journalistic

Forced Social Security

Posted on September 29, 2008. Filed under: journalistic, politics | Tags: , , |

 

 Forced social security, in practice and in principle, is wrong. Our rights are being stripped away when we are forced to pay social security taxes. We have no claim to social security and we can not control what the government does with the money. This cannot be our future. We must regain our freedom of choice and voluntarily invest for our future.

            The Great Depression gave birth to social security, which may have been needed at the time, but does not excuse making it a mandatory taxation. It “was promoted as a way to prevent… unemployment, poverty in old age, and ill health,” though it received heavy resistance. Prior to the 1930’s, Americans were already finding alternatives to dealing with “financial independence in later years.” Many people over the age of 65 continued to work while trying to obtain property and build savings for financial security. In addition, the family and the community also provided for the elderly. There were also many other programs being initiated, such as military, retirement and private pensions and private institutions that provided insurance against disability (Achenbaum 13-15).

            Social security, in its entirety, is a violation of our human rights. Rights are “a moral principle defining and sanctioning man’s freedom of action in a social context,” with the only foundational right being the right to our own life. There must be “freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.” We must use our own judgement and set our own goals, by our own unconstrained, unforced choice. At the same time, we should not violate the rights of others. We must also have a right to property or we have no right to life. If we do not have a right to the fruits of our efforts, then we have no means to sustain our lives. Whenever a man produces and others “dispose of his product,” whether it be a product itself or money earned, then that man is a slave. There are no guarantees in life that we will successfully produce a product or earn money, but if we do, we have a right and ownership to that which we earn. Human rights are “unalienable”[sic], as stated in the Declaration of Independence, and belong to all humans. They are irrevocable (Rand 110-113). When the government takes our money by force and spends it, however they please, they are enslaving us and taking away our right to life and property. We must have our rights in order to survive, it is our purpose in life. The greatest achievement of the United States was the creation of the first moral society. When our government was first created the Declaration of Independence declared that its sole purpose was to protect our rights by protecting us from violence. The Constitution and Bill or Rights was then written to protect us from the government. It cannot be denied that our government has superseded it’s original function, it has been corrupted and the changes have come upon us slowly, taking us by surprise. We have been deceived and enslaved by social security and other forced taxes and we have lost our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The definition of rights has been defiled and we have been told we have a right to a job, to food and shelter, to freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, to a decent home and medical care, to a good education, and lastly the right to protection from poverty and sickness in old age and protection from accidents and unemployment. At whose expense are we given these rights? All of these things cost money or require a service. Who is to provide them? If we are granted the right to the goods and money of others, are they not then deprived (Rand 110-113)?

            Any alleged “right” of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right (Rand 113).

Social security must be abolished and we must be given the right to make our own choices about how we spend our money and save for the future. Each week, around 6.2% of our time spent working, is done solely for the purpose of social security (“Quick Facts” par. 1). That’s roughly 2 1/2 hours each week, 1 1/25 days each month, 2 weeks each year that we are forced to work for the government. We are enslaved to the government for that portion of our lives. Most of us work at least 45 years or more of our lives. That’s nearly 100 weeks of our lives spent enslaved to the government, just for social security. That’s not including Medicare or any other taxations, nor does it include the matching 6.2% that our employers pay on our behalf for social security (“Quick Facts” par. 1). If you add up all of the taxations we are ‘forced’ to pay, that is a substantial amount of our life that is gone and can never be regained.

            In addition, even though we are forced to pay social security, we do not have any claim to it. In 1960, the Supreme Court ruled that we do not have a right to social security. We are not guaranteed anything, nor do we have any control over what happens to the money that is taken from us. Congress is not obligated to keep its promises and honor it’s IOUs. Unlike employers and private pensions, we cannot take our claim to court when the government does not keep its promises to pay social security (“Quick Facts” par 4).

            “Inheritability” is another thing that social security does not offer. For those who die, and never collected their benefits, their is no way to assure that the money is passed along to their heirs (Abdnor par. 6-9).  Since we are not guaranteed anything upon retirement, we must fall back on the same reliances our ancestors did. We must save our money and accrue assets, invest in insurance and pension programs, and rely on our family and community for assistance if we need it.

