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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Cruising the Web

Robert Samuelson explains, once again, why we need to address runaway entitlements. The Democrats are doing a terrible disservice to the country by demagoguing any proposal of reform.
This is an extreme, even fanatical stance. Social Security and Medicare do create a safety net for many millions of poor and near-poor retirees. But for millions of wealthier retirees, they are handouts. Liberals’ unwillingness to admit and act on this distinction has long stifled meaningful budget debate.

And for those of a younger cohort, ponder this fact: A couple retiring in 2010 will have paid in an estimated $116,000 in Medicare taxes while working and will receive and estimated average of $357,000 in benefits. So when you hear about how people should get the money they paid in and they've been promised, remember that they're really just getting money that the younger generation is paying for.

I like this. The statistic that liberals love of how women earn 75% of what men earn is an example of "proofiness."
It’s also an exquisite example of what journalist Charles Seife has dubbed “proofiness.” Proofiness is the use of misleading statistics to confirm what you already believe. Indeed, the 75-cent meme depends on a panoply of apple-to-orange comparisons that support a variety of feminist policy initiatives, from the Paycheck Fairness Act to universal child care, while telling us next to nothing about the well-being of women.
Kay Hymowitz then goes on to explain all the problems with that phony statistic.

John Hawkins has the perfect posterization
of the "tea party downgrade" talking point.

I hope that voters in Wisconsin absorb this fact before they go to vote in the recall elections tomorrow.
Despite early criticism from city officials, new figures show Milwaukee will gain more than it will lose next year from the state's controversial budget and budget-repair legislation.

The city projects it will save at least $25 million a year - and potentially as much as $36 million in 2012 - from health care benefit changes it didn't have to negotiate with unions, as a result of provisions in the 2009-'11 budget-repair measure that ended most collective bargaining for most public employees.

That saving would be partly offset by about $14 million in cuts in state aid to the city in the 2011-'13 state budget, down from earlier estimates of more than $17 million.

As a result, the city would come out with a net gain of at least $11 million for its 2012 budget, slicing into the "structural deficit" created by costs rising faster than revenue, and reducing the spending cuts that Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council must impose.
Of course, that won't change any of the Democratic and teachers' union talking points.

Oh, and by the way, Obama's policies not only haven't kept gas prices down, they've also slowed job growth and added to the deficit.

Stuart Taylor makes a good case as to why the rape charges against DSK should be dropped.

James Taranto is smack on in his critique of the calls for Drew Westen and Joe Klein have made for Obama to get angrier at conservatives.
The Cult of Obama imagined a Good Obama, who was going to inspire hope and transcend America's divisions. Westen and Klein now long for Bad Obama, who would exacerbate those divisions in order to vanquish the "bad guys."

Although Good Obama sounds far more attractive than the actual Obama, the idealized Bad Obama is an incipient fascist. When Klein complains that Obama "has never gone to war on behalf of the American people," he doesn't mean it literally. He uses nationalistic and martial rhetoric to urge a campaign of vilification against putative domestic enemies. Westen regrets that Obama did not resolve to rule in a quasi-authoritarian fashion, making clear to Republicans that "this would not be a power-sharing arrangement."

One is tempted to read into Westen's and Klein's comments a cynical Weisbergian elitism. They seem to be suggesting that the American people are stupid children who would be easily dominated by a father-figure president telling them scary yet ultimately comforting stories about "bad guys" hurting people and "good guys" coming to the rescue....The trouble is that because he is an ineffective leader--inexperienced, inflexible, committed to rotten ideas--his Good side does not inspire confidence and his Bad side does not inspire fear.
Bret Stephens looks to the ancients for assessing Barack Obama.
Socrates taught that wisdom begins in the recognition of how little we know. Mr. Obama is perpetually intent on telling us how much he knows. Aristotle wrote that the type of intelligence most needed in politics is prudence, which in turn requires experience. Mr. Obama came to office with no experience. Plutarch warned that flattery "makes itself an obstacle and pestilence to great houses and great affairs." Today's White House, more so than any in memory, is stuffed with flatterers.
William McGurn reminds us that elites also swooned over Jimmy Carter.

The wonderful Jim Treacher summed up the Democratic Party position on the S&P downgrade.
Yesterday, the downgrade was fake. Today, the Tea Party caused it. "This isn't happening... and it's all your fault!"
Glenn Reynolds has a great satirical analysis on yesterday's drop on Wall Street.

PRESIDENT DOWNGRADE: Dow Finishes Down 634 Points. Obama’s speech certainly did nothing to slow the drop, though I suppose the White House will argue that it would have been 734 without the speech, meaning that Obama saved or created 100 Dow points . . . .
More info on Obamacare now that they passed it: it seems that spending projects underestimate the costs by about $50 billion a year. It's findings like this that explain why health care entitlements vastly outrun their cost projections.

