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What was he thinking...?
08-May-2005 | Ron Pickrell

Posted on 05/08/2005 9:39:54 AM PDT by pickrell

What often isn't widely appreciated is the strategy behind the tactics. Often it is necessary to signal left to the opposition in order to mask for the longest time possible your sudden break to the right. Those not on the field with the team have to strain to anticipate the final moves, if they can, or simply watch the game play out otherwise. We all know that this is necessary, but we don't all necessarily have to like it. C'est la vie. The strain comes not from rooting for the team. The strain comes, rather, from having to trust the team captain.

George Bush was elected, arguably, because he shaped a series of actions that he would take in office. A cynical electorate doubted, having been down this road so many times. But they placed their bets and here we are. The President has carried through his promises for tort reform, education reform, bankruptcy reform, and effectively checkmated the left. It has been worth it just to see that. And all while dealing with the worst threat America has faced, arguably, in her existence. And all while contending with the open, ferocious opposition of the vast bulk of the organized media, the collectivist movements of the world, and the Democratic party, in a manner never before witnessed in time of war.

Now he's tackling Social Security. For those of us lonely voices in the woods, it is the last, best chance to avoid "the other threat". The Democrats have pushed in all of their dwindling chips in opposition, and, as the ground commander on Tarawa radioed back to the invasion fleet in World War Two so many years ago, "The situation is in doubt..."

The worst possible outcome for America is to further "save" Social Security, without the reformers having a clear understanding of what it is they are trying to save. As has been argued before on this forum, "Social Security" hasn't yet been clearly defined for the voter. This obscurity is one of the most effective tools of the anti-reformists. It exists because of the faith placed by the liberals in the ever-shortening attention span of the voter. They feel comfortable in this assessment, knowing that every minute of attention spent on deep discussions of the problem detracts from the time remaining to enjoy the latest celebrity murder or molestation.

As the media sees it, ninety eight hours are spent watching the celebs, and barely two hours tolerating the news. "Do you realize how much time is being wasted here, Cokie?" "Of course, Sam. Two percent of it..."

In spite of the fact that any internet post exceeding 2 pages on the internet is considered untenable, let's try.

Social Security cannot be all things simultaneously. It can be a retirement program, or it can be a welfare program, or something else, but not all at once.

First, let's establish why. It's critical to attempt an honest definition of the problem. George Bush is not succeeding at this yet, given the embargo by the Media.

We will not have enough money coming in, during the earning years of our children, at the present rate of taxation, from the foreseeable number of workers, at any rational anticipation of overall income levels, to support all strategies.

If we, as a majority of voters, try to extract from tomorrow's workers a sufficiently increased percentage of their earnings to fund the collossal amalgam that we presently support, we will decrease, not increase, the overall income of the country, and thereby decrease, not increase, the actual amount of Social Security extracted. If we make it impossible to support a family on declared income, then undeclared, under-the-table income will expand, and bring starvation to the government. In any case, the books won't balance...but will burn.

If we think that we pay more than enough taxes now, let's put ourselves in the position of the worker in 2018. He is not only paying for all of the government we have now in 2005, but also all the new government programs that were added in the upcoming 13 years. (Don't be ludicrous and dream that Congress "did" no additional spending from 2005 to 2018. This is supposed to be an honest analysis...)

In 2018, as is well know now, a large percentage of retirees, benefitting from longer lifespans, have greatly swelled the rolls of Social Security recipients. What may not be understood is what else is happening as a consequence. The fewer workers remaining are still "only" having 12.9% witheld for Social Security, as well as the 2.4% for medicare, that soon swelled to 5% for medicare, since the system now services many more. Just like the Democrats implied, the Social Security system is "not in trouble", but rather is good indefinitely. Only the taxpayer is about to be shaken until his teeth fall out. The Democrats carefully obscured all of that.

Because the worker, who was paying say 28% of his income in Federal withholding in 2005, now has a few minor "adjustments" imposed on him. They aren't voluntary, but rather are mandated by the "full faith and credit of federal obligations". The worker is about to find out what that means. In spades.

Temporarily, to cover shortfalls in funds, the Social Security program is now "cashing in" all of those Federal IOU's for the "Social Security Surpluses" that Congress spent over the years. This requires the taxpayer to make good on all the looted money. So, he is paying an additional 6 to 8 percent more in taxes, and heading upwards, to redeem those IOU's imposed upon him by the previous generation.

