Sunday, September 2, 2007


So, I am Barkley Rosser, aka, here, I guess, my email address. Those of you who are fans of the predecessor of this blog, Maxspeak, You Listen! of the sainted Max Sawicky, who will shut it down tomorrow on Labor Day (the irony!!!), you may remember that I am one of the old co-bloggers there. So, to the extent this is a sort of continuation of that, I would like to say hello to everybody and also a "welcome aboard" to the new co-bloggers, some of whom seem to be wanting to be "cool" bloggers with phoney identities. I am not going to object to that, although I am sort of mystified at tenured full professors doing it. But, so be it.

One observation I shall make is that several of the new co-bloggers are from a well known progressive list, PEN-L, which has long been run by michael perelman, who is co-blogging here openly under his own name, unlike at least a couple of his regulars that I have been told are here, but are hiding under monikers. I and Max were also longtime regulars over there, although I drifted over to the blogosphere some time ago, except for the hes list, which is more academic. PEN-L has long been a high quality list, so if this becomes a sort of semi-PEN-L blog, well, worse could happen, even while we will miss Max. (Will you be keeping PEN-L up, michael?).

For those who do not know michael, I will note that he is a professor at Fresno in CA and the author of many interesting books. He is an iconoclast, even though there is an "econoclast" here. Michael achieved some greater degree of celebrity earlier this year when was quoted in the "hip heterodoxy" article by Christopher Hayes in The Nation that set off a major storm throughout much of the econoblogosphere. He was the one who declared to Hayes as they watched the suits come out of the reception for Milton Friedman's Free to Choose, while standing outside the EPI reception where Max also made a mention in the article, that the neoclassicals (in their suits) are "a mafia," with "neoclassical mafia" becoming a headline for a bunch of the related postings. Anyway, it will be a pleasure to be co-blogging with the ever effervescent and knowledgeable Michael P.

Regarding my own perspectives, I note that in 1984 I was a sub-adviser to the George McGovern campaign. No, this was not the 1972 campaign when he was the Dem nominee with Bill Clinton and all kinds of DLCers coming out of there. This was when he ran as the "conscience" of the Dems, with the major candidates being Walter Mondale (who got the nomination, only to lose 49 states to Reagan), Gary Hart, and Jesse Jackson. I crafted his proposal to cut the DOD budget by $63 billion, which he touted in Iowa. After he came in a surprising third there, he dropped out of the race.

One oddity of me is that I have some libertarian impulses, left over from a libertarian phase in my youth, which weakened when I realized after reading Barry Goldwater's _Conscience of a Conservative_ that there might be conflicts between property rights and human rights (in the context of the civil rights movement). I realized that unlike Barry, I would take the human rights over the property rights. However, I have a kind of (late) Millian position, that liberty is the default assumption, and that one must argue for why it should not hold, although I am a lot easier to convince on those exceptions than I was in my youth and a lot more open to the existence of social collectivities and all that. I also am probably the only one here who might defend free trade from time to time (probably my major difference with old Max), although this leads to things like my biggest criticism of NAFTA being that it was unequal in favor of the US corn industry against the Mexican one because of the subsidies issue, with many thousands of poor Mexicans being thrown off their ejido farms, thus depressing wages in Mexico.

However, I do not generally post on that issue. Expect more out of me on the upcoming war whoop that Cheney and the neocons are reported by Juan Cole and badger at arablinks to be about to assault us with this month, not to mention housing, financial markets, and a lot of other odd stuff. (Those of you who have been around maxspeak already have a pretty good idea what to expect from me).

Oh yes, and in some ways I am sort of conservative, that is in the sense of not wanting to change certain things. So, I am notorious for piggishly opposing in strenuous terms any changes to the social security system of the US. I recognize that some proposed changes might be progressive, for example lifting or eliminating the cap on income for taxation. However, I view opening the door to any change as opening the door to all kinds of other changes that will be lousy: privatizations, lousy indexing, and so and so forth. All the better to fight to get the public educated about how hysterically off the wall the official projections are and to get ready to fight any "reforms" that a future Dem prez might feel inclined to push to show how "responsible" he or she is.

