I recently used the congressional websites of my alleged US Congresscritters to largely echo this fine piece from the Salt Lake Tribune, to the effect that Social Security and Medicare are not "entitlements" in the sense that they just fall out of the sky and into my checking account every month. 

Social Security was deducted from my first paycheck of my first full-time job in 1962, and my last paycheck of my last full-time job in 1999. It was supposed to be paid into the "Social Security Trust Fund", a separate account maintained by the government to finance future, post-retirement payouts, and supposedly not to be used to fund government operations, which were funded out of general tax revenues, e.g., income and corporate taxes. During the 38 years I paid in to it, the promise was that I could rely on a modest income from Social Security to supplement the savings I accrued on my own to ensure a secure retirement. The payments I have been receiving since retiring are not magical manna from heaven, they are a contractual payout of my career-long pay-in. They are not an entitlement but a repayment.

Likewise, when Medicare was established in 1965, a small premium was deducted from every one of my paychecks to pre-pay Medicare Part A insurance, for hospital and hospice services. Part B insurance is paid through income-based premiums deducted from my Social Security income. These payments have been, and are being used to provide basic healthcare services to me and millions of other Americans. The payments are compulsory and the expectation is that they will cover the costs of these services. Medicare is not, therefore, an entitlement, it is a contractual agreement of long standing between the US Government and me.

Recent public statements by congressional leaders have made it clear that in 2018, "entitlements" are to be "reformed" (translation: "gutted"), with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security targeted for "reform". I foolishly wanted to advise my congresscritters, Sens. Burr (R) and Tillis (R) and Rep. Walker(R), so sent them all an edited version of the Salt Lake Tribune article linked above. Five days later I received an email from Sen. Tillis and another from Rep. Walker. Sen. Burr did respond with a relevant discussion of issues and a promise that he was solidly behind Social Security and Medicare. The Tillis and Walker emails were both filled with the ongoing attempt to mythologize and sterilize the recently passed Rethug Tax Giveaway to the Rich and Powerful as a boon for the middle class, rife with outright fabrications, misdirection and misplaced optimism. And of course, neither addressed the concerns in my recent communication to them.

It is as I have been saying for years: Today, if you want one of your misnomered representatives to listen to you you'd better let your 5-6 digit bribe compaign contribution be your introduction. What a sorry fate has befallen our nation. Which is now, in fact, their nation.

A few days ago I read an article by Paul Krugman (Remember him? Nobel economist?), the title of which is - no joke:

Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies

The aticle was about the ten selling points the Republicans are (and have been for years) using to sell their snake oil cure-all, "Tax Cuts". The ten biggest lies in Mr. Krugman's article:

  1. America is the most highly-taxed country in the world. It's not. Not even close.
  2. The estate tax is destroying farmers and truckers. No way. It's likely that only 2-3 American truckers and NO farmers will pay any estate tax this year.
  3. Taxation of pass-through entities is a burden on small business. Not so with small buisinesses. Wealthy business owners pay business taxes in accordance with their overall income. Yo kno, progressively?
  4. Cutting profits taxes really benefits workers. So if you lower taxes on a business's profits, they will turn around and give all their workers raises? Under the workers' pillows like the tooth fairy? Or might they just return it to their owners (investors) as dividends?
  5. Repatriating overseas profits will create jobs. Wrong. Studies have sown that "repatriated" funds don't increase employment, investment or R&D.
  6. This is not a tax cut for the rich. Lie. Almost every provision of this proposal will benefit the very hiesg income Americans, with pennies tossed to the rest of us.
  7. It’s a big tax cut for the middle class. Valse. See above. 80% of the tax cut goes to the top 1%.
  8. It won’t increase the deficit. Another whopper. This is a multi-trillion dollar budget buster.
  9. Cutting taxes will jump-start rapid growth. Remember Reagan's Laffer Curve? Economists laugh at Laffer. Remember the Clinton tax hikes? They were followed by robust growth and, until Bush took over, actually were on track to eliminate the spending deficit.
  10. Tax cuts will pay for themselves. From Krugman's article: "Reagan’s tax cuts led to deficits, Clinton’s tax hike to surpluses; Jerry Brown presided over California’s fiscal revitalization, Sam Brownback over a fiscal crisis that eventually prompted the legislature to overrule him and raise taxes again."

