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A 2nd Democrat for Social Security Changes

Senate Social Security Reform Democrat Sen. Tom Carper D-Del

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#1 Corwin

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 01:23 PM

I'm hoping to spark some good neutral political debate here about the SS problem and various ways to fix it.  

Here's the article:  http://apnews.myway..../D886MUBG0.html

Cheers to any member of Congress who recognizes that we have a serious problem with Social Security that can't be solved by throwing yet more tax-payer money into a so-called "general fund".

Here is a from the article that really caught my eye and is what I think is most of the problem with Government today.

Quote

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said any plan should be bipartisan, in part to give lawmakers from both parties political cover for supporting major changes to such the popular retirement program.
Covering your ass may be good politics, but it's really lousy leadership.  I'm really tired of members of Congress putting their own political skin ahead of of the job they were voted into office to do.  Nothing worth doing is without risk.  I've lost jobs because I took a stand for what was ethically right and my bosses didn't like it.  Why shouldn't Congress do the same.  Stop worrying about getting re-elected and try to do the job you were sent to Washington to do!

On to another quote:  

Quote

Carper, who said he would prefer adding the accounts to the existing system, said he would have to see a comprehensive plan for diverting payroll taxes before deciding on supporting it.
I completely agree with the Senator on the second half of his statement.  I sure wouldn't want to support something before I knew exactly what it would do and how it would work.  
However, I already pay something like 12% of my payroll to social security and what I take home is barely enough to live until I get my next paycheck.  If I have $50 I can save from a paycheck then that means I have skipped lunch for the past 2 weeks or the car is still running ok.  Instead of adding onto existing SS taxes, let me invest 50% of it in my own account.  I'll get a hell of a lot better return on my money, even with the market trends.  So 6% goes to SS, and the other 6% goes to my own little government sanctioned 401K.

Quote

"I believe that if we go down that road, establishing private accounts, we should do so in a way that does not significantly increase our federal budget deficit and does not significantly cut benefits for our parents or, frankly, for our kids," Carper said.
I don't care how you do it, you'll increase the deficit over the short term because the government is already paying out more in SS benefits that it brings in.  For the older people who will not benefit from the new "401K" plan, you have to keep the SAME amount of benefit adjusted for cost of living increases with less overall money coming into the system.  That means that for a while, deficits will go up.
However, as for the "for our kids", comment that Sen. Carper made.  HOOEY!!!  The whole idea of privatized SS accounts is so that the government expenditure WILL go down.  People will be saving their own money that doesn't have to be continually recycled through the government.  Privatized accounts will generate much more money for what is put into them than any existing government run investing scheme (yes, scheme!) excepting the Congress Pension Plan.  With the current plan, the SS taxes I'm putting in I will never see.  They already go to pay someone elses benefits.  I've heard in other places that it already takes 2-3 workers taxes to pay for one SS beneficiary.  If I really cared about the next generation, I'd not want 4 or 5 of them to have the burden of their SS taxes paying for my SS in 30 years.  The problem will only get worse over time.  Do something about it NOW, while the situation is still salvageable.

Quote

It will cost more than $1 trillion to transition to the private accounts, because they would take away money that is needed to pay current retirement benefits.
Only $1 trillion?  Over how many years?  10?  Okay, that's only $100 billion per year.  VERY, VERY manageable with as much money as the government already has.  I already know it'll cost more than that.  And the first couple of years will be the most expensive.  How about cutting down on the Administration costs of the system?  How much would that save every year.  Why are SS benefit checks that people receive taxed?  Why does having a pension automatically cut your SS benefits in half?  Isn't that your money you have already put in over the years?  The answer to the last is no, it was spent long ago.

So, to all in Congress, do something about this CRISIS now.  Just throwing more taxpayer money at it will not do a thing except having a much larger crisis looming in 20 years.  Some sort of privatized system is the answer, so get the job done.  Maybe if you were forced to put money into the SS system, you'd feel the crunch a bit more. Oh, and while you're at it, how about increasing the funds of the Veterans Administration benefits.  These noble heroes sacrificed a lot so you can have your nice job in Washington and they deserve a hell of a lot more than you are showing them.

