This is my third pamphlet. One recipient sent me a note suggesting that I call these pamphlets e-phlets. She gave me permission to use the word, and so I will. I started out with a list of approximately 2,600 people and that has grown, conservatively to 10,000. The feed back has been, for the most part positive. There were only two negative e-mails actually cursed me out. I hope they get better soon.
In keeping with the Tom Paine spirit, I call this e-phlet:
MATTERS OF FINANCIAL SECURITY USING COMMON SENSE
This e-phlet does not address the concerns of the wealthy, the very wealthy, the extremely wealthy, and the enormously rich. For them, the daily financial struggles, and security realities that most Americans face, do not exist. Nor does this e-phlet concern the entrepreneur who usually takes great risk in search of great reward.
For most of us, financial security begins with education and training that leads to a decent job, or a vocation, profession, or skill that enables us to earn a living. That feeds, clothes, and shelters ourselves and our families, and provides opportunities for growth, advancement, and we hope, a better life for our children.
I am not an economist, and I’m sure I will hear from the CPA’s and CFO’s and economists who will refute my thoughts with their mumbo-jumbo financial theories. All I am talking about is the day to day...you know – you have expenses, you have income, money comes in, money goes out, surprise expenses pop up, and you try to keep it all in balance, and save a little.
The idea of job security, and financial security, has changed radically in the past twenty-five years. Only a few decades ago careers were built within corporations, industries and organizations that helped and encouraged employees, and expected them to grow and advance within that structure. Unions, in many segments of our economy, were formed after bitter struggles, to protect workers’ jobs, working conditions, and benefits. Loyalty to the job and organization was rewarded.
People could plan ahead with some degree of certainty and positive expectation. There was pride in “Made in America”.
That has all changed. Corporate loyalty to employees has been replaced with euphemisms like “downsizing” and “out sourcing”. Rewards such as profit sharing and pensions have declined radically. In countless cases they have disappeared. Other considerations for loyal service and productivity, such as medical benefits, have been drastically cut, and more and more, they are being dropped from employment packages.
Okay, so the world changes. I understand that. But not long ago this country was unique in terms of opportunity, competition, and rewards for all willing to work. We had a big rush of it in the late 1990’s with the so-called Internet “bubble”.
I don’t think economists help when it comes to understanding the individual worker and family when it comes to financial security. Have you ever listened to Alan Greenspan speak?
Here’s what it sounds like to me...
SENATOR: “Mr. Greenspan, can you give us the outlook for the economy?
MR. GREENSPAN: “Yes, Senator, I can. If it goes up, and of course, it can certainly retreat...or if it grows, it may, in the short term, or the long term, shrink...and we can have low inflation unless we don’t sustain the atmosphere necessary to have low inflation based on increased productivity. Now the GNP, as effected by unemployment, cannot raise the percentage of gross as it effects the total net growth balance when other factors such as the price of crude oil, and natural disasters such as hurricanes, are factored in the out years of the current tax bill, which I supported with certain reservations. I had hoped for more of an increase, but it might not be necessary in this fiscal quarter...or event he out years of the current tax cut which when effected by the markets might add a stimulus, or detract from growth in the out years...blah, blah, blah...”
It reminds me of those so-called “analysts” who were constantly advising us in the late 1990’s on all those great investment opportunities that turned out to be the clients of the banks, brokerage houses, investment advisors and book-crooking corporations who paid the analysts to hustle we dumb, greedy investors. Most of the people I know lost a lot of equity between 2001 and 2003 - and that means pension money and retirement money and college money and savings for a new home. Who made the bubble burst? The avaricious executives of Enron, Worldcom, Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Adelphia...ETC. Or was it our own greed? Or the lies and selfish advice from brokerage houses and banks and their “analysts”?
Or did our so-called media get caught up in the bubble too? Were they the shills for investment? If Alan Greenspan called that bubble “irrational enthusiasm”, then I wonder what he might call giving a huge tax break to the wealthiest Americans, while we run up enormous and historical deficits? Maybe just plain irrational? Maybe political enthusiasm? Or maybe just plain stupid and irresponsible? Here’s why I say that.
