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(Washington Times)   When it comes to accounting tricks, the U.S. Congress makes Enron and WorldCom look like amateurs.   (washtimes.com) divider line 162
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7170 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Jul 2002 at 11:32 AM (11 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2002-07-10 12:05:50 PM
You guys are referring to the "trust fund" like it actually exists or something. Politicians don't have to "dip into" the fund. All of the Social Security surplus is invested in Treasury Bonds. A T-Bill is giving the gov't money, which it spends immediately, in exchange for a promise to get more money back later. This makes sense for individuals, but for the US government to invest in T-Bills is the biggest joke ever. The Trust fund is a $1 trillion dollar IOU the government owes to itself.

It's like saving for college by buying cars and TVs and shiat, and writing "I owe me $30,000" every time you spend. Didn't they try this in Dumb and Dumber?
 
2002-07-10 12:06:35 PM
Overall, I think it comes down to holding your politicians responsible for what they vote on and what they propose as legislation. Keep tabs on the li'l b@$st@rd, and if he does something that you don't like, email him (CCing everyone you know in your district who would agree with you). Incumbants typically get re-elected because of laziness on the part of voters.
 
2002-07-10 12:06:54 PM
It's funny 'cause it's true.
 
2002-07-10 12:08:19 PM
Weenie
so how do you fix something like this? it's not something as easy as taking Elmer's glue to a broken vase.

anyone have any ideas?

-Sure.. We do what Chile did. No new people into the broken system. If you WANT to stay in the system fine, and we garantee your benefits until you die. In a couple of decades, the old system shuts down with nobody receiving benefits. Downside: We have to keep paying those old folks. This will require some HARD budget decisions.. Do we build another Aircraft carrier? How about axing the Dept of (Un)Education.. Theres a start..
 
2002-07-10 12:09:58 PM
Philo
Latest example? Bush wants to create $100,000 fund established to investigate corp. fraud. Democrats want it to be $800,000.
Yeah, sure, with a 100K budget, the investigation group would have SOOO much resources to investigate this frauds.
/sarcasm
100K is probably lower than what Enron paid each day as lawyer fees. 100K means the task force would have, what?, 1 or 2 persons? Yeah, like that would work. At least, the democrats seemed to want to give a decent budget to make this investigation.
Can you remind me how much the Whitewater investigation did cost, again? And I did not hear much convervatives whining about it at the time.
 
2002-07-10 12:10:49 PM
RJames383
You guys are referring to the "trust fund" like it actually exists or something.

-Did you miss the sarcasm bus? Nobody posting here REALLY believes there is a "trust fund."
 
2002-07-10 12:12:34 PM
Social Security was established way back when it was almost impossible to save for your retirement, before 401K's and IRA's.

It's outlived it's purpose, and never kept up with the times.
 
2002-07-10 12:13:13 PM
um, Bauer?

WTF?
 
2002-07-10 12:13:25 PM
Yes it could be fixed, but it won't be as long as politicians have access to your tax dollars. It is their wealth re-distribution schemes that keep them in office, by promising people free money and benefits (i.e. Someone else's money). Take that away, and you'll be amazed at how fast it gets fixed.
 
2002-07-10 12:15:10 PM
Corsair09:Did you miss the sarcasm bus? Nobody posting here REALLY believes there is a "trust fund."

Eh, yeah, probably did; I just thought people were underestimating how fvcked up the situation really is. A lot of people seem to think that there's this trust fund, but politicians steal from it. I was just saying there's no fund to steal from in the first place.
 
2002-07-10 12:15:30 PM
Inyego-

TRUE.

A Republic only survives until the mob realizes that it can vote itself ever larger plunder from the public treasury.
 
2002-07-10 12:15:48 PM
07-10-02 11:52:56 AM Logweasel
If they allow people to take care of their own social security accounts, then yes, people will make stupid mistakes and lose all of their money. SO? It's our freakin' money, you jackals. Arrggghh.... when it's my turn to collect on the money I've paid in and it isn't there in 40 years, I intend to sue the government for it, and you should too.


