Morning Links

Monday, September 19th, 2011
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51 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  ktc2 | 

    Third link not working for me. Keeps directing me to some secured page.

  2. #2 |  marco73 | 

    Puppycide – do ANY cops even own dogs anymore? A dog romps outside to take a leak, and the only response is multiple gunfire? The brave blue line is afraid of being licked to death.

  3. #3 |  skunky | 

    not sure why libertarians hate Social Security so much… As for Krugman, his point is that a “Ponzi” scheme implies fraud, i.e. that people are not being told what the scheme is. There is no fraud here (or any “monstrous lie”, for that matter), it’s all demographics being brought to bear on an old-age insurance pool. If we just opened our borders to new workers, and grew our economy at a regular pace, this wouldn’t be an issue at all.

  4. #4 |  Professor Coldheart | 

    “This story just created four hundred thirty nine new libertarians.”

    I’m reminded of a scene from High Fidelity:

    “I will now sell five copies of The Three EPs by the Beta Band.”

  5. #5 |  Anthony | 

    skunky,
    I hate SS because I’ve been forced to pay into in 12 years and I probably wont ever see a return on it.
    If SS is so great why does violence have to be used to get people to buy into it? Why can’t it be voluntary? Those who want it can pay into it, those who don’t can keep their money and put it elsewhere.

  6. #6 |  tarran | 

    Radley, the “not my problem” link is sugarfreed.

  7. #7 |  GSL | 

    Solyndra’s former employees are trying to get even more taxpayer money.

  8. #8 |  Robert | 

    RE: The “Not my problem” link.

    This is exactly why you can’t trust cops crime reporting figures.

  9. #9 |  Andrew S. | 

    So the article from the weekend (posted on your Facebook page) about the DOJ stepping up investigations of police departments for brutality/systemic racism. Lets take a look at some of the comments, shall we?

    Come on don’t insult us. We know what Holder and Obama are doing. We haven’t forgotten what Holder said about the Black Panthers. Those were his people and he wasn’t going to investigate them. Any Sheriff that detains an illegal is going to be investigated because Obama wants the Hispanic vote. Don’t con us. We know what’s behind the Justice Department misusing his power. Everyone knows the direction the Justice Department has gone under Holder and Obama.

    If the ACLU is happy, it ain’t good for America.

    So now we’re supposed to trust the Fast & Furious gang with bogus civel rights investigations? I wouldn’t trust Eric Holder to walk my dog.

    Do you know what I would like to see? Every police officer in the country call in sick for 3 days running, let these clowns call the ACLU when they are being mugged, raped or beat up…….

    And those are just the first four comments down the line. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go beat my head against the wall for an hour or so. Maybe the resulting brain damage will help me understand how those people think.

  10. #10 |  Cynic in New York | 

    So do young male New Jerseyians get to use the female members (I dont know their names other than Snookie) of Jersey Shore for whatever purpose since now they are funding them?

  11. #11 |  Bill | 

    Regarding the “I Blame Gay Marriage” link…nope, Chuck Testa.

  12. #12 |  Andrew S. | 

    So do young male New Jerseyians get to use the female members (I dont know their names other than Snookie) of Jersey Shore for whatever purpose since now they are funding them?

    Depends. Will Obamacare cover the resulting STDs?

  13. #13 |  Chris Rhodes | 

    not sure why libertarians hate Social Security so much

    ?
    Why wouldn’t a libertarian hate social security?

    As for Krugman, his point is that a “Ponzi” scheme implies fraud, i.e. that people are not being told what the scheme is

    Irrelevant, since knowing does not change the fact that you are forced to contribute to it. Besides, people contribute to known pyramid schemes all the time; that doesn’t mean they stop being pyramid schemes.

  14. #14 |  Mattocracy | 

    “not sure why libertarians hate Social Security so much”

    I’m not sure what’s so confusing about it…

  15. #15 |  DoubleU | 

    Re: Jersey Shore: Until libertarians learn to hate *only* the roads that lead to the Jersey Shore, I am not sure if that created any new libertarians.

    Re: Sun Glasses. About 20 years ago a friend own a convenience store, he purchased sun glasses at an unbelievably low price. I want to say six for 25 ¢ents, he of course sold them for several dollars a piece. I have no doubt they are all cheaply made by one company.

  16. #16 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    Re the Minneapolis story: Come now, they can’t waste their time investigating assaults by hoodlum gangs when there are pot-smokers to arrest, stuff to steal and dogs to shoot.

  17. #17 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    not sure why libertarians hate Social Security so much…

    Huh? Do you know any libertarians?

