Saturday, September 27, 2008

The latest chain mail

An acquaintenace of mine sent me the latest "outrage," expressing severe umbrage that the new $1 coins don't contain the inscription "In God We Trust" and urging me and all my contacts to refuse to use them.

This is such silliness. The European Union uses €1 and €2 coins and probably saves a lot of money not printing paper bills, which don't last nearly as long as the coins. But the point of the outrage, of course, hasn't anything to do with running the government more efficiently. It's the missing slogan.

What is it about these people, who insist that our government recognize religion? Insisting on this motto bends our government to a particular ideology. It cheapens the motto. As Theodore Roosevelt pointed out, it is irreverent to the point of sacrilege. I believe it is another form of idolatry, to recognize the motto and worship it in place of true religion, which is helping widows, visiting prisoners, etc.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Buying Another Iraq

I've been distracted for about five weeks, caring for a man recovering from a traumatic brain injury, the victim of a vicious mugging. I'll have a post in the near future talking about the different types of love we encounter or exhibit, relevant to this topic.

But today's topic is about the $700billion dollar bailout that our Current Occupant has proposed to solve all the financial problems he and his cohorts created in the past eight years or more. And I titled it "Buying Another Iraq" because that's about how I see it: it hasn't been enough for Dubya to bury us in debt for a specious war, he has to double-down by rescuing Wall Street for the excesses he facilitated. The effects of this bailout will be felt for over 40 years.

Who benefits from this plan? Surely it must be the few hundred Wall Street financial leaders, aided and abetted by GOP-sponsored legislation that deregulated the financial markets. Surely those who supported Senator Phil Gramm's deregulation mania. These are the same people who benefited from the Bush tax cuts, during a time of war when we are all supposed to sacrifice. Sacrifice indeed. Now it is we, the middle class and below, who once again sacrifice. It is the wealthy few who get off the hook.

Who is being bailed out, who lives and who dies, financially? It is one of the tenets of capitalism that reward results from risk. This bailout should shout to all Americans that the free market system has serious flaws that only government can correct, through regulation and controls, assiduously applied.
The companies who are "bailed out" should be nationalized, no less than FreddieMac and FannieMae. The executives and boards should be fired for cause and their golden parachutes confiscated. Trust in our financial system will not be restored until we have people running it who are doing so for better reasons than their own portfolios.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blather in the e-mail

My beloved kid sister forwarded a petition for President Bush from an unnamed source, reading as follows:
We, the undersigned, protest the bill that the Senate voted on recently which would allow illegal aliens to access our Social Security. We ask that you and all Congressional representatives require citizenship as a pre-requisite for social services in the United States
The more I thought about this petition, the sillier it became. So, I wrote back to my sister, with cc's to my other siblings and relatives who received it. Here's what I said:

I don't think citizenship is the issue. Citizens and legal immigrants alike must pay into social security for at least 40 quarters--ten years--before they're eligible for SS benefits. Furthermore, the amount of their benefit is scaled to their income. This means that the benefits of minimum-wage workers are not the same as those of us paying larger amounts into SSA.

As for "illegal" immigrants, it would be helpful if the authors of this petition attached a bill number to it so that we could determine its exact wording and track its progress through the Congress. Without it, we are at the mercy of the author of this Ponzi scheme. Why have so many of you attached your name to a petition without checking out the actual bill before Congress, if in fact it exists with the provisions claimed? Do any of you actually believe an elected congresscritter would sponsor such a bill? What are you smoking?

Now that you have been alerted to the soft spots in this rabble-rousing, would you be willing to (1) research the real bill before Congress, (2) send in a retraction of your original email, should you find the details to be different from what was claimed, and (3) alert those who alerted you, that this whole e-mail enterprise is a fraud, if you so decide?

If you are unwilling to take these simple countermeasures, what are you prepared to say about your willingness to be duped by demagogues? Are you unwilling to recover your integrity? Are you unwilling to fight back against duplicity, innuendo and outright lies?

Don't feel like I'm singling you out. I've been duped before, it cost me tens of thousands of dollars at one point; I didn't do what I should have done to check out the claims of the perpetrator.

Please, folks, don't sign on to "outrages" until you've checked out the details. If there aren't any details, don't jump on the bandwagon. House and Senate bills have numbers, and they're all online, at and If you don't have the patience or training to understand the amazing complexity of what you're reading, then ask a librarian for help, or some other person who has the expertise.

And please stop sending me these faux alerts, they're distracting me from more important pursuits, like brushing my teeth and taking hot baths.