Friday, December 9, 2011

Good morning.  We woke to a thin blanket of snow.  The weather people say this is the fifth latest date for the first measurable snow fall.  As usual, the traffic report show a large number of crashes as drivers re-learn how to drive in snow and ice.  It is clearing now but the temperatures will stay below freezing.  The blueberries have started to lose their leaves but the stems are still green and they show the beginning of new buds.  The outer eaves of the lemon balm show cold stress but below those I found nice green leaves.  The German thyme is as crisp and fresh as it was all summer--seems to be a very hardy plant.  The roses and mum are also doing well in spite of the below freezing over night temps we have had lately.

I saw a headline with its teaser and, unfortunately, deleted the link before second thoughts came to me.  According to the headline Portugal (and possibly other governments) is raiding pension funds to meet budgetary shortfalls.  They speculate that the practice may move to this side of the Atlantic.  Well, at the state and local level such a raiding of pension funds has been business as usual for years.  Only, here the process involves governments failing to pay their contributions thereby underfunding the plans.  The Federal government has taken that a bit further by giving workers a tax holiday by cutting the employee payroll tax 'temporarily.'  The only senator who has called attention to the likely effect of the tax cut was Kirk of Illinois.  The cut moved the time when Social Security would be drained dry up by three years.  What really pricked my mind (belatedly) was the phrase that what government gives it can also take.  I object to the notion that pension or health benefits are 'gifts.'  Actually, those 'benefits' are deferred earnings.  Workers negotiated for them as part of the compensation packages the employers agreed to.  Taking them away is looting--nothing more, nothing less.

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