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Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party’

I’m not sure how it happened…

You see, there is this small group of people, I think they might be anarchists – at least that’s how they seem to act. They are all about destroying the existing order and making society go back in time hundreds of years. They say they have a vision, a pure vision of how life should be and they insist that I follow their ideals – or else. Oh, and here is a sign of their evil intent – they have a flag with a rattlesnake on it.

gadsden_flag

I should have known when I first saw it that it stood for their poisonous words and their venomous tactics. But I didn’t take them seriously; and to be quite frank, I don’t think anybody did. They were like a circus sideshow, you know a group of gaggling idiots and fools who could barely speak English. Whenever their supporters spoke in public (and there were a bunch of high level people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann), I could never understand what they said. I mean their words simply did not make sense, at least in this Universe. Literally, these people would blather on, making absolutely no sense. They call themselves the Tea Party, although they have nothing in common with the heroes who initiated the American Revolution against the King of England in 1776). Yet, they somehow capivated the minds of the uneducated American people who think they are Christian religious fundamentalists, although I doubt that Jesus would recognize their teachings.

I know, I know. This whole thing makes no sense at all. It’s like a poorly written story. But it happened. It is happening. And now I’m being held hostage by these people. And so are a lot of other innocent people.

They say that if I (actually the elected U.S. government) doesn’t give them exactly what they want (anarchy) they will pull the plug on the economy, and we will all go over some sort of very high cliff. All of us! Frankly, I’m very afraid of very high cliffs because if you fall off you will get hurt really bad. The problem is that these People of the Snake aren’t afraid of falling off of the cliff. That can only mean that they are either very stupid, or they are insane, or both. I think some are very stupid and the rest are insane. And here I am ( and you too, by the way). Trapped. A prisoner of a very small group of religious/economic zealots who have seized power in a very Un-American manner by misusing Congress and refusing to let the majority rule. In essence, “the lunatics have taken over the asylum”.

I know. I know what you are saying. These are just bargaining tactics and it will all come out OK in the end. Really? Have you ever looked into the eyes of Michells Bachman? Have you ever listened to the thoughts of Sarah Palin? Have you read Ayn Rand’s books? (She is the patron saint the of the TP). These people live in some alternate reality, a parallel universe that combines patriotic rhetoric from 200 years ago and Bible thumping, backwoods snakeoil salesmen pitches. They think they are suffering now, but they have no clue of the enormous economic suffering they are about to inflict on the entire world if they get their insane way. You see, I’m not the only hostage in the room. We are all in this together, yes, you too – wherever you are.

I should have known. When these people chose the poisonous rattlesnake as their mascot, it was a clear sign that they cannot be trusted.

May God Save the USA from this insane group of people… because Congress can’t.

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If there is one thing that today’s U.S. government excels at, it is obfuscation. Take, for example the current fiasco known as sequestration. The ordinary citizen might be forgiven if he thought that this was something like castration. Actually, he would be pretty close. However, for the United States, it might be even worse. 

I suppose its a tip off when politicians hide behind words derived from Latin that have migrated into old English law. By the time the word gets to America by way of the Roman and British empires, the U.S. politicians can make the word mean anything they want it to mean. It’s sort of like the words in Alice in Wonderland

The Latin word sequester, which is the root for sequestration, simply means a depositary, i.e. a person with whom you store something of value. So, you might surmise that when the government sequesters something, they are putting it aside for safekeeping. However, in today’s U.S. government-speak it means taking away money from lots of necessary or vital programs in order to cause so much suffering to the people, that the weakest part of the government will cry, “UNCLE!!” and give up, and the other part of the government will have its way. Clever, isn’t it?

One might have thought that President Obama, good guy that he is, would have acted as Superman and said, “Not only no, but HELL NO!” But he didn’t. Instead, he grinned like the Chesire cat and signed the Sequestration Legislation into law, thus setting in motion a series of gut wrenching, job killing , government spending cuts that helps no one. Then he gaily went about fiddling while Republican Senators and Representatives heads should have exploded (figuratively), like what happened to the invading Martians in the classic movie, Mars Attacks. (Still one of my favorite movies, and I have no idea why. But I do like the song.)

