Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cartoon of the Day


31 Comments:

At 12/20/2008 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sad part is that it's true

 
At 12/20/2008 11:35 AM, Blogger Machiavelli said...

Here we go again. Mark takes a complex issue and twists it around to appeal to people's ideological side instead of the critical thinking side. I quote the Economist's Free Exchange blog:

"WANT to hear the joke of the week? Here it is—let's make Bernie Madoff Social Security commissioner! Get it? Because Social Security is kind of like a Ponzi scheme, except that no one is being unwittingly suckered into a con game and the government has the power to change benefits and compel increased tax contributions, and economic growth rates might mean that it's actually not a Ponzi scheme."

I would also add that a well functioning social security and welfare scheme makes people less nervous about their future, thereby lessening the chance that a society has an extremely high savings rate, which is just as bad as a very low one.

 
At 12/20/2008 1:58 PM, Blogger SBVOR said...

Machiavelli,

Unlike Social [in]Security, no investor was required, by force of law, to “invest” in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Not only is Social [in]Security a CLASSIC Ponzi Scheme, it is orders of magnitude MORE EVIL than Madoff’s Ponzi scheme!

If you want to explore the quantitative facts on this Ponzi scheme, click here for my post which cites, among other sources, this CBO report.

Yes, the Welfare State has eliminated ANY incentive to save. And, the decline in personal savings has directly paralleled the rise of the Welfare State and the Entitlement Nation. And, you think that is a GOOD THING? Are you JOKING?

I find it tragically amusing that you so-called “Liberals” so frequently hide behind the false assertion that you understand complexities that are beyond what you falsely believe to be the simple minds of those who are light years ahead of your own simpleton capacities.

News Flash: Just because PBS and NPR tell you you’re smart, don’t make it so! But, exclusively consuming the propaganda from PBS, NPR, NYT, et al, WILL (whether you know it or not) make you well indoctrinated in the Marxist ideology.

 
At 12/20/2008 2:56 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

Machiavelli, with all due respect, none of those argument you present hold water. I sincerely hope that they are not your idea of 'critical thought'.

No one is unwittingly suckered into the con game? Do you really want to go there?

The substantial difference between S.S. and Madoff in this regard is that S.S. can and does force people to participate. That's hardly a shining star for it.

Next, that the government can change the benefits doesn't at all change its Ponzi nature. The government can do so because of the point above, 'investors' are forced to participate. Again, hardly a point in favor of S.S.

And the last part of the quote is really too much. It's like saying, "because a leach doesn't kill its host it's not really a leach."

S.S. does nothing to contribute to a growing economy, it is a simply a transfer of money.

Yes, a well functioning social security system might make people less nervous about their future. Maybe. It's possible. Could be.

It's fun to speculate though, isn't it? Let's speculate some more. Maybe S.S. makes for fewer jobs. It is, after all, a tax on labor.

 
At 12/20/2008 3:13 PM, Blogger Michael Smith said...

I would also add that a well functioning social security and welfare scheme makes people less nervous about their future, thereby lessening the chance that a society has an extremely high savings rate, which is just as bad as a very low one.

Regarding “social security”: Nothing whatsoever justifies the notion that the government has a right to confiscate an arbitrarily determined percentage of my earnings -- and confiscate a matching amount of money from my employers -- and continue this confiscation throughout my working life, spending my and my employer’s money as it sees fit -- until I reach an arbitrarily determined age at which point in time an arbitrarily determined amount of some other worker's and employer’s earnings will be confiscated and turned over to me every month until my death -- with the arbitrarily determined amounts of confiscated money and the arbitrarily determined age subject to being changed at the whim of each gathering of legislators that the voters of America may elect.

Regarding a “welfare scheme”: Nothing whatsoever justifies the notion that the misfortunes or mistakes or stupidity or irrationality or laziness or sloth or foolishness of some people should be paid for by other people -- others who had NO part in, NO influence over and NO control of the misfortunes, mistakes, stupidity, irrationality, laziness, sloth or foolishness of the people in question. Punishing one man for the consequences of the actions of another man is the very definition of INJUSTICE.

