The Social Security Ponzi scheme is running out of steam

You can’t say we didn’t warn you.

While most news accounts said Social Security will dip into its trust fund this year for the first time since 1982, The Hill’s Merrill Matthews points out that there is no trust fund, because the federal government has borrowed that money and spent it.

Matthews writes:

Historically, workers have paid in more than was needed to cover benefits, allowing the trust fund to grow to $2.9 trillion — at least on paper.  However, the federal government has borrowed the trust fund surplus to cover other government expenses, depositing interest-bearing IOUs in its place.

If Social Security must pay out more than it receives, which the trustees say will happen this year for the first time since 1982, the government cannot draw from other assets because it doesn’t have any.  Indeed, the federal government has to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars every year just to cover its current expenses.

Thus the government must borrow the money — or raise taxes — to redeem its IOUs so Social Security can pay benefits.

A certain prescient politician warned us in 1990 while standing in from of a sign reading “embezzlement”:

“It is time for Congress, I think, to take its hands — and I add the president in on that — off the Social Security surpluses. Stop hiding the horrible truth of the fiscal irresponsibility that we have talked about here the past two weeks. It is time to return those dollars to the hands of those who earned them — the Social Security beneficiaries and future beneficiaries. … I think that is a very good illustration of what I was talking about, embezzlement, thievery.”

That was Harry Reid. The same Nevada senator who years later said, “Unfortunately, despite decades of success, many Republicans continue to threaten the future of Social Security. Republican leaders routinely exaggerate the financial challenges facing the program in an effort to create a false sense of crisis. … I have spent my career fending off attacks against Social Security.”

Actually, Social Security is and always has been a Ponzi scheme, depending on future “investors” to pay off the original “investors.” That worked so long as there were 40 workers for every retiree, but does not work so well when the ratio of workers to retirees nears two-to-one.

Embezzlement?

 

 

 

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Super Tuesday outcome at a glance

Since the morning paper noted on its front page Tuesday that its new design “will allow bolder presentations of the news and more helpful graphic, visual elements,” but contains no graphics today to help grasp the outcome from Super Tuesday, as it did not after the Nevada caucuses, so here is what others are providing.

Conservative Review has an easy-to-grasp chart of the all-important GOP delegate count:

The New York Times has a chart showing state-by-state vote percentages.

NYT grafix

Online the Times also has a map and other information.

For those who would like to see the actual number of votes as well as percentages, that is provided by The Hill for each state.

The Wall Street Journal also has a page of easy-to-peruse graphics that includes the number of delegates at stake in upcoming caucuses and primaries.

The Washington Post also has a page of helpful and interactive graphics, as does the Los Angeles Times here.

 

 

Strange day at a strange place

New editor of R-J, J. Keith Moyer, with interim editor Glenn Cook looking on.

May you work at an interesting place. A curse? Or a blessing?

At noon Friday the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported online that the new publisher had named a new editor. This was an hour after two of the paper’s reporters had tweeted the news with photos of the new editor in the courtyard introducing himself and six minutes after the “competition” Las Vegas Sun posted the news online.

A half hour later, the R-J posted online an editorial endorsement of Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination for the presidency. This included a rather odd disclaimer:

The RJ met with Sen. Rubio on Oct. 9, two months before the announcement of the newspaper’s sale to the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. The Adelsons have detached themselves from our endorsement process, and our endorsement of Sen. Rubio does not represent the support of the family.

Since when has anyone known Adelson to detach himself from anything?

Though the endorsement is online, it has not been published in print, which will probably come in the more widely circulated Sunday edition. Why it was published before the new editor could shake the Minnesota snowflakes from his hair is another oddity.

On Oct. 12 Politico published a story about Rubio courting Adelson for his support, phoning him several times a month to update him on his campaign. Rubio met with Adelson during that Las Vegas visit and Politico described Adelson as “leaning increasingly toward supporting Marco Rubio …”

It also stated, “Adelson, seated at the head of his conference table, heaped praise on Rubio’s performance while he discussed the dynamics of the 2016 race. Those briefed on the meeting described it as short but said it had an air of importance …”

On Jan. 10 The Hill reported, “Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has joked privately that he belongs to a divided household: He likes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and his wife Miriam likes Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.”

The story reports that Adelson and his wife spent nearly $100 million supporting Republicans in 2012, a chunk of it going to Newt Gingrich.

Despite the claim of detachment, most of the headlines about the endorsement of Rubio made note of the fact Adelson owns the newspaper.

As for the new editor, J. Keith Moyer — senior fellow in the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication for the past five years and president and publisher of the Minneapolis Star Tribune from 2001 to 2007 and editor for Gannett and McClatchy — there is a surprisingly small online footprint.

A search for “by J. Keith Moyer” turns up a laudatory review of a book by former Star Tribune editor Tim McGuire, who I know from American Society of Newspaper Editors conventions, and a recommendation for cocktail onions.

