Thomas Friedman Gets Entitlements Wrong

English: In the United States, Social Security...
English: In the United States, Social Security benefits for married workers with stay-at-home spouses. According to author Joseph Fried, this graphic uses information from: C. Eugene Steuerle and Adam Carasso, “The USA Today Lifetime Social Security and Medicare Benefits Calculator,” (Urban Institute, October 1, 2004), from: Note: The calculator does not include the value or cost of the Social Security disability program. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Thomas Friedman Gets Entitlements Wrong


Sorry Kids, Thomas Friedman Is Not Very Good at Economics


Many young people may have been mislead by Thomas Friedman’s column, titled “Sorry Kids: We Ate It All,” which implied that our children might somehow suffer because we are paying so much to seniors for Social Security and Medicare. The reality of course is that if our children and grandchildren do not enjoy much higher standards of living than do current workers and retirees then it will be because the rich have rigged the deck so that they can accrue most of the gains from economic growth.


This is easy to show. For example, if we look at the Social Security trustees report we see that average annual wages are projected to grow at more than a 1.3 percent annual rate between now and 2050. As a result, the average before tax wage will be more than 60 percent higher in 2060 than it is today. If our children and grandchildren get to share equally in these gains then they will be far richer than we are today.


It’s true that we will have a higher ratio of retirees to workers in 2050, just as we have a higher ratio of retirees to workers than we did in 1970. Just as the increase in the ratio of retirees to workers over the last 4 decades did not prevent an increase in average living standards over this period, there is no reason to think it will prevent an increase in average living standards over the next four decades.


I heartily agree with Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The generational theft storyline has been running around for a while and it is both wrong and unconvincing. Let’s take me for instance, I have my form in the mail from the Social Security Administration telling me what to expect. If I wait all the way until I’m 70, I will receive, $1,440 a month. I’m a little curious? When did that become a princely sum? Is this the kind of money that will enable me to go the sand and surf of Hawaii or does it more look like I’m going to have trouble paying for a place to live and basic groceries. I’m leaning toward the latter conclusion. Even in Arkansas, 1,440 dollars a month is not going to pay for a mansion. I might add that I have been paying in on that all of my working life, so it’s not free as far as I am concerned.


Well, what about Medicare? Well, it’s obvious to me although not to Friedman, that medical patents are being abused, that not allowing prescription drugs to either be bargained for by the federal government or purchased overseas is creating dramatically high medical costs and there are a bundles of other good choices we have to reduce out medical costs instead of telling seniors, “It’s just too bad, you got old while Thomas Friedman was considered an expert.”


Where do these people get the gall to tell the great middle class to go without pensions and health care when they have expressed no willingness to fix the nation’s problems? Why do we have a system where capital gains is taxed at less than wages? Why do we have no financial transaction tax to discourage the speculation which has wrought havoc all over this nation and the world?




James Pilant


From around the web.


From the web site, Okieprogressive.


Social Security and Medicare are programs that are needed relevant and necessary!


The economy is slowing repairing itself but we still have those on the right who want to deep-six any social safety net that would protect our seniors, the poor and disadvantaged, the sick, the halt and the lame. These are very people whom even Jesus Christ said should always be protected and aided. People like Tom Coburn don’t agree with Jesus on that, even though Coburn professes to be a follower of that Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth he had publicly stated that Social Security and Medicare are programs that we really don’t need to continue. Tom must have read a different Bible from all the ones I have read.


But, that is the current mantra for a lot of neo-cons and they are influencing a lot of neo-newbies who are coming and have come into the workforce over the past decade. These are people most of whom have never known any toil or strife in their lives because of safety nets like Social Security and Medicare were there for their parents and grandparents. They are the very ones buying to the neo-cons who claim most of the people who are poor don’t try hard enough or don’t or are lazy and shiftless and don’t really want to work. It’s a completely asinine idea, but they are buying hook line and sinker. When you have never known what is to be hungry or out of work I guess it is difficult to understand that, that is something that doesn’t necessarily mean you caused it.



A World War II Melodrama with Gary Cooper

The Story of Dr. Wassell – YouTube

Everyone is very brave including America’s allies.


