The SANDBOX
                 Great American Conversations
                    With The Alumni of RHS
                           Issue 82
                      September 12, 2000

"There are important cases in which the difference
 between half a heart and a whole heart makes just 
 the difference between signal defeat and a splendid 
 victory."  -A. H. K. Boyd

Look who's talking today~

           Norma (Loescher) Boswell (53
         Ann Minor '70, Steve Carson (58), 
        Gene Trosper (85), Dick Epler (52)
        Bob Carlson (aka "Mike Clowes") '54

Let the conversations begin!

Subj:   Re: TV Sitcom: "99352"
From:   Norma (Loescher) Boswell (53)
rosybos@altavista.com (Norma Boswell)

Our moderator Al Parker asked an interesting
 question. Would we like to see 99352 expressed as
 a sitcom or a drama? Who would be the
 characters? What would be the plot? Is there a
 theme?

I lean toward a sitcom. "A little bit of sugar helps
 the medicine go down." People will listen to
 almost any opinion if it makes them laugh. A good
 writer could present history in humorous terms
 ranging from gentle to sharp-edged. The characters
 could be people like ourselves and our parents,
 living through the 40's. If the series received good
 ratings, the timeline could move into later years,
 perhaps up to the present.

Two possible themes could be persistence and
 resilience.

            - Norma (Loescher) Boswell (53)

                             ~ ~ ~

Subj:   Bismuth-213:
           A Query About Cancer Therapies 
From: -  Ann Minor '70
Reply-to: weaselmthr@ncidata.com

OK, attach Bismuth-213 (re: issue # 75) to pt's own
cancer antibody works for me, but in the case of 
leukemia, are the "bad" (cancerous) white blood
cells different enough from the healthy ones that
the antibodies attach to only the bad ones? 
What about the stem cells or whichever in the 
marrow that are producing the "bad" ones?  I 
imagine the point of the letter was pro-nuclear 
rather than what's new in oncology, but I really
 am interested.  The new therapies really rock, 
and will, I truly believe, make chemo obsolete 
in our (hopefully) lifetimes. Anyone know more 
about the use of radioactive isotopes in cancer 
tagging therapies? Thanks. 

                    -  Ann Minor '70

                           ~ ~ ~

Subj:   Foreign Policy
From:  Steve Carson (58)
SteveNitro@aol.com
Re: The SANDBOX #78

For Marc Franco.  I appreciated your response and
 believe that we are in agreement.  The elements I
 would look for in our foreign policy would be an
 acknowledgment that countries we are dealing
 with have their own culture and values and that we
 respect them.  (Human Rights should always be in
 our consciousness and we a proponent of them)  

I like the Bush acknowledgment that we have been
 essentially ignoring our South American neighbors
 and that his administration will address that.  As to
 foreign policy in trade matters I believe that a
 mirror policy would serve us well and put the
 onus on our trading partner to set the bar. 
 Another question is how we could go about
 managing our monetary foreign aid so that it gets
 to the programs intended and not into the pockets
 of the government officials.  
  
                Be well, Steve Carson (58)

                                ~ ~ ~

Subj: If McCain Had Been Gore's Running Mate
From:   Steve Carson (58)
SteveNitro@aol.com
Re: The SANDBOX #78

Mr. Eckert: The problem with your scenario is that
 if McCain was named to the Democrat ticket he
 would be booted out of the Republican party, loose
 his seniority and his Chairmanship.  

Given Gore's actual pick will we now hear of the 
 Radical Religious Left?

                      Steve Carson (58)

                              ~ ~ ~ 

Subj:  Libertarians Becoming More Representative
  of The Populace
Re: The SANDBOX #78
From:   Gene Trosper (85)
gtrosper@ez2.net

Bob Carlson wrote:

"...the reason that libertarians are not represented in
 national office is not their respectability, but their
 intelligence.  They are too smart for the voters. I
 don't mean to say that they are smarter than the
 average voter, they just appear to be.  Does this
 explain Jesse Ventura?  Who knows."

Ah! The "Geek Factor"! being a Libertarian, I
 know full well the impression that some people
 have of us: Intelligent and overly rational. It's no
 secret that many Libertarians are professors,
 computer scientists, engineers, philosophers, etc.
 Attending a Libertarian Convention can sometimes
 seem like a convening of the "intellectually
 supercharged."

I think a lot of this stems from the early years of the
 party when a majority of it's members were
 devotees of Ayn Rand and her Objectivist
 philosophy. A philosophy which praises reason and
 success.

