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Old 04-02-2012, 11:45 AM   #61
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+1. I would have dismissed this POV as nonsense 20 years ago, but the last 50 years has clearly shown this in the US. Despite good intentions, the more public benefits offered, the more dependents there are. Sadly now we've seen generations in the same family relying on public benefits. And the disconnect between giver and givee is more real than I would have guessed. While there are many who deserve help from the rest of us, there are also too many who could do more to help themselves (and our culture has made it far more "acceptable" to take money than was the case 50 years ago). A cruel reality...more benefits just won't solve the intended problem as far I can tell from any countries experience...
+1 Leave charity to the charities, which, in contrast to gov't often impart some sort of social responsibility to the community.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:50 AM   #62
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Assets are not being forcibly taken, they are the result of free choice in a democratic society.
"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner."
- Attributed to Winston Churchill

I beg your pardon, but they certainly are "forcible takings." When the government takes my property to give to others through the income tax, it is a forcible taking and I must give up my property or lose my freedom at the hands of the government. I'm sure we'll differ on the Constitutionality of this, and I'll admit to being out of step with the Court's decisions. The Constitution gives only certain enumerated powers to the federal government, and providing for the poor isn't among that list. Can we continue to justify this taking of property under the "general welfare" clause when clearly we are seeking to promote individual welfare (a very different thing)? Is it likely that the framers, who took great care to enumerate the powers of the federal government in such minor matters as postal roads really intended for over 50% of the federal budget to be consumed by this purpose which warranted only a single clause in the Constitution? Nope.
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Old 04-02-2012, 11:51 AM   #63
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You'd be in favor of your children and grandchildren paying more for your benefits than they will ever get out of Social Security when their time comes?
In the same way I hope they pay for home and life insurance yet never get back what they paid.
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:47 PM   #64
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As you note, you are certainly out of step with constitutional jurisprudence, and I'd argue also with the framers themselves. Taxes are not a "taking". The Constitution is very clear that Congress has the power to tax. A taking in a constitutional sense requires 'just compensation'. Not so with taxes. Providing for the poor to some degree through the power of taxation is certainly within the parameters of the General Welfare clause, as addressing the poverty of its citizens is a matter of interest to the Federal Government.

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"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner."
- Attributed to Winston Churchill

I beg your pardon, but they certainly are "forcible takings." When the government takes my property to give to others through the income tax, it is a forcible taking and I must give up my property or lose my freedom at the hands of the government. I'm sure we'll differ on the Constitutionality of this, and I'll admit to being out of step with the Court's decisions. The Constitution gives only certain enumerated powers to the federal government, and providing for the poor isn't among that list. Can we continue to justify this taking of property under the "general welfare" clause when clearly we are seeking to promote individual welfare (a very different thing)? Is it likely that the framers, who took great care to enumerate the powers of the federal government in such minor matters as postal roads really intended for over 50% of the federal budget to be consumed by this purpose which warranted only a single clause in the Constitution? Nope.
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:01 PM   #65
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Providing for the poor to some degree through the power of taxation is certainly within the parameters of the General Welfare clause, as addressing the poverty of its citizens is a matter of interest to the Federal Government.
Why the federal government? When the Constitution was written the world was similar in many ways to our world today. There were tariffs, there was currency, there were post offices, there were sick people and poor people. Take a look at the document--it addresses the important things and the less important things. Tariffs, currency, and post offices were directly addressed. The document says exactly how old a person must be to be elected to Congress. It gives a specific time (the first Monday in December) when Congress will meet, and a Constitutional amendment (the 20th) was required to change this date. Is it possible, with all this detail, that the framers just forgot to specifically mention this "providing for the poor" responsibility you've identified? This taking of property from some and giving it to others now constitutes over 50% of the federal budget. By that metric, it's more significant than providing for a national defense, running the courts, and doing the scores of other things that are specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

We're talking here about the right to keep what you've earned (and/or to give it away freely and voluntarily to those you choose). There's hardly anything more fundamental to security in retirement. Ants and grasshoppers.
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:01 PM   #66
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Midpack, a Ponzi scheme is a criminal endeavor, Social Security is a social insurance program.
I provided that link for the "bad investment" aspect of Soc Sec and not for the Ponzi claim (just a hook by the author?). But I've removed that link nonetheless as Ponzi was not my point at all. There's no denying the current arrangement has/is becoming an increasingly 'bad deal' for each new generation, something we need to honestly confront IMO.
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:13 PM   #67
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You'd be in favor of your children and grandchildren paying more for your benefits than they will ever get out of Social Security when their time comes?
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In the same way I hope they pay for home and life insurance yet never get back what they paid.
That seems like a surprising comparison. Home and life insurance are to protect us from large catastrophic losses on an exception basis. I assume (almost) no one hopes to collect substantially if at all on their home or life insurance.

