Social Security

Nice Try Libs, But Social Security is no 401-k

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In the interminable debate over whether Social Security is a Ponzi scheme or not (thanks a lot, Rick Perry!), defenders of the program are floating a rather novel argument. One similarity between the two is that neither invests its proceeds in return-producing assets. They are both pay-as-you-go schemes where the contributions of new participants are used to pay previous participants as I argued here.

But The Economist and the liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias insist that that's not the right way to look at it. Social Security, they maintain, rises and falls with the economy, and hence is like a 401-k. Listen to The Economist:

If you wanted to call Social Security an investment, you would say it is a play on the proposition that America's GDP will continue to grow over the long term. This is the safest play one can imagine making, which is why the returns are so modest. Like any investment, it could go bad. But if it goes bad, if the economy of the United States ceases to grow over the long term, it is inconceivable that any other investment large enough to feed a pension plan covering the entire working population could do better.

Yglesias puts the point even more bluntly:

Consider something that nobody says is a Ponzi scheme — your 401(k). What happens here is that you work while you're working age. You earn money. You take some of that money to buy shares in firms. Your expectation is that at a future date when you're not working anymore, you'll be able to exchange those shares for money. More money than you paid for them in the first place. Why would that work? Well, it could work because you were just stupendously lucky. But the reason we anticipate that it will work systematically is that we anticipate that there will be economic growth. In the future, people will in general have more money, so assets will be more valuable. Save today, sell tomorrow.

Social Security is not a prefunded pension plan or a savings scheme. But its actuarial situation is just the same as a stock market investment in this regard. If future economic growth is lower than anticipated, it will be impossible to pay the anticipated level of benefits. On the other hand, if future economic growth is faster than anticipated, it would be possible to pay even more benefits than had been promised.

But if Social Security is like a 401-k, then Thomas Friedman is like Albert Einstein.

Yglesias and The Economist are half right that the fate of Social Security, like a 401-k, is tied to the economy. Both offer better returns when the economy is booming: 401-ks because the value of their assets goes up and Social Security because the tax receipts of the government go up. That's one reason why many supply siders believe that the road out of the impending Social Security crunch is growing the economy, not raising economy-busting taxes.

But to say, as Yglesias does, that Social Security's "actuarial situation is just the same as a stock market investment" is an overstatement that ignores the other half of the story which is this: While 401-ks are fully tied to the economy, Social Security is partially tied to the economy and partially to demography.

Indeed, over the years, Social Security returns have tracked less closely with the economy and more closely with worker-to-retiree ratios. Just as in a Ponzi scheme, initial investors received returns far and above their contributions or any actuarially sound principles. The very first Social Security recipient, Ida Mae Fuller of Vermont, paid just $44 in Social Security taxes, but collected $20,993 in benefits. Part of this was no doubt due to a windfall effect in that the system started paying out benefits to people before they had a chance to fully pay in. But part of it was that the worker-to-retiree ratio then was very high. This ratio, however, has been going south ever since, falling from 16-1 in 1950 to 3-1 today and 2-1 in 2030.

The economy cannot possibly grow fast enough to compensate for this plummeting ratio, which is why the natural tendency of Social Security returns is to go down. The question is only how much. They'll go down less rapidly when the economy is doing well and more rapidly when it isn't. And that's by and large what's been happening—especially in contrast to 401-k plans that are fully tied to the economy. (This declining ratio is the main reason why Social Security returns are now low; not because it is a "safe investment" as The Economist notes.)

Indeed, a 2005 study conducted by Thomas Garrett and Russell Rhine for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, found that private plans invested in the S&P 500 offered better monthly returns (based on a 56-year average rate of return) than Social Security to retirees of every income level. They note (and please check out Figures 5, 6, 7 and 8 that they allude to):

For those people retiring at age 62, none would benefit more from the current Social Security system relative to private investments in the S&P 500 (Figure 5). A person retiring at age 65 will only benefit more from Social Security relative to a private investment in the S&P 500 if he is a low earner and lives to be at least 96 years old (Figure 6). Finally, for those retiring at age 70, the only individuals that benefit more from Social Security are low earners who live to be at least 94 years old and average earners who live to be at least 108 years old, assuming an investment in the S&P 500 (Figure 7).

The bottom-line is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme because its returns are linked to the number of participants. But in and of it self that is neither good nor bad. Ponzi schemes can work if they have an endless and growing supply of new investors/workers able to pay sufficient amounts into the system to support the earlier ones. That, however, is not the case with Social Security—which is why it is a bad deal compared to private alternatives—and it will only get worse for many years to come. Much worse.

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  1. I still don’t understand why Ponzi scheme’s are illegal and SS isn’t. (other than the government involvment and lack of fraud- but is there really a lack of fraud?)

    1. Silly billy, nothing the government does is illegal because the government is the law. Tony told me so.

      1. Re: A Serious Man,

        the government is the law. Tony told me so.

        And besides, government and society are the same thing – Tony told us so, too.

        1. You should also believe in God.

          1. Tony: Shut the Fuck Up!

            1. You should also believe in Godvernment.

              FIFY’d. No charge.

              1. still my guitar slowly weeps…

                1. Gently weeps, Gibby.

    2. Ponzi schemes are, by definition, fraudulent, since the investors are told the money is being invested when it’s really just being pocketed by the schemer.

      Any concerned citizen who wants to find out how the Social Security system works can get tens of thousands of links to such explanations with a simple google search.

      1. Knowing how the scheme works is of little value if you are required by law to buy into it.

        1. So is commenting on it.

          1. Catharsis is of great value.

            1. Catharsis, i.e. ineffectual, repetitive bitching.

        2. Yes, but that’s a separate issue.

      2. Social Security works great. It was the pride of FDR, that brilliant economist of the 30’s.
        Runs like a gazelle, smart like a streetcar.

    3. Here in SC the congress outlawed all gaming before instituting it’s own gaming system (lottery). Kind of like Krispy Kreme would outlaw all other donut makers if it could.

      It’s good to be king.

  2. I remember when the Economist had articles that weren’t economically naive or simply spurious.

    *sigh*

    1. It’s Matt Steinglass, who we all pray never gets the position of Lexington.

      1. I’ve noticed a distinct downturn ever since Micklethwait took over.

        It has become known as the ‘Great Recession’, the year in which the global economy suffered its deepest slump since the second world war. But an equally apt name would be the ‘Great Stabilisation’. For 2009 was extraordinary not just for how output fell, but for how a catastrophe was averted. [The Economist December 19th 2009]

        How’s that averted catastrophe working out, eh, boneheads?

        1. now who has the monocle? “Great Stabilisation” my left foot. that’s like calling the Hindenburg a “slight miscalculation” in Zeppelin aeronautics…

    2. Yup, it used to be one of the best magazines in the world. Now it’s just trailer trash.

    3. The Economist is a lib rag.

  3. The only substantive difference between people running ponzi schemes and social security is that people running ponzi schemes cannot print new money to make the necessary payouts. The government, however, can print money to make the necessary payouts. So there will be inflation, but not the inevitable collapse of a private ponzi-scheme. I bet $44 now will be worth more than $20,993 in 10 years.

    1. I’ll take that bet

  4. Fact 4: Social Security is involuntary.
    Fact 5: A 401(k)is voluntary.

    There. That was easy.

    1. Fact 6: You can’t bequeath SS benefits to heirs.

      1. And that’s no accident.

        Spending a split second considering why SS isn’t heritable will reveal exactly how SS is a demographic gimmick.

    2. Fact 6: You can bequeath a 401(k) to your heirs.

      Fact 7: You’re benefits are not just “linked” to your contributions through an arbitrary formula, they are a direct outcome of the actual value of investments.

      Fact 8: 401(k) plans ACTUALLY ARE individually owned accounts.

      1. Fact 8: 401(k) plans ACTUALLY ARE individually owned account

        Why is it then I can’t withdraw it when I want without forfeiting a big chunk to the . . . .feds?

        1. You can under certain circumstances, with the least well known option under rule 72t of the IRS code called Substantial Equal Periodic Payments.

      2. “Fact 7: You’re benefits are not just “linked” to your contributions through an arbitrary formula, they are a direct outcome of the actual value of investments.”

        By the way, SS benefits are *NOT* linked to your contributions. They are linked to your qualified earning which is a subtle but very important difference.

        1. Good point. Thank you for the correction.

        2. Actually, given the Obama administration’s love of ‘cutting the social security tax to create jobs’, it’s not such a subtle difference. It’s like opening a Christmas club account at a bank that is supposed to pay out $500 in December, but only putting in a little over half – SOMEBODY’S gotta make up the difference.

    3. Fact 9: 401k plans aren’t backed up by the taxation power of the US Government. You can lose your 401k.

      1. Fact 10: The taxation power of the U.S. gov’t destroys the value of that pristine, unspoiled SS fund buried in the wastelands of Utah.

        1. mustard sez:

          Fear not comrade, we can always confiscate the wealth of the wreckers and kulaks.

          You fucking twat I’d rather live on the streets then steal someone else’s property to survive.

          1. Calling mustard a “fucking twat” is too good for him.

          2. You’re a really upstanding and wholesome guy. But you don’t have the right to take options off the table for everyone else.

            1. Since when is “stealing other people’s shit” an acceptable lifestyle?

              Well, as long as someone else does does the actual theft you can feel good about yourself.

              But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: ‘Your money, or your life.’ And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a ‘protector,’ and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to ‘protect’ those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful ‘sovereign,’ on account of the ‘protection’ he affords you. He does not keep ‘protecting’ you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

              1. Since when is “stealing other people’s shit” an acceptable lifestyle?

                Worked for us.

              2. As salient as your “highwayman” story is, this is third I have seen you repeat it. Please stop. And if you are going to insist on repeating it, a) shorten it and b) no more walls of text.

            2. Um, forcing people to pay 12.4% of their income into a fund they have no personal control over, IS “taking options off the table” for people, you moron. The money you are forced to pay into social security is money you cannot save, spend, or invest in other things.

