Special Issue    
       THR SANDBOX EXPRESS ~ Issue #47 ~ 9/6/99
                  "Time and tide wait for no man."


Greetings Bomber Bretheren, All Around the World!

Sometimes it takes a while for enough contributions
to The SANDBOX to accumulate sufficiently to provide
sufficient "fodder" for a "standard" SANDBOX
issue.  As a result, some items can lose some of
their "freshness," with the passage of time.

That can decrease both the interest and news value
of an item as well as making it less likely that other
members of this online forum will want to "rush"
their own opinions to the fore.

With that in mind, when a topic seem particulary
time sensitive, it seems like a good idea to put out
a "quickie," even if there are not a lot of items on
hand at the minute, ready to "send to press."

Indeed, there are occasions when "Time and tide
wait for no man."  (Sometimes they won't even
wait for a woman.) Something to think about!  I 
remember that quote well, but can't remember
who the person is who should be given credit
for it.  Do you?  Let us know!

When you submit an item you think has
particular time-sensitivity, such as an opportunity
for readers to consider essential information and
respond to members of congress before an 
important bill is to be decided on, or any other time-
sensitive issue that needs "quick exposure" to your
fellow Bombers, SAY SO!   When you send your 
submission to me at SendBOX@aol.com
I will then try to put it on the "fast track" and issue
a special Sandbox "quickie," to be otherwise known
as--- The SANDBOX  EXPRESS.

Further note:  Sometimes readers want to send me
personal notes, news items, or information
without necessarily wanting it to be published in 
The SANDBOX.  I am not always sharp enough to 
discern your intentions unless you express
them to me.

In order to best serve your wishes, it would be
best to send all items you want to see published
in the SANDBOX to THE_SANDBOX@bigfoot.com 

If you  have other mail or information you'd just like 
to share with me personally, please  send it to: 
ADAMSTREET@aol.com.  

If you send something to me at ADAMSTREET 
that I think is SANDBOX-worthy.  I will ask your 
permission  before using it.  (Unless you have already 
indicated to me that SANDBOX use is OK.)

Any time you send something to THE_SANDBOX@bigfoot.com
I will assume you want to see it in The SANDBOX.

I received a couple of items from Dick Epler today
that I am including in this special 
SANDBOX EXPRESS edition of The SANDBOX.

The first letter speaks for itself.  I appreciate this
kind of feedback.  Thanks Dick!   

The second is very time sensitive, as you can
see, regarding an opportunity for you, as a 
SANDBOX reader/contributor to react, and
possibly influence congress regarding imminently 
pending legislation.
                      
                            ~~~~~

One reader asked, after reading the special "Update
for Club 40 Members,"  "What is Club 40?"

Club 40 is something worth getting older for!  Each
member of each graduating Col-Hi/RHS class on
the 40th anniversary of his/her graduation becomes
elligible to join.  A Club 40 newsletter, THE DUST
STORM, is sent out each year, and every year a 
Club 40 reunion and party-heartily event is celebrated 
in Richland.   It's getting better and better every year.
The 1998 event featured and honored Fran Rish in 
person, fantastic pictorial displays of all the classes 
attending,  group cheers led by "in the flesh" 
cheerleaders from "those years," and much more great 
stuff.  

Members of Club 40 wanted to give Fran Rish a set
of golf clubs during his appearance at the event, but
couldn't afford that, so they gave him a box of golf
balls instead.  Hilarity ensued!

Great memories, great conversations, great 
updates. This year's gonna be great too.  The event is 
this  weekend, Friday the 10th and Saturday the 11th
at the Shilo Inn in Richland.  Norma Loescher
Boswell (53), boswelln@oneworld.owt.com, has
beein seeing a lot of last minute sign-ups as the
interest grows, but take it easy on her, folks.  I'm
not even sure that she's the official "order-taker,"
and she's got to go judge a rose show this week-
end.  

Club 40 P.O Box 1832, Richland WA 99352.
Dues are $5.00 per year.  I don't remember
the cost of the Friday and Saturday stuff.
Shoot, if nothing else, just crash the party, sweetie.  
You can buy me a drink!  Maybe even teach me to 
dance.  (If you are a girl, that is!)

                                ~~~

When Issue #46 was mailed, I did not have the class
year available to include with Ken Staley's,
contribution, "Senior Trees vs. Senior Citizens."
Ken graduated in 1958.

                                ~~~

Thanks for all your support an Interest in The 
SANDBOX.  But in all of the things you 
remember, please remember this:

What you give is what you get!

