a real discussion on social security reform and what’s needed

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the comments section has been overrun by shit-throwing trolls. (I’ve heard that they’re also fat and balding, but that has yet to be confirmed.) In hopes of getting things back on the right track, I’ve selected one of the better pro-privatization posts from the last thread, which raises the major issues concerning Social Security reform without stooping to insult or calling into question anyone’s patriotism, and decided to post it here on the front page to facilitate discussion… Anyway, here’s what a reader by the name of Brad had to say… If you’re interested in having a meaningful conversation about Social Security, please leave a comment.

Is it your conclusion that Social Security is fine the way it is? Do you really beleive that it will be there for you when you are ready to retire? Do you think it will be there for your children? Haven’t you seen what is happeing to our health care situatuion in this country? Our grandparents, our parents, and the “boomer” generation are already putting immense pressure on the health care system. What do you think will happen when they are all ready to retire and start collecting their benefits? The history of the stock market shows that it can be a roller coaster ride, but show me one 15 yr. period where the overall market has tanked. I don’t know about you, but I work my ass off for my paycheck and make sure that my company makes money every day. Shouldn’t I, at the very least, have a say in where 2% of the money goes? The point is that our society does need a safety net in the event of tragedy or accident. In order to maintain that net, we need reform.

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  1. mike
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you forgot to post the entire letter.. The part where he says that he stil doesn’t like you and never has.

  2. mike
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    As with the article that mark has just posted on the front page, this leter is also in response to the posters who could not support any of their assertions that a particular article posted in the former SS thread was untrue. I will post it again here, just in case this is where the REAL discussion about SS reform is being held:
    Brett- I would like to mention that the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CNN(so many examples but Eason Jordan comes to mind lately), CBS(hey remember Dan Rather), PBS, the AP, and Rueters all have the knack for leaning left( that is sometimes an understatement). I still discuss their content with my friends on the left and right. I don’t just dismiss them. Still, I would like to tell me what the article said that is untrue. I am not looking for you to solve a problem that you don’t think exists. Getting you to answer what is untrue or vague or anything regarding a piece that is written by a company in which the owner thinks he is Christ and slants so far right it’s beyond your belief should be as easy as apple pie. Why is it so hard for you to even bring up a specific point? On one hand you say you don’t have any idea how it could be fixed if we needed to fix it….but on the other hand you know it doesn’t have to be fixed. Hmm.

    And to answer your question, the 2% will help. It may not be the whole solution but at least it gives the people a choice that they don’t currently have and the chance for more funds when they retire. One specific part of the plan usually will not solve an issue this big. I am sure other parts of the plan will come to light and bring us new debate, until then, I see it as a step in the right direction. I would opt for the way Galveston did it. I am also going to start looking into why Chile privatized (they saw the bankruptcy coming and actually did something about it) and what upsides and downsides they have encountered.

  3. mark
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Well, guys, I tried to start a nice, polite, meaningful conversation on the issue, but, as you can see from the first comment, I guess it’s not going to work.

  4. Dan Schmit
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Wow. It feels like a class reunion gone wrong in here. It feels like the people I used to hang with in high school. We were loud and pushy and not quite as funny as we thought we were. Most of us grew up and developed a sense that the world outside our own heads was important too.

    You guys can post anything you like…that is the beauty of free speech. You can say it. I can disagree. You can hate me for it. I can laugh at you. Eventually, you’ll get back to changing the oil in your car or emptying the dishwasher or taking your dog outside to poop. Eventually, you’ll put your energy into something more constructive.

    I think some of the discussion I’ve been hearing about social security is off track. “Its my money…it our money”. I believe that if we pull out of social security (the program), we’ll lose social security (the concept).

    That said I would be interested in hearing how the funds could be better managed at the federal level. These are huge piles of cash and should be pulling in huge dividends.

