Spaldam's 3 point Plan to fix Social Security

First, you cannot fix a problem you do not understand, so here's the basics:



Basically, as I see it, instead of securing funds paid into Social Security for the last 70+ years to make sure excesses remain available for when the baby boomers start to collect on it, the money was instead used to help balance the budget, which wasn't really being balanced too well anyway. Sure technically this was a loan, but the way it was loaned, is like putting a bunch of IOU's into your 401K instead of actual money.

So, how do you fix this problem with baby boomers now being promised more than is being paid into the Social Security Fund, with no reserve to pay for these entitlements? Some say the unfunded liability of this could be upwards of 15 trillion dollars and growing. The other questionable part of Social Security, is one of Constitutionality. The 10th Amendment says we must leave such things up to the States to provide for, but Social Security is done at the federal level, and as such ends up being to easily lumped in with other Federal income taxes (Medicare, Payroll tax, etc), resulting in a conflict of interest that inevitably gets abused and misuse by our own government.  Still it is fixable, and here's how I would do it:

1. The first step in this process is to make it solidly Constitutionally legal, and in doing so set hard set rules to insure the money gets used for what it's intended (not loaned out). This means passing and ratifying a Constitutional Amendment that authorizes the Federal Government to collect Social Security based on personal income, but it also means requiring that any excesses be saved and wisely invested in low risk investment funds (I would suggest Mutual funds with good long track records and Money Market Accounts with no Conflicts of Interest with the Federal Governments budget). This helps insure that not only the original monies are around decades latter, but also gives the added leverage of interest gained to be paid back out to those who are eligible. It could also define basic eligibility requirements so it only gets paid to those who really need it, or that could use a little extra retirement funds; based on a multiple of the set poverty level.  It should also restrict the payout from exceeding the available funds, and only allow for reasonable administrative fees to be paid from the funds.  In other words, SS would become a self sustaining branch of the U.S. treasury.

I would also allow for an op-out option, so that those who want to do their own investing, can.  I'm sure there are plenty who would want to see the op-out limited to a certain amount of income, but that could also be based on making so much over and above an amount based on a multiple of the current poverty level, so congress can't continually mess around with it without passing another amendment, or changing the poverty level.

2. Step one doesn't help with today problem as it's already to late to start saving since it's already "in the red". What is really needed is more people paying into it; which means more people working to pay Social Security taxes on their income. Certainly lowering unemployment rates would help greatly, but even that would only be a temporary fix. However, we supposedly have anywhere between 10 - 20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Immigration reform, and amnesty, are very touch subjects these days, but having millions of people ejected from the country over night isn't only impossible and a costly endeavor, it's more likely to create a vacuum full of more problems then it would potentially solve. Certainly the problems need to be fixed, and hopefully we could do it in such a way that would benefit everyone; like requiring fees be paid that would further help fund Social Security, and putting more people on legal payrolls that contribute to Social Security.

I believe the immigration problem is caused for 2 reasons: a) a lack of security along U.S. boarders partly due to bureaucracies that seem to encourage the insurgency, and b) partly due to immigration policies that are too restrictive; making the cost of coming here legally so high that it's worth the risk of coming here illegally. Regardless of the problems, if we could find an affective and fair way to legalize (not naturalize) all those here already, and get them paying into Social Security (and other taxes), we could potentially see a very significant increase in the funding Social Security has coming in. This reform could be as simple as a guest worker program that requires employees to into Social Security based on their incomes with no future liabilities towards the guest workers.  Any fines or application fees for guest worker visas could be put directly into the SS fund.  If we have 15 million illegals, and 15 trillion of unfunded liabilities, it would require that each of them pay a $1000 fee into the SS fund to get it "in the black".

3. To truly fix this problem, requires insuring we continue to have more new workers entering the work force then those entering retirement; or at least those who truly need the help of a regular Social Security check. This can be accomplished in a number of way like: means based testing; raising the retirement age to be more in-line with life expectancy; encouraging larger families; and immigration, as mentioned before. The vast majority of us can find an ancestor (if not ourselves or parents) who came to the U.S.A. looking for opportunity, and they worked hard to get it. Today this is no different, despite a long history of changes in immigration over the decades. One thing is clear today, a lot more people want to come here then the legal channels are currently able to accommodate; likely for a wide variety of reasons.

I would give short term work (guest worker) visas to anyone who can reach a designated entry point to our soil and pass and a background check (meaning they aren't on any watch lists or wanted for anything), easing up on and simplifying the requirements to gain naturalization, and increasing the quotas for other types of visas as long as unemployment rates are low. Of course none of this works if it cannot be enforced, which includes improving boarder security and the consequences of entering the country illegally (i.e. actually treating them as criminals or even unlawful combatants, depending on the situation and what they are carrying across the boarder with them).

