Administrivia

Where are America's Katherine Guns?. From Metafilter (and I'm breaking a rule of my own making here, but their links tell the whole story)The Brave Tale of Katherine Gun, aka The Conscience of the Individual versus the State, aka “How the 'Land of the Free' Stopped Worrying about Legality and Liberty, and Learned to Love Wiretap and Manipulation”: “Katharine made the disclosure because she believed that it was necessary to prevent an illegal war in which thousands of Iraqi citizens and British and American soldiers would die or be maimed.””I have only ever followed my conscience,” she said. Pentagon Paper's author Daniel Ellsberg described the leak as “more timely and potentially more important than the Pentagon Papers. Truth-telling like this can stop a war.” Norman Solomon asks ” To what extent is the “special relationship” between the two countries to be based on democracy or duplicity? How much do we treasure the substance of civil liberties that make authentic public discourse distinct from the hollowness of secrecy and manipulation? How badly do we want to know what is being done in our names with our tax money? And why is it so rare that conscience takes precedence over expediency?” [MetaFilter]

It says something about the state of America's defense and intelligence institutions that no Katherine Gun surfaced here. And I wonder how we can persist as a country without actions like these, by people of conscience in those institutions.

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Administrivia

Monkey Protein Blocks HIV. The assumption among many has long been that HIV jumped to humans from other primates. Yet researchers have had a hell of a time getting HIV to infect other primates for treatment testing.
Now scientists have figured out why: old world monkeys have a built-in AIDS blocker: a protein that prevents HIV from shedding its shell and infecting cells with its DNA. Now researchers are focusing on ways to transfer this protein to AIDS patients through gene therapy, or modifying a similar protein already present in humans.[ from Scientific American]

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politics

Greenspan Urges Swiftian solution to deficit

“Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan says Congress should deal with the country's escalating budget deficit by cutting benefits for future Social Security retirees rather than raising taxes.” [NY Times]

I've taken the Greenspan testimony and run it through the Washingtonese Translation Engine. Here's what he meant to say:

“Mr. Chairman, members of Congress, good afternoon.

Thanks to the tax cuts you've approved, and the war that the White House ordered up, the books are a mess. If you continue to spend money without having any, I'm not going to have enough to lend.

But, given this is an election year, nobody wants to raise taxes. Besides, given that most corporations are now hiding most of their income in tax havens overseas, we'd have to focus tax increases on wealthy individuals. And that means you, your wealthy contributors, and me. That would be “bad for the recovery.”

No, instead I suggest we just dispense with this stupid Social Security con you keep running on the American people. You know it's just part of the general fund, I know it, and everybody who reads the Wall Street Journal knows it. Besides, who can afford to retire these days anyway?

Instead, I suggest we cut benefits to those whining Boomers who will overwhelm the system in a few years and collapse the whole Ponzi scheme we've based Social Security on. Let's face it–they'd only waste the money anyway on crap made for WalMart by Chinese manufacturers, and all the money would go whooshing out of our tax base anyway.

I do have an alternative, however. In the long term, it would be cheaper to outsource the upkeep of the retired to countries with a better competitive advantage. So, I suggest we ship retirees to Mexico. There, they could be used to staff up the growing number of maquilladoras that our companies have been outsourcing work to, and subsist on the lower benefits comfortably without having to worry about expenses like high heating bills and prescription co-pays.

It's a win-win. The resulting drop in the burden on our medical insurance systems would mean dramatically lower costs to business for health benefits, and the sudden availability of large numbers of homes in urban areas would stabilize housing costs in our current bubble real estate market, offering better housing opportunities for guest workers and other immigrants.

Of course, you may decide to use my comments as a distraction to cover your own hedging on Social Security until after the elections. If so, fine. But I'll still be here after November. Hell, I can't afford to retire.

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