Thoughtful, detailed, State of the Union Address analysis

Social Security in crisis… blah, blah, blah. Culture of life… blah, blah, blah. Marriage between a man and a woman… blah, blah, blah. Democratic Iraq… blah, blah, blah.

Oh well. Let’s just use this as an opportunity to continue our discussion of his dumb-ass, dishonest Social Security proposal. (I’m sorry, does that sound like I’m prejudging it?) This from the New York Times:

Mr. Bush skirted the issue of paying for the establishment of the accounts. That process, by the White House’s calculation, would require more than $750 billion in additional government borrowing between now and 2015, and trillions of dollars of additional borrowing in the subsequent decade once the system is fully up and running, analysts said.

By the way, I heard David Brooks talking on Nightline last night, saying that Republicans support privatization because they believe that by forcing more Americans to invest in the stock market, they will create more Republicans. That’s sound economic policy, huh?

UPDATE:
And while we’re at it, let’s bring Paul Krugman back into the discussion:

The Social Security projections that say the trust fund will be exhausted by 2042 assume that economic growth will slow as baby boomers leave the work force. The actuaries predict that economic growth, which averaged 3.4 percent per year over the past 75 years, will average only 1.9 percent over the next 75 years.

In the long run, profits grow at the same rate as the economy. So to get that 6.5 percent rate of return, stock prices would have to keep rising faster than profits, decade after decade.

Krugman explains that for stocks to yield the 6.5 percent rate of return projected by the privateers, the average price-earnings ratio would have to rise to over 100 by 2060. (The historic average is 14, today it’s about 20.) This creates a Catch-22:

They can rescue their happy vision for stock returns by claiming that the Social Security actuaries are vastly underestimating future economic growth. But in that case, we don’t need to worry about Social Security’s future: If the economy grows fast enough to generate a rate of return that makes privatization work, it will also yield a bonanza of payroll tax revenue that will keep the current system sound for generations to come.

Alternatively, privatizers can unhappily admit that future stock returns will be much lower than they have been claiming. But without those high returns, the arithmetic of their schemes collapses.

It really is that stark: Any growth projection that would permit the stock returns the privatizers need to make their schemes work would put Social Security solidly in the black.

Man… Bushies must hate Krugman.

Comments

  1. 1

    Richard Pope spews:

    I thought Bush’s State of the Union speech this year was a lot better than his speech last year. It will certain provoke a lot of thoughtful discussion and debate about his proposals, especially on Social Security.

    Regardless of the merits of the “privatization” plan, it is pretty clear that it will require trillions of dollars in additional funds from somewhere, since Social Security is mostly funded out of current revenues. “Privatization” can’t possibly make the Social Security system more solvent.

    It does bring up an interesting idea. Why not put the entire 12.4% social security payroll tax into a private investment account for each worker? Let the worker invest these monies in reasonably sound investments under a regulated scheme. Only allow these funds to be withdrawn upon retirement, and based on some life expectancy sort of scheme. And let any remaining funds be inherited to whomever the worker chooses.

    Obviously, this will result in massive shortfalls for other social security benefits. There would need to be money to pay for disabled workers. There would need to be money to pay the dependents of deceased workers. Since the current benefit scheme has a social welfare element, there would need to be money to supplement what lower income workers would otherwise receive. And if a worker lives longer than expected and uses up the private account, there would need to be money to cover this as well. Not to mention money to pay benefits for all the existing workers and retirees that are expecting them.

    The solution? Simple. Increase the income tax by at least 10% on higher income individuals and corporations. Use the new taxes to fund benefits that are already promised and the social welfare aspects of the current system.

    I wonder if Bush and the Republicans would be as enthusiastic about “privatization” if it were funded by increasing taxes on the rich and better off?

  2. 2

    spews:

    Goldy,

    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the White House backgrounder given to the press prior to the SOTU. The Boston Globe has a good writeup. The bottom line: the White House admits that the President’s plan doesn’t even fix the problem. Anyone want to tell me why we’re supposed to want to do this?

  3. 3

    spews:

    By the way, don’t I get any credit for the pointer to Krugman?

    While I’m at it, I’ll predict that folks like Cynical and ProudAss will disparage Krugman, wax eloquently about the virtue of giving people control over their money, but won’t actually address Krugman’s points–particularly that last one with respect to projected rates of growth in the economy.

  4. 4

    D Huygens spews:

    Up is down, black is white, torture is an American value, energy companies creating false crises: OK, massive deficit spending is da bomb, guaranteeing benefits so grandma isn’t on the streets is bad news. And 50.1% of moron-Americans are buying it.

  5. 5

    Janet S spews:

    Social Security is not a trust fund. It has no money. The only reason Grandma gets a check is because the govt votes on it. They could vote next week not to send Grandma a check.

    Krugman puts up lots of strawmen, and then shoots them down. What he doesn’t address is the basic concept of owning your Social Security account. That means there is real money in the account, not promises by the govt to tax someone in the future to pay you. If you die before you can spend it, you get to pass it on to someone.

    It is a scare tactic to say that will increase the federal debt. The shortfall is already there, it just isn’t on the books yet. Doing nothing is just burying your head in the sand.

    So, if you don’t want to privitize, what do you want to do?

  6. 6

    jcricket spews:

    Janet – You won’t really own anything under the Bush plan.

    http://www.pandagon.net/mtarchives/004570.html

    If you want to pass on real money to your kids (or spouse) if you die before retirement, buy a cheap life insurance policy.

    And speaking of strawmen, there are lots of choices other than “do nothing” or “support the Bush plan”. There’s “raise the retirement age 1 or 2 years for workers under 50 and increase the wage cap.”

    To paraphrase another post at pandagon:

    Democrats aren’t “indifferent” to the problems of Social Security. They simply don’t believe that a $3.4 trillion shortfall over the course of 75 years should be “remedied” by $4.5 trillion in spending and additional cut benefits over the next 20 that also manages to dramatically increase the risk for future retirees.

  7. 7

    Frank spews:

    Both sides are putting up strawmen and shooting them down. Here are a few facts:
    – Money is fungible. Income is money, and it is all fungible. The Federal Government has many sources of income, including the income tax, the social security tax, revenues from sales of bonds and notes, logging sales, etc. ALL of this money is treated the same when it comes in. There is no separate pot money for social security versus, say, defense spending or payment on interest of bonds.
    – The Federal government does not save money for a rainy day. It doesn’t have a hoard of unspent money sitting around somewhere for anything – not for SS payments, or interest payments, or welfare payments. Each year, the federal government spends every cent it collects in income, regardless of where the income comes from (see point one – money is fungible). In years where there is more income coming in than going out, the excess income is spent retiring outstanding debt (by calling bonds, I believe). If projected income is less than projected going out, more bonds and notes are sold, generating the income needed to pay the outgos.
    – SS is one of the obligations the government pays every day. So is salary for soldiers and crop support for farmers. There is no difference in these payments – it is just money. The payments have nothing to do with where the money came from. We could tomorrow say the SS Tax is for Crop Support, and we’d have a surplus in the fictional Crop Support Trust Fund. It would make no difference. The government would still pay out the same amount of money to SS recipients.
    – The projected future obligations of SS are large, and they are increasing. That is the problem. It has nothing to do with fake trust funds or the fictional separation of income tax and SS tax. It is simply an issue of how much the government has to pay out every year for all of its obligations, and this particular obligation, SS, is going to take a bigger and bigger share of the pie. If we decide SS is the #1 priority of the government, and benefits must stay the same, we can do that. The income sources of the government can pay that obligation for the infinite future. Now, that may mean we spend all the Fed’s income on SS and servicing the debt, and we have no military, but we could do it.
    – It is all a balancing act. SS is not special, it is just one of the obligations. It is growing ALOT, so we may want to slow that down. Maybe you slow it down by letting people have their own retirement accounts and not paying them as much from the Fed’s income. Maybe you raise the retirement age. Or maybe we don’t want to slow it down. Maybe we raise taxes or cut other programs. SS is no different than any other government program in that regard, or in any regard. We have to balance income and outgo, every year.

  8. 8

    Janet S spews:

    I can’t get to the pandagon link, but it doesn’t matter. This is someone’s opinion of what the president’s plan is. Bush is giving an outline of what he wants, and leaving to the congress to fill in the details.

    Frank is correct that social security is just another govt program. I’m having troubles, though, finding in the constitution where it says that the govt is supposed to support you in your old age. There also aren’t any references to crop supports.

  9. 9

    John spews:

  10. 11

    jcricket spews:

    Janet – the pandagon link is an analysis of this article:

    http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBEOOZ9Q4E.html

    At first, contributions to personal accounts would be capped at $1,000 per year, a level that would rise by $100 a year until all workers could invest the full 4 percent.

