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Last update: 19 Dec 2004 -- 8:18am

Christmas Radio [high] [low]
18 Dec 2004

It appears that the IS NO IMPENDING CRISIS with Social Security right now. If nothing is changed at all, then the benefit payout will outpace the tax revenue in 2018. However, there's a trust fund underneath all of this; if nothing changes, benefits will still be paid out IN FULL until 2042.

It seems to me that the President's concerns about Social Security is completely disingenuous. His other policies are causing a GIGANTIC revenue defecit. It seems to me that the real crisis we should be addressing isn't something which might happen in 2042, but huge debts we are racking up now. It's a ploy to distract us.

Speaking of which, all this hubub about "lacking confidence" in Rumsfeld is another sleight-of-hand. Rumsfeld has been set up as the fall guy for America's failures in Iraq. His removal or resignation will be done at the moment that the citizenry is maximally disgusted with our performance in Iraq. This will let the President and the Republican party hide from allegations that they rushed into a war of choice with inadequate resources executing to a inappropriate plan.

The buck stops at the Oval Office, not on the Defense Secretary's desk.

It's easy to get sidetracked, since it is indeed true that Social Security may one day run out and that Rumsfeld is a flaming jackass. I hope that we don't lose sight of the bigger issues at the same time.

A litany of misinformation being provided about the end of Social Security.

I haven't read the Earthsea books, but the SciFi Channel miniseries was not the worst thing I've seen on that channel. It had a plot. The FX weren't so great but they didn't actually cause eye-bleed. On the other hand, I did watch it in an uninterrupted stretch from 11:30pm to 3am so maybe the only thing I can say for sure is that ZOMBIES! won't disapprove.

16 Dec 2004

Oh yeah, and don't tell an author what her own books mean.

Ursula LeGuin is not happy about Sci-Fi Channel's adaptation of her Earthsea books.

11 Dec 2004

I've added another 30 or so tracks to the high-bandwidth Foamy Christmas Radio. Enjoy!

10 Dec 2004

I've been reading about the Bush Administration's intentions to move Social Security to a "personal savings account". It would work rather like a mandatory 401(k). Considering in the past I've said that I never expected to get Social Security, it may surprise you that I think that this is a shockingly bad idea.

I had quite a wake-up call in 2000. The dot-com boom bombed and much of my savings was wiped out due to (essentially unfair) AMT taxation. If I was savvy this wouldn't have happened. Of course, if the market hadn't tanked, it wouldn't have happened either.

No one can be trusted to make the right choices in the market. It is fundamentally risky. It's expected to be. "Past performance is not indicative of future results."

Social Security was created because the Depression wiped out people's savings (which they had poured into the booming market). Although there are more safeguards in place today to keep one-day crashes from occurring, that doesn't mean that we are immune from financial depression. The crash of 2000, which we still haven't recovered from, shows we are not safe today.

It is my belief that Social Security shouldn't be based on how savvy, clever, or rapacious you are. It is a pension. It is a federal benefit for helping keep the wheels of American industry turning. It is a safety net. If people are allowed to screw up their safety net then it isn't very safe, is it?

There are also plenty of other details as to why this is a bad idea even if you believe that people should be able to choose how to guarantee their pension: Administration fees are much higher, there's no way to pay for the transition without raising taxes or causing more debt, the failure of similar systems in other countries, etc.

There's a lot being written on this now. Read what both the right and left say.

Check Google News on this topic (Beware: Google News seems to have a tendency to overweight right-wing coverage in their listings.)

[Minor edits on 11 Dec 2004]

6 Dec 2004

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