"Triumph of the Redistributionist Left"


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Preacherman
January 23, 2006, 02:11 AM
From the Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0123/p25s01-cogn.html):

January 23, 2006

Triumph of the Redistributionist Left

Even with Republicans in control, trends are decidedly in favor of massive redistribution of wealth.

By Patrick Chisholm | csmonitor.com

The political left in America is emerging victorious.

No, this isn't about the damage that Jack Abramoff's mischief has done to the political right. Nor is it about President Bush's lousy poll numbers. And it doesn't refer to Democrats' recent win of two governorships.

It's about something much deeper; namely, that the era of big government is far from over. Trends are decidedly in favor of that quintessential leftist goal: massive redistribution of wealth.

Republicans' capture of both Congress and the White House was, understandably, a demoralizing blow to the left. But the latter can take solace that "Republican" is no longer synonymous with spending restraint, free markets, and other ideals of the political right.

While the left did not get its way on tax cuts, this may be only a temporary defeat: Freewheeling spending has made future tax cuts politically a lot harder.

During the first five years of President Bush's presidency, nondefense discretionary spending (i.e., spending decided on an annual basis) rose 27.9 percent, far more than the 1.9 percent growth during President Clinton's first five years, according to the libertarian Reason Foundation. And according to Citizens Against Government Waste, the number of congressional "pork barrel" projects under Republican leadership during fiscal 2005 was 13,997, more than 10 times that of 1994.

Discretionary spending is dwarfed by mandatory spending - spending that cannot be changed without changing the laws. Shifting demographics combined with an inability to change those laws virtually ensures that, through programs such as Social Security and Medicare, America's workers will be forced to redistribute a larger and larger portion of their income to other Americans in the coming decades.

The near impossibility of changing the system was evident in the recent effort to convert Social Security from a spending program to a savings program. It hardly stood a chance against the powerful senior citizens' lobby and other left-leaning groups, and their allies in Congress on both sides of the political aisle.

Time is on the side of the left. As politically difficult as it is now to reform of Social Security or Medicare, as the years pass it will get even more difficult. The swelling number of retirees will further strengthen the senior lobby. And as Social Security's surplus evaporates, there will be less money available with which to establish personal savings accounts.

The prescription drug benefit was another victory for the redistributionists. While it is true that the left wants even more spent on that program, Republican efforts have netted an additional $1.2 trillion being redistributed over the next 10 years.

Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government's budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year. Measured according to this, the US government's main function now is redistribution: taking money from one segment of the population and giving it to another segment. In a few decades, transfer payments are expected to make up more than 75 percent of federal government spending.

Currently the federal government consumes about 20 percent of the GDP, which is another way of saying that about 20 percent of Americans' income, on average, is paid in taxes to the federal government. According to the Government Accountability Office, that is on course to rise to 30 percent by 2040. Most of that 30 percent would be redistributed as payments to other Americans, rather than spent on standard government services like law enforcement, transportation, defense, national parks, orspace exploration.

While foreign policy has taken a rightward turn since Sept. 11, 2001, it, too, could drift leftward in coming decades. As the government allocates more of its budget to entitlements, there will be less money available to spend on the military, embassies, aid agencies, and other apparatuses that enable us to wield outsized influence in world affairs. We are on track to become more like the welfare states of Europe and Canada, where entitlement spending leaves limited funds available for bold foreign policy initiatives.

The left should be pleased that defense spending as a percentage of the federal budget has steadily declined during the past decades. In the early 1960s the Department of Defense constituted 45 percent of federal spending, whereas this year it will constitute an estimated 17 percent, according to the Office of Management and Budget. At the same time that percentage shrank, the percentage devoted to entitlements rose. This is reflected in money allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services: It skyrocketed from just over 3 percent of federal expenditures four decades ago to an estimated 25 percent this year. With the impending retirement of the baby-boom generation in addition to the new prescription drug plan, this crowding-out of defense and other government programs, such as homeland security, will accelerate.

The left has a powerful institutional force on its side: "public choice" economics. Our system of government is highly responsive to vocal groups that lobby for subsidies, government programs, and other special favors. Since the costs are spread out among all taxpayers while the benefits are concentrated among smaller segments of the population (such as retirees, in the case of Social Security and Medicare), the taxpayers have much less of an incentive to lobby against the measure while the beneficiaries have a huge incentive to lobby for it. Whenever those subsidies are threatened, the lobbies launch their barrages of politically effective complaints.

Forces favoring the left are virtually locked in. Even with Republicans in control, big government is destined to get a lot bigger.

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P95Carry
January 23, 2006, 02:15 AM
Peter - I am depressed again!!;)

xd9fan
January 23, 2006, 02:19 AM
will real Conservatives reward the pro-govt GOP with thier vote in 06 and 08??
will they vote GOP out of fear? (If so they are trapped like animals.)

beerslurpy
January 23, 2006, 02:47 AM
I have been thinking along similar lines myself.

cbsbyte
January 23, 2006, 02:50 AM
I completely argree with this point made in this article that the overall trend in America is to the left. People want more Government to protect them, nature, educate and provide for them when they get older. It's only bound to get worse over the next two decades. people are also alot more Liberal, and open minded on social issues. This is called the Progression of society. I do believe that the US will be more like Canada or Europe within one generation than it is now.

LAR-15
January 23, 2006, 02:52 AM
To the looney left?

Ted Kennedy must be your hero. :rolleyes:

CAnnoneer
January 23, 2006, 03:40 AM
When foreigners stop buying the federal debt, the leftists will have far less to leech and the nation would finally realize Uncle Sam's pockets are not bottomless.

Justin
January 23, 2006, 03:44 AM
Even with Republicans in control, trends are decidedly in favor of massive redistribution of wealth.

This is news?

Kim
January 23, 2006, 03:46 AM
The article leaves out the big problem. With the graying of the population there is not going to be enough people to tax. The younger generation may have another revolution. This one Conservative. Plus just how can a moral elderly population tax their children and grandchildren into poverty. All it would take is for those who work to say --------take this job and shove it. About a 2 week strike of the taxpayers would do alot of damage. I say bring it on as I will not work for the MAN. I can survive without the government hand outs. Everyone who can needs to get themeselves into the positon to do so. There is a balance to when it is not worth working more to just pay taxes. I already limit how much I work because I have no wish to pay the MAN. I have food, clothing, home, car. That is all I need. I save the rest for the rainy day ahead.

RealGun
January 23, 2006, 08:29 AM
Ones political philosophy can be compromised if confronted with the high costs of medical care. If the reasons for that high cost were effectively addressed, this article wouldn't have much thunder.

BigG
January 23, 2006, 09:14 AM
... just how can a moral elderly population tax their children and grandchildren into poverty.

That is quite a big assumption if you ask me.

Waitone
January 23, 2006, 10:32 AM
The ability to spend more than we tax is possible only because foreigners willingly line up to purchase our debt. Part of the reason is "Where else they gonna go?" line used by Bush et al. Perhaps the beginning of the end starts in March when Iran opens its own oil trading exchange which will compete directly with the US and London. Then (horrors of all horrors) if Iran demands gold back securities . . . . . <poof>

xd9fan
January 23, 2006, 11:16 AM
The another great problem with Americans is that they rule out ANY thrid party as an option. Fear of the other party winning keeps them trapped in this two party dance to the drain. Now we have two pro-Govt parties......and now the only talk is......well the GOP is slower at statism than the Left....well hiphip horray for America.:banghead:

xd9fan
January 23, 2006, 11:25 AM
That is quite a big assumption if you ask me.


