Why the Democrats won’t Privatize Social Security

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 24th, 2013

Politics 101

FDR Transformed the Country because he had a Great Crisis to Exploit like the Great Depression

Once upon a time in a place that seems far, far away there was once a people that saved for retirement.  The savings rate was so high in this mystical land that businesses were able to borrow money at low interest rates to expand their business.  And there was great employment.  Then came an evil ogre who hated savings.  And responsible behavior.  He saw money saved as money leaked out of the economy.  Hurting economic activity.  His motto was spend don’t save.  And don’t worry about how you will take care of yourself in retirement.  So this evil ogre set out to destroy savings and responsible behavior.

That evil ogre’s name was John Maynard Keynes.  Who empowered governments with his inflationary monetary policies.  Allowing governments to spend a lot of money.  Giving them a lot of power.  By getting as many people dependent on the government as possible.  Keynes met with Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression.  To offer him ideas of how to spend his way out of the Great Depression.  FDR didn’t think much of Keynesian economics.  For he did try to maintain the gold standard.  But he loved spending money.  And getting people dependent on the government.

FDR gave us Big Government.  He did the things Woodrow Wilson wanted to do.  But Wilson couldn’t because he didn’t have a crisis like the Great Depression to exploit.  FDR did.  And he was able to transform the country because of it.  People saved less.  And government spent more.  Which led to deficit spending, massive debt and inflation.  And perhaps the cruelest thing he did was impoverish the retiring class.  By taking their wealth through taxes and inflation.  And making them dependent on a meager Social Security benefit.

Social Security Contributions would create a Bigger Nest Egg if Invested in the Private Sector

After seeing so many poor, hungry, homeless, etc., during the Great Depression government did something.  They punished those who saved responsibly for their retirement.  By redistributing their wealth to those who didn’t.  It seemed fair and just and kind.  And there was an element of that in providing a social safety net for our most vulnerable people.  But that wasn’t the intent of Social Security.  FDR wanted to transform the country.  Which he did.  And today they forecast Social Security will go bankrupt in the coming years.  Requiring ever more wealth redistribution.  All while making Social Security recipients live a more impoverished retirement than they would have.  Had they saved for their own retirement.  A true transformation of the richest country in the world.

So let’s look at the numbers.  Your Social Security contributions are technically saved in a ‘retirement account’ that accrues interest.  Each payroll period both employer and employee contribute to this ‘retirement account’.  Via a tax rate on a person’s gross pay up to a maximum amount (see Historical Payroll Tax Rates).  So let’s see what this would have done in the private sector.  Year by year.  With the following assumptions.  The worker enters the workforce at 18 and works until retiring at age 65.  The worker earns the maximum amount for Social Security taxes.  So all of his or her earnings are subject to the Social Security tax.  With each successive year we add the current contribution to the running balance in his or her retirement account.  The annual balance earns interest at 6% (including anywhere from 2-4% real return on their retirement investment and the rest of that 6% accounts for inflation).  The following chart shows the beginning 5 years and the final 5 years.

Here we can see the power of compound interest.  As we earn interest on both our contributions and the previous interest we earned.  Note that the total contributions for 48 years of work total $282,608.38.  Which earned a total of $540,413.12 in interest.  Bringing the retirement nest egg up to $823,021.50.  Again, this is assuming that the Social Security contributions were actually private retirement savings.  That thing John Maynard Keynes hated.  So this is what a retiree would have to live on in retirement.  Had his or her money not gone to the government.

The Purpose of Social Security was to make People Dependent on Government and Redistribute Wealth

Now let’s look at what kind of retirement that nest egg will provide.  Starting with some more assumptions.  Let’s say the retiree lives 35 years in retirement.  Reaching a grand old age of 100.  Not your typical retirement.  But one this retirement nest egg can provide.  For someone with fairly modest means.  Each year the retiree lives on $53,553.  At the end of the year they earn interest on their remaining balance.  Which helps to stretch that $823,021.50 over those 35 years.  The following chart shows the beginning 5 years and the final 5 years of that retirement.

Note how that $282,608.38 in retirement contributions can provide $1,874,355 in retirement payments.  Again, that’s the miracle of compound interest.  So what kind of retirement would Social Security have provided?  Someone who retires after working till age 65 who was earning $110,100 near retirement will receive approximately $24,720 annually in retirement.  Over 35 years of retirement that comes to $865,200 in retirement benefits.  Which is $1,009,155 less than someone would get investing in a private sector retirement plan.  Or a reduction of 53.8%.  Which is what people lose when letting the government provide for their retirement.  So Social Security is a very poor retirement plan.  Besides going bankrupt.  Which is why the Republicans want to give younger workers the option to opt out of Social Security and provide for their own retirement.  Which makes sense.  And would probably increase their quality of life in retirement.  As shown above.  So why are the Democrats so opposed to privatization of Social Security?