We are at war – three and half wars - count ‘em.
#1 - Afghanistan – A war the rational world supported. This was the viper’s nest, turning our murderers by the thousands. Then 3,000 were dead in the US. We drove out the Taliban and replaced it with...? Time will tell. An election comes soon. NATO helps us there. But the Taliban lurks, armed and strong, patiently waiting for us to leave. Their boss is still at large. You remember him? Osama, “dead or alive” has become the ghost in the mountains. The cost in lives, thousands. In treasure, BILLIONS. Meanwhile...
We went to #2 war in Iraq – A war the rational world asked to delay so that true cause for action could be assessed and a proper, well financed coalition could be formed, WITH THE BACKING OF THE UNITED NATIONS. That might have meant that an actual POST-WAR PLAN, other than wishful thinking, or spin, or lies that our soldiers would be showered with kisses and flowers, and somehow the three groups in Iraq - Shiite, Sunni and Kurd, after centuries of hatred and division, would join hands and slip painlessly into the American ideal of democracy. Sure. And I have bridge that goes to Brooklyn that I want to sell to you.
Oh, and don’t forget why we went to war in Iraq – Weapons of mass destruction (Huh? Where are they?), blame and ties to Saddam for 911 (not ever established), and oh...Saddam was a bad guy to his people. Think of all the bad guys we are going to go to “preventative” war against in the next four years. North Korea, Iran, Sudan? Hey, how about taking a whack at China? Ooops – no. Too many jobs we can send over there. No unions. No medical. No copyright law. Corporate paradise, even if Pandas have more human rights than people.
The War on Terror is #3. I think this administration has finally realized that terror is not a “who” – IT IS A TACTIC. Fundamentalist Muslim men, usually fired up and goaded on by hopelessness, poverty, oppression, and bitter old men – Mullahs and Imams; supported by totalitarian governments such as Syria and their puppet Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, a few of the Emirates, Indonesia and Libya; and financed in great part by oil revenues of the Saudi royal family and other Saudi enterprises, are the enemy in this war. They want to KILL US. They want to DESTROY OUR CIVILIZATION. They want to obliterate all RELIGIONS other than their definition of Islam.
They use terror as a tactic.
The half (½) war is in Bosnia. NATO and the UN are sharing it that and it seems to be fairly stable. The proof will be when the troops leave. This too involved Muslims so be prepared for chaos when they try to take control.
The “let’s go to war” portion of this e-phlet is only one of the reasons, but a large one, why our nation is heading for bankruptcy.
We have spent over 200 BILLION in Iraq alone. Over 1,030 dead American young men and women is another cost. How many more BILLIONS were they worth? And there is no end in sight to what we will have to spend if we expect to try to stop a bloody civil war that could eventually turn the entire region into a Muslim Fundamentalist Theocracy and training ground (ala Afghanistan) for thousands more killers. I believe that once Iran and Iraq, backed by Iraqi and Saudi oil revenues, join forces with the soon to be produced Iranian and North Korean nukes, the possibility of terror and blackmail we can only imagine looms in our future.
Do you think kicking Saddam out of power really made America safer? I don’t. It made us look like arrogant bullies. It alienated our friends. And now it makes us look like jerks. It has increased the ranks of those who would murder us. Baghdad is a shooting gallery with live American soldiers and civilians to murder, kidnap, and behead. There is talk of “foreign fighters” pouring in over the borders and into the safe zones that we have abandoned to the radicals. Who is it that didn’t see all that coming?
I think we have to wake up, face mistakes, deal with the threat, and stop yakking about Vietnam and the National Guard, or trying to build nations by shaking our fists and rattling swords. We need friends and allies. We need to hunt down the killers like Osama Bin Laden (remember him?).
We need help. And, I believe, if people screw up I.E. “Bad intelligence” or “Not enough forces” or proclaiming “Mission accomplished” when it wasn’t even close... they should be fired. But the enormous costs of 3½ wars, and more to come?, is only a part of the financial security equation. But it does add substantially to our growing deficit which is over four hundred billion ($400,000,000,000.00) this year.
