It has taken me almost 20 years to make more money than the government can tax and now it may take me another 20 years to get there again. All for nothing. Social Security will fail. The math may be hard but it can't be interpreted in more than 1 way.
The issue is the price Mr. Bush is willing to pay to attract Democrats into a Social Security deal he could claim as a legacy. The President deserves credit for trying to reform Social Security while it is still in temporary surplus. But Democrats refuse to talk about personal retirement accounts for younger workers, and the White House is already signaling surrender on that proposal. The big question left is whether having everything "on the table" means conceding to Democratic demands for higher taxes today in return for future benefit cuts.
What liberals dearly want is to raise the payroll tax cap. Under current law, Americans pay a 12.4% Social Security tax on all wages up to $94,200 in 2006, and the cap rises each year with inflation. (There is also an uncapped 2.9% Medicare payroll tax on top of that.) So why not lift the cap a little more, say the taxers, perhaps to $150,000 if the trade-off is benefit cuts that will prevent even larger tax increases in the future?
One answer is that Social Security was always meant to be run like a pension program where the taxes paid by workers are linked to the benefits they get back during retirement. Eliminating or substantially raising the cap would convert Social Security into an overt income redistribution program. If that is the direction Congress wants to go, we should all then end the pretense that Social Security is some kind of "universal" insurance program and call it welfare for poor seniors.
Such a payroll tax hike would also eviscerate Mr. Bush's most impressive domestic achievement: the pro-growth tax cuts. If the tax cap were eliminated entirely, the President would be signing into law one of the largest tax hikes in U.S. history, or more than $1.3 trillion in new taxes over the first 10 years alone. About seven million families with an income of less than $150,000 a year would be hit with a tax increase of up to $6,000 a year.
A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district's decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation.
Last week, a Multnomah County jury awarded a German truck manufacturer $350 million in punitive damages in addition to enforcing a pre-existing judgment of roughly $500 million.
It will be the second Freightliner plant in Mexico.
Freightliner LLC announced today that it will start construction in 2007 on a new $300 million plant in Mexico.
The plant will be in northern Mexico in Saltillo, Coahuila.
Freightliner also announced in early December that it would lay off 4,000 workers companywide in the next few months.The only good news in this article is that maybe Mexicans will stop coming here illegaly if they can find jobs at home. Again, it will be at the expense of US workers thanks to US Liberals.
Latin America's clouded long-run economic outlook is perhaps best underlined by its recent sub-par economic performance at a time of unusual global prosperity. If ever Latin America faced an external environment conducive to rapid economic growth it has to have been that of the past four years. World economic growth has been at its strongest level in over 20 years, while international commodity prices have literally gone through the roof. As if that were not favorable enough, ample global liquidity conditions continue to blind international investors to the possible risks of investing in many countries in that region, which allows the region to borrow at very low interest rates.But they continuie to elect socialists and communists.
Poland on Tuesday warned that it may seek the renegotiation of a key treaty with Germany to stop property claims by Germans expelled from present-day Poland after World War II.
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Tuesday he will urge parliament to reaffirm Poles' rights to property left by Germans expelled from Poland after World War II.
Kaczynski said parliament should declare that Warsaw would not respect any court verdict that calls Poles' rights into question.
Support for Samoobrona does not fall in wake of sex scandal
The latest GfK Polonia opinion poll shows that junior Government coaltion partner Samoobrona's standing has not dropped as a result of the purported sex abuse scandal.
Samoobrona had the support of 7% of those polled, if elections were held now.
The ruling Law & Justice (PiS), however, saw its support drop by 8 percentage points to 23%. Opposition grouping Civic Platform (PO) gained 2 pp to 30%.
The coalition of leftist parties, LiD, which consists mainly of the former communist Democratic Left Alliance, received a support rating of 8% - less than other polls have showed in recent days.
The other junior coalition partner, the League of Polish Families (LPR), received only 3% support.
The poll was conducted between December 8-10.
Poland's `Moral Revolution' Founders on Sex Scandal, Nazi Flags
By Katya Andrusz
Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The ``moral revolution'' promised by Poland's Kaczynski twins when they came to power a year ago is foundering amid a series of scandals surrounding allegations of sexual exploitation and neo-Nazi links.