    All workers choosing to set up a personal account would be required to purchase an investment that would combine with their monthly government check to assure income above the federal poverty level during retirement.

    Any funds that remained available under these annuities after death would go to the Social Security program; the money could not be inherited. While that would assure retirees a monthly check while they live, it also could undercut what polling shows is one of the most persuasive arguments on behalf of personal accounts – that they can be inherited.

    You will “own” nothing.

  11. 12

    Janet S spews:

    John – you must be thinking of France, where they let their old people die in the summer heat. Hear in the US, the older generation is wealthier than everyone else.

    Yes, there are those who didn’t plan for their retirement, or had circumstances happen beyond their control. I’m trying to figure out, though, why we take money from struggling young families so we can give the money to everyone over the age of 65.

    By the way, I have my retirement money invested in stocks and bonds. Should I be bailing out so Bush’s buddies don’t steal it all?

  12. 13

    Frank spews:

    The obvious way to reduce SS outgo’s (and for some reason I didn’t include it in my long-winded diatribe :)) is to means-test it. Pay out SS benefits only to “poor” old and disable folk. Warren Buffet doesn’t need it.

  13. 14

    John spews:

    Janet – people die in the summer heat here as well. You just don’t hear about it if you watch Faux News Channel.

    SS is a social contract between the young and the folks who made it all possible for the young. That being said, the payroll tax should never and I mean never rise beyond it’s current rate. That’s why it’s so important that a fix like lifting the earning cap is put in now. The Democrats better have an alternative plan ready for the debate.

    As for your retirement portfolio diversification helps. You might look at foreign investments and reits as well.

  14. 15

    John spews:

    Janet – people die in the summer heat here as well. You just don’t hear about it if you watch Faux News Channel.

    SS is a social contract between the young and the folks who made it all possible for the young. That being said, the payroll tax should never and I mean never rise beyond it’s current rate. That’s why it’s so important that a fix like lifting the earning cap is put in now. The Democrats better have an alternative plan ready for the debate.

    As for your retirement portfolio diversification helps. You might look at foreign investments and reits as well.

  15. 16

    Doug Ferry spews:

    I’m curious, Frank. You say you could slow down spending by letting people have their own retirement accounts. But doesn’t government income slow down just as much because you’re diverting tax revenue in order to fund those accounts?

    As has been pointed out before, people like the idea of their payroll tax being diverted into something they own, but if that income shortfall has to be made up by running deficit (paid for by future taxes) then what have you gained?

    It seems to me that, in effect, the govt. will borrow $2 trillion and hand it over to gen-Xers to open 401ks today, then tax their grandchildren to pay back the $2 trillion.

    If private accounts are such a good idea, why not leave Social Security out of it and just tell everyone to put 4% of their income into the stock market? At least that way we’re paying up front for what we’re getting rather than pushing off our obligations onto future generations.

    All this is to come back to Frank’s point that money is just money. If so, then Bush’s proposal is nothing more than borrowing a bunch of money to put it in the hands of a certain part of the population. I say, what’s the point?

  16. 17

    John spews:

    Frank – true, St. Warren doesn’t need an SS check but he’s entitled to it if he paid into the system. I don’t think he has to collect his benefits, but even if he did he could turn his check over to the bureau of the public debt – not that it would do much.

  17. 18

    G Davis spews:

    Janet…your statement that *I have my retirement money invested in stocks and bonds.* is rather indicative of the problem in my ever so humble opinion.

    You have yours so why should you worry about the other guy?

    The basis of this SS discussion to me is what kind of nation do we envision ourselves as…one that promotes survival of the fittest, pull yourself up and do it yourself or one that embodies compassion and understanding for all of our citizens.

    Think about this…you say you have your retirement investments in stocks and bonds. Can you envision any scenario where those stocks and bonds become nothing more than worthless pieces of paper? Can you envision any scenario where you can no longer work for a living and must draw on those funds now to keep a roof over you and yours heads immediately? Can you envision any scenario where one of your is striken by some life threatening disease that stripes all your resources to fight?

    Those are all extreme circumstances, but all have happened to many folks across this nation. SS is not intended to fund full retirement. It is intended as an insurance policy against the worst of all circumstances.

    Do you see any personal harm coming to you from extending your SS taxation beyond the now capped 90,000? Would it alter your lifestyle in any way?

    Do you see any personal harm coming to you from having the date you start receiving whatever SS you are entitled to upped from 67 to 69? Would that alter your retirement plans appreciably?

    Would you be willing to take the SS benefits allowed to you under current law and give them to a young family that lost it’s breadwinner at a young age? Or a divorcee who was a stay at home mom and never accrued entitlement in her old age? Or the oft mentioned *Grandma* who didn’t handle money well in her prime years and now has no funds to draw on personally for retirement?

    Would those things grate on your sensibilities? Would those acts of giving be contrary to how you see yourself as a person?

    A means cap would do just what was outlined above. You’ve got yours and don’t need help, so your benefits could be diverted to someone who does need help.

    So, at least in my opinion, this is not a financial discussion. It’s a discussion about how we see ourselves as a population. It’s about what we hold important. It’s a philosophical discussion.

    The current system needs work if we are to keep it. If we as a populace don’t want to keep it, then start diverting money to the individual and forget the body of the populace as a whole.

  18. 19

    Frank spews:

    Doug – the idea on private accounts would be that eventually you’d be diverting less every year into the accounts that you are saving by not paying benefits to people with accounts. So, in 2050 say, the Feds would have 4% less SS tax income (since that would go into private accounts) but maybe 6% less outgo, as they wouldn’t be paying as much out since the private accounts will have earned enough to reduce the need for payouts. That’s the idea. It could work, I guess. I’m not advocating for it, but it is an idea that deserves some talk.

    John – your comment is exactly what my post is about. Yes, you are right, Warren has been told all his life that he paid into the SS system. But in reality there is no SS system. All Warren did was pay taxes that had a different name than “income tax”. The Feds didn’t differentiate the money they got from him. It was all just income. There is no SS system on the income side. There are simply payments on the outgo side. Those payments come out of the income the Feds receive.

  19. 20

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Right.

    Like I really expected to come here and read anything glowing, or even a begrudgingly given “hmpf, it was ok” regarding ANYTHING Bush.

    Please carry on.
    Do thinking America a great big fat favor and continue to be against EVERYTHING.

    We love being the party of YES, while you mumble on no, no, no, no.

    http://www.claremont.org/writi.....egeli.html

    EXCERPTS:
    “If the Democrats’ current attempt to figure out what they stand for is going to be more enlightening than their previous efforts, they will have to grapple with fundamental questions, not peripheral ones. The gravity of the situation calls for architects, not housekeepers.”

    “The “no message” interpretation of the 2004 election claims that this gap has now closed, finally and completely: liberalism cannot become politically strong again until it stops being so theoretically weak.”

    “Bill Clinton was fond of saying that character is “a journey, not a destination.” But to leave home without a destination, convinced that the very idea of a destination is arbitrary and false, is to embark on a “journey” that will be no different from just wandering around.”

    Lyndon Johnson gave one other memorable speech in 1964. At a campaign rally in Providence he climbed onto his car, grabbed a bullhorn, and summed up his political philosophy: “I just want to tell you this–we’re in favor of a lot of things and we’re against mighty few.” The Democrats’ problem is not that they, like Seinfeld, are a show about nothing. It’s that they are a show about everything, or anything. (At one point, the Kerry-for-President website referred to 79 separate federal programs he wanted to create or expand.)”

    “Ruy Teixeira says that after 2004, “The bigger question is: What do the Democrats stand for?” Here’s a better and bigger question still: What do the Democrats stand against? Tell us, if indeed it’s true, that Democrats don’t want to do for America what social democrats have done for France or Sweden. Tell us that the stacking of one government program on top of the other is going to stop, if indeed it will, well short of a public sector that absorbs half the nation’s income and extensively regulates what we do with the other half. Explain how the spirit of live-and-let-live applies, if indeed it does, to everyone equally—to people who take family, piety, and patriotism seriously, not merely to people whose lives and outlooks are predicated on regarding them ironically.”

    “Until those questions are answered, until Americans have confidence about the limits liberalism will establish and observe, it’s hard to see when the Democratic narrative will again have a happy ending.”

  20. 21

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    The New York Times
    Thursday, February 3, 2005
    QUOTATION OF THE DAY

    “I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer.”
    PRESIDENT BUSH, on Social Security.