No hypothetical “optimal” savings rate justifies the massive violation of individual rights and the gross injustice perpetuated by these two wealth-destroying schemes. The end does not justify the means.

 
At 12/20/2008 6:06 PM, Blogger SBVOR said...

Machiavelli sez:

“I would also add that a well functioning social security and welfare scheme makes people less nervous about their future”

Anybody whose response to the Social [in]Security system is to be “less nervous about their future” is ignorant, naïve and living in a fantasy world. In other words, they are, most likely, a registered Democrat.

Again, if you want to explore the quantitative facts on this S.S. Ponzi scheme, click here for my post which cites, among other sources, this CBO report.

The FACT is that Social [in]Security is part of the “Big Three” set of entitlement schemes which already have this country, and ALL its citizens, on the road to perdition.

With Obama and his Dim Congress promising MASSIVE expansions in welfare and entitlements (not to mention Obama’s economy killing climate change insanity), any rational and educated person would most certainly NOT be “less nervous about their future”!

Personally, between Paulson, Obama, Reid and Pelosi, I think historians will look back on 2008 as the last nails in the coffin of the great American experiment. It will take some time before the coffin is laid in the ground. But, the patient is already terminally ill and the majority of her citizens are already hopelessly indoctrinated into demanding more of the entitlement (and religious cult) poison that is killing them.

Welcome to the suicide cult Jonestown Nation!

 
At 12/20/2008 7:01 PM, Anonymous LoneSnark said...

I see where everyone is disagreeing. To Machiavelli the important aspect of a ponzi scheme is its eventual collapse, as if it did good deeds until the day the bank closed.

Meanwhile, everyone else seems to not care whether it collapses or not, they are upset that money is moving from late investors to early investors with dead-weight losses to society.

As such, the fact that SS by force of law is incapable of collapsing makes it agreeable to Machiavelli, but not to everyone else.

Therefore, giving Ponzi the right to force future investors, cut payments to past investors, and make it all public, would have made Ponzi's banking operating agreeable to Machiavelli's sensibilities.

 
At 12/20/2008 7:17 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

Lone Snark,

Exactly. Well put.

If Madoff could have done those things he'd still be in business.

But he couldn't. For an investment scheme to continue to keep operating, unlike S.S., it has to produce wealth.

Which is what makes the last part of the quote provided by Machiavelli so ludicrous.

 
At 12/21/2008 6:43 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli said...

God damn it, I am pissed that I missed this whole discussion.

Well, if anyone is still "listening":

First of all, I am not arguing that Social Security provides any direct growth benefits. I understand that its simply a transfer of wealth. But its purpose is to provide "Social Security" and to some extent it does do that. Let me remind you that Social Security is not simply a public pensions program but a disability benefits program as well.

Second of all, there is nothing special about the United States having a public pensions program. Almost all of the developed countries and many of the developing ones have public pensions programs as well. All have grown vibrantly despite having these programs.

I really wanted to respond to the ridiculous Michael Smith argument. It is the usual libertarian argument of "What right does government have to do [fill in the blank here]?" Well, what right does government have to do anything at all? What right does the police have to search your house or pull you over on the street? And before you start saying that police force is somehow different, I am not sure that it is. The police force does not directly provide any economic growth, we all pay for it collectively with our taxes, it can be as corrupt and even more corrupt than a welfare scheme. There are many more stories of corrupt police forces then corrupt public pension offices. In fact, the power the police force has to disrupt economic growth is much more significant than some welfare scheme. And yet, outside for some anarchists, we all agree a police force is necessary because the "social security" it provides have some clear indirect benefits to economic growth.

Oh and Michael to your statement:

"Nothing whatsoever justifies the notion that the government has a right to confiscate an arbitrarily determined percentage of my earnings..."

Yes it does. Read the 16th amendment. Its there in clear and simple English.

Now, for the more detailed explanation of why Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. First of all, it does not pretend to offer its investors any returns. It is not opaque, in fact debate is constant about what needs to be done to make the system sustainable because information about it is easily available. Also, it is in fact very easy to make the system sustainable forever. Simply, determine the ratio of pensioners to working population to make the amount of funds in be equal to the amount of funds out and adjust the retirement age to maintain the ratio. The only thing prevents policymakers from doing just that is politics.

