Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pursuing Citizenship

I found out the name of that government report on the deficit and social security: "The Moment of Truth." It may be melodramatic; but I'm sure this committee appointed by the President wants to stress the importance of its bureaucratic message. The 65-page report is heavy going, jargon-y and complicated; I almost gave up on the idea of reading it. However, I decided to just LOOK at it. Nobody needs to be satisfied except me, so why not try.

Starting towards the end helped, with the section about Social Security. If there's anything I'm motivated to understand it's Social Security. Raising the retirement age comes recommended. But collecting half at age 62 is also suggested, as is putting state and federal employees into it (including Congress? doesn't say). There is also a minimum hardship benefit of 125% of poverty. The committee also says the ability to collect lower benefits at 62 and then turn them back in to get full benefits at full retirement age should no longer be tax-free; as it now constitutes a tax-free loan available to the wealthy. Who knew about that last part?

In thinking about the man who cleaned my fireplace yesterday--55 y/o who was fired after 29 years on the job with no health insurance and unemployment benefits running out, and who has diabetes--the change might conceivably be a help to him and allow him to subsist on his part-time business. So I would be OK with these changes to Social Security.

Regarding unemployment benefits and other topics still to be read about, the main thing the authors seem to want is better measuring tools, "integrity adjusted" this and that. There is a section about raising the ceiling on the payroll tax, which I do want done. For any more scrutiny, I'm saving my pennies to afford a 65-page printout.

The whole subject is be-fogged with boredom and inscrutability; yet citizenship requires checking the primary source whenever possible.

Update: net result of studying and stewing and reading the "Moment of Truth" document: a letter to my Congressman. In the process, I realized that when I began numbly "whimpering out" or whatever I posted--others too began to roll over and mew.

The body politic stirs.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Time to Become a Citizen Again

Google "tax reform" today and you'll come up with links to flat tax, alternative minimum tax, and multiple articles referring to a certain Rep. Ryan, the head of House Budget or Finance coming up with a splashy budget reform that has zero tax increases and starts taking apart Medicare and Medicaid. I saw this Rep. Ryan on TV last night; he is articulate, convincing, an scary. The right wing rich people are jubilant and vocal.

Liberals, Progressives, Christians, whatever you call yourselves, why aren't you DOING anything???

As for me, I favor restoring the Bill Clinton era tax structure. Mortgage deductions on second homes should not be allowed. The ceiling on FICA tax should be raised.

I started to write my Congressman. Then I realized: I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING about taxes and revenues--aside from the fact they're unfair and riddled with lies. E.g., that the mega rich must keep tax breaks because they so-called create jobs. (A few recent articles say no; but again I know little.) Time to become a citizen again.

The beginning is to read the things I have read about: the report that came out, you know the report. Note to self: find out name of report. Secondly, donate to Sojourners campaign of "What Would Jesus Cut?" We must do something!

Stay tuned to find out if I actually DO anything or whether I'm among the numbed who occasionally stir and whimper out.