Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Benificent Left and Social Security

The people who are so worried about not making anyone feel bad (unless the people who feel bad are white, old or male) have lately taken to talking about Social Security recipients as if they were welfare recipients.  They also talk about all federal spending as "handouts".  "Handout" is, of course a demeaning term that implies that the recipient of said handout is getting something for nothing, is a social parasite.

Strangely, people who are conservative, and opposed to excessive government spending, hardly ever talk about social security recipients that way.  Some people might argue that the reason conservatives don't talk about social security recipients with such mean contempt is that conservatives get more of their votes.  But that is not always the case.

I think the reason is that people who are conservative, like me, respect work.  People who are receiving social security, by definition worked.  Certainly you can argue that many will receive far more than they would have received from a private investment program.  But the truth is that most of those people are the people who have been collecting social security for a while.  Those of us who just started receiving social security, particularly formerly high income earners, can expect to receive less in benefits than we would have received from a private annuity for the same expenditure.  For those who don't remember the history of Social Security, the cause of this change is that Social Security tax rates were dramatically increased by that conservative warrior, Ronald Reagan, in order to keep the system solvent.  So those of us who are the Younger Oldsters, paid a lot more in Social Security and Medicare taxes than older Oldsters.

The derisive sneers coming from the left in my direction because I rail against big government while receiving Medicare benefits and Social Security are, to me, just further proof that the left really cares nothing about people and everything about power.  If they can be so derisive and contemptuous of people who were forced to participate in a government retirement and medical insurance program (that would be all of us)  then, they really care nothing about people.

By talking about us as if we were welfare recipients the left proves how little good faith there is in any supposedly charitable programs they sponsor.  I, after all, worked and paid FICA taxes and Medicare taxes for  about 50 years and about 45 years respectively.  I wasn't given the option of a private retirement program instead.  I was allowed to have a private retirement program in addition, and I do have it. Yet to the left, we are just like all of the other recipients of federal charity. There is no difference between us and a person who receives welfare benefits.  All of us should shut up and be grateful for what we are given by the benificent government.

 Strangely, I don't hear about my private pension being, somehow, a handout from the insurance company that pays it to me.  That money, I am assured is my right and my entitlement.

  It's true the money I paid in taxes was used to pay for benefits for my parents and grandparents.  In a private annuity, companies invest the money they receive in companies and real estate and government bonds.  They pay the annuities from the money they receive from investments.  Not so from Social Security.  Social Security pays current benefits from current revenues and invests the rest in loans to the federal government, which government uses said funds for current expenditures.

The difference in attitude between government funded retirement benefits and privately funded benefits tells me everything about the left and the big government group.  They expect and require that private companies keep the promises they make.  It's the law.  We have a law called ERISA that imposes standards on private companies requiring that they not reduce benefits already worked for and promised.

Not so for government.  I am assured by those on the left that the promises made by politicians in the 60's, the 70's, the 80's (when Social Security tax rates were doubled) and the 90's are neither morally nor legally binding on the people who run the government today.  I should be grateful to big government that it has kept its promise to me by paying the Social Security I was promised.  It is, the implication is clear, more than I deserve because I have the effrontery to call it a Ponzi scheme.

You might think that the people who are the late entrants to the scheme (meaning the young people of today) would be greatly concerned about it.  It is the late entrants who don't get paid.  Yet they all voted for big government.

Be that as it may, the reality of why so many seniors voted for Republicans is not that we are all crotchety racists who don't want a black man for president.  We understand that if the government  continues  to borrow so much money from foreign sources and treasury bond investors that the interest payments alone will exceed the money available to repay the loans, there won't be any money to pay the money we were promised.  Many of us hope to live for a decade or more  into the future.  Obamacare transfers money from Medicare to Medicaid, meaning when we need medical care we will get a phony sympathetic hand holding and death counseling while someone young will get actual medical care.  That's what we are afraid of.  We are afraid that the money is going to run out before we die.  It's pretty simple.  And we are afraid for our grandchildren.  That would be young people.  We may not care about anyone else's grandchildren, but we want ours to have a good life.  Many of us try to be a little bit thrifty so we can leave them money when we die.  But it looks like all the money is being spent on crazy investments in companies that pretend to be devoted to new sources of energy but appear, in practice, to be merely shells used as conduits for large amounts of government money to go into the pockets of rich friends of whoever is in power.