              1. exactly – I would like to have my 12.4% back… to spend as I see fit. Invest? Spend on nitrous… whatever!

                1. Then maybe you should remember that you are in a democracy and get yourself other people to vote for politicians that will allow you to keep your 12.4%.

                2. Then maybe you should remember that you are in a democracy and get yourself other people to vote for politicians that will allow you to keep your 12.4%.

                  1. Liberals honestly believe they can vote other people’s money into their pockets, and this is a moral action.

                    In other news 9 of 10 people enjoy a gang rape.

                  2. Fuck democracy.

                  3. Actually we’re in a republic. But yeah, fuck democracy.

            3. But you don’t have the right to take options off the table for everyone else.

              How is taxing away 15% of my income not taking options off the table for me?

      2. Fact 9: 401k plans aren’t backed up by the taxation power of the US Government. You can lose your 401k.”

        Yeah, dipshit, if you’re invested in, oh, something like Solyndra.

      3. Fact 10: You actually have some control over what you choose to invest your 401(k) plan in. You have no control over the number of dollars the fed chooses to print or the formula social security uses to define your benefits.

        1. Are you a felon? Under 18?

          1. LOL, right because getting to vote once between Coke and Pepsi every 4 years means I have “control”.

            Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining.

            1. Most 401/k plans are choice between Coke and Pepsi too. You don’t get to choose individual investments.

              Things don’t work in the real world like they do in your philosophical utopia.

              1. The two 401(k) plans I am invested in I can choose from around 15 options. So it’s a little more than Coke vs. Pepsi, and more importantly, I can decide WHEN to switch between riskier and safer options. I can buy low and sell high.

                Secondly the chances of Social Security ever being invested in anything other than Tresury bonds (meaning the chances of Congress not raiding the fund to pay for present expenses) is virtually nil.

                Especially since SS is no longer running a surplus anyway, and the bond’s aren’t transferrable (Congress made sure of that), so the trust fund can’t actually sell them and buy something else anyway. Not that Congress could come up with the money to pay back the fund even if they wanted to.

                1. 15 options?

                  Hell, I can choose from over 30 different funds, many of them foreign. In fact, half of my retirement fund is invested in foreign stocks.

              2. My retirement plans allow me to invest in any damn thing I want.

            2. You mean “vote once between Shit Sandwich and Giant Douche every 4 years”, Hazel.

            3. Doesn’t everybody here vote for RC Cola anyway?

              1. Nah. Moxie!

      4. Fact 9a: The supreme court ruled that the government doesn’t have to give you one red cent in benefits, but can continue collecting the tax on any earned income you make in retirement.

  5. Social Security is structured from the point of view of the recipients as if it were an ordinary retirement plan: what you get out depends on what you put in. So it does not look like a redistributionist scheme. In practice it has turned out to be strongly redistributionist, but only because of its Ponzi game aspect, in which each generation takes more out than it put in. Well, the Ponzi game will soon be over, thanks to changing demographics, so that the typical recipient henceforth will get only about as much as he or she put in (and today’s young may well get less than they put in).

    – Paul Krugman 1997

    http://www.bostonreview.net/BR21.6/krugmann.html

    1. Wow Krugman almost sounds reasonable and rational there. What happened to that guy? He now sounds like a retarded shill for the extreme left-wing.

      1. He sold out, man.

        1. He found saying incredibly stupid stuff that confirms the biases of ignorant people pays well.

      2. His wife wasn’t writing his columns back then.

      3. “sounds like”?

        Too late for that… he IS.

      4. Krugman won his Nobel Prize for work he did on comparative advantage. He was a “decent” economist at one time. BGut we all know how the Left feels about companies that “ship jobs overseas”.

  6. Consider something that nobody says is a Ponzi scheme ? your 401(k).

    That’s because your 401K is part of a pyramid scheme, not a Ponzi scheme.

  7. The counter-argument to those who deny that SS is a Ponzi scheme is to ask, “Then what happens to the system if workers opt out?” Investments don’t fail when people stop investing. Insurance systems can, but insurance generally doesn’t pay out to all subscribers (not without collecting a lot more than they pay, anyway).

    1. What happens to your 401k if people stop buying stocks?

      1. Nothing happens. It maintains it’s value.

        That’s because equities are real capital. They only fall when people sell AND nobody else buys, meaning the real value of the capital has fallen.

        Social security, OTOH, has no real value. There is no real asset backing it up. That’s why it’s a Ponzi Scheme.

        1. Scratch that. The real “asset” behind social security is the US military, police, and prison system.

          So it’s more like racketeering. I guess Rick Perry was just being kind by calling it Ponzi scheme.

        2. If Jimmy and I are selling apples, and at the end of the day each of us has one apple and the last customer walks up looking to buy one apple and buys it from Jimmy for $0.25, does that mean my last apple is now worth $0.25?

          Of course not. It’s worth nothing, because no one wants to buy it. Value is the price that the NEXT buyer is willing to pay. If there are no buyers left, it has no value.

          1. WRONG. You can still eat the apple yourself.

            1. What if I’m not hungry because I ate 6 hot dogs for lunch?

              1. I would make apple jelly out of it, but that involves too many externalities.

                1. You can make a bong out of an apple.

                  1. But, can you make an apple out of a bong? That’s, like, whoa.

                    1. Depends, Tulpa… did you get a permit to sell the apples?

          2. If it’s the last customer at the end of the day can’t you just keep the apple and sell it for 25 cents to a customer tomorrow? Apples don’t go bad overnight.

      2. You would still get dividends from the stocks you own.

        The value of the stock doesn’t collapse unless the company collapses and you are unable to sell your investment and buy something else.

        Let’s all remember that the ORIGINAL point of buying a stock was to get a srahe of the profits. Not to wait until someone else wants to buy it off you for more.

      3. Your point is well taken; what I should have said is something like “mutual fund” rather than “investments.” (The difference being that the fund still has its assets even if it can’t buy more.) And the point stands about insurance, which is the other name for Social Security I see occasionally.

      4. “What happens to your 401k if people stop buying stocks?”

        Then the price will fall, and people will again buy stocks, seeing that they represent real assets and are underpriced.

    2. Investments don’t fail when people stop investing.

      I hate to double post, but this is just a wow moment. If no one wants to buy your investment, it’s worthless.

      1. False.

        People stop buying an equity when it’s price is in equilibrium. At that point, its VALUE is exactly equal to it’s PRICE.

        The equilibrium price of social security is exactly ZERO.

        1. Nope. Value is equal to the price the next buyer is willing to pay. It’s kind of silly to assign value to something that no one wants to buy (and which doesn’t directly fulfill a need you have, eg food).

      2. Unless you’ve invested in a dividend heavy portfolio.

        1. Let me know which sector of the economy is paying significant dividends right now.

          1. Utilities and Pharma are both over 4%. Food companies are close to 4%.

            1. Boeing, Intel and Microchip all pay dividends.

              1. so… Utilites, Pharma, Boeing, Intel, Microsquish. All companies that are government contractors or have government-sponsored monopolies.

                I feel better already.

                1. Not sure if Intel or Microchip’s primary business is really government.

                  Microchip sells a popular type of microcontroller chip.

                  1. Yeah, I guess intel actually makes something. But i was referring to IP.

            2. Most pipeline MLPs pay over 5% and some have altervative structures that permit you to receive the dividends tax-free. Most major oil companies pay 3% plus. Tobacco pays 4% plus. DuPont and Dow Chemical are over 3%, I believe, GE is about the same, 3M . . . I could go on. This is not hard information to find.

            3. So, roughly the rate of inflation.

              1. And 3X what you can get on most treasuries or CDs. Compared to alternatives a 4% dividend is a hefty return at the moment. Dividends yields for many major companies are higher than their bond yields.

          2. BPT pays 8.5%.

          3. APPL!!!

      3. I own 100% share of a small business. It’s my 401K. Nobody else has ever bought into this investment.

        Yet today its worth more than when I bought it. When I retire, it will likely be worth even more. How so?

        OTOH…

        If nobody had bought into social security except the first generation, what would their returns be when they retired? Nothing.

        That’s because one is real and the other is a fraud.

        1. I own 100% share of a small business. It’s my 401K. Nobody else has ever bought into this investment.

          Yet today its worth more than when I bought it. When I retire, it will likely be worth even more.

          Same here. In fact, I don’t even plan on retiring.

        2. If people stop buying from your business then that investment is worth 0.

          You see what I’m saying? All of us are dependent on future revenue streams that do not exist yet.

          1. I can choose where I invest my 401(k). I can’t control whether SS funds are invested in Treasury bonds.

            Remember what happened to Enron employees when their 401(k) plans were frozen. Not being able to control your investment has problems.

          2. If people stop buying from a business I have stock in altogether, you might wanna fuckin sell that asset off, as it’s about to go into bankruptcy.
            Even some companies that see a loss of value in their shares will still pay their investors dividends to avoid a massive sell off.

        3. Yet today its worth more than when I bought it. When I retire, it will likely be worth even more.

          See? You’re implicitly assuming someone will want to buy your business. If no one wants to buy in to your business when you want to retire, then you have zilch. Nada. Nothing.

          1. Yet today its worth more than when I bought it. When I retire, it will likely be worth even more.

            This implicit assumption is the stuff that economic bubbles are made of.

          2. Give it up, Maroon.
            At least I can give my 401k to my heirs, whatever its value. SS? Not! And I have a lot of options in my 401k, some of which are international.

          3. You have a lot more control over the profitability of your own business than you have over whether US Treasury bonds, or SS benefits, ever pay out.

          4. This is a pretty pointless theoretical discussion, since any business that generates positive net income will have buyers for its shares. It has always beeen thus, though of course the price the shares command will fluctuate. The notion that shares of any profitable business are “worthless” if no one is willing to buy them is also not true. The owners of the business can keep the profits, which have value. Plus, there are plenty of illiquid investments out there, and people buy them because ownership stakes in promising business are valuable.

