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We Can’t Afford the Payroll Tax Cut Extension

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Americans should be used to the high political drama coming out of Washington. Oh, there are the stories of marital infidelities, disappearing Congressional aides, toe-tapping senators and the like. Then there are the great debates where both sides of an issue scrap and claw their way to political pay dirt. Healthcare reform and the recent battles on raising the debt ceiling come to mind. Funny how things always come together at the 11th hour?

Currently on the docket is the payroll tax cut extension. Passed in 2011, the payroll tax cut reduced a taxpayer’s contribution toward Social Security from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. The goal of the legislation was to put more money in taxpayers’ hands in order to stimulate the economy. The measure expires on December 31, 2011.

Now, the drama comes in because the Democratic controlled Senate approved a two month extension to the measure while the Republican controlled House rejected the Senate plan in favor of a one year extension. Democrats are bent on their bill and Republicans on theirs, with time quickly running out. If an extension is not approved by December 31, 148 million Americans will see their taxes go up. At least that is the story coming out of the White House.

In the first place, the name of the measure is a bit of a misnomer intended, I am sure, to confuse many taxpayers. The payroll tax cut is not a cut to a worker’s income tax amount. It is a reduction in the amount that workers pay into the so-called Social Security Trust Fund. In other words, it is akin to paying less on a retirement annuity each month but still maintaining eligibility for full retirement benefits under the original policy. An annuity holder would never expect this allowance. For the life of me, I can’t understand how the average taxpayer would, unless they have been confused.

Secondly, the propaganda pundits on the MSM are claiming that if the tax cut is not extended it will potentially push the U.S. economy into a recession. Of course, that is the knee-jerk reaction of all Keynesians when it comes to government intervention in the economy. They believe in the more, the better, with no regard for tomorrow since in the long run we are all dead.

And essentially this tax cut extension is a Keynesian spending program because the tax pays for an entitlement that has to be paid to retirees. With a drop in tax revenues the government will have to print money in order to meet Social Security obligations. Those obligations simply aren’t going away and have to be met.

The problem with more spending is that it doesn’t work to stimulate the economy out of recession. Since January 2009, the federal government has spent $4.5 trillion. Unemployment is higher, food stamp rolls are at an all-time high, and many Americans are still losing their homes. When is enough enough?

Lastly, how smart is it to cut funding for a program that is already bankrupt? The Social Security Trust Fund already pays out more than it receives in tax revenues. Future unfunded obligations for both Social Security and Medicare are over $50 trillion. Given the program is not going to end anytime soon, putting it in even worse fiscal condition borders on the criminal.

The payroll tax cut is nothing more than another something for nothing proposition. It has not helped the economy so far and an extension would further devastate the fragile balance sheet of Social Security and Medicare. Once again Washington is offering the worldÑ more free money, Social Security intact, no spending cuts, and a blind eye to trouble down the road. It is amazing that Congress and the president can’t find a measly $100 billion to cut from the enormously bloated federal budget to pay for the plan. With leadership like that in Washington it will be a miracle if the economy doesn’t eventually fall over a cliff.

But have no fear, I am sure Congress and the president will get together at the 11th hour to produce the tax cut extension.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Tax cuts for the rich? No problem, conservatives are all for it!

    Tax cuts for the middle class? “We can’t afford it!!!!!”

    Such incredible hypocrisy….

  • Kenn Jacobine

    If you read the piece Glenn I am saying it is stupid policy to cut funding for a program that is not going anywhere and is trillions of dollars in debt. Where is the money going to come from? Oh, I forgot statist like you will tap your friends over at the Fed to print more. It will cause a lot of price inflation but the poor will never figure that out. You can blame that on the instability capitalism.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    All money is credit. It’s a token which people believe can be exchanged at some time in the future for something they want, even if it’s only to pay their taxes. Anyone (a person, corporation or government) can print all the money it likes without causing inflation as long as it can eventually back up the money with other valued items. In the case of the payroll tax money, if its circulation among the people leads to valuable economic activity, even if it’s only burger-flipping (which seems to be highly valued by some) then it’s reasonable to ‘print’ it and let it circulate. It will eventually be absorbed into the huge virtual piles the rich have accumulated and will effectively disappear. But that’s a different problem which will exist whether or not we deprive the poor of money.

  • Igor

    The easy thing to do (and the right one) would have been to lapse the Bush tax cuts (the gift to the rich that just keeps on giving). Then we would not have all these financial problems. We could even pay for those glory wars we started in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But the republicans have clearly stated that their entire political strategy is to destroy this president (which one would think would call their patriotism and loyalty to the USA into question, but no one seems to care) so they have adopted rule-or-ruin techniques into play in the House of Representatives, where they have some degree of control. So they’ve just become the “NO!” party.

    Incidentally, Mr. Anti-Keynes, the current financial collapse illustrates the wisdom of Keynes counter-cyclical policies: when we were flush in 2001 we should have banked the money for a rainy day, not gone on a big spree, like some drunken little rich boy who just found a wad of money in Mom’s purse.

  • Clavos

    But the republicans have clearly stated that their entire political strategy is to destroy this president…

    With any luck, they’ll succeed too.

    which one would think would call their patriotism and loyalty to the USA into question, but no one seems to care…

    Patriotism and love of country are exactly what inspire the opposition to do what they can to bring this disaster of a president down before it’s too late.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Patriotism and love of country are exactly what inspire the opposition to do what they can

    Ummm… no.

    Too many of the current congressional GOP’s actions don’t fit that template.

    I think you just had a cynicism failure, Clav…

  • Clavos

    What can I say Doc? The ghost of Christmas past must have overwhelmed my caution.

    Naah. Must have been what I ate for dinner…

  • Baronius

    You could argue that the payroll tax cut is Keynesian (deficit=stimulus). You could argue that it’s supply-side (lower tax rates=stimulus). The one thing anyone should be able to agree on is that it’s irresponsible. It’s killing the goose that lays, not the golden egg, but the only egg we have. It’s stealing from the one significant government plan that’s close to being well-funded. Killing your egg-bearing goose is something you only do when you’re facing death by starvation.

    If you want to stimulate the economy like this (and I don’t think you can anyway), you make an equivalent rate cut to the income tax. You do not raid the Social Security trust fund for a cheap economic high or a cheap political boost. Any Democrat or Republican politician who supports this has, at best, lost sight of the big picture.

  • Igor

    The only reason for employing the SS tax to fight the recession is because the republicans (in their unending irrational hatred for Obama, as illustrated by Clavos in #5, above) have opposed every other attempt. Indeed, one must conclude that the republican rule-or-ruin strategy for regaining power has brought them to the point where they are quite willing to destroy the USA so that they can rebuild the country in their dream image.

    But beware: the radical rightist dream of the republican plan will be a nightmare for 99% of Americans, who will be pressed down into abject poverty and peasantry, while a very few will be able to establish dynasties. Of course, this will all be justified by the usual calvinistic/puritan deceptions about those who are in poverty and misery because they DESERVE it, and those who ride high DESERVE it (for some reason, even if it’s only by being born into the Bush family).

    Withal, the fact remains: the history of the past 10 years has shown the corruption of the Austrian school and the affirmation of Keynes: go choke on that, Clavos (heaven forfend you should actually take a college Econ course, instead of tediously parroting unsubstantiated propaganda from radical rightist trash literature).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think Baronius is right, Igor, in that it’s a strictly intermediary measure and the main reason is political — to demonstrate to the people at large that the Chief Executive and the Democratic party care. And for the very same reason, and no other, the Republicans had to go along with it, having their eye on 2012.

    Eventually, the funds that are being raided right now will have to be replenished. How and from whence is the question.

    Just another example of political posturing, but that’s just my opinion.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Igor, how much “stimulus” has to be injected into the economy before you acknowledge that Keynesian schemes do not work?

  • Igor

    I can’t see that Baronius has said anything that can be called right (correct, that is).

    The amount of money borrowed from the SS Fund is small, and is easily replenished upon resumption of a normal economy. SS income produced surpluses every year until in Bush’s 5th year it produced it’s first yearend deficit (further testimony to the corruption of Bush’s supply-side economics).

    The republicans created a crisis with their misbegotten economic actions (putting two trillion dollar wars on the cuff and handing out expensive gifts to their rich friends), and then they compounded the problem by barring proper recovery with their rule-or-ruin politically motivated obstructionism.

    There’s no secret about this, is there?

    The republicans are committed to destroying Obama, even if that means destroying the US economy in the process.

    How can any loyal American support such a policy?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The “normal economy” will not be resumed, Igor. It’s a pie in the sky.

    If you haven’t faced it yet, now is the time.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And it’s not the Republicans who have created this condition, though they certainly didn’t help. It’s the capitalist system running amok and coming to its eventual end.

    It was in the cards.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    We could resume the ‘normal economy’…if and ONLY if Americans were willing to (1) pay the taxes necessary to bring the economy back to good health, and (2) pass the regulations (and enforce those regulations) necessary to level the business playing field and minimize the “socialization of risk” (since the current philosophy is “privatize profits and socialize risks”)

    But America’s not willing to do that anymore. We’ve forgotten the fiscal lessons we learned in the 1950’s, that high taxes – when wisely used – are NOT at all a waste, but can lead to a great expansion of the overall economy. But now, it’s “ask not what your country can do for you, and don’t give your country one damn dime to do anything at all”.

