Social InSecurity or Why the US Should NOT Privatize Social Security

In the years leading up to the financial crash in 2008, Wall Street was begging for huge infusions of cash to keep the bubble inflated; the GOP hoped that giving them the Social Security Trust Fund would keep it from bursting on their watch. Imagine if all of our Social Security money had been sucked into that vortex. Be wary…they are going to try to do it again and the GOP has the votes they need this time.

Social Security is fully funded…prepaid by you and me through deductions from our paychecks and matching contributions by employers. But Congress and the President sometimes steal it and spend it on wars, tax cuts for the rich, or other zero-return ventures. They get panicky when the Social Security pot gets noticeably smaller, and some Einstein always suggests they put it all into high risk investments on Wall Street…certain that they will make a fortune and put our money back in time. Sure…no one ever loses on Wall St.

Some of my favorite forgotten heroes are the legislators who voted NO on Bush Administration legislation to privatize Social Security. The Bush team called it “reform” and, equally paradoxically, proposed to make individual Social Security accounts personal…essentially removing the safety net of a program that was created AS a safety net. Being politicians, no one proposed renaming it Social InSecurity. The measure was voted down and our funds remained secure.

Privatization efforts often tout the benefits of good business thinking that could be applied to government services. Ironically, privatization movements generally happen when there is not enough good business to go around in the private sector. The economy is slowing down, and business people are looking for growth in the wrong places.

Essentially, with privatization, government workers lose their jobs to people employed in the private sector. The impact on US employment is zero, yet these “new” jobs in the private sector are made to look like growth. And if those good business managers actually achieve any productivity improvements, the benefits are not used to reduce taxes; rather, they are paid to shareholders. In the more likely event that there are no profits from these privatized ventures, services to us taxpayers are cut so that the shareholders still get their money.

Been there…done that…don’t.

PS, it’s the same with privatized airports…only worse. Remember, Trump has signed a contract for Russia to provide security to US embassies in Russia. Can’t wait to see who will take over TSA’s job :-}

Notes on Sexual Misconduct…Past, Present, Future

Despite many strides in the women’s movement, misogyny has proven resilient in many aspects of our social contract…until now. Women in high positions, and many men as well, are sending a clear message that they intend to leverage their power to end sexual misconduct. That solidarity should provide the impetus for meaningful discussions as we chart our course for the future.  

My thoughts…the conversation should consider the following.

  • There is a clear need to explicitly define a new social contract that eschews sexual misconduct.
  • There is a need for an approach to infractions with some nuanced distinctions that recognize…
    • micro and macro-aggressions,
    • past and future behavior, and
    • individual and institutional responses.
  • Any policy must be embraced across our society in order to achieve sustainable progress toward a safe culture.

Essentially, I believe that all sexual misconduct, large and small, must end now. It’s 2018 and, going forward, there is no slack available for sexual harassment or assault. That said, we have some history to face, and we must face it with vision that is pragmatic as well as fearless.

The highest priority is to end patently obvious felonious behavior that has been allowed to persist under the code of silence among power brokers. Such egregious offenses – past, present, and future – should have consequences, including aiding and abetting.

The gray area arises with microaggressions, which comprise the foundation for toxic culture but also contribute to an element of uncertainty between the dumb and the devious. Pre-2018 microaggressions, while totally unacceptable, are more difficult to prosecute retroactively. I know this is a sore spot, but I fear that many such offenses were so commonplace as “benign” mischief that a round-up of suspects would cast too wide a net over seemingly polite society. Many allies would be lost in the process, and the misogyny crowd could get some leverage against us. I believe our best path forward is to focus on the future and declare “Never again shall we be tolerant of microaggressions in sexual misconduct.”

On this latter case, while not all past microaggressions may be deemed punishable in the civic or criminal arenas, any individual who has been injured retains absolute right to abhor the behavior and consider the offender to have had malicious intent. The micro-aggressor was wrong, and he may be treated as one of the usual suspects whose past is not forgotten or forgiven at a personal level. And whatever offenses a micro-aggressor may appear to have gotten away with in the past must be denied leniency from now on.

Hope this is reasonable response…and that we learn how to manage our own behavior, to be allies when we witness a breakdown in the social contract, and to act decisively when needed. Comments and criticism are always welcomed.

Oh yeah, and I have used the male pronoun because the topic is misogyny…but no one has the right to encroach on others through sexual misconduct. I think we all know that.

