July 25, 2014

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Editorial
Lenient judges visit the woodshed PDF Print
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM

We have a problem in this country when 191 of the most lenient administrative law judges have approved more than 85 percent of Social Security disability claims they heard from 2005 to 2013 at a cost to taxpayers of $153 billion.

Most of those claims had been denied one or two times previously by SS workers in state offices. This act of rubber-stamping claims results in lifetime payments to many people and has led to a recent hearing by the U.S. House Oversight Committee chaired by Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Keep in mind, lifetime benefits average $300,000. Average monthly payments are $1,150, according to the Social Security Administration. This column is based on coverage of the congressional hearing by AP reporter Stephen Ohlemacher.

The two most lenient administrative judges called to testify were Tennessee Judge Gerald Krafsur and Pennsylvania Judge Charles Bridges. They have held their positions a long time and were arrogant when called to the congressional woodshed.

Krafsur approved 99 percent of the cases he heard from 2005 to 2013. As a result, Social Security is on the hook for an estimated $1.8 billion. Bridges has approved 95 percent of his cases. Both judges hear 3 to 4 times the number of cases as other administrative law judges. There are a total of 1,400 judges.

A skeptical Chairman Issa asked Bridges “Are the people working below you always wrong (when denying disability claims)? Should every physical ailment qualify a person for a lifetime disability payout?”

 
Lessons from the public records audit: 10 years after PDF Print
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM

Results are encouraging but major problems remain

There’s good news for Ohio citizens in the results of a statewide, county-by-county public records audit that was conducted by more than 60 Ohio media outlets in April under the auspices of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government.

But you shouldn’t get too excited. Problems with open records in Ohio are deeper and more complicated than ever. Let me explain why.

Why were this year’s results so much better? I suspect the main reason is greater awareness by government officials – and it also suggests that, stereotypes to the contrary, local newspapers continue to keep local officials on their toes. The training of local officials on the importance and requirements of Ohio’s records laws is far broader and more consistent than it was in 2004, the last time such an audit was conducted.

However, keep the results in perspective. This is all the audit showed: When you request a record from local government, and there’s no doubt it’s a public record, the chances of obtaining the record in the correct manner are quite good.

 
What we learned from our fathers PDF Print
Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:00 PM

It has been said: one father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters. It is important to have a father in the home for the life lessons he can pass on to his children.

New babies make men out of fathers and boys out of grandfathers. The best years of fatherhood are when your kids are old enough to wash your car but too young to drive it.

Many a father works hard to keep the wolf from the door, then his daughter grows up and brings one home. It is not easy to be a parent, but it is vital to have both a mother and father in the home raising children.

Sonora Smart was one of six children. When she was still very young, her mother passed away. Sonora and her five brothers were raised by their father, William Smart, a veteran of the Civil War.

In 1909, Sonora, now Mrs. John Dodd, living in Spokane, WA, got the idea for Father’s Day. She wanted the celebration to be the first Sunday of June in 1910 because that would have been her father’s birthday, but the local ministers had a conflict with that Sunday, so it was agreed to mark the day on the third Sunday.

Congress made Father’s Day a national holiday in 1971. What have we learned from our fathers the last 115 year? Here’s a sample of things learned that I found at the bottom of my “borrowed” file:

My father taught me religion—“You better pray that stain will come out of the carpet.” He taught me about logic—“Because I said so, that’s why.” And he taught me about foresight—“Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”

My father taught me about irony—“Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.” He taught me about the science of osmosis—“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.” Father taught me about contortionism—“Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck!”

My father taught me about stamina—“You’ll sit there until that spinach is all gone.” He taught me about weather—“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.” And, he taught me about hypocrisy—“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate!”

My father taught me the circle of life—“I helped bring you into this world and I can take you out.” My dad taught me about behavior modification—“Stop acting like your mother!” My father taught me about envy—“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

My father taught me about anticipation—“Just wait until we get home.” And, he taught me about receiving—“You are going to get it when you get home!” My dad taught me ESP —“Don’t give me that look, I know exactly what you’re thinking!”

