Sunday, February 24, 2019

Some things are just too complicated to solve

 Julie and  Marty arrived Friday after a short stay in Mexico City.  They are a delightful couple who own a place in Chicago, a place in Lakeside on Lake Michigan where they met Fred and Kat, and a place in Cabo San Lucas which they love.  Vicky and Bob, who we know from past visits are also Chicago and Lakeside people.  They arrived yesterday.  So now we are a full contingent of ten!

A wonderful story emerged last night at dinner.  The one boy in Julie's family was the third born with two sisters ahead of him and four sisters following.  When Julie's brother was in high school he announced to this father that he wanted to go into the priesthood.  His father said, "ok- but you must finish high school first."  Upon completing high school, he went again to his father and said, "I want to go into the priesthood."  His father said, okay, but you need to go to college.  His father had gone to Georgetown, so he suggested that his son apply there.  The son said, "Ok, I'll apply there, but I still want to go into the priesthood."  Julie's brother has been a priest not for over forty years.  He is a psychologist who advised men who are planning to go into the priesthood.  We all had a laugh over that story, many of us concluding that the six sisters had forced his hand.  The priesthood was a wonderful way of getting out from under the control and madness of women!

Our breakfast conversation started with talk of Chicago politics, which every time I hear about it makes me wonder how Chicago has survived over the decades.  It is so in debt with pension demands far exceeding revenues.  In order to open schools each year, the city has had to borrow from the pension funds, and politics and corruption have ensured that it will not be solvent for any foreseeable future.  Taxes in Chicago was a perfect segue, and Julie and Marty, who love Cabo, have just put their Mexican house on the market and purchased a home on Johns Island off the coast of Vero Beach, FL.  They plan to live there at least one day longer than they reside in their Chicago house and, voila, no taxes!  The big thing is inheritance taxes which are around 13% in Illinois.  Florida has no income or inheritance tax.

So, for those of us who think taxing the rich is a good idea to balance the budget and pay for all the programs we want, we might want to think about the consequences.  Since the Trump tax law went in to effect, there has been big exodus of the wealthy from states like New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.  Tax the rich... and the rich leave for greener pastures.  States may have higher taxes, but they also may have fewer residents to pay those taxes.

So what's the answer for so many states which are outspending their resources?  You can't tax the rich because they will leave;  you can't tax the poor because they don't have any money.

We discussed the social security system which they say will not be able to pay for itself by 2025.  Marty, who just turned 70, said he hadn't realized how the social security system worked until all of a sudden he got a substantial check in the mail - a sum he wasn't even aware that he was going to receive.   I asked whether anyone thought it was feasible in the future, in order to save social security, that we could change it to be an insurance policy.  Every wage earner would contribute throughout his/her lifetime, and then they would get a return based on need.  Critics of this plan might say, "But everyone earned that money.  If they paid in to it they should expect to get a return."  They have a point, but for the sake of a healthy society where there would be a safety net for those who needed it, maybe we could all buy in to that.

Failing to solve the economic woes of the states, Marty brought up something he had read about a trustee of the Gettysburg college who was forced to resign because forty years ago he had dressed as a Nazi soldier in a POW camp as part of a "Hogan's Heroes" TV show theme party at a fraternity.  Did he and his friends dress up as Nazi's because they felt akin to the Nazi philosophy?  I doubt it.  What about The Producers, a huge Broadway hit, with the cast singing, "It's Springtime for Hitler and Germany."  Should those actors resign and apologize for their inappropriateness?  Mel Brooks wrote that production in 1967 - would it be allowed today?

Our discussion moved to liberal bastions of higher learning and how two years ago there was a huge uproar and protest when a conservative group from Middlebury College invited Dr. Charles Murray to speak.  Murray had written The Bell Curve, where he implied that intelligence was partially genetic.  Knowing there would be opposition, the conservative group also invited a left-leaning professor from Middlebury to engage in a dialogue.  In his introduction to Murray’s speech, a representative from the American Enterprise Club implored his fellow students to debate Murray rather than shouting him down.   But shout him down they did as well as pound on his car and try to physically harm him.  There was similar violence at UC Berkeley when ex-Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos was barred from speaking at the University of California at Berkeley.  At an academic institution, where you are trying to teach the pursuit of the truth, we must allow all points of view to be heard.  Students have the choice to not attend meetings, but the true scholar might want to hear the other side.  Bob said maybe instead of putting our fingers in our ears, we should try to engage in a dialogue.  We have become so polarized in this country, that anyone with whom we disagree should be avoided.  Our Congress is plagued by the same malady- no dialogue there!

Maybe we should franchise this "Cuernavaca Chautauqua" and spread it all over the country.  Here we welcome different views and discuss them with humor and respect.


nanwebware said...

From sister, Carol:

Just read your latest blog. I’m not sure how to reply on the blog so am emailing u instead. I’m curious as to whether anyone made a distinction between opposing opinions and false opinions. Can there be such a thing as a false opinion? I’m thinking of climate change. Should people who deny its existence be given a platform? Presenting them with facts doesn’t seem to sway them from their almost faith-like adherence to non-scientific fact. The other day Chris Wallace, whom I admire as a first rate interviewer, had Rush Limbaugh on and Wallace sat and smiled and said nothing through a 2 or 3 minute tirade by Limbaugh about the hoax of climate change. I was appalled and so disappointed in one of the few Fox reporters I consider worth listening to. I tried to contact Wallace but because I don’t use Twitter could not. Thoughts?

nanwebware said...

Well false ideas have to be debunked in order to denuded them of power. If Wallace has challenged Rush and made him substantiate his claims it could have been interesting.

I wonder how they got everyone to believe that the world was round. What a preposterous idea that must have seemed at first.

Off to bed. ...

nanwebware said...

Carol's response:

I worry that some people deliberately make false claims to advance a specific agenda or themselves. So, climate change, which if taken seriously necessitates costly changes to some industries, is dismissed by people in those industries as a hoax. Their reasoning is deliberately not based on fact so any debate simply gives them a platform to advance their own interests, to give the impression that climate change is debatable when it is not. Many people, for many reasons, do not want to face the fact of climate change and will embrace those who call it a hoax. I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes giving fake theories or false facts a chance to be debated might be a mistake. There are other examples, evolution, Obama’s birthplace, vaccines causing autism, etc. False opinions need to be debunked but maybe debating them elevates them to a level they don’t deserve.

nanwebware said...


I simply don’t understand how to respond to people who deny facts for their own self interest and greed. And why so many of these people are Republicans.

Nancy: Yes- that is yet another interesting topic to discuss- They say over 60% of our Congressmen don't believe in evolution- and I daresay most or all of them are Republican. But if there is one thing that Fred has taught me, we had better do some research on those numbers before we bandy that around. I have no idea where I got that statistic from - perhaps it, too, is fake news, to try to bias the Democrats against the Republicans!! Does anyone want to research that? :)