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Saturday, July 31, 2010
That’s As Good As Money, Sir--Those Are IOUs!
Hal’s Social Security post brought to mind this little clip from Dumb and Dumber. Embedding was disabled, so click the link to watch it--it’s amazing how Lloyd Christmas and Moveon give the same basic argument.
“Go ahead and add it up--every cent’s accounted for!” LOL. Christ, even the government spending of the surplus for superfluous shit is echoed in the $275K IOU written on a napkin.
The SS Pushback
Moveon.org has a list of five myths about Social Security that is getting rolled out by every liberal organization out there. You know, it’s stuff like this that makes me think that George Soros can’t be that dangerous. How can he be when his organization comes out with a list of talking points that even a back bench blogger can take down?
This is simply false. That surplus consists entirely of loans to the government itself (to be fair, they “address” this point later). Now when a bank loans out money, those loans are considered assets. They are usually backed by collateral and generate income to the bank from the outside world. It is not the same with government because government has loaned this money to itself and spent it. So to reclaim those assets—i.e., to tap the surplus—government then has to pay itself back. That money has to come out of general revenues.
The social security trust fund has been and always will be a fraud. It’s like saving money for college by filling your piggybank with pieces of paper that read, “I OWE U $20, LOVE, HAL_10000”. Eventually, the money has to come from somewhere.
Even if we accept that the surplus really exists, the unfunded liability of Social Security is $20 trillion, not $4.6 trillion. Moveon is using this point to argue against small decreases in benefits. So they argue against small cuts today so that tomorrow’s retirees will get a 25% cut. Very future-minded these guys.
I’ll let Cato take this one:
There’s also the hard reality that retirees are supported by fewer workers than they once were. So, long-lived or not, the mathematics of our age distribution are going to force people to retire later.
This also misses an important point about senior health. I can’t find it right now, but the NYT ran a great story a few years ago about how much healthier today’s seniors are than yesterday’s. People who lived into their 60’s and 70’s used to be in wheelchairs by the time they got there. Today, thanks primarily to improved diet, better prenatal nutrition and childhood vaccinations, that is no longer the case.
I favor a incentivized approach in which SS benefits increase the longer you delay retirement. But the idea that people aren’t living longer and healthier lives today is pure garbage.
Notice the verbal flim-flam: Social Security isn’t broken! .... but if it was broken—NOT THAT IT IS—here is how we fix it.
I’ve talked this one to death, so I’ll just be quick:
1) Raising the earning cap doesn’t make the rich “pay their fair share” unless Social Security is, in fact, a welfare system and not a retirement system. Social Security benefits are capped for higher earners, so why shouldn’t contributions be?
2) Raising the earning cap will give the US one of the largest marginal income tax rates in the world, raising it some 15 points. And please, don’t come at me with this “employer contribution” bullshit. If my employer weren’t making his “contribution”, it would be going into my pocket. If his contribution goes up, my pay goes down. That’s a tax on me, no matter how loudly you pretend it’s a tax on my employer. (Soros, of course, being rich, would be able to protect of his income from social security taxes. See Alex’s post on John Kerry’s tax avoidance.)
3) Raising taxes won’t really help, because the government will simply loan that money to itself again. See point (1). Seen in that light, you realize that this is nothing but a back door tax hike.
“The US has never missed an interest payment on its debts” is both meaningless—we’ve come close and have never had this much debt before—and stupid. Stupid because social security is not being funded by interest payments. It has to be funded by paying back those treasury bonds. And the US has not paid back this much debt since Andrew Jackson was President.
This is like saying my metaphorical piggybank isn’t really filled with IOU’s, it’s filled with super-duper reliable IOU’s because they come from me and I’m just so darned reliable about mortgage payments. No matter how reliable or trustworthy you think the government is—and I would argue it’s not very much of either—this is still a massive chunk of treasury bonds our seniors are going to be redeeming.
Really, this statement is one that Michael Moore would be proud of. It’s literally true but functionally false. Yes, technically the Trust Fund is full of bonds. But those bond don’t magically pay themselves back. They have to be paid out of general revenues, which leads to ...
And yet ... every budget before now has counted money borrowed out of the Social Security trust fund against the deficit (this is why Clinton was only nominally running surpluses most years). And yet ... Social Security is starting to run a deficit now and that money will have to come out of the general fund as we pay back those pesky
Do you see how it works now, Moveon? Do you see it works now AFL-CIO, NOW and NAACP, who have been running with this piece? You can’t make yourself rich by borrowing money from yourself. You can’t pay off debts without spending money. Seniors can not buy jet skis with treasury bonds. We have a paper trust fund, an increasing senior populations and a decreasing tax base. This is not some crisis ginned up by Rush Limbaugh. This is a real problem.
