• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Go outside! 
    pm317 on Go outside! 
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Go outside! 
    pm317 on Go outside! 
    pm317 on Go outside! 
    pm317 on Go outside! 
    Lady V on Go outside! 
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Go outside! 
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Go outside! 
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Go outside! 
    riverdaughter on Go outside! 
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Go outside! 
    riverdaughter on Go outside! 
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Go outside! 
    pm317 on Go outside! 
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump 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 John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove 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 research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    February 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Jan    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Press is Trump’s Enemy, Not The Left’s Friend
      The enemy of my my enemy is not my friend. It often isn’t even my ally, but just someone who I have something in common with. FDR wasn’t that left wing, yet the Press savaged him relentlessly. Corbyn is relentlessly savaged and lied about by the British press, and his political beliefs are basically 60s […]
  • Top Posts

The only thing Obama’s budget’s got going for it…

…is that the chained CPI cuts will apply to current seniors as well as future ones.

I realize that sounds counterintuitive but it’s not.

Think about it.

(Hint: “Do it to Julia!”

More on Social Security and the social compact

I am still getting comments from people in a snit over what I wrote about social security.  And I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding and denial going on here.  So, let me try one more time to get through to them.

First off, *I* am not the enemy.  I have no intention of depriving anyone of any benefits because if you start targetting one group of people as “greedy geezers” or “spoiled millenialists”, the whole idea behind social security starts to crumble.

Second, it’s not my idea to try for a grand bargain and if Barack Obama thinks there is a way to thread this needle without destroying social security, he’s the dumbest man on the planet.

Here’s the Republican Divide and Conquer plan:

1.) Tell the seniors that they’re safe.  Their benefits will not be cut.  This is the Republicans game plan because their fanbase consists of a lot of elderly, conservative people who have been convinced that they are superior Americans and have paid the most into the system.  This isn’t true but it all starts with an attitude and the Fox News lovers have one.

2.) Tell the younger generation that their benefits will be attenuated in some form.  The cost of living adjustments will be recalculated so they end up with less.  The late babyboomers, who PREPAID, by the way, and have had less money in the paychecks since the day they started working in the 80s, will have to take a cut or will be means tested or it will be turned into a welfare program and not a social insurance program.

3.) Coupled with the fact that a lot of them are unemployed, their 401Ks are not growing and their pensions are skimpy or non-existent, it becomes a lot harder to convince the younger generations that they should continue to pay for something that only a select group of arrogant, religiously conservative seniors can benefit from.

{Tiresome but necessary disclaimer: Did I say all seniors were arrogant and religiously conservative?  No, I did not.  But the voters who are most susceptible to this kind of messaging from Republicans are of this ilk, which is why the Republicans are so driven to get this done.  They only have a short period of time before their demographics start to expire- literally.}

So, this is also a case of divide and conquer.  If you can divide the electorate into the privileged who will get full SS benefits and the underprivileged who will have to work well into their 70s before age and illness force them to retire on a meager benefit, you can set up a Wisconsin scenario.  You will have one group of voters who will look on the privileged set with contempt and envy.  Why do they get everything when we are out here busting our balls and paying more in taxes for decades?  And once that happens, the senior set will be in trouble.  Because along will come some hardass Republican politician who has been bought and paid for who will put together some plan to knock down the benefits for those arrogant seniors.

Don’t get mad at me.  I’m not the one who comes up with this shit.  From what I can see, Social Security was fine for 80 years and if it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. If there’s a shortfall in two decades, raise the income level for the payroll tax. The problem is that Republicans don’t take their oath to the people seriously.  They take their oaths to Grover Norquist seriously.  Their plan to Starve the Beast is largely successful.  Over the years, the Social Security trust fund has been raided and now there is only a bunch of IOUs.  This is a problem for the wealthy because they need to pay that money back to us and they don’t want their taxes raised. They want to take loans from us to pay for their wars and their tax cuts and now that they are happy, they want the rest of us to forget that money was ours in the first place.  I call that theft and, if the politicians are in on this, fraud, when they expected us to pre-pay in advance for our benefits.  It is dishonest and lying and the worst kind of anti-American assholery to set up the late babyboomers to pay extra only to have the money not paid back by the people who had access to our account.

