SOCIAL SECURITY – CARE AND BEWARE
By GLENN MOLLETTE
Americans should be able to draw 100% of their social security benefits at age 65 but they can’t.
1983 began a gradual age increase from 65 to 67 which occurred over a 22 year period. For those who are already past 65 it’s too late to care much. People who began collecting at age 62 don’t care either.
If you started paying into Social Security by the age of 25 and most Americans did or will, then forty years is long enough to pay into a fund that should give you the maximum payout based on what you paid into the fund. Many American workers began paying into a retirement account younger than 25 and then were able to draw 100% of their retirement after 27 or 28 years of work. This means some people, like school teachers, government workers and others might retire as young as 50. Fifty is significantly earlier than 66 or 67 to begin collecting your full Social Security benefits.
Many Americans will pay into Social Security and never collect a penny although there may be family benefits.
Americans can begin collecting Social Security at age 62 at a reduced benefit. The problem this creates for many Americans is they are limited to additional income. Why should the “62” crowd of Americans only be able to make $17,640 a year? If they are paying into Social Security from what they are earning from a job then they are only supplementing a system they are collecting from. Many Americans are forced into double trouble. They have reduced benefits at age 62 because they want to go ahead and collect the income. Next, they are only allowed to make up to $17,640 additional money from working a job. They end up with a smaller amount of Social Security for life and could become totally unable to work a job thus creating a lifetime dilemma.
The average senior will collect $17,532 in Social Security benefits a year or $1,461 per month with the 2.8% 2019 cost of living increase. Some Americans are collecting $2,788 per month or $33,456 a year if they paid in the maximum taxable earnings for 35 years. The maximum amount is now $132,900! How many Americans will make the maximum amount of earnings for 35 years? Each year about 6* of covered workers have earnings above the taxable maximum income.
Sadly, once America gives up something we seldom get it back. For example, full Social Security at age 65. Our government is starved for cash. Our government has borrowed about $3 trillion from our Social Security fund. Our government “borrows” from the Social Security fund ad nauseam to cover their wasteful spending. If the government can get its way it will increase the Social Security age to 70 or higher. So beware!
Start talking to your Representative or Senator about your Social Security benefits. If you are under 65 you need to care now.
Glenn Mollette ,Washington, D.C.
NIKE, TOO BIG TO FAIL?
By GLENN MOLLETTE
We have watched corporations and famous Americans have ups and downs throughout the years.
We've all watched as Tiger Woods, Robert Kraft, and most recently, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein have had low moments.
Sadly we heard last weekend about coal billionaire Chris Cline's tragic and fatal helicopter crash.
Time and again we learn none of us are too famous, too successful or too rich to encounter a human downward life turn and tragedy.
The Nike athletic shoe and apparel corporation is the world leader in athletic and apparel sales. They made about $34 billion in 2017. They have a global presence of athletic sales in over 160 countries. Their products are sold through 22,000 retail accounts worldwide. They are the largest supplier of athletic footwear in the world.
Almost all of Nike shoes are made outside the US in Asia and Latin America. Nike does not make the shoes themselves but they contract production out to other companies. There are various reports about who Nike employs and how much their workers make. One report claims Nike has 100,000 people making their shoes in Indonesia and that these workers make about $3.50 per day or about $3,500 a year. Thus Nike is very profitable and has massive dollars for marketing.
For example, Nike entered into a $50 million endorsement deal with tennis star Serena Williams in 2003. When golfing star Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996 Nike lavished him with a $40 million five-year golfing endorsement. They would later go on to pay Woods $30 million a year in endorsements. From 2002 to 2012 Nike paid Michael Jordan $44 million a year to represent their brand. They still pay him. Forbes estimated Nike paid Jordan $100 million in 2015 as Jordan's brand still made $3 billion for Nike in US sneaker sales. Lebron James is reported to receive as much as $1 billion from Nike in endorsement money by the time he is 64 years old.