How can these people so fucking dumb?Close this post...
Friday, July 30, 2010
Tell It To Aisha
Time Magazine’s cover this week feature Aisha, an 18 year old Afghan girl who ... well ...
I don’t know that Afghanistan is a problem that we can solve. The US strategy seems to be to prop the current Afghan government long enough to negotiate a deal with the less radical parts of the Taliban. I’m not sure that strategy is working, but I do know this month killed a record number of American troops and only a tiny fraction of the country is under our control.
Is the Afghan War winnable? What is the end game? And what do we tell women like Aisha? What happened to her is horrible but can it be prevented by sacrificing more American lives? Should it be?
Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/30/10 at 08:14 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Government spending as a % of GDP.
Here is a real interesting graph showing government spending as a percentage of GDP.
While the axis shows the increases or decreases based on whom was in the WH, the better indicator would have been who controlled Congress. After all, they are the ones doing all the spending. Lag the budgets based on the fact that Congress passes spending bills for the next year, and it becomes even more interesting.
Particularly focus on the 1996-2006 budgets, and then compare them with those from 1982 to 1995, or even better with those from 2007 to present.
You can ignore the ones for 2011 and 2012. That either the CBO parroting the demcorat’s claims that they are going to lower spending - you are not stupid enough to really believe that right? – or the CBO accounting for a republican takeover of Congress and an attempted return to sanity in government spending.
What’s the obvious trend here, huh? BTW, do you know that this is the first time our government is spending as a % of GDP is close to the levels set back during WWII? At least we won that one, and most of the spending today isn’t to fight wars. Economists, sane ones, no the Keynesian dingbats, in general see anything over 21% as not good, and anything over 23% as darn right scary. Me, I would like to see it under 18%.
Government take-overs, green machines, and excuse making for obvious failures
When Obama, helped by the demcorat controlled congress, bought out GM for their Union buddies with tax payer money masquerading as stimulus funding or TARP bailouts - that line is blurry - I warned that the result of this would be disastrous. I warned that all that a government takeover of a car manufacturing company would lead to was the forced adoption of a car that would not be liked, used expensive green technology that was meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and in the end would cost orders of magnitude more to purchase than one was getting for it. Of course, the left pretended that wouldn’t be the case, and that now that government was in charge of GM’s strategy and direction, they would put out a dream car that would do the imposable and also save the environment and planet all in one swoop. GM would go into the business of making green transportation, and with the evil entities usually blamed by the combustion engine-haters unable to thwart GM’s efforts because of government protection, they would finally succeed! All the deniers and doubters were finally going to be shown how great that whole collectivist green stuff really was. It looks like I was right. Let me rub it in some.
So this collectivist’s green dream car basically costs $41K and delivers for that hefty price tag nothing more than a $17K combustion engine car would? WTF? Maybe you should just go buy a Mercedes or some such other luxury car instead of this boondoggle. Talk about getting screwed twice. It is apparent that not only did we tax payers get reamed by these bastards, all so their union buddies could keep their gold plated bennies and jobs, but that they now expect people to pay an arm and a leg for something that’s not all that to begin with. Bravo NYT for coming clean on the obvious!
Of course, the NYT could not just point out the obvious inherent ideological failure caused by those that want to use the power of government to thwart the mechanics of real world, and leave it at that. Nope, they had to go make excuses about why this failure isn’t really the fault of the inherent stupidity in that ideology. Right after acknowledging that the Volt turned out to be exactly what we told you would end up happening, we get a mountain of excuses.
Well, DUH! Making stupid decisions like this one is PRECISELY why GM was on the verge of imploding. When you add on one dumb decision after another, you should go the way of the T-Rex. GM is the company that allowed its unions to negotiate those golden packages that were draining all their income. GM is the company that decided a car that costs $17K with a combustion engine would be a viable product that could make them money if they plopped in an expensive electric motor, only to then find out that at $41K, only stupid people or government agencies are going to ever buy this junk.
And the dumb doesn’t end there. There were some fun doozies like this one:
Forget the inherent flaw here that the financial loss that the NYT is pining for here will be incurred yet again by us tax payers. Is this dumb assertion based on that idiotic concept of selling something at a loss, and making the loss up on volume? I am intimately familiar with the concept that the “per unit cost” goes down with volume. But I find it laughable that there ever will be enough sales of this vehicle to make that the case. And want to see the thing that gave me the biggest laugh?
