Saturday, March 12, 2005
Don Luskin is blogging up a storm on Social Security and you-know-who over at The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid.
. . .
Friday, March 11, 2005
GUESS WHO IS GOING TO HEAD ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE?
You’ve got to see my latest at Oh, That Liberal Media.
. . .
WHY BUSINESSES GO OUT OF BUSINESS
I found this in the D.C. Examiner:
Two years ago, Austin Grill became the first restaurant chain in the Washington area to convert exclusively to wind-generated electricity. Now, a small local grocery store chain, My Organic Market, has followed Austin Grill's lead by opting to pay an additional $10,000 a year to make its three stores 100-percent wind-powered.
"I was pleasantly surprised by how cheap it was," said Scott Nash, president and founder of My Organic Market, who expected a higher premium would have been placed on wind power. "Why isn't everyone doing this?"
Gee, I don’t know. Maybe because it costs an extra $10,000 a year?
Add getting involved it trendy, but costly, social activism as another reason why a business goes under.
. . .
SOCIAL SECURITY OSTRICHES: RICHARD C. LEONE AND GREG ANRIG, JR.
Richard C. Leone, president of the Century Foundation, and Greg Anrig, Jr., its vice president of programs, penned a response to a recent New York Times article about the trust fund—an article that for once got it mostly right. Here is their award-winning passage:
It's true that the government borrows and uses the proceeds for other expenses. Under the Clinton administration, the Social Security surpluses put the government in the black and enabled it to pay down debt. Today, with the overall budget in much worse shape, Social Security's surplus reduces the size of the federal budget deficit, which in turn helps to keep interest rates lower than they would otherwise be. Even after 2018, when Social Security's trustees forecast that payroll taxes will no longer exceed payments owed to beneficiaries, the trust fund's interest will be more than enough to cover the gap. Under the trustees' conservative projections, the trust fund will continue growing for another 10 years, from $5.3 trillion in 2018 to $6.6 trillion by 2028.
That’s all technically true, but misses the main point about the problem with the trust fund that is encapsulated in this paragraph from the Times article:
The government has made promises to retirees it cannot keep without raising taxes, imposing deep cuts in other programs or borrowing loads of money; but raising taxes, cutting spending or borrowing to meet Social Security promises is no different from doing so to pay for troops or prescription drugs under Medicare or any other government expense.
In other words, it is going to be very costly to pay off the bonds in the trust fund; the bonds are not free money.
Ironically, Leone and Anrig titled their response “Misunderstanding Social Security's Trust Fund.” For misunderstanding it themselves, they win a Social Security Ostrich Award. Congrats gents!
. . .
Thursday, March 10, 2005
NOT STOPPIN’ IN IOWA
State 29 has some thoughts on Des Moines failing to get U2 to make an appearance.
. . .
ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY STARTS YOUNG
I found this at the Silouhette, which is apparently the student newspaper for the Garden City Community College. The writers are unhappy about the Senate’s failure to raise the minimum wage:
We either pay for school with loans, pell grants, or a part-time job. Part-time jobs are very demanding and low paying for the requirements that are instituted by the establishment or employer.
We seem to have to sell our souls just to get by.
Yep, the taxpayers give them with lots of goodies to pay for college, but it still isn’t enough.
Guess the Democrats can rely on these folks in the future.
. . .
POLLING AND A COMPACT Some new posts over at Social Security Choice.
. . .
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
TEACHER’S UNION PUTS POLITICS AHEAD OF KIDS
Opposing Wal-Mart is more important to the Washington Education Association.
. . .
SOCIAL SECURITY OSTRICH: MARIE COCCO
Marie Cocco of Newsday receives the first Social Security Ostrich award, for her recent column titled, “Fixing Social Security is really quite simple.” Here’s the “award-winning” passage:
Let's look at what it would really cost to fix the Social Security system and maintain it precisely as it is, paying benefits for the next 75 years to everyone who has been promised one. Forget the politicians' dogma that shoring up Social Security for future generations is complex and fraught with peril. It isn't.
