William Thien

Archive for the ‘Essays and Social and Political Commentary’ Category

I think the new budget proposal coming out of The White House is brilliant. Aside from cuts to public education and some cuts to programs for disabled veterans, which I do not favor, the budget gets right down to the core of the country’s problems. Regarding cuts to programs for disabled veterans, it isn’t fair nor is it right to cut programs for those who have actually earned their benefits.

Naturally there are concerns about cuts to the social safety net, but for years we have all recognized that the way in which the social safety net is structured has resulted in massive misuse. Abuse of the social safety net has become a form of avocation for generations of families. Attempts to prevent abuse of the system have generally been unsuccessful.

So, other than the cuts to public education and some programs for disabled veterans, which I stated before that I do not favor, I think the quote by The Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, sums it up. “We have plenty of money in this country to take care of the people who need help. And we will do that,” he said. “We don’t have enough money to take care of people who don’t need help.’

Furthermore, Mulvaney added, “Yes, you have to have compassion for the people receiving federal funds, but you also have to have compassion for the folks who are paying it and that is one of the things that is new about this president’s budget.”

That is also something no previous administration has attempted to address. The middle class tax payer has been perpetually enslaved by the federal tax code to pay for the expansive social safety net and its misuse. This budget addresses that.

Ultimately, this budget is better than any coming out of Washington in fifty years or more. The budget is better than anything Reagan produced, better than any of the Bush or Obama budgets, and better than any of the Kennedy budgets.

Way to go!

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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The following is from an email from The DAV.ORG that explains cuts to disabled veterans that I do not support:

On May 23, 2017, the Administration released the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) budget for fiscal year 2018. Contained within this budget were two legislative proposals that DAV strongly opposes because if enacted into law, they would seriously reduce benefits for our nation’s ill and injured veterans, their families and survivors.

10-year cost-of-living round down

The Administration’s budget proposal contains a provision that would round down cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for disability compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and some other benefits for the next 10 years. DAV remains adamantly opposed to this or any permanent round down provision.

Veterans and their survivors rely on their compensation for essential purchases such as food, transportation, rent and utilities. It also enables them to maintain a marginally higher quality of life in the face of rising inflation. This COLA round down provision would unfairly target disabled veterans, their dependents and survivors to save the government money and offset the cost of other federal programs. That is simply unacceptable.

The cumulative effect of this provision of law would, in essence, levy a 10-year “tax” on disabled veterans and their survivors, reducing their income each year. When multiplied by the number of disabled veterans and recipients of DIC, hundreds of millions of dollars would be siphoned from these deserving individuals annually. All totaled, VA estimates this proposed COLA round down would cost beneficiaries close to $2.7 billion over the next 10 years.

INDIVIDUAL UNEMPLOYABILITY AND SOCIAL SECURITY OFFSET

The Administration’s budget proposal also contains a provision that would scale back VA’s Individual Employability (IU) program for thousands of veterans. DAV strongly opposes this ill-conceived proposal.

The IU program allows VA to pay certain veterans, who are determined to be unemployable as a result of service-connected disabilities, disability compensation at the 100 percent rate, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at the 100 percent level. This proposal would terminate existing IU ratings for veterans when they reach the minimum retirement age for Social Security purposes, currently 62, as well as cut off IU benefits for any veteran already in receipt of Social Security retirement benefits.

We oppose this and any measure that proposes to offset the payment of any other federal benefit or earned benefit entitlement against VA compensation payments made to service-connected disabled veterans. Benefits received from the VA, or those based on military retirement pay, have differing eligibility criteria for different purposes than other federal programs.  Social Security benefits are an earned benefit for retirement while VA disability compensation is an earned benefit derived from injury or illness from military service. Reducing the Social Security benefit provided to a disabled veteran in receipt of IU is simply an unjust penalty and would place an undue hardship on all veterans in receipt of IU and their families.

Furthermore, we are vehemently opposed to limiting disability compensation benefits due to a veteran’s age. Many disabled veterans might not have income replacement available-especially those who had been on IU for an extended period in advance of reaching retirement age. Arbitrarily cutting off IU eligibility for veterans who turn 62, an age at which millions of American’s continue working and saving money for their retirements-a luxury that many disabled veterans do not have-would be grossly unfair to the men and women served.

We are calling on all DAV and members and supporters to contact their members of Congress and urge them to reject these harmful proposals that would negatively impact injured and ill veterans, their families and survivors.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/4JQIIgoXyENXIoVwf5TWPQ

A lot of pundits and Washington types have said Trump is playing the North Korea situation all wrong.

