Monday, January 25, 2016

Fixing Social Security

In response to this op-ed column, I sent a letter to the L.A. Times last week (not published):

Andrew Biggs says, "A policy such as eliminating the $118,500 ceiling on wages subject to payroll taxes, a favorite of progressive advocates, would raise U.S. taxes to Scandinavian levels without fixing the long-term shortfall." He offers no explanation.

I strongly support eliminating that ceiling. Would Biggs or someone please explain why that wouldn't alleviate the shortfall?

After the letter didn't appear in the paper, I sent my question directly to Biggs, who did reply, saying

... eliminating the payroll tax ceiling would fix between 40-70% of the 75-year funding imbalance[, but] employers will “pay” the extra payroll tax by reducing wages for their employees [so that] less payroll is subject to federal income taxes, Medicare taxes and state income taxes. There’s also the way in which higher tax rates provide a disincentive to work....

I definitely still think such a simple fix for 40-70% of the 75-year problem is worth it. And if it helps decrease obscene wages and raises for the 1%, all the better!

Friday, January 15, 2016

My achy back

Victor and his dog Chester

When I'm in Mérida and Victor is at work, I walk a lot. Sometimes I walk with his dog Chester. On Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 22, I was walking Chester in a nearby park, wearing my billed cap as always. At one point, I had my head down looking at Chester, and walked right into a large tree branch, hitting myself on the top of my forehead.

The hit wasn't very hard, but in my surprise, I stumbled back half a step and then fell down hard on my butt, and a moment later, I was flat on my back on the ground. Slowly bringing my knees up and then sitting up was painful. I slowly stood up, in pain, and moved to a nearby curb to sit down. I felt like I needed to sit higher, so I moved to a nearby raised sidewalk and sat there. Still painful.

I decided what I most wanted was to lie down in bed. Doing everything slowly and in pain, I stood up and walked with Chester three blocks back home. Being on my back in bed felt a bit better, but not pain-free.

What I think I have is tailbone pain — coccydynia. I read multiple pages such as this about treatment.

I didn't sleep very well that night. In the following days, I cut way back on walking (sigh). I bought Advil and took one just before bedtime, which helped me sleep a little bit better. I also used Victor's sister's massage chair a few times.

I left Mérida 2½ weeks after my fall. On the web, I saw that some people used a neck pillow as a coccyx cushion. In the Mérida airport, I bought one, tried it before the flight both under my legs and behind my back. With that behind my back and with Advil, I managed both flights. Now home in Los Angeles, I have prescription-strength ibuprofen, and I'm taking one before bed.

The pain is definitely lessening, and I'm sleeping a bit better, and I'm walking the Great Dane (slowly) for more than an hour each day. I haven't yet seen a doctor. If the pain continues to decrease, I probably won't.