Monday, April 28, 2008

A Common Man's Fix For Social Security (maybe Common Sense fix?)

We are going the way of Europe as our country ages (time as a nation, not average population age although that would apply as well). What I mean is more and more overhead thus higher taxes. This is ironic as one of the primary reasons our founding fathers incited a revolution was to escape the heavy and unfair tax burden that is the legacy of European governments.

When the takers outnumber the makers you are upside down. Don't blame the baby boomers though. It is not their fault that our government took what was originally supposed to be a temporary plan, and what was clearly a Ponzi scheme, and made it a permanent plan. All pyramid schemes fail in the long term. The first in win, everyone else loses. Can anyone honestly say social security is anything but what I described?

The only way out is to correct a bad system. And, there are non-dramatic ways to do so. My plan is similiar to what many companies are doing with pension plans.

1. Set a hard date for no new Social Security beneficiaries. Example: Anyone born after Dec 31, 2008 will not recieve Social Security and must plan their own retirement. You now have finite system. Any finite system can be managed.

2. Everyone working, regardless of birthdate, continues to pay Social Security until there is no remaining beneficaries (the last person born Dec 31, 2008). Those born after the cutoff date won't be upset as they will be conditioned from their first job on that this is just another government tax on their paycheck, just as we were. Notice that everyone will see the Social Security deduction decrease as the finite number of beneficiaries declines, eventually becoming zero.

3. Readjust annually the Social Security payroll deduction to match immediate demand and near term forecasts. Also pass a law that social security payments cannot be used for any other purposes--ever! If the politicians want to keep the social security rate higher and start using the inevitable surplus later, the law should prevent them from doing so. Force lawmakers to do this openly by passing a new tax rather than to piggyback on an existing one. Reference the war of 1812 communication tax. It was a tax on telegraph communications, became the telecom tax after the war ended and just recently was done away with after class action lawsuits.

4. Do away with stupid standardized testing such as "no child left behind" and mandate a curriculm taught every year in 5th thru 12th grade as part of social studies or math class on basic personal accounting and personal financial management. Give those born after the cutoff date every chance to be smart about their future. The key is education.

5. Mandate that anyone working must contribute a minimum of 5% of their annual gross to a qualified retirement plan and continue to allow that contribution to directly lower your taxable gross. Mandate that the government does not administrate any of these plans. It must be the individual's money, and the government has no hold on it other than what age it can be withdrawn, which is already the case.

This plan is simple, effective, and without additional taxation. We can solve our problems in this country without doom and gloom if we are willing to be honest about them and put in solid, long-term focused solutions. But if we continue to ignore our problems or react short-sightly with quick fixes, we will face very tough times.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

911 to God

I don't get the local paper anymore. I rarely watch the news. I typically only catch the leads of major news stories unavoidably from my Comcast home page and other web sites. When I do actually read news stories in depth, I try to stick to sports.

One of the primary reasons is that so many terrible things are in the news and frankly it gets me down. I am not a believer in hiding from the world or avoiding issues and problems, but the older I get the more I seem affected by the negative and evil things in the world. And the news media loves to hype this stuff. I think it needs reporting, but I get sick of the sensationalizing and almost glamourizing of that which is bad, wrong, or just down right evil.

The Interent, as great a tool as it is in so many ways, is one of the worst contributors. It has provided an unregulated forum for every idiot, predator, and malicious purveyor.

A perfect example is the recent arrest of 8 teens who set up an ambush to beat up another teen and filmed it so they could post it on You Tube (Teens Behind Florida YouTube Attack to Be Charged as Adults). I am sure most readers are aware of this story by now. I have wanted to post, but could not think of what to post about it.

Everything about this incident sickens me. The thought process of the teenagers and then their actions. The state of society that contributes to such behavior. The parents of these teenagers. The fact that You Tube allows many despicable things to be aired which gives malicious, idiotic people hope that they could post anything (You Tube has become a top forum for posting your homemade porn). And finally, it sickens me that the teens accomplished their original stupid purpose: to get this crime broadcast to the world.

And this story is fairly benign! Last year I read a story that really pushed me over the edge in avoiding the media. It was about a little boy who was killed during abuse. The male abuser slammed the child into a tile shower wall repeatedly until the boy died of massive brain and other internal injuries. The reason the man gave? This little innocent child would not stop screaming and crying while the man repeatedly raped him anally.

There are millions of horror stories occurring regularly across the globe. Pick one. Can anybody shed any light on how people can do these types of things? And please do not bother responding with the cliche it is a broken world. Really? It is too much an understatement.

I could lose my faith, many have and it is hard to fault them. But I have not given up on God. However, it does make me pray in anger. It makes me pray my own 911 call to God. Unfortunately it is not a prayer for God to save us or these victims. I do such prayers often, but we all realize it continues and will continue. Sometimes my 911 prayer is for God to come and wipes us all out--destroy us all, including me. We deserve it. We can be such a wretched creation. Why do we love evil so much? Why do we gloss over the topic so easily?

I am not losing it or depressed. But I also don't shy away from being honest about the anger I feel at times over the abject evil that God allows to exist. With due awe, reverence, and respect, I do ask God, "Free will--that is the best gift you could give us? Your ways are not my ways God, and some of your ways are just so painful. I love you, but please don't expect me to understand"

Monday, April 07, 2008

Shan Foster Wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

(Shan is pronounced Shane)

Several weeks ago I posted on Shan Foster's incredible performance on Senior Night and how he glorified God in the process. God received additional glory as Shan won the Lowe's Senior CLASS award for NCAA Men's basketball Saturday. The award, selected by a nationwide vote of coaches, media and fans, is presented annually to college basketball's outstanding NCAA Division-I senior student-athlete. Dick Enberg, who first conceived the idea of an award for seniors in 2001 in response to the growing trend of basketball players leaving school early for the NBA, helped make the announcement

CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award has grown into the nation's premier tribute to college seniors. The award identifies personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete, with criteria including excellence in the classroom, character and community, as well as the candidate's performance on the court.

While his performance on the court has been among the nation's best, Foster also has epitomized the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award off-the-court criteria with his classroom performance, character and community involvement. A double major in Leadership and Health & Human services, Foster will receive his undergraduate degree in May 2008. An accomplished musician that has recorded a song on a gospel album featuring Nashville, TN artists, Foster is involved with Vanderbilt's Susan Gray School, an on-campus research-oriented school devoted to young children with developmental disabilities.Foster frequently visits elementary, middle and high schools as well as children's hospitals and churches in Nashville. He has served as a mentor to five teenagers in the Nashville area. -- VUCOMMODORES.COM, Foster wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Beside this award, Foster was the SEC Player of the Year and is a 2nd Team All-American. Foster is Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer with 2011 pts and also VU's all-time 3-pt shooter. This year he led the SEC in scoring (20.6 ppg), three-point field goals made (4.03/game), and three-point field goal percentage (47.2%). He is the only player in Vanderbilt history to score over 2000 career points and only the 22nd player to do so in SEC history.

He played in last Friday's College All-Star game and participated in Thursday's 3-pt shooting constest, part of the NCAA Division-I final four weekend.