Supplemental: Why our discourse is a mess!

SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2015

A tale of two ranking professors:
Professor Krugman wrote an important column in yesterday’s New York Times.

Don’t get us wrong! He’s written the column a hundred times. No one in the national press corps pays a lick of attention.

Despite this unfortunate state of affairs, the column is sane and important. It helps explain the shape of our floundering culture.

In this morning’s Washington Post, Professor Lessig writes a different type of column. In fairness, his column treats important topics, as Krugman’s does.

That said:

If Lessig was a graduate student and we were his academic adviser, we’d take a red pencil and we’d suggest that his piece needs a [boa]tload of work.

Krugman discusses an important question in his column. He tries to explain how our discourse can come to be ruled by “transparently false claims and bad ideas.”

Krugman describes a “nonsense narrative” about the British economy, in which “every piece of th[e] story is demonstrably, ludicrously wrong.”

Is Krugman right about this narrative? We can’t tell you that.

But similar “nonsense narratives” dominate our own public discourse about high-profile topics—about public school test scores, let’s say. With respect to the British example, this is the way Krugman explains this peculiar state of affairs:
KRUGMAN (5/8/15): Now, every piece of this story is demonstrably, ludicrously wrong...

Yet this nonsense narrative completely dominates news reporting, where it is treated as a fact
rather than a hypothesis. And Labour hasn’t tried to push back, probably because they considered this a political fight they couldn’t win. But why?

[Simon] Wren-Lewis suggests that it has a lot to do with the power of misleading analogies between governments and households, and also with the malign influence of economists working for the financial industry, who in Britain as in America constantly peddle scare stories about deficits and pay no price for being consistently wrong. If U.S. experience is any guide, my guess is that Britain also suffers from the desire of public figures to sound serious, a pose which they associate with stern talk about the need to make hard choices (at other people’s expense, of course.)

Still, it’s quite amazing.
Alas! Professionals working for major industries are quite skilled at creating “misleading analogies” and “scare stories.”

For decades, our own discourse was driven by “misleading analogies” and “scare stories” about the nature of the Social Security trust fund. This scary, misleading imagery drove public debate, and policy decisions, in directions pleasing to wealthy elites.

Those misleading analogies didn’t come out of thin air. They were invented by professionals working for wealthy elites. For decades, those analogies were allowed to stand by our nation’s professors, who didn’t have sufficient smarts or social concern to challenge the dominant discourse.

The same situation obtains today as people like Nicholas Kristof mislead the public, in standardized ways, about the state of American public schools and the deeply stupid children who are said to inhabit them.

As people like Kristof behave this way, people like Lessig stay silent.

Truth? Industry-employed dissemblers are much sharper, and much more committed, than our ranking professors. We’d cite Professor Lessig’s column as an example of what we mean.

If a graduate student wrote that piece, we’d get our red pencils workin’. We’d start with the first paragraph, where the professor frames his concern in a very fuzzy way.

(Have academics really conducted a fierce debate about what the term “corruption” means? Can that be what Lessig meant? Can that be his clearest description of this ongoing debate?)

Whatever! As he continues, Lessig unloads a good deal of bile about the alleged “corruption” of the Clintons. His reasoning, though, is very weak, and his anger is quite selective.

In what way is Professor Lessig’s basic reasoning weak? Just take out your own red pencils! Mark and consider his uses of “influence” and similar terms. We think you’ll see problems arise.

Concerning his selective anger, please consider this:

Professor Lessig is angry about the Clintons’ “rapaciousness.” He thinks the Clintons have too much money, which may mean more money than him.

He seems to think that the money in question may have influenced some of their decisions. That said, he doesn’t offer examples of shady decisions, not even possible candidates.

The professor is concerned about this. As a general matter, it’s a reasonable concern.

On the other hand, the professor doesn’t show any concern about several other topics. The possibility of these concerns doesn’t seem to have entered his angry, thick head:

The professor seems to vouch for Peter Schweizer, who has written a new book, Clinton Cash. He doesn’t seem to have any concerns about what might imaginably be “influencing” Schweizer’s work.

He doesn’t seem to be concerned by Schweizer’s extremely spotty journalistic history. He isn’t concerned to see someone write an entire book of this type without offering any examples of decisions which were “influenced” by all that cash.