I am not going to make a plea for kinder rhetoric.  That would be a waste of electrons.  Increasingly, people on the left look like people whose ability to feel good about themselves is dependent on looking down with contempt on others. This week it is old people.  Next week, it will be the military.   It is a poisonous attitude that can never lead to real harmony because it always needs a scapegoat.  It is a deliberately divisive attitude that separates the smart, with it in crowd from the stupid, dependent others.

A Day to Give Thanks for All the Riches in Our Lives

I count my riches in people more than things, not because I lack things but because people are what life is about.  So I am thankful for my family, my children, especially my grandchildren who give me a real and physical connection with the future.  Having friends in my life who care about me over the years and over the miles is another great benefit.  It is people who make my life feel so full and satisfying.  I thank our Creator for bringing all of these beautiful people into my life.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Twinkies and the Law

 A lot of blather is going around the internet about what caused Hostess to fail.  But there are a few things being said that betray a serious lack of knowledge of bankruptcy law.  Don't feel bad.  Most lawyers know next to nothing about bankruptcy law and most laypeople who haven't filed know even less.

So here's the deal.  When a corporation files for bankruptcy it can file under either Chapter 11 for a reorganization or under Chapter 7 for a liquidation of assets.  Chapter 11 filings are chosen by those businesses whose leaders think they can rescue the company if the company can get some breathing space with its creditors and be relieved of onerous contracts that limit its future operations. An example of the kind of contract that might be voided is a supply contract where the price of the supplies was above market price, or a labor union contract. Debts already incurred would go into a separate pile for consideration.  They might be eventually paid off at less than a 100cents on the dollar.
 A lot of airlines have filed chapter 11 and come out of it still flying.  When a company is in chapter 11, virtually every financial aspect of how the company operates is subject to review and approval of the bankruptcy court, including executive salaries.  Hostess was already in chapter 11.  It's threat to the unions was NOT that it would file for bankruptcy, it was already in chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy.  It's threat was to convert its chapter 11 bankruptcy to a chapter 7, liquidation, meaning it would go out of business.  Also, by virtue of the fact that it was in bankruptcy, executive salaries would have been submitted to the bankruptcy court and approved by it.  Those who claim that the managers were simply trying to loot the company would have more credibility if they had made those claims to a bankruptcy judge who would have had full power to stop any such looting.  In fact, that is one of a bankruptcy judge's jobs-- to prevent looting of corporate assets.  Any corporate assets distributed to individuals in the 90 days before the bankruptcy filing can be recovered almost automatically, and any distributed in the year prior to filing can be recovered if there is evidence that there was not fair compensation paid.  The claim that this company was being looted WHILE in bankruptcy looks mighty suspicious only because it is precisely the job of the bankruptcy judge to keep that from happening.

Another issue is the ability of the unions to look at the books.  Since the company was in bankruptcy already, a perusal of the reorganization plan would have given a lot of information to the unions.  But even more important the National Labor Relations Board, which regulates collective bargaining with private companies requires that companies which plead poverty in collective bargaining negotiations open their books to the unions affected.  So, assuming the unions have some knowledge of the NLRA, the books were opened to them.  The teamsters accepted some pretty deep cuts to keep the company in business, the Bakers did not.  The bakers had a second chance when the judge postponed ruling on the motion to convert the bankruptcy to chapter 7 in order to have the parties go back to mediation.  The bakers again rejected any offer made to them.  The only rational conclusion is that they preferred unemployment to wage cuts.  Since Hostess had already filed in bankruptcy court to shut down the company, they had to know that Hostess was not bluffing.

They can say whatever they want but it is clear that they chose unemployment benefits over working.  They must have known after the court put off its decision on the conversion, that Hostess was serious about shutting down.  And they must have known that the court would approve the shut down if they did not take the contract that was offered to them.  They were given an opportunity to show the court that the company could still be viable if they were given what the union wanted in a contract.  Apparently the court didn't buy it.