Because the purpose of Social Security was not to provide a quality retirement.  It was to make people dependent on government.  To redistribute wealth.  Increasing the power of government.  And for those things Social Security is a resounding success.  But there is one other thing why Democrats oppose privatizing Social Security.  What would happen if the person that built up that $823,021.50 nest egg died 5 years into retirement?  Who would get the remaining $781,392.18?  The retiree’s family.  Whereas if a Social Security beneficiary dies 5 years into retirement the government keeps their money.  To spend as they please.

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People sign Petitions to Secede from the United States following President Obama’s Reelection

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 15th, 2012

Politics 101

Wealth Redistribution requires High Taxes to get the Wealth from those who Create It which reduces Economic Activity

President Obama’s reelection has left the nation bitterly divided.  President Obama won only 50% of the popular vote.  Down from 53% in 2008.  So the president has become less popular with the American people.  No surprise, really, with one of the worst economic recoveries in history.  Despite the trillions in new spending to stimulate economic activity.  Which didn’t stimulate economic activity.  People concerned about this anemic economy are in the other 50%.  Those who didn’t vote for keeping Obamacare law.  Those who didn’t vote for a massive increase in regulatory powers over the private sector economy.  Those who didn’t vote to raise taxes.  Those who didn’t vote for continued record deficits.

With every contentious election some people will say they will move out of the country if their candidate loses.  Few do.  Although some rich people are doing that now.  As they feel they have a bulls-eye on their back.  With the whole Occupy Wall Street thing.  The 99% against the 1%.  The clarion call to get the wealthy to pay their fare share.  Even though the top 10% income earners are already paying some 70% of all income taxes.  So no doubt the wealthy are concerned.  Wondering where this will all end.  Higher income tax rates?  A higher capital gains tax?  A wealth tax?  Confiscation of all earnings over a ‘fair’ amount?  Who knows?  The sad thing is that these things don’t really seem farfetched.  For there is an angry mob out there.  Stirred up by those on the far Left.  Who is telling them that the only reason why they don’t have everything they want in life is because these rich people have taken it away from them.  And that these oppressed should rise up and demand egalitarianism.  Wealth redistribution.  From those according to ability to those according to need.  Which they are.  Because it’s only fair.

Of course wealth redistribution requires high taxes to get the wealth from those who create it.  Higher taxes, though, are a drag on the economy.  And leads to higher unemployment.  So it’s just not the wealthy worried about where this advance of liberal, anti-business policies will end.  Up to 50% of the population voted in favor of the wealth creators creating wealth.  And jobs.  Something most of the people want.  As already high unemployment will only get worse with another 4 years of anti-business policies.  As well as leading this country closer to a European-style social democracy.  That economic system favored by European countries currently wallowing in a sovereign debt crisis that appears to have no end.

If the Nation broke down into Two Confederacies Steve Jobs would probably have moved to Conservative America

So people are concerned about the direction the country is going.  So concerned that there are actually secessionist movements popping up across the nation.  Where people are signing petitions to advance the secession of their state from the union.  For the growth of federal power has far exceeded the limits envisioned by the Founding Fathers.  And the federal government is only going to get bigger.  European big.  So big that even Alexander Hamilton would have joined his sworn enemy, Thomas Jefferson, in opposing this federal power grab.  For Jefferson’s greatest fear appears to be coming true.  The federal government has reduced the states to little more than federal districts of a consolidated federal nation.  Where all power is consolidating in Washington.  In the hands of a few people.  Who rule over the masses.  Much like a monarchy.  The kind the Founding Fathers fought against to win their independence.  Something this other 50% understands.  Which is helping fuel these secessionist movements.

So people in some states with a historical understanding of our Founding are concerned.  And they’re signing petitions for secession.  While the Left mocks them as whiny sore losers.  When they threaten to leave the union Jon Stewart on the Daily Show mocked them with a line from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:  Stop, don’t, come back.  That Gene Wilder delivered in a tone of voice that basically said, “Go and good riddance.”  Much to the delight of the Daily Show audience.  Not fully understanding what that would mean.  For it wouldn’t just mean that they would get a country of free health care, birth control, abortion, legal marijuana, gay marriage, open borders, etc.  The Liberal utopian dream.  No, succession would probably result in regional confederacies.  The Northeast, the Midwest and the West Coast would probably join together in a liberal confederacy (Liberal America) where they pass all their liberal policies.  While the remaining states would probably join together in a conservative confederacy (Conservative America).  Which would pose a great problem for the Liberal America.  How?  In a word, egalitarianism.

