FULL-FILLING OUR PROMISES TO OUR VETERANS – AN EASY SOLUTION.

WHY OH WHY IS IT SO HARD TO RESOLVE ISSUES THAT ARE NOT CONTROVERSIAL?

FULL-FILLING OUR PROMISES TO OUR VETERANS – AN EASY SOLUTION.

Here is my proposal;

  1. Automatically enroll all Veterans in a Platinum ACA – Obama Care Plan, with an Olive Green Supplement – under which they will pay NO co-pays and NO deductibles.  Additionally, provide them with an automatic “line-jump” to the head of any cue created to wait for any and all medical care or procedures – treat them as the special class of citizens that they are!  They will, as will all Americans under ACA be able to access; we are told the best medical care available.  They deserve no less than that best!
  2. Immediately close and sell off, at current market value, all VA Healthcare facilities to private industry.  Since the same number of patients will then be seeking care in the same areas as are presently being serviced all of the good facilities will be acquired.  Those facilities not up to snuff will be sold at a discount and renovated.  Those not capable of being modernized should be torn down by the VA and the land sold at auction.  All of the proceeds should go to the general treasury.
  3. Terminate all VA Healthcare employees. Since the same number of patients will then be seeking care in the same areas as are presently being serviced all of the good employees will immediately be rehired at market wages.  Those employees not up to snuff but who are willing to be retrained and have their skills updated should be allowed, at the VA’s expense to be reeducated retrained and re-enter the job market.  Those not capable or willing to be retrained and have their skills updated of being modernized should receive currently contracted benefits and seek their futures in another segment of the economy.
  4. Since the VA healthcare system will no longer be a stand-alone system all administrators, managers and bureaucrats will no longer be needed and should re-enter the labor market.  Those with desirable skills will be employed and the others – well they are best not retained in any system providing care.

Now what possible objection could there be to these proposals?

  1. We are told quality and quantity of care under ACA will be first rate, so these cannot be issues.
  2. Since the same number of patients will need and be receiving the same high level of care, but without the extra costs attendant in the ACA (co-pays and deductibles) the Veterans should be happy.  They can like the rest of choose their own doctors and medical facilities!
  3. Since the same number of patients will need and be receiving the same high level of care, all of the good, worthy and caring employees of the VA Healthcare system will be immediately rehired and similarly with respect to the market need for good, modern, well located medical facilities!
  4. Costs the taxpayers will be dramatically reduced in several ways.
    1. Under ACA the typical family will save $2500.00 and since the VA will be paying all co-pays and deductibles, these saving will accrue to the Treasury.
    2. Since we will have integrated the care giving with existing organizations we will o longer need duplicative, facilities, support staffs, management organizations, administrations, record keeping etc.
    3. Old, unfit, poorly located facilities will be eliminated recycled and placed back on the market for re-use in their highest and best use.  This will leave the Veterans able to avail themselves of all the benefits of modern medicine (as available to all Americans under ACA.)

We will, however need to deal with a few pesky little problems, but none of these should affect the quality or quantity of care to be delivered to our Veterans.

  1. Politicians will have to give up the notion of retaining VA service facilities and employment in their own states and districts, where they are not needed – the market will cause them to be located based upon need and use, not political consideration.
  2. Unions will of course scream, but there is no law prohibiting them from organizing in the new to be expanded private medical sector.

But most importantly we will once and for all times not be providing our most worthy citizens and Veterans allegedly “SEPARATE BUT EQUAL” medical care and facilities with the stated intention of providing better care but with the actual delivery being uniformly SUBSTANDARD CARE!

TIME FOR A TAX REVOLT:

IT IS TIME TO REVOLT AGAINST OUR ABUSIVE FEDERAL INCOME TAX CODE – ABOLISH IT IN ITS ENTIRETY AND PROVIDE FOR THE JUST AND FAIR COLLECTION OF SUFFICIENT REVENUES TO SUPPORT A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT LIMITED IN ITS SCOPE TO THE POWERS ENUMERATED IN THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.

In that our Federal Income Tax Code, has become so large, so over-encompassing, so impossible for even full time experts and scholars to decipher with any consistent agreement, LETS START OVER!

