Friday, April 29, 2005

Social Security Rescue

Why not impose the 6.20 percent individual Social Security tax on all earned income rather than merely the first $90,000?

The conservative Heritage Foundation notes that only about 10.4 million wage earners would be affected nationwide. The Foundation also calculates a total of $1.2 trillion would be raised over 10 years, thus extending the Social Security System's solvency by seven years.

That means about 5 percent of all U.S. workers would pay more taxes to forestall or eliminate Social Security benefits cuts, extend coverage to more people for a longer period of time, and all without increasing the tax burden on 95 percent of wage earners.

It's a no-brainer for the 95 percent. But the GOP won't bite because they say raising taxes on anyone for any reason is something akin to endorsing incest. Better, they say, to cut benefits. For a large portion of the 95 percent.

The two most powerful Republicans espousing this view are President Bush and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Take a peek at their taxpayer-funded Golden Years plan.

Bush is already eligible for a $189,000 federal pension, an office, staff, postage, some travel, Secret Service protection, and a multi-million-dollar state funeral. Plus an endless stream of five-figure speaking engagements. Plus the book. Plus the movie rights, including final say over who plays him. (Mel Gibson, of course.)

Hastert's congressional pension would depend on a number of arcane factors, but the current average for ex-members with his level of tenure is about $50,000. Plus Social Security. Plus his pension as a former schoolteacher. Plus whatever he makes from speaking fees and product endorsements. (Hey, Bob Dole did it.) He's set.

And the 95 percent?

The typical American worker is a 40-year-old female earning about $22,000 a year. Should she give up waiting on tables at age 67, she would pull in about $11,196 a year at current Social Security rates. (Yeah, benefits are indexed for inflation, but that just keeps her even.) Bill Clinton spent nearly that much taxpayer money on postage last year.

Once everyone wades through the endless and fetid chatter on the issue, Social Security System changes will focus on politics. That means taking care of the constituency. And, for the Republicans, that clearly means the 5 percent, not the 95 percent.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Finger Food Finale?

Anna Ayala was arrested for allegedly faking the finger-in-the-chili incident at a San Jose Wendy's. Police said they grabbed her as soon as they discovered the finger showed no signs of having been simmered at 170 degrees, the Wendy's standard for chili.

As the late attorney Johnny Cochran might have said: "The finger wasn't cooked, so she was booked."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Jimmy vs. Arnold

California Democrats are giggling at the mere suggestion that Arnold’s popularity has taken a dive.

They need to get real.

Voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis to make it clear that the Democratically controlled state goverment was so out of step with what they want that it was square dancing at a hip hop club. To eliminate any possible confusion, they chose as Davis' successor a charismatic actor who promised to kick butt.

Now that Arnold's approval numbers have slipped below 50 percent, Demo leaders are drooling at the prosepct of a comeback. But their recent political group hug at the state convention masked the fact they have no real alternatives to charisma and slick messages. The best-kown among them is former Gov. Jerry Brown, who is looking to run again for a statewide office. But even though he's sleeping on a bed instead of the floor these days, his career peaked in the 1970s when Davis carried his briefcase as chief of staff.

Instead of recruiting candidates from geriatric wards, the Democrats need to fight glitz with glitz, Hollywood candidate with Hollywood candidate. No, not Rob Reiner – unless the debates consist of who's wearing the most expensive sweater.

There’s someone better.

He’s Hispanic and born to a working-class family. He holds two college degrees. He earned a U.S. passport at birth. He’s fought for the rights of minorities. He’s a solid family man. His wife is beautiful and has her own career. He starred in two major television series that gave him almost universal recognition. Women of all ages love him. He’s old enough (49) to deliver maturity but far younger than anyone in the state political spotlight.

His name is Jimmy Smits. Scandal-free, full of energy, and smart, Smits is the Demos’ man.

Smits is currently playing Rep. Matt Gonzalez, D-Texas, the charismatic underdog Democratic nominee for the presidency on the NBC show, “The West Wing.” That means the producers must decide if Gonzalez wins (and the series continues) or Republican Sen. Arnie Vinick (Alan Alda) takes over and the series gracefully eases into TV history. That can be handled, though, because the scripts for next season aren't finished.

What does Smits say? Who cares? Matt Gonzalez was ready to dump his political career and move back to Texas before he got dragooned into an ultra-long shot White House race. Maybe the California Dems can do the same kind of arm twisting on Smits himself.

Smits is defintely "signable" and his election is "doable." California voters chose The Terminator as governor and the polls show they're getting tired of his hyper-macho act. There's every reason to think the better looking, far more sensitive Det. Bobby Simone/Rep. Matt Gonzalez would be a viable replacement.

To make it happen, though, the Dems need to blow the dust out and say, as Arnie Vinick did in the West Wing season finale, "OK. Let's go out and win this thing." Either that or step aside and let the West Wing producers take over.

This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

Monday, April 04, 2005

High Tech Software Talk

They say: Enterprise Solution
They mean: We need to take over your company's computer and software systems to deliver any value.

They say: CRM
They mean: We have a searchable customer database just like everyone else.

They say: Integrated
They mean: We make nice with Oracle and SAP.

They say Scalable:
They mean: So is any other database worth a damn.

They say: Web-based
They mean: The earthquake hits, you're dead meat.

They say: World-class
They mean: Some geek in Ukraine bought our beta version.