Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Using cash to travel may soon be obsolete – by Steve Glenn

This past weekend I was in New York City and was surprised that two shops we visited did not accept CASH! Usually, I hear retailers say they don’t accept credit cards as they don’t want to pay the fees to accept them. When I visited an ice cream shop on Friday night and the person behind the register said “Sorry, we don’t accept CASH,” my jaw dropped. When I thought through the process for a while it made more sense. If a store does not accept cash, they don’t have to worry about A) Being robbed as they have no cash. B) Having employees stick cash sales in their pocket without ringing it through the cash register. This all points to how fast the business world is changing toward a cashless society. Ironically with all the new disruptive technology, I think that in the next 3 years we will move from credit cards to the next form of electronic payment that is blockchain or cryptocurrency based.

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Social Security Depletion Year Remains 2034

This is hard to follow but is official… -Keith ——-

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
For Immediate Release
Social Security Administration Seal

 

Mark Hinkle, Acting Press Officer
press.office@ssa.gov

 

News Release
SOCIAL SECURITY

 

Social Security Combined Trust Fund Reserves Depletion Year Remains 2034 Says Board of Trustees

Disability Fund Improves by Four Years

The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as projected last year, with 79 percent of benefits payable at that time.

The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in late 2034, as compared to last year’s estimate of early 2035, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2032, extended from last year’s estimate of 2028, with 96 percent of benefits still payable.

In the 2018 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

  • The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $44 billion in 2017 to a total of $2.89 trillion.
  • The total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed total annual income in 2018 for the first time since 1982, and remain higher throughout the 75-year projection period. As a result, asset reserves are expected to decline during 2018. Social Security’s cost has exceeded its non-interest income since 2010.
  • The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2034 – the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 79 percent of scheduled benefits.

“The Trustees’ projected depletion date of the combined Social Security Trust Funds has not changed, and slightly more than three-fourths of benefits would still be payable after depletion,” said Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “But the fact remains that Congress can keep Social Security strong by taking action to ensure the future of the program.”

Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

  • Total income, including interest, to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $997 billion in 2017. ($874 billion from net payroll tax contributions, $38 billion from taxation of benefits, and $85 billion in interest)
  • Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to more than $952 billion in 2017.
  • Social Security paid benefits of more than $941 billion in calendar year 2017. There were about 62 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
  • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.84 percent of taxable payroll – slightly larger than the 2.83 percent projected in last year’s report.
  • During 2017, an estimated 174 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
  • The cost of $6.5 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2017 was a very low 0.7 percent of total expenditures.
  • The combined Trust Fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 3.0 percent in 2017.

The Board of Trustees usually comprises six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustee positions are currently vacant.

View the 2018 Trustees Report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2018/.

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This communication was produced and disseminated at U.S. taxpayer expense.

Buying the Boat.

Buying the Boat. original 2-13-11 – Updated 4-28-18

“The question of whether one generation has the right to bind another by a deficit it imposes is a question of such consequence as to place it among the fundamental principles of our government. We should consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts and morally bound to pay for them ourselves.”  Thomas Jefferson.

But how? Read on

I am reading a story today about privatizing Medicare – but only for people under the age of 55. I don’t know what “Privatizing” really means to the future readers of this paper but it raises a question that has bothered me for years. How do we pay off our national debt? I don’t mean “How do we cut the deficit.” I am talking about the overspending of the past.

Lets say that I bought a boat that I did not need, on credit, and then I crashed it into the rocks and watched it sink.  Should I stop making payments to the person who sold me the boat? Should I ask my neighbors to help me pay? Maybe I should ask the boat dealer to send the bill to my children? I don’t think so… I bought it and it is my responsibility. And please – just shoot me – if I go out and buy another boat before I pay for the first one – just because I think it is fun – or something I NEED.

The National Debt is OUR boat. We bought it and we watched it sink. I am not sure why so many people feel our National debt is the debt of the Federal Government and their problem to solve. The National debt is MY debt and YOUR debt. This upsets us, and makes us feel frustrated and even angry. But our anger does NOT change the facts of who bought the boats. We did and we have not paid the bill.