 
At 12/21/2008 10:01 PM, Anonymous Ralph Short said...

Machiavelli, the problem with your "solution" is the ratio is going in one direction which is a higher number of retirees to workers. This change is basically going in the direction of an upside down pyramid and all of us know that will not work.

I agree with you it is all about politics but that tells the story doesn't it? It is about votes and therefore if the demographics show an increase in retirees (or disabled) relative to workers then politicians will confiscate earnings to obtain votes.

The system is a ponzi scheme partly because just like the stupid investors victimized by Madoff there are millions of stupid voters who have no idea what is happening. What the hell is the difference.

By the way, I am one of those on SS so I have no axe to grind here except to say it should be self sustaining, not dependent on welfare from the next generation or two.

Try to convince your democratic colleagues of that.

 
At 12/22/2008 4:59 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"Here we go again. Mark takes a complex issue and twists it around to appeal to people's ideological side instead of the critical thinking side"...

Ahhh mach there is NOTHING complex about the Ponzi scam known as Social Security, not one little thing...

"But its purpose is to provide "Social Security" and to some extent it does do that. Let me remind you that Social Security is not simply a public pensions program but a disability benefits program as well"...

So this is the method you

BTW mach, what part of the the Constitution mandates federal interference into the retirement game? Is it in the Bill of Rights maybe? Is there an amendment regarding Social Security?

"except that no one is being unwittingly suckered into a con game and the government has the power to change benefits and compel increased tax contributions, and economic growth rates might mean that it's actually not a Ponzi scheme"...

On what planet and in what galaxy is this the case?

"I would also add that a well functioning social security and welfare scheme makes people less nervous about their future"...

So people are happiest when they are being suckered and extorted from?!?!

From the Cato Institute back in '99 and still true today: Just like Ponzi's plan, Social Security does not make any real investments -- it just takes money from later "investors," or taxpayers, to pay benefits to earlier, now retired, taxpayers. Like Ponzi, Social Security will not be able to recruit new "investors" fast enough to continue paying promised benefits to previous investors. Because each year there are fewer young workers relative to the number of retirees, Social Security will eventually collapse, just like Ponzi's scheme...

"Almost all of the developed countries and many of the developing ones have public pensions programs as well. All have grown vibrantly despite having these programs"...

Hmmm, give us an example of just how vibrant one of these countries are supposedly...

What you are spewing mach is pure, unadulterated socialism...

 
At 12/22/2008 5:30 PM, Blogger 1 said...

The Cato Institute's Michael Tanner informs us of the following: Lifting Payroll Tax Cap Won't Save Social Security

Now, opponents of President Bush’s proposals for Social security reform have ruled out changes in benefits or private investment through personal accounts, their alternative is starting to emerge. It is the largest tax increase in American history.

Currently only the first $90,000 of wages is subject to the payroll tax. Opponents of the president’s plan for personal accounts argue that Social security’s looming financial problems could be fixed if that cap were raised or eliminated. But, while soaking the rich may be a politically popular approach, the reality is that this enormous tax hike would seriously damage the U.S. economy while doing very little to save Social Security.

Eliminating the cap on payroll taxes would be, by far, the biggest tax hike in U.S. history, more than $1.3 trillion in new taxes over the first 10 years alone. As bad as that would be in the aggregate, it would be even worse for individual workers. A worker earning $100,000 per year would pay $1,240 more in taxes each year.

 
At 12/22/2008 7:06 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

"BTW mach, what part of the the Constitution mandates federal interference into the retirement game? Is it in the Bill of Rights maybe? Is there an amendment regarding Social Security?"

Well the 16th amendment allows for government to tax personal earnings and it can do with it what it wants, like setup a public pensions program.

As I wrote previously, the only problem with Social Security is that when it came into being a small percentage of the population lived far beyond the retirement age. Now many people do. So, all that has to be done to keep they system sustainable is to gradually push back the retirement age to 70 or maybe even farther depending on the numbers.

