Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Yes, Virginia, Ideas do have consequences,

but the consequences might not be what you imagined...

link 1

Emboldened by their Election Day successes, some Christian conservatives around the country are trying to put more Christ into Christmas this season.

In Terrebonne Parish, La., an organization is petitioning to add "Merry Christmas" to the red-lighted "Season's Greetings" sign on the main government building and is selling yard signs that read, "We believe in God. Merry Christmas." And a Raleigh, N.C., church recently paid $7,600 for a full-page newspaper ad urging Christians to spend their money only with merchants who include the greeting "Merry Christmas" in ads and displays.

"There is a revival taking place in our nation that is causing Christian and right-minded people to say, `Wait a minute. We've gone too far,'" says the Rev. Patrick Wooden Sr., pastor of the Raleigh church. "We're not going to allow the country to continue this downward spiral to the left."

In California, a group called the Committee to Save Merry Christmas is boycotting Macy's and its corporate parent, Federated Department Stores, accusing them of replacing "Merry Christmas" signs with ones wishing shoppers "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." The organization cites "the recent presidential election showing political correctness is offending millions of Americans."

link 2

In the aftermath of the Nov. 2 election, the press and various political partisans jumped on exit polls that seemed to suggest "moral values" was the top issue in voters' minds as they re-elected President George W. Bush (news - web sites). Some analysts have questioned that notion, but a new nationwide Gallup Poll, released Tuesday morning, could deal a death blow to the whole idea.

Asked what they consider the most important problem facing this country today the issue of values was tied for fourth place with unemployment/jobs, with only one in ten of the Gallup sample choosing it. Far ahead, with 23%, was the war in Iraq (news - web sites), followed by terrorism and the economy in general, both at 12%, only then followed by unemployment and values

link 3

While President Bush has yet to offer a specific plan, White House spokesman Scott McClellan earlier this month indicated that borrowing to fund "transition costs" associated with the creation of private accounts would be less costly than doing nothing about the projected $10 trillion shortfall faced by Social Security over an infinite time period. See earlier story.

Economist Jason Furman, who served as Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's top economic adviser, said the White House was using a "deeply misleading, classic bait-and-switch argument" over transition costs.

Furman, who participated in a telephone conference call sponsored by the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, noted that the $10 trillion is estimated over an infinite horizon. A more traditional measure is the 75-year imbalance, which totals $3.7 trillion, according to calculations by Social Security actuaries, he said.

Moreover, the $2 trillion that would be borrowed over the next 10 years wouldn't close the Social Security gap, Furman argued, but would only fund the creation of the new accounts. To close the long-term gap, taxes would need to rise or future benefits would need to be cut.

The master asks the Emperor: "How will you govern the people?"

The Emperor replies: "With wisdom and compassion!"

The master comments: "Then every last one of them will suffer!!!"

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