2012 SSA COLA Watch (February Report – Updated Monthly)

For the most current information on the latest Department of Labor CPI-W release and its potential effect on Social Security and SSI COLAs, please follow this link to see my most recent post on this topic. Thank you.

Social Security determines its COLA in October each year by comparing the average CPI-W for July through September of that same year to the average CPI-W for July through September of the last year which produced a COLA. I call this the “baseline.”This year, the baseline we are working from is the period from July through September, 2008, which generated a 5.8% COLA in 2009. The average CPI-W for July 2009 through September 2009 and the average CPI-W for July 2010 through September 2010 did not exceed the baseline (the 2008 average.)

The Baseline CPI-W Amounts

July 2008 CPI-W: 216.304

August 2008 CPI-W: 215.247

September 2008 CPI-W: 214.935

2008 Average CPI-W: 215.495. This is shown as the bottom gray line on the graph.

Since then the CPI-W has been lower, until January, 2011. The months we are now concerned with are July through September, 2011. What happens before then shows a trend line and may be predictive.

Current CPI-W Amounts

July 2010 CPI-W: 213.898

August 2010 CPI-W: 214.205 (+ 0.14%)

September 2010 CPI-W: 214.306 (+ 0.05%)

(The average CPI-W 07/10 thru 09/10 Was 214.136)

October 2010 CPI-W: 214.623 (+ 0.15%)

November 2010 CPI-W: 214.750 (+ 0.06%)

December 2010 CPI-W: 215.262 (+ 0.24%)

January 2011 CPI-W: 216.400 (+ 0.53%)

The bottom gray line crossing the chart horizontally at 215.495 reflects the baseline CPI-W which has to be exceeded by the average for July through September, 2011, for there to be a any COLA in 2012.

The top gray line shows the average needed for July through September 2011 for a 1% COLA, 217.650. An increase of just under 0.6% in the CPI-W, which seems more than likely as food, energy, and commodity prices all increase, will put us over 217.650. Then we can hope for an average CPI-W of 219.800, which is what we would need for 2% COLA. This would take an increase of about 1.6% in the CPI-W from where we are now to achieve.

The March report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing the January 2010 CPI-W will be released March 17th. Check back.

Medicare

If we get a Social Security COLA in 2012, Medicare Part B premiums will increase by a significant amount.

Part B premiums have been kept at the 2009 amount, $96.40, in 2010 and 2011, for about 75% of beneficiaries who were eligible for Part B prior to January 2010. According to law, the Social Security check amount cannot be decreased, so beneficiaries entitled before January 2010 could not have their Medicare Part B premiums increased. The Trustees project that the 2012 Part B premium amount will be $111.40, based on the assumption that there will be a COLA in 2012. This is an increase of $15.00.

The average Social Security beneficiary receives $1170.00 per month. Let’s say that we do get a 1% COLA in January, 2012. That would mean that the COLA to a beneficiary receiving the average amount would be an increase of $11.00. This is less than the projected increase in the Medicare Part B premium, so the COLA for a beneficiary receiving the average amount would be entirely absorbed by the Part B increase, with $4.00 left over to be applied to the 2013 COLA (if one is payable) along with the 2013 Part B premium increase.

If the COLA is 2%, the increase for an average beneficiary would be $23.00. After his Part B premium increase was deducted, he would see a net increase of $8.00.

Wow.

Editorial Comment

I do not trust Obama’s Department of Labor to figure the CPI-W honestly. For one thing, the numbers the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not “seasonally adjusted.” Once they are, they will probably be lower. We may feel the inflation, but the “official” numbers can easily be manipulated so that Social Security beneficiaries (and others whose COLAs are based on the increase in the CPI-W) can go one more year with no COLA. All in the name of deficit reduction. A 1% COLA would cost somewhere between $6 billion and $7 billion in 2012, and each year thereafter. A 2% COLA would cost twice as much.

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26 Responses to 2012 SSA COLA Watch (February Report – Updated Monthly)

  1. Dorothy says:

    After medicare part B I get $684.00. I am told that starvation is not a painful death.