The Boomers absolute refusal to hear any reform on Social Securtiy is shameful at the least. SS earned 0.86 of a percent last year. A run of the mill Bond fund can whip the pants off that return. If the elder Generation loved freedom and their childrens freedom they would do what it takes to break this slavery called SS. Give us the freedom to choose what to do with our money. Because performance results like SS, in the free market, people would be running away. But its about Govt and Govt control and the beast need to be fed. Big Assumption....I think not.

Add up all of your SS taxes and take the Stock Market ave of 9% a year (since 1926) and calculate. And then compare to what you think you will get from SS. The saving rate and retirement worries would almost no longer be an issue!!!! But we cant have freedom because some may choose to spend thier money in Vagus and blow it all........well (^*$&&^.....Life has risks.

sorry hot button issue for me

Pilot
January 23, 2006, 11:48 AM
The Boomers absolute refusal to hear any reform on Social Securtiy is shameful at the least. SS earned 0.86 of a percent last year. A run of the mill Bond fund can whip the pants off that return. If the elder Generation loved freedom and their childrens freedom they would do what it takes to break this slavery called SS. Give us the freedom to choose what to do with our money. Because performance results like SS, in the free market, people would be running away. But its about Govt and Govt control and the beast need to be fed. Big Assumption....I think not.

Add up all of your SS taxes and take the Stock Market ave of 9% a year (since 1926) and calculate. And then compare to what you think you will get from SS. The saving rate and retirement worries would almost no longer be an issue!!!! But we cant have freedom because some may choose to spend thier money in Vagus and blow it all........well (^*$&&^.....Life has risks.


I totally agree. However, this ain't gonna happen as no politician really wants private accounts. If you own it, they can't steal from it for social programs and put in a worhtles I.O.U's. SS is just another tax for wealth redistribution like the article says. The U.S. will go the way of Rome and have to start all over again at some point. When will these guys realize there is no free lunch.

BigG
January 23, 2006, 12:23 PM
xd9fan:

You missed my emphasis. I was commenting on the assumption that the elderly population was moral. I think the Social Security reform inertia is a disgrace, also. You are preaching to the choir, bud! ;)

A lot of the elderly of my acquaintance damn the welfare system but are quick to line up at the trough when it's their turn. :uhoh:

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 12:33 PM
I totally agree. However, this ain't gonna happen as no politician really wants private accounts. If you own it, they can't steal from it for social programs and put in a worhtles I.O.U's. SS is just another tax for wealth redistribution like the article says. The U.S. will go the way of Rome and have to start all over again at some point. When will these guys realize there is no free lunch.

Talk about drinking the koolaid. Worthless IOUs? The day that the US govt decides to not pay its T-bond and T-bill obligations is indeed the day the vandals will be at the gates. I wouldn't hold your breath. :banghead:

DigitalWarrior
January 23, 2006, 12:40 PM
Instead ofrefusing to pay they can just inflate the dollar

Justin
January 23, 2006, 01:12 PM
Talk about drinking the koolaid. Worthless IOUs? The day that the US govt decides to not pay its T-bond and T-bill obligations is indeed the day the vandals will be at the gates.

You are aware that social security payments taken out of your paycheck go into the general fund, where it gets spent on tanks, welfare recipients, and harrassing property owners who have a mudpuddle declared to be a wetland, right?

Social security in one of the things that gets me hopping mad.

Just the notion that a bunch of bloviating, vote-whoring imbeciles with the inability to stick to a budget are somehow smart enough to watch out for me in my retirement is beyond preposterous.


The way I see it, not only is that 15.3%* of my paycheck being stolen and frittered away, they're also stealing and frittering away the compounding long-term returns I'd have made had I been allowed to invest the money as I see fit in the first place.

That anyone who takes their money to a local investment advisor can easily beat the "return" on social security by ten times or more is just icing on the hate cake.


*6.2% from me, 6.2% from my employer, and then a seperate payroll tax of 1.45% taken out of one's paycheck, and paid by one's employer. or, if you're self-employed, you pay the entire 15.3%.

Waitone
January 23, 2006, 01:15 PM
Instead ofrefusing to pay they can just inflate the dollarDing, ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

--We can also look forward to firing the old farts somewhere between 56 and 59 years of age.
--Confiscation of private pension programs either through voluntary carrots or involuntary sticks. Watch the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation and how it plays out.
--Heavily taxed or outright confiscation of private retirement funds like Keogh's or IRA, etc.
--Raising retirement age to 72 or higher.

Boomer retirement along with Medicare constitute the perfect fiscal storm. It is bearing down on us at high speed. Our elected officials had a small window of opportunity to begin the fix and they failed. The only solution (bad as it is) is "correction on the fly."

Yea, I'm a cynic and proud of it.

HankB
January 23, 2006, 01:55 PM
That anyone who takes their money to a local investment advisor can easily beat the "return" on social security by ten times or more is just icing on the hate cake.Actually, about 15, maybe 20 years ago, FORTUNE magazine's Keeping Up column went into Social Security returns. They used two examples - in the first, someone who was retiring at 65 that year and had contributed the maximum amount to SS was considered. They would get "X" dollars per month in SS benefits.

The second example was a person of the same age who'd contributed at the same rate. If he'd achieved a real rate of return of only 3%, he'd have a lump sum available that, using then-current actuarial data, would allow him to purchase a lifetime annuity paying 75% more than the maximum SS benefit. :mad:

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 01:56 PM
So why isn't there more anger? There are two problems, as I see it.

1) Our taxes are compartmentalized, so we don't usually think of the total cost to us. Each tax -- including SS -- is kept at a percentage that by itself doesn't seem all that bad. But when you add them up, it's pretty hefty -- as much as half your income, depending on where you live. But who takes the time to add it up?

2) Many of our taxes are hidden:
The costs of the products/services we buy have all the taxes/fees paid at each step of the supply/production/distribution line built into them. But we don't see it that way. We just see the final price tag.
While not technically "hidden," automatic deductions from paychecks allow most people to remain pretty much unaware of how much they pay in SS/income taxes.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 02:04 PM
You are aware that social security payments taken out of your paycheck go into the general fund, where it gets spent on tanks, welfare recipients, and harrassing property owners who have a mudpuddle declared to be a wetland, right?
Uh...no. The SS trust fund is spent on welfare and mudpuddle's? Do explain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Trust_Fund

Just the notion that a bunch of bloviating, vote-whoring imbeciles with the inability to stick to a budget are somehow smart enough to watch out for me in my retirement is beyond preposterous.If you actually read the documents you're sent every year from SS, it clearly states that SS isn't intended, nor was it ever intended, to be your entire retirement.

