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Old 10-21-2010, 03:17 PM   #101
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Hmmmm, did you check Puerto Rico?

Heck, they shouldn't have a congress critter.... not a state...
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:19 PM   #102
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I'd be interested in what you consider a "nice check". Since corporations (and foreign governments through corporations), labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce, etc can give unlimited cash to fund campaigns now, unless your check has 6 zeros or more your congressman is laughing at you and your check.
Doesn't matter to me if he's laughing or not, he's on notice that unless he gets busy and get's my Social Security fixed, he's not getting my check in 1012, AND he's not getting my vote.

If 50% of the other folks here do the same, he'll notice it. As will his flunky.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:21 PM   #103
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Heck, they shouldn't have a congress critter.... not a state...
Well, you've uncovered a real interesting fraud case then, cause ole Pedro is claiming he's representing us in the U.S. Congress.

Darn, I need to mail him another letter and ask for a refund.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:38 PM   #104
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Well, you've uncovered a real interesting fraud case then, cause ole Pedro is claiming he's representing us in the U.S. Congress.

Darn, I need to mail him another letter and ask for a refund.
The rep from PR is a non-voting member of Congress.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:38 PM   #105
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friar1610, I can't seem to prepare myself for the changes because if feels very much like the rules under which I willingly paid my taxes are being changed simply because other programs cannot operate within a budget.

I should be entitled to Social Security based on the rules that were in place during the period that I worked and paid in. Not some after-the-fact rules.
Ditto, my sentiments exactly! I have played by the rules, what I signed on for I feel entitled to. Not to have the government change the rules in the middle of the game because they can't balance a budget.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:38 PM   #106
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Frankly, to the extent possible I'd rather go on a one-time debt binge to convert future unfunded liabilities into pay-as-you-go programs, and then pay that down moving forward. And then -- stop creating programs that establish new future unfunded liabilities.
This has the virtue of clarity that is so often lacking in these conversations. Rather than even entertain the notion of cutting a benefit, we'll just go borrow a chunk of money and promise to never, never, never do it again. So much for fiscal responsibility.

But here's a deal I can live with. We'll borrow the current balance of the trust fund (currently $5 trillion) and give everyone their share of the existing IOUs as a lump sum check. That way people can stop whining about all the taxes they paid in. At that point, SS transfer payments are ended. You get your share of the trust fund, and not a dollar more. Here's a rough swag as to how that might break down ("Individual Share" is how much you get depending on which age category you're in) . . .

Age Population (in millions) % of Trust Fund Individual Share
65+ 40 60% $75,000
50-65 60 25% $20,833
40-50 40 10% $12,500
20-40 90 5% $2,778

Don't spend it all in one place.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:39 PM   #107
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The rep from PR is a non-voting member of Congress.
And who better to help straighten out this Social Security mess, nobody can buy his vote!
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:46 PM   #108
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I didn't know the right to vote was determined by whether you paid any federal income tax.
The neofederalists want it to go back to that. Thats the way the right to vote was handled when the constitution was written. This changed during the Jacksonian revolution. I have not heard this term used much but describes the attitude well. John Adams (2nd president) is said to have thought that allowing manhood sufferage would be the end of the republic.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:49 PM   #109
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This has the virtue of clarity that is so often lacking in these conversations. Rather than even entertain the notion of cutting a benefit, we'll just go borrow a chunk of money and promise to never, never, never do it again. So much for fiscal responsibility.
Uh... exactly which part of "to the extent possible" did you fail to understand?

That's a lot different than saying everything needs to be immediately converted by borrowing an insane amount of money. But it *is* a direction we should be moving towards. Making future promises based on overly rosy assumptions is killing us over and over again.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:58 PM   #110
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The neofederalists want it to go back to that. Thats the way the right to vote was handled when the constitution was written. This changed during the Jacksonian revolution. I have not heard this term used much but describes the attitude well. John Adams (2nd president) is said to have thought that allowing manhood sufferage would be the end of the republic.
Actually, I believe white, male property owners were the original electorate.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:07 PM   #111
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Uh... exactly which part of "to the extent possible" did you fail to understand?

