Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Push Back on Social Security

The rousing defeat of the Republicans may lead to some dividends.  Emboldened Democrats are pushing back on the right wing nonsense that we need to be cutting Social Security benefits.  Not only should we not be talking about scaling Social Security back.  We should be expanding it.

Unfortunately we don't even have Obama on our side on this one, but it's the right policy.  We need to continue to beat back the lies of the right wing propaganda machine that wants to end it because they believe it will improve their profits.  They want the elderly to be compelled to stay in the work force.  This enlarged pool of laborers can drive the cost of labor down.  They want access to any monies you could be putting away for your retirement.  They can run mutual funds and extract fees, maybe crash the economy and get some bail out money in the process.

It's important to recognize that Social Security is a lot like what humans have been doing for thousands of years.  When people became elderly in Native American societies the young understood that they had to do what was necessary to provide for them.  When they shared the fruits of their labor with the elderly that were unable to work they weren't enlarging their share of wealth.  They were simply giving away what they had worked for.  They knew that when they became elderly the young would support them.  And this is why we pay today.  It's not a savings plan.  It's based on the principle that we take care of those that can't care for themselves.  And we know that one day we will be in that boat.

There's a pretty decent debunking of a lot of right wing myths about Social Security here.  It's worth checking out.


Chad said...

I prefer this article.

Once again - to argue if the system is broke or not is fun, but it hardly touches the real point.

I don't want to participate in gov't ran Social Security - the only thing I (and about 1/2 the country) would like is to check the box that says No Thanks and allow us to go on our marry way.

Once again - if the idea is sound it doesn't require my participation to work so let me opt out.

Chad said...

BTW - what rousing defeat are you speaking of exactly?

Jon said...

I would enjoy discussing the various mistakes in the article you link to, but if you think voluntary participation is really the key, let's talk about that.

I don't think the notion of property rights is valid at all. In fact I think it's very much harmful to society. And if you go visit the sweat shops in Bangladesh or Foxconn in China I bet you'd find that most would agree with me. The idea that workers should do the work and hand over the fruits of their labor to someone else that hasn't made a single productive contribution, simply because he holds what he calls the deed, which he may have acquired through various immoral means, is unnatural. And harmful.

So what would you say if those workers just said they don't want to participate. They are going to make the shirts, underwear, and iPhones, but they aren't going to hand the fruits of their labor over to investors. Only the people that did the work required to create the phone (engineers, managers, production line workers, even the person that empties the trash bin at the factory) only they keep the money. And if the idea that we should have to send that money to Wall St is so great, I guess people will freely participate in that scheme. You agree with that? Property rights is something that shouldn't be enforced with the threat of violence, but should be something that people freely choose to participate in or not. Agreed?

Because this is your principle. Force shouldn't be involved. Want to join the SS system, that's fine, but no compulsion. Same for property rights?

Violence and the threat of it is the heart and soul of capitalism. It doesn't work without it. People don't naturally hand over what they've created to someone else that does none of the work. You have to have an infrastructure in place that compels people to do that, and that compulsion comes from the threat of violence. There's no opting out. Do you think people should be able to opt out? Should the workers take over the factory and nobody else should get involved, like police?

Jon said...

Oh, and I meant to say the rousing defeat was the government shut down. It's hurt Republicans politically and Democrats are emboldened. So they are pushing progressive ideas, like the expansion of Social Security, which probably wouldn't have happened in the prior political climate.

Chad said...

Workers have that ability today - they can quit and start their own company - bad example. There is no written contract forcing Americans to labor - they can sell their labor to the next bidder if the so choose. I can't control what happens in Bagledesh and neither can you, but you'll try. If the people there feel compelled to do that then they should, but I am not interested in some argument involving people half way around the globe in a third world country. If not for Captialism where would they be then? Just a place on a map with shoeless people sleeping on dirt I suspect.

Until I see an armed guard at Cintas holding workers in and forcing them to work then please bring a more valid example. The gun is now in Gov'ts hand.