But unlike Ponzi's scheme it does not pretend to make investments. Also, it does not have to find new investors to pay out the old because it can change the retirement age to maintain the balance between money in to money out. I will grant you that it sometimes becomes politically difficult to do this, but it doesn't mean it can't be done.

"Hmmm, give us an example of just how vibrant one of these countries are supposedly..."

Are you implying that world has had no growth since these public pension systems went into effect?

 
At 12/22/2008 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent cartoon. The greatest Ponzi scheme was, is and will ever be - Social Security and its creator, socialist FDR...

 
At 12/22/2008 7:44 PM, Blogger 1 said...

mach says: "Well the 16th amendment allows for government to tax personal earnings and it can do with it what it wants, like setup a public pensions program"...

As is getting to be your habit mach you are wrong again...

Maybe you should reread Article One, Section Eight again...

"So, all that has to be done to keep they system sustainable is to gradually push back the retirement age to 70 or maybe even farther depending on the numbers"...

I have a much better idea, let's just dump that whole socialist scam since we can't even begin to afford it now matter what sort of silly tricks you want to see done...

Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That's nearly $500,000 per household...

"Are you implying that world has had no growth since these public pension systems went into effect?"...

Yes, I'm pretty much calling the countries that rely on socialistic methods pretty stagnant...

 
At 12/22/2008 9:30 PM, Anonymous Mika said...

Weren't all these schemes (Ponzi, Social Security, and even Amway) based upon the assumption that perpetually growing participation, resulting in growing contributions, would always cover the payouts? Perhaps all
(mayby not Ponzi) were well-intentioned, if naive? During the early decades when benefactors didn't live as long and when the contributions matched the payouts, was not social security fiscally solvent?

Workers who collect SS benefits simply feel that they are now being repaid all of those thousands of dollars taken out of their paychecks over the years, i.e. simply a mandatory savings account.

Naive, yes, but perhaps assigning nefarious intentions is cynical,
unsupported, and not responsible.

* * *

Objective thinkers don't put much stock in propaganda from the likes of "think tanks" or "institutes" are are more interested in promoting an ideology than the pursuit of truth and wisdom.

 
At 12/23/2008 9:20 AM, Blogger 1 said...

Speaking of naive: "Workers who collect SS benefits simply feel that they are now being repaid all of those thousands of dollars taken out of their paychecks over the years, i.e. simply a mandatory savings account"...

ROFLMAO!

Thanks for that...

Consider taking a good hard look at the Constitution, especially Article One, Section Eight...

You should also consider taking look at the socialist FDR

 
At 12/23/2008 11:05 AM, Blogger Lunatique Asylum said...

Social Security and Madoff do have one thing in common that we can all surely all agree on. They both predominantly targeted specific racial and/or ethnic groups. Madoff mainly preyed on Jews, Social Security preys on blacks.

 
At 12/23/2008 1:23 PM, Anonymous Mika said...

(1) I - and most of my countrymen - are very glad to have had that mandatory savings account. I - and most of them - were not able to save enough on our own. Truth is, despite silly ideological rantings - SS has been a very good thing for most.

(2) Got news for ya: Calling someone a socialist doesn't make him one.

(3) And, L Asylum, "Social Security preys on blacks". Huh? Uh, I think the preponderance of the benefits goes to old white guys and me thinks you know that too.

(4) If it violated the Constitution, it wouldn't still exist.

 
At 12/23/2008 2:05 PM, Blogger Lunatique Asylum said...

My point exactly Mika. If any group should be incensed by SS it should be black American men.

The life expectancy of black US males is lower than for the general male population, i.e., they pay into social security for their entire working careers, then often die right around the time that the ponzi scheme is meant to kick in, i.e., and often get nothing back in return for those confiscated wages over the years.

Get it? As a group the rate of 'contribution' is disproportionally greater than their rate of 'withdrawal'. Does that seem fair to you?

 
At 12/23/2008 8:55 PM, Anonymous Mika said...

Ah, L.A, I understand your point. Well taken. . . . but isn't that more of a health/life style inequity problem, rather than a social security problem? The solution is equity in nutrition, quality of life, and health care. . . . Ha, some would even dare say it suggests a need for some kind of national health program, but that's for another discussion.

