The Beltway babble has already fixated on defense spending and Social Security — and which is the “most unkindest cut of all” — in the 2015 budget.But there’s more to the budget than meets the sound bite. Does it really include defense cuts and entitlement growth?To quote Fox News, “The president’s budget includes 215 proposals to cut spending, will raise $680 billion in new tax revenues and reduce future deficits by $600 billion over 10 years.”Despite news stories that President Obama is cutting defense spending, he actually is asking for more money. The president’s budget removes sequester cuts, which everyone agrees were harmful to our defense; thus, not counting savings from reorganization and cutting wasteful spending, Obama’s overall budget proposal, as Kevin Drum of Mother Jones points out, “is $115 billion more than the current sequester levels demanded by Republicans.”When the president announced that the “chained CPI” proposal won’t be in his 2015 budget, we got the cliched hyperventilating that results whenever Obama’s name is mentioned. But there are sound economic — and political — reasons not to chain CPI. The CPI, or consumer price index, is a way to index spending and taxes — including Social Security benefits — to the rate of inflation.There are two ways to calculate CPI: CPI-W, an index for urban wage earners and clerical workers; and chained CPI, an index for all urban workers. Social Security benefits “tick up” slower under chained CPI, adversely affecting the vulnerable and the elderly. The AARP opposes it. The organization points out that if chained CPI is implemented now, someone who retires at 62 will be losing the equivalent of a month’s Social Security per year by the time he or she is 92, as compared to current CPI levels. Chained CPI economically shackles retired citizens who depend on Social Security.
As many of you know, I have been a longtime supporter of AVG Technologies. I admire what the company has done in growing from a small startup to a company with an advertised user base of 177 million active users and several offices around the world.Their strategy from the beginning was to give away a free product that was limited to antivirus and antispyware. They also had a paid version which claims to be a complete Internet security product.Many startup software companies use free giveaway software to establish themselves in their area of service. But giving away software is useful only as a startup strategy and all companies need revenue from sales to survive and grow. Sales revenue should come from selling to businesses.In warding off viruses, AVG is very good. When it comes to other Malware, not so good.I have been a longtime fan of Malwarebytes for dealing with malware threats other than viruses. And, of course, Malwarebytes has a free version too. Since AVG and Malwarebytes coexist peaceably, they make a good team. For that reason I have recommended the pair many times. Together they are adequate for most residential customers.Last summer, Consumer Reports did an article about antivirus software. Their pick for free software was Avast, Avira and AVG, in that order. The differences among them were very small. CR said that any of the three programs were excellent and made the comment that the free programs were adequate for most homeowner needs.
Finally, a headline of my dreams: “Rand Paul: Democrats Should Be ‘Embarrassed’ to Be Seen With Bill Clinton.” In fact, the headline is stronger than Sen. Paul’s actual statement — Democrats “ought to be a little embarrassed” — but I’ll gladly take it and extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Sen. Paul for being the first political leader I can remember (perhaps only?) to acknowledge the obvious:Bill Clinton, gross-out, serial sexual predator accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick (not to mention virtual creator of the Red Chinese military threat through releases of military technology in exchange for campaign contributions), is a national disgrace. Yes, Democrats should be “embarrassed” to be seen with him - and with his wife, too, but that’s another column.The reality, of course, is that Democrats celebrate Clinton, showcasing him as a keynote speaker at the 2012 National Democratic Convention, for example. But I doubt it’s just Democrats who still scrap for his autograph, pay a hefty year’s salary (six figures) for one speech and generally treat Bill Clinton like a respected and laudatory personage. And that’s a problem.I became a columnist and editorial writer at The Washington Times in the aftermath of Bill Clinton’s Dec. 19, 1998 impeachment, but the impeachment beat would remain busy through the next election cycle. There was much fallout to wade through - Clinton’s contempt of court finding, his subsequent disbarments, controversy over then-presidential candidate Al Gore’s come-what-may support for Clinton, and numerous other scandals now mainly forgotten. For a flickering moment, Bill Clinton was really in disgrace -eclipse, certainly — and the scandals, both large and petty, didn’t stop him.The Clinton saga, though, isn’t about one man, or even one president. Bill Clinton’s gold-plated stature symbolizes something larger - a loss of moral balance throughout society. At the time, Clinton himself was unaware of this imbalance, something that becomes apparent when recalling everything he did to cover up a scandal for which the American public, it turned out, had no intention of penalizing him. Indeed, there has been no enduring disgust about his lying, his predatory and abusive behaviors. The irony remains that Bill Clinton, our first adolescent president, actually believed his country was more grown up than he was. He was wrong. And that’s why Sen. Paul can make headlines for pointing out what, in a morally balanced society, would be unremarkable.Seven years ago, I examined this phenomenon in my first book, “The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.” What I called “the death of the grown-up” was, in fact, my metaphor for the moral vacuum at the heart of society - again, larger than any one individual, even if Bill Clinton could serve as poster boy for the perpetual adolescent. More important, though, was (and still is) the country’s inability and/or disinterest in passing judgment according to traditional precepts of right and wrong. This remains symptomatic of a wider and very dangerous cultural devolution.