Ix-Nay on the Rivatization-Pay

Greg Crist, director of communications for the House Republican Conference, liked my column on Social Security. Well, most of it. As he explained in an e-mail message, he did not care for my use of certain explicit language that he feels has no place in public discussion of the president's reform plan:

Every day, we fight reporters and Democrats for using the term 'privatization' b/c every poll worth its salt shows it frightens the public.

And here you write a great article, but use the term in the headline and everywhere else!

Can you help us out please? Dems love to demagogue. We shouldn't help them.

Bad as it is for Republicans to covertly buy the assistance of commentators, it may be worse when they assume you're on their team without having the decency to pay you. For the record, the word privatization appears only once in the column, and not in the headline. But I do use the word private half a dozen times to describe the individual retirement accounts about which the president promised: "The money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away." He also described it as a "nest egg" that "you'll be able to pass along...to your children or grandchildren." Sounds pretty private to me.

Still, it's true that the contributions, investment choices, and withdrawals all would be regulated, so Crist has a point. Maybe "forced, socialized savings accounts" would be a better description, although I'm not sure how well it would poll.

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  • ||

    Looks like Jacob is not worried about waking up next morning with his favorite horse's head.

  • ||

    Props to Ted Barlow:

    "Q: Ari, does the Administration have any plans to repair the growing number of broken lightbulbs?


    A: I reject the premise of the question. They could be better described as �opportunitybulbs�."

  • ||

    I'm surprised "reporters" and "Democrats" are considered separate entities in the eyes of the HRC. Of course, now that they have the Fox "News" Channel, it's trickier to blur that distinction.

  • ||

    Good fucking lord, it's worse than I thought.

    I thought "hyperbole" when so many bloggers claimed the word privatization was being sent down the memory hole. Silly me.

  • ||

    Every day, we fight reporters and Democrats for using the term 'privatization' b/c every poll worth its salt shows it frightens the public.

    Hide the crybabies' tax refund checks in dictionaries. Bad government is directly related to voters' ignorance.

  • ||

    Didn't republicans start off calling it privitization to start off, then it moved to private accounts and now presonal accounts? Seems like they're upset that you're not up to date on the talking points. Didn't you get the memo?

    And why didn't you fill out your TPS report Jake?

  • ||

    Interesting link regarding the use of Bushspeak:

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2113052/

  • ||

    True enough. If the Republicans aren't going to end the Department of Education, could they at LEAST do something to ensure that students graduate high school with a few basic concepts about how an economy works? This social security debate would be a whole helluva lot quicker and easier. (The Republicans haven't reintroduced creationism to the classroom nationwide, and so I'm assuming that the Dems won't be able to include Marx & Friends in the curriculum.)

  • ||

    At first, I saw "Privatization Ray," which made me think someone had created a delightful invention. How disappointing.

  • ||

    Good one, Sarnath! It reminds me of the old "Duck Dodgers" cartoons:

    "Ha ha, now I'VE got a privatization ray! And when it privatizes, brother, does it privatize!"

  • CTD||

    Why not use the term Clinton used in 1999 - "USA Accounts"?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/states/docs/sou99.htm#socialsecurity

    It would be much harder for Democrats to disavow.

  • ||

    Privatization, Privatization, Privatization, Privatization, Privatization, Privatization, Privatization, Privatization, Privatization, Privatization.....

    Take that republiscum!

  • ||

    So, if I'm following all this, it's still not my money that I earned by the sweat of my brow because I am too stupid and feckless to know how to provide for my future and I am such a hopeless moron that words scare me. But Leviathan will let me have some back when I'm old or let me give it to my descendents. Wow, thanks Big Brother, you really do know what's best for me.

    I'm very glad that the Republicans are looking out for me and my financial future because if the Democrats were in ... I'd still be screwed.

    I'm starting my own party. The National Libertarian Workingmen's Party, with the NLWP slogan, "Free Minds and Free Labor".

    Now all I have to do is start a website and get me some donations ...

    SP

  • ||

    SP,

    Can you break a twenty?

  • digamma||

    If you use the phrase "private accounts", you are showing objective bias against the President.

  • ||

    You should have asked for a couple of grand, that seems to be the way it is done lately.