The sole purpose of the code should be to raise revenue for legitimate Federal governmental purposes as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  It should not be a vehicle for achieving, the financing of State and Local governments within the United States or foreign governments without, no matter how friendly.  Funds for those purposes should be raised at the State or Local levels or NOT AT ALL!

Therefore I hereby propose the following New Federal Income Tax Code:

  1. REVOCATION: The Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) including the taxes assed on individuals and all artificial entities and each of its regulations and authorities are hereby revoked as of this date in its entirety, except as specified below.
  2. CORPORATE CODE; There is herby levied upon each and every legal (non-human) entity (without exception), a tax of;

(a) either 5% of gross receipts without deduction or exemption, or

(b) at the election of any entity having equity, member, partner or                   shareholder interests, (made by its first filling its annual return), 0,                   with the delivery to each of its of a proportional pass-through of all                   net income as determined under the Code.  Which passed through                   income shall be taxable to such individuals.

  1. INDIVIDUAL CODE; There is herby levied upon each and every individual (human) entity, a tax of 15% without deduction or exemption, of all gross receipts as determined under the Code.
  2. Procedural Matters:

(a) A gross receipt is any amount deposited or capable of being deposited in any financial account or its equivalent value in goods or services rendered delivered or given without consideration.

(b)  The full amount is be deducted and remitted upon each deposit.  For equivalent value in goods or services rendered delivered or given without consideration not deposited such amount is to be calculated and remitted by the recipient with in 30 days.

(c)  Failure to comply fully in any respect will result in the immediate loss of all social services and benefits payable in whole or in part from the Federal government until payment in full, with interest and a 25% penalty has been satisfied for the Taxpayer, the Remitter and their families.

Lest this be thought unfair and unprogressive here are three examples;

  1. An individual earning $10.10 per hour over 2000 hours in the year will pay $303.00 in total – far less than her current payroll taxes alone.
  2. Two earners in a home in a community property state, one earning nothing and the other earning $200,000,00 will pay $30,000.00, which is less than their current average tax burden.
  3. An individual earning $2,000,000 composed of distributed profits from entities, tax-free interest from municipal bonds and earnings from work will pay $300,000.00, most probably more than he is currently paying.

In sum, that above tax code is SIMPLE, EASY to apply, understand and enforce.  Favors no one with political or economic clout and will greatly diminish the cost of the current tax collection and administration system.

 

A NEW “OLD” PARTY – THE CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLICANS

A NEW “OLD” PARTY – THE CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLICANS

It is time to form a new political party, when the old party is so corrupted that it no longer deserves the support of its members.  As a life long Republican I am saddened to see the passing of the Party of Reagan, but not nearly as saddened as he would be to see the his Party, the Party of Lincoln and Roosevelt (Teddy that is) and Bush (41 and 43) become irrelevant!  (Since third parties always loose elections and in fact guarantee the loss of the party that they “split-off from” the hope is that with enough backing the New Party – will NOT be a THIRD part but rather BECOME THE  SUCCESSOR TO THE OLD PARTY AND TAKE OVER THE EXISTING PARTY – A REVOLUTION FROM WITHIN!)

Conservative lessons learned or Parenting a Nation:

Our last two National elections have, I believe left a number of clear messages.

  1. Julius Caesar was right – to divide and conquer is still a valid strategy.
  2. Marx and Engels were right – democracy and free enterprise cannot be taught to those with an empty belly.
  3. Goebbels was right – repeat a big enough lie often enough and it becomes the truth
  4. Thatcher was right – socialism fails when government runs out of other peoples money to spend

All of the above paraphrases are mine, but the lessons belong to us all.  As an unrepentant Conservative and a putative Republican I am well aware of the fact that politics “is the art of the possible.”  It makes no sense to alienate an electorate by taking positions that CANNOT prevail if you are seeking an elective victory.

This does NOT mean that Constitutional Conservatives need to give up their dearly held beliefs and values.  It does mean that we must reinvent ourselves, rebrand our image and remarket those core values and beliefs that can prevail and de-emphasize those views that are “out-of-favor.”  We must recognize that total agreement across the board within and across any large heterogeneous group is not only impossible to achieve but will necessarily result in a verbal regression to the mean with a resultingly bland statement of beliefs and values.