            We also have no control over how the government spends our money. The money that is taken from us for social security is immediately spent to pay for today’s retired workers and any surplus is spent on other programs or to pay back government debt. No money is placed in the supposed ‘social security trust fund.’ There is absolutely no money in the account, nor can money be withdrawn from this account, as it performs no real function. The trust fund holds “interest-bearing U.S. government bonds, representing the accounting surplus of payroll taxes collected minus the benefits paid” (“Quick Facts” par. 2-3). However, these are different than regular bonds. They cannot be sold or used to pay benefits and in actuality they are nothing more than “IOUs the government has written to itself.” In order for the government to pay this debt they must first either borrow the money or impose more taxes. These IOUs do not tell us anything about the ability of the government to pay Social Security benefits and if the trust fund did not exist the economy would not be affected or suffer. It has been suggested that we do away with the trust fund, therefore ending the “artificial crises (whether the trust fund is running out of IOUs) and get on to the real problem: how is the Treasury going to pay the government’s bills” (“Quick Facts” par. 2-3)?

            It is painfully clear that our money is wasted in social security. Not only are we being deprived of our rights, but we have no guarantee with social security and we cannot control how the money is spent. If we were not forced to pay social security taxes we could be investing our money in tangible, more reliable means for retirement. There is 401k, IRA’s, retirement plans, savings, bonds, and assets that we could be investing in. In addition, we would have complete control over what happens to our money. Granted, some of these plans have risks, but nevertheless it would be our choice to take the risks. I would much rather place my trust in such plans, rather than trust the government to do what’s best for my interest and to provide for me once I retire.

 

Works Cited

 

Abnor, Leanne, and Timothy Penny. “Mending Social Security’s Flaws.” CATO

     Institute. 2004. 14 November 2004.

     <http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/articles/tp-01-20-04.html>.

Achenbaum, Andrew W. “Social Security: the early years.” Social Security

     Visions and Revisions. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of

     Cambridge, 1986.  

“Quick Facts.” National Center for Policy Analysis. 13 November 2004.

     <http://www.mysocialsecurity.org/quickfacts/faq.html&gt;.

Rand, Ayn. The Virtue of Selfishness. New York: New American Library, 1964

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Bocktoberfest ’06 Ends with a Bang! — Godsmack

Posted on October 17, 2006. Filed under: Bocktoberfest, Godsmack, Godsmack Mosh Pit, journalistic, Life Experiences, Shiner, TX | Tags: , , , |

Bocktoberfest ‘06 

Bocktoberfest ’06 ended with a bang, and I’m not talking about the fireworks. I’m talking about Godsmack. After having just finished a tour through Texas, they came back to unleash an unstoppable force that ended with a Bang.

On “One Rainy Day”, in Shiner, TX, (pop-2200) there were around 10k people (and every sheriff and law enforcement agent in the County) in the middle nowhere in a field. Blue October was playing, leading up to Godsmack, and the tension in the crowd started to build. Those of us who know the heart of the music lies up front in the pit started to push forward through the sea of people. You could only get so far before you hit an impenetrable wall, unwilling to move and put more distance between themselves and the soon coming Voodoo. People banded together and formed a human wall, shoulder to shoulder, to not let others pass.

And then it began….A loud crack sounded and you could feel that everyone around you had jumped a little, the same as you had. Instantly, these tired, drunk, folks whom had been standing around for 10 hours, were suddenly juiced with adrenaline and ready to go.

As the tension rose and the song began the sea of people began to move. This movement continued to build in intensity until Godsmack left the stage and took the life of the crowd with them…. Determined to make it to the pit and get in to the action and good viewing distance of Godsmack, we pushed forward. As people left the front, others quickly filled their place. The further we got, the more intense it got. All the while, Godsmack released energy like I have never experienced. This was my third show and so far, the best yet.