  21. 22

    jcricket spews:

    It’s easy to say yes when you don’t worry about the consequences and aren’t constrained by the facts in proving whether what you say has any truth to it.

    http://www.salon.com/politics/.....index.html

    Bush said that the budget he’ll send to Congress will “stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.” But as the New York Times has explained, Bush’s plan to meet that goal relies on more than a little fiscal sleight-of-hand. Bush will use as his benchmark an old deficit projection that was higher than the actual deficit, allowing him to claim that he has already cut the deficit dramatically before he even begins. He won’t include in his budget the cost of the war in Iraq or the money that would be required to finance his Social Security plan. And he’ll ignore the fact that, just after 2009, his tax cuts — if they become permanent, as he has promised to make them — will slice deeply into the revenue side of the equation.

    So Republicans say “Yes, we’ll cut the deficit in half, unless you count all these expenses and ignore our promises to make the tax cuts permanent”. And Dems say, “No you won’t, you’re lying.”

    Republicans say, “We want private accounts which will make you all rich”. Democrats say “We don’t want to dismantle the social safety net.”

    You should know Ass, sometimes as a responsible adult, you have to say no to the unrealistic expectations of a child.

  22. 23

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    You should know Ass, sometimes as a responsible adult, you have to say no to the unrealistic expectations of a child. -Comment by jcricket— 2/3/05 @ 10:36 am

    Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss/Madam/Maiden/Master/GenderNeutral-Undecided-Ambiguous-Ambidexterous-Confused/Asexual/Eunuch/Amoeba/Protozoa/Genus Gryllus and/or Genus Anurogryllus Cricket:
    That’s right.

    And sometimes you have to take an unrealistic, stubborn 2year old in the throes of yet ANOTHER “no, no, no” tantrum and just move them out of the way for a nice long nap and some “quiet time”.

    You libs are sure enjoying a NICE LONG NATIONAL QUIET TIME. Sweet dreams, kiddo.

  23. 24

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Being much more of a Libertarian than a Republican. I ask “Why have Social Security or forced savings accounts at all??”

    If what is already in Social Security is paid out and no more new dollars put in, what would that do to our economy? Think about it. Billions of new capital in the marketplace. Additional profits to tax and help pay down the deficit WITHOUT a tax rate increase.

    Seems like most folks here are presuming Social Security is a must. Is it??

  24. 25

    Don spews:

    Ass @ 20

    Yes Ass, I understand that someone of your philosophical bent would think people who are FOR a safety net under the poor, disabled, and elderly are “against everything.” You want to see something really negative? Look in a mirror.

    To Janet: If the Social Security Trust Fund is not really money, then none of your cherised privately owned financial assets are, either. Guess what, Treasuries underlie all bank accounts, investment houses, insurance companies, etc.; and if they go, then so does all the rest of the nation’s financial assets, most of which are nothing but electronic blips on a computer hard drive somewhere.

  25. 26

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Seems like most folks here are presuming Social Security is a must. Is it?? -Comment by Mr. Cynical— 2/3/05 @ 10:48 am

    NO!

  26. 27

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    To Janet: If the Social Security Trust Fund is not really money, then none of your cherised privately owned financial assets are, either. -Comment by Don— 2/3/05 @ 10:49 am

    I’m going to really stretch here and give you the benefit of the doubt that you are not STUPID.

    CORPORATIONS HAVE STUFF – cash, receivables, orders, contracts, buidings, land, equipment, patents, vehicles – that STUFF HAS VALUE:ASSETS.

  27. 28

    Frank spews:

    For Mr Cynical, without addressing your main point, you say:

    If what is already in Social Security is paid out and no more new dollars put in, what would that do to our economy? Think about it. Billions of new capital in the marketplace. Additional profits to tax and help pay down the deficit WITHOUT a tax rate increase.

    If we today stopped taking in SS taxes, but kept paying out benefits, we’d increase the federal deficit by about $500B this year, and a few trillion in the out years. Remember, SS is like any other obligation of the government, it is paid for out of the yearly income of the government. There is no pot of money to pay it, just like there is no pot of money backing treasury bonds or soldier’s future owed salaries.

  28. 29

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 24

    What you (and some other people are on this board) are forgetting is that Social Security was part of a package put in place by FDR to save capitalism, which in the depths of the Depression was in danger of being overthrown and discarded. FDR saved capitalism, period. If Bush’s crazy experiments don’t work out, and his crazy math produces a day of reckoning, the uber-capitalists could lose the whole ball of wax. Put enough people into desperate enough straits and you get revolution. So, you Bush enthusiasts who push the envelope of mathematical gravity might want to slow down, take a deep breath, and reassess the possible consequences before you let this pied piper carry his lies too far. Lying about deficits; lying about economic growth; gaming the Social Security numbers — it’s all going to come back to earth some day, probably sooner than you dreamed.

    And why, Cyn, do you assume dumping more capital into the economy automatically produces growth? My, memories are short. We just went through a recession, from which we have not fully emerged yet, during which there was idle capacity, excess capital, and a shortfall of consumer spending. More capital yields nothing if there are no customers for what it produces.

    Also, for you privatize-everything freaks who put 100% of your retirement nest egg in Starbucks, your stock is down another $4 a share today. It was at 66 three weeks ago, currently is 49, how do you like that for a warm glowing feeling of financial security.

  29. 30

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Also, for you privatize-everything freaks who put 100% of your retirement nest egg in Starbucks, your stock is down another $4 a share today. It was at 66 three weeks ago, currently is 49, how do you like that for a warm glowing feeling of financial security. -Comment by Don— 2/3/05 @ 11:03 am

    Well no ASSumptions there!

    Those of us that are SMART enough to invest, spread our risk within varying sectors of the market, a balance of stocks, bonds and mutual funds, a balance within our stock funds of growth and equity, and we are SMART enough to hold our positions in the long term so that dialy fluctions phase us NOT AT ALL.

    And I don’t own Starbucks – they have great future plans to open a zillion more stores, but little ready cash.

  30. 31

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Frank-
    So it’s a “shell game” that fucks our kids, right?
    And the longer we play the “shell game”, the more we screw them?

    Whenever you creative a government program like this that devolves/morphs into an entitlement in many regards, it eventually caves in.

    I was looking around for the annual Social Security Statement we are sent that shows what are history of taxable wages, contributions and projected benefits will be. I encourage all off you to find yours.

    I’m self-employed. Last year, my self-employment tax was almost $14,000. I’ve paid about that the past 10-15 years. My wife has also paid in substantial amounts. I recall looking at my benefit statement several months ago thinking “I’ve been screwed!” I guess thinking that means I’m selfish, huh?

  31. 33

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don–
    You have pointed out a fundmental difference in our ways of thinking. It’s like this:
    Don thinks ALL Americans are fucking idiots.
    I, Mr. Cynical, only believe people like Don are fucking idiots!

  32. 34

    Frank spews:

    Mr Cynical –

    SS is no more a shell game than any other future obligation of the government is (for better or worse, depending on your political viewpoint I guess). The government has an obligation to pay off trillions of dollars of Treasuries for example. Our kids will be paying for that in the future as the bonds and notes come due; some aren’t due for 30 years. The government has said it will pay soldiers who sign up for four years salary for all those years. The government has said it’ll pay for Medicare for life for eligible recipients. And so on. SS isn’t special, despite that little sheet they send out showing how much you paid in. You should get the same sheet for income taxes, showing you how much money you’re providing for crop support and military pay.

    In fact, the government is MUCH more likely to keep their obligation to pay our interest and principal on Treasuries than it is to leave SS obligations “as are”. SS is less special than payments on the debt – if the government didn’t pay those, the world’s financial system would collapse.

  33. 35

    dan spews:

    Seems like most folks here are presuming Social Security is a must. Is it?? -Comment by Mr. Cynical— 2/3/05 @ 10:48 am

    NO!

    Comment by HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS

    So this is the Moral Majority…I have read the comments of Proud and Cynical for weeks now. and it always the same thing. America was built on if you work hard enough, you will get ahead and never have to worry about anything. The Liberals all they want to do is give away money to the Lazy.
    At what point gentlemen and Janet, do you realize that not everyone in this country is as fortunate as most of us, who can sit in front of computers and type this crap in, while either our investments or some other magic way, we are earning a living. To believe that all Americans have the same opportunities to become Millionaires and self sufficient is just ludicrous. Look at the studies that describe the difference between what the results are from children of influence have attained and children of Blue collar have attained. Besides, who is going to serve you your Big Mac, who is going to Make your Bed at the Hotel in Hawaii, who is going to lube your care ( we can’t outsource these). Do you really think these people are just a few years away from a job on Wall street, because they are taking their Univeristy of Phoenix courses at night? Wake up there will always be working poor.( and the expanse is growing under this administration) Now I know that you feel that the Bush supported tax benifets for Church groups are going to be there to help them…all of them? Be real you Moral Majority….your Bible has many more verses about helping the downtrodden, and protecting the planet which god has given you…then stoneing Gays, Killing abortion Doctors, and making sure that our corporations have less and less responabilty to not only make profits, but to do it in a responsible manner.
    So when you come to the realization that there will always be people with needs, you will understand why Liberals, the true Moral Majority are looking at an America where we have these programs and safety nets, so that ALL Americans will have food and a place to sleep, and to make sure they are not breaking into your house to get the bread they need to feed their families. However I am sure that will only strengthen your resolve to have more guns in your home to stop these despots.