And, since Congress is no longer getting $150 billion extra dollars each year of extra Social Security funds that they have always had to spend, he is now also forced to pay 4 percent more in Federal income taxes to "make up the shortfall". Because increasing the deficit any further is no longer any more possible than him "maxing out new credit cards to pay the minimum on the old credit cards". He soon runs out of credit card offers. Then the fun starts.

And since the flow of Federal matching funds have slowed as the economic fiasco has blossomed, states and cities have had to hike their rates of taxation. Another additional 3 to 5 percent is taken away for local taxes.

Unfortunately, during the boom times generated after the Republicans achieved control of the Senate and the House in the late 1990's, the promised shrinking of government hasn't occurred. So the investors of the world have mentally downgraded the U.S. Government to junk bond status, in spite of any attempts by the Fed at influencing the spiral, and have refused to lend more money except at "realistic" interest rates. As portions of the Federal debt roll over each year, and must be newly funded, the interest rates flowed upwards.

In order to pay the ever increasing interest on the national debt, the hapless worker now must pay an additional 3 to 5 percent then, with the inescapable guarantee of more in the extended future. The by-then entrenched entitlement of Federal drug benefits, the ever increasing power of the entire health care apparatus, and the burgeoning number of baby boomers long retired and still kicking, will necessarily increase the Federal outlay even further.

Guess who can expect both political parties to "regretfully announce tax increases", rather that face the power of the AARP population? But only a gentle 5 percent more, and only through these "difficult times"...

The worker of tomorrow looks at the combined Federal taxes removed from his paycheck, a mere 52%, along with the State, City, County and other local taxes of 11 percent, and realizes that another Reagan needs step forwards.

Only this time, instead of an economy waiting to be unleashed to export to the world...we now face a world which has "shared" most of our technology, and which has export ideas of it's own. And instead of carrying a 2.1 trillion dollar debt...we then face a 17 trillion debt, with additional 30 year unfunded liabilities of over 35 trillion. And this time, interest will not be heading downwards to fund enough expansion though more debt, and so will not be igniting another explosive growth of business. The piper has his hand out...

By the time a number of Asian countries could see the wave coming, and finally understood the danger they faced, it was too late to pass legislation either to evacuate the populace or begin building the wall. The Tsunami came. The difference is, that afterwards, the Tsunami left. And the people would be free for years to understand their mistakes and endeavor to correct them.

Now prepare yourself for a tsunami that comes in much more slowly, and doesn't recede. One that swallows the beach one month, and the town the next, reaching ever further into the heartland, through farms and factories. Unrelenting and unresponsive, destroying everything it touches. Kind of like the liberal platform.

Those people who think global warming is a problem... are about to recoil in horror at what a tide of debt will produce.

If we decide that ever increasing debt is NOT an option, then we must consider other options. This is because ever increasing debt is NOT an option, unless we are willing to unleash the firestorm of inflation which devours all in it's path. Either way, and any way, the pyramid of debt will collapse upon us. Violently, if we choose, or in a more controlled manner, if we have the foresight.

Either way we choose; whether or not we choose; and possibly in spite of what we choose, if we wait too long.

We could choose to import enough new workers, either in compliance with our immigration laws, or in violation of them, to court the same fate that France now has little hope of escaping. The Parisians figured that a declining birth rate among them could be offset by massive infusions of Arabic and other immigrants, who would cheerfully support the native retirees in a manner to which they hoped to remain accustomed, and yet concede permanently to the native French and to Europe, the continuation of political control.

In a few years, the culture that was French, morally bankrupt as it may be, will complete it's fade into mere neighborhood sensibilities, and their trade of sovereignty for annuity income...will yield neither. Any attempts to reverse the situation will run into the cold reality of majority vote. And when that happens, worse things than bingo money and greens fees will have been irreparably lost. If you think not, ask any Mayans that you may meet. Ask the Belgians.

If we instead decide that we can leave the mess for our children to solve, then we may as well save our education money and advise our children to join a gang, because the net result will be the same. If you send them to school, but don't insist they brush their teeth, or embrace morality, or learn fiscal responsibility, or any of the other things fathers hammer home to their children, you have still stolen their futures.

You see, they are too young to benefit from the wisdom that the mistakes you made produced in you. Only by insisting they grow into good and moral men, can you really give them a chance. But if you don't care, then don't care all of the way. Why take half steps? Why not, as happens in many Asian countries crushed under by poverty, sell your daughters as they become interesting to other men? Learn to drink heavily.