    I hearby place a wager to all of mankind. The next person who says anything even remotely close to “ROADS! Can’t explain ‘em, Libertarians!” I will bet $1 billion that with $5 billion I can get a road built. If I lose, I walk away a beaten man (with whatever is left of the $5 billion after I pay you $1 billion). I mean, I’m pretty sure you’ll fall for this if you cannot see how roads are built without government.

  18. #18 |  Bill | 

    Why do libertarians hate Social Security?

    Because it’s two really stupid ideas stuck together and marketed as something so brilliant that we couldn’t live without it.

    On one hand, it’s one of the most regressive taxes in history: it’s a flat tax with no exemptions or deductions, starting at the first dollar you earn, but all your income over $106,800 is tax-free.

    On the other hand, it’s a welfare program for which the only qualifier is that you once worked, and you’re old. And, to make it better, the more money you earned in your career–and therefore, the less likely you are to need welfare–the more money the program pays you!

    Social Security is a wealth redistribution program which moves money from the young and poor to the elderly and rich. I don’t understand why liberals and conservatives don’t have a problem with that.

  19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Actually, violent crimes in downtown Minneapolis logged by police through Monday of this past week are down 15 percent from the same period last year.

    There were 406 reported incidents through Sept. 12, 2010, and 346 this year.

    Reporter puckers-up and kisses the badge with the above stat…in a story about people (VETERANS FOR RUTH’S CHRIS SAKE!) getting beaten to a pulp and cops not reporting/investigating/helping. Remember this the next time anyone quotes a government-produced stat.

    If I’m not mistaken, a citizen can go to jail for not rendering aid…and then you can go to jail for rendering aid, too. So you’re fukt really.

    I used to hang out (early 90′s) in downtown Minneapolis. There was always a rough element and the cops did nothing but eat donuts. I checked a Bowie knife at First Avenue (a 20″ long Bowie knife…I was heavily influenced by Crocodile Dundee) and the bouncer didn’t see anything strange about it. I hear from friends still in the area that it is a lot worse now. Well done MPD.

  20. #20 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Social Security is a wealth redistribution program which moves money from the young and poor to the elderly and rich.

    Of course we also know that it is a program designed to buy votes. Morally taking care of old people unlike those libertarians and Repubs who want to throw them out in the skreet. Except it has a poor record of taking care of the elderly compared to other mechanisms.

  21. #21 |  Name Nomad | 

    I don’t think you guys understand the “not my problem” link. It’s broken, but it’s not Balko’s problem, so stop asking him to fix it.

  22. #22 |  skunky | 

    Anthony
    I wasn’t aware of the thugs beating you into submission to pay your FICA taxes…

    Your argument that you won’t see a “return” on it belies your ignorance the fact that it isn’t an investment scheme (i.e. as Ponzi schemes purport to be), but rather old-age insurance. If no changes are made you in fact will receive benefits under current law. Maybe not 100% of currently scheduled benefits, but a “return” nonetheless. The only way you won’t receive benefits is if you die before having any beneficiaries.

    Indeed, you ask, why can’t this be voluntary? The same reason you can’t selectively pay your taxes for things you get a “return” from and those you don’t, or simply don’t want to pay for, like roads, bridges, external defense, the judiciary system, etc. I’d love to not have my taxes pay for wars and billion-dollar fighters and bombers or the drug war, but I don’t really see how that could operate in a real-world scenario.

    To be clear, the objective of Social Security isn’t necessarily to be a forced pension program, it’s a minimum-income safety net for people who physically cannot earn an income from labor via old age or disability, whose costs would otherwise be borne by society in other ways. Oh, you say, they should have thought about that before they were paralyzed from the neck down at age 24? or rely on charity (as if this money comes from some other external bucket and doesn’t have to be paid for)?

    Call it what it is, not what the right wing has been demonizing it as for the last seventy years or so.

  23. #23 |  Michael | 

    Regarding the sunglasses, I used to go through cheap sunglasses like socks, until my wife finally bought me a pair of Oakleys as a gift. I’ve had them for 4 years now, worn almost every day, and they’ve held up great and I’ve kept up with them because I know they cost $125 or so to replace. I won’t go back to Walmart cheapies. At the same time, I’m not buying a new pair of designer glasses every season, or spending $500 on designer shades. Somewhere in the $75-175 range is a good intersection of quality and brand without paying exclusively for a brand.

    As for the mfg, good for them, they’re selling a desirable product and making profit for their shareholders.