    Just a final note…try to be understood…not just heard. You won’t convince me of anything using the tone that I’ve hear on here yesterday. (That comment is pointed in many directions. )

  5. mark is tony
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    ok, I don’t really understand why you bedwetters are so in love with ss, but how about this.. what if I created an “investment” plan where you gave me 12% of of your income. I promise you no return, I get on average a 2% increse on your money.. and if you die before a certain age (65) I get to keep everything.. well I will give you a 250.00 (death benefit). This plan would be illeagal in all 50 states. This is SS Why the hell are you guys defending it? Safety net.. well in the liberals view I guess Its ok to force old persons to eat cat food because they’re living on 600.00/m. Do you have a 401k? What % are you putting in (mark needs not apply as he’s probably on some sort of gvt assistance). Iput in 15% of my income. what if I had the other 12% that is being forcibly taken from me? I dont get it, you’re being robbed and it’s as if you support the robbers.. SS will not be there when we retire. You have a responsibility to your family to take care of them. Why do you guys want your very survival to be dependent on govt?

  6. mark
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a hint, if you want to be taken seriously, don’t call the people who disagree with you “bedwetters.” It just makes you sound like a stupid, closed-minded ditto-head. No matter how valid your points might be, it’s hard to win people over after insulting them.

    And thank you very much for your note, Dan. It’s appreciated.

  7. red larry
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:27 pm | Permalink


    I just picked up my shipment of government cheese. Man this stuff is great. I’m so glad I get this subsidy. Ignore those posters who say the government can’t be trusted because I just fried up a super tasty quesedilla. I just hope that the shipments keep comming because I don’t actually have a job. (I could work but screw that.. I get fed without having to do anything). We have to stop the neocon repugs! If they get their way, I might actually have to work. I HAVE NEEDS! The gvt should take care of my needs rather than have a war for oil (I use the bus… DUI). Anyways take care comrade.

  8. mark is tony
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    As usuual mark, you attack the poster rather than the argument.. I’m suprised you haven’t started attacking posters for misspellings yet. BEDWETTER! ( oh the mark is tony name is due to the fact that Mark posts on multiple accounts to make it look like there are more than 4 readers)

  9. mark
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Your mention of quesadillas just reminded me of the last time I was at my friend Mike

  10. L.
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    The privatization of SS is a concern to me for two reasons. One is that if a recipient dies before he receives all his or her benefits, the money goes to the heirs instead of being reabsorbed into SS, as now. This means that the privatization plan will end up draining more money from SS and, I fear, eventually so crippling SS that some people will leverage that weakness into an argument for doing away with the system entirely/mostly. Two is that once the privatized benefits kick in, you’re paid an annuity each month that is planned to last your actuarially-calculated lifespan. If you live longer, the benefits stop. Tough luck.

  11. mike
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    don’t call mark a bedwetter. It’s easy for him to then call you a stupid close minded ditto head and then not answer the questions. Liberals are very sensitive and emotional. I would love to here them answer a question or two but they are not used to conservatives being on this site and they don’t like name calling unless they do it themselves. Look back on the posts that I have written. The first one I posted on Social security was great I thought. The first reply called me a money worshipping occultist because I invested in the stock market. Now I continued to post questions and answer questions related to SS. However, most liberal posters here (especial Mark) will not answer questions period, especiallyif their feelings get hurt. Now apoligize for calling him a bed wetter and don’t fret that he called you names also. That way I can actually see some questions answered by the left. I can’t wait too long because I have to take my dog out to poop and then change the oil in my SUV and my wife’s SUV and my boat.

  12. JF
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Wow….I take the day off of reviewing this site and look what happens. There are so many posts that this fat, balding, beer bellied, monkey behind the glass, reput, neocon, hate spewing, war monger, evil rich, misguided, douche bag troll can’t keep up but I will try.

    On the Social Security issue, first everyone needs to take a step back and look at this in a factual manner rather than emotion as it appears is happening right now. The Social Security system is broke, folks. The way the law stands right now you are going to pay far more into Social Security (assuming you are paying) than you could ever hope to take out. Unless, of course, you manage to qualify for SS disability payments right off the bat (probably not a far stretch for some).

    If a private company was running the SS scam on the American people, its officers and employees would all be arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. But unfortunately it is being run by politicians and protected by Liberals. If politicians would let you take all of the money you are going to flush into the SS system and instead invest it in stocks and bonds, you would end up with 5 to 10 times (Galveston) more retirement income. That could be the difference between you double wide in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a condo on the beach in West Palm.