    Hence my most recent article. We, as a society, are choosing to fail.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “Patriotism and love of country are exactly what inspire the opposition to do what they can to bring this disaster of a president down before it’s too late.”

    When do you get into the fertilizer business?

  • Igor

    Kenn can’t even compose an articulate question. Look at this:

    “11 – Kenn Jacobine

    Igor, how much “stimulus” has to be injected into the economy before you acknowledge that Keynesian schemes do not work?”

    A meaningless question, since there is no stated standard by which one may judge success or failure.

    One must therefore assume that he means something like this:

    “Igor, how much “stimulus” has to be injected into the economy without improving unemployment before you acknowledge that Keynesian schemes do not work?”

    That’s easy because the CBO scored the ARRA as saving 2million jobs. And most economists said the stimulus should have been twice as big.

    And I’ll add to that the business tax break portion (about 50%) should be radically reduced because it is poor at improving the economy (NO businessman, presented with a windfall, is going to hire people just because of that – he needs SALES to justify investment. And that is why US industry is way over capacity and sitting on $2.5trillion of dormant capital.). But money in the hands of ordinary consumers has an economic multiplier of 2.8 (per the CBO report), meaning that there is almost $3 of economic activity for every dollar spent.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Perhaps you’re independently wealthy and will not need your Social Security when you’re old. But if you’re not, you just might find out first-hand why America’s elderly really have a problem with the idea of getting rid of Social Security…and why most Americans who remembered what life was like before the New Deal really liked it.

    But now? You’ve got a leading presidential candidate who thinks that there’s nothing wrong with child labor. Yeah, that’s the REAL path to prosperity, isn’t it? Let’s give our elderly and our kids the kind of lives they could expect in a third-world nation, and America’s economy will get BETTER!

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Glenn, you continue to exhibit reading comprehension problems. Again, it is a something for nothing proposition to rob revenues from s.s. for short term gain. The system is in dire straits and this scheme which will not benefit the economy anyway is going to make s.s. even more insolvent.

    BTW I am anything but independently wealthy. I will not receive much s.s because I haven’t paid into it in 11 years. It was yet another benefit of teaching abroad not having to pay into that Ponzi Scheme. Given the recent action of Congress it makes it even less likely that s.s. will be around when I retire anyway.

    As to child labor, parents have the right to determine what is in the best interests of their children. If you say some can’t handle that responsibility, I agree. But there are dozens of examples where some parents aren’t responsible about their children. Are you going to confiscate every child or lock up every parent in that situation?
    There is nothing wrong with child labor Glenn. I worked from the time I was 15.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    1 – S.S. would not be in dire straits at all if everyone paid an equal share of their incomes into it…but they don’t, since it only applies to the first $106K of income, and any income after that is not touched. You know this already, but you’re so hidebound by the rhetoric that you can’t see what’s wrong with it.

    2 – Again, I hope you do become wealthy enough that you won’t need it when you get old…but millions of elderly Americans have ZERO other options. You’re an historian, Kenn, so you probably know that when S.S. was first implemented, half of ALL elderly lived in poverty…but that was at a time when elderly normally had big families around to care for them.

    But now there are millions of elderly whose kids can’t (or won’t) take care of them in their old age (or who have no kids at all) – and if you had your way, they’d have no steady source of income when they’re no longer able to work, too! Tell me, Kenn – what are those elderly supposed to do? Beg? Is that your solution for the 70- and 80-somethings who would have zero income except for S.S.?

    3 – When it come to child labor, Kenn, even in the most prosperous nations there’s always kids who don’t have a choice, or who are simply driven by their own nature to work. You KNOW this. The difference, Kenn, is that what you’re advocating is to make child labor the norm rather than the exception to the rule…

    …and you’ve been in enough third-world nations to know that there’s a significant percentage of parents who would force their kids to work for a few coins rather than ensuring they go to school, and you KNOW what that does to a society, how it perpetuates the lowest classes and the crime and corruption therein.

    Kenn, all one has to do is to look at what the first-world nations do, and at what third-world nations do. If you want to live in a first-world nation, then live in a nation that does NOT do what third-world nations do. If you want pure capitalism, including low taxes, little or no regulation, and small government, and if you want to totally reject the idea of social safety nets, then go live in a third-world nation!

    And then you can finally say how free you are as you drive down the streets, blissfully ignorant of (or studiously ignoring) the grinding poverty of those lining the streets on either side.

  • Igor

    SS is an excellent system that is better financed than your auto insurance or even your life insurance. Just ask your insurance agent if their policies are fully funded with cash. No, they are NOT. ALL insurance policy claims in the future will be paid by then current income.

    SS is an insurance policy and an annuity (and a tontine), and it is FAR BETTER financed than ANY life insurance policy you can buy from an insurance company. Even if payments ceased it could pay for decades. You CANNOT buy an insurance policy that well funded.

    SS has a $2.7trillion surplus accumulated over many years. Most insurance policies have paper-thin pre-funding. Ask your auto insurance, house insurance or life insurance company what the size is of their pre-funding.

    Kenn is a liar, who perpetuates the lies about SS. The idea is to discourage ordinary people from expecting anything so that they won’t be upset when Kenn and his crooked friends want to steal the SS fund to put the money in their own pockets.

    Our entire financial system is based on Fractional Reserve banking, which the ardent rightist have eagerly implemented over the years because it increases apparent money flow and they extract commissions and brokers fees on all that money flow.

    It’s called LEVERAGE.

    That’s why there can be $650trillion of paper in the USA based on only $45trillion of total net asset value (intrinsic value) in all the US capital. Of course, that 15 to one leverage exceeds the 10:1 that was considered safe when we came out of the Great Depression, but Big Business got what it wanted, as usual.

    But the SS fund is probably the soundest financial system in the USA (and the world).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #20

    Why should SS be taxed beyond certain limits? There’s no justification for that, especially since Federal taxes ought to pick up the slack.

    A far more reasonable approach would be to apply the means test and adjust SS benefits to those who meet it.

    Let’s not get carried away here with good intentions and liberal ideology just because we happen to be a welfare state.

  • Clavos

    No one able to support themselves in retirement should be able to draw SS.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Completely agree there, Clavos.

    I’d go further and get rid of the retirement age and state pensions entirely too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Kind of drastic, don’t you think, Chris?

    Pension is a civilized notion. Why do away with it entirely?

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t consider it a civilized notion, Roger; rather the opposite in fact.

    Why should people be forced out of their career or job and subsequently marginalised simply for reaching a certain age?

    As to pensions, if people want to invest in a pension, that is a personal choice, not a matter for the state.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Am not talking about being forced to retire. This should be individual decision, far from being imposed by anybody, only that after so many years of “service,” after you’ve paid your dues, it should count for something. And no, I’m not saying it’s the state that ought to bear the full responsibility, although SS is one of the (involuntary?) programs, but someone has got to. It ought to be a part of the employment package.

    Just think, before our economy went south, this wasn’t an issue.

    Merry X-mas.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Why should “years of service” count for anything?

    People are employed to do jobs and that’s that. They don’t pay their dues, they get paid to do a job and get to spend that money on whatever life choices they want. Why on earth should they continue being paid for not working?

    It is a scandal that governments or businesses get made to do this!

  • REMF (MCH)

    “With any luck, they’ll succeed too.”

    Sorry, not gonna happen.

    “Patriotism and love of country are exactly what inspire the opposition to do what they can to bring this disaster of a president down before it’s too late.”

    And thank god they’re all wearing their American flag lapel pins…

  • S.T.M

    A lower payroll is a great thing for smaller-to-medium size businesses.

    Only a fool (hello Kenn, glad you’re not teaching my kids!) would argue against it in this current global climate.

    Since the US is now (along with Europe) in grave danger of becoming a third-world country without some clever government intervention that actually does benefit vulnerable smaller businesses – the businesses that make the monet go around – anything that helps them out must fall into the clever category.

    Under Kenn’s scenario, people stop going to diners, stop buying from local suppliers etc, which kills off entire towns. Smart thinking Kenn … as usual.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Yes, I guess we can continue to borrow against our future indefinetely?

  • S.T.M

    Perhaps, instead of killing off small to medium businesses and having people out of work, mortgages going to the wall, and everything that goes with that, wealthy americans might think about paying the same amount of tax proportionately as other less well off Americans.

    If anyone can mount a single cogent argument here about why that is not both morally and economically sound thinking, I’ll join the green left and become a vegan.

  • S.T.M

    Oh, and I’m including Big Corporate America in that, too. Why would smaller business that keeps towns going all over the US because they make the money go around have to pay through the nose proportionately for Megabucks corporations who don’t pay enough tax in the first place.

    You guys have got it all arse-about over there. You’re thinking is totally skewed.

    That’s why America is currently going down the gurgler at a rate of knots. It’s sad to watch.

    It’s got nothing to do with Obama. The seeds were sown and sprouting well before he got in the big chair.

  • Igor

    The only proven way to keep old people from falling into abject poverty is with Federal Social Security. It works, and it’s cheap. Social Security has not cost the American taxpayers one red cent.

    Anyone who says SS is “broke” or in “dire straits” is simply wrong, and if they persist in the face of easily available evidence they are liars.

