Lunch at the Media

As the saying goes, "There is no free lunch." To which I would add, "But there are free riders."
So, activated by the long post from the WaPo, I am placing below a compilation of prices for service from various media. Most of these are not behind an impenetrable 'pay-wall,' but they do want, and probably deserve, compensation for their work, which is no longer supported as fully by advertisers it was previously. That said, subscribing to all of these would break my budget, so choosing is important and might involve rotation.

Media Subscriptions - in $ per  Year

Print + Digital
The Atlantic
Washington Post

free/donate, asks $35/year
New York Times

New Yorker


L. A Times
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Ral. News & Observer

Foreign Policy

The Economist
The Guardian


Politics NC

Simple Economics of Mail-In Ballots

Mail-in ballots give us voters lots of flexibility about requesting them, filling them out, and mailing them back.
But this comes at a cost: some postage to request the ballot and more postage to return it. For some persons that additional out-of-pocket cost is a deal breaker, so they get pushed into voting early or voting on the main election day, mostly a Tuesday.
Let's look at this more closely:
For a person who is unemployed. extra money for a mail-in ballot reduces their funds for other needs.
On the other hand (OTOH), for a person WITH a job, there is a dollar trade-off: The pay given up to go vote versus the cost of the mail-in ballot process.
OK, let's try some rough numbers: mail-in ballot: $0.50 to send in a ballot request form plus a gracious $1.50 for mailing back the large envelope ballot. Total $2.00. {Cost shifting: have ballot-return envelope be postage-paid; the public would bear the cost, just as they do for costs at all the in-person voting sites.}
Now taking two hours of work at a low wage of $7.50 per hour = $15.00 of wages foregone.
Which would we prefer, simply on the basis of dollars: Clearly paying $2.00 while earning $15 for a net pay of $13 is a far better economic deal than leaving work to vote.
Well there are some other reasons to vote on election day: you like to chat with folks at the polls, you like the sense of community: we're all going to do this together even if we vote for different candidates. Etc.
Still, even a poorly paid worker who must go off the time clock to vote, is economically better off using a mail-in ballot unless the voting site is just around the corner from the place of work and there are no lines at the voting site.
Onward to mail-in ballots: Request it.
Print it and fill out at home and return it by mail.
Submit this form [ballot] to the voter’s county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the date of the election. [That is 30 October 2018.] This form may be mailed, faxed, emailed, or delivered in person. Visit for the contact information for all county boards of elections.
The status of your absentee request may also be checked on this website.

Receive your ballot and a special envelope by mail. 
You will need two witnesses when you have completed your ballot and are ready to mail it. They need not see your ballot, but they do need to see you sign the envelope and witness that act.

November 6 5:00 p.m.

Absentee ballots delivered to the Board of Elections must be received by 5:00 p.m. If mailing your ballot, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day.

Election chit-chat

First: "My vote won't count." Well out of millions of votes for a president or governor, maybe you can feel that way. But at the other end of the scale, when voting for dog-catcher or soil and water conservation district supervisor, or even city councilor, there are elections that are won and lost on 24, 13,  or even one vote. Clearly it is much harder to think your vote does not count in these situations. So, vote yourself and get out the vote (GOTV).

Second: talk with your family, friends, and even with the folks in the grocery check out line. Ask them when and where they plan to vote. Get them to think specifically how and when they are going to vote. This kind of conversation helps turn out the vote.

Amend NC Constitution? Just say No.

Amend NC Constitution? Just say No....

to all 6 amendments. They are at the bottom of the ballot. 

Do not skip them!

Why? Because they are worded to deliberately conceal their real purposes and because they give the incompetent  NC General Assembly powers at the expense of the executive branch that has used them wisely for decades.

Post on social media that you are voting AGAINST all six amendments. Add a picture of the Against sign. In your post, reference Protect the NC Constitution. Ask your friends to LIKE that page and your post.

Demand for yard signs has exceeded sign funding, so consider helping the principal funder with a check to David Bland or Jimmy Creech at 2040 Hornbeck Ct, Raleigh 27614.

Who is the opposition?