    The first scam thrown at you with employment is the word “contribution”. You were told they would match your SS contribution (LOL). It is a tax (contributions are voluntary). Second your employer is not matching anything. Every single penny is coming straight out of your pocket.

    It is your money. All of it. And you will be damned lucky to ever see it again at the rate we are going. Every time that money disappears from your paycheck, spend a few moments thinking of how you could be investing those dollars for your OWN retirement.


  13. mark is tony
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    ok so you were scared because you thought there might be “mexicans” in the area? God how racist can you be? This is just like youre previous gay-baiting essay. Mark, Mexicans in general are hard working people who are not going to hurt you. In Atlanta we’ve learned to live peacably with our southern neighbors.. I think you need to learn a bit more about mexican (and latino) culture. Just because you live in a northern state, you do not have an open cheque for racism.

  14. mark is tony
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    sorry mark, didn’t mean to hurt your feelings by calling you a bedwetter. I’m sure Linette will tell you to pretend we’re all in a “glass box” and that the mean people who disagree with you will go away. So now go forth and explain how SS is a great plan and we all really need it. The argument that some ppl are too stupid to plan for the future isn’t gonna work. If they’re that stupid there’s not much we can do anyways. So pretend you actually had a “private sector” job… Would you want the gvt to take your money and promise you nothing in return? Would you rather hang on to it and invest it for your family? …

  15. JF
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Ok..here me out on this one. I have copied this completely but would like to hear your responses on this question. I truly want to understand the thought process difference between most of us.

    “You believe your neighbor is about to starve to death. His heat is about to be cut off and he cannot afford his blood pressure medication. You decide to help. You scrounge through your bank account and find $200 to help him out. What a guy/girl.

    A month later he is still in trouble. It turns out he spent $20 on a case of beer (remember I am a beer bellied fool) and at least another $100 at the dog track. You decide to visit your other neighbor, apartment 2A, to see if he can chip in. He tells you he need his money to send his daughter to college in the fall and to pay some of his own medical bills. Besides he is trying to save up for a house so he can get out of this wierd apartment complex. “

    Here is the question. “Do you have the right to pull out a gun and use that gun to compel your neighbor to hand over a few hundred dollars for neighbor 1 and then tell neighbor in 2A you’ll be back to get some more next month?” My guess is no one would support this.

    If our government derives its powers from the consent of the governed, how can you ask your government to do something for you that, if you did it yourself would be a crime? WHy would it not be OK for you to take the money by force but it is perfectly OK with you if the governemnt went ahead and did it?

    Your thoughts?

  16. mike
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Mark -it’s Forsyth County, not Forsythe. Even the person that wrote the article got it wrong. And yes, this was a very racist community at one time. I moved to Atlanta in 1990 and to Forsyth in 2000. The people are moving here because of many reasons, none of which have to do with race or racism. The Ga.400 corridor that was widened from a single lane road to a 4 lane highway brought unprecidented development. The technology boom(still going in Atlanta) brought hundreds of companies to the Ga 400 corridor. People actually work for these companies and Forsyth was a natural choice for them to live. The County had/has a property tax half that of Fulton(our county is bordered on the south by Fulton), the houses were/are cheaper because of the amount of land available. The state’s most beautiful Lake, lake lanier is located in the county and on my doorstep. The Chattahoochie River and state parks run right through the county and the corridor now makes it a straight shot to downtown on a major freeway. People from all over the world live here now as opposed to 1987 and prior. I think the county was actually voted one of the most racist counties in the country at one time. This is not the case anymore and it’s one of the reasons I like it here. The county is filling up with hard working family valued people as fast as the infrastructure can handle it (and sometimes faster). If Mark wants to come down and write a piece on how progressive the county has become relative to it’s racist days, I would allow him to spend the night in one of our guest rooms off the main wing of the mc-mansion (hint: only greedy white evil racists have mansions). Of course all it takes is for Mark to encounter one racist and the headline can read : “Forsythe(sic) County still wants to Lynch Blacks.” Then he can go apologize for the last time he was driving in my sub division and ran his rental van into my nieghbor’s mailbox, breaking it in two. It was at night and he got away with it. When he left I went to the house with the broken mailbox and told them that one of my friend’s did it by accident. I offered to pay for it and they said no. I offered to help them put it in and they said yes. Mark only wanted to not get caught. Right Mark? They are a black family with three kids by the way. The father deals with databases as I do. My liberal buddy took advantage of a black family because he considered them, like me, rich corporate racist yuppies. I consider them a hard working family that only wants the best for themselves. No need to identify them in the black group or the rich group or the white group. That would be all too easy. They are nice individuals. We haven’t burnt a cross in their yard yet either. I guess their is progress in this once racist county.