    SS is vastly superior in security to private pension plans. If you don’t believe me then go look at the statistics and sad cases compiled by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, PBGC, which is a government run, privately financed corporation to save company pension plans that have gone broke (there are thousands of them).

    Talk to people who have gone broke through no fault of their own about the cash-out of their 401ks, etc., which disappeared quickly and will probably never be rebuilt. Talk to anyone whose retirement plans were destroyed by an expensive family medical emergency.

    Social Security is a social pact among people to level out their risks, just like any insurance policy, so that an individual is not destroyed by the vicissitudes of fortune.

    Nevertheless, SS is the hated enemy of radical rightists who see SS as depriving them of more potential wage-slaves. Absent SS, employers would have even more dire circumstance with which to threaten their employees.

    And the Radical Rightists would just LOVE to steal the $2.6trillion SS surplus and put it in their own pockets, as well as continue to collect payroll taxes from the abject slaves that American workers will soon become.

    Don’t be fooled by all this brave crap about how you can better invest your money than SS. Your money will soon be soaked up by the fees and commissions that the US financial industry uses to suck the value out of small-guy investments.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    $28

    Aside from the economic aspect, I should think it’s a matter of honor. Don’t know ’bout you, but I’ve always been bound by it whenever I possibly could.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Kenn,

    You bemoaning “against our future” is pathetic. Like you really care about your children or grandchildren. If you really do, use a condom.

    I challenged you on your previous thread to a debate, a meeting of minds, was how I put it. Instead, you hadn’t the decency to respond. So now you’re pontificating again.

    You’re really losing credibility by the minute.

    Merry-Xmas in any case. You need it more than I.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    Good to see you still around. I almost had my wife convinced to check out Oz…almost, after I had told her it’s basically a warm Canada, with universal health care, clean cities, and relatively sane people. But it looks like it ain’t gonna happen for a while yet.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oh, Chriiiiiis!

    People are employed to do jobs and that’s that. They don’t pay their dues, they get paid to do a job and get to spend that money on whatever life choices they want. Why on earth should they continue being paid for not working?

    I’ll ask you the same question that I asked Kenn (and that he didn’t answer):

    “Again, I hope you do become wealthy enough that you won’t need [Social Security] when you get old…but millions of elderly Americans have ZERO other options. You’re an historian, Kenn, so you probably know that when S.S. was first implemented, half of ALL elderly lived in poverty…but that was at a time when elderly normally had big families around to care for them.

    But now there are millions of elderly whose kids can’t (or won’t) take care of them in their old age (or who have no kids at all) – and if you had your way, they’d have no steady source of income when they’re no longer able to work, too! Tell me, Kenn – what are those elderly supposed to do? Beg? Is that your solution for the 70- and 80-somethings who would have zero income except for S.S.?”

    So, Chris – what’s YOUR answer? Shove those freeloading old folks out into the streets? Or will you privatize S.S. and force these old folks to trust their futures to people like Enron, Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc.? You know, since the all-powerful free market did SUCH a wonderful job of protecting the savings of those who had invested their life savings in company 401K’s?

    So what’s your answer, Chris? Toss those old bums into the street where they belong? Or force them to research into which one of thousands of different plans in the “free” market, and then decide which one they can trust with their life savings? And if the free market screws them over, too bad – out into the street they go! Or maybe you’ve got a different answer!

    C’mon, Chris – let’s hear it!

  • Jordan Richardson

    I take it Chris and Kenn are fundamentally against sick pay, maternity leave and, of course, paid vacations too.

  • S.T.M

    Rosey, I’m surprised to see your views on this … although I’m in wholehearted agreement regarding the ageist attitudes to our workforce. The fact is, a well experienced 60 year old with a cool head and the benefit of 40 years in the job can often represent a better proposition to an employer than an ego-driven, go-getting risk-taking Gen Y fool who hasn’t worked out that to succeed, you need to start at the bottom and work your way up.

    However, if people work all their lives and want to retire at 65 because governments have made employers pay for retirement savings as part of their employee pay packages, why not? Especially since those people have paid tax all their lives. It’s always good to get a little in return for the good you do for the country by paying your taxes in the first place.

    And Glenn, DO IT MAN! It’s worth the step. I can’t think of a better place to be, or a place with higher living standards, that Australia at the moment … especially having successfully dodged the bullet that got everyone else in the GFC.

    That is, for all our political troubles. Minority government and everything undemocratic that is going with that. Democracy, however, has its big pay off at the ballot box. The Labor Party, which has got into bed with the loony leftists of the Greens (the watermelons: green on the outside, red inside), and which most of us didn’t vote for, will be lucky to win government for another decade and a half after the 2013 federal election … if they make it to that point.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, there you go being “unintentionally” patronising again. It must be really fun living in the world of magical thinking you enjoy.

    To treat the substance of your sneering remarks with rather more respect than the deserve, I didn’t say anything about the scenarios your peculiar mentality came up with.

    What I did say was that compulsory retirement and pensions should be done away with.

    As to social security, I think it is perfectly reasonable that we care for our genuinely infirm, but the number of people falling into that category is relatively small compared to the abuses we see of current systems.

    Jordan, these things should be handled carefully on a case by case basis. Sick pay can be a terrible burden on a business, so it certainly shouldn’t be borne by them alone, particularly in cases of long term illness.

    Holiday pay seems fair enough but maternity leave is completely unreasonable in my view. If people want to make that life choice, that is fine, but why should businesses subsidise that?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    As to social security, I think it is perfectly reasonable that we care for our genuinely infirm, but the number of people falling into that category is relatively small compared to the abuses we see of current systems.

    “Number of people falling into that category is RELATIVELY SMALL?” Been to a nursing home lately? FYI, there’s thousands and thousands of them nationwide, not to mention an even larger number of adult family homes, each one with anywhere from one to twenty or more elderly essentially whiling away their final years waiting to die. It’s not a pretty sight…and if you were to spend some time in one, you might find out how tragic those places are. And these aren’t even including the thousands of retirement communities.

    But you know what? If we got rid of retirement and pensions as you glibly think is the way to go, many – or perhaps most – of the millions of 65+ elderly wouldn’t even have these places to go to. They’d have exactly one place to go – the street.

    That’s why I have such little patience with those who proclaim “get rid of [name the government program]!” yet never seem to consider what would happen if that government program went away, and never give a truly viable alternative.

    That’s why I asked Kenn and you what would be your alternative…and you gave none.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Chris –

    You said you think we should take care of our infirm – so…how do you think we should do that? Right now we do so through Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

    How do you think we should do so? And how do you think it would be paid for?

    And btw – while there’s mandatory retirement in several industries (esp. the government), you should be aware that in business, there’s no mandatory retirement…which is why there’s 70-something’s working at fast food places and Wal-Mart. Some of them work there because they want to stay busy…but a lot of them do so because their S.S. isn’t enough to provide food and shelter for them and theirs. Someone once said that “growing old isn’t for wimps”. Just something to think about….

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, if you dropped your presumptions and your smugness – and let’s face it, you have nothing to be smug about – maybe you could try to deal with the facts.

    There aren’t millions of elderly in nursing homes in the USA. According to the top results found in Google, there are actually well under two million, less than 5% of the over age 65 population. Furthermore, the percentage of people in nursing homes is actually falling as overall health in the nation improves and better medical treatments become available.

    So, the somewhat hysterical scenario you envisage has no basis in reality at all…

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Oh, and if YOU want something to think about, try getting your head around the fact that your entire life is based on a belief for which there is zero evidence and then get back to me about dealing with the facts…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Not only that. SS benefits are a drop in the bucket when it comes to footing the entire bill of staying in a nursing home. So definitely, the nursing home argument is not I would want to use.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    That’s why I pointed out that it’s not only S.S. but also Medicare and Medicaid…particularly the latter. If you want government to get out of the business of helping provide for the elderly, then present a viable alternative – that’s all I’m asking.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    Yeah, ‘only’ two million more elderly Americans who can’t care for themselves, huh? Since it’s only a few in your opinion, well, THAT’s no big deal, huh?

    According to this site, twenty-three percent of nursing home residents are private-pay (out of their own pocket). The rest are by government largess…and I still want to hear your solution as to how they’d be cared for.

    On top of that, you apparently think that the rest of the elderly population (about 13% of America’s total, or close to 40 million) don’t need S.S. So since many or perhaps most of them can no longer work, and many of them don’t have families who can take care of them, how do you suppose they’ll be able to provide for food and shelter for themselves?

    Just give me a viable alternative, Chris – that’s all I’m asking…and that’s what you’re refusing to give.

  • Igor

    We in the USA have a surplus of workers, that’s why real wages have been falling for 30 years while the rewards of labor have gone disproportionately to the high paid executives and rich rentiers. That trend is already destroying our economy as it undermines the middleclass which has been the source of all our wealth.

    A large part of that deterioration of the middleclass is because of continuously increasing productivity (which has been fueled by workers voluntarily increasing their skills at working without successfully negotiating higher salaries).

    Increasing productivity means that the economy must either consume more or must reduce the work force. There are no alternatives. For several decades we chose to consume more, indeed we have become huge over-consumers. The waste we produce because of over-production is astounding. Look at all the fat people on our streets.