The professor isn’t concerned about something else. He isn’t concerned about the work the New York Times recently did in its pseudo-journalistic treatment of that scary uranium deal.

Professor Lessig isn’t concerned by all the nonsense associated with Schweizer. He isn’t concerned by the slippery work on display in that New York Times “news report.”

Next week, we’ll continue to review the way liberals have reacted to that “bombshell report” in the Times. As we do, we’ll ask you to consider the role the New York Times play in our floundering discourse.

In Professor Krugman’s column, he alleges an unfortunate state of affairs. With respect to the “nonsense narrative” in unthinking olde England, he says that “most of the British news media report this bad economics as truth.” He says “this nonsense narrative completely dominates news reporting, where it is treated as a fact.”

Over the past several decades, the New York Times has played a key role in most of our own nonsense narratives. As the Times keeps playing this role, our puffed-up professors have sat on their ascots and have stared off into air.

This morning, Lessig is concerned about the Clintons but not about the Times. In all honesty, he’s reciting script from the Times—and even from Schweizer, a very sketchy performer.

This is the way our professors have worked all through the decades in question. In yesterday’s column, Professor Krugman describes a similar process over there.

Who is Professor Lessig? At present, he is director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

For ethics! Professor Lessig finds no problem with the ethics of the Times. But then, within almost any culture, control of acceptable public discourse works in some such way.

More on Professor Lessig, who has such limited vision:

According to the leading authority, he earned a B.A. in economics and a B.S. in management (Wharton School) from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Cambridge (Trinity) in England, and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1989.

Professor Lessig put in the work! After reading his column, we were left with one question:

Why?

90 comments:

  1. Bob wrote: For decades, our own discourse was driven by “misleading analogies” and “scare stories” about the nature of the Social Security trust fund. This scary, misleading imagery drove public debate, and policy decisions, in directions pleasing to wealthy elites.

    Yes, some attacks on the SS Fund were ignorant, as were some defenses of it. However, speaking as a credentialed actuary, the SS Trust Fund is in big trouble. More precisely, SS income rates are substantially below SS outgo rates. The facts and figures are available in the official reports of the SS actuaries.


    Furthermore, the SS actuaries have a record of under-estimating the shortfall.

    Harvard Study: Social Security In Far Worse Shape Than Official Numbers Show

    Over the last 15 years, the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary has consistently underestimated retirees’ life expectancy and made other errors that make the finances of the retirement system look significantly better than they are , a new study by two Harvard and one Dartmouth academics concludes. The report, being published today by the Journal of Economic Perspectives, is the first, the authors say, to compare the government agency’s past demographic and financial forecasts with actual results.


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    1. http://www.cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/nbc-discovers-that-social-security-trustees-like-most-economists-missed-the-stock-and-housing-bubbles

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    2. hardlindr -- That link implies that the Harvard Study results are simply the result of a one-time bubble. However, based on a conversation I had with a former Chief Actuary of SS, the methods used by SS tend to under-estimate the ultimate payout and overestimate the SS income.

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  2. I agree David. The 401K experiment in social engineering has been a dismal failure. We're just going to have to raise the cap on SS contributions so the very wealthy kick in what's needed to increase SS benefits. I'm sure you would agree.

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  3. Well, mm, we will have to do something. As I recall, raising, or eliminating, the cap isn't enough. So we would have to do other things as well. Also, eliminating the cap would increase outgo, since it would presumably mean that benefits would also be uncapped. Benefits are based on years of work and amount paid in to SS.

    BTW raising the cap is not a way to get the very wealthy to pay a larger share of SS. For the very wealthy, wages are generally a small portion of their income or of their wealth. A more effective way to get the very wealthy to pay a larger share of SS is to fund the shortfall out of the General Fund. Or, to fund SS out of a tax on assets, rather than tax wages or income.

    Of course, another approach is to reduce SS benefits. Note that people who receive SS tend to be wealthier than average.

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  4. "Of course, another approach is to reduce SS benefits."

    No, that is simply not an option. We have to increase benefits so think hard.

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    1. On January 31, 1940, the first monthly retirement check was issued to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54. Miss Fuller, a Legal Secretary, retired in November 1939. She started collecting benefits in January 1940 at age 65 and lived to be 100 years old, dying in 1975.


