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Always Enough Time to Do It Over

11:47 am in Government, Politics, Technology by dakine01

If you have been reading my posts over these last few years, you are most likely aware that my chosen career field is Software Quality Assurance and Testing so needless to say, I have found the contretemps about the Affordable Care Act web site to be quite interesting. A friend from my small hometown in Kentucky last Wednesday (October 23) posted a link to a New York Times opinion piece by Dr Ezekiel Emanuel about the problems:
"If you build it, he will come"

First, the Obama administration acted too slowly. It waited too long to release specific regulations and guidance on how the exchange would work. It also waited too long to begin building the physical Web site. These delays were largely because the administration wanted to avoid election-year controversy. This may have been a smart political move in the short term, but it left the administration scrambling to get the IT infrastructure together in time, robbing it of an opportunity to adequately consult with independent experts, test the site and fix any problems before it opened to the public.

Second, the ostensible quarterback of the federal health care exchanges, with responsibility for integrating all the various components, is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. While the agency has expertise in issuing reimbursement rules and overseeing large-scale claims-processing operations, it has little expertise in creating a complex e-commerce Web site. More important, there was no single senior person in the agency tasked with running the exchange rollout.

Finally, this was not the first health insurance exchange ever created. Massachusetts has had years of experience with its exchange, and there are private exchanges, like eHealth, where individuals can shop for insurance. In addition, many states, like California, Connecticut and Kentucky, had already spent around two years building their exchanges, gaining experience and proving it was possible to create a good customer shopping experience. It does not appear that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or its contractors spent much time reviewing these models and adopting best practices.

My friend had posted a comment with the link about how he was curious about the technical design, project plan, QA processes and other software development metrics and planning used. I added my 2¢ worth in the following comment:

I will go out on a limb here and with no evidence (other than experience in large complex applications) state that the QA process was probably cut short due to other “unexpected problems”

Now just imagine my (lack of) surprise when I saw news reports on Thursday about there being extremely limited testing of the site. From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — Private contractors working on the troubled federal health insurance marketplace told a congressional committee Thursday that they needed several months, but only had two weeks, before the launch date to fully test what could be the most complex government IT system in U.S. history.

I have worked on large, complex client-server applications for child welfare databases for various states. I have tested various applications or overseen testing as an IV&V contractor in multiple states. I was not at all surprised to hear that testing had been given short shrift because testing is pretty much always given short shrift. Invariably, the project schedule and “go-live” dates are seemingly graven in stone so when problems crop up, time has to be taken from other areas in order to meet the required date. So time most frequently is taken from testing. Hyperbole requires me to say at this point that “I can’t imagine the pressure the testers were under to meet the schedule” but in fact, I can very well imagine the pressure they were under. It is a cliche but many software development professionals can attest, there is never enough time to do things right the first time but there is always enough time to do things over.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will now state that the overall contractor for the effort, CGI Federal, is part of what was a former employer of mine, American Management Systems although I was part of the State and Local Government Group rather than the Federal (non-DoD) Group.

While I am among the uninsured, I have not gone to the web site for a couple of reasons. First, I am a veteran so will be checking in a couple of weeks to see what coverage I am eligible for through the Veterans Administration. I have not checked with the VA yet because I did not want to be bothering them while they were dealing with the recent shutdown. Secondly, I am residing in Kentucky which has its own newly launched insurance exchange (as noted by Dr Emanuel above) so if I am not covered through the VA, then I will enroll through KYnect along with a few thousand other fellow Kentuckians.

For what it’s worth, CNBC had this article on Tuesday (October 22) with some quotes from a former president of Oracle:

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It’s Time to Stop Digging

1:48 pm in Economy, Government, Media, Politics by dakine01

Well, the Republican Congressional Arson Committee was out-voted Wednesday and the government shutdown has ended and the debt ceiling has been raised. At least for a few months. Now come the analyses striving to set the Conventional Wisdom.

First up we had this from McClatchy on Tuesday, before the shutdown had been ended:

WASHINGTON — It may be one of the most serious missteps of the federal government shutdown.

After weeks of planning, the nation’s spy chief sent home nearly three-quarters of the workers at the government’s intelligence agencies when faced with the partial shutdown. The move, James Clapper later admitted himself, put the United States at greater risk of terrorist attacks. He then reversed course and brought thousands of employees back to work.

