I committed a faux pas earlier this week. I used someone else’s email address, but with my name, to log in to WiFi at the local Starbucks. I had not tried to use WiFi at a Starbucks in a long time and didn’t know a person has to supply such information. Of course, if I had thought about it for more than a second I could have just made up the info. I did inform this person and apologize.
ALL of us are imperfect. It is my very strongly held belief that neither anyone living nor anyone who has ever lived is/was perfect. That belief is contradictory to religious iconography, granting that word has a more narrow definition than its use here, but that’s my view. Still, if a person is/was perfect, then that person isn’t real. If a person is real, then they are not perfect. Human beings and perfection are mutually exclusive concepts. Yes, I readily acknowledge my own imperfection.
A break from links to Why Evolution Is True and, instead, a couple of links to articles from CNBC. As you probably know, I don’t really trust news channels. Whether it’s Fox News or CNN or whatever, I think they’re all captives of the notion that they need to create drama and that they pander to their perceived constituencies instead of just reporting the facts without spin. Of course, given a limited broadcast window, they have to make editorial decisions about what stories to report. However, with more and more people receiving their news from the Internet, I think that lends itself to more broad reporting of the facts.
Anyway, I receive much of my news from CNBC. Of course, their content is focused on financial and economic news, but, for example, they’ve had a live blog about Ukraine since the Russian dictator began committing war crimes. (The invasion of Ukraine is a war crime.)
This CNBC piece is, basically, an opinion about how 2020 changed the economy in ways we don’t yet understand. The article begins with Yum CEO David Gibbs’ comments from the company’s two most recent earnings calls.
“This is truly one of the most complex environments we’ve ever seen in our industry to operate in. Because we’re not just dealing with economic issues like inflation and lapping stimulus and things like that. But also the social issues of people returning to mobility after lockdown, working from home and just the change in consumer patterns…economists who call this a ‘K-shaped recovery,’ where high-income consumers are doing fine while lower-income householders struggle, are oversimplifying the situation. I don’t know in my career we’ve seen a more complex environment to analyze consumer behavior than what we’re dealing with right now.”
This piece reports the results of a poll about what people would be willing to do to “fix” Social Security. If current estimates are correct, then in just 13 years the program will be underfunded to the point where benefits will have to be reduced by 20-25 percent.
The most popular fix, and one that received overwhelming bipartisan support (I didn’t think such a thing was possible), was raising the Social Security payroll tax cap. In 2022, Social Security taxes are paid on the first $147,000 in income and then no more. When I worked for the San Diego Padres, I benefited from the cap, which was lower in nominal terms then as it is adjusted for inflation. I stopped having FICA taxes removed from my pay in August.
Increasing the level of income at which Social Security payroll taxes are reapplied to income of more than $400,000 would eliminate 61% of the shortfall, researchers estimate. I think, just like Medicare, Social Security taxes should be paid on every dollar of earned income. That would eliminate more than 61% although I might also propose a slight reduction in the rate, say from 6.2% to 6.0% or 5.75%.
I’m going to get wonky here. Your Social Security benefit is based on something called AIME, Average Indexed Monthly Earnings. That figure is calculated for everyone and then the amount of your benefit–at full retirement age for you–is based on a percentage of each of three levels. The first level is credited at 90%, the second level at 32% and the last, or highest, level at 15%. I don’t exactly remember the cutoff points for each level. (Some people’s AIME doesn’t reach the second and/or third level.) I don’t know how much of the shortfall would be eliminated by my proposal, but those percentages could become 90%, 30% and 10%. I do not believe, however, that wealthy people should lose all Social Security benefits.
The estimates about the reduction of Social Security retirement benefits are one reason I will not wait until full retirement age, and certainly not until 70, to begin collecting. Of course, if everyone thinks that way, the shortfall will likely increase.
The Social Security Administration was formed in 1935. The average life expectancy in the US was about 61 years. That number is about 79 years at present. Even though major changes to Social Security were made in 1983, simple demographics have made the program unsustainable with current parameters. Our inept, squabbling for the sake of it Congress will really have to work on this issue and soon.
This Hemmings article from yesterday is about the problem with plastics, especially as it pertains to modern collectible cars, although that phrase might be an oxymoron. The title of the piece is an homage to a famous line from the movie The Graduate.
One commenter offered the opinion that newer cars will be doomed by the failure of their electronics. In that vein,
No, I still don’t have my Z06 although technically the current delay is not about electronics, but about the unavailability of an exhaust part. Still, this saga all started with a massive failure of the car’s electronics.
I fully understand, more so than ever, the strong preference by many in the car hobby for older, simpler cars. I still wouldn’t want to drive a car with a carburetor (vapor lock would be almost a given in an Arizona summer) or drum brakes, though.
Half-jokingly, I am tempted to start a pool asking readers to submit a date on which I will have my car back. The prize could be a guest post. What do you think?
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