“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

¿Dónde está la república bananera?

This is what Paul Krugman, NYTimes, says about the Republican's "Pledge to America":
True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.

So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”

From the right, this is what Andrew McCarthy thinks of the "Pledge to America" (ht: Tiger @ the Observer)

Empty Promise - When it gets down to brass tacks, the GOP has no brass.

McCarthy argues that the Pledge is nothing more than "big wind, no rain". He says that the GOP is, like the Democrats, a big government, nanny state party that refuses to recognize that Social Security and Medicare are massive, unfunded entitlements which will saddle future generations with crippling taxes and worthless  currency.

There are only three ways to deal with entitlements: default on promised benefits, turn the currency into Monopoly money, or figure out a way to pay them honestly, no doubt by tax levies that dwarf today’s rising tab. That is cruel reality, and it will saddle not only the young people currently paying into the system who won’t see a dime, but their children and grandchildren who for generations will be left holding the bag for the Baby Boom’s utopia. No one in his right mind, understanding these consequences, would ever adopt such a Ponzi scheme in the first place. So, since we understand the consequences in a way the nation did not in the 1930s, how can we in good conscience continue it?
Yet that is exactly what the pledge does. For all the preamble pizzazz about freedom and responsibility, when it gets down to brass tacks, the GOP has no brass: It assumes Americans are junkies hooked on entitlement smack, incapable of going cold turkey and insensitive to the fact that we’ve run out of other people’s money. Republicans obliquely promise to “make the decisions necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations.”


  1. Sounds like possibly not a bad plan, shut the whole thing down. Start with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Let the states do it.

    But I haven't had any sleep tonight, been listening to the radio, so my judgment may be skewed.

  2. Seems the Republicans will be in the position of selling assets, to diminish the Federal debt.

    Something I recommended, here at the EB, a couple of years a ago.

    At that time bob told us that it would only benefit my "rich" friends. As they would be buying up those real estate assets.

    Now he favors shutting down the National Parks. Closing the Forests and ending farm subsidies and price supports.

    The election of Mr Obama has focused his mind. If "Maverick" McCain had been elected, why bob would still be a Class Warrior, railing against the "rich".

    Now he is on board the anti-Federal bandwagon.

    Good on him.

  3. Toomey got millions in earmarks before railing against them

    Read more:

    Republican Pat Toomey crusaded against earmarks for most of his three terms in the U.S. House, and not long ago took a live pig to Independence Mall as he challenged his Senate-race opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, to swear off the funding that lawmakers direct to their pet projects.

    But in his first term representing the Lehigh Valley's 15th District, Toomey won at least $9 million in earmarks, including $3 million for a private company that became for a time his largest single source of campaign contributions. ...

  4. Bob sleep is very important you should get as much as you can. Don't deny it. It will take over.


  5. It is time for Americans to look their sacred cow, the military, and its costs, straight in the eye!

  6. That is a sacred cow, ash, for the Republicans.

    They demand that the US continue to spend more on military capabilities than the rest of the world, combined.

    When one figures in the allies of the US, we are out spending our potential adversaries by an astronomical factor. While at the same time we cannot defeat the border bandits of the Pashtun region of Afpakistan.

    Exemplifying either incompetency or conspiracy.

    Regardless the people of the United States, they are not getting much bang for their buck.

    But Lester Crown and his fellow investors in General Dynamics, Boeing and the like, they are "cleaning up".

    While the Iranians are now held up as the greatest "threat" to whirled peace.

    Comical, at best. If the oft stated threats of Israeli being capable of "taking them out" are any kind of a reality.

    Our own Generals have stated that the air force of the United Arab Emirates could defeat the Iranians. So the threat posed by Iran, it is insignificant in the scheme of things.

    We are wasting huge sums of borrowed money on capacity that is not needed and will never be used.

    Shameful, really.

  7. How many times do we have to say that the greatest threat presented by the Iranians is the nuclear umbrella to cover Iran's Islamist "missionary" activities.

  8. While the Democrats, under the Obama Administration calls for ever increased amounts, for the US military. Even in these austere times, they propose increasing military spending.

    Feb 4, 2010 ... Any real, objective analysis of the Obama defense budget would conclude that it represents a increase in real terms: 3.9% at a time when ...

    Some of the headlines at the Google search bemoan that it still "not enough".

    Outlandish, at best, those voices of "conservatism".

  9. The Iranians have neither the nuclear weapons or the capacity to deliver those weapons, that they do not have.

    There is no record of the Iranian Leadership being suicidal, though they will sacrifice others.

    MAD will work, against Iran.
    Just as it did against the Soviets and the Chinese.

  10. Besides, unless the US were to invade Iran there is little that can be done, militarily, to stop their nuclear program.

    It is to dispersed to be vulnerable to anything but a prolonged air campaign, which the US will not under take. Which the Israeli cannot do on their own. They lack the capacity to do it. Exemplified by their failure in Lebanon, a couple of years ago, to disrupt the rocket campaign against Haifa.

    The Iranian challenge requires a political, not military, solution.

  11. A political solution that the US is now moving forward on. Exemplified by the Russians recent decision not to supply Iran with an updated SAM system.

    Score another round of political victory for Team Obama and the USA, on that.

    The US has finally, after years of inaction by Team Bush, gotten an enhance sanction regime in place. One that is finally disrupting the Iranian economy. Mr Rastijohnny imploring the government there to: not to dismiss sanctions as 'jokes'.

  12. Iran does not present a threat large enough to justify spending $500 billion dollars a year on the US military.

    No one does.

  13. The interest expense on the debt through August of the current fiscal year is $395,768,649,928.52

    That is just the interest.

