Tag Archives: fail

The Williamsville Tolls Are Nobody’s Golden Goose

2 Aug

They’ve been talking about and doing the inevitable, repetitive “studies” to determine how, when, and where they might move the Williamsville toll plaza a bit further East and possibly upgrade the facility to work better. We are still using 1920s technology in 2013 – we actually hire human beings to take toll tickets from a dispenser and hand them  to non-transponder motorists. Is there some compelling reason why we need to pay someone 50 large to act as a middleman between the ticket dispenser and you? Except for job #1 being “don’t kill the job”, no. 

Frankly, the upgrades the Thruway Authority is planning, suck. “Could possibly include 35-mph E-ZPass toll lanes to to cut down on traffic jams” is the Thruway Authority taking a pointed stick and jamming it in your eye. 35 MPH? 

There are massive flaws with the existing Williamsville tolls. Firstly, for some reason upstate toll plazas do not adhere to the downstate toll plaza rule that commercial trucks stay to the right and leave the E-ZPass lanes towards the left for car traffic. Secondly, we have absolutely zero number of high-speed E-ZPass plazas here, and it doesn’t sound like we’re going to get any.  35 MPH is not high-speed; it is well below regular highway speeds.  Your E-ZPass and license plate are perfectly capable of being read at regular highway speeds. In Florida, they make non-transponder traffic pull to a plaza on the side of the road while transponder traffic just keeps moving at 65 MPH. The 407 in Toronto has no toll plazas at all – it takes a picture of your plate and sends you a bill.

Florida

 

Toronto’s 407 uses the Ferrovial “Free Flow” toll collection system

Thirdly, if the plaza was re-made to accommodate high-speed transponder traffic, you eliminate a lot of noise and pollution from idling vehicles, and you can move the plaza further east to not only enlarge the toll-free commuter area for Buffalo, but also to alleviate Main Street traffic and put the plaza somewhere in the middle of nowhere farmland to minimize NIMBYism.

The Clarence town board debated the issue this week, and Supervisor David Hartzell voted against a resolution in favor of moving the plaza East. He explained that the toll plaza is

the town’s “golden goose,” because of the traffic it drives there. Take away the barrier, he said, and “Transit Road would just dry up.” 

That’s nonsense. Pembroke is within the toll area, and Route 77 isn’t some five-lane juggernaut of strip plazas and Wal*Marts. Transit Road isn’t what it is today because of the location of a toll barrier in Williamsville. On the contrary, Main Street in Williamsville is the mess it is today because of the toll barrier – people use Main Street to avoid the barrier, which backs up much more often and worse than exit 49 at Transit. Bernie Kolber has it right, but only partly.

The present location of the Williamsville toll barrier hinders economic activity, wastes travelers’ time, wastes fuel, adds to traffic congestion on adjacent roads, decreases efficiency of travel, contributes to air pollution and in general detracts from the quality of life of suburban residents,” he said, arguing that improving the current barrier won’t solve those problems. 

You need to do both. If the Thruway insists on maintaining tolls on a road that was supposed to be toll-free when it was paid off in 1997, then it needs to do so in a way that is most beneficial to motorists. Furthermore, it should move the toll barrier back from Williamsville to somewhere between exits 48A and 49. There is plenty of emptiness in that stretch to minimize difficulty for nearby residents. Hell, you could put it near the quarry between Gunnville and Harris Hill Roads – if Buffalo Crushed Stone doesn’t bother you, neither will a state-of-the-art high-speed (not 35 MPH, but 65 MPH) toll plaza. 

Then trucks and other traffic coming from points east will more readily use the Thruway to access the 290 and 33, and alleviate the through traffic now congesting Main Street in Williamsville, which is planning traffic calming and other measures to render that ugly five-lane mess something more pedestrian-friendly. 

Or maybe we can just pretend it’s still 1965, and hire state workers to make us stop so they can hold our E-ZPasses up to the windshield for us before we pass through. 

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Romney vs. the 47%

18 Sep

1. David Frum is the Tweeter to watch this campaign season. 

2. Mitt Romney began running against the press last week; he’s running against half of America today.

It was supposed to be a campaign reboot. But instead, Mitt Romney had a bad day. What a day Mitt had. Sad. Mitt. Bad. Had. 

