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Thursday, September 8. 2011
The debate was quite interesting. Everyone turned in an decent performance, with no obvious stumbles or pie-on-the-face moments. For the most part, the questions were fair and reasonable, and the always-smooth Brian Williams did the moderating along with some dweeb from the left-leaning Politico whom I immediately disliked.
Let's start this off with a simple multiple choice question, shall we?
Q: In the great big, beautiful room in which the debate took place, what hangs over the audience's head?
A. A huge glass chandelier
Answer: D. Admittedly, it's a little disconcerting at first. I mean, Air Force One is a big plane. But there it is, hanging away. Must be friggin' awesome during an earthquake.
To MSNBC's discredit, the first question out of the gate was one of those "you can bend statistics to say anything" routines. Perry was asked about the "number of unemployed" in his state being so high, as well as the "number of people earning minimum wage." The numbers were some of the highest in the nation.
As far as Social Security goes, I think Perry's way off base with his 'fraud', 'ponzi scheme', bit. As Romney made clear, it isn't the concept that's wrong, it's just the implementation, up to and including a greedy Congress constantly dipping into its funds. If it was run as it was intended, it would work just fine. Why wouldn't it?
When it comes to global warming, Huntsman attacked Perry on it, but Perry's response was the correct one; that you simply can't hurt the economy as much as the new EPA rules would without some kind of solid proof that man's the cause of any current rise in planetary temperature — and that's assuming the temperature is currently rising. As you probably know, according to NASA and NOAA, the last 'warmest' year on record was 1998.
As to who gets the axe and when, I have no idea how these things work. If anyone does, please expound in the comments. Does a candidate have to officially withdraw, as Pawlenty did, to be left off the guest list?
A spitball guess says Santorum and Gingrich are the next to go. Huntsman should be on the axe list, but he still has some strong advocates in the media and I imagine he'll hang around as long as he does.
I've noticed this morning that, typically, everyone's playing up the 'feud' between Romney and Perry on job creation, but my intuition says these two actually like and respect each other and the back-and-forth was all done with smiles and good graces, the very opposite of how Bachmann and Pawlenty went at each other a month ago. Typical media/blogger hype, in other words.
All in all, a great show, and more to come.
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Let's see - several studies HAVE shown that removing the minimum wage laws would allow more people to be employed - so in a sense Ron Paul is correct. It WOULD "benefit" poor people. But I can see how the trope of "minimum wage" is often understood by many to mean a "useful wage".
And you characterized Ron Paul as BLAMING 9/11 on the government. No, what he said was that government meddling prevented the possibility of armed people on the planes which would have allowed the hijackers to be overcome. That much is true. Per his commentary, if a bank spends money to protect its money, why wouldn't airlines allow their staff to do what is necessary to protect human life? Is money more important than humans? It's an interesting question and one worth spending time discussing. But we won't because we've all pretty much decided the TSA is a "good thing".
As for the sexual harassment by the TSA, I'd have agreed with you that this was a laugh riot. That is if you caught me 4 months ago. Since then, both my wife and I have gone through security and had some severely bad experiences. She literally turned on one man and said "are you going to get a hotel room or should I call the police?"
At that point, I had to step in and calm the situation. Then, only a month later, I had a fellow decide that he needed to spend a little extra time exploring my body, at which point I called for his supervisor and asked to have him removed.
These things do happen. They are embarassing, and until 4 months ago, I had no problem with the TSA. At this point, I'm on board with anyone who will dismantle it or reconfigure it.
I find your use of "Paulbots" or "Paulborgs" more than a little demeaning. It's as if we believe "Ron said it so it must be true". I suppose I could say that "Perrybots" and "Perryborgs" are out in force, too. Or "Bachbots", "Rombots" or any other configuration.
Most Ron Paul supporters, such as myself, disagree on many things. The one thing I've found refreshing is the nature of the discussions we have. It's rarely one in which we dismiss the other side's point of view (though that does happen) and it almost never revolves around the conspiracy theories that non-Paul supporters seem to think are prevalent. Sure, there are some supporters who believe the junk, but I notice that all candidates have their fair share of Travis Bickle types. Given the smallish nature of Paul's following, the Bickles tend to get top billing by the press.
That said, most of us also disagree with Paul on issues - which isn't too dissimilar from followers of other campaigns. I can honestly say that the idea of legalizing drugs appeals to me (as well as to many of my rehabbed friends, which surprised me), but is sometimes discussed broadly at meetings. So is the withdrawal of troops, or the role of the government in the promotion of terror.
People view these things as unnecessary or problematic stances. I don't. I do believe that there is MUCH the government COULD and CAN do to reduce the risk of terror, above and beyond just bombing and fighting. I don't agree with Paul that it's unnecessary to have troops in other countries, but I do agree that other countries need to foot the bill and should do more - so our troops should come home.
My view of the debate was pretty simple. Nobody stood out. Nobody made a statement. Nobody looked "great". A few looked silly, though. Cain, who I've liked, lost alot of points. Santorum, who I've never liked, continues to look like an idiot. Romney is Romney. Perry didn't have much of value to say, so he did what he was supposed to do and kept the bar very low. His key goal was to "not look stupid" and he did. I agree with him that SocSec is a Ponzi scheme - but most of the US does not - so that lost him some points with the general public, particularly after the commentators in the post debate discussion latched on to it. Bachmann was there? Didn't notice. She's toast now. Huntsman was, as he is capable of being, was the best speaker. But I agree - he speechifies. Clinton used to do that. If his campaign is going to last, he has to fix it.
All in all, the only way any one of these candidates will win in 2012 is if we have a Black Swan event. None has the ability to capture the nation's interest YET. Time may alter some of their strategies and bring forth a better version...Romney 3.0, Bachmann 2.0....who knows. I doubt it, though. It's going to take an external factor for the Republicans to pull this one out.
Unemployment at 9.5% despite a jobs package? That MIGHT do it. But Hopama is still selling a product that some people are willing to buy or at least willing to try again.