  14. The figure for FY 2011 is $708.2 billion—consisting of $548.9 billion for the "baseline" budget plus $159.3 billion to pay for "overseas contingency operations," mainly the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And, by the way, he says, tack on another $33 billion to the current year's budget, to pay for the 30,000 extra troops (and all their supplies, weapons, and so forth) that President Obama is sending to Afghanistan.

    All told, that's $741.2 billion in new money—and Gates is upfront about it.

    President Obama has proposed the largest defense budget since World War II

  15. There you go, whit.

    Unless the US is willing to default on those interest payments, real spending has to be cut.

    Or revenues raised. Without new taxes, how do we do that?

    Real spending, the largest chunk, the one that is disproportionately large, is the US military portion of the budget.

    One cannot have a cake and eat it, too.

  16. Cut the "overseas contingencies" by half, immediately.

    Return and demobilize the troops now stationed in Europe.

    Decommission 6 of the 12 carrier battle groups.

    To start.

  17. You may not have your cake and eat it too but you CAN raise revenue AND cut spending. In fact the US must.

  18. Means test Social Security?
    Means test Medicare?

    Based upon wealth, not income.
    We could do that, too.

  19. Increase inheritance taxes?

    Move the maximum income tax rate back to a Reaganesque 28%?

  20. Remove the tax exempt status from religious groups?

    End tax exemptions for all charities?

  21. Repeal the Bush Medicare Drug Program?

  22. Make the Interstate Highways a system of toll roads?

    I'm not advocating it, just saying it wouldn't surprise me.

  23. If raising taxes will kill the economic recovery and government deficits must be slashed ...

    What would YOU cut?

    Sell off Yosemite?
    The Presidio in San Fransisco?

  24. 61% of the Federal Budget goes to Defense (20%), Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (41%) plus another 14% goes to "safety net" programs. Interest accounts for 6%.

    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

  25. Have to do something, change course somewhere.

    Everything is sacred, to someone in the system. Or it would not be part of the system.

  26. Take that 61% and cut it in half, then we'd be still be the biggest single spender, on the military, in all the world.

    20% of the military budget goes to payroll. We could re-institute the draft, cutting those personnel costs dramatically.

    Cut the manpower requirement by a third, from 1 million in uniform to 650,000. Fire the private contractors and use draftees.

  27. Maintain the size of the force, but mandate universal conscription.

    Some to the military, some to other parts of the government.

    A three year Federal tour for everyone, at minimum wage. No exemptions.

    That'd cut Federal manpower costs.

  28. How much of the military budget is devoted to ensuring the flow of middle east oil?

  29. Minimum wage will soon be $8.50 per hour>
    $350 per week.

    Subtract food and housing expenses and our cash outlays for the troops would plummet, substantially.

    End housing allowances and allowances for dependents.

    Everyone of the troops earns the same, equal pay for equal work.

  30. Do you include the contingency operation in Iraq in that?

  31. That'd cut Federal manpower costs.

    I don't think that would be worth it. I doubt that we need universal conscription. The military would go back to being a high priced baby sitting service.

  32. Although you could make the case that a stint in the military is good for character development, I don't think the military wants to become the finishing school for America's fat, spoiled youth.

  33. For the most part, the big-ticket weapons programs are on the rise: $25 billion for 10 new ships, including two Virginia-class submarines and two DDG-51 destroyers (to make up for his killing the more "advanced" DDG-1000 last year, perhaps). Gates is requesting another $10 billion on missile defense (a billion more than last year). And he is requesting $11 billion for 43 more F-35 fighter planes.

  34. $46 billion, right there in new procurements.

  35. Ah, Unca Miltie; he had a pleasant personality, and gave an enjoyable speech. But, he was wrong about as much as he was right (Or, perhaps, more.) An ex: The SS Trust Fund has "Grown" every year since its inception (it was Not getting "smaller" during the time of his speech.)

  36. We don't need universal conscription unless you want to make it a federal full employment program. We don't need that big a standing army especially when we should be closing bases around the whirled.

    The problem with reducing military presence for a lot of folk is that would be seen as a move toward a more isolationist policy. This is a big no-no to the CFR crowd.

  37. SS Trust Fund

    Do you mean receipts?

  38. First, you have to understand "where you are," and "where you want to go."

    A decent economy will yield about 20% of GDP in Taxes. That would be about $2.9 Trillion. We can "finance" another 2% with no problems. Call it $0.3 Trillion.

    That means we have to get our spending down to about $3.2 Trillion. That means we need to cut about $600 Billion out of the Budget.

    Bring the troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, S. Korea, and Japan. That should get $300 Billion.

    And, finally, the coup de grace. Cut the rest of the budget 10%, across the Board. Period. Every swinging dick. Every Welfare Check. My future Social Security. The Preisident's salary, and the President's Secretary's Salary. Everything. 10%.

    Go have a beer.

  39. Or, raise taxes 10%.

    Guess which one they'll choose.

  40. Whit, Unca Miltie referred to the SS Trust Fund as "Reserves." He said they were "shrinking." Ain't true. Even this year, the SSTF will be larger at the end of the year than at the beginning.

  41. rufus wrote:

    "A decent economy will yield about 20% of GDP in Taxes"

    And a not so decent economy?

  42. What they will "really" do, after all the caterwauling, and gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments, and screeching, and speechifying endlessly, is allow some (all?) of the Bush Tax Cuts to expire, and bring most of the troops home from Afpakistan, and Iraq. This will, actually get us pretty close to where we want to be.

    Then, they'll make a few minor adjustments in SS (raise the taxable amount, require those less than 50 to work to 66, that sort of thing,) and start campaigning for 2012.

  43. Well, right now, Ash, it's yielding about 15%.

  44. Of course, you know my theory is that it's likely that the price of gasoline will work its way back up to $3.50, and above, and that that will keep a lid on the economy.

    A ramification of this will be that our economy can't generate that 19 to 20% tax contribution, and we devolve into a horrible mess.