While I am sorry that another American icon has bitten the dust, I can't say that I will miss them, really. I have never been a frequent purchaser of hostess products.  Like Polaroid and other iconic brands, they didn't keep up with the market and they have bitten the dust.  That is as it should be.

Friday, November 09, 2012

A Message to Chris Christie

I'm really posting this because I want a record of my prediction.  Dear Chris, you just sold out your party and the guy who gave you a bully platform at the Republican convention,  i. e. Mitt Romney.   And please don't give me all your Barbra Streisand about its what a governor should do.  Bloomberg didn't do it and he actually endorsed Obama.   Some people think you are just politically tone deaf.  I don't think you are.  I think you didn't get to be governor of New Jersey being politically tone deaf.  I think you did it for your political advantage.  You are running for re-election next year.  Or scheduled to.  I hope you made a deal to get a presidential appointment.  Not because I think you would do a good job but because it is a shame to see someone sell out his birthright and not even get a mess of pottage in return.

Here's my prediction if you are planning to run for re-election.  The pundits say that Cory Booker is going to run against you.  My prediction is that there will be a few stray Republicans who endorse Cory Booker because he seems intent on positioning himself as a pro-business moderate.  And I will put up ten dollars that says that our newly re-elected president will come to New Jersey and campaign against you.  And he will use all of the identity themes he used in this election.  And, here's a clue, you are not the right identity.  You are Republican and white.  If you thought, even for one minute, you were buying yourself some protection by helping to tip the election to Obama, well, you are wrong.  You betrayed the people who depended on you.  Don't expect a lot from the Republican bench.  As for the Tea Party, truly, don't expect anything.   I really think we are not that stupid.  Heck, I think Cory Booker had more kind words for Mitt Romney than you did.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Left Needs to Own Their Crazies

Here is an example of how the typical true left thinks:  Posted on Daily Kos   I said in a prior post that the left needs someone to demonize and that would be people who dare to call themselves Republican.  Don't just read the post.  Read the comments.  Threats of violence against conservatives  by the kooks at Daily Kos are a daily phenomenon.  But people who call themselves liberal consistently blame Republicans and the Tea Party for this kind  of hate filled screed.  Please don't ask me not to defend myself.  Yes, I know about Jesus and about Gandhi.

But here is the other side.  We need to fight back, not physically, but ideologically.  This is the part of the core constituency of the new Democrat party.  These are the people who carry signs and show up for demonstrations and walk precincts for nothing.  They literally hate anyone who dares to call himself a Republican.  They do that because they need someone to blame for their miserable hate filled lives.

The people who write this kind of thing rarely get elected to office.  But they are used to get people elected to office.

So here is the problem for Christian conservatives.  Yes we must be charitable to people, meaning in this context, still caring for and seeing even really crazy people as human and objects of God's love even if they don't believe in God.  But we also need to call out the people who benefit by the crazy and hateful energy these people transmit into the body politic.  Much of the divisiveness in our culture is a result of a deliberately cultivated envy and concomitant hatred.  It is a vague and ugly anger that attaches itself first to one and then another object.  It is the energy of mob rule and the antithesis of reason.  Like the family members at an intervention, we need, with love, to tell people when they are wrong.  We need to hold up a mirror to the hatred from the left.  And we need to force them to talk about it.  Because, until we do that, we cannot resolve our differences until we at least come to an agreement as to what they are.

So, think of our conversation with an unwilling, name calling left as an intervention with a family member.  We do have to keep talking and we do have to keep being polite, but we don't have to pull our punches or try to gild the lily.  We need to be honest with them and continue to politely disagree.

The Racism of the Leftist Elites

The racism of the leftist elites was on display again this election cycle.  The party of southern segregation, aka the Democrat party, raised literally tens of millions of dollars to defeat two black Republican congressional candidates:  Mia Love and Allen West.   The money and energy  spent is  ten or twenty times as much as was spent on other races not involving black Republicans. Democrats have targeted these two people for one reason, they are  Black and Republican. It is part of a long history of attempting to destroy Black Republicans. And the reason is simple-- keep black people on the Democrat plantation where the Democrats have done nothing for them in fifty years.