Did we deserve the Bush tax cuts before our National debts were paid? Who told us it was OUR money and we should get it back? Politicians who wanted votes.

Should we ask our lender, China, to forget the money we borrowed or devalue their Yuan currency?

Perhaps our good neighbor, Canada, might chip in to pay our bills?

Some think that maybe we can increase taxes in the future? But that is going to anger our voting age children. By the time taxes are raised we of the older generations will be paying taxes at a greatly reduced rate. We might be off to that tax-free haven in the beyond. Essentially, we just don’t want to pay our bills.

We know that our elected officials have to get a handle on current and future deficits and that means change for all kinds of welfare – which includes our Social Security checks and Medicare payments. Don’t be fooled. These payments become personal welfare the moment that we get more out of the programs than we paid in. Please don’t forget this fact.

The National debt from World War II is tiny compared to the debt doubling during the Reagan years. That is when I first learned to divide our National debt by the number of tax payers in this United States. The numbers seem impossible. Oh, for the days when the debt was “only” $4,000,000,000,000. Yikes! Four trillion seemed bad enough. What is it now $19,000,000,000,000? That is $63,000 per person. Unbelievable!

How do we fix this problem? All the answers that I have seen continue to push the problem onward to the next generations. Our misguided perspective is driven by policy makers who continue to cultivate votes rather than solve problems.

For right or wrong – our country has spent too much money. And we have spent it in many unnecessary ways. Take your pick – optimistic wars, too much welfare, overpaid public officials, and wasteful contracts. All contribute to the problem. All are controlled by the people we elect. And the people we elect tend to have big egos and a huge desire for power. And money to spend is raw power.

It is never fair to lump all politicians into this category. Many public servants want only to do good. The sad truth is that “doing good” is in the eye of the person with the most power. And power, as noted, requires our money.

I am not sophisticated enough to understand much about government but I do know that OUR generation has not paid OUR bills. And I know that none of us want to pay our bills either.

One solution is to grow the economy (so the future can pay the bills). Another solution is to stop spending so much (which also pushes the payments off to the future generations.) I am looking for each of us to say that we need to come clean and pay the National Debt – not by raising taxes but by paying our bill.

Raising taxes will push payments onto the next generation. Most retirees don’t pay taxes anymore or greatly reduced from our working years.

I should just ask our readers to offer solutions for paying off the money that WE spent. Right or wrong, we elected the folks who took us into debt. They are the agents that we hired to buy our boats. And WE are the ones who should pay the bill. How do we do that…?

We Seniors are the worst for ignoring the problem – voting only for people who dabble at the ongoing deficit while ignoring the existing debt. They are two separate issues.

The only solution that I see for the existing debt has its foundation in estate taxes. We all want our family fortunes to be passed on to the kids but is it fair to give it away our wealth before we pay for our debts?

If we are responsible and we believe that a new law would be fair to everyone, would we be willing to pay? Maybe – but I doubt it. This world is filled with people who blame government – which solves nothing.

Since we can’t force ourselves to pay up, maybe it better for us to wait until we are gone from this good earth to pay our fair share.

Here is one thought. If the government can determine how much we have paid through “retirement” taxes and how much we have collected through Social Security and Medicare, wouldn’t it be fair to balance the sheet after we are gone?

Perhaps there is nothing left for the kids – well – isn’t that the fact of the matter? We and our elected representatives set up the spending formula and it seems that, after we are gone, those who have benefited should pay their own bills.  Otherwise, all our health care and all our “extra” retirement checks are like winning a lottery.

Should any of us expect our retirement checks to go to the kids after we are gone? Neither should we send the bills to them.