How much sacrifice will your children willingly endure to protect and nurture your grandchilden...once they realize what you handed to them economically? More to the point, how much will others, not imbued with the moral considerations you encouraged in your children, be willing to endure? But then, twenty or thirty years is so long in the future that we needn't concern ourselves with it. Look into your grandaughter's eyes, and repeat that with a straight face. If you can, then you have no need to read further.

If we decide that no matter what happens to the "average" family, we will have "protected our own", and thereby can wash our hands of the others...understand this: In years to come, those average families will produce Children Who Vote. And rather than see your grandchildren with plenty, while their grandchildren have little to none, they will bring back the welfare state with a vengeance. What you think you understand about re-distribution, and property rights, will be abruptly adjusted as you begin to understand the word "constituency". Your children will not long keep their opportunities in a nation where the rest of the children have been saddled with crushing Federal debt, enforced by Federal agents.

There is a reason why we suffer the losses of our young men overseas. And that is the same reason is why the young men agree to go. Because they understand that freedom must be freedom for all. That opportunity must be opportunity for all. And that suffering without surcease...can soon translate into suffering for all. You can't export democracy, any more than you can export hope, or export responsibility. You can only endure the risk of painful losses to the cream of our nation's manhood...in order to buy a chance for other's to have the time to realize that these things can be theirs, if they will fight, and yes, even die to insure a future for their children.

Certainly we must carefully assess where the situation has gotten so far out of control as to threaten the safety of the United States as well as the rest of the world. And we must realize that only the U.S. and a select few allies can and will ever absorb casualties to insure a tomorrow for the rest of the world. We have limited resources and wasting them will be catastrophic.

What folly it will be if we understand the dangers external to this country, and summon the will to act upon them, and yet... cannot find it within us to confront an internal debt addiction that will surely remove our freedom of action as a society and subject us to economic shock and awe.

If you are not yet convinced...that a problem exists, and that we cannot continue on our present course, then no further analysis is of any use. Thank you for what consideration you've given this problem.

But, if you buy that we cannot continue on this path, then what other options exist?

1...We can immediately eliminate the program entirely. This will free up a lot of money for current use, and leave a huge number, millions, of Social Security recipients free to riot in desparation. The money saved can partially pay for the damages, and as desparation increases, we can then consider "measures".

2...If you don't buy the above, we can continue the program only for present recipients, and sunset it into extinction. See above, only among the younger victims of the scheme.

3...If you don't buy either of the above, we can continue the program, only taking enough from each worker to fund outlays. The $150 billion currently given to Congress to fund excess spending, and now missing, will either necessitate Congress passing honest, unhideable tax increases to maintain their present level of spending, OR implementing an actual reduction of that excess spending, OR attempting to incur even more debt borrowed from somewhere. Good luck.

4...If you don't buy any of the above, we must then necessarily decide whether Social Security is to be transformed either into a welfare program for the aged, or a retirement program.

Why? Because the aims and strategy for the two different goals are so incompatible and divergent as to necessitate a political decision on the part of the populace before any reform is possible. It's either a fish or a fowl.

When the tsunami comes, you can either build a boat...or build a wall. You can't build a boat with a wall in it. It wouldn't float or keep out the water. And you can't build a wall and craft it with a hull and a rudder. It wouldn't keep out the water or float.

You need first establish the national goal, and determine that it is achievable. This is inescapable, and George Bush is not hammering this home.

If Social Security is to be a welfare program, or if you prefer, an insurance policy against poverty in the elderly, then it's recipients must ONLY be those who reach old age without sufficient income to meet a defined level. All considerations other than that must end. Over 65, and under, say, $15,000.00 yearly income, a check is mailed. Period. Anyone else, first try to get back the auto insurance you didn't use when you didn't crash, or the fire insurance you didn't need if your house didn't burn. The amounts taken from worker's pay would drop dramatically and Congress could not suck up the "extra" money it now cynically purports is "locked up" in the Social Security fund. Individuals could then privately invest in whatever retirement plan suits their tastes. Projected life of Social Security... infinite.

If Social Security is to be a retirement program, or if you prefer, an involuntary, post-retirement, supplemental income for worker's, then it's funds MUST be invested. The funds collected from the worker must earn the indefinite payouts for the worker in the future, rather than continuously and forcibly extracting ever increasing taxes from a shrinking pool of future workers. What funds accumulate in a worker's account will earn interest or dividends that will be disbursed over the retirement years of the worker. The principal investment must remain untouched if the payout is indefinite in length. The amounts taken from the worker's pay could vary with the popularity of the program, with the "extra money" currently spent by Congress instead funding a growing, compounding nest egg, and Congress could not then spend the "extra" money it now cynically purports is "locked up" in the Social Security fund. Projected life of Social Security... infinite.