The Kaczynskis' three-party coalition has been rocked by allegations that Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper, 52, and members of his Self Defense party demanded sexual favors in return for jobs -- they deny the charges -- and by reports that associates of another deputy prime minister, Roman Giertych, participated in a 2004 neo-Nazi rally.
The Kaczynskis -- President Lech and Prime Minister Jaroslaw, 57 -- swept into office pledging to stamp out corruption and reintroduce morality lost during communist rule. They spoke out against gays and in favor of families, tightened links to the Catholic Church, angered the European Union and widened a rift with Russia.
The recent charges lay them open to allegations of hypocrisy, said Krzysztof Bobinski of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw. ``How can you have a moral revolution if there are people going around screwing their secretaries?''
The allegations also threaten the political stability of the nation of 39 million, the largest of the eight post-communist countries that joined the European Union two years ago.
`They'll Be Punished'
The Kaczynskis, Bobinski said, ``are just hoping the whole thing will go away, but they'll be punished at the next election.''
After the Law & Justice party, founded by the Kaczynskis, won the September 2005 elections, it formed a minority government, then joined forces with Self Defense and the Polish Families' League. Municipal ballots last month saw Law & Justice winning only in smaller towns, while its partners barely scraped 5 percent, giving all three an interest in ensuring the current government survives.
``The elections definitely brought the coalition parties closer together,'' said Radoslaw Markowski, director of the institute for political science at the Warsaw School of Social Psychology.
In a Dec. 1-4 survey of 1,015 adults for the Warsaw-based Centre for Public Research, Law & Justice trailed the opposition Citizens' Platform, 30 percent to 27 percent. Self Defense was backed by 4 percent, a drop of 3 percentage points from a month ago.
Alex Szczerbiak, a professor of politics at Sussex University in England, said Law & Justice believes it is fighting a battle to save Poland.
``They have the idea that corruption is endemic to the Polish state because of mistakes in its development since 1989,'' Szczerbiak said. ``They want to break the power of a corrupt network of politicians, businessmen, organized criminals and secret service staff.''
While the government has gained supporters among Catholics and some poorer Poles helped by increased social benefits, many educated Poles and the country's partners in the 25-member European Union are increasingly irritated. The Poles refused last month to lift a veto on trade talks between the EU and Russia. The Finnish government, which holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, urged negotiations.
``This government's foreign policy is a disaster,'' said Markowski. ``Diplomacy with these people is very inflexible. They don't negotiate. Their economic policy is also catastrophic.''
The government has changed finance ministers four times, shelved most plans to cut taxes and will fail to lower the budget deficit by next year's deadline to meet the EU's conditions for adopting the euro.
Adding to concerns is the Jan. 10 departure of Leszek Balcerowicz, the central-bank governor, who has clashed with the Kaczynskis over his focus on putting budgetary discipline before social spending, and his opposition to government plans to add economic growth to the bank's mandate. President Kaczynski on Dec. 12 nominated Jan Smulicki, a little-known professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, to succeed Balcerowicz.
While Poland's unemployment rate dropped to near a six-year low in October, the decline stemmed largely from workers moving abroad in search of better-paid jobs.
``People are leaving Poland in droves,'' said Sabina Koziel, a 33-year-old trained as a policewoman, who left for the U.K. 16 months ago to work as a cleaner. ``There's no chance for any improvement in Polish politics I don't think, not at the moment.''
Besides the allegations against Self Defense officials, the Kaczynskis' allies in the Polish Families' League have taken a battering over reports that members of the All-Polish Youth, formerly headed by League Chairman Giertych, took part in a rally two years ago at which flags with the swastika symbol were waved and ``Sieg Heil,'' the Nazis' greeting, was shouted.
A youth activist was sacked as assistant to European Parliament deputy Maciej Giertych, father of the deputy prime minister, in response to the affair.
The League attacks gay rights, favors reintroducing the death penalty, and demands a complete ban on abortion. League member Miroslaw Orzechowski, the deputy education minister, has called for banning evolution from schools.
``Evolutionary theory is a lie,'' Orzechowski said in an Oct. 13 interview with the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. ``In my opinion this is a story, a piece of literature that could be used as background for a science-fiction film.''