  45. Prospects for growth do appear to be grim. I'd suggest that the major drag on growth is the continued restructuring of the credit bubble regardless of the price of gas.

  46. Why the Social Security trust fund is useless
    Aug 10, 2010
    FORTUNE -- There's real money in the world, then there's funny money -- stuff that looks real, but isn't.

    Today, let's talk about one of the world's biggest piles of funny money -- the $2.54 trillion Social Security trust fund. The trust fund matters now, because Social Security revealed last week that it plans to tap it for $41 billion this year, and will begin tapping it on a regular basis in less than five years.

    But, but Rufus said...

  47. And, Walter Williams is just a dumb-fuck, plain and simple. He repeatedly refers to Bernie Madoff as Bernie "Maddox."

    The Social Security Trust Fund holds about $2.6 Trillion in "Special" Government Bonds. Government "Bonds" that will never be allowed to be "cashed," btw. Social Security might be a "crooked" scheme, but it's Not a "Ponzie" scheme.

  48. The fact is, Whit, those bonds are designated to pay 2.9% interest. After accrual of interest the SS Trust Fund will have more money at the end of the year than at the beginning. Hint: The "interest" on the bonds will be somewhere close to $70 Billion.

  49. I guess we all had better go sell our Treasury Bonds. They are just a "promise to pay," after all.

    I mean, there's no Scrooge McDuck Vault of dollar bills somewhere just waiting to cash to treasury bills in.

  50. When they take the money from your pay check for SS where does that money go? Does it go into general revenues, and, if so, does that get reported on the revenue side of the ledger for the federal government?

  51. It goes into the Soc Sec Trust Fund, Ash. The thing is, the "Trust Fund" in ONLY allowed to invest in "Special" Government Bonds. When Treasury Bonds were yielding twelve, and thirteen percent the SS "Special" Bonds were yielding 2.9%, or somesuch.

    So, the cash goes to the General Fund, and the "special" bonds go to the Social Security Retirement Fund.

    The Government refers to the income from SS as "Off-Budget" in its monthly treasury statements.

  52. "You might have heard that the Social Security system currently takes in more money than it pays out in order to try to handle the baby boomer problem. What happens with the excess money the system collects? The Social Security system buys U.S. Treasury bonds with the surplus. Essentially, the government (in the form of the Social Security Administration) loans the surplus to itself.

    In future decades, when it comes time to start drawing on the collected surplus, the government will pay itself back through tax revenue (or additional borrowing). The Social Security system will start cashing in the bonds, and the government will have to make good on them with tax revenue. That sounds weird because it is weird -- Whether or not it will work is a source of significant debate right now. The effect it will have is that it will shift the payment of Social Security benefits over to the government as a whole. The government as a whole, rather than the Social Security system, will have to repay the treasury bonds that the Social Security system will be cashing in. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens! "

    So, in short, if there is a deficit in SS the government will need to pay it out of general revenues.

    I'm still unsure of the accounting of the surplus. It doesn't appear as revenue?

  53. The Republicans (and Dems, also) are disingenuous, lying dicks when it comes to SS.

    The Pubs screech, "The poor don't pay income taxes."

    When the poors' contributions to SS are pointed out, the Pubs say, "That doesn't count. Those are contributions to their Retirement Fund."

    Now, when it's time to "pay the piper," the Pubs scream, "There Is No Fund." Those were Taxes. SS is Welfare."

    Republicans are, by and large, lying dicks.

  54. It appears as "Off-Budget" Revenue, Ash.

  55. So I have been told Mel, and so I believe. Thank you for the concern.

    Tis a perfect day for fall hunting, alas I am without a car, if you can believe that, it is usually like a used car lot here.

    There is always the Call The Casino Bus.

    Rat you are truly amazing, going on and on like you do, totally unable to pick up on a little general disgust with things.

    Additionally, you never make any sense.

  56. Plus, you have zero sense of humor, a truly worrisome attribute.

  57. Who's Mel anyways? I just woke up.

  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. Well, it seems to me that SS isn't really that big of a problem then. If they've been buying treasury bonds with the surplus and not accounting for that as general revenue then any shortfall brought about by a demographic shift won't be calamitous - basically to fund the shortfall Treasury bills would have to be sold into the market to fund whatever the current years deficit would have to be. Not a huge liability I would guess. More problematic if the demographics remained 'upside down' for a long time.

  60. It's just a ruse to raise "ss taxes," Ash. Or, to cut benefits.

  61. Highly ranked Boise State plays Oregon State today, and Idaho plays Colorado State at Fort Collins I think it is.

    Boise State is a firecracker of a team this year.

  62. BUT, remember, those aren't "treasury bonds" - despite howstuffworks says.

    Those are "Special" Bonds. That word "Special" is a very important word.

  63. Where's The Cleaning Lady to make some sense out of this discussion. She has more sense than all of us.

  64. And a special word too, Rufus.

    A word like that always demands a seat at the head of the verbal table.

  65. On the other hand the word common ain't worth a shucks, and can sit on the porch outside.

  66. I'm taking Mel's advice and going back to bed till game time.

  67. I'm with Krugman on this one. Paul Ryan and "The Young Guns" are pure marketing mockery.

    If smoke 'n mirrors is the official - or even unofficial - approach of the Republican Party, then they don't deserve to be rewarded, yet, with either House or Senate.

    The Republicans were making some real progress with their smaller and proper role of government themes but they're losing ground with this disingenuous (un)balance(d) sheet.

    Quirk beat me to the Stephen Colbert** issue. Approved by Pelosi. There is a time for self deprecation. This isn't it. It's the judgment. (Same for Palin who advised O'Donnell to only speak with FOX News.)

    From the volatility, noise level, inanity of substance and sheer bizarre performances, the political class might be demonstrating a looming awareness of repercussions for a decade of Ferris Bueller behavior - and attendant loss of perks.