      Ida May Fuller worked for three years under the Social Security program. The accumulated taxes on her salary during those three years was a total of $24.75. Her initial monthly check was $22.54. During her lifetime she collected a total of $22,888.92 in Social Security benefits.

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    2. I'm glad she had the comfort of a reliable source of income as she aged. I'm sure she would have paid more into the system had it been created sooner.

      Steve Jobs became a multimillionaire when Apple went public, while still in his early 20's having worked only a fraction of Fuller's years. Does that seem fair, especially since Wozniak was the technical brains of the outfit? Seems to me there is a serious disconnect between how much or how long people work and what they get paid.

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  5. If a graduate student wrote that piece, we’d get our red pencils workin’.

    Sorry Bob. Your red pencil is reserved for the 5th graders and middle schoolers your sixties bachelor's degree in philosophy allowed you to teach.

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  6. Why not cut benefits? My wife and I receive about 80K in SS benefits, which is considerably more than the aveage household income of around 52K. Our generous benfits are being paid for by a tax on current salaried employees -- people who, on average, are poorer than we are, just based on our SS income alone.

    The political problem is that SS was sold to the public as an insurance program. If you just threw out the insurance element and turned it into pure welfare, the actuarial side would be simply. I think you'd be OK with that change, mm, but many others would not, including the powerful AARP.

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    1. You don't cut benefits because today's younger people cannot afford to support their parents. Without social security there will be a greater burden on everyone else and great suffering to the extent people are unprepared, as most are.

      Those of us who paid into the system our entire lives don't think we should be treated as charity cases. Next thing you'll tell us we can't buy shellfish with our checks. Because when you give people welfare you think you can tell them how to live.

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    2. If we could figure out how to have business stop stiffing labor, we could solve this---as well as the other problems caused by business stiffing labor.

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  7. This is where Dave the conservative humblebrags that he is a Social Security actuary who doesn't need the benefit, after all, he could be off in the Bahamas making a fortune if it wasn't for Obama.

    Conservative wet dream: 2017, with the help of super majorities in Congress, President Scott Walker announces the privatization of Social Security. Formally named to head the transition "from 'Ponzi scheme to profitability" is the Koch brothers. Hailed by the corporate media as "the financial wizards of the millennia", David Koch decrees that "it is UNsocial to derive security from any other source than market solutions"... "hence, Social Security will transform into a Godly force that rewards and encourages prosperity, while offering a much needed message of 'tough love' to the worthless and weak" ... 2020: integrated into Koch Industries initially as a profitable revenue stream, after massive administrative, consulting, and management fees in order to "save" it, no longer profitable, Charles Koch announces that the "shell game known as Social Security can no longer be maintained". As a final act the "worthless" vault of
    IOU's" is auctioned off to financial insiders, including of course the Koch brothers for pennies on the dollar with the explicit full faith backing of the U.S. Government. LOL

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  8. The best thing to do is to increase legal immigration, especially by providing a path to citizenship for those undocumented so they move out of the gray or underground economy. Having more young people paying into the system will solve the problem of retiring boomers. We are already far better off than Europe due to our immigration and we could easily improve our ratios even more.

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    1. Only if you ignore the long run. Yes, in the short run, higher employment means more income to SS and thus more ability to pay current bills. However, these immigrants are earning SS benefits -- benefits that are higher than their SS contributions would cover. So, adding people to SS makes the long-run problem even bigger. In this respect, SS is like a typical Ponzi Scheme.

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    2. "Having more young people paying into the system will solve the problem of retiring boomers."

      I thought raising taxes and the retirement age did that under Reagan.

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    3. Perhaps it is a mistake to control inflation?

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    4. If we legalize pot a lot of workers will be moved from prison to payrolls.

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    5. We'll have a Brave New World economy where workers have mind-numbing jobs performed in a drugged out state. Yippee.

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  9. More of Arianna Huffington's anti-Hillary vendetta. Today there is a headline saying "Hillary Clinton will do what to our mothers?" You click the link and it's a story about Jimmy Kimmel's unnecessary censorship bit, with a clip from Wheel of fortune. Nothing about Hillary. So why the gratuitous negative headline? Yes it is clickbait but it also hurts her campaign and isn't fair.