What’s honest about an attempt to pretend GM was pushing this piece of crap to consumers to thank them for a bailout at the tax payer’s expense? WTF? In fact, if GM was honest it would be admitting this boondoggle is what you get when you marry government with business. Pretzel much? And I have always expected the combination of “GM’s Volt” and “runaway success” in the same sentence to also include something like “no way in hell” or “here comes a lame joke”. This is sad, but don’t worry. GM’s next success will be an $80K electric car that can be bought with a combustion engine for $25K! That’s a step in the right direction.
UPDATE: I think the Volt, in a nut shell, is the perfect illustration of the green world the left so pines for: you will pay oodles more, get a lot less in return for it, making some government agency more powerful in the process, and think this was somehow a good thing. Basically it illustrates the whole concept of “failure is a great success” that seems to be the MO of the left, by applying it to the real world in a practical manner.Close this post...
Posted by AlexinCT on 07/30/10 at 11:28 AM in Deep Thoughts Left Wing Idiocy Politics Law, & Economics Science and Technology The Press Machine • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Brazen screw job
Remember all those collectivists bloaviating about how they have finally stuck it to evil corporatists, capitalists, and Wall Street, by passing that 2400 plus page regulatroy monster? Well guess what: they want to conrtol the private sector, but it is damned obvious they want none of that for them:
Yeah, this is going to work out real well for us all…
Read the whole thing. You simply can not make this shit up. All the evil things the left accused Bush falsely of doing they are actually doing for real. Serfs: that’s what they are going to make us all into.
Posted by AlexinCT on 07/29/10 at 09:56 AM in Decline of Western Civilization Elections Election 2010 Left Wing Idiocy Politics Law, & Economics The Press Machine • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Calculate the impact of Congress letting the Bush tax cuts expire..
Have fun, and find out how much this is going to cost you if these people don’t wise up. My numbers showed a 4.5% increase in taxation liability. That was a big chunk of change that I would now not have. Guess while government gets fat, the private sector has to tighten its belt even more. There is a cost for all that social justice stuff, and that cost is always born by the regular Joe, regardless of what the commies that push that crap tell you.
Update: Even collectivist CNBC has to run articles pointing out that any economic recovery would be hampered if tax cuts are allowed to expire. My first question is: “What economic recovery?”. The next is can these people ever stop the Obama propaganda?
Last I remember, and even Bush hating Wikipedia agrees with that, these tax breaks were for ALL AMERICANS, not just those making $250K and more. Oh sure, these morons at CNBC used this wording on purpose and will point out that the they chose that threshold because Saint Obama says that’s the break between rich and poor, but it is a lie intended to again make it look like evil Boooosh only cared about the rich. In fact, these were this tax act was the on that enacted the idiotic changes that left such a huge portion of Americans free of the need to pay any taxes, leaving too many amongst them without any tax obligations, and figuring in their twisted world that tax hikes, since they didn’t pay any anyway, were a fine idea.
Anyway, here is the gist of the story:
Don’t expect the morons holding this Congress hostage to be smart enough to figure out that letting any portion of this tax cuts expire is a bad idea. They can just pass another trillion dollar stimulus bill and deficit spend a few more trillion on top of that, to perk up the economy. After all, the last patronage bill and the $1.4 trillion dollars they flushed down the hole this year worked so well.
What really needs to be done is a massive rollback of the social justice state. Let people earn what they have. Not steal it from others or work in government (same thing as stealing it from others).
Posted by AlexinCT on 07/29/10 at 07:28 AM in Elections Election 2010 Left Wing Idiocy Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The $8.7 Billion Hole
To quote P. J. O’Rourke, how do you “lose” $8.7 billion? Did they check under the couch cushions?
The deal here is that the US was allowed to tap money put into the Iraq Development fund, which is run by the UN. The US took about $20 billion out and this audit, which covers the $9.1 billion spent from 2004 to 2007, showed that the spending was simply not documented.
Between Iraq and Afghanistan, we have poured $100 billion into reconstruction, with little to show for it. Part of this is the basic incompetence of the last Administration’s reconstruction efforts, as documented in Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book. And part of this is just the fundamental problem of nation building in nations that weren’t terribly built in the first place. There’s a part of me that thinks we should still keep trying to fix these countries. But there’s a growing part that thinks this would be just throwing good money after bad.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/28/10 at 05:20 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
The Cordobamite Maneuver
So having built up some good will with my “Death of the Middle Class” post below, I’ll throw it away with this one.