This is an ongoing unspoken policy for the left.    It was in full view when the left attacked Clarence Thomas during the nomination process for Supreme Court.  And the left continues to attack Thomas intermittently to make sure his reputation never comes back.  The left demonizes any outspoken person who they deem to be a person who should belong to them.

This isn't an accident.  The left puts its coalitions together, not based on issues, but on identity politics.  "You need to vote for us because we will protect you from the evil other guys" is their primary message.  It is the reason for the phrase "people of color".  That phrase was invented by the left to unite people of widely disparate cultures, histories and ethnic identies.  It is made necessary by the numbers.  It helps the left reach the electoral numbers it needs.  So its message is "your color is the most important characteristic you have."  They persuade black, Hispanic and other ethnic minorities that they cannot have a fair chance to succeed in this country because of the color of their skin.  And it works even when the most powerful person in the world who was elected with millions of white votes, is black.   The left preaches a deep and primitive tribalism with a contemporary gloss.  So  when someone from a tribe they think they own, like black people, defects they have to punish and destroy that person. Because they have to hold the tribe they have created together.  Any defection, no matter how small,  is a threat to their coalition of the envious and dispossessed with the rich left that exploits them.  When Mia Love appeared at the Republican convention, a metaphorical  target was painted on her back by the left.  Allen West was already targeted.

And who is the rich left?  Jon Corzine, George Soros, and all of Hollywood come to mind.  And, surprisingly, there are a lot bankers in there like the former head of Countrywide. Angelo Mozillo and  former Treasury secretary, Hank Paulsen.  They position themselves as the benevolent godfathers who protect the poor and disenfranchised.  But in reality, they exploit the poor and middle class by using the government to restrict  the opportunity of anyone, including women, minorities and gays, from competing with them.  And they use the government to carry out their exploitative schemes which involve creating programs that supposedly benefit the poor but curiously always involve the purchase of stuff from the rich.  An example is the free cell phone program.  And while they tell you they want to tax the rich, the people they really tax are the middle class.  That free cell phone program?  Have you ever noticed an item on your phone bill called Universal Access fee?  That's used to buy free cell phones for poor people.  Are you rich? Yet you're being taxed.

The racism of the liberal elites is not a deep visceral thing.  It is a practical, political thing.  People who are divided by race, sex, age and background, people who are made to feel that their ladyparts or skin color or sexual orientation are much more important than the fiscal and social issues, are much easier to manage.  The rallies are all about we're the good guys and they're the bad guys and our good guy leaders are going to protect us from those awful bad guys.   The discussion on the left is  rarely about what allows an economy to prosper, or supports our freedom because those are losing issues for the left.  History condemns them on that score.  The leftist ideology tells them they should not even try to win on the issues because all of us proletarians are too stupid to know what's good for us.  So Bread and Circuses for the stupid class who turns most of the fruit of their labors over to their betters in humble gratitude.  That's the leftist game plan.

Conservatives must understand this psychology and fight back.  Many people who are immigrants like Mia Love, have conservative values as she does.  But the election results tell us that most of those people voted for Obama.  The reason is that they don't trust the Republican establishment.  Sarah Palin understood the need to reach out to women and minorities in the most important way, by supporting young, articulate and attractive candidates who are women and ethnic minorities.  That support says, "you are one of us".  "We trust you". "We want you in our party, not just as voters, but as leaders."   And here's something really important that Republicans need to understand, we don't need to win a majority of the "minority" vote.  We just need to win more of it.  Michael Medved recently pointed out that if Romney had won the same percentage of the Black and Hispanic vote that George W. Bush did, he would have won the election.

There are plenty,  perhaps a majority of "minority" voters who are pro-life, who favor hard work, thrift and taking care of your own.  There are many gay conservatives as well.  They need to be included in Republican leadership.  The Tea Party has welcomed all of these candidates and supported many of them.  It's time for the Republican leadership to do the same.

When Bad Elections Happen to Good People

For those of us who believe that Obama is a disastrously bad President, yesterday was very discouraging.  But many of us are also people of faith.  God is in charge.  I keep that in mind.  God has a plan to which we are not privy.

Perhaps something will change and he will not be the president he was the last four years.  But this is a reminder not to put your hopes in people but in God.