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    1. How many more quite candid admissions by members of the media of their sick fucking vendetta towards Hillary Clinton do we need?

      ****************************
      Dylan Byers at Politico

      First, the national media have never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and, by the same token, elevate a Republican candidate). Even before she announced her presidential bid, The New York Times alone had publishedmore than 40 articles related to her private email account, spurring other stories across the national print, digital and television media. Since announcing her bid, the national media have spent the bulk of their time investigating potential lines of influence between Clinton Foundation donations/speaking fees and Clinton's actions as secretary of state. The Times, The Washington Post and others even struck deals for early access to anti-Clinton research.
      *********************** http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/05/the-medias-real-role-in-206766.html

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    2. Dylan Byers is breaking the unwritten rules? Wait! He is even breaking the New York Times rules Bob just got around to naming?

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    3. Interesting conclusion from Byers despite all the talk of media out of control...jihads away as the say.

      "The media can cover every minor process development and chase Hillary to every Chipotle, but without an unforeseen controversy of truly epic proportions and/or a transformational Republican candidate, Hillary Clinton will waltz to the nomination and enter Election Day with a significant advantage over her challenger."

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    4. @ 11:22 what you think Byers seems to be doing simply is not in fact what it appears to be.

      The rules of the guild have always been clear. For professional and social reasons, you can’t afford to tell the truth about the work of dominant orgs like the Times. Beyond that, you can’t tell the truth about the work of the mainstream press as a whole.

      According to those unwritten rules, members of the upper-end press corps aren’t allowed to tell the truth about the patterns and practices of major mainstream news orgs like the Times. In a larger sense, they know they mustn’t discuss the actual way the upper-end press corps works.

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    5. What Dylan Byers wrote at the conclusion of his piece is his own best guess and opinion.

      But the part that should be disturbing is the following:

      "First, the national media have never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and, by the same token, elevate a Republican candidate)."

      You can say shit like that all the time and no one will bat an eye. TDH has posted many examples of people in the media quite openly admitting that the media has this weird vendetta against the Clintons. This is just confirmation of what Clinton supporters say all the time.

      What you're not allowed to say is that there's anything wrong with that?

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    6. You not only batted and eye, you copied and pasted it.

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    7. That's right, I did indeed. I just do whatever small bit I can do in all humility. Unfortunately I don't have a seat on the Scarborough morning zoo crew so my voice doesn't reach everyone that needs to hear it, but at least I have the satisfaction that YOU are now informed enough to understand the next time some idiot like David in sunny California squeals about the "liberal" New York Times that he's full of shit. I don't ever expect David in sunny California to ever change his opinion as it is set in concrete and not subject to any evidence to the contrary.

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    8. Krugman can post as much as he likes. His comments will produce no discussion; those discussions are not allowed.

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    9. The motto of the original Daily Howler was caveat lector. That applies whatever blog you read. It is probably better to educate readers than to try yo stop those who try to mislead the unwary. Krugman is trying to do that and so is mm. I applaud their efforts. Trolls try to obscure issues, confuse people and pass off nonsense as truth. The provide plenty of practice to sharpen reading skills. Perhaps that is why Somerby tolerates them. You can learn more from instructive mistakes than from perfect examples.

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    10. The motto of the Clintons is caviar lectures.

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    11. They charge what others charge.

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    12. Clinton is making an effort. But maybe she needs a tire swing in her front yard.

      http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/hillary-clinton-campaign-reporters-media-116834.html

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  10. "Our generous benfits are being paid for by a tax on current salaried employees.."

    Well see David, that's because you've lead a charmed life. Most people collecting SS benefits don't get anywhere near the very generous checks you and your lovely wife enjoy. And those checks they get are pretty much their only income. As I said the 401K experiment has been a bust so we have to increase benefits. We simply have to make it possible for our retirees to live out their lives in dignity. We're an exceptional country you know.

    So I would say while we're at let us get rid of the "carried interest" abomination and put those funds towards the SS increase. Wouldn't you agree that's a win win proposal?