Over the years however, we have seen more
 "average Joe's" filter in to the Libertarian Party. In
 fact, at our recent national convention in Anaheim,
 CA, I would say that the average Joe easily
 outnumbered the "Old Guard." We finally have
 become much more representative of the populace.

Many of us can wait for our shot at representation
 in national office because we would rather slowly
 and methodically build our base of support from
 the bottom up. If we have no solid foundation, we
 will surely crumble, just as the Reform Party has
 already done.

As for Jesse Ventura being a libertarian....not on
 your life! He may agree with libertarians on some
 issues, but he takes a decidedly unlibertarian
 stand on many other issues. He is more of a poulist
 than libertarian. And while I am at it, I may as well
 remind everyone that Lyndon LaRouche IS NOT
 a Libertarian! I have no idea how that rumor
 started, but it is finally coming to an end.

                      - Gene Trosper `85

                                  ~ ~ ~

Subj:  The Surplus, Social Security, and Taxes
 August 31, 2000
From: Dick Epler (52)
depler@ortelco.net 

This year's election rhetoric is going to be mostly
 about "spending the surplus." So maybe the first
 thing we need to know is that there is NO Budget
 surplus -- yet. If there were a surplus, then we
 would actually be spending less money than we
 take in, and the public debt, which is an
 accumulation of deficits, would be getting smaller,
 right? Well, it's not! We were supposed to have a
 small surplus in FY99. Didn't happen, instead,
 FY99 wound up a $130 billion deeper in the hole.
 In another month (9/30/00) we'll know the results
 for FY2000.
 
The debt varies from month to month and has been
 lower in some months than the previous, but on a
 yearly basis, the debt since 1969 has always been
 higher than the year before. An Internet site that
 provides an up to date accounting of the public
 debt down to the penny is
http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdpenny.htm
. There are other sites, based on the same official
 information that provide a more graphic portrayal
 of the Government's income and expenses that
 produce this debt, currently at $5.67 trillion.

So how, you might ask, can both political parties
 rationally argue that we have surpluses when the
 debt is increasing? The short answer is that they
 can't - at least not yet.

The long answer, that I won't get into, has to do
 with various economic projections, which may or
 may not come to pass. In truth, what the
 politicians call a "surpluses" is only a future
 projection and therefore not reliable. Worse, the
 mentality of Government's everywhere is never to
 end a fiscal year with a surplus. People who have
 been involved in Hanford's budgeting process
 know this all too well. At the end of each fiscal
 year, there is generally a rush by each department
 to finish with a small overrun. It's a tried and true
 way you get your department's allocation
 increased for the next year. To his credit, President
 Carter tried to institute zero-base budgeting, but of
 course it didn't help a lot. When it comes to
 spending money, Government is very creative.
 Whatever the projected surplus is now, it WILL
 change, especially AFTER the election and in a
 negative direction. We can depend on it. After all,
 the people projecting surpluses (the CBO and the
 OMB) are the same as those who, just a few years
 ago, were projecting deficits to the end of time.

What we really have here is an accounting problem.
 Any corporate CEO or CFO that used our
 government's accounting rules would be put in jail.

Social Security (SS) is an excellent example. It's a
 pay-as-you-go plan, also known as a pyramid
 scheme because it's dependent on always having
 significantly more contributors at the bottom than
 recipients at the top. But current demographics
 suggest just the opposite, which means that Social
 Security, rather than having a surplus, is actually
 running a deficit in actuarial terms, as there are NO
 reserves (trust fund) to pay future claims. All
 claims are paid from current receipts. It's always
 been that way. No private insurance company
 would be allowed to do that. But that's not even
 the worst part.
 
The worst part is that even if the surplus were real,
 Government will never have the will to setup
 individual SS accounts that are "untouchable" by
 Government. Both parties seem to agree on this.
 Every year the SS "surplus" is spent in its entirety
 by Government on other programs. In all previous
 years, to even suggest investing that money in
 separate SS accounts would mean the Government
 would have to either cut existing programs or raise
 taxes. Apparently, that will be true in the future,
 whether there is a surplus or not, as neither party
 really believes in privatizing SS.
 
In truth, however, having the Government "save"
 money by investing in the markets is a bad idea
 (big, BIG, source of mischief there). So the best
 the Treasury can ever do is to buy back debt, but
 the last time we had a surplus in 1969, the money
 was simply carried over to the following year to
 cover proposed increases in spending. This year, a
 real tax reduction has been proposed as an
 alternate to increased spending. And that's a large
 part of what the current political rhetoric is all
 about.
 
