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Pain Caucus Hack of the Day

[ 94 ] December 27, 2012 |

Ruth Marcus.

Comments (94)

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  1. Derelict says:

    Yes, if only my elderly parents had even less food then the economy would almost certainly turn around!

    • Lee says:

      If anything conservatives have taught us that true prosperity comes from the many sacrificing their well-being for the few to enjoy conspicuous consumption.

    • somethingblue says:

      Look, we need to start by acknowledging that over the last thirty years we’ve been living beyond our means, and we need to make some hard choices as a country.

      Specifically, should your elderly parents be living on Meow Mix or the equally nutritious but much cheaper store brand?

  2. DrDick says:

    Modern conservatives are not merely sociopaths with no regard for others. They are full on sadists who actively enjoy the pain and suffering of others.

    • Speak Truth says:

      That’s just stupid-talk.

      Demonizing those you don’t agree with is less than fruitful. It might be helpful to have an article posted that allows Ms. Marcus to explain her side instead of a hack job second hand characterization.

      You like ‘fairness’, don’t you?

      • Malaclypse says:

        Because if there is one thing that Our Dear Jennifer is known for, it is calm, reasoned, well-informed discourse.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s kinda DrDick’s thing.

        Dozens and dozens of trolling comments about how all people of this characteristic are delusional/ignorant/stupid/evil.

          • DrDick says:

            Truth hurts. Please feel free to prove me wrong. Show me actual examples of conservative or libertarian policies or proposals that do not primarily benefit the powerful and are not hurtful and destructive to the weak. I certainly cannot think of any in the last 30 years.

            • bradP says:

              libertarian policies

              You can’t think of any libertarian policies that are not hurtful and destructive to the weak over the past 30 years?

              The US government, over the course of its history, has specialized in exploiting the weak for the sake of the powerful, and there is no libertarian policy that helps the poor?

              Let’s visit recent events: I have on multiple occasions expressed my concern about the effects this mad rush to protect white suburban children will have on the poor. Prohibitions like this have extreme disproportionate effects on the poor and minority, and this particular issue seems to just scream minority persecution (as evidenced by Reagan’s support of gun control mentioned earlier).

              Nobody here really gives a shit about that, though, after all, you can give law enforcement the hammer, since you can just blame all of those dispicable conservatives for misusing it.

              In the end, if you can say that you cannot think of a single libertarian policy of the last 30 years (how long has the war on minority drug users lasted?) tells me that you might not be looking at this objectively.

              • brewmn says:

                “…The US government, over the course of its history, has specialized in exploiting the weak for the sake of the powerful…”

                If this is the premise from which your ideology flows, it’s no wonder that everything you post here is so profoundly stupid.

                • bradP says:

                  If this is the premise from which your ideology flows, it’s no wonder that everything you post here is so profoundly stupid.

                  Its not.

              • Malaclypse says:

                You can’t think of any libertarian policies that are not hurtful and destructive to the weak over the past 30 years?

                None that were enacted. Yes, yes, Balko and Henley are treasures. But for every Balko, there are a dozen McArdles.

                • Murc says:

                  More to Mal’s point, there aren’t any Balko or Henleyesque libertarians in positions of policymaking power.

                  There are plenty of libertarian ideas that are good ones. The 4th Amendment is incredibly libertarian, for example. And I am rather sympathetic to people who have terms defined out from under them… but the people who are nationally recognized standard bearers of libertarianism tend to be crazy people like Ron Paul and Paul Ryan, who genuinely do want poor people to die in the streets because to have the state take action otherwise would make us all less ‘free.’

                • bradP says:

                  More to Mal’s point, there aren’t any Balko or Henleyesque libertarians in positions of policymaking power.

                  Baloney.

                  On foreign policy, drug policy, privacy and civil liberties, and piracy and information laws, stronger opposition has come from the libertarian side than the progressive left.

                  Hell, you mention Ron Paul as one of the evil crazies, but he has been as loud and powerful voice against some of the US’s worst policies and a consistent voting record to match.

                • Hogan says:

                  Being an advocate =/= having policymaking power.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  On foreign policy, drug policy, privacy and civil liberties, and piracy and information laws, stronger opposition has come from the libertarian side than the progressive left.

                  [citation needed, especially in light of the hilarity below]

                  Hell, you mention Ron Paul as one of the evil crazies, but he has been as loud and powerful voice against some of the US’s worst policies

                  He’s also a loud and powerful voice for insane goldbuggery. And a loud and powerful voice for eliminating a woman’s right to control her own body.

                  and a consistent voting record to match.


