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#40535 - 10/08/08 05:16 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: alicex4]
Mark Heyman Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/23/99
Posts: 1123
Loc: South Jersey (Pinelands)
 Originally Posted By: alicex4
I can't wait for all the govt employees, Local, State, and Federal to find out that their pensions are gone too.


Uhh, so you and I can pay for it again?????

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#40538 - 10/08/08 06:04 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: alicex4]
Daniel Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
I still think our political problems do not rest with Congress, or at least not mostly with Congress. Congress is a representative body. So if too many of them act irresponsibly, I think it's because too many of those in the public act irresponsibly too.

Our elected officials can't reasonably be expected to make hard decisions unless their constituents are willing to back them on it, which requires that their constituents be willing to make hard decisions too. But where is the appetite for that? We say "support the troops," but aren't willing to pay a dime in more taxes to pay for the extra expenses and instead borrow the money from abroad. We say we want energy independence yet yell at our candidates to lower gas prices when econ 101 says the cheaper a product is, the more you'll use. Oh, and don't forget to lower our taxes, even though we're not paying our national bills as it is. And the examples could go on and on: Social Security, health care.... too many people seem to believe that it's our elected representatives' job to solve our problems.

But I don't think that's how government works. Government doesn't solve our problems for us; it's how we work together to solve our problems, whether it's building a bridge or trying to provide for the elderly who can't work anymore. Some people think the former item may be a legitimate government purpose and the latter not; that's why we vote to decide such issues. But whatever the outcome, it should be the result of balancing what we want with what we have to do to get it. Social Security is a good example: to deal with the problem of elderly poverty, most people decided to tax themselves to support those who could no longer be expected to work. If most people didn't believe in doing so, it would have not gotten through Congress. But it obviously wasn't free.

Now the mantra seems to be that we can have something for nothing, which I trace back to the Reagan years (just because one has a degree in economics doesn't mean one makes good policy decisions) when he cut taxes, increased spending, and people were pretty much fine with it because they didn't feel the immediate effects of the profligacy which they themselves endorsed. And we've been stuck in that position ever since, where politicians can't say they'll cut expensive but popular programs, but they can't say they'll raise taxes either. It seems that they can't ask us to do anything at all without endangering their seats. Yet the present course is simply unsustainable.

I think there has been a tacit failure both on the part of the government and the populace. The populace doesn't want to face the consequences of the failure to make tough decisions, and politicians fear asking us to do so. My hope is that with new leadership, we can be asked if we're willing to take action again on the issues most of us say we care about. Because if we're not, then we can't expect government to take those actions for us.

So I wouldn't blame Congress without blaming the general constituency. In our system of government, it's the people who are ultimately accountable, whether we like it or not--though some leadership would be helpful.

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#40539 - 10/08/08 06:08 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: Daniel]
Dillbag Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 1130
Loc: "The Town"
And that... Is why we're too STUPID for democracy!
_________________________
...anethum graveolens cucumis sativus!

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#40541 - 10/08/08 06:54 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: Dillbag]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
 Originally Posted By: Dillbag
And that... Is why we're too STUPID for democracy!


Well, are the people of Rwanda too STUPID for democracy? North Korea? Russia? China? Pakistan? Iraq? If that statement holds value as being the truth then socialism and dictatorship is the only right way to deal with large masses of people then.

Don’t swallow all the crap in the news that America is dead and over with, and that the people in this country have failed and are just a bunch of pork eaters waiting for their pension. The recent crisis still shows that when the sh%t is hitting the fan, the world still runs to the US as its safe haven for its money.

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#40542 - 10/08/08 07:07 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: Smike]
Dillbag Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 1130
Loc: "The Town"
Ummm... YES!

The WE I was referring to in that statement wasn't the WE of the US, but rather the WE of humanity...
_________________________
...anethum graveolens cucumis sativus!

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#40543 - 10/08/08 07:26 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: Dillbag]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
 Originally Posted By: Dillbag
Ummm... YES!