You won't get anything, though. The Supreme Court ruled several years ago that the "promises" and the "guarantees" made by the government with regards to Social Security are worthless. The Court ruled that no one has a right to collect Social Security benefits, the SS program is no different than any other government program, and that Congress can discontinue Social Security at any time it wishes. A trial judge will throw such a suit out on its ass.

On the accounting issue, though, I have to say that it's not reasonable to expect the government to function as a business - because it's not a business. The government is supposed to serve the people, not make money. It doesn't even follow the model of a nonprofit business - it can't.

You're right when you say that the government is not a business, but that's not where the accounting problems are found. For example:

Most, if not all, of us agree that the so-called Social Security Trust Fund does not exist in reality. The feds take the SS tax money into the Treasury, pay the current benefits out of it, and put what's left in the "trust fund." Congress then pulls the money out of the "trust fund" and uses it to pay current discretionary expenditures above and beyond what ordinary taxes will support; it then writes an IOU to the "trust fund" for the amount of money it used. Congress THEN says those IOUs are cash, calls them an asset, and uses the IOUs to hide the remaining deficit. It sounds like WorldCom - taking a debt and calling it an asset - but the feds do this will ALL of their trust funds(highway, Medicare, airport, etc.). See the problem? It has nothing to do with being for-profit or non-profit.

And yes, it is reasonable for a government entity to be expected to keep track of income and expenditures like a business. You and I do it with a checkbook. The only difference is that the government does it on larger scale. Fark, the government requires us taxpayers to do it when we file our income taxes, so why shouldn't the government be expected to do the same thing?

Gee, if the general public could take a debt, like a car or a house, and call it an asset, we'd all be able to buy $150,000 cars and $300,000 houses because our credit would be so good ... but we can't.
 
2002-07-10 12:16:20 PM
Philo--Yes, let's privatize SS, because the market has proven itself to be SO solid and full of upstanding, righteous individuals who would NEVER do anything shady.

You want to hand the market cash out of your own pocket, fine, it's your business, but I'd rather not gamble mine--at least not without some control. You think putting SS into the market is a good idea, then let's do it on an individual basis, not up to a board. You think Enron was spooky, just watch what will happen when place billions in someone's hands like this. They'll not just skim, they'll rob it blind. Put the cash into my hot little hands, or administrate the fund better, but don't you dare send in some Wallstreet farker to manage it for me...
 
2002-07-10 12:16:45 PM
AburKadabur,

You wad. I got a toasty feeling when I read that.

Clinton slashed the military budget, so it wasn't over-inflated when Bush took over from that Wuss.

The concept of "world power" is foreign to Canadians. They don't have to worry about "military" issues, because their farking country isn't worth the bother.
 
2002-07-10 12:17:27 PM
RJames383

-Sorry.. didn't meant o step on you. I agree with your post about the LUNACY of the Gov't "investing" in T-Bills.

Sigh.

SS is a CROCK and I want my money back!
 
2002-07-10 12:17:37 PM
This just in: Congress is full of crooks
 
2002-07-10 12:20:00 PM
Padraig, I hated the Whitewater fishing investigation. No preconceptions there, huh?

We already have a Justice Dept to handle federal crime. I think both sides are farking dumb to throw money at this issue. The democrats are just more stupid is all I'm saying. They treat money like toilet paper.
 
2002-07-10 12:20:21 PM
Palexc

Social Security was established way back when most people died before getting any money.
 
2002-07-10 12:24:40 PM
Swami_dm

Social Security was established way back when most people died before getting any money.

--NOT TURE! People started receiving benefits immediatly after SS became law. It is a "pay as you go" system. Actually, MANY people received thousands of dollars in benefits without ever paying into the system. Herein lies the ROOT of the pending implosion.
 
2002-07-10 12:24:44 PM
Hubiestubert, I'd prefer the government just let me keep my money and do what I please with it. That's never going to happen. Once they've got it (SS), I'll never see it again.

The government takes 14% of my paycheck (don't kid yourself; employers do not bear the cost of the other 7.5%, we do) and give it away to others. How much more control do you want? At least I'd have a shot with the market.
 