                  Um, no.

                • bradP says:

                  Being an advocate =/= having policymaking power.

                  Then it hardly is a criticism since you can’t even get Barack Obama to stop being a conservative.

                  I suppose the Pauls’ pale in comparison to the political clout of Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich.

                • bradP says:

                  Being an advocate =/= having policymaking power.

                  Also I’m surprised we are having this discussion during the Chuck Hagel flare up.

                  What peace-loving progressive is Obama gonna throw into that post?

                • DrDick says:

                  Brad continually insists on proving my points for me.

                • Hell, you mention Ron Paul as one of the evil crazies, but he has been as loud and powerful voice against some of the US’s worst policies

                  Loud, I’ll grant you. Powerful? He’s Dennis Kucinich with an old-fashioned view of “the Negro Question.”

                • Murc says:

                  Hell, you mention Ron Paul as one of the evil crazies, but he has been as loud and powerful voice against some of the US’s worst policies

                  So what?

                  The guy has a burning passion to turn us into a neo-feudal society. The fact that he’s right about some other things doesn’t obviate that. Nor, in fact, is Ron Paul in any position to craft policy; he is regarded as an apostate even by his own party.

                  Not even the Dennis Kucinich analogy is apt; Democrats LIKE Kucinich, and the areas he is goofy on have no real impact on public policy. Ron Paul getting into a position of real power would genuinely scare a shit-ton of republicans.

                  As for your other points, you’re gonna have to prove those. Mal is right to ask for cites.

                • DrDick says:

                  He’s also a loud and powerful voice for insane goldbuggery. And a loud and powerful voice for eliminating a woman’s right to control her own body.

                  Also in favor of racial discrimination in public accommodations.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Also in favor of racial discrimination in public accommodations.

                  Now let’s be fair here. Paul may not, in fact, actively favor racial discrimination (unlike his actively favoring limiting abortion). But racial discrimination doesn’t bother him in any meaningful way.

                  See? Principled.

                • DrDick says:

                  Also I’m surprised we are having this discussion during the Chuck Hagel flare up.

                  What peace-loving progressive is Obama gonna throw into that post?

                  In what universe are either Hagel of Obama progressives or even significantly left of center?

              • DrDick says:

                Opposing gun control benefits the poor, who are overwhelmingly the victims of gun violence? Sorry, but you are not even trying here. This is absolutely delusional.

                • bradP says:

                  Opposing gun control benefits the poor, who are overwhelmingly the victims of gun violence? Sorry, but you are not even trying here. This is absolutely delusional.

                  They are also overwhelmingly the victims of police violence.

                  You better be sure as hell you are actually going to help the problem of gun violence in poor communities before you start sending in cops looking for guns.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  They are also overwhelmingly the victims of police violence.

                  Are you seriously suggesting that the victims of police violence will be helped by carrying firearms? Are you completely fucking oblivious to how police will actually act when confronted by an armed individual?

                • bradP says:

                  Are you seriously suggesting that the victims of police violence will be helped by carrying firearms? Are you completely fucking oblivious to how police will actually act when confronted by an armed individual?

                  No. I’m saying that gun control will be another police excuse to target poor communities. Drugs absolutely tear apart poor communities. Prohibition didn’t help them out a bit while turning a bunch of thugs loose.

                  The guns are gonna be there in the hands of people who want to have guns or feel they need to have guns.

                  I know exactly how the police would act when confronted with an armed individual. I know there are probably quite a few cops who might react in a similar way to seeing a black kid reach for a cell phone.

                • DrDick says:

                  No. I’m saying that gun control will be another police excuse to target poor communities.

                  And now you prove yourself totally delusional. The police do not need any other excuse than they are poor and minority and guns just aggravates the police response. Guns also do far more damage than the drugs in these communities and are most likely to be in the hands of criminals.

                • I’m saying that gun control will be another police excuse to target poor communities.

                  “Gun control” is not a commodity, alike in every root and branch, that can be distinguished only by amount.

                  Banning the possession of handguns or all firearms would probably work out as you say, but banning the possession and sale of assault weapons would not. It didn’t last time.

            • Please feel free to prove me wrong. Show me actual examples of conservative or libertarian policies or proposals that do not primarily benefit the powerful and are not hurtful and destructive to the weak.

              Hell, I wouldn’t even need policies. Show me some libertarians who actually walk the walk when it comes to private-sector charity replacing government. Where’s that Ayn Rand soup kitchen, that Freidrich Hayek Shelter for abused single mothers?