So lets start with a clear statement of conservative Constitutional beliefs and values;

We the Constitutional Conservatives (REPUBLICANS) of the United States of America believe:

  1. All men and women, irrespective of race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, country of birth, condition of health or environment, or any other current or future politically correct modifier, are entitled to “equality of opportunity”.
  2. Equality of opportunity does not mean or imply that all individuals are possessed of equal skills, intelligence, drive, interest, financial or social resources, or work ethic and we acknowledge that these differences, as well as many others exist and will result in inequalities of out comes.  And that those differences add to the richness and variety of our society.
  3. Civilized and compassionate society does have an obligation to provide for the truly unfortunate, (by any measure) and to provide a “hand-up” to the less fortunate but does not have any obligation to those who seek to avoid their own responsibilities for themselves and others, in other words there is no obligation to provide a “hand-out.”
  4. It is reasonable and appropriate to expect a Quid for each Quo, all actions have a cost and all members of society who benefit from the society must contribute the whole.

Our Founders (who art in heaven hallowed be their names,) created in their divinely inspired wisdom, a framework for a government for the protection of individual liberties and freedoms FROM governmental overreach.

We have wandered far from these moorings and allowed, by our inaction those very freedoms and liberties given to us all by “natural law” (our Creator) to erode! And we must reclaim them or perish!

  1. The Constitution provides for just 18 enumerated and certain specified powers and authorities to be delegated by the People to the Federal Government, (See The U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8) and expressly reserves the remainder to the States and the sovereigns  – “the PEOPLE.”  (See The U.S. Constitution Article I, Amendments IX and X)
  2. Accordingly each of the following divisive issues should be banished from the national – FEDERAL debate as having been expressly reserved to the individual states or the people.
  1. Marriage
  2. Sexual orientation
  3. Equality of outcomes
  4. Family matters and arrangements, including all aspects of procreation
  5. Religion (Except as expressly provided in The U.S. Constitution Article I, Amendments I) the non-establishment clause.
  6. Gun Control (A natural right of the people which the Federal Government “shall not infringe”.)

We must resolve NOT to allow the terms of the debate and the very words used in description of issues to become loaded with secondary emotional uses and meanings distractive to logical free debate of issues and negotiated settlements and compromises on truly Constitutionally Reserved Federal issues.  We can accomplish this by agreeing on the meaning of words and making those meanings clear and using only those words with those meanings in the National Debate and REFUSE to participate in national political discussions of issues that are expressly not Federal Constitutional issues!

IN THIS MANNER, WE CAN AGAIN WIN THE BATTLE OF IDEAS IN THE NATIONAL – FEDERAL FORUM AND THEREBY WIN ELECTIONS AND REESTABLISH THE GOVERNMENT OF OUR FOUNDERS.  WHILE AT THE SAME TIME PROMOTING OUR INDIVIDUAL DEARLY HELD VALUES AND BELIEFS IN THE CORRECT FORUMS – OUR STATES, OUR LOCAL GOVERNING BODIES (COUNTIES AND CITIES, TOWNS) OUR PLACES OF WORSHIP AND WITHIN OUR FAMILIES!

Dad Should I Go To College and Will You Pay For It?

Dad Should I Go To College and Will You Pay For It?

The answer depends on the intention.  If it is the intent to (a) avoid going to work i.e. extended day-care or (b) defer entry into the real world of self-dependence (assuming you can get someone else to pay the costs or you will finance the costs with debt that you neither intend or are able to discharge) then ABSOLUTELY, ENJOY!  On the other hand if the intent is to make a rational decision based on lifetime economics and return on investment, lets take a closer look.

