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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The nearer your destination, the more you're slip-slidin' away

Blogging about stuff seems to make things happen sometimes. Just after we wrote last week about the anniversary of the first retirement under Social Security, along in the mail came our own annual statement of pay-ins and projected benefits from the Social Security Administration. We've been getting these since 1998, showing our annual earnings all the way back to our first soda jerk job when we were 16.

Beginning in 2003, there's been a blue note on the benefit statement: A warning that at the rate it's growing, the Social Security fund is going to go broke, and so our chickens have not yet hatched for the counting. And it just got worse. Here's what it said last year:

This year's version says:

It seems that the retirement cottage on the beach somewhere keeps getting further away every year. Good thing we love our job.

Comments (24)

I was up listening to some author talk about the dollar on Coast to Coast. Not good.
This thing really could come apart on us and it all could have been prevented.

I never bet against America but the things my fringe websites were warning about 2 or 3 years ago seem to be coming true. Gold spiking. The world no longer as willing to lend to us.

You don't have to step back too far to see that the dollar is fading right now.
We are reduced to printing endless amounts of fake money until the buying power of our currency craters.

America is broke. The culprit was corruption at the top.
Even more alarming is what these fringe websites are saying now. If they continue to be right, this could get really dramatic.

So how did it happen?
If we could just rewind and start over, how far back would we need to go? Going back and deciding against the Federal Reserve would be one idea. That could have been the big mistake where the international bankers first sank their tentacles into our national soul.

If we just went back to President Reagan and rejected his trickle down policies, that could do it too. it's been one long transfer of wealth to the top ever since.

Maybe something even more recent. If we could have just avoided the derivatives nightmare passed during the Clinton years, maybe that would be enough to save us. It's clear that the health of Wall Street is no longer connected to our survival. In fact, it's the opposite. Wall Street is now more like a parasite that thrives as its host dies.

But the closest point where we could return and take a different path is not that long ago: The Year 2000. Yes, if we could just go back to the end of the Clinton years and continue on with our economic viability as it was then, skipping George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Henry Paulson, Donald Rumsfeld, etc...we probably wouldn't be here right now wondering if the dollar is melting down.

And I wouldn't be up at 5:30 a.m. worrying about what to do next.

I'm buying American eagles and ammunition.

Coast to Coast?

Did you her the words "reptilian", "alien", or "illuminati"?

should be "hear" the words...sorry

If the federal government hadn't been continually raiding the social security trust fund for other uses, that fine print would not be necessary.

If government at all levels would not have been expanding far past it's fundemental responsibilities it would not have grown to be so dysfunctional.

There's now, and for a couple decades, no way for government to either find funding for all it's mission creeping tasks or perform the core functions with ANY acceptable level of responsibility.

Just look locally and see how far out of range local goverment is.
Bewtween the Port of Portland, TriMet and the PDC there's not a shred of genuine overight remaining.
It's the perfect storm where legitimate management is impossible and malfeascence with self assessment is certain.

Nationally, long ago the federal goverment, congress and administrations lost there ability to adequately monitor and control what's most important.
Even our military, the ultimate core function, is riddle with the waste fraud and abuse of a bloated bureaucracy without proper guidance.

And what are much of our elected officials proposing?

I love it when people refute something as logical as the sun rising in the East with snide remarks about the Illuminati, etc.

Do you even know about the Derivatives bomb that is about to drop ? I do. It's scarier than hell.

Just because Coast to Coast had a show on that covered this frightening, dire topic, does not make it go away and make everything OK again.

Social Security...what a joke. I'm almost 38, and I plan on never seeing a dime of it. Ever. My old man is in his mid 60s, and he is having grave doubts about getting anything other than a few worthless paper dollars out of it, himself. He will probably never get to retire...just work and work and work until he physically cannot work any longer.

Yeah, I've been buying precious metals and ammunition for years. 7.62x54r is a particularly good deal. Better safe than sorry, and from the looks of things, it's about to get real sorry for a lot of people.

Tools and industrial machinery are good things to have as well...hand tools, gardening tools, self defense tools.

I have a truck with a motor that can run on filtered waste motor oil or old tranny fluid if need be...call me paranoid, it's OK, you wouldn't be the first and you won't hurt my feelings. I call it being flexible and prepared.

"Did you hear the words "reptilian", "alien", or "illuminati"?"

Did you hear the words "Trust Me" from every politician so far?

hummm....ammo or food...instead of cat food or medicine?...
Has anyone out there read "The Road" or any Margaret Attwood novel? I am glad I do not have kids, I would be scared to death.

Did you hear the words "reptilian", "alien", or "illuminati"?"
Did you hear the words "Trust Me" from every politician so far?

Well, according to the C2C crowd, they are the same people.

If we just...well, we can't.

What to do now, is the question. For openers, thr"I got mine .... you" is alive and well, feeding the downward spiral.

No one can do it alone, and no one is an island.

185 grain .308 FMJ is up to $1.73 a round - yikes!

18 months ago you couldn't give 7.62 x 39 away; now it's almost 50 cents a round...even for the Russian stuff.

Yeah, well I paid $7 yesterday for a cup of coffee, a cup of tea and one slice of pie....