That anyone who takes their money to a local investment advisor can easily beat the "return" on social security by ten times or more is just icing on the hate cake.For the qualified investor, it isn't a great deal. No one debates that. But it is extremely safe and ensures that even the dopiest workers have something stowed away. Is it govt helping to save us from ourselves? Well...yeah, and I can see having a principled stand against that if you're a true conservative. But pragmatically it's not the big govt. boogieman you're making it out to be.

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 02:38 PM
Helmetcase: Is it govt helping to save us from ourselves?No, it isn't. It's the government using my money to save other people from themselves. That's the problem most people have with SS.

I'd defy you to come up with a valid, logical explanation as to why I should be obliged -- under penalty of law -- to help pay for the retirement of complete strangers.

spartacus2002
January 23, 2006, 02:45 PM
There are 3 ways to pay the bill on SS:
1. cut benefits, raise retirement age. Won't happen, because the elderly do one thing that nobody else does. Care to guess what that is? Hint: it involves ballot boxes.
2. Raise that 6.2% tax to 20% or more. Won't happen, because that would cause blood in the streets. The politicians are scared that you'd start seeing nursing homes firebombed by youths.
3. Inflate the hell out of the dollar. Not 1% of the population understands what that means. Voters see easy credit and ballooning incomes, not realizing they've lost purchasing power.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 02:49 PM
No, it isn't. It's the government using my money to save other people from themselves. That's the problem most people have with SS.
If there was a means test and you didn't get your share back because you prepared for the future, you'd be right. But you'll get money back as well.


I'd defy you to come up with a valid, logical explanation as to why I should be obliged -- under penalty of law -- to help pay for the retirement of complete strangers.
It's just a matter of your philosophy--do we have a collective benefit from ensuring that there's a safety net out there? If you think the answer is "no", then not much anything anyone says will change your mind.

spartacus2002
January 23, 2006, 02:51 PM
No, it isn't. It's the government using my money to save other people from themselves. That's the problem most people have with SS.

I'd defy you to come up with a valid, logical explanation as to why I should be obliged -- under penalty of law -- to help pay for the retirement of complete strangers.

Concur. Used to be, folks relied on mutual aid societies, trade guilds, and church to take care of those few who lived long enough to be unable to take care of themselves or earn an income in their declining years. When folks wonder why church membership is down, I put part of the blame on a mindset that says "why be a contributing member of my church for 40 years when the gubmint can just take care of me instead?"

spartacus2002
January 23, 2006, 02:53 PM
It's just a matter of your philosophy--do we have a collective benefit from ensuring that there's a safety net out there? If you think the answer is "no", then not much anything anyone says will change your mind.

No, not when it is taken by force, mismanaged, and mostly squandered on those who refuse to plan ahead.

Besides, if for the sake of argument we say there is a collective benefit from a safety net, why do we all assume GOVERNMENT is the only entity that can administer it?

bjbarron
January 23, 2006, 02:59 PM
The article leaves out the big problem. With the graying of the population there is not going to be enough people to tax. The younger generation may have another revolution. This one Conservative.

The latest demographic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States) info that I've read say that the US is doing quite well replacing their populations. The 'blue' states are static, but replacing their populations with immigrants, and the 'red' states are doing fine with home-grown babies.

Unlike Europe, the US is not in danger of a shrinking population and demographic time-bomb. I don't really care where the population comes from...minority or immigrant...as long as they become Americans. Irish-Americans, Arab-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Chinese-Americans, or Indian-Americans....it's the idea of America that's important. If you're willing to buy into the social contract, you're welcome....if not, well - France is lovely this time of year.

tyme
January 23, 2006, 03:03 PM
Exactly why I vote libertarian in all major races.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 03:09 PM
No, not when it is taken by force, mismanaged, and mostly squandered on those who refuse to plan ahead.
Not everyone who received SS money is a squanderer. There is no means test. Lots of wealthy people collect their share as well. Who decides who is or isn't a worthy recipient?


Besides, if for the sake of argument we say there is a collective benefit from a safety net, why do we all assume GOVERNMENT is the only entity that can administer it?
If you can think of a means of doing it better via private entity, I'd love to hear the plan. But the last round of "privitization" talks really amounted to dissolving SS.

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 03:09 PM
Helmetcase: If there was a means test and you didn't get your share back because you prepared for the future, you'd be right. But you'll get money back as well.Who cares if I'll be eligible? That doesn't make it OK. The fact -- fact, not philosophical belief -- remains that my money is taken by force to pay for the retirement of others. I defy you to justify that.Helmetcase: It's just a matter of your philosophy--do we have a collective benefit from ensuring that there's a safety net out there? If you think the answer is "no", then not much anything anyone says will change your mind.I agree 100%. Social security is a collective benefit. What does that have to do with my challenge, which was: "I'd defy you to come up with a valid, logical explanation as to why I should be obliged -- under penalty of law -- to help pay for the retirement of complete strangers"?

I could name thousands of potential "collective benefits" -- for example, everyone gets a "free" car and "free" house from the governemnt. That wouldn't answer the question of why Mr. A should be obliged to pay for the car/house of Mr. B.

I'll take your non-answer as an admission that you cannot justify income redistribution. You can only divert attention to the fact -- I agree, fact -- that it's a collective benefit. You can only dodge the issue.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 03:12 PM
Who cares if I'll be eligible? That doesn't make it OK. The fact -- fact, not philosophical belief -- remains that my money is taken by force to pay for the retirement of others. I defy you to justify that.
And their money is taken to pay for yours. It's a pay as you go, take out what you put in system.

I agree 100%. Social security is a collective benefit. What does that have to do with my challenge, which was: "I'd defy you to come up with a valid, logical explanation as to why I should be obliged -- under penalty of law -- to help pay for the retirement of complete strangers"?The justification would be that society as a whole suffers when the elderly don't have the benefit of a guaranteed income in their retirement. Since you benefit from the protections of our society, you pay in like everyone else.

I'll take your non-answer as an admission that you cannot justify income redistribution. You can only divert attention to the fact -- I agree, fact -- that it's a collective benefit. You can only dodge the issue.
I'm not diverting anything. I don't doubt for a second that you, me, and everyone else smart enough to post on an Internet message board could beat the returns offered by SS on our own. But we're not the majority in that regard, so I don't get all that upset about the govt making sure the unwashed masses have a nest egg.

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 03:28 PM
Helmetcase: And their money is taken to pay for yours.That doesn't make it right.Helmetcase: The justification would be that society as a whole suffers when the elderly don't have the benefit of a guaranteed income in their retirement. No, we don't suffer collectively. They suffer. I don't. I'm happy and warm in my house. They die out in the cold.

That sucks, but it's not collective suffering. You can argue that I have a moral obligation to voluntarily help them -- and I'd probably agree -- but that's still doesn't turn their suffering into collective suffering.Helmetcase: Since you benefit from the protections of our society, you pay in like everyone else.Circular logic.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 03:32 PM
That doesn't make it right.No, we don't suffer collectively. They suffer. I don't. I'm happy and warm in my house. They die out in the cold.
That's what I was getting at when I was talking about it being a philosophical difference and that the two camps are never really going to agree. In my opinion, we do suffer morally if that sort of thing is allowed to happen. Not mention that SS means retirees keep spending money; they're the largest demographic out there, and having them spend money powers the economy that means you have employment.