 
At 12/23/2008 9:06 PM, Blogger Lunatique Asylum said...

Mika

Whatever the reason, be it a higher incidence heart disease, pressure,sickle cell anemia, etc. in a specific population group, it's simply a fact that social security is inherently unfair to members of that group who die young.

If members of that group fully understood the statistic, and fully understood the ponzi scheme structure of SS, they would have to conclude that the SS money 'confiscated' from their paychecks would in all likelihood not go to them or their heirs, my guess is that they would become a little incensed.

 
At 12/25/2008 3:20 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> (1) I - and most of my countrymen - are very glad to have had that mandatory savings account. I - and most of them - were not able to save enough on our own. Truth is, despite silly ideological rantings - SS has been a very good thing for most.

"Have not been" is not the same as "Won't save".

I think that an argument for forced saving is within the bounds of reason. Using a Ponzi scheme to run it is ludicrously stupid.

A mandatory 401k, which allows you to put a varying percentage of your income into higher/lower risk items (i.e., when you're younger, you can get away with higher risk than older, since your errors will smooth out with time) would be paying out EVERYONE who was putting their SS deductions into it would pay out at FAR better rates than the existing SS system, which pays out at an average interest rate of something like a lame 1 percent.

It's easy to average 5% or more over a span of 40 years, even adjusted for inflation... and yes, that includes even the current downturn.

 
At 12/26/2008 12:22 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Uh, I think the preponderance of the benefits goes to old white guys and me thinks you know that too.

Actually, white women have the greatest life expectancy, while black men the lowest.

SS, as-is, is a tax on black men to pay for white women in their dotage.

 
At 12/26/2008 12:37 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> (4) If it violated the Constitution, it wouldn't still exist.

BWAaahhahahahhahahaa....
Yeah, 'cause Kelo v. City of New London doesn't deal with unContitutional taking of property.

The Bono Bill isn't a blatant ex-post facto extension of existing law, which is directly and inarguably unconstitutional by Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution and in state law by section 10... but hey, it MUST be constitutional, right?

Most, if not all, gun control laws aren't unConstitutional, either. "Hate Speech laws"? Clearly must be Constitutional.

Stopping you demanding to see your license, though you've committed no crime? A-OK.

Someone fleeing from police breaks into your home, and the cops run through after him, and stop chasing him adn arrest you on seeing something technically illegal which you are doing? No problems!!

You have waaaay too much faith in the system to protect you from very subtle but extremely real threats.

Most people have no idea what is in the Constitution, and even less idea what it does or how it does it. They certainly don't grasp the manner in which it uses interlocking checks and balances to restrict overweaning power grabs, and all too many are willing to sacrifice "this one area" towards some imagined, or even real, threat. And since no one really agrees on "this one area", the result is all the threads in the weave get weakened.

At some point, the fabric will tear itself to shreds.

And everyone will gasp and say "How did it happen? How did it all fall apart?" and "Well, it certainly wasn't MY fault!!"

 
At 12/26/2008 7:45 AM, Blogger Lunatique Asylum said...

Thanks OBloodyHell -

"SS, as-is, is a tax on black men to pay for white women in their dotage."

My original point precisely - but far more succinctly put! Thanks.

Once more, especially in the current climate of our national fixation on 'diversity' and 'equality for all', the mystery remains that members of the statistically lower life expectancy groups don't challenge the inherent unfairness of the SS system.

 
At 12/28/2008 7:37 PM, Anonymous Mika said...

Yeah, okay, so let's have the actuaries crunch the numbers to make it equitable. As a result, wouldn't conservatives love it if it were announced that henceforth Blacks only had to pay in 60% as much as whites?

 
At 12/28/2008 8:04 PM, Blogger Lunatique Asylum said...

[wouldn't conservatives love it if it were announced that henceforth Blacks only had to pay in 60% as much as whites? ]

Backwards! Liberals believe in the 60% solutions and inferiority theories.

Conservatives would love it if people got to manage their own money.