    Americans understand balance sheets. I think. (still reeling from the NINJA loan debacle.) Taxes will go up and benefits will go down, pretty much as Rufus wrote above. It will happen, in fits and starts and it will probably take longer than it should. What I would consider "good," as in taking some of the edge off my disappointment and anger, would be some rough parity of sacrifice within the political class.

    But I'm not waiting for it.

    (**I'm glad to see someone else getting tired of that Jon Stewart smirk.)

  68. When I realized "you are what you eat" I knew I was NUTS said the squirrel on the couch to the psychiatrist.

  69. More problematic if the demographics remained 'upside down' for a long time.

    Yes, that's when the use of "Ponzi scheme" will become less scoffed at.

    ...Social Security...plans to tap it (The Trust Fund) for $41 billion this year, and will begin tapping it on a regular basis in less than five years.

    Everytime they "tap" the fund, they must borrow the money from investors.

    Obviously, I'm not a Social Security expert but I suspect the truth lies somewhere between what the Democrats and Republicans would have you believe. What I do know is that the Great Depression lasted a long time. I suspect that the current whatever you want to call it will too. How long can the Federal Government find suckers, er, investors to finance deficit spending?

  70. Whit, I doubt that they will ever allow the fund to be "tapped on a regular basis." It just doesn't seem to be something that's "in the cards."

  71. Say what you want about California, they sure make things "interestin."

    California Regulators have approved a plan (goal?) of getting 1/3 of California's power from Renewable Resources by 2020.

    One Third? That's a pretty big old number, there, Hoss.

  72. I'm curious about the specifics on the "special bond" status. It could make a big difference. The treasury market is big and deep. The "special bond" market????

  73. That's what's "special" about the "special" bond, Ash. There IS NO Market.

    The SS System is
    "Required" to invest all of its unused funds in them, and is not allowed to sell them to any 3rd party. They can only "sell" them back to the U.S. Government.

  74. That's why I keep railing against the "Social Security Debt" being considered part of th "Public" Debt.

    It is a canard. A joke. It will NEVER be redeemed. It IS NOT a "Legal" debt. A "Legal" Debt is Property. It can be "bought and sold." You can't "buy" a "special SS Bond" (as if you'd want to,) and the SS admin. can't Sell it.

    It is, in functionality, a Lie that has been perpetrated upon the American People by both political parties.

  75. We have been told for seventy-five years that we were "contributing" to our "retirement."

    Every Financial Planner for seventy-five years has started his "retirement planning" spiel with

    1) Your requirements will be X

    2) Social Security will pay you Y

    3) My Policy will pay you the difference between X, and Y.

    4) Write me a check.

  76. So, are you saying that when the gov. receives the SS money in it spends it and creates a "special bond"? The when SS needs to cash in that "special bond" then the gov. must issue treasuries, or print the money, to pay off that "special bond"? If that is the case then it isn't a good situation.

  77. Benito Ratolini says,

    "There is no record of the Iranian Leadership being suicidal, though they will sacrifice others.

    MAD will work, against Iran."

    What could go wrong with a radical fascist group having nukes?? yeah, lets all listen to Dr. Strange Rat, that's the ticket! in 1983 close to 300 marines were killed by you know who so don't tell people their leadership doesn't have suicidal tendencies (how would they know we would not massively retaliate?). Rat, your own country of origin, Italy, used chemical weapons on Ethiopians, far from their own borders, killing, by some estimates, close to 50,000 under Mussolini.

    i believe you would savor them having nukes much like you would israel having indefensible borders.

  78. Which, if the above is true, brings me back to 'how does the government account for the revenue?'. You say it is "off book" but, still, it spends it, no? If it spends it then its got to get it on the ledger somehow.

  79. Ash, look here. Monthly Treasury Statement - August

    You will see that receipts are divided into

    on-budget receipts

    off-budget receipts

    They are then added together and SPENT.

    "Special" Bonds are issued to the SS Admin. for the amount of the difference between SS expenditures, and SS "receipts."

    Also, interest (in the form of more bonds) is paid to the SS Admin. for the amount of the "special" bonds, outstanding.

  80. and that suggests that SS is in bad shape, no?

  81. Benito Ratolini


    That's good.

    Idaho 3 Colorado zip but we are about to score, 3rd and three, first down on the two!!!

  82. 2nd and 1 to score.

    I know you're all interested in this, i'm sharing

  83. TD!!!!!

    That makes it 10 - 0.

    Vandies on the march.

  84. It suggests that the "Big Lie" is in bad shape.

    Social Security, itself, has $2.6 Trillion in the bank (admittedly, however, a pretty slippery bank.)

  85. Ratolini has some Swede too, obviously overpowered by the irrational south.

    Like Trish might say, nukes in the hands of Twelvers----

    What could possibly go wrong?

  86. in the bank??? In "special bonds" right? All that means is that the Federal government has written IOU's for that money. It doesn't sound like it is "in the bank" at all but rather it has been spent. At least if they had spent the surplus on treasuries things would be not so bad but you tell us they didn't do that.

  87. Khomeini Quotes--What Could Possibly Go Wrong

    Vandies on Rams 44. Where's Derek Weiting today?

    By the way, they did weed eat the weeds, wife reports.

  88. A man can have sex with animals such as sheeps, cows, camels and so on. However, he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village; however, selling the meat to the next door village should be fine.�


    1st and 10 on the 22.

  89. Vandies 13 - Colorado - zip

  90. I said it was, admittedly, a pretty slippery bank. :)

  91. Damn, Vandie breakdown on defense.

    14 Colorado 13 Vandies

    First half at an end.

  92. Well, I tell ya, after our discussion today and what I was just reading on Wiki on the Social Security Trust Fund I've arrived at the conclusion that it is a mess. It is essentially the same as 'off balance sheet' entities that some notorious companies have used to disguise problems.