The day started with a Politico article detailing what can best – and most charitably – be described as complete and utter disarray within his campaign apparatus.

For a guy running on his management bona fides, he’s running the worst national campaign I can remember. Heavy on ideology – light on details, the Romney campaign is now suffering through the type of postmortem interviews that usually happen after they lose on election day. (It was then that all the stories about just how awful Sarah Palin was came out).  David Frum Tweeted: 

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It got worse. 

Late yesterday, former Bush aide and current sane conservative David Frum Tweeted that, “If you’re not running for president of all the country, you won’t be elected president of any of it.”

He was writing in response to a blockbuster series of videos that were clandestinely recorded during a big-money fundraiser that was held in Boca Raton on May 17th, where Romney spoke. What it revealed was the real Mitt Romney – the guy who is in his element and doesn’t feel constrained by politeness, inclusiveness, or basic political correctness – some pretty key qualities needed in a viable candidate in a general election for President of the United States. 

In a surprising nod to the theories of horrible person Ayn Rand, Romney broke down the American electorate into producers and moochers;  that 47% of Americans don’t pay any taxes, don’t work, take no personal responsibility and enjoy being dependent on government for all needs. Why, they even feel entitled to receive health care! Can you believe it?! Romney concluded that he was never going to convince these people to vote for him, so he wasn’t running to convince them. He even added – astoundingly – that they pay no income tax and had no sense of personal responsibility. Instead, he explained, he was running for the 5 – 10% of the electorate that are “thoughtful” “independents” who voted for Obama but are disappointed in him – pretty much the theme of Romney’s convention speech. 

Romney painted himself into a corner by affixing a percentage to that number. He has no wiggle room – he can’t say, “oh, I was talking about a small population that just lives off of public assistance” – he indicted almost fully half of the American population for being do-nothing takers and moochers. That’s astonishing

On the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, you’re not just the 99%, you may also be the 47%. 

Coincidentally, 47% is how many people in Michigan plan on voting for Obama versus 37% for “native son” Romney. 

The Atlantic broke down and identified the 47%:

In 2011, 47% of Americans paid no federal income taxes. Within that group, two-thirds still pay payroll taxes. The rest are almost all either (a) old and retired folks collecting Social Security or (b) households earning less than $20,000. Overall, four out of five households not owing federal income tax earn less than $30,000, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Here’s another, slightly wonkier, way to think about the 47%. Divide the group into two halves. The first half is made tax-free by credits and exemptions, the vast majority of which go to senior citizens and children of the working poor. The half that you’re left with is so poor, they wouldn’t owe federal income taxes even if there were zero tax expenditures.

There are some not-so-poor outliers, like the 7,000 millionaires who paid no federal income taxes in 2011. But for the most part, when you hear “The 47%” you should think “old retired folks and poor working families.” …

…Mitt Romney’s off-the-record comments were inelegant. But they were also part of a long trend of Republicans attacking the 47% as lazy, or playing by a different set of rules, or not fully contributing to the country. Michele Bachmann went after the non-payers. So did Rick Santorum. And Sen. John Cornyn.

The 47% aren’t lucky ducks cheating the system. They’re mostly poor working families getting pilloried by the political party that wrote the rules they’re following. If the 47% are the monster here, then Republicans helped play the role of Dr. Frankenstein. “Non-payers” have grown in the last 30 years because of marginal tax rate cuts and credits like the EITC passed under Republican presidents and continued by both parties in Congress.

It would be one thing to ask poor working families to pay higher taxes if Republicans were trying to raise money to improve government services. Quite the opposite, Romney’s tax plan would, if passed, either reduce revenue or come out neutral by raising taxes on upper-middle class families. Meanwhile, his budget would gruesomely gut Medicaid and income-support programs below their projected 2020 levels.

The working poor families and elderly people who make up the 47% also tend to live in the deep South, in predominately red states: 

But now, remember that Mr. Romney has repeatedly refused to release more than (a) a partial, incomplete 2010 income tax return; and (b) an estimate for 2011 income taxes. He will not release any more taxes.  Here’s a guy who wanted pretty desperately to change the subject on his own taxes – and thanks to a press that’s sensitive about being called “liberal”, he was largely successful. Yet here he opened the door for everyone to re-examine his own tax situation.