Colon Kaepernick was already on Nike's payroll before he became controversially famous for not standing for the National anthem. Nike wasn't using him and reportedly didn't know what to do with him until he became famous over his social issue stance. Kaepernick is currently not playing professional football. No one has signed him after he became a free agent but he is making millions a year by being the face of Nike's revived "Just Do It" campaign.
Recently Kaepernick ignited controversy by reportedly telling Nike to pull its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneakers. Nike said he told the company he believes the colonial flag used on the shoes is offensive, because it was flown when slavery was legal. While there has been much consternation toward Nike's decision, Nike's stock has risen $3 billion within the last week. If you can find a pair of the Betsy Ross shoes they are going for about $2,500.
The question is this, Can Nike do no wrong? Are they too big to fail? Nike is utilizing controversy well to breathe new air into its products. With major national sports figures wearing and promoting the Nike brand and cheap Asian labor Nike has locked into a formula that appears unstoppable.
Nike will continue on their path of global success if the American people buy their products. It's a free country. If Americans decide to stop buying Nike products it would be financially troubling. Either way, Nike's continued success or failure will be decided by how Americans utilize Nike's slogan, "Just Do It," and how Americans decide to "Just Do It."
Glenn Mollette, Washington, D.C.
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SHOULD AVERTING A CLIMATE CATASTROPHE
BE A JEWISH PRIORITY?
By RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ, Ph.D.
The greatest threat to humanity today is climate change. The world is on a path that could lead to an uninhabitable world by the end of this century unless major changes soon occur. And it might happen much sooner because of self-reinforcing positive feedback loops (vicious cycles) that could result in an irreversible tipping point when climate change spins out of control.
An outrageous exaggeration, like those in the past that predicted an end to the world? Not according to science academies worldwide, 97% of climate scientists, and virtually all peer-reviewed papers on the issue in respected scientific journals, that argue that climate change is largely caused by human activities and poses great threats to humanity. All the leaders of the 195 nations at the December 2015 Paris Climate Change conference, including Israel and the U.S., agreed that immediate steps must be taken to avert a climate catastrophe and most of the nations pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
An October 2018 report by the respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization made up of leading climate scientists from many nations argued that “there is no documented historic precedent” for the scale of changes needed by 2030 to avoid a climate catastrophe Despite the urgency of reductions in greenhouse gas. emissions, they increased by 1.6% in 2017 and by 2.7% in 2018.
Another major concern is that the Pentagon and other military groups believe that climate change will increase the potential for instability, terrorism and war by reducing access to food and clean water and by causing tens of millions of desperate refuges to flee from droughts, wildfire, floods, storms, and other effects of climate change.
The world is already seeing the many negative effects of climate change. Contrary to the views of many climate-change deniers, the world’s temperature has significantly increased in recent years. Every decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the previous decade and all of the 18 years in the 21st century are among the 19 warmest years since temperature records started being kept in 1880, the only other year in the top 19 years being 1998. 2016 was the warmest year globally, breaking the record held previously by 2015 and before that by 2014, the first time that there have been three consecutive years of record world temperatures.
Just as a person with a high fever suffers from many of its effects, there have been many negative effects due to the increased global temperature. Polar icecaps and glaciers worldwide have been melting rapidly, faster than scientific projections. This has caused an increase in ocean levels worldwide with the potential for major flooding. Glaciers are “reservoirs in the sky,” providing important water for irrigating crops every spring, so their retreat will be a major threat to future food supplies for an increasing world population.
There has also been an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts, wildfires, storms and floods. California has been subjected to so many severe climate events recently that its former governor, Jerry Brown, stated that “humanity is on a collision course with nature.”
Another alarming factor is that, while climate experts believe that 350 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric CO2 is a threshold value for climate stability, the world has now reached 415 ppm, the highest value in human history.
Reducing climate change is an especially important issue for Israel as a ricing Mediterranean Sea could inundate the coastal plane where much of Israel’s population and infrastructure are located, and an increasingly hot and dry Middle East makes terrorism and war in the region more likely, according to military experts.