Rick - Excellent comments, as usual.
Re: reducing the minimum wage, sure, it would create more jobs. The only problems are:
1. Encouraging people to get a minimum wage job so they can live in abject poverty isn't my idea of a 'solution'.
2. Don't forget that small business owners are traditionally cheap assholes who pay out as little as they can get away with, so consider all the people currently out there earning the present minimum wage having their earnings lowered, thus reducing them from 'mere' poverty to abject poverty.
If conservatives had an ounce of compassion, they'd be lobbying Congress to raise the minimum wage again in order to offset the ever-increasing rise in fuel and food prices.
What's below "abject"?
Re: the Paul statement on 9/11, the point the government was making pre-9/11 was that it would be better to waste a little fuel and time hauling the hijackers to Cuba than to have a shoot-out on the plane and doom everyone. Ever seen what happens when a bullet goes through a window at 30,000 feet?
Re: The TSA, there's no question it needs some kind of overhaul, but to claim that the airline companies would do a better job goes beyond naive. You want to trust your life to a rent-a-cop or a trained professional?
"I find your use of "Paulbots" or "Paulborgs" more than a little demeaning."
Well, if you didn't, then there wouldn't be much point in using them, would it? But hey, you earned the sobriquet by gaming so many straw polls, busing in people from miles away in order to make for a good showing, including some alleged tampering with the actual voting results. But I'll try to rein it in in the future.
"Cain, who I've liked, lost alot of points."
I agree. I didn't elaborate on it, but he just didn't seem as impressive as he did in the last debate. Hard to put a finger on.
"Bachmann was there?"
Bwah-hah! Yeah, like I said, it seemed like she was given short shrift in the time department, and the future doesn't look good. On the other hand, once the field is pared down and she has more time to speak, she might make up some ground. There's a long ways to go.
On the issue of minimum wage - I'd rather be working and struggling than not working and wondering what's going to happen next. At least with a job, you've got something. As someone who has experienced this very real and terrifying event (not working for a long period of time), I can assure you that I was very much ready to take ANY job at ANY pay, regardless, just to keep busy and pay a few bills.
Now, you may say that this is problematic for people who work and are barely getting by. It is. But let's face it - society has dealt with this issue for years. You have a choice: either have minimum wage laws that "show compassion" and force large numbers to go without work and therefore collect at the public trough from YOUR taxpayer dollars, or have more of them working, with a chance of getting ahead, and fewer collecting at the public trough from your dollars. Because, don't forget, in this world, if you're not working, it's unlikely you're going to find work at ANY pay scale. So by increasing the figures of unemployed with a higher minimum wage, you're really increasing long term unemployment as well as the rolls of public assistance. I don't see that as a viable option.
I disagree with your assessment of 9/11. It had little to do with a bullet going through a window (and by the way, I have been on a depressurized plane. It's hairy, but rarely deadly. Particularly if the pilot is aware of a possible depressurization and can be prepared. Still it IS hairy.). Paul's comment had more to do with the threat of opposition, which the hijackers KNEW they were unlikely (and in only one oddly timed case, did) face. So - here's the choice. Fight the "last war", in hijacking terms, by making it easy for hijackers to go to Cuba or fly into a skyscraper (government set this option up) or allow pilots to carry weapons. You'll notice that the government does have Air Marshals WITH WEAPONS on planes today. So is the situation substantially different? Only insofar as the government is involved. Paul simply wants to have the private sector handle it. I don't see that as laughable or scary, given the current state of affairs.
Finally - who's gaming the system? "Paulbots" earned this sobriquet? Seriously? Bachmann didn't game the straw poll at all by having country music singers or by paying for tickets? Interesting. EVERY politician on that platform has gamed the system. Most have done it in a manner that is less visible or open. But to say that gaming the system is the sole quantity of "Paulbots" is..........well, I can think of a few words, but I'd not use them with people whose commentary I enjoy. Seriously - the logic doesn't fly at all.
Romney's followers aren't robotic? Well, if I actually met some, I'd probably think they were. Funny how I don't know a single person who likes him, but he's got the lead. And I hang out with alot of Republicans. Honestly - have you met anyone who likes Romney? I can say that I've never met one single person in this election cycle. I've never even seen a comment on a posting board in support of him. Something tells me there's some gaming going on with THAT!
BTW, just read the fact check of the debate. Perry's the big loser, he needs to improve his knowledge of the facts. The one "fact" that I thought was funny in the article was "AGW is settled science, so he's wrong on that". UGH.
It's settled science with climate modelers, but not with science. So it's "settled" because one group says it is. Even the IPCC, which sets the tone for this debate, has major dissenters among the members. Hardly settled.
Rick - We'll leave the minimum wage debate for another time. At some point it almost becomes a 'philosophical' debate, in the sense, "Would you rather have more people working, but at poverty levels, or fewer people working, but at least able to keep their head above water?"
I was ambivolent when they were talking about raising it a few years ago, but lowering it now, with gas and food prices skyrocketing, seems downright unamerican.
Re: arming the pilots and such, there's no question that the rules have changed since 9/11. Paul was talking about pre-9/11, at which point, as I said, all we'd had were a bunch of crazed hijackers who wanted to retire to the tropical island paradise of Cuba. You don't get into a shootout at 30,000 feet just to save a little fuel and time.
"'Paulbots' earned this sobriquet? Seriously?"
Yes, seriously. The difference is that they've been doing it for seeming decades.
"But to say that gaming the system is the sole quantity of "Paulbots" is.........."
Who said "sole quality"?
"have you met anyone who likes Romney?"
I gave him the unqualified 'win' at the last debate, so put me on the list. I think he'd make a fine president. (League first, team second)
I'm not sure where you got your Perry quote that AGW is "settled science". That's the complete opposite of what he said last night. That's the quote from Huntsman when he went on the attack. Something like, "When 98% of the scientific community agrees that blah blah blah..." As I noted in the post, Perry's response was that you can't pass regulations like the EPA wants until it is settled.
