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Author Topic: No New Taxes! (The Impossible Budget).
shadowland
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quote:
Originally posted by Aerin:
Therefore: the people who didn't manage their affairs, didn't save, and voted for politicians who robbed the savings account in plain sight. It has to be someone. It should be them.

I think a valid argument could be made that people paying into Social Security were trying to manage their affairs and were saving. So that just leaves the group that voted for politicians who robbed the savings account in plain sight. Do you have a method of determining who specifically comprises this group?
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Destineer
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How about we instead let the burden fall on the people who can bear it easiest? What's so crazy about that idea?

ETA: This could be done by means-testing social security.

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Destineer
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quote:
We don't have to raise taxes. Instead, put old people on the same welfare system as everyone else, including children: if you are truly destitute, apply for welfare.
This might have worked before the Clinton-era welfare "reform." But now you can only take home five years of benefits total, and only two years at a stretch. So you'd have to retire exactly two years before you die.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Planning to die soon? Now's the time to retire! Still have plans for breathing? Get back to work!
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Aerin
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quote:
I think a valid argument could be made that people paying into Social Security were trying to manage their affairs and were saving.
No they weren't; they were paying payroll taxes. Paying taxes is not the same thing as saving. (President Bush actually floated the idea of putting the payroll taxes into accounts for each individual. It got shot down. Payroll taxes are straight up taxes still and as always.)

This is really, really basic stuff. Unless for the next lesson I have to explain that just because you have a credit card, that doesn't mean you have money.

------

So disability gets moved to the welfare system. If you can prove you are unable to perform work of any kind, then you can stay on food stamps and housing assistance and Medicaid and welfare.

People live much, much higher than they need to - there are roommates and multi-family houses. I know society is okay with asking people who don't have money to do that; we tell young people who can't afford to live alone to live with family or take on roommates now.

Don't want to seek out a Golden Girls setup when you're old? Then live in a smaller place now and SAVE.

[ August 04, 2011, 11:36 AM: Message edited by: Aerin ]

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Aerin
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Paying taxes is not the same as saving. It really isn't. Not even a little bit, and not in any shape or form.

The Supreme Court has ruled as such on multiple occasions. If social security dissapears, no one has legal standing to sue to reinstate based on having paid in.

That is absolutely, completely basic. If someone thinks paying social security is saving, then they don't understand the first thing about either saving or how the government runs. I'm completely serious.

ETA: The post I was responding to disappeared.

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shadowland
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Yeah, I deleted my post. I figured it wasn't worth it. That's all I have to say on the matter.
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Destineer
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quote:
So disability gets moved to the welfare system. If you can prove you are unable to perform work of any kind, then you can stay on food stamps and housing assistance and Medicaid and welfare.
Why make all these changes when the system we have will work fine, if we only pay social security to people who are actually in need?
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Aerin
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quote:
when the system we have will work fine, if we only pay social security to people who are actually in need?
Why have two systems? Talk about inefficiencies - there are two entirely different systems, and the difference is age. Fold in the old people into the general population, and then you help all the people in need, you don't get a pass on having to take care of yourself when you can because of a birthday.

That's what I really want - smash this artificial distinction between the old and in need and everyone else in need. We have socialized medicine: for old people. We have socialism in general: for old people. A quarter of American children live in poverty. Less then 7% of American old people live in poverty.

It is a shameless, tragic, generational money grab. It didn't start out that way, but it's that way now. Get rid of the myth that an extra birthday allows you to pick your grandchildren's pockets, and let's treat all disabled and destitute the same (decently. And if you don't want to live like that when you're old, then you'd better save.


The great, great advantage of living below your means now is that it blesses you twice: you can save more, and you HAVE to save less. It takes less to maintain your lifestyle in retirement, because you are living on less. Good things all around.

Let's abandon the myth that present tightness is more important than saving for retirement. Saving for retirement should come off the TOP - and then figure out what kind of lifestyle you can afford on what's left.

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Mucus
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It seems to me that means-testing social security is kinda backward when you think about the normal reason for cutting high marginal taxes.

The normal conservative explanation for why higher taxes on higher tax brackets should be avoided is that it discourages those that can make additional money from actually working. With less of an monetary incentive to produce, they would just sit on their proverbial asses.

Now consider a person that is approaching retirement, they have the option of saving up or simply relying on social security. However, if they save up, then due to means-testing, they won't get social security and to add insult to injury, they'll get taxed on the investment income from their saving as well. Instead, it is more rational to not save and avoid the tax.

