Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ignoring the Elephant

Elephant at the Washington D.C. Zoo

Elephant at the Washington D.C. Zoo

With all this talk of sequestration and deficits and budgets, there is a huge elephant in the room pretty much ignored by politicians who are scared out of their MINDS to even whisper it: Social Security.

What is responsible about drastic, across-the-board cuts in federal spending if we REFUSE to put Social Security and Medicare on the butcher block as well?

Why are politicians scared to talk about it? Because the generation known as Baby Boomer has our country by the you-know-whats simply because of sheer numbers. Ever since they were running around college campuses in the 1960’s this generation has gotten its own way.

And now they are retiring.

And we’ve known this day was coming for 40 years.

And we’ve refused to deal with it proactively.

According to the Social Security Administration website, life expectancy for those reaching adulthood has only increased, on average, a mere 5 years. The main problem is not life-expectancy. It is the huge size of the Baby Boomer generation, the SSA says. There are simply too many of them and not enough coming up behind to pay. http://www.ssa.gov/history/lifeexpect.html

Well, that may be, but why not start there? Raise the retirement those five years. It would be a start. In fact, I have to wonder why it hasn’t already been implemented. Apparently, nobody wants to go there. Guess why? Those Baby Boomers VOTE!

I say nobody, but that isn’t exactly true. I found this on the Heritage Foundation’s website (a conservative think-tank, for those who aren’t familiary):

While lawmakers from both parties squabble over tax rates, a fiscal crisis is looming on the horizon. Entitlement programs — Social Security and Medicare to be precise — have unfunded obligations of $48 trillion. By comparison, the fiscal cliff carries a price tag of roughly $650 billion. As lawmakers talk about another debt-limit increase, they need to think seriously about America’s long-term obligations.
(click the quote to read the entire article)

The article goes on to outline three solutions.

1)Fix the annual adjustment rate to reflect true inflation rates
2)Increase the retirement age to 68 and then link it to life expectancy
3)Focus benefits on those who need it–as originally intended.

So as not to be one-sided, let’s take a look at a progressive plan to fix the problem. The Center for American Progress (a liberal think-tank) published this:

Is there room in Washington for a true bipartisan agreement on Social Security reform that increases national savings, individual ownership, and ultimately retirement security? It’s a tall order, but doable if both progressives and the president are willing to consider the following four-part framework for bipartisan Social Security reform:

At least they are talking about it! But what of their proposals? I have to admit I found them to be rather convoluted, but I’ll try to simplify. Come on progressives, ya’ gotta dumb it down a little for the average American. But here goes.
1)A universal 401K plan with matching dollars provided by the U.S. Government.This would also include a flat-tax savings deduction on income taxes.
2)Increase taxes on the rich
3)Balance the budget and in good years, save the money, don’t spend it.
4)Bipartisanship

Gasp! Cooperation? What a novel idea!

Once again, I believe it all comes down to power and politics, and both political parties are equally to blame. It’s time for those of us in the middle to move ever more firmly into the middle and to begin to encourage others on the near left and right to join us. We should not be held hostage to two over-reaching political parties that are over-influenced by the power elite and money elite on both sides with their deep pockets and bribery.

It is also imperative that the younger generations band together on this and other issues in order to have equal voice at the ballot box. If we don’t vote, the large voting block of Baby Boomers will stomp all over us, leaving us with huge debts, a decimated economy, and a bleak future.

Social entitlements to the Baby Boomer generation is the big, gray, wrinkled elephant in the room. There it is. Take a good look. Now what are we gonna do about it?

Maybe it is time we go back to some good old-fashioned values and begin to take care of our own elderly again, and then begin to reduce the entitlement spending. Again, smaller and more local control is better, less complex, and therefore more manageable. Local communities can (and will, if necessary) take care of their own.

I see consensus up there on those ideas for changing Social Security. You have a Progressive think-tank talking about balancing the budget and saving money. You have a Conservative think-tank talking about giving benefits only to those who need it. I bet both would agree to raising the retirement age incrementally. The only thing left, really, is to stop playing politics and cooperate! We the people need to demand it of our representatives.

Pass the word, write to your representatives in Congress, and talk…and consider switching to an alternative political party or declare yourself an Independent. That’s what I’m gonna do, asap. It’s time.

Federal Government Employment Really Bigger Under Obama?

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Graph From Political Loudmouth on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Political-Loudmouth/281168802721

I just saw a graph on Facebook that supposedly shows that the Obama government actually employed fewer people than the last three Republican governments.

Can this be true, or is it some sort of skewing of facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics? If it is true, why don’t we know this?

Are our society, politics, and government so large now we citizens cannot get a grasp on what is really happening? This is unhealthy in a democracy or any kind of government.

Time to re-localize ourselves–local government, local education, local economy, local community–all within our immediate grasp, not too convoluted to analyze, transparent…

The Sequestration Fiasco

june 24 2011 124

Does anyone else think this whole supposed sequester “debate” is a political scam perpetrated by BOTH parties?

Here’s my thought: both Democrats and Republicans know we need to reduce our budget spending and raise revenue in order to get our fiscal house in order, but neither wants to be “the bad guy” who makes the tough choices. So our lovely political parties are going to let the sequester happen, and neither side will claim responsibility for the sequester and will instead blame the other side…in effect, political stalemate. This, instead of being brave and making tough choices with reductions and taking responsibility for those choices. And if it is a political stalemate, neither party loses. Only the American people lose.