                          Al Parker
                         Your Sandbox Moderator

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From:  Dick Epler
depler@pdx.oneworld.com

Hi Al,

I like your new format and appreciate the effort that went 
into it.

In Issue #46, item 4, Devastated Area...? by Cecily 
Riccobuono-McClanahan (77), had already been printed 
in the Sandstorm (Volume II, Number 8, dtd
8/18/99) with follow-ups in the next issue (8/19/99).

I would suggest you ask your contributors NOT to 
send their contributions both to you and to the 
Sandstorm. In the above case, the news was not only
old, but included an incorrect statement which, if no
follow-ups are received, your readers might not see.  
Just in case, I've included Debbie's
response of 8/19/99 below.

  From: Debbie Lien Gieszler (69)
      mailto:jade@urx.com

Re: Mr. McCluskey

It was interesting reading Marjo Vinther's (77) and 
Cecily Riccobuono's (77) memories concerning Mr. 
McCluskey's accident on August 30, 1976. I work in
the internal dosimetry group at Battelle, and my 
coworkers monitored Mr. McCluskey after his 
accident until his death in 1987. We have several
detailed files about his accident, and I read through 
some of it today. For the technical information, I read 
the article in the Health Physics Journal that Marjo 
mentioned, which is vol. 69, no. 3, September 1995. 
It stated that Mr. McCluskey's death was due to 
cardiorespiratory failure, not cancer. It also mentioned 
that he had several pre-existing health conditions at the
time of his accident. It is all very sad, but part of his file 
contained articles and news clippings about Mr. 
McCluskey, himself, and how he dealt with this disaster. 
The one that impressed me the most was the article he
wrote to Guideposts. His article was full of hope, and how
his faith kept him going. From what I've read, he tried to 
make the best out of a bad situation. He must have been 
a very brave man. I wish I could have met him.

         -Debbie Lien Gieszler (69)

Dick Epler
depler@pdx.oneworld.com

                                  ~~~~~

Subj:    Tax Cuts 2
Date:   9/6/99 10:54:48 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From:   Dick Epler (52)
depler@pdx.oneworld.com (Dick Epler)

Like Marc Franco (66), I’m aware of the flaws of both 
political parties. Unlike Marc, I do NOT try to be a 
centrist or a moderate -- and judging by Marc’s 
comments, I don’t really think he does either. Marc is 
far too intelligent not to have strong opinions -- opinions
that would be anathema to a true “centrist.”

I’m guessing Marc just doesn’t like labels, such as 
liberal and conservative, democrat and republican, and 
so forth.  I feel much the same way, regardless of my 
particular affiliations.  I belong to various “groups”
only because it seems necessary to support those 
who do the most to minimize mischief.  But my core 
beliefs are all rooted in the principles of human
nature, also known as the “art” side of economics.  
I also believe in common sense and in the individual 
intelligence of people. All my opinions are a reflection 
of these beliefs. Someday, I’d like to dedicate a piece 
just to the Principles of Human Nature.

Speaking of which, one of the principles of human 
nature is that people tend to believe what they want 
regardless of facts. Marc’s recent criticism of the 
Republican’s Tax Bill, along with their defense of the 
2nd Amendment, is a case in point.  Clinton’s 
rhetoric on these two issues, though flawed, is
apparently close to what Marc wants to believe. But 
I don’t want to be too critical of Marc. It may be that 
Marc wrote his SandBOX piece some time ago
(Al was a bit slow in publishing #46) and might revise 
it now that more facts have come out.

While I agree with Marc that the Tax Bill is riddled with
loopholes for special interests (as are all tax bills), I’m 
guessing it’s a fairly even tradeoff between democrats 
and republicans.  Both are shameless when it comes
to giving our money to those who contribute to their 
longevity incongress.  And that leads me to the first 
reason everyone should ALWAYS be for a peacetime
tax cut: real tax cuts can make government smaller 
and that would be good!

Many believe that our government is now so large that 
it’s unreasonable to have any expectations of integrity 
and honesty from our elected representatives. And by 
and large, we don’t! Such a huge concentration of power 
and money is, if not evil, at least a big source of mischief.

Professional politicians like to tell us that it’s all our fault. 
We keep asking them to solve more and more of our 
problems, all of which requires more and more money. 
But the fact is, in peacetime, the predominate use of
taxpayer money is to buy votes; if any problems are 
solved, it’s purely accidental. Given that, all we can 
look forward to in the foreseeable future is increased 
government scandal and corruption no matter which 
party is in office.  Which is to say that if Marc and I 
went to congress, I’m quite sure we’d both either 
become corrupt or we’d be gone in short order.