Did you ever wonder why it is that the wealthy will spend so much money to buy politicians year after year but won’t allow their taxes to be raised even a teeeeensy bit?  All that money could be used to pay some of their taxes.  Look at all of the money that pours into lobbying and superpacs and campaign warchests.  It’s billions of dollars each year and it’s just a drop in the bucket.  What is the character flaw in them, the moral failing in their upbringing, that prevents them from seeing that that money would be better spent paying back the IOUs so that people can retire without becoming destitute?  Why is it so important that they give their tax money to politicians and not their fellow Americans?  Are they oblivious to the damage they’re doing to the prosperity and stability of their country?  Are they living in an echo chamber where they think that anybody who is not like them is not pulling their weight?

These are the questions we must answer to turn this ship around.  And we need leaders who will confront these people and the culture they live in and ask them to account for themselves.  I don’t see anyone on the national political stage right now with the exception of Bernie Sanders who is asking these questions.  With Obama, it’s only going to get worse because he’s ready to cut a deal.  And when that deal is cut, it’s all over.  The Wisconsin Project will come to Social Security.  If you don’t like me talking about it, imagine how much more you will not like it when it comes to fruition.  Nows the time to get in front of the plan.  If you are a senior and you like social security, you must vigorously defend the benefits of the younger generations.  And you need to tell other seniors what is about to happen to them so that they don’t take the two tiered system deal that the politicians are about to construct.  Once that system is in place, it will be very easy to convince younger voters to get rid of the whole thing.

And a word of advice to those already collecting: Lose the attitude.  It’s not all about YOU.  No one is singling you out.  That’s the point.  But if you start getting defensive, you are going to alienate the very people you will need on your side in a couple of years when the Republicans move in for the kill.  We aren’t trying to insult you.  We are trying to wake you up.  We are all in this together but if you start getting offended by me just bringing the subject up in an honest way, we’re in trouble.  If it pains you to be thought of as a target, get over the feeling- quickly.  We don’t have time for easily offended people whose fee-fees are getting hurt.  The Republican noise machine will jump all over that.  Suddenly, the younger generations aren’t deferential.  We swear.  We’re not respectful.  You know how hard it is to fight back against the religious reactionaries without looking mean? Try it sometime.  Those of you without religious families have no idea how nice you have it.  They’re going to pull that shit on us.  We’re being mean to the seniors if we don’t give them a break and let them have their full bennies while we take cuts.  This will make us fight with ourselves while the people sitting on the cash distance themselves from any responsibility or obligation.

The Republicans analyse what it is that motivates people and makes them go to the polls.  And they play to win.  They’re like those orcs that can lose a couple of limbs but still keep on coming.  Right now, I recommend the “drag it out” strategy.  Drag this whole problem out and insist on lots of impact studies and alternative funding mechanism studies.  The longer we drag this out, the better the chances that the Fox News vulnerable Republican demographic will start to lose its critical mass and more younger people who want social security will take its place.  Here’s hoping that the babyboomers who are about to retire are less gullible than the seniors they are about to replace or we could have a very long fight on our hands.

Biking to school: USA-0, Netherlands-1

Kenowa Hills High School suspended seniors for riding their bikes to school.  Yes, you read that right.  As their senior “prank”, the seniors decided to ride their bikes to school, with a police escort.  When they got to school, the principal suspended them for disruptive behavior:

A good time was had by all, except for school Principal Katharine Pennington.  Apparently dismayed at not having been informed about the event, Pennington suspended the participants for the day, forbade them from participating in today’s senior walk — an annual tradition — and said they could potentially not walk during their graduation next week, Rachel Nicks, the mother of one of the participating students, told ABC News.

Nicks said she was aware of the biking plan and had given her 17-year-old honor student son, Cody, her full approval. Shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday, he called her to say he’d been suspended.

“And I said ‘What did you do?’ And he said, ‘I didn’t do anything. They’re suspending me for riding the bikes. We’re all being suspended,’” Nicks told ABCNews.com

She was outraged, as were many other parents who showed up at a scheduled school board meeting Tuesday night.