So it seems to me that means-testing social security is probably counter-productive.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Regardless of what the courts ruled or your assertion that "it's basic"...social security is presented as a way to save for retirement...you pay in, you get paid. I don't think it is fair to say to all those old people, "Thanks for all your decades of money, you get -nothing- back!" Robbing their grandkids pocket's indeed!
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Destineer
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quote:
Why have two systems?
Well, because it's politically impossible in the current climate to pass any expansion of welfare or similar benefits for the poor. In particular, if we were to try repealing the 90s welfare "reform" (which would be necessary if welfare was going to provide security to poor retirees), we would get exactly nowhere. In today's atmosphere even Democrats wouldn't be willing to back up such a plan.

I'm not even sure it's politically possible to institute a social-security means test.

Mucus, good point. I don't know how to answer it, but I suspect that fugu (who was also in favor of means-testing last time I checked) would have a good answer.

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Aerin
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quote:
Now consider a person that is approaching retirement, they have the option of saving up or simply relying on social security. However, if they save up, then due to means-testing, they won't get social security and to add insult to injury, they'll get taxed on the investment income from their saving as well. Instead, it is more rational to not save and avoid the tax.

So it seems to me that means-testing social security is probably counter-productive.

This I agree with. There are serious problems with means-testing social security.

That's why social security shouldn't be the way to secure a middle-class retirement. In fact, retirement shouldn't be funded by the government at all.

If you get a middle class retirement either way, it is WAY more sensible as a middle class person to spend all you've got and then claim you need social security because you're broke.

If, instead, you don't promise a middle class retirement and instead put destitute old people in with destitute all other people, then it makes sense to save. In order to get a middle class retirement, you have to save for it. You don't get one handed to you, funded by your (or someone else's) grandchildren, who have to live with roommates or put off forming their own families because of the burdens of keeping old people in a 3-bedroom house for thirty years.


---

Stone_Wolf, that payroll taxes been used for almost thirty years to pay for general items is not a secret. I knew it, as a teenager. There's no getting around that this is a sad situation. It would be lovely to stay on Love Boat when it comes to social security. However, the ride is over. Defunding infrastructure and education and jacking up taxes in order to pay for middle class lifestyles for old people who didn't save isn't made okay just because no one says what is is out loud.

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Aerin
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quote:
Well, because it's politically impossible
Soon, very soon, funding inefficiencie is going to be politically impossible. When it is, that's the way to tack: treat poor old people like poor other people, and middle class old people like middle class other people.

Of course, the other way to do this is to put EVERYONE on social security and Medicare. That will make very obvious that it isn't possible to support a middle class lifestyle for an entire nation on credit, and then the serious changes WILL be made to remove the illusion that's the ponzi scheme is okay.

I also think that would be absolutely fantastic because it infuriates and appalls me that old people get socialized medicine and children don't. Why the HECK aren't children on Medicare? Why is it okay to say old people matter and children don't? Why is the proportion of children in poverty five times the proportion of old people? Despite the sob stories that appear every time someone mentions delicately that money doesn't grow on trees, children stil clearly get the shaft. The current system is robbing children so many ways I am losing count: no socialized medicine, defunded infrastructure and schools, higher taxes, cripplingly expensive college tuition, and poorer benefits promised. While their grandparents shine their no-debt-needed diplomas in an empty 3-bedroom house they can afford because they started getting government checks on their 65th birthday, despite their assets.

But kids don't vote. Who cares if they suffer.

[ August 04, 2011, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: Aerin ]

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Destineer
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Well, until then -- until after welfare is redesigned to accommodate the tide of needy elderly -- let's keep social security around. Does that sound prudent?
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Destineer
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I like the idea of putting everyone on Medicare! The difference is, I think it would work out great.
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Aerin
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Not financially. Which is the way we are all talking about.

If you ignore the money aspect, you can do whatever you want. Checks for everybody!

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Aerin
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
I like the idea of putting everyone on Medicare! The difference is, I think it would work out great.

What difference?

I don't care if adults are on Medicare or not. I absolutely want children on Medicare, though. Adults can get a job. Kids can't.

If you are taking a stab at me, then you aren't paying attention to what I think about health care in general. That's fine that you don't know. It is not fine that you speak as if you do.