Business owners who oppose excessive regulations and taxes would probably pack up shop and move to Conservative America.  If they weren’t there already.  So you would have a net movement of businesses, and jobs, from Liberal America to Conservative America.  Where government policies are less anti-business.  Even the liberals would admit this would happen.  As they blame business for outsourcing jobs to foreign countries to escape the high cost of regulatory policies and taxes.  So businesses will move.  Leaving a reduced tax base behind.  Where fewer workers would be paying all those taxes to give everyone all of those free government benefits.  And the best and brightest of our entrepreneurs would head to Conservative America, too.  For they will go where it is easier to realize their dream.  If the nation broke apart into these two confederacies it would be highly probably that if he were alive Steve Jobs would move to Conservative America.  Just as he outsourced his manufacturing to more business-friendly China.  Don’t think this would happen?  Well, it would.  Because it has always happened in the past.

If America divides into Two Confederacies People will flee the Liberal Paradise for Jobs in Conservative America

At the end of World War II the German capital, Berlin, lay in Soviet occupied Germany.  What became East Germany.  Berlin, however, was occupied by the Soviets, the French, the British and the Americans.  Giving those living in Berlin access to the West.  As long as they got to the French, British or American sectors.  Which became a real sore spot for the Soviet Union.  Because East Berlin was a communist paradise.  Located in East Germany.  Also a communist paradise.  The height of egalitarianism where the state provided everything for the people.  It was everything the American Left wanted.  But nothing those living there wanted.  East Germans headed to Berlin en masse to escape to the West.  Especially the best and brightest.  It was a brain drain of the East.  So the Soviets did the only thing they could do.  They built the Berlin Wall.  To prevent their people from escaping their Communist paradise.

West Berlin bounced back after the war quickly.  Becoming a rich and exciting city to live in.  Because they had free market capitalism.  Providing a business-friendly environment.  That created jobs.   While across the Berlin Wall people were stuck in time.  In a dark and dreary existence.  Where they waited in line for their basic needs.  Often hungry.  And cold.  With nothing to look forward to.  For the government didn’t allow anyone to leave their paradise.  Why?  Because the few who did rarely went back.  So they worked.  And sat at home.  Dreaming of how to get past that wall.  To freedom.  And a better life.

If America divides into two confederacies people will flee the Liberal paradise.  For jobs in Conservative America.  Leaving Liberal America with a reduced tax base.  Making it harder to pay for all of those government benefits.  As the benefit-consumers will flock to Liberal America for all that free stuff.  But the people who pay for all of that free stuff will be going the other way.  So fewer people will be paying for more stuff.  Which, of course, will make it impossible to provide all of that free stuff.  Unless Liberal America also builds walls to keep their people from fleeing their utopia.  Keeping the wealth creators on their side of the wall.  So they can tax them.  To pay for their Liberal paradise.  Which will have a close resemblance to East Berlin.  So the liberals should be careful what they wish for.  For if these states secede life will get worse for those dependent on government benefits.  How worse?  Behind the Iron Curtain worse.

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President Obama transforming America into Socialist Argentina

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 11th, 2012

Week in Review

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has won two landslide presidential elections.  One could say she is more popular in Argentina than President Obama is in the United States.  Well, she was more popular than the American president.  That may be changing (see Argentina protests: up to 1.5 million rally against Fernández de Kirchner by Uki Goni and Jonathan Watts posted 11/9/2012 on the guardian).

The broad avenues of Buenos Aires were crowded on Thursday night by Argentina’s biggest and noisiest anti-government demonstration in a decade, as hundreds of thousands of protesters marched or banged pots to express frustration at President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

After a smaller rally in September, the noisy but peaceful protest – estimated at between 250,000 to 500,000 people – marks an escalation of opposition to the Argentinian leader, particularly among a middle class that is upset at inflation, corruption, media controls and suggestions Fernández may want to amend the constitution so she can serve a third term…

There was no single cause of discontent. Many in the middle class are angry at the highest inflation in a decade, estimated at a yearly 25% by private economists, currency controls that have created a black market in dollars, and one of the slowest economic growth rates in Latin America.

