Friday, February 8, 2013

SAR #13039

Energy first; everything else second.

Once More, With Clarity For All: "The Big Lie is that 'Social Security is going broke, causing huge deficits that will burden our children.' Social Security is not going broke. It has nothing to do with the deficit. The workers pay for it themselves. They can always pay for it themselves. If the costs of retirement rise as they are expected to, the cost of Social Security will rise.... about eighty cents per week per year. This is not a burden on the young. It is money they will get back with interest when they need it most. It is in fact the best deal that workers have ever had. Tell the people. "

Too Good To Miss:  “So God made a banker.”

Misery Sisters: At the current Eurozone budget meeting, Germany and the UK are pushing for everyone in the EU to adopt austerity programs similar to those that have already ruined Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal. France and Italy, with less docile citizens, want to maintain their budgets and use them to create jobs. Is it time to start placing bets on the date of the breakup?

Quoted: “The US faces a two-tiered system of justice that . . . all but assures more excessive risk-taking, more crime and more crises.” Neil Barofsky, former TARP Inspector General.

Forever Blowing Bubbles: Back in 2004 and 2005, house prices were running away at 8%, 12% a year. In December 2012 they rose at 8% (and higher in many regions). Back then it was a bubble. Today it's a recovery. Back then it was 'unsustainable', today it's... Today it's 'investors' buying up distressed houses in hopes of a quick profit – what used to be called flipping. Still is. Robert Shiller's not a fan says there is little reason to expect prices to return to their former levels.

God Will Know His Own: A Lutheran minister in Connecticut has publicly apologized for praying with Jews, Muslims and non-Lutherans at a vigil for Sandy Hook victims. It's a sin.

All In Favor: As the first crop of 401(k)ers reach retirement, they are finding out that they were another broken promise.  Most do not have near enough to maintain a decent lifestyle in their ground-down golden years. Most will depend on Social Security, which simply isn’t enough.  We need to remove the salary cap and push the rate up about 0.5% all-round. And then we need to increase Social Security benefits by at least 20%. The 401(k) experiment has been a disaster for everyone except the firms that collect the fees on them. The rest of us need to go back to caring for one another.

Road to Nowhere: Another week, another boring 366,000 in initial unemployment claims, here in the land of the Great Recovery.

A Sound Policy: Michigan Republicans, knowing it to be hopeless but needing to mark their territory, have introduced yet another law requiring women undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. Tennessee's cavemen have introduced a similar bill. In Iowa, nine Republican troglodytes want to define 'person' to apply from the moment of conception, and to make abortion at any point an act of murder. They say it will clear up any confusion and simplify prosecution of everyone involved.

The Parting Shot:



Sukh Hayre, CGA said...

In regards to Social Security. I think the problem is, the promises were made in the day of U.S. (and developed country)hegemony.

That world is slowly starting to fall apart, along with the benefits that accrued with it.

Going forward, the problem becomes, how do you compete when such a large portion of income is required to go to shelter costs. We have seniors living alone, we have single parents. I'm not saying anything is wrong with this, only that it becomes very difficult to afford.

In regards to taking care of each other, I see a world where elderly parents will "be forced to" move in with their children.

This is how it it done in the rest of the world, and I don't know if this is a luxury that developed nations can still afford going forward.

The more of our resources that go to taking care of the "independent" elderly, the less that leaves for other important things - like making things that we can trade for things that others are producing.

Seniors will move in with their children out of necessity and this will increase the inventory overhang of homes, which will bring shelter costs down for the younger generation, which will be needed because they will not earn the same level of income as their parents. But, they will also not work as many hours, which is the blessing of leisure time that technology promised. We are going through a huge adjustment period, and there will be pains as we go through it. Have to keep faith that things will continue to improve, even if it is in different ways (more leisure time to spend with family and friends doing things that don't necessarily cost a fortune to do, but are still quite enjoyable). Maybe as simple as enjoying meals together.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Certainly our housing patterns are far from ideal, but short of waving a magic wand (perhaps the magic of poverty) the social patterns will change but slowly. Yes, we should find ways to accommodate more of the elderly in less wasteful housing, but that's true of the non-elderly, too.

The point I was trying to draw attention to, once again, is that we can easily afford to keep SS essentially as it is for another 50 - 75 years with some minor tweaks - taxing all income equally, primarily. No means-testing. And we could do so with an increase in payment level and returning to a true-inflationary COLA.

It is not the elderly - now or in the foreseeable future - that are not affordable. The entire defense paranoia (and homeland security, too) needs quick and severe downsizing, with the money spent on useful things like infrastructure. And most of all we need a single payer health system that cuts the costs of medicine to match that of most of the rest of the developed world and raises our outcomes to match theirs.

As far as "keeping faith that things will continue to improve" would first require some evidence that things have even begun to improve - something for which the evidence is at best thin.

Thom Foolery said...

RE: God will know his own.

The second I read your blurb, I knew the minister in question belonged to the Missori Synod branch of the Lutheran Church in the U.S. This was the mind-crushing, anti-human faith into which I was indoctrinated as a kid and from which I have spent my entire adult life recovering. (Example: In the early '90s, my parents' church voted to take away womens' voting rights within the church.) After 9/11, the president of the synod prayed with other religious leaders, and was blasted for it by the synod. (He may have been removed too, I forget.) Pathetic.

Thom Foolery said...

RE: All in Favor

"The 401(k) experiment has been a disaster for everyone except the firms that collect the fees on them."

I would also like to note that it has been a boon to the black magicians who run Wall Street. Once everyone's retirement earnings were inextricably tied into the performance of the stock market, regular citizens actually felt they had skin in the game, and so have had fewer problems writing blank checks from the public treasury to prop up the market.

OkieLawyer said...

Re: All in Favor

At least the author of the article is 20% of the way there.