Phun With Phlash

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:02 pm

If you haven’t yet seen the winner of MoveOn PAC’s contest to set an argument against the privatization of a portion of Social Security to Flash animation, well, then, by golly, you ought to. Here it is.

Thanks to my Dad for sending me the link. You da patriarch!

10 Responses to “Phun With Phlash”

  1. gavin Says:

    Cute Flash. Pretty spiffy piece of work, though I have some issues with the concept. The idea of “Giving your fair share” really irks me. It isn’t fair, I don’t want to share, and I think we already pay more than 60% in taxes if you count up all the places the government is hitting us. Another issue I have is that I can’t recall ever hearing anyone say that their Social Security check was sufficient for their needs. I think Grandma and Grandpa are already eating cat-food as the Flash implies. Do I think that all people can invest their own money wisely? Nope. But those I know that have invested wisely hardly notice their SS check. So what’s a guy to do? Go read “The Richest Man in Babylon” and find out where he cashes his Social Security check.

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Well, if Social Security is already insufficient, wouldn’t it make sense to increase (or eliminate) the cap, and use the windfall to increase benefit payouts? 😉

    Knowing you personally, I don’t think the “It’s not fair, I don’t want to share” line tells the real story. You share plenty already and would probably share more if you thought it would go to good effect. I’m not sure that Social Security is where you should choose to take your stand against onerous government taxation. It’s one of the most successful and efficient government programs in the history of this particular government.

    So wealthy retirees hardly notice their check; fair enough, I agree completely. What does that have to do with the price of cat food in Kathmandu? If you’re suggesting a means test for Social Security, I’d bite; but that would get us even closer to the Socialist ideal of “from each according to his means to each according to his needs”, which is not what I imagine you were shooting for. 😀

  3. Joe Says:

    Means testing is a trap. It is a trick used to kill successful programs.

    Look at Shrub’s most recent proposal for Social Security reform. First he guarantees full benefits to the lowest income population then he lowers the payout for “wealthier” citizens. Thing is, the cutoff for a 100% payout is around $20,000 annual salary with wager earners making $50,000 receiving a pittance and higher earners receiving even less. At that rate, the program stops providing an effective insurance payout covering the necessities of retirement for the middle class and becomes a welfare plan for the once working poor.

    Once the middle class finds that their SS benefit can no longer support their cat food habit they will stop defending against attacks on the system in congress. The result, Social Security devolves first into a Welfare program for the poor. Then, because the poor don’t form an effective lobby, it goes on the chopping block as has happened with the rest of traditional welfare.

    How will you know that this has all been a ruse to bring SS down? Welfare was attacked using the image of the welfare queen to demonize recipients. SS has been safe from such attacks because would-be SS “Queens” are really mom and dad living modestly on their guaranteed retirement (a group that is proof against the slanders that brought down welfare). If attacks on SS abusers commence immediately upon institution of a tiered payout scheme than all that has happened before will be demonstrated to have been maneuvering to kill Social Security.

  4. gavin Says:

    First off SS is welfare. Is welfare necessary? Yes, unless you’re ok with the old and the poor starving on the street, (or recall a song by the Dead Kennedys). But the so called solution of “removing the cap” is just another case of “I know, let’s tax the rich harder, they’ve got money”. Way simplistic, and probably backwards. Is it possible to save for your own successful retirement in America? Yes, clearly. Why don’t people do it? They either don’t know how (need better education… I’d spend tax money here by the way), never had the means (back to welfare), or they didn’t bother (the great American credit card consumer). I think a lot of the ‘need’ for SS is because people assume that it is there and that the government will take care of them, (rant: In a country where an immigrant can become a millionaire by sheer determination there really isn’t any reason for failing to save for retirement). Weaning them off the government tit and instilling a sense of personal responsibility would go a lot further than increasing their dependance. Again are there those who need welfare and social security, yes. And if we could keep the number of those in need down then the current “many pay to provide for the few” system might continue to work.

    By the way, I wonder if anyone has thought to make the SS administration “Sarbanes-Oxley compliant” or if they are cooking the books too. Is it possible we could make the current system more efficient and then not have to increase spending? Oh, sorry, I forgot we were talking about our government…

    My but I have become a bore in my old age…

  5. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Joe: You have to agree that it would be nice if seniors bringing in, say, 100 grand a year or more in pensions and other income didn’t also get an additional six hundred or so bucks a month from the government.

    I’m certainly not interested in means-testing as it has been practiced by our current CinC, the guy who put a means-test cap of $26,000 on veteran’s benefits. But sensible cutoffs could work. Of course, that would make the system even more “prejudiced” against the rich, as they would pay into the system but never get anything out.