But most of all, my father taught me about justice. “One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.”

*****

A husband took his wife to her 30th class reunion and disco was the dance theme. There was a guy on the dance floor getting down big time—break dancing, moonwalking, back flips…the works.

The wife turned to her husband and said: “See that guy dancing? Twenty-seven years ago he proposed to me, and I turned him down.”

The husband says: “Looks like he’s still celebrating!”

*****

The summer season is rapidly approaching. Millions of American families will be taking to the roads in search of memories for a lifetime. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld warns us: “Remember, nothing is ‘fun for the whole family.’”

Seinfeld said his parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

Rita Rudner offered this advice to other young couples. “I want to have my children while my parents are young enough to take care of them.” Caring for young grandchildren sure sounds like a fun activity for people in their 50s and 60s.

More parenting advice from Rudner: “When I meet a man, I ask myself, ‘Is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with?’”

Woody Allen observes, “Life is full of loneliness, misery and suffering, and it’s over much too soon.” He also said, “My parents stayed together for 40 years, but that was out of spite.”

Most of us would believe in God, if he would only give us a clear sign—like making a large deposit in our name in a Swiss bank account.

 
Insightful observations from 1955 PDF Print
Saturday, June 07, 2014 8:00 PM

If you’re at least 60 years-old, you need to share the following with your kids and grandkids. These are comments made by folks in the mid-1950s and are in stark contrast with how we live today.

Sure, times have changed. Young folks today can’t imagine how their grandparents and great-grandparents, recovering from WWII and the Korean War, could possibly live and support a family while earning less than $100 a week.

There is a movement today about raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, or as high as $15 per hour. Well, back in 1955, the federal minimum wage was raised from 75 cents per hour to $1 per hour on August 12.

I’ve heard people say they think they had more discretionary money and buying power 40 years ago than they have today. They made much less per week but they could buy the things they needed and still have money left over. Not the case today.

What happened? Everything has been supersized. We had limited options back then and we were more able to get along with smaller expectations.

In the 1950s, if you were fortunate to have a television, you probably got three channels, and they were free. No one dreamed that one day we’d pay for programming. If you had a telephone, it was on a party line. Probably cost less than $3 per month. Needy families only had toilet paper on Fridays!

Okay, here’s a list of comments made in 1955, just 59 years ago. After you’ve read them, make a list of things true today that might seem just as outrageous just 20 years from now.

- I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it’s going to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $20.

- Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won’t be long before $2,000 will only buy a used one.

- If cigarettes keep going up in price, I’m going to be forced to quit smoking. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.

- Did you hear, the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter!

- If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store.

- When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we’d be better off leaving the car in the garage.

- Those duck tail hair cuts are horrible. Next thing you know boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls.

 
Eating Michelle’s lunch PDF Print
Saturday, June 07, 2014 8:00 PM

WASHINGTON — To hear tell, the mean ol’ GOP is waging war on Michelle Obama and, brace yourself, America’s children.

Got it?

The newest war on women/children relates to the first lady’s well-intentioned but disastrous school nutrition program, otherwise known as the Dumpster Derby.

First to good intentions:

Kudos to Obama for recognizing and trying to address childhood obesity. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until these little human pillows reach adulthood and then, assuming their hearts hold out, advanced age. Assuming, too, that our bottom-line bureaucrats haven’t begun recycling high-maintenance humans by then. Might want to keep an eye on the Soylent Green market.

No, I’m not suggesting death panels. I’m employing hyperbole in the service of a point, the necessary clarification of which highlights our mind-numbing politics and our nation’s diminishing sentience.

The first lady’s “Let’s Move!” program and her focus on whole foods (as opposed to fast) and water instead of sodas have been welcome developments. Who better to bring needed attention to such issues? Obama is merely expanding her maternal focus to include all those public school kids whose mothers apparently have forgotten how to make a sandwich. Or whose fathers have forgotten to say, “Get those plugs out of your ears and make friends with the lawn mower” — or whatever its urban comparable.

Last Updated on Sunday, June 08, 2014 7:08 PM
 
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