Fix The Jobs THEN Fix The Debt

Fix The Jobs THEN Fix The Debt

Of course, as I noted in this post the other day, when there is a shutdown, the managers are almost required to make things as painful as possible for the maximum numbers of people to show the people pushing for the shutdown what happens. For myself, I would have preferred more oversight people kept working than those within the NSA and other members of the so-called “Intelligence Community” being allowed to spy on average citizens within the US, but that’s just me.

Tiger Beat On the Potomac (h/t Mr Pierce) offers up an “Anatomy of a Shutdown.”

Bloomberg reports on the “Republican Civil War“:

A battle for control of the Republican Party has erupted as an emboldened Tea Party moved to oust senators who voted to reopen the government while business groups mobilized to defeat allies of the small-government movement.

CNN’s article on the ending of the shutdown was a bit pessimistic:

The debt cushion now extends through February 7, with current spending levels being authorized through January 15.

That means a few months of breathing room, but little more. After all, the bill doesn’t address many of the contentious and complicated issues — from changes to entitlement programs to tax reform — that continue to divide Democrats and Republicans.

Ah yes, our old friend “entitlement reform.” What a hoary old chestnut that is turning out to be. Why just yesterday the folks at “Fix the Debt” (Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles’s attempt to stay relevant and invited on talking head shows) held a “Twitter chat.” As Business Insider noted, it did not go well:

“Fix the Debt” just felt Twitter’s sweet, trollish wrath.

Championed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, Fix the Debt — which The Nation magazine called a “fearmongering campaign to convince Americans that the deficits the United States has run throughout its history have suddenly metastasized” — held a Twitter live chat this afternoon to discuss next steps in America’s ongoing fiscal squabble.

And it didn’t go so well, with the #fixthedebtqa soon teeming with jokesters and those very much against Fix the Debt’s message.

My phrase of choice for people such as Simpson and Bowles and the rest of the austerity freaks is “willfully obtuse.” Between the shutdown, sequester, and overall fear-mongering of the last few weeks, the general economic consensus is the US economy took a $24B hit. Now, anyone who has read my posts these past few years is aware that I am not a big fan of most CW spouting economists but given how often they are surprised at the end results of things, my WAG is the $24B figure is probably conservative.

A note for the Fix the Debt folks (and Paul Ryan who used a Wall St Journal opinion piece to push for “entitlement reform”,) Harry Reid is quoted as saying, it ain’t happening. Now, Reid has backed off some of these type statements in the past, so we just have to make sure to hold him to his words.

I continue to be dumbfounded at the words and actions of people who think nothing of cutting funds for the elderly and the poor in order to throw more money at the DoD or Banksters or BigAg or Big Pharma or Big Insurance. As I noted here a few months ago, most people receiving Social Security are getting what amounts to less than a minimum wage. For many that is the only income they have. And as Forbes notes yesterday, minimum wage workers are not getting rich (though businesses that rely on them are and sticking the taxpayers with the bill.)

So all of you Beltway Village Idiots Pundits, Politicians, and Courtiers, why don’t we do something unique from these last half dozen year. Let’s create some decent paying jobs, build the economy in the US, send a few economic criminals to jail rather than giving them multi-million dollar bonuses, and see what the result is for the economy and those “entitlement” programs. You might be surprised that jobs would mean people paying in would extend the life of these programs with no action required to fiddle and fuck with them.

Besides, if the Russian astronomers are correct, we might be hit with an asteroid in August of 2032, making things moot.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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August 2013 Jobs Report: “Good” News That Isn’t

11:27 am in Economy, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

Well the August Jobs Reports are in, and, as usual, the numbers were not as expected. From Reuters:

Unemployment Report

Unemployment Report

U.S. employers hired fewer workers than expected in August and the jobless rate hit a 4-1/2 year low as Americans gave up the search for work, complicating the Federal Reserve’s decision on whether to scale back its massive monetary stimulus this month.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 169,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, falling short of the 180,000 Wall Street had expected and adding to signs that economic growth may have slowed a bit in the third quarter.

CNN points out that the growth for June and July was revised downwards by 74K jobs but they also highlighted (my bold):

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 7.3%, but the decline came for the wrong reasons, as 312,000 people dropped out of the labor force. Only 63.2% of Americans now participate in the labor force — meaning they have a job or are looking for one. That’s the lowest rate since August 1978.