            1. Plus the greater point is that SS tax is being taken from you against your will and invested in things you have no control over. You can’t argue that a 401k is less free than SS. If both programs were to produce the same average returns, the more free system is still preferable.

              1. Of course SS proceeds are not invested in anything. They’ve all been spent. If any pension system did this the administrators would all be in jail.

          5. I am by no means an expert in economics, but:

            A share of stock is not just a claim on part of the dividends/profits of a company. If it were, then if there were no profits, the share might be worthless. Its “earnings per share” would be zero. What is a claim on nothing worth?

            But a share of stock is more. As long as a company has more cash on hand and assets (e.g., equipment, furniture, inventory, patents, copyrights: things that may be valuable to others) than liabilities, one share in the company is worth one nth of that net asset value (‘n’ being the total number of shares), which could be converted into cash if, say, the company went out of business and sold off its assets.

            Does that make sense?

            CB.

  8. If the economy does well, the government won’t try to reduce the benefits that the scheme currently describes. Doesn’t that make it like my 401(k) . . . without any upside?

  9. I strongly suspect that when I retire and a SS check arrives, my response will be “that’s nice” and put it in the pile with the rest of them, so as to have something to tip the bag boy (yes, my grocer still has them).

    1. Please, stop pretending you tip the bag boy, you cheap bastard. You probably just tell him to get off your lawn.

      1. This is why a fake German accent is a huge asset. If someone complains that you’re not tipping you can just pop out the old: “Vat? Ve do not tip een Yoo-rup.”

        1. No, no, it has to be a super-racist Charlie Chan accent, and after you say “we do not tip in China, just eat lice”, you hit a big gong behind you, get an awesome BWONNNGGGG, and then bow and close the door.

          Come on, man. You know this.

          1. You racka deh disciprine, bag boy! Why you no be doctor?

            1. Wassa matta you? Why you a putta da mozzarella inna da same bag as da pasta? Mamma Mia!!! Yousa betta get outta here before I-a smacka you inna da fookin face. Now, a bafangool you, you a mutha fucka.

              1. You guys are dead right with the accents. Cartoonish bigotry is the only way to go!

                1. You move like pregnant yak!

                  1. strong like bull, smart like streetcar

                  2. strong like bull, smart like streetcar

                    1. It was funnier the second time.

                    2. Ha ha, actually it was

      2. 2-3 bucks for in the small lot in front of the store. 3-4 bucks for the lot across the street. I might go as high as 5 bucks if it’s shitty weather outside.

        Now, I’d pay *you* to get off my lawn. WWCD? (What Would Coase Do?)

        1. How much? I’m on my way right now. I normally charge $500 for getting off lawns, by the way.

          1. I’ll pay you alright, punk. I’ll pay you in HOT FREAKING LEAD.

            1. Lead’s down quite a bit at this point. I’ll be needing gold or silver, I’m afraid, and the fact that I’m a lycanthrope really makes the silver your best choice.

              1. Dude. Guido hirsuteness isn’t lycanthropy.

                1. Jersey Shore lied to me?!?

                  1. Like the Bible, the revealed truth of Jersey Shore is infallible. You must have misinterpreted it.

                    1. how much to rent your lawn?

    2. I was once part of a class action lawsuit that I was unaware that I had participated . My share of the settlement was…..ta da…$0.14 cents! The check is framed and hangs in my office.

      I expect nothing more from Social Security!

  10. It’s becoming a bit beyond parody how the TEAMs, but in this case, especially TEAM BLUE, will lie or distort in a way that makes them look like abject morons or obvious mendacious pricks, as long as it advances (or merely attempts to advance) the TEAM agenda.

    I mean, Yglecias is making himself look like a retard here. A full retard. Yet he doesn’t care. 401ks are about tax benefits. So he’s either fucking dumb or is flat out lying, and anyone with half a brain can see this, but he doesn’t care. If he can sell this swill, it advances the TEAM, and that’s all that matters. Nothing else. Nothing. I mean, why does he even care about Social Security so much? Because TEAM BLUE does. That’s it.

    Partisans are truly the lowest form of life on the planet. They are basically the problem with everything in our political system. They are scum. Yglesias is scum. If only he would off himself.

    1. It’s not about persuasion, but more about making the troops feel smug and superior about their political positions. The cravenly mendacious articles on libertarians (BOOGEYMAN!) are proof enough.

      I swear to god, if I get one more fucking Friedman or Krugman post in my FB feed with “See? SEE?” as the sentiment, I may have to go full…er…something.

      1. One of my friends posted Krugnuts’ column entitled Free To Die yesterday. It actually contained a literal “think of the children” entirely sans irony or self-awareness. *Sigh*

      2. How does trying to sell SS as not being a Ponzi scheme make the troops feel smug and superior? Because nothing makes you feel less smug and superior as trotting out a completely obvious–and fully retarded–attempt to explain that, which can then be decimated instantly by anyone with a few brain cells. Does having their argument destroyed at a party make them feel smug and superior?

        No, this is exactly what I said: it’s an utterly partisan attempt to create a meme (or in this case, to stop one) that TEAM BLUE doesn’t like (mostly because it’s accurate). And like the good little bootlicking footsoldier he is, Yglesias will try to advance the meme, no matter how stupid it makes him look.

        1. Are you serial? Blatant dishonest hackery is all the regressives have left.

          Look at it this way: if you had mortgaged your entire self-worth on your political code (and your shiny Apple products, natch) how quickly would you be ready to embrace the abyss and reject everything you held as true and dear for so long, as the complete bullshit that it is? They’re stuck in a self-reinforcing loop now. The cow-like compliance is the monthly payment for that mortgage.

          Partisan neurosis, fed by soothing, comforting talking points, is the SOP now for TEAMBLUE herd.

          1. I guess I’m just amazed at the extent to which a partisan will embarrass themselves. I shouldn’t be.

        2. Filtering through the flowery prose, it seems you’re saying anyone with a few brain cells can instantly prove that SS is a Ponzi scheme.

          Oddly, I haven’t seen anyone actually prove this yet. Maybe those cell phone hazards really are true after all.

          1. Its similarities to a Ponzi scheme are strong and its differences aren’t exactly flattering.

            1. Are you getting this from a careful, dispassionate, point-by-point comparison of SS with the characteristics of Ponzi scheme, or is this just a Libertarianism Est Locuta thing?

              All I’ve seen is “if people stop buying into it it collapses.”

              That’s certainly true of SS. Problem is, it’s true of ANY INVESTMENT.

              1. It is not an investment, it is a tax. And it operates like a Ponzi scheme. It’s the worst of both worlds.

                But you know this, Commodore. You just feel like being bitchy today, like most days. Why aren’t you watching UW getting killed by Nebraska anyway?

                1. I was going to check out that episode again to come up with some material, but this re-make is the best I could do. Uhura’s white, Decker has a pony tail, Spock has a goatee and round ears, and Scotty’s more retarded than Scottish, but it’ll have to do.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulEFa-I-1JQ

                  1. I will admit, Commodore, that I laughed out loud watching that.

              2. Are you getting this from a careful, dispassionate, point-by-point comparison of SS with the characteristics of Ponzi scheme

                Yes.

              3. All I’ve seen is “if people stop buying into it it collapses.”

                1) Investments are usually invested e.g., they are used to increase productive capacity or to purchase some asset which will provide a revenue stream. Both Ponzi Schemes and Social Security are merely redistributive – they take money from one person and give it to another.
                2) Because of 1, there is no increase in the general wealth of the “investments” as there would be were the money put into a productive venture. Since both Ponzi Scheme and Social Security are zero-sum games by their nature, they are far more susceptible to decreases in the number of investors.

          2. Tulpa is right, it’s not a Ponzi scheme not even close.
            Because there are no investors and there are no assets that are collected and distributed.

            Social security is a benefit program paid out of the general fund.

            payroll taxes are completely unrelated to that program in the same way that say, textile tariffs are unrelated to that program.

            1. So, why are we paying wealthy people benefits proportional to their qualified earnings?

              If it’s just a benefit program, why don’t we means test it? Why pay people who earned more money more in benefits?

            2. Umm.. no, you sir, are wrong. Social Security Taxes are invested into US. Treasury Bonds, which grow at a rather small rate of 3%, IIRC.

              Therefore, since benefits paid are not tied to the interest accumulated on the funds one pays into the system, it does in fact resemble a Ponzi Scheme quite closely. Benefits are largely paid by the funds contributed by newer(future generations) participants in the system.

              The system should be an opt-in, to allow individuals to freely invest there own money. I can most certainly invest my money and get better returns than 3%. If you think U.S. Treasury Bonds are a sufficient investment, you can always buy the bonds yourself. That’s right, you could buy a U.S. Treasury Bond, TODAY, with your own money if you elect to.

              1. amazing! just because some political hack told you so, it is? the raiding of S.S. started in the Johnson administration, all that is left is an IOU and a printing machine…

              2. since benefits paid are not tied to the interest accumulated on the funds one pays into the system, it does in fact resemble a Ponzi Scheme quite closely.

                Please double-check your idea of what a Ponzi scheme is, because that ain’t it.

              3. A Ponzi scheme requires geometric growth in new investment and/or the previous investors being convinced to “roll over” their profits. As soon as the scheme stops getting that breakneck level of growth or the original investors start pulling their money out, it collapses.

                1. Isn’t SS collapsing as we speak?

      3. I swear to god, if I get one more fucking Friedman or Krugman post in my FB feed with “See? SEE?” as the sentiment, I may have to go full…er…something.

        Don’t ask those same people to actually prove their assertions with math, unless you’re honestly looking to cull a few folks from the friends herd.

        1. just tell them krugman hates poor people.

          http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c…..inflation/

    2. Re: Episiarch,

      It’s becoming a bit beyond parody how the TEAMs, but in this case, especially TEAM BLUE, will lie or distort in a way that makes them look like abject morons or obvious mendacious pricks, as long as it advances (or merely attempts to advance) the TEAM agenda.

      Yes. Case in point – the Solyndra scandal.