The writer welcomes your comments posted at WordPress. Please offer alternative solutions along with any complaints.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM LAWS AN ALL-AMERICAN DISPUTE,

Lincoln, Nebraska, March 5, 2018 – A Colorado baker’s refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple is so divisive that it has made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Following legalization of same-sex marriage, some states have passed laws that allow business owners to refuse services to same-sex couples based upon religious belief.
Yet new research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln indicates that most Nebraskans – 64 percent of nearly 1,100 survey respondents – oppose such laws. The results mirror national polls that have shown religious freedom laws lack broad support among Americans.
Sociologists Emily Kazyak and Kelsy Burke analyzed responses to why Nebraskans support or oppose a business owner’s right to refuse service to gays and lesbians to gain insight into why these laws continue to gain traction in state Legislatures even though most Americans do not actually agree with them.  Mathew Stange, who received his doctoral degree in survey research and methodology at Nebraska and is now a survey researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, also participated in the study.
They found that both sides base their appeals upon bedrock American values of freedom and capitalism.
Those who side with the baker say he has the right to act upon his religious convictions and that free enterprise means that plenty of other bakers would serve the couple. Those who side with the couple say they have the right to be free from discrimination and that free enterprise demands that all customers be served.
Kazyak said both sides share the belief that Americans have a fundamental right to freely live their lives.
“The disagreement is not over the value of freedom or equality per se,” she said. “It’s over the questions of whose rights are most worthy of protection and whose freedom is potentially jeopardized in the current moment.”
The researchers noted that as LGBTQ people have gained acceptance and visibility, conservative Christians have begun to portray themselves as a group under threat.
“Protestant Christians have always been the dominant religious group in America, yet evangelical Protestant legislators are now leading efforts to pass these religious freedom laws,” Burke said. “They are thus sending a clear message that they believe their religious beliefs are under threat.”
The Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the Colorado case in December, is expected to rule on the matter by June.
The study was based on data collected by the 2015 Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey. NASIS is an annual cross-sectional omnibus survey of Nebraskans 19 and older, conducted by the Bureau of Sociological Research at Nebraska.
Findings were published online Feb. 28 in Socius, a  research journal of the American Sociological Association.

DEMENTIA CARE PRACTICE RECOMMENDATIONS

ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION LAUNCHES COMPREHENSIVE DEMENTIA CARE PRACTICE RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendations Emphasize High Quality, Person-Centered Care in Long-Term and Community-Based
OMAHA, January 19, 2018 – Yesterday, the Alzheimer’s Association released new dementia care practice recommendations aimed at helping nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other long-term care and community care providers deliver optimal quality, person-centered care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The recommendations are posted online today and will be published as a supplement to the February issue of The Gerontologist.
The Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Dementia Care Practice Recommendations outline 56 recommendations across 10 content areas, grounded in the fundamentals of person-centered care. They were developed by 27 dementia care experts convened by the Alzheimer’s Association and are based on a comprehensive review of current evidence, best practice, and expert opinion.
The recommendations seek to better define quality care across all care settings, and throughout the disease course. They are intended for professional care providers who work with individuals living with dementia and their families in long-term and community-based care settings.
“Since its inception, the Alzheimer’s Association has been a leader in outlining principles and practices of quality care for individuals living with dementia,” said Sam Fazio, Ph.D., lead author and Director of Quality Care and Psychosocial Research, Alzheimer’s Association. “These recommendations reflect the most current research and best practices to help ensure high-quality, person-centered care for people living with Alzheimer’s in long-term and community-based settings.”
It is estimated that nearly 60 percent of older adults with Alzheimer’s or other dementias reside in the community (outside a hospital or clinical setting). About 25 percent of these individuals live alone, but the remainder receives care from family members, unpaid caregivers, and community-based and residential care providers. By age 80, 75 percent of people with Alzheimer’s dementia are admitted to a nursing home. The new recommendations are aimed at guiding care in these settings.
In addition to updating and enhancing previous recommendations in areas familiar to the dementia care community, the recommendations break important new ground. Most notably, the recommendations offer guidance to community-based and residential care providers on detection and diagnosis and ongoing medical management — topic areas typically reserved for clinicians. Recommendations in these two areas are written specifically for non-physician care providers and address what these providers can do to help with these important aspects of holistic, person-centered dementia care.
“Detection and diagnosis, and medical management are critical, vital areas of care. While clinicians must continue to take a lead role in these areas, there are important contributions dementia care providers can make to improve outcomes in these areas,” Fazio said. “Our recommendations outline appropriate actions dementia care providers can make to complement and enhance the work clinicians are doing. Having both groups focus on these critical areas will result in better care for people struggling with this disease.”
Other areas covered by the recommendations include:
  • Fundamentals of person-centered care
  • Assessment and care planning
  • Information, education and support
  • Ongoing care for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
  • Support of activities in daily living
  • Staffing
  • Supportive and therapeutic environments
The 56 recommendations are detailed in 10 area-specific articles published in the February supplement. In addition to providing greater details about each recommendation, the articles provide evidence and expert opinion supporting each recommendation. All 10 articles and an overview article summarizing all the recommendations appear online for the first time yesterday.
The Alzheimer’s Association will share the recommendations with policymakers and the dementia care community formally during a Capitol Hill event on February 14 with special guest remarks by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).  Dementia care experts who developed the recommendations will provide deeper context and explanation behind the new recommendations.
There are an estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease today. It is the sixth-leading cause of death, and the only disease among the top 10 causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is projected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050, unless more effective treatments are advanced. For more information on the recommendations, visit alz.org/practicerecommendations.
Alzheimer’s Association®
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit alz.org.
The Alzheimer’s Association Nebraska Chapter serves all 93 counties in Nebraska.  In addition to offering free education and support services, the Chapter also raises money for local and national research efforts through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day events.  Staff and volunteers also work together to encourage state legislators to make Alzheimer’s disease a priority in the state by increasing funding for the disease.