    Limited use of private = $10k
    No use of private = $20k
    Claiming it is not private = $30k

  • ||

    Oceania has always favored personal accounts.

  • ||

    'Why not use the term Clinton used in 1999 - "USA Accounts"?'

    Because the USA accounts were funded by witholdings above and beyond the current payroll tax, rather than by taking money out of the existing system.

    A very slight difference, and by "very slight" I mean "running into the hundreds of billions of dollars."

  • ||

    "Q: How many Sean Hannitys does it take to change a broken lightbulb?


    A: Opportunitybulb! Opportunitybulb!


    ALAN COLMES: Of course, I�m sorry. Opportunitybulb."

  • PintofStout||

    Q: How far is a tad?

    A: In space terms, it means we are [23,456,789] million miles off course and we are headed directly for the sun.

  • PintofStout||

    ...but that was before Macho Grande.(that doesn't count as Latin does it?)

  • ||

    Hey, Jacob, what's happening?

    Did you get that memo about the term "privatization"?

    Yeah, see, we're no longer using that term. And we're putting new cover sheets on all the TPS reports.

    So, if you could just avoid using that word and use the new cover sheets that would be great. And I'll make sure you get another copy of that memo.

  • ||

    I think it's about time the youth of this country stood up and said "fuck you baby boomers/ gen-Xers" you bought into a pyramid scheme, and we're not going to bail you out.

    As a Gen Xer, let me say I didn't buy into this; I was forced into it by the government. Same's true for most of my generation. Remember: back when being a member of Generation X was all about alienation, angst and a strange fascination with Seattle, one of the archetypical complaints of the generation was that we were being forced to pay into a Baby Boomer support system that we ourselves would never benefit from.

    Or so I read in some magazine.

  • ||

    I've always liked you guys.

  • ||

    Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands,

    Euros, dollars or sterling?

    I'll take website design as a donation as well. Something that doesn't require DSL (it's a responsible workinmen's party, not some elite bullshit like the Republicans and Democrats) but still looks good.

    Maybe with PayPal direct to my account.

    Ah, sweet megalomania ...

    SP

  • ||

    thoreau,

    You and I have something both in common; we like the movie Office Space.

    Remember Samir, etc. also bugged him about the TPS when they were at the restaurant for coffee. :)

  • ||

    "Because the USA accounts were funded by witholdings above and beyond the current payroll tax, rather than by taking money out of the existing system."

    Joe, BJ also proposed a match, plus, here:

    "...and receive funds to match a portion of their savings with extra help for those least able to save. USA accounts will help all Americans to share in our nation's wealth and to enjoy a more secure retirement. I ask you to support them."

    Like you said, hundreds of billions of dollars. Of my money.

  • ||

    Matt Y.'s blog suggests that your original post was advocating defaulting on the Soc. Sec. obligations. I read your post and while it does not explicitly say this - the clear implication of what you are suggesting is to default on those retirement obligations. OK, CFOs like Andy Fastow would have no problem raiding the worker's retirement fund to pay dividends for a company with persistent operating losses. Your post displayed the same high ethical standards. Alas.

  • ||

    I realize am the enemy twice over here, nearly 50 and a Registered Democrat, but I think you are mistaken on the value of Social Security. It is insurance first and formost for the Widow, Disable and Orphaned. It is a partial retirement supplement and as such you can count on it as long as the US Government can collect taxes or print money. How we handle the next decade of tax pollicy will decide which option gets used in 2043. :)

  • ||

    You know, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the administration's language police are actually right this time.

    These are not private accounts, these are personal accounts. If you define "private" as in the phrase "private sector," these are public accounts, not private accounts.

    Nor are they private, as in, "mind your own business, this is private." They are the government's business, and they'll both monitor them at will and exert control over what happens to them.

    They are, however, personalized. Personalized public accounts. You're allowed to customize them (somewhat) to your own circumstances, and there is a specific account that is assigned to each person.

    They're "yours" - not in the sense that your house or Gamecube is yours, but like the coat hook with your name written above it was yours in kindergarten. Your personal coat hook, your personal account. Not, however, your private property.

  • ||

    Jennifer-
    Well, of course you didn't want to, but you didn't stand up, and you paid, and now I assume you're going to want something out in the end? I just want my generation to be the ones to draw the line.