Paul's point regarding hijacking was that government altered the rules based on prior situations. His argument was based on the premise that government intervention was 'fighting the last war' - a term he didn't use, but which is accurate with everything government does. As a result, when you contextualize his commentary, you realize his point is that the private companies can provide the protection - and indeed WOULD provide the protection. It's in their best interest to do so, just like a bank does. More than likely, they'd do a better job than the one being done now. Plus - if you didn't like what they were doing, you could write a letter to someone and probably get something accomplished. Right now, all you get is "it's the rules".
It may seem 'unAmerican', but as you said, it's philosophical. I think people would rather be working, and paying taxes, and having fewer on public assistance. Prices rising has nothing to do with business activity right now. It has everything to do with all that fake paper the Treasury is printing and the Fed is issuing for free to Wall Streeters. Ever see the effects of a negative interest rate held over a long period of time? It ain't pretty. At some point, even the minimum wage won't matter.
I won't even respond to the 'Paulbot' stuff anymore. I'm sorry that you feel that way - it's probably more a misunderstanding of what's really happening within the organization (indeed, ANY organization with a political agenda in play) than reality. But that's your view. I could make the same argument for any other candidate, regardless of 'how long' they've been doing it.
Well you're the first "I like Romney" that I've ever seen. Sure, he looks and sounds presidential - but I'd not support his platform at this point. I have yet to really know what he stands for. Except for what he stood for last night.
Perry - the "fact check" was calling him out for saying it's not settled science. I didn't add the link to the article, my mistake. Basically he said it's not settled. The fact check article says IT IS settled. Which is basically what I was referencing. - the extension of the meme into everyday fact check. Now everyone knows it's settled because they say it is on the debate fact check.
Since we'll -- no doubt -- be talking about these issues in the future, we'll let them go for now. I have zero 'proof' that any Paulbotlian has ever done anything illegal or unethical -- it's just that I've been hearing stories for a decade, from a variety of wildly different sources.
And gotcha on the Perry/AGW thing. Yeah, "fact" check, all right. I mentioned how rife it's becoming yesterday, but your example really nails it. "Of course it's a fact, ladies and gentlemen -- just look at our domain name!"
Why are there never people from the right questioning GOP candidates at these debates? It is always dems with their inane and biased questioning.
Why do the candidates allow that to happen?
It's "our" primary, not "theirs", so why not let our side ask the questions?
Oh, feebs, there you go again -- actually asking the correct question. Won't you ever learn?
Actually, thinking it through, it might be for the best that our candidates field the questions from the lefties, in the sense that at least no one can accuse us of being given puffball questions to which there are easy, pat answers, one of the most common right-wing complaints about Obama, pre-election and post.
I presume Fox will host one of the debates, so we'll keep that in mind when the time comes. I'll cruise some of the lefty sites the next day and see if the running meme is that Fox handed the candidates softball questions. I'm sure it'll come as no surprise if they do.
I understand how it is helpful to have candidates respond to questions from a hostile source. We are agreed there.
What I don't like is how the candidates' characters are subtly damaged by the tone of the questions.
Example, they asked Perry how it feels going to sleep knowing you have put people to death. No matter how clever the answer (and Perry had a good one) the question frames Perry as some sort of monster or psycho who gets his rocks off seeing people put to death.
And they do that to the candidates on question after question. Trying to frame them as uncaring about the poor, the sick, the elderly etc. It drives me nuts.
Having the lefties ask the questions just lets them start a little quicker with character assassination. I just don't see where that helps the GOP candidates.
If the worse Perry faces this year is "How do you sleep at night?", let's count our blessings. :)
Chuck and I are also talking about it down below, and I think it's better to get all the nasty stuff out of the way now, letting the candidates get their answers down pat, before facing the wrath of the Democratic Media Machine (once prosaically known as "the news").
In a sense, it's a good thing. Seriously.
When I went to grad school, the concept I took to it was "attend a school that agrees as little as possible with your basic tenets and learn from the other side".
So I studied Economics at the New School for Social Research, bugged the hell out of the professors, and got As. I even had a paper nominated for publishing (though it wasn't). I find that when the "other side" sets the agenda, there is a better opportunity to make your point by completely ripping that agenda to shreds.
Sadly, the ability of the "Main Competitors", who got most of the air time, to rip an agenda to shreds is lacking. They are just incapable of doing much beyond sniping at each other and answering questions that are different from the ones they were asked.
In fact, I thought the best comment of the night came from Newt - who commented that he was angry that there were attempts to get the Republicans to fight amongst themselves. I agree. But I think it's the goal of the media to stoke that fire, and up to the candidates to respond as Gingrich did. That shows they are ready for primetime.
I think the Perry/Paul exchange was silly, and not because I like Paul, but because both of them handled it poorly. Perry may have shown "grace" in letting Paul respond to a question that was about him (really - why ask Perry about Paul except to spark a fight?), but he should have simply said "that's not a question for me, it's not a question for anyone here but Paul, and nobody HAS to stay with the party because of one man. We can all have differing views on the substance and visibility of Party members."
I nearly left the Republican Party because of Reagan and Abscam, and I did leave the party because of Bush and his profligate spending.
I actually think the debate was well moderated. I think alot of the responses were very poor. But that's the nature of the field we have.
just to illuminate the TSA "rape" a bit. The incident, while not a "rape rape" as Whoopie would say, was perceived as a penetration by the victim. In her own words:
"Nearing the end of this violation, I sobbed even louder as the woman, FOUR TIMES, stuck the side of her gloved hand INTO my vagina, through my pants. Between my labia. She really got up there. Four times. Back right and left, and front right and left. In my vagina. Between my labia. I was shocked -- utterly unprepared for how she got the side of her hand up there. It was government-sanctioned sexual assault.
Upon leaving, still sobbing, I yelled to the woman, "YOU RAPED ME." And I took her name to see if I could file sexual assault charges on my return. This woman, and all of those who support this system deserve no less than this sort of unpleasant experience, and from all of us."
