The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 June 2003

Greedy old farts

Robert Prather blames it all — well, okay, not all, but surely a lot of it — on AARP:

The people who are my age (34) are rightly concerned that they'll pay into [Social Security and Medicare] for decades and receive nothing for it. If the AARP has its way, that's exactly what will happen. Either that or taxes will become so oppressively high that economic growth is crushed. Either way, there will be no free lunch.

Mark my words: when I become eligible to join the AARP in 16 years they'll send me an application and I'll piss on it. I hate that organization, the shortsightedness it embodies, the fiscal wreckage it will create and the crippling economic burden it will leave for me and everyone that follows. Why should they care: they'll be dead when the bill comes due. If they're not dead their answer will be more government benefits, not less. No consideration for those that follow at all.

If it's any consolation, I came out in favor of privatization of the Social Security system five years ago, when I was a mere child of, um, forty-five.

Now if the government wants to buy me drugs — well, does it have to be limited to the stuff for which I have prescriptions?

Posted at 8:06 PM to Political Science Fiction , TANSTAAFL


OMG...those AARP commercials are completely off the fuc**ing scale of all that is decent. No commercial campaign has *ever* angered me more. Bastards. Fucktards.

And you, Charles, know that it takes quite a bit to make me use foul language online. In person, of course, I can keep up with a medium-grade sailor.

Posted by: DavidMSC at 8:39 PM on 25 June 2003

I actually got some recruitment mail from a conservative retirement group setting out to counteract the AARP. I can't remember their name and don't have it anymore, though. I figure if I am interested when I hit 65 (40 or so years from now), I'll be able to track'em down.

Posted by: R. Alex at 8:59 PM on 25 June 2003

Lord, I only hope that outfit is still around by then, Alex.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:06 PM on 25 June 2003

Now if the government wants to buy me drugs — well, does it have to be limited to the stuff for which I have prescriptions?

Charles,

Your integrity is beyond question. :)

Posted by: Robert Prather at 12:36 PM on 26 June 2003

My integrity has never been questioned.

Come to think of it, it's never been mentioned. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 2:00 PM on 26 June 2003

umm... charles. I read your vent about social security and i just might (might with a heavy caveat) go for some form of privitization if I thought we had decent watchdogs for wall streets institutions. As it stands I wouldn't let most of those theives and lairs near my nest egg.

With the recent findings that nearly all the big investments houses had their hands in teh cookie jar, and got caught doesnt give me much canfidence.

what is it now the CEO of CITI that can't be alone in the same room with his advisors without a lawyer present?

real reform of social security would mean taking on an even bigger sacred cow, namely military waste. I want to know how a nation with a fleet of nuclear subs can ever claim we "cant afford" to take care of our elderly and not be seen as a society with a heavily skewed since of morality. Couldn't we just be happy with a military capable of simultaneously destroying a couple dozen cities and put a couple dollars into health care and elderly care?

feed the poor or build another nuclear sub?

WWJD?

Posted by: bruce at 8:20 PM on 26 June 2003

Bruce, "Jesus" doesn't have to worry about defending ~285 millions Americans from threats around the world, and safeguarding the very planet that we inhabit. Choices must be made, and "providing for the common defense" is a legitimate government function.

Posted by: David at 8:41 PM on 26 June 2003

Bruce, if those big investment houses had their hands in the cookie jar and didn't get caught, trust me -- that would be worse.

If they're getting caught (I'll say this slow so you can keep up) ... it ... means ... the ... system ... works.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:59 PM on 26 June 2003

If they want to buy me a nuclear sub when I'm old(er) and gray(er), it's fine with me. :)

And it's possible to control your own investments with a minimum of interference from Wall Street big shots, if you have the time to do all the heavy research yourself. Most of us don't, which is why I've bought into half a dozen funds that to a certain extent offset each other; were I any more hedged, I'd be...a shrubbery!