    • marg says:

      Dorothy,

      Does your state have a program to pay your premuim?
      Contact Social Services or Office of Aging.

      i

      • ssapotluck says:

        Marg is right. Check with your county department of Social Services (may go under a different name) and see what they can do for you. You are probably eligible for Medicaid; if so the state may pay your Part B premium for you. This is called “state buy-in.” You may also be eligible for SNAP (used to be called Food Stamps, but they use a debit card now.)

        Good luck and please let me know how it works out for you.

  2. ssapotluck says:

    Thank you for reading my blog and for responding to it. It makes me very sad that you are having such a tough time. I don’t know what State you live in, but you may be eligible for additional assistance from your State. Your Social Security amount is above the Federal portion of SSI, but some states supplement this with additional money. If you are eligible for Medicaid, which you should be since you are entitled to Medicare, most states will pay your Part B premium for you, on the idea that this is cheaper for them than paying a lot of Medicaid costs. Another program you should probably look into is SNAP (used to be called ‘Food Stamps;’ now they give you a debit card.)

    The safety net is in tatters, but it is still there to a certain degree. Please check into these programs and see what they can do for you. I wish you luck and hope that things improve for you. If you feel like it, please send me an email to socialsecuritypotluck@gmail.com and let me know how things are going,

  3. S Birnbaum says:

    What I find amazing is how rigged the CPI is. Instead of raising prices, the sizes of the containers (including toilet paper – there is now less for higher prices) have dropped tremendously. So what we see is a minimal or no CPI increase. And, of course, we are all paying increases in the oxymoron called health care insurance. Your article was informative and confirms what I already guessed. People living on SS, SSI, and SSD (programs established by the government) will continue to exist on less and less and less and our lifespan will predictably decrease.

    There are some medications I can no longer afford and make the decision to consume low cost food or pay for prescriptions.

    In time, after the cover ups are displayed, those who were middle class will die off sooner and those who are poor … well, nothing really will have changed for them. But the elite will survive it all like rats and roaches. What a world they have coming to them.

    I am glad to know starvation is not a horribly painful death but cancer is. We will grow into a country like India where we cannot afford to pass in peace.

  4. ssapotluck says:

    I also have noticed the incredible shrinking product size. My favorite (?) is a bread slice you can see through. Watch for the words “New and Improved.” These days that means either “a new, smaller size” or “we’ve improved the flavor by adding more salt.” Or, more likely, both.

    As far as I can tell, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not take package shrinkage into account when determining the CPI. I’m sure they’re aware of it — they’re consumers, too — but if they did factor this in, the rise in CPI would be much greater than what they calculate based on price alone. I am sure this is a deliberate political calculation coming from the highest reaches of the White House. I believe I will write a letter to the BLS and ask them why they don’t take this into consideration. If I get a response, I’ll post it for general disbelief and ridicule.

    I am sorry that you have to make the terrible choice between cutting food costs and cutting prescription costs. I wish there was something more substantive I could do to help you. Feel free to email me and let me know how you are doing, or if you have any questions about Social Security or Medicare. There might be something, some provision that you may not be aware that could help you.

    Yes, cancer is a horrible and painful death. A year and a half ago my mother, age 77, died from a rare type of lung cancer. She had Medicare, and she belonged to an HMO as her Medicare supplement, so they called the shots on her medication. Her HMO doctor prescribed a particular chemotherapy drug for her cancer which did nothing to stop it, but caused violent side effects, including mental ones. All HMOs. along with all health insurance companies in general, usually will not authorize a medication which could truly help a patient, but which will cost them more than another less effective drug. Within a few months of this “treatment” my mother was gone. She never agreed to any additional treatment, except palliative, at the very end.

    This country has a terrible system for providing medical treatment for its members. Until we go to a single payer system, like Medicare For All, and eliminate corporate profits from the equation, it will never improve. Nothing like this will get through the current House of Representatives. Perhaps in 2012, the middle class people, the workers, the huge majority of the country, will remember what is being done to them right now and turn the bought and paid for Republican (and some Democratic, like the President) politicians out of office and replace them with Representatives who will be true to their jobs and their real constituency. The upcoming primary elections are of crucial importance.

