I do hope that none of my dear blog readers have heart conditions or are otherwise adverse to shock, because I'm posting here again after 6 months AWOL.
To be honest, I am considering closing down this blog, but since I had't been able to decide where to move, I let it sit dormant.
However, recently I have made progress on my plans to open a blogging round table for political centrists and moderates. We hope to get it going live in August, so until then here will I share snippets of both my life personal and political. And after that, we shall see.
While I was *away*, I stood back and did a lot of political thinking. I wanted to see if I could possibly make my peace with President Obama. And I actually went a long way towards that end, but in the end I could not cross that line. I remain skeptical towards much of what his administration and his Congress are doing.
In the meantime, the Right has been acting in ways that make them even less attractive to me. I still cannot figure out for sure if the Tea Partiers really are ultra-conservatives, as both the Left and the Right want us to think for differing reasons.
As more and more special elections around the country are being held, it does appear that the Tea Party candidates are the most conservative on the ballot and this frustrates me. I was initially attracted to the movement at first, thinking it might be a good spot for moderates, but every day puts more doubt on that idea. It also frustrates me that it appears that the anti-Obama vote may now be fractured and split instead of cohesive and powerful.
So, I've been reading books these past months. Let's see, I first poured through Amity Schlaes' The Forgotten Man in record time for something so technical, detailed and historical. To me, it was just short of fascinating. Very good read. I gained a different perspective on some of the key players from the Great Depression Era. I also saw the FDR years from as objective a perch as possible, instead of Saint FDR or "that man" aka The Devil. Her take on him was refreshingly dispassionate.
I think that the two biggest things I learned from reading it was that there were a shocking number of Communist thinkers in his administration, and that Social Security was basically set up as a pyramid scheme to raise government cash flow through taxes, a scheme that ended up working quite well for people who really needed it for quite a long time.
That's right. We all learned in school what its official objective was, to be an insurance against old age destitution. But in reality, it was a grass roots concept that was seized upon in order to bring monetary inflows to our Treasury, and its official concept was only secondary. I'd never known that, and it is an excellent example of FDR's almost ruthless embrace of whatever was needed.
I've done a lot of research over the years on Social Security and why it falls into the red so much. And I know that, had Eisenhower's Congress not been the first raider of it to fund the building of the Interstate Highway system, and had subsequent Congresses not raided it for various and sundry other reasons, it would be perfectly sound and solidly plump, even without means testing or retirement age raising, and with its parasite programs of disability and survivor and children benefits. In my book, it's not a failure at all but a remarkable success, and I figure that our federal government's general fund owes it back a heck of a lotta moola, so payback's a bitch.
It's just that, back when FDR pushed its inception, that was only an ancilary reason for it. Even more reason for miracle, the people embraced the official mission like a life raft in the ocean, and SS is probably the one success of FDR's that's the most consistantly touted. All because it made a great ruse for greedy government appetite.
Makes me wonder then what the *real* unofficial reason for health care reform is, if the taxes are raised up front for it well before the benefits are expended. Whoa, a little deja vu, perhaps? It does give me pause to consider the possibility that FDR is being copied today, but SS was small potatoes compared to health care...as an entitlement program. It doesn't compute for me that government health care will ever become the self-sustaining program that SS became, or much less a program so cash-rich that it could be borrowed from. So, if FDR's ploy is indeed being copied, it's either really bad judgment on the part of Team Obama or really unethical scamming. Either way, not good news.
Not good news, because many pundits are just giving up on continuing SS, the latest reason being our debt service. Well, lemme just say this now: over my dead body, people. Separate the disability program from it, means test it (it's an insurance program, not a guaranteed pension annuity, and it always has been, we've just been more generous with it than we should have been historically), raise the retirement age for younger workers and eliminate the stupid early reitirement option that makes most people think they must retirement at 62 or even 59. But, don't you dare eliminate it for those who need it to live on.
Think about it this way, long and hard: before SS, most elderly Americans lived with and off their children if they had no retirement of their own. And those children were burdened with that financially and emotionally, with the only break being they usually had 5 or 6 siblings to share the burdon with. Today, with smaller families and the elderly living longer than ever, is that what you really want to look forward to? Living with your mother until you are 60? Like I said, think about it. A ten percent tithe on income is a small price to pay for independence, don't you think?