  24. #24 |  Bill | 

    skunky, if it isn’t voluntary, then it IS backed by violence. Continue to refuse to pay it, continue to refuse to go along with punitive measures meant to force you to pay it, and people with guns will eventually come along to take you away. Resist them, and you might end up dead. ALL laws are backed up by threat of violence. It doesn’t mean that all laws are bad, but the only thing that makes ANY law more than a suggestion is the threat of force.

    Also, realize that Social Security is marketed as “insurance” or a “retirement plan”, but is in fact, as the courts have ruled, a tax, and an entitlement program. Both or either can–aside from the immense political difficulties–be increased, decreased or eliminated by an act of the legislature. They are independent of one another, so paying into the “fund” does not in any way guarantee that you’ll get money out–but misleading people into believing that is where the political support for the program comes from.

    If it’s a “minimum income safety net”, then why do those who have “paid more into it” get more back in benefits?

  25. #25 |  Radley Balko | 

    I wasn’t aware of the thugs beating you into submission to pay your FICA taxes…

    Try not paying them. See what happens.

    To be clear, the objective of Social Security isn’t necessarily to be a forced pension program, it’s a minimum-income safety net for people who physically cannot earn an income from labor via old age or disability, whose costs would otherwise be borne by society in other ways.

    This is true. But it is pretty clearly marketed and promoted as a pension program. Note that the government refers to your Social Security taxes as a “contribution.” And that you get a periodical statement of your total contribution, along with an estimate of what your check will look like if you continue “contributing” at your current rate until retirement. That statement looks a lot like my IRA statement. I doubt this was unintentional.

    Seems to me that the government sees the advantages of leading the public to believe Social Security is a pension program, even though it doesn’t operate like one.

  26. #26 |  PeeDub | 

    You take that back! Raylen Givens never shot a man who didn’t have it comin’. And he never shot a dog.

  27. #27 |  PeeDub | 

    *Raylan

  28. #28 |  ClubMedSux | 

    The cost of a new pair of glasses will of course reflect materials and labor. But the price will also reflect brand values and marketing–and how much consumers will pay. Luxottica says it makes a gross profit of 64 cents on each dollar of sales. Even after deducting sales and advertising costs, overhead and brand licensing royalties it’s still making 52 cents. That’s some margin.

    Hmm… There’s a huge profit margin in an industry where–with respect to prescription glasses, at least–many expenses are covered by either insurance or flex spending accounts? I’m shocked, just shocked.

    On a related note, the Lenscrafters by me has a sign that reads “Use it or lose it: spend your Flex account dollars here.” Is there any better example of an industry helping itself under the guise of helping you than flex spending accounts?

  29. #29 |  Marty | 

    people always use the ‘paralyzed from the neck down’ argument with social security disability. It’s bullshit. My best friend is paralyzed in his left leg from a crash. He’s mid-40s, has worked his entire life. He’s unable to work at his job any more. He was denied disability because he took a class. ‘If you can take that class, you can work’ is what he was told. Lawyers are specializing in getting alcoholics and drug addicts on the rolls, but you can’t get it by going through regular channels.

    my main objection to it is that it’s not voluntary. I’m against handing the govt blocks of cash- it’s fueled all these wars, prisons, and bullshit laws.

  30. #30 |  Marty | 

    The ‘it’s not my job’ is pretty infuriating. If I owned a gun shop, this article would be framed, front and center.

  31. #31 |  Jeff Johnson | 

    No, this is without a doubt the headline of the day:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/16/news/la-heb-eel-penis-spa-urethra-20110916

  32. #32 |  EH | 

    Chris Rhodes@13: A pyramid scheme is not the same thing as a Ponzi scheme.

  33. #33 |  Michael | 

    Re: sunglasses. It is common for a super-large manufacturer to make several brands of something when there are large returns to scale. It’s true of clothing, Bicycles (one firm makes almost any bike you can buy anywhere), beer (several popular brands you may like really just own recipes and handle promotion), and several other products.

  34. #34 |  Rich | 

    Re: Sunglasses

    You might want to check out this site:

    http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/

    It’s a site that covers online eyeglass shops.

    I don’t have any connection with them other than using the information on the site.

    The glasses that I’m wearing now (metal frames, high index, bi-focals) set me back all of $38.

    The quality is equal to anything I ever got from Lenscrafters.

  35. #35 |  Steve Verdon | 

    The officer who fired the three shots told the dog’s owner that the dog “growled” at him.

    Officials claim that the man “feared for his life”.

    I fear for my life every time I’m confronted by a cop. They carry guns, have qualified immunity, and apparently can kill citizens with near impunity.