It is the issue that will not die: the Cordoba House that is being built in New York. You may recognize it by the name it’s gotten in the media: The Ground Zero Mosque.
Ignore, for the moment, the arguments for or against—I have my opinion expressed below the fold and have already made it clear where I stand. Concentrate on this:
Why this? Why now?
Look, we have serious problems in this country. Last friday, the administration quietly announced that next year’s deficit is going to be another $1.4 trillion. We have structural deficits out the ying-yang, states struggling to deal with out of control pensions and an economy that seems on the brink of a double dip recession. Millions of Americans are out of work and our Administration has no clue what to do about it, other than tax the shit out of small businesses.
So who the blue fuck cares about a mosque?
Why is this an issue? How is it going to benefit the country if we indeed blocque the mosque? Is that going to balance the budget? Or get the economy moving? Hell, the project is probably going to create more jobs than the damned stimulus.
So why are we are arguing about this?
We are arguing about it because it is becoming increasingly apparent that the bulk of the Republican Party has no clue how to fix the country either. They are screaming the heavens down about the deficit but none of them—except Paul Ryan—have even the vaguest proposals for reducing it. They’re willing to brand the President a borderline traitor for his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they have yet to articulate a clear defense strategy of their own. They gnash their teeth about jobs, but they have no idea what do about them. What few policy proposals they make are either impossible with Obama in the White House (repeal healthcare reform), unaffordable (increase defense spending and cut taxes) or pointless (cut “waste”, don’t bow to the Japanese emperor.).
Ever since 2006, I have been waiting the GOP to come out with a coherent platform. I mean something other than buzzwords, catch phrases and vague platitudes. It’s now been four years since they lost power and the GOP still has only anger, resentment and outrage to offer us. I am, once again, forcibly reminded of the Left in the 80’s and 90’s. You don’t need ideas; all you need is anger.
And so the talk of town, with three months until election day and the Democratic Party reeling, remains the Outrage of the Week. Whatever news story the Right Wing can work themselves into a lather over is the issue de jour. One week, it’s “snubbing Israel” (who would have thought the GOP would take another country’s side in a minor diplomatic tiff). Another week, it’s racists at the NAACP. The next week it’s a stupid mosque that no one ever heard of before some Right Wingers got ahold of it and decided they understood the pain of 9/11 better than the people who were actually there. Sometimes these issues are real; more often they’re bogus. And almost always, they’re penny ante stuff—the sort of trivial things you worry about when there’s no wars or recessions to deal with.
For four years, it’s been a non-stop barrage of outrageous outrage. Screaming and yelling and getting worked up into a frenzy over nothing. It’s been a constant electric jolt to the spleens of tens of millions of conservative Americans. And for what? So the GOP can get in power and return to the mistakes they made for half a decade? Have they shown any evidence of learning from their colossal fuck-ups?
Frankly, I’m sick of this bullshit. I crossed my own threshold last week with the NAACP business. I’m outraged out. I’m tired of having my emotions played with by people who are pig ignorant, confuse ideology with ideas, have no concrete solutions to our national problems and whose idea of a crowning political achievement is a guest commentator spot on Fox News.
Fuck ‘em. If this is the best they’ve got—that they want to ignore religious freedom, economic freedom and the decision of a local government because a non-violent muslim group wants to build a mosque within some arbitrary radius of the twin towers, they are unworthy of our time or attention. If they had some good ideas about the economy, then I might be willing to listen to their ideas on Manhattan zoning. But they don’t, so I won’t. I’m sorry. Your ideas must be at least this good for this ride.
I want the Democrats out and I hope they get flogged in November. But at this point, I’m still not sure want the GOP back in. After four years of Democratic bullshit, the last thing we need is two years of GOP bullshit. And in their present state, I certainly don’t want them in command of both the White House and Congress.
Call me when you’re serious, GOP. Call me when you want to govern. Somebody else can pay attention while you’re foaming at the mouth over the pseudo-controvery of the week.