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#2 MuseZack

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 01:31 PM

Why are you so concerned about a program that's absolutely fine for the next fifty years or so even under the most pessimistic projections, and so enthusiastic about a solution that's been a disaster in every country it's been tried (Chile, Britain, Sweden, et al)?  The Social Security "crisis" is about as real and urgent a problem as Saddam Hussein's WMD stockpiles.
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#3 Shalamar

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 01:39 PM

I beg to differ with you Zack - The SS program is not fine, has not been fine for some time and isn't going to get better.

I have absolutely no faith that I will ever see a penny ( much less something close to livable on ) of all the money I have put into SS over the years.

And Corwin is absolutely correct about politicians covering their rears - they have the best pension plan in the world - it sometimes seems as if they are lost in a haze of 'oh my rear is covered, ergo so is every one elses'
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#4 MuseZack

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 01:46 PM

Shalamar, on Feb 12 2005, 06:39 PM, said:

I beg to differ with you Zack - The SS program is not fine, has not been fine for some time and isn't going to get better.

I have absolutely no faith that I will ever see a penny ( much less something close to livable on ) of all the money I have put into SS over the years.

And Corwin is absolutely correct about politicians covering their rears - they have the best pension plan in the world - it sometimes seems as if they are lost in a haze of 'oh my rear is covered, ergo so is every one elses'

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


What makes you say this, other than the fact that you've been subjected to a decades long progaganda campaign aimed at undermining Social Security?  Even if the most pessimistic projections are correct and in 2052 (2052!) there is a shortfall, all it means is that benefits will be paid out at a lower level than projected, but still higher in real dollar terms than current benefits.  And that's a crisis?

Now Medicare-- that's a crisis.  The budget deficit-- that's a crisis.  A hugely successful program that might (if projections 50 years into the future are correct) have a shortfall decades in the future that could easily be solved with minor tweaks like raising the payroll cap or doing modest means testing is not a crisis.  Don't fall for the scare-mongering.
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#5 Spectacles

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 02:28 PM

Quote

I already pay something like 12% of my payroll to social security

Hi,

Just to clarify, do you mean you pay 12% of your gross wages each pay period to social security? If so, you might want to take that up with your employer. If I'm understand it correctly, the SSI tax is supposed to be 6.2% of your earnings, with the employer matching it. In addition, there's a 1.45% Medicare tax.

Social security is a good deal. We need to make sure that it remains so. The Bush plan will result in lower guarenteed benefits, which you may or may not make up for in your tiny privitized account depending on how the dice rolls on Wall Street right before you retire. Sure, long term investment in stocks yields a higher rate of return on average--but there are people who lost a bundle in the market in 2003 and had to postpone retirement. So, if the market goes into a bear phase right before you retire, you may lose out--and get less in guarenteed social security benefits than your parents did.

There are ways of addressing the shortfall without adding a couple of trillion to the deficit or playing dice with a portion of your guaranteed senior income.


Here's an interview with Paul Krugman:

http://www.rollingst...sion=6.0.11.847
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#6 Gefiltefishmon

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:25 PM

MuseZack, on Feb 12 2005, 01:31 PM, said:

Why are you so concerned about a program that's absolutely fine for the next fifty years or so even under the most pessimistic projections, and so enthusiastic about a solution that's been a disaster in every country it's been tried (Chile, Britain, Sweden, et al)?  The Social Security "crisis" is about as real and urgent a problem as Saddam Hussein's WMD stockpiles.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


THANK YOU!!! :D

I sometimes feel like the only person who is aware of exactly this fact. This is yet another self-induced "crises", designed to hoodwink the public, only this time instead of being out for a few paltry hundred billion dollars spread around to the usual suspects of military contractors and mega-donors, um, I mean Leading Global Business Concerns, they're out for a Trillion (With a Capitol 'T' which rhymes with 'P' and stands for POOR - Which is what we will all be...)bucks. A Trillion dollars to be sucked out of our economy, pushing the poor further down and adding to the burden of the middle class, while boosting the profits of wall street beyond the dreams of avarice (which is pretty lofty, believe you me!).

:eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:
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#7 Delvo

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 11:34 PM

Let a non-liberal try to solve a serious problem that everyone once admitted, and watch the liberals suddenly reverse course, go against any kind of basic sense, and decide that now everything's just fine, just because it was a non-liberal (this time) who admitted that it was a problem and suggested fixing it. This is bizarre. It's like if someone were to suddenly start saying there's no such thing as cancer, which nobody in his/her right mind has ever claimed there isn't before and everyone has always known there IS, just because a political opponent has proposed doing something about cancer or announced a recent or soon-coming breakthrough in cancer treatment/prevention. :wacko:

#8 Corwin

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 12:24 AM

I agree with ya Delvo!  And here I thought I could get good debate on a serious issue.. But since there is obviously no problem here, I'll just stick my head in the sand like everyone else....

:Oo:

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#9 Bad Wolf

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 12:34 AM

I offer the following in an effort to engender the discussion I think this thread was originally intended to engender.

In response to Shalamar's concerns that she would never see a return on money she has contributed to Social Security, Zack said this:

Quote

What makes you say this, other than the fact that you've been subjected to a decades long progaganda campaign aimed at undermining Social Security? Even if the most pessimistic projections are correct and in 2052 (2052!) there is a shortfall, all it means is that benefits will be paid out at a lower level than projected, but still higher in real dollar terms than current benefits. And that's a crisis?

I would ask those who claim that there currently exists a crisis with social security to answer the question substantively. I think that the answer should also include the responder's definition of "crisis" as different people may have different points of view regarding what actually constitutes a crisis.

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#10 DWF

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 12:41 AM

MuseZack, on Feb 12 2005, 01:46 PM, said:

What makes you say this, other than the fact that you've been subjected to a decades long progaganda campaign aimed at undermining Social Security?  Even if the most pessimistic projections are correct and in 2052 (2052!) there is a shortfall, all it means is that benefits will be paid out at a lower level than projected, but still higher in real dollar terms than current benefits.  And that's a crisis?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


A couple of years ago the year for the collapse of SS was supposed to have been 2012. It would be nice if some real math came out concerning the SS's budget but I doubt that'll ever happen. :eh:
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#11 Shalamar

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 12:46 AM

Just an FYI - This is not a new belief for me.  I have always felt that Social Security was a governmental scam.
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#12 MuseZack

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 12:59 AM

Corwin, on Feb 13 2005, 05:24 AM, said:

I agree with ya Delvo!  And here I thought I could get good debate on a serious issue.. But since there is obviously no problem here, I'll just stick my head in the sand like everyone else....

:Oo:

Corwin

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If by "have a good debate" you mean "agree with your premise even if your facts are wrong," then sorry to disappoint you.  

For anyone else who's interested, here's probably the best summation of where Social Security really is and why Bush's "reforms" will make things worse, not better.

http://www.zmag.org/...=10&ItemID=6823

Privatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.

I'll have a lot to say about all this when I return to my regular schedule in January. But right now it seems important to take a break from my break, and debunk the hype about a Social Security crisis.

There's nothing strange or mysterious about how Social Security works: it's just a government program supported by a dedicated tax on payroll earnings, just as highway maintenance is supported by a dedicated tax on gasoline.

Right now the revenues from the payroll tax exceed the amount paid out in benefits. This is deliberate, the result of a payroll tax increase - recommended by none other than Alan Greenspan - two decades ago. His justification at the time for raising a tax that falls mainly on lower- and middle-income families, even though Ronald Reagan had just cut the taxes that fall mainly on the very well-off, was that the extra revenue was needed to build up a trust fund. This could be drawn on to pay benefits once the baby boomers began to retire.
  