Tweeters had some fun waiting for Obama to appear for his press appearance yesterday. Here are some more. I like this one:
I’m never 41 minutes late getting to a different part of my house. — @rorycooper
Obama told his donors at a fundraiser last night that it "is not rocket science in terms of how we can create more jobs in this country." So why has he had so much trouble for the last 2 1/2 years?

Steven Horwitz challenges Rachel Maddow to have him on to debate her claims that Herbert Hoover's inaction was the reason why the depression of 1929 became the Great Depression. She's historically ignorant of what Hoover actually did. My AP US History students could also help her out.


mark said...

It has always baffled me that conservatives are so against the rich paying more taxes, yet on-board with "means testing" for people who have paid into a system their whole life. (Conversely, why do dems want higher taxes on the rich yet fight against an obvious, sensible way to reform entitlements?)

Locomotive Breath said...

I think Social Security and Medicare benefits should be calculated based on the amount of taxes paid by your children. All you DINKS who lived it up while the rest of us were raising future taxpayers, too bad for you.

Everyman said...

Would it not be a bit more intellectually honest - yeah, I know - to give us the FICA contributions over the years ($116,000 in your example) with some compound interest, at historical rates, added on? I'm guessing that you would come out well above your other number - $357,000 in benefits - if you did so, and might even raise the question why we should be required, by government fiat, to give up the interest we might otherwise have earned on our mandated contributions.

So Cal Jim said...

mark says, “It has always baffled me that conservatives are so against the rich paying MORE taxes…”

Well mark, it has always baffled me that dipstick progressives think they’re uniquely entitled by superior morals to tell “rich” people how much money they MUST hand over to government bureaucrats who then spread it around to people who didn’t earn it – to buy votes. It’s also always baffled me how progressives ever came to believe that they’re entitled to define who is and who is not “rich

equitus said...

mark is baffled by the difference between taxes and entitlements. Wow.

ic said...

"...elites also swooned over Jimmy Carter"

Elites swooned over the power of a puppet master to manipulate a puppet, the power behind the throne of a hollow man. Alas, the elites' power is all in their heads, when reality bites, the only thing they could do is howl and foam at their mouths.

If a person buys annuity to fund his retirement, does he receive an income upon his retirement till the end of his life?

Social Security was established by FICA, federal insurance contribution act. It was billed as an insurance, a deduction from a worker's paycheck was a contribution to the insurance which would pay him an annuity upon his retirement. Of course the taxpayer is entitled to his social security payments.

Don't forget, quite a few workers worked until they dropped, and never collected a cent back; those workers who have not worked 40 quarters are not entitled to payments, their "contributions" are confiscated.

The problem is not the taxpayer's sense of entitlement, the problem is the Big Lie the Fed uses to coerce the taxpayers to "contribute" to their reitirement "insurance" fund. The only viable replacement is a retirement fund controlled by the worker himself, such as the IRA. But the politicians believe they are "entitled" to our money, they are "entitled" to the power over our lives, they refuse to relinquish their "entitlement" over us.

LarryD said...

mark, think of this way:

To Progressives, SS is a vote buying scheme, so they want to buy everybody's vote, or at least bid for it.

To Conservatives, SS is a welfare program, and if your going to have one, it ought to give money only to those who actually need it.

SS has never been an annuity, despite what politician and the press say. Any private party that tried to sell a program designed like SS would end up in jail, for fraud.

mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mark said...

mark said...
I assume LB's response was a joke. In case it wasn't: Perhaps he is forgetting (or ignoring) that "DINKS" and other childless people already pay a higher percentage of taxes while using less government resouces (that would be the socialism that conservatives favor). Then to say they shouldn't collect SS after paying into the system.... Well, too idiotic to take seriously. So good joke, Loco.

Thanks for the pointless and deceptive response.
My post was obviously directed at what I consider hypocrisy in both parties.

Locomotive Breath said...

I laugh when selfish short-sighted singles and DINKs complain about, for example, paying property taxes to support the eductation of "other people's kids". Just who do they think will be paying the taxes in the future when those self-same singles and DINKs expect to receive Social Security and Medicare. Here's a hint: day laborers don't pay much in the way of tax.

I must assume mark is one of the singles since, from his posts here, it seems highly unlikely that he's gotten close enough to a woman to form a relationship nevermind have kids. I look forward to his screams of anguish when my kids cut off his Social Security and Medicare and give the money to me.

mark said...

