Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oh Those Politicians

A week ago most of us had no idea who Todd Akin was. Now we all know who Todd Akin is. Maybe there is something good that we can take from his recent comments on rape and abortion. Since he claims to be an evangelical Christian (cringe) who attends a PCA church one thing we can learn is that just because you identify yourself as a Christian does not preclude your saying dumb things. He also claims he will not remove himself from the race for the Senate in Missouri because God told him to run. So, the second thing we can learn is that just because a Christian thinks God told him to do something does not mean God really did. All it means is that someone thinks God told him to do that. Maybe God told him not to run and he misheard what God was saying just like what we heard was not what he really meant when he spoke about rape and abortion, according to what Mr Akin said afterward.

Then there is what he said. There is no doubt about that. It has been replayed and recorded many times ever since. The words he chose that have some people upset (not everyone - he still has a number of supporters including Kirk Cameron who said he was a really good guy!). He used the word "legitimate" before the word rape making a distinction between rape that is legitimate and rape that is not. Most of us believe that is not just splitting hairs. Rape is rape and it is bad. If our sister or wife or mother was raped we would be angry if some politician wanted to know if it was legitimate" or "forcible". Wouldn't we? I know I would.

Then Mr. Akin made the curious reproductive observation that a woman's body knows when it has been raped and stops ovulating so in cases of "legitimate" (obviously, the female reproductive system is also wired to know the difference between "legitimate and illegitimate" rape) rape, there can be no pregnancy that results anyway. What a relief, Dr Akin!  Not only is this a bizarre notion to think about but Mr Akin actually said it out loud! Like he actually believed it! If this man is running for the Senate of the USA, it is truly a scary moment for all of us but especially American women. Most of the Republican establishment has called for him to step down but so far he has refused. God hasn't told him to. Let's hope Mr Akin is listening.

The other very interesting thing about the news from the Presidential campaign is Mr Romney's finances. I am getting older and so more of my conversations these days are with older people. People my age and older. I was talking with my mom this week about this issue of Mr Romney's finances. She brought it up. Specifically, she brought up the number 13. That is the tax rate on his income Mr Romney paid over the past decade, he said. In 2010, his income was somewhere around 20 million give or take a few hundred thousand. Not to begrudge the man his hard earned wealth but to note clearly that his tax rate is lower than most of ours. My mom noted this fact. She also understood that since his income derives mostly from dividends, interest and capital gains, it is taxed at a lower rate. It's just that most of us don't have that option. If Mr Ryan's budget proposals become the new tax law, Mr Romney's tax rate would be even lower something like .82 %, according to those who do the math. Mr Ryan would do away with all taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest. People my age and older are troubled by these things. The other thing that my Mom brought up was Medicare which is very helpful to her. She does not want to see the program messed with. Mr Romney and Mr Ryan talk like they want to mess with it. Now, they say their proposals won't affect anyone currently on it. My mom has lived long enough to know how those politicians talk, and then go right out and do something else. Doesn't matter which party they are with. The Republicans have some good plans for the country. But, as I talk with people my age and older these are a couple of things older people are talking about.

Last night we had a chance to hear the Republican candidate for VP, Mr Ryan, explain how the Romney-Ryan administration will save Medicare for his (Ryans) mom and her generation, and Ryan's generation and our generations and our kids generations. For everyone it sounds like. How are they going to do that? Their platform spells it out: they are going to take Medicare and Medicaid from an unsustainable  defined benefit entitlement and move it to a fiscally sound defined contribution model. Like the 401(K) plans that were supposed to allow us to retire without worries. In the meantime, we had a financial meltdown and housing value meltdown, and higher unemployment so retirement experts now tell us that most Americans have saved far less than they will need for retirement. One million bucks is what we are now told we will need to retire so we can live off 40K a year. And now they want to make our retirement health care plan another 401 (K) type plan. Since the 401 (K) idea has not worked so well, do we really want individuals to have to fund their Medicare plans, as well?