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Destineer
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We'll see. As has been pointed out ad nauseum (or at least, until I for one want to puke) the Canadian and European health systems work out fine.
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Destineer
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I know that you actually do want guaranteed health care for children. I don't know if we've talked about this before, but I've certainly seen you talk about it.
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Aerin
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The "not financially" was directed at the Social Security comment, about whether keeping that status quo was prudent.
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Destineer
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I see, thanks for the clarification.

I think you have to balance financial prudence with humanitarian concerns. Ditching SS entirely right now would ruin a lot of lives. It's just not moral to leave the elderly poor with no recourse (except maybe for two years, if they haven't already used up their lifetime welfare benefits).

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SenojRetep
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Some (rough) quantitative information on means testing SS and Medicare:

The Peterson Foundation sponsored a "Fiscal Summit", essentially a budget writing contest. They got representatives of six different think tanks to submit proposed budgets.

One of the organizations to submit a budget was the Heritage Foundation. Their proposed budget included a means test on both Medicare and Social Security, decreasing benefits to retirees with individual non-Social Security incomes in the $55-110K range, and eliminating them for those making more. This would limit benefits for an estimated 9% of retirees and eliminate them for about 3.5%. The estimated result (not taking into consideration the sort of strategic decisions that Mucus pointed out) is a budget difference of about 1.5% of GDP (or about $200B/year).

My point is that, while there seems to be some level of consensus across the political spectrum that means testing is a good idea, it's at best only a part of a comprehensive budget solution.

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kmbboots
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Aerin, I think that your idea of who is helped by social security is a tad distorted.

For example:

My parents both worked their whole lives with a 10 year gap for my mother when she had small children. She went back to work as soon as the youngest was in school. We did not live in a fancy house - everyone shared a room with at least one sibling. We had enough to eat but it was pretty plain and we all wore hand me downs and clothes my mother and grandmother made. And clothes from thrift stores. My mother is a thrift store goddess. We did not go on family vacations and we only had one car. My brother was born with a serious heart problem and his medical bills pretty much wiped out what they had saved. The rest of us had some medical bills, too. My mom needed dental work but went without. All of us kids worked as soon as we were old enough - babysitting or yard work and then "real" jobs once it was legal.

My dad slipped and hurt his back at work and got fired (which wasn't legal but the company could afford a better lawyer). Dad was flat on his back for about 18 months and (although he made a little money doing phone sales) that pretty much killed those savings.

My parents are in their mid-70s and both still work full time. Jobs for people their age, though, don't pay so well. With social security plus what they earn, they can afford to live together in a small apartment. Medicare made it possible for my dad to get treatment when he recently broke his arm just below the shoulder, get a pacemaker which is saving his life, and get his diabetes medication.

I suppose that after 47 years of marriage, we could split them up among my sisters. One has a fold out sofa and my nephews could give up the bedroom they share. Taking on the debt for their medical care would wipe out the savings that my siblings and I have built up. Let's hope we don't have any bills of our own!

And my family is better off than most. The implication that my parents are money grubbing thieves, just waiting to drain the blood of their grandchildren is beginning to piss me off.

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Aerin
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Quintupling taxes on the young generation now in order to pay for an older generation who doesn't want to double up with family pisses me off. When that becomes financially impossible, saying the answer is to increase taxes even more pisses me off.

See, sob stories. No plans, no mention of the nephews' gutted future, no vision, no reforms, no mention of money. Just more sob stories and putting a hand out crying for it to be filled. I get the sob stories. I'm aware of them. But if you want to talk about the system, you have to talk about money. Sob stories aren't enough, and they aren't a rebuttal to the viscious truth that social security is broke and it was a ponzi scheme all along.

I actually think it is okay to have to spend down savings before receiving government assistance. I completely believe in government assistance when it is needed, but it isn't needed until you tap the family and personal savings reserves first. I bet if you redirect the mortgage/rent for the house being paid now, you could add a room onto one of the children's houses for your parents - a room and a kitchenette, even. It won't be fun, but none of this is fun. For anyone.

My father is older as well and he'll be working until the sun sets. His goal is to get his hours down to 40 hours a week before his 70th birthday. The difference is that an enormous chunk of what he makes as a should-be-retired will be taken from him.

quote:
I think you have to balance financial prudence with humanitarian concerns. Ditching SS entirely right now would ruin a lot of lives. It's just not moral to leave the elderly poor with no recourse (except maybe for two years, if they haven't already used up their lifetime welfare benefits).
I agree. I honestly believe that the bill to banish social security would include a provision to expand the period for which people qualify for welfare to cover those who are unable to work and will not become so (short of the fountain of youth). (The reason the welfare reform was even possible was because the disabled don't do welfare - they recieve social security. There's no way SS would be abolished without that being taken care of.)
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kmbboots
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What house are you suggesting they mortage/rent? What savings? What savings they did have were eaten up by medical bills and that's with Medicare.