    In short the SS surpluses have gone into general revenues and have been spent with non-trade-able bonds issued as IOU's yet the scheme has been (fraudulently) been portrayed as a "trust fund" that sits "off budget" (the fraud part-like off balance sheet). Simply put SS is just an entitlement that needs to be funded out of general revenues. At least in Canada the CPP actually has a fund which administers the surpluses in trade-able securities. In addition - there is nothing there to go bankrupt, just the US government, which won't because it can just print up some new bucks. I wonder when the market for US treasuries will dry up?

  93. America, second to none - took the retirement money and spent it on things to blow up rocks and sand in EyeRAQ and AFPakistan


  94. If it spends it then its got to get it on the ledger somehow. - Ash

    That's why I keep railing against the "Social Security Debt" being considered part of the "Public" Debt. - Rufus

    I followed this exact same exchange about 2002/03 on Josh Trevino's old site pre Red State of which he was one of the founders before a feud led to some kind of informal separation. I think he still contributes to the site.

    I sort of understand SS accounting, although I'll gladly let Rufus continue to carry that water.

    (The key word for me is "obligation." SS is an obligation to pay, not a commodity that can be traded over an exchange - yet. That's how I think of it.)

    I am unclear if switching the government books to GAAP accounting would clarify the SS 'obligation'.

  95. I'm guessing the way to figure out the accounting of it all is to do it as insurance companies do - actuarial tables and all that.

  96. The fiction that the Special Bonds are somehow capital has me shaking my head in amazement

  97. It's a funny thing about humor.What I said earlier about tone preceding substance relates to the rhythm of a conversation as well.

    I regard with unmitigated disfavor the Pelosi-led decision to allow Colbert's Congressional testimony, but at the same time I linked to IowaHawk's satire of the Obama roast right in the middle of a serious conversation between Whit and Rat.

    IowaHawk's satire was very very funny but timing is all. Disrupting the rhythm detracts from the substance, as much as a tone that is more taunting than balanced in tenor.

    Just think of me as Doug in a skirt when that happens.

    (Oh and steady as she goes. This isn't Downing Street or K street.)

    (And you can't say Rat doesn't have a sense of humor after that crack about "Hitler invading Poland" response of the Repubs to a flat tax. That was IowaHawk material.)

  98. I don't think of it so much as "fraud," Ash, as that we let the "Crazy Uncle" have control of the checkbook.

  99. The fraud part lies in the fiction that there is money "in trust" when all that is in trust are IOU's. They aren't even IOU's like a real bond because they can't be traded. What has happened is that Federal government revenues have been inflated giving them more money to spend on things like the stuff that explodes in the desert without presenting to the public the attendant liabilities. That sounds suspiciously like a fraud to me.

  100. The Peace Fairy

    History is merely an account of the way people actually behave. It is not a tale for children. It is strictly for adults. Consider three historical samples: (1) The Roman dictator Sulla, in the act of reinstating the Roman Republic, stacked a large number of decapitated heads on his porch; (2) Julius Caesar cut off the hands of thousands who took up arms against him in Gaul; (3) President Harry S. Truman dropped two atomic bombs on innocent women and children in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Does the reader imagine that we are done with war because we are somehow better than the people living in the age of Sulla or Caesar, or Harry S. Truman? The concern that I have tried to communicate, again and again, has to do with the realization of who man is and what kind of weapons he now has at his disposal. As for massacring innocents, the Americans are not the worst of modern offenders; certainly not worse than the Russians or Chinese. And that is reason for concern as well, if you noticed the ongoing modernization of Russian and Chinese nuclear forces (while U.S. forces are in decline). The best solution, under the circumstances, is to maintain the balance of power (i.e., the nuclear balance). But we have lost interest in doing this, so that our survival is no longer assured. When Russia and China realize they can wage nuclear war against the United States without fear of retaliation, then America will cease to exist. The disappearance of America from history is difficult for Americans to imagine, but it is undoubtedly the direction in which we are headed. The children among us deny all of this. Theirs is a politics of denial. And it seems that these children are now in charge, making policy.

  101. Well, there IS that. :)

  102. Well, the severity of This downturn caught'em by surprise, and they're havig to "hit the hip" for $41 Billion, but you can bet that by the time 2016 rolls around they'll be ready. They will have raised SS taxes, lowered benefits, or something. There is, absolutely, no way they're cashing Any More of those "special" bonds if they can help it; and, they Can help it.

    You've already got that old loony, Dem Leftist, Simpson, walking around saying, "Social Security was Never intended to be a 'retirement' program."

    They think we're all 'complete' idiots.

    And, they're probably right.

  103. the severity of This downturn caught'em by surprise

    I don't think the problem so much is that They think We are stupid as it is We now know that They are venal**.

    Case in point: go back to the multiple warnings put in front of Congress for the increasing pressure on F/F - warnings that were ignored as 'politics.'

    **The road leading to 2008 being littered, literally, with small steps.

    Matt Taibbi is looking astute: “it’s as if about ten years ago these guys decided that America was not going to make it, and began grabbing all the money they could get, and buying villas in the south of France”.

    Taibbi just needs to get the Washington side of this deal to complete the story.


    Derek Weiting must be injured.

  105. In addition it is this whole business of putting it "off budget" that has me, I dunno, wrinkling my brow.

    yeah, CL, small steps indeed - many many small steps meandering all about the countryside...

  106. I forgot where I read it but the upshot was that the elites sit there surrounded by all their wealth blind to the suffering of the masses until...

  107. George Carlin is a dirty, profane, ugly, disgusting old man.

    Vandals 34 Colorado 33

    Idaho's got the ball. This is getting good. 6 minutes left.

