I am happy to see Bernie Sanders in the race.

I am currently overseas after a successful tax season, and maybe getting the news a couple of minutes later than the people stateside.   The Campaign for America’s Future reports that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will, in fact, challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.   Clinton is the odds-on favorite, but this is great news, because there does need to be a dialogue within the Democratic Party about what it is supposed to stand for.   The fact is, if no one stands up on the podium and posts challenges to the front-runner, the front-runner is not put on record as to where she stands!   Like so much of what goes on in America, corporate power people decide the policies for the party and the government, in the shadows, without accountability.

We all know that Bernie Sanders is not bought and paid for by the big corporations.   We know that Bernie Sanders is not reading talking points that have been vetted by this interest and that one.   If you listen to him weekly on the Thom Hartmann Program, you know that he is very down to earth, and is telling the People how bad things really are in America, which I myself describe as a contemporary lords-and-serfs society.  (Sanders uses the word “oligarchy”, which I think doesn’t hit the gut the same way.)

Mrs. Clinton is probably going to win, and, yes, I was some of Bill Clinton’s earliest Pennsylvania support in late 1991 and January 1992.   And my check got in there before Lani Guinier‘s did, too, if you remember that name.   I hope the party does not go into Dump the Hump mode, and Bernie’s support simply be the people who do not support Mrs. Clinton in any way.   You do everything to undermine Candidate Humphrey, you end up with President Nixon.   I think that, 50 years on, there is still a danger of that sort of thing in the Democrats.

But Bernie is no Paul Tsongas, either.  He is really going to be a candidate who forces America’s left-of-center to define where it really is on issues—just like what Elizabeth Warren has been going.   We need more of this.   And who knows?  He may just win.

2 comments

  1. John Smith · July 27, 2015

    Off topic but maybe you can answer this question:

    My wife is Japanese and has been paying into the Japanese pension system for 17 years.

    We plan (I`m American) to live in the US starting next year. We plan to stay maybe 5-7 years before returning.

    Question: My understanding of the law is my wife (who won`t be working) can continue to pay into the Japanese pension system up to five years. After that she will need a wavier of sorts to continue. However, when she called the pension office in Tokyo she was told she can pay into the Japanese pension system (while living abroad) indefinitely.

    This doesn`t seem correct as there is an agreement between the two countries regarding social security payments and benefits.

    I found this link although it link refers to Japanese who are employed and my wife won`t be working:http://www.nenkin.go.jp/n/www/english/detail.jsp?id=12

    My feeling is if my wife and I stay in the US only 5 years she should be able to continue paying into the Japanese system. After that I don`t know.

    As I recall you seem to know a lot about this matter.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • hoofin · July 28, 2015

      John, the totalization agreement is meant to avoid double coverage periods. I don’t have the authoritative answer, because if the ward administrator is saying “yes indefinitely”, it may be that that’s true for a spouse who goes to the U.S. but does not work. For sure, if your wife were to be working in the U.S., she would be “enrolled” in US social security and paying FICA taxes, unless she could show she was transferred there in a business context. At that point, it would be a question whether she should also be contributing to the kokumin nenkin.

      “Up to five years” strikes me as the rule for transferring a business, and being transferred in as an employee. Not for a spouse. Our system assumes the nonworking spouse is covered via the working spouse.

      You probably know that if a spouse is married ten years, the spouse is allowed to collect on the other spouse’s record as a survivor. (That is, the full check. And, of course, if they survive while married, then it need not be ten years.) Furthermore, that spouse can collect a 50% benefit at his/her retirement while the other spouse is still alive.

      If you are not offered employee health coverage, be ready to apply for ACA coverage. The federal Marketplace or your state exchange will be asking for income information, even if you were overseas. That’s new, and catches longtime expats coming back from Japan.

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