Earlier this year, Mr. Annan was also forced to place eight senior U.N. procurement officials on leave pending investigations on bribery and other charges. Vladimir Kuznetsov, the head of the U.N. budget-oversight committee, was indicted this year on money-laundering charges. Alexander Yakovlev, another procurement official, pled guilty to skimming nearly $1 million off U.N. contracts. The U.N.'s own office of Internal Oversight found that U.N. peacekeeping operations had mismanaged some $300 million in expenditures.
Mr. Annan's response to all this has been a model of blame-shifting, obfuscation and patently insincere mea culpas, apparently justified by his view that a Secretary General has more important things to do than administer his own organization. But allow the Secretary General the conceit that his real job is acting as the world's most important diplomat. How has he performed in that task?
Mr. Annan came to office after a stint as head of U.N. peacekeeping operations. The period corresponded with the massacre in Srebenica of 7,000 Bosnians and the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda, both of which were facilitated by the nonfeasance of peacekeepers on the ground. It was later revealed that Mr. Annan's office explicitly forbade peacekeepers from raiding Hutu arms caches in Rwanda just four months before the genocide.
The world's worst man-made humanitarian catastrophes have since taken place in Zimbabwe, North Korea, Congo and Darfur. Mr. Annan has been mostly silent about the first two, perhaps on the time-honored U.N. principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states other than the U.S. In the Congo, U.N. peacekeepers haven't stopped the bloodshed, but they have made themselves notorious as sexual predators.
By contrast, Mr. Annan has been voluble on Darfur: In his speech at the Truman Library, he argued that the lesson of Darfur is that "high sounding doctrines like the 'responsibility to protect' will remain pure rhetoric unless and until those with the power to intervene effectively--by exerting political, economic, or, in the last resort, military muscle--are prepared to take the lead." Nice words.
However, it is amazing that Mr. Annan should utter them, given his own role in obstructing "those with the power to intervene effectively"--namely the U.S.--in other situations. Mr. Annan's first great solo diplomatic venture came in early 1998, when he ran interference for Saddam Hussein to forestall military strikes by the Clinton Administration. Saddam, he said at the time, was a man with whom he could "do business." He did the same in the run-up to the Iraq War and did the terrorist insurgency a moral service by pronouncing that war "illegal." Given that Saddam was killing his own people at an average rate of 36,000 a year, what does this say about Mr. Annan's solicitude for the oppressed?
As Secretary-General Annan prepares to leave his post at the United Nations, a mystery is surfacing surrounding his apartment on Roosevelt Island, subsidized by New York taxpayers, which is still in use by the family of his brother, Kobina Annan.
The apartment was where Mr. Annan and his wife lived before 1997, when he became secretary-general. The Roosevelt Island home is part of an estate of low-rent state-regulated housing. For years, the Annans saved considerable sums by occupying an apartment meant to help financially strapped low- to moderate-income New York families.
One question Mr. Annan has never addressed is why he and his wife felt comfortable availing themselves of this generous arrangement. Another is how it is that, since Mr. Annan and his wife left that Roosevelt Island apartment 10 years ago to move into the rent-free residence on Sutton Place supplied to the secretary-general, their former low-rent apartment was handed over to be occupied by the family of Mr. Annan's brother.
The free preview of "I'm In Love With Ann Coulter" is followed by "The List," a P.J. Rourke-inspired number naming "liberals we can't stand." (Paul will be glad to know that the Right Brothers do not overlook Lindsey Graham.) Another of the disc's highlights is "Stop Global Whining," which can be previewed on the Brothers' MySpace page here. I give the disc five stars for combining wit and wisdom with winning hooks and excellent production.
German group files restitution claim against Poland
A German group called the Prussian Claims Society has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights calling for restitution from Poland for Germans kicked out of lands lost to Poland after Europe's boundaries were redrawn following WWII.
The group claims its members human rights were violated when Germany's eastern lands became part of Poland after the War and they were driven from their homes.
The group, which represents about 1,000 people - a small number compared to the 2.5 mln Germans expelled from Poland after the War - has filed 22 individual complaints and eventually plans as many as 50, according to its deputy leader Gerwald Stanko.