    But our proclivity for consumption is plateauing, as it must eventually, and so we must either reduce the work force or look forward to a cataclysmic economic breakdown as the same workforce competes for a smaller number of jobs and drives wages toward sub-survival levels. There are no alternatives.

    And nothing the individual can do will solve this problem. there is no training a single person can take that will save him. There is no savings plan, there is no investment, there is no fiscal or monetary solution for an individual that is safe and unassailable. There is no hope for the lone person. He stands alone against the best organized forces of the economy: the corporations and the government they have paid for with their political bribes.

    Down that path you are all screwed. All of you. Even the smart-asses who think they are so clever at investing that they can survive the predations of larger better financed predators (you know, the people who run the corps and have the inside information that one needs to be a modern investor). And even the smart-asses who think they are clever enough and glib enough to win the approval of their Masters in a predatory stratified society.

    All you guys are screwed.

    How do I know? Because I’m old and I’ve seen all that before. Because you are basically stupid, with no understanding of history, economics or human nature. Absent any real education you fill your empty heads with vaporous theories about society and government which you reinforce with shallow arguments designed merely to rationalize the irrational and make you feel better when arguing against the people you oppose.

    The need to reduce the workforce means that we must retire more people earlier, that we must support unemployment, and even that we must support immigration of consumers. Otherwise, as worker wages spiral down (reducing consumption: demand for goods) families go broke (becoming lower consumers) our businesses will go broke (and as they successfully beseech their paid-for government to grant them even more handouts and privileges) and become liabilities, our society will become more vulnerable to external takeover (which will not occur with invading armies but with stock buyouts of powerful companies; armies will be reserved for quelling public riots by the dispossessed public, the peasantry).

    We have to reduce the workweek and support the unemployed, retired and immigrants.

    They are all consumers and demand is what we need.

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/ Tommy Mack

    “With a drop in tax revenues the government will have to print money in order to meet Social Security obligations” is a post hoc fallacy that is popular with Republicans. The so-called payroll tax issue was a political trap that called out the GOP ideologues in congress and they fell for it. They showed themselves as being thoughtless, uncompromising, and obstructionist. Their ignorance is incredible.

    They appear to think that the wealthy Big Business interests that fund them are job creators, a recitation such ideologues are told to espouse. Big Business does not create jobs, it eliminates them. Small business creates jobs and only does so when there is demand, a function of money in circulation.

    Now they appear to be jerks. They have put the president in much better shape for re-election.

    Tommy

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Igor and Glenn,

    We have tried all of your social engineering schemes and they have bankrupted the counrty and produced a culture of entitlement and dependence. You cannot build a healthy economy based on loads of debt. That has become abundantly clear with this most recent financial crisis.

    So instead of reevaluating your positions, you resort to the boilerplate response of all social democrats to folks who disagree with you – revisionist history, hate mongering, and name calling and personal attack.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Tommy,

    You never said where the money for s.s. is going to come from if the tax is cut? The politicians have already stolen 3 trillion dollars out of the kitty. The system doles out more than it takes in. Future liabilities are enormous in a climate where our leaders refuse to make any hard fiscal choices. Then you guys want to cut the revenues further? This makes no sense at all. Why not just cut middle class income taxes instead?

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/ Tommy Mack

    Politics is about making choices, especially when all of the choices are bad. In such cases, one chooses the one that is the least bad and takes it from there. The US problem is measured in trillions, not billions. The ideologues have been suckered by wealthy interests into believing the nonsense about cutting government spending when pruning the government itself would accomplish a sustainable end result.

    Create a mechanism to do away with the budgets for the redundant Department of Homeland Security and the inept Drug Enforcement Administration and we might have something to start working with.

    Tommy

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, I don’t have to have a solution all worked out in order to assert my opinions about problems with the current socio-political setup.

    As Tommy points out, in the States you could start with doing away with the DHS, the DEA and many other arms of state control, get rid of state pensions and create an entirely new state infrastructure for those situations where private arrangements fall down.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    See, that’s the problem. Neither you nor Kenn nor anyone among the conservatives nor the GOP has a real, workable, viable solution. All we’ve heard is “get rid of it” which certainly doesn’t fix the problem, and “privatize it”…and the problem with that should be obvious given what happened to the life savings of hundreds of thousands of families during the Great Recession.

    Right? Right.

    On the other hand, we progressives DO have a solution to the S.S. problem – make FICA applicable to ALL levels of income, and not just the first $106K. Once that is done, S.S. is secure for the foreseeable future. The ONLY reason the GOP won’t get onboard with this is that it’s something we Dems support – and of course it would cost the rich a few fistfuls of dollars.

    We have a workable, viable solution. Conservatives don’t.

    Think about that, Chris.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    We have tried all of your social engineering schemes and they have bankrupted the counrty and produced a culture of entitlement and dependence. You cannot build a healthy economy based on loads of debt. That has become abundantly clear with this most recent financial crisis.

    FYI, Mr. Historian, our ‘social engineering schemes’ worked just fine till the GOP got hold of them – or didn’t you notice how the federal deficit did NOT explode until REAGAN got hold of the White House, how Clinton got it back under control, and then Dubya blew it up again, and how it’s finally beginning to level off again (if not improve) under Obama

    …oh, but I forgot! In Kenn’s fantasyland, the Great Depression lasted until 1946! And it was mere coincidence that America went down into the second dip of the Depression only AFTER the Conservative Coalition forced Congress (and thus FDR) to adopt austerity measures. And it’s mere coincidence too that over three years of austerity measures under Hoover did absolutely NO good in getting us out of the Depression, and no progress was made until FDR instituted the New Deal.

    Yeah, Kenn! It’s all coincidence! And the cow jumped over the moon, too! I really, REALLY have to wonder what you’re teaching your students, because your version of history – “the Depression ended in 1946″ – is whacked.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Kenn –

    You never said where the money for s.s. is going to come from if the tax is cut? The politicians have already stolen 3 trillion dollars out of the kitty. The system doles out more than it takes in. Future liabilities are enormous in a climate where our leaders refuse to make any hard fiscal choices. Then you guys want to cut the revenues further? This makes no sense at all. Why not just cut middle class income taxes instead?

    As I told Chris (and earlier, you) make FICA applicable to all levels of income and not just the first $106K…and the problem is solved. Of course the very idea will be unacceptable to you since it forces those oh-so-sacred “job creators” like Paris Hilton and Kobe Bryant to give up a few more dollars, but there it is.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn ,you’re so fixated on your own concerns that you aren’t tracking the conversation accurately – which is a persistent pattern with you.

    The conversation at the point I entered it was Clavos’ point in #23 that no who is able to support them self should be eligible for social security, a point I agreed with.

    I went on to say that I’d also get rid of compulsory retirement and state pensions too, making the not unreasonable observation that people should provide for themselves.

    At no time have I said anything about the state not helping to care for people in situations where they or their families can’t. you are simply causing an argument where non existed.

    So far you’ve thrown out false and slightly hysterical remarks about there being millions of people in care and that I have suggested there shouldn’t be any social security, that government shouldn’t be involved in helping people to care for those who can’t look after themselves , which is only true in your own over-heated imagination. Get a grip, will you?

    The “problem” here is that you want to preach to people about one thing when they are talking about something else…

  • Igor

    The SS surplus fund is in the form of Treasury notes which have the “Full Faith and Credit” of the USA behind them. The USA has NEVER reneged on such a Bond.

    This pattern of constancy was established by Alexander Hamilton after the revolution when everyone said the USA should immediately renege on all war debts, as was customary at the time. Hamilton insisted and prevailed, and that policy has held ever since. The importance can hardly be underestimated, as after the Civil war the union did NOT pay debts of the confederacy because it was an illegal war against the Union (They paid all union debts in full.). This was the signal that politics was NOT going to return to pre-war status, that confederate senators and representatives were NOT going to be re-admitted to congress.

    US Treasury notes are the most secure financial instruments in the world. They are the primary claim on US assets, such as bondholders have with commercial paper, but better because mere commercial enterprises have no basis against which to pledge “Full Faith and credit”.

  • Igor

    “51 – Kenn” is simply wrong. It just isn’t true that:

    “We have tried all of your social engineering schemes and they have bankrupted the counrty and produced a culture of entitlement and dependence.”

    YOU haven’t tried anything except bank bailouts!

    Before the Bush regime we had a stable and well funded social aid system. It was the Bush regime, which abandoned the Keynesian counter-cyclical policy when Greenspan warned against treasury surpluses (??!!) and instead of paying debts and putting money aside for a rainy day, Bush started spending like a drunken frat boy, pushed big tax giveaways to his rich friends and started two expensive wars in distant lands with no possible good economic outcome.

    “You cannot build a healthy economy based on loads of debt.” Tell it to the bankers, financiers and other recipients of US state largess whose gambling debts were paid off by Bush and his republican cronies. Tell it to the warrior class who repeatedly swept aside demands for financial accountability in order to wage illegal and expensive wars.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –


    The conversation at the point I entered it was Clavos’ point in #23 that no who is able to support them self should be eligible for social security, a point I agreed with. I went on to say that I’d also get rid of compulsory retirement and state pensions too, making the not unreasonable observation that people should provide for themselves. At no time have I said anything about the state not helping to care for people in situations where they or their families can’t. you are simply causing an argument where non existed.