  17. Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    of course you can use a gun. The govt is much more “progressive” than the people. People are stupid, esp. right wing neocons who need to be taught a lesson. Look at history, the french revolution (off with his head), the bolshevic revolution (to the gulags with you).. The cultural revolution (please don’t shake.. it makes it harder to shoot you)… and My favorite WWII (time to take a shower).. Seriously if you give the libs a chance, and you don’t agree with them. You’ll find yourself on the wrong side of a gun.

  18. brett
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    mark, i hate the way you talk when (MEMBER) turns to (VISITOR). You act different.

    mike, i just reread the article you seem so fond of, which required no small amount of searching to even locate it, buried as it was in this sea of chatter which surrounds us. I stand by my original comment, where i said it was vague and misleading.

    Now, here’s the thing. You pick a part of the article for me to comment on, or someone else to comment on, and we’ll address that particular topic. Otherwise, you’re basically asking me to sit here for the next two hours copying and pasting text with inserted commentary, and i honestly don’t have the time to prepare a school report for you. Sorry.

    Incidentally, there seems to have been another lapse of memory regarding my earlier solution presented in response to your howls for an alternative to your 2% plan (that’s YOUR money. please don’t remind us again).

    My suggestion (only IF social security needs fixing), was to adjust or raise taxes (note that i didn’t say who or what should be taxed), AND/OR cut *some* government projects / programs.

    SO, that having been said, since i know that nobody else wants to hunt down this little link he keeps talking about, here’s the OPINION article from the Washington Times (which is published by one of the president’s biggest financial backers, Reverend (he thinks he’s jesus, by the way) Moon.

    I think the first few statements are very timely, really.