And you are trusting these folks (the federal government) to run health care??? Really???? Do you realize that the in Pelosi's bill that all the money collected for the health care program will go into the general fund. Sorry guys, if the feds are involved I look at it with a LARGE grain of salt. And where the funds are slated to go is only one of the many, many reasons why I oppose government taking over health care.

No matter how you slice it, the gubbmt is in the mix, either running it or regulating it. And we all know who controls the actual regulation legislation.

Pick your poison. So far, Medicare Supplement B works pretty well.

A Modest Proposal to save the Social Security:

Allow SS recipients to voluntarily accept a percentage of their benefits for "tax free" cigarettes (criminalizing resale of course).

It would balance the SS trust fund without having to resort to those creepy death panels. They could even hire the ad guys from the Oregon Lottery to entice seniors to "light one up for the grandkids".

As an ocassional Coast to Coast listener, I compare it to an audio version of a Thomas Pynchon novel. Sometimes reality breaks through the presenter's overactive imagination (or drug fueled paranoia).

Wasn't it during the Reagan administration that the gummint raided the Social Security Trust Fund?

Bill, You don't need to go to Coast to Coast to be worried about the dollar. Americans prefer to be optimistic and assume that most problems are being handled, so they can move on and worry about personal issues. This is just human nature.

This time, I would say that 80% to 90% of Americans don't realize that the problems from last Sept/Oct haven't gone anywhere at all. They've been papered over and kept out of sight with a series of bridging manuevers.

You can only bridge the gap for so long, before you run out of materials, or the bridge itself becomes unsound. Not only have you wasted a lot of effort, time and money on that collapsed bridge, but you look up to realize that the fundamentaly problem of getting to the other side hasn't changed one iota, plus the gap is now wider than ever.

Long story short, a second collapse is far from inevitable, but much much much more likely than we're being told. I wouldn't want to be Obama, Geithner, or Bernanke right now. Not for anything.

I don't think this will cheer anyone up--even you, Jack--but: Why not read this as "We have put away so much money that we can pay full benefits for another 28 years"? The presence of a sizable trust fund is the result of the Reagan-era rejiggering to everybody put a little extra in against the baby boomers' retirement.

We have put off the tiny adjustment that would be necessary to put the system back on a clearly solvent path, because the Republicans thought to take advantage of the tail end of this period (where social security has been collecting far more than it pays out) to trick everyone into giving up on it in favor of "private accounts".

That's over, but the PR groundwork they laid lives on, in the doomsday language of the annual statement and in the minds of commenters who believe they "won't ever see a dime" of benefits.

If you think the baby boomers won't vote, once they have retired in large numbers, to have Uncle Sam collect an extra 1 or 2% of GDP in taxes in order to pay full benefits, you haven't been paying attention. Relax.

Making incomes up to, say, $200,000 (rather than the current $100,000) taxable for social security purposes would make the system solvent for decades beyond 2041.

Social Security is a simple concept and one that has worked well for decades. The notion that it's bound to go broke or is in some sort of crisis or needs to be privatized is right-wing propaganda that for no good reason has caught fire with a large portion of the public--even though we all know social security recipients who have reliably been getting their monthly checks for years.

If we can't "save" social security, then there's little hope of this country ever dealing with its many far more difficult problems.

They got us all fooled because the money collected hasn't been set aside and invested. The social security trust fund is an entry on an Excel spreadsheet - it's assets exist due only to the courtesy of Mitch Kapor and his progeny. At some point they will need to tax us for the interest that should have been accruing. The system implodes.

"At some point they will need to tax us for the interest that should have been accruing. The system implodes."

The system implodes when we increase taxes? You mean like the way the system imploded after Clinton raised taxes? I guess the strong economy in the mid to late 1990s was my imagination.

I agree with Richard, the solution is simple.

185 grain .308 FMJ is up to $1.73 a round - yikes! 18 months ago you couldn't give 7.62 x 39 away; now it's almost 50 cents a round...even for the Russian stuff.

This is why I like 7.62x54r so much. You can still get sealed spam cans of 440 rounds delivered right to your front door for about 21 cents each. This is very high quality stuff, too...the hotter variants will go through 3/8" steel armor like hot knife through butter.

The Soviets might have starved their people, practiced genocide on a scale far exceeding National Socialist Germany, and produced the worst industrial pollution in all of recorded history, but they did not skimp on weapons systems. All that stuff was sitting in salt mines waiting for WW3, and now the people who were meant to be on the receiving end of it can buy it wholesale.

Plus, it's just a great caliber. It actually predates the Commie takeover, in fact I collect the Mosin rifles that missed the great Soviet modernization programs of the 1930s. They are covered in fascinating Cyrillic writing, which I have been learning to read lately. And the Finnish ones are the best of all...that little country kicked Russia's ass with their own souped-up rifles. That is just an amazing chapter of history.

But the caliber itself is just so incredibly accurate and efficient. So are some of the Mosin rifles chambered for it. This is late 19th Century technology, but for some bizarre reason, they got it right the first time...

I guess the strong economy in the mid to late 1990s was my imagination.

No it wasn't, it was due to the internet bubble, which was then replaced by the housing, real estate and energy bubbles. Now you have a president who is trying to replace that deflated mess with green bubbles, political slush fund bubbles, auto manufacturing bubbles, and new and existing home sales bubbles. It's not a pretty picture.

And ya, give me a moderate democratic president and a republican congress any day. That's a great recipe for limited government.

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