When you factor in the payroll taxes that the working poor automatically pay every pay period, the actual figure for Americans who pay “no income tax” is reduced to about 18%

…according to the Tax Policy Center, more than 60% of those non-income tax paying households did pay federal payroll taxes—meaning Social Security and Medicare taxes.  (Considering all Americans households, including those that owed income tax, 62% paid more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes.)

What of the 18.1% of U.S. households that paid neither income nor payroll taxes?  More than half of them were headed by a senior–in other words, by someone who paid payroll taxes and likely some income taxes too, in the past.  (No, the amount the elderly have paid in does not cover the cost of the Medicare  benefits they are now getting. And that is true despite the fact that in a Romney TV adattacking Obamacare’s cuts to the growth in Medicare spending, an announcer seems to suggest otherwise, intoning:  “You paid into Medicare for years, every paycheck…. So now the money you paid for your guaranteed healthcare Is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.”)

Of course, it goes without saying, that those  folks who aren’t paying federal taxes are almost all paying state and local taxes—state sales taxes, real estate taxes (either on their homes or built into their rents) and possibly state income taxes too, since those taxes tend to exempt fewer poor families than does the federal income tax.  If they buy gasoline, liquor or tobacco, or have telephones, they’re also feeding the federal purse.

The tax deadbeat thinks half of Americans are tax deadbeats who aren’t worth fighting for. We’ve become a country where the millionaires and billionaires express envy for the extremely poor. This is evidence of madness. 

Here are the videos. 

Media LULZ

28 Jun

Nothing Comes Between Chris and his Calvins

13 May

On Saturday, the Buffalo News’ lighthearted “Off Main Street” column included an effort by multi-millionaire crony capitalist Congressional candidate Chris Collins to re-brand himself as “everyman”. 

Chris Collins, the former Erie County executive now running for Congress, decided he needed a couple of pairs of jeans to wear on the campaign trail in the district’s rural parts.

The wealthy businessman can afford to buy designer jeans at any high-end clothing store.

So where did he get them? BJ’s Wholesale Club.

“For me, BJ’s is the place to go,” Collins told us. He said he’s been buying his casual clothes there for years.

Collins owned only one pair of jeans, so he picked up two pairs of Calvin Klein jeans for $24.99 each.

We heard about this from Linda Soltis, who knows Collins and his wife, Mary, and thought the world should know about Collins’ frugal habits.

What this reveals is actually quite amusing. 

Firstly, it reveals that Chris Collins didn’t own a pair of jeans. He “decided he needed a couple of pairs” to wear while campaigning in the rural counties of NY-27. 

So, secondly, it reveals that Chris Collins thinks he needs to wear a costume in order to better mix and mingle with rural voters. 

Thirdly, even when buying his costume jeans to ingratiate himself with farmers, Collins doesn’t buy Lees or Wranglers or Levis. He buys Calvin Kleins

This man is the very embodiment of self-parody. 

The Senecas’ Buffalo Creek Casino Re-Design

27 Mar

Have you seen it?

Aim Low.

 

Aspirational

I hope to move my way up from “surface parking” to “valet parking”, and someday aim to join the “chairman parking” elite.

It’s good to aspire to excellence. The whole plan – is it serious? Is it a massive “f you” to the earnest people with dubious means of support who fought to halt it and its predecessor plan a few years ago?

It’s magnificent, if you agree with Xzibit

Let me know what Harrah’s is trading at today, as that may have some bearing on how aggressively this plan will be fought. 

The 500 Block of Fail (UPDATED)

1 Mar

Buffalo loses convention that would have had a $1.06 million economic impact

Why? 

“Your Convention Center did not meet the expectations of the site selection committee and did not measure up to the level of convention centers visited in the other cities,” she wrote. “There was also concern from the site selection committee regarding the abundance of vacant storefronts surrounding the Convention Center and the host hotel.

“Our attendees place a high value on the ability to access bars, restaurants, shopping and other entertainment options within walking distance.”

Translation:  your convention center is a small, ugly bunker and your downtown has more surface parking than it has things to do. We’re going to piss off. 

Now, let’s all go back to patting ourselves on the back over last year’s preservation convention, implicitly celebrating a poverty of money and people so acute, we can’t afford to build new buildings.  Why were those people so charmed by our downtown, while the National Association of Sports Commissions finds our downtown to be specifically abhorrent? 