    The Washington Times

    ‘Straw men’ delay debate
    By Timothy J. Penny
    Published February 10, 2005

    A common tactic in political debate is to set up “straw men” and then knock them down. It is easy to win a debate this way — assuming people believe your assertions.
    “Straw men” are phony assertions about what your opponent stands for or about the policies he/she advocates. In other words — falsely assert your opponent proposes something awful — and then remind folks you stand for motherhood and apple pie.
    Opponents of Social Security reform are using this tactic in an attempt to convince Americans that Social Security is in perfect shape just as it is. Or, at the very least, they are trying to persuade Americans that whatever ails Social Security can be fixed with just a few painless tweaks. The problem for reform opponents is a large majority of the electorate — especially younger workers — have concluded Social Security is headed for trouble.
    President Bush resonates with these voters when he claims Social Security is nearing a crisis. His opponents loudly respond there is no crisis and that Mr. Bush is simply trying to manufacture one to frighten people into supporting reform.
    Interestingly, many who today criticize Mr. Bush for using the word “crisis” today were among a chorus of supporters when President Clinton warned us about Social Security’s impending crisis seven years ago.
    Frankly, I do not know how these Bush opponents define a crisis. They don’t dispute that the current system will experience a cash flow crunch by 2018 (caused by the retirement of the huge Baby Boom generation). It is also universally acknowledged that within a few short decades the system will collect enough payroll taxes to pay only 75 percent of benefits. If these statistics don’t describe a crisis in the making, I don’t know what would constitute a crisis. Obviously, acting sooner than later is the wiser course of action. That is all the president and reform advocates are trying to say.
    Given that both the president and his detractors agree Social Security problems are on the horizon, you would think they would agree to put all reform options on the table in order to find a solution. Finding a reasonable solution, however, requires that options be fairly and honestly debated. Here is where the “straw men” enter the picture.
    First, opponents insist reformers are out to “privatize” Social Security. They know “privatize” is a scary word, so they use it a lot. The “privatization” allegation is designed to conjure images of a program in which the federal government backs out of its role in providing a safety net for retirees. But no such thing is proposed by reformers.
    Under the proposals advocated by the president and others, Social Security would remain a government program. Payroll taxes would continue to be collected by the government and used exclusively to provide retirement income. A safety net of benefits would still be guaranteed under the traditional Social Security system. Finally, only a portion of payroll taxes would be invested in personal accounts — and those would likely be managed by the government in a fashion similar to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) now available to federal workers (including members of Congress). No one would suggest the TSP is a “privatized” retirement plan because it is not.
    Second, opponents claim reformers want to place workers at risk of the stock market. Again that is not borne out by the facts. Because most reform plans are fashioned after the Federal Thrift Savings Plan, it should be clear that reformers are aware of the need to manage the risk associated with personal accounts. Under the TSP, there are a limited number of investment options (currently only five). The TSP offers mutual fund investments — broad based investment funds, either all bonds, all stocks or a little of each. None of these funds is heavily invested in any one company or any industry sector.
    Third, opponents argue that reform is a Wall Street driven idea. Not so. Having worked on this issue for nearly a decade, I can report most Wall Street firms have been reluctant to engage in the debate. In fact, some investment firms are leery of personal accounts. These firms are comfortable with traditional Social Security as a bedrock upon which additional retirement investments can be built.
    Frankly, the demand for reform is driven mostly by younger workers. Polls consistently show those under 50 years of age favor reform and personal accounts by a margin of 2 to 1 or even 3 to 1. Younger Americans have come to believe traditional Social Security is a Ponzi scheme in which they will end up paying a lot more and getting a lot less. They want the security of investing some of their payroll taxes in a fund they own and control.
    Finally, opponents assert reformers want to “destroy” Social Security. Again, not true. Reform advocates simply do not want to wait until the crisis is upon us to fix Social Security.
    Because we waited until the crisis hit before we took action, higher taxes and benefit cuts were all that could be done in 1983 (the last time we bailed out the system).
    The pending problems with the current system are there for all to see. Clearly, doing nothing is not an option.
    Let’s not repeat the mistake of waiting too long. It is time to earnestly begin the debate about strengthening Social Security for the future. Setting up “straw men” simply delays an honest debate — and moves us closer to a real crisis.

    Timothy J. Penny, a former 12-year Democratic congressman from Minnesota, is a spokesman for the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan coalition that promotes fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction. He recently served on the bipartisan President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security and is a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota.

  19. mark
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    That’s absolutely right, Mike. I hate black people and their mailboxes. Actually, I don’t think African Americans should have mail…

    For those of you who care to know the whole story, I did, the last time I was in Altanta, bump into the mailbox of one of Mike’s neighbors (the last time he told the story though, they weren’t black, but gay, by the way). The mailbox was still standing, but it put a small dent in the back of the rental van. I ended up paying the rental company for the repair. It was $600. I was pissed about it, but I got over it.

  20. Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    ok so you just admitted to a federal crime.. plus you were probably DUI when this crime was committed.

  21. mike
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    You ran away from the scene of the crime Mark. Admit it. By the way, the gay couple lived next to them but have since left the sub division fearing that they too were targeted for a hate crime.

  22. NAMBLA
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Mark was probalby attempting to terrorize the gay couple. As you can see from his main page, mark hates gay persons. If you are a homosexual Mark will ridicule you and question your patriotism on the main page of his blog. If you are a “progressive” homosexual and attend mark’s “book club” you will be above reproach. The short story is that Mark has a ton of repressed homosexual angst and only a “progressive” homosexual will be able to cure him.

  23. brett
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m waiting, mike. stay focused. count to ten. let me know what your little pet passage is in this great piece of journalism you’ve referred to twenty times.

    mark- I am shocked. truly shocked. I would never have thought you capable of bumping into a mailbox with a van. Our relationship will never be the same.