There is a rather disquieting report online by a former desk editor who worked with Moyer in Fresno and claims Moyer killed stories about the troubled Fresno State basketball team coached by Jerry Tarkanian and expressed a willingness to bury ledes to curry favor with local government.

Here’s to interesting times at an interesting place to work.

 

 

Should women register for the draft? Is that the right question to ask?

(Getty photo)

The top generals of both the Army and Marines testified recently before a Senate panel that women — now that they are eligible to serve in all aspects of the military — should be required to register for the draft, according to The Hill.

 

Apparently the question of whether anyone should be required to register for the draft is a settled topic, since no one even brought it up.

The clear words of the 13th Amendment don’t mean what they say:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

If you thought an amendment of the Constitution altered the original, you will be told by the experts that you are wrong and that the Constitution authorizes Congress to “raise and support Armies,” though it doesn’t specify just how.

You see in 1918 the Supreme Court in Arver v. U.S. waved aside any argument against conscription by simply saying any argument against it was inconceivable:

“Finally, as we are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation as the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the people can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is refuted by its mere statement.”

I seem to recall a few being drafted to fight in Vietnam, though the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was never really a declaration of war. Being declared by the great representative body of the people wasn’t even a prerequisite.

In fact, even arguing that conscription violates the 13th Amendment is forbidden.

In 1919 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that distributing pamphlets making the argument was tantamount to “falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic” and constituted a “clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

Arguing the 13th Amendment won’t get you out of jury duty either.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.” — Lewis Carroll

Words are such fragile vessels unsuited to carrying such weighty ideas as liberty and freedom and self-determination, when the master thinks otherwise.

And, if you thought the Constitution was written with the intent that government should serve men, you are right. It’s a cookbook.

 

Look who’s talking

Who said this?

“Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs. The Immigration and Naturalization Service needs the ability to step up enforcement.

“Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits often without paying any taxes.

“Safeguards like welfare and free medical care are in place to boost Americans in need of short-term assistance. These programs were not meant to entice freeloaders and scam artists from around the world. Even worse, Americans have seen heinous crimes committed by individuals who are here illegally.”

No, not Donald Trump. Those words were in a press release from the office of Harry Reid in August 1993 under the headline: “Our Federal Wallet Stretched To Limit By Illegal Aliens Getting Welfare. Even worse, Americans have seen heinous crimes committed by individuals who are here illegally.”

Now Harry is calling Trump disgusting for saying that some illegal aliens are criminals and rapists.

“I’ve heard the comments. They’re distasteful, disgusting and frankly, I’m terribly disappointed that my Republican colleagues here in leadership positions in the Senate and those running for president have basically kept their mouths shut,” Reid told reporters. “I think that’s unfortunate, and I think that speaks of where the Republican Party is today.”

Pot meet kettle.

Harry Reid talks to reporters. (Getty Images via The Hill)

See the video of his floor speech in September of 1993.

 

 

Ozone regs: EPA tells Nevada to suck it up

The EPA today issued regulations that slash the levels of ozone allowed in the air.

“Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, according to The Hill.

The order cuts allowable ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 ppb with plans to further lower that to 60 ppb.

Air from the ozone-rich stratosphere sometimes “intrudes” down to the surface in the springtime in the Intermountain West, making it harder for some regions to meet health-based standards for ozone pollution. (Credit: Meiyun Lin, Princeton University and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory)

While ozone is generally a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, it is also naturally occurring.

In fact, according to a recent study, a lot of the ground-level ozone in the Great Basin area comes from something called stratospheric intrusions that bring air from the stratosphere down to the surface.

Researchers took readings from a mountain top 30 miles northwest to Las Vegas and found that stratospheric intrusions added at least 30 ppb to the natural ozone level, which is usually 50 to 60 ppb. That pushes level to 80 ppb and violates EPA’s new standards, as well as the current standard.

The study also noted the region gets a lot of ozone from California and Asia, as well as wildfires.

National Association of Manufacturers estimates that the ozone rule could cost $270 billion a year —the most expensive regulation in history.

To which McCarthy replies, “Special-interest critics will try to convince you that pollution standards chase away local jobs and businesses, but, in fact, healthy communities attract new businesses, new investment, and new jobs.”

Compliance will mean shutting down or modifying power plants, factories, heavy-duty vehicles, farm equipment, off-road vehicles and passenger cars. For Nevadans it will cost $23 million more to own and operate vehicles.

Maybe the EPA will next ban people from living in Nevada. That might be the only way to comply with the new rule.

Or maybe the EPA will relent. Don’t hold your breath.

So much for training Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State

Syrian rebels

Oops, there goes one aspect the president’s declaration of whatever declared on the Islamic State, which claims to have established a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Obama said Wednesday:

“Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition.  Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.  In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its own people — a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost.  Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.”

The Hill is now reporting that those Syrian rebels and the Islamic State struck a cease-fire deal today, agreeing to a non-aggression pact in which they promise not to attack each other.

The website noted that this development puts a damper on that call for Congress to authorize money to train and equip rebel groups. You think?