When I asked myself this question in 1965 (it was clear that college was an option only if I paid for it) I answered –yes.  But I did not, I am sorry to say do an analysis of the net present value of the education.  So here is my retroactive analysis;

Cost of Education = Out-Of-Pocket Cost of Education (tuition, books, fees etc., net of scholarships, and fellowships) + loss of earnings while continuing education (measured by probable earnings as a high school graduate) – part-time earnings during education = the

Value of Education = actual earnings as a college (and law school) graduate –             probable earnings as a high school graduate – Cost of Education

To refine the calculation we might look at the full cost of education, not just the portion paid by me, which we can measure by making the assumption that the state-public school system I attended had a cost not greater than the equivalent private schools offering a similar education in the same geographic location.  The of course reducing all cost to comparable dollars through a present value calculation.

When I do this analysis for myself going to college and on to grad-school was a very clear winner.  But this was as of 1965which is interesting but not instructive for those looking to make the decision today.  The same analysis performed for my daughters (using average costs and earnings) and starting in 1990 is a closer question but still yields a very positive result.  Again, this is interesting but not instructive.

The factor absent from these calculations is one that did not exist in 1965 or 1990.  In the job markets that existed at those times there were plenty of opportunities for employment without a college education, albeit at lower compensation, slower advancement opportunities and levels.  In 2013 the job market is noticeably and remarkably different in at lease the following particulars;

  1. The top-line unemployment rate has gone from the 4-6% range to 7-10%, and that is despite the facts that both the labor force participation rate (63.3%) and the ratio of those employed to the total population (56.8%) have fallen to new lows!
  2. Recent college graduates, predominantly falling in the 20 to 29 year old age category have seen overall employment, for their age group, fall in just the last 5 years by in excess of 1.1 million jobs! (In fact there are more than a million fewer people in the 16 to 25 year old category employed today than in 2007!)
  3. Although there are approximately the same number of high school drop-outs and those with only a high school diploma in 2013 (over age 25) employed, as there were in 1990 there are more than 27 million more people employed with at least some college than in 1990!

This leads to the conclusion that college now serves, at least, as a gate-keeper or threshold to employment, whether or not it enhances the net lifetime present value of earnings.   On the other hand it may just be that there are more college graduates available in the labor market, irrespective of learned skills, and employers have concluded that they might just as well hire someone who at least has shown some interest in learning skills, by attending college, whether or not those skills are applicable in the work place.

However, this information should also be included in our formulaic calculus, as suggested above.  And for this I would suggest that the resultant Value of Education be adjusted by weighting the result by the increased likely-hood of finding employment over an individuals lifetime, in other words by the inverse of the differential between those who are employed with and without college attendance.

As an example of the calculus as of 2010:

Assumptions;

  1. Annual wage of an employee without any college in 2012 $22,000 at high school graduation
  2. Annual wage of an employee with some college in 2012 $40,000 at college graduation
  3. Increasing rate and ceiling on earnings for attending college over not attending 50% (premium on earnings acceleration 50%)
  4. Out of pocket cost of state undergraduate college education (tuition, fees, books, living expenses) per year $14,000
  5. Same as 3 for non-residents $36,000 thus representative of the full cost of education
  6. Living expenses during college $18,000
  7. Age of graduation and workforce entry 24
  8. Length of work force participation 41 years (to age 65)
  9. Cost of money 6%

10. Average number of years to graduate college 5

11. Adjustment factor for a lifetime of better employment opportunities 115%

Results;

  1. Out of pocket cost of education – 5 X ($22,000+$14,000+$18,000)=$270,000
  2. Societal cost of education– 5 X ($36,000-14,000)=$60,000
  3. Total cost of education $330,000
  4. Differential in life time earnings (nominal) 41 X $18,000=$738,000 X 150% (for accelerating earnings potential) = $1,107,000 X 115%
  5. Present Value of differential of life time earnings at 6% $479,000 approx
  6. Differential between 3 and 5 $249,000

Now having said this if your money is worth less than 6% the differential increases.  Similarly reducing the number of years of college, the cost of college or increasing the differential in earning over time, for the college graduate.  Of course in each case the reciprocal is also true.  Bottom line, college is THE BEST CASH INVESTMENT a parent can make in a child, provided ONLY THAT the child is willing to invest their energy in their own future!