You can probably guess my opinion on the whole mosque thing, but it’s worth restating. The community center—which includes a mosque among other things—is blocks away from ground zero and has no view of it. There are a number of mosques in Manhattan, so why object to this one? What is the minimum non-stabbing-in-the-heart distance for a mosque anyway? The people of NYC—you know, the ones whose feelings should be the most raw—approved of this project almost unanimously and I find it somewhat presumptuous for people from Georgia and Alaska to tell the people of NYC how to feel about Ground Zero. Many muslims were victims of 9/11 and the lead developer of this project was one of those lending a hand on 9/11. The entire “anywhere but Ground Zero” rationale is somewhat undermined by the same people protesting mosques nowhere near Ground Zero.
The more I look at it, the more this looks like an issue designed to artificially enrage the Right Wing. In short, to gain a temporary domestic political advantage, the anti-mosque guys are willing to trammel the religious freedom of millions of American muslims and deride hundreds of millions of muslims around the world who are on our side. From rooftop protestors in Iran to militias in Afghanistan to reformers in Indonesia to American muslims who have died in Iraq, our effort to destroy radicalism and terrorism are critically dependent on having allies in the Islamic world. This is typical of the short-range thinking that has characterized the GOP lately—emphasizing outrage over thought, short-term tactics over long-range strategy and ideological purity over discourse.
This controversy has managed to provoke an astonishing amount of stupidity from the Right Wing, probably because they are having trouble justifying their opposition. Neal Boortz, for example, selectively notes that the Cordoba Mosque was a church converted after Muslim conquest and makes some ominous musing about sharia law descending on all of us. He conveniently ignores that the same site had earlier been converted by Roman pagans, Visigoth christians and later re-conquered and converted into its current form—a Spanish catholic cathedral. Then you have Sarah Palin inventing new words and comparing herself to Shakespeare. And the crowning turd in the waterpipe had to be Newt Gingrich saying that we will allow the mosque when synagogues open in Mecca; as if fucking Saudi Arabia is the example we set for ourselves. As Yglesis notes in the link above, is he going to demand the Vatican build synagogues before we build more cathedrals?
If a Christian terrorist blew up the Dome of the Rock, I would not support banning churches within Jerusalem. If an environmental terrorist torched a Hummer dealership, I wouldn’t forbid the Sierra Club from opening an office nearby. If a Right Wing terrorist blew up a building in Washington, I wouldn’t support a ban on Tea Party marches on the Mall. This country is about freedom and sometimes freedom is ugly or hurts some people’s feelings. Our commitment to freedom is determined by how much we are willing to grit our teeth and let people do what they are allowed to do. These guys aren’t getting handouts or special dispensations. I wouldn’t build a mosque there, but they’re not breaking the law. Put some undercover FBI agents in it if you want, but let’s not go down this road of decreeing where certain religions can practice.Close this post...
Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/28/10 at 11:35 AM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Speaking of people who abuse statistics, Elizabeth Warren is likely to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Warren is extremely popular in liberals circles. It’s not difficult to see why. She’s glib, charismatic and has a way of speaking that makes her sound very down to earth and straight forward. She seems like everyone’s mom with an eye on the budget.
She is also, to say the least, somewhat suspect in the way she analyzes issues and presents data. McArdle takes her to task here and here, pointing out Warren’s tendency to find the worst statistics possible on medical bankruptcies and middle class struggles. If you listen to what she says, rather than how she says it, she’s very much a Big Government person who believes the rest of us need to have our hands held by our benevolent overlords.
She’ll probably be confirmed and she should be. As I said before, elections have consequences and I think Presidents should have a great deal of discretion in appointing people to positions within the executive and judicial branches. But don’t be fooled by the overwhelmingly positive press she is certain to get.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/27/10 at 07:46 AM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Unless you live in a cave somewhere - not Afghanistan or Pakistan of course, because if you are there, your co-conspirators in the MSM are keeping you in the loop, and letting you now how well your joint war on civilization is going - you have heard about the big WikiLeaks document dump. The real big revelation?
Yawn! As if this was not obvious already. Maybe we need to talk more to the Pakis and cut off their funding. Let their Chinese buddies pay for them. Military investigators are checking computers used by Pfc. Bradley Manning, who somehow made it into an intelligence analyst slot, and then got charged this month with leaking this classified information for whatever idiotic reason. I hope that he spends a lot of time in Leavenworth, being “loved long time” at a minimum, or hangs for this treasonous act. The MSM, and especially these losers, are an enemy of this state.
