Thursday, November 11, 2010

Goldly Blowing Where No Man Has Blown Before-OR- Cue the "Steam" Song.

Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Eh Good Bye!
Dinkum Thinkums Solve Deficit
Shift, Switch & Shaft.
Dewey, Cheatem & Howe.
Hyster, Shyster, Pfinster & Loophole.

Willie Sutton had nothing on deese guys.

I sort of wish Mr. Marzuki were still alive so I could demand an apology. You see, way back in the Paleozoic era of 1971, I nearly failed a class in American Government. Mr. M didn't like me very much. I can't say that I blame him. The feeling was quite mutual.

I opposed the war, the draft, the President, the Vice-President and the serial enabling liars with their money tricks. Medicare was still in its toddling infancy and my view that it was just another money trick was soundly rejected.

My big paper for the semester was an attempted explanation of how Medicare was designed to undermine Social Security. I predicted that health care costs would rise to absorb this bountiful source of funding and ultimately topple the system. I said this would happen mainly because the program was designed specifically for this purpose. It made no attempt to prevent parasites. That breaking the Social Security treaty with America's working class had been on the drawing board since its passage, and that its opponents were quite happy to accomplish the death by a thousand cuts if need be. That building failure into the system was politically beneficial to financiers and industrialists as it would clearly demonstrate the failure of Roosevelt's New Deal once and for all.

At least, that is how I remember the paper. I wasn't particularly shocked to get back the work with the large red D under which the scrawled, multiply underline comment: NONSENSE! was written. I simply added it to my collection of rejected manuscripts from Mr. M.

(aside)Luckily for me, the final exam counted for 60% of the grade and included a liberal extra credit section. I scored a 140 out of 100 and raised my series of D quarterlies to a B as my final grade. Yeah, I was that kind of student.

I didn't think the scenario I laid out would ever come to pass. I felt sure that sanity would enter the fray and fix any of the deliberate undermining efforts. In that aspect I was extremely naive. All I saw was the potential pitfalls that were built in and the bureaucratic method, of the time, that was implementing the program.
A "Money Trick". More mere nonsense of youth. The kind of odd, out of step, thinking with which I was blessed cursed. That "DANGER Will Robinson" recognition that, with two rare exceptions, kept me clear of most of the truly bad situations others jumped into head-first.

When the needed fixes did not materialize, for purely political reasons, I wasn't shaken to my core. Burning tomorrow's bridges was no longer a consideration. I endured the grasshopper and the ant scripture that said building a nest egg for retirement was the way, the truth, the light. I was told about the amazing tax advantages that were being written into the code. By the time retirement rolled around all that money would be yours virtually TAX FREE!!! In the meantime it will be compounding each and every second making you wealthy beyond your dreams.
I have me some of that! Not nearly enough it turns out and most likely subject to interesting tax implications. Because the most readily taxable large pools of cash are sitting in "retirement accounts", in true Willie Sutton fashion, Sutton's Law will apply. It will be targeted, gleefully, as the only practical approach to our present financial quandaries. At minimum, retirement income will be taxed at a rate equal to normal wages. Most likely it will be even higher for less sophisticated retirees.

Surprise! Welcome to the future. It's turning out to be everything I dreaded, warned, KNEW would happen expected. Thanks Mr. Marzuki.


Anonymous said...

You seer you.

I've long wondered how they would use Medicare to inflict damage on the rest of the populace.

Thanks for the call.

Love ya,


amber ladeira said...

Death by a thousand cuts....that is, after a few decades when you're finally sure you've figured out what's going on--and you absolutely abhor much of it--the eventuality of death itself holds much less (and paradoxically, much MORE) terror than formerly. If, after reading history, we understand how little succeeding generations learn from history
(SS,DD)such a realization can serve
to calm some of our more frenetic
expostulations....or exponentially
expand them, out of a sheer sense of frustrated futility.

Yet I still say plugging away at
the idiots is the right thing to do, one never knows when a minuscule breakthrough might
breakout. (Or someone breaks a lout!)

Once again I'll invoke Nietszche:
"He seeth the abyss, but with pride."

amber ladeira said...

--By the way, re: the Deficit Gang
that can't shoot straight, have you
read 13 Bankers by Simon Johnson
and James Kwak? Krugman and Johnson
both write an economics column for
the NYT; although SJ hasn't won any
Nobel Prizes, he is a progressive,
a former Chief Economist for the
IMF and a tenured Econ prof at MIT.
Occasionally he's had the ear of
the White House, which overall is
too chicken AND obtuse to stand up
to the six megabanks and Wall Street.

Best to you and yours,
Amber Ladeira