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    1. In a sense I agree with you, mm. Yes, I think carried interest should be taxed as ordinary income and it would be nice for people to receive generous SS checks. We part company on two aspects:
      1. Our system is set up to reward special interests. And, once a reward is set in place, it's virtually impossible to remove. You and I can feel virtuous about how carried interest ought to be taxed, but we won't get that treatment changed. Look at mandates and support for ethanol. No side supports it. Environmentalists have discovered that ethanol does more harm than good for the environment. But, there seems to be no way to and governmental support.

      2. It's difficult or impossible to know the total economic impact of some economic policy. One shouldn't look at only one aspect. In particular, when looking at benefits, one should always look at costs. Maintaining SS benefits where they are will mean negative impacts somewhere. Maybe it means higher SS taxes on middle class Americans. Maybe it means taxes that reduce economic activity, resulting in worse unemployment. Of course, there's no way to know in advance how the government will deal with the SS deficit if they don't cut benefits. We all may have our preferences, but there's no guarantee that the chosen method will be the one we like.

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    2. SS was enacted after the Great Depression because people died of starvation. We as a people consider that unacceptable. Conservatives seem to have forgotten that.

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    3. Social Security was enacted during the Great Depression in 1935. It paid its first benefit in 1940. Apparently letting people starve another five years was acceptable to us as a people.

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    4. Depends who you are talking about. Some people are still OK with letting people starve. Do you know that it took several years to demobilize the troops after WW2? Does that mean the war didn't end? The wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly.

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    5. Bureaucrats, like journalists, are life forms. We as a people consider starvation unacceptable. Do you know we the people are dumb, too? You read it here at the Howler first. And with frequency.

      Somerby’s written that a hundred times. No one in the national press corps pays a lick of attention.

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    6. David in Cal,

      Thanks for doing your part to preserve Social Security. You earned your Social Security benefits, and it's important that you enjoy them. Because, tax issues aside, Social Security is a not means tested earned benefits insurance plan with the same rules for everyone who goes to work for wages. It's insurance which guarantees; an income to anyone who is disabled during what for most people would be their working years, income to your dependent survivors should you die while saddled with those responsibilities, and during all of the "old age" years you might be lucky enough to enjoy.

      By seeing to it that a rich person like yourself gets the benefits you paid for until the end of your days you're protecting Social Security from any Step One towards a total dismantling of it which is the ultimate goal of the anti-government, neo-liberal elite you count yourself among David. Social Security remains politically bullet proof because FDR built universality into it. Nobody can argue it's a welfare program for the 47%, instead it is obviously an efficient government program that serves all Americans, the poor and the rich alike.

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    7. Reasonable comment, Mike, as far as it goes. Two additional points:

      1. SS has a degree of means testing in two ways. For low-wage individuals, SS benefits are a higher percentage of assessment paid in than for high wage individual. An, SS benefits are partially taxable. The percentage of benefits taxable is higher for wealthier people.

      2. SS needs two types of protection: political and fiscal. Your comment explains why my benefits help protect SS politically. However, the mismatch of SS income and outgo threatens SS fiscally. I think you're unfair about the motivations. You seem to ignore the fiscal problems and assume that those of us who do worry about them secretly want to dismantle SS.

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    8. If you didn't want to dismantle SS why are you talking about decreasing benefits?

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    9. As to point 1, David, because America is an entirely level economic playing field there's no way of knowing who is going to be financially successful throughout their working careers so it's quite reasonable that everyone should be signed up to an income insurance plan that returns a greater benefit for dollars contributed to those who randomly suffered misfortune.That's the nature of insurance, auto liability insurance doesn't provide you a paid out benefit unless you are in an accident that's your fault and there's just no telling who is going to be in such an accident. Right?

      I agree with you completely that Social Security benefits should not be taxed, regardless of the recipients income level. Because of the political implications of taxing those benefits I'd like to align myself, in this one instance, with any budding Tax exempt the rich movement.

      The fiscal protection Social Security needs from any potential payout short fall in the coming decades can be addressed by an increase in payroll taxes which would still leave future earners better off real income-wise than today's working Americans while guaranteeing those future earners all the increasing real income from Social Security that they or their dependent survivors will receive for themselves. It's win, win.