And, for the record, I am a Professor of Economics at James Madison University. I have not seen where one can put a link to one's url, but mine is, for what it is worth. A bunch of papers there on all kinds of stuff.


Anonymous said...

long series of comments on the dying MaxSpeak blog arguing that raising the SS cap is a bad idea, and calling the SS tax "regressive" is just stupid.

i haven't got the heart to repeat it all here.

Anonymous said...

a note on "stupid".

i am not so stupid as to believe anyone here is stupid. it's just a word i use because i wasn't brought up to be a diplomat.

nevertheless, even a brilliant person can get behind a stupid idea, and getting him to see around it can be much harder than you might suppose.

i agree with barkley (rosser) about SS as far as I can tell, though i am pretty pig headed about my own take on some of that, and the need to educate the public about the real size of the "crisis."

depending on which way you want to look at it: the SS crisis amounts to a need to raise the tax one dollar per week every year from 2016 to 2036at a time the workers wages will be going up ten dollars per week each year.
this should be done through the general tax, "progressively" because that's where the trust fund went. but it's a small enough amount that doing it through the payroll tax would not amount to a real injustice to anyone and might be a good way to gradually introduce the tax increase of fifteen dollars per week that will be needed by 2040 or so to pay for the workers longer life expectancy.

raising the tax just turns SS into a welfare program and will motivate the high end earners to work and vote to end the program entirely.

the payroll tax looks "regressive" only if you think you can separate the "tax" from the benefits. it is
far more accurate to think of it not as a tax but as an insured savings program.

sorry to start off with my monomania. i am just convinced that we are going to need to know what we are talking about very soon when the "deficit" hysterics convince most of the people and the congress that "something" needs to be done about entitlements.

Robert D Feinman said...

I have a philosophical issue with people who want to be regarded as authoritative in some sense posting anonymously.

If you aren't willing to put your name to your ideas why should anyone else take them seriously? I always post under my name (or initials if it seems easier for people to reply to, but my name is in the profile).

I will grant an exception to whistle-blowers, which can be interpreted as broadly as one wishes. Given how politicized economics departments appear to be, I can understand why non-tenured faculty may be reluctant to reveal themselves fully. Understandable, but moral cowardice just the same.

I hope this effort will be successful, especially if the site doesn't have a heavy-handed ideological viewpoint as several others do.

I'll probably complain about the influence of big money in funding think tanks before long, so be forewarned. said...


Well, I continue to hope that when push comes to shove, real data will win out. The "entitlements crisis" is in fact entirely a medicare/medicaid crisis, which is in turn part of the broader health care crisis in the US. This is one area where it is pretty clear that the US needs to move to more government involvement, whether it is a Canadian style single payer, or a French kind of hybrid system, or whatever. The solution is more general and has nothing to do with SS.

Of course the Dems can get away with jerking around with SS more than the GOPsters can, along the old "Nixon goes to China" syndrome stuff. But, I am also hoping that if there is a real threat to SS, public opinion will rise up like it did when Bush tried to pull his stunt.

Robert D.,

Well, this will probably tend to be a pretty lefty/progressive blog, by and large. But so was maxspeak. OTOH, there are more folks here, so, there will be some diversity of views. Don't expect any lockstep party lines. We'll mix it up with each other, as well as the rest of the world and our commentators, at least I hope so.

Anonymous said...


rather that rely on the name of the author to know how to judge the argument, try to evaluate the argument on its own merits. you really shouldn't take ANYTHING on authority, at least not anything you are called to think about.


speaking of names, do you care how you are addressed? i've gotten used to barkley.

Anonymous said...


if you are interested, DR John Kitzhaber, former governor of Oregon, has something called the Archimedes movement trying to get some rational changes introduced into the way we do health care.

Kitzhaber is a very straight shooter, so he might be worth looking into.

