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Old 03-23-2011, 09:18 AM   #61
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I find it equally interesting that nobody who's advocated for lower government spending and cutting entitlements has ever returned a social security check or withheld their medicare card when getting health care or given money to their parents so they could do those things.

FWIW, I have never collected a cent in SS or Medicaid; but I have been paying into the system for 40 years with the promise of a future benefit; i.e. a contract with the federal government. Now that contract is being unilaterally changed because they comingled/overstated/mismanaged/wasted/overspent the funds I paid them... and now you they want more. I held up my end of the bargain; they didn't. That is why I have a hard time with those who feel we have a "duty" to pay higher taxes to prop up a bloated, wasteful self-serving government with no accountability. Time to start cutting instead of spending. If tax hikes are inevitable (like death and taxes? ) then everyone needs to shares the burden; we all have a stake in the outcome.

PJ O'Rourke said it best ~" "Giving money to the Federal Government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys"
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:20 AM   #62
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many of those "tax-comparison" between countries articles ignore SS, Property, State, and sales taxes.

When the all-in comparison is made tax levels are more equitable than the articles would lead you to believe.
Agreed. I have looked at my overall tax bill in the UK vs the US and find that I pay slightly less in the UK. The definition of tax has to be quite broad to include, income, property, SS, and healthcare, sales taxes

UK has higher income, SS taxes and sales tax but there's no state tax, property tax is far less and of course those higher income and SS taxes pay for healthcare. Just from property tax and healthcare in ER I would pay $10k less a year in the UK than the US.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:23 AM   #63
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It is depressing to send a very well thought out letter raising a particular issue and get a form letter back which entirely misses the point.

I think that if an issue is very important to you and you want to effect change the best thing to do is be active as an organizer or as part of an organization that lobbies. Even so, it is a long shot that you will make a difference. But doing nothing certainly won't make a difference.
If you're lucky, what you want changed is already on the mind of a very large and influential lobbying group. If everyone else is unlucky, that potential is just as true in some cases.

Fighting the good fight has a history of working in affecting the change you want. Doing nothing has a 100% chance, backed by all of human history of, of doing the exact opposite.

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If the kid has the desire to be a plumber, auto mechanic, electrician, but not the desire to stay in school, I see no reason not to offer those particular classes for those particular students.
I don't know how many classes they went to, but when taking a CAD, design and drafting course in high school, a local HVAC company came around to try and do just this. They offered a chance to apprentice and learn, gave a very good lecture on the type of work, a history of the pay they've given. One of the few days in high school where I retained something, and I love to learn.

I don't know how legitimate vocational schools are, but it'd be nice if they were more mainstream than they seem to be now. Not everyone cares that George Washington fake teeth; and it sure as hell wasn't true that Christopher Columbus once sat on the docks as a child, saw a mast coming over the horizon and first thought the world was round (and equally untrue that we're the only country that's had stupid crap like this stuffed in our textbooks).
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:24 AM   #64
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PJ O'Rourke said it best ~" "Giving money to the Federal Government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys"
These young people and their sense of entitlement. We had to buy our own whiskey...
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:25 AM   #65
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Now that contract is being unilaterally changed because they comingled/overstated/mismanaged/wasted/overspent the funds I paid them... and now you they want more. I held up my end of the bargain; they didn't.
Hard to read the fine print when they feel like they can add it in long after you've signed.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:30 AM   #66
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...given money to their parents so they could do those things.
Actually, in a way I have.

The taxes (SS/Medicare) during my wo*king years paid for SS/Medicare for my parents (and grandparents) while they were all alive.

That's how the system works. It's not an "investment" and it's not "free". I may not have covered all their payments over the years, but I covered a portion of them.

Nothing more than the folks still in the wo*kforce do today for us "old pharts"...

BTW, not all folks have "kids" to help them out in life, as you suggest. Many have chosen a child-free life. Others have other situations that don't fit the old idea of family helping family. Support of elderly folks is a social problem, not strictly a financial one, as many in the popular press are trying to make a case for, by elimination of "entitlements".
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:39 AM   #67
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So what does the wonderful world of perfect education look like in your mind then?
I don't believe in perfect. How about looking at schools that do well for people in similar circumstances and see what can be done to emulate them? Some charter schools have been great experiments. Plus, I have some strong feelings on other school issues but sharing them they probably violate the community rules of this forum.
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:41 AM   #68
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Our education system may be much of the problem.
No doubt with only a little more money our government and public schools can make it all better. They have certainly worked wonders so far!