Banners and chants also took aim at recent corruption cases and Fernández’s efforts to limit the power of big newspaper and TV conglomerates…

… it marks a political low in Fernández’s decade in the presidential palace. Since succeeding her husband, Néstor Kirchner, in 2007, she has won two landslide election victories and pursued a policy marked by wealth redistribution, greater investment in education, confrontation with Britain over the Falklands and the nationalisation of the Argentinian assets owned by the Spanish oil group YPF.

With the economy faltering, Fernández’s approval rating has fallen below 40%, according to a poll this week, and many of those who joined Thursday’s protest have lost faith in her.

“I voted for Cristina but now I feel let down,” said one middle-aged marcher. “We need more security, more jobs; the government needs to stop lying to us.”

High inflation and slow economic growth.  Kind of sounds like the Carter presidency.  Where we called his high inflation and slow economic growth stagflation.  And measured it by the misery index.  Of course President Carter didn’t suffer any of these humiliating protests in his second term.  For he suffered a humiliating defeat in 1980 that made him a one-term president.

People have often wondered what a second Carter term would have been like.  Some say we saw in President Obama’s first term.  But perhaps it will be his second term that will be more like President Carter’s first term.  Or, perhaps, more like President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s second term.  For apart from confronting the British over the Falklands and nationalizing a Spanish oil group (though President Obama would like to nationalize health care) his policies are eerily similar to hers.  The middle class has suffered in the US under President Obama just as they have suffered in Argentina.  And someone in the Obama administration is lying to the American people about Fast and Furious.  And Benghazi.  They both also have low approval ratings despite their ability to win elections.  Of course if that was the other way around in the United States (Republicans winning reelection despite low approval ratings) there would be massive legal actions contesting those election results.

So if you want to see what the future of President Obama’s second term will be like you can look at what’s happening in Argentina.  Which the president is making us look more like with his record spending that have given us record deficits in each of his four years in office.  And a record amount of debt.  Perhaps this is the president’s own way to reform immigration.  Make the economy so bad that there are no jobs here to encourage people to come to this country.  In fact, some of the flow of immigration has reversed as Mexicans are heading back home for better jobs.  As the president has destroyed the US job market with his economic policies.

So if you hear a loud banging sound in Washington DC don’t worry.  It’s just the Argentine-style protest against our anti-capitalist president.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #65: “The only thing the market is inefficient at is funneling money to anti-business politicians.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 10th, 2011

The Natural Order and a good Last Name

There are two types of people in America.  Those who work.  And elitists who want others to work for them.  It’s been this way since the dawn of civilization.  One group asserted their power over the masses.  The masses then worked.  The ruling elite didn’t.  They just gave the work orders.  The masses dutifully followed their orders and grew the food.  The ruling elite took in the bounty and ate until they were full.  And then some.  While famine thinned out the masses.  It was the natural order once upon a time.  And those who held dominion over the land liked it.

Land, then, was key.  The aristocracy owned the land.  Hence we called them the landed aristocracy.  They owned the land, the food and the wealth.  And the people.  In European and Russian feudalism there were serfs.  In the antebellum American South there were slaves.  The landed aristocracy may buy and sell land and move.  But the serfs/slaves stayed on the land.  Forever.  As their parents did.  As their children would.  It was the natural order.

Your name was very important in the landed aristocracy.  For land was hereditary.  As was wealth.  As was political power.  And it stayed this way for a long time.  While everyone who worked farmed.  But over time, something happened.  People got smarter.  They were able to grow food surpluses.  And they took these surpluses to markets.  Which became cities.  Where we saw the rise of artisans.  Skilled people who made tools and crafts that further improved our lives.  Allowed people to leave the farms.  And create a middle class.  Greatest thing that ever happened for the masses.  It allowed a way out from the back-breaking toil of working the land.  Even if you didn’t have a ‘good’ last name.

Representative Government changes the Natural Order

Of course, not everyone was keen about this.  Because it disrupted the natural order of things.  And threatened the old power structures.  Some adjusted.  Some shared the power.  Like in England.  Where there was a representative government.  There was a bicameral house.  The Parliament.  Representing all people.  The rich in the House of Lords.  And the common people in the House of Commons.  And, of course, the king.  Who represented the king.  And the state.  Now, kings like to wage war.  Conquer.  And add to empire.  But it takes soldiers and sailors to fight.  And money to pay for armies and navies.  Which the king didn’t have.  The rich people had the money.  The landed aristocracy.  The Lords.  So the king just couldn’t wage war unless Parliament consented.  Pretty nice thing this check on power.  This representative government.  It made for happy subjects.