2002-07-10 12:28:16 PM
Philo--Rather see that than some of the privatization plans for SS that include an "independant" board who'll invest it for us.
 
2002-07-10 12:29:20 PM
"congress opted themselves out of the social security""

!!!!!LINKS PLEASE?!?!?!
 
2002-07-10 12:33:31 PM
Corsair09

What I meant was, a person who starting working when SS was passed had a life expectancy less than the age when they could get money out.

Now a person lives 7-10 years on average longer than when you can start taking money out but there won't be any money left in the "fund"
 
2002-07-10 12:33:55 PM
Hubiestubert

You're point is well taken, but I'd rather have my money in something that is designed to make a profit, than with the black hole that is the government. Im not for privitizing it. I want it abolished.
 
2002-07-10 12:34:24 PM
I think Bauer has lost his mind.
 
2002-07-10 12:34:32 PM
Philo: Here's a little breakdown of the US defense budget as compared to the rest of the world. Please note that in 1999 the budget was $256.8 billion. Doesn't sound too "slashed" to me. AAMOF, Clinton made several requests for military budget increases while in office. Check out:
http://www.cdi.org/weekly/1998/Issue38/#2

Selected Countries Military Budget (2001)
United States $396.1 Billion
Russia* $60.0
China* $42.0
Japan $40.4
United Kingdom $34.0
Saudi Arabia $27.2
France $25.3
Germany $21.0
Brazil* $17.9
India $15.6
Italy $15.5
South Korea $11.8
Iran $9.1
Israel $9.0
Taiwan $8.2
Canada $7.7
Spain $6.9
Australia $6.6
Netherlands $5.6
Turkey $5.1
Singapore $4.3
Sweden $4.2
United Arab Emirates* $3.9
Poland $3.7
Greece $3.3
Argentina* $3.1
Pakistan $2.6
Norway $2.8
Kuwait $2.6
Denmark $2.4
Belgium $2.2
Colombia $2.1
Egypt $2.1
Vietnam $1.8
Iraq $1.4
North Korea $1.3
Portugal $1.3
Libya $1.2
Czech Republic $1.1
Philippines $1.1
Luxembourg $0.9
Hungary $0.8
Syria $0.8
Cuba $0.7
Sudan $0.6
Yugoslavia $0.5
 
2002-07-10 12:37:32 PM
Im not saying they don't waste, but at least national defense is justifyable.
 
2002-07-10 12:37:44 PM
Moving the 5 million state, county and municipal workers who have opted out of Social Security back into the system would result in a 12.4% tax hike for those workers, leading them to curtail other private pension savings.

http://www.socialsecurity.org/dailys/02-04-02.html

Dunno know about congress doing, it but other gummit employees have, until congress made it illegal for them to do it.
 
2002-07-10 12:38:28 PM
Allowing individuals to do their own retirement investment
and scrapping SS is completely stupid, as demonstrated by
recent events in the stock market.
The repubs just want to get rid of SS, 1929 all over again.
George "Herbert Hoover" Bush my ass.
 
2002-07-10 12:41:18 PM
AburKadabur, you've already proven that you consider several hundred thousand dollars is chump change. I guess I'm not surprised to find that you think over $100 billion is chump change too.

Clinton closed a lot of military bases in the US in the 90s because of budget cutbacks.
 
2002-07-10 12:41:20 PM
07-10-02 12:13:13 PM Scarneck
um, Bauer?

WTF?

-Just speaking in tags. I'm not really that mad at fundies....more like pity. Pitty and sorrow for how they have been misled for years by the Reverend Moons' many media outlets...."The Washington Times" for one.

-thats all.
 
2002-07-10 12:42:26 PM
"The government's financial books are in such poor shape that officials cannot account for $17.3 billion of taxpayers' money from fiscal year 2001."

Seventeen point three billion. Look at this in terms of the zeros involved. $17,300,000,000.00. That's a lot of loose change laying around, and yet our state budget is so bad that they're actually laying off school teachers and closing state parks and recreation areas. Anyone got a spare bed in Canada?
 