  24. JF
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Brett or Mark,

    Going back to “whose money is it” question can you tell me your thoughts to my apartment example above? I would really like to know how you can justify the government taking your money by force to fund someone else SS but you or I cannot do the same. Why is it such a bad idea to allow someone the right to invest 2% of their own money.

    I need to get some sleep as we have a big day at church tomorrow so I had better to to bed.


  25. mike
    Posted February 12, 2005 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    For pete’s sake brett, you are the one that said the article didn’t hold water. Just answer, why. How hard is this for you? Do you actually need me to pick sentence after sentence until I find the one that doesn’t hold water with you? You keep saying that the it was published by a guy that thinks he is christ. Tell me the crazy things that you disagree with.

  26. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    i give up brett. here is a snippet. Just let me know what you think of this
    “A safety net of benefits would still be guaranteed under the traditional Social Security system. Finally, only a portion of payroll taxes would be invested in personal accounts — and those would likely be managed by the government in a fashion similar to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) now available to federal workers (including members of Congress). No one would suggest the TSP is a “privatized” retirement plan because it is not.”

  27. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    the entire phrase expects you to concentrate on the sanctity of “TSP”, but it hinges on the fact that the new system will be identical to it, which he DOES NOT actually say. he says “…and those would LIKELY be managed…”. He either doesn’t know, or he’s lying.

    i.e., “there will likely not be a reason for us to begin converting senior citizens into soylent green.” Would you trust that statement?

  28. JF
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Enough about the mailbox already. If he lives in a mansion he can afford to pay for it himself.

    Read this the other day and was shocked….albeit from a 1998 IRS report

    The top 10% of income earners earn more than 40% of all income but they pay 70% of all the taxes collected. Damn the evil rich for wanting to invest 2% of their own money for themselves. Greedy bastards. (50% pay almost 100%)

  29. JF
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    By the way Mark. If you are ever back in NJ you are more than welcome to stay at my “mansion” as the mail boxes are well protected and we have an extra car (compact) you can drive.


  30. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    I’ve also read that Bill Gates’ annual salary is equal to the salaries of the poorest 50% of Americans combined.

    I’m all for salary caps. The rich wouldn’t have to pay so much if they didn’t make so much. Am I supposed to feel sorry because someone has to make due with a household budget of a hundred million dollars? Poor little rich boy.

  31. mark
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Class Warfare? Bring it on!

  32. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    You know, you guys might actually like a little trick i sometimes use when paying taxes.

    here’s what you do- you pretend that your taxes will only go to the government programs you approve of. So, for example, I might tell myself “This will help pay a park ranger at mammoth cave”, while you can think “This will help W afford to have a honey pot in the press room”.

    Everyone wins!

  33. L.
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Okey-doke, I raised two valid concerns about the proposed SS reforms that went unanswered because the commentors here were too busy feeding trolls to respond to my post. I also posted yesterday about the book group and received no answer because commentors were too busy stupidly replying to trolls. Looks to me like my attempts to foster a substantive discussion are for naught. I think I’ll take a break from this usually-worthwhile site till it gets back on track as far as replying to non-troll contributors who are interested in having a meaningful discussion. –ypsidixit