That sucks, but it's not collective suffering. You can argue that I have a moral obligation to voluntarily help them -- and I'd probably agree -- but that's still doesn't turn their suffering into collective suffering.
Yeah, that's pretty much what I was getting at. It's just a matter of your worldview, and what place mandatory compassion has in it :).


Circular logic.
It would be circular if SS was the only benefit we enjoyed, but there are a bunch of other benefits that American society offers to our citizens.

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 03:41 PM
Helmetcase: In my opinion, we do suffer morallyif that sort of thing is allowed to happen.

<snip>

It's just a matter of your worldview, and what place mandatory compassion has in itI'll give you this -- at least you're willing to admit that you believe in using force of law to shove your morality down the throats of others. Most leftists rant about the right doing that, but will never admit they're just as bad. Thanks. I admire your honesty in admitting your motives are 100% the same as a gun controller or anti-abortionist. :)Helmetcase: It would be circular if SS was the only benefit we enjoyed, but there are a bunch of other benefits that American society offers to our citizens.It is circular logic. You're using the existence of "the protections of society" to justify paying for "the protections of society." Their current existence does not justify their creation in the first place.

(edited to change "there" to "their -- sheesh!)

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 03:55 PM
I'll give you this -- at least you're willing to admit that you believe in using force of law to shove your morality down the throats of others. Most leftists rant about the right doing that, but will never admit they're just as bad. Thanks. I admire your honesty in admitting your motives are 100% the same as a gun controller or anti-abortionist. :)

Haha. But yeah, it is in some sense using the law to say "you don't have the right to ignore your debt to society and the fact that you don't feel it's owed is irrelevant."

It is circular logic. You're using the existence of "the protections of society" to justify paying for "the protections of society." Their current existence does not justify their creation in the first place.
I don't think it's circular because many of the justifications are self-justified--American society protects us from harm from outside forces, provides for economic environment where we can thrive, it protects us from abuses from employers and others, and provides us so many comforts that make day to day life possible that its impossible to count them. Some of these aren't just creations of the govt so much as they are outcroppings of a free society, and paying your taxes is part of making sure that society sticks around.

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 04:10 PM
Helmetcase: But yeah, it is in some sense using the law to say "you don't have the right to ignore your debt to society and the fact that you don't feel it's owed is irrelevant."No, it is using the law to force morality down my throat. Bringing up "debt to society" is just a red-herring guilt trip since other people's needs (retirement funds) have nothing to do with what society gives me.Helmetcase: I don't think it's circular because many of the justifications are self-justifiedSelf-justification is the definition of circular logic.Helmetcase: American society protects us from harm from outside forces, provides for economic environment where we can thrive, it protects us from abuses from employers and others, and provides us so many comforts that make day to day life possible that its impossible to count them. Some of these aren't just creations of the govt so much as they are outcroppings of a free society, and paying your taxes is part of making sure that society sticks around.Now you change tactics to a strawman argument. You attempt to justify social security by arguing that the military, etc. are societal necessities.

Golly, we have a military, etc? Yep, a military is a necessity. Yep, that means I'm obliged to pay for a stranger's retirement. Perfect logical flow there.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 04:31 PM
No, it is using the law to force morality down my throat.
Not sure why that's supposed to be a compelling argument. Prohibitions against murder, drunk driving, and the like are also using the law to force moral actions upon you.

Bringing up "debt to society" is just a red-herring guilt trip since other people's needs (retirement funds) have nothing to do with what society gives me.
Sure they do. A society full of elderly people without money to spend burdens all of us. Even those families that aren't burdened by taking care of elderly relatives aren't the whole of it; those folks not having money to spend hurts the economy, and that affects all of us.

Self-justification is the definition of circular logic.
Whoa, hold on there homey. You're twisting my response around incorrectly; you were suggesting that some of the benefits to society weren't useful for justifying the contributions you're forced to make. I disagree. I was simply saying that the benefits we enjoy from things that society provide speak for themselves, and pretending you don't benefit from them is fallacious. See below.

Now you change tactics to a strawman argument. You attempt to justify social security by arguing that the military, etc. are societal necessities.
There are many things in that argument, not just a military. That's not a fair appraisal of my argument. My argument is that all of the things you do to prosper unto yourself--your job, private enterprise, etc.--are done under ALL of the protections afforded by an ordered, law-driven society. As such, you do indeed have a duty to contribute to a stable and prosperous society that we all enjoy. Part of that is making sure the elderly have some stability in their retirement outlook.


Golly, we have a military, etc? Yep, a military is a necessity. Yep, that means I'm obliged to pay for a stranger's retirement. Perfect logical flow there.
See above. You're incorrectly reading my argument.

Otherguy Overby
January 23, 2006, 05:11 PM
I don't think it's circular because many of the justifications are self-justified--American society protects us from harm from outside forces, provides for economic environment where we can thrive, it protects us from abuses from employers and others, and provides us so many comforts that make day to day life possible that its impossible to count them. Some of these aren't just creations of the govt so much as they are outcroppings of a free society, and paying your taxes is part of making sure that society sticks around.

Hmmm, since when has the "social contract" been ammended to pay welfare outta my pocket?

Government enforced "fairness" is an oxymoron.

BTW, forced contribution to a government Ponzi Scheme is long term fiscal suicide.

Anyway please explain how "fairness" can be created through being "fair" to one part of the population and "unfair" to another?

roo_ster
January 23, 2006, 05:20 PM
Talk about drinking the koolaid. Worthless IOUs? The day that the US govt decides to not pay its T-bond and T-bill obligations is indeed the day the vandals will be at the gates. I wouldn't hold your breath. :banghead:

Helmetcase, I have a task in front of me. I can either leave you in contented ignorance or perform the intellectual equivalent of stomping to death the puppy of your faith in the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF) with data gleaned from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is not Kool-Aid, this is reality as reported by the SSA.

Hold on. It ain't gonna be pretty.

-----------

I think you currently operate under some incorrect information. The SSTF is not today (and has not for many years) invested in in T-Bonds (10+ yrs), T-Notes (1-10 yrs), & T-Bills (<1 yr). Way back in the day the SSTF did. I can not find the exact date, but at some time in the past, the SSTF went from investing the trust fund in T-whatevers to investing the SSTF in what the SSA calls "special issues." These SIs are located in a filing cabinet at the SSA and are not publicly traded.

Using the SSA's SSTF data tool, I could determine that, in 1990, the SSTF had a minisule number of T-Bonds (thus pointing to the conclusion that the SSTF had been investing in SIs & not T-whatevers for a longtime before 1990). At the end of the year 2005, the SSTF had no T-Bonds. It was all SIs.

-------

So, just what does this mean? It means that the SSTF is literally a bunch of IOUs in a cabinet at the SSA. It means that the SSTF has no assets that can be traded on the market. If the SSTF were a hungry orphan, it could not trade a SI for a loaf of bread or a glass of milk...or anything of value, including cash.

If the US Gov't said to a T-Bond holder on the date it matures, "I can not redeem your bond," all heck would break out in the financial markets. A similar occurrance with SIs would elicit a shrug.