I don't trust the others. they are playing games and coming up with rube goldberg solutions that are either not well thought through or are just pandering to the ususal interests.

unfortunately, Kitz quoted David Walker in a recent letter... and Walker is not a reliable source. why i worry about getting the SS story straight. even the good guys don't understand what they are talking about.

Ben Alpers said...

Sorry to see MaxSpeak go (I was a longtime lurker), but nice to see the new blog up and running.

FWIW, I voted for McGovern in the 1984 California primary, largely because my vote didn't matter by that point (Mondale had already wrapped up the nomination and the whole state went for Hart with the exception of my CD which went for Jackson), I didn't particular like any of the leading candidates, and I wanted to be able to tell my kids that I had voted for George McGovern for President. said...


I am not acquainted with Kitzhaber. But then, I do not consider myself to be a real expert on health economics, although I know enough to know that the US system is a disaster, costing way more than in other countries in absolute terms and at the top in percent of GDP terms, while delivering pathetic outcomes at the bottom line, such as unimpressive life expectancy and infant mortality stats, although some of that is related to our high inequality and poverty rates.

I am more a ranter on social security, although Bruce Webb keeps up on that more than I, and, of course Dean Baker is very good on all that (are either of you guys paying attention to this new blog, guys?).

I don't mind what I am called. Barkley is fine. Rosser is fine. There are not a whole lot either around, so usually either one will suffice to identify me in most crowds, although if Brenda Rosser starts showing up (quite likely), in fact "Barkley" might be more distinctive, assuming that Charles Barkley does not start commenting here, or one of the still missing new co-bloggers does not take that up as a moniker.


Good for you! I continue to have the greatest respect for George McGovern, both as a person and as a politician. Too good for the office, I fear, conscience indeed after all. He has had to suffer some difficult problems, with a daughter dying of alcoholism and his beloved wife, Eleanor, dying last year. But I saw him on Keith Olbermann not too long after Eleanor died, still giving Bush what for on Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Some people post on blogs and listserves not to come across as authoritative, but to make it difficult and costly for their employers and other types of authoritarians and control freaks from undulging in even further hassling. One need only note the number of workers who have had to shut down blogs where they discussed work issues.

And so, without further ado on this so-called labor day, fuck the authoritarians; whether they be bosses, government snoops or everyday control freaks...

Bruce Webb said...

Hah! Thought you had seen the last of me. No such luck.

First. What Dale said on the cap. There is no need to raise it even under Intermediate Cost assumptions. There is no magic about scheduled benefits and as Prof. Rosser pointed out long ago 75% of 160% = 120% (an equation that I rather cheekily dubbed 'Rosser's Law). That is while it is a good thing that future retirement checks are expected to have a better real return relative to today, I can't think of a single reason to worry about the difference between a check 60% better than my mom gets today or 20%. (Which BTW is where I depart from Dale tactically, I see no reason to discuss the gap in terms of raising taxes. SS is not a bad deal even under IC assumptions.)

Second. What rdf said. I have almost always posted under my own name and certainly on economic topics (a little discretion is warrented when venturing onto the turf of racial and gender issues). For that matter my two clever e-mail addresses start 'bruce.webb2' and 'bruce.webb'. I never had a problem with the bloghost using a pseudonym, if you have a problem interacting with Atrios or Digby, well you could simply stay away, each established a voice and an identity and dare I say it authority by backing their opinion up day in and day out. But it has always been baffling to have commenters enter threads and lay down the law under a pseudonym or anonymously. Like Dale I am no diplomat and it always makes we want to ask; "Well who the hell are you and why should I listen"

On the other hand there is a downside. I went out searching on Google for some posts I made back in 2003 and 2004. The good news is that I was able to find them, the bad news is that anyone else can too. Say a potential employer. Sometimes you wish you hadn't posted that comment from last night, well given the right search string every stupid thing you said ever is merrily sitting on a server somewhere.

So certainly there is a case to establish an identity that doesn't include your full name, I know who spencer is, I know Anne, I know Arne (not Anne), each has in their own way established their voice and their position. Which is far different from some clown calling himself 'Anon' and telling me I am an idiot for not knowing what 'Everyone knows'.