One cannot help but notice that either program leaves Congress unable to spend the "extra" $ 150 billion it now spends. This is called "the 2 trillion necessary to pay for George Bush's Social Security proposals". It presupposes an almost "divine right" of Congress to spend this $150 billion that they convince you is in a "trust fund". After all, you "trusted" them, and they spent your "funds". QED

That you must "replace" this money, if you have the timerity to redirect this "extra" money into...retirement purposes, is axiomatic for the liberal media.

As in any honest examination of options, one of the most important is that of pre-exposing the "weasle options".

Let's.

In the case of the Social Security welfare program, care must be taken against mission creep, or "expanding and consolidating Democratic voting blocs". The amounts of the payouts must be fixed and uniform among recipients, or else launch unending battles over which "group" gets more, and why. This "divide and own" strategy is the life-blood of the liberal democrat. It cannot be allowed. Can you imagine the fights over "our minority deserves more since the rest of you live longer, statistically...". What kind of foolishness would initiate that kind of corrosive battle? I wonder what the President was thinking...

The weasle factor would then turn to achieving a "living retirement". Since teenagers, it is argued, with no work experience, should be paid a "living wage" to enable them to support their parents in a humane manner, even though the parents most likely also work, and Junior merely wants dating money; so too the argument will be made that not enough is being paid to the "ones who didn't provide for their retirement". Retiring "with dignity", will mean a brand new bloodletting of the taxpayer. And much like a tenured professor at Ohio State University, the salary paid can never be enough, and the student will always be able to pay more. Or his parents. Or the government. Which means the taxpayer. Your grandchildren.

This fertile ground for the "living retirement" gambit will insure that retired voters always vote their pocketbooks, and thus insure an unending pressure on the worker. Once identified and anticipated, it can, however, be managed, after enough blood is drawn.

Congress would also have to refight the "other victims" definitions, including the widows, orphans, alcoholics, drug users, mime artists, etc. Once again the justification would have to be sold to the American voter.

Another weasle factor will bear upon the Retirement Program option. A good number of Americans, heavily conservative, already have established and are funding IRA's, SEP's, SIMPLE's, and other 401 patterned accounts, and the greatest majority of workers unequipped with personally owned, even if mandatory, retirement accounts are of the Democratic persuasion.

And let's be honest. This battle is about the undecided voter always courted at each election. If a large number of workers who have minimal savings and have only the succor of the State to look forward to, suddenly are faced with owning their own retirement funds, then tectonic plates would rattle. The control of the Democratic party upon power has always depended upon their successful imposition of fear upon older voters. Their control of the elderly would be in jeopardy, and the fight will be vicious. The propaganda war will reach new lows.

This leads us to the latest problem.

In his travels around the country, the President has inexplicably shifted into reverse from third gear. To make matters worse, no clutch was employed.

When the President announced that he was open to the idea of including investment in Federal Bonds within the options available for personal investment accounts, jaws dropped within the bean-counter community (a perjorative referring to us accounting types, for, as Rush would say, "those folks in Rio Linde"). It had been assumed that the President's trip would be employed to clarify and educate the voters as to the extent of the problem.

No worse statement could have been made.

In essence, rather than allow the present system to accrue federal debt, and pile repayment of that debt onto the future taxpayers, he proposes instead to have private accounts accrue federal debt and pile repayment of that debt onto the future taxpayers.

This statement is so jarring, and so completely taken from the liberal "fool 'em again" playbook that it leaves the reform-minded breathless.

The entire purpose of Social Security reform must necessarily be to remove the retirement money from the clutches of Congress, and invest the money, in an actual real, investment. Only by expanding the earning power, and compounding the returns of these retirement funds, does any worker have any hope of avoiding being a burden to his children, at the expense of his grandchildren. By buying Federal bonds with the money, it passes the retirement funds right back into the general fund for Congress to spend. The only difference will be the color of the IOU's drafted against the future earnings of taxpayers.

Could it be that the President has economic advisors who simply have no clear understanding of the problem? This seems unlikely in the extreme, given their opening strategy of working to establish personally owned, individual retirement accounts for the worker- the single best solution for inplementing the "Social Security as a retirement program and not a welfare program". Contrast this with their rational approach to pro-active national security and most of the President's other accomplishments, and it seems even less likely.

