The Retirement Blues

We live at a time where the war on the working class has brought pensions squarely into the cross-hairs of politicians and pundits looking for scapegoats and an easy fix. In the past, it was the working poor and jobless who bore the brunt of the economic blame that so often circulates during tough times. Today, working class Americans with careers in industry, law enforcement, fire protection, the military, education, and state and municipal services are being attacked because they earn decent wages and benefits that include retirement security. This malevolent scrutiny is added to the cynical attacks mounted by Wall Street interests on Social Security. The promise of dignified retirement that is so critical to the American way of life is under dire threat.

Monday Musings: December 6, 2010

Once again we have arrived at the “bowl season” where college football excellence is redefined as mediocrity. There is NO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP at the highest level of college football…there never has been one either. We were told, many years ago, that no playoff could exist because it would require too many games; Oregon has played 12 games and Auburn 13…college teams used to play 11 before the bowl games. Speaking of bowl games, there are 35 this year, meaning that 75 of 120 or so teams are playing in the “postseason”. Speaking of mediocrity, Auburn’s Cam Newton was ruled eligible to play (as a student-athlete) because he is only a serial cheater in the classroom…his Dad is the NCAA’s principle villain for acting as Newton’s agent (allegedly). Phew…that was close; just so long as the kid didn’t get paid for playing ball; those pesky academics are really besides the point.

Midterm Mythology

What are we really voting on next Tuesday? The major issues in our democracy have been obscured behind layers of political white noise and an avalanche of innuendo. Long gone are the days when you could support or oppose abortion, supply side economics, the nuclear triad, or welfare for the poor. The last two years have seen mounting campaigns against phantom enemies; conservative political operatives in particular have learned well the lessons of airborne electronic warfare. In that martial field, the production via chaff or digital signals, of false targets is a principle way to hide your own airplane.

The Father, The Son, And The Holy Tax Cut

I add the emphasis to taxable income, because for those politicians and pundits that believe tax cuts are akin to the Lord’s Prayer, a very unlikely view of the American landscape exists. Precious few small businesses, of the type most of us would identify with that label, generate taxable income in excess of $200,000. Corner markets, craft stores, pizza parlors, hair salons, craft stores, boutiques, Avon ladies, independent contractors…none of these are likely to reach that plateau. Even as a sole proprietor, and cutting no corners on the filing and writing off no expenses or material, Joe the Plumber might be expected to reach $120,000 in gross income for a year.