• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    paper doll on The Employment Index
    paper doll on The Employment Index
    Mr Mike on Monday: Research Professionals…
    Mr Mike on The Employment Index
    paper doll on The Employment Index
    ownaa on The Employment Index
    CB on The Employment Index
    katiebird on The Employment Index
    abc on The Employment Index
    Sweet Sue on The Employment Index
    Sweet Sue on The Employment Index
    bernard jenkins on The Employment Index
    CL on The Employment Index
    riverdaughter on The Employment Index
    riverdaughter on The Employment Index
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos debate Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    November 2012
    S M T W T F S
    « Oct   Dec »
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    252627282930  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
  • Top Posts

Ok, here’s my theory about why the Masters of the Universe want to kill the social insurance programs

Remember what I said about Wall Street workers?  Let me refresh your memory:

The finance class actually consists of a bunch of overqualified strip miners.  They’re overworked, which might explain the number of bad decisions they make, and their compensation system decouples the consequences of their actions from the actions themselves.  They are being paid to make “deals” and the purpose of those deals is to extract “wealth”.  In a way, it’s not that much different from getting into the cab of some giant piece of earth moving equipment and mowing down the side of the mountain and then loading that potential ore onto a conveyor belt to be separated from dirt.  They live in a “company” town and are paid “company scrip”.  It’s a truck system for them as well.  The compensation is not proportional to the amount of work they do, they can be fired at will and they’re never going to leave that mountain because they owe their souls to the company store.  The more they work, the more compensation in bonuses they are promised but it’s never enough.

Once you think about this metaphor of Wall Street doing the work of strip miners, the present set of circumstances will start to make a lot of sense.

We know that Social Security does not add to the deficit.  In fact, we have a trust fund worth almost $3 trillion dollars.  Sure, that trust fund has taken a hit in the past four years because so many people are out of work and can’t pay their taxes but once people are working again, the kitty will start to grow again.  And if all that is needed is a couple of tweaks to solve the minor shortfall, it’s really not as damaging to the economy or rich people’s ability to spend ungodly amounts of money on themselves as they pretend.

So, it’s not a deficit problem- at least not from the government’s side of things.  Sure, Medicare does need to be fixed but that requires some spine stiffening on the part of the Democrats to crack down on providers.  Did I tell you about my lab partner’s husband’s 4 hour hernia operation and recovery in the hospital?  $70,000.  No, that is not a mistake.  There’s something truly out of whack when if comes to costs and payments to hospitals, doctors, insurance companies.  It’s a real problem.  And since the rest of the developed world has found reasonable solutions at much lower costs, it’s moronic for our elected officials to tell us that the costly ACA, with downstream repercussions they failed to study, is the best we can do.  Please, do we look stupid to you?

Anyway, back to Wall Street.  The Social Security trust fund is solid and fixable and millions of us late boomers paid into the surplus funds to cover our own retirements.  What isn’t solid and fixable is the 401K system, which really is a Ponzi scheme.  Pretty soon, a lot of aging baby boomers will be taking money out.  That’s going to hurt someone’s bottom line.  The bonuses and skimming going forward isn’t going to be nearly so lucrative as it was over the past two decades.  After the Baby Boom came the Baby Bust in the late 60’s.  Looks like The Pill really caught on in a big way.

In the past couple of decades, many companies ditched their pensions for the 401K.  Let the kids pay for their own retirements.  None of this deferred compensation crap.  And life was good for the shareholders and the bankers.  But once that money starts to get withdrawn, the salad days will be over.  So, Wall Street must get more people into 401Ks or they won’t be able to continue strip mining.  The problem is that most people are already in one if their employer offers it.  The market is finite and pretty soon will plateau.  At some point, the investment portfolios are also going to reach a steady state.

BUT, if you raise the retirement age and keep a lot of older people working, they will be forced to put their money back into the market.  Well, they won’t be able to retire until they’re much older than their parents were at retirement.  If they have any hope of ever taking time out to go travel or garden, they’re going to have to risk their money in the market, hope that it will pay off so they can get out of the job market before they’re dead and forget about social security.

My theory is that raising the retirement age forces more savings to stay in the market longer and that with a pool of people who can’t retire yet still working, the amount of money going into 401Ks and IRAs is going to go up. Stripville!

It makes sense from a timing perspective.  There’s really no need to cut a deal with Republicans right now.  The Democrats have enough seats to keep things pretty much unchanged.  If the tax cuts expire, it’s going to look bad for Republicans to hold middle class tax cuts hostage in order to satisfy their rich friends.  In fact, just about anything the Republicans stamp their feet and insist on is going to look bad for them.

But Obama still wants to cut a deal and make us all a lot poorer as a nation and as individuals.  And he really doesn’t have to do this.  So, why do it?  I think it’s because the strip miners have told him that if he doesn’t, the market is going to start to drop and it will pick up speed and saving the banks is the most important thing ever!!!  All serious people agree about this.  If he doesn’t cut the social insurance programs in order to prop up the 401K system, it will be all his and the Democrats’ fault when the market finally starts to fall.