deTrumpville 10/15/2017

© Kathleen T. Wright – originally posted to Facebook on October 15, 2017
Today’s survey of deTrumpville high crimes, misdemeanors, and outright disasters…
  • In a democracy, we would NOT have…
    • Foreign enemies interfering with citizens voting for their representation in Federal and State elections
    • Lawyer nominated to head Justice Department criminal investigations division, which supervises Russia investigations, simultaneously representing one of the alleged conspirators while receiving his appointed from the other.
    • POTUS who abuses his power and is derelict in his duties…
      • Violating Emoluments clause by spending government money to enrich his own business empire
      • Failure to follow rule of law in implementation of Russian sanctions by October 1st deadline.
      • Creates real and present danger to national security by…
        • Alienating allies…
          • Criticizing NATO
          • Choosing nationalism over international cooperation on economy
          • Withdrawing from Paris Climate accord
          • Undermining efforts to confront Russian interference in elections across globe
        • Escalating hostilities with unfriendly nuclear powers using superficial social media in lieu of or antagonist of US diplomatic relations…
          • Dangerous pissing match with North Korean dictator
          • Reality show suspense posture of Iran nuclear accord
      • Signs Executive Order modifying National Security Council by eliminating safeguards arising from September 11 commission and elevating author of order to top leadership of NSC WITHOUT reading order first.
      • Creates travel ban based on religion citing terrorist threats despite targeting nations whose citizens have never been found guilty of involvement in terrorist attacks in US.
      • Engages committee on election fraud in the absence of evidence of election fraud…other than committee members themselves who had become notorious for obstructing access among registered voters, particularly people of color, who had been purged from the rolls using algorithms that were known to be error-prone.
      • Embraces neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “good people”
      • Grants amnesty to Sheriff found guilty of violating legal injunction against his discriminatory and unconstitutional civil rights violations of prisoners, up to and including death in a work camp of persons being held for misdemeanor allegations
      • Threatens citizens, news media, and businesses with censorship, legal action, or selective taxation because he objected to their use of their 1st amendment rights.
      • Filled Presidential Cabinet with persons who lacked significant knowledge of their agencies or government in general but whose greatest common denominator was extensive personal involvement in Russian business, including at least one case of money laundering for Russian oligarchs. Also, failed to hold 1st cabinet meeting in the first 5 months in office.
      • Firing multiple layers of government officials within each agency upon entering office without replacement after 9 month, eliminating…
        • Most knowledgeable advisors to inexperienced agency heads
        • Maintenance of databases supporting private and public policy implementation as well as communication of agency effectiveness
        • Key checks and balances in agency accounting and signature authority that are critical to preventing a raid on the US Treasury
      • A headless agency in charge of Homeland Security while…
        • FEMA doles out inadequate and inequitable responses to natural disasters that have killed Americans and created homelessness, food & water insecurity, dangerous waste management conditions, and despair among the survivors
          • Hurricanes: Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, South Florida, East Texas
          • Forest fires: Canyon Fires 1 & 2, Sonoma and Napa Counties
        • Domestic terrorists in separate incidents…
          • Incited racial violence in violation of their purported “freedom of speech” rallies and lethally attacked peaceful counter-demonstrations
          • Killed dozens and injures hundreds at an outdoor music venue with automatic weapons via sniper fire from a high-rise hotel
          • Brought an IED into airport set to explode at peak travel time
        • President as clear and present danger to inciting terrorism
    • Congress failing to rein in Presidential abuse of power…
      • Senate Majority Leader who rubber stamps Presidential appointments and suspends minority participation on committees and in legislative debates.
        • GOP-only approval of Brian Benczkowski to head Justice Dept criminal division despite Dems protest that Benczkowski has huge conflict of interest with Justice investigation into Trump campaign’s collusion in Russian interference in 2016 campaign. Specifically, Russia’s Kremlin-linked Alpha Bank (his client) and Trump (who appointed him) are under investigation for near-constant computer server interaction during final months of 2016 campaign.
        • Senators Warren and Harris silenced on separate occasions
        • Votes taken in early AM sessions for which minority membership not notified of said session.
      • Speaker of the House who fails to censure POTUS on any of the above abuses of power or dereliction of duty
    • Big money from out-of-state taking aim at our local, popularly elected representatives in the Senate and the House of Representatives

Save Net Neutrality & Our American Way of Life

I OPPOSE the public draft Proposal to Restore Internet Freedom because it (1) fails to recognize the Internet as a utility, (2) ignores the clear and present danger of monopoly power in private hands, and (3) holds a paradoxical potential to corrupt the principles of freedom by silencing voices, undermining market participation, and tying access to wealth. Finally, the concept is flawed inasmuch as its basic premise, modest two-year fluctuations in investment, is not compelling.

The Internet has become a public utility as a single-source media center for TV, radio, telephone, and data services as well as retail, wholesale, and financial commerce. In addition it has become a surrogate for mail service, newspapers, employment, conferences, education, and movie theaters, to name only a few. The Internet is ubiquitous and must be available to all.

The potential for concentration of private resources and monopoly power over consumers is a clear and present danger. There has never been a utility that controlled as many functions at once as the Internet today. And private ownership without regulation as a utility would allow companies to raise prices, limit consumer access to content and services, and create barriers to entry for competition. This would effectively reduce free market forces for both Internet innovation and fair trade throughout the economy.  

Net neutrality is essential to our way of life as Americans. Co-opting public access to the Internet would threaten many of our freedoms guaranteed in the US Constitution and leave those without access impoverished economically, intellectually, and politically.

Proposed Tax Policy Hurts Majority of US Families, Crippling Blow for Many

Originally posted on Facebook on September 28, 2017 and Tweeted to all US Senators

Trump/McConnell/Ryan tax plan is a huge wealth transfer to the rich**…and Trump just totally lied again. Lower & middle class families will suffer so ultra-rich can get lower tax rates and better tax shelters for their foundations.
(1) Tax policy directly hurts poorest tax payers in 2 ways, higher tax rate (20% increase from 10% to 12%) and $0 deductions for spouse & kids. Higher standard deduction will only help a few.
(2) Loss of property tax deduction, in addition to lost personal exemptions, will have a huge negative impact on middle class households.
(3) This Federal overreach into local tax policy will make it harder for state and local funding of high quality public schools as the property tax deduction is eliminated.
(4) That “extra” tax rate Trump mentioned that “might be needed to keep taxes at least as progressive as they currently are for the richest”? This means that in its current state, the tax policy definitely is regressive and gives the rich a better world than they already have**. I’m betting that extra tax rate category never happens. This was Trump’s cover for his biggest lie.
The majority of families will be poorer and their children will be guaranteed lower educational standards. This is class warfare.
**Top tax rate drops from 39.6% to 25%. Huge wealth transfer here. Possibly best ever for the already obscenely rich.