    I’ll address this first, and then I’ll go on to your next section. Granted that you tried to show that you are compassionate by saying – or at least implying – that the state should help care for people where they or their families can’t…

    so…what qualifies? And by your language, you seem to understand that it can’t be limited to the elderly and infirm. How about single moms who struggle to get by on minimum wage? There’s hope for you yet.

    Problem is, when you say that you agree with means-testing for S.S., are you aware of what that would involve? That’s a can of worms of epic proportions – who decides who fits the formula? And what about those who fall outside the formula? And then there’s the little problem that “means testing” would never pass Congress. Why? Because it would be immediately termed “wealth redistribution” and “socialism” by the Right Wing echo machine and would never see the light of day. Notice that I didn’t say I opposed it – I’m simply being realistic about whether it could happen.

    THEN you say you’d get rid of compulsory retirement (normally found only in government or government-regulated jobs) and state pensions. Problem is, you’re apparently not aware of the trade-off of working for the government. You see, NO ONE gets wealthy working for the government (unless you’re among the .001% who are really, really high up the food chain). To take a government job normally means that one gives up any chance to ‘make it big’. Furthermore, there’s a VERY good reason why government personnel (city, county, state, federal) MUST be paid well – because if you pay cops less, you’ll find more corruption. If you pay tax assessors less, you’ll find more corruption. If you pay road surveyors, mail clerks, immigration clerks, court clerks, anyone with a high security clearance, whatever – if you pay them significantly less, you’ll find significantly MORE corruption. Come with me sometimes to a third-world nation and I’ll show it to you first-hand.

    Yes, there IS corruption in government…but if you slice-and-dice government wages and/or pensions, you will find significantly MORE corruption…and that would wind up hurting everyone. Yes, you’ll probably blow this one off, but that’s the real world for you.

    You get what you pay for – and that includes government workers, Chris. Spend some time in a third-world country where government workers are paid a lot less and have zero pensions…and you’ll see what I mean.

    =========================================

    So far you’ve thrown out false and slightly hysterical remarks about there being millions of people in care

    Hm. You’re paying attention to the “less than two million” who are in nursing homes, and you’re completely ignoring (or more likely are completely ignorant of) the millions more that are in Adult Family Homes (which significantly outnumber nursing homes since they’re far cheaper than nursing homes), or are taken care of at home by Home Health Care.

    Like I said, Chris, you’re probably ignorant of this. I’ve been well-indoctrinated in this system for over a decade, and I have a clue just how big it is. You probably don’t.

    and that I have suggested there shouldn’t be any social security, that government shouldn’t be involved in helping people to care for those who can’t look after themselves , which is only true in your own over-heated imagination

    Gee – coulda fooled me! Why? Because you wrote:

    Why should people be forced out of their career or job and subsequently marginalised simply for reaching a certain age? As to pensions, if people want to invest in a pension, that is a personal choice, NOT A MATTER FOR THE STATE. (caps mine)

    So you apparently want to privatize “social security”…which will no longer mean social security at all. Or didn’t you pay attention to the all the people who saw their nest eggs and 401K’s and life savings go “poof” during the Great Recession? Or with Enron before that?

    Chris, the big difference between Social Security and private pensions…is that government functionaries normally have ZERO chance to take the money and run, whereas a private pension fund manager can transfer the funds en masse to wherever he thinks best.

    Where would you want your last-resort savings, the money that – if all else is gone – you’d depend upon for food and shelter? With a government functionary who can’t take it and run, who have sixty-odd years of NOT losing people’s money? Or would you rather trust your last-resort funds with someone who could put it wherever he thought was best…even when “best” means his own pocket?

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, when you are in a pit of miscomprehension, clever people would stop digging.

    No, I didn’t realise the complexities of means testing; in all my life that simply never crossed my mind. /sarcasm

    Do you perceive a difference between pensions and social security?

    I didn’t say anything at all about pay for government employees.

    YOU were the one that said there were millions of Americans in care homes, I simply pointed out that what you said was wrong, which it is.

    Again, as you are repeating yourself, social security and pensions aren’t the same thing, so I haven’t fooled you, you have fooled yourself.

    Rather than pointlessly lecturing me and making a colossal fool of yourself in the process, perhaps you should stop listening to your own babbling and try to understand what is being said.

    You appear to be in the grip of doctrine in public matters as well as private ones, neither of which are serving you well.

  • S.T.M

    Rosey, you sound like you spent the Christmas break sitting on a very sharp rock. What happened mate? Only got the dark meat in the turkey carve up?

    Joking champ but, surprisingly to me, you sound marginally Thatcherite here, Chris (although she DID have some pertty good ideas that with the passing of time have been shown to be correct, even if their introduction was fraught at the time) … yet I do agree with you on some of it.

    I have come to the view over the years that some facets of statism are OK if they’re affordable and are paid for and agreed upon by everyone in the state, including employers and workers, but that super-statism (which Americans haven’t experienced, whatever delusions in that regard they might choose to believe) is totally unworkable and totally undesireable.

    We now have the madness of paid paternity leave in this country. So, what, you ask, how does that work?? If you are a bloke: Nine months after having a good time, you’ll get paid for it. Bizarre.

    It is set at the rate of the weekly minimum wage, about $US600, for a fortnight (sorry, two weeks to our American friends). So you get $1200 to “engage” in the parenting process of your newborn.

    Fantastic. I used up some of my paid holiday leave for that. Which is probably how it should be. I did it, therefore I’m responsible for paying for it.

    While I believe in shift payments for working outside normal hours and penalty rates for weekends and public holidays, six weeks a year paid holiday, universal health care, employer-funded superannuation retirement schemes paid out through the tax system and state pensions for those who can’t support themselves, and unfair dismissal laws to protect the rights of employees working for larger companies, and universal health care, I can’t come at taxpayer-funded paid parental leave or unfair-dismissal laws that mean a small-to-medium sized business might have to hold on to a useless employee because the process of fighting it in the industrial law courts is not worth the cost.

    However, offset against protections of pay and working conditions is that in return for a fair day’s pay, people will do a fair day’s work and raise productivity to raise an employers’ bottom line. That is the only way it makes any sense. And it takes accord between workers and employers to get to that point. It also often means that workers have to have some protections offered by the state with which they can bargain. Employers also need certain protections, for instance from the threat of rogue industrial action.

    I also object to laws that pander to asylum-seekers and allow people who can pay criminal people-smugglers up to $20,000 a pop so they can arrive on our shores via leaky boats on often deadly voyages from Indonesia, over UN-mandated refugee targets that would actually mean us taking genuine refugees who’ve been waiting for years for resettlement in camps in south-east Asia. I object to funding and rewarding that kind of criminal enterprise and the queue jumping that goes with it through my taxpayer dollars – especially given the sense of entitlement this government has aroused in many asylum-seekers, who expect to be fed, houses and clothed in the community the moment they arrive.

    I ask the question: If you can afford between $10,000 and $20,000 to put yourself on a boat bound for Oz, are you really a refugee with arse hanging out of pants, or are you an economic refugee looking for the best free deal?

    It is, generally, the sense of entitlement that is obejectionable beyond what might be considered reasonable laws to protect the wellbeing of citizens that is odious and which has been created not only for asylum seekers but within the general community by a government relying on the loony left to stay in power.

    Keeping citizens who’ve worked hard and paid taxes all their lives and who find they are unable support themselves in retirement or when they become ill probably isn’t in that category in a civilised country.

    Everyone deserves a fair go if they’ve earned it.

    As for payroll tax cuts, yes, they are right in the US, right now. They benefit smaller businesses by increasing the bottom line, which means they either stay in business and keep all that money going around the towns and neighbourhoods where they exist, or better still, they end up employing more people and make even more money go around.

    For evidence of what can happen when that doesn’t happen, take a visit to downtown Detroit. That is American industrial heartland … and a view of the future if Americans aren’t careful. The truth is, you can’t become a rich and wealthy American, or a big corporation, if there are no jobs and no money.

    It’s not only stimulus programs that are the problem in the US (while some were loony tunes stuff, some worked well in Oz and staved off recession), it’s the depth of America’s financial woes that are at the core of the issue in the US.

    And that stuff started happening well before Obama got into the White House.

    Perhaps cutting spending on the US military by at least half might help for starters. Sensible prudential regulation to rein in irresponsible money-market and banking practices might help too. That is, getting the cowboys out of the game while still encouraging free-market principles

    The other option would be to make the wealthy and the corporate citizens of the US pay tax that is proportionate to the amounts paid by most Americans. How can someone on $80,000 a year be paying, say, 30 per cent income tax (I don’t know what the actual amount is, but I’d assume it’s close to that), while multinational corporations offshoring jobs, and the mega-wealthy, are able to write-off so much of their tax burden that often they’ll pay very little if anything at all.

    F.cked if I can work out how that works.

    Like I say, guys like Kenn have their thinking arse-about. The only thing that is going to rescue America from the brink of disaster is a return to what America used to be good at: making or growing or producing quality stuff and doing it so well, that it sells at a profit because everyone wants it.

    That, and fair payment of taxes.

    America’s recent wealth has depended on the virtual shuffling about of bits of paper in money market trading or bizarre investment schemes packaged up and sprinkled with triple-A rated fairy dust.

    And we’ve seen over the past few years how very illusory that all is. Ah, how they fooled us all … I bet they think it’s a very jolly jape looking back on it.