My point is not to make anyone feel sorry for my parents. They are fine. My point is that the are better off than most and that narrow edge of "fine" is possible because of Medicare and Social Security both of which they have been paying into for 60 years.

What do you suggest for the elderly who have no children to support them?

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Stone_Wolf_
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Please address that these people paid into a retirement insurance plan all their lives and it is vastly unfair to take away their fully paid for benefits.
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Aerin
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They paid into a retirement insurance plan while simultaneously cashing out that retirement insurance plan. That means it's now empty. That does suck, but it is not unfair.

If you buy a house, pay the mortgage, and then open a home equity line of credit and spend the value of your house, then it doesn't matter that you paid your first mortgage. Not when you took out a second and spent it.

If you save once, then you can spend it once. The SS fund was spent at the same time it was being filled.

It's like a life insurance plan: if you cash out the life insurance plan, then you don't get a life insurance payment at the end. You already got the money. It's been spent. You can be mad at your own bad money management, but you can't be mad that it isn't fair. It is fair.

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Aerin
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quote:
What do you suggest for the elderly who have no children to support them?
food stamps + Medicaid + housing assistance + welfare

The same resources that exist for the non-elderly who have no one to support them.

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Stone_Wolf_
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That house analogy is so very flawed...it's more like, you paid for your mortgage, but the bank took your payments and used them to pay out their debts, and then took your house saying, sorry, we are out of money, if you really wanted to keep your house, you should have saved up and been ready for us to take it and give us more money for it.
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Aerin
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Nope. The same Congress that promised future benefits and took your money is the Congress that spent it on other things. In your analogy, the bank isn't elected. Congress was - over and over, and re-elected and re-elected, all while spending away the Social Security fund, which is now as empty as the Weasley's vault.

If Congress can't be trusted or relied on and don't count, then their promises of retirement funding don't count either. Either they were the money managers or they weren't (they were), and what they did they did in public. With the public's consent and affirmation.

Money's gone and the promises aren't legally binding. Supreme Court agrees.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I addressed this half a page up...I don't give a rip about legality. It is wrong, ethically. And when you say stuff like:
quote:
Just more sob stories and putting a hand out crying for it to be filled.
...you are even more wrong.

These people paid in good faith, their whole lives. Just because the system is flawed and self serving doesn't mean that the expectation of our government paying out what it agreed to pay out after taking people's money makes these people worthy of your disdain.

Your attitude more then your view point is aggravating and inappropriate.

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Aerin
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I GET that it is sad. There is absolutely no question that more need than money to fill it is sad.

The question is not how to eliminate need. The question is who feels it most. Every "but we promised!" statement ends with "and so we will take everything we want from the youngest generation, despite the suffering it's causing them!"

If you don't want the last half of that sentence, don't say the first. The fact is that the fund is empty, and if you act like it isn't, then you taking resources from young people, who will suffer as a result. Unacceptable.

And if someone is relying on social security for retirement, that wouldn't work even if the fund wasn't empty. It was never meant to be a sole source of income - who doesn't save for retirement? If you don't save, you are saying you WANT to work for the rest of your life. Bad money management, even if it wasn't accompanied by a "sure, spend all my savings now" nod at the voting booth.

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kmbboots
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I suppose it is time for me to recognize the futility of trying to teach empathy (for anyone other than heiresses) to Aerin.

Maybe you will learn it on your own someday. With any luck, you will get old, too.

We can take care of our poor children without casting off our poor elderly, we just need to shift the burden of that onto those who can most afford it. Our problem is not that there isn't enough; our problem is in how we distribute what there is.

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natural_mystic
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quote:
Originally posted by Aerin:
Soon, very soon, funding inefficiencie is going to be politically impossible. When it is, that's the way to tack: treat poor old people like poor other people, and middle class old people like middle class other people.

Of course, the other way to do this is to put EVERYONE on social security and Medicare. That will make very obvious that it isn't possible to support a middle class lifestyle for an entire nation on credit, and then the serious changes WILL be made to remove the illusion that's the ponzi scheme is okay.

