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Social Security "Crisis"
"Social Security is bankrupt" is much like "Saddam is going to attack us with WMDs". It is a lie meant to stir deep emotions in order to override actual facts and common sense. Any claims that there is a crisis should be met with a skeptical eye for a hidden agenda. The plain truth is that if Social Security goes completly unchanged, it will continue to pay full benefits for 37 more years. That is a simple fact.
Yes, Social Security will not be able to indefinitely match the current rate of payout with its current intake. At the current rate, that will happen between 2042 and 2052. It can be solved by any one of several different means, and by "solved", I mean being put into the black permanently:
So, where is the financial crisis? Here's some perspective. The long-term cost of the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy is five times the budget office's estimate of Social Security's deficit over the next 75 years. Bush's 2003 prescription drug bill (designed to enrich drug companies, not help those who need medication) alone increases the deficit more than the projected rise in Social Security expenses.
Just adding a little perspective on this topic, because it is misused so often.
Blood for oil is NOT pro-life. Crippling the search for a cure to cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's is NOT pro-life. The Bush administration says they are "pro life" when it suits them politically, but the reality of their position is to be found in Iraq.
If you believe yourself to be pro-live and a Bush supporter, I humbly suggest that you need to rethink one of those ideals, because the simple fact is that they contradict each other.
Events of September 11th, 2001
My grandparents came to the United States of America because it was, and still is, the land of opportunity. They did not speak much English, and were most definitely foreigners in a new land. Their children and grandchildren became teachers, nurses, businessfolk, accountants, and engineers - one of which helped design the space shuttle. Their children fought for the ideals of the USA by serving in the military. To a person, the members of my family all love this country.
Feeling patriotic? Remember the part about my grandparents coming from a foreign country and not speaking English? Well, many of our fellow citizens (and neighbors who aspire to be citizens) are in that exact same situation today. Some of them worship differently than you or I. Some of them may look different. Some of them dress different. Their children and grandchildren will teach our families. They will care for us when we're ill. They will help build this nation into a better place. Their culture will be blended into the American quilt of cultures. Just like my ancestors, and the ancestor of every American.
Please, talk to your neighbors. Help remind everyone that all individuals must be judged on their own merits, not on ancestry, looks or religion. At the onset of World War II, we wrongly and harshly discriminated against many Americans of Japanese descent. Let us not repeat this folly, not as a nation nor as individuals. Talk to anyone who believes differently and help them understand. Talk to your friends, family, and people you're only casually acquainted with. Help spread the word that the panic and persecution that followed WWII is NOT going to happen again.
The soulless monsters that murdered many innocents on 9/l1/01, and their co-conspirators, will be punished. Those who might follow such ways will get a clear message that such a path is not to be taken. Organizations that seek to harm America will themselves be destroyed. They will all be hunted down with great and deliberate conviction. Yes, some will be found living in the United States. But deliberate conviction will take time, because we are better than the monsters. We must all be better than them. Our action will be strong, but it will be smart. We must not jump to irrational action.
Cannabis sativa, or hemp, is a weed with a famous cousin, marijuana, or pot. We've all heard the potential dangers of pot. What most don't realize, however, is that the very vocal moral watchdogs are simply a pawn to keep both hemp and pot illegal. The real driving force behind both being illegal is, of course, money.
The highly-paid lobbyists of our tobacco growers make sure pot stays illegal. It has nothing to do with the morality of smoking pot. It has everything to do with the fact that marijuana is a weed that can be grown very easily. If it were legal, their monopoly on smokeable plants would be gone and they'd have to compete with farmers across the country. This has nothing to do with getting high. Pot can be grown with so little delta-9 tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) that it would be impossible to achieve narcotic effects. It does not have to be a drug.
Now, on to hemp. Why is cannabis illegal? Because a long time ago, very highly paid lobbyists for the cotton and paper industries got it made illegal for the same reasons above. It's very easy to grow, and it's competition. Hemp can be used to make fabric every bit as good (or better) as cotton. Back in the 1930's, the chop-down-all-the-forrest industries were afraid cannabis could be made into paper, and become competition. Well, what about hemp being used to get high, you might ask? Sure, cannabis does contain THC, but there's so little that hemp is a viable organic fuel. That's right, you can burn bushels of hemp for energy, instead of oil, and nobody gets high. Homegrown clothes, paper and fuel, made illegal by purchased laws, not morals.
"You would have to smoke a joint the size of a telegraph pole to experience any effects" --John Lowe, of hemp processing company Hemcore.
The publicly given reason that marijuana is illegal is because it is a narcotic. But if that were true, then hemp and THC-free marijuana would be completely legal. The truth is that the law is not based on governing narcotics. It is based on big money squashing potential competition by manipulating the "morally correct" lobby.
The price of gasoline
There's always lot of energy spent complaining about the cost of gasoline and debating how many human lives are expendible in the quest for oil. Here's my 2¢
Personally, I'd like to see the price of gas go to $4/gallon or more, under the right conditions. This country/planet needs something to kick it in the butt and find a better alternative to burning fossil fuel. At $2/gallon and below, gas is an amazingly cheap form of transportation. It's little wonder people drive 3.5 ton vehicles across town just to cart one person to do a minor errand, or live 50 miles from their job, or not even think twice about backtracking instead of planning routes, or as an alternative to walking/biking/scootering. Of course, kudos to all the good folk who minimize driving and maximize fuel economy.
If I were in charge, I'd immediately slap a $2/gallon extra tax on all gasoline used by anything less than a semi truck. That money would go into fusion/wind/solar research and creating infrastructure to distribute power, (be it electric, hydrogen or other) to vehicles and other existing small power generators. There'd also be a law eventually banning, or at least heavily regulating, internal combustion engines. Details TBD ;-)
The state of American law
Laws, law enforcement, judgement and lawyers are all good things, and we have what should be an excellent system in the United States.
However, we've all heard the outrageous stories of some stupid person hurting themselves because they were dumb or clumsy or just plain unlucky. That burden upon society then proceeds to bring a lawsuit against every entity within earshot of the incident, whether or not there was any involvement at all. The only requirement is that the defendant must have the perception of money. The leech then hopes to become filthy rich at the expense of innocents by abusing a loophole-filled court system.
If someone cuts them self shaving, they should not expect to receive millions of dollars from the razor manufacturer, the store where they bought the shaving cream, and the inventor of the twin blade. If someone orders hot coffee, holds it between their legs and then spills it on themselves, they should not expect to become wealthy at the expense of the business that served them the beverage order. If someone breaks into a residence and cuts themselves on the window that they shattered, the courts should not give all of the homeowner's possessions and savings to the thief. If someone rides their bike wearing dark clothes at night without lights and against traffic, the consequential accident should not result in the bicycle manufacturer declaring bankruptcy due to judgement against them. If deranged psychopaths murder innocent people, then the psychopaths are at fault, not the police force. If the whacked out leader of an apocalyptic cult causes his followers to be killed, family members are not entitled to over half a billion dollars from U.S. taxpayers. These notions are just plain obscene.
In clear-cut cases of such (attempted) legal blackmail, and only if they're clear-cut, the plaintiff should not only have to pay the legal costs of the defendants, but the prosecuting attourney should be immediately disbarred. The second suggestion is the key, because without it, corrupt lawyers will simply keep rolling the dirty dice until they get lucky and strike gold.
How people drive
Most people, very well. As for the rest, just calm down, obey laws and follow common sense before an innocent is killed.