Gary Cooper

I’m very fond of Gary Cooper films. “Love in the Afternoon” is one of my all time favorites. It is odd to think that I who have loved the film for more than two decades have now arrived at the same age as Gary Cooper in that film. Here below is that film –

I don’t know whether or not you can work the link. It’s a Chinese web site and they may be suspicious of occidentals.

But back to The Story of Dr. Wassell. Dr. Corydon Wassell was an Arkansan, a very real person not a fictional archetype. The story is full of references to Arkansas including a long soliloquy to Arkansas catfish.  The film is fun to watch but the heroics so incredible as to defy rational belief. Of course, that is to be expected in a wartime film. This is directed by Cecil B. DeMille and carries his trademark taste for complex action sequences. If you are not tolerant of heroism without limits, you probably will find the film ridiculous. An interesting side note is that Wassell was a uncredited advisor on the film and all of the money he was due from the film he donated to charity.

James Pilant

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Is Wal-Mart a Criminal Enterprise? Read Ethics Bob’s Take on the Subject!

Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart « Ethics Bob

The headlines are from Saturday’s New York Times. The news article details how Walmart de Mexico—that nation’s largest employer—regularly paid huge bribes to Mexican government officials to approve permits for new stores; how senior management of the Mexican subsidiary was party to the bribery; how Walmart headquarters in Arkansas investigated the allegations of bribery, and how, when the investigations turned up hard evidence, hq proceeded to bury it.

Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart « Ethics Bob

Ethics Bob is using Wal-Mart’s recent bribery problems as a subject for class discussion in his business ethics class. I am using it in my business classes as well. I would be curious as to his classes’ response. Mine has been that there will be long term consequences for the company. Ethics Bob is tough on the company and he’s teaching business ethics where I am teaching the more generic business law. He may be getting a more critical response than I.

James Pilant

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My Students (Revised)

This is a shorter, more carefully revised version of my earlier “My Students” posting.

One of the things I like to teach my students is that they have no intellectual inferiority in regard to the Ivy League schools.

On the face of it, that may sound ridiculous, but it is not.

A great many of these heavily lauded (and immensely well paid) graduates of the schools blessed by the establishment have participated wholly and happily in the greatest financial debacle in history. Their well honed degrees disguised their incompetence, their stupidity, their lack of intellectual depth and their overwhelming sense of entitlement.

The fact that so many of these Ivy Leaguers journey off to cash in their degrees and their honor in various financial firms is a black mark against our educational system. You see, we depend on this system to produce the scholars, the politicians, and all those various professions which make nations function with honor and purpose. Instead we get a rush of graduates toward a predatory system of financial institutions.

My students would try to take care of their fellow citizens never forgetting where they came from and the struggle they must make to simply get a job in the current market. They deserve better. Nevertheless, from this crop is my hope, that these people, these individuals working to better themselves will be the leaders of tomorrow, not the children of the elite, not the well favored few, but my students.

It is not a matter of free will or gumption that keeps my students from being as successful as those. It is a well ingrained attitude, a lack of expectations, and a consistent contempt and suspicion of the educated. We can do better. We, the citizens, have a responsibility to our children to act the part of guides and supporters. I do not mean the blind support given whatever the merits. I mean a willingness to encourage excellence and the hard, difficult job of not submitting to the idea that some people are better. They are better when they prove it. My student can prove their excellence.

But learning is not just a matter of schooling. It is a life long endeavor. Most people stop when they put that piece of paper on the wall. But that is all they are, paper, wood pulp. If my students are to change this state, this country, and this world, there must be support and dedication to a lifetime of learning. A person who continues the task of development, of becoming, is inferior to no learner on earth, whatever their degree.

There are books and as long as there are books – as long as the great works of mankind – are readily available, any human being can become educated and developed. Any individual can build the power of understanding, a basic command of the ideas that govern this society, and a sense of purpose in their lives. But we have to believe. My students need that. My students need to walk in a community where people believe they are just as good, just as smart and just as capable as students from anywhere in the world.

All they have is the power of their minds and the determination of their hearts. If they only believe.

James Pilant