              • bradP says:

                What would such an organization look like?

                I think you are asking a loaded question.

                • I think I’m asking exactly the question that the anti-welfare-state libertarians are always begging with their facile assurances.

                  Further, I think I’m asking a question that they, not I, have to answer. We’re certainly not going to tear down the system based on the promise of some vaporware.

                • DrDick says:

                  That is exactly the question and the answer is that it would never exist as the heart of libertarinaism (unlike your fantasy version) is pure, unadulterated selfishness.

              • Malaclypse says:

                What would such an organization look like?

                Like the square root of negative one.

              • bradP says:

                http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2012/09/are-libertarians-unusually-selfish/

                Jason Brennan, who I am inclined to trust, states in that:

                And, in fact, some social scientific work indicates that support for free markets is positively correlated with more charitable giving, even once you control for religious giving.

                I haven’t been able to find the study he is talking about, however.

                Have you seen studies that directly reject this?

                • DrDick says:

                  Capitalism and free markets always favor the powerful (capital) over the weak (labor). Do try to visit reality some time. You obviously trust people who are unworthy of it.

                • I didn’t ask if libertarians were “unusually selfish.” I asked where I can find the alternative institutions they’re building up to replace the welfare state.

                • bradP says:

                  Just shut the fuck up DrDick. Every word you say just convinces me that you can’t possibly be correct.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Brad, why don’t you point us to examples in the historical record when free markets favored labor. Since DrDick is always and obviously wrong in this regard, such examples must be easy to come by.

                • bradP says:

                  I didn’t ask if libertarians were “unusually selfish.” I asked where I can find the alternative institutions they’re building up to replace the welfare state.

                  I do not know of any private charities set up by libertarians with the purpose of replacing the welfare state.

                • bradP says:

                  Brad, why don’t you point us to examples in the historical record when free markets favored labor.

                  They don’t. That kinda misses the point.

                  There have been times where labor was something to be feared in the free market. Not now so much, but hopefully it will work out.

                  And its DrDick’s tone and pretention that convinces me I’m correct, not the content.

                  He is often correct, but there is no room in his mind for the discussion of libertarianism. It only reinforces my resolve.

                • I do not know of any private charities set up by libertarians with the purpose of replacing the welfare state

                  Doesn’t that pretty much give the lie to the claim that they are just as determined to help the poor as liberals, and merely want to go about it in a different manner?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  He is often correct, but there is no room in his mind for the discussion of libertarianism.

                  Yes, he is also unreasonably scornful of heliocentrism, the phlogiston theory of combustion, the Humoral Theory of Hippocrates, the miasmal theory of disease, and Young-Earth Creationism. Why can’t DrDick be open to discussion?

                • bradP says:

                  Doesn’t that pretty much give the lie to the claim that they are just as determined to help the poor as liberals, and merely want to go about it in a different manner?

                  It could also mean that they think that there isn’t much of a restriction on charitable avenues and/or that a charity with that goal would be of no help.

                  This seems similar to asking why progressives aren’t inflating their tax payments.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  It could also mean that they think that there isn’t much of a restriction on charitable avenues and/or that a charity with that goal would be of no help.

                  Yes, the fact that they think aiding the poor “would be of no help” is exactly what the problem actually is.

                • bradP says:

                  Yes, he is also unreasonably scornful of heliocentrism, the phlogiston theory of combustion, the Humoral Theory of Hippocrates, the miasmal theory of disease, and Young-Earth Creationism. Why can’t DrDick be open to discussion?

                  Now you are just making yourself sound like an ass.

                  I’m done with this discussion.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I’m done with this discussion.

                  Without providing any examples of when the free market helped labor, or of libertarian charities. I’m stunned. Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d suspect that you are unable to provide support for your position.

                • This seems similar to asking why progressives aren’t inflating their tax payments.

                  There’s a problem with this comparison: liberals don’t claim that individual action, without the government mandating that every pitch in, is a good way to solve broad social problems. In fact, they explicitly reject that claim, as a core part of their argument.

                  Whereas libertarians do make that claim about individual action.

                • DrDick says:

                  They don’t. That kinda misses the point.

                  No, Brad, that is exactly the point and your inability to understand that is the problem here. I will not shut up, because libertarianism is quite simply wrong (and destructive in actual practice) and you are clearly unable to prove otherwise. I am sorry that reality gives you a screaming case of cognitive dissonance, but that is unavoidable.