Campaign Talk

It is time to forget the POTUS, who tweets from behind the windows at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. Yes, he can be a problem. But without a majority in the US House and US Senate, he is much less a problem.

So, let's turn our attention to Congress and the NC General Assembly. Let us do the necessary act to change our elected representatives: We have more Democrats than Republicans. We can elect Democrats if every Democrat votes in November or before.

When will you vote? Day, time, and place? Commit yourself to this action. Ask your significant other for their commitment to do the same. Ask the same of your children, friends, of your car pool, of the folks you schmooze with. Let them know that voting is COOL!

It's not about POTUS, its about bread on the table, health care at an office, not the emergency room, about not raising the national debt by paying fair taxes, about fair pay for honest work. These are issues that Democrats stand for and Republicans go off-camera.

Social security

Social Security - Then and now

17 August 2018 was the 83rd anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935

This act has been referred to as 'the third rail of American politics" because Congress has been shocked too many times when approaching it with the intent to modify the basic social contract, which was "hold a job for 40 quarters of a year (10 years of continuous employment) and you will qualify at ages (varying) above 62 for a monthly pension for the rest of your life."

This basic formula was never mathematically sound. The payouts to individual workers  were always likely to exceed the pay-ins from those same workers. In economics-speak, the entire program represented transfer payments from one set of younger workers to one set of older, retired workers. It was never the actuarial equivalent of an annuity linking pay-ins from one worker to payouts to that same worker. And it has been amended copiously every year or two, as coverage and program mission has expanded. But it is also credited with reducing the proportion of older persons living in extreme poverty.

How could this possibly work? By having the larger pool of younger workers paying in more than was being paid out to the pool of fewer retired workers. For decades this was the case. Now, however, with shifts in the relative sizes of the working and retired pools, and in the shift from lifetime employment to a series of jobs, sometimes interspersed with periods out of the labor force or unable to find work, inflows of social security taxes are no longer esceeding payouts.

As a result the Social Security Trust Fund is beginning to decline. Without changes, money to pay out monthly will be lacking.

Now the rubber meets the road: do we, Americans, want to reduce payments to persons who have 'earned' them in the work life or do we want to increase the pay-ins to the Trust Fund and keep the bargain with workers. This imbalance can be remedied in various ways. Creating these remedies has been put off again and again, but the problem only gets more difficult to fix with passing time.

Finding out more about Social Security:


The Truth About Social Security: The Founders’ Words Refute Revisionist History, Zombie Lies, and Common MisunderstandingsPaperback – August 14, 2018
by Nancy J. Altman   $5 - $15 (electronic to paperback) Ms. Altman has authored numerous books about Social Security
Social Security Basics: 9 Essentials That Everyone Should Know Kindle Edition
by Devin Carroll   $12 paperback

And many others. Just search for "social security books"

Web Sources

Social Security (United States) Wikipedia.
This is a long, long article with many tables and citations. I believe it is a good starting place. Beyond this are many links representing different points of view. I leave these to the reader to find according to taste. This post should be considered merely a starting point, not a scholarly review.
Recently I learned of the connection between the siting of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the passage of the Social Security Act and Robert L. Doughton, a powerful member of congress from northwest North Carolina in the 1930's. It is a fascinating story of back room meetings and compromise and tradeoffs. Do a search for "social security doughton blue ridge parkway" and you will find many links.

--Michael Rulison

WCSD Newsletter - September 2018

Wake County Senior Democrats

September 2018 Newsletter

Meeting: Wednesday September 19, 2018
11:00 am for buffet lunch followed by program at about noon.
Golden Corral, 6129 Glenwood Avenue, 27612, 919-782-4880, Rt 70, west of Crabtree Valley Mall.
September Program: Current Political landscape, trends and what Democrats must do to win.


THOMAS MILLS, Editor, founder and publisher of, a website of commentary and analysis.

Since its beginning in April 2013, PoliticsNC has been a must-read for people following North Carolina politics. Thomas and his posts have been widely referenced in state and national publications.

Lunch at the Media

As the saying goes, "There is no free lunch." To which I would add, "But there are free riders." So, activat...