  5. i cant understand how you can predict cola of only 2%. A barrel of oil is over 111 dollars, asn well as gaspline. food prices are up tremendously. house taxes are up . The government shut down was a total farce. Yet they are spending 3 million dollars a day on the afganistan war, besides nthe cost ofn the irac war . The cola should be more than 2008. The way things are are now and getting worse the cola should be 8%.
    ThankYou
    John S. Jurena

    • ssapotluck says:

      I agree with you fully that the monthly increases in the CPI-W, as alleged by the BLS are not an accurate measure of the inflation that real people have to deal with. It certainly doesn’t match my experience. Gasoline is more than a dollar higher than it was this time last year, an increase of about 25%. My food prices have been increasing fairly rapidly since about 2009, more so lately. But the CPI-W has been creeping upward slowly up until about two months ago.

      According to the BLS, the average urban wage earner (the universe measured by the CPI-W) spends about 8.9 cents out of each dollar spent on food consumed at home and about 6.7 cents out of each dollar spent on food consumed away from home. According to them, the average urban wage earner spends about 6.2 cents out of each dollar spent on gasoline. I know how they say they arrive at these weights, but I don’t really believe it.

      The Federal government has an interest in keeping the dollar weak compared to other currencies. So does China. The two countries yell at each other about it, but are doing the same thing. Here, the Fed is injecting money into the economy using a dangerous technique called “qualitative easing.” It’s dangerous because it causes inflation — the effect of a weaker dollar. The government (meaning President Obama and the Treasury Department) has what they consider to be a good reason to do whatever they can to under report inflation. So, in my opinion the BLS has instructions of some sort to manipulate their data to accomplish this.

      But they can only hide so much. Inflation has picked up so much lately that the BLS can’t hide it. We have virtually reached the CPI-W amount that would generate a 1% COLA. I think the next report will get the CPI-W amount fairly close to a 2% COLA. And that is based on inflation just through March. Remember, whatever the average CPI-W for July through September turns out to be will determine the amount of the COLA. As we get closer to July, we’ll have a better idea. The April report (with March data) is scheduled to be released on Friday, April 15th. Check back then.

    • Rick says:

      Hi John,

      Cola is calculated ex-food and energy.

      • ssapotluck says:

        I am guessing that the use of the prefix “ex-” is intended to mean “without.”

        According to the Social Security Act and its implementing regulations, COLAs are based on increases (and decreases, if those occur, as they did in the 2nd half of 2008) in the CPI-U (Consumer Price Index – Urban Wage Earners And Clerical Employees). The CPI-U is made up of over 100 different types of expenses. Two of these are food and gasoline. The percentages represent the percentage of the total these expenses represent. The percentages change over time; the ones shown are from the current CPI report. You can view the current CPI-U chart at Table 4. Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W): U. S. City Average, by expenditure category and commodity and service group.

        Food — 15.3%
        Food at home — 8.9%
        Food away from home — 6.4%

        Motor fuel — 6.5%
        Gasoline (all types) — 6.2%

        The Bureau of Labor Statistics also prepares statistics which do exclude food and fuel costs, to isolate what they call “core” inflation, but this is not used for COLAs.

        I hope this answers your question

  6. Fred Kimball says:

    I am Retired Military/Disable Veteran and living overseas I am not able to use medicare part B, but I still have to ask for it and pay for it even if living overseas I can’t use it. Tricare makes us get it or we can’t use Tricare, and this just seems totally wrong.

    • Robert says:

      You don’t have to pay part B if you don’t choose. On your birthday you can drop it. I am also living overseas and I don’t have padt B, which pays for the doctor. I live in Thailand and the cost of good medical care here is much less that the cost of part B so, I have been self insured for 10 years and saved a lot of money. I have had 3 surgeries here but am still far ahead.

      • ssapotluck says:

        Hi Robert,

        One can disenroll from Part B at any time. There is no requirement to wait for one’s birthday. Birthday is an issue for reenrollments (see below.)