While Social Security has an insurance feature to it, Soc Sec & Medicare taxes are much more than costly than home or life insurance and I assume (almost) everyone expects to collect a benefit. At some point paying taxes for current recipients knowing we're only a generation or two away from recipients receiving less than they even paid in (never mind a return) isn't going to be acceptable. Again, we just need to honestly confront the issue IMO...
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:15 PM   #68
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I provided that link for the "bad investment" aspect of Soc Sec and not for the Ponzi claim (just a hook by the author?). But I've removed that link nonetheless as Ponzi was not my point at all. There's no denying the current arrangement has/is becoming an increasingly 'bad deal' for each new generation, something we need to honestly confront IMO.
No disagreement there. And it is incumbent (IMHO) on our generation (yours and mine) to step forward and man up, because we are contributing to both sides of the problem - taking too much out and not having put enough in. We have also sat by and watched this happen in slow motion for years, and not acted (conceptually, not personally to you or any individual).

It isn't all that clear to me how to provide a reasonable amount of social insurance that is always solvent and viable, but I think we should try. Sometimes ants do all the right things and still life doesn't end the way it should, and a society that is wealthy and enlightened, such as ours, can deal with that.
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:22 PM   #69
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Sometimes ants do all the right things and still life doesn't end the way it should, and a society that is wealthy and enlightened, such as ours, can deal with that.
(Unstated) "But we don't truly trust in the goodness of individuals to help each other in the absence of federal coercion" (right?)
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:24 PM   #70
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That seems like a surprising comparison. Home and life insurance are to protect us from large catastrophic losses on an exception basis. I assume (almost) no one hopes to collect substantially if at all on their home or life insurance.

While Social Security has an insurance feature to it, Soc Sec & Medicare taxes are much more than costly than home or life insurance and I assume (almost) everyone expects to collect a benefit. At some point paying taxes for current recipients knowing we're only a generation or two away from recipients receiving less than they even paid in (never mind a return) isn't going to be acceptable. Again, we just need to honestly confront the issue IMO...
Lets separate Medicare from SS. They are different programs with one common characteristic. I think SS is a good program poorly managed. It has two insurance features that are important - one is caring for dependents and disability, the other is insuring against a lifetime of low earnings. So it pays out more to the lower earning individuals and less to those that made more. It is more easily remedied. All we need is the collective will and a greater sense of urgency.
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:27 PM   #71
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(Unstated) "But we don't truly trust in the goodness of individuals to help each other in the absence of federal coercion" (right?)
Aside from the terminology, which is inflammatory and politically charged but also, technically, not correct, history has shown some people share much goodness but it has never enough to offset the suffering.
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:23 PM   #72
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Aside from the terminology, which is inflammatory and politically charged but also, technically, not correct, history has shown some people share much goodness but it has never enough to offset the suffering.
Yes, I see how this works. Thank you. Nothing to see here . . .
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:34 PM   #73
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Why the federal government? When the Constitution was written the world was similar in many ways to our world today. There were tariffs, there was currency, there were post offices, there were sick people and poor people.
And the British government at the time required all parishes to construct workhouses (Workhouse Act of 1723, and Gilbert's Act of 1782), to provide relief for the 'poor by casualty' (the sick and senile), and specified 'outdoor relief' for the able-bodied poor. A poor collection (like a council tax) was authorized to provide funds to assist the elderly and blind. The 'idle poor', or 'sturdy beggars' could be whipped and returned to the place of their birth (the birth of SEP, or Someone Else's Problem).

