solution in the landfills. The solution isn't perfect, but it beats doing nothing but complaining.

Excerpted from:

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bush's Social Security Reform

Social Security's "running out of money". How do we "save" it?

Why we allow people to divert their money somewhere else!

Social Security was designed to lower risk by providing everyone with a basic retirement. As much as one ingnores or even appreciates risk as a 20 year-old, most are not entertained to wake up on their 62nd birthday to find out someone else just "appropriated" his or her lifetime nestegg.   (Any Enron retirees in the audience?)

Keep in mind that the stock market crash in 1937 and its resulting disasterous impact on American's "savings" was one of the arguments for Social Security.

So how to save Social Security? Putting the money into more risky investments only moves us closer to the original problem.

As much as the Far Right's proposed solution degrades the position of the general populace, moving people into more "lucrative" investments (curiously?) solves two pressing Far Right goals:

1) It will help lessen taxes on the well-off.

In order to pass, it also must spun to appear as a benefit to those far from retirement as well as having no effect on those close to retirement.

A possible upside to the plan is that it will make it more difficult for Congress to dip into our retirement money. Congress is infamous for replacing cash with IOUs.

The likely downside is the solution to the Far Right's second problem:

2) How to get Wall Street's grubby hands into Social Security. Wall Street has been lusting after a piece of Social Security's huge asset pools for years.

I predict a tough fight for what will be in the end very little progress. Hmm... sorta sounds like my prediction for Iraq.

As an experiment, I'll be keeping track of Bush's SS Reform "progress" as reported in the press. I'm interested in tracking his "flip flopping".

Starting out from Rueters we have the first stake in the sand:
UPDATE 1-Bush says no payroll tax hike for Social Security
Thu Dec 9, 2004 11:09 AM ET
(Adds details)

WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Thursday ruled out raising payroll taxes to help pay for Social Security reform, a transition experts have estimated will cost $1 trillion to $2 trillion.
"We will not raise payroll taxes to solve this problem," said Bush, rejecting a solution advocated by some experts.
Bush wants to add personal retirement accounts to Social Security to let younger workers have the option of investing of some their own money to pay for retirement.
Experts believe the transition cost $1 trillion to $2 trillion over 10 years.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had recommended a payroll tax increase on upper-bracket workers to help finance the transition.
Bush made the comment during an Oval Office meeting with Social Security experts.
The White House said this week the transition costs might be borrowed, but Bush said he would not prejudge any solution and would work with members of Congress.
"I think what's really important in the discussions is to understand the size of the problem, and that is we are faced with a present value of unfunded liabilities of about $11 trillion," he said.

Activist Judges

After Bush's Tort Reform legislation goes into effect we'll see fewer of these rediculous payout amounts

From the 10.12.04 New Zealand Herald:

A Chicago court has ordered three United States Islamic organisations and a man accused of bankrolling the Palestinian group Hamas to pay US$156 million ($224 million) in damages over the death of a US-born student, David Boim, gunned down in the West Bank in 1996.

Lawyers for the student's parents, who brought the suit, had said in advance that no money might ever be collected, but the real point of the case was to set a precedent for going after "the domestic enablers of terrorism".

The case was brought under a 1992 US law that permits victims of terrorism to seek civil damages against groups deemed responsible for such acts.

Monday, December 06, 2004

America's "War" on Drugs

Are we winning?

Every TV show these days has 5 minutes of story punctuated by 6 minutes of ads by Big Pharma.

Hungry? Eat too much? Eat this pill!

Worried? Anxious? Worried that you may be too anxious? Take a pill!

Shy? Want to be popular? Swallow this magic potion.

Even Viagra and every one of its competitors is not even bothering to be circumspect in their ads. Take this and your wife/girlfriend/secretary will get a huge grin on her face and totally forget that Viagra still does nothing for her sex drive that your pot belly and continuous snoring hasn't already killed. If Viagra isn't a "recreational" drug, what is?

So my question is this: Can we ever be sucessful in our "war against drugs" when our very society is looking to solve their every problem with a magic pill?