Reuters also notes the drop in participation in the workforce in a sidebar article here:

The share of Americans aged 25 to 54 who had jobs or were looking for work dipped to 81 percent in August, the lowest level since 1984, a time when fewer women were in the workforce. In another worrisome sign, the share of these prime-age workers who actually had jobs has stagnated at around 76 percent since early last year, well below its 2003-2007 average of around 79 percent.

Most of the reports in TradMed outlets have also commented on the impact of the (lack of) jobs reports on the Federal Reserve “stimulus” (from McClatchy):

The Fed has been purchasing, at a pace of $85 billion a month, government and mortgage bonds in a bid to drive down lending rates in the economy and force risk taking by investors. They must seek better returns than they have been getting on bonds, thus juicing the stock market and commodities such as crude oil and a range of farm products. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is concluding his term, wants to begin weaning the economy off of this support before his successor takes over.

Of course, this “stimulus” has not really helped the millions of long term un and underemployed, even though a large part of the Federal Reserve “mission” is maximizing employment.

The stock market continues to show its disconnect with most of the economy as it has gone up in response to the jobs report number (via Bloomberg):

U.S. stocks rose to a two-week high as slower-than-forecast jobs growth eased concern about reductions in Federal Reserve stimulus, overshadowing an escalation in tension between America and Russia over Syria.

So, because the Fed may not be able to stop its “stimulus” (read: easy money for the banksters and Wall St), stocks are going up in celebration. Yeah, that makes sense. After all, the casinos always like to show their appreciation for the marks customers.

Bloomberg has an opinion piece up by a Justin Wolfers, who says to concentrate on the revisions. Of course, he also seems to think public sector jobs are not “real” jobs when it comes to the economy:

There is one further detail worth emphasizing. While there were 74,000 jobs revised away this month, more than half were in the public sector, suggesting that we shouldn’t be too hasty in marking down expectations of ongoing private-sector employment growth.

Now, I am one of those who refuses to give up my search for full time employment, preferably in my chosen field of Software Quality Assurance. I am a stubborn SoB and even when I keep receiving discouraging results, I will not fold. I’m sure many people would claim that I am being unrealistic in my desires to find work in my field. But am I any more unrealistic than the CEO of Morgan Stanley who declares:

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Regulations Are an Opportunity for Job Creating Innovation

1:41 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

"Opportunity Center" by {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester} on flickr

"Opportunity Center" by {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester} on flickr

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It is an article of faith among Republicans (and far too many Democrats) that all those pesky “regulations” are to blame for the lack of jobs today and the ongoing economic slowdown. Just the first of this month, McClatchy had an article where they had surveyed small business owners across the country and the consensus was that in fact regulations are not the problem for small business but lack of demand is:

When it’s asked what specific regulations harm small businesses _which account for about 65 percent of U.S. jobs — the Chamber of Commerce points to health care, banking and national labor. Yet all these issues weigh much more heavily on big corporations than on small business. 

…snip…

None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath.

…snip…

Other small firms say their problem is simply a lack of customers.

My bold and I think we see where the folks complaining about regulations are really coming from. While the small businesses are struggling to make traction and find customers, the big businesses are squeezing every penny out of their operations in order to meet the quarterly demands of Wall St. Read the rest of this entry →

Political Posturing Versus Reality

10:32 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

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This morning (Wednesday, June 22) David Dayen at FDL News reports that the entire Senate Democratic leadership is getting behind a jobs/stimulus push:

The Senate Democratic leadership – all of them, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, Debbie Stabenow and Mark Begich – planned a morning press conference today where they will call for job creation measures, or stimulus, to be included in any debt limit deal.

This follows a report from Politico on Sunday:

Fearing the economy may be getting worse, Democrats plan to soon unveil what they’ll call a “Jobs First” agenda — and the stakes are high. A bleak economic outlook, like the May jobs report, could cost Democrats their thin Senate majority and even the White House if they can’t make a strong case to an anxious electorate that their policies will create jobs.

Senate Democrats are now grappling with ways to gain an edge in the economic debate dominated by budget talk. For instance, in an attempt to woo Republicans, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the White House are open to extending a payroll tax break to stimulate the economy, but that has spawned unease from Democratic senators such as Maryland’s Ben Cardin who worry that it would drive up the deficit and unnerve liberals such as Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who are concerned it would deplete the Social Security trust fund.