Posted by: CGHill at 9:14 PM on 26 June 2003

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Best offer received by 7/4/2003 will be accepted. Specify whether you want it with or without armaments, Blue and Gold Crews. Owner will deliver. Fax a copy of your insurance binder to (631) 928-9970.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 9:44 AM on 27 June 2003

first, make the arguement that we absolutely HAVE TO spend 400 billions dollars a year to be safe and I'll be on board. You can never be 100% safe but you can spend yourself into oblivion trying to do so. Any time someone makes the reasonable assertion that we are spending too much money on worthless hardware people seem to think that means going undefended. If I don't wear my thermal underwear and fur jackets to stay warm today I must then be going out buck naked. Makes sense...

secondly, your right, the system did work, those bastards stole billions of dollars and GOT AWAY WITH IT. I say this because they are not in jail, the houses paid a token sum as penalty and a weak pledge to "not do it again, sorry about that". meanwhile the stolen money is tied up in real estate in Florida and Texas (bonus points for anyone who knows why these two states).

my claim that the system is broke because these people were able to get away with what they did for so long is much easier to defend than your claim that because they got caught the system works. I wouldnt say I have good plumbing if I have buckets under every sink catching the drips, even though by a strict definition it "works".

like I said before, with a solid regulatory system in place and a level playing field established then I might say "maybe". right now Wall Street is a Jenga cube with half its lower pieces missing, privitizing social security would be like throwing brick at it. We'd see the biggest bubble ever, we don't want thousands of green investors going into this atmosphere before we can fix the major problems. We'd being holding the natl convention of gullible people right in Las Vegas.

here, read this: http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript136_full.html

Posted by: bruce at 10:58 AM on 27 June 2003

"Remember all those reforms in accounting practices we were going to get after Enron? Well, according to THE NEW YORK TIMES, the big accounting firms, with the help of some generous campaign contributions, have managed to block them.

This, too, is how the game is played these days, take that one hundred million dollar penalty on Merrill Lynch. It's less than one third of what the firm paid for office supplies and postage last year. And the IRS told us yesterday that both the company's penalty and legal fees may be tax deductible. A business expense-for deceiving the public.

So as investors the ladies in Jupiter Florida not only have their purses snatched...as taxpayers they're expected to subsidize the fine paid by the thief. "

-Bill Moyers

Posted by: bruce at 11:00 AM on 27 June 2003

Oh man, bruce broke out the Moyers quotes. Well, there you go, no one can refute the Cardiganed One. I mean, if it was on pbs.org it has to be true, right? (PS: who wants to bet a Sacajawea dollar that bruce has one of those "I can't wait for the day when the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale to raise money" bumper stickers on his car?)

Oops -- almost forgot: [/AD HOMINEM STRAW MAN NON SEQUITUR OVER]

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 2:50 PM on 27 June 2003

you'd lose that bet, no bumper stickers. But its nice to know you have me all figured out.


But what do you have against moyers? He's exceedingly honest and unlike any of a handful of cable news pundits he actually does journalism and covers issues beyond simple surface skimming.

Posted by: bruce at 9:47 PM on 27 June 2003

What's there not to like about Bill Moyers? Well, gee, apart from his tendentiousness, his undisguised Democratic partisanry, and his preference for obscuring or omitting any facts that don't march with his social-welfarist political convictions, I simply can't imagine.

Moyers was Lyndon Johnson's press secretary. He's never had a good word for a conservative nor a bad one for a liberal. That's not terrible for one who vends commentary alone, but it's a disqualification for a reporter.

Moyers on your right to donate to the candidate of your choice: "Supposedly, government is the arbiter between the competing claims of citizens. No one, no one should get a leg up from putting money in the umpire's pocket. When political donations lead to the selective enforcement of the rules, we can't trust government any more. Representation becomes determined by a clever form of bribery."

Moyers on the Reagan tax rate reductions: "By the 1980s, when the Democrats in Congress colluded with Ronald Reagan and the Republicans to revise the tax code on behalf of the rich, it appeared that the party had lost its soul."

Moyers on the GOP's midterm legislative gains: “These folks don’t even mind you referring to the GOP as the party of God. Why else would the new House Majority Leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote ‘a Biblical worldview’ in American politics.”