      1. …Fast and Furious”

  11. Here’s a condundrum for liberals who like social security…
    It conflicts with the environmental goal of zero population growth.
    In order to sustain the long-term promised benefits of the program, you need an ever growing population pyramid – lots of younger workers to support a few elderly. If population growth slows to zero (as is happening), the system implodes.

    From an ecological perspective, the only way the program can be financially sustainable, is for it to be ecologically unsustainable.

    1. What about all the conservatives who like social security?

      1. They’re too dumb to be eligible….or they’re just smart enough to be on Team Blue.

      2. Tony: Shut the Fuck Up!

        You’re so fucking stupid. Conservatives aren’t zero population growth enviro-shitheads.

        What is your technique? An involuntary jerk of the knee causes you to kick f8 which is programmed to print “Well what about conservative….”?

      3. By definition, they are morons, because only a moron could understand the SS program and support it.

        1. That’s more like it.

          I’m guessing most of the conservatives who want to continue on with SS are older and have paid a shitload into it and would like to see some payback.

          1. I’m guessing most of the conservatives who want to continue on with SS are older and have paid a shitload into it and would like to see some payback.

            Yeah, my gramps is in this category now. He was a rock-ribbed conservative for decades–he’s so cheap that some of his furniture is older than I am–but now that he’s been on the teat for the last 16 years, he’s all about making “the rich pay their fair share.” I tried pointing out that we’re spending more per capita than at any time in our history, a scenario that’s now doomed to fail due to the natural lifecycle of any overly complex system, and it didn’t even register.

            He basically wants to make sure the merry-go-round doesn’t stop until he’s safely in the grave, even though at this stage the best thing that could happen for both him and grandma would be to move in with one of their offspring.

    2. There are several ways to sustain Social Security:

      1) Population growth
      2) Higher taxes
      3) Reduced benefits

      Can you guess which one liberals and conservatives alike are going to prefer?

      1. 4) Lower life expectancy

      2. Means testing is a form of (3) I guess, but it’s a relatively non-cruel one.

        1. True enough, and it’s not the worst solution. But even if conservatives endorsed means-testing (I don’t know, do they?), liberals fight the very idea tooth and claw.

          1. Means testing is just kicking the can down the road.

      3. 4) Wishful thinking

        The default argument of most liberals is to simply pretend the problem doesn’t exist. Point at the trust fund, and pretend that the money to pay back those bonds comes out of some bank somewhere that has nothing to do with the US government.

        I guess we’ll get a good test of the theory that simply printing money and handing it out to people is stimulative, cause that’s what we will be doing for the next 30 years.

        1. Liberalism *IS* wishful thinking. 🙂

      4. 1) doesn’t help if an entire generation is unemployed.

      5. 5) hold hands, in a circle and sing “Kumbaya”?

  12. Amendment XXVIII

    Congress shall cut no check to an individual citizen

    Ask not, motherfuckers!

    1. Frankly, cutting checks is the *least* destructive of the government actions. I’d far rather live with the government cutting checks to people than with the government enacting programs, regulations, and other intrusions.

  13. Thanks for posting this! We were all over this on Common Cents as well…

    Steve
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

  14. The economy cannot possibly grow fast enough to compensate for this plummeting [worker-to-retiree] ratio.

    Sheesh, Shikha, what a damn pessimist!

  15. They are both pay-as-you-go schemes where the contributions of new participants are used to pay previous participants as I argued here.

    Except a Ponzi scheme can’t pay back the previous participants without a geometrically increasing number of new participants. Historically, Ponzi schemes that did not increase their pool of investors in this manner relied on convincing the old investors to agree to “roll over” their illusory profits so as to avoid paying them.

    Social Security could get by with a roughly constant stream of new workers, since no one is making a profit.

    And then of course there’s the difference that the SS financing method is well-known, while a Ponzi scheme’s must remain secret.

    1. “And then of course there’s the difference that the SS financing method is well-known, while a Ponzi scheme’s must remain secret.”

      That’s only because you can choose not to participate in a Ponzi scheme.

    2. I suppose if you reduced benefits enough, it could be sustained. The whole process of constantly raising taxes seems kind of Ponzi like also – instead of finding more investors, you just get the new investors to invest more money. Which makes it a worse and worse deal for new investors. The payout formula has to become more and more disconnected from contributions, otherwise, promised payouts based on contributions will continue an upward curve. The more people are taxed, the bigger the program’s future liability. You HAVE to cut future benefits relative to contributions, period. Or it IS a Ponzi scheme.

      1. It’s not a closed system — you have inflation going on in the background.

        And for the umpteenth time, not that you guys are actually listening, just because an investment system isn’t self-sustaining does NOT make it a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme is a highly specific type of investment system.

        Just because all fish live in the water doesn’t mean dolphins are fish because they live in the water.

        1. And for the umpteenth time, Social Security is not investing. It is an effing tax.

        2. SS benefits are adjusted for inflation.

          I think you maybe missed the point, here. If current workers are forced to make larger contributions to pay for current beneficiaries, and the relative payoff (even if it is a poor investment) remains on a fixed formula relative to contributions, adjusted for inflation (which it is), then our future liabilities will INCREASE.
          We’re forcing people to invest more money, so their promised payoff will have to go up, wouldn’t it? That would mean that even if we got the extra cash to pay current retirees, our unfunded long-term liability would get worse, since we’d be promising to pay out even more in the future, since we’re forcing people to contribute more now.

          Put it this way. If we can’t afford to pay current retirees their promised benefits, based on their lifetime contributions (and at this point they’ve all been invested in the program their entire lives), then the benefit/contribution formula is out of wack. If we increase taxes now to pay current beneficiaries without changing the formula, then the imbalance will only get worse and the unfunded liabilities will only get larger.

          Isn’t that Ponzi-like?

            1. I don’t see why not.

              Let’s say we increase SS taxes ro 15%. OK, then people’s promised benefits increase, in inflation adjusted dollars. Now, 15-20 years later, we have to pay THOSE benefits back, right? But the formula is out of wack so now our unfunded liability is greater, and we don’t have an expanding tax base, so what do we do? Increase taxes again? And then again the next generation?

              My point is that the deal has to get worse. Benefits have to be cut relative to inflation, or it blows up.

              If you don’t want to call it a Pinzi scheme, fine. But at least admit it is financially unsustainable in it’s current form.

              1. in some circles its called “unfunded liabilities” that, if removed will “destroy the middle class”.

  16. The real important difference between SS, a Ponzi scheme, and a 401k is that YOU CAN OPT OUT of the latter two, meaning both of them are more fit for a free society than the first.

    But then again, we don’t live in a free society. We’re not even trying anymore.

    1. Come on, plenty of . . . government employees . . .get to opt out of SS. Or say just earn (using the term loosely) all your income from capital gains. Its just us sucker proles who are stuck.

    2. There’s nothing inherently non-coercive about a Ponzi scheme. It’s easy to imagine one where contributing is compulsory.

      1. Indeed, if fraud is coercion, then every Ponzi scheme is coercive.

        1. “Indeed, if fraud is coercion, then every Ponzi scheme is coercive.”

          How is fraud coercion? Isn’t it just believing a lie?

          “There’s nothing inherently non-coercive about a Ponzi scheme. It’s easy to imagine one where contributing is compulsory.”

          How is believing a lie coercive? Isn’t that just being an idiot?

          1. Libertarian thought classifies fraud as coercion, which seems kind of a strange definition to me too. That way libertarians can claim that only coercion should be legislated against.

            1. Fraud is a form of theft, therefore it is coercive.

              1. Theft requires an involuntary transfer of value. The exchange in a fraudulent transaction is voluntary.

                1. @ Tulpa — Agreed, if by that you mean SS is theft, and a Ponzi scheme is fraud.

                2. Fraud is involuntary because the trade to which the victim agrees to is not the trade he is engaging in. He does not agree to the trade he is engaging in, in which he gets nothing in return.

                  1. So if Jimbob the Idiot goes to Walmart and buys a wireless router, thinking that it automatically connects to the Internet with no ISP or anything, does that mean the purchase was invalid because it wasn’t the deal he intended to make?

                    Fraud requires more than just one party not realizing something important about the deal.

                    1. Fraud requires more than just one party not realizing something important about the deal.

                      Agreed, but I never said that that is the only requirement of fraud.

                      I was pointing out what makes fraud involuntary, not defining fraud. Try harder.

                    2. Also, STILL waiting for those SS “disclaimers” that you were wanking off to earlier.

            2. “Libertarian thought classifies fraud as coercion”

              Which Scotsman made this claim?

              1. I can see fraud being theft but not coercion. A mugging or robbery is theft with ocercion.

                1. You’re identifying coercion with violent force or the threat thereof, which seems to me also to be a more coherent sense of the word. But that leaves all sorts of crimes that minarchist libertarians still think should be illegal outside the realm of coercion. Not only fraud, but trespassing, perjury, and embezzlement for instance.

              2. “Libertarian thought classifies fraud as coercion”

                Which Scotsman made this claim?

                I don’t know if I’d stretch the definition of coercion to include deception, but fraud is theft by deception.

                It shouldn’t be allowed.

                SS is simply theft through coercion, the old fashioned way.

            3. Re: Tulpa,

              Libertarian thought classifies fraud as coercion[…]

              That’s an obvious lie.

              That way libertarians can claim that only coercion should be legislated against.

              Another obvious lie. In fact, two lies: the “only” part and the “legislated” part. Libertarians do not claim that only coercion is to be legislated against, and only minarchists (and statists) would talk about legislating anything.

              1. Libertarians do not claim that only coercion is to be legislated against

                Uh, what? Limiting govt activity to preventing/punishing coercion (or less in the case of ancaps) is pretty much the fundamental definition of libertarianism, isn’t it?

                1. Ancap != libertarian. I’m fine with making fraud illegal. I’m fine with it being a violation of freedom of speech. There are some things you ought to do to make society run better. Like roads.

                  The difference between a libertarian and a liberal is that the libertarian believes that that list of things is short, well-defined, and relatively self-consistent.