I have no idea what argument your making about property rights, but many do opt out here by buying apartments or condos or living in RV's. If your argument is that Gov't should not be able to tax owned lands well then I certainly agree with you on that. School taxes should be based on the number of kids you send to school not by the size of the lot you own. Once again a not so subtle way to redistribute costs from one to another right there. 5 acres of land, 4,000 foot house, 1 child - $8,000/yr property taxes. Live in a section 8 house - send 3 kids to school - $0 direct property taxes.

I think you may want to re-evaluate the rousing defeat - as it stands today the Tea Party is looking more right every single day that this Obama Care mess rolls out and people are seeing it. It damn near cost the Left the Governors chair in Virginia for one - the tea party guy trailed by double digits weeks before and was outspent by Dems 10 to 1 - he got zero support from the GOP establishment, ran in a state that went to BHO twice and came damn close to beating him. Might want to lick your finger and stick it back up in the air my friend - the wind is blowing in a different direction. Not a single TP candidate is in jeopardy of losing their seat in the mid terms and by all accounts they look to ride the sails of this Obama Care mess and take a bunch more seats from the GOP and Dems. The TP candidates who supposedly 'shut down' the Gov't because of Obama Care are looking more like geniuses than goats - over 100 million can't keep their insurance and growing - I think you got it way wrong.

Jon said...

What if Wal-Mart workers take over the place. They just say that they aren't sending the money to the stock holders. They're spreading it out amongst the workers.

Sure, they could quit and start their own business. But I'm not talking about that. I'm saying that they take control of their stores, factories, distribution centers, etc. They can freely choose to send the fruits of their labor to stockholders if they want. And if that's such a great system, as you probably think, then they would, right? But if it's not so great they won't. They'll maintain control of the stores and just keep the money they produce. No force should be imposed on them compelling them to hand over money to non-workers. Right?

Chad said...

Seriously am not following - So they take over and what sell products on cash then disperse the money for that night? Management would close the store then arrest the workers probably for theft of fraud? Not following at all - they have a legal avenue to compete and or sell their labor - they have legal options. Me - I stop paying social security (at 6.2 freaking percent) oh and my employer also pays 6.2% and I go to jail or my bosses business is closed - no option.

Shift the discussion if you would like, but back to the point - I just want my 6.2% plus I will negotiate for a portion of my employers 6.2% and I will do much much much much more with that money than Gov't ever will do for me. I am not living my twilight years on the tiny soc sec money.

Chad said...

We're not talking about lawlessness here Jon - we are discussing a very bad program that I would like to opt out of. I would like to handle my personal finances personally including my retirement. I am not hurting anyone, I am not taking from anyone - I am simply asking for the ability to keep my 6.2% plus and either spend or invest as I see fit. After all it is my earnings.

BTW - its funny you keep on your war path against investors because they don't work. We all are guilty of using others labor - even you - your using computers from slave labor, you might draw up something but the labor pool puts it together, your paycheck is on the backof many many other people.

Jon said...

They just sell things like they normally do, but the money goes where it normally goes. But when it comes time to pay the Wal-Mart family heirs and other stock holders they just refuse. They hold the money and decide for themselves, as workers, how it's spent. Maybe they want to improve the business, maybe they want to compensate themselves more. Whatever, it's up to them.

Management doesn't have the power to arrest anybody. Your manager can't arrest you. So that wouldn't happen.

Yeah, they have other legal options. But legal does not mean moral or right. You are legally required to pay SS taxes, but you think it shouldn't be a legal requirement. You should be able to pay voluntarily. In the same way handing money over to the Wal-Mart heirs is a legal requirement, but shouldn't people be allowed to do that only if they choose, not be legally required to do it?

See, both SS and capitalist property relations legally require workers to hand over their earnings to the non-working. You think it should be voluntary, and I don't necessarily disagree. I just think we should be consistent. If you don't like compulsion, great. But don't compel workers to give away the fruits of their labor either.