Unfortunately, the heads of the Republicans did not actually explode because their brains are protected by being in thrall to the “Tea Party” fanatics (no relation whatsoever to the heroes of the real Boston Tea Party) who seem to make up the core of today’s Republican Party – at least the intellectual wing of the Party. Clearly, the entire Republican Party has drunk the Kool-Aid, and it is that which apparently prevents their heads from exploding.

Even so, it seems that President Obama has failed to notice this lack of exploding heads amongst the Republican brotherhood who are meanwhile doing their very best Alfred E. Neuman “What me worry?” impression, i.e. they are doing nothing. 

While America burns.

OK. I know. I get it. They’re not really that stupid, are they? No, of course not. What’s really happening is that they are all playing a giant game of chicken, you know, like when two teenagers get in their cars and drive towards each other at 100 miles per hour and then we get to see who is chicken when one of them turns away in order to avoid a horrific, head-exploding, collision. The thing that I worry about is that I’m not sure that either Obama or the Republicans have the brains, or the maturity, of a hormone-saturated teenage boy, or for that matter even the brains of a hormone-saturated teenage bull.

This, of course, could be very bad news for the country. But who cares? After all, the members of Congress are mostly millionaires and you can be sure the U.S. Lobbyist Core in Washington will see to it that they are well taken care of, no matter what. And Obama? What does he care if massive layoffs go into effect and the nation goes into an economic death spiral and people start fleeing the country for the good jobs in Mexico? After all, won’t that solve the illegal immigration problem? As they say, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.”

So maybe Nero had the right idea, when Rome burns, go with the flow. Don’t worry be happy. See! That’s why Obama actually signed the law ordering the massive budget cuts! It’s the Roman way: first you sequester, then you burn the city down, then you fiddle while Rome burns. 

Except for one little thing. Sequester doesn’t mean “cut”. It doesn’t mean slash the budget. It means to set something aside in a safe place until a dispute is settled.

Wait a minute, maybe I’m just taking this thing way too seriously? Maybe we should all be more like the President and the Republicans.

Maybe we should just do like Nero did after he finished fiddling: go to bed and take a nice sequester. Then, we’ll all feel better in the morning…

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In 1605,  Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up the British Parliament House, and, in the process, kill the members of Parliament and the Protestant King James. Their goal was merely political – they just wanted to restore a Catholic king to the throne. Fawkes was caught and ultimately put to death – after he confessed (under extreme torture) to treason and implicated the other conspirators. Guy Fawkes Day (November 5th) was then created as a reminder to the citizens of England of the horrific consequences, i.e. horrific torture, that would be dealt to any other persons who attempted to overthrow the government. Interestingly, Guy Fawkes Day now seems to be more a rallying day for people who despise the current government of England. It would seem that perhaps not everyone thinks that treason is a bad thing.

Which brings us to the current day.  Most of us are aware that over the past week or so the American public lost a great deal of money in the stock market. On August 8th alone the market lost over $1,000,000,000,000.00 (One trillion dollars). A good deal of this money was from 401k investments, upon the earnings of which many Americans hope – or had hoped – to retire. Now they have lost any not only the earnings they might have accumulated, but they also lost a good amount of principal too. How could this have happened? How could the entire world have become so frightened that a worldwide selloff was triggered? Was it simply because a rating agency (S&P) published an opinion that downgraded the U.S. from a AAA risk to a AAa risk? Or was it something else?

The events that led up to the S&P downgrade are indicative of a pernicious attitude among some people in our Congress. Clearly, one expects the opposition party to oppose the agenda of the majority party. That is the way democracies always work. However, our democracy is no longer a functioning democracy. The opposition gang decided to refuse to compromise until the 11th hour. They were playing “chicken” with the welfare of the country, like a bunch of ignorant children, unaware that they are playing with fire.  And the world is scared.