                  1. Embezzlement is another form of fraud/theft, perjury is again fraud, trespassing is a violation of property rights, but can reasonably be mitigated depending on circumstances. But I’m a minarchist not an anarchist-capitalist so you probably expected this from me.

                    1. I’d agree that embezzlement in the same category as fraud, ie taking a thing of value by deception. Perjury I don’t see, since nothing of value is exchanged in perjury. I suppose you could argue that in a civil case it ultimately results in an exchange of value after the judgement is made. But for instance, perjury in a criminal trial that helps a guilty defendant get acquitted is going to be hard to shoehorn into any rights violation.

                      Trespassing is troublesome though because it’s not necessarily violent and doesn’t involve deception. Classifying it as a rights violation requires that one accept that land can be owned in the same way that objects can, which is, to put it mildly, complicated to get to from first principles.

                    2. I know a lot of libertarians will get all no true scotsman on me on this one, but you might have to allow for some rights to not derive from first principles.

                      The freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, for example, pass the “robinson crusoe rights” test as ‘natural’ rights. Trial by jury, and property rights, do not. Both, however, can be construed as negative rights against govenment. Property rights come with an additional negative right against other citizens… I personally justify that as necessary for creating chains of accountability in the face of rivalrousness of scarce resources.

      2. But a 401K is not fraudulent. It does not sell you something it doesn’t have.

        1. Any investment sells you something it doesn’t have. You invest on the expectation that the interest you’re investing in will make a profit (which it doesn’t already have) and/or that someone else will want to buy the investment from you at a higher price (which also doesn’t exist yet).

          1. No, my point is that when you invest in a 401K you are not promised something that will not be given to you. Social Security is a promise that you will get money back. That is why SS is fraud and a 401K is not.

            1. SS has disclaimers just like 401k’s do.

              Your failure to read the fine print does not constitute fraud by the other party.

              1. LOL! Please show me a link to these disclaimers. I have never seen any on my tax reports.

                1. Even if the disclaimers are there, paying in is compulsory, so they hardly make me feel better.

                  1. I understand (and largely share) the problem with coerced contribution to the SS system. My issue is with the implication that SS is fraudulent and in particular that it’s a Ponzi scheme.

                    1. Well you’re right that it is different than a Ponzi scheme in a few ways, but the similarities are striking. Your semantic point is valid, I must give it to you.

          2. “Any investment sells you something it doesn’t have”

            Nonsense.

            Stockholder are the legal owners of the corporation they have invested in. They own the physical assets, the money in the corporate bank accounts and anything else that the corporation has.

            1. Just like taxpayers “own” the assets of the federal govt. And they have the same degree of control over it — ie, none if you don’t have a majority stake.

              1. Just like taxpayers “own” the assets of the federal govt.

                Sweet! Anyone want to buy my share?

              2. No, it is not even remotely like taxpayers “owning” the assets of the federal government

                You are getting more absurd by the minute.

            2. And of course very few investors are intending to purchase the capital assets of the corporations they invest in. They’re after dividends (which won’t materialize without profits) and selling the stock higher (also not guaranteed to happen).

              If you invest in Pfizer as part of your 401k with the intention of getting a way cool biochemistry lab out of the deal, more power to you, but that’s unusual.

              1. They can be “intending” to knit a sweater for all reality cares. They “are” purchasing a share of the capital assets.

                1. Well, the analogy works if you buy the argument that your benefits are going to be paid when those Treasury bonds mature.

                  It’s not really analgous if you accept that present benefits are being paid by present taxpayers. That would be more like if the company sold stock to raise money to pay dividends, instead of turning a profit.

                  There’s another problem here. Normally a company doesn’t just issue a bunch of new stock, thereby devaluing the ownership stake of present investors. They’ll do a stock split instead. But the US government doesn’t do a “dollar split” in order to put more dollars into circulation, it just prints new currency. So even if the money is invested in Treasuries, and we treat those as investments just like anything else, the value of those investments can be arbitrarily reduce by the actions of the Federal Reserve. And you have no control over that. If don’t like what a corporation is doing you can sell their stock. You can’t sell the SS Treasury bonds. You just have to sit there and accept whatever the Fed does and whatever effect that has on the value of those bonds.

                  1. Dude, you don’t get it.

                    Social Security and the Fed are being run by Top Men?. Those selfless bureaucrats in government always do what’s best for the people. We’re good.

          3. “Any investment sells you something it doesn’t have.”

            If you’re being pedantic and presuming an “investment” has to have a positive return to be an “investment”, you might have a (silly) point.
            The fact remains that I can use all my resources to choose an investment that should return more than I risk. If I’m wrong, shame on me, and I can learn and redirect my capital.
            Want to try and worm *that* into S/S? I’ll be waiting.

            1. If the investment is not expected to have a positive return, why the hell are you investing in it? Positive returns are what investments “sell”.

              1. Tulpa|9.17.11 @ 9:02PM|#
                “If the investment is not expected to have a positive return, why the hell are you investing in it? Positive returns are what investments “sell”.”

                Now please address the comment or admit you are simply offering a sophistry.
                Your choice.

                1. You said above that I have a point if investments are expected to have positive returns. It’s not sophistry to point out that that is always true (except perhaps in the case of totally stupid investors).

                  1. That’s not what sevo said, Tulpa. Sevo was differentiating between a positive return and the expectation of a positive return.

      3. No need to imagine it, we’re fucking discussing it. It starts with S and ends with S.

        1. That was in reply to:

          Tulpa|9.17.11 @ 5:26PM|#

          There’s nothing inherently non-coercive about a Ponzi scheme. It’s easy to imagine one where contributing is compulsory.

    3. Wrong. The real important difference is that at least SS isn’t slickly disguised coproate welfare.

  17. Yglesias’ argument is an excellent argument for investing Social Security tax collections into index funds. It’s a bet that on balance the better stocks will rise over time.

    Social Security isn’t an investment in the economy. It’s not an investment in anything. It’s a welfare payment tied to an involuntary tax.

  18. yglesias is such a mental midget. I’ve never understood why he’s thought of highly and sighted often. He’s just…. not bright.

      1. No no, you’re doing it wrong. That is a clear case of towing the lion. Joe’z Law is invoked when someone commits a spelling or usage error while pointing out the spelling or usage error of someone else.

        1. Check the wiki, you’re wrong.

        2. wrong. Heller used the wrong verb. He should have said “viewed” instead of “sighted”. Like the difference between “I learned him” and “I teached him”. (two different verbs)

          1. sorry I meant cmoney, not heller. JOE’Z LAW!

          2. I’m pretty sure he meant to write “cited”

      2. Naw, s/he was clearly writing tungan cheek.

  19. “Yglesias and The Economist are half right that the fate of Social Security, like a 401-k, is tied to the economy.”

    No they aren’t. It isn’t tied to the economy. It’s tied the whims of policitians. They can cancell anyone’s benefits at any time and there is no legal recourse at all. FICA payments are merely another tax.
    They have already made up to 85% of SS benefits taxable for people who have income above a certain amount. That is a backdoor way of taking back the benefits.

    Furthermore, the benefit formula is “progressively” engineered to give low income people a higher return than upper income people. That isn’t remotely anything like a 401 K/

    ” Both offer better returns when the economy is booming: 401-ks because the value of their assets goes up and Social Security because the tax receipts of the government go up”

    More nonsense. The government does not increase SS benefits just becuase the economy goes up.

  20. What is hilarious is when you talk to a retired person who is also a conservative Republican, and many will get angry when you say something like SS benefits should be reduced or eliminated. Many of them are so dependent upon the guv’mint tit now that they can’t see their own hypocrisy.

    1. “What is hilarious is when you talk to a retired person who is also a conservative Republican, and many will get angry when you say something like SS benefits should be reduced or eliminated. Many of them are so dependent upon the guv’mint tit now that they can’t see their own hypocrisy.”

      How is that hilarious or hypocritical? These people have probably been paying SS tax for 40 years.

      I might not believe it is the proper function of gov’t to provide free public education but there is nothing hypocritical about my sending my child to a publlic school I have helped pay for (involuntarily).

      1. It could have something to do with the fact that these recipients are receiving FAR more than they ever contributed. Its not hypocritical to expect the money that was stolen from you back. It is hypocritical to bitch about the growth of the welfare state and then expect more than what was taken from you.

        1. “It could have something to do with the fact that these recipients are receiving FAR more than they ever contributed”

          Indeed. A lot of the conviently forget that the FICA tax rates used to be a lot lower than they are now. The older folks are getting back a lot more than they ever put in.

          There is a syndicated financial columnist named Scott Burns whose articles are printed in my local paper on Sundays. One of his articles not long ago laid out the specifics of this very thing (along with the details of the “progressive” nature of the benefit formula). It was quite illuminating.

      2. If I paid in $5 40 years ago I should receive $5 back when I retire? Which Mattress has SS written on it?

        1. The magic one that gives out more than you put in.

          1. Well, $0 return in 40 years is not very good.

            1. Especially since that’s about a -$15 return factoring in inflation…

    2. Esteban,
      Tell me if I follow your plot:

      1. person/employer required (under threat of force/imprisonment) to “participate” in SS program.

      2. person objects to plan but “participates” anyway as he/she prefers living is home over living in prison.

      3. Decades later, person is told little or no money will be paid to him/her.

      4. Person objects. However, previous objections to the “plan” are noted and disqualify person from objecting now.

      5. Summary: Anyone not “happy” with the “plan” has no right to SS payments later.

      Is this about it in a nutshell?

      Esteban, what you trying to do, create some kind of Utopia? Count me in.

      1. If you object to runaway gov’t spending, including the welfare state, but you want them to keep giving you benefits, by definition you are a hypocrite.

        That being said, if a huge chunk of the American demographic relies solely on SS for their retirement, they can either get a job or shut the fuck up. Seeing as how about 4 generations now have absolutely refused to hold elected officials accountable and use an ounce of common sense in regard to the SS program, it’s not my fucking fault that they face the possibility of dying in the streets. Why the fuck wouldn’t they put more of their money away in the first place? Wait, you mean to say they let the government do ALL of their retirement planning for them??
        Wow, that’s some Grade-A stupidity.