That's a lot different than saying everything needs to be immediately converted by borrowing an insane amount of money. But it *is* a direction we should be moving towards. Making future promises based on overly rosy assumptions is killing us over and over again.
Sure. And what this means in practice, as you well know, is that young people get to fund the existing system for current and near-term retirees AND fund 100% of their own retirement system. Somehow this seems equitable to today's SS recipients because they paid a payroll tax that averaged 6.7% over the past 45 years.

The sense of entitlement is astounding.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:13 PM   #112
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Generational Accounting is the concept you refer to.

When you look at the details the younguns get raw end of the deal.

< from Wikipedia>
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Generational accounting is a relatively new method of national accounting for measuring redistribution of lifetime tax burdens across generations from social insurance, including social security and social health insurance. It has been proposed as a better guide to the sustainability of a fiscal policy than budget deficits, which reflect only taxes minus spending in the current year.[1]
Generational accounting goes beyond conventional government budget measures, such the national debt and budget deficits, by accounting for projected lifetime taxes per capita net of transfers, which are not measured in a pay-as-you-go system of social-insurance accounting. The latter includes only current taxes for retirees less current outlays. Uses include projecting future taxes and outlays from different prospective current policies. For example, if a fall in labor-force growth from an earlier fall in the birth rate is projected to increase the proportion of retirees to the labor force, generational accounting might examine different projected changes in taxes or program benefits to finance the change.[2]
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:24 PM   #113
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Ditto, my sentiments exactly! I have played by the rules, what I signed on for I feel entitled to. Not to have the government change the rules in the middle of the game because they can't balance a budget.
As it should be, I agree. But there seem to be so many folks willing to just let it happen. Interesting argument from some (evidently many) that "I never believed it so I took precautions, and I'm fine with being ripped off." When a bank promises me 2% on checking, I expect 2%. Not hard to please, just expecting to get my due.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:46 PM   #114
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But, at some point Congress must pay the money back to the Trust Fund.
That would be a very important point if it were true. Why do you think the money must be paid back? Or, if it really must be, why not just print up some Treasury notes and send a few bundles of them by messenger over to the safe where the Trust Fund is kept? That doesn't sound too hard.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:48 PM   #115
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Sure. And what this means in practice, as you well know, is that young people get to fund the existing system for current and near-term retirees AND fund 100% of their own retirement system. Somehow this seems equitable to today's SS recipients because they paid a payroll tax that averaged 6.7% over the past 45 years.

The sense of entitlement is astounding.
Seems fair really. If they paid 6.75% for the entirey of their working life and the employer paid additionally 1.45%, they are entitled to what that begets them.

Astounding is that young folks would not want that to happen but expect that they would be treated differently in the future.
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:02 PM   #116
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Just as a FYI.... they had a news segment last night on TV about the British budget... the important thing that was said was in their system the budget does NOT come up for a vote.. the Prime Minister and his group has full control over the budget... so, no earmarks, pork, etc. etc. if they do not want it..
Many items in the annual budget usually take effect the evening of the day they are announced, such as increases in duty on gas, alcohol and tobacco.

I moved here from England in 1987 and after a few years living here and seeing how it worked in the USA I decided that I prefered the USA system because there was so much partisan politics were so many checks and balances that very little got changed from year to year.

I have since changed my mind.
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:04 PM   #117
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Individually people can hide in a crowd and point the finger of blame at everyone else. But collectively, there is no one to blame but ourselves.
Philosophically, I certainly agree. But on a practical level, I just don't see what an individual can do (in most, not all cases). Rather than using "hiding in a crowd" as an analogy, I think it would be better to say "have no way to be heard in the crowd, others have bigger, more expensive megaphones". Yes, one can say "run for office then", but we know what it takes to muster a campaign - you have to become "one of them".

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Even if someone didn't vote for the system, they benefited from it. They enjoyed the higher government benefits and the lower general taxes it produced.
If I felt that way, I would have run up a bunch of personal debt. I didn't because I know there is a price to pay that I don't want. And I don't want the price for the government doing it, so I don't see it as a "benefit" at all.