Could it be that the President has no committed intention of carrying through the true reform of Social Security? This, too, seems unlikely in the extreme, given his history in office of focus, committment, and results, regarding tort reform, bankruptcy reform, the start of education reform, etc.

Could it be that the President's advisors have decided recently, or else originally, that the President should simply use the Social Security intransigence of the Democrats to beat up them up during the next election, rather than press through to actually solve the problem? This, too, seems unlikely as it would be a mirror copy of the Democratic dogma of never solving problems, since that would eliminate the usefulness of the problem. I personally refuse to accept this as the explanation. The President is too good of a man to do that.

How staggering, then, that the President should then also announce that the future Social Security payments might be subject to a "means" test. This remixes the idea of the "Social Security as a welfare program" back onto the table and effectively nullifies whatever progress may have been made! It effectively destroys the arguments for Social Security as a retirement program. If this is the path to follow, then all of the previous legwork selling the individual retirement accounts concept has been a thorough waste of time.

It cannot be fish and fowl at the same time. We must steer either right or left. Attempting to steer in both directions at once will land us in the canal, once again, as we shall see.

The weasle factor available for this "means test", is that once a maximum income is established, the "personally owned, individual retirement account" is suddenly... no longer personally owned, but instead subject to revocation by the government, at the whim of Congress. It will at a stroke nullify everything that has preceeded it.

Surely, it will start out that the "maximum" means test will be set in the same manner as the current cap on Social Security contributions, in the range of $90,000, or so. This will satisfy those who assume that Bill Gates needs no retirement help. Then, "moderate" Congressmen will revisit it to adjust the levels in increments downwards to eliminate the ownership of those having $50,000 in other retirement income, and then $30,000.00. By the time it reaches a level consistent with Democratic objectives, it will be nothing more than it is now.

Worse, the voters will be duped, with the active collusion of the liberal media, into assuming the problem is finally "solved". Much like they were in 1983, when Congress "solved" the Social Security problem once and for all, by taking "extra" money from the pay of workers, above what was needed for payouts, and deciding with a smile that momma needed a new pair of entitlements.

The damage will be catastrophic. Because no one will ever again trust a "reform" of Social Security. It will politically be a millstone that the liberal media, after they have done their weasle damage, will be able to hang around the necks of the conservatives, convincing the public that it was a conservative "fix", once the true damage becomes apparent. A total embargo will be planned for the "weasle work" after the fact.

For the first time in the Bush Presidency, this author must confess to being puzzled. What can these latest announcements mean? What were they thinking? Were...they thinking?

These are not the Newt Gingrich "cuts" in medicare that were intentionally distorted by the Media, from the truth of limiting the growth of medicare.

Instead these are undisputed statements apparently made by the very Administration that fiscal conservatives have bet their last, best hopes upon. They have chafed at the inexplicable delinquency on immigration control, and closed their eyes in pain at the introduction of the newest entitlement of Federal Drug Benefits.

But upon this, the largest contingent liability (excluding medicare and related) that the future taxpayer faces, there can be no errors. There can be no absolution from blame, if this is bungled.

This concerns our grandchildren, and it will be too late to try to wish it away in 2021. The time to act had to be, and so has to be, now, in 2005.

But the "act" must be rational and prudent. Fish or fowl. Without smoke and mirrors.


TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: momentum; socialsecurity

1 posted on 05/08/2005 9:39:54 AM PDT by pickrell
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To: pickrell

No Reader's Digest version, huh? : )


2 posted on 05/08/2005 9:41:06 AM PDT by Hand em their arse
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To: pickrell

Can I get the Cliff's Notes version? :)


3 posted on 05/08/2005 9:42:30 AM PDT by MikefromOhio (I joined the EEEVVIILLLL Sam's Club on Friday, April 22nd, 2005.....)
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To: pickrell

wow. You've been busy


4 posted on 05/08/2005 9:43:12 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: MikeinIraq
"..Can I get the Cliff's Notes version? :)..."

I understand the thought, but must sadly say... not now. Not at this late date. Not with so much at stake. Mea Culpa

5 posted on 05/08/2005 9:44:20 AM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: MikeinIraq

:^)


6 posted on 05/08/2005 9:45:55 AM PDT by Hand em their arse
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To: pickrell

Now it is much easier to understand why "W" is having a hard time explaining his program to the American people.

Social security reform is not an easy topic to discuss.

Nice try though.