 

 

 

 

Debate and Communication Across and Without an Aisle – Bipartisanship

Hello. I’m Cal, and I have a topic that I hope will inspire some good discussion and hopefully turn up some good ideas.I’m persuaded, from what I read, discussions with friends, and from my own personal experience, that many Americans would like to see more bipartisanship in the actions of our leaders in Washington. And yet it seems that our leaders have largely been at loggerheads over most everything. So, I thought that it might be good for this new forum for ideas to explore the topic of working together in general: what makes an activity in governance “bipartisan”, why do there seem to be larger than average obstacles to bipartisan collaboration at present, is this a problem that should motivate the search for ways to foster bipartisanship or not, and what sorts of things could be done to improve the situation (either to encourage more bipartisan work or to derive better overall governance from a lack of bipartisan efforts)?
I’d like to suggest we begin with what constitutes bipartisanship.  To some extent, I’ve gotten the impression that some feel that it now refers only to working on those things that we all agree on.  But important bipartisan efforts have generally involved collaboration despite disagreement, and even compromise.  Is agreeing to disagree and hence do nothing a bipartisan activity?  What, in general, does it mean for one to act in a bipartisan fashion?
I’m certain that discussion of this topic, like any related to politics, could easily degenerate into an airing of grievances and finger-pointing.  But I’d encourage us all to aim for something nobler and more worthy by engaging in honest and respectful discussion. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll come up with some good ideas for improving things

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment;

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Welfare and Unemployment, and its costs, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We believe these areas should remain community based with Federal funding providing only a minimum and uniform security net.  The States may at their own expense choose to supplement these minimum benefits as they should desire, funding for the Federal benefits will be paid to the States for disbursement.

Definitions;

  1. Welfare and Unemployment, here includes only the Federal portion of the program, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. Eligible persons include all U.S. Citizens and all Legal Resident Aliens.
  3. Federal Poverty Level means the H.H.S. annually established Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia.

We propose the following comprehensive solution;

  1. Unemployment benefits to be limited to 26 cumulative weeks, during any 10-year period.
  2. Means test benefits to three times the Federal Poverty Level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.
  3. Unemployment benefits to be conditioned on proof of an ability to accept a full time, any shift job and accepting any job offered within the person’s physical, mental and educational capabilities (even if not at the level of experience, proficiency or compensation previously held within 50 miles of their place of residence) and proof of the expenditure of no less than 30 hours per week; (a) in job search efforts, educational enrichment and training; or (b) on approved community service, or any combination of the above.
  4. Eligibility for benefits to be further conditioned on proof of legal residence.
  5. Benefits for dependent children to be limited to those children existing as of the time of the initial claim.
  6. Total amount of federally funded benefits not to exceed the annually established Federal Poverty Level.
  7. Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.

All of this recognizes the fact that Unemployment Benefits and Welfare, are social costs of living in a free and caring Nation, and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own well-being, support and care, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

 

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment;

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Welfare and Unemployment, and its costs, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We believe these areas should remain community based with Federal funding providing only a minimum and uniform security net.

Definitions;

  1. Welfare and Unemployment, here includes only the Federal portion of the program, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. Basic Medical Services include only (a) emergency care, (b) care of and for critical injuries and illnesses and (c) care necessary to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
  3. Eligible persons include all U.S. Citizens and all Legal Resident Aliens.
  4. Federal Poverty Level means the H.H.S. annually established Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia.

We propose the following comprehensive solution;

  1. Unemployment benefits to be limited to 26 cumulative weeks, during any 10-year period.
  2. Means test benefits to three times the Federal Poverty Level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.
  3. Unemployment benefits to be conditioned on; (a) proof of a ability to accept a job; (b) proof of the expenditure of no less than 30 hours per week in job search efforts, educational enrichment and training; or (c) proof of the expenditure of no less than 30 hours per week on approved community service, or any combination of (b) and (c) above.
  4. Eligibility for benefits to be further conditioned on proof of legal residence.
  5. Benefits for dependent children to be limited to those children existing as of the time of the initial claim.
  6. Total amount of federally funded benefits not to exceed the annually established Federal Poverty Level.
  7. Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.

