Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bush on Social Security

I find it extremely interesting, and not in a good way, that with every other major problem afflicting the American people here in May of 2005 (think the economy, gas prices, Aghanistan, Iraq, etc.) that President Bush - when he's not vacationing - is still traveling around the country stumping for his proposed "reforms" to Social Security which are flatly opposed by a majority of the public.

Okay, let's forget for a moment that only 33% of the American people currently believe in the plan (a huge decrease since it was first unveiled). And let's forget for a moment that most people, if given the opportunity, would rather NOT have to be responsible for their own financial investments. And we still have the following single largest problem: most people are not *qualified* to make their own financial investment decisions. And if they try and fail at it, then what? In a nutshell: they're screwed. Exactly the outcome Social Security was implemented to prevent in the first place. That no person, even through fault of their own, would be left out in the cold when they came across financial hardship in their later years.

The general population are not financial planners and do not have the wherewithall to keep track of the best and worst investments, know when to buy, when to sell and when to hold. Nor do they have the time to concentrate on these things. And least of all, do they now need the added lifelong stress of worrying about the validity of their Social Security decisions. This is what professionals are for. That's why you see a doctor when you need an operation and a lawyer when you need to go to court. That's their job - and they're better at it than you.

Sure, you can say that everyone is qualified to do what they will with their own money, but that's not the point here. The point is that we're taking a system whose health is dependent on decisions of professional financial planners, and we're putting that (or a piece of it anyway) into the hands of the general public. And this same general public is saying "No Thanks" in a very loud and clear voice. But their voice is being ignored. Why?

This plan may make sense for those who already have financial planners, or those who don't need Social Security in the first place - but then, shouldn't that be raising eyebrows and questions?

So what doesn't our President get? 67% of the American population are convicted enough to say "No, this is a bad idea" and yet our President who claimed his 52% election victory was a "mandate" of the people is either too stupid to understand that 67% is an even larger mandate or too stubborn to understand that his continued march forward on an issue that does not have public support does not reflect the wishes of the people he vowed to protect.

Or maybe it simply reflects the underlying theme of politics in Washington today: When you agree with me, you're right. When you disagree with me, you obviously need me to make your decisions for you...


Monday, May 23, 2005

The Sith have spoken

Okay, this may seem like a mindless post on a site intended to give a snip of reality, but let's face it - for 28 years Star Wars has been a part of my reality.

No, I don't believe I'm a long lost Jedi, nor do I eat sleep and breathe all things Star Warsian. But the saga that started for me when I was 14 has enchanted me for most of my adult life and its language has had influence not just on pop culture, but on culture in general.

I won't get into recaps of the previous films, or go off on my diatribe about how I think George Lucas has ruined my memory and enjoyment of the original films by not releasing a theatrical release version of them (instead releasing only his new "edited" versions which contain edits that should have remained on the editing room floor). I want only to focus on one thing: the Revenge of the Sith.

Yes, it's overly filled with special effects and action sequences, with simple and wooden dialog, and with overly complex subplots. But unlike Episodes I and II, it's pulled of here with a glimpse of what made The Empire Strikes Back such a wonderful movie. There is character development here, and whether or not you believe Hayden Christiansen has improved as a believable actor (I personally think he has) he at least shows a range of emotions and an inner conflict worthy of what we now know as the easily frustrated and manipulated Darth Vader.

This movie changes the nature of 28 years of my belief about Vader - and it is that change that makes the film particularly enjoyable to me. The fact that it was possible in this single film to erase my perception of Vader as an all powerful evil mastermind who embraced the dark side of the force willingly (and make the change seem reasonable) is a testament to the storytelling in Sith. It is definitely leaps and bounds beyond Phantom and Clones.

The film also paints Obi-Wan and many other Jedi as not completely without flaw - a trait we're not presented with in any other film. While there is still a line between good and bad, it is reasonable to see how a tormented and misguided youth can be manipulated into losing his ability to tell the difference.

It is also a textbook case of doing the wrong thing for the right reason. If Anakin's fatal flaws are simply that he has ambition and that he has allowed himself to fall in love - and desperately wants to protect the life of that person - then he is in fact the most "normal" human portrayed in the film. He truly becomes the sympathetic figure and not the character you believed he would be - the one you want to hate.

So I don't plan on giving more away, but suffice it to say that Revenge of the Sith was a pleasant surprise. Yes, I wanted to like it anyway - I just didn't think I'd like it enough that I'm still thinking about it, and am genuinely happy about it - as if it made some cosmic sense in this one piece of my life that's been lingering there since that first day in 1977 when I was introduced to Vader, Han and Luke. I understand now, and I'll never be able to watch any of the other 5 films again in the same way. The knowledge gained from Sith has truly changed - and completed - the entire saga.

I guess I really do care after all...


Friday, May 20, 2005


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Snips of Reality is self-proclaimed, middle of the road, moderate opinion and commentary. Sometimes we'll swing a bit to the left, and sometimes to the right. But we'll always be honest, and of course we'll always be right on target!

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