SIs are the governmental equivalent of Monopoly money. They are promises made by yesterday's & today's politicians & bueraucrats that tomorow's taxpayers will pay to redeem them.

On second thought, Monopoly money has more value, since it comes in various pretty colors.

Social Security Administration Website SSTF FAQ (http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/ProgData/fundFAQ.html#n2)
How are the trust funds invested?
By law, all income to the trust funds that is not immediately needed to pay expenses is invested, on a daily basis, in securities guaranteed as to both principal and interest by the Federal government. All securities held by the trust funds are "special issues." Such securities are available only to the trust funds.

In the past, the Trust Funds have held marketable Treasury securities, which are available to the general public. Unlike marketable securities, special issues can be redeemed at any time at face value. Marketable securities are subject to the forces of the open market and may suffer a loss, or enjoy a gain, if sold before maturity. Investment in special issues gives the trust funds the same flexibility as holding cash.

Data on trust fund investments provide a breakdown by interest rate and trust fund for any month after 1989.
did you catch the chipper tone?




In my opinion, we do suffer morally if that sort of thing is allowed to happen.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 05:50 PM
Hmmm, since when has the "social contract" been ammended to pay welfare outta my pocket?
Who said anything about welfare? SS is pay in, pay out.

Government enforced "fairness" is an oxymoron.
Point taken :).

BTW, forced contribution to a government Ponzi Scheme is long term fiscal suicide.If you actually run the numbers without slanting them in such a way as to support the preconceived notion that SS is teetering into despair, you'll see that actually SS is just fine. You don't total a car when it needs an oil change and a tire rotation.


Anyway please explain how "fairness" can be created through being "fair" to one part of the population and "unfair" to another?
Who's being treated unfairly?

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 05:53 PM
Helmetcase: Not sure why that's supposed to be a compelling argument.Who said it's an argument? I have no burden of proof -- you do as the one advocating a government action. It's simply an observation -- you've admitted that you're willing to use force of law to shove your morality down other people's throats. I find that admission refreshing from someone of your political stripe. That's all it means.Helmetcase: A society full of elderly people without money to spend burdens all of us. No, it burdens them and their families. It doesn't burden me.

In any event, this notion that the money in question can only enter the economy through the SS system is silly. The money will get spent -- by me, on a new boat and those cool shoes that I want. It sucks for them that they starve and freeze to death, but the money will get spent one way or the other.Helmetcase: you were suggesting that some of the benefits to society weren't useful for justifying the contributions you're forced to make. I disagree. I was simply saying that the benefits we enjoy from things that society provide speak for themselves, and pretending you don't benefit from them is fallacious. See below.

<snip>

There are many things in that argument, not just a military. That's not a fair appraisal of my argument. My argument is that all of the things you do to prosper unto yourself--your job, private enterprise, etc.--are done under ALL of the protections afforded by an ordered, law-driven society. First, I understood you were referring to more than the military. That's why I wrote "military, etc."

Second, I never pretended I don’t benefit from the military, schools, roads, police, etc., etc., etc., etc. I do benefit from them.
I benefit from the military. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from the schools. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from the roads. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from the police. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from etc., etc, etc.. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?


I don't care how many line items you come up with that are justifiable. Their justifications don't transfer over to social security.

Each societal benefit must be justified by itself. Helmetcase: As such, you do indeed have a duty to contribute to a stable and prosperous society that we all enjoy. Part of that is making sure the elderly have some stability in their retirement outlook. No, I have an obligation to pay for the public benefits that are justified. If the military is justified, then some of my taxes should go to the military. If public schools are justified, then some of my taxes should go to the schools. If public roads are justified, then some of my taxes should go to the roads. If bubblegum for everyone is justified, then some of my taxes should go to bubblegum.

If Social Security is justified, then some of my taxes should go to Social Security. But you've provided us no justification beyond some vague blob-thought about a "stable and prosperous society," some circular reasoning and a strawman argument.

By the way, I certainly hope you aren't attempting to raise a slippery slope argument -- that society would lose stability and prosperousness without Social Security.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 05:57 PM
Helmetcase, I have a task in front of me. I can either leave you in contented ignorance or perform the intellectual equivalent of stomping to death the puppy of your faith in the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF) with data gleaned from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is not Kool-Aid, this is reality as reported by the SSA.

Hold on. It ain't gonna be pretty.
Spare me the condescension. I'm quite familiar with that page.

Way back in the day the SSTF did. I can not find the exact date, but at some time in the past, the SSTF went from investing the trust fund in T-whatevers to investing the SSTF in what the SSA calls "special issues." These SIs are located in a filing cabinet at the SSA and are not publicly traded.
Stand corrected on the nature of the SIs. You are correct that they are not publicly marketable like T-bonds/bills/notes. However, your implication that that makes them worthless is unfounded and unsupportable.

So, just what does this mean? It means that the SSTF is literally a bunch of IOUs in a cabinet at the SSA. It means that the SSTF has no assets that can be traded on the market. If the SSTF were a hungry orphan, it could not trade a SI for a loaf of bread or a glass of milk...or anything of value, including cash...If the US Gov't said to a T-Bond holder on the date it matures, "I can not redeem your bond," all heck would break out in the financial markets. A similar occurrance with SIs would elicit a shrug.
You obviously missed this part of the SSA's page: Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.
You mean to tell me the US Govt defaulting on it's obligations would merely elicit a shrug? Allen Greenspan gets flatulence from too much hummus and the Dow dips half a point. Imagine the havok the govt defaulting on it's obligations would wreak on world markets. You're talking about End of Days type mayhem.

SIs are the governmental equivalent of Monopoly money. They are promises made by yesterday's & today's politicians & bueraucrats that tomorow's taxpayers will pay to redeem them.
Not factual. They're the equivalent of every other financial instrument backed by the US govt.

On second thought, Monopoly money has more value, since it comes in various pretty colors.
Haha. Cute, but not factually supportable.

CAnnoneer
January 23, 2006, 06:05 PM
It's the government using my money to save other people from themselves. That's the problem most people have with SS.

+1, in a nutshell. I would add that the same problem is endemic in virtually any form of government-regulated social redistribution.

SS is a box of meaningless IOUs. Somebody is going to be very disappointed, and it won't be those that are smart enough to know the box is empty.

As regards population growth, we certainly are better off than Europe, because at least our population is not shrinking. However, it must be clear that as the middle class is being steadily dissolved, the young replacements have much smaller true income on which to pay the taxes to support the retirement of the former. Also, much of the replacement is by illegal aliens, which do not pay taxes.

Our society is experiencing tremendous demographic and economic changes as it trundles into the new century. So, plan hard and plan early, lest you find yourselves under its wheels...

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 06:09 PM
Who said it's an argument? I have no burden of proof -- you do as the one advocating a government action. It's simply an observation -- you've admitted that you're willing to use force of law to shove your morality down other people's throats. Talk about missing the point. If you believe in the govt forcing moral actions upon us as I described, as in murder or anything else, then so do you. That's what laws are--codified ethical actions.

No, it burdens them and their families. It doesn't burden me.
That's just where we agree to disagree. I'd argue that since the economy is made of people interacting financially, it does trickle down to effect everyone ultimately.