    If there were such thing as a truly level playing field, Gavin, I’d be all for a more Libertarian form of government, where people were fully empowered to control their own destinies. But the deck is stacked according to how much money you have. Your poor-immigrant-to-multi-millionaire story is true. But as TrimSpa sez: “Results Not Typical”. If becoming wealthy were truly within everyone’s grasp, more people would be wealthy, instead of the gap between rich and poor growing every year. Instead, there is a growing fine-screen net designed to filter the money out of people, like a baleen whale straining krill from the ocean. I’m not talking about our consumer culture; you’re right, that’s up to the individual. But take the investment education program you’d like the government to fund: say President Hoobyfitzer initiates the program in the year 2020. By 2040, FOIA requests prove conclusively the President Hoobyfitzer’s party received millions in contributions and in-kind support from the United Junk Bond Alliance PAC to steer the education in a more “conducive” direction.

    You know that something like this would occur. It’s simply too juicy a target for industrious predators. Why do you think that Wall Street is in such favor of the partial privatization of the system? Because they live to serve? In many ways, a cash payout is the simplest and least corruptible option.

    You have an interesting point about the possibiliity of accounting irregularities, but bear this in mind: the Social Security system might be capable of fomenting a huge fraud against the American people, fabricating a “crisis” when there isn’t one in order to amass more capital, but to what ultimate end? So that the CEO of the system can take a huge bonus? So that lower-level managers can bilk their clients with obscene rate hikes? So that the officers can pull as much wealth as they possibly can out of shareholders and stash it in offshore accounts before finally allowing the whole system to collapse?

    Oh, sorry, I forgot we were talking about our government, and not a corporation. 😛

  6. gavin Says:

    “there is a growing fine-screen net designed to filter the money out of people, like a baleen whale straining krill from the ocean” – Yes, it’s called taxes. Until you pass the point to where the really good loopholes areavailable you get pounded the more you make.

    “Why do you think that Wall Street is in such favor of the partial privatization of the system? ” – They call it the Stock “Market” for a reason. The prospect of so many more uninformed customers must be giving them major wood. But like any market/store, if you know what you’re shopping for and know what a good deal is, you won’t get ripped off, (as easily).

    “Oh, sorry, I forgot we were talking about our government, and not a corporation.” – Is there really a difference? http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2002/10/24_pozen.php

  7. Uncle Andrew Says:

    “‘there is a growing fine-screen net designed to filter the money out of people, like a baleen whale straining krill from the ocean’ – Yes, it’s called taxes. Until you pass the point to where the really good loopholes areavailable you get pounded the more you make.”

    I sympathize with you, I really do. We pull in about $90K a year collectively, with no dependents, and I think our taxes a quite reasonable. You probably make about the same or maybe a bit more, but have several dependents, and your tax burden is probably pretty hard to handle at times. I think you deserve a break. It’s a shame that the recent tax cuts and the repeal of the estate and capital gains taxes don’t do much to help you, but instead go largely to people with massive incomes.


    “‘Oh, sorry, I forgot we were talking about our government, and not a corporation.’ – Is there really a difference?”

    There is one: mission, both express and implied. Corporations exist to make money, and on some level cannot be blamed whenever they do so, by whatever means they do it. The government’s mission is to improve the lives of its constituency. That diffierence is, to my mind, pivotal.

    The links you provided are interesting, and do illustrate your point about potential mismanagement in the Social Security system. But they do not show the system to be corrupt as much as captive to the political scheming of the rest of the government, which is kind of my point. Furthermore, both articles cite the need for more funding of Social Security, not less, and neither article says anything about the system being inefficient or wasteful, which are also kind of my points.


  8. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Oh, and I forgot to compliment you for managing to squeeze a DK reference into the argument. That was awesome!

    “Behold the sparkle of champagne,
    The crime rate’s gone, feel free again,
    Life’s a dream to you, Miss Lily White,
    Jane Fonda on the screen today,
    Convince the liberals it’s okay,
    So let’s get dressed and dance away the night,

    Kill kill kill kill kill the poor,
    Kill kill kill kill kill the poor,
    Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight”

  9. Joe Says:

    I take issue with calling Social Security a Welfare program. Welfare programs are characterized by two components. They provide benefits to people who are considered unable to work or meet their needs through work and benefits are provided based on need. SS differs from Welfare in that retirement benefits are paid to participating retirees regardless of whether they need the money.

    When I said that means testing turns SS into a welfare program what I was implying was that means testing, as proposed by Shrub, changes the program’s primary beneficiaries from the general population to people who could not survive retirement without it.

    As for sticking it to the rich because they can afford it…Hell yeah. 6% off the top for a single mother on a subsistence wage hurts a lot more then it does for a married professional making two standard deviations over the median. And, if the married professional says differently then he or she does not know how to manage their money and will loose their shirt to privatization. In other words, if taxes are the hit you claim, maybe you are just living beyond your means.

  10. Uncle Andrew Says:

    I’ll stand as a character witness for Gavin any day. It’s important to remember that there are good, honest, pillar-of-the-community-type people all over the place whose belief systems may be so different from yours as to make them appear to be from another planet. (I remember when I made this very comment to Rob—a staunch conservative—at a party one evening. His reply: “Ditto!” I almost threw my beer at him.)

    The imperative of the liberal is to try to understand all points of view.

    Wow, I did learn something at Evergreen! 😀

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