Thursday, January 06, 2005

Pigs and Hogs

I've been walking around the estate looking at tracks in the frost and freeze softened ground. It's been interesting. Deer of all sizes, of course, but I have at least two wild hogs in the yard. When I say "in the yard" I mean 100 feet from the house. We had been yelling at the dogs to shut up most evenings just after full dark, when they would start yapping at something in the woods. The direction of agitation seems to start up the hill behind the house and slowly work its way around to the lower woods. One of the problems with trying to live in harmony with the world is that I haven't denuded the landscape and, as a result, I can't see what the heck has the dogs all stirred up because of all these trees.

When we first saw the print clearly in the mud of our driveway extension we thought it was a huge buck. My son took a picture with his cell phone camera. A hunter Bud set us straight. "Hog!" he said. No wonder the dogs bark at it but won't go more than five feet from the house while they do. These beasts have been know to rip up a 150 pound Rotweiller in these parts, and then just go on about their business. The few times I've wandered up on them they have demonstrated that, for all their deliberate slow moseying about, they are screaming fast when they think its time to leave. After I researched pig tracks I decided that we have at least two of them...a big one and a real big one. I've seen the European black boar both times I've seen pigs but I also saw a huge Duroc Sow running with them. I suspect the tracks we have now are from feral hogs just based on the immense size. One day I'll see the beast and I'll let you know.

I don't know exactly why, but all this talk about hogs has made me think about the Bush push to mess with social security. I've written here about how important this program has been to my family during certain tragic times growing up, and I am concerned with the attempt to change it. Conservatives seem to hate the concept of social security and are hell bent to screw it up if they can. The only thing I know for sure is that they will lie to us about what they intend to do. The big lie is that SS is in trouble in the first place.

Kevin Drum does as good a job explaining the stupidity of President Bush's social security proposal as anyone. Here's the short of it: Bush is lying! Doing absolutely nothing does a better job of saving SS than Bush's plan, even if the most optimistic case is used.

So here's the deal: if we (a) do absolutely nothing and (b) assume that the CBO's economic estimates are accurate and the Social Security trust fund will become insolvent in 2053, thus forcing big benefit reductions, we're still better off than under CSSS Plan 2. More reasonable scenarios — which include stronger economic growth, modest tax increases paired with modest benefit reductions, and more realistic stock returns — make CSSS Plan 2 look even worse.

And did I mention that CSSS Plan 2 also produces bigger budget deficits for the next couple of decades?

Here's the CBO's bottom line: For a middle-income earner born today, first-year benefits even under the crisis scenario of Social Security "bankruptcy" would amount to $19,900. Under the private account scenario, initial benefits would amount to $14,600.

Kevin Drum

Today's gift to the literate among you is from Susan Sontag, but be careful! You may have to think:

Indeed, sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I am not dreaming: that what many people in my own country now hold against Germany, which wreaked such horrors on the world for nearly a century --- the new "German problem," as it were --- is that Germans are repelled by war; that much of German public opinion is now virtually ... pacifist!

Would that America was a little more like Germany! Read the whole speech:

Susan Sontag



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