    Check back for the same post in 15 or 20 years, where i'll be playing the part of Jennifer

  • It be fo' the chillen||

    Jesus, Crist!

  • ||

    Right on, Jim Hurt! I am also an alien, maybe 1 1/2 times over, 38 and a Democrat, and understand the system to be retirement insurance as well. And one of the few things the government hasn't screwed up over the last seventy years. Poverty of the aged lower than ever, and the system only wastes 1-2% on administration costs...Find me any retirement insurance run en masse that works as well. The system MAY, repeat, may need a tweak, and we should do so now rather than wait, but this plan of the Bushies is madness, whatever you want to call it. He wants to add 1 trillion in transition costs to the 3 trillion his unfunded perscription drug plan costs over the next 30 years. Hate to get Biblical, but Social Security seems like the mote in your neighbors privitized eye!"

  • ||

    I'm not suprised to see W43 take on the social security issue. He doesn't want it to rear it's ugly head in 15 or 20 years and prevent the next Bush family president from racking up a more hudreds of billions of dollars in debt on some war in Iraq (or Sudan or Sierra Leone or Madagascar or ...).

  • ||

    Poverty of the aged lower than ever, and the system only wastes 1-2% on administration costs... -Big Daddy

    I suppose you have evidence to support your claim that the reduction in poverty by that demographic group (senior citizens) over the period in question (after the establishment of the Social Security system) is directly related the creation of that agency.

    Can you honestly say that the economic situation of senior citizens would not be the same or perhaps improved if the vast amounts of money collected by the government over several decades was instead used by individuals to create wealth by personal savings and investment?

    How many small businesses could have been created with such wealth? How many investments into new and creative products and services could have been made with all of that money? How many homes could have been purchased? How many personal savings or retirement accounts could have been opened?

  • raymond||

    How many small businesses could have been created with such wealth? How many investments...?

    How many of all those things would have been created?

    Talk about how everyone will save wisely and assure themselves a reasonably comfortable old age - and thus not be a burden (either financial or of shame) on society - is a bit like communist propaganda. It sounds really nice - ideal, even - but human nature doesn't work like that. Especially young human nature.

    I'd estimate that the vast VAST VAST majority of human beings don't start putting money aside for old age until about 40 years of age at the earliest.

    I enjoyed reading the diatribe about how all the genXers and babyboomers are going to gorge on the future of mtc and company. He might consider this, though: The money goes in, the money comes out, the old folks buy stuff, which provides jobs for the younger folks, who get to live long enough to start really providing for their own retirement, and so it goes.

    imo, Social Security might better be thought of as insurance for society, for Social Security allows society to continue functioning more efficiently and more humanely. And it helps everybody get richer. Like capitalism.

    Though I am a fierce individualist, I have to recognise that we are social animals. And while I'm sure that mtc and company have made arrangements to repay their genX/boomer parents for the diapers and college tuition as well as worked out plans to house and care for them (for a price) when the time comes, I'm glad my parents have a nice life. And, especially, that they're not having this nice life in _my_ back yard!

    Does Social Security need fixing? No doubt. No doubt the entire government debt problem needs fixing. Can SS be fixed in a vacuum? I doubt it. Can it be fixed by an administration which has created this ridiculous deficit? Nope.

    And finally, who will really come out ahead thanks to the administration's plans? Common, ordinary, debt-loving Americans? Nope. Stock-market-bubble blowers.

  • ||

    Talk about how everyone will save wisely and assure themselves a reasonably comfortable old age - and thus not be a burden (either financial or of shame) on society - is a bit like communist propaganda. It sounds really nice - ideal, even - but human nature doesn't work like that. Especially young human nature [...] I'd estimate that the vast VAST VAST majority of human beings don't start putting money aside for old age until about 40 years of age at the earliest. -raymond

    You make an interesting claim that virtues such as thrift and long-term planning are often contrary to human nature. In addition you claim that the government should be used as a tool to protect individuals from their own failings in these areas. But what is the government but a collection of individuals? And since the government is merely made up of individual humans (with all of their inherent faults) isn't the government prone to have all of the same failings as individuals? It's not as though the government is run by Vulcans or androids. Don't governments often lack the virtues of thrift and wise planning?