Again, the only solution to this problem is to make 
government smaller.  Solve more problems closer to 
home. Unfortunately, the republican tax bill won’t do 
that. It does, however, have a useful theme, which is
 to allocate more power to the individual over where 
his tax dollars go.  And that’s not all bad.  The idea 
that government can spend your money better than 
you is wrong. No one knows better than you how to 
spend your money.

The democrats say that allowing people to keep more 
of the money they earn is inflationary (Marc’s first 
point) and will lead to higher interest rates.  There 
was a time when that was true, primarily when 
blue-collar jobs dominated America. But most 
prominent economists now recognize that there is
no inflation when new money is used to increase 
productivity. Reagan first demonstrated this with his 
tax cuts of the early 80’s which gave high tech its big 
boost (along with reduced regulation). As a result, tax
receipts and the stock market are still increasing.  Were 
it not for a spendthrift congress, which refused to approve 
any of Reagan’s annual budget proposals, our national 
debt would also be much smaller.  In white collar 
American, letting the people keep more of their money 
simply provides more options for intelligent investment. 
And this tax bill reflects that.

Marc’s next three points (#2, 3, &4) seem to question 
the basis of the so-called “surplus.”  And rightly so.  By 
any honest definition, there is NO surplus, not now and 
not for the foreseeable future. What government calls a
surplus is simply a number in an accounting ledger that
 continues to consider FICA contributions as current 
income rather than as payments against an unfunded
 liability (Social Security). Recall that Congressman
Livingston said that his first priority as Speaker of the 
House would be to remove Social Security receipts from 
the budget.  If that had happened, we would not be 
talking about a surplus today. In truth, we are still 
spending more than we collect, and our national debt 
continues to increase. The “surplus” everyone is talking 
about is no more than excess Social Security money 
after current retirees have been paid. There is no “money”
in the Social Security Trust Fund. Every year (since the 
mid sixties) we spend ALL of the Social Security money.
The trust fund only contains IOUs that will have to be 
redeemed sometime in the future by the open market sale
of government securities (just like all government debt). 
Again there is NO surplus; there is NO trust fund! Marc 
is right, if a CEO of any American Corporation used this 
accounting scheme, they would be in jail! And we have
Lyndon Johnson to thank for this when he decided to 
monitize the trust fund to make his budgets look better.

The lesson here is that our government accounting 
system doesn’t use the same rules we do in managing 
our checkbook.  So when Marc asks what’s wrong
with paying off the debt, he’s thinking that such money 
would go to retiring bonds. That is, government would 
issue a call on your savings bonds thereby increasing 
your bank account – which, of course, would be 
inflationary per the democrat’s definition. But that’s not 
what happens.  All that happens is that the General 
Fund, the government’s bank account, is a little larger
because of fewer withdrawals. Ideally that might mean 
that the next Treasury auction would be smaller, but if 
so, it would likely be only a temporary blip.  In practice, 
the chief effect would be to provide politicians with
additional money to buy votes.  Again, the ONLY way 
to solve this problem is by restricting the source of the 
money. We need to work for meaningful Federal tax cuts 
any time we get the chance (which won’t be often).

Marc wonders what we’re going to do when the baby 
boomers start to retire in large numbers.  Good 
question.  The implied assumption is that since the
“surplus” is due to FICA receipts, then if we remove 
the surplus with a tax cut, there won’t be enough money 
for the baby boomer’s retirement. Well, the fact is that it 
doesn’t matter what we do with the “surplus” -- buy votes,
or give it back to those who earned it. There’s not going 
to be enough money for the baby boomers anyway.  The
Social Security problem is separate from the Income Tax 
issue. As currently structured, Social Security is a 
pyramid scheme and like all pyramid schemes, can only 
be kept alive by increasing the base with new recruits or 
by cutting off the top by eliminating benefits. Increasing 
FICA is no longer viable.  The demographics are not
favorable: Our Nation’s birth rate continues to decrease
while retirees are continuing to live longer. Social Security 
is in big trouble regardless of this tax bill!

Next question: Do people want this tax bill?  Recent poll 
data says YES, once they know what’s in it. The previous 
polls only asked whether you might favor saving social 
security, paying off the debt, or whatever, versus getting 
a nebulous tax cut. The more recent polls first tell you 
what the tax bill is all about and then ask a similar 
question.  People aren’t dumb. The answer now is a big 
YES to the tax cut.