The TSA woman must have had some kind of sick perversion to do this. And now the TSA is taking threatening the victim.
I didn't watch the debate, thank you for your report.
Dano - I read the same article, but seriously -- would someone actually jeopardize their lucrative job like that, and surrounded by a mob of people, knowing that half of them have cellphone cameras trained on them for just such a situation? It just seems too far-fetched to be taken seriously. And, even if it happened exactly as she described, you don't blame an organization with umpteen zillion employees for the acts of a few. And you certainly don't disband it and replace the trained agents with a bunch of rent-a-cops. Who says they're going to be any less obtrusive?
"I didn't watch the debate, thank you for your report."
You're very welcome. I'm sure the reviews on Hot Air and Pajamas Media are more 'knowledgeable' than mine, but my purpose is to cover things they don't and to view it from objective (Centrist) eyes, whereas the right-wingers, by definition, are going to be kinder than I am with the losers. Myself, I have no such scruples.
Dano - after mine and my wife's experiences over the summer, believe me this is very possible and I don't doubt it.
These guys have tough jobs, I certainly don't want them. And I always - ALWAYS - give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they are there to protect us.
But, that said, I've changed my mind substantially. First, because of what happened to us personally. Second, because I've been to Israel. I find Israel's system much less intrusive and much more effective.
Did I enjoy sitting in a room with someone who was most likely a Psy-Ops person having them ask me the same questions 5 times in 15 minutes rapid fire? Nope. But at least my answers were consistent and I had information to back it all up. I was clearly "safe" even though my tickets had indicated I was fishy (lots of changes to my ticket had registered me as "suspicious"). I also noticed they did substantial profiling, which I'm all for.
Never once was I touched, prodded, or otherwise engaged physically.
But grabbing my crotch and spending a little extra time with it? That was pretty much the last straw. I don't care how safe others think I need to be, I don't need someone doing that.
What pisses me off is that for a few months I'd heard these stories. Now, I travel alot for work. I never thought they could possibly be real. Not once...then, it happened. And once it happens, you'll never look at these guys the same way again.
Oh yeah, and 7 years ago one of them stole my money. About $100. Had it in a bill clip, tossed it into my shoe to go through XRay. I guess that was partially my own fault for trusting these guys. Still, low rent.
1 - Perry vs Romney - call it a statistical tie because depending on which you prefer, that's the one that won. They are clearly the main contenders and, frankly, will probably make the best one/two punch as President/Vice President. Which is which will be up to the voters, but I could see that happening. Probably more Perry as President and Romney as VP if only because of the Mormon issue. Points to both for being civil while disagreeing. Yeah, yeah - all the political pundits are saying Perry - not really.
Here's the problem with Perry - it is entirely possible that he's a Sharon Angel, Christine O'Donnell in a national election. Yeah, he was sharp and yeah, he did a credible job, but so did Angel and O'Donnell. I'm just afraid he's the latest "Tea Party Politician du jour" and he won't last. We'll see if he can keep it going like he did last night.
2 - Michelle - ma bell,
You are toast so give it up right now
3 - Huntsman is exactly what I thought he was to paraphrase Dennis Green - a Clintonian center-right policy wonk given to preaching rather than speaking. Second place is the first loser. He should get out while he still has his dignity.
4 - HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED - well, let's see - apparently after 30 years of occupying a seat in the House he still doesn't seem to understand that Congress writes the laws. Secondly - THOU SHALL NOT SPEAK ILL OF PRESIDENT REAGAN IN HIS VERY OWN HOUSE!!! What the hell was he thinking? He serves no purpose as a primary candidate other than being a distraction taking away votes from those who really can make a difference. He might as well quit the party again and make a Libertarian/NORML Party run because that's the only way he's ever going to be nominated. And none of the front runners are going to lose votes to him anyway because the only votes he gets are his loyal minions.
5 - Sanctorum - oh well - nice to think about - clearly a preacher type, suspiciously Michael Dukakis like in his preachy presentations. Another slice of burned toast - get out while the gettin's good.
6 - Gingrich - you know, as much as I dislike him and his philandering hypocritical ways, he is valuable to keep around in these "debates" if only because he's acting like a question and answer cop putting the moderators and questioners in their place and keeping them there. He did a nice job of that last night. Still not electable, but as least he's useful.
7 - Cain - I like him a lot. Sadly his chances of winning is about the same as him being hit by a meteorite but he is engaging and fun to watch.
Overall, with the single caveat of Perry/Tea Party, I think we've got two really strong candidates who have a really significant chance to defeat President Obama in the election. We'll see.
1. Like usual, I agree with almost everything you said.
2. You really need to work on your French. :)
Regarding HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED, yeah, I had the same thought. I almost mentioned it in the post, but then figured it was more of a 'judgmental' call, and didn't really have anything to do with the debate, so I dropped it. But, yeah, it was tacky.
By the way, did you ever give any thought to my suggestion yesterday about writing on one of those "blog sites" we read so much about? That missive of yours was one for the books.
Besides, writing about politics is really a blast. Just imagine the cold shudder of fear that runs down your back every time your email program informs you someone else has left a comment and you think, "Oh, Jesus, what terrible thing has someone said about me now?? It's really a kick and I highly recommend it.
I can't wait. :)
I don't speak French.
Or English, at least in the fashion your familiar with.
Michelle, your belle, would agree.
"Or English, at least in the fashion your familiar with."
I'll say. :)
See what I mean? Its and It's are also a problem. To, too and two used to be a problem, but I think I got that one now - took me long enough. :>)
I hate that "it's" thing. Every time I get ready to publish or print something "important", I actually do a search through the page for "it's" and mentally pronounce each one. Then I'll do the same for "its". It's not as common an error, but it still happens. Little bastards. :/
As usual for RINO lovers, blaming Angel and O'Donnell and everything disastrous in the 2010 on the Tea Parities. So why weren Pubbies favorites tossed in the primaries?? Remember the pathetic choices in Delaware, Colorado, and Utah?? Remember Newt backing Scozzafava in NY?? Remember the pathetic job the Pubbies did in California and Washington??? Thank your lucky stars the Tea Parties rose up and called the Pubbies on the carpet for being more like Democrat-lite. We sent Pelosi packing. Without us, this country would be going downhill even faster!!