    Social Security might better be thought of as insurance for society, for Social Security allows society to continue functioning more efficiently and more humanely. And it helps everybody get richer. Like capitalism [...] Though I am a fierce individualist, I have to recognise that we are social animals. -raymond

    "Government" is not the same thing as "society". These are two distinct entities. Expanding one will not automatically strengthen the other. In fact it is far more likely for the reverse to happen. If you wish to strengthen society then you're probably using the wrong tool for the job if think that expanding government is the answer. Also, you can't make people richer by taxation and distribution of services or benefits through government programs. A government cannot give you something that it has not already taken from you or someone else. Government must raise money with taxes, deficit spending or inflationary spending. The longterm consequences of these policies (hyper-inflation, unemployment, etc.) are very dangerous to both rich and poor and will hardly lead to a more humane and civil society that you envision.

  • raymond||

    But what is the government but a collection of individuals? And since the government is merely made up of individual humans (with all of their inherent faults) isn't the government prone to have all of the same failings as individuals?...

    Of course I agree with what you've said here. And I understand that what you say applies to any government action. That's why states have to have constitutions. (And I believe that the Bush administration regularly violates the Constitution and has only disdain for it. qv, Bush's support for the marriage amendment. The "war" in Iraq.)

    This is not to say that I think government (state or federal) cannot be an efficient, cost-effective way of providing "social" security or that "social" security is not a valid activity of a government.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, 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.


    For 66 years, the people of the US have agreed to put their social security into a common pot, better to protect themselves from want.


    The natural rights which are not retained, are all those in which, though the right is perfect in the individual, the power to execute them is defective. They answer not his purpose... He therefore deposits his right in the common stock of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is a part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him nothing. Every man is proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right. (Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man)



    If you wish to strengthen society then you're probably using the wrong tool for the job if think that expanding government is the answer.

    Again, I couldn't agree with you more. (Though your accusation that "I" want to expand government is sort of annoying. On the contrary, I wrote " No doubt the entire government debt problem needs fixing. ")

    Government must raise money with taxes... (etc)

    I think one needs to consider first if a government has a valid power/responsibility to oblige people to buy "old-age insurance".

    Can the state oblige people who drive to have (civil liability) automobile insurance?

    Generally, we accept that it can. The reasoning behind our acceptance is that a driver has to be in a position to be able to "honour" his financial responsibility to the guy he hits. Both the accident-causer and his "victim" are protected from financial ruin by auto insurance.

    Is it "fair" that I - who have never had an accident - be obliged to pay such high premiums for something I never "use"? Yes, since I am protected from certain risks, and the society of which I am a member is protected from the burden financially ruined people would be on it.

    Where I live, SS is called AVS ( assurance-vieillesse et survivants). This is probably a better name for the programme, since it's very clear that we're talking about "insurance" here. And what risk is being insured against? The risk that I'll live long enough to be a potential burden on society. I can live with that. (We have "3 pillars": AVS, obligatory company retirement fund, and voluntary "3rd pillar", with tax deferments for all three.)

    Perhaps such (social security) insurance should be private-but-obligatory, like car insurance. Perhaps the competition of the marketplace should be allowed to determine the "winners". The problem with that approach, though, would be that any losers would leave millions of people in misery. (One need only look at the UK and the pension-funds scandals. Or WorldCom and Enron.)

    The most effective (imo) solution would be to set up SS (and AVS) as a semi-private insurance company, with strict separation between the funds it collects and government spending.

    As I said above, I think the whole government-and-money situation has to be fixed. I think the Founders would be shocked, dismayed, and ashamed to see what the US has become.

  • ||

    Jennifer-
    Well, of course you didn't want to, but you didn't stand up, and you paid, and now I assume you're going to want something out in the end? I just want my generation to be the ones to draw the line.


    Jesus Christ. Unless you are currently serving jailtime for nonpayment of taxes, that statement makes you either a sanctimonious hypocrite or a kid with NO clue of how this country operates. This April, as an experiment, try mailing the IRS a note saying "Screw you, taxman, I'm not paying into this corrupt system" and see how pleasant your future becomes. I didn't PAY into the system--the money was confiscated from my paychecks before I ever saw them.