Given the above, averting a potential climate catastrophe should be a central focus of civilization today, in order to leave a liveable world for future generations. Every aspect of life should be considered. The world has to shift to renewable forms of energy, improve our transportation systems, produce more efficient cars and other means of transportation, produce far less meat and other animal-based foods, and do everything else possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
It is essential that Jews apply our splendid environmental teachings, playing our role as a ‘light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6), in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These teachings include:
Jews are to be co-workers with G[-]d in protecting the environment, based on Genesis 2:15, which indicates that Adam was put into the Garden of Eden to “work the land and to guard/preserve it.”
Jews are to avoid wasting or unnecessarily destroying anything of value , based on the Jewish sages expansion of the prohibition of destroying fruit trees in wartime to build battering rams to overcome an enemy fortification. (Deuteronomy 20:19 20)
Jews are to imitate G[-]d, Whose compassion is over all His works. (Psalms 145:9)
Because the threats are so great, it is essential that Jews and everyone else make this issue a major priority, and make every effort to make dietary and other lifestyle changes, in order to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. Unfortunately, “denial is not just a river in Egypt,” and most people today are, in effect, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as we head toward a giant iceberg.
When I hear of a couple getting married or a baby being born, I wonder how their lives will be affected by our rapidly warming world, with its rising oceans and increasingly severe storms. This is especially relevant to me as I write this as I have happily had three grandchildren married in the past three years and one recently had a baby boy, making me and my wife grandparents for the first time.
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., Staten Island, New York
Apple, Rabbi Dr. Raymond, Jerusalem, Israel, contributing columnist
Mollette, Glenn, Washington, D.C., contributing columnist
Reuben, Liz editor
Sackett, Shmuel, contributing columnist
Sattath, Rabbi Noa, Jerusalem Israel, contributing
Teitelbaum, Israel, contributing columnist
Veltmeyer, James Dr., La Jolla, CA
The Jewish Observer Los Angeles holds itself harmless from any and all representations made in this opinion/editorial section. The paper does not necessarily agree with all or any opinions or editorials published. Freedom of speech is a Constitutional right which entitles every voice to be heard in a civil manner. This paper does not publish language of bigotry, hatred, racism and any other vile aspects of English language to defame, hurt or harm another person via publication. It aims to abide by the tenants of Judaism.
TOWARD A NEW REALISM IN FOREIGN POLICY
By JAMES D. VELTMEYER, MD
Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, America’s foreign policy lost the unifying theme and focus which had guided it since the end of World War II. During the post-War period, Americans enjoyed a certitude of the moral imperative of resisting communist tyranny. After 1990, our purpose seemed to shift and sway from promoting “human rights” to encouraging “democracy” to various sorts of globaloney.
This has led to a variety of misplaced priorities and policies which have resulted in staggering debacles like the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as military interventions in Serbia, Syria, Libya and other nations, costing U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. Only now is President Trump attempting to extricate the U.S. from some of these quicksand conflicts, only to
encounter stiff resistance from the “neo-conservative” pro-war Washington establishment as well as some of his own advisors, like National Security Advisor John Bolton, an architect of the Iraq War.
After World War II, as the sole economic superpower on the planet and an aggressive Soviet Union subjugating central and eastern Europe and fomenting a communist takeover of mainland China, leadership of the so-called “Free World” passed to the United States. For more than forty years, the U.S. – practically singlehandedly – embarked on a policy of “containment” of Soviet and Chinese communism, leading to wars in Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere.
“Containment” was the bipartisan consensus of the foreign policy establishment, rejecting grandiose concepts of actually rolling back the communist advance and liberating the enslaved nations of eastern Europe ( President Eisenhower rejected calls to intervene in the Hungarian uprising of 1956 ). Yet, even some of these “containment” strategies were misplaced as the disastrous War in Vietnam demonstrated, radicalizing an entire generation of America’s young people and almost provoking a civil war at home.