UPDATE: Given that the tone of the foregoing is quite negative and angry, I will reprint for you something I wrote last year, and briefly touched upon here.  

Yesterday, I posted about the Partnership for Public Space’s Tuesday presentation, which I found to be largely based on supposition, incomplete, and improperly presented to the assembled audience. I can’t believe the ECHDC spent money on that, and all to shut a couple of loudmouths up.

A camel is a horse designed by committee, so while it’s nice that we crowdsource the 9,000th iteration of what the waterfront should be, we need a real solution to downtown’s problems. The central business district is a wasteland. We’re now talking about creating a new little shopping district at the foot of Main Street out of whole cloth. But even if we build it, how do you ensure that they come, and that it’s sustainable? Just being there for when hockey or lacrosse games get out isn’t enough. Just being there in nice weather isn’t enough. It has to be something people want to come to, and people want to return to.

In an economically depressed and shrinking town where entrepreneurship is sorely needed – especially among disadvantaged populations – we can turn downtown Buffalo into something attractive not by centrally planning a waterfront, or doing a 2011 version of what really amounts to 50s era urban renewal. Two votes and a stroke of a pen is all that’s needed.

BuffaloCBD

The area outlined in red ought to be designated a special economic zone. And yes, I use that term specifically to liken it to what China has done to help build and modernize its industry.

Frankly, I wouldn’t be opposed to all of Erie and Niagara Counties being designated special economic zones, but for the purposes of this argument, I’m just focusing on what should be Buffalo’s downtown commercial core.

There are myriad problems with downtown and planning that need to be addressed – above all, modernization and coordination of parking that is relegated to ramps and underground lots. Every parcel within that red zone that isn’t built on should be shovel-ready land. The zoning code should require parking for new development to be adequate and hidden. This means extra cost, but the benefits of locating to the special economic zone means lower taxes and streamlined regulatory processes.

Within the zone, the county and state would waive their respective sales taxes. That means businesses outside the zone would still have to charge 8.75% on purchases, while businesses within the zone would be tax-free. It’d be like all of downtown being a duty-free shop.

No, it’s not fair to merchants outside the zone. But life isn’t fair. Furthermore, most of the merchants in Buffalo and outside the zone serve the surrounding residents and will still be patronized out of sheer convenience. Furthermore, the influx of people and businesses attracted by the SEZ will ultimately help those businesses thrive, as well.

Development would still be subject to Buffalo’s zoning and planning bureaucracies, but the rules would be simplified and permits & approval would be harmonized and streamlined. Property taxes would be reduced or eliminated, depending on the parcel. However, properties would be assessed not based on what they are (e.g., empty lots), but on what their value ought rightly be if developed.

By turning the central business district into a tax-free special economic zone, you give people 8.75 reasons to do business and conduct commerce in downtown Buffalo over anywhere else. Creation of a waterfront district while ignoring the decline and blight of the rest of downtown seems to me to be counterintuitive.

By executing a plan such as this, zoning the waterfront districts, and having the ECHDC or state spend public money solely on the improvement and installation of necessary infrastructure, transfer of title for all parcels to one single entity to speed development, institution of a design and zoning plan that cannot be deviated from, and – most importantly – remediating the environmental nightmares under the soil throughout ECHDC’s mandated districts, we can then auction the parcels off to qualified buyers.

That is how downtowns revive organically – through private initiative and private money. Government can do its job and merely provide the private sector with the proper environment to do business and build. It doesn’t get faster, quicker, or cheaper than that.

Valenti’s: Might Want to Frame Those Gift Cards

26 Jan

An empty restaurant (click to enlarge)

It’s been about six weeks since the Buffalo News’ sole restaurant critic gave this Italian upstart a 2.5 star review, extolling the virtues of their red sauce and their Iron Chef and parsnips-based provenance.

On January 20, Budwey Supermarkets, Inc. filed a Notice of Petition to evict “Desires Unlimited d/b/a Valenti’s Italian Restaurant under index number LT-0055-12 in North Tonawanda City Court. The matter is scheduled for a hearing on Monday January 30th at 2pm in that venue. Budwey alleges that Valenti’s owes him $5,200 in unpaid rent, plus $500 in attorneys’ fees.  As of right now, no counterclaim has been filed against Budwey.