Bruce Webb said...

As an example of the persistance of comments the search string 'bruce webb max sawicky social security 2003' returns 803 hits, and from what I can see all relevant and nothing for me to worry about.

On the other hand a similar search string of 'bruce webb buck fush' turns up 645,000 hits and all too many of them relevant. Indeed one of them is a previous discussion of me putting in the same search string. (Deja vu all over again). So while it would be cool for some elected politician to put me on staff as their Social Security guy (I'm available), a long record of sometimes harsh rhetoric against the Iraqi war may make that inadvisable. You can ask Amanda Marcotte how that works.

(Oddly back in the day I was minor authority on the 'Name List' in the medieval welsh story of "Culhwch & Olwen" (an earlier version of the Tristan & Isolde story) I had literally dozens of unique names at my findertips. Because I would bet there are not a lot of Gorascwrn mab Nerth's or Gwalchmei mab Gwyar's or for that matter Neol Kyn Croc's on the intertubes.) said...

For the record, I have no problem whatsoever with someone using a moniker if they have even the remotest possibility of facing consequences professionally or personally for what they might post. I know that this is not a trivial matter, obviously for whistleblowers, but even more generally, as there have been several cases where it has been at least alleged that someone was turned down for tenure because of things said in the blogosphere, with probably the most famous case being that of the (conservative) Daniel Drezner, although I have also heard that he would not have gotten it in the poli sci dept. at Chicago due to insufficient pubs, although to an outsider he seemed to have had a pretty impressive pub record. He ended up at Brandeis, I believe.

Also, cute monikers can be fun, even when we know who they are. I think most of us know who Sandwichman is, although I am not going to name him here now.

Anonymous said...


always a pleasure to disagree with you.

here is what i disagree about (as you know, but for the sake of those who don't):

in 40 years or so when granny's pension is worth 160% of what it is today [already a little backwards here, 40 years from now it will be my granddaughter's pension... but i assume everyone here understands who i mean] When her pension is 160% of today's pension, the average pay of the workers of that time will be 160% of that of workers of this time. So granny will merely be keeping up with the "expected" standard of living. [she will in fact be getting about 40% of the then standard workers pay].

to not give her that increase would amount to, expecting her to live at a preindustrial standard of living while everyone around her is living the life of the Jetsons.

or to offer an example a little closer to reality:

my grandmother worked all of her life in a world without cars. she didn't need one because she could walk to the store, or take a bus to see the doctor.

now that she has retired, the economy has moved on. everyone owns a car. the store is no longer on the corner. and there is no bus to the doctors.

Mike Boskin says, "tough. a car is a standard of living increase, not an increase in the cost of living."

nah, coberly says, the world has changed. she needs the car. furthermore while she was young and working she contributed to the rise in living standards, not only by her work, but by her acts of good citizenship. she may well have been the fourth grade teacher, who stayed up at night trying to think of ways to teach arithmetic, to the kid who grew up to be the doctor who now knows how to treat your serious illness.

but the righteous right says the only contributions people make to the rest of us is what they get paid for, or stocks they invest in.

hope that is enough to start the thoughts that will convince you that future grannys not only will need that 160%, they earned it.

moreover, once you start cutting pensions as a percent of average wages, there is no end to it. within two generations people will not be saving enough (taxing themselves enough) to support a pension they can live on in their turn. that is the death of social security.

and with income going up 160%, what better place to spend some of that "higher standard of living" than on a reasonable pension for the longer life you expect to have in retirement?

keep in mind the cost of the higher pension we are talking about a one tenth of a percent increase in the payroll tax each year from 2016 to 2036.

that's less than a dollar per week per year. and you get the money back: that's YOU getting that higher pension.

and it's a dollar a week out of a ten dollar a week increase in pay. or, when it's all come back to equillibrium (life expectancy stabalizes) it amounts to about 20 dollars more per week from an income that is over 200 dollars more per week than today. AND you get the money back when you retire.

what would you rather do with that twenty bucks?

another way of looking at this: the tax increase amounts to (using today's money) fifteen dollars per week or sixty dollars a month. to save yourself that sixty dollars a month today, when you are earning 3000 dollars a month, you would be giving up 240 dollars a month when you retire out of a "benefit" of less than a thousand dollars.

no sane person would do that.