  108. Ash is a young George Carlin.

  109. Jeez, you guys have spent the entire afternoon talking about SS which is a nit, one that can "fixed" overnight with a few adjustments, while all the time Medicare/Medicaid, the 800 pound guerilla is sitting quietly in the corner waiting to be fed.

    That's what happens when you start answering questions from a Canadian who doesn't even know the meaning of PC.


  110. :)

    Yes, Melody, George Carlin called it pretty much the way it is.

    That's why I support the "Tea Partiers." Not because their candidates are any more righteous, or bright than the other guys, But, Because They're NOT The Other Guys.

    They're NOT Incumbents.

    Most of them haven't had time to become "bought and paid for," yet.

    Hell, I'd support'em if they were called the "Whigs," or the "Know-Nothings," or the "I Don't Give a Fuck Party."

    It still won't do much good, though. Most of'em are dumber'n a box of rocks; and they'll be just as crooked as the present assholes within a year, or two.

    But, at least the scenery will change for a little while.

  111. Preston Davis made a great catch for a first down. Dante Jackson to the 45.

  112. 4th and 7 at the 42.


  113. You know, I never much cared for Carlin, but that piece was great - on the sanguine civic body.

    But the last part about the American Dream, he dives off the deep end.

    It's not dead. It's just in a deep sleep.

    The world will be surprised - again - just as Yamamoto predicted.

  114. Is Medicare and Medicade "off budget" Quirk.

    not only liberals are PC dude. no how, no way.

  115. Nice kick to the 13. Couple minutes to go.

  116. Ash is a young George Carlin.

    Ash is young.

    Mat had his number.

  117. Shit. They're getting close to field goal range.

  118. Q, the difference, to me at least, between Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid is, Medicare/Medicaid was pretty much sold as what it is.

    Social Security, on the other hand, has been "misrepresented" from, virtually, Day One.

  119. These announcers are terrible. Listened the whole game and still don't know where Weiting is.

    Time out on the field.

  120. 51 seconds, penalty on Idaho. 12 on the field, shit. Puts 'em well within field goal range.

    This is the old Idaho I know and love so well.

  121. 14 yard line. We're cooked. 12 seconds.

  122. But the last part about the American Dream, he dives off the deep end.

    It's not dead. It's just in a deep sleep.

    The world will be surprised - again - just as Yamamoto predicted.

    I think this is correct.

    The Good News is: The Elite/Have it all's aren't "rocket scientists," either.

    That fact, plus a two-year election cycle will probably save our asses in the long run.

    At least, I hope so. :)

  123. 35 yard attempt, coming up, another time out.

    3 seconds left.

    They got the best kicker in their history.

  124. No free drinks and buffet for the boys this week.

    Colorado 36 Idaho 34

    Back to your regularly scheduled programing.

  125. All this talk about economics and social security misses the only point that counts which is whether we actually amount to a squat or not, metaphysically speaking.

    Casino time.

  126. not only liberals are PC dude. no how, no way.

    You illustrate the problem with liberals Ash, no self-analysis nor recognition.

    You are the most PC guy here yet you show you have no idea what PC means when you state in recent simultaneous posts that US citizens are PC when they say the US, as a country, is second to none.

    PC does not stand for 'pervasively chauvanistic' it stands for 'politically correct'. Two entirely different concepts.

    Politically Correct adj. (Abbr. PC)
    1.Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.
    2.Being or perceived as being overconcerned with such change, often to the exclusion of other matters.

    Chauvanistic adj.
    1.Militant devotion to and glorification of one's country; fanatical patriotism.
    2.Prejudiced belief in the superiority of one's own gender, group, or kind: "the chauvinism . . . of making extraterrestrial life in our own image" (Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr.).

    Projection is never a pretty thing.

    If you are going to insult me, at least try and do it correctly. I would much prefer being referred to as chauvanistic, jingoistic, or god forbid, even xenophobic than PC.


  127. Social Security, on the other hand, has been "misrepresented" from, virtually, Day One.

    The "Big Lie" Ruf?


    Irrelevant to the big picture.

    We are supposed to be a country of adults.

    Both programs will be there in one form or another as long as politicos feel it is to their benefit to have them there.

    What form they will take will be driven by the vote. I have more faith in the ultimate common sense of the public than I do in the intelligence of the elected "elites".


  128. If you are going to insult me, at least try and do it correctly.

    Like this, Ash--

    Quirk is a buffoon.

  129. Well, yea.

    There's that too Bobbo.


  130. Like I said, Q: The Good News is,

    "The Elites ain't Rockit Sinetists, either."

  131. Good clip, Mel.

    And funny. But not, ha ha funny.


  132. So what would you consider ha ha funny?

  133. Look what I found in my email tonight!

    History lesson on your Social Security Card

    Your Social Security

    Just in case some of you young whippersnappers (& some older ones) didn't know this. It's easy to check out, if you don't believe it. Be sure and show it to your kids. They need a little history lesson on what's what and it doesn't matter whether you are Democrat or Republican. Facts are Facts!!!

    Social Security Cards up until the 1980s expressly stated the number and card were not to be used for identification purposes. Since nearly everyone in the United States now has a number, it became convenient to use it anyway and the message was removed.[9] security.gif
    An old Social Security card with the "NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION" message.

    Our Social Security
    Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

    1.) That participation in the Program would be Completely voluntary,

    No longer Voluntary

    2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual Incomes into the Program,

    Now 7.65% on the first $90,000
    Note: Employer pays the same!!

    3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

    No longer tax deductible

    4.) That the money the participants put into the independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the general operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,

    Under Johnson the money was moved to The General Fund and Spent

    5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.

    Under Clinton & Gore Up to 85% of your Social Security can be Taxed

    Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month -- and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to 'put away' -- you may be interested in the following:

    Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent 'Trust Fund' and put it into the general fund so that Congress could spend it?

    A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the democratically controlled House and Senate.

    Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

    A: The Democratic Party.

    Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

    A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the 'tie-breaking' deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the US.

    And my favorite:

    Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

    A: That's right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party.
    Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

    Then, after violating the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you that the Republicans want to take your Social Security away!

    And the worst part about it is uninformed citizens believe it!

    If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe changes will evolve. Maybe not, some Democrats are awfully sure of what isn't so.

    But it's worth a try. How many people can YOU send this to?

    Actions speak louder than bumper stickers.


  134. This comment has been removed by the author.

  135. oops, excuuuuse me, Chauvanistic it is then quirk if we are to accept the definitions as you quoter.

    I'm not sure where you got those definitions from but, to me, politically correct means more to adhering to the current political 'truth' (or 'truthiness' as Colbert would say) as opposed to only a political liberal truth. For example, it would be politically incorrect to say that the US is responsible for what occurred on 911.

  136. ah, here is a good one:

    ""Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

  137. This comment has been removed by the author.

  138. Blogger rufus said...

    Like I said, Q: The Good News is,

    "The Elites ain't Rockit Sinetists, either."

    Ya, but who has "power"?

  139. For example, it would be politically incorrect to say that the US is responsible for what occurred on 911.

    No, that would just be "deranged."

  140. They got the upper hand, Ash. But, we're not "totally" defenseless. We still got the vote. (we don't use it too well, sometimes, but, at least, we got it.)

  141. This comment has been removed by the author.

  142. Now, maybe I've got it wrong but my understanding of "politically incorrect" is something which goes against political orthodoxy - perceived political truths.


    "In these cases, the term politically incorrect connotes language, ideas, and behavior unconstrained by a perceived orthodoxy or by concerns about offending or expressing bias regarding various groups of people."

    "po·lit·i·cal·ly cor·rect


    deliberately avoiding offense: relating to or supporting the use of language or conduct that deliberately avoids giving offense, e.g. on the basis of ethnic origin or sexual orientation"

    Your reaction to the statement re 911 shows how politically incorrect that statement is. Conservatives have their orthodoxies as do liberals.

  143. You've got the vote, sure, but when Corporations are people too (i.e. political right to free speech) and Tweedledee vs Tweedledum (or as Rat likes to rant - they are all Skull and Boners) what 'change' is that vote really getting you?

  144. The tea partiers are the bleeding edge of revolution. Will the pitch forks hit the elites ass on their way out the door? In our lifetime?

  145. This comment has been removed by the author.

  146. Now, maybe I've got it wrong but my...

    It's alright Ash. We're used to it.

    You're Canadian and English is your second language.


  147. I'm not sure where you got those definitions from but, to me, politically correct means more to adhering to the current political 'truth' (or 'truthiness' as Colbert would say)...

    My god, and he is not even embarrassed quoting Colbert.


  148. That's really sick, Quirk.

  149. May you get cancer of the testicles, we'll all laugh our asses off.

  150. I've got the son checking out Vegas motel prices. Downtown, too, Golden Nugget, first casino I was ever in, and underage as well. Dad taught me that if you play long enough, you always lose. That was the year the hotel rumbled from a nuclear blast, and the Strip was just beginning, and we went on to LA, with Roscoe. I think it was the first time I'd ever seen palm trees. Old time sake.

  151. We'll get some weed from Ash, and have a good old time, as your balls drop off.

  152. That's really sick, Quirk.

    Right, like you never laughed at something that was inapporpriate especially when you were high on something.

    You are as friggin PC as Ash.



  153. We'll get some weed from Ash, and have a good old time, as your balls drop off.

    Like if that happened to me I would give a good shit what you did.

    What a maroon.


  154. I don't remember it with glee forty years later, slick.

  155. Besides, you had to be there.


  156. I don't remember it with glee forty years later, slick.

    As usual with this crowd, assumptions is all you get.

    There was no glee, no emotions whatsoever in the recollection(although the girl was cute and that memory brings back a smile).

    I was merely illustrating that 'ha ha' funny is situational and depends on a lot of factors.

    The fact that you read more into it merely diminishes you not me.


  157. Turn it up

    You make hash brownies not weed brownies.

  158. The only factor that played a roll in that "ha ha funny" situation was that you were high.

  159. Do you like my rainbow? I took that picture the other night.

  160. Love the rainbow.

    Very nice.

    Not a plaid skirt, but still, very nice.


  161. I wonder where Trish has been.

  162. ... that you were high.

    I said situational.

    Besides, you had to be there.


  163. That's why I was going to send you a note.

    Hoped you had heard from her.


  164. Yeah, most of mine are 'had to be there' situations, too.

  165. I waited all night. You never sent me anything.

  166. I have a dry morbid sense of humor. Most people don't get me.

  167. My pictures are really beautiful all lined up like that.

  168. You make hash brownies not weed brownies.

    We were kids having fun not gourmet cooks.

    As I recall Boones Farm and Ripple were also considered subtle and exquisite back then.


  169. All the talk of word counts gave me time to rethink.

    Decided not to bother you.


  170. That's okay I didn't wait too long.

  171. Not as impulsive as I thought.

  172. I have a dry morbid sense of humor. Most people don't get me.

    Having a hard time with Libra.

    They are too damn nice. Nothing to get your hands around.

    Their least compatible people Capricorn and Scorpio.


  173. Very impulsive.

    Just return to reality equally as fast.

    That's why I love the trash can at the end of my posts.

    I expect at least 20% of these to be gone soon.


  174. While Librans are charming and elegant and captivating no one is that perfect. They are unreliable and not trustworthy. They will break your heart in second.

  175. This comment has been removed by the author.

  176. They are self-centered and only think of themselves.

  177. They are self-centered and only think of themselves.

    My. My.

    It appears you are not cynical enough little girl.



