Investopia

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.

Re: Investopia

Postby gaeila » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:04 am

The REAL problem is, (in the U.S.. at least) is that many assistance programs need fundamental overhaul. For example, one of my grandfathers was a multi-millionaire. He used to chuckle evilly and gloat when got his monthly Social Security check (which was as large as it gets), even though he didn't actually need the money. I think the sheer ridiculousness of the situation really appealed to his sense of humour.

WHY do we give Social Security $$ to the wealthy who don't need it? SS tax is really just another federal income tax. It's NOT going into some kind of savings or investment program--although for some reason, a big chunk of the population seems to think it is.

That's just one example. I'm not going to spend several days listing many more.
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Re: Investopia

Postby Killjoy » Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:44 am

gaeila wrote:The REAL problem is, (in the U.S.. at least) is that many assistance programs need fundamental overhaul. For example, one of my grandfathers was a multi-millionaire. He used to chuckle evilly and gloat when got his monthly Social Security check (which was as large as it gets), even though he didn't actually need the money. I think the sheer ridiculousness of the situation really appealed to his sense of humour.

WHY do we give Social Security $$ to the wealthy who don't need it? SS tax is really just another federal income tax. It's NOT going into some kind of savings or investment program--although for some reason, a big chunk of the population seems to think it is.

That's just one example. I'm not going to spend several days listing many more.


We "give" those payments to anyone who paid in sufficiently. That's the only thing that keeps it from being an outright pyramid scheme. As it stands, the people who paid in before can only get their retirement payments so long as new people are paying in, meaning we're stuck with it, unless we want to tell the people who paid into SS instead of saving for their own retirement because they were forced to by law, "too bad suckers".

Meanwhile, the number of people who live well past retirement age has gone up considerably, spikes and dips in the birth rate create strain, etc.
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Re: Investopia

Postby JustinReilly » Mon Apr 03, 2017 11:27 am

Killjoy wrote:
JustinReilly wrote:
Killjoy wrote:And yet the oft-touted social-welfware systems in quite a few European countries are also in deep trouble.

It has less to do with "efficiency" and far more to do with inevitable unsustainability.

I'm curious what assumptions you're making to conclude inevitability. Because frankly, to me, statements like that smack of either a lack of imagination or an ideologue using the failure of a particular program to justify abandoning the entire endeavor.


For starters, these programs pretty much all rely on a growing population as part of their basic math.

If you're assuming a non-means tested universal entitlement like Social Security. That's not the only form a social welfare program can take. The need to be able to experiment with many different types of programs was the primary subject of my original post. Focusing on one currently failing system to prove the inevitability of all possible systems failing doesn't make for a valid logical argument and smells very strongly of
JustinReilly wrote:an ideologue using the failure of a particular program to justify abandoning the entire endeavor.
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Re: Investopia

Postby Killjoy » Mon Apr 03, 2017 1:49 pm

Get your nose checked, then... unless you're determined to continue illustrating -- via repeated attempts to fall back on not-so-slyly obscured ad hom -- that you have no actual substance to your argument.
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Re: Investopia

Postby JustinReilly » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:24 pm

You made the claim of inevitability. All I'm doing is asking you to back up an extreme claim. The burden's on you.
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Re: Investopia

Postby Killjoy » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:26 pm

JustinReilly wrote:You made the claim of inevitability. All I'm doing is asking you to back up an extreme claim. The burden's on you.


No, you've repeatedly insinuated bad faith and ideological blinders on my part if I have the audacity to disagree with you.


That said -- you're aware of the definition of insanity, right?

Britain's NHS is falling apart -- http://www.bbc.com/news/health-36579903

France can't afford its welfare net -- https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... t-spending

Even Sweden's touted social welfare system is failing -- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ity-system
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Re: Investopia

Postby JustinReilly » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:29 pm

*sigh* And I've never disputed any of that. My only dispute was your claim that all potential welfare schemes will inevitably fail. Your statements that specific current systems have failed is a non-sequitur unless you're also claiming that all potential solutions have already been tried.
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Re: Investopia

Postby gaeila » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:17 pm

Killjoy wrote:
gaeila wrote:The REAL problem is, (in the U.S.. at least) is that many assistance programs need fundamental overhaul. For example, one of my grandfathers was a multi-millionaire. He used to chuckle evilly and gloat when got his monthly Social Security check (which was as large as it gets), even though he didn't actually need the money. I think the sheer ridiculousness of the situation really appealed to his sense of humour.

WHY do we give Social Security $$ to the wealthy who don't need it? SS tax is really just another federal income tax. It's NOT going into some kind of savings or investment program--although for some reason, a big chunk of the population seems to think it is.


We "give" those payments to anyone who paid in sufficiently. That's the only thing that keeps it from being an outright pyramid scheme. As it stands, the people who paid in before can only get their retirement payments so long as new people are paying in, meaning we're stuck with it, unless we want to tell the people who paid into SS instead of saving for their own retirement because they were forced to by law, "too bad suckers".