The grain of truth in claims of a Social Security crisis is that this tax increase wasn't quite big enough. Projections in a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (which are probably more realistic than the very cautious projections of the Social Security Administration) say that the trust fund will run out in 2052. The system won't become "bankrupt" at that point; even after the trust fund is gone, Social Security revenues will cover 81 percent of the promised benefits. Still, there is a long-run financing problem.
  
But it's a problem of modest size. The report finds that extending the life of the trust fund into the 22nd century, with no change in benefits, would require additional revenues equal to only 0.54 percent of G.D.P. That's less than 3 percent of federal spending - less than we're currently spending in Iraq. And it's only about one-quarter of the revenue lost each year because of President Bush's tax cuts - roughly equal to the fraction of those cuts that goes to people with incomes over $500,000 a year.

Given these numbers, it's not at all hard to come up with fiscal packages that would secure the retirement program, with no major changes, for generations to come.

It's true that the federal government as a whole faces a very large financial shortfall. That shortfall, however, has much more to do with tax cuts - cuts that Mr. Bush nonetheless insists on making permanent - than it does with Social Security.

But since the politics of privatization depend on convincing the public that there is a Social Security crisis, the privatizers have done their best to invent one.

My favorite example of their three-card-monte logic goes like this: first, they insist that the Social Security system's current surplus and the trust fund it has been accumulating with that surplus are meaningless. Social Security, they say, isn't really an independent entity - it's just part of the federal government.

If the trust fund is meaningless, by the way, that Greenspan-sponsored tax increase in the 1980's was nothing but an exercise in class warfare: taxes on working-class Americans went up, taxes on the affluent went down, and the workers have nothing to show for their sacrifice.

But never mind: the same people who claim that Social Security isn't an independent entity when it runs surpluses also insist that late next decade, when the benefit payments start to exceed the payroll tax receipts, this will represent a crisis - you see, Social Security has its own dedicated financing, and therefore must stand on its own.
  
There's no honest way anyone can hold both these positions, but very little about the privatizers' position is honest. They come to bury Social Security, not to save it. They aren't sincerely concerned about the possibility that the system will someday fail; they're disturbed by the system's historic success.
  
For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it.

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#13 Banapis

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 01:05 AM

Delvo, on Feb 13 2005, 12:34 AM, said:

Let a non-liberal try to solve a serious problem that everyone once admitted, and watch the liberals suddenly reverse course, go against any kind of basic sense, and decide that now everything's just fine, just because it was a non-liberal (this time) who admitted that it was a problem and suggested fixing it. This is bizarre. It's like if someone were to suddenly start saying there's no such thing as cancer, which nobody in his/her right mind has ever claimed there isn't before and everyone has always known there IS, just because a political opponent has proposed doing something about cancer or announced a recent or soon-coming breakthrough in cancer treatment/prevention. :wacko:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Let's try to avoid meta-generalizations about what "the liberals" do or do not do when facing a supposed "serious problem" and try to keep things on topic: Social Security and proposed changes thereto.  

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#14 Delvo

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 09:07 AM

Banapis, on Feb 13 2005, 01:05 AM, said:

Let's try to avoid meta-generalizations about what "the liberals" do or do not do when facing a supposed "serious problem" and try to keep things on topic: Social Security and proposed changes thereto.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I was describing what I see a handful of liberals right here doing in the last few days in this thread and maybe one or a few others right here, not generalizing.

#15 Rov Judicata

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 09:17 AM

Social security is a scam. It's really not seemly to force everybody to fork over 10% of their paycheck (including employer contribution) to subsidize the government with a low-interest loan. The fact that it's been portrayed as something beneficial to the average person is one of the greatest marketing triumphs of our time. However, it's too deeply entrenched to easily get rid of at this point [and we couldn't afford the transititional costs at this point anyway, so eliminating it would be irresponsible.].