        The money they put in? It’s been spent on the generation before them. All of it. The money that they’re receiving now? That’s the working population’s retirement savings going down the shitter.
        That’s exactly how a ponzi scheme works.
        They can fuck off, for all I care. Senior’s have no moral high ground on this. It’s their own stupidity, apathy, and gullibility that lead us into this situation.

        1. Interesting points about individual responsibility.

          However , I disagree with most of your conclusions because SS isn’t an individualistic program , nor are elections. Your analysis is all collectivist.

          What if an individual did all the right things including protesting SS, voting for libertarians, etc. he would still be in the exact same boat as the crybabies you have described.

          The only thing he could have done is pursue a private retirement plan in case his SS payments never happen.

          This person has been forced to support decades of retirees with a “promise” he will get something in return.

          We’re all geniuses now as we see the finances falling apart. Imagine you are a not too sophisticated fellow working in the 60’s – 90’s who’s’ been watching old people for generations getting their “proper” share of SS when they retire. This same fellow has been receiving annual statements from SS telling him how much he’s contributed, when he can start collecting, and how much will be his monthly pension, AND HE HAS NO OPTION TO OPT OUT! I would say that person has been horribly mislead by the people who really should know better: the SS administrators.

          If he is expected to be personally responsible for his retirement portfolio, he shouldn’t have been forced to put so many eggs in the SS basket.

          I hate to use the “fair” word cause life ain’t fair, but really, what I just described is unfair to the point of being criminal.

          1. “However , I disagree with most of your conclusions because SS isn’t an individualistic program , nor are elections. Your analysis is all collectivist.”

            Yes, because there are some collective points to make. Collectively, seniors favor the welfare programs. Collectively, seniors are the biggest supporters of expanding these programs. Individually, these people who’s only hope for survival after retirement is the government, should have saved their own money and invested it wisely. (Giving it to the government to invest, voluntarily or not, is not a wise investment, you agree?) However, if collectively, a majority of voters agree that reducing benefits to some or all recipients is in the best interest, they really have nothing to be upset about.

            “What if an individual did all the right things including protesting SS, voting for libertarians, etc. he would still be in the exact same boat as the crybabies you have described.”

            If that person did the right thing he would have a comfortable nest egg set aside to supplement any potential SS benefits, and not be bothered by any meaningful reduction in benefits.
            That would not be by any means, the same boat. It wouldn’t be the optimal “libertarian” situation, but he would be much less dependent upon SS and programs like it to provide for them in their later years.
            I still don’t see how “he got it, so I should get it” is any type of a logical argument to make. The more logical argument to make would be “why should I have to keep paying into a system that may or may not provide me with benefits in x years?”

            We’re all geniuses now as we see the finances falling apart. Imagine you are a not too sophisticated fellow working in the 60’s – 90’s who’s’ been watching old people for generations getting their “proper” share of SS when they retire. This same fellow has been receiving annual statements from SS telling him how much he’s contributed, when he can start collecting, and how much will be his monthly pension, AND HE HAS NO OPTION TO OPT OUT! I would say that person has been horribly mislead by the people who really should know better: the SS administrators.

            A newspaper cost a quarter. A logic class, about a hundred bucks. I’m not in the sympathy business. I do see your point, yeah like we’ve established, it sucks for the individual, but that’s no justification for continuation of this insanity.

            “This person has been forced to support decades of retirees with a “promise” he will get something in return.”
            Yes, they have been forced. They should be pissed. They should probably have made/make SS a major issue when it comes/came election time.

            “If he is expected to be personally responsible for his retirement portfolio, he shouldn’t have been forced to put so many eggs in the SS basket.”

            I absolutely agree. He should also have set aside a larger chunk of his earnings for retirement. I’m not a financial planner and can’t advocate where to budget this money from, but something tells me somewhere in his life he had the ability to set aside, say 5% of his earnings monthly to put in a CD, 401k), or any other investment vehicle.

            “I hate to use the “fair” word cause life ain’t fair, but really, what I just described is unfair to the point of being criminal.

            It is criminal. He should be pissed. The elected officials that sold him and kept legislating this ridiculous program should be in prison. We send private citizens to prison when they do this. Why not them?

          2. Re: “fair”

            Is what you’ve described more or less fair than making the next generation pay for the mistakes of the previous one? I’m sympathetic to your observation that it sucks that the holders of a minority position in a democracy end up in the same boat as the majority. However, do you know who is even less responsible for the consequences of the majority’s foolishness than the minority? All of us who weren’t even in that cohort when those decisions were being made.

            I’m a big softy, so I’ll help keep some of these old farts from starving to death out of charity, but I’m going to fight being forced to suffer the pretense that charity is not what’s going on here.

          3. I guess we’re all in agreement to build a time machine and go back and kill FDR.

            I looked at Wikipedia’s entry on SS. Here’s an intro:

            “In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program.[1] The original Social Security Act[2] (1935) and the current version of the Act, as amended[3] encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs. The larger and better known programs are:

            Federal Old-Age (Retirement), Survivors, and Disability Insurance
            Unemployment benefits
            Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
            Health Insurance for Aged and Disabled (Medicare)
            Grants to States for Medical Assistance Programs (Medicaid)
            State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
            Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
            Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ”

            I never knew it included all that shit. Now,I’m less inclined to think of it as a retirement system and more of a welfare/social safety net.

            Although I’m still pissed at the fraud implicit in those annual SS statements everyone gets.

    3. Better yet, tell them that Social Security and Medicare are welfare programs.

  21. It’s a chat room.
    It’s a support group!

    1. How ya doin’?

    2. Turn the phone off, you insufferable bitch

      1. How you doin’, cutie?

        1. Cunts, like scorpions, cannot deny their nature.

  22. “In the interminable debate over whether Social Security is a Ponzi scheme or not (thanks a lot, Rick Perry!), defenders of the program are floating a rather novel argument.”

    Indeed, because it would be better if we weren’t talking about it.

    Stupid Perry.

    *face palm*

  23. Obama to propose new tax rate for wealthy
    President Barack Obama, in a populist step designed to appeal to voters, will propose a “Buffett Tax” on people making more than $1-million (U.S.) a year as part of his deficit recommendations to Congress on Monday.

    Such a proposal, among suggestions to a congressional supercommittee expected to seek up to $3-trillion in deficit savings over 10 years, would appeal to his Democratic base ahead of the 2012 election but likely not raise much in revenues.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com…..le2170153/

    1. It’s not going to do jack shit. If you brought back the Clinton tax rates for ALL income levels, you could theoretically make a decent dent in the current annual deficit, but even in a best-case scenario it would only get you about halfway there.

      It’s pretty silly that Obama’s trying to pull this now when all he has to do is wait until 2013 when the Bush rates expire.

      1. Like they were supposed to expire earlier this year?

  24. What time is the Baer-Schmeling fight?

  25. If the Buffet tax passes will good ole Warren stop fighting the IRS and pay the taxes they say he owes?

  26. Any of y’all old timers remember “Orange Line Special” I think his big thing was anti immigration or something.

    I just rode the Orange line in DC today.
    I don’t know, I feel like I should have had cocktails with hoighty toighty types afterwards.

    I don’t know, no one gives a fuck.
    But I just rode the Orange line subway, and now feel the need to share that here on H&R

    1. Little did we know what a distaste banning Lonewacko would turn out to be, since it allowed so many shittier trolls to emerge.

      1. If I ever go to DC again, I will also ride the Orange Line. Just to see what it’s all about.

        By the way, yes, I think I would take LoneWacko over some of these modern trolls even though LoneWacko was one of the most unrepentant threadjackers I’ve ever seen.

        1. Then, go ride the green line.

      2. “24dollarsforheaddon’tcum” was a brilliant freaking parody of him, too.

        1. iirc it was $20ForHeadDontCum (for noobs, his site was “24ahead.com”)

          1. Yes, that’s right. I guffawed every time i saw that one.

      3. Are you saying Lonewacko was a sort of intestinal flora for H&R’s colon? Interesting comparison.

      4. Warty|9.17.11 @ 10:41PM|#
        banning Lonewacko…allowed so many shittier trolls to emerge.

        You get the trolls you deserve. Justice can be cruel.
        Hug?

  27. Nice Try Libs, But Social Security is no 401-k

    Welcome to the new partisan iteration of Reason.

    1. Blow it out your ass. The statement is true.

      1. Presentation matters.

        “Social Security is no 401k” would have conveyed the same content but less partisanly.

        1. We should be nice to libs?

          What’s next… being polite to so-cons?

          1. You don’t have to be nice, just don’t go out of your way to be nasty.

            Something most people learn in kindergarten, but if we’re still working on it that’s OK I guess.

            1. I’ll start being artificially nice to the fuckers in Team Red and Team Blue when THEY give up being nasty… and stop trying to run our lives at our expense… and… and… well, you get the picture.

              1. Team Blue != Liberal

        2. This post will / can bring attacks from libs all over. More comments = more ad revenue + keeping the debate on SS hot. There’s a risk of it burning out before 11/12 and not being one of the issues covered by the media. In the meantime, the post title accomplishes their goals. So I don’t blame them for it. Plus what Mr FIFY said.

          1. What sage said.

          2. Its ability to get attention from liberals has little dependence on nyah-nyahs at the beginning of the title.

            And on the contrary, shifting the Social Security debate from “is this a sustainable system” to “is it a Ponzi scheme” is extremely unproductive. Liberals can easily dismiss people talking SS reform if we’re calling it a Ponzi scheme, because we’re absolutely clearly plain as day black and white WRONG if we say that. They can write a “fact check” article comparing SS to the definition of a Ponzi scheme and (correctly) conclude that we’re full of shit. End of SS reform discussion.

            1. I have a new hedge fund for you to invest in. I take everyone’s payments and make loans to myself. When your investment matures I pay you off with the contributions of junior investors. I’ll even send you a statement every now and then showing the number I have next to your name in my ledger.