1. Old people aren't just like their class counterparts in that they are far more likely to suffer from disabilities and, in the event that they are out of work, there is a documented bias against hiring them. Given that they probably can't find a job anyway, giving them greater support does not have the effect of inducing otherwise-employable people to remain unemployed.

2. My understanding is the SS is not enough to support a middle class lifestyle. Or do we have a different definition of middle class?

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
These people paid in good faith, their whole lives.

I'm in a different country, so I don't have a dog in this fight. However, I don't think you can cleanly separate the government from the people, after all, it is a "government *of* the people, *by* the people." If the government blew the money, the people blew the money too.

You can make the case that the people in this case told themselves self-serving lies (and many people IRL do), but I don't think one can neatly shift the fault away from people to the government as if they are two totally independent groups.

(Note: I'm deliberately not commenting on whether social policy should take into account who is "at fault")

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Stone_Wolf_
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So, Mucus, by your statements you are implying that average citizens should monitor federal spending and then, once it's clear to these average citizens that their elected officials are spending too much to the point that their SSI benefits are gone, they should stop the federal government's over spending?

How exactly was that supposed to work?

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Aerin
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Oh, please, kmboots, don't insult me by pretending that because you are clearly bad with understanding money, that means you have more empathy. I have tons of empathy. That means I don't support too-expensive programs that jack up our economy and impoverish the future in favor of taking care of those too good to ask family for help.

If you want to impress me with something, try showing a smidgeon of competence in money management. If all you want is credit for empathy, then knock yourself out and hope your landlord will accept EmpathyBucks.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
How exactly was that supposed to work?

These are *elected* officials, are they not?
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Stone_Wolf_
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Boots: I highly advise against responding to kat's above post...she's way off and anything you say (while justified) will only make things worse. Let it go, she doesn't get it.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Mucus: Sure, so we impeach them? And then what, call for their spending to be reversed? And then have emergency reelections?

Unrealistic beyond measure.

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Aerin
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The House sets the budget. Every single member of the House is up for relection every two years.

There is, in fact, a way of showing displeasure over bad money management. People simply didn't.

---

That is, in fact, why the House initiates budget bills. If it has to do with money, it comes from the House. It doesn't take an impeachment to replace a House member - the first time the House raided the SS fund, there should have been an outrage and the authors of the bill and all those who voted for it should have been replaced at the next election. The next year's budget would NOT have had the same provision, I guarantee.

Democracy is ANNOYING. You have to PAY ATTENTION. It's HARD. No kidding. In exchange for a "do whatever - I don't care" attitude, voters are getting the just rewards of that. "We did whatever. Money's gone. You didn't mind at the time."

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kmbboots
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Bad policy is not grounds for impeachment. And, sadly, the wealthy have a disproportional say in both who gets elected (campaign finances) and what they do once they get elected (lobbyists and more campaign donations).
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Aerin
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Every two years there is an election. For all the whining about who gets what campaign donations, reps still need the votes. There are more middle class and poor than wealthy. They should have voted accordingly.

They didn't.

"It's not our fault" doesn't work in our country. Good for us. Rather...just and fair for us. We get the government we deserve. A government that spent their retirement before they made it there is exactly the government apathetic bad money managers deserve.

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Stone_Wolf_
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You don't actually know the definition of the word empathy do you?
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Aerin
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Apparently you think it means "bad with money" and "believes in the power of wishful thinking".

Sad commentary aside, insulting me won't reverse the financial habits American's let Congress get away with for the last thirty years.

If you have a plan for spending money that has already been spent, I'm all for it. Otherwise, your plan is to spend the younger generations' money.

I know you're just insulting me because you're angry, can't understand the money situation, and you're losing the argument, but you should still knock it off.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I'm not angry or insulting...you can still have the same opinion of the financial situation and be nice about it...show some empathy...as I said before, it's not your beliefs that rankle, it's your attitude.
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Aerin
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I'm wrinkling my forehead as I write.

I actually find this demand to be more "empathic" more than a little sexist. Because I talk about money, that means I'm broken? Because I don't end every paragraph in tears, then I'm being rude? I have most certainly expressed sadness at the present situation on multiple occasions, but the response to my very clear and cogent point that the money has been spent already is "be more sad about it!"

Quit demanding I weep and wail incoherently before bestowing your worthless approval.

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Stone_Wolf_
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[Smile]
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kmbboots
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How is empathy sexist? Why do you think that we took money out of the social security "pot" but can't put money into it? There is a lot of money in this country, just not in the right places.
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