7 posted on 05/08/2005 9:57:19 AM PDT by catiwompus
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To: pickrell
[ For the first time in the Bush Presidency, this author must confess to being puzzled. What can these latest announcements mean? What were they thinking? Were...they thinking? ]

A better title for this screed would be...
"A thoughtful Lament by an autistic RINO.."

For any real republican knows they have been screwed blued and tattooed.. by that ol' "Unite'er NOT a Divide'er".. He has been uniting with democrats since 2000.. just like his daddy did.. And any real republican knows you don't unite with democrats you divide from them.. If a democrat is FOR SOMETHING it is always wrong or a ruse.. and has been that since the 1930's...

Just to BE a RINO shows you are very confused or you would be a democrat outright.. unless you are really a MOLE, a spy, or a ringer..

8 posted on 05/08/2005 10:00:13 AM PDT by hosepipe (This Propaganda has been edited to include not a small amount of Hyperbole..)
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To: pickrell
I find it difficult to disagree with anything in the article.

At this stage of SS reform, we look to be headed at full speed toward a compromise that will give every political entity a little bit of what they want-- and we'll end up having our rescue boat with a retaining wall built inside-- with giant helium filled balloons on top anchored to the gambling casino.
9 posted on 05/08/2005 10:17:31 AM PDT by spinestein
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To: hosepipe
He has been uniting with democrats since 2000.. just like his daddy did..

That same thought was in my mind as I read this article. The Bush's have issues and conflicts of conscience that Ronald Reagan never did.

10 posted on 05/08/2005 10:44:38 AM PDT by elbucko (California, no guns for citizens, no sons or d'ters for the military.)
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To: pickrell
The Social Security fight will not be won or lost in congress in 2005. It will be given away in the Republican primaries in the fall of 2006. We will send the same people who are wasting the 'surplus' back to Washington to do it again.

The national RNC that backs dump trucks full of money to the doors of moderates in the primaries is only interested in increasing its majority, not effectively leading.

You will never see another successful 'Contract with America' from the party that controls the Legislative and Executive. They have stopped fighting for votes. Now they are buying them.


I think I'll take your advice and learn to drink heavily.
11 posted on 05/08/2005 10:57:03 AM PDT by Pan_Yan (All grey areas are fabrications.)
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To: pickrell
I've seen Gen Xer's already calling for my early demise at the worst or being allowed to scramble in the gutter for whatever scraps of food I can find, at best. You see, I'm a selfish baby boomer & I've already taken more than I deserve. Being born in 1956 makes me a boomer & outside of the "protected" zone of President Bush's proposal. I believe that there are more people one year younger than me than any other age group, so at least I'll have company in that gutter.

All that said, looking at your proposal...

Over 65, and under, say, $15,000.00 yearly income, a check is mailed. Period.

Technically, I have no income & haven't had any for a number of years. I get no money from the government on any level, but instead I get to pay taxes, though right now it's just sales & property taxes. I'm not part of the underground economy. Can I see what I'm trying to tell you? Do you want to force me to disclose all of my assets and/or my net worth the the federal government? If not, you're saying that I'd be among those deserving "welfare".

If Social Security is to be a retirement program, or if you prefer, an involuntary, post-retirement, supplemental income for worker's, then it's funds MUST be invested.

Demographics are a strange & funny thing. There is a dirty little secret that everyone seems to be trying to pretend can't be true. All of our markets depend on activity. As old boomers downsize their homes or sell out of the housing market completely as they are sent to senior citizen warehouses or into the gutters, there will be an over abundance of houses & all of the gewgaws necessary for them.

I only hope I have enough saved to ride out the inflation that will be the only "out" that I can see. There is a small possibility of our getting into yet another "new kind" of economy, one that we don't see or know about yet, though we're barely into this one, the "information age". Some currently unimagined new fuel source or "thinking machines" could the the trigger that would set if off.

12 posted on 05/08/2005 11:00:58 AM PDT by GoLightly
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To: Pan_Yan

13 posted on 05/08/2005 11:01:29 AM PDT by Pan_Yan (All grey areas are fabrications.)
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To: Pan_Yan

One congrescritter's pork is another's essential government program to benefit humanity...


14 posted on 05/08/2005 11:04:13 AM PDT by Keith in Iowa (Life's a beach - and Liberals are like the sand that gets in your swimsuit...)
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To: pickrell
That's a very grim fiscal picture there. Good solid analysis nonetheless.

for contrast with the US' relatively parlous fiscal position, here's some Australian news to make your eyes water:

Budget surplus to soar

It should be noted that the three levels of government here in australia eat about ~1/3 or so of GDP, marginally higher than the US, or roundabout the margin of statistical error. Meanwhile the federal government has surpluses up the ass (from the article):

THE Federal Government will be debt-free in just over a year regardless of whether it sells Telstra, a leading economic forecaster says.