We know precisely how much money it would take. The Social Security trustees say it would require an immediate tax increase amounting to 1.89 percent of payroll to bring the giant plan into long-term balance. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it's only about half that - roughly 1 percent of payroll, director Douglas Holtz-Eakin told the House Budget Committee recently.
It would be a tax increase of less than 1 percent, split between workers and employers. The hike could be little as one-half of 1 percent each.
The problem with the 1.89% solution is that it still relies on the bonds on the trust fund—in other words, Social Security still has to redeem the bonds in the trust fund to pay full benefits. As I’ve stated over and over, bonds are only claims on future tax revenue, thus the taxpayers are on the hook for the ones that the Social Security trust fund will redeem. And that means that taxpayers will, in the long-run, pay much more than just a 1.89% increase in payroll taxes so that Social Security can pay full benefits.
It is particularly amusing that Cocco quotes Douglas Holtz-Eakin, because Holtz-Eakin has addressed the question of the bonds in the trust fund in a way she probably wouldn’t like:
To pay full benefits, the Social Security system will eventually have to redeem the government bonds held in its trust funds. But where will the Treasury find the money to pay for those bonds? Will policymakers cut back other spending in the budget? Will they raise taxes? Or will they borrow more?
So, for ignoring the problem that the bonds in the trust fund will present, Marie Cocco wins the first Social Security Ostrich award. Congrats Marie!
. . .
This is almost as good as some of the John Kerry flip-flop commercials. Paul Krugman changing his stance on the Social Security crisis. Hat-tip, Don Luskin.
. . .
CBS NEWS RATINGS TO GO RATHER HIGH
Okay, cheap pun, but all kidding aside, I’m betting that CBS News will soon be much improved in the ratings game. I’m even holding out the possibility that they may be on top before too long. The reason: Bob Schieffer. Schieffer has to be one of the most likable people in TV journalism. He seems genuinely friendly and nice. Audiences are likely to warm to him rather quickly (sorry about the puns, but Dan’s last name is an easy target). When that happens, well, let’s just say that Schieffer should prepare for negotiations over a long-term contract to be anchor of the evening news.
. . .
There is this story in the Washington Post Express (page 2) describing a procedure by which “tiny metal hearts and half-moons are surgically embedded in the whites of the eye. The article further describes how Illinois Legislature is pursuing a ban on the practice. Although there is the picture of such an eye, I can’t help but wonder if someone wasn’t had with this story. If anyone knows if this is a hoax, let me know.
. . .
SOCIAL SECURITY AND CBO
Fun with Hotlz-Eakin’s comments.
. . .
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
SOCIAL SECURITY OSTRICHES
This feature highlights commentators and politicians who insist that Social Security doesn’t face a crisis. These are the folks who persist in telling us all is fine because the Social Security trust fund will have enough bonds to pay benefits until 2042, but never tell us that when the bonds in the trust fund are redeemed the taxpayers must pay for them. Or, as a CBO report notes, the Social Security “trust funds are mainly accounting mechanisms and contain no economic resources.”
Why Ostriches? Because an ostrich thinks it can hide from a problem by burying its head in the sand. Those who maintain that Social Security faces no crisis are doing the same thing, metaphorically speaking. Now, for all I know this ostrich-puts-its-head-in-the-sand stuff is actually a fiction, but so what? So is the notion that the Social Security trust fund solves our problems until 2042. And one good fiction deserves another.
Richard C. Leone and Greg Anrig, Jr.
Robert B. Reich
Christian E. Weller
Representative Mike Thompson
Senators Harry Reid and Max Baucus
Representative Charles Rangel
. . .
RIGHT WING BABES INDEX
Babe #1: Marsha Richards
Babe #2: Tracie J. Sharp
Babe #3: Lynne Stewart
. . .
GO, TEDDY, GO!
Found this joke in the dead-tree version of the D.C. Examiner:
A 22-pound lobster was caught off the coast of Massachusetts. Scientists say that there hasn’t been anything this big in New England water since INSERT CHAPPAQUIDDICK REFERENCE HERE.
. . .
WANNA FEEL ILL?
My bud Biddy looks at the guy who gave Mohammed Atta a plane ticket.
. . .