That being said, privatization does absolutely nothing to solve the problem; it just increases the debt while accomplishing very little. Very modest fixes-- raising the payroll tax cap when the time comes (or even right now), increasing income taxes and diverting the new money, etc.-- will solve the problem.

Okay, so Social Security will be in debt starting in 2042. Maybe. Fine. The government is paying out more than it takes in every year *right now* via the general fund. Shouldn't we be focusing on that?

Edited by Hotspur Rovinski, 13 February 2005 - 09:21 AM.

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#16 Delvo

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 09:48 AM

DWF, on Feb 13 2005, 12:41 AM, said:

MuseZack, on Feb 12 2005, 01:46 PM, said:

What makes you say this, other than the fact that you've been subjected to a decades long progaganda campaign aimed at undermining Social Security?  Even if the most pessimistic projections are correct and in 2052 (2052!) there is a shortfall, all it means is that benefits will be paid out at a lower level than projected, but still higher in real dollar terms than current benefits.  And that's a crisis?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


A couple of years ago the year for the collapse of SS was supposed to have been 2012. It would be nice if some real math came out concerning the SS's budget but I doubt that'll ever happen. :eh:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There are different variables you can plug in to the projections and get different results, depending on how you assume the economy will go, when people will die, what the government's exact tax rates and spending rates will be, how much old people will need to spend per year, and such. The typical projection range where most results fall is 2010 to 2020; the low end might be too alarmist, and 2012 is the lowest I've seen lately. To call 2052 the most pessimistic projection is just wildly unreal; it's a decade more optimistic than the second-place projection for optimism, which itself is roughly TWO decades more optimistic than any other; even John Kerry during the campaign, when criticizing Bush's privatization idea, never got any more optimistic than 2042, as we discussed here. (And why is it OK for the system to be dying just because it won't happen yet for a while? That's like the South Park kids thinking it was great for their nemesis to be imprisoned for 5 years, 5 years ago, because 5 years was so long it would never come.)

And notice that that's one of our many past threads here in which, when people said the SS is dying, nobody objected that it isn't at the time, and/or privatization critics criticized the plan (while admitting there's a problem but saying it needs to be fixed some other way) but failed to mention this supposedly crucial supposed fact that there's no problem to fix in the first place and everything's honky-dory. Just a sliver of a sample of the others are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Those last five include links to statements about the problem by Alan Greenspan (twice), "The Economist", an article by the ultra-conservative right-wing rag The New York Times, and the Concord Coalition (just follow the link and see their page subtitles to tell which party they're partisan to and working for).

Nobody denied the problem until the last few days or so; the only reason for so many to have coincidentally started at the same time as each other now, as if this weren't a sudden and drastic change (not to mention a departure from reality and common sense), is that the Democrat machine has decided that that's how to attack Bush this time and sent it out in their latest round of talking points to all their followers. And now their followers, being such good followers, are... um... following right along with their orders.

Oops, I forgot that the rule around here lately is that any time you criticize a political opponent, you're supposed to work in a few Nazi references or at least racist Germany references... um... I meant to call the NYT not just an "ultra-conservative right-wing rag" but an "ultra-neoconservative reich-wing rag"... and Democrat talking points "Demokrätische Pärtys tälken pünkten" or maybe "Sprächen-Pünkten die Brünschirten & Stürmtrüpen". And the "followers following orders" don't just do that, but snap to attention and give a long-armed salute first. There, how's that? :rolleyes:

Edited by Delvo, 13 February 2005 - 09:59 AM.


#17 Spectacles

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 09:56 AM

Quote

Delvo: Let a non-liberal try to solve a serious problem that everyone once admitted, and watch the liberals suddenly reverse course, go against any kind of basic sense, and decide that now everything's just fine, just because it was a non-liberal (this time) who admitted that it was a problem and suggested fixing it.

There's a difference in saying something is a "crisis" and something is a "problem." I've heard no one say there is no problem. Yes, SS will reach the point where it pays out more that it takes in. But, guess what? The federal government already is paying out more than it takes in. And given our current deficits, I'm not sure that adding a couple of trillion to the debt right now is the wisest course.