    Besides, a couple of days ago I posted my own SS story--I spent three years as a teacher in a state with its own teacher's pension plan. Because of the time I spent paying into that plan, I have, in the eyes of the SS, apparently negated all the years I spent donating to SS BEFORE that. So although I got my first job in 1986 and paid SS taxes for the majority of the time since then, as far as the SS calculators are concerned I've only been paying into the system since January 2004.

    I've known for most of my adult life that a woman my age won't likely ever get a dime out of SS; I just wish they'd let me keep the money they're confiscating from me now. I'd also like for them to give me back what they already took from me. I wouldn't even ask for interest, or adjustments for inflation, but if I could have back the FICA taxes I've already paid, and be exempt from paying new ones, I could meet my next major financial goal NOW, rather than wait and sacrifice for another couple of years.

  • ||

    Heh. You people crack me up. " Oh what wonders would happen if we all had our own money! The streets would flow with milk and honey!" Have any of you taken a look at history? See, we created Social Security because the streets did NOT flow with milk and honey. Instead, many old people lived in abject poverty. We tried it the way you wanted. Your way works well for quite lot of people. Just ignore the old people living in unheated tarpaper shacks. They didn't make good choices, so screw them, eh?

  • ||

    Yes, exactly. Screw them, and screw you too. Tarpaper is one heckuva lot better than what they got in Bangladesh. And why again are dumbass American baby boomers entitled to more goodies than Bangladeshi baby boomers, if such exist?

  • ||

    Since 2002 Josh Marshall has been covering how the Republicans have been running away from a term that *they*, not the Democrats nor the "librul media" invented:

    "Examples? My god, where to start? Grover Norquist, American Spectator, June 1998: "With $14 billion of the surplus, Congress could give every working American $100 in his own IRA. Americans will then be able to compare their return on their IRA with their negative rate of return on Social Security and this will highlight the case for partial privatization." In June 1999, again in the Spectator, Norquist lauded Steve Forbes' plan for "privatization of Social Security" and said Forbes had "convinced many Republicans that the flat tax and privatization were fit for polite company." Or conservative Washington Times columnist Donald Lambro, April 27th, 1998: "Mr. Moynihan's plan [essentially the plan noted above] would move toward partial privatization." Or Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard, April 6th, 1998, again referring to the plan noted above: "[T]he White House may be ready to accept partial privatization as the price of a reform deal..." Bill Kristol, George Will, Larry Kudlow (just the ones I looked up) and probably every other conservative under the sun has long described the move to private accounts as privatization.

    "So friends and foes of the policy have always called it 'privatization' or 'partial privatization.' Now the term (and the policy, for that matter) is a political loser. So Republican operatives are cooking up lies to get themselves off the hook. Everyone has to change the name. And if they don't, they're biased against conservatives."

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2002_09_01.php

    Of course now you're not only not supposed to say "privatization", you're not even supposed to call them "private accounts"--they're *personal* accounts!

    And this from prople who whine about the "language police"...

  • Phil||

    The money goes in, the money comes out, the old folks buy stuff, which provides jobs for the younger folks, who get to live long enough to start really providing for their own retirement, and so it goes.

    Sure, as long as those younger folks live in China, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Taiwan . . . shit, you don't think we actually make stuff anymore, do you?

  • ||

    Mike, I'm not claiming that the lack of SS would make our country a paradise; I'm just saying that I, personally, would likely be better off without it. Especially since my work history has left me with second-class status so far as SS is concerned; a decade's worth of contributions wiped out, and *my* retirement age bumped up to 67.

    The Social Security system reminds me of the mother of this girl named Vicki, whom I knew growing up. Whenever Vicki received cash gifts for birthdays or Christmas, her Mom took the money and put it into a college account for her. As a child and teenager allowed to have great fun spending my gift money each year, I felt quite sorry for Vicki.

    When Vicki was 18 and ready for college the amount of money in the account was about $1500, which at the time paid for about one semester's worth of tuition and books. Vicki still had to work her ass off and acquire a good chunk of debt in order to go to college, and her mom's depriving her of pleasant things for eighteen years made hardly any impact on that.

  • ||

    Chris, I never said that American old people were "entitled" to anything. I just enjoy living in a country where we help others. A majority of Americans agree with this, even if we cannot agree on how best to do it.