    Very amusing, bringing the world to the brink of financial disaster and then having all the mad pointy-heads, especially on the raving right, blame one bloke for a set of circumstances that largely came about because of the kind of econimic thinking they espoused in the first.

    Kenn … give yourself an upper cut.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Igor,

    I understand your problem with me – you are partisan and think I am a Republican. But don’t worry, Glenn has the exact same problem. See you guys are socialized to believe that there are only two sides to every issue in America – conservative and liberal.

    Both conservatives and liberals are at fault. You should like GWB a lot economically. He spent money like crazy which according to your Keynesian life philosophy would be great for aggregate demand. Let’s remember that WW II ended the Great Depression. Right Glenn. By the way I don’t believe he ever advocated putting money away for a rainy day. That would be the paradox of thrift. Bush also pumped money into homeownership for the poor. So you see, he was in agreement with the
    same schemes you guys like. And then what happened? The collapse came. Oh, and your man Obama left the campaign trail to come back and vote for TARP! McCain of course did the same thing. So let’s see, logically, since I am not a Republican or Democrat and I have railed against the bailouts repeatedly in my articles, I guess that means I have not been for bailouts as you so eloquently stated.

    Furthermore, the U.S. reneges on its full faith and credit everytime it has to print more money to pay its debts. Yes, it meets its obligations. but our money is then worth less which destroys our standard of living. This
    all started with the biggest reneging on our debt when Nixon told foreigners we would no longer exchange dollars for gold. He reneged on the Bretton Woods Agreement and certainly didn’t show “full faith and credit”.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Hi Stan,

    Actually I’m having a lovely Christmas holiday; lots of pressies and only working part time for a few days.

    Yeah, I’m somewhat embarrassed to learn that I have anything at all in common with the milk snatcher – although even more embarrassing would be to be associated with the greatest disappointment as Prime Minister for decades, by which I mean Tony Blair, who has been shown to be the greatest hypocrite of recent times.

    Ain’t contemporary politics fun?

  • S.T.M

    Your money being worth a bit less doesn’t destroy your standard of living at all, especially if you buy american.

    You might pay a bit more at the pump for fuel (or you might not, depending on the largess of the oil companies), you’ll pay more for imported luxury goods such as European cars, clothes and perfumes, and the exchange rate isn’t as good when you travel overseas … but the cost of a basket of American groceries in a US supermarket will be pretty much the same, as will a mortgage, or the price of a locally produced car, a pair of shoes or a nice suit.

    And any would-be American exporter will tell you: the US dollar has been valued too high to be of any benefit in export markets.

    That is a real and genuine issue, because while US goods are viewed as must-haves in many quarters, most people simply outside the US won’t pay exorbitant prices for them when they can get local goods much cheaper and at similar quality.

    There used to be this notion on Wall St about “King Dollar”. That being that the US dollar should be the highest valued currency and the one against which all others are valued. It was a dangerous nonsense.

    That’s great if you are on Wall St, swapping money about, but if you’re a big cherry farmer in California and you can’t even sell summer cherries to Australia in the off-season (southern hemisphere stone fruit season beginning around December in the northern winter), because the price is too high, then you only have the north American market (and minus Mexico with many goods, because the average Mexican can’t afford them). Canada only has a population one tenth that of the US, so it’s a bit of cream on the cake – but in essence, you’re then only really looking at the domestic market.

    I have noticed more American cars (cars manufactured in the US) being sold in Australia since the US dollar came down a bit, something that I hadn’t seen since the 1960s.

    That kind of thing keeps Americans in work.

    Aussie exporters always let out a collective groan when the Aussie dollar goes higher than the greenback and up against the euro, or too close to them, because it’s crap for exports. The price of everything we export goes up (and we export a hell of a lot), and manufacturers, growers and producers have to cut their costs to compete. That is what REALLY affects our standard of living and it’s no different for the average American.

    I never noticed any difference in my standard of living when the Aussie dollar was worth 85 cents US. In fact, everything seemed to cost less.

    Now that it is so high, generally above the greenback, I seem to be dipping into my pocket constantly.

    I wonder if that is, in part, what has helped bring about the (temporary) demise of the US in the current economic climate.

    The other things is the offshoring of jobs. When the US dollar is so high, the cost of domestic wages relative to the exchange rate also affects corporate bottom lines … so they go offshore.

    The only way the US is going to recapture its export markets is for the value of the dollar to stay down a bit – and it IS only a bit in the great scheme of things.

    So creating or keeping more American jobs can only be a good thing.

    Mindful of the contribution the US has made to the world I live in, I make a point of buying US goods at the moment because I know it will help keep Americans in jobs. The products – fruits, clothing, bath linen, etc – are generally of decent quality.

    But if the exchange rate gets too unrealistically lopsided again, I probably won’t.

    It’s a simple mathematical equation here when exchange rates are about even. If you grow, pack and export a banana for 10 cents and sell it in Australia for 20, you make a 50 percent profit.

    If the exchange rate is too high, you grow the banana for 10 cents and try to sell it for 30 cents in Australia, it looks good on paper but it doesn’t work.

    No one’s buying at that price, American banana production falls on simple supply and demand, producers and exporters go out of business, people lose jobs and homes, those who’ve lost jobs don’t eat at the local diner anymore, more jobs are lost, they put less fuel in their cars, buy cheaper clothes and groceries.

    The US economy no longer exists in a vacuum. It is dependent on what goes on elsewhere, and if Americans can’t sell their goods, the American standard of living goes down.

    It’s got nothing to do with a slight fall in the value of the US dollar.

    That can only be a good thing for American manufacturers, growers and producers, who until recently have missed out on a big share of the global export pie.

    It probably didn’t matter that much in the past; in the current global climate it is vital.

  • troll

    The New Yorker has run a couple of articles lately on Keynes’ theory. This one points out the Keynsian nature of both liberal and conservative social planning.

  • S.T.M

    G’day Chris. That sounds more like the you I know and love. I feel the same way about Julia Gillard at the moment. Labor promised so much, and delivered so little.

    Being incompetent doesn’t help, either. They have totally lost the plot, and are not listening to the people, although I still can’t bring myself to vote for the Libs. I’m coming around perhaps just for this once, but still …

    I voted for the Australian Sex Party in the senate at the last federal election, and a local candidate with a beard who looks like a homeless person for the lower house. It’s a blue-riband seat anyhow so it makes no real difference but he only ever gets a few thousand votes in the seat and stands in every federal and state and local election. He gets my vote on E for Effort alone.

    Cheers

  • S.T.M

    I’m not sure what the Sex Party actually stands for, but it sounded better than Family First, and a few of the others, although in truth they might have a bit of a tenuous link there.

    I hope the Sex Party, if it ever wins a senate seat, will attempt to legislate for compulsory fornication, thus taking the game of chance out of everything.

    When and if they do, which is highly unlikely, I’ll then probably vote against them on principle.

  • S.T.M

    G’day troll. Merry Chrissy. I’m reading that Keynsian thing tomorrow, as it’s likely to be lengthy given it’s in the New Yorker. Better to do it on work time than mine. Research. Cheers mate.

  • troll

    Merry Christmas surfer dude

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    YOU were the one that said there were millions of Americans in care homes, I simply pointed out that what you said was wrong, which it is.

    Oh? Perhaps you should look again. What I SAID was:

    But now there are millions of elderly whose kids can’t (or won’t) take care of them in their old age (or who have no kids at all) – and if you had your way, they’d have no steady source of income when they’re no longer able to work, too! Tell me, Kenn – what are those elderly supposed to do? Beg? Is that your solution for the 70- and 80-somethings who would have zero income except for S.S.?

    Tell me, Chris – WHERE in that statement did I say “nursing homes” or “adult family homes”? Apparently you think I did, because it was immediately after this statement that you made the ASSUMPTION that I was talking about nursing homes. If you were as familiar with the subject as you believe yourself to be, you’d know that there are many, many elderly who need care but are living by themselves with no family around.

    Think about it, Chris – elderly fall into a few discrete classes: (1) those who can still function on their own, (2) those who can’t, but who live with family who can help them, (3) those who live in care facilities of one type or another, (4) those who receive care at their own homes thanks to the state…and (5) those who need care but are receiving little or no care since they have no family willing or able to care for them OR ADVOCATE FOR THEM (that’s a big one, Chris) and so they fall through the cracks.

    Like I said, Chris, due to my experience, I have a clue on this subject…and your assumption that it’s no big deal since YOU think it’s “less than two million” simply shows your ignorance on the subject. You are NOT stupid, but you ARE ignorant on the subject.

    But as time goes on, as you grow older, you won’t be…and with luck and careful planning, you’ll never be in the position that I’ve seen too many elderly, depending on strangers to make their decisions for them.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    We hear a lot from folks like Kenn about the “culture of entitlement” that’s supposed to exist here in the US.

    Apparently it manifests itself in the suggestions of folks like Glenn that perhaps it isn’t entirely the fault of the involuntarily unemployed, the impoverished elderly and the abruptly lifessavingsless that they got in that situation. Shucks, let’s just throw those awful people down a well for having such irresponsible opinions.

    As I understand it, all of those slackers and malingerers are expected to start their own businesses or something. How they are supposed to grow their incomes over time in this utopia if they can’t hire extra employees because everyone else is working for themselves too is never satisfactorily explained.