I'm all for private retirement accounts, and I think every young worker should have one. It's odd, though, that the same people who rail against the nanny state seem to think that those retirement accounts should be managed by the government via tiny slices of SS payroll taxes. That kind of contradicts the notion of personal iniative and freedom from government, doesn't it?

And those of you who think social security is not worth saving, I'm curious, do you know any retired people? Any elderly widows? Ask them if their monthly social security check is a scam.

You, too, will one day be old, if providence allows it. You will have paid a tidy sum in social secuirty taxes. You should get what you paid for. The government cannot renege on its promise to you unless you let them, and the rhetoric is priming younger generations to be prepared to roll over when they're greeted with, "sorry, social security is broken."
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

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#18 Palisades

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 10:07 AM

Spectacles, on Feb 13 2005, 09:56 AM, said:

It's odd, though, that the same people who rail against the nanny state seem to think that those retirement accounts should be managed by the government via tiny slices of SS payroll taxes.

Unfortunately, there are those who are unwilling or unable to save. If we cut the payroll tax in half rather than let the government set up private retirement accounts using that half, then we would just shift the burden over to Welfare.

Edited by Solar Wind, 13 February 2005 - 10:25 AM.

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#19 Delvo

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 10:11 AM

Spectacles, on Feb 13 2005, 09:56 AM, said:

I'm all for private retirement accounts, and I think every young worker should have one. It's odd, though, that the same people who rail against the nanny state seem to think that those retirement accounts should be managed by the government via tiny slices of SS payroll taxes. That kind of contradicts the notion of personal iniative and freedom from government, doesn't it?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, it does, which is why this whole thing is just more proof that Bush is no conservative. (Trust me, I'm no fan of having such huge amounts of money confiscated from me now, whether I'll get it back later or not; NOW is when I NEED it, not some later date that I'll only be able to properly prepare myself for if I manage to get out of the financial problems I'm currently in, which are partly due to the government's generous confiscations!) Instead of taking a real stand for what needs to be done, he's wussing out to a mushy middle-ground where the government still deprives people of money NOW whether now is a good time for them or not, and spends it itself instead of letting people decide themselves when and where to spend it. Some people probably think that keeping it as a tax-paid government program is the only way it would have any chance of Democrats voting for it. But even that is still better than the current system, because the investments will bring in more money for the program while contributing to the economy instead of sucking from it.

Spectacles, on Feb 13 2005, 09:56 AM, said:

And those of you who think social security is not worth saving, I'm curious, do you know any retired people? Any elderly widows? Ask them if their monthly social security check is a scam.

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It is, whether they know it or not; any of them who would say it's not just don't know how much better off they'd be if they hadn't been forced and defrauded into the scam and made dependent on it in the first place, or how much of a burden it makes them to the rest of us. (Or possibly, on that latter part, some know it but don't care.)

#20 Nonny

Nonny

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 11:38 AM

I received more money from SSA than I ever contributed due to the tragedy of becoming disabled.  Am I cheering about this?  Heck, no.  The hell that SSA puts retirees through is bad enough, and disabled recipients have an even worse time, but those of us who don't even qualify for disability benefits get stuck on SSI.  The ten years I spent on SSI were horrifying, the six years before barely surviving while going through the intimidating process even worse.  When I say that the VA rescued me from SSA, I mean that literally.  One of the big differences between being a VA pensioner and an SSA recipient of any kind is that veterans get treated with respect.  

Anyway, here's the latest horror inflicted upon the innocent and the forgiven in order to catch a few criminals:

Computer dragnet

I hope somebody is compiling statistics on how many aid recipients commit suicide while under this kind of duress.  If nothing else, perhaps it could shock ....  Is it too much to hope that folks who believed in Reagan's widespread "welfare queen" lie will reject that somehow this is justified?    

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"Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank, give a man a bank and he can rob the world." Can anyone tell me who I am quoting?  I found this with no attribution.

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