Sunday, January 23, 2005

A flat tax the rich don't like

With all the talk about the need to fix Social Security, Tim Russert asked Republican House Ways and Means chair Bill Thomas why we don't just remove the cap on wages above $90,000 that are currently exempt from the Social Security tax.

Thomas quickly cut Russert off, saying, "Well, my argument, of course, is why even bother looking at the payroll tax? That was a solution in the 1940s and the 1950s."

Ah, yes, the Forties, Fifties and Sixties. An era when real wages were rising, there was hope of reducing the gap between rich and poor and corporations were taxed at rates more than double what they are today, easing the tax burden on working families.

Thomas instead wants to explore "solutions" such as cutting Social Security benefits to women since they live longer. (He coveniently forgets the part about how women earn less along the way.)

"I don't think anything should be above being looked at," Thomas insisted. Anything, that is, except forcing the rich to pay their fair share.

Time to pardon Dr. Death?

Coming up on the second anniversary of my mother's death, I hear her voice asking me to remind people that Jack Kevorkian remains a political prisoner in Michigan.

Kevorkian was my mother's hero, willing to fight for her right to die. Mother was ill for decades and terrified of dying in agony. Doctors who say all pain is controllable are flatly lying. Many doctors are also afraid to give patients enough pain medication because of our misguided War on Drugs.

My mother ultimately found that she had an "off" switch -- all she had to do was stop taking her meds and she died a peaceful death a week later. But what about those of us who have no such switch? Why should religious extremists deny us the right to end our lives as we choose?

I heard lots of talk this week about how we value freedom. Democracy not theocracy. If so, will you join me in asking asking our governor to spend some of her political capital on freeing Jack Kevorkian now?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Visit me at the Detroit News

I have been a political guest blogger at the Detroit News for the past couple weeks. It is an unusual format -- instead of seeing only my comments, mine are interspersed among other bloggers.

On the one hand, it's nice to have variety and the Detroit News brings new readers. On the other hand, it seems somewhat dicey to rely on them to continue to put me into their mix.

At least for now, I will try posting to both place at the same time.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

News I could have done without

In his review of 102 Minutes about what happened inside the towers on 9/11, James B. Stewart tells us:

. . . [the authors] suggest that not all the people who leapt from the upper floors of the towers did so of their own volition; some were pushed by those desperate for their place by a window and a breath of air.

In 1981, Ted Mooney wrote a book called "Easy Travel to Other Planets," where he proposed a new illness called information disease. People afflicted would dash out into the street raving from an overdose of media accounts of misery and chaos.

I would write more but I feel the need to run outside now.

Uh-oh - dangerous idea ahead

The New York Times today published an article about a speech given by historian Fritz Stern, a refugee from Hitler's Germany, in which he drew parallels between the Christian fundamentalism at the heart of Nazism and the melding of conservative politics and the Christian right in the U.S.. Stern gave the speech while receiving an award in Germany recently.

The opening sentence of Times reporter Chris Hedges' article notes, however, that Stern's remarks "startled several of his listeners." Huh? Are you kidding? Why do you think so many blue staters are nervous at the thought of a red state takeover? The left does worry that the path away from a secular society risks taking us down the path of fascism.

Oh, I forgot. This is the Times' way of alerting us that there is a dangerous idea ahead, an idea they would be criticized for repeating, if not for this timid disclaimer.

So how precisely did Hedges determine audience members were startled? Does he have photographic proof of raised eyebrows? Or were the eyebrows only his -- or those of his editor?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Last of the big spenders

George Bush has donated $10,000 of his "own" money to tsunami relief. But since George is worth $15 million at a mininmum, that's less than .1% of his net worth. So much for compassionate conservatism.