        It seems pretty clear that you intend to remain in Thailand indefinitely, since you have spent the last 10 years there. For people who do live in the US, or who plan to live outside it for only a short time, I do not recommend disenrolling from Part B. If one does so, that person has to wait until the next “general enrollment period” (GEP) to reenroll. The GEP is the three months prior to the month of birth, the month of birth, and the three months following the month of birth. For each year that one is disenrolled from Part B there is a 10% penalty. This means that the Part B premium is 10% higher. If someone is disenrolled for 5 years, then reenrolls, that person’s Part B premium will be 50% higher. This is a permanent increase in premium amount. tn your case I agree that the Part B premium is something you don’t need to pay, but for people whose absence from the US is likely to be temporary, I strongly suggest they think about it carefully before disenrolling.

        I would like to ask you not to give advice to others about their Social Security or Medicare on this blog. Everyone’s situation is different, and there are quite often consequences for taking certain actions which aren’t well known. Living outside the US for an indefinite period means that there are several rules which are different for people in that situation than for people who live in the US. I know that you wouldn’t want to disadvantage anyone.

        Thank you.

  7. ssapotluck says:

    Thank you for your response. It seems wrong to me too. I do not know Tricare’s rules at all. I know that some insurance plans and HMOs stateside require Part B enrollment, but this is so they can push off some of their expenses onto Part B. For you, and others in your situation this is not the case.

    I looked this up at a non-governmental website, Military.com’s ‘Tricare For Life’ page and they did say the same thing, but didn’t explain why. Have you ever asked Tricare or the Military Department from which you draw your retirement benefits why this is required, since it is to your apparent disadvantage and doesn’t provide any advantage to them.

    I should point out that if a Part B beneficiary disenrolls and then later reenrolls, his premiums are permanently increased by 10% for each year he wasn’t enrolled. There might be a time when you would return to the United States and would be able to use your Part B, and might not want to pay extra for it.

    Let us know if you find out anything. I’m sure there are other people who are in the same situation you are. Thanks.

  8. randy chamberlain says:

    we have already done our part with no cola for 2 years dont see our govt retirees taking a cut they get cola on retirement checks so they dont have to tighten their belts elected officals continue to get cola raises freeze their checks for 2 years see what they say then they will find all types of reasons for them to get their cola just not the retirees who were not fortunate to work for our crooked, corrupt, lying , cheating , govt .

    • ssapotluck says:

      I would like to correct a couple of errors in your comment. Government Retirees, among which are both myself and revenuer, get COLAs using the same exact formula as Social Security beneficiaries, i.e., none in 2010 or 2011. We have most definitely had to tighten our belts. In May, 2010, Congress passed a bill, which President Obama signed, which stopped automatic COLAs to all members of Congress. Before this, they got an automatic COLA, unless they voted to turn it down, which they did for 2010 earlier in the year. Check your facts.

      I will be writing a separate article on this topic. Federal employees have been demonized and lied about by elected officials, principally but not exclusively conservative ones, since 1980. As I said in Big Lie No. 1, if a lie is repeated often enough, people begin to accept it as true. According to the meme, Federal workers are lazy, overpaid, performing services better handled by the private sector, and content to slop at the public trough. Who do you think brings you this information, anyway? A retired Federal employee, who gets nothing whatsoever for his efforts, except the satisfaction that perhaps I am helping people, which satisfaction kept me going for over twenty years at Social Security.

  9. JOHN says:

    I WORKED FOR SEVEAL YEARS AND THEN GOT SICK AND HAD 4 SIZZERED AND GOT MEDCARE AND MEDCAIDI AND THEY DONT EVEN PAY A DAMM DIME TO A DAMM DOTORS I JUST PUT R.T.S. TO THE DOTORS BILLS FROM THE PO BOX.. AND SEND THE BILLS TO MEDCAIDI THEY ARE BUNCH OF CON HONEST TO ME.. AND APPLY FOR SECTION 8-A HOUSEING IN 1990 AND WHY THE HELL AM I STILL IN MY PARENT HOUSE IF I CAN MOVE OUT AND THEY SAY MY INCOME TOO DAMM HIGHT AT 774.00 AND RENT AN APT IS 1850.00 PER MOTHLY IN SUFFOLK OR 45000.00 IN NYC WHERE IT IS CHEAPER?? IN FLORIDA?? WHAT AN JACKASS THEY ARE..