2002-07-10 12:42:29 PM
LudovicoTechnique, please pay me share of SS taxes since you seem to think it's such a great idea.
 
2002-07-10 12:42:59 PM
You know what would be even cooler?

If the government had to operate within its means like the rest of us. If we set a low tax rate, like 10% flat ( i know, its not really low, but its a start), and denied government the opportunity to gain any more money through coercion you can bet all the bullshiat would go out the door REAL fast.

Make the government budget fully accountable, just so we know exactly whos fault it is that some inane endowment or program sucked money away from the important things,like defense and infrastructure. No more state capitalism via protectionism, corporate welfare, subsidies and the like.

fin
 
2002-07-10 12:44:20 PM
LudovicoTechnique
Allowing individuals to do their own retirement investment
and scrapping SS is completely stupid, as demonstrated by
recent events in the stock market.

--Did you actually READ any of the proposals? How about the earlier posts in this thread? Or do you just immediately knee-jerk to the left when it comes to SS?

One more time for those with a learning problem:

SS is BROKEN. It IS going to fail. The only argument is about how long this is going to take.

Privatization is about the ONLY thing that can save it. If you are squemish about the market, FINE. Put it in a savings account that can't be touched until retirement. There (pats hand soothingly) is that risk free enough for you?
 
2002-07-10 12:44:39 PM
LudovicoTechnique:

Just because *you* can't handle your money doesn't mean you get to take mine.
 
2002-07-10 12:46:10 PM
Ludo- Allowing individuals to do their own retirement investment and scrapping SS is completely stupid, as demonstrated by recent events in the stock market.

Well, if people had all their savings in the stock market, maybe they lost two thirds of their savings. Money you "invest" into SS will lose 100% of its value at this rate. Besides, there is no ten year period in the stock market's history where it didn't beat inflation, including the Great Depression. Retirement investment is for the long term, and over the long term the stock market makes sense. If you're REALLY worried, force people to invest SS money into bonds.

Abolishing SS entirely isn't a good idea, because then you'll have millions of penniless old people, who still have a vote, forcing all sorts of desperation laws through Congress. However, it should be a federally mandated savings program, not, as so many people here have pointed out, the world's longest-running pyramid scheme.
 
2002-07-10 12:49:55 PM
By the year 2038, if SS remains as it is today, the Tax rate will be 82% to support outlays and repayment of the trust fund. (This comes from the SSA's own forecasts). Fix it now, or doom your children to the welfare state.
 
2002-07-10 12:53:52 PM
Philo
The democrats are just more stupid is all I'm saying. They treat money like toilet paper.
No, they throw money on different stuffs. The democrats will use it for social programs, the republicans for the Army, police powers, Star Wars and so on. Did you see the budget cited above for the military, compared to other countries in the world? Does the USA really need THAT much money? Just get 10% of this budget, and you can fix social security, the education, and still have some money left for other programs that would work.
Sorry, but since Bush II was elected, this administration did really looked to me that the anti-thesis of the so-called "money-throwing democrats". They throw TONS of money, just not on the same stuff.
 
2002-07-10 12:54:52 PM
Whenever I get the pamphlet in the mail describing my Social Security benefits, and how much I'll be eligible to get when I retire, I start to laugh, then to cry. I'd rather have te 50 cents it took to print and mail that thing. It'd be worth a whole lot more than Social Security in 30 years. ANd that's a fact, Jack.
 
2002-07-10 12:55:07 PM
Here's a link about Congressional pensions and Social Security. I believe Congress did exempt themselves from SS up until 1982 or so, when it was made illegal for gummit employees to opt out of SS.

Don't drool too much when you read about members of congress get in their pensions.
 
2002-07-10 12:55:14 PM
Sorry, it should read "Does the US Army need that much money?", and not "Does the USA need that much money?"
 
2002-07-10 12:56:03 PM
07-10-02 12:38:28 PM LudovicoTechnique
Allowing individuals to do their own retirement investment
and scrapping SS is completely stupid, as demonstrated by
recent events in the stock market.
The repubs just want to get rid of SS, 1929 all over again.
George "Herbert Hoover" Bush my ass.