              1. Social Security is a Xenocles scheme.

              2. Can you hold a gun to people’s heads and force them to give you money to pay me off?

                1. Sure, what do you think account maintenance fees are for?

                  1. I should also advise you that neither your investing with me nor the statements I send you in any way imply a contractual obligation on my part to repay you.

                    1. Hello Good Sirs,

                      I am Senator Fuckface. I have just rammed through a bill which mandates that everyone must invest in Xenocles’ hedge fund for their own good. Interstate commerce and such.

                      Sincerely,
                      Senator Ima FuckFace

                    2. Truly, Sen. Fuckface is the One we have been waiting for!

                      On an unrelated note, the fund is looking for investment opportunities in the campaingn finance sector. Legislators interested in selling campaign bonds to the fund should contact me to negotiate terms.

    2. Ronald Bailey rountiely writes pieces criticizing Republicans for being anti-science, so I think Reason and H&R is very well-rounded in the abuse it hurls at both liberals and conservatives.

    3. When one is criticizing articles written by liberals, it is not really partisan to address the writers as such.

  28. Glad I didn’t spend the $70 for that fight

    1. Yeah, wow. Ellenberger tore him up. Also, my Buckeyes have an embarrassment of riches at the QB posish.

  29. Having put money into SS is a bit like being an Enron employee with his plan frozen so he can’t sell his company stock.

    We all know how this is going to end. Anyone who has been following politics long enough can see what is inevitably going to happen here.

    The US government is going to start printing money to devalue the dollar, monetizing the debt. That includes the debt it owes the trust fund. COLAs will be frozen while this happens so that the benefits will be devalued by inflation.

    And all the people who have been forced to pay into Social Security will have to sit there helplessly as this happens. Because they aren’t allowed to sell the Tresury bonds that their money has been “invested” in before it happens.

    Just like employees at Enron weren’t allowed to sell their company stock.

    It’s a great way to steal money from someone isn’t it? Freeze the investment so they can’t sell it, then devalue it.

    This is one reason why I never invest any of my 401(k) plan in company stock.

    1. I don’t know how long you’ve been watching politics, but the US govt has never monetized the debt. So I’m unclear on what experience from your politics watching lifetime leads you to think it’s obvious that will happen.

      1. The Federal government has also had the highest debt rating on the planet. It will never be downgraded.

      2. but the US govt has never monetized the debt.

        Sure they did. Ask the Greenbackers.

      3. What I’ve observed over the years is that Congress has no guts when it comes to entitlement programs, and that they love letting the Federal Reserve deal with the economy through monetary expansions.

        What do you seriously think is more likely? That Congress is going to suddenly grow a pair and tackle entitlements, or that they will let the Federal Reserve print a shit ton of money?

      4. Yeah, Bernanke hasn’t been buying government debt.

        Oh yeah, I just wrote myself a check for One Billion Dollars and put it in my checking account. I’m rich!!!

  30. I swear to god, Tulpa has “Critiques of Libertarianism” bookmarked on his taskbar and thinks every single one of them is profound.

  31. Maybe what Yglesias means is that the government is going to inflate the currency to the point that both SS and 401ks are utterly worthless.

    Or maybe that the government will seize the funds in 401ks in order to “redistribute” them, and replace the funds with IOUs. Just like SS!

    1. What’s inflation?

  32. 401-k’s are only “tied to the economy” in the sense that they go up and down with the stock market *if* one invests them that way.

    you can invest your 401-k in virtually anything, from metals, to commodities, to shorts and longs (not just longs ), to international markets, etc. etc. etc.

    i started investing in gold, for instance, in 1998. some people invest solely in index funds.

    etc.

  33. You can borrow against your 401(k). You can’t borrow against SS. That should tell you something.

  34. What’s in a name? A social insurance program by any other name would smell the same…

    I’ve always thought of SS as just another social security program, albeit one with a very broad number of payees. I’ve always gathered that the way it works is that the young of today pay not to take care of themselves in later years but the older people of today, who paid to take care of the older people in their day, etc.

    Having said that I think it is morally justifiable (noone wants starving and freezing old people abounding) and that it is better than just having everybody save themselves (when the stock market tanks, as it regularly does, we’d have these old folks who REALLY needed aid we’d have to take care of).

    That being said it should be clear the program needs changes to be sustainable (there are ever increasing numbers of old people to young people). I think means testing is the way to go, but I’d even support higher SS taxes on wealthy earners (one of the taxes likely to have low negative impact on the economy; I can’t see many high earners quiting their jobs because their SS taxes go up some).

    1. when the stock market tanks, as it regularly does,

      Hmmmm. Is the stock market the only place to invest? I hear that agricultural real estate in Asia is a good long term investment, and a good way to diversify. And as long as the government is devaluing the currency, commodities, particularly PMs, are always a good bet.

      Social Security was sold as a “social safety net”. But it’s not really a safety net at all, is it?

      the young of today pay not to take care of themselves in later years but the older people of today, who paid to take care of the older people in their day, etc.

      Having been robbed is not a justification for theft. If someone broke into my house and stole my TV, I would not be justified to go into someone else’s house and steal their TV.

      1. The justification is not that you have been “robbed”; it is that it prevents older people from suffering. Even if we concede that programs like social, which I don’t, there are things in this world morally worse than robbery, like old people suffering.

        This is the fundamental stumbling block for libertarians imo.

        1. Why am I responsible for old people suffering? I am not responsible for the actions of a robber, why should I be responsible for the bad planning of someone else?

        2. there are things in this world morally worse than robbery, like old people suffering

          I do not subscribe to your religion.

    2. it is better than just having everybody save themselves

      You mean having the money collect extra taxes and the IMMEDIATELY SPEND THE CASH, is better than having individuals actually save their money in real assets?

      Really?

      1. Goverment collect

    3. I am not responsible for your dad. If your dad is an insufferable twat and you don’t want take care of him, why is that my problem?

      And please show me where all old people were dying in the street prior to the beginning of SS.

  35. So now Syracuse and Pitt are going to the ACC, with talk of Baylor and another team interested in the Big East. The conferences are going nuts and geographic affinity is going to be tossed out of the window. I think that stinks.

    1. The only good thing about the slow lurch towards 4 superconferences is that it might lead to something resembling a playoff system. One of the big losers in this will be the BCS bowls and frankly it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

      1. I don’t want a playoffs. I like having a thirty ‘mini-super-bowls’ to watch in Dec-Jan. It allows thirty teams to go home feeling like winners.

        Supposedly the playoff system is supposed to solve the old problems of having split champs, but now that the Rose Bowl is playing bowl we usually get the two top ranked teams playing. Besides a playoff system would just shift all the bitching about which two teams should play in the BCS championship to which eight teams should be in the playoff…

        1. Yeeks, that post was a English teacher’s nightmare…

          “a playoff”
          “having thirty mini-bowls”
          “Supposedly the playoff system is to solve”
          “the Rose Bowl is playing ball”

          etc.

          1. It’s about time English teachers got some nightmares from reading your posts. Usually the logic teachers suffer that fate.

        2. I’d rather it be 8, and let smaller schools like Boise have a shot, than 2 and fuck over everyone who isn’t in the SEC.

        3. It allows thirty teams to go home feeling like winners.

          And I thought liberals’ overemphasis on giving everyone self-esteem was a caricature.

          a playoff system would just shift all the bitching about which two teams should play in the BCS championship to which eight teams should be in the playoff…

          In my opinion, if you’re 9th ranked you don’t have much of a case for being the national champion. Very often the #3 and #4 teams are undefeated or have other glaring qualifications for having a chance at the championship.

          Alternatively, NCAA can just require any team that wants to play in the postseason to leave two games on their schedule open so that they can be forced to play good teams from other conferences. No more shutting out Boise State from your schedules and then saying they don’t deserve to be considered because they didn’t play any good teams.

          1. In my opinion, if you’re 9th ranked you don’t have much of a case for being the national champion

            Unless you’re the UConn men’s basketball team. Zing!

  36. Justice Department boosts activity to police the police

    The Obama administration is ramping up civil rights enforcement against local police nationwide, opening a number of investigations to determine whether officers are guilty of brutality or discrimination against Hispanics and other minorities.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..story.html

    It would be nice if Justice would realize that people of any color can be and are victims of abuse at the hands of authorities, but it’s a start I guess.

    1. Or any species; just ask the canine victims of over-zealous kinetic policing actions.

    2. Wow, opening investigations. Is this historic, unprecedented, or revolutionary?

      1. “All told, Justice’s Civil Rights Division is conducting 17 probes of police and sheriff departments ? the largest number in its 54-year history.”

        I sometimes think that if Obama walked on water in front of someone like Tulpa they’d say “heh, can’t swim.”

        Sheesh, even a broken clock is right twice a day, this is a good thing.

        1. wow. all of 17! investigations. What, don’t we see like that many in a week over at the agitator. Fuck.

        2. If BO ever walks on water in front of me, I’ll be too busy trying to trip him to say anything.

  37. Obama must deal with Turkey-Israel crisis

    U.S. policy in the Middle East is f loundering. President Obama’s two most important allies in the region are on a collision course. It will not be resolved by the State Department’s injunction to Turkey and Israel to “cool it.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..story.html

    This is a potential mess. Turkey has no ground to criticize Israel; they’ve ruthlessly and repeatedly squashed any movement towards giving their Kurds any serious autonomy and have ruthlessly suppressed Kurdish terrorist groups. Having said that the US should not be so foolish as to oppose the Palestinian statehood recognition in the UN this week, both in terms of diplomatic realpolitik (unilaterally vetoing something with wide international support) and moral standing (defending a nation based on the principle of ‘a land for a people and a people for a land’ by denying recognition of the same principle for a neighboring people).

    We should offer the following compromise: recognition for the relatively peaceful and long-suffering West Bank, recognition of Gaza conditioned on an unequivocal statement by their government to accept Israel’s right to safely exist. This should pacify Turkey, not threaten Israel and rightly provide autonomy to a people who have long asked for it.