  178. It's hard to be cynical about someone so perfect. So perfect that they worry they have conned you into thinking they are perfect and that you will find out that they are a fraud.

    And you're right they are hard people.

  179. I see what you are up to. You're trying to get me to write your paper. You better get working on it you don't have much time left.

  180. The Iranians do not have a nuclear capacity and do not have ICBM capacity.

    They are not capable of striking the US outside of our forces deployed in Afpakistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

    Which are in a war zone, already.

    But the Iranians, though US forces have been in some of those locales for over decade have not struck them overtly. Have not used their limited surface to surface capacity against US.

    They are not suicidal.

    To claim they are, is propaganda that serves foreign interests, not those of the United States.

    Anon still is evading intelligence to the best of his abilities.

  181. heheh--prostate problems? kidney stones, urinary tract infection

    Possible Health Concerns...
    Scorpio governs the pelvis and reproductive and urinary systems and its subjects are said to be prone to ailments of the liver and kidneys, stones and gravel in the bladder or genitals, and other genital ills such as priapism. Abscesses, boils, carbuncles, fistulas, piles, ruptures and ulcers may also affect the Scorpions

    I may be starting to believe in this non-sense.

  182. Hi rat.

    Couldn't sleep? Or has that Anon post been bugging you all day?


  183. Determined and forceful
    Emotional and intuitive
    Powerful and passionate
    Exciting and magnetic

    On the dark side....

    Jealous and resentful
    Compulsive and obsessive
    Secretive and obstinate

  184. Looky here--

    Scorpio! About Your Sign...

    Scorpios are the most intense, profound, powerful characters in the zodiac. Even when they appear self-controlled and calm there is a seething intensity of emotional energy under the placid exterior. They are like the volcano not far under the surface of a calm sea, it may burst into eruption at any moment. But those of us who are particularly perceptive will be aware of the harnessed aggression, the immense forcefulness, magnetic intensity, and often strangely hypnotic personality under the tranquil, but watchful composure of Scorpio. In conventional social gatherings they are pleasant to be with, thoughtful in conversation, dignified, and reserved, yet affable and courteous; they sometimes possess penetrating eyes which make their shyer companions feel naked and defenseless before them.

    In their everyday behavior they give the appearance of being withdrawn from the center of activity, yet those who know them will recognize the watchfulness that is part of their character. They need great self-discipline, because they are able to recognize the qualities in themselves that make them different from other humans, and to know their utterly conventional natures can be used for great good, or great evil. Their tenacity and willpower are immense, their depth of character and passionate conviction overwhelming, yet they are deeply sensitive and easily moved by their emotions. Their sensitivity, together with a propensity for extreme likes and dislikes make them easily hurt, quick to detect insult or injury to themselves (often when none is intended) and easily aroused to ferocious anger. This may express itself in such destructive speech or action that they make lifelong enemies by their outspokenness, for they find it difficult not to be overly critical of anything or anyone to whom they take a dislike.

    They can harness their abundant energy constructively, tempering their self-confidence with shrewdness and their ambition with magnanimity toward others provided they like them. They relate to fellow workers only as leaders and can be blunt to those they dislike to the point of cruelty. In fact they are not above expressing vindictiveness in deliberate cruelty. They are too demanding, too unforgiving of faults in others, perhaps because they are not aware of the shortcomings within themselves, and extravagantly express their self-disgust in unreasonable resentment against their fellows. They do, however, make excellent friends, provided that their companions do nothing to impugn the honor of which Scorpios are very jealous. Part of the negative side of the Scorpio nature is a tendency to discard friends once they cease to be useful, but the decent native is aware of, and fights this tendency.

  185. Those carbuncles and fistulas been acting up on you again Bobbo?


  186. They are fortunate in that their strong reasoning powers are tempered with imagination and intuition, and these gifts, together with critical perception and analytical capacity, can enable the Scorpions to penetrate to profundities beyond the average. They have a better chance of becoming geniuses than the natives of any other sign.But charismatic "twice-born" characters such as they can sink into the extremes of depravity if they take the wrong path, and the intensity of their nature exaggerates their harmful tendencies into vices far greater than the normal.
    Rebelliousness against all conventions, political extremism to the point where hatred of the Establishment makes them utterly unscrupulous terrorists. Brooding resentment, aggressive and sadistic brutality, total arrogance, morbid jealousy, extreme volatility of temperament, these are some of their vices. At the other extreme is the procrastinator, the man or woman who is capable of so much that they do nothing and become indolent and self-indulgent, requiring extravagant praise and flattery from those whom they make their cronies.

    Being so gifted, they can find fulfillment in many employments. Their inner intensity can result in the ice-cold self-control and detachment of the surgeon, the concentration of the research scientist, and the heroism of the soldier. Any profession in which analysis, investigation, research, dealing with practicalities, and the solving of mysteries are relevant, can appeal to them. So police and detective work, espionage and counterespionage, the law, physics or psychology may attract them, and they can become masters of the written and spoken word. They may be most persuasive orators and find fulfillment as diplomats or preachers and, if they make the Church their profession, their inner intensity can express itself in the spiritual fervor of the mystic or the thaumaturgy.

    Scorpio is the symbol of sex and Scorpios are passionate lovers, the most sensually energetic of all the signs. For them, union with the beloved is a sacrament, an "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.&quot. Their overriding urge in loving is to use their power to penetrate beyond themselves and to lose themselves sexually in their partners in an almost mystical ecstasy, thus discovering the meaning of that union which is greater than individuality, and is a marriage of the spirit as well as of flesh. They are thus capable of the greatest heights of passionate transport, but debauchery and perversion are always dangers, and Scorpios can become sadistic monsters of sensuality and eroticism. Their feelings are so intense that even when their love is of the highest, and most idealistic kind, they are nevertheless frequently protagonists in tragic, even violent romances, "star-crossed lovers&quot.