ZenPundit
Sunday, May 15, 2005
 
"THEY HAVE TRUST FUNDS, NOT LOCKBOXES"

I would like to welcome Don Surber, Charleston Daily Mail columnist and blogger to the Zenpundit blogroll where he joins the growing ranks of dual Old Media-New Media hybrid pundits with one foot in both camps, a list that includes Austin Bay, Geitner Simmons, Thomas P.M. Barnett and Robin Burk.

Don is an ex-Democrat who writes on political issues with a feisty, combative yet civil style. Here he is taking on Democratic hypocrisy on the value of Stock Market investing, public and private:

"The five richest senators are John Kerry, Herb Kohl, Jay Rockefeller, Jon Corzine and Dianne Feinstein. Democrats all. They have trust funds, not lockboxes.

Another Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer, is a former stockbroker.

I am tired of the do-as-we-deem, not-as-we-indulge attitude of limousine liberals.

But it is not just their personal accounts that they refuse to put in lockboxes. Federal employees already have the very choices President Bush wants to give all American workers.

The federal thrift plan boasts of returns that average 10 percent a year. By the end of 2003, the plan had $128 billion invested by 3.2 million people.

State pension plans across the nation invest in Wall Street.

With their $5.5 billion pension bond proposal, Democrats in West Virginia are promising voters that Wall Street will average better than 7.5 percent returns annually for the next 30 years. Most of that money will be used to shore up the teacher pension plan.

If Wall Street is good enough for their teachers, then it should be good enough for my kids, who will face 30 percent cuts in their Social Security when they retire.


President Bush ought to visit West Virginia and endorse this pension bond plan -- and double-dog-dare Sens. Bob Byrd and Rockefeller to denounce the $5.5 billion pension bond as a "risky scheme."

Let John Kerry propose liquidating the federal thrift plan to protect federal workers from the next bear market."

I can hear the blood pressure rising out there in some quarters of my blogroll already ;o)

Welcome aboard Don !
 
Comments:
ok, welcome to your blogroll, but this is a retarded argument. Nobody is preventing these people from investing in the stock market or arguing that they shouldn't invest in the stock market. It's just that retirement is a three-legged stool, and we shouldn't double up on one of those legs. Especially since, um, the Bush plan is to cut benefits to avoid a supposed cut in benefits. To say nothing of the cash flow issues or the clawback.
 
Mark,

I first came to your blog because of a comment made a while back by Tom Barnett on his blog. My main interest for visiting your site was to further my understanding of the views being spoken to in Tom's book "The Pentagon's New Map".

At this point though I think it is time for me to move on from your blog. It is obvious from your political posts that your technical intellect does not cross over to discussing politics in an objective, reasoned, and insightful way. What your political posts have shown me though is the fact that you are just one of the many Republican partisan cheer leaders found through out the blogosphere.

In my opinion there currently exists a great political divide in America that needs to be bridged if our country is to continue moving in a postive direction. The discourse that is needed to create this bridge should be objective, factual, and non partisan. The intent of this discourse should be to educate people and not just to motivate people.

Since you do not seem capable of meeting this standard I will leave your blog to you and your right wing fans. May all of you enjoy the one sided partisan discussions which always end with the same cheer - Go Team Go!
 
Hi prak,

SS is actually an academic issue for me because ...well...I'm not actually in that system though I did pay a boatload to FICA in the past and still pay into Medicare money that I expect never to see again by the time I eventually retire.

Do I believe that investing a small portion of SS taxes in private accounts in the markets will result in some kind of free lunch bonanza ? No, and by the same token the house will not fall in either.

At best, the result will be a moderate yield above what SS recipients might have expected otherwise. Nice but hardly riches ( though the markets and down the road entrepreurs will do better from the influx of cash)

James Smith,

You are free to read Zenpundit or not. Your choice.

My posts on domestic political issues are relatively few in number and my personal philosophy tilts toward the free market in that area, though I'm hardly a militant on the subject. If it makes you happy, I get more complaints from Right-leaning readers about my quoting/linking to ppl on the Left. So, I'm going to tell you what I tell them - I intend to continue doing so.