“The disruption to the classroom, the disruption to the school day, was not these kids,” Keri Whip, a parent of one of the bike riding participants, told the board. “It was the principal.”

 It could be worse.  In my neighborhood, residents have a habit of calling police if teenagers walking through the deadly quiet developments make too much noise.  You know, talking, laughing to each other?  The principal sends home emails to parents warning them to get their children off the streets before they get their asses hauled off to jail for, I don’t know, being human.  {{rolling eyes}}  It’s all a matter of control.  Too many people feel they need to control the behavior of others even when it’s not their jurisdiction.  If the principal wants to make and enforce rules on campus, that’s one thing.  But once those kids leave school grounds, she’s not allowed to dictate their mode of transportation or the amount of noise they make when they’re walking safely as a group home and socializing.  And giving in to hypervigilant residents who complain about a teenager’s right to talk while walking on a public sidewalk is exceeding her authority.  People need to chill.  This is not a Clockwork Orange kind of suburb.

So, how do kids get to school in the rest of the world?  Let’s forget about the third world where sometimes they zip line over steep chasms or walk miles for water.  How do they do it in places like the Netherlands?

Check it out:

Holy smokes!  They even *talk* to each other while pedaling.  There is no bike nanny standing by making sure they ride single file with a regulation length of space between them and the next rider.  It’s sick, I tell you.  The Netherlands is full of danger and a child sexual molestation just waiting to happen.

Do you have any idea how much money school districts across the country spend on busing their kids to school?  It’s shocking.  We should be encouraging our communities to build bike paths so kids can ride to school.  But nooooo, not this country, where parents wait at the bus stops with their 12 year olds until the bus comes and gets them.  Predators, you know.  Or they might wake the neighbors with their talking.

Tuesday Turn Around

The Black Bloc contingent of the Occupy Chicago Seniors?

There may be a teensy bit of progress on the job front.  We are sloooooowly moving away from a state of complete inertia there.  No income yet but progress.  This is good.

In the meantime, seniors in Chicago are getting arrested at an Occupation type event.  Whoo-hoo!  Let’s give it up for the septugenarians!:

More than 1,000 senior citizens and their supporters marched from Chicago’s Federal Plaza to the intersection of Jackson and Clark Street Monday morning to protest proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At the intersection, more than 40 protesters, 15 of them seniors affiliated with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, stood or sat in the street, arms linked, blocking traffic.

Amid chants demanding that the cuts be forestalled — with suggestions for alternatives, including tax hikes — 43 demonstrators were escorted from the intersection (see video, above) by police and issued citations for pedestrian failure to “exercise due care,” or for blocking traffic. Those cited included four protesters using assisted mobility devices and at least one centenarian.

Judy Moses said she was glad to receive the citation–her second in her quest to maintain funding for programs that benefit seniors, following an arrest for blocking traffic in December at a similar protest.

“When I was younger, I never did protests,” she said. “I was a silent majority. Now, I’m ready to make noise.”

Yes, but can we get them to wear bell bottoms, love beads and flowers in their hair?  It’s never too late, you know.

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

On the Supercommittee front, there is a proposal to raise taxes.  Yay!, you say, finally the rich are going to have to cough it up.  Au contraire.  It will be US, ie the middle class who will have to cough it up:

Super Committee Republicans are floating a trial balloon that would produce new tax revenue, in apparent contravention of Grover Norquist’s taxpayer protection pledge, according to Wall Street Journal editorialist Stephen Moore.

But as Moore explains that the offer has a catch:

“One positive development on taxes taking shape is a deal that could include limiting tax deductions, perhaps by capping write-offs on charities, state and local taxes, and mortgage interest payments as a percentage of each tax filer’s gross income. That idea was introduced on these pages by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein.In exchange, Democrats would agree to make the Bush income-tax cuts permanent. This would mean preventing top rates from going to 42% from 35% today, and keeping the capital gains and dividend tax rate at 15%, as opposed to plans to raise them to 23.8% or higher after 2013.”