 Sully was on fire, hypnotizing the crowd with his Voodoo that we so love him for. He brought the pit to a rage with “Keep Away” and “Enemy”. Soon after, the Pink Security Squad stepped in. Out of nowhere, suddenly someone was being drug from the pit over our heads and over the fence. After that, there must have been 5 more guys removed and 1 unfortunate girl who got pulled in to the pit and had no clue what to do. Several of the guys were basically yanked over the fence and dropped, to only jump up and run off, screaming like idiots, back to the front of the pit. I watched as this surreal abduction scene took place in front of me, while remaining steadfast in my position in the pit. We all unleashed our anger as we were pushed and pulled. We drank in the high of the adrenaline while staying in complete tune with the music that drove us to a feverish bliss.

Then, when we thought the intensity could not get any higher, Sully and Shannon performed their legendary dual drum solo. The beat became the heart of the pit, rythmically empowering us. Sully pulled off several beautifully timed pauses where he threw a stick up in the air, caught it, and then drove back in to the drums in perfect sync with Shannon.

Shiner Texas became one as we all sang “Whatever” with Sully. As 10,000 people sang the words “Go Away!” they released their anger in the loudest voice possible, combining to create the largest electrical vibe I have ever felt. The emotions were thicker than the smoke that rose from the pit.

“Shinedown” was a refreshing experience of sweat and tears as the pit stood still and I stood, hands up, singing and staring at the light that permeated through and around Sully as he sang. So far, the show had been an unleashing of hate, pain, and if nothing else, pure adrenaline. We now stood their cleansed and restored, like cells collecting and storing energy to use later.

Shinedown - Blessed be Sully!

 

Through the show Sully displayed precision and perfection with every instrument he touched. His leads and solos on the guitar, harmonica, and drums were flawless. The words he sang were suddenly spoken in to existence and imbued upon us and through us. Shannon, the heart of the band, kept the blood flowing with his amazing beat. Tony and Robbie played some amazing riffs on the guitar and bass. All the while moving across the stage interacting with the crowd, enjoying it just as much as every other person in Shiner that day.

When the time came and Godsmack finally walked off of the stage, Tony stayed behind. He played an amazing song that provided the perfect ending and gently brought us back down from the cloud we had been on.

As the crowd turned to mere people again and slowly walked away, the fireworks started and I stood staring at the stage, unwilling to give up the moment, unwilling to come back to reality. When I gave in to the inevitable and turned away I saw the aftermath. There were several ambulances, security and police everywhere, and the trash was the new walking surface. Then, suddenly, as the festival ended the scavengers and police came out with flashlights walking through the trash looking for anything that might be interesting.

As I walked as slow as I could, back to my car, I absorbed everything I could of the experience before I left.

Thank you Godsmack for the “Serenity” and Shiner for your energy! I hope to see you two together again some day…

And one last thing….. Thanks to the people in the pit! Without you, the vibe would have been wasted. Thanks to you who had my back, and to those of you who didn’t, I’m sure you remember me….

More Godsmack Pictures

Look for upcoming articles on Godsmack! and check out my other blog,

Inside an Irish Mind

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Expression and Depression

Posted on September 1, 2006. Filed under: Blogroll, journalistic, Life Experiences, Media Control, misconceptions, Poetry, politics | Tags: , , , |

We all have our own way of escape and just like the 60’s & 70’s came and went with their fads, so our ways of dealing with life have changed. Some found their way of escape through simply repressing the daily burdens that come with life. In this era many became hardened and their children felt the effects of life’s obstacles. The music of the time speaks true to this. Television on the other hand, chose to ignore most of this…Filtering what the audience knew and could be affected by. There is nothing to worry about or fight about if no one knows about it, right?

Then the children of the repressed decided to deal with things in a different manner. In a way, they still repressed everything and were blissfully ignorant. They sought drugs and stimulants to drown out any problems and live in a high where everything is ok. They committed themselves to causes and helping their fellow brother, instead of worrying about the issues that were close to home. They chose to love to an extreme, instead of fight.