It’s not a bad move, if you are a political party. You don’t stick your neck out. You can skew the facts and figures as fuel for your next campaign and light the match from behind your safety wall of political rhetoric. The politicized news agencies will blow on the flames, igniting a wildfire of ire on both sides. The smoke and flames will obscure the truth…whatever that is. Great plan. If you are a political party.

Neither party is willing to admit, out loud, that Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare (as well as defense and other items) have to be cut and revamped if we are going to have a responsible budget. Dems refuse to admit that the government is bloated. Repubs refuse to admit that we need increased revenue to pay down the debt we’ve grown.

No one wants to think about China.

We the people really need to withdraw our support from both parties, in my opinion. They are not working for us. They are too busy starting fires.

To read more about the sequester, I’ve put together a list from a number of sources from both sides and the middle.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/02/19/172425370/whose-sequester-is-it-anyway

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/19/obama-seeks-sequester-scare/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21508658

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/02/18/bowles-simpson-debt-sequester-budget-plan-politico/1928819/

A Localista Valentine’s Day

How do I love thee? Let me count the quotes.

How do I love thee? Let me count the quotes.

Dear Reader:

So, it is that day of the year again where we turn our thoughts to love and romance. And candy. And flowers. And candlelight. And jewelry.

Well, a few of us turn our thoughts to jewelry. Others bemoan the commercialism of a “made-up” holiday. Some vow to ignore the candy hearts and the smoochy pictures and the sappy sentiments popping up all over social media (“What photo of the pink lovebirds?” she asks with an innocent look on her face.) A few, like my friend, Amy, get really creative and do things like send heart-shaped egg salad sandwiches in their kid’s lunchbox…awesome idea, Amy!

This year I’m treading down the middle of the road. I like Valentine’s Day because it falls in February, which is a nice month. The bitter cold of January has eased into soft snow, stronger sunlight, longer days, and moderate winter temperatures. Christmas and New Year’s revelry has faded in memory. Spring, with St. Paddy’s Day and Easter, seem far away here in the north where the earth is still covered in white, and the bare branches of deciduous trees crisscross against the sky with no sign of swelling buds, let alone a hint of green.

Mostly I like the sentimentality of Valentine’s Day, the one day in the year where you can let yourself get as mushy and gushy as you like, the mushier and gushier the better, and hardly anyone will scoff at you. What about those people you know will scoff? Ignore them, smile, and plop another chocolate covered strawberry in your mouth.

A Library Card

A Library Card

You can celebrate love and romance without spending any money at all. For instance, I made handmade valentines at the local library, where one of our high school volunteers had organized a wondrous variety of craft materials and offered assistance. When I got up there, three children and three adults were happily cutting, pasting, stickering, and drawing–and this was ten minutes before the end of the event. The card above was crafted by one of our creative library patrons for her granddaughter. So imaginative and pretty!

What else could you do? Draw a sketch. Write a poem, even a sappy poem. Pen a love letter…how long has it been since you passed a note to the love of your life?

Don’t like paper tokens? Play “your song” on the stereo and take a long, slow dance. Read the “interesting” parts of a romance novel aloud to each other. Bake brownies together. Light some candles, pour some scented oil into the tub, and take a bath together. Your imagination is as good, probably better, than mine. Use it!

But what about flowers and chocolates and the rest? I told Hubby that he really and truly does not need to buy me an expensive bouquet of flowers this year, but if he absolutely feels he must go floral, then would he mind buying a little something from our local flower shop, Nature’s Way Greenery? Buying from a locally-owned shop means more of that money stays local, zipping up to town hall in the form of property taxes, that money goes to pay the guys who plowed the roads after the big winter blizzard last weekend, maybe they spend their paycheck at the locally-owned gas station and to buy bread and milk down to the small, locally-owned supermarket. Maybe the supermarket owner is ready to plant some rhododendrons this spring, so he goes down to Nature’s Way to get some. Loop closed (minus a few State of Maine sales taxes, but that is a story for another day.)

The moment that money is spent at a national or multinational retailer is the moment the cycle is broken. A portion of the local economy just got sucked into paying the bonus of a CEO in Belgium or India or Bentonville, Arizona.

So shop your town first, and then the towns next door. Today I moseyed over to Waterboro and popped into the Cornerstone Country Market, a locally-owned and operated shop. There, I picked up an avocado and greens for lunch and a tub of lard (really!) from a Pennsylvania producer of Amish meats and cheeses. I use the lard for popping my own corn, for pastries, and for frying up pancakes, but I would love to find a local producer this year.

Love in paper and sugar

Love in paper and sugar

Anyway, while checking out at the cash register, I spied old-fashioned stick candy in all these pretty colors, five for a dollar. Excellent, I thought! Perfect to go with my handmade valentines.

I’m not the only Localista in the family. The Teen, too, chose to present handmade gifts to her “crush” this year: a book of her original black and white sketches glued onto craft paper and bound with yarn, a love letter, a colored-pencil drawing mounted on thick paper stock, and one of her beloved stuffed animals (there is some story behind it, but I’m not privy to the details). All this was squirted with her signature perfume, of course, and stuck in a paper gift bag. Local, handmade, thoughtful, and an expenditure of time rather than cash.

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Drop in and share your wisdom, your wit, and your words.

Happy Love Day, Dear Reader!
XOXOXO