See – https://www.alz.org/nebraska/

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Racism in America by Keith N. Larsen

In 2011, I met an 80 year old black gentleman who was reading a story on Chief Standing Bear. I asked him for his thoughts and he said, ““I believe Racism is not a matter of Skin but a matter of Sin.” He explained further, “If I do not love – everyone – then I am not going – anywhere – with God.” His words moved me in a profound way. It is a rare and wonderful experience to find such personal resonance between belief and expression.
Chief Standing Bear was the first Indian to be recognized by the US courts as a person. We have to ask “What was he before this landmark trial? Not a man? Not a person?” Thankfully, his impossible situation was recognized by several people from Omaha who stepped forward to help correct a moral injustice. The story is told in Joe Starita’s book “I Am a Man.”
Imagine, if you will, a new group of people, blue colored people perhaps… Thousands of blue people, settling on existing Nebraska farms and displacing existing Nebraska farmers off their land. Imagine the laws are written to support these actions and troops are sent to enforce the law. They have to leave and move to Mexico!
As our friends are forced to walk to Mexico how do they feel? They have to establish a new home where the lands and language are totally different. Imagine their anguish! Imagine also that they are promised food and clothing and compensation – but it never comes. Now imagine it is not your friends but you and your family that must leave! This is what we did to the American Indians.
When a “country” sins against a race, it creates new laws and rules to rationalize its actions. America did not legally buy this great land with the Louisiana Purchase – we merely paid France to stop their own encroachment against the Indian people. With a fabricated piece of paper, American politicians and pioneers behaved as if we owned the West.
We took the land – rich land – resource filled land – land filled with rich soil, trees, gold and oil. We surveyed it, parceled it out, and gave it all to homesteaders and giant corporations. It would seem the Indians had no more rights than the wildlife.
Our proud heritage would have us believe our family homesteads were built out of nothing but pioneer blood, sweat, and tears. In general, the homesteaders acted in good faith within the laws of the time and we can’t blame any one person for settling on native lands. There seemed to be plenty for everyone. However, the sad truth is our law abiding ancestors lived in a world that used “White Man’s Law” to take everything from the American Indians.
Although we feel this ancient shame, most farmlands are not going to go back to the Indian tribes. We can’t take land away from the current owners and return it to the Indian tribes. This was a world where “Might made Right” and “White made Might.”
It is ironic to me that we blame other countries for the atrocities they commit but we are somehow able to overlook the misdeeds of our own country. There is a shame so deep it is impossible for us to look at our history with any hope of resolution.
Many unfair choices were made in the name of America’s Manifest Destiny. I think most people can agree our American industry craved the raw materials of this great land – we needed it to grow! It is my personal belief that no corporation and no government will be needed, or welcomed, in heaven.
In recent news, we find that Congress has passed a bill to provide $3.4 billion in compensation to the American Indians who were first robbed of their homes and then robbed of the resources that came from the scrabble lands left to them. This bill is not a welfare program for native Americans but a court ordered judgment of a class action suit filed in 1996. The claim was that our governmental officials mismanaged and stole as much as $100 billion from the resources harvested from Indian Lands.
