These figures (Palin, Bachman, et al) also play the shiny object role, allowing the liars and lies that have real consequence to go unremarked. My current obsession is with the widespread lie linking blaming the deficit/debt in part on Social Security.
If you change the shape of Social Security (i.e. retirement age, payroll tax level, means test, benefit level), it doesn’t change the debt outlook?
No. Such changes would affect the lifespan of the social security surplus that was purposely created to fund the retirement of baby boomers (like me). The actual effect the other way around, to the extent that the federal budget affects the general economy and unemployment, since the unemployed are not paying payroll (that is, social security) taxes, causing the surplus to be used more quickly.
That assumes lawmakers play by current rules. I know nothing about Social Security policy, but couldn’t Members of Congress pass legislation to change current structure and rules? To cite just one example, couldn’t they divert some of the payroll tax into a fund dedicated to debt reduction, and scale back the benefit schedule in keeping with the slimmed down revenue stream?
Congress created Social Security, so can’t it recreate it in a way that could reduce the debt?
Wow, you make Niccolò Machiavelli look like Pollyanna.
So you’re in the loon camp?
I think that, like water, she’s found her level. I don’t think she has to fake or contrive it. As the cast sang on the National Lampoon Radio Dinner song decades ago:
“You are a fluuuuuuuuuke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
Is laughing behind your baaaaaaaaaaaack.”
I am no longer so sure who they were singing about anymore.
Not “song,” album, I meat to type album.
The Universe is an elitist then.
Ha, well, that’s why I mentioned that I’m not at all sure anymore at whom the universe is laughing. It may well be at me.
As Mr. Pettis’s post unintentionally reminded me, H.L. Mencken counseled that no one ever lost any money underestimating the American taste/intelligence. One imagines his dark maxim is found in framed needlepoint on office walls up and down K Street.
Sarah Palin Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder:
Common among progressives who for way too long have put their women political leaders and government representatives on pedestals. Feelings of anxiety and acute unease about the mere thought that conservative women are leading large groups of voters that relate to their stands on the issues and agree that there should be less government intervention in the lives of ordinary citizens.
Symptoms include ruminations that conservative women leaders are flawed, scammers, or “not right with this world” and that those who walk in step with these women leaders are flawed, easily fooled or “not right with this world.”
Beliefs that these followers (the non-elite) are swayed through manipulations and shoddy public relations tactics are prevalent. They become powerfully intense as each conservative woman’s popularity increases on the national stage.
Remedy: Take two aspirin, get lots of bed rest and call me in the morning.
P.S. Remember to open the door when the IRS agents come knocking and verify you have Obamacare coverage to pay for my services.
Re: “Feelings of anxiety and acute unease.”
Dr. Gary, I tend to get the giggles. Is there something wrong with me?
Giggling to oneself is fine. Be mindful of your limb movements associated with your giggles, as they might inflict bodily harm on someone close to you. Also be aware that if someone nearby finds the topic of your giggles offensive or rude, bodily harm may be inflicted upon you. Err on the side of caution when in a state of self amusement.
Still, for example, if you find yourself staring into a serving plate of mashed potatoes*, see the shape of Michelle Bachman’s face in the mound of white stuff, and break out in a disturbing belly laugh, well son, that could be a sign that you’re on the road to disaster.
Consequently, when all of the laughing is done, the joke could be on you.
Giggling is only a problem if you think it is a problem. Several local churches host GA meetings, and I’d be happy to share with you the days, times and locations.
*Stolen from the Richard Dreyfuss scene with mashed potatoes in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a scene that always makes me giggle.
I barely read a word of Loveland’s post or the responses but find myself transfixed on the photo the goes along with the piece.
Is there something wrong with me?
P.S. Please don’t tell me I’m a dirty old man. Several doctors have made similar observations.
Rest assured Mike, you’re not a dirty old man much like I am not a dirty old man.
We can assume that Britney in the quote “oops! . . . I did it again” refers to her regret of speaking out for liberal causes when she is really fearful inside that Obama will indeed abolish the tax cuts for the rich. Her accountant has already told her how much less of a disposable income she will have at her disposal if those cuts happen.
That might mean she may have to let one of her handlers go and purchase fewer consumable products.