The next generation thought that the previous escape needed tweaking and they took it to a different end of the spectrum. They favored showing their anger in a physical, yet fashionable manner. They exposed themselves through their clothes, hair, makeup, and music. Everything was extreme, everything was fake, and everything was public and in your face. This is where journalism really started to take it to the next level. They started reporting and “idealizing” these extreme mannerisms. It did not take long for this to catch on as an avenue to show your individuality. Everyone wanted to be different and yet equal….Noticed and yet left alone.

Since, our manner has slowly progressed, but we have not made any drastic changes in our methods. We still express ourselves by the way we look, and use our music as a mode of release and refuge. Today, we use a combination of manners to deal with our emotions. We either repress it, drown it, take it out on someone else, or simply deal with it and move on.

The main change is that nothing is set in stone today and it’s nearly impossible to tell what is true. Media has perfected portraying situations and people. It has proved an effective means to control the knowledge we are given and the way that we feel. This is the one thing that has remained through our phases and it is now deep rooted in us to rely on other people for our knowledge of the world and the way we should feel about it. We are shown but clips and glimpses in to life as it is now and we are given storybook images of popular public figures; things that we are suppose to support and feel comforted by. On the other hand, we are shown the bad and ugly, things to oppose and fight. In these clips and glimpses that we are provided we miss all of the normal, mundane, and obscure… that someone, somewhere, decided wasn’t important for us to know, or maybe thought, why make everyone worry?

I leave you with this question, “What is your means of expression and just how much do you know about what is going on today….And these things you think you know….Can you prove them with facts?” After asking myself these questions I was inspired to write the poetic ramble below. I hope you enjoy, and even more so, I hope that you think…

Swayed Reality

I live my life based on you, telling me what I can and cannot do. Most of my knowledge is simply second hand and most of these things I don’t understand. We have stretched our arms too far and wide, when we come you had better hide. You’ll become our host and take our shape and form…Once you are transformed, the only escape is being reborn.

We tell you what we want you to hear and let you watch what we want you to see. We have molded our own little version of reality. It’s a little too much like the Matrix, now that I think. You can open your eyes now, it’s time to un-link. Escape this mass-slavery, which is in fact what we are…Our masters are just nicer than most, or they are so far…

Next time you hear something that is said, listen carefully for your decisions make your bed….Where you will sleep for the rest of your days, get up and open your eyes….Come out of the haze.

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Picasa 2- A Google Wonder!

Posted on August 25, 2006. Filed under: Google Picasa, Google Toys, Image Editing, journalistic, Photo Editing, The Gimp, XP Toys | Tags: , , , |

For those of you looking to make your digital photography easier and less time consuming, I have some good news for you. There are easy to use and free programs out there! Personally, I never seemed to find the time to go through the myriad of images and re-size them so that I could send them to family and friends or put them up on the blog. Long has been my search for a free tool that would allow me to easily re-size multiple images at one time.

While looking for something to resize images I ran across Google’s free photo Organizer, Picasa. So, I thought, what the heck? It’s free and by Google, why not give it a try? I was impressed. Google has made it very easy to find and modify my pictures, although it does not have the capability to re-size multiple images at one time. Keep in mind that I am still exploring all of Picasa’s capabilities. Please see my upcoming post on XP Toys for more information on multiple image resizing.

Picasa Screenshot

First off, Picasa asks you if you would like it to scan your hardrive or a particular folder for any photos. After it’s done you will have access to these folders and photos every time you open Picasa and will not have to re-go the scanning process. It does however, update each time you open Picasa and adds any new pictures found on your hardrive.Then you can move, rename, and label your photos for easier identification and location. All of the features I mention can be done with ease and without extensive knowledge of the program.

One of my favorite functions of Picasa is it’s star rating system. When you are viewing your pictures and find one that you especially like, but may not have the time to edit, label, and organize it at the time, you can just click the star icon which is easily located within Picasa. This marks the image with a star within your folder for easy location of the pictures you would like to revisit, edit, share, or print. You can even search your folders, by stars, to located them quickly. It also has a hold button that places the held images in a picture tray for later editing. You can also email, print, export, make a collage, and it even has a Blog this! feature for those using Blogger (unfortunately I don’t). You can create webpages, slideshows, and much more.