Angle at least had some political experience behind her, but O'Donnell was a total mess not even trying to control her message. Don't blame the "RINO" crowd - Angle and O'Donnell shot themselves in the foot and deservedly lost their individual races.
Sorry - that's the way it is.
I was willing to take Romney as second choice candidate, but after the way his minions have been going after Perry on SS, no longer. If the man thinks running as a Democrat is the way to get elected, he should just switch parties.
chuck - Don't you have that slightly backwards? Perry's the one who's "going after" the issue -- that is, if you call likening something to a federal crime "going after". Calling it a Ponzi scheme is nothing more than that. Romeny, at the debate, calmly explained that the basic concept was sound, it's was just its misuse by greedy Congresscritters and poor management, etc, that made it the wreck it is today.
As people keep saying, while such rhetoric as "ponzi scheme" and "almost treasonous" may work well on the state level, it's not what you expect to see on the national stage.
I'm not talking about the debate, I'm talking about the four press releases made during the debate and the new one today. They're demagoguing the issue and misrepresenting Perry. Sure, if Perry is the candidate he will face the same thing from the Democrats. Which is why I say Romney should just switch parties. At this point he is dead to me.
Okay, I got it. Well, I think the whole thing comes under the heading "What'cha gonna do?" Distortion and hyperbole are just part of the game these days. Nor can you dislike a particular candidate just because his campaign manager is a muckraking asshole. That's why he gets paid the big bucks.
And you're right about Perry getting the same thing from the Dems -- only worse. He might as well polish his answers now, so it could be argued that Romney's minions are doing him a favor.
I see it this way:
"Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous"
Mitt strikes me as a scheme by the numbers sort of guy. OK, sometimes you need schemers. But I'm afraid that as president he would scheme to screw me; for my own good, of course.
I agree that the problem is HOW people view Social Security as opposed to what it is.
Now - if I were to describe a system which takes money from my dad and 13 other workers, while at the same time it pays out to 1 retired (former) workers. And that this cycle would continue each year, until today when my money and that of 1 other was taken to pay for one retired worker, and that in the future my son's money would be taken to pay for me and 2 retired workers......what would you call that?
Why, that's a Ponzi!
Funny, because when the government does it and says it's "to help you retire", it suddenly gets called Social Security and has all kinds of sacred cow status applied.
Now, if you were to take the SAME idea, and put the money into the market, you'd call it a "401(k)". And that's a good thing too.
But then tell someone you want to let them handle their own Ponzi (I mean Social Security) money and invest it on their own in the market, and it suddenly becomes "Holy crap - the market might crash and I could lose everything! That Ponzi sure was a smart fella. Let's just let the Ponzi work it's magic."
Weird how people can't seem to figure out the failings of one system, view it as a positive, and look at the positive value of another but can only see it through the lens of a negative.
What is it about the market that confuses, scares, and worries people? I've always found it very simple. But then again, I enjoyed studying Complexity Theory.
"Funny, because when the government does it ... it suddenly gets called Social Security and has all kinds of sacred cow status applied."
That's just more of the same old tired trope, "If (fill in blank) part of government was run like a business, they'd be out of business! Arrested, hanged, even!"
Yeah, well, news flash for everyone: government's not a "business" -- it's a "government". See how the two words are different? Also note how the words "apples" and "oranges" are different.
As far as your continued use of the term "Ponzi Scheme", a Ponzi Scheme is designed to defraud. Social Security is only 'defrauding' people because of mess it's become from outside sources. It wasn't designed to defraud like a Ponzi Scheme is.
Doc Merc, I think you are being loose with your terminology, and it is leading to a false answer.
The defining characteristic of a Ponzi scheme is not that it is designed to defraud. There are many other ways to defraud which are not Ponzis, and several Ponzis quite likely were not intended to defraud...just investments that went bad, and they started paying out of new money to keep up appearances. Quite likely Madoff did not initially set out to create a Ponzi...he just had a fudge a little to make his returns for the month, and then fudge a little more etc etc. Whether true of Madoff specifically or not, that is true of most Ponzi schemes...they decide to cook the books and create a Ponzi rather than face investing failure.
The defining characteristic of a Ponzi, that makes it a Ponzi scheme, is that it takes 'new' money to give made up returns to previous 'investors'. That is what makes a Ponzi scheme. And that is in fact applicable to social security. The trust fund had nothing of value. They took the SS surplus, lent it to themselves, spent the money, and left an IOU from the next generation to themselves.
You can argue that the Ponzi schemes are illegal and social secirity has a legal patina. But if government made Ponzi schemes legal (for everyone else) they would still be a Ponzi scheme. It is the new money paying out 'returns' to old money that makes it a Ponzi, not the fact that doing so is illegal for everyone except the government.
It might be inflammitory to describe Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. It might not be smart politics. It might even be a ever so slightly misleading because of the very strong negative connotations of Ponzi schemes. But it is true...social security meets the definition of a Ponzi scheme.
The only way SS is really not a Ponzi scheme...is that Ponzi schemes are voluntary and Social Security is mandatory. Armed men from the goverment don't come and legally put you in jail and strip you of your liberty for failing to join a Ponzi scheme. But they will if you don't chip into SS. You can opt out of a Ponzi...but you can't opt out of SS. But I don't think that is what you meant by SS is not a Ponzi scheme.
DM - Thanks for taking the time to make that clearer. I use the term "Ponzi Scheme" in the generally-acknowledge legal sense, which was how Friedman was viewing it in the above video. From that viewpoint, it translates to "illegal", and it just sounds naive to point to some gigantic complex government institution and spout, "Hey, that's illegal!" It's too simplistic.