Saying you could do much more with your money if the government allowed you to keep it is kind of like saying you could do a lot more with your money if you didn't have to pay the expenses of your children. Sure, you'd possibly end up richer. I'd be rich if I had no obligation to care for others that can't care for themselves. But then if I lose it all in the market and when I'm old I have nothing there will be young people earning money that perhaps are not as cruel as I was. They might give me some of what they earn so I can survive. That's how insurance works, and that's what SS is. If everything goes down the crapper this is a back up plan. Right now you and I pay so that others get some funding through their backup plan, and we expect that when we are old the young will do the same for us. That's how human societies have functioned forever. Those that can work take care of those that can't.

So to say if you decline you're not hurting anyone is false. Today's elderly paid already. They paid for those that were elderly when they were young. They did it with the expectation that you and I would pay for them. It was a good idea. It caused reductions in elderly homelessness and hunger immediately. Massive drops. So if you just say to the elderly today, the same elderly that was willing to sacrifice for the old when they were young, if you just say "Screw you, I'm keeping what is mine" yeah, it could make you richer, but you're still hurting them.

Chad said...

Why is it bad? Well lets discuss for 1 second.

Simple scenario - 25 year old starts working. Retires at 60 so 35 years of work. Average lifetime salary is $100,000 to make it easy.

Soc Security takes 6.2% from employee and 6.2% from employer - WHOA! How much will be there when they retire? Upper end in earnings so close to the max of $2,300 month (poop money) starting at what 66?

Same scenario except this person takes only 1.5% per year and the company puts in 1.5% year into an IRA. Which yields better results?

Also puts over $165k back in the pocket of the employee and puts back $165k over 35 years for the employer as well.

So why is it not a scam again?

Life expectancy is what 76 years old today - start pulling the measly $2,300/month out at 66 so on average the retiree will only pull out a fraction of what was put in at a huge cost to them and the employers over 35 years.

Its a horrible horrible plan.

Chad said...

So you would not object to companies who would stop paying pensions in your scenario - your no longer a producer when retired receiving checks on the labor of others so I suspect your okay with that as well then? You can't have it both ways - your not interested in competing with the Waltons so a hostile takeover is fine, but you want to retire after 30 years collect a pension, collect your social security and get free health care for the remainder of your life via other peoples labor and that works fine.

Chad said...

I don't understand Jon - if Social Security is healthy, fine and is a good program then all the dollars the elderly put into the pot should be there to pull out now right? My participation or lack there of should not matter since the program is solvent and those participating members have all agreed to the plan so are you saying that it is not currently solvent sir?

Now I am confused - because we hear from the Left all day long that Soc Sec is very healthy - no problems over here so I say again if I choose not to participate and I take control of my own retirement how am I hurting anyone? My grandfather had 37 years of his labor extracted, my dad 35 years - their money is already in there right?

Jon said...

Comparing SS to a savings plan is like comparing an airplane and a car. Do cars suck because they can never get you across the ocean? No. That's not the purpose of a car.

SS is not a savings plan. It's an insurance plan. You are paying so that you are guaranteed enough to survive even if your other savings efforts fail. To compare that to an investment account makes no sense.

As far as whether I can live with the consequences of a hostile takeover, for instance if workers decided they didn't want to pay pensions, let's back up before and focus on the question at hand first. You say SS should be voluntary. I'm OK with that, but only if other money transfers are voluntary, nameley the sending of money from the poor to the rich. What I see with you is that old double standard. Demanding with the threat of force that people pay SS is wrong. That's money that helps the poor. But demanding with the threat of force that people pay to the rich is OK. You have to pick your poison. You want freedom? Fine. Wal-Mart workers should be free to take over and run the company democratically. If you are going to oppose freedom for Wal-Mart workers then you are going to have to explain why you say forcing people to pay for others that aren't working is wrong. If it's wrong to do it to you why isn't it wrong to do it to Wal-Mart workers?

I don't understand Jon - if Social Security is healthy, fine and is a good program then all the dollars the elderly put into the pot should be there to pull out now right?

No. The money they put in is not there. What they paid went straight into the pockets of the people that were elderly at the time.