We have learned a lot as a result of this campaign.  It has been a more than a year long national discussion which has often been way less than civilized.  It has been a campaign, frankly, that tore away masks and let us see the people beneath.

To echo Kevin Dujan, the people of the U. S. have become much more comfortable with left wing ideology and victims of it than we had thought.  I cannot say the culture is at an all time low, because any impartial review of history demonstrates that we have been at cultural lows before that were pretty bad.  But one thing we have learned, really, is that there is very little good will towards those of us on the right from those on the left.  And I say that with sadness.  To them, compromise is that they let us live and give us the opportunity to see the light and become leftists.  That is just the fact.
Nevertheless if we want to make change we have to convert leftists into conservatives.  And that requires that we try to find common ground.  Many of us, like me, used to be supporters of the left and we are not any more.  So we need to reach out.

We know we will face disdain and contempt for simply being conservative.  We will be relentlessly demonized.  We need to know that the reason for that is that the left always needs people to paint as villains and we are the targets selected.  The reason the left needs targets is that their programs never really work.  So they need to blame someone for their failure.  Right now its us.  In Nazi Germany, and Russia, it was the Jews.   It is no accident that leftist ideologies result in tyrannical regimes.  The left believes that if only it can be in charge and apply its superior intelligence to the problems before us, the problems will all be solved.  But they never are.  So someone must be blamed and the blame is never on the policies.

In looking at what we face in the next four years we must remember that the world has seen much worse days and pray for God's protection against our own foolishness.  

Early Christians and Jews, and many contemporary Christians and Jews have not let the persecution directed against them stop them from speaking up and we must remember that and do the same.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Making of a Republican Part 5:Liberals and Caring

There is a saying in conservative circles that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.  I guess you can add my experience in support of that statement.  In 1975 I was an attorney in sole practice representing Local 47 of the Musician's Union that still has a building at Waring and Vine Street in Hollywood (aka Los Angeles).  I was also married and the mother of two small children.

One afternoon I was doing some research the old fashioned way with books on the issue of corporate derivative shareholder suits.  It's pretty boring even though important.  So I decided to go out for a walk to clear my head and buy my favorite beverage, a diet Coke.  There was a Safeway (now a Pavilion's) just a block a way on Melrose and Vine so I headed down Vine Street, thinking about my case and research when I walked into an armed robbery in progress.  Three young black men almost ran me over.  I looked up and looked straight at them.  They had dropped something on the ground, stooped to pick it up and then took off.  I turned around and watched them run around the corner.  Then I saw someone come out from in front of the store and point in the direction which they had run.  I suddenly realized what had happened.  Don't ask me why because I can't really answer that question.  I just had a gut outrage that people would be holding up a grocery store in Hollywood in the middle of the day.  Somehow, if it had been late at night I wouldn't have been so angry.  So I, an out of shape mother, took off after them.

When I reached the corner of Waring and Vine, I poked my head around the corner and, looking into the sunny western sky, saw three men outlined in a car.  Then I saw an arm come out from the driver's side of the car and, it seemed to me, slowly come around and point at me.  I have to interject at this point that my perception of time greatly slowed down.  It was as if everything was happening in slow motion though I am sure it was much faster than it seemed.  I realized that the object in the arm's hand was a gun.  I then realized it was pointed at me.  My focus then changed to protecting myself.  I backed away from the corner and dropped to the ground, an action that probably saved my life.

For some reason I adopted a kind of fetal position while lying on my back with my knees pulled up.  I heard gunshots and realized they had pulled to the corner and were trying to kill me.  I was hit with a bullet in my leg.  It felt like someone had taken a baseball bat and hit me as hard as he could on the bottom of my feet.  It's one of the reasons I can never watch that awful movie in which Kathy Bates does something similar to Jack Nicholson.  It is just too painful.

They kept shooting after I was hit.  So the thought occurred to me that they were trying to kill me.  If they thought they were successful, they might stop shooting and leave.  I then thought, but I don't know what it looks like to die.  But neither do they.  So if I do what someone who dies on television does, they will think they have killed me and leave.  So I suddenly let go of my fetal position and went limp in imitation of people who die on television.  They left.