Moyers on the pro-life inclinations of the GOP: “That mandate [of the Republican Party] includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own bodies.”

Moyers on Bush Administration judicial nominees: “Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life.”

Here's a trio from a speech Moyers made to the Environmental Grantmakers' Association, five days after Black Tuesday:

"We have also been reminded that despite years of scandals and political corruption, despite the stream of stories of personal greed and pirates in Gucci's scamming the treasury, despite the retreat from the public sphere and the turn toward private privilege, despite squalor for the poor and gated communities for the rich, we have been reminded that the great mass of Americans have not yet given up on the idea of We, the People. And they have refused to accept the notion, promoted so diligently by our friends at the Heritage Foundation and by Grover Norquist and his right-wing ilk, that government -- the public service should be shrunk to a size where they can drown it in the bathtub (that's what Norquist said is their goal.)"

And from later in the same speech:

"Some things just don't change. Once again the Republican Party has lived down to Harry Truman's description of the GOP as guardians of privilege."

And a little later still:

"They're counting on your patriotism to distract you from their plunder. They're counting on you to be standing at attention with your hand over your heart, pledging allegiance to the flag, while they pick your pocket!"

I could produce a thousand more of these. Try it yourself; it's the Age of Google, after all. So let's not hear any more about Moyers's qualifications as a newsman, shall we?

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 8:56 AM on 28 June 2003

It's not like there's going to be some massive influx of clueless newbies ready to be fleeced by the wolves of Wall Street; more than half of us already have some sort of equity investment, be it an IRA, a 401(k), or a full-fledged portfolio, and we have at least a vague idea of how these things are supposed to work. I'd be happier if the penalties for fiduciary malfeasance were stiffer, but we're not wandering into a minefield or anything.

Posted by: CGHill at 12:59 PM on 28 June 2003

heaven forbid he should be liberal and actually say what many of us think...

anyhow...

i do think this is a scheme to get a bunch of newbies into the market. such was the same with the 401k accounts and IRA. It fits with my assumption that Wall Street has to find new ways of diverting money into its system. stock growth adn new investment has to be maintained. WS sees all the public money as just another pool to tap. What happens though is that when you have these so-called institutional investors heavy in the market you move the power from the shareholders as individuals into the hands of the managers as a class. Its not just my assertion that this was the weak link that help cause the excesses of the last bubble to go unchecked. As long as you pay off the managers and advisors the shareholders don't know any better and the money flows in the direction of the fraud.

of the 50% of americans that are in the market, only about 10% are active voting shareholders while the remaining 40% are invested in funds and retirement accounts. Those 10% also have sontrol of about 80% of the shares on the market while the rest of the investors just go along for the ride.

part of my skeptisicm of the market (I actually like the concept well enough) is that it is still primarily a game for the few who have the time and the money to play. Everyone else just hopes they bet in the right direction. You could argue that new money would further democratize things but I think the real idea is to use the influx of new moeny to artificially inflate stocks till the big dogs can cash out and stow the earnings away while the small investors takes a bath. This time though its not just a few 401K's, its people entire livelyhoods!

I dont have enough faith in WS to think its a risk worth taking. I dont see the current problems as a case of a few bad apples, I see rot that has to be dealt with.

What I would much rather see is an honest good faith effort to deal with Social Security by politicians. Rather they are taking the same approach as with education, willfull neglect so that they can claim the program is a faliure and dump the cash into the hands of their friends. Its criminal if you ask me... we have the money and we have the will, but what we have is poor representation.

I dont know why I even bother... I seem to work from a completely opposite set of assumptions... of course.. i knew the bubble was gonna pop long before it did... but you're right, give them our money, we can trust them THIS TIME!

I wouldnt have a problem letting you screw yourselves, its just that other people are gonna get screwed as well.

Posted by: bruce at 12:56 AM on 29 June 2003

"They're counting on your patriotism to distract you from their plunder. They're counting on you to be standing at attention with your hand over your heart, pledging allegiance to the flag, while they pick your pocket!"

beautiful. truth to power.

Posted by: bruce at 12:59 AM on 29 June 2003