Currently, the accountants tell us that Federal
 taxes are at 20.1% of GDP, the highest since 1945,
 but most people aren't aware of it. That's because
 almost 50% of the people don't pay any *Income*
 tax. But even if they don't pay Income Tax,
 they're paying a full 15.3% in SS (FICA) taxes on
 all earned income.  But they don't think of it as a
 tax because they're under the illusion that the
 money is being saved in a separate account for
 their retirement. It's been a useful illusion. I should
 mention that only half of the 15.3% (7.15%) is
 visible on the pay stub. Employers are forced to
 hide the other half, so this is another useful
 illusion. Another major illusion is that corporations
 pay taxes. Not true. The consumer pays corporate
 income taxes at the register just like "state sales
 taxes." The only difference is that corporate
 income taxes are paid in the form of increased
 prices so they're not as visible as sales taxes.
 Calling for increased corporate taxes is like calling
 for a tax increase on yourself. In truth, consumers
 pay ALL taxes whatever you call them and it's a
 good deal larger than 20.1% of GDP.

The real tax questions, then, are whether you
 believe Government can spend your money better
 than you, and if so, how much should government
 allow you to keep (implying that the money really
 doesn't belong to you). For what it's worth, Alan
 Greenspan thinks individual spending is best
 economically.
 
Regardless, the SS problem remains. The problem
 is not that SS will run out of money. The problem
 is that SS doesn't have any money. Never has!
 Contrary to popular belief, Social Security taxes
 are not deposited into Social Security trust funds.
 They flow each day into thousands of depository
 accounts maintained by the government with
 various financial institutions across the country.
 Along with many other forms of revenues, these
 SS taxes become part of the government's
 operating cash pool, more commonly referred to as
 the U.S. Treasury. In truth, once these taxes are
 received, they become indistinguishable from other
 monies the government collects. Regarding SS
 specifically, the best government can do is to
 estimate when it will be necessary to increase taxes
 when unfunded SS obligations become due.
 
To fix SS, the existing system has to be
 significantly changed. Doing that has been called
 the third-rail of politics, which is a subway train
 metaphor implying that touching it will kill you.
 Credit George Bush with a plan ALL politicians
 know has a chance of succeeding. Maybe
 Government can't save the "surplus," but
 individuals can. For the first time in the history of
 SS, individuals would actually have personal
 accounts the Government can't touch. Lieberman
 and other Democrats know it's the only reasonable
 option, but that doesn't mean they won't try to kill
 it. Democrats simply can't afford to have the
 Republicans taking credit for something so
 intelligent.
 
At this point, Marc Franco (66) might suggest that
 I'm only proving his point that there's little
 difference in the two parties. Of course, he's right
 in many ways, but I would argue that in one very
 fundamental way, the difference is huge. It has to
 do with exactly how Government plans to impact
 our lives in both the short and long terms. The
 approaches of the two men and their parties really
 are significantly different.
 
Maybe the tax plans of Bush and Gore are the
 single best examples to illustrate the difference. It's
 been said that Bush's plan is very simple, but is
 hard for the public to grasp, while Gore's plan is
 complicated but is very easy to grasp. So why is
 that? The explanation isn't that hard, but I've yet
 to hear anyone actually say it. In essence, simple
 plans like Bush's aren't dependent on the media or
 anyone else for understanding. Media
 interpretation can be checked too easily so they
 just don't say anything about Bush's plan. It's
 something we can do for ourselves. On the other
 hand, complicated tax plans allow the author
 (Gore) to utter cutesy 5-second sound bites that
 can go unchallenged. In other words, complicated
 plans are essentially a license to lie with impunity.
 Regardless of what you may actually think, you
 have to believe that further complicating the tax
 code is another big source of mischief.
 
Nevertheless, a few independent accountants have
 attempted to analyze Gore's tax plan. His
 apologists use selected details as debating material
 on the Sunday talk shows without ever mentioning
 the accountant's conclusion. Occasionally,
 however, a host like Tim Russert, spoils
 everything. On Sunday TV, Tim had the audacity
 to display the following conclusion: "Gore's Tax
 Plan is not really a tax cut, but is simply a
 collection of Government programs to be
 administrated by the IRS." That's as honest a
 statement as you'll see in this campaign. Another is
 that Gore's tax programs can be better described
 as the "FY2000 Full Employment Act for Tax
 Lawyers and Accountants" (anonymous), as those
 are the people who benefit a good deal more than
 the taxpayers.
 