Anonymous said...


Bruce saw things in the Trustees Report that I would not have seen.

It seems very likely to me that he is right and that no increase in the tax will be necessary.

But I need to let Bruce make that case.

While I point out, that just using a little grade school arithmetic, you can show directly from the Trustees Report that there is no crisis that any sane person would worry about. Just increase the tax a dollar a week when the time comes.

And yes I know that that dollar a week really ought to be charged to the general (income) tax bill, not to the payroll tax. But that's mostly an accounting detail that makes no real difference to the worker.
Not because the worker who pays the payroll tax is the same person who pays the income tax, but because the high end tax payers who pay the income tax will find a way to pass their tax increas on to the workers. (that power thing that Juan talks about.) But you ought to see the garbage the think tankers can make of that whole can of worms.

Anonymous said...

i need to emphasize, that to get that "160% increase in the value of her pension" all granny has to do is raise her own payroll tax 2%.

no one else pays for grannys benefits.

Bruce Webb said...

Dale I might have to differ to Barkley and or his alter ego Rosser here. Initial returns from SS were a small percentage of pre-retirement income, over time that percentage is scheduled to increase, that is over time the deal gets better. From my understanding the question is about the rate of improvement in real returns that is whether it is just a real good deal or an excellent deal. I am more than willing to take correction from Barkley, Dean, or Max but as understand the issue the question is whether future standard of living for retirees is this side or another of 120% of current SS benefits. Bueller Bueller Barkley?

Anonymous said...

Good thing you've preemptively banned ads with hate speech. Because we know how many of those there are, and how often they advertise on econ blogs, and what good your policy does when the ads are served by a machine which can't read. Give yourself a pat on the back. said...


Bruce is right. I am Barkley, Father of "Rosser's Law," as coberly labeled it once upon a time somewhere. What does my "law" say? Well, it is simply noting he implication of the median forecast that all the crisismongers cry so ferociously about, which implies that even after a "bankruptcy" of the system in 2041, if nothing is done, the future retirees at that time would receive about 120% of what current ones do in real terms. Of course, if nothing were done and this happened, it would probably feel unpleasant, because that would be a cut from about 170% of current real SS pensions. But it is a reminder that all these people who think "bankruptcy" means nothing will be paid, or some rinky-dinky amount, are simply seriously misinformed.

And, that is assuming the ridiculously pessimistic and unlikely median forecast, with it much more likely that not only will there be no "bankruptcy," in 2041, following years of drawdown of accumulated assets after the system would start running a currenet deficit in 2017, whereas I and a lot of us think that it is much more likely that if nothing is done, 2017 will never arrive and the surplus will go on forever, hence never even getting near said "bankruptcy." This latter is what people really need to understand (along with Rosser's Law, of course).

I remind one and all that on my website at is an entry about student knowledge about social security, dating from two years ago when Bush was pushing his plan. I and three other colleagues of varying political views polled students in seven econ classes. Out of around 250, not a single one knew the correct answer to the question of what would happen in the event of this so-called banrkuptcy, that indeed SS recipients would receive more than what current ones do in real terms. Most thought what future retirees would get would be between zero and 50% of what current ones do. One class thought between 50 and 100%, and one class, game theory full of smartypants cynics, thought the answer would be zero. In terms of education , this is what we are up against.

Anonymous said...


you are right. bruce is right.

but so am i right.

i must be writing in chinese.

i tried to explain what getting a 120% of current value pension instead of 160% would look like to that future pensioner, and why she would willingly pay the 2% higher tax to get the higher pension.

but i'll keep saying it until one day someone says "oh."

the last Trustees Report I can remember says that in 2041 or so, SS will only be able to pay 75% of promised benefits. That would mean you would have to take a 25% cut in your retirement check, or you would have to pay a 33% higher payroll tax. But that is 33% of 6.2%, or 2.1% of payroll. For today's average worker earning 37 thousand dollars a year, that works out to a tax increase of fifteen dollars a week.