 The original article (may be pay-walled) is here.

I ran across this article from the Guardian, a British newspaper. It seems to confirm what I've come to believe: American democracy is under seige and has been for decades. The "haves", the 99% or whatever you want to call them, personified by the Koch brothers, have instituted a long-term, stealthy (by design) war on democracy, and by all measures, they are winning. Here's the link to the article:


And this is the book on which the Guardian article was based:


I just finished the book I recommend it highly to anyone who thinks the "free market" is the be-all and end-all of economics and economic politics. It is a heavily researched and footnoted, yet very readable account of how the "economic freedom" crowd is incrementally taking over the USA using diabolical strategies hatched over the past 70 years or so. The funding is largely Koch in origin. My reading staple lies in the genre of mysteries, horror and the like, but I will say that MacLean's book is the scariest thing I have ever seen.

Hey y'all frogs: enjoy the warm bath! (Reference)

Interesting that the book's author is almost a neighbor. She's the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University and she lives in Durham, NC. She is speaking here in Fearrington Village on September 14 as part of the "Great Decisions" lecture series! I'll  be there "ferr sherr".

The second amendment to the US Constitution begins:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,...

 This portion of the amendment seems always to be forgotten when the Learned Justices consider gun control laws - even the watered-down pap that gets passed by the NRA-fearing politicians in Washington and all the state capitols and municipal governments. The only portion of the amendment that seems to arise in court cases brought by NRA minions is the last half:

...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I propose an action that could probably pass muster in the courts, one that could probably be done by the President without congressional approval, and one that would certainly bring armed America under control.

Consider what could be if the US Department of Defense and Worldwide Domination, which currently has four branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps) added a fifth branch: Militia, and populated it with every firearms-owning individual in the country, along with their beloved firearms, through the Selective Service System (also called the Draft).

The Militia would certainly be well-regulated, as are the other branches. And its firearms security and control measures seem to be adequate: We rarely hear of an active-duty Marine emptying his H&K MP5 submachine gun into an elementary school classroom or an Air Force F-18 pilot strafing a shopping mall (at least not in the US of A!).

Of course the new draftees would require basic and refresher training, and would be subject to military law, and would also be available and subject to deployment to areas of the world in need of cannon fodder and firepower.

This idea has mind-boggling potential to solve the gun control issue and to dramatically increase our presence of force beyond the paltry 169 nations of the world in which we have a permanent military presence. It would also get the crazies off the streets and onto reservations, say, one in the Louisiana swamps, another in Death Valley, California, and one more on one of the outlying Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Think of the possibilities!

Write your congresscritters today and tell them to get behind this revolutionary transformation of American Society!

Once again, repeating its unblemished record of performance, our great nation excels in one aspect of healthcare: its cost. We spend over 50% more per capita on healthcare than the next most expensive "advanced" nation on earth. 

And once again, the United States is dead last public health in comparison with these same countries.


This enviable record is brought to you by the combined efforts of

  • President Obama ("Single-payer healthcare is off the table."),
  • The Supreme Court for holding that corporations including lobbying blocs, PACs, et al. have the same free speech rights as individuals,
  • Congress, for its craven addiction to bribes campaign donations and its fatuous claim that  bribes campaign donations have no influence on its legislative agenda, 
  • The PACS, insurers, big PHaRMA and other healthcare providers and electronic clearing houses that profit from the status quo, and
  • You who keep drinking the big-money Kool-Aid that spews from your TV night after night and makes you think the one percent's party line is sane and rational.

Yep, proud to be a Murkun.

I am strongly in favor of net neutrality, and have signed a petition here


to reclassify internet service providers as "common carriers" so they can be forced to treat all internet traffic equally. We don't need Comcast and Time Warner (or their merged devil spawn) giving poor service to some content providers (like the niche sites we all know and love) in favor of the large, rich providers who pay for the fast lane to your house and eyes. I urge you to sign this petition an pass it along to your friends.