Let that sink in for a sec.  Uh-huh, apparently, the committee members have never heard of Turbo-Tax and the internet, or they think that the great unwashed masses haven’t.  Nowadays, we download all of our forms, let the laptop do the number crunching and e-file half an hour later.  We take every deduction.  No short forms for us when it’s this easy to get every penny back.  This proposal is just another way to stick it to taxpayers in high cost of living states like New Jersey where housing is expensive and local property taxes are ridiculous.  Pass this proposal and watch our housing market drop through the floor.  While people making $250,000 in this state are doing pretty well, anyone making about $100,000 around here is barely middle class.  No, seriously, it only LOOKS like a big number until you try to buy a house in the burbs.  What you want and what you can afford are two different animals.  Think condos and townhouses, condos and townhouses we will never be able to unload if this proposal passes.

What morons would vote for this “compromise”??  Oh, yeah- Democrats.

{{rolling eyes}}

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

I’m with Ta-Nehesi Coates on this one, the attack on Elizabeth Warren for actually working for her wealth makes no sense to me.  What is Politico trying to say here?  That it is natural for rich people to act like sociopaths, sit on the money of the people who work for them and watch them suffer when the 99% can’t meet basic needs like housing, nutrition and healthcare?  Is that how rich mamas raise their children these days?  These people need to be taught some manners.  As for Elizabeth Warren making money, she does it the old fashioned way, she earns it.  We like that about her.  It has honor and dignity and signifies a good work ethic that has been justifiably rewarded.  Her personal history demonstrates that it has not been an easy ride for her.  She wasn’t born with a silver foot in her mouth.  That seems to have given her a certain empathy for the pool of people from whence she came.  (I’ve been waiting all year to use the word ‘whence’)  Franklin D. Roosevelt came from money but he developed compassion as well.  Was he a one off?  Mentally ill?  Or just a hypocrit?  Beats me but working people who lived through the Great Depression loved him.  Go figure.

So, what’s wrong with the people who read Politico?  Are they all a bunch of Ebeneezer Scrooges?  Are their Grinchy hearts so small that they can’t remember the last time they thought stealing from working people was wrong?

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

Speaking of FDR, Ezra Klein wrote an article in WaPo titled Why Obama is no FDR that suggests why Obama was such a disastrous pick in 2008:

The left and the right don’t agree on much these days, but they do agree on this: Barack Obama is no FDR.

For liberals, this is a disappointment. They had hoped for, as Time magazine put it after Obama’s victory, “a new new deal.” Instead, they find themselves mounting an unexpected rear-guard defense of Medicare and Keynesian economics.

For conservatives, it’s a relief. Two short years ago, they feared an FDR-like realignment. Today, they thrill to the idea of undoing much of the original New Deal, or at least the Great Society.

2008 was the break the movement conservatives had been waiting for since FDR died almost 70 years ago.  And Democrats handed them this break on a silver platter when they nominated the candidate who was *least* likely to know how to control an economic crisis without a bunch of slick economic advisors.  If you hire him for four more years, you will get four more years of the same poor negotiation skills, amateurishly developed policy and indifference to the suffering of the middle class.  I’m betting that it won’t be long before the party starts to realize that the middle class isn’t going to go along with it for another four years.

Then Klein twists his defense of Obama into a knot by putting some of the blame on Congress.  This Congress is not like the one that FDR was blessed with, he argues.  THAT Congress thought that FDR hadn’t gone far enough.  He ends with:

This is not a defense of Obama [yes it is but it’s caused by a failure to imaginate any better Democrat for some bizarre reason that only Klein can explain], nor an attack on FDR. It is simply the reality of the American presidency. Congress can write legislation and pass it over the president’s veto. The president cannot write legislation nor pass it without congressional assent. The president comes after the Congress in the Constitution and is indisputably less powerful. Yet we understand American politics primarily through the office of the president and attribute, say, things that happened between 1933 and 1945 to FDR, or from 1981 to 1988 to Ronald Reagan. But Congress is always there, and so is the economic context that’s driving the agenda. We’d do well to pay more attention to both.

