I have bad news for letter writer Rod Preheim (“SS and budget cuts,” March 3) regarding the health of Social Security and its contribution to our national debt.
Either Social Security is currently OK or it isn’t, regardless of the players Mr. Preheim would identify as villains.
Unfortunately it isn’t OK. The most recent Social Security trustees report (Aug. 9) makes it crystal clear that the program faces massive permanent annual deficits starting in just five years. Its 75-year unfunded liability (promised benefits in excess of expected income) is $7.9 trillion.
Last year, for the first time in history, the Social Security trust fund paid out more in benefits than it received in tax revenue — $42 billion more! The trust fund, of course, has no money in it, just a stack of IOUs from the federal government.
Beginning with President Johnson in the 1960s, and continuing with every administration since, all Social Security income that exceeded benefits was spent by the government and replaced with IOUs.
So when Social Security needs to cash in some of those IOUs ($42 billion last year), where does the federal government get the money to give it? Since our government is broke, it borrows the money, thus increasing our national debt.
Frequently on the weekends, my husband and I ride our bikes from The Arbors neighborhood into town. We typically take Sacramento Drive, which has been opened up to Orcutt.
There also have been some upgrades and changes. For one, the bike lane is almost as wide as the car lane, I’m not complaining, but I’m not sure why that was done.
Secondly, signs have been placed everywhere. On the southwest corner of Sacramento and Capitolio streets there are two big signs preceding the most important sign, the STOP sign. It is almost impossible to see until you are right upon it. It creates a dangerous situation at that busy corner.
And speaking of signs, just a heads up to those who have never heard of a “Senior Zone.” I know I had never heard of one until recently. Again, I would imagine there must be signs posted regarding reducing speeds in these zones. More signs to read.
With all these signs to read, it’s a wonder how a person is expected to drive a vehicle.
San Luis Obispo
Be on the grand jury
Applications to be on the San Luis Obispo County grand jury for the July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, term are closing soon.
If you are interested in how our community governments and agencies actually work and in helping to ensure that they are doing what they are supposed to do, being on the grand jury is a great opportunity.
It requires your time and your intellect. What you get back is tenfold what you give. It is community service. It is also an opportunity to learn and to meet new people.
We live in a great place. That greatness comes not only from the physical beauty of the area but from the interest and involvement of all of us in keeping it great.
Apply to be on the grand jury on line at www.slocourts.net/grand_jury; by phone at 788-7062 or in person at the Office of the Jury Commissioner, Room 224, Courthouse Annex, San Luis Obispo.
Maryellen Russell Simkins
Grand jury member, 2006-2007; grand jury foreman, 2007-2008
A time to shine
The Walmart EIR has been filed with the city and posted on its website. This is good news for the 70 percent who voted against restricting big box stores in Atascadero.
With this new development at Del Rio and El Camino Real, the Walmart and Annex projects will give Atascadero residents shopping opportunities to buy at home. The sales tax revenue will keep our city alive to provide fire and police protection plus repairs to the roads and necessary services.
I urge residents to give a thumbs up on the Walmart/Annex project. Contact our City Council members to continue this development.
With the economic hard times upon all of us, Atascadero has the opportunity to shine with the opening of our 10-screen Galaxy Theater, passage of the $117 million dollar school bond measure and now the development of Walmart/Annex projects. Citizens, you have every reason to be proud of your support and encouragement of these projects.
Maybe it’s the water. Whatever it is, we have a group of loudmouth Republicans who say they’re going to run for president, yet their only real goal is to sell books and get rich(er).
The latest is Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee (insert joke here). You know, another “maybe” presidential candidate threatening everyone (buy my book) that he’s going to run for president (buy my book) and then outlaw abortion (buy my book), overturn Obamacare (buy my book), balance the budget (buy my book), lower taxes, (buy my book) and then lower taxes some more (whatever it takes for you to buy my book).
If I were a half-baked preacher from Arkansas, I wouldn’t be picking on Natalie Portman, a very talented, attractive, well-mannered young lady who is appreciated by millions of Americans and would never throw stones at a God-fearing believer in the teachings of Jesus Christ. So why is he opening his big mouth about her pregnancy? Oh, I forgot (buy my book). By the way, Mike, I believe you need to talk to your fellow “maybe” presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, about her lovely young dancing daughter who was in similar circumstances (buy her book).
Public service prizes
I’d like to propose two prizes for public service.
One, a Nobel Peace Prize goes to former Vice President Al Gore for avoiding nation-crushing confrontation in the mis-election of 2000. If he had contested the results, our union would be in worse shape.
Ivory Coast demonstrates the negative Power of One. President Gbagbo egotistically refuses to accept the electoral results and cynically uses his membership in the Bété community to drive a deep and permanent wedge between ethnicities.
We should all remember that, whatever our creed, we are Americans and that we have to live together.
The second prize, maybe a Medal of Freedom, should go to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin for highlighting the mean-spiritedness of the Republican party and for throwing millions of public servants into the Democratic column — in time for the 2012 re-election of President Obama.
Gov. Walker’s misdeeds are good for our planet, too, as the Republican Party is anti-climate science. If the Republicans have their way, we will perish as weather systems intensify and we continue to drive our SUVs with the windows rolled up.
San Luis Obispo
Resistance to change
In 200 words or less, we have an enormous amount of wasted potential in this country, and in my opinion, it is because we humans resist change with a fanatic’s zeal. Every person, with a few exceptions, has unlimited potential. Our teaching institutions have been structured essentially unchanged for hundreds of years.
We are like a gardener placing all of the plants in the sun and expecting them to thrive. Gardeners must determine each plant’s needs, then feed and water accordingly. Results: a thriving garden.
We need unlimited opportunities to learn, whatever it is we have the desire and talents to pursue. Basic state education should stop at, say, fifth- or sixth-grade, at which point we pursue our path with all the mentors or instructors made available through a reorganized learning structure to include all forms of vocations and professions. I have oversimplified a huge concept but, imagine how great this country would be if we were each nourished to our full potential.
Mike Huckabee recently claimed that Obama’s upbringing in Kenya fueled his resentment of the West. Besides the fact that he has concocted a make-believe childhood in Kenya for the president, Huckabee forgets that Obama has done much to mend our relationship with the West since the embarrassment, George W. Bush, left office.
Is there any remaining motivation for Republicans to operate within reality? Clearly, creating and perpetuating alternate realities has done wonders in inciting their base—but for some reason I didn’t expect this level of shameless pandering from Mike Huckabee.
Then again, I guess it is possible that he actually believes what he said. If he can believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old, then his belief that Obama’s Kenyan upbringing led to anti-British sentiments is hardly shocking.