12 August 2011

"Independent" Wealth? What a Load of Crap.

Gotta love Facebook. I saw this post earlier, and it set me off:
"I think I found the solution to the US debt problem:

Salary of retired US Presidents...$180,000 for life
Salary of House/Senate...$174,000 for life
Salary of Speaker of the House...$223,500 for life
Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders...$193,400 for life
Average Salary of a teacher...$40,065 per year
Average Salary of Soldier Deployed in Afghanistan...$38,000 per year

I think we found where the cuts should be made!"

Actually, the president does get a decent percentage of his/her $400,000 salary for a pension (after running our COUNTRY, with none of the $15 million Wall Street bonuses), but most congress members don't get anywhere near their salaries for life. They DO pay into Social Security, and they ARE on the same retirement plans we were on in the postal service, except that they're required to contribute a bigger chunk of their salaries to them (per Senate website et al.).

They also have to serve at least 5 years to be eligible for a partial pension, at least 20 years to be eligible for their full pension at age 50 (same as p.o. and other fed. jobs), or they have to be at least 62 or have served at least 25 years, to collect the money they contributed from their own salaries. There are other factors, too, like military advantage and which specific plans they choose, and whether or not they invest in other savings funds. They also voted overwhelmingly in both 2010 and 2011 to not accept federally mandated cost-of-living increases.

(Lots of people continue to whine and cry for term limits, but that's just an excuse to not vote and get even lazier about it. We have always had term limits: They're called elections. If we legislate limits, even fewer people will give enough of a damn to get off their asses and vote than do now.)

Now, as far as the president's salary goes, personally, I wouldn't take less than 5x that amount for trying to guide the lazy, selfish, ignorant, hateful babies that seem to take up a greater percentage of our potentially awesome country every day. We shouldn't be at war, and teachers are dreadfully underpaid, always have been. There's no mistaking those issues. But the problem is still mostly outside of government.

Only 20% of our population make over 50% of our aggregate income, with the top 5% making over 20% of it themselves, and these aren't primarily people making a comparatively piddly $400K a year or less. These are also the people with the most tax breaks. "They made it, they should get to keep it," people like to argue. Well, who did they make it OFF of, so to speak? (Besides teachers and soldiers, for starters.) Well, if not the dime-an-hour victims of multiple American human rights violations worldwide, then likely off of the "lower" 80% of Americans who work in their factories and offices and drive their shit around the country. A whopping 80% of our people make less than half the aggregate income. 60% of our people take in around a QUARTER of our aggregate income. (This is all available on the Census site, per the 2010 census, numbers reported by people about themselves, not propagated by the mythical "liberal media.")

In other words, say you buy a car from a group of ten people for $100. Two of the people, probably the two who made the deal, take $50, half the money. Two of them take another $25 to share. The other six people have to share the last $25 of the profits, even though they're probably the ones who dragged the car home from the junk shop, fixed it up, painted it, maybe lost a couple of fingers in the whole process, inhaled some lead, that kind of thing. Well, news flash, I'm one of those six. Bigger news flash, you're probably one of those six. The other four are the ones voting consistently and the top two are the ones paying for the elections that decide your fate. They're even willing to cut your six-way-shared $25 down even further, whatever it takes to avoid parting with one more cent of their $25 apiece.

A few more numbers you need to consider... Between 1984 and 2009, the annual mean household income of the lowest-earning 20% of our good American people went from $5,436 to $11,552 (as of just 2 years ago, 20% of the people here are living - or trying to - on an average of just over $11K/year). In those same years, between 1984 and 2009, the mean income of the highest-earning 20% went from $62,121 to $170,844. The top 5% went from $93,774 to $295,388. And President Obama just wanted the top 2% to pay what they owe, without all the damn loopholes! Conservative or liberal, educated or not, it's not hard to see the formula here: the rich get richer by climbing up the backs of the poor, even while DENYING THEIR EXISTENCE and cutting the lifelines necessitated by their exploitation. And yet the ridiculously wealthy don't want to pay ALL of THEIR taxes???? OMG. I am so sick of the vitriolic rhetoric and blatant lies thrown around by that top 20% to protect their damn assets! The problem is NOT our government in practice (which is us, by the way). The problem is our GREED.

The last time the market tanked, my wife and I scraped together a little money (literally) and bought some stocks. One of the companies I bought was Williams-Sonoma. You know why? Because I was betting that the people who shop there wouldn't feel as pinched, they'd still need their supplies, and they weren't about to start slumming and buying their base-model Teflon pans at Wal-Mart. Because I was right, our 13 shares have more than tripled in value, yep, even after this week. I wish it was enough to get us health insurance, or married in our home state. We're Americans, too, and the bullshit Tea Party version of "small government" is our worst enemy. If the other 60-80% of you were paying attention instead of just constantly whipping the ass of the rhetorical dragon to get more fire, you'd know they're your worst enemy, too.

A few credits...if you want more, find them like I did.