I'm so irresponsible that I should have my gubbermint nanny take care of me? Suck the gubbermint tit like those senior old farts and all the special-interest groups? FDR can kiss my ass for putting me in this disaster-of-a-program.

You can't take a short-term view of things. If you look at the last thirty years, the stock market has yielded an AMAZING bonanza for investors. The ones who have gotten burned are the day-trading idiots and the people who refuse to follow sound investment advice. Putting ALL your money into one stock? Please! If you're not smart enough - or too lazy, which is most often the case - to learn about investing and the stock market, don't put your money in stocks. Put your money in government bonds, certificates of deposit, or a passbook savings account. There is no such thing as easy money.

I want out of the damn Social Security system. I won't be able to retire until at least 2030, and I won't qualify for benefits until 2038. Social Security will long be bankrupt and dead by then; I'll never see a PENNY of my money. So why should I throw money into that rathole? Just to subsidize some old fart? Let me call my OWN shots. If I fark it up and lose it all, too bad for me; I'll just have to work until I fall over dead, and that's no one's problem but my own. I'll even give up any future claim to the money I've already paid into that thing JUST to get out of it. I can make better investing decisions that will yield me more money over the next thirty years. I can better put that 15.3% of my income to work than Congress and the Social Security Administration.

If any of you Gen-Xers(or younger) think you're going to get money out of Social Security, you're sadly mistaken. By the time we retire, it WILL be means-tested - IF it even exists.
 
2002-07-10 12:56:34 PM
Philo, you're just wrong.

The biggest giveaway of the last 10 years was Bush's tax cut for the wealthy. He uses the SSS (Soc Sec Surp) to cover the shortfall caused by giving a ton of money to the wealthiest few.

And as for big government spending, Why has the government grown since Bush took office. Why did it grow under daddy Bush? Why did it shrink only under one president in the last ten years - Clinton?

Republicans practice the Big Lie. Say something untrue enough times and loud enough and the gullible masses will repeat it back to you as gospel.
 
2002-07-10 12:57:17 PM
Congress does not have to declare parking spaces as taxable income. I always thought it a giant waste of time and energy that federal employees pay federal income tax at all. Why don't they just drop their salaries down to their after tax levels and save all the time/money it takes the IRS to process their taxes.
 
daz
2002-07-10 12:57:49 PM
How come when Republicans want to spend a little more (or, God-forbid give money back to the people so it can be spent better), then they're jeopardizing the SS Trust Fund, or starving inner-city school children, but when Democrats spend spend spend with no regards to income or debt, THAT has no effect on the SS Trust Fund?
 
2002-07-10 12:58:07 PM
Philo
I guess it's a matter of proper language then. If our government were to cut our defense budget from 7.7 billion to less than half, say 3.5 billion, I'd say that's "slashing" the defense budget. But when your government, whose budget is more than the combined budgets of the next 20 nations below you, decides to cut the budget by 25% in peacetime, to me that's just good policy.

Sorry your brother Billy-Joe-Bob's army base was closed an' he had to go n' get hisself a job at the local Taco Bell, but hey he certainly wasn't gonna learn to make a beef and bean burrito sitting around in his barracks waiting for a police action to be declared.
 
2002-07-10 12:58:37 PM
National defense is only justfiable if we have an enemy. Why do you think we let Saddam stay in power? Why do you think we are now fighting a vaguely-defined, unwinnable "War on Terrorism"?
 
2002-07-10 12:59:03 PM
07-10-02 12:55:07 PM Philo
Here's a link about Congressional pensions and Social Security. I believe Congress did exempt themselves from SS up until 1982 or so, when it was made illegal for gummit employees to opt out of SS.


Federal employees were forced into Social Security in 1986 so their money could prop up the program. Before that, they weren't part of it.
 
2002-07-10 12:59:45 PM
BTW, Congress was mostly controlled by democrats for last several decades. The republicans took control and undid a lot of the nice stuff democrats set up from themselves.
 
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