America – with its economic strength and nuclear arsenal – eventually prevailed in the Cold War, but not before President Reagan’s policies forced the Soviet economy to the brink of collapse and Secretary Gorbachev to the negotiating table. Reagan, who was cautious in his use of military force, employed a clever strategy of undermining the Soviet economy while arming anti-communist rebel armies around the world in order to weaken, and eventually, bring down the
Soviet Empire. Reagan wisely avoided large-scale interventions abroad. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the liberation of eastern and central Europe, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself in 1991, it was time for a new bipartisan foreign policy consensus and one seemed to emerge, but was it the right strategy for America’s third century?
With Republican President George H.W. Bush’s proclamation of a “New World Order” and initiation of “Operation Desert Storm” in 1990, it appeared as if the direction of U.S. foreign policy would abandon the high hopes of many for a post-Cold War “peace dividend,” a return to normalcy at home and abroad, and possibly a reapproachment with a non-communist Russia.
The Persian Gulf War ushered in a quarter-century of wars and military interventions around the world, often with little or no national interest involved.
Was there any American interest in bombing Serbia for eighty days in 1999 under Bill Clinton? Or Clinton’s prior interventions in Haiti and Somalia? How about Obama’s intervention to topple Khadafy in Libya in 2011? Or the ongoing involvement in the Syrian civil war? Will the American people benefit from replacing the secular ruler Assad (who protects the religious rights of Christians) with emissaries of radical Islam?
Of course, the tragic disaster of the Iraq War represents perhaps the worst foreign policy decision since LBJ went to war in Vietnam in 1965. Fabricated on false intelligence, egged on by the “neo-conservative” talking heads like Bill Kristol, and with no clear long-term strategy, the war simply served to destabilize the entire Middle East, upset the balance of power in the region, and exacerbate the threat from Iran. Far from creating “democracies” in that part of the world, it only unleashed the profoundly anti-democratic forces of Islamic extremism and terrorism, and empowered groups like Isis.
While noble concepts like promoting “human rights,” Western values, and “democracy” sound good in political speeches, they are simply not appropriate to a hard-headed, common-sense foreign policy based on dealing with the world the way it is, not as we would wish it to be. We need a foreign policy based on enlightened realism and the national interest, not high-sounding campaign rhetoric.
President Trump campaigned on a platform that shared the same vision as many of America’s Founding Fathers. George Washington warned against entangling alliances with other countries and John Quincy Adams said the United States “does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”
President Trump condemned the Iraq War and nation-building overseas. He demanded that our NATO allies as well as Japan and South Korea start paying the cost of their own defense, instead of freeloading on American taxpayers. He sought engagement and negotiation, instead of war, with Kim Jong-un. He opposed the crazy notion of war with Russia and has paid dearly for it.
Unfortunately, the “neo-con” faction within the Republican Party that sees war as a 24/7 necessity, has pushed back ferociously on a President who is in his heart, a non-interventionist. They pushed him into two bombings on Syria over still unproven allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime. They have denounced his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, apparently believing in a permanent U.S. military presence in those nations, something that only inflames native populations against us, as it did in Vietnam.
They salivate for war with Iran which would likely lead to a bigger military and political disaster than Vietnam and Iraq combined. These warmongers embody the very “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned us against in his Farewell Address in 1961. They are ready to employ every tool in their arsenal to get what they want, including staging false-flag incidents.
Winston Churchill once said it is better to “jaw, jaw than war, war,” meaning it’s better to try to negotiate with your adversaries and only pull the trigger as a last resort. This is what President Trump believes. Unfortunately, too many members of the foreign policy establishment yearn for a return to the Bush-Clinton years of endless military conflict. We pray that the President’s vision prevails instead.
Dr. James Veltmeyer, LaJolla, California
26 Tammuz-3 Av, 5779 July 29-Aug. 4, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES -- 627th Web Ed.
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