Australia debt-free in a year - cool!

15 posted on 05/08/2005 11:21:37 AM PDT by music is math
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To: pickrell; Howlin; Southack; Congressman Billybob; John Lenin; doug from upland; Peach; onyx; ...

George Bush ... has carried through his promises for tort reform, education reform, bankruptcy reform, and effectively checkmated the left... And all while contending with the open, ferocious opposition of the vast bulk of the organized media, the collectivist movements of the world, and the Democratic party, in a manner never before witnessed in time of war.

Now he's tackling Social Security. For those of us lonely voices in the woods, it is the last, best chance to avoid "the other threat". The Democrats have pushed in all of their dwindling chips in opposition...What folly it will be if we understand the dangers external to this country, and summon the will to act upon them, and yet... cannot find it within us to confront an internal debt addiction that will surely remove our freedom of action as a society and subject us to economic shock and awe.

If you are not yet convinced...that a problem exists, and that we cannot continue on our present course, then no further analysis is of any use...As in any honest examination of options, one of the most important is that of pre-exposing the "weasel options"... This battle is about the undecided voter always courted at each election. If a large number of workers who have minimal savings and have only the succor of the State to look forward to, suddenly are faced with owning their own retirement funds, then tectonic plates would rattle. The control of the Democratic party upon power has always depended upon their successful imposition of fear upon older voters. Their control of the elderly would be in jeopardy, and the fight will be vicious. The propaganda war will reach new lows...Could it be that the President has no committed intention of carrying through the true reform of Social Security? This, too, seems unlikely in the extreme, given his history in office of focus, committment, and results, regarding tort reform, bankruptcy reform, the start of education reform, etc... It cannot be fish and fowl at the same time. We must steer either right or left. Attempting to steer in both directions at once will land us in the canal, once again, as we shall see.

The weasel factor available for this "means test", is that once a maximum income is established, the "personally owned, individual retirement account" is suddenly... no longer personally owned, but instead subject to revocation by the government, at the whim of Congress. It will at a stroke nullify everything that has preceeded it...These are not the Newt Gingrich "cuts" in medicare that were intentionally distorted by the Media, from the truth of limiting the growth of medicare....




EXCERPTS from a provocative read...BUMP!


16 posted on 05/08/2005 12:18:00 PM PDT by The Spirit Of Allegiance (SAVE THE BRAINFOREST! Boycott the RED Dead Tree Media!)
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To: RedBeaconNY

bttt


17 posted on 05/08/2005 12:22:39 PM PDT by RedBeaconNY (The greatest mystery to man, is man himself.)
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To: music is math
"...Australia debt-free in a year - cool!..."

Do you have room downunder for a guy too old to enlist, too fat to fight and too ugly to run for office? I have my own roto-tiller...

18 posted on 05/08/2005 4:05:23 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: Blurblogger
Here's a thought for everyone. You remember the old saying, "So goes General Motors so goes the USA" ?

GM made promises they can never deliver on and our government did the exact same thing. Notice the demoRATS silence on tax hikes, they know it spells doom at the ballot box. I call it Crisis Government, whereas politicians wait until it is too late and the size of the tax hikes litterally slow the economy into government insolvancy
19 posted on 05/08/2005 4:40:23 PM PDT by John Lenin
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To: GoLightly
"...Technically, I have no income & haven't had any for a number of years. I get no money from the government on any level, but instead I get to pay taxes, though right now it's just sales & property taxes. I'm not part of the underground economy. Can I see what I'm trying to tell you? Do you want to force me to disclose all of my assets and/or my net worth the the federal government? If not, you're saying that I'd be among those deserving "welfare"..."

Regarding your situation, I don't know of anyone who has proposed a "balance sheet" means test. Your assets, balanced against your liabilities, are totally your business. What has been proposed, in several versions, is a means test of income, not net assets. And while arguably it would be intrusive, and generally insert the camel's nose under the tent flap, to question your assets, it will be difficult to argue that you should receive the effective FICA taxes of two young fathers sweating at the local gasoline station, but should have no obligation to disclose whether or not you receive "sideways" income by renting out several properties and having your wife or some other relative collect the rents, as an example.

