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January 05, 2005

O My Sweet Lord, This Is SO BORING

The only thing that allows me to keep paying attention to Social Security is my admiration for the Bush administration. That admiration overcomes the inherent boring-osity of the subject.

I admire the Bush-ites because they're trying to pull off the greatest heist in world history. And not under cover of night, but in broad daylight. If they manage it, they will be the greatest thieves who've ever lived.

So on a moral level they're hideous. But I do enjoy their moxie.

For instance, there's Charles Blahous. He's "Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy," and is leading the charge on Social Security for Bush. And he has got moxie coming out of his ears. I hate to think of his dry-cleaning bills, since all his clothes must be stained with moxie.

For instance, there's this Washington Post article:

Blahous focuses his attention on the year 2018, when the Social Security payroll tax receipts will not cover benefit payments. "The government does have to come up with more money after 2018; that is the fiscal reality," he said.

Let's assume this matters, even though it doesn't. (I don't have the energy to explain why... although I will muster the energy if anyone wants me to.)

So, we're assuming that the government coming up with more money in 2018 is important. 2018 is the arrival of the terrifying crisis we've heard so much about.

Well, GUESS WHAT? Bush's plan will move up the date when the government has to come up with more money. According to this Congressional Budget Office analysis of Bush's plan, "outlays exceed revenues starting in 2007."

That's right -- if George Bush has his way, the "crisis" doesn't arrive in 2018. It gets here TWO YEARS FROM NOW.

In fact, there's no crisis. There would be no crisis under Bush's plan, nor under the current system. (Well, Bush's plan would cause a crisis for many retirees -- just not for the government.)

It's just funny that Blahous is such a shameless con man. He tells us that there's a problem arriving in 13 years. But he doesn't mention that the snake oil he's selling makes the "problem" arrive in two years.

(I realize this makes zero sense to the uninitiated. So ask if you're confused, and care.)

Posted at January 5, 2005 04:30 AM | TrackBack

I think your posts on social security have been quite valuable – thank you for braving the boring boringness. And now that you've given those links to Dean Baker, I don't even have to ask where to go for more information...

And really, I supect social security should be boring to anyone who isn't a congenital civil bureaucrat or accountant. The more boring, the better – 'cuz that most likely means it's working. Perhaps the whole problem here is that people have been trying to give social security a mainstream image as something sexy and dangerous that needs to be "tamed" or "reformed" (depending on whether one prefers the predatory or the puritanical for one's chauvinistic metaphors), when really social security should just be left to the fetishists.

Posted by: plover at January 5, 2005 06:46 PM
In fact, it glosses over the key, overriding issue: that the so-called "social security trust fund" does not in fact exist. The claim that huge surpluses are being mounted is meaningless when all that really exists is an IOU that the government writes to itself.

This quote is from one of the reviews of Baker's book at Amazon (by Kevin W. Parker). Am I correct that it refers to the same issue that you are referencing in the statement "Let's assume this matters, even though it doesn't"?

In any case, I've seen this "IOU that the government writes to itself" shtick in other places – it seems to be embedded in the right-wing hive conciousness. So, what's up with this? Why doesn't it matter? What are these "surpluses"? If they are instantiated as some kind of government bonds, why are some people so concerned about how those bonds will be paid off and some are not? (Somehow I doubt I'm even asking the right question here.)

But more importantly: will I be contributing to the ruination of the economy if I refuse to have my dead pet cloned?

Posted by: plover at January 5, 2005 07:22 PM

It is so obvious that anyone who would protect social security against those who fight against the scourge of socialism in our land o' xtian virtue, _just_ _hates_ _our_ _freedom_.

Being as how I was trained to believe in the 'heal the sick, feed the poor' stuff as a yut, I am having trouble figuring out who the pronoun 'our' refers to in the sentence above.

At the end of this race, our logic vs. their logic, there will be a lot more people who have risen above the bar of stupidity on this topic, and there will be a lot more people who will believe that government social programs are a lie.

One thing for sure, the pugs of this universe will come back with some other way to destroy our freedoms without missing a beat.

Posted by: SiegeState at January 5, 2005 09:54 PM


I'm glad you feel the Social Security stuff has been useful. I'm particularly glad because there's going to be more. A LOT MORE. And I'd worried many people might lose consciousness and injure themselves.

Coming up soon (hopefully today):

1. Why this is so boring -- and why you're right that it should be boring.
2. What the trust fund is and isn't. (In fact, you're asking exactly the right questions.)
3. Why you will destroy the US economy if you don't have your pet cloned.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 6, 2005 05:50 AM