I disagree. Trump has made an overture to meet with North Korea’s leadership personally. What he is saying is that he is willing to do anything and everything he can to avert a nuclear exchange. What more could the country ask for on this matter? You really can’t ask for more than that.

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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Decades long (Greenspan to Yellen) monetary policy aimed at continually diminishing the strength of the currency for the regular population is in and of itself justification enough to respond.

I believe Washington has chosen monetary policy that forces the public to work longer hours for less income with the desire of increasing productivity at the expense of American working classes and their quality of life.

It has nothing to do with the general economy. The labor statistics coming out of Washington are false.  We’ve all known that for many years. The statistics don’t include the perpetually unemployed or the unaccounted for in industrially blighted urban areas. Therefor, the numbers are unreliable. So why the constant attempt to weaken the dollar?

Is it about selling more American made goods overseas? Somewhat, yes. But in my opinion it is more about squeezing the American working classes to get them to work harder for less, increasing the speed of the treadmill so to speak through weakening the dollar, thereby increasing productivity.

Again, if you weaken the dollar, if you systematically do so while steadily increasing inflation, a person needs to work harder and/or longer hours to get what they want or need or they must borrow more. A weaker dollar buys less and it buys less everywhere you use it even at home, not just overseas when you travel. The thing of it is, it’s not a function of the economy, it’s not happening on its own. It’s policy!

That’s what the FED has been up to starting with Greenspan, what the parties have been up to starting with Clinton, NAFTA and MFN for China, and the dollar.

You are getting squeezed by the FED/Washington establishment and the same people you elected. If money is speech as the Supreme Court determined, by weakening the dollar your voice is also being muffled. Directly.

The dollar isn’t too strong. Rather, Washington may be too powerful, too disingenuous.

I heard a debate on the radio this morning on the way to work. During the broadcast they were talking about a Constitutional Convention. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

I myself say, “What do you mean I don’t sound like a conservative? You are full of it. You can be a conservative and still be a working stiff! Conservatism isn’t just for the very wealthy. That’s something else altogether. That’s the monetary policy we have now.”

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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I am always a bit puzzled (not entirely, just a bit) when I hear our country’s leadership say things like “the dollar is too strong” or “we need to make the dollar more attractive in the foreign currency markets.”

What they are saying essentially is that American made products aren’t as attractive in overseas markets if the dollar is strong because the American products become too expensive or less attractive price-wise for foreign consumers.

But a weaker or weakened dollar also means that I have to spend more of my dollars to get what I want. If you don’t make that many dollars or as many as you’d like, if you are in the lower to lower middle income brackets, the argument that the dollar is too strong is a somewhat punitive statement and it means that action to bring down the value of the dollar will have a direct impact on your buying power, decreasing your buying power.

Few would disagree that America needs to sell more products in foreign markets but you would hope that our country’s leadership would find other ways to make sure such sales increase such as instituting quality controls on production or some other method rather than simply selling everything on the cheap and making everything more expensive for the American consumer, punishing the American consumer, which is what they are doing.

Manipulating currency may be easy on American producers but it is also hard on American consumers as it is the same as taxing their dollars so they have less or simply reaching into their pocketbooks and taking the money right out by decreasing their buying power.

Have you seen the price of a new car or house lately? Maybe the dollar is weak enough already.

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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While watching Chuck Todd interview Senator John McCain (R-AZ) this morning on Meet the Press Todd asked McCain if he thought the current administration’s flip-flopping from campaign positions to his current positions had something to do with Trump “being sucked in by the Washington establishment?”

McCain’s answer was to chuckle and say, “well, I hope so.”

To me this is proof that not only IS there a Washington establishment, it is proof that our elected know there is a Washington establishment and that perhaps our elected even provide support materially and vocally (obviously McCain supports it vocally in his response to Todd) to the Washington establishment.

Other elected officials were asked about Trump’s positional re-orientations throughout the week and the most common response was, “maybe he is ‘growing’ into the position.” Growing into the position? What a load of b.s.

To be sure, Trump doesn’t have to change his campaign positions. Something is forcing him to do so and it’s not that he “growing into the position.” He is there to implement the will of the people, not to “grow.” He isn’t on a weekend retreat. He is now the President of The United States.

I wrote earlier that it would only be a matter of time before Trump switched his campaign positions due to the Washington establishment and we see now that is exactly what is happening. You can read that post here: What’s Next for Conservatives?

The most disgusting aspect of the “Washington establishment” is that what it means is that those entrenched there in Washington are there to ensure that whomever is elected cannot implement the will of the people without the express consent of “the Washington establishment.”

