grossly underestimating social security’s benefits to society, soft morning light and tree wallpaper

Study Links Social Security Improvements to Longer Life Span

New findings from researchers at New York Medical College suggest that when Social Security benefits are improved, people over the age of 65 benefit most, and may even live longer.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, Americans over the age of 65 experienced steep declines in the rate of mortality in the periods that followed the founding of and subsequent improvements to Social Security. The authors urge that as Congress and the President discuss changes to Social Security they consider the benefit of reduced mortality and improved health among older Americans.

[   ]…Many policy-makers are proposing cuts to Social Security benefits as a way of addressing long-term federal budget deficits. “If policy-makers are going to have a well-informed discussion on Social Security, it is critical that they fully appreciate the program’s role in improving the health and well-being of our nation’s elderly,” says Arno. “By not considering the benefits of reduced mortality and poverty reduction, policy-makers are grossly underestimating Social Security’s benefits to society.”

The evidence for the moral and economic benefits of Social Security are overwhelming. Yet it is attacked in from every angle. Increase the retirement age, lower benefits or privatize it ( another way of saying let the people who caused the Great Recession handle it). What is the deep complicated public policy wonkery behind these threats to such a successful program. Forget the poli-sci class. Social Security has the word Social in its name, the program pools money from workers and is administrated by people whose sole concern  is the common good of the people.

morning meadow

soft morning light and tree wallpaper

Can “Glee” be saved? – The hit show’s second season has been a chaotic, illogical, embarrassing mess. It’s time for an intervention. I disagree with some of the particulars, but something is off about the show. The one episode that had a cohesive narrative was “Grilled Cheesus”. As good as that episode was, An episode of Community – “The Psychology of Letting Go” where Pierce cannot face up to the passing of his mother was sharper. Reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz asks if the show can live up to its surrealist undertones a-la “The Singing Detective” and “Twin Peaks”. Go back and watch the first five episodes of the first season and you can see the scripts and performances doing a slightly perkier version of that dark humor. A peak into the shadows of suburban teens and adults.  Sue Sylvester was definitely darker. Now she has too much air time and plays the ridiculous drama queen rather than the evil foil we loved to hate. Now there is mostly Sue and the kids and an overflow of devious plots and rather than a relationship triangle there is a relationship pentagon. Why do I still watch it. I don’t really. I record it and fast forward through most it, pick up the major plot points and watch the usually one good music number per episode.

AMC canceled “Rubicon”, but the return of Justified’s second season has been some solace. After only two episodes it is clearly darker than last season. There is a gothic quality which goes so deep, parts of it have the motif of a horror movie.

AP IMPACT: At CIA, grave mistakes, then promotions

In the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, officers who committed serious mistakes that left people wrongly imprisoned or even dead have received only minor admonishments or no punishment at all, an Associated Press investigation has revealed. The botched el-Masri case is but one example of a CIA accountability process that even some within the agency say is unpredictable and inconsistent.

Though Obama has sought to put the CIA’s interrogation program behind him, the result of a decade of haphazard accountability is that many officers who made significant missteps are now the senior managers fighting the president’s spy wars.

The AP investigation of the CIA’s actions revealed a disciplinary system that takes years to make decisions, hands down reprimands inconsistently and is viewed inside the agency as prone to favoritism and manipulation. When people are disciplined, the punishment seems to roll downhill, sparing senior managers even when they were directly involved in operations that go awry.

Two officers involved in the death of a prisoner in Afghanistan, for instance, received no discipline and have advanced into Middle East leadership positions. Other officers were punished after participating in a mock execution in Poland and playing a role in the death of a prisoner in Iraq. Those officers retired, then rejoined the intelligence community as contractors.

One of the reasons that nothing is done is because of the influence and cliquishness of the clandestine part of the CIA. Law makers can and have disciplined people in the past, but that creates an atmosphere of defensiveness in which senior CIA officials and the agents close ranks to protect their own even in the case of rendering and torturing people picked up by mistake or when someone is killed in custody. Often times these suspects have not been proved to have done anything wrong or they are low level combatants who have just done what they are told – and have no more intelligence value than the average private first class soldier.