  34. 36

    Don spews:

    Ass @ 30

    “I don’t own Starbucks” — too bad for you, we got ours at 4 bucks a share (split-adjusted). And yes, we’re nicely diversified, and although our wholly-owned IRA subsidiary is frayed around the edges by 5% or so, the rest of our portfolio (which includes salary and pension income, not quite old enough for Social Security yet) is keeping us afloat.

  35. 37

    Chuck spews:

    The thing that kills me is everyone runs around saying the sky isnt falling that the SS system is solvent until 20?? (fill in your own two figures). Well everyone admits it is doomed at some date but thinks we should be like the proverbial ostrich with our head in the sand. The reality that nobody seems to want to face up to is we have fewer births than anytime in history due to abortions, birth control and “family planning”. We have people living longer than ever due to better living, and medical science. At some date not too long from now those numbers will clash (with social security tax at its present level I contend they already have). Certainly the bush plan doesnt stop the hemmorage that is pending, but it is a step in the right direction. It isnt a bandaid fix like others have done by jacking the SS taxes again but a real step in the direction that we will have to go, like it or not once again the government has once again proven that they cannot be trusted with our money…

  36. 38

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Dan, your whole message is the ‘safety net’. Ours is OPPORTUNITY.

    I didn’t/don’t make every damned decision for my children or lock them in their bedrooms to keep them “safe”. I taught them the things that would lead them SAFELY away from the things that would hurt or NOT benefit them in a positive way.

  37. 39

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 31

    You pay the same SS tax the rest of us do. Don’t think for a second that employers “pay” the employer portion of the tax. It is part of the employee’s total compensation just like health insurance and other non-cash bennies, and if it didn’t go to th gov’t it would be paid as salary. The nice thing about the employer-portion, from the worker’s point of view, is that it isn’t subject to income tax.

  38. 40

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    I hear ya Frank—
    However, SS is not income tax. It is the governments effort to force contributions to a fund so we will have some future income, just in case we haven’t been personally fiscally responsible.
    Unfortunately, as actuarial assumptions change (i.e. people live longer), it stresses the program as we have witnessed. I suppose you could make the argument that those of us who take good care of ourselves physically may end up being winners in this game. But why should we be FORCED to participate? And have you ever taken a close look at the “EXPANSION” of social benefits made over the years that have also stressed the program?
    Frankly, it’s just another opportunity for Government to play Robin Hood and take money from the rich and redistribute it to the poor. As a Libertarian, I’m not into that FORCED stuff.
    I’m more into Government for Military and Infrastructure and not much else. It doesn’t seem like the R’s or the D’s actually appeal to me in that regard (IF YOU LOOK AT THEIR TRACK RECORDS)!

  39. 42

    Don spews:

    dan @ 35

    You make a nice point, Dan. It will be interesting to hear these self-sufficient types squealing when suddenly their cash cows get outsourced to Bangladesh and their comfortable incomes vaporize, along with their sugar-plum visions of cozy retirements. There is NOBODY in this new-order economy whose livelihood is safe!

  40. 43

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    “I don’t own Starbucks” – too bad for you, we got ours at 4 bucks a share (split-adjusted). And yes, we’re nicely diversified, and although our wholly-owned IRA subsidiary is frayed around the edges by 5% or so, the rest of our portfolio (which includes salary and pension income, not quite old enough for Social Security yet) is keeping us afloat. -Comment by Don— 2/3/05 @ 11:29 am

    Good for you. By your criteria we got our Microsoft at $9 and our Intel at $8 – whoop de do. I’m not interested in a ‘whose got a bigger one pissing contest’ thank you very much.

    Too bad you have to use your portfolio to ‘keep you afloat’. You’d do better not touching it. Oh well, just shows another difference: live for today vs plan for the future, the ant vs the squirrel.

  41. 44

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don–
    I’m a CPA..you are preachin’ to the choir pal.
    What do you do and what have you done for a living Don?
    I find that what you do for a living and where you come from in life often has a major influence on philosophy.
    My dad was a diesel mechanic and my mom a housewife. We lived from paycheck to paycheck with 3 kids. A luxury was a new baseball glove. I worked 60+ hours a week for more than a decade to build my business. No fancy vacations. Hard work. My choice to do so. So perhaps you can understand there is a point where folks like me say enough is enough??!!

  42. 45

    Don spews:

    chuck @ 38

    “Well everyone admits it is doomed at some future date”

    Speak for yourself! You don’t listen much, do you? This is the winger mantra, and all the Democrats are saying it’s a lie. But you just tune out anything you don’t want to hear, don’t you.

    Technically, you’re correct — Social Security IS doomed at “some future date,” we don’t know exactly when, but definitely no later than when the sun turns into a supernova and burns up Planet Earth roughly 4 billion years from now.

  43. 46

    dan spews:

    ASS @ 39

    Again we are not talking about “you”…..”Me” seems to be the thought process for which all of you write. If it were about Me all the time, I would have loved the “old” GOP that spent less and gave me tax cuts. I commend you are your parenting skills, I am sure that your children will do just fine, hope they are not boys, but I am sure they can get some kind of deferments( Air Guard anyone?) as we spread democracy across the world. I forgot to mention who will fight your wars in our early post, to be included in our shameful group of working poor. that I am sure need no safety net. I am sure there are about 1400 families, that our concerned about their future without a parent…..Devry University should take care of them.

  44. 47

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 41

    “But why should we be FORCED to participate?”

    For the same reason you are FORCED to wear seat belts or a motorcycle helmet — so you don’t become a burden on society.

  45. 48

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don @ 42–
    As a matter of fact I have not run out of math and logic based arguments. It’s just sometimes, after you gather and analyze all the information, it calls for a conclusion. And the conclusion is apparent…you are a fucking idiot.

  46. 49

    Don spews:

    Ass @ 44

    Someday you’ll be too old and/or sick to work anymore, too. Besides, I worked for 45 years, so I think I’ve earned the opportunity to go fishing.

  47. 50

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    My kids ARE indeed all boys (2/3 men now), and are far more concerned with passing the BAR, getting admitted to the MBA program at Seattle U and passing the SATs than they are worried about your veiled pahntom threat of a draft. Oldest is investigating joining JAG.

    Nice try.

  48. 51

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don– @ 48–
    But I can buy insurance plus major medical that can address most circumstances where I might become a financial burden to society. Then what?
    Lefty’s come up with all kinds of rationale why more and bigger government is the “only way to go”. Fear-mongering/boogieman illogic runs rampant. Let’s take care of every eventuality for every citizen (and non-citizens too). The Benevolent Society with all of our citizens beholding to government.
    Have you ever been a government employee Don? Be honest now, although we will never know for sure, will we!!

  49. 52

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Someday you’ll be too old and/or sick to work anymore, too. Besides, I worked for 45 years, so I think I’ve earned the opportunity to go fishing. -Comment by Don— 2/3/05 @ 11:46 am
    So you “retired” @ 61.
    Interesting.
    MY spouse is 63 and STILL chooses to work, STILL travels and is STILL vital and productive. Thank God. I hate fish.

  50. 53

    dan spews:

    ASS;(appropriate)

    Me, ME, ME…MINE, MINE, MINE……Your right, Orwell didn’t show people starving, or living on the street, or crime trying to feed ones family…so it is probably okay to take that path. Moral is more than taking care of yourself. look it up.

  51. 54

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    HowCan–
    How can you be PROUD to hate fish?!!!
    This is one of the first times I find myself concerned about you!
    Fish are cool. Look at the fun Andy Griffith and Opie had catchin’ ‘em with Gomer, Goober, Barney and the gang!
    however, Don said he “earned the opportunity to go fishing”. He didn’t actually say he did. If he does, he is probably a catch-and-release guy. Are you Don? I am for the most part. Just keep on to eat once in awhile.