  • ||

    Jennifer, I can see how many people might be better off without Social Security. I would be better off right now without car insurance, since I have never caused an accident. But yet, if the guy who hit my wife had not had insurance, we would have been in trouble. What kind of country would we have if everyone only voted for programs that improved their life without thinking about how it affected society?

    (And how was the Vicky story was related to SS?)

  • ||

    Mike-
    Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly. I am not one of those hard-core libs who opposes all forms of social welfare. I'd rather pay a little extra tax than live in a world where I have to step over starving people in the street whenever I go out.

    My complaint is with SS in its current form. The older generation expects to keep its benefits in their entirety, regardless of whether or not they need the money. So money is taken out of MY pocket and handed over not just to the old guy who needs a little help to buy food, but also to some oldster who uses it instead to buy another Good Sam Club sticker for his Winnebago. Meanwhile, people my age and younger are almost certain to not get back all that money we put in. Hell, I'll be surprised if we get anything.

    So the government is lying to me; they claim that they're taking out a huge chunk of my salary FOR MY OWN GOOD, but in reality that money, by the time I ever see any of it, won't make a goddam bit of difference to me. It WOULD help if I could keep and invest that money now; instead, the government is making it MORE difficult for me to ensure a comfortable old age for myself.

    I also oppose the way FICA is the most regressive of all taxes; in order to support the current Older Generation, the poor workers must pay a huge percentage of their earnings while the rich pay just a tiny percent. Which in turn helps the poor workers STAY poor.

    Had I been allowed to keep my FICA contributions from 1986 through 2000 and invest that money, or even blow it all on useless luxuries at the mall, I STILL would be better off than I am now, because I wouldn't have officially lost all my contributions when I started a three-year teaching gig in a state with its own pension plan.

  • ||

    See, we created Social Security because the streets did NOT flow with milk and honey. Instead, many old people lived in abject poverty. We tried it the way you wanted. Your way works well for quite lot of people. Just ignore the old people living in unheated tarpaper shacks. They didn't make good choices, so screw them, eh? -Mike

    I never stated that the streets would flow with milk and honey if we had never created Social Security. I only asked if anyone could honestly say that they knew how the economy would have been if that program were never created and individuals were allowed to keep, save or invest those funds on their own. It would certainly be dishonest of me to state that I knew exectly what such an outcome might have been (such as "the street flowing with milk and honey") but it is equally as dishonest for you to make a statement in a similar manner (such as "old people living in unheated tarpaper shacks").

    I just enjoy living in a country where we help others. A majority of Americans agree with this, even if we cannot agree on how best to do it. -Mike

    Why must "helping others" always take the form of taxation and redistribution? Can't you imagine some sort of retirement system in which people were not forced or coerced to into making contributions?

    Allowing individuals to decide how their money should be saved, spent or invested doesn't seem like such an unreasonable thing to me. But based on some of the responses here you'd think that we were advocating the drowning of kittens for sport.

    I also don't buy into the concept that individuals are often too greedy, stupid or short-sighted to make such decisions and therefore governent should intervene (as I stated above to Raymond). If one person has such failings then what is the special property which magically imbues groups of individuals (such as states, governments and democracies) with such compassion, wisdom and far-sightedness when that same imperfect individual is grouped with other equally imperfect individuals? Do politicians have some sort of qualities which other individuals lack?

  • Mithras||

    Meanwhile, people my age and younger are almost certain to not get back all that money we put in. Hell, I'll be surprised if we get anything.

    Dick Cheney loves you. It's your absolute ignorance of what the economic reality of the situation is that allows privatization schemes to get traction.

  • ||

    It's your absolute ignorance of what the economic reality of the situation is that allows privatization schemes to get traction.

    When you finish tossing ignorant stones in your glass house, kindly explain the reality of the situation.

  • ||

    Because of the time I spent paying into that plan, I have, in the eyes of the SS, apparently negated all the years I spent donating to SS BEFORE that.

    Not quite right. I'm as ready as anyone to slam SS but not at the expense of truth. Your forty quarters of "contributions" do not have to be consecutive to count towards a SS benefit. I think you'll find your SS "account" statement after you have put in forty quarters, including the ones before your teaching gig will show you're entitled to a benefit. You're right about the 67 retirement age tho, but that affects me and all the other boomers as well.