However, these were not children. They were intelligent men. They knew what they were doing. They were well aware of the potential catastrophic effects of their refusal to bargain in good faith for the “good of the country”. These men, who had all sworn to uphold the Constitution, had, with their eyes wide open, driven the bus over a cliff. Why? There is, of course, only one reason – wealth. The Party of individual wealth had decided that they owed nothing to the American people. Their loyalty was only to their own individual wealth – their businesses, their cronies,  and  their Party – loyalty to the Party was paramount (just like in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union). And they stayed loyal, until at the last possible moment – then they grudgingly made a miserly deal. But it was too little and too late. S&P had seen enough. These guys in the Party were not working for the people of the United States – in fact they were harming the people of the United States. And they didn’t care. S&P had no option but to advise their worldwide clients to beware because the U.S.A was no longer a stable country, and you could no longer rely on the government’s ability to pay its debt. All because of the uncaring, foolish zealots of the Party.

Today, the entire world is still feeling the aftershocks of this pernicious collusion in Congress. Today the economy of the U.S., Europe, and Asia are all weaker because of the fanatics who have been elected to Congress. The problem is apparent to the world. Congress has been seized by a group of fanatics, zealots,  and true believers in crackpot economic theories, and others who just want to profit from the collapse of the U.S. economy. How can a member of Congress, in good conscience, sell the U.S. economy short? How can these people, elected to do the will of the people, cause such economic devastation and still hold their heads high?

Legally, these activities are not treason in the U.S. However, they hardly indicate love of country, or a sense of duty. These people clearly have no feeling of empathy for the economic ruin their activities have caused and will continue to cause to millions upon millions of innocent Americans.

Call it what you will, but as far as I am concerned, T is for treason.

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It seems obvious, doesn’t it? After all, that’s where the money is.  As of 2007, 85% of all the wealth in America was owned by 20% of the population. Indeed, just 1% owned almost 43% of America’s entire financial wealth. Yet, to hear the Republican Tea Party talk you would think that these people are starving and just couldn’t bear to pay another penny in taxes. They say they are already taxed to the max and, instead, they say we should tax the poor because there are so many of them. Now, as the Bush tax cuts are about to expire, the party of the 1% is holding the country hostage refusing to do business with the President unless he caves in and agrees to extend the Bush tax cuts.

The question is this: will President Obama cave yet again? Well, if history is any indication the answer would be “yes”. Meanwhile, the party of the rich has just allowed the unemployment compensation for the poor people who have lost their jobs to expire. Just in time for Christmas. Can anyone spell Ebenezer Scrooge? Today’s Republican Tea Party is no longer the Party of Lincoln. It is the Party of the stingy, heartless, greedy, businessman who doesn’t give a rat’s behind about the common man, the poor, the starving, the immigrant, the sick, or the dying. They are the bankers and insurance people who created the worldwide economic catastrophe through their avarice and neglect for our country’s financial health. They are the destroyers of people’s lives, homes, and families – and they want EVERYTHING YOU OWN.

And yet, so many Americans vote for them, again and again – people who are not rich and never will be. People who, but for the grace of God, have not yet lost their home and income, rally for the Republican Tea Party. It is inexplicable. One can only believe that the ability of the Republican Tea Party to deceive American citizens is unrivaled in the history of this country. Their ability to convince the people to vote against their own best interests and their ability to maintain this support, even while they seek to destroy every effort the government makes to help these people, is difficult to comprehend. Why would anyone vote for a Party that almost destroyed the economy only two years ago? Why would any person who doesn’t make at least a million dollars a year vote for a Party that seeks to have millionaires pay almost no tax (or in some cases zero tax) and then shift the majority of the tax burden to people who make less than a million dollars?

But there we are. The Republican Tea Party has shown that they will use the power they have, even though they are in the minority, to prevent the government from helping the people unless they (the rich) get favored tax treatment. The Republican Tea Party cares little about the people of America – it is simply and solely and single mindedly, the Party of the wealthy. And, it seems, it is now the wealthy – the 1% who have an ungodly amount of wealth – who now call the shots. It is they who rule. We have become a true oligarchy.