Anyway, the left is dead set in pretending these documents show war crimes. Of course these morons would not know a war crime if it bit them in the arse, and only believe that the US or other NATO troops can commit war crimes - where else have we heard something just like that, huh? - anyway, so take it all with a grain of salt. As I suspected, this moron released mostly boring and low level contact reports, and while it is obvious that there will be information that is damaging to security, the troops, and operations, I doubt there will be anything that is going to satisfy the left’s need for a grand conspiracy and rampant war crimes after this revelation about the documents classification status made it obvious that:
This Australian newspaper also seems not to know WikiLeaks is one giant joke where fake is real and not give them so much legitimacy, but who then again, it doesn’t fit the narrative. Speaking of narrative, check out this beat down:
I have been asking the same question. Why is the western media obsessed with how many people we kill but always giving these barbarians a pass? At a minimum it puts into serious doubt their motives and makes it clear that there is an agenda, and then not a good one. When the agenda is that leaks that compromise lefty reporters and their agenda is bad, but any leaks that kill American troops and hampers America’s ability to fight wars against evil people while helping those fighting America is good, you have a problem. In case you are not seeing the obvious swipe here, I am discussing the left’s reaction to the t revelations about Journolist and their shenanigans, up and including their collusion to defend and elect the idiot now living in the WH, versus the reaction from the left about the release of documents intended to hurt American troops during a war.
Don’t you worry though! The left will have someone on their side cook up the facts just right. Maybe they can get Oliver Stone to do it for them after he reforms Hitler’s & Stalin’s images so the left no longer needs to remember that these two collectivists combined to kill close to a hundred million people in a war, and that Stalin fellow killed a few tens of millions more of his own people and a few hundred million more, leaving billions in chains, as their filthy collectivist ideology spread across the globe.
Posted by AlexinCT on 07/27/10 at 05:33 AM in Decline of Western Civilization Left Wing Idiocy The Press Machine War on Terror/Axis of Evil • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Monday, July 26, 2010
The Dead Middle Class
Lots of people are linking up this article that has 22 statistics that prove the middle class is dying.
They dance around a truth here which that the recession has hit hard and that the last decade saw a lot more wealth gains for the rich than the poor—more so than in the 90’s and 80’s. They don’t know the reason for this, which is the accelerating destruction of the free enterprise system to the benefit of big powerful businesses. But their general point, that the middle class is disappearing, can not be supported by their data. You will rarely see a more cherry-picked group of stats in your life. But no one wants to look closely at it because it plays to their pre-conceived notions.
Let’s take this silliness apart, shall we?
In 1962, that figure was was 94%. In 1983 it was 93%. So this is actually improving. And where did I get these numbers? From the same chart they did.
Beware statistics without context. It’s a recession. Of course, more people are living from paycheck to paycheck than were two years ago. What were they doing 10 years ago? 20? 30? As it is with children, so it is with statistical manipulators—when they leave information out, it’s because they don’t want you to see it.
Possibly alarming, but poorly sourced and, like as not, a heavily biased number. Such figures are often based on adjusted tax income or exclude benefits like healthcare and retirement contributions.
But there’s a bigger problem buried in that bullshit number—class immobility. They intrinsically assume that that top 1% in 2007 is the same top 1% from 2000. This is not the case. In fact, class mobility is quite strong:
In short, their view of wealth is static. Once poor, always poor. But that’s complete garbage. Class mobility remains a powerful force in our society. Studies of groups don’t show this. But longitudinal studies of individuals do.
When I was a graduate student, my income was low as was my wealth. Now my income is a little better and my wealth is ... well, doing OK, I guess, considering the circumstances. So what’s the deal? Am I the oppressor or the oppressed? Do I need to start chasing myself around the plasma TV with pitchforks and torches?
Again, no context. Is this up or down? Is it getting better or worse? Does this maybe something to do with defined benefit pensions? And the lie of social security?
Meaningless. That just means we’re in a recession. I’d be concerned if more Americans weren’t delaying retirement when the value of the retirement nest egg drops. Again, is this stat up or down?
First ... did I mention were in a recession? I’m sure I must have done. A few years of data during an economic crisis do not provide evidence for a supposed decades-long trend.
Second, bankruptcies were very low in the years following the overhaul of bankruptcy laws because of the stampede of people declaring bankruptcy before the new laws took effect. So naturally, it’s rising rapidly as we return to normal. In fact, maybe the authors should take a look at the graph that accompanies their manipulative article. Bankruptcies are still lower than they were between 2000 and 2005 and have clearly simply risen back to their pre-reform level. This is the rankest sort of statistical manipulation but something that works on many gullible people who would rather quote an article than think about it.