Man, Mika, you are sure good at developing some seriously contorted logic - By your reasoning Henry Ford would have been held liable for car accidents..

Happy New Year

 
At 1/09/2009 12:54 PM, Blogger Brendon said...

Hey folks. Let's just face it. We must all be a bunch of dim witted idiots who will never understand the 'complexities' that are reserved for the vastly superior liberal mind. Just as well we have these superior beings to save us from ourselves.

Funny though, all we want is to not have to depend on others for our security. We want to be accountable for our own risks, and eat the fruit of our own labour. If we are so stupid, I wonder why they are so scared we will succeed.

And, as they jump to point out our selfishness and lack of concern for those they coerce us to support; it's also funny that every survey shows us idiots to be far more generous than them. The last one I read had us at 100 times more likely to give of our own time and money!

 
At 1/09/2009 1:31 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

Funny though, all we want is to not have to depend on others for our security.

I have pointed this out many times on many threads, but this guy throws it right in my face. You actually think you don't depend on anyone else for security? Have you heard of the US Army or your local police force? Should we get rid of these institutions as well?

I mean both of those institutions have much more power than some welfare office and have much more power to disrupt the economy or alter it perverse ways and have much longer histories of corruption, but yet we still have a police force and an army. We even have fire departments. They are not even there to protect your from anyone else, but your own stupidity or bad luck. Should we get rid of the country's fire departments?

 
At 7/23/2009 2:41 PM, Blogger jeremy said...

Machiavelli, regarding this quote.

"Nothing whatsoever justifies the notion that the government has a right to confiscate an arbitrarily determined percentage of my earnings..."

Yes it does. Read the 16th amendment. Its there in clear and simple English.


You're a little bit mis-informed regarding the 16th amendment. Here's a Supreme Court quote for you.
"The provisions of the Sixteenth Amendment conferred no new power of taxation . . ."

United States Supreme Court, Stanton v. Baltic Mining Co., 240 U.S. 103 (1916)

The government did not have the power to tax an individuals income before the 16th Amendment, and it didn't afterwards. For the Supreme Court ruling on such.

"The legislative history merely shows... ...that the sole purpose of the Sixteenth Amendment was to remove the apportionment requirement for whichever incomes were otherwise taxable. 45 Cong. Rec. 2245-2246 (1910); id., at 2539; see also Brushaber v. Union Pacific R. Co., 240 U.S. 1, 17 -18 (1916)."

United States Supreme Court, South Carolina v. Baker, 485 U.S. 505 (1988)

For the truth on what can and cannot be taxed try reading up at http://www.losthorizons.com/tax/Misunderstandings/16thRatification.htm

I would also highly recommend reading the book "Cracking the Code"



To Mika -
(4) If it violated the Constitution, it wouldn't still exist.

That's a laughable argument at best. The Constitution is violated on a daily basis. The 1st amendment is twisted to mean whatever someone wants now. We can hav the press say whatever they want but churches can't?
The 2nd amendment states "shall not be infringed" yet there's thousands of gun laws on the books.
I can name a violation against every amendment we have, as well as most parts of the original Constitution. Does that mean that they just didn't happen because they are against the Constitution?


Back to Machiavelli -

You actually think you don't depend on anyone else for security? Have you heard of the US Army or your local police force? Should we get rid of these institutions as well?

For the most part, yes. The Constitution prohibits a standing Army, but how long has it been since we've not had one? We've all grown so accustomed to pouring billions into "defense" that we fail to realize that if we kept our nose out of every other companies business we wouldn't need the army to be the worlds police.

Also we don't need the police force we have. The police used to be "publice servants" but are now called "law enforcement" which is entirely different. It's not longer "to protect and to serve" but "to enforce and enslave"
They just keep writing more and more laws to take away more of our freedoms and keep us all "safe" by determining what we eat, how we eat it, what we smoke, where we live, etc and as long as it's not affecting you personally most people don't seem to care.

Regarding city/state owned fire departments... Yes, get rid of them. Let the citizens of those area's join into a voluntary agreement (consensual contract) with a private company offering fire suppression service and watch the operating costs plummet. Same can be said about almost every government institution. (Including schools)

 

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