This has put a renewed strain on already cold Polish-German relations.
The claim stems from territorial changes made by the victors of WWII - the U.S., Great Britain and the Soviet Union - at the 1945 Potsdam conference. The Potsdam agreement gave large parts of eastern Germany to Poland, and the Germans living there were forced to leave. Large parts of eastern Poland were annexed by the Soviet Union.
In 2004, a joint Polish-German commission ruled that there was no legal foundation for claims by Germans to property in today's Poland.
Germany's main group representing those expelled from Eastern Europe, the Federation of Expellees, also expressed its opposition on Friday to the Prussian Claims Society's move. "We have already distanced ourselves from this a hundred times," said the federation's president Erika Steinbach.
While many legal analysts feel the Prussian Claims Society's lawsuit has no chance of success, it is viewed with great trepidation in Warsaw for any precedent it may set.
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has been critical of the German Government's failure to repudiate such claims through a treaty. Kaczynski that "Germany hasn't fully explained its legal position faced with property in Poland. Its declarations in this area remain insufficient."
WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 1,200 people were arrested in meatpacking plants in six states during raids that federal officials said amounted to the largest-ever workplace crackdown on illegal immigration.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Wednesday the investigation uncovered a "disturbing front" in the war against illegal immigration, in which illegal immigrants are using the identities of U.S. citizens to obtain jobs.
One of the three great U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. is dead. Jeane Kirkpatrick, 80, "died in her sleep at home in Bethesda, Md.," the Associated Press reports. "The cause of death was not immediately known." Kirkpatrick is perhaps best remembered for her 1984 speech at the Republican National Convention:Let's hope so.
When the San Francisco Democrats treat foreign affairs as an afterthought, as they did, they behaved less like a dove or a hawk than like an ostrich--convinced it would shut out the world by hiding its head in the sand. . . .
When the Soviet Union walked out of arms control negotiations, and refused even to discuss the issues, the San Francisco Democrats didn't blame Soviet intransigence. They blamed the United States. But then, they always blame America first.
When Marxist dictators shoot their way to power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies, they blame United States policies of 100 years ago. But then, they always blame America first.
The American people know better.
Lepper now embroiled in sex scandal
Warsaw, Poland December 5, 2006
Prosecutors are investigating claims that deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper (Samoobrona) employed a woman, Aneta K., in exchange for ongoing sexual favors.
The former employee of Lepper's Samoobrona party made the claim in a Gazeta Wyborcza interview.
In a television interview, Lepper denied the claims saying, "I swear that I had nothing joining me to this woman. This is a disgusting lie."
Aneta K. has accused Lepper and Samoobrona parliamentarian Stanislaw Lyzwinski of requiring sexual favors of her in exchange for her job in Lyzwinski's office. She claims she was exploited by Lyzwinski over the course of many years.
According to the Wyborcza report, Aneta K. was promised a job in Samoobrona's regional party office in exchange for sex and told that if she refused "there were hundreds of other girls to take [her] position." She said she accepted the offer because she was an unemployed single mother of two and needed the money.
The woman also claims that Lyzwinski is the father of her 3-year old daughter and filed a motion for child support payments last week.
Iran, a staunch ally of the U.S., faces revolutionary pressure, the most vigorous of which is exerted by Islamic fanatics. The Shah of Iran looks to his long-time friend, the U.S., for support. The president shows nothing but comtempt [sic] and appears indifferent at best to the Shah's survival. The government, totally demoralized, loses its will to remain in power. The Shah falls and, predictably, the Islamic fanatics end up in control.
The new regime takes U.S. embassy personnel as hostages. Now it is the U.S. president who is demoralized and lacking will. Eventually, he orders an absurd rescue plan that fails utterly, bringing even further humiliation on our country. Almost 30 years later, the Islamic fanatics remain in control. They sponsor terrorists and deadly anti-western militias throughout the Middle East. They apparently are close to developing nuclear weapons.
Truman's perseverance despite his 22 percent job approval -- much lower than Bush's -- was essential in preserving the independence of South Korea, which now has the world's 14th-largest economy. Churchill, facing Hitler alone, could promise only "blood, toil, tears and sweat" until his enemies' mistakes -- Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor -- gave him the allies that made victory possible.
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