    HowCan–I think you can start your healing on this fish-anget by going to a Pet Store and get a little goldfish bowl and 2 fish. Go from there!! LOL

  52. 55

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 45

    My father was raised on a farm. Both my parents entered young adulthood, full of bright hopes for their future, just as the Depression began. In addition, and at the same time, my mother’s father suddenly died, leaving her as the eldest of a family of five children that had no breadwinner. Meanwhile, my father was scrubbing floors and doing hard labor to make his tuition. Those were desperate years for both of them, and they both became lifelong “Depression Democrats,” as they were known. After graduating from college, my mother was a teacher for a year or two, until she got fired for marrying my dad. Yep, getting married was a firing offense for women in those days. She never worked again. The kids came too fast and furious. There were six in all, and I was too far back in the line to ever get any new stuff; I always went to school in hand-me-downs because my dad didn’t make much as a newspaper reporter and we were always a hand-to-mouth family. There were kids behind me, so after I graduated from high school there was no money for tuition or similar luxuries. Already working since age 13, I left home while in my teens and put myself through college the hard way, like my parents had. Dirty, hard-labor jobs that didn’t pay much. Going to class by day, working at night, sleeping on weekends. My clan had been in this country for four generations and 120 years when I became its first member to ever graduate from a professional school, having gone to law school on a combination of student laws and G.I. Bill benefits (chintzy compared to what WW2 vets got) collected after my combat tour in Vietnam (served between my B.A. and J.D.). Followed by a career as a government lawyer, which like my dad’s career, didn’t pay much, so unlike my mother, my wife has always had to work. And unlike my parents, we didn’t have six kids, we could afford only one, even with both of us working. THANK YOU, G.I. Bill! THANK YOU, student loans! THANK YOU, wife’s boss, for not firing her for getting married (ain’t women’s lib great?)! And, oh yeah, she’s a minority so THANK YOU Democrats for anti-discrimination laws! THANK YOU, Democrats for all of this stuff! If the retrograde Republicans had gotten their way and managed to create their utopia (circa 1880) a little sooner, we would have nothing and Lenin probably would look a lot better to me than he does.

  53. 56

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 45

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, as a lazy government employee I was expected to work 60 hours a week but only got paid for the first 40 (salaried exempt, therefore not entitled to overtime), and after nearly 30 years of marriage my wife and I still have yet to take our first real vacation together, i.e., anyplace more distant and more entertaining than the local public park.

  54. 57

    Chuck spews:

    See, Don, part of the problem is people like you with the ostrich syndrome that either cannot or refuse to do the very simple math of declining young workers to pay, versus longer living older people.

  55. 58

    Chuck spews:

    It is unfortunatly way too late but when the bonehead set up the SS system it should have been set up to be self supporting (without government dipping in) but it is too late to make the mess float itself now…stick a fork in it it is almost done…

  56. 59

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Dan–
    I get it now. You have the Leftist mantra down perfectly which is:
    “What’s mine is mine…but what’s your’s is OURS”!!

    Dan–do you live in a commune? Did you once live in Antelope, Oregon (Rajneeshpuram)??
    Did your name used to be “The Bagwhan”!
    He also spouted off to his “disciples” that they were selfish and burden by personal possessions. Bagwhan also went on to tell people that if they gave everything to him, they would be free and he would be free to meditate at the “highest” level.
    I’ve heard the “selfish” rants of Lefty’s.
    Let’s compare our list of Charitable Donations for 2004. I’m working on my tax return today and have receipts for over $15,000 given in cash PLUS other non-cash items…actually my wife is a bigger, more cheerful giver than I am…and she’s a no-good greedy Republican too!

    Dan–the issue is about whether bigger, more intrusive government is the direction we want our society to head. You would be surprised how generous Republicans are when it comes to charitable giving compared to the Lefty crowd. Look at your checkbook Dan…and then look in the mirror. Do you walk your talk?? Or do you talk & talk and wait for others…or the government to do it?

  57. 60

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don–
    Thank you for admitting you were a 30-year career government employee! PERS1, right? SO you get 60% of your highest 2 years salary for the rest of your life. Did you play the Washington State Pension Game like so many have and done the teach for 28 years and then be a principal for 2 years so your pension is increased by 40% or so? Or did you fanagle some appointed position at a huge salary to bolster that pension?

    I am personally aware of so many instances like I describe it would make the average Washington taxpayer PUKE!!! State Legislators are MASTERS at it! Both Parties…which why I am a Libertarian.

    True confessions now Don. Did you find a way to jack up your pension BEFORE you retired?

    Oh, and did those 60 hour weeks include coffee and donut time? And time spent at your desk figuring out ways to legally scam the system??

    I hope to see Government Workers pensions on Sharkansky’s website someday. Both Political Party’s would be embarrassed.
    Be honest Don…how many discussions have you been party to with fellow government workers about “retirement”??

  58. 61

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 52

    Guess what, you’re paying taxes to keep vegetables on life support who didn’t wear motorcycle helmets OR buy insurance.

  59. 62

    Don spews:

    Ass @ 53

    To each his own. I loved to fish as a little kid. Trouble is, life interfered and I had to wait 50 years for the opportunity. Gotta take it now, who knows, I might drop dead next week. Hope you get to spend your retirement the way you want to; that’s what we work for all our lives, isn’t it?

  60. 63

    Don spews:

    Chuck @ 57

    I was young and angry once, too. Don’t worry, you’ll mellow out in time. A lifetime of hard work takes a lot of the spit out of you.

  61. 64

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Ah Mr Cynical, – did the goldfish route – hated to clean that stinky bowl and the darn thing lived forever!

    As an Italian practicing Catholic, born and raised in Ohio, I grew up eating FISH every Friday, had a Grandmother that served us Cioppino (WITH squid, I might add)and a Father that ice fished every winter. Ahh the glories of perch and blue gill beer-battered and deep fried.

  62. 65

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 55

    Man you’ve got me pegged! 90% catch and release. I keep a few eaters now and then from lakes that are overpopulated and need some culling. My doctor told me to eat more fish and less beef or I’m gonna kill myself.

  63. 67

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 60

    Why do you think I was a teacher/principal when I’ve said a dozen times on these boards that I’m a lawyer? And no, I didn’t get one of those cushy double-dipping or pension-boosting deals, I wasn’t management, and I wasn’t politically connected either. I worked in the trenches shoveling manure — for a manure shoveler’s salary and a manure-shoveler’s pension. That’s why I’ll need Social Security.

  64. 68

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 60

    The only discussion I ever had with a fellow government employee about retirement occurred on my last day of work. One of the caseworkers handed me a graph that showed the correlation between retirement age and longevity, and cryptically stated, “You’re smart getting out of here now.” A very high percentage of the people I worked with through the years did not make it to age 60. We used to joke around the office that the reason the state retirement fund is solvent is because nobody lives long enough to collect from it.

  65. 70

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don@66
    I’ve been a CPA for almost 30 years…I know about these retirement plans. PERS1 was a good example of well intended…but very poorly structured. Any retirement system that allows some who earns an average 40,000/yr. for 28 years…who then earns $100,000/yr. for 2 years…
    And then that person gets 60% of $100,000=$60,000/yr. for the rest of their life is highly flawed.
    I think you know about the “game” I’m referring to. I can think of dozens of specific examples. The most recent was a guy who was promoted to County Administrator for exactly 2 years at 86,000/yr. Prior to that, he was a planner @ less than $60,000/yr. He was unqualified, inept and cost the County hundreds of thousands of dollars in that 2 years. But he was a “Good Old Boy”…and incidently a Democrat. However, I know of similiar cases where R’s benefited. So this guy gets an extra 86,000-60,000=26,000 X 60&= 15,600/yr. for the rest of his life…and he’s 53 years old. Nice, huh?
    Can you see why I’m Mr. Cynical?????

  66. 71

    dan spews:

    Cynical @ 59

    I lost my bet, I thought I would get three posts, before the attacks became personal.( you are the best at; “Jane, you ignorant slut.”) Thank you for your charity and that of your wifes, I am sure they went to all worthy causes (that’d be a list I’d like to see). 15K in deductions…wow. how much did you write of for that clothes donation to Value Village (I mean to the Blind). Again, we live in a perfect soceity, and there are no poor..and if they are? well “let them eat cake”. Do you really believe this?

    Ass @ 51

    Going to work for JAG? is he going to be defending or prosecuting the soldiers from ABU GRAIB, who I am sure knew from there own experiences, how to humilate Muslims..you learn that in Texas, not from Ashcroft.

  67. 72

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don-
    Thank you for your honesty. Frankly, I do know many State government workers that work hard. They problem is they are not ALLOWED to work smart. They are frustrated. The good ones don’t always stick it out. I know one lady that had almost 24 years in…just needed 15 more months and she could start collecting @ 55. SHE QUIT!!! Now she won’t start collecting until 60, I think.

    Too many burned out government workers get in it for too long and feel “trapped” into staying until 30 years. Particularly true with teachers. Teachers work hard.
    Local School Districts are hurting. Smaller ones will only survive if they wake up and offer teachers some type of early “buy-out” where the employee and State both contribute to allow people out say 5 years earlier, if the teacher can afford it.
    It’s a win-win. The School District gets rid of burned out teachers and replaces them with younger, more enthusiastic rookes at a much lower pay rate and benefit package. The burned-out teacher has a chance to escape. And there are more opportunities for new teachers.