When Ronald Reagan became president the national debt was about $950 billion ($950,000,000,000.00). Now it is $7.5 TRILLION ($7,500,000,000,000.00). With the current tax program that this administration wants to MAKE PERMANENT, and interest rates going up, and a slowing economy, and more “Axis of Evil” preemptive wars to fight, that figure could be easily be $15 TRILLION in four years ($15,000,000,000,000.00).
Can that bankrupt us? What will your children’s financial security be like with that huge burden? And don’t forget, at this rate of war the possibility of reinstating the draft is already circulating in the halls of congress and the pentagon. Hey, their kids aren’t fighting there now anyway, and I’m sure there will be “deferments” and loopholes for “special circumstances” and “other priorities”.
Here’s another economic factor to consider.
Not long ago, college graduates were fought over by employers. Starting wages and employment packages were excellent. Today, the job market for college graduates is very tight, and starting salaries, forget about benefits and fringes, are much lower.
The previous administration actually balanced the federal budget. We even had a surplus. Twenty million (20,000,000) jobs were ADDED. The current administration had a net LOSS of 3,000,000 jobs. Many of those job were, IN FACT, sent overseas with impunity. “Free markets” we are told. “Worldwide economy” they say. “Healthy competition” the corporate lobbyists espouse.
Tens of millions of American workers, real, hard working people with real families, not statistics that politicians, economists, bureaucrats, pundits, and news actors rattle off, have had their decent paying jobs, many in manufacturing and services, sent overseas to countries where they pay is often one tenth, or less, than what an American earned in our society. And the jobs that are supposed to replace these lost jobs pay, on the average, $9,000.00 less, and have little or no fringe benefits.
I think the tight job situation, plant closings, and loss of American manufacturing adds up to a struggling economy driven by some very greedy, unfair, anti-American forces.
The greatest asset we have always had, since our raw materials ran out, has been the universal American education opportunity - the public school system that turned immigrants into Americans and seeded within them the great American dream. But many of our school systems are now in shambles – especially in the inner cities and distant rural communities. The idea that education is a homogenized product that can be accurately measured by a universal test is now policy. But even that absurd idea, wrapped in the “No Child Left Behind” mantra, has been under funded, poorly thought out, badly executed, and damaging to both the gifted and problem student. Sometimes I think it is a deliberate effort to destroy public education. Well, if we allow that to be happen, this country is also finished as a land of opportunity and world leader.
Education is the ONLY WAY we can compete in the economic world being fashioned today. Other countries know it. Other countries take care of their children, and thus their future. We do not. That is either calculatingly evil, just plain idiotic!
The cost of higher education, tuition, has increased substantially in the past few years. This results in more borrowing, and thus more debt on the shoulders of our kids. Aid to college students and overall aid to education has decreased, especially in the neediest school systems. The cost of that grave, if not fatal error, will cost us TRILLIONS more down the road as an educated world passes us by.
Assuming we leave them a viable economy, how much education and skill will our children, and those yet to be born, need to pay the enormous debt we are gifting to them? It is a TERRIBLE LEGACY. We should protect our children and grandchildren by telling the administration and congress that American kids MUST come before Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian and North Korean kids.
We are not just borrowing from our children’s future, we are tying their hands behind their backs and taping their mouth shut! If this trashing of public education continues, our kids will not be able to compete.
So I believe we either act now to stop destroying our kids future, or start writing them a letter that starts,
“Sorry, but I was too lazy, greedy, and
uninformed to leave a better world for you”.
The next financial security matter is health care.
Forty-five million (45,000,000) American people, a large percentage of them children, are WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE! The cost of medical, dental and long term care is rising at double digit rates – way beyond our annual rate of inflation for everything else (except Saudi oil). We were told that HMO’s and “managed care” would be the efficient way to save money in medicine. Have you ever seen the paperwork HMO’s demand in processing claims? Up to 36% of medical costs today go to this bloated bureaucracy. They delay, they deny, they obfuscate, they create a paper blizzard – none of which has anything to do with getting proper medical care.
