The Skinny

THE GREAT SOCIAL SECURITY SCAM: We keep hearing all this wailing about how the Social Security system will be bankrupt in a few short decades. Well, before you fall for that crap, check out this month's issue of Mother Jones, that fine, hell-raising journal of investigative reporting.

Seems all it would take to ensure the system will carry the baby-boomer population bulge through to dusty death is a relatively small hike in withholding taxes right now--from 6.2 percent to 7.3 percent.

But we doubt we'll be hearing much about that simple--and relatively painless--option, even though Bill Clinton is still in the White House. The reason is simple: Wall Street investment bankers want to get their hands on hundreds of billions of dollars of our money. Naturally, they'd get their cut for managing the bucks whether our individual retirement accounts went up or down, down, down.

Frankly, we don't trust the stock market to stay up much past the first big baby-boomer die-off, which we calculate to be about 10 years from now--sorry, funseekers. Of course, by then savvy Gen-Xers should be heavily invested in the tie-dyed casket-liner industry.

One of the leaders of the drive to further enrich the Wall Street billionaires is our own U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe. According to Mother Jones, Kolbe heads the Public Pension Reform Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of House members who support Social Security privatization. Kolbe's caucus was actually created by another organization, the private Investment Company Institute (ICI), which is merely a trade association that lobbies for the mutual fund industry.

What's the deal, Jimbo: Screwing the older generation through NAFTA wasn't enough? Now you wanna screw their kids, too?

MEMO TO THE TV NEWS AIRHEADS: Listen, you sorry sacks of flatulence, we really don't give a flying Philadelphia fandango about those pointless disaster drills. They're not news. Hell, they're not even interesting video.

Seems that lately you TV "news" types have become enamored of covering these non-news events. You must think your viewers are dumber than toast to waste their time airing that stuff. Or maybe you're just practicing, so you'll be ready for a real news event, should one occur.

When it does, we'll undoubtedly see your street reporters standing there "live," about five hours after the cataclysmic event occurs, apologizing breathlessly that "Just hours ago..."

Guess it's too much to expect your street reporters, who're on average about 12 years old and just in from Los Angeles for the next couple of weeks at that, to go find out what's really happening in this town. In short, your journalism sucks.

During the election just past, the only in-studio guy who seemed to know what was happening was Bud Foster, who did a credible job explaining the issues and providing additional information about the candidates. Golly, maybe he actually reads the newspapers.

The rest of you anchor types looked like uninformed simpletons, or worse. We found it amusing when Joe 'n' Patty couldn't come up with an accurate recent history of the Pima County Board of Supervisors between them. Meanwhile, Guy 'n' Laurie provided viewers with nothing more than what we could read on the TV screen. Were you two afraid of appearing ill-informed? Well, guess what? You did anyway.

SELLING THE FARM? Our sources are telling us to keep an eye on the Arizona Board of Regents' agenda. It's rumored there's a move afoot to sell the UA farm on North Campbell Avenue. Regent dudes like John Munger and Hank Amos III would undoubtedly love to see the farm converted to apartments. Wouldn't surprise us if they put up high-rises--any group that could approve the use of the old IBM plant way to hell and gone on the southeast side as the U's new campus is capable of anything. Perhaps they'll vote to plop a toxic sludge dump right there by the river.

GARY TRIANO IS STILL DEAD: Expect to see that headline in the Tucson Citizen any day now as the fading afternoon rag continues to churn the non-news involving the November 1 car-bombing of local developer Gary Triano. It's obvious Citizen cop shop denizen David Teibel is rewriting the same story over and over to keep the item in front of the public in the hopes it'll jog somebody into calling law enforcement or the press with a new piece of information. That part would probably be OK, but who are the bozos at the Citizen who gave us these headlines: "BLAST FRAGMENTS STUDIED" and "WITNESSES TO TRIANO BLAST SOUGHT."

Give us a break--those suckers ought to be in the non-news hall of fame. They come somewhere between: "PAINT DRIES ON NEW BUILDING" and "LOST DOG FOUND IN OWNER'S BACK

YARD." They bring new meaning to "slow day."