In any event, this notion that the money in question can only enter the economy through the SS system is silly. The money will get spent -- by me, on a new boat and those cool shoes that I want.If it is true that the net effect is spending-neutral (and I'm not sure that it is), one way avoids people starving to death and is thus morally superior from that point of view. You can disagree that it's a moral problem if elderly people don't have a guaranteed safety net. Another place people just have to agree to disagree.


Second, I never pretended I don’t benefit from the military, schools, roads, police, etc., etc., etc., etc. I do benefit from them.
I benefit from the military. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from the schools. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from the roads. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from the police. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?
I benefit from etc., etc, etc.. What does that have to do with my obligations towards Social Security?


I don't care how many line items you come up with that are justifiable. Their justifications don't transfer over to social security.It's a benefit that ensures we take care of a large demographic, one we'll all eventually belong too. All those other benefits have a tangential benefit from secure, monied elders who can still participate in the economy (see: taxation of SS benefits.)

Each societal benefit must be justified by itself.Fine. I justify SS by saying that having a safety net for retirees is an end in and of itself.


If Social Security is justified, then some of my taxes should go to Social Security. But you've provided us no justification beyond some vague blob-thought about a "stable and prosperous society," some circular reasoning and a strawman argument.What circular strawman is that? It provides a safe harbor investment that doesn't wholly ensure a "stable and prosperous" society, but makes up a distinct leg of said society.


By the way, I certainly hope you aren't attempting to raise a slippery slope argument -- that society would lose stability and prosperousness without Social Security.
No, see above--it's not the only pillar, but one of many.

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 06:10 PM
SS is a box of meaningless IOUs. Somebody is going to be very disappointed, and it won't be those that are smart enough to know the box is empty.

People keep typing that, I guess hoping that enough repetitions will make it true. Good luck with that. See above. The SSA would take issue with that.

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 06:25 PM
Helmetcase: Fine. I justify SS by saying that having a safety net for retirees is an end in and of itself.Right ... circular argument.Helmetcase: What circular strawman is that? Your circular argument (SS is self-justified) is different from your strawman argument (I'm oblighed to pay into SS because society provides military/roads/schools, etc.)Helmetcase: Talk about missing the point. If you believe in the govt forcing moral actions upon us as I described, as in murder or anything else, then so do you. Actually, I was simply saying I found if refreshing for you to admit you are forcing your morality on us.

But now that you bring it up, yes anti-murder laws and and pro-SS laws both force morality on people.

Here's the difference: Anti-murder laws are justified -- society could not function with free-wheeling murder. However, it can function and prosper without Social Security.

So what's the justification for Social Security? You provided a circular argument (SS is self-justified), a strawman argument (I'm oblighed to pay into SS because society provides military/roads/schools, etc.), and possibly a slippery slope argument (SS is a pillar that keeps us from an unstable and unprosperous society).

But you've provided no real justification.

thereisnospoon
January 23, 2006, 06:47 PM
But you've provided no real justification.

I always thought the justification for SS was getting re-elected to your Powerful Congressional Office...:p

If I went and took money by force from another individual and gave it to my elderly parents to offset their monthly economic shortfalls, I would be called a robber...Washington does it and they are called "The Distinguished Getlenman from..."

Helmetcase
January 23, 2006, 06:53 PM
Right ... circular argument. No, a circular argument would be "SS is justified because SS is good." The argument is rather that "SS is justified because it provides a service that makes sure old people don't starve." Means and end. Not end and end. If that argument is circular, every govt effort is defended by a circular argument.

Your circular argument (SS is self-justified)Nice attempt at misdirection, but that's not what I meant by self-justified. I made no such argument, and frankly you seem too bright a dude to be putting words in my mouth. A better way of saying it would that the benefits some govt programs don't need much explanation, because they're self-evident.

is different from your strawman argument (I'm oblighed to pay into SS because society provides military/roads/schools, etc.)
I think the strawman is adequately fleshed out by pointing out that secure elders make for prosperous workers earlier in life and continued healthy contributors to society later in life, and as such contribute to the general welfare of society as a whole.

Actually, I was simply saying I found if refreshing for you to admit you are forcing your morality on us.As I find it refreshing that you admit to forcing your morality on us via prohibitions against murder, kiddie rape, armed robbery, etc.

Here's the difference: Anti-murder laws are justified -- society could not function with free-wheeling murder. However, it can function and prosper without Social Security. Society could probably function without a lot of things, but that doesn't mean it should. I was merely fleshing out the morals-as-codified-actions distinction. We survived before a lot of things existed, but that doesn't mean they weren't brought into existence for a reason.

But you've provided no real justification.
No, I provided justifications you don't like. Big difference.

Hutch
January 23, 2006, 07:37 PM
Sorry to be late to the party...

HelmatCase, I have several questions for you:

Is it your assertion that the SI's backing of "the full faith and credit" of DotGov make it solvent?

Do you have an understanding of what the tax rates will have to rise to in order for SS to maintain the current benefit levels?

Is it your assertion that SS is indeed actuarily (sp?) sound as it is currently constituted? If not, how would YOU suggest it be made sound?

Just curious. It is refreshing for the divergence of opinion to identified without rancor.

PCGS65
January 23, 2006, 07:56 PM
The article leaves out the big problem. With the graying of the population there is not going to be enough people to tax.
Oh yes there will be! That's why the gov is letting illegal immigration run rampant. More young tax payers.
by xd9fan, Add up all of your SS taxes and take the Stock Market ave of 9% a year (since 1926) and calculate. And then compare to what you think you will get from SS. The saving rate and retirement worries would almost no longer be an issue!!!! But we cant have freedom because some may choose to spend thier money in Vagas and blow it all........well (^*$&&^.....Life has risks.
Just make it a mandatory investment like other plans(401k,403b ect.).
If you put 15% of an average lifetime annual salary of 40k into a plan getting 8% interest in 30 years you would have 745k. In 40 years 1.745 million. So if you start at 20yrs old at 60yrs your at 1.745 mil. Want to go to 65 2.6 million.
I think I could live off that for a long time. I can trust myself a lot more than I can trust the gov. But that's a no brainer!!

CAnnoneer
January 23, 2006, 08:37 PM
The SSA would take issue with that.

Is that a threat?

Problem is, it is not a slander/libel when it is true.:evil:

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 10:24 PM
Helmetcase: I think the strawman is adequately fleshed out A strawman argument is still illogical and invalid no matter how "fleshed out" it is. Helmetcase: A better way of saying it would that the benefits some govt programs don't need much explanation, because they're self-evident.You've merely restated "self-justified." It's still a circular argument ... or at best, a cop-out, as in "I don't need to explain because anyone can see it's true."Helmetcase: Society could probably function without a lot of things, but that doesn't mean it should.The point is that murder laws can be justified outside their morality -- social security cannot; it relies solely on morality.Helmetcase: As I find it refreshing that you admit to forcing your morality on us via prohibitions against murder, kiddie rape, armed robbery, etc.