  34. Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    Brett – I agree with you at last. We do not know the details of the plan yet because they are not out. Until then we can basically debate on what the plans could be. As details come out I am not going to support them just because they come from a republican admin. I support them if I think, and people can convince me, that it will benefit this country. This isn’t going to happen overnight so we will have much to discuss. I would love if we came up with a plan that wouldn’t have to be rescued every 20 years. A lot depends on the population, life span, and how much interest we (or the government -again, we) can make off of the money that goes into the system. A good point was made by JF a while back that even though our paychecks say 6.5%(or is it 7.5%?) is taken out for SS, our employers are matching that. That is money that is really incorporated in your annual salary but you don’t really see. I am sure you know what I mean. So we are paying a lot of money into this thing. It’s all actually a pretty hefty tax. The last thing I want to see us do is waste it and not manage it correctly. I don’t want to throw out the safety net and I don’t want old people (I will be one soon enough) to starve on the streets. But I do want the money to be managed as efficiently as possible. can’t name too man, if any, examples of our government(repub or dem) managing money efficiently. Can you? Maybe that is another pont we can agree on. This is what I like about the 2% part of the plan. I can at least have the chance to take money that could just be lost in the shuffle and produce something that can benefit me in my older years. I still think other details will explain the solvency on SS. Maybe it will be raising the retirement age. I actually think that’s a tolerable idea. I don’t want taxes raised. Maybe it’s lowering the payout of the non-privatized part. I could accept that. I don’t think means testing is at all a solution. I brought up another point that I really, really want Mark to start a thread on and if you would like to also persued him, whether you agree with me or not, I beg of you to do it. The idea of the Fair Tax. The link is http://www.fairtax.org. This is a huge idea for this country and actually taxes the wealthy more than the poor ( so it’s progressive but driven by the market). I have not done enough research but I want the politicians to start talking about it with earnest. This could put a kick into our economy like nothing before it. Benefit everyone. Fund our programs that are in trouble. But, alas, it takes a lot of power away from those in Washington. No more promises about lowering your taxes if you vote for me. No more class warfare card. Another thing which the internet and 24 hour news should help keep pressure on is making politians accountable for the way they pork barrel spending. Our government doesn’t and hasn’t done accounting very well, hence my dislike for their efficiency. I know we are fighting two wars, we had 911, he had a recession. I actualy agree with the idea of lowering taxes to jumpstart a recession. But we waste money on all levels. We always have. If we go to a fair tax somehow somebody in washington fill find a way to spend it. Which is fine, that’s what the government is supposed to do, but damn let’s stop whinning when we can’t pork barrel for our constituants, and as a poeple, let’s stop wanting the government to do everything for us. It makes us lazy and a capitalist society has to have as many people as possible working as hard as they can and not looking for handouts. If there are ways for people to get money without working for it, they will, no matter what gender, race or age. And when enough people do it, the country will suffer. Sorry to ramble but I would like some fairtax discussion. I haven’t heard anyone( not here because we really haven’t brough it up) really be opposed to it yet.

  35. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Brett -making gobs of money is not a sin. Why on earth would we want the government putting salary caps on any company? You can’t be envious of someone because they make more than you. You for instance are probably rich compared to a guy flipping burgers at Burger King. It does no good for that guy to be mad at you for it and expect you to have your money taken away so he can have some of it. It does him good if he admires you and the fact that you are successful (in this case fiancially) and then maybe in some ways emulate what you have done (i.e. studied hard, sacrificed by working two jobs while putting yourself through school, learned a trade, etc) to raise himself up to the next level. If that is what he so desires.

  36. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 11:08 am | Permalink


    first off, thanks for apparently agreeing with me somewhat, and i hope we will no longer have to waste eachother’s time on the subject of theoretical investment strategies.

    as for the second post, i don’t agree, and i don’t see how you can possibly justify the excessive wage splits in this nation. I’m not talking about a burger flipper getting a second job. I’m talking about CEOs who commonly make hundreds or thousands of times what their workers do, and who live a lifestyle of decadence which neither you nor i can even imagine. No matter how hard an individual works in our society, the fact remains it is a democratic system and as such there is no justification for them to somehow obtain a position of pseudo-nobility. They’re the ‘moneyed elite’ mike. They’re the ‘liberal media’ owners. They’re John Kerry AND George Bush, and they don’t give a damn about us.

    Work hard, mike. So will I. But the odds are against either of us reaching that level, and I for one wouldn’t want to.

  37. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I never read that in a democratic society (although we are a republic..democracy is mob rule) there is a limit to how much wealth you can obtain. I don’t think rich people are pseudo-noble and I know many of them to be honest. I don’t envy them (and you yourself said that you don’t want to reach that level). I can’t say that I would want to reach their level either though. I am satisfied right where I am in life and also satisfied with the direction I am going. I don’t make gobs of money but I do have the greatest family and friends in the world (my opinion of course). I had a squirt gun fight yesterday with my son and had the best time just seeing him happy. That’s good enough for me right there. My day was a success. Some people don’t have that (or some other aspect in their world that makes their day really worth it) and money certainly won’t get you there. But damn, in this country if attaining wealth floats your boat, I will cheer you on all the way. Make as much as you can, supply jobs to other people, make me a product that makes my life a little safer or healthier or saves me time. And if you rob your company by taking all of it’s money as your annual salary or bonus, then the market will take care of your company in due time. Let the market put caps on how much you make, not the government.