Yep, that would suck for seniors who are about to retire so if I were them, I’d start looking around for other places to put that money.  But history has shown that Obama and his droogs at Treasury will bend over backwards to please bankers even if it means opening a revolving line of credit for the bankers to the taxpayer cash stream in perpetuity.  (Read Neil Barofsky’s book for more horrific details).

It’s been my feeling that the 401K is behind a lot of what’s really messed up in our economy and for some reason, we never hear anyone of sufficient gravitas talking about it.  But just imagine what would happen to the economy if we tried to phase it out even if most of us hate it with a white hot passion.

All hell would break loose.

The Top Comment du Jour from the NYTimes article on killing the social insurance policies

The NYTimes writes with astonishment and confusion that Americans are not willing to eat their poisoned mushrooms where social insurance programs are concerned.  For some weird reason, they sent more liberal minded Democrats to Congress next term and those Democrats appear almost to be willing to represent their voters.  It looks like Americans who have for decades paid Social Security taxes, a Surplus tax (done because we are too menny) and Medicare taxes, are not buying the idea that Social Security is a drag on the deficit or that the burden to fix Medicare must fall solely on the shoulders of working people.

This in spite of the relentless media messaging that tells them that they must sacrifice more skin.  Maybe waiting until people have lost their careers, savings and houses in the biggest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression is not the best time to apply so much pressure to Americans that they cry mercy, especially since most of them won’t have big enough pensions (if they have them at all) to retire on.  You’d think the masters of the universe would have figured out by now that if you reduce or eliminate pensions and force everyone to “save” money in insecure and risky 401K programs that those dullards would naturally hang on to their social insurance programs with their dear lives and the politicians who are eager to cut a deal would start facing resistance.  Never fear, they’ll probably just threaten to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, plunging the housing market into a further slump.  That’s more immediate than cutting Social Security and so Americans will take the deal.  I can almost see Mitch McConnell winding up for that pitch.

Whatever.

What I really liked was this comment in the Readers’ Picks section of the article.  This sucker from commenter Kevin Rothstein got over 350 recommendations.  It’s at the top of the list, which should tell the NYTimes what is really bouncing around in Americans’ heads:

Enact Medicare for all. Stop the political nonsense. Eliminate the Department of Homeland Security. Cut the defense budget in half. Leave Afghanistan now. Close most of our overseas military bases. Spend money on upgrading infrastructure. Invest in alternative energy. End our dependence on fossil fuels. Bring back tax rates prior to Reagan. There. Problem solved.

This is not rocket science.  Here’s another one from reader TS:

Mr Pear, Social Security and Medicare are NOT entitlement programs. It seems that the right has defined them as such but, as with many other issues, that doesn’t make it true. Anyone who draws a paycheck has SS and Medicare deducted. If the interest from those funds were untouched by greedy lawmakers they would be more than solvent. I PAY into Social Security. I PAY into Medicare just as I would an insurance policy. I’m not entitled to these benefits, I EARNED them.

Pretty much.   There’s more where that came from in the reader’s picks.  Oddly enough, the editor’s picks are calling the social insurance programs “entitlements” and think that we need to balance any cuts in “entitlements” with increased taxes and other cuts in spending.What’s really amusing is that those comments are getting less than half of the recommends than the reader’s picks.  So, I think we have to conclude that the unending propaganda and redefinition is not working.  The jig is up.  Americans know when they’re being conned.

We are assigned a Social Security number at birth.  That’s when we enter into the social compact to make sure we all have something to fall back on in case some young 28 year old asshole banker gambles away our futures, or our working parent dies or we develop a chronic condition and can’t work.  It’s sinful to take our money for decades, make promises based on actuarial data, take MORE money to cover a shortfall and then at the last moment, when there’s no way or time to make up the difference, pull the rug out from under a generation of Americans just so that we don’t raise taxes on the insanely wealthy.  To do that would be fraud and I’m agin’ it.

******************************

Later, a theory on what’s really behind the push to raise the retirement age and cut social security payments.  It’s only partially about taxes.

The spit in Glenn Beck’s tea

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile know that I hate to clean my house.  Some people are positively orgasmic about clean houses and waste take a lot of time getting everything perfect and perfectly dirt free.  These people are a mystery to me and anyway, perfection is unattainable. (I keep telling myself this.) Recognizing the deficiency of clean genes in my genotype, I have to resort to trickery.  In other words, I download a book from audible and go to town on my floor or stove, distracting myself from whatever mind numbing chore there is to do.  Jo Nesbo has been my recent author du jour when I have to whip out the sponges and Comet.  But yesterday, when my audible credits renewed, I decided to take a look around for some different entertainment.  That’s when I saw this blurb for Glenn Beck’s newest “novel”, Agenda 21:

Just a generation ago this place was called America. Now, after the worldwide implementation of UN-lead program called Agenda 21, it’s simply known as the ‘Republic’. There is no president. No congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom.

