Monthly Archives: January 2010

Privatize Social Security

The Economist wonders “whether it makes sense to let people retire at 65.”  Jeremiah wonders why the government is telling him when he can retire.  They only have this authority because they have taken thousands from Jeremiah throughout his working life – which he could have invested profitably – and now they will choose whether and when to give his money back.

Instead of investing this money, the government uses it to pay current expenses.  This is the very same fraud for which Bernie Madoff was recently convicted.

Far from earning interest, Jeremiah’s money, and yours, is paying salaries for 62,000 employees at the Social Security Administration.  That’s right – your tax money is more likely to pay for a government employee’s retirement than your own.

The way to “save” Social Security is to abolish it, or at least phase it out.  It would be nice if those who had paid in could get their money back at face value.  After that, the system could operate as a “public option” for those without the sense to open an IRA.


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Prop 8 On Trial

Jeremiah’s view on gay rights is a pragmatic one.  Gays are productive members of society – that’s the “P” in GDP – and they should have the same rights as anyone else.  This, plus a cursory reading of the Constitution, is why we were dismayed to see gays disenfranchised recently in Maine.

Now, a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 looks like going to the Supreme Court.  In California, as in Maine, gay marriage was denied by popular vote.  As we wrote then, popular vote is not a legitimate way to settle rights issues.  California may allow its citizens to vote away civil rights, but the United States does not.  According to the 14th Amendment:

No State shall make or enforce any law which abridges the privileges of citizens of the United States.

The Amendment says that our rights as U.S. citizens supersede state law, and that we all have the same basic rights.  An individual state might conceivably grant more rights, but not fewer.

Furthermore, says the plaintiff’s lawyer, since marriage is supposed to be good for America, we should want more of it.   Theodore Olson is a conservative, and other conservatives should heed this argument.  If gay people want to pull together as a family, and pay their taxes, we should let them.

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A Clean Bill of Health

Democrats in Congress need a fallback plan, to save their health-care bill in case they lose a Senate seat in today’s election.  Here’s a plan they seem to have overlooked: work with the RepublicansJeremiah wrote back in October that the only responsible way to draft this bill was to engage both parties.

Now, it is the “Democratic Health Bill” only because certain Democrats, notably House Speaker Pelosi, were too arrogant to work with the other side.  Ms. Pelosi famously declared, “We won the election, and we’ll write the bill.”  Memo to Ms. Pelosi: you didn’t win the election.  Barack Obama won the election, and he promised bi-partisan cooperation.

“Let’s remove all doubt,” she says. “We will have health care one way or another.”

That hardly sounds like the formula for sound legislation.  Democrats are now in the position of supporting just any health bill – at any cost – and this will hurt them in November.

President Obama can put an end to the madness.  He can declare that he will not sign the bill unless it passes both chambers with bipartisan support.  With this one gesture, he can prove who really leads the Democratic Party – and save it from the likes of Ms. Pelosi.  Better to have a clean health-care bill next year, than a partisan disaster this year.

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Do Not Give To Red Cross

As news reports continue from Haiti, Americans are donating generously to that stricken nation.  Angelina Jolie has given $1 million, to the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aid organization.  It is worth noting that Ms. Jolie, a longtime philanthropist and UNHCR ambassador, chose this group.  Other celebrities blindly gave to the Red Cross.

Jeremiah remembers the 9/11 attack, after which Red Cross pocketed most of the $564 million donated to that cause.

The Red Cross has raised hundreds of millions of dollars that were intended by the donating public to be used for the victims of September 11 … those funds being sequestered

The Red Cross was also quick to accuse America of torture at Guantanamo – on weak evidence – and then leak the report.  After Katrina, it was déjà vu.  The Red Cross is sloppy at best, if not actually hostile to America.  The Economist has a timely article contrasting their pliant ethics with those of MSF.

So, give generously to those in need, and not the Red Cross.

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Chinese Pirates Threaten America

American manufacturing jobs are gone forever.  As Bruce Springsteen wrote, “these jobs are going, boys, and they’re not coming back.”  If American manufacturing ever recovers, there will be only robots working in the plants.  American service jobs are threatened, too, by outsourcing to India.  Our only hope of keeping the American dream lies in high value-added R&D jobs.

What do computer chips, software, pharmaceuticals and Hollywood – yes, Hollywood – have in common?  They all use brainpower, capital, and specialized experience, to create world-class products.  Sadly, these products are also the easiest to rip off.  We do the research, for years and billions of dollars, to develop a new drug – and a Chinese factory copies it the next day.

America is asked to stump up billions for global ecology projects, but the world has no respect for our “intellectual property.”  International treaties on patent and copyright are positively toothless.  China steals our jobs and our software, and then laughs all the way to the bank.  When was the last time President Obama attended a high-profile conference on that?

See also: U.S. business needs protection from knock-offs

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A Cautionary Tale

Bright young people in France aspire to join the social service.  The “public sector” is where the cushy jobs are found, with fat salaries and benefits courtesy of French taxpayers.  College kids in France do not create Facebook in their dorm.  There is no French Google, Microsoft, HP or Yahoo.  These American companies were all founded by entrepreneurs.

America still has a thriving private sector.  Ambitious people, young and old, can start their own companies.  New companies mean fresh opportunity for all workers.  A vibrant market, properly regulated, is our best guarantee of financial security.  Private employers in France have a tough time:

Social-security contributions are high, the working week is short, the labour code is strict and shedding jobs is slow and difficult. Taking on an employee in France is a risk, so employers avoid it as best they can.

French lawmakers were keen to fund social programs, and build government agencies, at the expense of private enterprise.  They were not looking at the big picture.  If everyone is a government employee, there are no net taxpayers.

Private employers are the engine of growth in any economy.  They create the jobs and pay the taxes.  America is now treading the path behind France, with rising taxes, deficits, and expensive new government agencies.  Congress must renew its support for private enterprise, or we will kill the golden goose.

See also: On Socialism

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War on Women

A Playboy model was murdered in Miami last week – adjectives like “young” and “pretty” are superfluous.  Headline News memorialized her with about ten minutes of lingerie photos.  Her family must be so proud.  Apparently, plain girls are never murdered – at least not in Miami.  Maybe they can’t get a date.  Maybe they are at home, studying for that RN license.  Maybe, just maybe, Headline News is grateful for an excuse to run titillating pictures of a pretty dead girl.

Headline News blends sleaze with hypocrisy, by linking the murder to a programming theme called “War on Women.”  Media voyeurism only helps to objectify women.  Headline News’ Jane Velez may rant about rape, incest and abuse, but she is not part of the solution.  She is an accomplice.

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