Alas, in this world, sex does sell, wind-blown hair and all. If we would have used a picture like the one of Britney to drive a point home, we would have been quickly dumped into the scrap heap of dirty old men.
[Responding to Joe from above, since the comments won't let me do it there]
“Congress created Social Security, so can’t it recreate it in a way that could reduce the debt?’
Sure. We could call the new program “A place to steal money from while ignoring the actuaries”. Then the Right could go around saying “we found a place to steal money from so we can reduce the debt”.
What could go wrong?
We should have a thoughtful debate about whether SS should be touched. I don’t want to hurt vulnerable people either. I just disagree with the contention that it should be considered untouchable.
Oh, for the love of Pete.
Yes, Social Security will need to be touched. To deny that these entitlement programs aren’t going to need to be reformed borders on delusional.
We have made promises through SS, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and all the offshoots that are simply not within the realm of possibility.
The retirement age will have to be moved back — yet again. 70 is going to have to be the minimum. Higher wage earners are going to have to continue paying instead of capping out. And Initial benefits will have to be tied to consumer price increases instead of wage increases (or a mix depending on income — a sort of means test).
The problem: Politicians don’t have the balls to make the tough choices. Here’s yet another case for term limits.
Continuing putting off these decisions, while enough to get people re-elected, are a sham.
Business people now can go to jail for signing off on inflated or fake earnings or voodoo numbers in their financial reports. Imagine if politicians faced the same punishment.
Three entirely different questions:
- are people (who should know better) lying when they say SS contributes to the debt/deficit? This is where I started
- can SS be modified to meet its current mission more efficiently or sustainably?
- should the mission of SS be modified?
changing the retirement age or upper limit on taxed income address the second, while a means test addresses the third.
As a parting thought, I would suggest that retirement age might be based on a ‘how hard did you work?’ test rather than an income/means test, so that steel foundry laborers (whose life expectancy is NOT increasing) might get to rest a bit sooner than stock brokers. But I appreciate getting to talk a little about consequential policy statements instead of Bachman’s constant lying.
Don’t think the “how hard did you work” idea would fly.
Here we would have government deciding by some random and unprovable qualification.
Seemingly, a successful “stockbroker” would have made more money than a foundry worker — so under means testing, would get less in benefits. Simple and objective.
Besides, if the foundry worker is unionized, he or she probably already has a pension, 401k and some pretty good health benefits. The stockbroker might be self employed with no benefits whatsoever.
It’s easy for some to attempt to blur the lines between Social Security and welfare. In the case of Ayn Rand, she paid her taxes and contributed to the system, like all of us American wage earners have since the Social Security Act was enacted in 1935. She lived long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits and chose to accept them.
Medicare is funded by Social Security.
Ayn Rand did not receive welfare payments or public assistance, which if she had, would have flown in the face of her principles of personal responsibility. So I don’t buy into the reverse shame attributed to her receiving benefits. This topic is being raised by a few liberal writers who also like to poke fun of the fact that she smoked three packs of cigarettes a day.
The implication that she was by nature far more sicker than the other sickies covered by Medicare is appalling.
The topic of whether or not to abolish Social Security returns us to the debate of whether or not people should contribute to a system that is about to fail or people should be entrusted to make investments for themselves with the money they pay into Social Security.
The next debate, and it will be heated, should be about where do we draw a line between these two different approaches.
Ayn Rand wrote “The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights . . .” When this nation eventually makes the tough choices on how to fix Social Security/Medicare, we can only hope that we have a capable and effective cop on the beat.
I am not certain that many in the Tea Party really are all that libertarian. They seem more like traditional social conservatives.
Rand Paul (not surprisingly) seems to be more of the libertarian bent so far, but he seems more of an exception among the recent crop of new Republican office holders.
I think of it in these terms–
“The world you live in ö your nation, your people ö is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.”
–And I’d like not to have this in mind, but nothing I see from our leaders convinces me otherwise.
And here is Bachmann, playing her role in the distortion or reality, in creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear and hate or at least confusion.
But who is worse…her for doing her role, seemingly successfully…
–or the media, for doing their role, also seemingly successfully…
–or we the people, for being too passive in accepting these people as leaders in local politics and local media.