All of this recognizes the fact that Unemployment Benefits and Welfare, is a social cost of living in a free and caring Nation, and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own well-being support and care, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

 

Entitlement – Medicare

Entitlements – Medicare

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Medicare, and its costs, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We believe Medicare is the most difficult of the entitlements to address, as it is the fastest growing segment due to the portion of the population it serves, rapid advances in medical technology and market place competition for scarce resources.

Definitions;

  1. Medicare, here includes only the Federal portion of the program, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. Medicare contributions are in fact flat, regressive taxes.
  3. Basic Medical Services include only (a) emergency care, (b) care of and for critical injuries and illnesses and (c) care necessary to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
  4. Eligible persons include all U.S. Citizens and all Legal Resident Aliens.

We propose the following comprehensive solution to the twin issues of rapidly growing coverage and cost, (Again, I guarantee no one, right, left or center, will like this but it is a serious problem and demands a serious and unfortunately painful solution);

Medicare

  1. Provide cradle to grave coverage for Basic Medical Services, for all Eligible persons.  All other medical care to be at the individual’s sole cost, with a prohibition on any combination of medical insurance or other payor providing more than an 80% of the cost of care.
  • (a) Repeal Obamacare.
  • (b) Eliminate all personal injury and medical malpractice punitive damage and pain and suffering, awards.
  • (c) Cap attorney’s fees for personal injury and medical malpractice at 20% of the net benefit to the injured party.
  • (d) Provide unlimited medical education to all qualified applicants, in return for equivalent, year for year, National Medical Service, upon graduation, through our existing military services.
  • (e) Allow all medical insurers national coverage and jurisdiction.

2.  Means test benefits to three times the federal poverty level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.  Yes, this is confiscatory if you thought there really was a trust fund you had been paying into, sorry.

3.  Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.

4.  Merge, effective immediately, all government retirement programs previously allowing employees to elect out of Medicare into the program, and yes this includes Congressmen, Senators and the President.

All of this recognizes the fact that Medicare, is a social cost of living in a free and caring Nation, that contributions made are a tax and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own medical care, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

Entitlements – Social Security;

Entitlements – Social Security;

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Social Security, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We chose Social Security to start with as we believe it is the easiest to permanently fix (the low hanging fruit.)

Definitions;

  1. Entitlements include Social Security, both retirement and disability payments, Medicare, and Federally funded unemployment and welfare, as well as, aid and assistance to the poor. We include only Federal the portion of each program in this definition, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. FICA or Social Security contributions like Medicare contributions are taxes, essentially flat, regressive taxes and since the 1960’s true Trust funds have not existed, will not be restored and are not needed.
  3. Basic Medical Services include only (a) emergency care, (b) care of and for critical injuries and illnesses and (c) where necessary to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

We propose the following comprehensive solution to this issue, (I guarantee no one, right, left or center, will like this but it is a serious problem and demands a serious and unfortunately painful solution);

SOCIAL SECURITY

  1. Raise the minimum eligibility to 20 years (80 quarters) from the current 10 years (40 quarters), with pro-rata benefits to be paid to those, otherwise qualifying but who have more than 40 but less than 80 quarters to their credit. For example at 15 years (60 quarters) benefits paid would be at 1/2 of the otherwise calculated full benefit level.
  2. Raise the age for early retirement for all participants presently under age 55, to 95% of the new indexed regular retirement age and provide, at early retirement, benefits at ½ the otherwise calculated full benefit level, as an intentional penalty for an early election in order to discourage same.
  3. Raise the regular retirement age to 68 for all participants and index retirement age for all new claimants to be adjusted annually for life expectancy gains. This recognizes that in 1935 when passed into law life expectancy was less than 65 and today it is 78.
  4. Raise the employer and employee contribution (tax) rates each, by 1%, effective immediately, on all employees and employers.
  5. Remove the limit or “cap” on earnings subject to the tax, similar to and parallel with the Medicare tax.  Yes, this is essentially a flat tax.
  6. Means test benefits to three times the federal poverty level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.  Yes, this is confiscatory if you thought there really was a trust fund you had been paying into, sorry.
  7. Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.
  8. Merge, effective immediately, all government retirement programs previously allowing employees to elect out of Social Security into the program, and yes this includes Congressmen and Senators.