Ha
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:45 AM   #69
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I don't know how legitimate vocational schools are, but it'd be nice if they were more mainstream than they seem to be now. Not everyone cares that George Washington fake teeth; and it sure as hell wasn't true that Christopher Columbus once sat on the docks as a child, saw a mast coming over the horizon and first thought the world was round (and equally untrue that we're the only country that's had stupid crap like this stuffed in our textbooks).
See, there are things that can be done to improve education!
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:03 AM   #70
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You might have missed the point; there have been quite a few members clamoring for higher income taxes for everyone, but no one seems to want to lead by example...

I agree with you, BTW; with one caveat- check the operating expenses of your favorite charities; you may be shocked at how little actually trickles down to where it's really needed; some of them make the federal government and television ministries look like paragons of efficiency.

Very true about charities... some only get 5% to the real charity aspect... the rest is wasted on overhead or just plain stealing of money by the head of the charity... (stealing with a high salary that is legal)
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:33 AM   #71
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FWIW, I have never collected a cent in SS or Medicaid; but I have been paying into the system for 40 years with the promise of a future benefit; i.e. a contract with the federal government. Now that contract is being unilaterally changed because they comingled/overstated/mismanaged/wasted/overspent the funds I paid them... and now you they want more. I held up my end of the bargain; they didn't. That is why I have a hard time with those who feel we have a "duty" to pay higher taxes to prop up a bloated, wasteful self-serving government with no accountability. Time to start cutting instead of spending. If tax hikes are inevitable (like death and taxes? ) then everyone needs to shares the burden; we all have a stake in the outcome.

PJ O'Rourke said it best ~" "Giving money to the Federal Government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys"
Yes, it's time to start cutting instead of spending. The problem is, any politician brave enough to specify exactly where he'd cut loses the votes of the people who benefited from that spending. It's always "Don't cut me, and don't cut thee, cut the guy behind the tree". Every beneficiary of federal spending believes that lots of spending is wasteful, but their favorite program is different.

Regarding SS and Medicare, I'm quite sure you can't find a signed copy of that contract anywhere in your files. Maybe you believed a marketing pitch from a fast talking salesman. Sorry, if you believed you had a contract, you got scammed. Most of the people who sold that idea are already dead.

OTOH, I never believed I had a contract. I could see that SS was a pay-as-you-go retirement system that formalized our prior paygo system, and I knew that all retirement systems are sensitive to demographics. So I'm not irate about SS (I've got other things I can get mad about, but they are all tangents).
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:41 AM   #72
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Some charter schools have been great experiments.
I'll have to look more into that.

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Regarding SS and Medicare, I'm quite sure you can't find a signed copy of that contract anywhere in your files.
Seems to me, when it says Social Security deduction in my weekly check, that's spelling it out pretty clearly. That's no longer "This tax money is going to the general slush fund for whatever purpose."
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:44 AM   #73
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Seems to me, when it says Social Security deduction in my weekly check, that's spelling it out pretty clearly. That's no longer "This tax money is going to the general slush fund for whatever purpose."
You may feel as if there is a contract there - real or implied, but alas there is none.
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:47 AM   #74
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And so went George Orwell, laughing in his grave.
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:51 AM   #75
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It seems logical to me concentration of wealth slows the velocity of money.
Others would claim that the return of conspicuous consumption (and threads like "Could you spend $300K/year") would only raise the velocity of money...

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So what does the wonderful world of perfect education look like in your mind then?
Y'know, for the number of times we've had that heated discussion on this board, cynical & confrontational vocabulary seems like a leaky can of gasoline sitting next to the campfire.

Hawaii has a shortage of workers in the skilled construction and shipyard trades*, but I think vo-tech is on the rise again. With a combination of federal & state funding, the local trade unions have started aggressively recruiting high-school sophomores. Three years later my college daughter (studying civil eng) is still ticked off that she didn't make the time in summer school for that four-week "Building & Construction" course, or take advantage of more of the community-college trade classes that were brought into the high schools.

