Category Archives: Priorities

Influencing People Through Fear

People who wish to influence or control others have long since understood one of our prime motivators is the use of fear. It drives our instinct to survive, fight or flight. No normal person wants to sign up for pain & suffering. Secondary control factors include, financial incentives (reward), social status & peer pressure (ego).

torture-devicesGovernments, especially those who have unlimited power to do what they want, have used fear to motivate or control the populace. Torture was part of their tool kit, and the thought of ending up humiliated in shackles, or placed on a rack, was enough to instil fear in most people.

burn_in_hell_graphic

Christianity found their tool with the word, “hell”. You don’t behave, or do what the group thinks, you’re going to end up in a highly undesirable zip code, for eternity.

We see it’s more than peer pressure to influence predictions of climate change, we have government grants for educational and research institutions which measure and computer model predictions. The arsenal of control and scaremongering is reinforced through sympathetic media on “global warming“. If the latest trends don’t follow “scientific prediction”, than it’s called “climate change”. You places your bets, then change the predictions based on latest trends.

Which ever way the thermometer and weather, especially severe weather patterns change, it’s always based on “climate change”. Therefore if you have a drought, a flood, a grouping of tornadoes, it’s attributed to climate change.

Who Decides?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), states the largest contributor to global warming is the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) since 1750, particularly from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and land use changes such as deforestation.

Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely (95–100%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.IPCC AR5 WG1 Summary for Policymakers

We’ve been here before – More Lies

In November 2009, hackers gained access to a server used by the CRU and stole a large quantity of data, anonymously posting online more than 1,000 emails and more than 2,000 other documents.

A series of independent public investigations of the allegations found no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct. The Muir Russell report exonerated the scientists, but found “a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA”. The scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity remained unchanged.

In 2011, an analysis of temperature data by the independent Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group, of whom some had stated they thought it was possible the CRU had manipulated the data, however concluded that “these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions”.

So, the hacked emails supposedly didn’t reveal anything that pointed out a bias or a skewing of results. Here’s what some of the email said, you decide. See
University of East Anglia emails: the most contentious quotes.

From: Phil Jones. To: Many. Nov 16, 1999
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature [the science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

From Phil Jones To: Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University). July 8, 2004
“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

From: Kevin Trenberth (US National Center for Atmospheric Research). To: Michael Mann. Oct 12, 2009
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t… Our observing system is inadequate

You can click on the above link to see more of these emails.

More critical background and science history of Michael E. Mann found here.

Here we go again!

How can we trust global warming scientists if they keep twisting the truth?
| DailyMail February 11, 2017 | The following is an excerpt from their post.

The contentious paper at the heart of this furore – with the less than accessible title of Possible Artifacts Of Data Biases In The Recent Global Surface Warming Hiatus – was published just six months before the Paris conference by the influential journal Science.

It made a sensational claim: that contrary to what scientists have been saying for years, there was no ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the early 21st Century.
Indeed, this ‘Pausebuster’ paper as it has become known, claimed the rate of warming was even higher than before, making ‘urgent action’ imperative.

The ongoing battle between a radio host and author vs. the scientist.  | Michael E. Mann v. Mark Steyn

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Transfer of Symbols of Power

Today marks another passing of the torch in the United States. The 45th president, for the 58th time, the inauguration of a President takes place. It’s a great day for fanfare and celebration, but not for some. To many people, they aren’t happy about this new President. They openly hope the man falls flat on his face. A desire that would be the furthest from their mind if only their person of choice was elected.

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President Donald J. Trump Inauguration 2017

The concern each of us as citizens should have is how much we can do to be of benefit to each other, not how badly we can make things, because our person or party didn’t win. The future requires more cooperation, more finding solutions, and less ways to blame the other person or party.

vp_president_outgoingNo matter what your perspective has been on the Obama Presidency, it should be obvious that he left in a better standing than either George Bush or William Clinton. A high approval rating isn’t  a rubber stamp, but it suggests there was enough political influence to negotiate and make things happen. This isn’t where Donald Trump starts. His approval ratings are significantly lower, even though he’s just been installed.