                  My tone here is exactly the same as for flat earthers and creationists. If you insist on spouting counterfactual nonsense, I will react with derision.

                • djw says:

                  Jason Brennan, moreso than just about anyone I read semi-regularly, always manages to find all his prior beliefs verified and bolstered by his read of the best social-scientific evidence currently available. It’s quite a coincidence.

      • spencer says:

        Demonizing those you don’t agree with is less than fruitful.

        Good, good. Now get back in your time machine and go back to sometime between late 2001 and late 2003. Share this wisdom with all your right-tard friends / most of the media / Ari Fleischer, who were doing nothing *but* demonizing people like DrDick, me, and plenty of other commenters here for having the temerity to disagree with them about myriad aspects of the Bush administration’s WoT / plans to invade Iraq.

        Fucking consistency, how does it work?

      • That’s just stupid-talk.

        Demonizing those you don’t agree with is less than fruitful.

        Yeah, Dr. Dick! Modern conservatives are totally sociopaths with no regard for others, and I won’t have you slandering them so.

      • Lee says:

        Its fair to call a spade a spade and a sadist a sadist. The policies that Ruth Marcus advocates have been proven to cause nothing but human misery in the short, medium, and long-run. We know this from past implementation of said policies. Every single time that these policies were implemented, the results were not good.

        Since Ms. Marcus is advocating for policies that only result in pain to other people than she must enjoy inflicting said pain. In English, the word for people who delight in the infliction of pain on others is sadist.

      • Warren Terra says:

        It might be helpful to have an article posted that allows Ms. Marcus to explain her side

        if only someone – perhaps a nationally known newspaper, or maybe a columnist syndication service – would give Marcus a chance to explain her position! Oh, will the cruel silencing of the Beltway Gliberati never end?

    • Speak Truth says:

      As usual, Scott is not telling the whole story. He’s only showing you what he wants you to see and asks his readers to jump to the conclusion he wants you to arrive at.

      In Ruth Marcus’ own words:

      For the very poor elderly and disabled who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the impact could be doubly problematic because CPI is used to compute both initial benefits and cost-of-living increases.
      As a result, every commission that has examined the issue and endorsed the change has coupled it with additional benefits for the poorest recipients.
      Opponents of the switch — including AARP and, more convincingly, the National Women’s Law Center — insist these protections are inadequate. The administration assures me that, under its approach toward the oldest seniors, the poorest would be shielded and perhaps even better off.

      I really don’t have a dog in this fight other than to see a little fairness in reporting. It’s just irritating to see the dishonesty.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Marcus is actually a self-described liberal Democrat, but I don’t think anyone not also in the employ of Fred Hiatt believes her.

      • Jeremy says:

        Sometimes it seems that the most popular time to self-describe as a liberal Democrat is immediately before advocating a conservative position. Or, as in the case of Lanny Davis, before blatantly shilling for some dictator that’s paying you.

        It’s like if you ever hear Camille Paglia call herself a feminist, you can safely assume that what follows is going to be some screed about the evils of actual feminism.

  3. c u n d gulag says:

    Perhaps, if companies still provided pensions for people to fall back on, instead of 401K-asino’s, though unnecessary, some minimal trimming might be do-able, and not completely unreasonable.

    But, today, most people don’t have pensions to help with what they get from SS.
    they either never had pensions in the first place, or, had their companies raid those funds, to reward their exec’s and shareholders for jobs well-done, while they were bankrupting the company. See, “Hostess.”

    And, Ms. Marcus, things ain’t lookin’ much brighter for future retiree’s.

    Having the elderly poor eating catfood, while the elderly rich have a caviar appetizer with vintage champaigne at home, before going out for some 4-star Early-bird Special, is something only sociopaths can suggest.

    And besides, why is ANYONE bringing SS into this, since it’s its own fund, and not tied at all to whatever deficit problem we may, or may not, have?

    The only reason is, if the rich have any small tax increase, they want as many pounds of flesh as they can get away with. Even if that kills the bodies that flesh was taken from. Or, maybe, ESPECIALLY because it will kill the bodies – other’s bodies.

    A tax increase may cost them some money, ’til the can find loopholes.
    But, wallowing in the misery of others? PRICELESS!!!

    Cut the crap!
    Cut the “cap,” eliminate it, and make everyone pay the same percentage of FICA – the people making $106,000 need to pay the same percentage of income as those making less.

    Potential SS problem 20+ in the future?
    Solved.
    As a matter of fact, we could give current and future SS recipients an increase! And that, in and of itself, will stimulate the economy!