Ultimately what a “Washington establishment” means is that the will of the people has been effectively thwarted, seemingly in perpetuity, by a bureaucratic element entrenched in our nation’s capital and that there is nothing, either voting for a Republican or voting for a Democrat, that the people can do about it.

What is the solution?

The two major parties take great pains to make sure the public is nearly equally divided (we see this in the election results) right down the middle when it comes to major elections and national issues. The parties talk about the base of the Republican party and the base The Democratic party in their political calculus.

Maybe it’s time that the bases of both parties come together for a new political calculus, disregarding the respective party apparatus so the country can really “drain the swamp” as Trump promised during the election and take care of the needs of the people and not that of “the Washington establishment,” which is what he is now doing.

There are common goals among the bases of both parties. Maybe it’s time we come together and focus on those common goals primarily and forget about our differences, such as abortion and gun rights for example, just once, and see what happens.

Maybe we can set those and other differences aside in order to bring the changes the country requires. Or maybe “the Washington establishment” can deal with that, too. And you know what that means? Think about it.

Because we now have proof that there is indeed a “Washington establishment” and it is working against us, working against us all.

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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To me what is getting lost in all of this discussion about the possible wire tapping of The Trump Towers is that not only now that Trump is in The Whitehouse he doesn’t appear to have a complete understanding of the scope of surveillance upon the American public, the Chairman of The House Intelligence Committee is not communicating with Trump about potential capabilities.

In other words, how could President Trump now that he is in The White House not understand how surveillance of his team occurred? It’s happening to all of us all of the time. The entire country is under a blanket search warrant. Once called “The Patriot Act,” it’s now called “The USA Freedom Act” (really, I mean come on, The USA Freedom Act?) after The Patriot Act expired in 2015. The difference is that The NSA no longer stores all of the information from your phone calls and emails, texts. That is done by telecoms. That’s right. The phone companies are now keeping all of your information.

And that is why I concluded in my earlier observation on the matter that it was more likely that telecoms (telecommunications/phone companies) or the media were leaking information about The Trump Campaign rather than the government. If they are storing the information there is a pretty good chance they can access or someone else can access the information because in no way is it as secure as if were stored at The NSA.

If Trump does not know this, somebody isn’t doing their job very well, which is where Devin Nunes (R-CA) stepped in and that is probably why Adam Schiff is so upset. The Chairman of The House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, a Democrat, has conveniently neglected to apprise the current administration, which is Republican, of the true nature and capability of such matters.

For more information on this issue read the following two articles:

https://www.marketplace.org/2015/06/01/tech/patriot-acts-new-name

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/15/congress-pressures-fbi-reveal-any-trump-wiretap-info-graham/99203964/

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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Preface: They say we have the best health care system in the world. Then why do the people in so many other countries live longer than here in The United States?

The Republicans in Congress are having trouble repealing Obamacare not because there aren’t enough Republican votes. The Republicans in Congress are having trouble repealing Obamacare because half of the Republicans in Congress aren’t Republicans. They are either corporate shills, what I have termed “big business robot frontmen,” in this case fronting for health care special interests, or they are just as socialist as the socialists on the other side of the aisle.

They’ve socialized the country for a particular reason.

I know people who are practically being bankrupted by the high deductibles and costly premiums from the insurance available on the exchanges created as a result of implementation of The ACA. Middles class workers usually don’t have $10,000 sitting around to cover the cost of deductibles and some of the plans I’ve heard of have $5,000 or $6,000 deductibles for individuals and more for families. Consequently, if they need some routine medical care, often costing thousands of dollars today now that health insurers have their hands so thoroughly in the care process, having to suddenly come up with that kind of money to cover the deductible is financially painful for a middle class family or individual.

I had thought originally the plan was to “repeal and deregulate” the sale of health insurance across state lines. That was the clarion call during the election that I heard. The idea was to open up competition on a national and even international scale so the health care consumer had more insurance choices. But then the tune changed immediately following the election and I haven’t heard that brass since.

The best quote I heard on the matter was from an interview on the evening news last night (NBC, CBS, or ABC, I don’t remember, I was switching between them). The quote was from an elderly grocer who said he voted for Trump because he was having trouble getting health care for his employees under the current scheme, and by the way, that’s what the ACA is, a “scheme.” The grocer said that watching congress screw the vote up on the repeal was something akin to ‘watching professional wrestlers duke it out in the ring and then meet for drinks in the tavern after the fight.’

We get it friend. Whether it is a majority Republican Congress or a majority Democrat, Congress is a sham.

Epilogue: They say we have the best health care system in the world. Then why do the people in so many other countries live longer than here in The United States?

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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