I have no interest in verbally sparring with someone who was born two years after me, being then 48 or 49, and yet who has "no income", and wishes to receive subsidy from the government. There are many reasons why you may have no income, perhaps injury or infirmity, or causes beyond your control. Many fine men served their country and deserve much more than they get. It is not for me to opine on your condition. My analysis piece merely argues that IF the Social Security program is to be a "welfare" type of program designed to insure that no person reaches old age, normally considered mid to late sixties, by the way, without having an adequate income, for whatever reason, as such an adequate income may be defined from time to time, it would obviously necessitate that the "inadequate" income be tested and certified. If this seems too intrusive, you are obviously welcome to upbrade the ones who are tasked to implement the system, should it be enacted as the law of the land. As for calling for your early demise, perhaps you have reason to feel slighted or badly treated. On this, I have no help to offer you. Frankly, I don't know you. If my analysis gives offense, I stand convicted. But I wouldn't place all of my hopes on some new magic technology that will re-enable us to spend money like spoiled teenagers. I think a better solution will be for us all to grow up and pull our share of the wagon, and keep a tight grip on the IOU's we write on our grandchildren's futures. But then, that's just me.

20 posted on 05/09/2005 4:24:01 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell
Regarding your situation, I don't know of anyone who has proposed a "balance sheet" means test. Your assets, balanced against your liabilities, are totally your business. What has been proposed, in several versions, is a means test of income, not net assets.

Bottom line, without a balance sheet test, the proposal is not going to be based on need. It would miss those like me, who do not need it, because we were frugal, invested well (mostly in ourselves) & saved like crazy during some highly productive times. The specifics of my situation are unique, which is why I didn't go into them.

And while arguably it would be intrusive, and generally insert the camel's nose under the tent flap, to question your assets, it will be difficult to argue that you should receive the effective FICA taxes of two young fathers sweating at the local gasoline station, but should have no obligation to disclose whether or not you receive "sideways" income by renting out several properties and having your wife or some other relative collect the rents, as an example.

There was a time when I was probably worse off than those two young fathers sweating at the local gas station. My elders had no problem living better than me on my sweat & tears during those years.

I am not evading taxes. As I said, I have no income. If I was getting rent, it would be income. I am concerned about letting that camel get his nose under the tent flap though, because I'm sure that people without little pots of money will want their "fair share" from those of us who have them. They would want to drag me back into the paying class again, despite taxes already having been paid on my little pot.

I have no interest in verbally sparring with someone who was born two years after me, being then 48 or 49, and yet who has "no income", and wishes to receive subsidy from the government.

I'm not trying to spar with you & I never said I wished to receive a subsidy. I said, under the plan you've laid out I would be eligible for it. I sure wouldn't mind getting back what I had to put in while I was a young mother, sweating every single penny, back when I was told that I would.

There are many reasons why you may have no income, perhaps injury or infirmity, or causes beyond your control.

None of that is not relevant.

Many fine men served their country and deserve much more than they get.

I agree. If you're worried that I am no longer paying my fair share, I've already paid in more than most people will over their entire lifetime.

It is not for me to opine on your condition.

You're right, it's not.

My analysis piece merely argues that IF the Social Security program is to be a "welfare" type of program designed to insure that no person reaches old age, normally considered mid to late sixties, by the way, without having an adequate income, for whatever reason, as such an adequate income may be defined from time to time, it would obviously necessitate that the "inadequate" income be tested and certified. If this seems too intrusive, you are obviously welcome to upbrade the ones who are tasked to implement the system, should it be enacted as the law of the land.

As long as no one tries to convert assets to income, tinker around all you want. Do a lifetime income average. I still might be missed, thus eligible, because of plenty of early, very lean years.

As for calling for your early demise, perhaps you have reason to feel slighted or badly treated. On this, I have no help to offer you.

LOL No, it was just a response to things I've seen coming out of some genXers who resent boomers. They have it in for you too.

Frankly, I don't know you. If my analysis gives offense, I stand convicted.

I'm not in the least little bit offended & think your analysis was very well thought out.

But I wouldn't place all of my hopes on some new magic technology that will re-enable us to spend money like spoiled teenagers.

I agree, least not in my lifetime. I am concerned about inflation, because I've seen how that can devalue savings. It usually comes at the same time as flat markets.

I think a better solution will be for us all to grow up and pull our share of the wagon, and keep a tight grip on the IOU's we write on our grandchildren's futures. But then, that's just me.

I'm in agreement with you there as well, so it isn't just you.

21 posted on 05/09/2005 7:45:31 PM PDT by GoLightly
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