<snip>

I was merely fleshing out the morals-as-codified-actions distinction.
Do you realize you are equivocating, which is another logical fallacy? You really need to learn the difference between:
a) prohibiting someone from violating others, and
b) forcing someone to do good by another.Helmetcase: The argument is rather that "SS is justified because it provides a service that makes sure old people don't starve."What you really need to justify is your overlying ethic -- forcing people to do good by others.

cuchulainn
January 23, 2006, 10:26 PM
thereisnospoon: I always thought the justification for SS was getting re-elected to your Powerful Congressional OfficeYou got me there ;)

gc70
January 23, 2006, 11:39 PM
Helmetcase:The Office of Management and Budget has described the distinction as follows:

These [Trust Fund] balances are available to finance future benefit payments and other Trust Fund expenditures – but only in a bookkeeping sense.... They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits. Instead, they are claims on the Treasury that, when redeemed, will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures. The existence of large Trust Fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, have any impact on the Government’s ability to pay benefits. (from FY 2000 Budget, Analytical Perspectives, p. 337)

The week after his State of the Union speech, Bush pointed to these facts in language that downplayed the importance of the Trust Fund:

Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust.You asked about an alternative to Social Security, so here is a really simple one...

Let everyone who has paid even a cent into Social Security remain under the current terms of the social contract. It will become painful for a number of years for society to pay off the debt, but it can be done.
Anyone who starts working in the future is required to contribute a fixed percentage of their income to something similar to the government's Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The TSP is an investment program made up of a limited number of government-approved mutual funds. All of those new workers will actually be investing in assets that they personally own.
Unfortunately, I do not expect a resolution to the impending financial catastrophe that is Social Security.

Even a Frenchman foresaw the potential problem with our system more than 150 years ago."The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money." - Alexis de Tocqueville

Malone LaVeigh
January 24, 2006, 12:27 AM
The point is that murder laws can be justified outside their morality -- social security cannot; it relies solely on morality.
Well, that's not true. SS was instituted because retired people were pretty much starving during the Great Depression. It's not practical to have large numbers of our elderly in destitution. Doesn't exactly encourage the working class to contribute their labor to society.

SS is basically the government guaranteeing everyone that if they contribute to the economy, they'll be minimally taken care of in their old age. Not necessarily in luxury, but enough to live. We have tax-deferred retirement savings instruments if people want more. But the SS fund is supposed to be very safe and conservative.

The argument that the stock markets have a better return over the long term is also a red herring. What if you retire when the market is down? This happened to my MIL and it was just SS that saved her from having to sell her house.

cracked butt
January 24, 2006, 01:06 AM
Hmmm. Why don't we just take it a step further and turn all of our income over to the federal government (minus state taxes of course)? The government can make sure that everyone is minimally taken care of throughout their entire lifespan this way.
:rolleyes:

Helmetcase
January 24, 2006, 02:24 AM
Sorry to be late to the party...

HelmatCase, I have several questions for you:

Is it your assertion that the SI's backing of "the full faith and credit" of DotGov make it solvent?

How is it that really any financial instrument is worth anything? We collectively understand that the the govt stands behind it. The real question is why would the SI's NOT be worth anything? Enough right wing talking heads have repeated the idea that "they're worthless IOUs" that no one has ever stopped to think about the devastation it would wreak on the world economy if suddenly the US Govt stopped paying its obligations.

Do you have an understanding of what the tax rates will have to rise to in order for SS to maintain the current benefit levels?It depends on your estimates of how the US economy performs, but most of the pessimistic estimates that have SS going bankrupt over the next 40 years require that the US economy performs far worse than it ever has in ANY 40 year period. Most of the numbers I've seen run that split the difference between pessimistic and optimistic require only a slight tweak in benefits paid or the tax ceiling for paying in.


Is it your assertion that SS is indeed actuarily (sp?) sound as it is currently constituted? If not, how would YOU suggest it be made sound?
Me, I'd probably make graduated tweaks to when you can collect benefits as life expectancy increases.

Just curious. It is refreshing for the divergence of opinion to identified without rancor.
Yeah, for some reason people seem to think arguing on the Internet means you're arguing with someone who is your mortal enemy and the philosophical differences between you amount to the all consuming struggle between good and evil. I don't quite get that. People talk on the Internet in a manner in which they'd never converse in person. Especially given what a well armed crowd this is. :)

A strawman argument is still illogical and invalid no matter how "fleshed out" it is. Frankly at this point I can't even remember which argument you're suggesting was a strawman. I think it was the idea that SS is justified because like other social programs it contributes to an ordered, moral society where old people have at least some small portion of their retirement taken care of. I won't apologize for pointing out that while that might not be a moral argument you find compelling, it's simply fallacious for you to suggest it's logically unsound or a strawman. Or maybe I'm thinking of a different argument. Who knows, it's after midnight.

You've merely restated "self-justified." It's still a circular argument ... or at best, a cop-out, as in "I don't need to explain because anyone can see it's true."Ugh, fine, since you seem to want to break this down to the minutiae: taxes for schools are justified because we all benefit from smart kids. Taxes for the military are justified because we all benefit from defending our freedoms. Taxes for roads are justified cause we all need to drive. Taxes for SS are justified because we all benefit when old people are taken care of, as Malone put a lot more eloquently than I care to. There's no circularity there. Most people would agree that the military, roads, schools, etc. HAVE SELF EVIDENT BENEFITS and wouldn't infer any circularity there. You can disagree that having old people taken care of is a readily apparent benefit...but that doesn't mean it's a circular argument. You're confusing "self evident" for "circular", when the word you should be looking for is "obvious." I don't mean to be testy, but you keep using the circularity assertion when it's obvious that it doesn't apply. And I've made it abundantly clear why not in this passage...so for the love of all that is holy, please drop it. I have a BA in Modern Philosophy; I know circularity when I see it, so I'd cop to it if it was there. And it's not. It's just a difference of opinion about whether the benefits offered by SS are worth what it costs us in taxes. So let's move on...

You really need to learn the difference between:
a) prohibiting someone from violating others, and
b) forcing someone to do good by another.Not really. There are some things like murder that are illegal because they physically, emotionally, or otherwise harm others. Then there are some things like tax evasion or not signing up for the selective service that are illegal because they fall into the category of not fulfilling a debt to society. You're forced to pay taxes for the second reason, SS taxes fall into that category. That's an obvious distinction, and any first year law student will tell you there are bunches of reasons different things are legal or illegal. So can the condescension, please.

What you really need to justify is your overlying ethic -- forcing people to do good by others.See above. There are plenty of reasons you have to do things that benefit others to your own detriment.

xd9fan
January 24, 2006, 02:36 AM
Well, that's not true. SS was instituted because retired people were pretty much starving during the Great Depression. It's not practical to have large numbers of our elderly in destitution. Doesn't exactly encourage the working class to contribute their labor to society.

SS is basically the government guaranteeing everyone that if they contribute to the economy, they'll be minimally taken care of in their old age. Not necessarily in luxury, but enough to live. We have tax-deferred retirement savings instruments if people want more. But the SS fund is supposed to be very safe and conservative.

The argument that the stock markets have a better return over the long term is also a red herring. What if you retire when the market is down? This happened to my MIL and it was just SS that saved her from having to sell her house.