While viewing individual photos it gives you all of the photo information at the bottom. The folder/file name, the date it was taken, and the pixel and file size. If you choose to email a photo, Picasa automatically re-sizes the image for you. The printing feature allows you to choose from many options and makes it easy to print multiple images on one page in standard sizes (3×5, wallets, 4×6,etc.)

Picasa’s editing tools are very easy to use. You have your basic fixes that most programs come with (crop, contrast, red eye, straighten, etc.). Then you have a tab for Tuning which allows you to control the fill light, highlights, shadows, and color temperature.

Lastly, you have the Effects tab. You can apply a soft focus to concentrate on an adorable face or object, without the background images distracting the viewer. You can add a glow or tint, sharpen the image, warmify it, or turn it in to a black & white or sepia. You can apply a color tint to the entire picture or you can just add a graduated tint. This feature I found wonderful for landscape photos. There is also a filtered b&w feature that creates neat possibilities.

Here is a demo web page I made using Picasa. It includes edited photo samples using the different techniques discussed above.

Collage Feature

All in all, I give Google a A+ for their effort put in to making a free and user friendly tool to manage your images.

Please also read my upcoming posts on XP Toys (simplifies multi-image resizing and slideshows) and The Gimp, which is for users looking for more in depth editing and image creation (similar to Photoshop). Both of which are FREE

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Blogging Idiocy

Posted on August 14, 2006. Filed under: Blogroll, journalistic, Life Experiences |

There are some real pieces of work out there in the blogging community, and that is putting it nicely…

For someone who has just recently started blogging, I am all hyped. After getting my blogg set up I started to network myself on sites such as NowPublic and reddit, trying to bring traffic to my blog. I’ve been like a little kid anticpating Christmas and presents. I have been patient and excited, but unfortunately the first comment I got was the Christmas equivalent of getting a bag of switches….

A commenter who named himself Xiol had this to say about my blog:

“You suck. Spamming your shitty blog on Reddit.”

Hmm, this makes me think. What kind of intelligence do we have out there in the blogging community that we resort to such pettiness. I mean, come on, is there nothing better to do with your time than trash someone’s blog, probably before you even read it. Secondly, just how old are you?

Despite my first comment coming in the form of idiocy, I am undeterred in my efforts. So what, if Xiol, thinks my blog is shit. I don’t and I’m sure there are others that agree.

I recently read an article titled “How NOT to Comment on Comments” that I think every blogger should read. If you are going to make a comment, put some thought and effort in to it. Don’t be like Xiol and spew the first thing that comes from your mouth, because like any spew it’s a close relative of shit.

That being said, thank you Xiol, for your wonderful insite in to the Blogging idiocy out there in the community. Despite your effort to dishearten me you have only ignited my passion and please, do look forward to my future “spamming of my shitty blog on reddit”. I hope to get more intelligible comments from you. What insight your provide…Here is a gift for your efforts…

Flickr Picture

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Writing and Stereotypes

Posted on August 10, 2006. Filed under: journalistic |

I’ve always loved to write and everyone knows that most inspiration comes from personal experiences. One of my greatest fears when sharing my writing, is that a label will be attached to me based on my writing. My writing usually isn’t all roses and sunshine and usually flows like a roller coaster, building tension to find a release. Most of your entertaining arts, poetry, music, science fiction, and such are all based the same way.

A writer’s initial inspiration could be their current emotion that leads down many avenues of fiction and embellishment. Sometimes, it may just be a thought that is taken to many infinite possibilities and develops in to a brainstorm of the imagination.

Many writers face a stereotypical assault on their being based solely on their imagination. Some learn how to use it to their advantage, but others balk at the thought of settling in to one category or genre.

Just as well, writing can be based purely on non-fiction and may be completely valid of your life and emotions at the time. It can be hard to tell, but just to be on the safe side…..Never judge a person by their imagination.

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