So what’s in it?  Marc mentioned two items, the 
elimination of the inheritance tax and the marriage 
penalty, but there’s more.  There’s a reduction of one 
percentage point for each tax bracket; A reduction of 
the capital gains rate from 20% to 18%; A phase out of t
he Alternative Minimum Tax (which penalizes families by 
minimizing the real value of family tax credits); An 
additional exemption for individuals who care for elderly
family members at home; A 100% deduction for health 
insurance premiums and long-term medical care 
premiums when over 50% of the cost is borne by the
individual; A 100% deduction for health insurance
 expenses for self-employed individuals (biggest worry 
for those wanting to start their own business); Increased
 incentives and savings options for future retirees 
(expl. IRAs = $5000); Increased education savings 
accounts from $500/year to $2000/year; Increased tax
credit for adopting special needs children from $5000 to
$10,000.

The chief effect of this tax law is to encourage individuals
 to take care oftheir own welfare and to reduce 
dependence on government. Which is why most
professional politicians hate it!

There’s more. I suggest you get on the web and 
investigate  (don’t believe Clinton’s rhetoric for the effect 
of this bill on  your welfare – decide for yourself).  And, 
as Marc mentioned, many of these cuts are phased in 
over several years so you need to find out how that might
affect your plans.

Sooo … have I sold you on the merits of the tax cut? 
Have I answered Marc’squestion as to whether a tax cut
 makes any sense? Well, Alan Greenspan doesn’t think 
so and neither do I. It just doesn’t make sense to propose
a tax cut when there is no surplus, when we’re still 
spending more than we receive

(we added about six billion to the National Debt last year).
BUT, as Greenspan said, when specifically asked, given 
the alternative between government vs. individuals spending 
the money, the latter would benefit the economy the most 
(less mischief). I agree with Alan.

*******

Only one last thing. Marc implied that 70% of the people
 want Clinton’s gun control laws, but that NRA money 
bought congress off thus thwarting the will of the people. 
Now, that’s NOT a reasonable assertion for any intelligent
centrist to believe. Gun controls, like abortion, are highly 
emotional and many faceted issues and we need to resist 
any attempt to reduce them to that sort of managed news 
media sound bite.

Here’s what we know about guns in America. First, the 
right to own a firearm is provided by the 2nd amendment
to the Constitution. The original intent of the 2nd 
amendment is to ensure the viability of all the other
amendments including the Constitution itself. For 
confirmation, read the recent opinion of liberal Harvard 
constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe. Second, bad
people will own and use guns illegally (and sometimes 
legally). The only thing that stops bad people from using
 their guns are the guns of the good guys. Third, police 
can’t and won’t attempt to protect you until you’re
already maimed or dead. And finally, you have a 
constitutional right and duty to protect yourself and your
loved ones from bad people.

Two comments. First, one of the reasons school 
shootings like Columbine, Springfield, and Kansas 
happen in upper middle class white schools is
because no one in their right mind would try that in 
South-Central LA (or any other inner-city school). Those
people know how to protect themselves.
Second, there are several well-documented scholarly 
studies that suggest that in places where law-abiding 
citizens are allowed to carry concealed weapons, there 
is a dramatic drop in violent crime. On the other hand,
violent crime is most rampant in those areas with the 
most stringent gun laws (makes crime economically 
advantageous). Perhaps the best-known scholar
in this area is John R. Lott, Jr. who has impeccable 
credentials. Dr. Lott is a Professor at the University of 
Chicago where he teaches criminal deterrence and 
economics. He is a John M. Olin Law and Economics
 Fellow.  He was the chief economist at the United
States Sentencing Commission during 1988 and ‘89.  
He has published over 70 articles in academic journals, 
along with his most famous book “More Guns, Less 
Crime.”  Among the professors who recognize this 
scholarly work include W. Kip Viscusi and Steve 
Shavell, both of Harvard Law, Gary Kleck of Florida 
State University, and Dan Polsby of 
Northwestern University.

The big problem with guns in the hands of the people
 is that they are sometimes a “final solution” for people
 driven crazy by government policies that cause 
unnatural distortions in the family, school and 
workplace. This affects approximately one to two 
percent of otherwise normal law-abiding citizens – 
and so we have the “postal effect,” the Columbine 
shootings, and various family/neighbor shootings, 
which the media and government love to dramatize. T
he solution, however, is not to do away with guns, 
but rather to do away with the source of the mischief, 
i.e., misdirected government programs. But that can 
only happen by making government smaller.

From:
Dick Epler (52)
depler@pdx.oneworld.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  -47-