Nuggets of Wisdom

Monday, May 30, 2011

Demotivational Poster: Bitter Irony

Bitter Irony

Last Thursday, as Americans made their plans for Memorial Day weekend, President Obama signed a four-year extension to HR 3162, otherwise known as the USA PATRIOT Act (otherwise known as the bill that shoved the Bill of Rights right through the paper shredder).

So for four more years, the federal government can continue having the authority, or rather power, to perform warrantless wiretaps, library record searches, and secret military tribunals.

In an ideal society, Americans would have postponed their annual backyard barbeques or seaside excursions in order to flood the streets of Washington D.C. and protest the prolonged violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. But instead, Americans celebrated Memorial Day as they did every year, either unaware or uncaring that their constitutional rights have remained where they always were since 2001: in the dumpster.

As the Romans before the fall of the Empire were placated with “bread and circuses,” so too are Americans with national holidays such a Memorial Day—a day where Americans are supposed to remember fallen soldiers who gave their lives protecting our freedoms, but instead, spend it sunbathing or eating hotdogs or watching fireworks.

As with other national holidays, Americans have forgotten the true meaning of Memorial Day, squandering it with trivial celebrations. And in the wake of the Patriot Act extension, perhaps the true meaning is better off forgotten.

Demotivational Poster: Medicare Reform



Recently, the accurately-named Agenda Project, which at least honestly admits—in their own name no less—having a far-left agenda, released a political ad praising Medicare and vilifying Republicans for wanting to “end it.”



Of course, by “end,” they really mean “reform”; but then again, to progressives, “reform” only counts if it leads to nationalization, not to privatization. (Remember folks: “progress” to “progressives” means having a bigger government, not a bigger marketplace. Having a larger variety of choices in the free market is regress!)

And to drill its message into the heads of its viewers (which obviously meant scaring them silly), the ad juxtaposed Republicans reforming—oops, I mean, ending—Medicare to shoving a wheelchair-bound grandma off a cliff.

Never mind, of course, that Paul Ryan’s budget proposal doesn’t touch the Medicare benefits of seniors 55 or over, and won’t touch Medicare period for another three years.

Obviously, Republicans wanting to reform Medicare into a voucher system (where seniors choose their own insurance company rather than rely on the government) is akin to them shoving granny over a cliff, as opposed to Democrats who support Medicare as it is, which denies more claims than any private insurer, which most doctors refuse to accept due to expenses, which—along with defense and Social Security—makes up a lion's share of the national budget, and which, if left unchecked, will go bankrupt in 2024 (with Social Security following suit in 2036).

What alternate dimension do Democrats inhabit again? I don’t think it’s this one!

Oh, and one more thing: the political ad was given a “False” rating by nonpartisan fact-checking website PolitiFact.

To see more myths about Medicare reform debunked, read the article Ten Myths of Ryan’s House Budget Plan from the Heritage Foundation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Slow Down

Due to my new job, I will not be as available to create new blog posts. I will probably be able to create new posts occasionally.

However, I do plan on using my Tumblr, which will allow me to create smaller posts and share videos, pictures, and news articles.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Demotivational Poster: Arrogance

Arrogance

Yesterday, May 21, 2011, was the alleged date (according to religious nutcase Harold Camping) of the Rapture, the moment when all born-again Christians would be swept up into heaven to meet their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And, of course, like every other end of the world prophecy, it failed to occur.

One would think that self-proclaimed biblical scholars like Camping would refrain from making such predictions, not only because they never come true, but because the Bible says itself, in Mark 13:32, that the end times “knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”

But even if Camping could know about the date of the rapture, his description of the end times does not match the Biblical account of Revelation. Camping claimed that, after the Rapture, the world would end in five months. According to the Bible, the Rapture is followed by the Seven-Year Tribulation when the Anti-Christ reigns over the world. Afterwards is the Second Coming of Christ, which starts the Battle of Armageddon that brings forth the end of the world.

Of course, if anything good came out of this, it’s that atheists managed to make a few quick bucks by providing pet care for Christians whose pets would be left behind after the Rapture.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tumblr

I just created my own Tumblr account. For those of you who are not net-savvy, Tumblr is a social networking site similar to Twitter, only instead of 300 character texts, you can post pictures, links, videos, and more.

I just created my account, so I'm still setting things up. I plan to use it to share videos, news articles, and other things I find on the Internet. Basically, it will be for posts too short to post on my blog. I will also be streaming content from my blog and YouTube account.

So make sure to bookmark it, and if you're on Tumblr, be sure to add me as a friend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Week Later

The past week has been eventful for both me and the country. I received a freelance position at a local newspaper, and attended my sister’s college graduation. After a week away from the internet, I’ve discovered that much has happened since then:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Schultz: The Credit That Bush Deserves

Good grief! First I cite Media Matters, now I’m citing MSNBC? What’s next, the Daily Kos?

But only someone from MSNBC like Ed Schultz can debunk the neocon lie that Bush deserves credit for killing Osama bin Laden.



Like I said before, Bush will get credit for killing bin Laden if, and only if, he also takes the blame for our current economic mess.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bush Responsible For bin Laden’s Death?

I find it ironic, if not insulting, that the same neoconservatives who want to blame Obama for our current economic crisis—even though it was Bush who ran up the deficit with the two wars, who began the corporate welfare trend by bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who admitted to have “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system”—want to give Bush credit for the death of Osama bin Laden.