  38. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Luke 12 (King James Version):

    13And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

    14And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

    15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

    16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

    17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

    18And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

    19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

    20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

    21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

    22And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

    23The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

    24Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

    25And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

    26If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?

    27Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

    28If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

    29And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

    30For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

  39. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Luke 18 (King James Version):

    18And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

    19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

    20Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

    21And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

    22Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

    23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

    24And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

    25For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

  40. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I guess I would rather see some quotes from the U.S. constitution which is this country’s framework and our subsequent laws that were created based on that document. We are not a theocracy. We are a capitalistic society governed by laws. If it’s not against the law to obtain as much wealth as you want then by all means, do it.

  41. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence,

    *****promote the general Welfare*****,

    and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  42. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    So, in your opinion, ‘promoting the general welfare’ means putting caps on salaries? How do you arrive at that conclusion? What if a company, or better yet, an individual spends 1 billion dollars of his own money andfinds a cure for AIDS? Is he allowed to recoup all of his money and then make money on top of that? In your system, would he be capped by the government? I would argue that the research would never even start if that individual knew he couldn’t make back his investment. I think it’s up to the free market, not the government.

  43. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    q- “So, in your opinion, ‘promoting the general welfare’ means putting caps on salaries?”

    a- yes, if those salaries are excessive, or are a direct result of the exploitation and disenfranchisement of others.

    q-“What if a company, or better yet, an individual spends 1 billion dollars of his own money andfinds a cure for AIDS? Is he allowed to recoup all of his money and then make money on top of that? In your system, would he be capped by the government? “

    a- No, in ‘my system’ such research would be conducted BY the government, as an adjunct to a national health care plan.

  44. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    q -who deems a salary excessive?

    q- who dicides is a salary is a direct result of the exploitation and disenfranchisement of others.

    q – what’s the definition of an excessive salary?

    q- what’s the test case for whether or not exploitation or disenfranchisement has taken place?

    q- I used a medical example in my last post, who does the research for any program that would take that much money?

  45. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    q -who deems a salary excessive?

    a- well, we could arbitrarily say the top 5% or so, and set the cap there, which would probably take care of things. I’d put it much lower, but that’s a personal opinion (as is everything i’ve said, by the way).

    q- who dicides (SIC) is (SIC) a salary is a direct result of the exploitation and disenfranchisement of others.

    a- i suppose you’d have to either set up a government agency, or else have an existing department start handling the matter.

    q – what’s the definition of an excessive salary?

    a- please see above.

    q- what’s the test case for whether or not exploitation or disenfranchisement has taken place?

    a- enron.

    q- I used a medical example in my last post, who does the research for any program that would take that much money?

    a- as i said, the government would be responsible for all aspects of the health care system, so it follows that the researcher would be a government employee.

  46. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    appreciate your answers, except you may have misinterpretted my last question (or maybe I don’t grasp your answer). What if the research was for anything besides a helthcare related issue? Would the government do all research in all fields?

    by the way, I posted a link at the ‘don’t I know you’ thread that I thought was interesting albeit way off topic. I guess I will post it here also. Just the thoughts of nanobots in our blod supply is interesting:

  47. Dr Cherry
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Why would anyone want to have a discussion with a liar?

  48. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    good point, steven. I’m reminded of a quote:

    “There’s an old saying in Tennessee

  49. mike
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Poor stephen. Avioding the debate to name call doesn’t do us any good at all. Don’t corrupt brett. We were actually in a good debate until you brought him to the dark side. Don’t listen to him Brett. Keep answering questions as will I. I appreciate your last few posts.

  50. Dr Cherry
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Oh I’m not name calling. I’m looking at the logs right now and I can tell which posts came from your browser. You are a liar.

    You and I both know you’re a liar mike, why not just admit it.

  51. mark
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Well, I think that this is probably a good place to end this thread. What do you say?

  52. brett
    Posted February 13, 2005 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    gladly. thank you, mark.

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