Even then...

Stan G. Duncan[1]
Even if my strength fails me
and my appetite goes away,
Even if my bones ache with a pain
that the drugs can never touch,
Even if the blessed tests come back again and again,
and the charts tell me that I have failed the task of
banishing the dark gray Kryptonite from within my spine,
Even if I fall and fall again and the doctor,
who is younger than my youngest child,
tells me I will never walk again,
Even if my bowels collapse and nothing short of the
indignity of a large young woman
who shouts my name and pronounces it wrong,
must wipe me clean and change my clothes,
day after day after day,
Even if all of the doors of life are closed again and again
and the tests come back again and again,
and my time has passed, and I know that will eventually die,
perhaps finally and completely…
Even then, I will not give in. I will not give in to the beastly
reality that is closing in around me.
I will not let the darkness of the future decide for me whether I
am permitted to smile.
I will not allow the “sting” of death force me to give up my claim,
my right,
my inheritance,
of joy.

[1] Originally published as S. Duncan Granot, The Christian Century, spring, 1992

After Elizabeth Warren Calls Them Out, AIG Drops Its Threat Of Suing The Government

From boldprogressives.org, January 9, 2013, by Zaid Jilani

Earlier this week, it was reported that  AIG would reward taxpayers for their$182 billion bailout  by suing the government over the terms of the rescue.
Elizabeth Warren immediately called out AIG and condemned its behavior:
Beginning in 2008, the federal government poured billions of dollars into AIG to save it from bankruptcy. AIG’s reckless bets nearly crashed our entire economy. Taxpayers across this country saved AIG from ruin, and it would be outrageous for this company to turn around and sue the federal government because they think the deal wasn’t generous enough,” said Warren in a statement. “Even today, the government provides an ongoing, stealth bailout, propping up AIG with special tax breaks — tax breaks that Congress should stop. AIG should thank American taxpayers for their help, not bite the hand that fed them for helping them out in a crisis.
Politico reports this afternoon that AIG’s board met and decided not to join the lawsuit being considered, representing an early victory for Warren and, by extension, American taxpayers.
“It’s just like someone maybe who is drowning in the water and who is saved by some hero and then says, ‘Hey, while you were saving me, you choked me a little bit. So I’m going to sue you.’ That’s simply what AIG is doing. Yesterday, Elizabeth Warren came out very publicly,” explained  Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green on C-SPAN this morning. ”She’s not just keeping her head down, she’s keeping it straight, front and center and said, ‘This is absolutely wrong, this is unconscionable.’ And I think it’s a real breath of fresh air, that someone didn’t use weasly words and beat around the bush but to say bad corporate action is bad corporate action.”  Watch it:
Watch the full interview with Green here.
Posted on January 9, 2013 at 4:37pm by Zaid Jilani

Where are we financially right now in terms of our deficit?

The deficit itself, as you may recall came about in two phases. The first was in the early 2000s, with unfunded wars, unfunded tax cuts, and unfunded prescription drug programs. It was then compounded in the later 2000s by a recession where millions of people lost jobs or pay and were no longer able to pay into the federal coffers, plus things like food stamps and unemployment insurance shot up. On top of that we had two stimulus programs, one for banks and one supposedly for jobs but about a third of which was more tax cuts. So, we went from a surplus in 2000 to a deficit of about $15 Trillion (and still counting) today. The costs of the wars will continue to rise for some years to come because of the need for on-going health care for wounded veterans. It is estimated that their care will cost about $1 trillion in “out of control spending” every three years for at least the next two decades.

So, where are we on tackling that decade’s deficit (assuming that we need to; that is not a universally held opinion)?

Through the December 31 fiscal cliff deal and the spring 2011 debt ceiling deal Congress effectively cut at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Not bad.

Add to that the $600 billion in new revenue raised in the fiscal cliff deal and the $700 billion in reduced Medicare spending passed in the Affordable Care Act. That brings it down by about $3 Trillion, which is not everything, but it’s not nothing. And the total will actually wind up being higher than that when the reductions in interest payments on a smaller debt are included. 

And finally, the deficit is also gradually coming down as more and more people are going back to work and beginning to pay taxes again. One of the reasons why the deficit became a surplus back in the dark days of the Communist, Socialist, reign of bill Clinton was that unemployment went down and the number of tax payers went up.

There is a clear correlation between the number of tax payers in a nation and the size of its national deficit. The more people paying taxes, the smaller the deficit (see this chart). Most, if not all economists would, therefore, argue that that the best way to tackle the deficit would be a balanced program that combines increasing taxes with increasing tax payers.

Unfortunately, according to the people in Congress who control the filibuster in the Senate and the "Majority of the Majority" rule in the house, it’s unlikely that either of these will ever happen. Instead of finding ways to share the burden equally (raising income taxes), what is being talked about (by both parties) is ways to put the burden of the deficit on specific groups. that means mainly old people, poor people and sick people (a.k.a. Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare), with a few "loopholes" like damaging young families trying to buy a new home or parents trying to send their kids to college, or making old people pay taxes on their pensions.

What a wonderful system of government…  


This chart was recently put together by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis. 
It shows, among other things, the fairly simple correlation between jobs (and the tax revenue they produce) and the deficit. When unemployment goes up, the deficit goes up; when unemployment goes down, the deficit goes down. 
So, here's a Pop Quiz: 
(1) What do you think most economists believe is the best thing to do to tackle the deficit? 
(2) What do you think Congress will do?

I may be related to Mitt Romney

Reading recently a post from Ancestry.com, I noticed that Mitt and the presidents Bush are related distantly (10th cousins, once and twice removed respectively). And, as it happens, I am probably related to the Bushes. Their family and my family trace their lineage back to a small town in Nottinghamshire, Southern England, called “Gotham.” The town was famous in the 1500s for scaring away tax collectors by feigning madness. True story. Every time King John’s army would come through to collect a levy on a new road or royal palace, the men of the town would do something like take all their clothes off and paint their bodies and run naked, screaming in the streets. That terrified the collectors, who believed that madness was contagious, and they would move on to the next town. A series of chapbooks regaling these stories, called “The Wise Men of Gotham,” has become famous. Washington Irving gave the name “Gotham” to New York City in  Salmagundi in 1804 (aptly named, some would say). And DC Comics gave the name to Batman’s home town in the 1930s so people would think of a town full of crazy people but he didn’t actually have to say the words “New York City.”
The reason I’m not certain that I and the Bushes are directly related is that their family was in the aristocracy and mine were peasants. The two groups frequently slept together and produced offspring, but it was seldom, if ever listed in the genealogy books. There are other descendants from my clan who I know I’m related to (Bill Clinton, for one), but records of marriages above and below the salt are few and far between.

However, assuming that there was the usual amount of hanky panky going on in any authoritarian, stratified society, it is entirely possible that we are cousins. In fact, if I remember the genealogy correctly and do the math right, I am about a seventeenth cousin twice removed from the Bush family, and therefore about a twenty-seventh cousin, fourth removed (more or less) from the Romneys.

And, frankly, I think there are a lot of family resemblances. I’m sure that I inherited George W. Bush’s drinking skills, Mitt’s public speaking, and Bill Clinton's fidelity. We are definitely all from the same family.