    But, tha’st out!
    It’ll never happen!
    No pain or misery for other’s, for the rich to wallow in.

    • Anonymous says:

      why is ANYONE bringing SS into this, since it’s its own fund, and not tied at all to whatever deficit problem we may, or may not, have?

      The Republicans have been looking for a politically feasible way to avoid paying off the bonds held by the social security trust fund for the last 20 years. The surplus was used to fund tax cuts for the rich going all the way back to the Reagan years. It’s clear the only way to pay them off is by increasing taxes on the rich. The rich don’t like it.

      • DrDick says:

        Hell, they have been looking for a way to destroy SS since right after it passed.

        • I think there was a period, extending from the late 40s through the 90s, when Republicans who had made their peace with Social Security were running the party. Anti-SS movement conservatives were dominant in the 30s and early 40s, and have become dominant again today, but I don’t think Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George HW Bush, or Bob Dole wanted to do away with it.

          • DrDick says:

            I think that they may have acknowledged the impossibility of repealing it at that time, but am less certain that they lost the desire to do so. I will say, given his backing for guaranteed annual income, that Nixon and perhaps Ford probably did not hate it.

      • Jeremy says:

        Of course the Republicans want to avoid paying off the trust fund. For thirty years, regressive payroll taxes have been funding a portion of general revenue. In the future, progressive income taxes will be used to fund a portion of Social Security. That can’t be allowed to happen.

    • And besides, why is ANYONE bringing SS into this, since it’s its own fund, and not tied at all to whatever deficit problem we may, or may not, have?

      That’s an accounting trick. When Social Security takes in more money than it pays out, the money goes into the general fund and pays down debt. When it costs more than it takes in, money from income taxes etc. is used to pay Social Security benefits.

      It’s a pay-as-you-go program, funded by that year’s federal government revenue. All of these legal fictions and the formal names on the accounts are meaningless.

      • dave says:

        Wrong. Excess SS money is invested in treasury bills. Treasury bills are not “an accounting trick.” If they are, we have bigger problems than the ability of SS to pay out full benefits or 70% of benefits 20 years from now.

        Calling this an accounting trick is extremely misleading because it implies that there is an alternative. What shoudl the trustees do with the excess money, Joe? Stock market? Swiss Bank account? Put it under their mattresses?

      • Malaclypse says:

        That’s an accounting trick. When Social Security takes in more money than it pays out, the money goes into the general fund and pays down debt.

        I think you are making the common mistake of viewing the government like a household – with some money in a checking account (the general fund), and some in savings (social security), and the ability to freely transfer in between. But I don’t think that is correct.

        Social Security surpluses don’t pay down debt – they buy debt up. And the debt held by the Trust Fund is, as a practical matter, indistinguishable from bonds that you might have in your 401(k). I don’t think there would be any practical way to default only on bonds held by the Trust Fund, and even if there were, you would probably have 14th Amendment issues.

        I’m not good enough at Fund Accounting to explain it in English, but I think you have made a category error here. The Trust Fund really is a separate entity. Thinking of this as “an accounting trick” obscures what is going on. Fund accounting is not a trick – it is a rather difficult method developed to show some real relationships.

  4. LosGatosCA says:

    As usual, Quislings are also involved.

    The forces arrayed against the middle class of all ages are substantial and effective.

  5. Linnaeus says:

    Our would-be neofeudal lords can’t permit the crime of Social Security to continue.

  6. Glenn says:

    Even if it were true that the current CPI slightly overstates inflation for SS recipients, I’m not sure I see why a small real increase in SS benefits is such a horror.

  7. This would have the effect of reducing benefits by 0.3 percentage points for each year of retirement. This means a beneficiary would see a 3 percent cut in benefits after 10 years, a 6 percent cut after 20 years and a 9 percent cut after 30 years.

    No, it doesn’t. It’s worse than that, because the cuts compound. The second 0.3% comes off of a number that has already been reduced by 0.3%.

    • Brian Rogers says:

      compound interest – how does it work?

    • Anonymous says:

      The compounding effect is very small. It also has the opposite effect of the change. You wind up with less than a 9% reduction after 30 years, but not much less.

      [(1+x-.003)/(1+x)]^30 where x is the decimal value for inflation (2%=.02) Assuming x=.02 yields .9154, or an 8.46% reduction in benefits from the current system. Of course, that works out to people having 9.24% more under the old system.

      Still, no reason we should do it.

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