  10. Howard says:

    First of all, thanks for the work that is done to keep up this page and help get at least some information out to us as retirees….it is appreciated. I will toss in one quick point of personal preference – I am really getting tired of my bought and (premium) paid for Social Security and Medicare being called entitlements….lately our leaders seem to almost spit the word out with disgust. I have worked and PAID my premiums for both insurance programs since I was 16 years old….no “entitlement” here, just an insurance claim filed and due for my retirement and medical coverage. If a newer, upgraded program needs to be examined for the future generations of workers, then so be it….but don’t lament and chastise we who have remained faithful and participated in Social Security and Medicare by the rules our entire working lives….a contract deal (both programs) is a deal and promise (to pay) is a promise – That’s business.

    Now, to address what I am beginning to truly see as the COLA scheme or scam. How can the clearly reduced retail packaging sizes not be recognized as inflation? Wouldn’t these consumer goods track and measure pricing increases and inflation based on UNIT PRICING? (per oz, per lb, etc) Secondly, please tell me how to word the letter to my elected representatives in the US Congress and Senate in Washington to formally request or demand that they immediately take action, or introduce legislation to take action on revising the CPI-W standard or finding another standard to accurately measure the TRUE inflation we are experiencing in order to fairly determine our Social Security COLA each year? What would the best system be called? What exact standards and measurements would we want inflation and our annual COLA to be determined by? Folks, based on the answer(s) that get posted to this question, we all need to get busy on a major letter writing and phone calling campaign that hopefully will somehow catch on nationally……it needs to be done now and continue being done, because once these numbers come out in October and then 2012 starts…..it’s all forgotten again for another year! Thanks!

    • revenuer says:

      Howard,

      Thank you for your kind words. We are happy to help. I am very clear on what you are saying about disliking the word “entitlement” applied to your retirement and its accompanying Medicare. Social Security payments, however are a tax. You have no choice unless you are a member of the clergy of some churches to whom the IRS grants a special status based on their doctrine whether or not to opt out. If you are employed your employer had no choice but to withhold FICA for your Social Security. If you ran your own business or worked alone but were self employed you were obliged to pay SE tax unless you ended your tax year with negative receipts after expenses were deducted. Since SE tax is paid as a higher rate than FICA, you would have been entitled to deduct a portion along with your other costs of doing business.

      IRS collects FICA and SE because it is the taxing bureau and a law enforcement agency. Social Security is not a law enforcement agency. It administers the program which IRS collects the taxes to fund. The taxes are placed into trust funds which the government cannot borrow unless they buy treasury bonds to be repaid with full interest when SSA decides to redeem them. Bonds purchased in the past must be paid at the rate of interest which was in force when they were purchased. It is locked in and not affected by the current fluctuations in today’s bond markets.

      SSA is not considered to be part of the General Funds which the government draws revenue for its other expenditures from. It is self contained and self administered at one of the lowest administrative budgets anywhere.

      OK. Now back to the dreaded entitlement. You worked and paid your taxes and paid in enough quarters to become fully insured for retirement or disability which you incurred while working. So at the time you decided to retire, you became entitled to put in an application to collect your benefits. You became entitled to recoup all of those tax dollars you paid in during your working life, and more That is the law and it is one of the strongest contracts you can have. Medicare is more like an insurance program. Your premiums are deducted at your election when you retire, so that is your insurance program. I know Potluck could probably explain this better. He worked for Social Security and I worked for IRS until I retired. We have however been married for 37 years, and some of the information Potluck has he gives me, some I picked up by propinquity.

      The way the COLA is computed is in our opinion a rip off. It does not take into account many of the necessities of modern life and it undervalues many of the others. The formula needs to revamped and updated. It does, however take into consideration the decreases in package size and amount. Potluck had this question by email and called the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out. They assured him that these changes are taken into account. Since the original question was via email along with other more personal material we did not publish it. When someone writes us an email it is considered to be and treated as confidential. Potluck was going to write an article on how it works, but then he began having too much arthritis pain and inflammation in his hands to type. He cannot take medication for pain because his body was badly damaged by a near fatal illness in 2008, and it would cause more harm. This is one of the articles he is planning to write; unit pricing and the CPW.