  68. 73

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    dan @ 72–
    I said over $15,000 of CASH, dumbass!
    Over $9,000 to our church
    $850 to the Local Food Bank (PLEASE NOTE: Food Banks prefer Cash to a bunch of canned goods…they have contracts with various producers to buy surplus stuff for 9-10 cents/lb)
    $1000 to the Red Cross
    $1000 to a Medical Fund established for the 10-year old son of a friend (his son is undergoing Chemo TODAY).
    $750 to Tsunami Funds
    $800 to a lady who runs schools in South African villages
    over $2000 to local fundraisers (High School Sports, scholarships for school trips for kids who’s families cannot afford it)
    Here’s a check my wife wrote for $250 to some woman who came to town with her 7-yr. old. She’s on the run. Domestic violence. Her car broke down. My wife wrote it directly to her. Darn it!! Can’t deduct that one. If she had written it directly to the Domestic Violence group we could have deducted it. She’s not a CPA…just has a big heart.

    That’s about it Dan.
    You are offended that I made charitable contribution PERSONAL??
    It is personal you fucking idiot!

  69. 74

    Don spews:

    Where are those 100K government jobs? I want one!!! I was earning about half that after 27 years of service (I didn’t stick it out for the whole 30 years). I started in state service at $1000 a month, gross. In addition to paying SS/Medicare taxes, I also had 6% taken out for state retirement, and at this point I’m getting paid my monthly pension checks from my own contributions into the system — there’s no government money in my checks. So, throughout my career, about 60% of my teeny gross turned into take-home. Do you understand now why my wife had to go back to work six months after the baby was born, we had only one, and never took a vacation?

  70. 75

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    OH and Dan @ 72–
    We don’t ever deduct clothes contributed. In all honesty, our family pretty much wears stuff until it’s worn out.
    But we do give cash to our Church Benevolence Fund. They use that money to let people go to Value Village and buy there own clothes!! It’s a lot more dignified than scrounging thru a bunch of junk. Value Village and other thrift stores do a good job of screening and cleaning clothes.
    We also buy Christmas presents for families that struggle. New toys. Can’t deduct that though.
    And there is a local group that goes and cooks Thanksgiving dinner for Seniors and others…they also deliver Thanksgiving dinner to a bunch of homes (shut-ins, struggling families). Thanksgiving is usually a big family deal for us…kids come from out of town….so I don’t help cook. Besides, I’m not a very good cook anyway. But they do appreciate $$$ to help pay for the Turkey, SPUDS etc. They are not a formal charity…so can’t deduct that either.

  71. 76

    reggie spews:

    Social Security sucks.

    Why should I pay into a system that rewards deadbeats for not saving for their “golden years”. That gold they are looking for is mine.

    any dolt that only puts money into one type of fund for their retirement account is just plain foolish. A one legged dog can stand for very long.

    bush’s plan may help some of them acquire a taste for savings. Maybe they will learn how money works. The way it is set up now you just sit there waiting for check…

  72. 77

    dan spews:

    Cynical;
    Open with Dumbass…close with fucking Idiot. strong opening and a good close. Your Family certainly does seem to do their part….because you can. I am sure that you and the rest of your church are taking over for all the government programs for the 42 Million below the poverty line…Big Church…can we count on that every year?, from everyone? will it be Mandatory? hey…let’s call it Social Security. You can write of Tithings?…nice ( half your cash donations), I am going to write of my Golds membership, because that’s where I pray. ( have fun with that one, I am sure you can come up with something, about being a commie Atheist.make sure there is filthy name calling involved, it makes it so much more readable)

  73. 78

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don-@ 56
    Sorry, I missed your post @ 56 about your background. VERY INTERESTING! I have several old-timer friends that I visit (they are late-80’s and early 90’s…Democrats who know the Depression). These old guys HATE Bush but all voted for Rossi. They HATE her too…and even more now the way this election fiasco has gone. One of the old-timers was Executive Editor of a major newspaper for 16 years. I love having coffee with these old guys (except for the HATE-BUSH rhetoric).
    They call themselves “Truman Democrats” and refer to Washington Democrats angrily as “Trotski-ites”.
    My guess Don, is that your parents were a lot like these old guys. And I’ll bet you are quite a bit like your parents. You are just a little slow in recognizing what the Democrats have done to this state…and that Gregoire is OWNED by these “pretend-Democrats”.
    One of the old timers said the other day “That God-damned Gregoire would make a pimple on a good Democrats Ass”.
    Whether you like it or not Don, a lot of people feel like these guys. Plus, the newspaper guy believes 20 years of rule in the State Capitol BY EITHER PARTY is wrong. Need to clean house…quick.
    Unfortunately, this is where the PENSION bullshit comes into play.
    Don’t you think all State Government Pension information ought to be a public record and published??

  74. 79

    spews:

    Cyn and Proud,

    I will note that, as I’ve predicted, neither of you have actually addressed Krugman’s argument. That’s sad, because the primary point is actually a very good one.

    To address the side-track upon which you’ve both embarked, yes, Social Security is, on the whole, beneficial for all of us regardless of our income levels. I find that advocates of libertarianism have difficulty understanding the basic point, but there is a point where the aggregate result of a number of individual actions is harmful to society as a whole. No single individual action is, in and of itself, harmful, but the aggregate result is. The classic examples of this are enviornmental, but there are some economic examples as well.

    Of those, Social Security is one of them. It is a pretty well established fact that if Social Security didn’t force people to save for their later years (and, yes, the word “force” is appropriate in this context), a vast majority of them would spend that money rather than save it. The technical term is the “marginal propensity to consume,” and it’s less than 1–way less than 1.

    The net effect of Social Security is to lower the consumption levels of younger wage earners, and increase the consumption levels of retired persons. This has a levelling effect on consumption. Why? Because retired persons tend to have different spending patterns than younger persons do. The net effect of eliminating Social Security altogether would be to reduce the variety of goods and services available in the economy. Diversification is a good thing. Think of Social Security as diversified demand management as opposed to focussed demand management.

    Do a google search (or MSN Search now that it’s gone on line) for the phrase “effective demand failure.” When you understand that phenomenon, then you’ll understand why Social Security is, on the whole, good for us all.

  75. 80

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    dan–
    The difference between you & I is pretty clear…
    You blab about what ought to be done..
    I put my money where my mouth is and actually do something.

    I’m not going to call you a Commie Atheist. Your lack of faith is apparent…you seem to worship the Church of Big Government.
    Dan, I’m the wrong guy to help you with your bitterness toward successful people. You quote “42 million people below the poverty line”. Since you are such a stats man Dan, how many of them are there because of poor personal choices?? Because someone decides to play with drugs, not work, have kids out of wedlock etc…..who’s responsibility is that? Where does government intervention begin and end? Where is personal responsibility and consequences in your equation Dan? You are implying that Society (ie government) is responsible to provide for all the needs of all these 42 million, as if some of them aren’t there thru bad choices. You sound like Jesse Jackson. Build a huge base of individuals DEPENDENT on handouts and grab more power by inflaming them that rich, white people are evil and screwing them. No sale here Dan.

    I still haven’t seen what you actually do for a living, create your income & assets and what you actually do to help people?
    Look in the mirror Dan. You don’t do much do you Dan.

  76. 81

    dan spews:

    Cyn;
    We are not as different as you think, You deal with your guilt for the unfortunate, by your personal donations to the people and organizations that you believe in. Therefore you must agree that these people are in need to no fault of their own, or why would YOU donate to those who: “play with drugs, not work, have kids out of wedlock etc”…Because I am sure those foodbanks, Red Cross, and other places you mentioned are not turning them down, because of your moral barometer. (maybe you need to research your donations better…Do you help drug addicts and Deadbeats?..no money for you….try the Tele-Evangelists).

    As for me, I look at the 42 Million and say….that can’t be good for our country. (poverty, crime rate, increased welfare costs etc.) I don’t want to write them a check…I want the rules that keep them down with no ability to “pull them self up” examined and addressed by an adminstration, that is proud of the production of the lowest paying jobs to keep them there. while they tell you that the corporations will be making more jobs with the tax breaks. These Jobs will not change their lot in life. To be a great Soceity you need to take strides to improve the life of the poor..something this adminstration is doing the total opposite.
    Please let me know what you want done with the people who when we don’t have SS. are on the street? Tough stuff, you screwed up, move someplace warm? What’s your plan for them? Soylent Green?

  77. 83

    Don spews:

    Cynical @ 78

    Apparently I’ve done a better job than you at not becoming a cynical old coot. So what have the Democrats “done” to this state besides educating its children and protecting its natural resources from rapacious over-exploitation? Wasn’t so long ago they were being criticized as a bunch of “do nothing” bureacrats. My, how quickly things change. Now that seems like a long time ago.