Meanwhile, by coming from the college campus to the high-school classrooms, the community colleges helped a lot of high-school seniors realize that not all classes are like high school and that college isn't such a scary place after all. Many high-school grads (if they graduate at all) don't have that epiphany until they're well into their 20s.

* Pearl Harbor shipyard realized they were in demographic trouble when their optical shop was overwhelmed with a wave of requests for trifocal safety goggles...
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:02 PM   #76
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I'd like to think that it is beyond debate that there is a gap.

Whether it matters is a very open question. My own view (and I'm happy to be convinced othewise) is that it does not matter and we should not attempt to do anything about it:

1. historical attempts to rectify preceived fiscal inequality have generally resulted in lower standards of living accross the board - the colossal human tragedies of the communist/socialist workers' paradises being the most extreme example;

2. I'd like to believe that if the less well off demographic segments of society are still (i) enjoying a reasonable and improving standard of living and (ii) are able to see at least the existence of reasonable opportunities for advancement, then our society is doing a better job of looking after its people than many (most?) other societies have done historically. In other words, absolute poverty is a greater issue than relative poverty.
I have to disagree with the first statement. One thing that "rectify perceived fiscal inequality" was free public education that we started way back in the 18th century. I think that was a huge success at both growing the economic pie and growing the pieces enjoyed at the lower end. Similarly, I've read that the WWII GI bill gave low income people an opportunity that they would have never had without it, and we all benefited.

I don't see anyone in the US recommending anything like Stalinism.

I agree that absolute poverty is a bigger issue than relative poverty. But if we've got absolute poverty, we work on it with gov't programs that use tax dollars. The practical issues are where do we get the tax dollars and who should we help?
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:04 PM   #77
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I am also one who believes that more vocational training would be good for society as well as many individuals. We have way too many desk jockeys and paper pushers already. Even China, a country whose economy has been on the rise and will be for a long time to come has found some of its college graduates not being able to find work. I found an article on this and reported on a recent thread.

My HS district proposed a bond to raise many more millions in the last election. It was good that it was voted down, as I do not see that this affluent district would need even more money for. And I have read how Ivy League schools are scrambling to compete with one another to build more luxurious student lounges. What was that for, as they could just be indulging in streaking as they have done in the past with very little cost (and clothes)?

Changes are needed, but I do not know why people keep bringing up the issues regarding money. The local state U tuition has also been raised, and I do not know how much of the funding goes to the real cost of education vs. administration. There are so many new administrative buildings in my old school that I really wonder what their occupants do.

PS. I brought up the point about the cost of private schools, although it does not involve public money, just to point out that not all the cost of something goes into its quality.
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:12 PM   #78
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Seems to me, when it says Social Security deduction in my weekly check, that's spelling it out pretty clearly. That's no longer "This tax money is going to the general slush fund for whatever purpose."
I think labeling the tax is not the same as providing a legally enforceable contract.

We should know what happens to SS taxes, mostly they are used to pay the benefits of people who are currently retired. The hope is that the next generation is willing to do the same. I've talked to some young people who are quite blunt that they don't feel legally or morally bound to continue the system.

There was a period when SS taxes exceeded SS benefits (basically 1986-2009). Congress and voters could have insisted that those excesses be used to buy private bonds and stocks, and we could have set up legally enforceable private accounts with the money. But we didn't. We used the extra SS taxes to justify some combination of cutting FIT and increasing spending.
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:18 PM   #79
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At Least One Person Has Declined SS...

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I find it equally interesting that nobody who's advocated for lower government spending and cutting entitlements has ever returned a social security check or withheld their medicare card when getting health care or given money to their parents so they could do those things.
My father declined SS. He was able to wade through the red tape and they actually never sent him a check. He tried the same thing with Medicare but could not cut through all the cr*p! He was forced to utilize the Medicare program although he did not want (or need) its services.
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:19 PM   #80
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Believe me, if you were sitting in a public toilet and suddenly realized there was no TP, you would probably pay a lot for a few sheets.

It has value .
I am a strong supporter of progressive taxation to redistribute wealth. But given the corruption and inefficiencies of the US Government along with the misguided attempt to organize a country based on a literal reading of an 18th century document, I understand the reluctance of some to pay higher taxes. We get the governments and the societies we deserve....I'm not sanguine about the US's future and I'm with those that see many US institutions as essentially corrupt and wasteful.
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