Sure.  Let’s just forget that in 2008, Obama had enough money and played enough hardball politics with state campaigns for legislature and other offices that he was able to buy all of the superdelegates he needed, whip all of the elected delegates he needed and buy off all of the RBC committee members he needed to get the nomination.  It is hard to believe that a man so unscrupulous and ruthless would have so much trouble getting Congress to pass the legislation he wanted especially when money is no object.  So, we have to assume that money *is* no object and that it is being used to get the legislation that somebody wants or that Obama really is that bad as a president.  Or, maybe he had a conscienceless campaign staff in 2008 who did what it needed to do and once he was in office and had to switch from campaigning to policy, his liabilities, that were conveeeeeniently glossed over by Klein types in 2008, became glaringly obvious.  Whatever the case may be, he is in office at a time in our country’s history when the effects of a weak president will have profound effects on the middle class for generations to come.  I wonder if Klein and his friends considered that possibility in 2008.  Probably not.

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

Malcolm Gladwell has an article in the New Yorker about the Genius of Steve Jobs.  But I’m not sure that Gladwell gets it:

In 1779, Samuel Crompton, a retiring genius from Lancashire, invented the spinning mule, which made possible the mechanization of cotton manufacture. Yet England’s real advantage was that it had Henry Stones, of Horwich, who added metal rollers to the mule; and James Hargreaves, of Tottington, who figured out how to smooth the acceleration and deceleration of the spinning wheel; and William Kelly, of Glasgow, who worked out how to add water power to the draw stroke; and John Kennedy, of Manchester, who adapted the wheel to turn out fine counts; and, finally, Richard Roberts, also of Manchester, a master of precision machine tooling—and the tweaker’s tweaker. He created the “automatic” spinning mule: an exacting, high-speed, reliable rethinking of Crompton’s original creation. Such men, the economists argue, provided the “micro inventions necessary to make macro inventions highly productive and remunerative.”

Was Steve Jobs a Samuel Crompton or was he a Richard Roberts? In the eulogies that followed Jobs’s death, last month, he was repeatedly referred to as a large-scale visionary and inventor. But Isaacson’s biography suggests that he was much more of a tweaker. He borrowed the characteristic features of the Macintosh—the mouse and the icons on the screen—from the engineers at Xerox PARC, after his famous visit there, in 1979. The first portable digital music players came out in 1996. Apple introduced the iPod, in 2001, because Jobs looked at the existing music players on the market and concluded that they “truly sucked.” Smart phones started coming out in the nineteen-nineties. Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, more than a decade later, because, Isaacson writes, “he had noticed something odd about the cell phones on the market: They all stank, just like portable music players used to.”

I just finished the biography of Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  Jobs was a pain in the ass perfectionist tyrant of a boss but he also could make the mental leaps that many other people couldn’t.  Isaacson’s comparison of Sony, Microsoft and Apple demonstrates what made Jobs so important.  Both Sony and Microsoft had the components to make the kind of products that Apple made famous.  But those two companies took a very conventional approaches to product innovation and integration and these approaches were themselves products of the way their companies were constructed.  They saw new technology and tried to work it into their current product lines.  Jobs saw new technology and applied it to our lives in new and different ways.  You could almost see the thought bubbles above Gates’ and Jobs’ heads when presented with something new.  Gates is making mental calculations of how to use the thing to improve the stuff he already had, how to make money, FTEs, manufacturing, while Jobs is having a mental orgasm, his mind racing in forty different directions at once, thinking of the people he could bounce his ideas against to see if any of them stuck, doing mental paper folding and turning the suckers around in his head.  Imagine giving two people a brick at the dawn of time and asking them to come up with ways to use it.  Gates might have made a whole bunch of them in different colors and sizes to be used to smash things.  Every few years, he would release a new, not quite ready for primetime version of brick that would require a new industry of people to service and repair them.  Jobs would have built a house.  Both would have been extremely successful, especially if the smashers were used to bust heads of the people who had things you want.  But the advantages of having a house are obvious once you build one and live in it.  After the house, you tend to not look at bricks in the same way again.

The cranky among us can’t figure out why Jobs is deified.  I guess you would have to work in a dysfunctional corporate research setting for a few years to really understand why Jobs means so much to some of us.  The atmosphere he created at Apple and Pixar is the way we want to work so that we too can produce wonderful magical things that the world can use and appreciate, even if it is hard and initially seems impossible.  But we are living in a world where the business guys just want to sell smashers and are busily getting highly compensated jobs for their friends to sell smashers and corner the smasher market for themselves and please the shareholders of the smasher industry.  Those of us who just want to create good products are SOL.