And if Friedman and myself both hear the word "illegal" when somebody claims something's a "Ponzi Scheme", then others will as well. At that point it just becomes more 'rhetoric' or 'hyperbole', neither of which make the candidate look good. Appearance counts.
Doc, I think the difference is that Perry is using the term quite precisely. After all, Ponzi schemes aren't wrong because they are illegal, they are illegal because they are wrong...and SS is a Ponzi. And that is the message he is delivering.
It wasn't too high a burden for the WWII generation, because they weren't supporting a mountain of previous (the program was new) retirees. The babyboomers weren't to bothered by it because they so outnumbered the previous generations the workers to retiree ratio remained high. No longer true. There is a big difference between 12 workers supporting 'their' retiree and two workers supporting 'their' retiree.
The boomers are effectively asking the Gen X, Y and millenials to contribute huge portions of their earnings to them. Whether that is in huge SS tax increases, or large other tax increases or program cuts (to 'repay' the SS trust fund, which the previous generations lent to the general fund and spent), the current working generation will be proportionately 'contributing' much more than any previous generation...and not a penny of it will be saved for them. All of it will flow out to the boomers. It is a Ponzi. And it is wrong in its current form and should not be treated as sacrosanct.
And that is what Perry is trying to say. He probably did himself political harm for not doing it more delicately, but I appreciate him having the political courage to speak the truth about it.
As I understand it, a Ponzi Scheme doesn't use any investment by the head guy, just by the individual investors, whereas SS got a whole shitload of investment by the 'head guy' (the government). Ergo, SS is not a "Ponzi Scheme" by definition because it's very foundation is different.
Like "almost treasonous", while it might fire up the base, such rhetoric doesn't have any place on the national stage. I thought Romney made him look like a backwoods hick in the debate. If Perry keeps playing the tough gunslinger, look for four more years of Obama.
A couple of points:
I don't think whether or not the guy running the Ponzi has money in it or not determines whether it is a Ponzi. In most cases the people running do have money in it, at least in the beginning. Ponzis typically have very high returns for those who get out before it collapses. That is often the incentive for becoming a Ponzi. Madoff had money in his funds, do you think that makes it not a Ponzi?
I would question who the 'head guy' is in the SS context. I think it is more appropriate to view it as generational rather than 'gov't.' Great grandparents ripped off grandparents, grandparents who ripped off parents, parents who are ripping off kids, and expect their kids to rip off their grandkids. Ponzi schemes work out great for those who are out before it collapses...the whole SS debate is about forestalling the collapse until 'I get mine' by getting the next generation to rip[ off the one after that.
That is why there is such vociferous opposition to 'privitizing' SS. (ie, having some of the SS payments go into actual investments as opposed to immediately out the door in the form of SS payments or other government expenditures vie the 'trust fund') It brings the recogniztion that there is no there there. There is no trust fund in any financially meaningful sense...there is no money. Letting current SS taxes go into actual investments means allowing the 'trust fund' to pay current retirees. But that just means taxes have to go up, or debt has to go up (which means taxes in the future) or other gov't expenditures have to go down.
Look at which countries have financially sound retirement programs, like Norway or Singapore. Their programs have actual income producing investments in them. They didn't lend the money to themselves and blow it and leave an 'IOU' (really more a 'you owe me' signed, me)
Look at the first recipient of SS, Ida May Fuller. She 'invested' $24.75 and got back $22,888.92 in SS payments. She was atypical, but what kind of investment offers returns like that? Ponzi schemes. The initial 'investors' did very well...the question is who is holding the bag when it collapses.
The question here isn't whether or not SS is a "Ponzi Scheme" by definition. And that's easily proved by the following question:
Okay, Social Security is a quote, unquote, "Ponzi Scheme".
Or, more to the point, Now what?
Nothing, obviously, so quibbling over semantics is a waste of time.
The question is whether or not a Republican presidential candidate should use terms ("almost treasonous") that the left-leaning MSM can label as "wild rhetoric". I say stay clear of such things, others think it shows him to be 'tough'. It's just personal opinion at that point.
DM did a much better job of explaining why it's a Ponzi than I have by separating out the legal issue of fraud from the act of the Ponzi itself.
Getting to the point you discussed, Doc, about "the top guy" putting money in. That is incorrect. The government MAY from time to time put money into the system, and that makes is somewhat different from the overall shape of the Ponzi scheme, but is really just an add-on confidence game measure.
Ponzi developers WILL put in their own money to make the system "look good" in order to let payouts at the beginning meet the promised level. Over time, when enough people buy into the system, he will scrape many times that amount back into his own pocket, but eventually the investors themselves will fall short and the structure will collapse. Even if the Ponzi leader did NOT scrape cash into his pocket, the one thing he'd do is not make the system more effective, he'd merely extend the lifecycle of the Ponzi.
Social Security has come close to collapse several times. Each time, what was the solution? Tax more or increase the retirement age. The problem is, neither is not a solution. Ponzi, as his system was breaking down, did the same thing. New investors paid in more for conceivably higher returns.
What we now face is commentators who, upon realizing the Ponzi is real and SocSec is doomed to fail, asking the wrong question - "what solution do you have?" It's the wrong question because there IS NO solution to the current Ponzi - there never is. The ONLY solution any commentator has offered is "let it go and let's see what happens because nobody has an alternative plan." This is wrong because it guarantees failure on a future generation. And just because there is no (obvious or evident) solution doesn't mean you keep doing it wrong because that's how we've done it all along.
But there is an answer, actually. Not a solution, but an answer. It's not going to go over well or easily. It has many steps. You can't eliminate the steps, and you can't change them. You can't play games. You have to be precise. And you have to understand the root cause of the problem. It means you have to know economic history....and that's boring, so it's unlikely to ever see the light of day.
SocSec fails because we paid for at least 2 generations of retirees, at the start, with money that was only then being generated, WITHOUT setting aside an insurance trust fund for future retirees until 1939, and a small one at that. We guaranteed those putting money in that they'd get back far more than they put in. Over the years, we extended SocSec benefits to include whole classes of people that it wasn't originally intended to include. We also lowered the retirement age in some cases (though we lowered the monthly payouts with early retirement). We made excessive COLAs from time to time, for political purposes (the retiree vote is huge).