So you have a choice between paying 60 dollars more a month out of a 3000 dollar paycheck today, or taking a 240 dollar a month cut from a 960 dollar pension...leaving you with 720 dollars a month to live on when you are old.

These numbers are all calculated assuming constant dollars, so they are "real" terms.

Where you get your 160% is from the increase in real wages over the next forty (? when you calculated it) years. SS uses 1.1.% per year, which I calculate to be 155%, but that's close enough for predictions that far out.

the point, if i may, is that the retiree 40 years from now is going to be living in the world 40 years from now and her expenses will reflect the "standard of living" at that time.

but yes, oh yes, do i know what "in terms of education" we are up against. said...


(And of course it was Bruce who called it Rosser's Law)

The point is, nobody's taxes have to be raised to achieve that outcome. It is what happens with the current system in place under the overly pessmistic "intermediate cost projection," is nothing is done at all. So, why should we go around talking about some tax increase, given the anathema that induces in so many people?

Anonymous said...


this whole thing has become more contentious than i could have imagined.

you and Bruce are right about the probable outcome of Social Security finances left alone.

I am right about the arithmetic consequences of the Trustees intermediate projection. i talk about the tax increase implied by that to show how small it would be.

you seem to be saying that when people hear "tax increase" they cannot hear "small."

i am saying that i think there is at least a large subset of people who hear "don't worry folks it's all gonna be alright," and think.. fine, show me the numbers.

there is no reason for you and me to be arguing. we agree. and if you think your insight is more important than my insight, i'll go along with that too. still, i'd like it if people understood my insights. can we talk?

i have no doubt that even sandwichman has some real insights...which he has not shared with us...
but meanwhile progressive taxing of the rich, an increase in the cap... IS a tax increase (which you call anathema, and that is what i am pointing out)

and the man who invented SS was very sure about one thing: he didn't want it to be "welfare." said...


This is reaching diminishing returns, indeed some time ago. So, here is a review of the case why it is perfectly reasonable to tell people "don't worry, folks, it is (very likely to be) gonna be all right," even though they have all heard it over and over again from a deeply entrenched propaganda machine that is not going to be all right, that it is in (or will be in) "crisis," etc. blah blah blah, simply a big fat enormous Lie.

So, let us look at the last ten years. Ten years ago was when the Robert Rubin from Wall Street-appointed Trustees of the Social Security Administration first issued their scary projections, which had the notorious intermediate projection that the media picked up on and has endlessly and loudly repeated ever since that has deficits appearing and then banruptcy some time later down the road. From the very beginning there was this optimistic projection, which was almost never reported, which showed that deficit never appearing, the surplus declining for awhile, but once the baby boomers are all retired by around 2030, it just turns around and starts rising again without limit.

So, what has happened in the last ten years, coberly? The economy has performed better than the projection of the optimistic scenario. Have the projections been adjusted during the last ten years to account for actual experience? No. The pro-Wall Street trustees of the Clinton-Rubin era were replaced by the even more pro-Wall Street and privatization hysterics of the Bush administration, with the media not paying any attention at all to what has been going on.

So, we have had this big bipartisan lie about a crisis, phoney as baloney, but still out there, taking in even people like you. This is indeed what we are up against educationally.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you entirely. Up to the last line.

I don't know what I said that makes you think I have been taken in. I have agreed with you (Bruce) since he first explained it to me.

But back about ten years ago or so when i heard the learned economer explaining on NPR how the retirement of the Boomers was going to impose a crushing burden on the young, i got out my pencil and the back of an envelope, and the rest is history.

It would please me greatly if you understood what I have been saying. And agreed with me. I am pretty sure I understand you, and agree with you.

what my pencil showed was that under the intermediate projection, in 2040 the payroll tax would need to be raised 15 dollars a week. this did not seem to me to be a crushing burden. so i have been trying to tell people that.

moreover they would get that 15 a week back in the form of higher (or longer) benefits.

in other words, even under their own assumptions, there is no crisis.

i fail to see whay that is so hard to understand.

especially since i agree with you entirely.