    Here in San Diego there is a sizeable homeless community who have discovered that the only thing they’re entitled to is a few hours’ kip on the grass next to the boardwalk, and then only if the local police are in a good mood.

    I worked for nine years on what Kenn would regard as an “entitlement” program. While there are a few who milk the system, most people on Section 8, TANF, food stamps and similar forms of assistance (other than the elderly or disabled who can’t) actually do work (and therefore pay taxes) and are working towards a better life for their families so that they don’t need those programs any more.

    A lot of the time they don’t succeed, because yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as the Poverty Trap, but they are trying, and I don’t see that it’s such a horrendous thing to give them a helping hand while they do.

    As far as things like paid maternity leave go, yes, I suppose there is a valid argument that prospective parents have got nine months to plan ahead and save for the temporary loss of income, but that’s not easy to do when you also have to take into account all the extra expenditure that comes with having a baby. And as Jordan pointed out, fundamentally it’s no different than taking annual leave, sick leave or being absent from your job for any other valid reason. Any reasonable employer ought to be able to budget for the reality that their employees are not going to be available 24/7/365.

    And speaking for myself: I’m currently in the middle of a battle royal to try and claim unemployment benefits. You bet your cherry pink ass I think I’m entitled to them since I’ve been paying into the damn fund for the last ten damn years.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Virginia …

    Now you’ll really be disowned by your compatriots for making use of that Yankee expression.

    And what happened with your job with HUD? I should think these jobs were pretty secure.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    In any case, in my younger days I never regarded my relationship with my former employers as a matter of “mere contract.” There was also a measure of loyalty which, subject to performance of course, was understood to go both ways — a touch of a feudal type of relationship. Which explains my earlier reference to honor. In short, labor was a cut above a mere commodity.

    Those days are long gone, however.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    No, Glenn, that is what you said to Kenn.

    Claiming that due to your experience that you have better knowledge is just one of the many logical and reasoning errors you continually make.

    I’m not claiming special knowledge about the subject, but being involved in something does NOT mean that you know better OR see things more clearly. In fact, in many cases it means the exact opposite and, outside of your own imagination, you are not known for you clarity of thinking, rather your adherence to your beliefs. All you have done is swap certain beliefs for others, which is your pattern.

    I am unaligned with any dogma, system or programme at all; indeed, I tend to agree with Groucho Marx who famously said, if I remember the quote accurately “I don’t care to belong to a club that would accept people like me as a member”.

    Doc, having a baby is a lifestyle choice; why should businesses be involved in paying for that? Whether parents plan ahead or not, it is their choice and it is fundamentally different to holidays or sick leave, and sick leave should not be a long term requirement of any business either.

    If you meet the criteria of the programme you have been paying into, you are certainly absolutely entitled to unemployment benefits and it would be outrageous if you were being denied such benefits, so I hope that gets sorted out soon.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Sometimes, Roger, you have to speaka da language. I was, after all, addressing an American issue, so if Chris et al want to disown me that’s their problem!

    We relocated. My wife got a job in San Diego. My job was secure, but the long-distance thing just ain’t an option for long.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    I have to laugh. Obama is for tax cuts, the GOP are against them. On a string a long time ago I made a joke and it’s now come to fruition…

    The Republican Party’s biggest fear is that President Obama will announce in November of 2012 just before the election that he wants all true Americans to get out and vote for their GOP and Tea Party candidates…

    …Republicans will automatically rush out and vote every Democrat in by a landslide, rather than do what he asked…

    don’t laugh it could happen.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    January 2009, “It is the sworn duty of every loyal Republican member of both houses of congress to make sure that this president achieves little or nothing during his term in office… by what ever means necessary.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, I’m certain you’ll like San Diego better.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    …if you’re a mexican that doesn’t speak English it’s ideal

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Doc, having a baby is a lifestyle choice; why should businesses be involved in paying for that? Whether parents plan ahead or not, it is their choice and it is fundamentally different to holidays or sick leave, and sick leave should not be a long term requirement of any business either.

    Chris, while procreation is a choice, a sufficiently large percentage of people do it as to make it as natural a part of the human life cycle as illness or requiring rest, so I don’t find it reasonable for a business to come over all Scrooge-like when their employees occasionally discover buns in their ovens.

    If paid maternity leave makes the difference between retaining a good, happy employee and losing her permanently, I’d say it makes sound business sense apart from anything else.

    Paid leave here, if offered at all, tends to the parsimonious anyway, and it’s not unusual for women to work up to and beyond their due dates, with the obvious possible health implications that holds.

    The US isn’t like Europe. There are very few benefits that employers are legally compelled to offer their employees, and many don’t. Not surprisingly, the ones that don’t tend to be those with a high number of low-wage workers, for example in the food and service industries. This, incidentally, is another thing that perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

    Americans work longer hours with less time off than almost any other industrialized nation. Coincidentally, their general state of health is also one of the worst in the developed world. While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, there are many reasons in this case to think that the two phenomena are not unconnected.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Hetrosexuality is a “lifestyle choice???”

    I haven’t been back to S.D. in years and I miss it a lot. I worked there four times a year as a line-producer and videographer

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    …if you’re a mexican that doesn’t speak English it’s ideal

    Actually, Jet, considering we’re so close to the border (it’s only 15 miles down the road) there are surprisingly few monoglot Mexicans here, compared to Fresno, where they are everywhere.

    This is because they work mainly in agriculture, and go where the work is. So you won’t find many of them in big cities like SD.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Hetrosexuality is a “lifestyle choice???”

    No, but having a sprog is, whether you’re gay or straight.

  • Costello

    Since when do employers pay maternity leave? Thought it was a state benefit.

    And if Groucho actually spoke in the manner Christopher butchered that quote no one would know who he was

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Well, I’m certain you’ll like San Diego better.

    I do, and if I can figure out a way to make a consistent, significant contribution to our family income without rejoining the rat race and spending most of my time away from our beachfront community I will.

    But the wellbeing of our household comes first, which is why I quit my old job without having a new one to go to. We did it for 5 months, but living 360 miles apart is rarely good for a relationship, and certainly isn’t good for one’s gasoline budget.

    At least we were in the same time zone!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Since when do employers pay maternity leave? Thought it was a state benefit.

    It’s paid for by employee contributions, isn’t it? At least it is in California.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Jet, you know a good part of San Diego is a very conservative, well-to-do community. Take La Jolla, for instance.

    Dreadful will indeed have hard time if he tries to measure up to those standards.

  • S.T.M

    San Diego, eh Doc?? Have spent a little time there. It reminded me of home. La Jolla is a lot like Bilgola Plateau, or Avalon.

    The only difference was that everyone spoke with a very strange accent, and drove on the wrong side of the road.

    Apart from that, it was all good.

    Haven’t got a quid to your name at the moment, eh?

    Brave move relocating. I haven’t been to Fresno (I never saw any point :) but San Diego was a good joint back in the 80s and it’d have to be worth taking the punt and going down there with no job.

    You never know what you’ll flumm into mate!…

    BTW, I leave for Adelaide in one week. I’m driving down ahead of my family, who fly down the week after.

    It involves a drive through part of the outback, or kind of, because I think the real outback is probably more interesting … the Hay Plains, which are just miles of nothing broken up by tiny bits of civilisation just to fool you before they disappear into another vast expanse of black soil and red dust and straight road that seems to go on forever.

    Should be fun! The music will get a decent workover. I am stopping in Hay on the way through, as it’s almost exactly half way. Everyone does it, so I’m hoping all the beds in town won’t be booked out. Best to take a punt and get a cheapie.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Doc, requiring rest, if you mean sleep, is unfortunately an inherent part of life for everybody but illness and procreation aren’t.

    Your remarks presume that the pregnant employee IS a good employee, which may or may not be the case; however, it is certain that if they can be done without for a prolonged period, they aren’t essential, so why should the business be held up by compulsory maternity leave?

    I completely agree that Americans work too much and there may very well be a causative correlation there.

    Jet, nice to see you about the place again but I don’t think anyone said heterosexuality was a lifestyle choice.

    Costello, I pointed out that I wasn’t sure if I was remembering the Groucho quote accurately but thanks for chiming in as graciously as usual…

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    I flew there 4-6 times a year on business. We had a studio on El Cajon and a timeshare overlooking the base and airport near the zoo.

    I’ve turned down many offers to move there (sadly) after my first visit when my locked rental car was stolen while I was in a restaurant.

    With all the marines and sailors it was heaven though…

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    …um it was a joke Chris… it was a joke [sigh]

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Jet, San Francisco and the Castro District are still waiting. Not to mention Polk.

    When have you been there last?

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    We sold our studio in 2004. I miss it, I had a friend from upstate New York with a timeshare Lear 45 that’d fly me cross-country when he was going out there about every three months.

    I’d pay half the tarmac fees and fuel and it was cheaper than commerical, none of the hassles and he’d give me flying lessons.

    We’d stop over at McCarren and play blackjack at the MGM Grand there and back. (by the way NEVER play the slots in the airport-worst odds in the city)

    my god I miss it

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    No, Glenn, that is what you said to Kenn.

    Which you still immediately replied to, because it was part of a question I asked Kenn and repeated to you.