The WE I was referring to in that statement wasn't the WE of the US, but rather the WE of humanity...


http://www.cpusa.org

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#40545 - 10/08/08 07:35 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: Mark Heyman]
alicex4 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 3400
You can't get blood form a stone and eventually people will figure it out. That's what I meant. I am 45 and will probably never see any SS taxes that I have paid allocated back to me, the money is gone. It is wrong to tax future generations for benefits we can't afford now. With the economic conditions tightening, it will be increasingly difficult for tax proposals to pass IMO. Tax corporations and they pass the expense onto the people that buy their product. Tax the citizenry overmuch, and you lose their purchase power to move the economy. Americans have been living on borrowed time for too long. Not living within their means, no personal savings, priorities all screwed, does everyone really NEED a cell phone and cable? How do you rack up on averagre $10,000 in credit debt and expect it not to be an issue someday? Maybe I am old fashioned, my parents were born in 1925 and 1931, and they realized that you can't rely on government for your needs, you can only reasonably rely on yourself. Society as a whole seems impatient and feckless and this is a good wake up call. I don't recall my grandparents "retiring" either. They pretty much worked, albeit part time in their Golden years, until they died.


Edited by alicex4 (10/08/08 07:37 PM)

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#40552 - 10/08/08 08:40 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: alicex4]
Daniel Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
 Originally Posted By: alicex4
I am 45 and will probably never see any SS taxes that I have paid allocated back to me, the money is gone.


That SS money was never allocated to you. Money that is paid into the SS system today goes out to today's retirees. Money that is paid into the SS system by others when you retire will go to you. When the money coming in becomes less than the benefit levels we have now, benefits will be cut accordingly unless we do something to change the situation (higher taxes, raise the benefits age, or some combination of the two). But unless we end the system entirely, there won't be zero in the system. (Raising the retirement age a year or two for people in their 30s and 40s would go a long way to shoring up the system.)

 Originally Posted By: alicex4
Tax corporations and they pass the expense onto the people that buy their product. Tax the citizenry overmuch, and you lose their purchase power to move the economy.


True. But I think the 1990s show that the tax rates of that era were not high enough to produce these adverse effects. And we're well below those rates right now. I continue to think the Bush tax cuts were a huge mistake, and were made huger by the failure to cut spending--which would have been the responsible thing to do, except that too many people seem to think that tax cuts don't have to be accompanied by spending cuts.

 Originally Posted By: alicex4
Americans have been living on borrowed time for too long. Not living within their means, no personal savings, priorities all screwed, does everyone really NEED a cell phone and cable? How do you rack up on averagre $10,000 in credit debt and expect it not to be an issue someday?


I think there is little question that people will have to make do with less. Rediscovering the benefits of savings will be painful in the short term but may be a plus in the long run. The trends in personal debt were unsustainable, and so is the trend in national debt. The question is whether enough of us will be responsible enough to reverse both those trends. It will require us as individuals and as a nation to decide what is really important and what we can do without.

We have become a nation where we are defined by what we consume. Perhaps this is an opportunity to define ourselves in less materialistic terms.

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#40580 - 10/09/08 02:03 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: Daniel]
pda Offline
addict

Registered: 08/30/01
Posts: 621
Loc: Bergen County NJ
"Rediscovering the benefits of savings will be painful in the short term but may be a plus in the long run."

Do you think the fact that people who been saving already and have just seen their savings be depleted by 30% will encourage more savings? I don't understand this logic.

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#40583 - 10/09/08 02:36 PM Re: Only a heartbeat away... [Re: pda]
Daniel Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 1515
 Originally Posted By: pda
Do you think the fact that people who been saving already and have just seen their savings be depleted by 30% will encourage more savings? I don't understand this logic.


Our national savings rate has gone from 10 to 11% in the mid-1980s to near zero for the past several years. Average personal debt is high because credit has been easy to acquire. So overall, we have not been saving.

Those who had savings in bank accounts haven't lost anything. Neither have those who had savings in CDs or money market funds. The only way anyone could have seen their savings drop 30% is if the entire savings was in stock equities, which few people would have done, especially retirees or those nearing retirement. Those with longer time horizons will probably see their equities recover, leaving them in better shape than those who have not been saving.

More importantly, even with recent losses those that have been saving and can't get credit are in far better shape than those who haven't been saving and can't get credit. Those who were living off of credit will be forced to stop doing so. So the incentives to save are still there, and probably are as strong as ever.

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