If there is one thing we should ask President Obama and the Democrats to do, it is this: stand firm. Do not cave in again. Give the Republican Tea Party a taste of their own medicine and introduce new tax laws that would tax only the rich. Tax their wealth with massive property taxes, and tax their incomes with 90% tax rates. Write tax laws that say anyone who falls into the bottom 75% of income earners pays zero tax, and let the entire tax burden of the country fall upon the rich because they can most afford it, and they are the ones who have benefited the most from living in this country. Now, it’s payback time. And as for that old Republican Tea Party lie that says it is the wealth of these rich people that creates jobs, think about this: they wouldn’t have all that money if it was being used to create jobs. The simple fact is that the rich do not use their money to create  jobs for you; they use their money to make more money because that is their only true goal and concern. They are of one mind, and they do not care about you or this country enough to actually pay their fair share of taxes. In fact they will fight against it to their dying breath.

There is only one solution to America’s financial problems.

Tax the rich! That’s where the money is.

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Now  that the U.S. and the world have experienced a financial catastrophe comparable only to the Great Depression, the thing we might want to ask is this: are we safe now? The answer is no. Even while Ireland is facing financial devastation, because they followed a path that mirrors George Bush’s economic “thinking” for the past several years, the U.S. is seemingly on the road to recovery. That’s because the newly elected Democrats instituted a major stimulus program (admittedly a weak and barely sufficient stimulus – but far better than what the misers of the Party of Herbert Hoover would ever offer).

The problem is that we are a myopic country. Our Congress is incapable of looking down the road beyond the next election cycle. And that is exactly where the problem lies.

The crazy, mind-boggling, economic policies of Ronald Reagan and his Republican successors will soon bear their bitter fruit. I am talking about a little time bomb created by the Reagan administration called section 401k of the U.S. income tax code. It is what governs the 401k plans that most Americans have instead of the old employer-guaranteed pension plans. Reagan’s lunatic idea was that throughout your working life you would contribute tax-deferred money into your 401k account, which would sometimes be matched by employer contributions. You take charge of this money while you are working and cleverly invest it in the stock market. Then, when you retire, you live in grand style off your earnings from the stock market! For as long as you live!

Complete economic rubbish. Complete deception of the American people. However, the good news is that your former employer is completely off the hook, and you are on your own! Isn’t that just grand? It’s a Republican Tea Party dream come true.

If you care to look at the history of the U.S. stock market, you will see that, for the thirty years or so before Ronald Reagan’s administration created the 401k  idea, the Dow had very anemic growth. It was only  when America’s workers started pumping large chunks of their salaries, via the 401k plan, into the stock market that stocks really took off. This soon led to two stock market bubbles (one NASDAQ and one NYSE). Remember the “irrational exuberance” of ten years ago?

A couple of years ago, we had the  housing bubble that led to the world economic collapse. This was enabled by Congress changing the income tax laws so that you could buy and flip houses every two years and not pay income tax on the profit. This gave the false hope to many people that they could still build up a nest egg even though their 401k accounts that had been destroyed in the previous stock market bubbles.

So what has Republican Reaganomics achieved for  our economy (and, while we are on the subject, where is Ireland’s heading)? The answer: A gigantic smouldering ruin.  High unemployment, low wages, a devastated real estate market, and little to hope for. Could things get any worse? As Tea Party Palin would say, “You betcha!”

A large part of our population is about to enter crisis mode, and we are totally unprepared.  The World War II baby boomers are now reaching retirement age and most do not have employer guaranteed pensions. However, most do have those good ol’ 401k plans.  Of course these 401k accounts have been savaged by the Voodoo economics policies of Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. But wait – won’t  Social Security save them? Hardly. Well, yes, maybe from starvation, I suppose. Maybe. Unless, that is, the Republican Tea Party succeeds in cutting or privatizing Social Security, which they would love to do.

We are on the verge of having an entire generation enter a situation so desperate that they cannot meet their own living expenses because the 401k thing was just a gigantic Ponzi scheme and their not-fully-paid-for homes are only worth half of what they used to be worth. It will be a financial catastrophe.  Many have virtually nothing left in their 401k accounts. They will be lucky to survive a year if they have to depend only on their 401k plans – but many have life expectancies that would take them into their 80’s or beyond. What can they do?

Expect another wave of house selling as the boomers divest themselves of this last piece of wealth they partially own. It’s a young Tea Party Republican’s dream of course – think of how cheaply these houses can then be bought and then flipped! What a chance to make a killing! It’s the chance to make a small fortune! The question, of course, is who is going to buy them and at what price? And what will this mass selling will do to an already bleeding real estate market?