I dont know whether to laugh or cry at your conclusions.
The stock market out performing the SS system is just fact. period. SS is not safe....its broke....paying more and more for less and less is NOT safe and conservative!!!! And this is exactly where this 1930's idea is going. Give me the freedom to get off the titanic. But instead we keep rearranging chairs wondering my we are still taking on water. If people over 50 want to stay on it...great but give me the freedom...the choice to refuse bad Govt.

:banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

Waitone
January 24, 2006, 10:36 AM
I just love these conversations about SS. Exact same arguments were kicked around 30 years ago when I entered the workforce. Exact. The big stir then was the introduction of IRAs. Word got around (before alternative media, internet and freelance opinion writers) you could opt out of SS by merely informing SS that you were quitting. The response was astounding. Trouble is, it was not true. Watercooler discussions got just as heated. The same logic was used. The suggestions were the same. Just amazing.

Anyhow, to conclude our ancient history lesson, a very popular solution was developed which periodically is dusted off was developed.

--From Date Certain-1 anyone entering the workforce pays nothing to SS and receives nothing from SS. Instead they are to set up their own accounts, period.

--Everyone currently receiving SS will continue without change. Life continues.

--The third group has a decision to make. By Date Certain-2 every member of this group will have to decide. Option A--stay in the SS system and continue to pay SS tax and receive whatever the gods of SS bestow when they retire. Those opting for A would be free to set up private retirement stuff. Option B--leave the system. No payments to SS and no benefits at retirement. BUT they have to leave in the system everything they put in the system. They are now free (doncha lovit) to set up their own retirement.

Simpleminded plan which would free us of the system in less than one generation,

Will never happen because the man runnin' the federal plantation would no longer have anyone living on the plantation and he would have to go out and get a real job. SS and welfare, for that matter, is an issue of power and for that reason neither will disappear regardless of how strong our libertarian intent.

roo_ster
January 24, 2006, 11:05 AM
How is it that really any financial instrument is worth anything? We collectively understand that the the govt stands behind it. The real question is why would the SI's NOT be worth anything?
What a beautiful thing. (jfruser holds back a tear, "sniff, sniff")

To see someone's faith unshaken by fact, history, logic, and corrupt human nature. There are examples of such faith being rewarded but those folks usually have G-d on their side, not JK Galbraith.

Let us take these one at a time.
How is it that really any financial instrument is worth anything?
Because the market (http://invest-faq.com/articles/bonds-moody-ratings.html) expects the issuer to pay off the principle & interest. Those that the market has determined are less likely to do so have to pay more in the way of interest and those with the shakiest liklihood of paying off generally can't get anybody to help them issue bonds.

The real question is why would the SI's NOT be worth anything?
Because the US Gov't is not willing to put them to the test. US Gov't does not allow the market to make the judgement on their worth. US Gov't has deliberately cut the SSTF & the SIs from any connection with the T-whatevers the US Treasury floats on the market.

Special Issues are "special" in the way that the Special Olympics are "special."

We collectively understand that the the govt stands behind it.
Just who is "We?" Not the financial markets. Not those who can read an actuarial table. Not those US Gov't bureaucrats who decided that the SSTF ought not to possess T-whatevers and pollute the market for US Gov't debt.

I'll buy your point...for T-Bills, T-Notes, and T-Bonds. And so will a lot of folks. Nobody is willing to risk their investment monies on SSTF -related debt and everybody knows it...except the faithful few.

********

On another note, I have some terrific oportunities for real estate investment in south Florida you might be interested in...and sufficient fresh water is no problemo!

longrifleman
January 24, 2006, 11:31 AM
The political left in America is emerging victorious.


In othe news:

The sun rose in the east this morning.

The sky is blue.

Water is wet.

Fred Fuller
January 24, 2006, 12:09 PM
helmetcase,

It is refreshing to see such faith in government. You must be very young.

If that is the case, you will probably live long enough to get an unavoidable lesson in what "full faith and credit" means as far as government is concerned.

Too soon old, too late wise.

lpl/nc

Marko Kloos
January 24, 2006, 12:33 PM
We collectively understand that the the govt stands behind it.

Just how do you think the government will "stand behind" the I.O.U. stack in the SocSec till when it comes due?

Never mind, I'll tell you how:

The government of the United States uses the SocSec contributions out of every working person's paycheck to pay out the SocSec checks for the same tax period. Whatever is left goes into the General Fund in exchange for an I.O.U., so there's nothign at all in the SS "Trust Fund" except government promises to pay back those I.O.U.s with future taxpayer money when they come due.

That's right, the government "stands behind" those I.O.U.s in that they promise to pay them out of my children's paychecks.

Just how much of a loan do you think I could get at any bank if I was hugely in debt, couldn't stick to any budget I made, and then tried to borrow money with nothing but a note as collateral which promises that I'll be paying back the loan out of my son's paycheck when he's old enough to work?

CAnnoneer
January 24, 2006, 12:46 PM
In discussions like these, the mystical power of government is always invoked.

I prefer to think in simpler pagan terms:

Some time ago, Bob put a gun to Alice's and Adam's heads and told them to give him money, which he promised to return with interest. They complied. Bob spent the money. Now Alice and Adam are supposed to have their money back, but Bob is broke. So, Bob puts a gun to Charlie's head with the same unrefusable offer. Charlie pays, Bob spends the money and returns some to Alice and Adam. Problem is, Charlie has to support both Alice and Adam, and hope that a future David, Diane, and Deadre would have the gun to their heads too and would be able to pay enough to Bob, so that Charlie "gets back as much as he put in".

Anyway you look at it, everybody is getting screwed but Bob. Then again, Bob has the gun...

His name is his warning - B.O.B. = beware of bob

Waitone
January 24, 2006, 01:00 PM
Once upon a time SS was an off the book program. IIRC is Pres. Johnson who figured out he could minimize the apparent budget deficit by wrapping SS surplus into the budget. Everyone wins. Budget deficit drops and SS maintains the illusion of a "trust." In reality there is no pool of capital. There exists only chits which will have to be redeemed and in our current financial condition that means using borrowed funds. I do not see fed.gov cutting spending in any area and diverting freed up funds to pay off SS chits. I see only additional borrowing. Sooner or later the Federal Reserve (a private non-governmental franchise operation chartered by the fed.gov via a questionably ratified constitutional amendment) will kick in inflated currency. Fed.gov will pay its obligations with inflated funds. To paraphrase a well-known liberal lion, "We will pay our SS obligations. Recipients may need a wheelbarrow but they will be paid." Sorta paints the picture don't it?

Kim
January 25, 2006, 12:51 AM
A lot of elderly people starving to death in the great depression. HAHAHAHA> I don't buy it. My parents grew up in the great depression very, very poor. There was no starving though. Come to think of it hardly any crime. Maybe in some cities. But hey the Newspapers still say there are starving people in this country. HAHAHAHA. I don't buy it. I've been a physician for 20 years and have never seen a starving person unless they were being neglected by parents or children who were starving them. NOT because of relative poverty or lack of social welfare.. HAHAHAHA> Urban Myth. Many extremely overweight people now that I see everyday. Alot of those being corn fed by the government.

xd9fan
January 25, 2006, 02:26 AM
lol lol lol ohhh KIM :D

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