While the Politico piece reinforces for me the idea of the Dems actions as just so much posturing, so does this, also from the Dayen piece:

There’s a sense that this is mainly rhetorical. Democrats have seen Republicans obstruct even the most piddling of jobs bills in the Senate. Yesterday the reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration, an old Great Society program, failed to break a filibuster.

This article from today’s Washington Post on Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad’s claim that $2 trillion in spending cuts is not enough tends to reinforce the believe that it is posturing:

The debt-reduction package emerging in talks between the White House and congressional leaders would not “fundamentally change” the alarming rate of growth in the national debt, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said Tuesday.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said the goal of slicing more than $2 trillion from the federal budget by 2021 falls far short of the savings needed to stabilize borrowing, reenergize the economy and avert the threat of a debt crisis.

As we all know, Conrad is one of the Gang of Six Five Thieves Deficit Hawks who doesn’t quite seem to comprehend that creating jobs would go a long way to addressing those long term deficit problems through increased tax revenues across all aspects of the economy. Even Wall St Journal and Bloomberg/Business Week columnists have come out this week and stated that jobs are the most serious issue of all today. Now, I don’t know of anyone who would perceive that the folks at either of these as being “card carrying members of the professional left” yet both are pointing out the fallacies of the current political discourse.
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The Spin Begins To Lessen

1:21 pm in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government, Jobs, Media, Unemployment by dakine01

 

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spin cycle

spin cycle by Robert Couse-Baker, on Flickr

After having bounced up to 474K a couple of weeks ago, the Initial Unemployment Claims for last week dropped for the second week in a row, falling back down to 409K after falling last week to 434K (revised back to 438K today). From Reuters:

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell 29,000 to 409,000 last week, the Labor Department said. 

The bigger-than-expected drop eased fears that a large increase last month reflected a fundamental deterioration in the jobs market, buttressing the view that the run up was due to auto plant shutdowns and other one-time factors.

…snip…

While the initial claims decline was more than economists’ expectations for a fall to 420,000, they remained anchored above the 400,000 level that is normally associated with stable job growth for a sixth straight week.

While any drop in Initial Unemployment Claims is a positive, it is only a faint ray of light within otherwise dismal economic news. Tuesday, CNN had an article on new graduates struggling to find jobs in their chosen career fields, even when coming “highly credentialed.”

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The brutal job market brought on by the recession has been hard on everyone, but especially devastating on the youngest members of the labor force. 

About 60% of recent graduates have not been able to find a full-time job in their chosen profession, according to job placement firm Adecco.

And for those just entering the workplace, a bout of long-term unemployment can affect their career plans for years to come.

The NY Times follows CNN and does their version of this today:

The individual stories are familiar. The chemistry major tending bar. The classics major answering phones. The Italian studies major sweeping aisles at Wal-Mart. 

Now evidence is emerging that the damage wrought by the sour economy is more widespread than just a few careers led astray or postponed. Even for college graduates — the people who were most protected from the slings and arrows of recession — the outlook is rather bleak.
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Results of Middle Class Destruction

12:00 pm in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

I would like to start today by pointing out an error I made yesterday. I assumed that since March was not finished with us, that the ADP jobs report for March would not be issued until next Wednesday. I guess ADP figures the last few days of the month don’t matter so long as they get a report out two days prior to the BLS report for the overall economy issued on the first Friday of the new month.

From Reuters on today’s (Wednesday, March 30) ADP report:

(Reuters) – Private employers added 201,000 jobs in March, while February’s figure was revised down slightly, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.

The data was largely in line with expectations. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP Employer Services report would show a gain of 203,000 jobs. The report is jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC.

February’s figure was revised down to 208,000 from 217,000.

“Basically the number was very much in line with expectations and shows that the labor recovery continues at a reasonable pace,” said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors in New York.

Of course, Mr Katz is not accounting for the loss of jobs in the public sector. And there have been job losses in the public sector this past month.

But there have been a few articles I’ve seen during my daily surfing of the toobz, from today and earlier, that tell us a bit more about the state of the economy than the ADP report and the words of Mr Katz can tell us.