It's just like auto insurance. When you pay premiums you aren't putting money into a pot that will be there if you get into an accident. The premiums you pay today cover the costs of those that need help now. There's no pot of money. So if people just opt out then the insurance companies can't pay to cover the expenses of those that get injured today. And now if in the future you get injured there's nothing there to cover for you. So we mandate in the case of car insurance that everyone pays. We can't have people opting out because then when things do go wrong for them, even though they don't expect that it will, this is a large burden on the rest of society.

Chad said...

Simple answer - Wal Mart workers can take their labor elsewhere. They can demand more at Kroger or Best Buy depending on their skill level or they can collective gather all their money - buy a store that sells all the Wal Mart products and compete hence cutting off the pay to all those folks - they have that option today. I am all for that actually - from VP on down they could all leave - keep all their connections and in doing so basically do the same thing as your proposing - I am all for that - at least they have choices.

Thank you for finally proving that Soc Sec is not solvent and that it is a scam - the biggest scam in the history of scams. A pyramid scheme. So what happens when this generation of parasites come through the system Jon? Going to keep raising the tax burden more and more and more endlessly until there is no more to take?

It is a great comparison Jon - a great comparison because it simply outlines just how foolish the idea of social security really is - the idea of protecting 330 million souls from themselves at the cost of 6.2% employee and 6.2% employer is absurd when you can get better results in the private market with a 3% investment.

Car Insurance is your example? First - people can choose not to own a car - there is a choice.

Second - when your high risk, have accidents or tickets the end user pays more for insurance and or you can lose your insurance due to a lack of personal responsibility.

Third - car insurance is a for profit business so their duty extends beyond just coverage.

Jon said...

Yeah, I already said I know Wal-Mart workers can leave. But if we believe in freedom we believe they should also be allowed, if they choose, to stay where they are and keep the fruits of their labor.

I mean, you can opt out of SS by joining certain religious sects and being a pastor. Some religious groups have a moral objection to it and our government permits them to opt out. You can get out of it if you really want to. But the idea of freedom is that you can also keep what you are doing and opt out, and I'm asking you if it's the same for the Wal-Mart worker.

Yeah, people can choose to not own a car, and that's freedom. You're kind of repeating what you've already said about how you think SS should be voluntary. That's fine for me as long as you apply it consistently. Capitalism runs based on the threat of violence. Forcing people to hand over the fruits of their labor based on property rights, which are enforced with violence. If you don't like compulsion that's fine, but you have to apply that not just to wealth transfers to the poor but also to the rich.

Option 1 is freedom. You can stay at your current job and opt out of SS, and the Wal-Mart worker can stay at his current job and keep the money created instead of sending it to investors.

Option 2 is compulsion. If you stay at your job you must send money into the SS program. If the Wal-Mart worker stays at his job he must hand over the fruits of his labor to investors.

Which do you prefer? If you want to be consistent I think you have to choose either freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. You can't have freedom only for you where you prefer and compulsion for the poor.

Chad said...

They don't own Wal Mart - they are employed by them so I can not grasp what your saying at all to be honest - it makes no sense. If they want more from their labor they have ways to get that done.

Like my boss and I - we objected to the way our former company went to market, paid their employees and did business in general so we left. We took our labor and fruits - we got sued by our old company because they understood how much we knew and the threat we were/are to them - we won the lawsuit of course and we starting taking their customers.

Its a nice bumper sticker Jon - Capitalism runs on the threat of violence - but what are talking about? Be specific to the USA - be specific to what is happening right here and not some country thousands of miles away. Are all the Wal-Mart employees held a gun point to stock the shelves?

So we have a broken - poorly engineered program called Soc Sec - I can't opt out because the pyramid scheme is dependent on me and my son/daughter to pay for other peoples horrible ideas so my question is why continue feeding the monster and lets get moving to right the ship so future generations are not tied to such a train wreck. Instead of investing more - we should be figuring out ways to wind it down - take care of the ones who paid in and are dependent then reset this mess to an individual account.

See - I can be reasonable.

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