Meanwhile, the number of people who live well past retirement age has gone up considerably, spikes and dips in the birth rate create strain, etc.


I think you missed my point. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding you? The Social Security retirement benefits/disability systems are seriously flawed, IMHO. It IS possible to enact changes in it--for example, the age to retire with full benefits has gone up since the programs began. And SS has quietly simply NOT increased yearly payments to cover the adjusted cost of living.

Your comment about paying out SS $ to all who paid in prevents it from being an outright pyramid scheme baffles me. All the Federal Income tax revenues, including SS taxes, are paid out in the budget as fast as it comes in. SS revenues do NOT = SS benefits. By your reasoning, all the different types of federal income taxes are probably pyramid schemes. (Shrugs.) Maybe they sort of are? Maybe it depends on what you consider to be pyramid schemes?

From ssa.gov;
"Social Security's Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program limits the amount of earnings subject to taxation for a given year. The same annual limit also applies when those earnings are used in a benefit computation. This limit changes each year with changes in the national average wage index. We call this annual limit the contribution and benefit base. For earnings in 2017, this base is $127,200."

WHY should there be a cap on SS taxes? Right now, that is. (I understand the reasons for the cap many years ago, but things have drastically changed since then.)
The very wealthy pay a much smaller % of their total incomes in taxes than the working poor. Due to the cap, the maximum SS tax is $15,773.00/year, no matter how many billions your income. BUT the maximum monthly benefit at full retirement age is 2,687.00 per month, or $32,224 per year.

Look at the numbers. Think about it. There is no real linear or one-to-one relationship between SS taxes paid in and benefits paid out.

One possible good start to overhauling the system is to remove the caps on SS income taxes. We don't have a cap on The Federal Income tax (although loopholes--let's not even go there.) Fundamentally, Social Secutiry is JUST ANOTHER DAMN federal income tax.

All the above numbers taken from ssa.gov.

Now, it's time for a typical example of a wasteful, useless program supported by taxes, which I have had direct, multiple, unpleasant experiences with:
Brain Injury Association of Tennessee http://www.braininjurytn.org/index.htmlMission: Resource for brain injury info
Mission: Resource for brain injury info
Programs: Provide information and resources regarding grants, housing, camps, and education for adults and children with brain injuries

HAHAHAHAHAHA (sobs.) :cry:

This organization has an annual budget of over $100,000. For JUST the Nashville office. More on that later.
It's primary purpose appears to employ bureaucrats to attend conferences and seldom answer their phone nor return messages. They are completely useless to a disabled TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) person who needs help financially--which is quite often the primary need of someone with TBI.
For example, here in Tennesse, there are multiple programs which greatly assist low-income persons:
1. Food Stamps (called SNAP in TN)
2. Property tax relief (currently about $800 refunded on $1200 property tax.)
3. Energy Assistance: Bring in proof of income, utility bills, etc.; fill out some forms, and they will award you an amount based on both their current budget AND how many people applied for help that year. It is an annual grant; you can only apply once per year. They pay one montly utility bill for you, up to the amount awarded. Last year I was awarded about $600.
4. QMB program: TN's version of Medicaid and "Extra Help." (Thank God for QMB--I could not afford my prescriptions without it, and I would die. No. Joke.)

I found these and other resources on my own. No governmental program gave me any help or advice.

There are other resources, but the TBIAT has been completely useless every time I called them (over a dozen times, to prove to myself they really were as wretchedly unhelpful as they are.)

No-one there had ever heard of any kind of financial aid to low-income disabled TBI victims, much less how to apply to any of them.

The real tragedy here, is most TBI victims can't find these financial programs on their own. I was a bona-fide genius before I was hit by a truck. So, even though I lost a lot of IQ points, I can still function reasonably well on a "good" day.

The sad irony is, here is the official job description of these wastrels, whose official job title is Service Coordinator:
"Service Coordinators are established in eight locations and cover all 95 counties, providing case management services to TBI survivors and their families. Through a contract arrangement, each non-profit agency has established a Family Support Center
in their respective area for the purpose of providing the following services for children and adults with TBI: providing information; making referrals to services and agencies; assisting consumers in applying for and accessing services; advocacy; support group development; and the development of new programs and activities. The role of the Service Coordinator is to assess an individual survivor and to coordinate available resources within the community. Service coordinators will help identify services to benefit a TBI consumer.Should also help with many activities such as signing up for Social
Security, legal and financial services, TBI education and materials, counseling services and other related services."

BUT IN ACTUAL PRACTICE, THESE EMPLOYEES DO NONE OF THE ABOVE!

Getting Budget and financial info on TBIAT was EXTRAORDINARILY difficult.

I did manage to find their 2012 annual report:
Detailed Financials:
Revenue and Expenses Fiscal Year 2012
Total Revenue $88,044
Total Expenses $122,194
Government Contributions $69,734
Program Expense $77,648
Administration Expense $43,994
Program Expense/Total Expenses 64%

Now, remember, all this is JUST for the TBIAT, which is the Nashville/Central TN office. There are 7 other offices, so the state's total cost is over $1 million. For nothing useful. At all. Except supporting some stupid bureaucrats, which is a thing I do not consider useful.