First up is this article from today’s Hartford Courant on New London, CT schools that are now providing free suppers (to go with free breakfasts and lunches) for students from low income families. From the article:

While many schools across Connecticut provide free or reduced lunch and breakfast to students from low-income homes, New London was the first to provide supper, too. Bridgeport recently launched a similar program, and Norwich is considering it.
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Trying To Avoid Incoherent Rage

11:49 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

As I read news sites across the toobz and see the occasional cable talking heads populated by the Beltway Village Idiots Pundits, it is often difficult to keep myself from dissolving into a mass of protoplasm due to simple rage.

First up today is this article from Reuters on Sunday, March 27:

(Reuters) – The U.S. labor market is finally improving, just when many of the other economic indicators are wavering.

Jobs are considered a lagging indicator. They typically recover many months after the economy comes out of a recession, and this cycle was no exception. So will troubles in Japan, Libya and elsewhere push up U.S. unemployment later this year?

…snip…

Friday brings the March employment report, and economists polled by Reuters are looking for growth of about 188,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 8.9 percent.

Any bets on how the headlines Friday will include some variant of “economists surprised“? I’m betting right now that the 188K figure will be way high for the entire economy. Of course, since the BLS jobs numbers will be first out this month ahead of the ADP Jobs reports on private sector jobs created for the previous month which appears the first Wednesday of each month, my bet will also be that the ADP report will be more positive than the BLS report so that will get all the good publicity next week and folks will forget the reality of the BLS report.

Sunday also had this article from the Boston Globe on Massachusetts going after the rail funds that Florida’s Gov Scottdemort rejected:

When the Obama administration awarded $10.4 billion for high-speed rail projects last year, Florida was a big winner, scooping up 20 times as much money as Massachusetts. But now that Florida’s new governor has rejected his state’s $2.4 billion for political reasons, Massachusetts officials are racing to make another pitch to Washington.
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Good Pensions for Me but Not for Thee, Part 3

9:54 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government by dakine01

Back in December ’08 I wrote a couple of diaries (here and here) comparing the pensions received by retiring Members of Congress compared to the pensions of union member auto workers. Well, today (Tuesday, March 15) McClatchy once again is reporting that for all the sturm und drang from Congress about the costs of state pensions, it seems they rarely manage to speak up about the excesses of their own pensions. From the McClatchy article:

Since 1984, members of Congress have enjoyed both a defined-benefit plan and a defined-contribution plan. The defined-benefit plan gives them a fixed pension in retirement that’s scaled to their number of years in office.

By McClatchy’s calculation, 13 sitting senators and 31 members of the House of Representatives — about 8 percent of the Congress — have served at least 25 years and accrued annual pensions worth at least $50,000. By comparison, for average U.S. former workers 65 or older who receive private pension payments, the median annual amount is $8,016, according to the nonpartisan Employee Benefits Research Institute.

As long as they’ve served five years, lawmakers can collect their pensions starting at age 62; if they’ve served 20 years, they can collect them at age 50; and if they’ve served 25 years, they can collect them no matter how old they are. Their annual pension annuities cannot exceed 80 percent of their final salaries.

Only 30 percent of active workers in the country had defined-benefit plans last year like the one available to lawmakers, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

Now, this is coming on the heels of this article from Saturday’s NY Times “decrying” the pension burden on the states. Although once again, the Times manages to bury pertinent information near the end of the article:

Workers in Wisconsin point out that their payments in retirement are hardly a king’s ransom. Their average annual benefit is about $26,500, and they believe they have been wrongly portrayed as greedy chiselers who game the system and walk away with six-figure pensions.

But it can be a huge burden for states and municipalities to provide even a modest, $26,000-a-year pension to hundreds of thousands of people, at least in today’s economic environment, and especially if those people are able to retire well before 65 and collect that money for many years.

“When interest rates are low, these plans are really expensive to run,” said Gordon Latter, an actuary at RBC Global Asset Management (U.S.) Inc., (formerly Voyageur Asset Management) whose clients include both corporate and public pension funds.

Despite the furor in Wisconsin, collective bargaining does not appear to be the main factor driving pension costs higher.

My bold. Now where have we heard of this type of situation before? Oh right. Social Security for example. Last Friday, MSNBC’s Tom Curry offered up a standard Beltway Village Idiot Pundit rationale for “reforming” Social Security:

According to the latest Social Security trustees report, about 14 years from now, the interest earned on the bonds won’t be sufficient to cover the annual difference between benefits and tax revenues.