Fun times, but not charity.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:10 PM   #74
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Fun times, but not charity.
Yes, not charity. Government programs.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:27 AM   #75
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No society has really found an answer yet. Perhaps we will need another century or so. I suspect an economy needs to have an aggregate surplus which is used to support or complement individual savings for retirement.
+1. I think having an economy with an aggregate surplus to support or complement individual savings for retirement is not the issue, it is how the surplus is distributed. The distributors will have more power over the recipients. When this happens, favoritism and abuse of power ensue. If this had not been the case, we would probably have been in paradise already.

Enough personal saving for unforeseen emergency and retirement is good for most of time, but a very complicated matter. It has so many factors intertwined together. It’s interesting to see that despite the lower income in some countries in Europe and Asia, they have much better personal saving rate than ours. For instance, here are 3 graphs attached: US saving rate (per Wikipedia), largest EU economies vs US 95-07 (per EuroStat), and cross country comparison (per World Bank, US,UK,AUS,DE,JAN)..

Admittedly, there are so many outside forces (or distributors) playing. So it’s probable that no society will ever be able find an answer.

It is hard to accept that we do not always get second chance for somethings in our life.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:45 AM   #76
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Been there, done (and still doing) that...

OHOH, I'm not depressed (along with DW). My/her family made their own decisions in life, and now have to live with the results. Who is to say they are wrong? While DW/me lived an LBYM lifestyle and put aside a good deal of our earnings toward our future, who's to say that others in our family were wrong?

You make your "bet", and you live with the results.
This pretty well describes my attitude. You make choices and they have consequences. Thems the breaks. I don't worry too much about the tax burden that might result on us. This will be mostly paid for by working people, at least for quite a while. We have such a cushion in our finances and life style that it wouldn't matter in any event.
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:12 AM   #77
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That seems like a surprising comparison. Home and life insurance are to protect us from large catastrophic losses on an exception basis. I assume (almost) no one hopes to collect substantially if at all on their home or life insurance.

While Social Security has an insurance feature to it, Soc Sec & Medicare taxes are much more than costly than home or life insurance and I assume (almost) everyone expects to collect a benefit. At some point paying taxes for current recipients knowing we're only a generation or two away from recipients receiving less than they even paid in (never mind a return) isn't going to be acceptable. Again, we just need to honestly confront the issue IMO...
I think the bold is overstating the problem. Some individuals have always had negative "returns" on SS, that's the nature of the program. But there is little reason to believe that will apply to entire generations.

A paygo retirement system can provide an apparent return equal to the growth rate of the tax base. Unless we believe the tax base will actually shrink, SS has enough money to provide a gain to the average worker.
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:16 AM   #78
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(Unstated) "But we don't truly trust in the goodness of individuals to help each other in the absence of federal coercion" (right?)
I think some people will and some won't. That's the free-rider issue.

As an analogy, suppose we agreed to fund national defense through voluntary contributions rather than taxes. I think many people would contribute what they felt was their "fair share" (with many different definitions), while some would sit on their hands and let "someone else" pay.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:00 AM   #79
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At some point paying taxes for current recipients knowing we're only a generation or two away from recipients receiving less than they even paid in (never mind a return) isn't going to be acceptable. Again, we just need to honestly confront the issue IMO...
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I think the bold is overstating the problem. Some individuals have always had negative "returns" on SS, that's the nature of the program. But there is little reason to believe that will apply to entire generations.

A paygo retirement system can provide an apparent return equal to the growth rate of the tax base. Unless we believe the tax base will actually shrink, SS has enough money to provide a gain to the average worker.
My apologies, but I stand by the bold statement. You may not have seen it, but the supporting chart and source were in an earlier post on this thread, here's the chart again showing projections for 2030, about one generation from now. The trend is undeniable if you compare the SS benefits to the SS taxes columns, and the income levels used are probably close to the bulk of recipients.

And if I read your second paragraph correctly, I agree. If we adjust Social Security, Medicare and other expenses, revenue and/or benefits, to maintain solvency there wouldn't be an issue. That's the other distinction in the earlier comparison between home & life insurance vs Social Security & Medicare that surprised me. No insurance company would let solvency get so far out of whack as Social Security & Medicare have clearly become - with our (tacit) consent. Again, I just wish we'd confront it honestly...
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:26 AM   #80
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I think some people will and some won't. That's the free-rider issue.
Yes, the free-rider issue is huge. Oh, I see you are talking about donors.
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