Tag Archives: Mike Hiltzik

Learning About about “Entitlement Programs” — and the Lies Surrounding Them

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8354674107_134a97e135I’m just a few years away from being able to start using one of the two social insurance programs I’ve paid into all of my working life. So, this time the spin from the right wing, referring to these programs as the loaded “entitlements,” is personal. I thought Mike Hiltzik (disclosure – I’ve met Mike, he did a great piece on my former boss Ray Dolby when I was PR Director at Dolby in the early 2000s) really nailed it with this list of lies published in the Los Angeles Times.

First of all, a tax restoration (instituted to help avoid a depression) is not a tax hike — one of the Right’s favorite lies. Also, that temp payroll tax cut left out certain categories of people who don’t pay into the social security system anyway – teachers, for one.

Then there’s the problem that millionaires and billionaires also get social security – it’s a huge drain! Wrong again. Have you ever gone to the soc sec website and punched in different scenarios for your retirement benefit? I have – and after a certain point there’s not more than a hundred dollars or so month difference between what someone making $25K per year would get vs. someone making $250K per year would get – Social Security is set up as a baseline income for seniors.

Also, one shouldn’t think of these programs and the deductions that go into them as retirement funds like an IRA or 401-K. They’re not. They are insurance. Everyone’s ultimate benefit will be different, depending on circumstances. It’s more helpful to think of the situation along the lines of car insurance or homeowner’s insurance.

The last lie is the tendency of the critics on the Right to lump social security together with Medicare – which does have some very serious problems going forward. Medicare is hampered by a huge external, i.e., the for-profit, American carnivorous health care fiasco, aided and abetted by Congress on all sides – and as long as that’s the case, costs will rise much faster than inflation or premiums could ever keep up. But don’t take my word for it – read Mike, he says it much better than I can.

Perspectives from AARP on Social Security

“The Fetid Swamp of Corporate Cynicism” – Mike Hiltzik

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oh, amazon.

Amazon, sales tax: Amazon has a lot of nerve – latimes.com.

So I have so far been unable to generate commissions with my ads. I have been informed that my ad account is being deactivated because of this giant FAIL!

So, added to the drop I already received from Amazon associates (see the link above) it means that until something changes, as in, I get lots more hits, or the business model becomes different, I won’t be posting ads on these pages going forward.

My hits – they’ve been averaging about 1200-1300 unique hits a month for most of this year. That’s up considerably from the past, but still not enough to generate any ad commissions, apparently. If anything, it makes the process of posting entries here that much easier.

Did you read Hiltzik’s piece in the Times? I have to say that although I have certainly enjoyed not paying sales tax at Amazon and other online retailers over the years, fair is fair and a level playing field is probably the way to go. We always lament how big box places like Wal-Mart and Target destroy Main Street, and this advantage online retailers have is part of that same problem.

While I wasn’t counting on my ad commissions for any income at all, I’m sure a lot of full-time bloggers were, so who is now the job-killing Satan if it’s not Amazon? Hiltzik makes some very good points. I guess eventually I expect Amazon will lose and somebody is going to be collecting those sales taxes. Will they lower their prices to keep a competitive advantage?

Onto the Blog…

I’ve been reading about blog success, and most pundits say it has to have a defined niche. Mine has pretty much been all over the place in regards to topics. I’m hoping to define three or four categories to post in and continue in that vein. I’m sure one will be something like Entertainment/Arts, in which I’ll put books, movies, TV, etc. I’m still thinking about the other categories.