    Of course joe and his friends are absolutely right. We will be able to maintain SS indefinitely with Swedish levels of taxation. However even Swedes are unhappy with Swedish levels of taxation.

  • ||

    Isaac-
    According to my documents, I've already worked and paid the minimum amount of time (ten years); problem is, I worked it out in little bits and pieces, instead of one big consecutive chunk, so I get nothing.

    However, here's the weird part: if I get disabled or have to retire tomorrow (according to that benefit form I received), I receive not a dime; I'd have to either apply for flat-out welfare, or starve. But if I had a kid, the kid, based upon my past earnings, would get a little over two hundred a month until reaching age eighteen.

    I dunno--maybe those ten years' worth of patchwork contributions will be re-activated after I spend enough time back in the SS fold. But since I've already accepted the fact that I won't receive anything from them, I haven't bothered to follow it too closely.

  • ||

    It's possible that you have not worked enough complete quarters. If there are periods where you did not work three consecutive months that might get lost. I don't know, I had not thought of that possibility.

    Of course the all wise founders of this system did not consider your case. There is a reason for that, and that is that SS is a tax plan not a pension plan.

  • ||

    Isaac-
    I don't remember the exact terminology the SS guys used, but the gist of it, as I remember from the form and the phone calls I made in regards to it, is this: though I've worked and paid SS for more than ten years, for the past ten chronological years of my working-age life, I spent the majority of those years outside the SS fold. I think that's what screwed me up; I don't know if it would have been the same if my three years of teaching were my only non-SS years.

    Next time I get a benefits form, I will save it in anticipation of the inevitable SS-sucks thread on Hit and Run, and if you're there I'll give you all the details.

  • ||

    "I am not one of those hard-core libs who opposes all forms of social welfare."

    Had to look at the URL before that sentence parsed.

  • ||

    When you finish tossing ignorant stones in your glass house, kindly explain the reality of the situation.

    The "reality of the situation" is called the 14th amendment. You might want to read up on it before so proudly advertising your ignorance.

  • ||

    The "reality of the situation" is called the 14th amendment. You might want to read up on it before so proudly advertising your ignorance.

    Keep it coming Bubba. I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. How does the 14th enter the field of play?

  • ||


    Yes, exactly. Screw them, and screw you too. Tarpaper is one heckuva lot better than what they got in Bangladesh. And why again are dumbass American baby boomers entitled to more goodies than Bangladeshi baby boomers, if such exist?


    ???
    OK so the standard of comparision is that as long as Americans are living just a little better than people who live in the poorest country on the planet we're doing great?
    So why should your company give you sick-time or medical insurance or pay you over $200 a year? I mean people in Bangladesh don't have any of these things!
    Why should the government build sewage treatment plants or ban companies from dumping poisonous chemicals in our drinking water? The people of Bangladesh have nothing like this!
    Why should the government impose safety regulations on companies to prevent accidents that can kill, maim or blind thousands of citizens? The people of Bhopal India had none of those fripperies!! (if you don't know about the leak of poison gas in Bhopal, Union Carbide built a plant there so they wouldn't have to put up with the ridiculous safety codes in the US. There was a leak, thousands died, thousands more were blinded or crippled because their respiratory system was severely damaged by the chemicals. The US has steadfastly refused to extradite any company officials to India for trial and for many years refused to recognize the victims rights to sue Union Carbide)
    Much of America has lost the idea of the "common good" Citizens pay taxes so the government can pay for things like mass transit, education, senior retirement childhood nutrition programs, etc. because overall it is good for society. It might not benefit you directly, but it makes America stronger and better which indirectly benefits you. And unfortunately it seems alot of the people who are for cutting government waste are not talking about any program they themselves use.
    Some examples:
    Several years ago The Economist one of the leading freemarket supporting publications in the world wrote an extensive article about ranchers out west who will rant about welfare queens and boast about their individualism but will fight tooth-and-nail against the government attempts to charge them fair market value for the grazing lands they rent or the water they get from federally funded irrigation programs.
    Personally, I have some friends who firmly believe that since they do not have children and never plan to have any, they should not have to pay school taxes. They really haven't understood that school taxes educate the children who will grow up and eventually be filling you prescriptions in the pharmacy (1gm of digitalis is about
    4 spoonfuls, right?) or reading the directions as he installs your new furnace (boom). Apparently, only people with children should pay to educate the people they will need to keep them alive in the future.

    okay,,,breathe..breathe..rant over

    Sorry about the detour.
    Believe it or not, governments are here to do more than deliver the mail and fight wars. They are here to protect us from situations we can't (Bhopal) or thing we didn't anticipate (putting my private..er..personal account in the next Enron or WorldCom) and from our own short-sightedness (Why should I pay for schools?)