    1. Don’t forget Cyprus, which they still partially occupy. What hypocrites they are to complain about Gaza.

      And any Greek will tell you Istanbul is nothing but occupied Constantinople.

  38. It is just my imagination, or are temperatures around the U.S. getting cool a little earlier than normal?

    Looking at the current temp map, I don’t think it’s my imagination. Technically it’s still summer, but yesterday in the northeast it already felt like mid-autumn. Perhaps it’s just a minor blip.

    1. Weather isn’t climate. If global mean temperature goes up by 4C there will still be cool summers and such, it’s the average that goes up…and of course, 4C is a barely perceptible temperature difference anyway.

      1. Weather isn’t climate. It’s just a small piece of climate.

        But when it’s hot, it’s climate.

      2. Weather isn’t climate. Only rubes think differently.

        Except when hot weather demonstrates the reality of AGW.

        In summary

        Cool(er) weather is not climate as is completely coincidental.

        Hot(ter) weather is climate and proves AGW dogma.

      3. I think I’ll try to measure the average global temperature by putting thermometers all over the place. do you think on the top of an asphalt roof or near the an exhaust vent of an A/C unit will be a problem?

  39. Courtesy of the redoubtable Watts Up With That:

    CBS News ? New York Times Poll shows the public has mostly given up on global warming and the environment.

    An excellent sign. In a few more years, this silly bullcrap will be out of the public consciousness for good.

    1. Science by polls? Didn’t you hear Rick Perry’s comments the other day?

      I mean, Galileo didn’t poll well either!

      1. I thought that’s what you dickheads on the left did. “The science is settled.” and “The consensus, is AGW is real.”

        1. Naw, what supporters of AGW say is: “When far more experts in a field say X is true than say it is not then one not experienced in that field would do best to bet they are right.” You’re side just hears that and confuses that with the logical fallacy “argument from authority or popularity”. But nuanced distinctions are usually lost on the right, so no bigee!

          1. “It would be a sophomoric mistake to suppose that every appeal to authority is illegitimate, for the proper use of authority plays an indispensable role in the accumulation and application of knowledge. If we were to reject every appeal to authority, we would have to maintain, for example, that no one is ever justified in accepting the judgment of a medical expert concerning an illness. Instead, one would have to become a medical expert oneself, and one would face the impossible task of doing so without relying on the results of any other investigators. Instead of rejecting the appeal to authority entirely, we must attempt to distinguish correct from incorrect appeals.

            As a matter of fact, we frequently do make legitimate uses of authority. We consult textbooks, encyclopedias, and experts in various fields. In these cases the appeal is justified by the fact that the authority is known to be honest and well informed in the subject under consideration. We often have good grounds for believing that the authority is usually correct. Finally — and this is a crucial point — the expert is known to have based his or her judgment upon objective evidence which could, if necessary, be examined and verified by any competent person. Under these conditions, we shall say that the authority is reliable. The appeal to a reliable authority is legitimate, for the testimony of a reliable authority is evidence for the conclusion. The following form of argument is correct:

            b] x is a reliable authority concerning p.
            x asserts p.
            ? p.

            This form is not deductively valid, for the premises could be true and the conclusion false. Reliable authorities do sometimes make errors. It is, however, inductively correct, for it is a special case of the statistical syllogism. It could be rewritten as follows:

            c] The vast majority of statements made by x concerning subject S are true.
            p is a statement made by x concerning subject S.
            ? p is true. “

            1. Quoting Wikipedia to justify an appeal to authority….that’s too rich.

              1. Dude, the quote is from Wesley Salmon, a philosopher of science and logician, not Wikipedia.

                Wesley C. Salmon, Logic, Foundations of Philosophy Series [Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963], p. 63.

                I got it from here:

                http://www.ditext.com/salmon/3.html

                Don’t you know how to use this new site called “google?” Or is such new tech anathema to your paleo sensibilities?

                1. he wrote this in 1963, long before the american science community had essentially failed the warning given in the last paragraph of Feynman’s “Cargo Cult Science” speech.

                  We live in an era where almost all science is Cargo Cult science, so, the premise of your statistical syllo-jism “The vast majority of statements made by x concerning subject S are true” – is tainted by the fact that academia is nothing by an insulated circle jerk of self-reinforcing confirmation bias and funding cronyism.

            2. What if the data that majority used to base their opinion on had been ‘cooked’ by a small number with an agenda?

    2. The public has given up on pretty much everything at this point.

    3. Maybe not.
      At Drudge there is a link to a story about the Carbon Tax bill the airlines are facing from the EU.

  40. There’s this Sunday morning show on MSNBC; I have no idea if it’s “new” but I had never seen it before. It’s like a progressive hipster focus group (or a Lenscrafters ad, I’m not sure which). Synopsis: they like their President, they think he’s a darn nice fellow, and it pains them to hear racist antediluvian crackpots speak ill of him.

    I kept waiting for the segment where they engage in an impassioned debate about whether faux Siberian Tiger seat covers in your Scion would be ironic or morally reprehensible.

    1. Well, if it’s faux fur what would be morally reprehensible about it?

      I vote for ironic.

  41. we’re absolutely clearly plain as day black and white WRONG if we say that. They can write a “fact check” article comparing SS to the definition of a Ponzi scheme and (correctly) conclude that we’re full of shit.

    “There’s this cookie jar in Washington, see, and it’s completely full of IOUs, which conclusively proves Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme! Yhank you and good night, America.”

    1. unsustainable != Ponzi scheme

      Rick Perry and his hangers-on are using the latter term for its shock value.

      1. Who gives a fuck? People have used looser analogies. It’s a figure of speech.

      2. Ponzi scheme = Ponzi scheme.
        Fixed.

  42. Afraid of Everything, chapter 937

    To draw attention to the issue and push for legislation mandating stricter standards for play areas, Dr. Carr-Jordan, who teaches at Arizona State University and several other institutions, has formed a nonprofit group called Kids Play Safe. Her calls to health officials, from local health departments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have failed to prompt any crackdown, she said.

    A C.D.C. spokeswoman, Bernadette Burden, said the federal agency would get involved only if called in by state officials concerned about a major disease breakout. In Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the Environmental Services Department considers play areas nonfood areas, and thus less of a priority during inspections than other parts of restaurants, said Johnny Dilon?, a spokesman.

    So Dr. Carr-Jordan, fast-food vigilante, continues to climb into tubes, wriggle through tunnels and slide down slides. After emerging from one play area she inspected in Arizona last week, she shook her head. “No one would want their child playing in there,” she said, “and that one wasn’t the worst.”

    “Can’t sleep. Germs will eat me!”

    1. I still have nightmares about my first job at Chuck E Cheese, in particular the time they made me clean out the ball pit after a kid threw up in it. So all I got out of that was that there’s a college professor playing in McDonald’s playpens.

      1. Which character were you dressed up as? Mr. Munch the Molesterer?

  43. I actually never thought about it liek that before. It makles a lot of sense dude.

    http://www.anon-web-toolz.at.tc

    1. that’s the illusion, anyway, on the balance of things, poor people die quicker than rich people, so the social security still gets funneled to the elites.

      1. Hm. I thought I was the only one who responded to anonymity bot.

  44. I am a little shocked at the misunderstanding of what Social Security and all other government transfer payments are. They are the price that net taxpayers pay to indigent voters so that the indigent voters will not “expropriate the expropriators”. The ruling elites in every state have known this since long before the Roman Senate first distributed grain to the plebians.

    The trick is to keep it sustainable which, sadly, American political elites seem to have no interest in doing.

    1. no, that’s just an illusion. On the balance of things, the poor die faster than the rich, so it’s still a distribution to the elites.

    2. Well if that is the reason, it does make for a very gloomy world, the only way to keep the peace is to blackmail the population.

    3. So it’s a protection racket?
      Hey, Guido offers a better deal!

      1. Dat’s right, Mac.

        1. Hey, Guido!
          The money’s gonna be here next week! I promise, as soon as I get team red to vote MY way!

  45. And Steeler Nation is holding its breath…

    1. For the next turnover rape?

      1. For the next turnover rape drunken lass throwing herself at an obviously well-monied man and luring him into the bathroom’s baby-changing station stall in the hopes of a payday?

        1. DRUNK LADY EASY TO RAPE! EVEN BETTER WHEN PASS OUT ON CHANGING STATION!

    2. Why? They’re playing the Seahawks. Of course they were going to win. The only question is how badly the Seahawks were going to be embarrassed.

      1. Whatever. I’m looking forward to that Seahawks-Browns Super Bowl. On another note, this might be the best Lions team in my lifetime. Almost certainly the best since Johnnie Morton and Barry Sanders were in the Motor City.

        1. don’t jinx the Lions. They are going to LOSE LOSE LOSE – (I’m just using the power of negative thinking).

  46. Nice Try Libs, But Social Security is no 401-k

    Not yet.

    Nationalize the 401k schemes.

    Problem solved.

    1. Don’t think libs wouldn’t love to do that, angus…

  47. This is like the worst chat room ever.

    1. U MAD, banned bitch?

    2. A/S/L?

  48. …so MNG has been marked as a troll by the “reasonable” users.

    1. It only takes one person to add it to the public list. Enjoying your ban, biatch?

      1. only 1?

        1. LOL, you don’t understand what a remote list is, do you?

          1. There’s a ‘list’ button on my cable remote.

  49. “My metaphor for describing SS is more correct then your metaphor!!!”

    Can’t we just say SS is fucked up in its own special way?

    1. and you know…describe how it actually is fucked up.

      1. It’s a bit of a cliche to say this, but…this.

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  51. This was one of the best from S-Dal. Now, when will she write “Sorry libs, but illegal immigration is technically against the law”?

    Yoga fire

  52. It should be noted that private investments are able to take advantage of the fruitfulness of the rest of the world. Where as Social Security not only discourages reproduction(by providing an alternative retirement plan), but is limited in its revenue to the same population base which it is discouraging.

    The demographic(and thus ultimate) death of the west could be linked to the advent of Social Security and likewise schemes.

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