Friday: Disturbing Sistah Souljah Union Defecting Hippy Punching

It started early this morning when Brook (deliberately) missed the bus for school.  My mom’s car was blocking me in so I borrowed her keys and drove Brook to school.  On the way back, I turned up the volume on mom’s radio to hear some conservative talk show infotainers yucking it up about a recent survey that showed that the vast majority of Americans wanted the government to do something to help them economically.  Damn, I have to track down who these guys were so I can get a transcript to check the survey source and their exact words because what came next just defies logic.

So, these guys concluded that because the vast majority of Americans wanted the government to help them economically, that really means we want the government to give us money, money taken from rich people (there’s that class envy thing again) and given it to us because we don’t want to work for it ourselves.  In other words, these two jerks just told everyone who is struggling in this economy who is hoping for New Deal type programs to get them back to work that they were lazy good-for-nothings who didn’t want to do the hard work to succeed.  No, we just want some more deserving rich person to give us handouts.  This is what conservative voters are exposed to every day.  And I, one of the many thousands of recently laid-off R&D professionals who worked my ass off, along with the rest of my stressed out coworkers, could come to only one conclusion after this disturbing and completely unrealistic commentary: If you are struggling, unemployed and still a Republican, you need professional help.  Seriously.

Then I checked my email, tried to establish some relationships with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, answered email from people I had met at recent conferences and looked for rejection emails to my last job applications.  No rejections this morning but it’s still early.  I cruised over to the Daily Show site and found Samantha Bee. redefine a Sistah Souljah moment as an opportunity by both parties to bash the left.  Apparently, the Daily Show doesn’t know that the new term is “Hippy Punching”.

Sistah Souljah from both sides now

Then, I found some stuff at Greg Sargent’s Plum Line on Campaign 2012.  He linked to two articles that are somewhat at odds with each other.  One of them is about Richard Trumka throwing in the towel with the Obama Administration and the Democrats, which I found encouraging.  Trumka is going to outline his plans for an independent labor movement at a speech at the National Press Club today.  The other was about how the Obama Administration Campaign supporters were already planning strategies to take out its opposition starting with Mitt Romney.  See Richard Trumka and Samantha Bee’s Sistah Souljah moment for some guesses as to who their future targets may be.  After all, the Democratic Party’s primary opposition isn’t really the Republican candidate in 2012.  Heck, even the Republicans don’t like their candidates (yet) and are allowing the Tea Party to purge the ones who don’t toe the line while the more pragmatic Washington GOP crowd is getting a little nervous.  No, the Democratic Party’s real opposition are other Democrats, those annoying voters who want the party to represent the principles of the Democratic Party.  You know, the ones who won’t make excuses for Obama’s abandonment of the unemployed?  The ones who don’t praise him for even the slightest, and I do mean “slight”, (teensy-tiny airquotes) of efforts?  The ones who insist that “You can’t buff a turd“?

Like Paul Krugman who praised Obama this morning for saving GM’s ass last year.  Um, wouldn’t it have been irresponsible NOT to save GM’s ass last year?  But wait!  There’s more.  Not only did Obama save GM’s ass last year, he did it by breaking the contracts negotiated in good faith with the people who actually did the work for GM while he didn’t require any sacrifices from the bankers he lobbied to bailout in 2008.  Which just goes to show that the public that so desperately wants the government to help them get back to economic prosperity is completely out in left field- and will be getting a Sistah Souljah moment shortly.

As much as I love, Krugman, (and I do, Paul, really I do, your eyes are so dreamy), it’s not the first time he’s been “off” lately.  A couple weeks ago I postulated that the fear based strategy Republicans used to get their voters to the polls was based on terrorism and threats to personal safety while Democrats used terrorism of economic/safety net catastrophes to get their voters to the polls. Well, abortion isn’t going to work in 2012 after “This is what a feminist looks like” NOW spokes model Barack Obama sold women out on just about everything that is important to them from the egregious limitations on abortion coverage in the healthcare reform bill to NOT rescinding the Conscience Clause, not to mention touting the Lilly Ledbetter bill as the same as the equal pay bills that have been stalled in Congress during the run up to the midterm elections last fall.  (Jeez, Obama people must think women are stupid and not paying attention or can’t trust their lying eyes when they can’t find a job but their well-connected male colleagues can by tapping into the well established old boy’s network.  Ok, Obama women really are stupid if they didn’t recognize that Obama was the BMOC in the uber Old Boys Network, but I digress.)