At that point, the trust funds will be drawn down — the bonds will be cashed in — until the bonds are gone in 2037. If Congress does nothing before 2037, benefits would need to be cut by 22 percent to keep the system in balance.

“What often confuses people is that they see these securities as assets for the government,” the CRS report said. They aren’t really assets, but liabilities.

Or as the Congressional Budget Office explained in a report to Congress, “The balances in the trust funds (in the form of government securities) are assets to the individual programs (such as Social Security) but liabilities to the rest of the government.”

“When an individual buys a government bond, he or she has established a financial claim against the government,” the CRS said. But “when the government issues a security to one of its own accounts, it hasn’t purchased anything or established a claim against some other person or entity. It is simply creating an IOU from one of its accounts to another.”

The bonds are a promise to pay benefits in the future — but not the ability to pay those benefits.

Charles Krauthammer also chimed in with his weekly op-ed in the Washington Post:

Back-of-an-envelope solvable: Raise the retirement age, tweak the indexing formula (from wage inflation to price inflation) and means-test so that Warren Buffett’s check gets redirected to a senior in need.

The relative ease of the fix is what makes the Obama administration’s Social Security strategy so shocking. The new line from the White House is: no need to fix it because there is no problem. As Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew wrote in USA Today just a few weeks ago, the trust fund is solvent until 2037. Therefore, Social Security is now off the table in debt-reduction talks.

…snip…

Here’s why. When your FICA tax is taken out of your paycheck, it does not get squirreled away in some lockbox in West Virginia where it’s kept until you and your contemporaries retire. Most goes out immediately to pay current retirees, and the rest (say, $100) goes to the U.S. Treasury – and is spent. On roads, bridges, national defense, public television, whatever – spent, gone.

In return for that $100, the Treasury sends the Social Security Administration a piece of paper that says: IOU $100. There are countless such pieces of paper in the lockbox. They are called “special issue” bonds.

Special they are: They are worthless. As the OMB explained, they are nothing more than “claims on the Treasury [i.e., promises] that, when redeemed [when you retire and are awaiting your check], will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures.” That’s what it means to have a so-called trust fund with no “real economic assets.” When you retire, the “trust fund” will have to go to the Treasury for the money for your Social Security check.

Bottom line? The OMB again: “The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, have any impact on the government’s ability to pay benefits.” No impact: The lockbox, the balances, the little pieces of paper, amount to nothing.

Basically, Krauthammer is advocating that the US Government default on Social Security. And he misses the easiest option of all – remove the cap on Social Security earnings (currently capped at $106K per annum).

So folks like Curry and Krauthammer want to see the government default on the Treasury bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the US rather than raise taxes while Congress and TradMed mostly whine about public sector pensions and unions, even while they keep their own Cadillac (Beemer? Porsche? Ferrari?) pensions.

Oh, and this blog post from Forbes points out that in Wisconsin at least, those public pensions cost the taxpayers nothing as they are deferred compensation for the workers.

It is real easy to demonize public sector workers, teachers, and unions at all levels. Too bad that the real thieves are still stealing from the rest of us via Wall St and their pet politicians.

(/Rant)

And because I can:

More Republican “Respect” for the Workers

12:28 pm in Economy, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

photo: twicepix via Flickr

On Wednesday (February 16), I wrote a post with the (admittedly rhetorical) title “Is Cutting Jobs Programs to Create Jobs Like Cutting Taxes to Increase Revenues?

Today, I’d like to offer up a few more examples of how the new governors of Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin are treating workers within their states as they “create” jobs.

To begin with, we have yesterday’s report of Initial Unemployment Claims for last week. After falling to a two-and-a-half year low the week before, yesterday’s report showed an increase once again in the initial claims:

There were 410,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 12, according to the Labor Department. That was up 25,000 from the week before, and slightly more than the 408,000 claims economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected.

Continuing claims — which include people filing for the second week of benefits or more — rose by 1,000 to 3,911,000 in the week ended Feb. 5, the most recent week available.

Of course, the economists interviewed looked on the sunny side of life because the trend “is still pointing downward.” I’m sure that is bringing a warm feeling to the nearly 15 million unemployed and the 25 to 30 million un and underemployed. Why at the rate things are trending downwards, we might once again reach full employment in, oh, maybe in the year 2525?  . . . Read the rest of this entry →