So what's the plan? It's painful.
1. Raise the retirement age, and stop early retirement. Add 2 years to the retirement age. Early retirement actually INCREASES the payout the government makes - early retirees tend to live longer (brutal outlook, but true - this is the solution many pension funds utilize when faced with similar problems).
2. Put a cap on % increases for Payroll taxes. Can't increase them NOW, but at some point you'll be able to. Just limit those increases.
3. Do Zero based accounting - estimates are done on a basis of "we had X last year and we'll need X+1 next year". This is wrong. I do budgeting for a living and when I do worst case scenarios, I start from scratch. What do I need and what don't I need. With computers, you can do this easily. Frankly, all government accounting should be zero based.
4. Invest a portion in the market. Sure, the market is down now and may be down for a few more years. But funding Treasuries is just accentuating the Ponzi nature of the whole scheme. It's Ponzi making a loan to himself, without adding value to the system. If Ponzi had actually invested a good portion of his surplus, he'd have had some more value to work with.
5. Devise an actuarial model which, at some point in the future (10 years, 15?) the money each individual puts in ACCRUES ENTIRELY to their own account - and isn't added to "pay as you go". Make it a real security fund.
There are more things you can do. For now, there are only small steps. But the key is moving to step 5.
Better yet - do away with it and make 401(k)'s "opt out" and increase the tax-free amount people can put into them. If I could've put in 10% when I was 23, I would've. And make interest borrowed against the 401(k) tax-deductible. I have alot of money wrapped up that I'd love to borrow against, knowing I'm paying interest to myself.
I actually used to do that. I worked for a company that offered stock at a discount (5% off the lower of 2 prices - the day the plan starts or the day it ends each year). Basically, it's 5% guaranteed. Each year, I'd borrow against my 401(k) (the interest was tax deductible in the 80's) on day 1 - pay for the full allotment, and begin paying back the loan. By the end of the year, I'd paid off a good portion of the loan, got a tax deduction, sold a portion of my stock to buy into the next year's plan, and started all over again. Not a penny of interest paid to the government in taxes, or to the bank. Every penny accrues to ME. Nice!
In 5 years, I had a very healthy sum of capital on my hands. Employee stock ownership plans, and tax deductible interest on 401(k)s can make for a very healthy financial position.
By the way, another thing I was told at age 22 (which was too late) was that "Whole Life is the key of every portfolio". It is. I bought whole life from Northwest Mutual at 22. Today, as I near 50, it's paid off, and I'm still paying in because the returns are phenomenal. Right now, it's my best investment and a key to future retirement. And my wife didn't want to get it!!! LOL. She was convinced it was a scam. The old "use term life and invest the differential" was what people said. I ask those people "how is that differential working for you?" it's not. Few have that kind of Discipline.
I got my kids Whole Life when they were young. At 20, they'll take over the ridiculously low payments. At 25, it will be fully paid. After that, it's theirs......it's a nice deal.
Forgot one last point:
6. When your SocSec trust fund is set up to accrue to you alone, there is a limit to how much you can draw from it. In other words, today if you live to be 120 years, you could draw until the day you die. It was designed, originally, to be that if you did that, your portion was "paid" by someone who died before reaching retirement.
Sadly, this doesn't happen because that money is given to a host of other recipients.
So when changes ARE made, slow steady, careful changes, eventually people CAN have a small government managed retirement account....but it has a limit. So drawing on it has to be done carefully.
As I said, better to make 401(k)s "opt out". Better returns, and more likely people will utilize them. Fewer faces in the public trough is always a good thing.
Tom Friedman has moments of clarity. Times when I can say "that wasn't a bad thought". But mostly he's a China apologist and Krugman clone. Still the link above was hilarious. Along the lines of Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.....I thought this should be shared. Great exchange.
That was terrific. And what a muckraking scumbag this Santelli guy turned out to be. He wants Friedman to evaluate it while... disregarding the legalities?? Huh? Is this the Disney Hour, where fantasy reigns supreme? What a schmuck.
Funny. I thought Santelli was the logical, if overemotional, one.
The legalities of SocSec are purely based on one thing:
1. It's ok for the government to do what it tells everyone else they can't do. So legalities are ignored if the government does it.
Santelli's point is completely legitimate. Pay as you go is Ponzi.
Friedman is, usually, nutso "I love everything the Chinese do and we should do it all here because the government running our lives is a good idea."
What I found amusing in this exchange was that Friedman's calm nature makes him out to be the rational one in the discussion, even as his discussion point is shredded. It's all about presentation, not substance.
I was in a meeting and a friend of mine was talking about Obama's "jobs program" speech. He's also getting solar panels on his roof.
I combined the two themes and told him this event which I am muddling through right now:
NJ has a program where we pay $X of our utility bill into a "fund". That fund is not for state use. The state can't dip into it to pay bills. It's used for a state chartered organization which then goes to homes which request a visit, and analyzes their energy efficiency and then offers loans for improved efficiency - 0% loans for all work which improves energy efficiency by at least 25%.
Anyway, we did it. And we found that we could replace our oil heat with gas, insulate the house more and increase our efficiency 25% - the minimum needed to get the 0% loan.
The work will cost us $2,000, the loan will pay $13,000 of the $15,000 cost, and we pay $80 a month back on the loan.
Here's the kicker. We can get all that work done for $7,000 if we pay for it ourselves.
This is government intervention at work. By setting up this organization, the government has built in guaranteed fraud. Fraud which is absolutely 100% backed and supported by the laws of the state.
Lovely stuff, isn't it? Your jobs program at work. Sigh.
The work will cost us $2,000, the loan will pay $13,000 of the $15,000 cost, and we pay $80 a month back on the loan.
Here's the kicker. We can get all that work done for $7,000 if we pay for it ourselves.