    The way Repubs spin things, everyone voted for Rossi, who inexplicably got cheated of what’s rightfully his, to the consternation of the state’s entire population. Never in our state’s political history has the bullshit been buttered on so thick. They conveniently overlook the fact a huge number of Washingtonians DID NOT WANT Rossi to run this state! If Gregoire is universally hated why were the Democrats able to get 7,000 volunteers to observe the recounts? Who are those people? Teachers, Boeing machinists, health care workers, some firefighters and cops, a fair number of retirees from various occupations and unions, that’s who. Ordinary people from modest walks of life who cared enough about this state’s future to donate their time, effort, and money to Gregoire’s campaign. People who can’t see themselves voting for a guy who is against the minimum wage, voted to eject 40,000 poor kids from Medicaid, is beholden to developers, and has a rather slithery occupational past. You bet your ass Washington is a blue state. I’m not going to try to psychoanalyze why Gregoire ran behind the other Democrats. That was a surprise to me, because I’ve known of her for a long time, and pols of her quality are rare. Undoubtedly the Rossi attack ads had something to do with it. Character assassination and ad hominem attacks are something Republicans are exceptionally good at, and there’s no doubt that Rossi’s attacks — which contributed less than nothing to serious discussion of issues — had an impact. Gregoire’s lead in the polls dropped from 12 points to nothing in the last two weeks because of those attack ads. If the election had been held a week later, Rossi would have won.

    But it wasn’t, and he didn’t win. There’s a silent majority out there who is not participating in all the ugly mudslinging the Republicans have drummed up. They’re the Gregoire voters who have better things to do than ventilate on hate radio. Lots and lots and lots of people in this state voted for Gregoire. But the Rossi phobes don’t want to acknowledge it.

    This is entirely consistent with everything I observed during the recounts. I was there for both recounts, all day, every day. I watched the Republicans and saw a bunch of people inside a bubble who paid no attention to the world outside. Nothing passed through the filmy force field around them except their own kind and their script. They never paid any attention to the Democrats, who outnumbered them four-to-one. They never looked at the logbook to see who was in the building. They didn’t take notes. None of this was of any interest to them; in their universe, only Republicans and the script existed, and everything outside the film was merely cosmic dust.

    And everything they said about the recount came from the script, not from anything they saw, because they didn’t watch the recount. We could have backed up a truck to the loading dock and taken off with several pallets of ballots and they wouldn’t have noticed. But, for the record, we didn’t. There was no hanky-panky in that building.

  78. 84

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    dan–
    Let me ask you..what kind of jobs would you create for the 42 million you care so deeply about? Government jobs?
    The fact that you are unwilling to do anything to help these people yourslef is pathetic!
    So 42 million you claim are in poverty thru no fault of their own and “kept down with no ability to pull themselves up” because of “rules”. What rules are you referring to Dan? In our Society there is an abundance of help available. In other Country’s, they allow these unfortunate people to die in the streets!!

    You presume that if Social Security is gone, that there are so many stupid people, we will have even more folks in poverty than we do now. I disagree. We have created a Society where many people look first to the government for handouts, entitlements, because of the brain-washing, brain-dead foolishness of people like FI-Dan.

    I understand there will always be a certain element of people that regularly scam the systems. Unfortunately Dan, people like you make those numbers grow with your “good intentions”. If someone believes they are helpless wards of the State and it is reinforced repeatedly, guess what????

    How many lives have been wasted by the FI-Danny Do-Gooder mentality. Let’s force everyone, for the good of Society, thru higher & higher taxes, to give more & more of their hard-earned money to Government programs.

    What do you do for a living Dan? Social Worker? Neo-Social Worker with the hard-earned money of others? I don’t give money because of “guilt” FI-Danny. I was brought up to do so. Try it sometime. Take 1 month of your “Gold’s Gym” meathead money and do some good with it rather than telling me to do more. Set the example.

  79. 85

    jcricket spews:

    I love Cynical’s (as usual) detailed reasoning here: You presume that if Social Security is gone, that there are so many stupid people, we will have even more folks in poverty than we do now. I disagree.

    He “disagrees” despite the fact that we created Social Security to address that very fact (old people in poverty because they retired in a down-market, made poor investment decisions, or were unable to save enough).

    He “disagrees” despite the fact that every country that has privatized their state-funded pension systems has seen benefits decrease and security erode for retirees (Chile, Britian, etc.), and in one case, hastened a massive economic crisis (Argentina). In the cases where benefit cuts force people into poverty, the government still picks up the tab (Chile).

    But I guess Cynical “disagrees”, so that’s equal to all those silly little facts.

  80. 86

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don–@ 84
    Are you OK???
    As a lawyer, I can excuse your love for Gregoire and “The Law”.

    But are you serious about our State Education System? They just dummied down the WASL Standards so more schools would “make the grade”. The Evergreen Freedon Foundation busted that one. And trust me, I know. I have numerous TEACHER friends and relatives. This State spends more and gets less bang for the buck than almost any State. We are one of 3 States that have more NON-TEACHERS than TEACHERS. Pin-heads, including lawyers, dreaming up more for our teachers to do other than teach. Rather than higher more teachers and reduce class-size, they hire more pinheads and dump on the teachers.
    Don, you are absolutely silly to use our Washington State Education System as a model for the rest of the Nation and a Democratic Party “accomplishment”. I could get together a dozen Lefty teachers who would tell you how disgusted they are. In our School District, about 1/2 of the best of the best teachers quit and are teaching overseas. WHY? Because they were sick to death of dealing with all the administrative BS and mis-allocation of resources by the bureaucrats. Many of these Lefty’s actually voted for Rossi Don. Why? Because they see lawyers and professional bureaucrats as their enemies! No offense, but you were a professional bureaucrat for 30 years as you’ve confessed. I forgive you because you know not what you do.

  81. 87

    Chuck spews:

    Don@ 64, I am niether young or angry…but I can do math and come up with logical results AND I dont simply choose to ignore the fact that the train is going full speed ahead and the track is coming to an end.

  82. 90

    Don spews:

    Cynical @ 85

    What’s the difference between Social Security run by government and Social Security (or other retirement plans) run by Wall Street, except the cost of overhead?

  83. 91

    Don spews:

    Cynical @ 85

    What I mean to say is, do you have something against government running something, even if it works?

  84. 92

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Don–
    Overhead is one issue. However, control over the types of investments is also important. Perhaps the government should offer an optional program and COMPETE with Wall Street. Let the “policyholders” decide where they want to invest their “annuity” money.
    Don–Go back and see what FDR said about SS. It was never meant to be what it morphed into today. He mentioned “annuity”. That means fully funded actuarily. It got away from us. I’ll blame both R’s and D’s for that. That’s why I’m an L!!!
    **** That’s FDR! I’ll try to dig up the exact quote.

  85. 93

    dan spews:

    Cyn at 85.

    “In our Society there is an abundance of help available. In other Country’s, they allow these unfortunate people to die in the streets!!” ( how do you Italasize others comments?)

    Yes and Before we had Social security that is exactly what we allowed to happen as well…that bum FDR. we could have eaten them.

    Cyn you seemed very concerned about me doing my part. this is like three responses in a row,that you let me know how great you are for the downtrodden, and that I better step up. because: “I am writing of my Taxes $15,000 in Cash dumbass”. Although I can not say that I sent $6,000 in cash (sorry no credit for Church Tithings, especially for what the Churches have been spouting lately) I can say that I do my part…which is still just a drop in the bucket (with a hole in it) to what we could do as a people. Do you ever wonder why the gap between rich and poor has been ever growing under this adminstration, while under Clinton it was shrinking?
    And I am sure that your canned response of “9/11″ can answer why The GOP is spending more than we ever did, with less and less going to social/domestic programs (that were helping pull people up) and more and more to Corporate Welfare. This guy makes the Teapot dome scandal look like childs play.
    Again; ME, ME, ME. “My hard earned money”…your hard earned money was earned standing on the backs of the American Labourer.
    PS I happen to work in a very very GOP inundated industry, and give a percentage of income to one of the best foundations in the state.

  86. 94

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 87

    Let’s layer on some book burning and creationism, and then see how much better our teachers like teaching under a right-wing administration! Why, they’ll probably even offer salary and benefit give-backs! And agree to larger class sizes and more unpaid preparation time! By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, the schools are run by a non-partisan superintendent of public instruction and non-partisan local school boards, not all of whom are ignorant faith-based book burners, thank God (although any is too many). The Democrats have been busting their nubbins trying to improve schools and get money for things like smaller classes and, yes, better salaries for starting teachers (so they can get off food stamps) while all we hear from Republicans is how much they hate paying taxes.

  87. 95

    Don spews:

    Cyn @ 94

    “That’s why I’m an L.”

    Say hi to Blaine Gibson and Mike Nelson for me the next time you see them.