I have a call in to Budwey’s attorney.

A source close to the matter says that, as the restaurant was readying for lunch service on Wednesday, the electricity was shut off. Terry Valenti had been attempting to open an electrical account in his name, but Budwey put a hold on the service, which rendered that impossible. With power off, food that was slated to be served yesterday is still sitting out, and the food that is in the coolers and freezers may spoil, costing upwards of $15,000 to replace. The problem is that Valenti’s cannot get a purveyor to service the restaurant due to unpaid bills, and a dubious check may have been cut to Curtze’s. (UPDATE: Curtze’s confirms that, although Valenti’s did not have an account with it, they did buy stuff from them from time to time, and they also confirmed that Valenti’s last check bounced – that there was no money in the account and they can’t locate the person who passed it.)

When the electricity was shut off, a source says that Valenti and Brocuglio pulled the Ansul flame retardant system, possibly damaging equipment and necessitating a very costly recharge of the foam system.

 

It’s unknown whether Valenti and Brocuglio intend ever to return to the restaurant at this point, but signs point to “no”. It’s also been reported to me that many valuables and important files and financial documents have been removed from the premises.

At 11am on Thursday, the lights were off, Valenti’s was empty and closed.  In the meantime, someone had created a “Budway Valenti“[sic] Facebook account to mock Valenti’s landlord and estranged partner in the business and former server, Melissa Janiszewski. Screen caps below.

 

 

Ron Paul Shills for that Newsletter He Never Wrote or Reviewed

23 Dec

Turning again to the Ron Paul newsletter controversy, Reuters uncovered a solicitation letter for that very newsletter, where Paul goes into great detail puffing his strategies for you to survive the “New Money”, his war against the moneyed elites in Washington who are beholden to the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, the coming “race war”, and the “federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS”.

Although the letter is undated, the US issued a dramatically redesigned $100 bill with a watermark in 1996. However, the letter also references “President Bush”, who was not in office at the time, so I am guessing it’s referencing the 1991 redesign which incorporated microprinting and a metallic security strip (THE SPY STRIP!!11!)

This document bears his signature, and is on his own letterhead. He has disavowed nothing and has absolutely not proven that he didn’t write or review the subject matter he was putting out in his own name through his fearmongering little conspiratorial newsletters.

Paul’s explanations and disavowals are too little, too late. This came up in 2008, and it’s coming up again now, and like Paul, I’m afraid too. Not about the new-style currency and tinfoil hat conspiracy theories about it, but about the fact that a conspiratorial freak who wrote this sort of incendiary garbage during the time in American life when gun fetishist militias acted out as racial-fascist domestic terrorists with alarming frequency.

Solicitation 2(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

Herman Cain Defeats Team Rocket

5 Dec

Congratulations to Herman Cain. In leaving the Presidential race Saturday, he:

1. Gave an inspirational speech taken from the hit movie Pokemon, spinning this as some big win for him;

2. Blamed his victims;

3. Reminded us that the accusations against him were untrue, but bowed out anyway; and

4. May someday be lucky enough to make it onto a Trivial Pursuit card.

The National Debt, Srsly

6 Jul

Washington is debt crazy. But in modern, polarized and uber-politicized 2011, crazy means incoherent brinksmanship. Let me try to add a bit of sanity and food-for-thought to your grey matter as you try to make sense of the current fiasco involving the extension of the debt ceiling.

1) Don’t wish for compromise. Compromise and “bi-partisanship” is what got us in this mess (“this mess” being $14 trillion in total federal debt, $8 Trillion of which has come in the last 11 years, $4.5 Trillion in the last three). Bi-partisanship means Republicans get tax breaks and President Obama gets stimulus programs and the total debt get keeps going up. In an interview that starkly laid out the two sides, Tom Ashbrook of On Point on NPR talked with veteran Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-GA) about the way forward. His answer? We’ve always worked it out before and we need to do so again. Wrong. Working it out as before will make the problem worse. Our country is bad at solving big spending problems. Don’t fix it like before. Fix it a new way. If you are going to wish for something, long-suffering citizen, wish for a lightning bolt of rational planning and decision making to leap from the sky. If that sounds unlikely, then you get the idea.