All of this recognizes the fact that Social Security, although originally sold as social insurance, is and has been a tax and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own retirement, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

Immigration

We believe much of the so-called “immigration problem” is a politically loaded debate created by the deliberate use of “hot button” fighting words. Here is our attempt to define terms and suggest policy. Definitions;

  1. Legal immigrant – a person who was born in another country and is in the U.S. with the permission of and in compliance with all existing immigration and naturalization laws.
  2. Illegal immigrant (also alien or undocumented person) – a person who was born in another country and is in the U.S. without the permission of and in violation of existing immigration and naturalization laws.
  3. Immigrant rights – rights under U.S. law possessed by resident illegal immigrants or aliens. (Legal immigrants should have all rights of any other resident, irrespective of place of birth.)
  4. Non-resident alien – a person who neither resides in the U.S. or is a U.S. citizen.
  5. Immigrant – includes both 1 and 2 above.

Policy Proposals

  1. Seal all of the U.S. borders, whether by a physical fence, a virtual fence by force of arms, as needed, with written (in multiple languages) and audible notices and warnings as well as flashing lights that it is a NO GO ZONE, do not permit the violation of the U.S. borders for policy or political purposes by inaction.
  2. Permit legal immigration at a rate based on the needs of the U.S. economy and its ability to absorb immigrants – grant preferences only for needed skills or in the national interest – be color, race, ethnicity, nationality and religion blind in the allocation of those “spots”.
  3. Recognize the logistical impossibility of imposing “1” above retroactively on the resident illegal immigrant population of 10 to 20MM or more. Offer the following plan to the resident illegal immigrant population;
    1. Within 180 days all illegal immigrants must register and disclose and how long they have been resident and how and where they entered the US, as well as their method of ongoing support for themselves and their dependents.
    2. Failure to register will result in deportation, without further due process or hearing, of themselves and their dependents, and suffer a lifetime disability to become a legal immigrant. (Rights guaranteed by U.S. laws follow obligations assumed, a felon, though a citizen, may suffer a civil death, an illegal immigrant is entitled to no greater rights by virtue of his illegal activity (residency) than he would be entitled to as a non resident alien.)
    3. Within 90 days of registration the illegal immigrant must elect; (a) to either voluntarily repatriate themselves and their dependents, and complete repatriation within 90 days thereafter, (in which case they shall be under no future disability to become legal immigrants); or (b) elect to become resident aliens, with a Blue Card, disclose all of their prior earnings while in residence and commit to pay all back taxes, interest and penalties, over a period equal to the lesser of their illegal residency or 10 years, at which time they shall receive a Green Card.
    4. Failure to elect, repatriate, furnish complete and verifiable income information, or complete the payment plan on schedule, will result in deportation without further due process or hearing of themselves and their dependents, and they will suffer a lifetime disability to become a legal immigrant.
    5. Employers who are shown to have hired illegal immigrants knowingly (those who have paid less than minimum wage or have not reported wages shall be deemed to have knowledge) shall pay all back taxes, penalties and interest as required under existing law. Those who have paid less than minimum wage shall in addition to all other penalties otherwise imposed for such violation, pay an amount equal to the shortfall to the cognizant taxing authorities for the credit of the illegal immigrant employee’s account.
    6. Resident illegal immigrant prisoners, criminals (felony), those without either an adequate self-sustaining and verifiable method of support (job) for themselves and their dependents or those on welfare, public assistance, or with medical issues not covered by their insurance or ability to private pay and who do not have a sponsor who undertakes such care responsibility, will be deported without further due process or hearing of themselves and their dependents, and suffer a lifetime disability to become a legal immigrant.

The goal of these policies is to return to a rule of law with respect to immigration and naturalization, while protecting the territorial integrity of the U.S. and at the same time recognize and encourage as desirable, non-discriminatory legal immigration, in such amounts as is beneficial to the U.S. economy, recognizing that strong economic growth is the best way to move our economy forward and that the immigration of skilled, self-supporting and hard-working people is in the national interest, and no more!