    Can we start shooting them on sight?

  36. #36 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Your argument that you won’t see a “return” on it belies your ignorance the fact that it isn’t an investment scheme (i.e. as Ponzi schemes purport to be), but rather old-age insurance. If no changes are made you in fact will receive benefits under current law.

    That depends since under current law by the time I do retire, assuming I don’t die first, there isn’t enough money to keep paying out benefits as described under current law.

    Indeed, you ask, why can’t this be voluntary? The same reason you can’t selectively pay your taxes for things you get a “return” from and those you don’t, or simply don’t want to pay for, like roads, bridges, external defense, the judiciary system, etc.

    In other words, force, coercion and violence are necessary for the system you espouse to work. Much like a thug uses force, coercion and violence. See how that works? I’m sure you don’t.

    I’d love to not have my taxes pay for wars and billion-dollar fighters and bombers or the drug war, but I don’t really see how that could operate in a real-world scenario.

    I don’t want a drug war, nor do I want wars. People die in both and they die because others intend to kill them. It is an undesirable outcome. One our government is all to willing to prefer apparently.

    To be clear, the objective of Social Security isn’t necessarily to be a forced pension program, it’s a minimum-income safety net for people who physically cannot earn an income from labor via old age or disability, whose costs would otherwise be borne by society in other ways.

    No, Social Security is not just a disability program. I think you know this, but your writing sucks.

    Call it what it is, not what the right wing has been demonizing it as for the last seventy years or so.

    It is a system that is in perpetual shortfall that necessitates periodic tax hikes. It is a program that siphons off 12.4% of most people’s income so they can’t have a chance to try and save it for themselves or spend it if they really need too. It is also a program that utilizes a highly regressive tax that disproportionately impacts the working poor.

    So, based on your post we’ve learned that for a liberal you are a war monger, badge licker, who hates the poor.

    Well done there mate.

  37. #37 |  Steve Verdon | 

    not sure why libertarians hate Social Security so much… As for Krugman, his point is that a “Ponzi” scheme implies fraud, i.e. that people are not being told what the scheme is.

    Oh and that you have really bad reading comprehension skills (or a liar, but I’ll be generous). See, Krugman rightly noted that like a Ponzi scheme SS pays out more to each generation than they put in. Such a scheme cannot continue, much like a Ponzi scheme. Is SS a Ponzi scheme? No. Some key differences:

    1. It is legal, kind of dumb point since it is run by the people who get to decide what is and is not legal.
    2. It isn’t a fraud, everyone knows it is a scheme that cannot run without periodic tax hikes/benefit cuts.
    3. It works via the threat of violence against those who don’t want to participate.

    So, not a Ponzi scheme, in fact it is worse.

  38. #38 |  2nd of 3 | 

    “Try not paying them. See what happens.”

    My Dad tried that. The IRS garnished his wages for a few years. That was pretty much it.

    So I wonder, why was SSN approved in the first place? Assertions that getting rid of it will cause massive harm are criticised as alarmist at best, and flat lies at worst. So, what is the evidence? Was there really a big poverty problem with the elderly pre-SSN or were churches, families, and private charities really filling the needs adequetely? Can someone point me to some good sources on this?

  39. #39 |  BamBam | 

    If no changes are made you in fact will receive benefits under current law. Maybe not 100% of currently scheduled benefits, but a “return” nonetheless. The only way you won’t receive benefits is if you die before having any beneficiaries.

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=5776
    “in the 1960 case of Fleming v. Nestor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers have no legally binding contractual rights to their Social Security benefits, and that those benefits can be cut or even eliminated at any time.”

    No law change is needed to cut your “benefits”. It has already been shown that Social Security is nothing but a bunch of IOUs because the money is spent by Congress on other fun things.

  40. #40 |  BamBam | 

    @38, the origin of Social Security lies with FDR and government mandated wage freezes, and needing a carrot to dangle. Social Security wasn’t (overtly) intended back then compared to now. Practice your google-fu skills and you’ll find info with cited original documents and quotes.

  41. #41 |  Charlie O | 

    To all you folks denigrating Social Security, that’s the only thing keeping my mother with a roof over her head and food on her table. And that’s exactly what FDR had in mind when he proposed it.

    My mom lives in Texas, which has NO safety net for anyone. If not for SS she would be trying live off the measly $250 a month she gets from CALPERS (my father was a cop in CA for about 10 years after retiring from the US Navy). My father’s Navy retirement checks stopped when he died. Poor planning, yes, but then he was a selfish asshole (He would have embraced the Tea Party wholeheartedly if was still alive).