      We should all be writing to the government to tell them how we feel about their actions and lack of actions. The precipitating event for the Debt Ceiling fiasco was the Republicans in the House where all spending bills originate, presenting a bill which tied raising the Debt Ceiling to the repeal of Medicare and the destruction of Social Security. The Democrats kicked it back and then each side began fiscal tennis with Obama refusing to do anything but walk hand in hand with the most extreme conservative element of the Republican party. And here we are now watching our whole economy teeter on the brink of a crash because the Republican party refused to act in good faith and Obama in his own way backed them up. They are now practicing the same economic policies as Hoover did right before the Great Depression. Much needs to be done to avoid it, but it is just business as usual for them.

      In the next couple of days Potluck and I will put up some email, phone and snail mail links to help you and others who want to write to the people in power. A lot of what you wrote in your comment would be perfectly appropriate to write to them. If you have any specific questions that I haven’t answered please write another comment or email us. We will respond as soon as we can. Potluck has not been feeling well, but he is beginning to feel better and will soon be able to participate fully again.

  11. Robert says:

    They are goin to screw us no matter what. Obama gave trillions to the rich and stole our cola for 2 years. Now they want us to be happy with a crumb from the table.

    • revenuer says:

      Hi Robert,

      I agree with you. This is one of my worst election years ever. I’m used to picking the lesser of two evils but this is something else. The only measurement I have is that I am not going to vote for any Republican. They are all walking in lockstep with the teabaggers like lemmings headed for the edge of a convenient cliff they can throw themselves off of. Unfortunately they want to take down every social or helping program that we have so that the rest of us go with them. Their stated goals are to destroy Social Security, Medicare, FEMA, EITC and any other helping programs which benefit the middle class and the poor while turning their every effort toward feeding the greed of the rich and the corporations.

      The economy is sliding ever further toward another depression because they refuse to tax the rich and the corporations to bring in some revenue to help create jobs and try to alleviate the suffering of the majority of Americans. As recently as today I read a comment by Eric Cantor the head of the teabagger brigade in Congress that we have to give the corporations no regulation at all rather than creating jobs and a stable economic growth by creating jobs and revising the tax code to undo the damage the Republicans have been doing since Reagan. Their constant siphoning of the well being of the working people to allow the rich to stockpile more money that does no good for anyone except them is something I cannot accept. The rich seem to forget that they live in this country too and are just as responsible for maintaining it as everyone else.

      Please understand that I have no liking for Obama either. He has sold us out from day one. But it was the teabaggers who said they would not pass the debt ceiling bill unless Social Security and Medicare were eliminated. They nearly ran the country over the cliff trying to get it. Their own constituents are calling them blackmailers and hostage takers. They stopped only because the Republicans realized that the corporations which feed them would cut off their food supply if they made them lose more money and standing than they already had.

      I would love to see Obama primaried out, but if that doesn’t happen and it comes down to it, I will feel compelled too choose him over the teabaggers. He is one of the worst presidents we have ever had but I would rather have someone who has not vowed to take away everything I have and who is running scared now too, than to vote for any of the teabaggers who are campaigning on the destruction of Social Security, Medicare and any other form of help for the citizens of this country need from its federal government.

  12. Tom says:

    Thank you for your help in making sense of what is very difficult for us “lay people” to understand.

  13. David Goldberg says:

    I am a retired Federal employee as is my wife. We both spent many years in the Intelligence Community helping to bring down the Soviet Union and to help the US fight terorism. I also object to the sneering way some in congress refer to benefits we have earned. Somehow the word entitlement has become a term of derision. I suggest we use the term “earned benefits.” I know this seems as just semantics, but with much of the public what you call something matters. Just ask George Lakoff the author of “Don’t Think of an Eelphant.”

    I would also like to thank the hosts of this site for providing excellent information and correcting the misinformation of the public has regarding Federal employees and the benefits they have earned.
    I spent two tours in Iraq as a UN inspector and my wife was a Soviet Industrial analyst.