2) Ignore anyone from either party that says the federal debt is like household debt. If citizens or businesses have to balance their books, then its “common sense” that so should the federal government, and the US government needs to “stop putting things on the credit card.” While Clyburn uses the last argument, Republicans are usually guilty of the former, especially Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) on the NPR program noted above. Its a load of bollocks. Managing a national economy, defending the nation, making wise targeted investments, meddling in overseeing education, running social service program ad nauseum is a little more complicated than a mortgage and car payment, and there are legitimate (though few) reasons to borrow. More on that in a second.

3) Ignore the China argument. We’re not overly putting our security at risk by borrowing from China – we have their money, and the stuff we bought with it. They have a slip of paper. The worth of those slips of paper is directly related to the strength of our economy. The oligarchs who run China need the US to be strong at least as much as we do. We need to stop borrowing so much, but not because of China.

4) Clamping down the debt ceiling is not a political gimmick or trick. Republicans are not gaming the system or using some obscure parliamentary law to derail the system. They have “discovered” the third step in the funding process. First, Congress Authorizes an agency to spend a certain amount of money on a certain program. Then they Appropriate the funding to the agency, never more than the initial Authorization, and often lower. Then, in all of modern history, Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling to allow borrowing of sufficient funds to meet the Appropriation. Congress has FAILed at controlling themselves in the first two steps, but nearly always considered the third a formality. It is no crime to introduce rigor and provide an opportunity for redirection. However, that leads us to . . .

5) Republicans are about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Prior to the 2010 election, President Obama was a stimulator, and the conventional wisdom agreed that significant borrowing was required to pull the country out of the Great Recession. Eighteen months later, with the two year old “recovery” yielding record corporate profits, wage stagnation and perhaps systemic high unemployment, President Obama is Deficit Cutter-in-Chief. Republicans successfully changed the conversation from stimulus to debt reduction, and are on the cusp of the “deal of the century,” to quote David Brooks. Now is not the time for tax policy puritanism. An honest discussion of revenues would examine the amount of money the federal government brings in from taxes, not the tax rate itself. Revenues are at 60 year lows, 15% of total economic output instead of the traditional %18, and $500 billion below their peak. Contrary to popular wisdom on both the Democratic and Republican sides, this is mostly due to the economy, not tax policy. Revenues peaked during the boom following (chronologically only) the Bush tax cuts. However, continued tax cutting since has hardly provided a spike to revenues or the economy. Republicans need to catch up with the times – even conservatives economists and experts are finally admitting tax cuts aren’t a cure-all for economic development. Republicans cannot, and should not, be taken seriously about their concern for the federal debt until they endorse increased taxes or reduced subsidies on someone, anyone, somewhere at some time. The initial thirty year old Reagan conservative idea of generally reducing taxes has morphed into an inflexible, irrational, extreme article of faith. Its like some quasi-religious telephone game – after cycling through eight series of Presidential elections, Reagan’s plan to reduce the top marginal rate from 70-ish% has yielded a packed stage at a recent CNN Republican debate where no one would raise a tax anywhere for any reason. As long as Republicans hold out on taxes, Democrats can accurately accuse them of gamesmanship and an utter lack of seriousness, and we stay stagnated. But bend on taxes, and the lack of any real independent competing Democratic plan is instantly unveiled. Will Republicans seize the opportunity? David Brooks, once again, lays out the scathing case for why they won’t.

6) If you are still wondering what the big deal with the debt is at all, ask yourself this question: under what circumstances is it moral and/or ethical to borrow money from your grandchildren? To invest in their future? To secure and defend the country for their safety? To allow their eventual prosperity? Compare those options, and your own answers, to our actual spending now. We’re borrowing to invest not in the future, but the past. We’re spending half our federal budget on social security and Medicare. We’re spending another third on military excursions and interest on the debt. We’re spending a pittance on research, development, education, infrastructure or any other program that could reasonably be called an investment. In other words, we’re borrowing from the future to maintain our (probably unsustainable) quality of life today. The first step in balancing the moral imperatives of providing what was (unreasonably) promised the elderly in their dotage and investing in our children and future is admitting how lopsided the ledger currently is, and where our borrowed dollars are currently flowing. . . even before the Baby Boomers really start retiring en masse.