Child Labor Can Save Medicare

A Child-Labor
Solution to the Medicare Funding Shortfall

Child labor is an unexamined source of
funds for Medicare and Social Security. I call on the federal
government to establish an Office of Generational Resources, OGRE,
to work for the repeal of sections of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards
Act. This act stands in the way of collecting a
rich source of new revenues to prop up the current system. I invite
the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP, to vigorously
lobby Congress to this end.

There are 60 million children between
the ages of 5 and 19, most of which are contributing nothing to
programs for people over 65, people which number 35 million. Each
elderly person costs Medicare about $6,000 per year, and Social
Security about $11,000 per year. This is only $17,000 per year, per
each. (The new drug plan adds quite a bit in expense to this total,
but it is not figured in here. We can just borrow money from
Europeans and the Chinese for a while to pay for this. Or increase
the birthrate.)

Each of these children watches TV 28
hours per week. They may as well be working. If they each earned
$7.00 per hour, they would earn $196 per week. If after federal
income tax – no person should be excused from this civic duty –
they were given an allowance of 10 percent of their earnings, enough
to keep them from revolting, there would be approximately $156 to
remit to the federal treasury. All taken together, there would be
$285 billion collected annually. This is a tidy sum. The Baby Boom
generation needs it. They are set to begin retiring in huge numbers.
There will be 77 million of them, double the current number of
elderly. And nothing has been done to plan for their Social Security
and medical care. Nothing, that is, except empty promises.

Now, finally a legitimate plan arrives.
Repeal Fair Labor Standards!

What are the alternatives to my
reasonable plan? A 2003 study by Gokhale and Smetters of the Federal
Reserve System proposes 4 alternatives to make sure the Baby Boomers
get as much as the Greatest Generation:

  1. Increase federal income taxes 69%
  2. Increase payroll taxes 95%
  3. Cut every expense of the federal
    government except Social Security and Medicare 100%
  4. Cut Social Security benefits 56%None of these are reasonable. Thank
    heavens for the children! They will save the elderly!

There are corollary benefits as well.
Youth will smoke less pot. There will be less childhood obesity. Kids
will get a work ethic. Crime will drop. Youth will learn to respect
their elders because they will be serving them.

The numbers of child laborers peaked in
the early twentieth century. Then “child labor began to decline as
the labor and reform movements grew.” Members of labor unions found
it to their advantage to get kids out of the mills because wages for
the adults improved. The same incentive exists today, that is, adults
need to protect their entitlements and to increase and protect their
standard of living. But this time, the way to do it is to get the
kids back in the mills.

Clean computers

I have produced  200 cool bubble stickers with the following message:

This Computer 100% Internet Pure

I distribute them to young men in our church who want to keep themselves from the poison of indecency so commonly available. They put them on their computer monitor. The pledge that accompanies the decal/sticker  is:

The “Zero Pornography” Pledge ( Place decal on monitor)

I do not search unclean sites.

My hard drive is free of illicit images.

I instantly purge undesirable, uninvited email offers.

This computer is clean!

Who’s Responsible for Obesity?

People are getting fatter. America is the land of the embarrassed, flabby, diabetic, heart patient. It is a problem for the person who is fat, and is becoming a problem for the government. The government takes it as a problem, not only because it is paternalistic and loves to know and fix our problems, but also because it- and here I should say, “the taxpayer”- has budgets to balance. The health costs of over 40% of Americans are paid by the government, the government’s taxpayers that is. And obesity is expensive.

So who is responsible for this “growing epidemic”? Maybe it is the purveyors.’s headline reads “Restaurants offer too much of a bad thing; Cut portion sizes, get rid of fat-laden side dishes, health officials say”. On the same day:”Are our cities making us fat? Fitness experts call for new urban design to fight America’s obesity problem”. You can picture it, a sinister city wrestling its thinnies to the ground and forcing food into their gullets, extra police stopping people who are trying their best to walk and jog, planners designing roadblocks in subdivisions.

Supermarkets sell products that cause fat deposits. Are the supermarkets like Wal-Mart and Albertson’s and Safeway responsible for obesity? Or are the manufacturers of the fat-inducing products, like Kraft, Frito Lay, Tombstone, and Oscar Mayer responsible? Could it be that the people buying and eating the products are responsible for their own fat deposits? Is it their mouth? Their eyes? Their desires? Their tastebuds? Or are they merely slaves to the advertising campaigns of the manufacturers and supermarkets?

If we are to believe stories and finger-wagging government officials, people themselves are not responsible. “Cities and restaurants are making us fat.” We are helpless. Regulations limiting portion size, and fat content, and city planning that mandates bike paths and walking trails are under discussion. Other, more creative regulations might be next. Limit the number of permits for food sources- fast-food restaurants, slow-food restaurants, vending machines, grocery stores, convenience stores- in a town. Require developers to build gymnasiums. Issue every American a ration card which acts like a debit card. It would only allow the purchase of 2,000 calories worth of food per day. Imprison the obese. Require gastric bypass surgeons to work for free.

If the FDA and the Department of Public Health and Human Services really want to get serious,  many regulatory options present themselves. But the only way to justify them is to continue to propound the doctrine that the people are not making theselves fat. Someone else is.

In Pursuit of Happiness

In Pursuit of Happiness: Better Living from Plato to Prozac

by Mark Kingwell

Read June 2006

Mark Kingwell is a teacher of philosophy. He writes in a whimsical style, but serious enough for other amateur and professional philosophers. I especially liked his anecdotes and personal experiences, particularly his account of a week at a “happy camp” called Option Week, and his account of putting himself on Prozac. He kept a journal of changes in mood, sociability, sleep effects, and other side effects. He is charmingly self-revealing. His personal approach made this book bearable and fun.

When it came to the review of the happiness literature of the sages, he got a little deep. I was glad that I had read some dumbed-down Aristotle, and am finishing The Republic by Plato. I was glad to get a little better acquainted with Freud’s writings through the book. Though deep, I liked the review of the philosophers. And Kingwell seems much less ambivalent and amoral than some of the hopeless, value-neutral writers of the recent past. I liked that.

A couple of Kingwell’s insights were difficult to understand, and difficult to find sympathy with. The difficulty was in the survey of philosophers as I mentioned already. When he castigates advertising, I find his concern over-stated. Not everyone is sated with ads. Some people don’t imbibe. You can choose to skirt the advertising culture by ignoring the media. Apparently he and the author of No Logo compared notes. I smiled condescendingly when he launches into academy-talk; sections sometimes smell of the nether-world of Harvard and Cornell.

But mostly he makes me smile. And think. I liked the book more than I imagined I would when I casually picked it up at the Bozeman Public Library and brought it home. I sampled then got drawn in.