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    10. Because in order to be sustained, SS needs a combination of substantial benefit decreases and assessment increases. To simply cover the shortfall by tax increases may not be politically feasible and may cause economic problems.

      Then there's the fairness. The benefits I receive are excessive, compared to what I and my employers paid in. No non-governmental insurance company would sell a plan with the same structure as SS.

      The bottom line is that money doesn't come from nowhere. I'm happy with my generous benefits, but someone is paying all that money into SS.

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    11. Above comment was a response to AnonymousMay 10, 2015 at 7:22 PM.

      CMike -- I didn't mean to speak for or against the taxation of SS. I was simply describing current law.

      I think it will be difficult to raise assessment rates sufficient to make SS long-term solvent. Congress hasn't come close to doing so. In fact, Obama temporarily reduced assessment rates a couple of years ago.

      IMHO the biggest risk is that not enough is done to make SS solvent. In that case, I think General Fund money would be used for SS payments. But, that money would come from other desirable programs. Or, deficit spending would be used, leading to inflation problems.

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    12. David in Cal writes:

      You seem to ignore the fiscal problems and assume that those of us who do worry about them secretly want to dismantle SS.

      Well, am I wrong David. Take you for instance, let's say I concede that you are genuinely concerned about Social Security solvency and you don't think the solutions on offer can deal with that problem. Wouldn't it still be true, whether you're secret or explicit about it, that you do not believe that the federal government should compel people to pay into a government run income insurance plan for disability, dependent survivors, and for an "old age" annuity?

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    13. Dean Baker says [LINK]:

      [QUOTE] The 2011-12 Social Security payroll tax holiday ended in January 2013, which meant that the vast majority of working Americans faced a two percent cut in their take-home pay.

      Compared to past payroll tax increases, this was an extraordinarily large and sudden one. For example, from 1980 to 1990 the rate was increased gradually by a total of 2.24 percentage points; in no year did the rate rise by more than 0.72 percentage points, or just over one-third of the 2013 increase. (This combines the employer and employee side tax increases. In 2013, the whole tax increase was on the employee side.)

      If the public were strongly opposed to tax increases, it would be expected that one as large as in 2013 would lead to considerable anger. This is why it was striking to find that most people apparently did not even notice that the payroll tax had gone up. In a 2013 Google Consumer Survey, CEPR asked whether the Social Security tax had been raised, lowered, or left the same at the beginning of the year. A majority answered that they didn’t know. Less than 3 out of 10 correctly answered that the tax had gone up.

      ...The 2013 payroll tax increase occurred in an environment in which no major political leaders were arguing against it. It was part of a bi-partisan budget agreement between the President and Congress, so both political parties had agreed to this tax increase. The public response likely would have been different if some political leaders had been openly arguing against it.

      In other words, these survey results suggest that the obstacles to implementing a gradual payroll tax increase to reduce Social Security’s projected funding shortfall reside in the decisions of political leaders, and how the media choose to report them, rather than any inherent public opposition to higher taxes. [END QUOTE]

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  11. Lessig isn't behaving badly because he is a professor. He's behaving badly because he is a conservative.

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    1. He was a big booster of the neo-lib Obama in 2008 so you make a good point, try as he might Lessig shouldn't be allowed to claim he's anything but a conservative, or at least, an Establishment lackey.

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    2. With all the neo-libs, pseudo-libs, and dumb-lazy-dislikeable-libs I wonder just how many real-libs there are.

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    3. Lots of them among voters but very few among candidates, for obvious reasons.

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  12. How dare Professor Lessig, who is fixated on money as the root of all evil in American politics, write about his fixation. Instead he should write about Bob Somerby's fixation.

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    1. You mention nothing about his silence on Kristof.

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    2. How dare he characterize the Clintons as rapacious for running a global charity instead of painting self-portraits!

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    3. It is not like Bill and Hillary were stuffing big bucks in their pants for giving speeches to corporate groups or anything.
      Their empathy with the poor came from leaving the White House broke and in debt.

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    4. It's not like Bill and Hillary Clinton aren't supposed to support themselves and earn a living, especially to pay for legal fees defending against political attacks doing something every former president has done. No, there are special rules for the Clintons that say that whatever they do is uniquely corrupt because when they give a speech it is corrupt rapaciousness, even when they donate their speaking fees to charity.