AND SPEAKING OF CAR BOMBING: After two consecutive Skinny articles and a little air support concerning the obviously BS news coverage stating the car bomb used in the Triano hit was made from "black powder," The Arizona Daily Star finally backed off the BS. On November 16, in a story by Ric Volante, we were told the manufacturer of the explosive used in the blast had been identified. The article further stated: "Some law enforcement officials and news organizations, including The Arizona Daily Star, have referred to the explosive by the misleading term 'black powder.' The term commonly refers to the type used in muzzle-loading guns. But the bomb actually contained 'smokeless powder,' a blackish-gray explosive packed in modern ammunition cartridges, ATF and sheriff's officials said yesterday."

OK, but that still leaves a couple of questions: Why did an ATF PR flack incorrectly identify the explosive in the first place? Ignorance or political agenda? Why did it take so long for ATF to correct their original statements? And have the news media finally learned their role is something more than regurgitating government handouts and statements? Now that you've been hustled once, will you continue to be jived by the same source?

FIFE RECALL R.I.P.: Somebody needs to tell those still feebly trying to Recall Governor J. Fife Deadbeat III that it will take more than hanging signs on leftover rebar. There was a golden opportunity to pick up plenty of signatures by simply working the polling places on general election day. But Symington foes missed that opportunity either because those in charge of the recall are too poorly organized, or else there simply aren't enough people who want the Whiteguy's ass to carry the petitions. Either way, plan on not having a recall election.

SUNDAY DRIVE: Last weekend we loaded the kids in the car and took an old-fashioned Sunday drive. It's good to get out occasionally and explore our rapidly growing town. And besides, little Biff and Spanky looked so cute in their Sunday best, we wanted to prolong the illusion of Norman Rockwell normalcy for an hour or so, before they jumped back into their ripped jeans and T-shirts to twitch away the afternoon in front of the Super Nintendo.

We thought we'd explore the relatively new Aviation Highway. Pristine and all but deserted, it's been beckoning to us for a year now, in our daily commutes downtown or to the southside on various errands--at times when we've been much too chained in daily drudgeries to follow the lure of the open road. Speeding over the dismal 22nd Street overpass, often we've glanced down at Aviation Highway and glimpsed its virgin concrete stretching southeastward in a seemingly endless, free-wheeling, all-American sort of glory.

Of course we were destined for disappointment.

Once you're on it, the Aviation Highway makes no sense at all. What was once a crummy, two-lane blacktop slithering alongside the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks is now a four-lane parkway boldly paralleling those same tracks. But there are stoplights every mile or so, and--oh, shattered dreams of high adventure!--it goes essentially nowhere.

On the west end, Aviation Highway more or less dead ends at the Broadway Boulevard underpass leading to downtown. So naturally we opted to head southeast, toward the horizon. Unfortunately, that route, too, ends abruptly, around South Alvernon/Palo Verde, where Aviation Highway merges with Golf Links Road. Whee!

Not exactly the excursion of our vagabond dreams. But what the hell, the kids were belted in and fighting quietly between themselves, and we had a full tank of gas, so we continued cruising east. Mindlessly so. Past Davis-Monthan, past the rows of shoddy apartments and all the other detritus of urban-edge dwellers' desert development. And onward toward the far eastside, our trusty family sedan thrumming along, as we wondered vaguely why in the hell our government officials had spent millions and millions of dollars to spiff up that pitifully short stretch of Aviation.

Whose odd little scheme was it? And why didn't they spend all that money instead making 22nd Street into a parkway, which would have benefited far more people? And on and on, into the lush desert, now scarred and pitted only here and there by someone's five-acre, slump-block dream ranchette and junked-car repository. And then, just for the hell of it, we chanced to turn right, and soon, as if in a dream, there it was--legendary land speculator Don Diamond's wonderful Rocking K Ranch!

Yes, the potential mega development we've heard so much about--or so little, really, if you read the daily papers. It all became clear to us then: Golf Links-to Aviation-to downtown-to, eventually, Interstate 10, the world, the universe, the mind of God...

It's all interconnected in a grand plan, as we're sure voters will agree when the Tucson City Council gets around to annexing the Rocking K, and then we city dwellers are asked to approve millions in bond money to bring Golf Links up to Aviation Highway standards and build bridges and city recreation centers for all the rich people privileged enough to live way out there amid the scenic splendor of the Rincons.

Oh, we'll happily pay and pay and pay. After all, hasn't that always been the peasantry's obligation?

We took the interstate back to Tucson. The sign just west of the Vail turnoff said it was 23 miles to town, and we drove really fast. TW

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