There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life.

Those who cannot do either are of no use to society.

This bleak and barren existence is all that 18-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed.

Until the day they came for her mother.

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family’s future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth?

As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21, she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic – but is she already too late?

:-^

I like the term “UN-lead”.  Is that Simon and Schuster’s subtle way of saying that it secretly thinks we should use unleaded gasoline or a punny commentary on the unenforceability of the agenda or are those ironic interpretations just artifacts of the non-conspiratorialist’s rational mind? Or is it like the word “unionize”?  To a bunch of Walmart workers, it means solidarity for better wages and working conditions.  To the chemist it means neutralizing a substance.  But I’m getting off track here.

I didn’t know anything about the real Agenda 21 initiative, which the US is a major signatory to.  So I looked it up.  It’s a voluntary initiative by the UN to promote sustainable development with the goal of reducing the impact of human activity on biodiversity and climate.  Oh, and also there’s some stuff in there about making sure women and other diverse populations don’t get stomped on by the white male affirmative action plan that’s been going on for the last 10,000 years or so.  Not only is it voluntary and a set of proposed standards, but since it’s not a treaty, the Senate hasn’t even taken up discussion of it in Congress.  This is the big threat to the nation.

Obviously, it’s a socialist plot, according to Beck.  Capitalism is apparently incapable of pulling off greater equality between the genders or decreasing dependence on a finite resource like petroleum so the socialists have to do it and conscript the unwilling American population into its wicked program for less pollution and more fairness.  The point of this book appears to be to argue that leaving things just the way they are with more and more people taking a back seat to oil money and power while keeping their place in the natural order of things, as miserable as that might be, is better than evolving.  It’s a little like trying to take the pro side of the debate on venereal disease at the High School Forensics Club meeting.

Glenn Beck is a brave man.  Cunning, manipulative, reckless and willfully ignorant, but brave. Or maybe he’s just enough of a big name that any stupid nonsense he writes will guarantee an audience to a major publisher.  Where is the UN-lead initiative for equalizing the playing field with regard to getting published?  Now *that’s* the kind of agenda that would give Beck the willies for sure.

While I was going through the spam filter last night, I ran across a link from a site that doesn’t deserve any additional attention that asked whether I was a secret Tea Party person because I questioned why the people of New Jersey should only get back $.60 for every dollar we send to Washington.  I think the site manager misunderstands my comment about taxes, deliberately, so as to mislead his merry band of Tea Party followers.

I don’t mind paying my taxes.  What I object to is a bunch of red states or red mentalities constantly interfering in our ability as a nation to evolve.  Not only do they interfere, they seem to take perverse pleasure in keeping the nation in an arrested state of development.  It’s a power trip without any purpose whatsoever.  That’s what I object to.  I object to Alabama taking our money and then spitting in our face and telling us that government is no good.  I object to the south not taxing its own people effectively while at the same time making sure that the underpaid in their states are treated as persons deserving neither respect nor dignity and then exporting that attitude to the rest of the country.

The Tea Party is notorious for collecting followers that express a wide variety of  miserable, hard hearted, nasty, unkind, selfish greedy behaviors towards their fellow Americans.  My anger is fairly typical of people in the coastal populations, rich in diversity and probably better educated, who can see that the country is being left behind by the actions of a mindless mob of mean spirited, religious, conformists who let people like Glenn Beck interfere with their thinking processes.

If they’re so worried about the horrors of Agenda 21, just let them leave already.  No, seriously.  I think the rest of us have had enough. Emigrate to Iraq or Russia or some other place where there are no rules or regulations to prevent testosterone poisoned capitalists from doing whatever the hell they want.  Let them see how natural law operates when there are no better angels to restrain it. It’s time that liberals toughened up and stopped being so damned accommodating or apologizing for our rational desire for regulation and restraint on the turbo charged financiers.

The Tea Partiers don’t want to live in one nation. (And no, that is no tribute to Barack Obama who wouldn’t know a sincere sentiment if it hit him in the face)  They want to continue on with a perpetual war against reality and modernity because they can’t see the iron fist of the uber wealthy pulling their strings.  Their power is going to wane anyway but not before they cause irreparable harm to the country they claim to love.  I challenge that assumption.  I don’t think they love this country.  They are in love with their power.  If they don’t like taxes or government, let them give back the $.40 per dollar that New Jersey sends to them.  We’ve got a bill for Sandy that’s going to run about $30,000,000,000.  We don’t have time for tribulationalist fantasies about voluntary UN initiatives that propose to make the world cleaner, more energy efficient or fairer to most of its people.  Only people like Glenn Beck would see that kind of society as some kind of dystopia.

I spit in Glenn Beck’s Tea.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 450 other followers