      No one particularly cares whether a conservative candidate has empathy for anyone except dogs. Why all the fuss over Clinton empathy? Certainly Hillary has never shown any empathy with all those women's and children's causes she has supported and that family charity is only about greed, cause its those sneaky Clintons running it. You piece of crap troll.

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    5. The bucks being stuffed reference was from our pal Bob. It was made in reference to Rachel Maddow for the sin of drawing a big salary, Of course Hillary had a salary during that period too. And Bill had a rather generous pension,

      Your problem seems to be that it is OK for Bob Somerby to suggest Rachel Maddow is rapacious but not for Professor Lessig to suggest the Clintons are as well. I think someone has called that tribal.

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    6. As I recall it was for the sin of collecting big bucks while doing a poor job as a journalist for fear of losing that cushy job. The Clintons were out of office and doing their jobs fine being ex-president and firmer Sec of State. I don't see any parallel.

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    7. Well, watching the morning Sunday political shows, it is now clear that the Village Elders have all settled in on a pleasing and concise summary of the "Clinton Cash" scandal. Those Clintons are greedy bastards. The quid pro quo bullshit is just a little too hard to pretend any substance, so why not just go right to the punch line. Brit Hume was literally stuttering incoherently so envious was he of President Clinton's accumulated wealth.

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    8. The Howler tribal dance at 10:45 is a Sunday morning delight.

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  13. British voters certainly didn't listen to Krugman.

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    1. Too bad for them.

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    2. All polling in the run up to the British election seems to have been wrong. But you know, polling, like prosecutors, can be wrong. Except the one Gallup poll which kept swinging 10 points back and forth every few days in 2000 to prove Somerby was right about certain members of the press causing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's to die.*

      * Which H.R. Clinton (D) New York did not mean to authorize with her vote for authorize military force.

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  14. I really wish Somerby could tell us if Krugman is right about this narrative.
    Because if he is not that may explain why he has gotten no attention after writing the same column a hundred times.

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    1. Right or wrong? We don't know. In a larger sense what matters is what it means to our discourse and the crumbling of our intellectual culture. Which few can see.

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    2. Right or wrong has nothing to do with it.
      Just look at Bill "Wrong is my middle name" Kristol.

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    3. I find it hard to believe Krugman keeps writing the same column over and over. It is not like he is a vanity blogger.

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    4. We fail to understand the way liberals run into the woods and hide and, while hiding in the woods, manage to be as combatively tribal at Hannity. We throw R-bombs and don't care about black children. This is what Bob has tried to explain to us thousands of times, but we didn't go to Harvard, or Paul's Princeton, so we are too dim to get it.

      Delete
    5. Liberals run into the woods like other tribes do. We think reports of their hiding abilities are somewhat overstated. That said, their lack of concern for black children may simply be the result of anger over the failure of black mothers to avail themselves of reproductive services many sisters shed their white privilege to champion. We don't know.

      Delete
  15. Yet another example of the lack of ethics by the NY Times.

    Today they smear poor Marco Rubio.

    What is really sad is they seem to impugn the motives of a nice old gentleman who befriended Rubio when he was still just a youngster
    and became sort of a surrogate father to the family.

    Like Frank Giustra, this innocent victim of the Times seems mostly interested in charity works.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/us/billionaire-lifts-marco-rubio-politically-and-personally.html?_r=0

    ReplyDelete
  16. Replies
    1. It is amazing how pictures of Sushi and Burritos are recognized worldwide!

      Delete
  17. Can anybody take out their red pencil and tell all of us how this post tells us why our discourse is a mess?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Challenge accepted. Our discourse is a mess because professors like Lessig should be informing us (the way Krugman does) instead of shilling for the plutocrats.

      Delete
  18. Our discourse is a mess because we rubes don't always think and act the way our betters at Harvard and Princeton think we should. Bob and Paul have had to continually explain things to us --- hundreds of times --- and still we dimwits don't understand. Some of us went to state schools or lesser liberal arts colleges.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. B +

      You might have had an A if you could have folded the final sentence into a clause in the second. That said, it would not have climbed above A - because you never quantified how many "some" is.

      Delete

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    ReplyDelete

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    ReplyDelete