Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, September 06, 2004


It was a nice day off and my beloved spouse & the toddling dude and I went to the beach and kicked the sand and got our toes wet and listened to the lovely waves. Seattle is a seatown and I love the sea and I only make it to the sea beaches a few times a year. Funny thing.

It's crunch time for the election. I've resolved to try to write an op-ed on taxes and social security, and to try to fold that into a letter to everybody I know who's planning to vote for George Bush, asking them to reconsider, and telling them why they should. I've lost touch with any friends who are supporting Bush, but a bunch of my relatives consistently vote Republican. Several months ago I predicted a Kerry landslide, thinking that only anti-abortionists, the richest plutocrats, and people who put a high priority on writing discrimination against gay people into the Constitution had anything to gain from a Bush presidency. I still believe that, but unfortunately a lot of American voters -- including a lot of my relatives -- seem to think that invading a country that posed no threat to us and pissing off pretty much the entire world in the process while drastically weakening our military was a good idea. Maybe they think Iraq was a threat to us.

I wanted to get some research and writing done today for this, but it ain't gonna happen till later, so, for now, off the top of my head:

1. The Social Security crisis is a hoax. The Soc. Sec. administration collects far, far more in revenue from payroll deductions each year than it pays out in benefits. The idea is that the surplus gets saved to pay benefits to current workers when they qualify later for the benefits. Starting in about 10 years (if I recall correctly), the Soc. Sec. administration will no longer be collecting surplus revenues, and will start to have to draw down on those savings. But the surplus doesn't get saved and just gets spent up like regular taxes, and all these lying politicians are running around saying that Social Security is going to go broke. Well, yes, it might, but only because the lying politicians are stealing the money to pay for general government.

This matters a lot, because the Social Security taxes are regressive. Only the first $80,000 of a household's income gets levied (approx., and it may differ between singles and marrieds -- like I said, need to research). So Joe Dishwasher, who makes $18,000 a year, gets socked for the full 7.5% (if I remember right) every time, every check; while Jim Lawyer, who makes $200,000 a year, only gets socked on the first 40% of his wages. Theoretically this is somewhat defensible, because Jim Lawyer has a cap of how much he can collect in Social Security benefits, while Joe Dishwasher can collect on his entire income. (I don't completely buy this defense, because benefits are pegged to how much you earn, up to $80 grand a year, so Jim Lawyer still collects a lot more in Social Security benefits than Joe Dishwasher, and presumably needs less because he's presumably saved more.) But the theoretical defense is universal hogwash because we're not saving the Social Security surplus, we're using it for general government, and once Social Security goes into deficit, the crisis-mongers are telling us it will have to somehow pay its own way each year. And the crisis-mongers really want it to be this way. What this means is that Social Security deductions are no different than general taxes, and in fact Joe Dishwasher pays taxes at a HIGHER RATE than Jim Lawyer.

2. The writer Garance Franke-Ruta in the blog TAPPED reported the other day that the Republican goal for a 2nd Bush administration is to eliminate all taxes on investment income including capital gains and savings interest and inheritance and stock dividends, while making the income tax a flat tax. If Bush wins or steals the election again, and if they can pull this off, it will bring neo-feudalism to America. I need to follow Franke-Ruta's links and get the lowdown from the sources, but it's just astonishing, the idea that people who get their income from owning the big ticket items of society should pay nothing for the maintenance of society, while people who work for their living should pay to maintain the society for the benefit of all, including the free-loading owners. The workers pay to pave the streets and arm the soldiers and keep the streetlights working and keep the schools open and regulate the air traffic, and the owners pay nothing. Nothing. Zip, zero, nada, total free lunch. That's the Republican goal, and that's feudalism. I know a number of people who have never had to work a day in their lives because they've inherited a lot of money. The Republican vision is that none of their heirs, ever, should ever have to work or ever pay taxes.

If I get my letter or op-ed together, I'll post it. For several years I would jokingly tell people that the Republicans have introduced a bill changing the name of Labor Day to Management Day. The joke no longer amuses me.

Hope you had a good Labor Day.

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