    A lot of these are things that people no matter how smart or how savvy do not have the resources to survive or, in the case or Bhopal or Love Canal, the power to prevent on their own.

    If you want to argue that you "want to draw the line" or not help pay for such government programs, my question is... Why should I pay taxes to support public hospitals for you to use because your company no longer provides health benefits while mine does? Why should my taxes pay to build dams in your region of the country to provide electricity or preserve water in time of drought? I mean you're smarter than the government, you know you can just move if you care about these things. . What right will you have to complain?Why should I pay taxes to the government to administrate and enforce safety regulations at the nuclear power plant or chemical factory or sewage palt down the road from you?

    Finally, Why should the government help you just because your retirement account was in a company that lied to investors and went belly up or you bank fails and you lose your life savings? I mean tarpaper shacks, old newspapers for blankets and on-sale canned dogfood for dinner are better than the people of Bangladesh have. Why, because we are a better scoiety and country for it. Why, because it's often not something you could control. Why? Because directly and indirectly you get a lot of aid and support from the government. Quirt your bitching about the price you pay to keep America what it is or take your tarpaper, move to Bangladesh and let the people marvel at how well off you are.

  • ||

    I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed.

    Understatement. There's this thing called g-o-o-g-l-e. Try it some time.

  • ||

    Mike, I'm not claiming that the lack of SS would make our country a paradise; I'm just saying that I, personally, would likely be better off without it.

    You guys are impossible to parody. Always one step ahead.

  • ||

    Can you spell google a little slower next time? Thanks.

  • ||

    Actually, it wouldn't require "Swedish levels of taxation" to cover all future Social Security benefits. Resetting the tax code to where it was during the longest peacetime economic expansion in American history (the Clinton presidency) would do the trick, even using the pessimistic assumptions the admin. uses when projecting the shortfall.

    Of course, using the optimistic assumptions of economic growth they use when projecting future stock market returns when analyzing the personal accounts, there won't ever be a shortfall.

  • ||

    Jennifer

    Please accept my apologies. Apparently there is another reason to hate SS that I was not aware of.

  • ||

    Joe,

    Regarding rates of taxation and rates of economic growth: Governments are notoriously inept at estimating the negative impact of increased tax rates upon human behavior (and therefore the economy as a whole). This causes a sort of feedback loop in which taxes must be constantly raised in order to maintain the required amounts of revenue because the higher rates of taxation will cause a "drag" upon the economy (since the total amount of revenue available to be taxed will constantly be shrinking or at least not growing as fast as expected).

    Modestly raising the rate of taxation upon a small portion of taxpayers (like people who make at least $300,000 per year) is not a big deal. But I'd suspect that there would be a need in the future to further raise the rate upon that group. And I would additionally expect that there would be a need to eventually raise taxes on a much larger percentage of taxpayers.

    It might start out modest enough but I'm fairly confident that in a couple of decades we would have "Swedish levels of taxation" if we simply choose to tax our way out of the Social Security issue.

  • ||

    Super Parole,

    I think you should call your party National Independent Party to Liberate Employees. Then you could say, "Tired of sucking at the government teat? Come to NIPLE."

    Jennifer,

    Bank robbers would be better off with out laws making bank robbing a crime as well. You may think that is a dumb analogy but my point is that laws are made to benefit (supposedly) society as a whole. Every law that has ever been passed, someone would be better off without (or at least think they would).

  • ||

    Bottom line to younger kids: Do you want your parents living with you in their old age?

    Do you want to borrow a ton of money from people who don't like you, so you can have the privilage of getting your benefits cut in order to invest some of your retirement savings in the stock market?

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