If you are unhappy with the simplification of issues in domestic politics, that's hardly something new or limited to my blog. Henry Adams once wrote that "Practical politics consists of ignoring the facts" - that was over a century ago. Little has changed. Or will.

I like and respect Brad DeLong - I've debated him online and exchanged email with him on a number of occasions and take him seriously - but when he generically refers to the Bush crowd on his blog as " These Liars" as Brad regularly does, I take that rhetoric with a grain of partisan salt.

Could I spend my time analyzing political issues with the same intellectual detachment that I apply to foreign policy? Sure. Why don't I do this ?

First, in the final analysis most of these kinds of issues really come down to a simple normative preference of costs and benefits. It's usually dressed up as Good vs. Evil but it really isn't. Nazism, Stalinism - that's Evil. Various positions on possible prescription drug benefits, not in the same ballpark of moral urgency.

Secondly, most ppl feel themselves to be qualified to discuss politics even when they are, in fact, quite uninformed. Furthermore, widespread emotive bias precludes them from attending to opposing views in the first place. I have far more influence discussing foreign affairs so it is a more economical investment of my time.

Thirdly, I found politics fascinating when I was in my teens and twenties but having waded through the artifice and practiced techniques of distraction used by both sides, I'm kind of bored with it all. I still have my adherence to a point of view and occasionally throw out a political topic on occasion, I don't take it with the life or death seriousness that some do.

But opinions vary.
 
"If you are unhappy with the simplification of issues in domestic politics, that's hardly something new or limited to my blog."

Your blog, in every other area, displays an attempt to discuss a subject intellectually and objectively. Why should you be given a pass with respect to politics and the important issues that are being debated in this country today. Political issues are not the seeds of the intellectual watermelon - to be spit out once the subjects of importance have been consumed.

"Henry Adams once wrote that "Practical politics consists of ignoring the facts" - that was over a century ago. Little has changed. Or will."

Neither you or I are running for a political office so the need for us to comply with this low standard is not required. A blog can serve many purposes but my first impression of yours was not that the facts were impractical.

"First, in the final analysis most of these kinds of issues really come down to a simple normative preference of costs and benefits. It's usually dressed up as Good vs. Evil but it really isn't. Nazism, Stalinism - that's Evil. Various positions on possible prescription drug benefits, not in the same ballpark of moral urgency."

A political discussion should not have to be elevated to the level of Good vs. Evil before the educated participants are required to discuss the topic in a rational, objective, and non partisan manner.

"Secondly, most ppl feel themselves to be qualified to discuss politics even when they are, in fact, quite uninformed."

All the more reason to spend your time informing them and not adding to their ignorance or biased perspective. With the burden that is involved in having an educated opinion comes the benefit of having something worth while to say.

"Furthermore, widespread emotive bias precludes them from attending to opposing views in the first place."

This becomes even more prevalent if their biased views can be reinforced by those who appear to speak with an educated voice.

"I still have my adherence to a point of view and occasionally throw out a political topic on occasion, I don't take it with the life or death seriousness that some do."

My seriousness with politics stems from the place that America finds itself in today. A media that once played the difficult role of protecting the masses from their own ignorance and biases has been silenced, compromised, and irresponsibly replicated to serve an agenda.

The loss of this objective observer (and arbitor) has now allowed anti-intellectual arguements to have the same weight as the intellectually based ones. In my opinion, this inability to find the truth is taking America away from the path that brought us to our current place in history. At this low tide in American discourse today ones unquestioned beliefs are given as much weight in deciding what is real as are the facts and the evidence - if not more so.

What is needed at this point is a return to rational debate based on intellectual reasoning. If we as a country continue to retreat into what we believe and away from what we know (or could know) then we, like the dominant civilizations before us, will find that our words do nothing more then entertain our own ears.

What I am asking, in my less then subtle way, is that the true intellectuals in the blogosphere help to elevate the debate by striving to be objective, factual, and intellectually honest in their arguments. I would also ask that they try to only give voice to those who agree to do the same.
 
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