So, Paul writes this post called Seniors, Guns and Money making fun of the authentically risible Republican congresscritters who criticized the Democrats for scaring seniors  about Medicare.  But Paul is missing the donkey in the corner.  Democrats aren’t trying to scare seniors, they’re trying to scare their own base.  Seniors are actually somewhat ambivalent about the Medicare debacle.  That’s because Republicans are engaging in generational warfare.  Seniors know that they’re safe.  It’s people under 55 that have to worry and seniors aren’t staying up nights fretting over us.  Oh, sure, they have compassion but it only goes so far.  If there’s only so much money to go around, they expect to get it first because they paid for it.  Never mind that people my age paid more and will get worthless vouchers.

Democrats set the bait, lefties fall into line.

Atrios can’t understand why Manhattan needs another parking garage and wonders why rich people are so stupid.  I agree.  I used to take the train to Manhattan once a week when Brook was 11 so she could take art lessons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was $18 round trip.  Brook rode free during Saturday’s off-peak hours.  Sure, it was a pain in the ass transferring at Newark, the WTC or Penn Station for local Metro subway lines that always seemed to be out of service, have poor signage or rerouted.  Now that Christie has raised the rates to $28.00 round trip and there are no discounts for off-peak and Brook is too old to ride free, a trip to the museum to use our family membership is out of the question on NJTransit.  I’d rather drive and park the car for $35.  That saves us money for kebabs at the halal stand.  Not that unemployed people have a lot of money to waste on family memberships to the Met or trips to Manhattan.  Oh, well, I’m sure the rich will make up the slack.  Besides, Brook got her culture in early in life and there’s always the internet.

Of course, if we changed the incentives for taking mass transit…

And in my humble unsolicited opinion, Maria Shriver knew.  Yep, she gave up her career for Ahnold.  Why would she do that if she knew something was up?  Easy.  She wanted her share of political influence that many of the Kennedy’s feel entitled to.  Let’s not forget who was one of Obama’s biggest fans in California before the primary.  Hillary still won the state but it was Maria Shriver, erstwhile heiress of a liberal Democratic dynasty, married to a Republican governor (that right there should have set off alarm bells and pinned her in a new and different Democratic cohort), who relentlessly banged the drum for Obama.  So what if she ran some conferences on empowering women?  We know now that Obama women are not sticklers for adherence to former Democratic principles of gender equity.  I would hate to be accused of blaming the victim but it seems to me that Maria Shriver made a shrewd calculation.  Neither Shriver or Schwarznegger should be held up as paragons of virtue.  One of them sold out  family, the other sold out women and the state of California.  I feel sorry for the kids, all five of them (and counting).

How the Social Security Commission will kill the American Economy

According to the New York Times, small investors are pulling their money out of the stock market.  Yep, seems like it’s a bit too risky for the boomer generation.  What with all of their retirement savings opportunities drying up:

To be sure, a lot of money is still flowing into the stock market from small investors, pension funds and other big institutional investors. But ordinary investors are reallocating their 401(k) retirement plans, according to Hewitt Associates, a consulting firm that tracks pension plans.

Until two years ago, 70 percent of the money in 401(k) accounts it tracks was invested in stock funds; that proportion fell to 49 percent by the start of 2009 as people rebalanced their portfolios toward bond investments following the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. It is now back at 57 percent, but almost all of that can be attributed to the rising price of stocks in recent years. People are still staying with bonds.

Another force at work is the aging of the baby-boomer generation. As they approach retirement, Americans are shifting some of their investments away from stocks to provide regular guaranteed income for the years when they are no longer working.

And the flight from stocks may also be driven by households that are no longer able to tap into home equity for cash and may simply need the money to pay for ordinary expenses.

On Friday, Fidelity Investments reported that a record number of people took so-called hardship withdrawals from their retirement accounts in the second quarter. These are early withdrawals intended to pay for needs like medical expenses.