DEFINITELY THE RIGHT MAN
Buried in the Washington Post piece on the nomination of John R. Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations is this quote from Senator Joe Biden:
Democrats acknowledge that Bolton is highly intelligent, but they have questioned his judgment. "My problem with you over the years is that you've been too competent," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) told Bolton four years ago. "I would rather you be stupid and not very effective."
Then there was Dusty Harry:
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called the nomination "a disappointing choice and one that sends all the wrong signals."
And what signals would those be?
Throughout the current administration's first term, Bolton was often at odds with the United Nations and related institutions.
He spearheaded U.S. opposition to the International Criminal Court, declaring that the day he signed the letter withdrawing the U.S. signature on the treaty was "the happiest moment of my government service." He was the force behind Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative, a coalition designed to halt trade in nuclear materials that bypassed the United Nations. And he pressed the administration's unsuccessful campaign to deny a third term to Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
On the eve of six-nation talks over North Korea's nuclear ambitions two years ago, Bolton traveled to Seoul and denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in highly personal terms. He labeled Kim a "tyrannical dictator" who had made North Korea "a hellish nightmare" -- which prompted the North Korean government to call him "human scum and bloodsucker."
Bolton also frequently riled European allies with his uncompromising stands -- and his disdain for their fledging efforts to secure an agreement with Iran to end its nuclear programs.
No doubt about it. Bush picked the right man for the job.
. . .
Monday, March 07, 2005
THAT WONDERFUL GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Yes, my best friend, the Post Office. In early January my Dad used the Post Office to ship some stuff to me. Three weeks passed, and nothing had arrived. I called the Post Office to find out where it was. The woman informed me that I had to have the exact date it was shipped otherwise she could not track it down. My dad was unsure of the date, so I was stuck.
I later discovered that the date was January 7. I found that upon inspecting the postage on the package when it arrived February 11—five weeks later. UPS and FedEx it is not!
What are the arguments against privatizing the Post Office again?
Dunno, but Sam Ryan has some pretty good ones in favor.
. . .
Sunday, March 06, 2005
DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOU PAY IN TAXES?
Marsha Richards does. And it is a little scary.
. . .
INTERVIEW WITH ALAN GREENSPAN
If you are familiar with the blogosphere, you probably know that Daily KOS has launched a campaign to discredit Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. When Greenspan got word of this, he called me out of the blue and asked to do an interview. He promised to come clean, in an attempt to get “ahead of the ball.” What follows is our exchange:
DH: Thanks for doing this Mr. Chairman, I know this must be a difficult time for you.
AG: Yes, well, someone like Daily KOS, when he puts his henchmen on your tail, well, it’s very unnerving!
DH: So you’ve decided to put all your cards on the table?
AG: Yes, just put out all the bad, stupid stuff that I’ve done in my life.
DH: Such as?
AG: Well, for example, when I was six, I was at my friend Timmy’s house, and when he wasn’t looking I swiped a big handful of Bazooka Joe bubble gum from one of his shelves.
DH: That’s not exactly damning stuff.
AG: But there’s more! When I was twelve I accidentally broke the Barbie doll that belonged to Timmy’s sister. When his mother asked who had done it, I lied.
DH: No, no. What this interview is about is if you have ever said anything that may seem, well, outlandish.
AG: Oh. Well, when I was in college I think I told a professor that FDR’s Administration was a hot bed of socialism.
DH: Well, a good portion of the country thought that. What else?
AG: I think once at a dinner with President Ford, after a few martinis, I said that I thought Alger Hiss had been a traitor to America.
DH: He was a traitor to America.
AG: Yes, but do you think folks like KOS care? I mean, Hiss is one of their patron saints. That makes me guilty of participating in his crucifixion.
DH: Fair point, but this is all pretty tame stuff. Anything else?
AG: Sorry, I can’t think of anything.
DH: Well, guess this interview is about over. How are you and Andrea?
AG: Oh, we’re doing very well. We like to sometimes play a game called “How big the rate hike?”
DH: No, uh, that’s not what I meant, Mr. Chairman, I mean…
AG: And sometimes I wear an Ayn Rand mask!
DH: Okay, that’s enough. I’m out of here!
. . .
. . .