Third, why is this necessarily a problem? The United States has some of the most generous bankruptcy laws in the world. It allows people who are crushed by debt to reset their finances, a privilege that is not afford in many other countries. Declaring bankruptcy is awful, but not being able to declare it is worse. It’s one of the few mechanisms that can ease the pain of a recession. Bankruptcy effectively transfers wealth from rich to poor, from creditors to debtors.
Notice the key word here --- “households”. A lot of the statistics used to prove the middle class is being destroyed are based on measures per household. But households have steadily shrunk in the last few decades due to declining birth-rates and high rates of divorce. So when you measure household anything—it could be household handjobs—it’s going to be headed down. There’s also been a steady rise in low-interest 30-year mortgages and government tax credits. This tends to drive up the cost of housing but spread the pain over longer periods of time.
See “We’re in a recession”. And again, look at the article for the figure. Housing prices have plunged, so people’s equity has shrunk below their debt. This is a result of the housing crisis (one aided and abetted by some liberal policies) not some decades-long conspiracy. There has not been a giant surge in bank evil; there’s been a plunge in housing prices.
Also, they do not make the point that this is necessarily hitting the middle class hardest. It might be, but I’d prefer some data rather than a scary graph and some hand waving.
This is one of the few salient points buried in here. I don’t like the growth in executive salaries. Not because of any pie in the sky communist bullshit but simply because it indicates an american business sectors that has gotten increasingly stupid (and increasingly cosy in the circles of power within our ever-growing government). I also suspect it’s a bit misleading, since the average worker gets $10,000 in benefits that don’t count toward this figure and many corporate perks were moved to income during the tax reform in the 1980’s.
This is mainly a restatement of the first point and, I suspect, suffers from the same problem of not looking at how this has changed with time. Notice also the “liquid” word squeezed in there. By using that, they can eliminate any wealth considered illiquid, such as houses.
Again, getting better or worse? See their first bogus stat. It showed 0.3% of wealth in the bottom 40% in 1962; 1.8% by 2001.
This tends to happen when you bail out wall street firms with no conditions and Democratic Congressmen like Chris Dodd protect big bonuses.
Holy shit, he actually said something interesting. And even true! As I’ve blogged before, the employees unions fight this statistical reality tooth and nail, insisting they are doing complicated jobs while all of us schlebs are breaking rocks into gravel. It’s not true, as USA today conclusively showed. And it’s actually worse than this, when you include benefits, which are typically several times those in the private sector. Click here to see the latest outrage (RTFLC is not responsible for any strokes that occur as a result of reading that story).
First, this is a misrepresentation. The report they link to is that the wealthiest 1% have a larger share of corporate income, not wealth. I can not find the original CBO report that this is based on but I suspect that a contributing factor is the changes in tax laws which makes it easier to declare wealth and get it taxed rather than shelter it. In other words, the wealth may have always been there, just hidden. I also need to see how retirement accounts are accounted for and see about that pesky “household” thing.
Given the first statistic in this article—that the share of stocks among the wealthiest 1% has actually fallen, I suspect this point is somewhat exaggerated.
Actually, service jobs pay, on average, about the same as manufacturing jobs, depending on how you define service jobs. That 40% are not all working at Walmart, for fuck’s sake.
Again, we’re in a recession. And the Feds have vastly expanded the eligibility for food stamps and have entire organs, such as Americorps, that go around encouraging people to get on food stamps. 40 million is close to the number of Americans living in poverty. That absolute number is larger than ever because our population is larger, not because the rate has skyrocketed.
Because the future of America is in textiles. Not computers or medicine or manufacturing. Textiles. Where are the Lowell mills when you need them?
Notice also what’s left out: “This is what the American consumer now gets: cheaper clothing and growing wealth in foreign countries that can then trade with us.”
Until relatively recently, that rate was falling or steady. It rose sharply in the late 70’s, early 80’s, fell for the rest of the 80’s, jumped again in the early 90’s recession, fell for the rest of the decade and has risen slowly for the last few years. This statistic is also complicated by shrinking households and changing definitions of income.
Any child poverty is too much, but it tends to be very sensitive to the economy. Long-term, it’s been relatively flat.
Again, a relevant point. That’s almost 10% accuracy in the entire article!
False. It’s 40%. And complicated by the household issue again. And implies something that is not true, which is that the middle class is losing ground. Wealth has grown for the lower income brackets, just more slowly. (Source). And see again the point I made about class mobility.
