Crisis Invention

Part of the President’s attempt to convince us that there is a crisis in Social Security, as opposed to something of an issue that we need to address, is to lie whenever he gets the chance. That might seem a risky strategy, what with the outrageous, near-communist liberal media we have int eh US, but inexplicably he manages to get away with it. I’ve mentioned it before, but here are a couple of new examples:

Mr Bush says: “In the year 2018, for the first time ever, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than the government collects in payroll taxes”
The pinkos at MSNBC say: “That is just plain wrong. In 14 of the past 47 years, including 1975 to 1983, Social Security paid out more in benefits than the government collected in payroll

Mr Bush says: “If you’re 20 years old, in your mid-20s, and you’re beginning to work, I want you to think about a Social Security system that will be flat bust, bankrupt, unless the United States Congress has got the willingness to act now”
Erm, ‘Truth’ says: One of the main Republican criticisms of Social Security is that it is (largely) Pay-As-You-Go. A PAYG system based on payroll taxes can’t go “flat bust” unless nobody has a job. Unless that’s the idea.

There are many thinks the President says that seem wrong, but are just a result of a poor choice of words. But then there are moments like these, when he just lies. Our President, the liar. Makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy doesn’t it?

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Paul’s hypothesis

I’m pushing into my mid-30s with frightening speed, so thought it was about time I came up with some landmark achievement. It turns out that such things aren’t as easy as you might think (though keep your eye open for auto-ablating soap in a future post), so here’s the best I could come up with:

Paul’s hypothesis: With the rise in popularity of blogging, the non-words ‘fro’ and ‘teh’ have overtaken ‘lesbain’ as the most commonly mispelled word on the Internet.

Please feel free to check my hypothesis. At work, if you so choose.

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The Moon also rises

Randy Moss, well-known for his ability to catch specially shaped balls slightly better than other very able people, has caused something of a fuss after miming dropping his trousers to the Green Bay Packers’ fans at the weekend. One of the commentators was quick to describe the act as disgusting, and apologize for having shown it. Clearly this was a result of the general sensitivity following the appearance of Janet Jackson’s excessive decolletage, and it was very reasonable to apologize for it. But I want to argue with the use of the word ‘disgusting’.

On a very practical level it was crude, but not disgusting – if he had actually dropped trou I’d agree, but miming it is no worse than the lip-reading fun we all have when an exercised coach remonstrates with one of the stripey-jerseyed arbiters of the game. Unpleasant, certainly, a failure of judgement that reflects poorly on him. But not disgusting.

On a more philosophical level, as I’ve alluded to a couple of times, I think I have something that happened during the game that better deserves the word ‘disgusting’. Many millions of people watched several dozen men who, almost without exception, are millionaires or on their way. This coverage was provided at a cost of several million dollars by a multi-billion dollar corporation, so that we could have a bit of fun and they could make money from advertisers. Nothing wrong with any of that. But during the 3.5 hours the game ran, 12,600 children died of starvation. Shame on me, but I accept that, and sleep sweetly every night. But if you’re going to label something ‘disgusting’, you should weigh your words very carefully.

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Checks and Balances

Here’s a nice little article from Josh Marshall summarizing one of the key flaws in the President’s Social Security campaign. The following figures are for the next 75 years:

  • Cost of Social Security shortfall: $3.7 trillion
  • Cost of Medicare drug benefit: $8.1 trillion
  • Cost of President’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts if made permanent: $11.6 trillion

Now the final item is not a good place to hang an argument for me. The President would argue that those cuts will more than pay for themselves in increased economic activity, and while I have my doubts, it’s not an inherently flawed argument. But the cost of the Medicare drug benefit is, or should be, a killer: If Social Security is a crisis in the making, then Medicare is, what, 2.19 crises?

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