This plan, if fully implemented could also be a patter to lessen the strain illegal immigration puts on the Health Care system and lessen the amount of fraud it creates. It could also improve issues with Medicare; though I would suggest Medicare and Medicaid be replaced with: a) States setting up or re-enforcing their own system of county hospitals and clinics for those who can't afford the costs; b) less government regulations and more tax breaks for individuals (or businesses) buying insurance; c) expand on health care savings accounts (reducing restrictions) with catastrophic only insurance options, to allow for more competition on a consumer basis; d) encourage states to put restrictions on insurance companies ability to sell financial products or insurance products that create conflicts of interest; e) and stop price gouging of by doctors and hospitals to keep prices more realistic by outlawing the practice of over charging to make up for insurance companies requiring large price cuts, and/or limit the ability of insurance companies to require large price cuts.

There is, however, one other major issue to consider in all this: Corruption and Greed; and I'm not necessarily referring corporate greed, which I do not in any way equate to capitalize. As long as there are people out there who want to cheat the system, get something for nothing, or get rich off the backs of the tax payers, we will continue to have many problems with Socialized government programs wasting billions on fraud every year. Fraud that I believe would be much less likely if we would just follow the U.S. constitution and leave these types of programs up to the states and the people, because this would give everyone more visibility and more local accountability into what these things truly cost our communities and ourselves. Looking for someone else to foot the bill will only put us into the problems we are now seeing with an out of control Federal Government Spending Deficit.

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Spaldam's Thoughts on "Health Care" Reform

I got a memo from my work's HR department last week, in reference to "ObamaCare" that recently passed into law. I know many other employers have done similarly and are all concerned about how this will affect their ability to continue providing high quality health Insurance to their employees. My employer mentioned that some retiree programs they currently provide will no longer qualify for tax breaks and become much more expensive; meaning they might have to be discontinued (Sorry old folks, you out of luck). They also mentioned that the coverage they provide for me and my fellow workers will likely fall into the "Cadillac" category which may mean a substantial additional tax for me; and I'm very much a middle class person, making under 100k a year (I thought Obama said no new taxes on the middle class?).

I've compiled some comments I've posted else were on the recent "Health Care"/Insurance "Reform" Bill (I put "Health Care" in quotes because I really think this bill is more about Health Insurance then it is about health Care), and put them together (with a few extra comments) here:


March 23 Gallop Poll: 49 percent of Americans approve of the health care bill, 40 percent oppose: http://www.gallup.com/poll/126929/slim-margin-americans-support-healthcare-bill-passage.aspx

Rassmussen Poll shows over 50% want it repealed: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/march_2010/55_favor_repeal_of_health_care_bill

CBS New claims over 60% want GOP to continue to fight the bill even after it passed (I'm sure some liberals want this too as a way to try and discredit the GOP): http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20001117-503544.html

Regardless of what poll you look at it seems that most are so close to the 50% mark that if you consider the margin of error, and how close the voting was in congress, it could have gone either way. Personally I don't think it would have passed without all the strong-arming, bribery, and underhanded dealings that went on in Washington these last few months: http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2010/03/22/4051214-congress-passed-the-health-care-bill-now-what

What I personally find most interesting is that all the Liberals I know seem to see this as a big success and keep talking about how just under half of Americans feel the same way, while painting conservatives as hateful because of the actions of a few people. At the same time all the conservatives I know see this as a big loss of personal freedom with just over half of Americans wanting it repealed; while feeling picked on because of the actions of a few people. They certainly can't both be right (O wait... maybe they can? - just under 50 vs. just over 50 = about 100% - humm... why do so many seem to think the polls are wrong?), and they both seem to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are right and the other is absolutely wrong. One thing I do think everyone agrees on is that this nation is changing; for better or worse.

The real problem isn't a lack of health care, this recently passed bill wasn't even about health care; the real problem is that we have lost the true meaning of charity and are now trying to replace it with the Secular Counterfeit of Socialism. After all it's not really charity if we pay for someone else to do it for us, or are forced into it by law or obligation. If only we were more willing to help out our neighbors, or to seek help from our friends and family; instead we have a society that teaches us to look for ways to avoid such things, and have come to expect that government will take care of it for us.

Anyway you look at it, you have to acknowledge that this is a historical event in that never before has any new government entitlement been passed by such a slim margin. If you ask me, at the very least, they should have stuck with what Obama originally said, that it needed to pass with a supper majority. Better yet, if you really want to make sure it's constitutionally sound, it should have started out as a purposed Constitutional Amendment: maybe some sort of second Bill of Rights (like what FDR wanted, but knew he couldn't get the right way either, but he already had his "New Deal" anyway; that we are finding today to be unsustainable because it wasn't done the right way - What a "Progressive" he was).