  88. 96

    Don spews:

    What’s next in line for privatization after Social Security, the BPA? Hey, since Enron’s not around anymore, they can sell it to Halliburton! That should be a real gas! Let’s rob Aunt Tilly some more! haw haw haw

  89. 99

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Going to work for JAG? is he going to be defending or prosecuting the soldiers from ABU GRAIB, who I am sure knew from there own experiences, how to humilate Muslims..you learn that in Texas, not from Ashcroft. -Comment by dan— 2/3/05 @ 12:51 pm

    Actually after 5 semesters of law school he hates the law – he says it’s a bigger prostitute/protection racket than the Mafia could ever hope to offer (and he’s opinionated enough that he told the BAR reps that same thing at a conference they had). He hated Criminal Clinic, where he worked for the PDs office and he didn’t much care for all the BS plea bargaining going on with the prosecutors office either. He says he would NEVER be a defense lawyer, he’d rather dig ditches. He tells me he went into the law thinking it was a lofty goal, where thinking is valued and is coming out of it barely able to look himself in the mirror. He liked military law but had a total ass for a prof. He’s taking some advanced classes in health law and it looks like that’s the direction he’s going.

    So no, he won’t be defending soldiers from Abu Graib, and has never been to Texas, but nice try with the sneering tar job you attemped.

  90. 100

    dan spews:

    I watched and heard the speech last night, and Heard Him say that we are going to do more “DNA testing”. To make sure we don’t fry the wrong people?…do you think that was his Idea or Gonzalez? Hey Georgie you gotta lot splainen to do. Defense Lawyer in Texas might actually have a chance to win now….unless your client is of color.

  91. 101

    Chuck spews:

    What I mean to say is, do you have something against government running something, even if it works?>>

    Looking at the rise in SS taxes over the years…it hasnt worked.

  92. 102

    Don spews:

    Chuck @ 102

    There hasn’t been an increase in SS taxes since 1985. The indexing of the income cap is not an increase, it’s staying even with the changing value of the dollar.

  93. 104

    Chuck spews:

    The indexing of the income cap is not an increase, it’s staying even with the changing value of the dollar.>>

    No, when you change the percentage of income taken, it is an increase, as income goes up with the changing value of the dollar so does your tax, but the percentage stays the same, anything more is an increase. You can play word semantics all you want but that is the reality of the facts.

  94. 105

    Chuck spews:

    Even the White House has stopped pandering that lie>>>

    No lie to it, we now have a system that is one narrowminded road with an end that is going to devistate the country. What are you going to tell the guy that is working to support ONE SS recipient to keep him working and paying taxes?

  95. 106

    spews:

    Chuck @ 106

    The word “narrow-minded” more aptly describes a thought process that tries to apply micro-economic concepts to macro-economic realities. Private accounts turn an insurance program into an individual investment program. The only “winners” in a “private investment” program are the folks who take in all the transacion fees.

    Read my comments @ 80. Show me that you understand the difference between individual behavior and aggregate effects.

  96. 107

    G Davis spews:

    dan @ 94 It’s how new money behaves. ;)

    Rick Schaut @ 107 It’s shows how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    I am fascinated (sort of bummed really) at all the indignance toward a program that is meant to INSURE all our citizens have a little something in their golden years. It’s a sad state of affairs when every thing is turned into a NIMBY or more aptly NIBPocket mentality.

    But let me ask a couple of basic questions.

    Is this new privately owned fund infinite? I’m 54. I start paying into this new fund at my age, will I be able to collect on it still when I’m 85 even though I only put a small amount in?

    How many of us between 22 (entering the workforce) and 54 are there? If the start up cost is the 2 trillion as oft quoted, why not just divide that up as private account start up stakes amongst those of us that fall in the 22-54 year old group and phase out SS as those 55 and over die off? Younger workers simply start fresh with all private accounts.

    I’d rather invest in real estate than stocks/bonds, but that’s just me.

  97. 109

    HowCanYouBePROUDtobeAnASS spews:

    Here’s what I think Mr. Cynical

    I think we ought to start a brand new game… I call it The Paper Tooth Tiger Game.

    Let’s see if we can list ALLLLLLLL the people and policies President Bush put forth that were virulently and violenty opposed by Dems and are NOW in place (as will be the case with social security reform).

    Off the top of my head,
    1. John Ashcroft
    2. Condi Rice – twice!
    3. Alberto Gonzales
    4. The Patriot Act

  98. 110

    jcricket spews:

    PA – With a Republican White House and control of the Senate and Congress the Republicans still managed to have the most contentious confirmation hearings for cabinet appointments in nearly 80 years. Having that much united Democratic opposition shows just how much over-reaching the Republicans are doing (same as when the reverse was true). The fact is that Republicans have enough votes to cram virtually anything through both houses, and Democrats know it. So they are practicing smart “opposition party politics” (see the Labor party in England up until about 5 years ago).

    While we all know that you’d only be satisfied if the signed on to the Republican agenda (admitted that “Repubs are right, Dems are wrong”) that’s not going to happen. All the Democrats who supported the Iraq war, the Patriot act (nearly all Dems) and gave the President his pick of previous appointments have seen how extending the olive branch doesn’t work to their advantage. It’s to go down on record opposed to the short-sighted, wrong-headed policies of the Republicans than to sign on hoping to be seen as “team players”. It’s called being principled, something you constantly harangue about.

    Oh, and let’s also look at who’s out – Bernie Kerik, Christine Whitman, Colin Powell, Michael Powell, Trent Lott (not a leader anymore). No gay marriage amendment. Bush and the Republicans have had some successes, but some failures too. Probably no more than one would expect given their control of the Senate, Congress and White House.

  99. 111

    jcricket spews:

    Forgot to mention – Court cases ruling against relaxing media ownership rules Bush/Michael Powell wanted, Trent Lott publicly admonished (three times), Senator Jeffords leaving the Republicans, Court rulings against the Bush plan for indefinite containment of “enemy combatants”. No convictions out of all the supposed “enemy combatants” in the war on terror. No capture of Osama Bin Laden (despite clear evidence he’s still alive). 1000s of dead soldiers and broken families because of his elective war that we now know was built on faulty premises (no WMDs, no yellow cake).

    Head of the Bush/Cheney northeast re-election team indicted for phone jamming in Vermont of 2000. Just fun little statistics we could spend all day compiling.

  100. 112

    Chuck spews:

    Read my comments @ 80. Show me that you understand the difference between individual behavior and aggregate effects.>>>

    I read your comments and they still dont explain what the alternative is when we (or our kids) reach the point and SS blows up in their faces, or when the old/young population reaches the point that 1 person is working to support 1 retired person AND paying taxes to support all of these fine programs…the guy if smart is going to throw down his shovel and say fvck it all.

  101. 113

    Don spews:

    Chuck @ 113

    If your premise is wrong, so is your conclusion. If you start out with the premise that SS is going to “blow up” as you put it, then “reform” is needed for the sake of younger generations. If you start out with the premise that the moon is made of green cheese …

  102. 114

    Chuck spews:

    Then, Don, as I said you have a problem with the most basic math skills. Once again here we go, people due to abortion, birth control and family planning are having fewer kids than ever (per capita) in history, now thake that simple fact and combine it with the fact that people are living longer than ever (and it gets longer by the year) due to medical science. Those two figures WILL clash. If you maintain SS as it is, you either will need a birthrate boom or you will have to slide the retirement age. I suppose you could simply “euthenize” the elderly at some point to save your precious system…

  103. 115

    spews:

    Chuck @ Several,

    First, it would seem that you’re the one with basic math skills. Not a single population projection places the ratio of works to retired persons at 1 to 1. More like 3 to 1, even with the reduction in births.

    Second, you’re equivocating. You want to shitcan the whole Social Security package. I’ve pointed out why this is a horribly bad idea, and suggested that you try not to apply micro-economic concepts to macro-economic realities.

    Third, I don’t see anyone here advocating simply doing nothing about Social Security. The Brookings Institute had a

  104. 118

    zip spews:

    “Also, for you privatize-everything freaks who put 100% of your retirement nest egg in Starbucks, your stock is down another $4 a share today. It was at 66 three weeks ago, currently is 49, how do you like that for a warm glowing feeling of financial security.”

    “Guess what, you’re paying taxes to keep vegetables on life support who didn’t wear motorcycle helmets OR buy insurance.”

    “Apparently I’ve done a better job than you at not becoming a cynical old coot.”

    Comments by Don

    Don, Your comments paint you as cynical and mean spirited. You’re one of those jerks that likes to gloat over other’s misfortune, aren’t you? Reading your comments of the past day is enough to make me support Bush’s plan even more stubbornly. What is your problem with VOLUNTARY private accounts, other than the fact that Bush is for it?