It later turned out that people were in the President of Local 47's office when the shooting started and saw the whole thing from the second floor.  Multiple people called the police.

I could go on at great length about the investigation and the trial. And all of those things contributed to my current views of our criminal justice system. But I'll save that for a later post.  The phenomenon that most contributed to my conversion to conservatism was the reaction of my self described liberal "friends" to my plight.  More than one told me that I needed to understand the shooter's position in all of this.  He, after all, just wanted to avoid going to prison, so it makes perfect sense that he would shoot me.  He was, they told me, a victim of oppression himself.  I shouldn't, they told me, take it personally.  I finally developed a retort to that statement.  It is difficult, I responded to them, to take a bullet in the leg any other way.  They seemed totally oblivious and unsympathetic to the fact that, but for poor aim, I would have been killed.  The more important principal to them seemed to be that poor black criminals are oppressed and people who are killed by them are just, sort of, so much collateral damage.

Now just to make this perfectly clear, because in this insane age it is so often necessary, I really don't care what the race of someone who shoots me is.  They should all, of any race, go to jail for so long as they retain the muscle strength to pick up a gun.  It happens that the person who shot me is black.  If the person who shot me were white I would be no less outraged. It is, after all, difficult to take a bullet in the leg any way but personally.  It's my leg and my life.

I have, thank God, recovered pretty much completely.  Still have scar tissue where the bullet went through my leg.  Two little scars, one on each side of my thigh-- the entry and exit wounds-- and of course scar tissue in between.  But I never recovered from the fact that my so-called friends had more sympathy for someone they had never met who tried to kill me than they had for me.  This and other experiences made me aware that the so-called sympathy of the left for the poor and downtrodden is really just a pose.

It confirmed some prior experiences.  At the time I attended a Methodist church near the University of Southern California.  Some of the other parishioners wanted to have a "Christmas" project of writing letters to the President in support of various welfare programs.  It was sponsored by an organization called "Bread for the World".  I suggested that, in addition to writing these letters, we could make up Christmas baskets for one or more welfare recipients.  I came up with this idea because I was a welfare worker for 6 years.  I had been part of taking requests from recipients for such baskets and knew that for many recipients, the basket was a substantial portion of their Christmas.  They were all grateful for receiving them.  I was told by the self described liberals at my church that giving Christmas baskets to welfare recipients was demeaning.  I pointed out to them that the baskets would go only to those people who had requested them, not to anyone who would be embarrassed by it. They refused.  I told them that as a former social worker I knew many recipients who would be very grateful for such a basket because they would not otherwise be able to give their children a good Christmas.  They refused, absolutely, to do anything more than write a letter to the President.

There were other experiences that lead me to the reluctant conclusion that the word "generous" was no longer a synonym for "liberal".  These so-called liberals  who had more sympathy for the shooter than me, who were not willing to dig into their own pockets to make a poor family's Christmas better, were merely leftists who congratulated themselves on their political correctness but were never willing to take money out of their own pockets for poor people.  Their ideas were more important to them than any person was.  They congratulated themselves on how caring they were while simultaneously caring very little for any actual person.  I have some friends who still call themselves liberal, and most of them really are.  My differences with them are that they think the Democratic party and its policies are meant to help people.  I see it very differently.  The Democratic party has been taken over by the Left.  It isn't Harry Truman's or Hubert Humphries' Democratic party any more.

All of these memories came back to me recently looking at what happened in Bengazi.  How could you get these calls for help and do nothing?  How could you order would be rescuers to stand down?  How could you cold bloodedly sit in the White House situation room and not care about the people on the ground who were being ambushed and killed when there were resources nearby to help them?  It chills me to the bone the same way I was chilled when my so called liberal friends justified an anonymous would be killer.  They really are so inhuman and unfeeling that the ideas that they push are more important to them than people.  Leftists like to say you have to break an egg to make an omelet.  We, people, human beings, are just so many broken eggs to them.  We are not real. And they don't care about us.  They care about their ideas.  And if people have to die to make their ideas real, well, so be it. Collateral damage.  Broken eggs.  That is how they justify the millions killed in the name of promoting the Communist dream.  It's okay.  You have to break an egg to make an omelet.