It wasn’t like this in France. While the English were checking the king’s power, the French monarchy was absolute.  It  could do whatever it wanted.  And did.  Spent a lot of money.  Ran up great debts.  Fought a lot of wars.  Including the Seven Years’ War that lost much of French North America to Great Britain.  And helped the Americans in their War of Independence.  Helping them to gain their independence from the British monarchy.  Which proved to be a deadly game for the French monarchy.  For the French people grew fond of representative government themselves.  And they thought if the Americans can overthrow king-rule maybe they could, too.  So they gave it a try.  The French Revolution was a bit bloodier than the American Revolution, but it got the job done.  France, too, had a representative government.  Until Napoleon declared himself emperor, of course.  And then he did a lot of kingly things.  Waged war.  Conquered.  Built empire.  And added to the debt.

Great Britain gave up on minority rule.  France tried to hang on to it, lost it then Napoleon got it back.  The reason minority rule failed in these countries is because a minority ruling power needs money.  And it was easier to get money in an agrarian economy.  When all the wealth was concentrated in the few who owned the land.  The rise of a middle class changed all of that.  Artisans and merchants made a lot of money.  Some even without ‘good’ last names.  The people who didn’t have to kiss any royal ass to get or maintain their wealth.  It was a whole new game out there.  Minority rulers needed to find another way to amass money and power.  And they found it.  In the ‘lie’.

Lies from Marxism to Socialism

A ruling power lying wasn’t anything new.  But some of the lies were.  Marxism, for example, was a new brilliant lie.  It made those the ruling elite wanted to oppress ask to be oppressed.  In the name of egalitarianism.  Rise up you miserable oppressed factory workers.  Attack the industrial bourgeoisie (i.e., the middle class).  You have nothing to lose but your chains.  Karl Marx may have believed the claptrap he wrote.  But those who used it could care less about the underlying philosophy.  They just liked the power it gave them.  So those who aspired to rise to power and rule over the majority led worker revolutions.  And after they won, the workers went back to suffering just as they had before.  Only they had less.  Because the communist commissars knew jack squat about the means of production.  But that was okay.  For it just helped to enslave the masses more.  Well, that.  And the brutal police state that discouraged any inappropriate behavior.  Or thought.

It was a good run for the communist powers that be.  While the masses suffered they lived a very comfortable life.  Just like the landed aristocracy of old.  Unfortunately for them, their ruling policies sent their economies into nosedives.  And they suffered recurring famines.  Marxism was a failure.  The ruling elite knew it.  And most of the people knew it, too.  Often, those who could escape from their communist utopias did.  Because they were anything but utopian.  So those aspiring to ascend to the ruling elite needed a new lie.  And they found it in communism-light.  Socialism.  Which appealed to the people they wanted to oppress for the same reasons Marxism did.  It would stick it to the rich in an egalitarian utopia.

But there was little difference between Marxism and socialism.  Both systems tried to manage the economy.  And both did a horrible job.  Why?  Because state planning is not about improving the lives of those they rule over.  It’s about maintaining power.  An economy left alone will always outperform a managed economy.  Everyone knows this.  But if they leave the economy alone, how can the ruling elite amass power and wealth?  It can’t.  Ergo, the lie continues.  Not to improve the lives of the masses.  But to improve the lives of the ruling elite.  The minority power.  Who only ascends to power by a good lie.

Wealth Redistribution Killed the Golden Goose

The free market does have one inefficiency.  It does not enrich those who do not partake in it.  The ruling elite aspire to be in a minority rule for a couple of reasons.  First of all, when you’re stealing from and oppressing the people, the fewer people in the ruling elite the wealthier each member gets.  Which is what they want.  Wealth.  And being in the ruling elite gives them access to wealth.  Because they are so completely untalented that they could never make any wealth in the free market.  So they use the lie to acquire their wealth.  To live the good life.  Like the landed aristocracy of old.

So they become the champion of the working man and woman.  And promise to deliver that egalitarian society via wealth redistribution.  They promise to tax the rich.  And give to those who will vote for them.  It has proven to be a very effective system.  And in its heyday they were reaping in the money.  Even found a way to funnel tax money directly to them via public sector union dues.  But they just got too greedy.  Pulled too many people into the new aristocracy.  And too many people out of the work force who paid the taxes that paid for their comfortable lives of plenty.

The taxes and policies of the ruling elite have grown so anti-business that it’s reduced economic activity.  And tax generation.  So not only have they bloated the public sector with nonworking people and reduced the taxpaying workforce, they killed the golden goose as well.  And no lie may change the mess they created.  They may have no choice but to unfetter the free market.  And get real jobs.

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