The Republican party is in a strong position to get things done. It holds majorities in the Senate, House of Representatives, and now the Executive branch. None the less, the Democrats have an opportunity to take the high ground and find ways to work with the Republicans.

Here’s the biggest challenge to make the transfer of power meaningful and beneficial, can we as a people find ways to minimize our differences and work together? I look at a large number of prominent individuals, and there’s certainly a mix of feelings. For some of them, it almost reads like rebels looking for a cause to show how much they matter.

What really should matter, is the alarming way we’ve ignored the 800 pound gorilla. That’s the national debt. There’s been a lot of talk about it, but reversing it, will be painful, no one wants to give up some of that public largess in order to fix this monster.

debt_chart-obama-3

We may not be bankrupt yet, but this reality is looming larger than ever. If this debt level isn’t reduced, all of the other priorities we think are important will seem pointless.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 124,248,000 people in the United States with full-time jobs in December. The total federal debt of $19,961,467,137,973 equals approximately $160,658 for each one of those workers.

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President Trump takes office 2017

We’re going to see things change, and I expect there will be a lot of people upset if it affects their special interest, project or cause. I’ve read quite a number of things which distort the positions Trump has officially advocated.

Today’s inaugural speech identified his focus was less on institutional authority and more on the needs of the people. Of course promises from a podium mean very little. We will have to see if they become part of the executive push and legislative authorization.

 

Its A New Year – Time to Change

Everyone talks about New Years resolutions in terms of personal goals. Nothing wrong with that, but there are some national challenges that require changes to be made. Just like weight gain, year after year, problems ignored become greater problems to resolve in the future. Here’s one that needs some serious attention. Stat!

Social Security & Disability

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President Roosevelt signs Social Security act into law 1935 – Getty Images

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017.

The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2017. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2016. ~ Social Security Administration

COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) has been as high as 14.3% in 1980, and as low as 0% in 2016.

The 2016 Social Security Trustees report shows a continuing trend toward insolvency of both of its trust funds. The Trustees estimate that Social Security’s combined retirement and disability trust funds will become exhausted in 2037. This means that Social Security’s day of financial reckoning is now less than 20 years away. Social Security faces severe, urgent financial challenges that policymakers must soon address if the program is to remain viable for the most vulnerable in our society.

In fact, the Social Security crisis is not only real; it is already upon us. The trustees now estimate that the 75-year financial shortfall for the combined trust funds is $11.4 trillion in present-value terms. If we indefinitely extend past the 75-year period, the so-called “infinite horizon,” the shortfall is a whopping $32.1 trillion. For comparison, our nation’s gross domestic product is slightly over $18 trillion – and our gross national debt (not including unfunded liabilities) is almost $20 trillion.

There are two separate trust funds: one for the retirement program (the Old Age and Survivors Insurance, or “OASI”), and one for the disability program (the Disability Insurance, or “DI”). For the retirement program, the Trustees estimate that the trust fund can continue to pay full benefits until 2035, at which point the program will only be able to pay about three-fourths of scheduled benefits. For the disability program, the Trustees estimate the program will hit insolvency less than a decade from now, in 2023.

What Are the Problems in Funding Social Security?

The problem for this fund wasn’t inevitable as some would like to have us believe. The problem stems primarily from the way it has been administered and used as a fund to help offset deficit spending by augmenting the general fund with FICA collections in excess of what was needed for prior years.

Beer summit brings together arrestor & arrestee

We can have meaningless gestures of goodwill or work on real problems.

Social Security isn’t administered like an individual private investment. Rather than save individual payments for future payout, the fund is a real-time pay as you go, and hope that somehow or someway, future policy makers will address the fundamental flaws. The most obvious is the found in actuarial tables. If you use the present group of workers to pay for the retired workers, there should be more wage earners than retirees to keep the cash flowing. Life insurance companies determine their ability to make a profit from collecting premiums and paying out benefits using these tables. In summary, the factors for how many will live to retirement, and how many will contribute is largely based on live births, and how healthy the general population remains.

We’ve seen the U.S. population grow substantially after WWII, but dwindle with a greater acceptance of contraceptives, abortions, and postponement of pregnancies. Overall this means fewer people are in the group of wage earners for a large group of people who are entering retirement.

