Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Destroying the Poor. I went on Social Security early retirement at the beginning of this year (I'm partially disabled, have worked over 40 years, and have many things to do at home) and was talking to friends when the issue of food stamps came up. I wondered what the eligibility income limit is, so found a website at which New Jerseyans can calculate eligibility for several different government assistance programs. People anywhere in the Nation can check food-stamp elibility at the USDA's Food & Nutrition Service website. I was dismayed by what I found.
Even after I told the program that my mortgage payment and medical insurance premiums together, without more, exceed my monthly income (unless I work or draw against a retirement account), and I also have to pay for heating, water, electricity, and gas — and that's without even eating so much as a single meal — the calculator told me I was ineligible for food stamps or any other program except possibly LIHEAP, the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. To qualify for any government assistance, I guess a homeowner would have to sell his house — even if that would entail a loss — and become absolutely, desperately destitute before receiving public assistance. We like to think of ourselves as a generous Nation, but we're not. Under Republicans, we are not just miserly: we are monstrous to the poor.
The rich think the best way to fite poverty is to kill the poor, thru poverty, thru the crime that poverty produces against the people closest at hand, and thru the ravages of disease, accidents, and violent crime that the poor cannot afford to treat.
Social Security is not enuf to live on unless you move to a very small apartment in a low-rent state — yet the Republicans want to cut benefits! They started taxing Social Security as income years ago, thus starkly reducing the money given to people who really need it. Benefits were not bounced up to account for that taxation. They were just effectively cut by whatever amount the tax man takes. The Nation did not rise up in rage at that atrocity against the poor, so the Republicans learned that the people will consent to the gradual reduction into nothingness of the entire Social Security system, whereupon the poor will just die and the Republican rich will be rid of them for good.
The poor and middle class pay Social Security tax (FICA) on every dollar they earn, but the rich stop paying after the first $90,000 of income. That taxation limit, and payment of benefits to the rich who don't need it, are the only reasons we can pay only miserly benefits to people who do need Social Security. All we have to do is take out FICA from every dollar the rich make, just as we do from every dollar the poor and middle class make, and end payments to the rich (via some sensible means-test, that is, no SocSec benefits if one has other income amounting to, say, $35,000 or more a year), and the Social Security system will be permanently fixed. It really is that simple.
A $35,000 permitted income for people still to receive Social Security benefits seems too generous to me, but to prevent the rich from fiting means-testing, we can surely set a $35,000 annual income limit. Who is going to fite to the death over that? Once we tax every dollar the rich make, and knock them off the rolls of recipients, we can raise, handsomely, payments to everyone remaining on Social Security, as would allow all Americans to end our days in dignity rather than desperation.
Co-Conspiring in Fraud. I have mentioned here that I'm very angry at the various levels of government for turning a blind eye to the myriad frauds to which we are now subjected essentially every day. So when I saw yet another "Enzyte" commercial on an over-air broadcaster (WPIX-TV, New York), I sent the following complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.
Subject: Enzyte "male enhancement" commercials broadcast over-airWhen the Federal Government does not do what it is supposed to do in preventing fraud from being openly advertised, the states or localities must step in. The Attorneys General (or, more sensibly, Attorney Generals) of all the States should have a Joint Prosecution Task Force (by any name) to exterminate fraud that the Feds won't do a thing about. The States are not powerless. They need only flex their muscles and crush criminals operating right under the nose of a Federal Government that so hates the poor and middle class that it seems actually to want them to be defrauded. "Hey, if you people are so stupid and insecure that you can be taken in by commercials for penis enlargement, you deserve to be robbed!" That's the Republican Party for you. But why haven't the Democrats demanded action against maliciously false advertising?
Enzyte claims that its product enlarges the penis. Sensible people know it does not, but because over-air broadcasters, licensed by the FCC and presumptively governed by anti-fraud rules of the FTC, accept Enzyte's ads, consumers are led to believe that "if it's on TV, it must be true". The commercials now being broadcast claim that 12 million packets of Enzyte have been purchased, which means that the FTC has effectively, thru utter inaction, smiled upon mass theft from huge numbers of Americans, and thus co-conspired in that fraud. You have an absolute obligation to crack down on Enzyte and all other companies that claim to produce "male enhancement". The criminals responsible for this fraud should be in prison. And the license of every broadcaster that accepts such ads should be suspended at the FTC's instance before the FCC. I believe that WPIX's license was renewed just this year. It should be revoked.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,586 — for Israel.)
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