Over 2/3 of their funding goes to useless bureaucratic salaries. Another big chunk is spent on sending said bureaucrats to conferences on TBI, and learning retreats.

The TBIAT program is just one of many programs under the umbrella of the state of TN's Health Dept. TBI programs.

Finally, here some risiblely awful statistics and numbers:
Accomplishments/Successes- The TBI program receives funding from traffic violations. Approximately $1 million is collected annually and allocated for grants to provide services to TBI survivors. Eight service coordinators (In Nashville, this is the TBIAT with just 1 or 2 Service Coordinators; but these numbers are for the whole freakin' state) serve an average caseload of 75 TBI survivors each year, assisting them with accessing local programs and resources.

How much of that million do you think those 75 TBI survivors got? If you live in Nashville, which is TN's central government site, the answer is 0.

Now, compare all those numbers to a 2012 TBI report from tn.gov:

Impact and Magnitude of TBI
During 2012, a TBI was sustained by 55,029 people in Tennessee. Among those injured, 1,336 19.8 per 100,000) died where TBI was reported as a cause of death on the death certificate alone or in combination with other injuries or conditions.
Another 5,327 (79.6 per 100,000), were hospitalized with a TBI alone or in combination with other injuries or conditions, and an additional 48,366 (765.1 per 100,000) were treated and released from emergency departments with a TBI alone or in combination with other injuries or conditions. An unknown number of individuals sustained injuries that were treated in other settings or went untreated.

Essentially, if you're disabled with a TBI, you're screwed, unless you happen to be in the rare position of having an immeasurable IQ before your TBI, so you can figure out how to navigate searching for aid programs despite losing oh, say, 50 or so IQ points due to a drunk in a high-speed heavy truck.

I could easily spend all my waking hours listing and describing expensive, useless crap government aid programs, but I don't wanna. This is a fairly typical example, though it can get MUCH worse, in my personal experience.

In fairness, i will mention that while FEMA was absolute garbage under W. Bush, (New Orleans, anyone?) Obama replaced all the appointees with competent people. I lived in Nashville during the relatively famous "100 year flood" a few years ago, and FEMA worked with amazing speed and efficiency. The most you could be awarded through FEMA was $6,000, even if you lost your whole house. When the rain stopped and the flood finally ended, to my amazement I was quickly contacted by FEMA; the inspector showed up when he said he would; and he awarded me a check for $6,000. My house had a flooded basement, and some other damage, though I was lucky compared to many.

But FEMA was the big surprise exception.

As someone who has had to deal with the multiple intricacies and sheer incompetence of many government safety net programs, I conclude that the U.S. DOES have enough money to provide a decent safety net. It just isn't being used right, way too often.

Furthermore, our federal tax system is just wrong. The income tax percentages were first made when $10,000/year was a decent middle management salary. They were frozen in the '80's, way too late, after lots of inflation. $10k/year is now poverty level, but it's still taxed as if it was middle-class (though the Earned Income Credits and other whacky work-arounds help; if the working poor can afford tax help.)

The Obama/FEMA example proves that it is possible to overhaul a government program so it works right. (God help all disaster areas if Drumpf decides to to make his own FEMA appointees.)

In my experience, Sturgeon's Law more than applies to U.S. governmental programs.

Almost no-one wants to be disabled, unable to work, and forced to depend on slippery safety nets. It just sucks. Currently, it sucks far more than it needs to.

I didn't vote for Drumpf, but I can understand why he won. Back in the day, all the pundits were shocked when FDR won the election. He won because a big chunk of voters were fed up with govt. "business as usual" attitude despite the Great Depression, so pretty much any alternative candidate could have won. Same conditions now. Hilary is terribly non-charismatic, and represents govt. "business as usual" to a lot of people, who all decided they would vote for anyone but her. Unfortunately, we got a Drumpf instead of an FDR.

I expect the suckage will continue, and perhaps increase, for the near future. Although it's possible Mr. Drumpf will provide a historical landmark, by being the first president not only impeached, but actually convicted.
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Re: Investopia

Postby gaeila » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:48 pm

BTW, I would be MORE than a little offended should someone decide to compare me to a beverage, with the possible exception of top tier champagne. *Possibly* :)
I have a reply prepared if confronted directly by a woman/beverage comparison; however, it is far too obscene to include here. ;)
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Re: Investopia

Postby Killjoy » Mon May 01, 2017 10:43 am

Most federal spending -- functions something like a company or personal budget, in that you have money coming in and money going out, somewhat like paychecks and rent payments, etc.

Social Security -- takes money in from person A to pay person B, on the promise that person A will be paid off decades later in kind, while deliberately being misrepresented as a "retirement plan" by its defenders.


PS -- the "like a beverage" thing is a snarky riff on the cast entries and some other sigs around here.
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