According to the Investment Company Institute, which surveys 4,000 households annually, the appetite for stock market risk among American investors of all ages has been declining steadily since it peaked around 2001, and the change is most pronounced in the under-35 age group.

Under 35’s?  Honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet if the current proposals to raise the retirement age and cut Social Security benefits gets passed.  Contrary to the expectations of the corporate retirement fund managers out there, if social security gets more difficult to collect, my whole investment strategy is going to undergo a radical readjustment and not in Wall Street’s favor.

Suddenly, I will have to start a new savings plan to cover the costs of getting older when I can no longer bop around in the lab and up and down the stairs to the autoclave.  That is, if I even get the privilege of retiring from a job, which at this point looks less and less likely.  No, if social security becomes a distant dream, that segment of my retiremement scheme will have to be made up somehow.  And I WON’T be sticking my money in some risky stock market fund where there is no guarantee that my dollar of savings won’t be a dollar of withdrawal down the road.

Cutting Social Security means no more vacations, no more furniture, no more gadgets.  It means downsizing, selling the modest townhouse ASAP and finding some cheap little condo without high maintenance fees.  It means putting the money in the safest, least sexy place possible and just sitting on it.  For decades.  Seriously, life will become a LOT simpler.  After all, I have a kid I need to put through college and something’s got to give. I’ve never been a gambler and only participate in the 401K program under duress.  Give me a nice guaranteed pension and I’d be happy.  I’d rather be secure than rich.  Maybe that’s just me but I could be happy in Denmark where people can focus on living their lives and less on acquiring stuff.

Sometimes, I think that the people who are so hell bent on dismantling social security haven’t thought through this problem sufficiently.  They think we are so driven to outdo the Joneses that we’ll keep shoveling our hard earned paychecks into high yield investments.  Maybe some irrationally exuberant people will but the NYTimes article suggests that many of us have been too burnt to be careless with fire.  The outcome they are expecting seems to deny that the American worker has structured his whole life around social security and when it becomes unattainable, that security has to be compensated in other ways.  I don’t think current recipients should get too comfortable either.  Once the social pact is gone, the overstrapped still employed are going to start resenting the amount of money that goes into a program they can never benefit from.  Consider too that some companies are cutting out pensions entirely in the near future even though they provide them for current employees.  Future wages are already going down.  There is just not enough money to pay for everyday living and kids and saving for retirement and saving for some older person’s retirement.  Right now, it’s not so much of an issue but take away that piece of the retirement pie and there *will* be consequences.  The US economy is dependent in part on social security, which is why it was developed in the first place.  Seniors without incomes spend no money.  So, to save up for those senior years, money will have to be sequestered and some of us don’t have a lot of time to do it.

What’s really shocking about the “Catfood Commission” is that it’s being done by Democrats.  Even if the recommendations were acceptable, which they aren’t, this is not the time to be proposing them.  It smacks of the worst kind of politics when a respected program that everyone loves is held hostage for electoral gain.  Democrats are doing this.  It’s like taking the baby out of the basinet and holding it over a pit of Republican crocodiles, daring us to vote against Democrats.  It makes me LESS inclined to vote for the Democrats because if it happens this year, they’re going to keep doing it and one of these years, that baby’s going to fall or be so emaciated that it will be worthless, sort of like what happened to reproductive rights.  If Democrats want my help this year, they will dismantle the commission before November, recognizing that the economy can’t handle any talk of cutting benefits or extending the retirement age.

So, go ahead, bipartisan commission, make it harder for me to retire.  Hell, let’s be honest, make it *impossible* for me to retire.  And I will suck all of my funds out of the free market system.  I’ll stick to the bare necessities, continue to buy used cars, will forgo my next laptop, stop buying nice clothes and, like this year, turn down the family cruise this winter.  My bank account will become fat but the economy will stagnate as people all over the country remember what happened to people in the Roaring Twenties who sunk all of their retirement money in the stock market and risky investments.  My bank account and CD’s may make squat in interest but as long as they’re guaranteed by the government, I’ll live with it.

Until some new Idiot in Charge proposes a bipartisan committee to study the FDIC.