    • revenuer says:

      Hello David,

      We appreciate your input. It sounds as if both you and your wife have had interesting careers despite the lack of respect you were given by Congress and other members of the federal government who don’t actually represent any of us.

      You may use whatever words make you comfortable to describe situations and issues, but then you know you don’t need my permission or really anyone else’s. For myself, however, I am going to keep describing things by the names they were given. I read an article on a large blog which I follow and respect about how the conservatives are trying to hijack our language and change the way we speak. For example “improvised explosive device” instead of roadside bomb. The Bush administration came up with that one. Maybe they thought that it did not convey as well what a roadside bomb does. That is kill, maim, disable, severely injure and in some cases cause brain injuries to the victims which resemble shaken baby syndrome which cannot be reversed. They were trying to turn the dialogue away from what was actually happening to soldiers and civilians and make it seem somehow not so bad and more acceptable. I will always call them roadside bombs and wonder what premium anyone gets from trying to make them seem less inimical and damaging.

      Another word that was co-opted from us was the simple term “liberal.” I began using the replacement word we were given which was “progressives.” They got me on that one because I thought progressive sounded more dynamic. I still like the term so I continue to use it, but I use it interchangeably with liberal and leftist because I am all three.

      Now they are trying to take the term “entitlement” and give it a shameful tinge like they have the word “charity” which simply means a kindness extended to another. People are supposed to feel bad about collecting unemployment benefits when they can’t find jobs due to the greed and recessive economic policies fostered by this government. People are supposed to feel bad it they need medical help but cannot afford it due to the overbloated for profit health care system which controls medical care and who gets it. People are supposed to feel bad about collecting their Social Security benefits which they have paid for through taxation over their whole careers, or about using their Medicare which they have also paid for through taxation. People who need help from SSI or Medicaid are excoriated because they are trying to live in this society made by the rich and greedy who have decided that it is better to let the majority of Americans suffer and die than to pay their fair share of taxes. People are entitled to this kind of help, so I will call them entitlement programs and explain to people than when you try to preempt their language you are subtly exerting a slight control over them. If you make them feel ashamed enough about who they are and what they need by using shaming devices like this then you can gradually exert greater control until they are afraid to speak up for themselves at all.

      This was a long way of getting there, but that was the thrust of the blog article. We need to keep our language and see ourselves as we really are. Good Americans who have been bled dry for decades by the vampires and promoters of recessive economic policies. The blog article also pointed out that constant exposure through the media and other sources to this kind of rhetorical assault can lead to lingering feelings of depression and inadequacy similar to the feelings that high school bullies enjoy inflicting on those they victimize. The article suggested pushing back, speaking up and taking back your own identity complete with words that have meaning to you and understanding that you are not responsible for most of the misery in this country. That was conceived by the architects of cruelty and suffering, by the greedy conservative government which has been working to destroy the middle class and the poor for decades.

      FDR said that Americans have the right to freedom from want and freedom from fear. Where did that go? I also have a very personal reason for calling things exactly as I see them. I am a Quaker. We live by certain core values which apply here. One is that we reach out first to others in kindness and mercy. Another is called “plainspeak” which simply means that we speak the truth all the time. Whether it is easy or not it what we must do. That is why we “affirm” that we are telling the truth when asked to give an oath. If you give an oath you are agreeing that there are two levels of truth. One for your life but a more important truth for occasions like testifying in court. By affirming instead of giving a specific oath we are simply exercising plainspeak and stating that we speak the truth in all areas of our life. Especially truth to power. Those in power need to hear the truth from us, whatever our opinion happens to be.

      So you speak as you wish and I will speak as I must and on this we will agree to disagree. Thanks again for your post and we hope that we can continue to provide you with helpful information. If you have any specific questions please ask them. If you want more privacy than putting your question up in a post, email us. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

      (Edited to correct typos)

  14. m. reynolds says:

    they (the gov’t) is giving us money, then they give it to medicare and they
    make themselves money too!haha. It’s like the lottery when u win they win too.haha!

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