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But maybe, just maybe, it's actually time to man-up and take responsibility for the mess we created over the past several decades and stop demanding full payment on promises we made to ourselves that we collectively never bothered to adequately finance.
Let me accept your argument long enough to ask this question: Just exactly how would "we" go about doing that?

edit/add - missed a point:

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At the very least they can admit that they already consumed benefits roughly equal to the taxes they paid...
Debatable, very debatable - and I solidly do not agree.


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I don't know about a lot of people, but I vote because it is my civic duty as a citizen of a republic.
While I fully respect/defend your right to feel and approach it that way, I personally feel like I'm being force fed a patronizing line when I'm told it is my civic duty to vote. Voting is a right and a privilege, as is my right to not vote if I feel so inclined. I often vote 3rd party, mostly as a protest, but lately I just feel stupid for taking the time to drive to the polling place to perform this little ritual. I don't feel very civic minding choosing between two crooks. Much like the "illogical conclusion" that traineeinvestor outlined in this post: USA's Future - UK budget cuts of 81bn announced

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Old 10-21-2010, 06:25 PM   #118
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Let me accept your argument long enough to ask this question: Just exactly how would "we" go about doing that?
I'm not sure what "that" refers to. It could refer to "how do we take responsibility" or "how do we stop demanding full payment" or "how would we finance it"

All pretty simple. We'd take some responsibility by agreeing to benefit cuts rather than demanding that someone else foot the entire bill. We could have gone a long way to financing the benefits we promised by not running up $9 Trillion in debt in the rest of the government. We also could have used SS surpluses to fund individual accounts, or start a sovereign wealth fund to finance future benefit payments. We could have done a lot of things to limit our debt burden and increase our savings to make paying these benefits affordable. We chose not to do any of those things. Instead, we chose to spend profligately and pass the bill to someone else.

So yes, after decades of acting financially irresponsible, maybe its time to change course.

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Debatable, very debatable - and I solidly do not agree.
How?

If over the course of our lifetime our government runs up a huge amount of debt (spending > than taxes) AND we require future generations to pay a higher level of taxation than we paid to fund benefits we promised ourselves, how can it be that we didn't consume more, far more, in government services than our taxes paid for? It seems a mathematical impossibility for it to be otherwise.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:32 PM   #119
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Sure. And what this means in practice, as you well know, is that young people get to fund the existing system for current and near-term retirees AND fund 100% of their own retirement system. Somehow this seems equitable to today's SS recipients because they paid a payroll tax that averaged 6.7% over the past 45 years.

The sense of entitlement is astounding.
Well, I did rough spreadsheet, so check my math:

40 years ago, a 25 YO starts their career off @ $15,000. Assume straight 3% inflation, and straight 2% real wage increases over the next 40 years to 65 YO.

If you take the 6.2% employee contribution, and the 6.2% employer contribution (true these were lower and higher some years), and invest that at something that just keeps pace with inflation, I come up with a 'nest egg' of $361,890. Now, SS has the ability to average out longevity risk, and the LE of a 65 YO is 18 years. Firecalc says you can use an SWR of 5.2% for an 18 year period. So that leaves you with $18,818/year based on your own contributions. I don't think that is so far off from what a 65YO would collect? I don't see where they are getting some big subsidy from anyone.

Did I miss something? Well yes, SS also provides other benefits like disability, spousal benefits, etc - but in rough numbers, I just don't see where current retirees are taking that much from others.

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Old 10-21-2010, 06:47 PM   #120
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40 years ago, a 25 YO starts their career off @ $15,000. Assume straight 3% inflation, and straight 2% real wage increases over the next 40 years to 65 YO.

If you take the 6.2% employee contribution, and the 6.2% employer contribution (true these were lower and higher some years)
Higher? It's never been higher than 6.2% each:

http://www.ssa.gov/history/pdf/t2a3.pdf

40 years ago the SS contribution rate (minus Medicare) was a total of 8.4% (4.2% each) compared to the 6.2%/12.4% of today.

Also in 1970, the tax cap was at $7,800, barely half of the $15,000 you assumed was the entry-level salary. A new hire would have earn over $200,000 today to have as much of their pay exempt from taxes.

In addition, for the self-employed the rate was MUCH less than double the employee rate until 1984. Your quick calculation provides an absolute floor based on all of this, and the actual deal is considerably more generous than this.
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