Financial security for an aging population is especially critical when it comes to medical insurance and income after full-time work ceases. Even those who have the prospect of receiving social security soon have watched their date of eligibility pushed back, and the cost of Medicare increased. Next year the Medicare premium will increase 17.4%. Under the present administration Medicare alone will have increased 56% in 3.5 years. Did you say we have “mild and manageable” inflation Mr. Greenspan? Oh, I forgot. You must have the medical, dental, and pension plan that the Congress and President and Vice President have – the free one that you would not DARE GIVE TO EVERYDAY, HARD WORKING AMERICANS.
The so-called “Social Security Drug Benefit”, soon to become another bureaucratic nightmare...“You choose from one of the following 2000 options. Whaddaya mean you don’t understand?” Aren’t we told that, “The private sector can handle this better than government.” It’s a plan that was obviously drafted by the Drug Companies. Did you know that if you have Medicare today and sign up for one of the current “plans” you can save as much as 35% on drugs?
Of course that’s after the Drug Companies raised their prices by 18% this year and 17% next. I think that comes to a 35% increase. What a coincidence! For me, it is clear this scam is just a “thank you” for all that political money the Drug Companies gave to congress and the president.
Finally, we have the “boomers” coming to retirement. How will their Social Security be paid out, and their Medicare benefits honored when the income collected to pay for these solemn promises is folded into the general budget and replaced by IOU’s that have no substance or backing? There are 75 million (75,000,000) Boomers coming in the next 10-15 years. Add that to your “I’m sorry” letter to the future.
If you have a household budget, you know that if you spend more than you earn you have to pay the difference from your savings, or by borrowing, or robbing a bank. Depleting savings jeopardizes your future. Borrowing puts you deeper in debt and on the road to insolvency. Robbery isn’t cool.
With three and a half wars going on now, and two more in the pipeline, at a cost of hundreds of billions, if not trillions more, and the need to expand our military with a draft to fight those wars because we can’t keep the people whose tours are over, and reservists and National Guard in bonded servitude too long...
And an abandonment of decent public education for lack of funds, and a failed program that punishes, rather than improves school systems that don’t meet arbitrary “national” standards...
And rising college costs with less financial available to needy students...
And with other countries investing in education to take away jobs from Americans, encouraged by multi-national corporations and bought-and-paid-for politicians...
And with the cost of medical care escalating while the help that hard working families used to get to pay those bills diminishes or disappears...
And with our Medicare systems in such deep financial trouble that premiums will eventually eat up the recipient’s entire social security check...
And with the idea again being floated that social security should be “privately invested”, thus diminishing the safety factor of it while depleting the current fund that millions depend upon...
And with a geometrically growing national debt, fueled by tax cuts for the very wealthy and giant corporations...
And with 75,000,000 boomers getting ready to retire while corporations, with the blessings of this administration continue to ship American jobs overseas...
There are some really big financial problems on the horizon, and that horizon is where our children and grandchildren will have to try to live. Do you really want that to be your legacy?
Think about it.
PS: I have increased my mailing list by 477 names. The responses to E-phlet #1 and E-phlet #2 have been good. Thank you.
The most important thing to do is to be sure you, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your business associates, your fellow workers...EVERYBODY you life touches, REGISTERS AND VOTES!
Finally, one response I received regarding E-phlet #2 and the Iraq War II is a list of military service of many of the politicians and pundits who beat their chests about it – pro and con. Read it carefully. You may find it interesting to see who served, and who didn’t, and who among them so easily waves the flag and sends our kids off to die.
Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
House Whip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee."
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor.
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (in four).
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.
Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Duke Cunningham: nominated for Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Silver Stars, Air Medals, Purple Hearts.
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
JC Watts: did not serve.
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve
Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
John Edwards: did not serve.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
Jimmy Carter: Annapolis, Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
John Dingell: WWII vet
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea
Pundits & Preachers – THIS ONE REALLY GOT ME
· Sean Hannity: did not serve.
· Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'polinidal cyst.')(you don't want to know, but it affected him right
where his brains are.)
· Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
· Michael Savage: did not serve.
· George Will: did not serve.
· Chris Matthews: did not serve.
· Paul Gigot: did not serve.
· Bill Bennett: did not serve.
· Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
· Bill Kristol: did not serve.
· Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
· Michael Medved: did not serve.