Bruce Webb said...

Well perhaps this thread is dying. So let me just throw out a provocative idea that I want to develop further later.

What if instead of raising the cap we lowered it or at least matched it to median gross income of taxpayers paying the current 28% marginal rate (at $77000 adjusted this might even be end up a wash, I hadn't realized they were that close) and add 6 points to the 28% and 5 to the 33% and 4% to the 35% income tax rates.

For the typical worker this would mean a wash, your effective tax rate on your marginal dollar stays the same until your adjusted income hits$160 thousand. Bingo same net effect as raising the cap. And a big pulse of money into the General Fund.

(It always seems odd that people think that raising the cap is even possible politically, depending on how it is implemented it is the equivalent of either a 6.2% or 12.4% increase in marginal rates for every wage earner in the 28%, 33%, and 35% brackets and as such would have the effect of rolling back the Bush I and Bush II tax cuts for the higher end of the middle class, at least for that portion of income drawn from wages.

If it really is possible to raise taxes much send the money to the General Fund where it is actually needed.)

Anonymous said...


I think it depends upon how much you raised the cap.

But I agree, the rich will not put up with a tax increase.

And the poor need to understand why their SS is not a tax. and why they don't want to take candy from strangers. said...


As you know, I am for doing nothing. It ain't broke, don't fix it. Just defend it.


I think it has been all your talk of these dollar a week tax increases, or whatever they were. Don't need them. Ain't broke, don't need no fixin'.

And, for that matter, it is the "Greatest Generation" that has been oppressing the boomers who have been paying these very high fica taxes since the big 1980s increase that was meant to pay for the boomers, with all these rising surpluses the very sign of all those taxes that have been paid. The GG got rising bennies with the COLA after 1971, but did not have to pay for it. They have been the ripoff artists, if anybody has been, although we cannot say anything bad about such glorious and greatest people...

Anonymous said...


yes. but all i was saying was "IF the Trustees are right, THEN the tax raise WOULD BE less than a dollar a week."

That does not contradict you. All it does is add an argument about the size of THEIR OWN PREDICTION.

I'll let the rest rest.

For now.

except the bad guys are not the old guys. Bush is a Boomer. said...


Oh, I like the GG myself, and at least they are willing to defend social security. They appreciate it, and it is their votes that make it difficult for now for the politicos of either party to mess with it too much.

What bothers me is the massive ignorance of the young, of which I have already complained at length, including with my tale of how not a single one of a group of undergrad econ majors knew the actual facts, not one out of 250, with some of those in a public finance class!

Sure, if I was young and believed that that system was in crisis and that it was all the boomers's fault, then I would whine and kvetch like they do. However, given that it is all a pile of crap, well, what can I say.? They just look like ignorant whiners, but as a boomer, obviously I am defending my interests in saying so, although the real irony is that it is for them, and for their children, my grandchildren (and I have two now) for whom I am fighting to preserve social security. I'll get mine, but if they believe and elect politicians who feed them too many lines of bull they will not. It will not be baby boomers selfishly gobbling it all up, but their own pathetic ignorance and gullibility that might do the system in.

Anonymous said...


i couldn't agree with you more.

if you had been talking about freshmen, i'd have quibbled with you a bit about the "massive ignorance."

but in fact education today seems to be a program to inculcate massive ignorance...and it shows up among people with ... lets just say "educations" and probably high enough test scores... that they are very proud of their ignorance, though for some reason they call it their "intelligence."

be a little careful, though, or kind. sometimes i myself have massive ignorance. it's a big world and hard to know everything.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

Good intro Barkley.

"..One oddity of me is that I have some libertarian impulses, left over from a libertarian phase in my youth.."

I'm not sure what the word means, still. In my youth noone used the word or concept except to refer to the Australian 'Liberal' party who never struck me as being keen on freedom.