The baby boomers are a huge bulge in the population of this country, and as they have gone through life their generation has always had major effects on the U.S. economy simply because they represent such a large part of the population. When they were young, schools had to be built for them. When they earned money they spent it and the economy boomed. When they objected to war, they caused chaos in the streets.They changed the culture. They changed the environment. They changed the way we worked, shopped, ate, vacationed. They changed America because there were just so many of them. Now they will change America again.

Soon, a  significant number of the boomers will start leaving the work force. They have to. They are getting too old to work. They will soon stop putting money from their jobs into the economy. But, they will still need  money to meet their living expenses. Sadly, for many, their 401k money has gone up in Republican smoke.  They have little other savings. In the near future the U.S. will soon be facing another major financial crisis, because millions of these boomers have almost no retirement funds, and they won’t be able to survive on their paltry Social Security check. This is a recipe for financial disaster.

And nobody, as usual, in our government is thinking about it or planning for it.

But the Boomers are coming, and they’re coming soon.

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There is an old Thai saying that goes like this: “When elephants fight it is the grass that gets trampled”.

There is a massive fight going on now in Washington D.C., and while many Americans might feel they have a stake in this battle, the fact remains that we are the grass in this battle of elephants.  On one side we have the strong and robust Republican/Tea Party – the party of the already wealthy. They feel they can take care of themselves and the less government, the better. On the other side are the weakling Democrats, traditionally the party of the working class, who believe that only a strong government can protect the average person from the avarice of the wealthy. This is not a new struggle – it is the remnants of a struggle that began in England before this country was even a glimmer in John Winthrop’s eye.

The old traditions of Europe: a small and very powerful wealthy class that owns almost everything and a very large peasant class that performs all the necessary labor so that the wealthy might live in luxury, were left behind when the Puritans sailed to Massachusetts. It was a new, virgin land (except for those troublesome Native Americans who really had no right to the land because they were not part of the Elect – and the fact that they mostly all died in battles with the early settlers (who had all the guns) proved that God was on the side of the Elect!!)

For a time, it all worked out. Anybody could just grab the land they wanted and they could live in total freedom. But with success comes more people, and more people, and more people. Pretty soon the people realized this total freedom thing wasn’t working for everyone, so they made rules. Then they fought a war against the English King and the English people because the English still wanted to play the old game of rich man, poor man. So, with the help of the people of France, who had recently overthrown their own wealthy oppressors, they created a new country styled upon the democracies of ancient Greece and Rome (which is why the architecture of Washington D.C. looks like it does).

Unfortunately, the rules didn’t cover a lot of things so it wasn’t long before the fox was in the henhouse – so to speak.  The wealthy people, not above stealing from the poor, soon owned the banks and the big businesses and went on to steal from the poor and the unsuspecting, which led to the Stock Market crash of 1929, not to mention all of the previous bank panics and economic catastrophes before that. The point was that the wealthy manipulators of the economy always enriched themselves based upon the power of their wealth, their connections with other wealthy people, and their inside information.

The Great Depression pointed out (to some people anyway) the need for reform of the system, and President Roosevelt went about that reform. In fact he named Joseph Kennedy to be the first head of the Securities and Exchange Commission – perfect: who better to catch a fox than another fox? The country recovered from the abuses of the wealthy thanks to Roosevelt’s strong government that was genuinely interested in helping the people.

Now, many years since the Great Depression we are in the midst of the Great Recession – with the potential to fall off a cliff into a second great depression if the wrong decisions are made. However, unlike the 1930’s, we do not have a President with a mandate to save the country. We have a house divided. We have the Republican/Tea Party who wants to do nothing, except lower taxes for the wealthy (the source of all jobs, remember?) and then deregulate pretty much everything. Minimal government is best they say – all we need is a strong military to kill everyone who doesn’t like the way we do things. Are far as the poor and the sick and the homeless goes – well, they’re on their own – Will of God and that sort of thing, you know? (They seem to think that this is the teaching of Jesus. After all, they are the Elect.) They feel kind of sorry for those God-forsaken people – but, they say, why is that the problem of the wealthy who have only made their vast fortunes by honest means? Exactly.