Let’s be reminded that this bill to compensate the Indian Nations is a natural outcome of the trial of Chief Standing Bear. We find there are real treaties that are backed by the US Government. After the trial 1879, Native Americans were deemed to be real people who are to be protected by those laws.
There has been significant pressure to provide some form of justice. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) noted that a federal judge has held the federal government in contempt for not funding the Indian case and called it a “bargain for the American taxpayers” that will avoid tens of millions of dollars in court costs. “We are correcting historic wrongs that should never have occurred in the first place,” he said.
Even though congress can only offer cold cash in this settlement, I hope they are able to express personal sorrow in some meaningful way. In the material sense, we will always fall short.
Perhaps, a spiritual cleansing is something that we can offer. Maybe we have a chance to purify our thoughts and bring them into harmony with our actions. Perhaps our penance will be to speak up the next time a demeaning comment is made about someone. We may fall short from time to time but, like my mentor on racism, we can begin the journey needed to “Love Everyone.” Only when we are ready from the inside, can we ask the Indian Nations to forgive us.
Our kudos to Joe Starita and the work he has done to open our eyes with his book, “I am a Man.” We are grateful for the exposure offered by the Public Library’s “One Book, One Lincoln” program. Recently, we are hearing calls to expand our reach of “I am a Man” to “One Book, One Nebraska” and beyond. Maybe the next time we print a state coin, the proud image of Chief Standing Bear will be the one chosen.

Welcome to TrumpDiaries – Trump Diaries

 What You’ll Find Here – TrumpDiaries is an academic blog that explains what Trump is doing here in Washington. You’ll gain a basic understanding, but I also help readers find out where to go if they want more details.

I want to inform. I also feel there’s a real need to untangle the issues so we feel more confident we actually know what’s going on!

I explain the effects of Trump’s actions, what WE can do about it, and most of all, remind people that we have power and that we can slow him down and even stop him.

I want to educate, support, and provide a jumping off point for people who are just starting to learn about these really important issues. Once you feel you’ve wrapped your head around how crazy things are, I’ll help you find out where to go for more details.

Everything I write about is available here, or you can scroll to the bottom for a list of my recent posts.

Purpose

TrumpDiaries was created to make sure that we never forget how good things were before Trump changed everything. Not everything is bad, only about 99% of it.

Just like everything else in life, some days will be really hard. It’ll be tempting to accept things as normal, to lower your standards so that you can actually feel good about what’s going on. However, you need to always remember that Trump is NOT NORMAL.

In 2020, we want to vote for someone who isn’t just better than Trump but WAY better than Trump and maybe even better than we’ve ever had!

There’s gonna be a day when someone who cares actually asks us what we want, when we have a chance to vote for someone who’s going to pay attention to us, and I don’t ever want to think that’s a fantasy.

For me, writing it all down allows me to remember the way things used to be. If I ever have trouble remembering, I’ll have something to refer to.

I hope you enjoy TrumpDiaries. Please remember that you are worth it, your voice matters, and that you are stronger than you think.

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