Friday, November 22, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Do you know Julius Buckmon? He is the U.S. Census Bureau employee that has admitted manipulating the unemployment data to make the unemployment numbers look better than they really were prior to the 2012 presidential election. According to Buckmon, the order to fake the data came from higher ups at the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau is under contract from the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct the unemployment surveys, and the contract requirement is that Census Bureau must make contact with 9 out of 10 households targeted for the survey. The heavily populated New York and Philadelphia regions were falling far short of making the contacts and processing the results, so Buckmon said he was told by his superiors to fabricate the data. Buckmon said he made up people out of thin air and gave them jobs to fulfill his quota. Now this may seem trivial- a lone employee falsifying data, but understand that each household contacted under the Census Bureau's scientific sampling survey methodology represents 5,000 households. The numbers were false and were manipulated to show a different employment picture than what was really occurring. This could have had an influence on voters. It certainly could affect fiscal policy. Most importantly, the long term affect is to further undermine the credibility of the data that we receive from the government and the credibility of the government itself. This incident calls into question the veracity of the information from various areas of the government, and makes one wonder if the public isn't being played for a fool.

My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.

About that credibility issue... According to a report in the Washington Post, officials for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services, including Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, knew as far back as April that the Obamacare website was not working and would not be working by the time of the mandatory roll out. And the President's oft repeated nostrum that "if you like your plan you can keep your plan" was known to be a specious claim as far back as February 2010, when he was informed by his staff that most people would be knocked off their individual plans because of the Obamacare mandates. Now I know that we can argue our points for or against socialized medicine, and we may not reach a common ground. That's fine. The issue that has become the elephant in the room is the brazen prevarication (lying for all of you that went to Clemson) of our elected and appointed officials. Now I understand the aspect of spin and I know that both parties do it. No, this is much, much deeper and way beyond spin. We have a government that will lie to the American people to achieve the ends of a particular party or of the bureaucracy. This unfortunately diminishes the trust level between the electorate and Washington and means that you and I are going to have to fact check everything that comes out of the mouth of anyone in Washington. Because those in Washington have shown absolutely no compunction about lying to us.

Some things are better left unsaid. Now if I could just determine which ones.

Want to see another example of the deceit that comes from Washington? We are told that one half (6.2%) of the social security tax is paid by the employee and the other half by the employer. The same thing is said about the Medicare tax of 1.45% assessed to the employee and the 1.45% assessed to the employer. Want to know the truth? The full amount of both of the taxes is borne by the employee. Let me show you. Say you are hired at a salary of $50,000. My employer is going to send $3100 to Washington as my share of the Social Security tax and $725 as my share of the Medicare tax, for an annual total of $3,825, or the "employer portion of these taxes. So if I am an employer, it actually cost me $53,825 to hire that employee. So how much does that employee have to produce to make it at least a break even for the employer to keep him? Is it the $50,000 salary or is it the $53,825 (salary plus the taxes). If you said $53,825, then you certainly didn't go to Clemson and you understand what economists call the "incident of taxation", which means that the burden of a tax is not necessarily paid by the party on whom it is levied. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said that both the employer's and the employee's share of the payroll tax is borne by the employee; and the Congressional Budget Office said that the employer's share of the payroll tax is passed on to employees in the form of lower wages than would otherwise be paid. Do you think that the working public would be so passive about reforming Social Security if they knew that they were really paying all of the tax? Probably not, but more importantly, they probably would have been more active in not allowing Congress to pillage the fund and get it into the condition in which we find it today. It is going to be important for all of us to understand thoroughly the impact of reforms and changes coming out of Washington. We certainly cannot count on them to give us the full story.

The cashier at the store told me, "Strip down, facing me." How was I to know she meant my debit card?

And that, my friends, is my view.

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