    If not for Social Security, my mom would probably have to move in with me or my sister. A scenario none of us wants.

  42. #42 |  Andrew S. | 

    If not for Social Security, she might have had enough money to put away so she wouldn’t be in that position. I know my 401(k) would look a whole lot better if I had an extra 12.4% of my salary to contribute every year.

  43. #43 |  Bill | 

    Wow, Charlie, it’s great that there’s a government program that protects you from the horrible fate of actually having to take care of a member of your family. I hope you don’t really mean it when you say it’s “the only thing keeping [your mother] with a roof over her head and food on the table.” Because you should also be there for her. After all, she could have arranged for the State to take over your care and feeding, too.

  44. #44 |  albatross | 

    The Minneapolis story is seriously creepy, because of the two implications I drew from the story:

    a. No reported crime statistics from them other than maybe murder are reliable, since they were actively trying not to get involved in this one.

    b. If the cops won’t protect you in some area, there’s an obvious answer there. The next time those guys go out at night, my guess is many of them will be carrying guns. That’s not a great societal solution, but it’s what will happen.

  45. #45 |  croaker | 

    Dead dog, dead pig. That’s the only way this will end. Lawsuits are useless, except to get paid.

    Cops weren’t interested in the gang assault, but what would have happened if one of those vets had a gun and cut loose on the ghetto thugs?

  46. #46 |  markm | 

    According to Wikipedia (and every other definition I have ever read), a “Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation.” That exactly describes Social Security. It never has invested a surplus, and will always require tax money for each check it mails out. And like all pyramid schemes, it requires ever more money paid in by new suckers to keep the outgoing payments coming.

    Do you want to quibble about “fraudulent”? While the truth about it is a matter of public record, it’s boosters have always endeavored to persuade people otherwise. They will say that you have an “account” and are “entitled” to receive payments from it in your old age – but the account is actually empty, and Congress has no legal obligation to pay anything. In the last couple of decades, they have increased the SS taxes to run a surplus and talked about a “lockbox”, but there is no lockbox.

    Those surpluses went into the general fund and were spent. That leaves IOU’s against the general fund (that is, other taxes), but no court can force the government to honor those IOU’s. Congress will probably decide to attempt to honor them, but the only way to do that is by raising taxes other than SS on those still working, many of whom will be too young to have benefited from spending that surplus. It makes no difference what you call the taxes, they are still taxes on young adults to keep the money flowing to the elderly. So the only difference from a typical (that is, privately run) Ponzi scheme is that, rather than collapse immediately when the supply of fresh suckers gets low, it can coerce people into joining and staying in, and into paying ever more in – that is, until either they throw the politicians out (which will be difficult unless old people are somehow prevented from voting – say, if they die suddenly), or the taxpayers shift their activities to things that are either non-taxable or easy to hide. Then the system collapses, much harder than any private scheme ever did.

  47. #47 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Cops weren’t interested in the gang assault, but what would have happened if one of those vets had a gun and cut loose on the ghetto thugs?

    I was thinking one of the people should have called 911 back and said, “Yeah, about that assault, don’t worry they came back and this time I managed to shoot and kill one, the rest ran off. So, problem solved…well unless you guys want to clean up the body.”

    I bet the cops would be there quite quick.

  48. #48 |  Charlie O | 

    Gee Bill,

    My mom doesn’t want to live with me or my sister. She wants to be on her own. Right where she is at.

    Andrew,

    401K didn’t exist when my mother worked. My father was in the US NAVY. No 401K’s there either. I love how people like you have all these great solutions without having a clue about the facts.

  49. #49 |  2nd of 3 | 

    @40 – so far my google-fu has found mixed info. Pre-SSN sounds pretty bad to me, but some of the info claims it wasn’t so bad. Going purely by the stories my grandparents and grand in-laws told me of the 20′s and 30s, it was pretty horrible.

  50. #50 |  John C. Randolph | 

    The SS does lie, but that’s beside the point. When you can put a gun to someone’s head and force them to pay into your ponzi scheme, you don’t even need to lie about it.

    As for lying, I’m not at all surprised the Krugman is frantically backpedalling from one rare instance of him actually telling the truth.

    -jcr

  51. #51 |  albatross | 

    2nd:

    One nitpick is that the US was an enormously poorer society then than it is now, so it’s a bit harder to compare. As a current-world contrast, it sucks being poor here, but I’m pretty sure it’s preferable to being poor in, say, India or Haiti.

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