Fortunately, Media Matters (Yes, I know: hard to believe I’m citing Media Matters of all sources. Hell must have frozen over!) sets the record straight with an article listing headlines claiming Bush was responsible for bin Laden’s death, followed by headlines claiming Obama made capturing bin Laden a priority, while Bush did not, and actually failed to capture him in Tora Bora. I highly recommend reading the article (and trust me: it’s the only article from Media Matters I suggest reading—ever!).

And to all the neocons who still insist Bush is responsible, let’s make a deal: Bush can have the credit of killing bin Laden if, and only if, he also takes the blame for our economic mess. Capeesh?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chile’s Successful Privatized Social Security Turns 30

Even though, when combined with defense and Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security constitutes a lion’s share of the national budget, few politicians, especially Democrats, have been willing to cut or reform it.

In fact, during the 2010 Elections, President Obama tried to dissuade voters by claiming Republicans wanted to privatize Social Security, even though few Republican candidates ran under such a position—which isn’t surprising, considering most of their constituents are on Social Security!

Republicans, despite their rhetoric against Social Security, have been reluctant to impose any serious reform, while Democrats have been warning against the dangers of privatization, claiming it would subjugate senior citizens to the greed of corporate fatcats and the unpredictability of the stock market.

But the Democrats’ fear of privatizing Social Security has proven to be as irrational as Chicken Little’s fear of the sky falling, especially when one considers countries like Chile.

One of the most economically prosperous countries in South America, Chile privatized its Social Security-like system over 30 years ago, and as New American reported, the privatization has proven to be a huge success:

Prior to May 1, 1981, the Chilean system required contributions from workers and was clearly in grave financial trouble. Instead of nibbling around the edges to shore up the program for another few years, José Piñera, Secretary of Labor and Pensions under Augusto Pinochet, decided to do a major overhaul of the system…

…The system still required contributions of 10 percent of salary, but the money was deposited in any one of an array of private investment companies. Upon retirement, the worker had a number of options, including purchasing an annuity for life. Along the way he could track the performance of his account, and increase his contribution (up to 20 percent) if he wanted to retire earlier, or increase his payout at retirement.

How well has the system performed? John Tierney, a writer for the New York Times, went to visit Pablo Serra, a former classmate and friend in Santiago a few years ago, and they compared notes on how well their respective retirement programs were doing. Tierney brought along his latest statement from Social Security, while his friend brought up his retirement plan on his computer. It turned out that they both had been contributing about the same amount of money, so the comparison was apt, and startling, said Tierney:

Pablo could retire in 10 years, at age 62, with an annual pension of $55,000. That would be more than triple the $18,000 I can expect from Social Security at that age. OR

Pablo could retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $70,000. That would almost triple the $25,000 pension promised [to me] by Social Security starting a year later, at age 66. OR

Pablo could retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $53,000 and [in addition receive] a one-time cash payment of $223,000.
Tierney wrote that Pablo said “I’m very happy with my account.” Tierney suggested that, upon retirement, Pablo could not only retire nicely, but be able to buy himself a vacation home at the shore or in the country. Pablo laughed it off, and Tierney wrote: “I’m trying to look on the bright side. Maybe my Social Security check will cover the airfare to visit him.”

According to Investors Business Daily, the average annual rate of return for Chilean workers over the last 30 years has exceeded 9% annually, after inflation, whereas “U. S. Social Security pays a 1% to 2% (theoretical) rate of return, and even less for new workers."

As expected, the capital accumulated in these privatized accounts have generated substantial growth in Chile’s economy. As noted by Wikipedia, “Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations, leading Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption.” [Emphases added.]

High domestic savings and investment rates helped propel Chile’s economy to average growth rates of 8% during the 1990s. The privatized national pension plan (AFP) has encouraged domestic investment and contributed to an estimated total domestic savings rate of approximately 21% of GDP.

This was anticipated by Piñera when the plan was originally designed and implemented in 1981. In reviewing the success of the plan after just 15 years, Piñera said, “The Chilean worker is an owner, a capitalist. There is no more powerful way to stabilize a free-market economy and to get the support of the workers than to link them directly to the benefits of the market system. When Chile grows at 7 percent or when the stock market doubles … Chilean workers benefit directly, not only through high wages, not only through more employment, but through additional capital in their individual pension accounts.”
Of course, Democrats are well-aware of Chile's privatized system, and have been highly vocal against it.

Last year, when Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle suggested implementing such a system, Democrats attacked her in a television ad, accusing her of emulating “military dictator” and “human rights violator” Augusto Pinochet whose "privatization scheme has resulted in hidden fees, fewer benefits and millions of people with no coverage."

Fact-checking website Politifact deemed the ad’s claims to be “Barely True.” But what else can you expect other than dishonesty when Democrats are practically defending a Ponzi scheme?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead (And Other Things)

As you can probably tell, my blog posts have been lacking, save the occasional DeviantART entry or YouTube video. I’ve been rather busy with the job hunt. Just recently, I went in for a job interview at a local newspaper. I’ll hear by the end of this week whether or not I got the job. If I did, then chances are I’ll have less time to upload blog posts; if not, then I plan on really working hard on the job search. Either way, I’m not uploading much content to my blog.

In other news, Osama bin Laden is dead! It took us nearly ten years, but we finally killed the bastard. Maybe now we can finally withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and lift all restrictions on our civil liberties—including the ever intrusive Patriot Act!

Who am I kidding? We’re still in Iraq even after Saddam Hussein’s capture and execution (and even after we learned there were no WMDs or ties to Al-Qaudea), and we’ll still be in Afghanistan even now that bin Laden’s dead.

Oh well! Here’s an old episode of South Park to celebrate the occasion: Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants. Enjoy!