Personally, I've never complained about paying a higher percentage of taxes. I have simply pointed it out, because it is a redistribution of wealth that conservatives claim to loathe. I consider it a small price to pay for living in a great country.
I believe it's usually the conservatives who are always whining about taxes. It was conservatives here who labeled their fellow citizens "undeserving" and decided they would rather cut programs for children than close some common-sense loopholes, tax breaks and subsidies. And then they stick out their hands for a govt. handout to send their kids to private school. More socialism, please.
You seem to have some anger towards people without children. Perhaps you're just unsatisfied with your life. Nobody is responsible for your failures but you.

So Cal Jim said...

mark says, “My post was obviously directed at what I consider hypocrisy in both parties.”

Yes, yes…but as usual, your post only proves you’re a weak thinker who, more times than not, comes to absurd conclusions based on nonsense. But like a blind squirrel that occasionally chances into a nut, you occasionally stumble onto something true by complete happenstance.

You get high marks (no pun intended) for recognizing there are indeed hypocrites among both conservative and progressive ranks. But how you arrived at that mighty achievement in mental dexterity is a wonder to behold. Your post reminds me of my teenaged niece who correctly picked the Super Bowl winning team a few years ago because she thought their quarterback was “gorgeous.”

First of all, what makes you think there’s an inherent contradiction between a belief in low taxes (for everyone, including the “rich”) and a belief that government welfare should be reserved for those in genuine and dire need. Conservatives recognize that the current system will inevitably lead our nation to ruin and must be gutted even though it will cause a lot of pain.

Personally, I think every Democrat and Republican who voted to increase SS and Medicare payments over the years should be stripped, and made to feel the pain of a good, old fashioned tar and feathering. Then they should be run out of Washington on the backs of jackasses. But as satisfying as that would be to see, it won’t undo the harm they’ve caused to the citizens of this country. Because so many retired and near retired folks do and will desperately need the SS and MC they’ve been promised, citizens who are still productive and able will be forced to pay for their own retirements and health care AND for the remaining needy SS/MC recipients.

Yeah, it sucks that some who paid in most of their lives will not get everything they were promised. I’ve been paying into SS and MC since 1972 and I still have a ways to go. You think I’m happy about that? Mark, it’s NOT hypocrisy to recognize that eliminating our current systems of SS and MC is both necessary and inevitably painful. The word you're looking for here is, "wisdom."

Second, when it come to Democrats, you’re confusing stupidity and ignorance with hypocrisy. The vast majority of Democrats and other progressives aren’t being hypocritical when they want the “rich” to pay more taxes while they’re simultaneously against any reforms in entitlement programs. Not at all. Except for some of the leaders (who are indeed hypocrites because they know better) most progressives are simply too stupid and/or ignorant to understand the relationship between the amount of money a government can spend on entitlement programs and the amount of money a government can possibly confiscate from it’s citizens. Most Democrats actually believe, in their heart of hearts, that money is just something the Treasury department prints up as needed.

Unless you concede that the overwhelming majority of progressives are hypocrites (which I’m prepared to grant you if you ask me to), how else can you explain the universality of progressive calls to “tax the rich more” when it’s been proved time and again that if you take 100% of every “rich” person’s money, you couldn’t finance entitlement programs for a single year?

Answer? Stupidity and ignorance. Not hypocrisy.

mark said...

Once again, you rely on deception to make your pathetic "argument". Name one person who has said we should (or could) tax our way out of our deficit problem. I can't and won't defend Obama's handling of this (or many other) issues, but repubs backed themselves (and the country) into a corner by their idiotic insistence that no loopholes be closed. A 4:1 ratio of cuts to revenue is reasonable. I have been for entitlement reform for years. Of course, I don't want to give up benefits or see the retirement age raised, but I realize it is necessary for future generations. It may make sense for conservatives to be against SS. It makes no sense for conservatives to go along with means testing. That is SOCIALISM. How do you not get that?
As for weak thinkers, perhaps you should read some of the recent comments from your fellow conservatives:
Let's base SS payments on the earnings (potential earnings?) of our children. (Locomotive)
All racist posters by members of the TBP were made by Lyndon Larouche supporters. (Pat. Apparently still working on the evidence)
I assumed OBL was dead based on a "decrease in communiques". (Military Intelligence expert tfhr)

I've never claimed to be the sharpest guy in the room, but common sense goes a long way.

Locomotive Breath said...

"I believe it's usually the conservatives who are always whining about taxes."

Only in your world. Obama recently tried to convince us that 80% of Americans want a tax increase.

Locomotive Breath said...

p.s. I'm happy and successful. I am angry at lazy parasites who want to feed off my success.