I understand the lower classes are being hit hardest in the recession. But this uninformed whining has been going on for decades. In The Progress Paradox, Gregg Eastebrook talks extensively about how the middle class has more free time, more disposable income and more opportunities than it ever has --- and all we do is complain. We have an absurdly rose-tinted view of the past, thinking America was like Leave it to Beaver and ignoring the reality of what America actually was. Previous generations were working longer weeks, taking fewer vacations, enjoying fewer consumer goods and experiencing less of life. These are simple facts. Your parents weren’t taking a week off to tour Germany. If they were lucky, they might get a weekend to make another mouth to feed.
The breakthrough realization for me occurred when my wife and I were on our honeymoon (hey, it can’t be sex and booze all the time). We went on a cruise and one day had lunch with someone who was talking about how badly the middle class was being squeezed. That is, they were complaining about their financial while on a luxury cruise. They had multiple people looking after them, were eating food so rich you could gain weight just looking at it and were enjoying a lifestyle that, only decades ago, was the exclusive domain of the rich.
We are facing problems. A growing government sector, an exploding government pension system and the increasing politicization of our economy, with concomitant empowerment of Big Business. Massive and persistent unemployment; but unemployment that could fade if our economy gets moving again. We’re hurting, no question. But to argue that the middle class is being systematically wiped out is simply ignorant. And to put up 22 cherry-picked and ignorant stats to back it up is mathematical malpractice.Close this post...
So most of that spilled oil has vanished?
Guess what? Remember all the talk about how the BP Gulf incident was going to destroy the entire ecosystem of the Gulf? Well, check this latest story out:
You read that right. There are some hints there though. Did you know that the there is a very active and thriving ecosystem in the Gulf that lives off of oil seepage in the Gulf? And while the story also points out the following:
It goes right on to point out the most important thing in this story:
I think the biggest lies we have had our political and agenda driven classes tell us recently is how vulnerable Mother Nature is when we constantly have examples, like this one, of nature reversing the effects of these catastrophes of every kind, and in record time.
And it is no coincidence that nature was prepared to deal with this stuff. It has had billions of years of practice. My guess is that man will be long gone before the planet ever goes barren and lifeless, and future generations will make fun of the hoaxsters that constantly predicted man’s demise and evil disregard for a natural order that could have cared less about any of the hoopla. At least Obama can now say the government did a bang up job by doing squat.
Posted by AlexinCT on 07/26/10 at 06:29 PM in Left Wing Idiocy Life & Culture Politics Law, & Economics Science and Technology • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Hadley Case Reload
I blogged earlier this year on the Phoebe Prince case. This is the Irish girl who killed herself after being bullied at school. Slate has an in-depth article that looks at the case. It’s not nearly as clear-cut as we were told.
It’s a hard read and I still need to think about it some more. But I’m less convinced than ever that criminal charges should be filed. Bazelon goes into the D.A. involves as well.
The writer is being blasted in the comments. And I’m curious myself as to how some of this information was acquired. I’m not sure where this will go in court. But I do know that any legislation based on this is likely to be ill-informed and ill-advised. Let’s—for once—not compound a tragedy by acting rashly and without all the information.
Update: If everything in the article is to be believed, the only people not acting like twats are the high school kids. They’ve been much more active and successful in opposing bullying than the supposedly outraged parents. How sad is that?
Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/25/10 at 07:53 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Guess what is slithering back into public discussion:
First thing’s first. The CBO projections, as I have noted about a million times, are based entirely on the bill that is presented to them. The Democrats demonstrated convincingly that they know how to game the system and force the CBO to produce whatever number they want. In reality, the long term cost would be enormous. Faced with competition from a socialized competitor that is—overtly or covertly—subsidized by government, there will be a stampededof employers dumping people on the public option, a reality the CBO can not really consider.
Second, I fucking told you so. One of the arguments made in favor of the healthcare bill was that it was “moderate” and that we could fix it after it was passed. As I and everyone with their head not three up their ass argued, this was absurd. Any “fixes” to the bill were almost certain to be on the side of eating freedom and making it more expensive. You need to have looked no further than Medicare Part D, which Obamacare changed to make far more expensive (by eliminating tax breaks for retiree drug plans and closing the “donut whole").
Third, are the Democrats really this stupid? The elimination of the public option is the only reason they got this passed and the only thing keeping their hopes alive in November. Now they want to bring it back.
We can’t have these assholes out of Washington fast enough. I just wish there were a way to do it without putting the Republicans back in.
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