Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Oh Dear, the Sky Is Falling!
My dear friend, Mrs. Little, is somewhat paranoid and has warranted some negative attention over the years for her premature shouts of, "The sky is falling." However, I feel the need to apologize to Chickie, as her friends call her, for assuming that her warnings were always without substance.
Every time that I read the daily newspaper or watch the evening news, I get a sinking feeling that I need to go out and purchase a hard hat. Wars on two fronts, oil filling up the Gulf, and economic disaster lurking around the corner has become the norm. Congress thoughtfully provided a tax break for the über wealthy by allowing the estate tax to lapse for the year 2010; former President G. W. Bush signed the bill allowing the lapse into law into 2001. The Democrats failed to get their ducks in a row and repeal it by the end of 2009 and it took effect January 1, 2010. According to the New York Times, billionaire Dan L. Duncan (net worth according to Forbes is $9 billion), who died in March, gets to pass on his estate tax free to his heirs. I'm not cold hearted and I certainly have sympathy for the Duncan family, but given the financial crisis that this country is in, it just seems--I don't know--stupid to let the estate tax lapse for a year.
Yesterday's news declared that the ranks of the unemployed were going to rise as the temporary census jobs are now ending, adding millions to those needing the assistance of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Of course, the Senate doesn't believe that UI needs to be extended. It seems that a lot of unemployed people are really enjoying themselves and refusing to work because they are receiving those huge weekly checks. I've got to wonder what some of these people have been smoking. I've been on unemployment and it pays a fraction of the salary that you earned while working. It's better than nothing, but not much better.
Then there's the NRA and its expanded agenda. It seems that now that the United States Supreme Court has twice ruled (DC and Chicago cases) that the 2nd amendment guarantees an individual the right to have a gun, the NRA has had the time and resources to expand its reach into other issues that don't appear to have anything to do with the 2nd amendment. Funny how the NRA tends to only partially quote the 2nd amendment; the full text reads: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." There is another version with identical language but with a comma inserted after the word militia.
The NRA worked with Senator Harry Reid (say it ain't so Harry!) to insert a provision in the Health Care Bill that prohibits insurance companies from charging higher premiums to people with guns in their homes. Of course, the insurance may charge higher premiums to people who smoke and people who are fat. Too bad there isn't an amendment saying that we have the right to smoke and be fat. The NRA was also the force behind adding a rider on a bill to restrict anti-consumer practices by credit card lenders that permits people to carry loaded guns in national parks. In another demonstration of its considerable power, the NRA also managed to get istelf exempt from the Disclose Act (sic; that's what they call it). The Act requires contributors to political candidates and campaigns to disclose their identity, but carves out an exemption that precisely fits some donors, including the NRA.
I'm beginning to think that Chickie has been right all along and that the sky is really falling. Maybe instead of a hard hat, I need to start on an underground shelter. Polls indicate that the Republicans, aka, the party of no, may win big in November. It may be time to start laying in provisions for a long siege on civil liberties and social justice. Think that I'll get a bulletproof vest as well.