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: http://www.urban.org/publications/900746.html. 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

 

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/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.

 

http://okieblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/social-security-and-medicare/

 

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.

 

 

Subverting Pensions for Profit


English: The corner of Wall Street and Broadwa...
English: The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showing the limestone facade of One Wall Street in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Subverting Pensions for Profit

 

There are real plots, real conspiracies. It’s a sad thing that people sometimes unite not for ethical or moral principles but for the destruction of people’s lives, for predation, for money at any cost.

 

One of the constant themes in the lust for profits has been the conversion of public goods into private possessions: public and charity hospitals often run by churches converted into private property; parks, highways, parking meters, converted into private ventures, America’s public lands opened up for fracking in the one of the greatest land grabs in all of recorded history … I can go on and on.

 

Here is another one, public pension funds being converted into Wall Street Piggy Banks, looted with fees and then fed into speculation for anyone’s profit but the pension fund’s. It is as if the national looting of the last generation, the conversion of pensions into the predatory and vicious 401K’s didn’t generate enough profit, we must never stop looting, never stop stealing, never stop creating fictitious crises to be exploited.

 

Maybe this one can be stopped. I would like to see that.

 

James Pilant

 

The right’s sinister new plot against pensions – Salon.com

 

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/10/the_rights_sinister_new_plot_against_pensions/

 

As state legislatures prepare for their upcoming sessions, you will no doubt hear a lot about public pensions. More specifically, you will hear allegations that states are going bankrupt because of their pension obligations to public employees. These claims will inevitably be used to argue that states must renege on their pension promises to retirees.This is what I’ve called the Plot Against Pensions in a report I recently completed for the Institute for America’s Future. Engineered by billionaire former Enron trader John Arnold, championed by seemingly nonpartisan groups like the Pew Charitable Trusts and operating in states throughout America, this plot is not designed to strengthen pensions or to save taxpayer money, as its proponents claim. It is designed to slash public employees’ guaranteed retirement income in order to both protect states’ corporate welfare and, in some cases, enrich Wall Street.Consider the math of state budgets. According to Pew’s estimates, “The gap between states’ assets and their obligations for public sector retirement benefits (is) $1.38 trillion” over 30 years. As the Center for Economic and Policy Research notes, this gap was not caused by benefit increases, as conservatives suggest. Data prove that most of it was caused by the stock market decline that accompanied the 2008 financial colla

 

via The right’s sinister new plot against pensions – Salon.com.

From around the web.

From the web site, Brave New World.

http://bravenewworldnews.com/2013/10/01/the-plot-against-pensions/

Finding: Conservative activists are manufacturing the perception of a public pension crisis in order to both slash modest retiree benefits and preserve expensive corporate subsidies and tax breaks.

 

States and cities have for years been failing to fully fund their annual pension obligations. They have used funds that were supposed to go to pensions to instead finance expensive tax cuts and corporate subsidies. That has helped create a real but manageable pension shortfall. Yet, instead of citing such a shortfall as reason to end expensive tax cuts and subsidies, conservative activists and lawmakers are citing it as a reason to slash retiree benefits.

 

Finding: The amount states and cities spend on corporate subsidies and so-called tax expenditures is far more than the pension shortfalls they face. Yet, conservative activists and lawmakers are citing the pension shortfalls and not the subsidies as the cause of budget squeezes. They are then claiming that cutting retiree benefits is the solution rather than simply rolling back the more expensive tax breaks and subsidies.

 

According to Pew, public pensions face a 30-year shortfall of $1.38 trillion, or $46 billion on an annual basis. This is dwarfed by the $80 billion a year states and cities spend on corporate subsidies. Yet, conservatives cite the pension shortfall not as reason to reduce the corporate subsidies and raise public revenue, but instead as proof that retiree benefits need to be cut.

 

Finding: The pension “reforms” being pushed by conservative activists would slash retirement income for many pensioners who are not part of the Social Security system. Additionally, the specific reforms they are pushing are often more expensive and risky for taxpayers than existing pension plans.

 

 

The Minimum Wage Helps the Poor


063The Minimum Wage Helps the Poor

Political Animal – The minimum wage, part 2: Casey Mulligan fail edition; or, the $100 minimum wage gambit

The vague suggestion that perhaps that minimum wage really does not “confer benefits on the poor” teeters dangerously close to the “opinions on the shape of the earth differ” school of journalism. Let’s talk specifics here. The impact of the minimum wage, and particularly the impact of the minimum wage on employment, is, as economist John Schmitt has noted, one of the most studied topics in all of economics. The results are most definitely in, and contrary to the clear impression Mulligan is trying to give, there is little reason to believe that the outcome from the years 2007 through 2009 would be any different than the results we have from any other year before that. And contrary to the neoclassical dogma so beloved by University of Chicago types, the overwhelming body of the most rigorous empirical evidence shows little or no relationship between employment and the minimum wage. When there does seem to be a negative relationship, it tends to be extremely small.

A review of the literature, and a summary of various theories as to why Econ 101 minimum wage models don’t turn out to hold up in the real world, can be found in Schmitt’s excellent recent report for the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The reasons are complicated, and there are competing hypotheses, but basically what it comes down to is that the many of the assumptions required for perfect competition in the labor market don’t hold. I know, I know — try to recover from the shock.

Political Animal – The minimum wage, part 2: Casey Mulligan fail edition; or, the $100 minimum wage gambit

 

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Are The States Facing A Pension Benefits Disaster?


Not according to a report called: The Origins and Severity of the Public Pension Crisis.

The report is issued by CEPR, the Center For Economic and Policy Research.

Dean Baker

It is authored by Dean Baker.

This is from the last page – The Conclusion –

The shortfalls facing most state and local pension funds have been seriously misrepresented in public debates. The major cause of these shortfalls has not been inadequate contributions by state governments, but rather the plunge in the stock market following the collapse of the housing bubble. Given the low PE ratios in the stock market, pension fund assumptions on the future rate of return on their assets are consistent with most projections of economic growth and past experience. Furthermore, when expressed relative to the size of their economies, most states are facing shortfalls that appear easily manageable.

That’s not what you’re being told? I’m so surprised. No, you’re being told that this is a first-rate economic catastrophe and we have to do some horrible things to these state employees who foolishly believed the government of the state when it said they would have pensions when they retired.

James Pilant