Since the 1990’s. we’ve also seen a decline in real wages for many while observing an increase in the income and holdings for a smaller percentage of the population. In addition, those who are now actively in the job market has declined over the past several years. All of this leaves a declining revenue tax base for Social Security. Currently (2017) these are the rules for funds collected.

  • Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance)
    Employers and Employees, each          6.20%
    Medicare (Hospital Insurance)
    Employers and Employees, each a,b    1.45%
    Maximum Taxable Earnings (dollars)
    Social Security $ 127,200
  • Medicare (Hospital Insurance) No limit
    Self-employed persons pay a total of 15.3 percent — 12.4 percent for OASDI and 2.9 percent for Medicare.
    This rate does not reflect the additional 0.9 percent in Medicare taxes certain high-income taxpayers are required to pay.
    ~ See IRS information on this topic.

What Should Be Done

pew-research-asocial-securityThe only bipartisan agreement that has been announced up to this point is, ‘something should be done’. After that, there’s not been anything done to alter the course we’re on.

During one debate, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry described Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.” Interestingly, Perry has been picked to become head of the Department of Energy. A department which he couldn’t name in a debate, but said it needed to be eliminated. Perry does typify one of the many people who misunderstand that Social Security is neither illegal, a scheme, or a wily trick by Democrats to gain a greater voter demographic.

Here are some of the ideas which have been discussed.

  • Change the taxation of earnings
  • Change the benefit formula
  • Increase Benefits for low earners
  • Raise the full retirement age
  • Reduce cost of living adjustments

See this chart to examine the effects of each bullet item.

The last bullet item has been addressed over the past decade; COLA has severely declined. Increasing benefits for low wage earners may be a desirable goal, but it will have the opposite effect on aiding the fund. Changing the benefit formula is another way of saying, pay less benefits. Changing the taxation level may make some sense for those earning in excess of $127,000. A false narrative circulates that says people don’t pay anything if they earn above a specified threshold. This is incorrect.

Who Pays for Social Security?

Examples: Jon Smith makes $50,000 in 2015, and Jane Doe makes $120,000 for the year. Jon pays $3,100 for Social Security (6.2 percent of $50,000) and $725 for Medicare (1.45 percent of $50,000) for a total of $3,825 for the year. His employer pays an identical amount. Jane pays $7,049 for Social Security (6.2 percent of the 2013 maximum wage base of $113,700) and $1,740 for Medicare (1.45 percent of $120,000 salary), for a total of $8,789 for 2013. Her employer pays the same.

For more information, see: National Academy of Social Insurance

Where Do We Go From Here?

Donald Trump smiling in front of flag

President-elect Trump  policies on Social Security?

Some things are obvious. The math says we’re in trouble and like an oncoming train, it’s avoidable. Doing nothing just ‘kicks the can down the street’, making it become a larger and more difficult problem to solve in the relatively near future. We’ve had multiple administrations (Republican & Democrat) that have done nothing to alleviate the problem.

Those who hold office, don’t see it as any more of a problem than how to keep people voting for them. I seriously doubt Donald Trump recognizes the plight it puts people in, because he’s a billionaire and wealthy people have a tendency to think there’s no reason anyone should rely on Social Security.

Some people claim it’s just another government dependency program. The truth is, government has been collecting specific taxes from workers for decades and has become dependent on this fund to solve general fund shortfalls.

This problem won’t go away on its own and up to this point has only been made worse through a misguided belief, because we’re a large and prosperous nation, someone will auto-magically pay for it.  All politics aside, we will pay a much larger price tomorrow for something we can solve on a smaller scale today.


Congress: Leadership Members’ Salary (2016) – $174,000

Leaders of the House and Senate are paid a higher salary than rank-and-file members.

Senate Leadership

Majority Party Leader – $193,400
Minority Party Leader – $193,400

House Leadership

Speaker of the House – $223,500
Majority Leader – $193,400
Minority Leader – $193,400

Pay Increases

Members of Congress are eligible to receive the same annual cost-of-living increase given to other federal employees, if any. The raise takes effect automatically on January 1 of each year unless Congress, through passage of a joint resolution, votes to decline it, as Congress has done since 2009. The increase for Federal employees in 2017 is 1.3%