    Okay, Chris? Ya messed up and made a huge assumption and then attacked me on the grounds of your assumption…

    …and your assumption turned out to be wrong…

    …and you are simply loath to admit that you made a mistake. Try owning up to your mistakes even to those who dislike the most, and you might find that you’ll gain a measure of self-respect that you’re not expecting.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jet –

    #92 gave me a belly-laugh, because I well remember how homophobic the Navy tried to be before and during DADT. On a sadder note, although I never took part in the homophobia, I never actively took a part against it until the last four years of my twenty, when a good subordinate of mine lost her career just because some officer’s homophobic wife saw her kissing a girl…

    …and I hope that wherever she is, she takes some measure of comfort when she saw this photograph.

  • http://cinemasentries.com El Bicho

    Good to see you around, Jet.

    I think Doc is right. Employees pay into it like our State Disability Insurance.

  • Igor

    #76-Chris asks:

    “Doc, having a baby is a lifestyle choice; why should businesses be involved in paying for that?”

    I’m glad you asked, since an old girlfriend, Constance (people called her “Connie the Commie” for her leftist views), equipped me to answer this many years ago. I’m sure Connies answer would be something like:

    “Business SHOULD help pay, since so much of the benefit that comes to business from the Excess Value of wages that business harvests will come because of that child! Just the baby goods alone that will immediately contribute to commerce will enrich the economy. Later, the child will grow and become a consumer and further feed the needs of business with teenagers commerce. And later yet the baby will become a worker, contributing not only to production but also through his/her work to the Excess Value of labor that is harvested as profits by business!”

    Your move.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Doc, here’s a link to answer your California Family Leave questions here

    1. Is my job protected while I’m taking PFL?

    2. Can my employer require to me to use vacation or sick leave before getting PFL benefits?

    3. Will I need a doctor’s note to qualify for PFL?

    4. Can multiple workers take PFL to care for the same seriously ill family member?

    5. Can I take PFL to care for a seriously ill family member outside of California?

    6. How is my PFL benefit calculated?

    7. Can I take PFL on an hourly basis?

    8. Does an employee have to work a minimum number of hours or days before becoming eligible for PFL benefits?

    9. I am on leave recovering from pregnancy and receiving State Disability Insurance payments – can I also receive PFL benefits?

    10. How is the 7-day waiting period served?

    11. I am not a U.S. citizen – can I still apply for PFL?

    12. Can my spouse and I both take PFL to bond with our new child?

    13. How long do I have to take PFL to bond with a new child?

    14. Who do I contact about my PFL application?

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Glenn, you have no idea how many burly straight marines and sailors were willing to pose naked (except for their tattoos and dogtags) in front of my cameras, or even have sex with a fellow soldier in order to earn enough instant cash to buy their girlfriend an engagement ring.

    Word soon spread around the bases that doing straight porn was fun, but gay porn paid four times or more and paid cash instantly. The things a twenty-year-old will do for $2,000 are astonishing.

    It’s how I made a living for almost 20 years enticing those underpaid men with quick cash for an hour’s work (if you want to call it that.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You were corrupting the youth, my friend.

    Socrates was banished from Athens for the same kind of offense, but decided to drink hemlock instead rather than live out the rest of his life in infamy.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    …and I loved every minute of it {:^pbpb~~~~~

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    …damn, I keep forgetting Roger says I only post on my own articles… sigh

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jet –

    At first glance I was surprised to see that, because I never heard of it…but that’s probably because I was one of those who was always having to worry about making weight standards. But I must admit I’m not too surprised, because yes, there’s not much they wouldn’t do for a bit of extra cash – and they probably surprised themselves with their own, um, reactions. And you’ve probably got a few stories you could tell on the subject, too. Hey – there’s a serious market for LGBT publishing – write something about your experiences! Not a seedy novel, but a book about what you saw on a psychological level. I remember when I went to a writers conference a few years back, some editors were specifically asking for LGBT writers. Might be some money there, y’know?

    Just think, Jet – you probably had a hand (or more) in changing a lot of minds about DADT!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And for Chris –

    There’s a significant (and very politically-active) segment of the population who feel that having a child is NOT a “lifestyle choice”, but who are against birth control in all its forms.

    Funny thing is, these same people would generally agree with you that businesses shouldn’t have to give any allowances whatsoever for childbearing.

    OTOH, it’s either Sweden or Norway (or is it Finland?) that gives a full YEAR of maternity leave for new mothers…and their economy’s doing just fine, thank you very much, even during the current European economic crisis.

    But I forget – that’s EEEEEvil socialism, and not at all the Holy Capitalism of Red-Blooded America!

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Igor, I don’t find your answer, amusing though it is, has any relevance to the issue. Principally, it confuses the specificity of a particular business with the generality of businesses collectively.

    Glenn, I fail to see how your most recent comments either help along the conversation or even make much sense but I guess I just don’t have the facility for magic thinking that you do.

    All I know is that trying to talk to you is exactly the same experience as trying to talk to those Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to the door from time to time; a pointless exercise because they have already decided what the answers are, as have you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I was never aware until you just reminded me that Christopher Rose was an avid proponent of Holy Capitalism, or Red-Blooded America, for that matter.

    Live and learn, I guess. You are a chock full o’ wisdom, Glenn, got to give you that! There’s no way I could possibly compete.

    And you’re saying now you’re not a sanctimonious, pompous ass? How on earth can you possibly have a decent discussion with anyone while you’re assuming such airs?

    You really ought to hear yourself speak or write. It should put you to shame. I’m certain you’re not doing that consciously, no sane person possibly could. I must trace it therefore to your basic ineptness in person-to-person relationships. Perhaps the twenty-year hitch in the Navy is just too much for any person to go through and remain unscathed. I have no idea, I’m only guessing. But surely, you’ve been affected, and in a serious way.

    A belated Merry-Xmas, by the way. I hope for your sake the next year will make sufficient impact to make you come down and join the rest of humanity because as things stand right now, you’re in a class all your own.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I’ve said several times that it was Jordan who rightly pointed out that I had a problem with sanctimony, and I immediately agreed and have thanked Jordan directly for saying so. And I’d have to agree with you that my tone is growing more pompous as well.

    And yes, this is a matter of concern for me and it’s something I really do need to work on – for it’s hurting my effectiveness as a writer. Not only that, but I’m not this way face-to-face, but I certainly wouldn’t want my tone of writing to affect my actual personality.

    There’s a scene in Patton where Patton admits to Bradley that yes, he is a prima donna, but what bothered him about Montgomery was that he was just as much a prima donna but simply wouldn’t admit it. I admit that my writing has become more sanctimonious and pompous…but unlike Patton in the movie, that’s something I really do want to change. Hopefully – with your help (seriously) – I can bring down my tone to a sensible, saner level. Please do so by reminding me when I’m getting too close to the edge of the map.

    And as before, I do appreciate the constructive criticism. Thank you, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I haven’t meant to be disrespectful, Glenn. It just does come across too many times that you’re so entangled in your own train of thought that you’re simply running roughshod, at total disregard of what other people are saying.

    There’s just no sense in that if communication is the object, unless all you’re intent on is to hear yourself speak.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    You’ve been disrespectful in the past…and so have I. I’d be a hypocrite if I were to disregard what you’re saying when you’re shifting gears and giving me constructive criticism which I need and appreciate.

    Again, I am grateful.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Of course I have, but it wasn’t intentional. I was but a frustration on my part, no excuse though.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    No, I won’t buy the ‘unintentional’ excuse – we are all accountable for our actions. I was disrespectful and I am solely responsible for that. It is only by holding oneself accountable and not allowing oneself to have excuses that one can hold oneself to a better standard.

    Please note that while I am not allowing you that excuse, neither am I blaming you – because I am every bit as much at fault.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Cool.

  • Igor

    In re 107-Chris: Yes, of course, isn’t that the point of rationalizing our own personal interests as identified with noble group goals? To recruit the goals of the group to our own purposes?

    Of course it is!

    But I didn’t quite finish Connies discourse, as she would finish like this: “so you see, by all of us contributing to the health and welfare of this child the entire society benefits, though each of us does it for his own pleasure and rewards, as if guided by an Invisible Hand.”

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Igor, do people rationalize their “own personal interests as identified with noble group goals”? I would have thought that was intellectually dishonest.

    I’d counter the end of your friend’s possibly naive discourse by quoting Philip Larkin’s cheery little poem This Be The Verse.

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself

    I don’t subscribe routinely to cheery optimism or bleak pessimism myself.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @116

    “Igor, do people rationalize their “own personal interests as identified with noble group goals”? I would have thought that was intellectually dishonest.”

    Of course it is, but intellectual honesty takes courage to keep on challenging your own positions.

    I like your poem, though.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    intellectual honesty takes courage to keep on challenging your own positions.

    QUOTED FOR TRUTH!!!!

    Questioning my own beliefs, btw, is precisely why I’m a strong liberal now instead of having remained a strong conservative.

  • Igor

    Chris:

    Igor, do people rationalize their “own personal interests as identified with noble group goals”? I would have thought that was intellectually dishonest.

    Of course it’s intellectually dishonest. That’s what ‘rationalize’ is about. Trickery and sleight-of-hand.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    I try to aim for honesty, even when it isn’t in my immediate best interest.

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