Now for the Democrats – the voice of the working man – where do they stand? It seems they stand firmly in favor of compromise. They talk a good story but in the end they will cave – and the Republican Tea Party knows that. Like a lion waiting in the tall grass, they know the Democrats have no teeth and no stomach for a battle. And why should they – after all, every Senator in the U.S. Congress is already a multi-millionaire, so really – just who do these people represent? And just why should they fight for the working man? After all, they’ve already been elected, so who cares, right? As for the Congressmen, they know where their bread is buttered. Sure some poor working class man might have scraped up $10 to make a campaign contribution – but can that compare to the vast amounts contributed  by major corporations to the campaigns? Of course not. Who would you listen to? And now that the fools in our Supreme Court have declared that corporations have the same rights of free speech as living people, everything has changed. Would you want the corporations, with their semi-infinite resources buying unattributed TV ads against you in the next election?

Don’t look to the Democratic Party to save the country this time. They don’t have the stomach for a fight – they like the good life too much. But, if we only look at history we can see that we are heading for a fight. We are a polarized country – the haves against the have-nots;  and the polarization is deepening. The Republican/Tea Party people are too stupid to see this, nor do they care, and the Democrats are equally blind to the danger that is building. When the Republican Tea Party proceeds to heartlessly cut the lifelines of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, and all other assistance to the poor – the fight will inevitably come. It has to. It will be a fight for survival. It won’t be the weaklings of this Democratic Party that lead the charge, but it will come anyway.  It always does when people refuse to learn the hard lessons of their own history.

And it is always the grass that gets trampled.

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There is a saying that goes, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Clearly, one of the things that the Tea Party, the Republican Party, and conservative American organizations like the CATO Institute have not learned is that their policies with respect to Social Security are diametrically opposed to the lessons of history. These people conveniently forget the origins of Social Security, the reason it was created, and why it is necessary now and for the foreseeable future. A good history of Social Security can be found at the Social Security website.  In brief, while Republican President Herbert Hoover stood by helplessly at the beginning of the Great Depression, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their savings, their homes – everything. Among the hardest hit were senior citizens. Some of these might have had some sort of private pension, but it went up in smoke along with the rest of the economy.  Many of the seniors lost all of their savings because of the collapse of the stock market and the failure of the banks. It was only when Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, became President that our Social Security system was created – and it saved thousands upon thousands of senior citizens from becoming homeless and from facing the very real prospect of starvation.

Now we hear the newest “words of wisdom” from the CATO Institute and other right-wing organizations: Privatize Social Security.  These people are either fools or they take us for fools – or both.  If you would like to know how Social Security would be if it were privatized, just take a look at your 401k account. That is a privatized pension plan – a gift from that “great” Republican economic genius Ronald Reagan – the man who drove us trillions of dollars into debt with his foolhardy concepts of Reaganomics. The problem is that Republicans think he did a great job, even while he drove the U.S. debt to historic levels. Another foolhardy concept that came to fruition during the Reagan era was the 401k Plan. Until then, people had employer pension plans; however, the creation of 401k plans let the employer off the hook i.e. the employer’s responsibility ended when the employee retired – the employee would then obtain his retirement income from his 401k investments. Most employers terminated their retirement plans and their employees were told to invest in the stock market in order to create a nest egg that would fund their privatized pension. So, how’s that working out for everyone out there? All set to retire?

The privatization of Social Security is nothing more than yet another Republican scam designed to force people to invest in the stock market.  If this happened it would create another stock bubble similar to the one created by the 401k investments that began in the Reagan years. And what would happen the next time the stock market gets overheated and crashes, like we have seen just recently? You guessed it. You can kiss your privatized Social Security account goodbye – but don’t worry, the government will save the banks. So that’s good.

It is truly amazing that Republicans, Tea Party people, and conservative “thinkers”, like the CATO dudes are actually advocating this. One can only conclude that they feel pretty smug about their own situation. They have plenty of money themselves so they don’t need Social Security anyway. I’m sure that’s true for all the wealthy Republican bankers – but the poor Tea Party people? What are they thinking? Do they really think they don’t need Social Security?

As for those CATO guys, I wouldn’t buy a used car from any one of them.

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