That is my experience with such programs. I had radiant barrier plywood installed last year. While the local electrical utility had a rebate program, it was only with "approved contractors." I found an inexpensive contractor and did it without the rebate. Less hassle.
The electrical utility company sponsored "energy audit" was a scam, as it consisted in a contractor telling you what items he wanted to sell you, without any reference to what energy you were using and what the new items would save you in energy cost. Just a sales pitch.
Regarding responses to the AGW question, people need to remember to add in addition to Perry's fine points, "...and assuming a warming planet is not a net benefit".
Wow, Perry Walker is the name of the hottest girl in my college class and also good friend way back in the early '80's. That was a pleasant memory jog.
Friedman, Krugman, Dowd, Brooks...and don't forget Jonathan Alter. Please don't forget Alter.
('Tis a Ponzi scheme).
Phil, Perry Walker? I like that name. Is she related to Johnnie?
A friend who saw the debate supposes that Soros and the Demoncrats are setting up Huntsman to run on a 3rd party ticket.
Ask your friend when the last time a 3rd-party candidate won the presidency and we'll work from there.
He can't win, everyone knows that, the question is who's election would he impact?
I'm not sure Huntsman has the charisma or recognition to have any impact in the way Perot did. Heck Perot was the subject of some memorable Saturday Night live skits, don't see that in the future for Huntsman. If Mad Pat Buchanan can't move the needle, I doubt Huntsman can even with all of the Soros money in the world.
Yeah, I didn't see it but I thought that Soros funded Huntsman 3rd party candidacy sounded pretty far fetched, too. I was just wondering if anybody saw any possibility. I certainly don't think he could win - and neither did my friend - but I think his point was that if it happened, it might draw votes from the eventual pubbie candidate.
As for Friedman, there really isn't much to say. When somebody shows him the difference between shit and shinola and he wants to reform the shit to try to be shinola, there isn't much help for him.
Muds - As an addditional thought, we already have a 3rd-party candidate. Rather than fuss around with Huntsman, I'd have Sorors dump a couple billion into Paul's campaign. That'd suck off conservative votes ever more than Perot did.
Tom - I see so little 'hornet's nesting' up above that I'm not even sure which post you're talking about. We're quibbling over the definition of "Ponzi Scheme", but that's just semantics. Any Friedman post on a right-wing site will draw criticism, but the one above is just part of the semantics debate.
On the subject, I've read three articles today on Perry's use of the term "Ponzi Scheme" in the debate, and all three of them pointed out the innumerable differences between it and Social Security. I'm guessing that Perry and his people know all of this and were just looking for a catchy sound bite. As Rick said about Perry's "almost treasonous", it sounds like Perry is just trying to "out-Paul Paul".
If you want "hornet's nest", try Wonkette. Just wait for the first person to come along and disagree with the blogger and watch the blood spill. 'Vulture's nest', more like. :)
What I meant was the number of posts following the original - not that it was controversial or confrontational.
Perhaps I could have used a different phrase other than hornet's nest.
RE: Ponzi scheme and SS. The simple truth is that as it is currently used it is a Ponzi scheme - they may try and call it something different, but that's what it is - currently. Not what it used to be nor as constructed in the first place. Did you know, for instance, that SSDI can be issued to homeless alcoholics or drug abusers without them ever have paid into the system? And that in large part goes to so-called "care" providers? Or that SSDI can be awarded to foreigners - in particular if they are homeless? It's true.
It's been used to fund too many social programs that rightfully don't belong within the SS system.
Tom - Good generic quote on your part.
"(Insert name of bloated government here) has been used to fund too many (insert bloated entitlements here) that rightfully don't belong within the (fill in name of bloated government institution here) system."
Then again, you always did have a way with words. :)
DM, Rick, Tom -
Good news, guys.
Chris Matthews Says Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme
So it looks like you're in good company.
Doc, unlike your previous comment, it is not 'just semantics'
It is whether we are trying to 'save' the fundamentally unsavable system, or whether we confront that we have to figure out a way to replace the ponzi fraud with something real. The solution to the Madoff scam wasn't to invest a little more.
The first 'generation' of SS was easy (by generation I mean era of SS, by individuals probably more like 2.5 20 year generations)...there were very few SS qualified retirees to workers because the program was just starting. Ponzis always look good in the beginning. The second generation masked the Ponzi by having the giant generation of boomers. That hid the ponzi by having so many workers relative to retirees. As they are retiring, the mask is coming off.
The boomers SS arguement amounts to "I paid on average 6-9% of a SS retiree's check, so you guys have to pay 33%-50% on average of my check to keep me whole."
It is not going to happen. The sooner we confront that, the less painful the inevitable collapse of the ponzi will be...and the more 'fair' we can be to those who have been forced into the Ponzi for their whole working life.
The first step is 'semantic'...acknowledging that it is a ponzi scheme. The arguement is not about 'fixing' SS. It is about replacing it. Maybe the name survives, but it needs to be, 'fundamentally transformed' to coin a phrase. The sooner we start, the more palatable the replacement will be.
Boomers: Your parents and grandparents ripped you off. We can't make up for that. But the sooner we confront that and start...the better it will be for you. The status quo will end. Painfully if soon, more painfully if later.
If you fight that politically too hard (and you might win)...the solution will be that you get your $1200 social security check. And it may buy you a loaf of bread after the economic depression, hyperinflation and currency collapse. We don't have the money. You can evade reality...but you can't evade the consequences of evading reality.
Do the right thing.
DM - As I said, the only question I'm interested in is whether or not using such rhetoric hurts Perry's chances. Because as far as the candidates go, the only thing I'm interested in is their electability. I deem Perry to be the most electable at the moment, ergo I'm worried that his use of hyperbole ("almost treasonous") will hurt his chances with the electorate.
Put it this way:
How many voters currently rely upon Social Security to stay alive?
How will it affect Perry's chances if he loses a huge portion of that number?
If you or Rick want to spend time and energy discussing how Social Security should be fixed, then you need one of these.