But that's not why I personally don't like Gore's
 plan. My big objection is that, like most
 Government programs, Gore's plan distorts the
 free economy by wasting valuable resources on
 contrived problems created for the purpose of
 buying votes. In addition, large centralized
 programs always impose significant overhead to
 become major impediments to getting things done
 in a time useful to improving the situation of those
 needing it. Again, the real beneficiaries of such
 programs (bureaucrats, lawyers, accountants – big
 government) are precisely those who don't need it.
 On the other hand, history consistently teaches that
 the best solutions are those that are made closest
 to the source of the problem, i.e., on the local or
 individual level.

Similar arguments can be made regarding other
 issues such as education and medical. In each case,
 the Democrats would expand Federal Government
 to administer large programs that generally make
 problems worse. The Republicans, in contrast, use
 Government to encourage solutions closer to the
 source, often down to the individual level. Here
 are some of the consequences: For Democrats,
 Government money always goes to the
 *providers* of a particular benefit; for
 Republicans, the money goes to *individuals* who
 then decide among competing options to achieve
 satisfactory solutions. For Democrats, giant
 bureaucracies and industries are created to take
 advantage of new Government money; for
 Republicans, small highly mobile companies are
 created to encourage people to consider alternate,
 more satisfying, solutions than the single
 Government recommendation. For Democrats,
 people's unrealistic expectations often lead to
 bitterness and class warfare as they worry that
 someone else is getting away with more than they
 are, and so feel angry about not getting their fair
 share; for Republicans, people feel empowered to
 decide their own fate, to enjoy success and to have
 great feelings of self-accomplishment.  For
 Democrats, a bureaucracy is created that takes on
 a life of its own to where it can never be gotten rid
 of even after the original problem is gone; for
 Republicans, getting individuals involved in their
 own success is self-correcting and essentially
 immediate. For Democrats, the original problems
 never get solved, they just get more expensive; for
 Republicans, once the initial problems are solved
 the efforts are redirected to solving new problems
 resulting in consistent progress.

To my way of thinking, those differences are
 significant enough to use as a rational basis for our
 vote. Voting on the basis of "image" is something
 else entirely.

                     - Dick Epler (52)
                   depler@ortelco.net

Subj:   Not a Clinton Lover/Apologist
From:  Bob Carlson (aka "Mike Clowes") '54
bobs@proaxis.com (Robert Carlson)

I see I have now been singled out as a "Clinton 
 Lover/Apologist."  Sorry, but I am neither.  I'm
 just a tax payer who's pissed off over the money 
 spent to prove that Clinton was a liar.  The 100 
 million Ken Starr wasted would have been a nice
 boost to Medicare/Medicaid or Social Security. 
 And now the new guy wants to spend even more
 rehashing the same old stuff.  How many times to
 you want to flog the dead horse?  You don't have
 to spend a hundred mil to prove a politician is a 
 liar.  That is a given.  All you have to do is use
 your eyes.  If the politicians lips are moving, he's
 lying.

Let's face it, "Slick Willie" (in the British slang
 connotation of the word) was to the voters the
 lessor of two evils.  And that seems to be the way
 of politics, at least on the Presidential level for the
 past several elections going back to Roosevelt.

I will admit that I did not favor Kennedy over
 Nixon, and in retrospect I thought that if Lodge
 were the candidate, the Republicans might have
 won.  At the time I felt the nation could best be
 served by someone who had the experience, not
 some rich kid who was running because "Daddy"
 had a dream.  But that is hindsight, which at times
 is as nearly myopic as foresight, and "Bootleg"
 Joe's kid won.

I guess what I miss is Harry Truman.  Not every
 one agreed with his position on a given issue, but
 at least we knew where he stood.  Even his musical
 tastes were well known; although endless
 variations on "The Missouri Waltz" tend to get
 boring.  Just don't pick on his daughter's singing
 ability.  I begin to think that Bore and Gush
 operate on the philosophy of "take any issue and
 I'll agree with you on it."  Let's face it, they're both
 politicians.

And in this light, think of it this way.  Clinton is a
 liar, he has been impeached by the House and
 found not guilty by the Senate.  The race is over,
 you lost, forget about it, and get on with better
 things.  Or are you still shocked that Jackie
 married the Greek?

         Bob Carlson (aka "Mike Clowes") '54 

                              ~ ~ ~

That concludes this issue, folks.
 Please remember to include your class year and
 former name, (if applicable), in all correspondence
 and subscription requests.  To join in the ongoing
 conversations here, send your comments to:
 The_Sandbox@bigfoot.com or simply hit the reply
 button and start conversing with us!

                      - Al Parker (53)
                 Your SANDBOX host

                             - 82 -