I say let the lawsuits being. They wouldn't allow very much debate on it in congress, so I guess the courts will have to do. I fully expect at last one or two aspects to get thrown out as Unconstitutional, but likely the majority of it will remain intact; unless it get's repealed next year by 2/3's of Congress. That will require a rather large turn over in both the Senate and the House; which is not highly likely.

It's not that I'm against "Progress" (though I'm certainly not a "Progressive"), nor helping the poor, it's more that I'm for following the Constitution. The Health Care bill, just like many others that are enforced today, have big constitutional question marks in my opinion. It's almost as if we've forgotten that there is a well defined process of constitutional amendments that needs to be followed if we want our Federal government to do something not specifically granted within the Constitution (see the 9th and 10th Amendments that basically mean that if it's not specifically allowed, then the Federal Government can't do it - at least not without an amendment). Just imagine if Social Security, instead of being passed by a bill that is then revised by another bill and so on, had an iron clad constitutional amendment behind it that required all funds put into it to stay within it and not used for anything else. The Federal government would likely have trillions saved up to support retiring Baby Boomers, instead of it all being spent for other things causing Social Security to now be adding to the Spending Deficit.

It's not just a matter of making sure the majority of Americans are ok with something new, but also willing to support the new measures that inevitably give the Federal government more power and authority, by taking it away from the people. The power and authority, after all cannot exist in both places. Either we the people get to choose, or the government get's to chose for us - or in other words Big Government or Big Citizens.


What I'd really recommend is that people need to work locally and within their States to accomplish great things and "Progress" within their communities. I strongly believe this nation would be much stronger then it is today, if we did more to work together on a local level, rather then looking to the Federal Government for handouts; as we have done for the last 80 years (thanks FDR). This would keep the federal government doing the basic things it's actually authorized to do; provide for common defense, international and interstate commerce, and providing basic regulations and standards to enable the States to work together, and enabling the people to accomplish great things on their own.

Responce to Mike's letter

I recently received a latter from someone identifying him self only as "Mike" with a P.O. Box as a return address. I found the letter quit interesting, describing someone who had lived a sinful life and finally found the saving power of Jesus' Atonement. I decided to respond, and sent him the following in an e-mail:

Dear Mike,

Thanks you for your sincere letter. It is hard to find time to read and reply to such things these days with all that I have going on, but I wanted to applaud you in your efforts to take them time to compose and distribute such a letter. I hope that you can find the time to also read my sincere response. I believe that one of the biggest problems our country faces today is lack of people willing to share their beliefs and values. Instead we seem to be losing faith to secularism, charity to socialism, chastity to self-gratification, morality to wickedness, and so on.

However, amid all this I do find hope, in a very strong and growing group of people, from many faiths, who truly accept Jesus as their Lord and savior. These people don’t just go to church once a week, and say pray’s expecting to be saved while doing nothing more to achieve that salvation; “[these] people draw near unto [the Lord], and with their mouth, and with their lips do honor [him], but have removed their heart far from [him], and their fear toward [him] is taught by the precepts of men” - Isa. 29: 13, 2 Ne. 27: 25. No, the people I refer to, truly have charity, “the pure love of Christ” - Moro. 7: 47, and love their fellow men because they understand how much their savior also loves them.

They are more concerned with giving then receiving, more concerned with helping others then trying to make their own way to the top. They give freely of their means; paying tithing that helps build up God’s Kingdom on this earth, and even more to help the sick and the needy. They also give of their time and talents, while working hard to become perfected thru Christ’s Atonement.

It is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, ourselves, and the world. Satan wants us to think that we cannot repent, but that is absolutely not true. The Savior has promised us forgiveness if we will do what is required. The sooner we repent, the sooner we will find the blessings that come from forgiveness.

My belief in repentance includes the following steps:

1. Sorrow for sin with a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness.

2. Abandonment of sin with an unyielding, permanent resolve to not repeat the transgression.

3. Confession of sin. You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions you may need to be confessed to a bishop or other priesthood leader who as the proper authority.

4. Restitution for your sins to restore as far as possible all that which is stolen, damaged, or defiled.

5. Obedience to all the commandments. Full obedience is the only thing that can bring the complete power of the gospel into your life.

6. Of all the necessary steps to repentance, the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes because of Christ’s Atonement.

I too believe that God has a plan for us. Our lives do have a purpose. He is the father of our spirits, and as such we are all brother’s a sisters. If more people could truly understand that on simple concept, I believe this world would be a much better place. I encourage you to continue to share your testimony of this to all those you meet.

Sincerely,

SJ Hollist.