Friday Morning Open Thread

I wish President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner would take these words from FDR to heart:

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach. We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer.

This is an Open Thread.

< 651K Jobs Lost In Feb; Unemployment Rate Hits 8.1%, Highest In 25 Years | Why Today Is Like 1932, Not 1982 >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Worst part is (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by ruffian on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 08:52:59 AM EST
    they think they are being bold.

    I don't think so (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Faust on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:07:44 AM EST
    If that David Brooks stuff that BTD posted below is true, they don't view themselves as bold and experimental but as pragmatic.

    I think things are just going to have to get worse before they get better. Right now things are still "good" enough that the old worldviews are still hanging on. Apparently we are going to have to hit a full blown depression before we actually bother to shift gears and dump Reagan.

    Nothing I see makes me think the elite are taking this seriously enough...they are doubling down on Reaganism.


    Hard to tell (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by ruffian on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:15:02 AM EST
    If I thought I was being bold, and a feeble minded simp like David Brooks got alarmed, I would try to talk him off the ledge too, if I made the mistake of caring what he thought.

    Geithner's busy (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 08:58:38 AM EST
    Trying to do all the work without top staff in place yet, since two top picks dropped out.  He doesn't have time to be bold - he's putting out the small fires first.

    Still ahead of previous admins in placing people (none / 0) (#89)
    by jawbone on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:17:13 PM EST
    in Treasury jobs. However, it is a very hot seat right now...understatment!

    From the link, bottom of Page 1:

    Administration sources noted that the Treasury Department has filled more of its political appointees -- at least 50 -- than any other department and is well ahead of previous administrations.

    the basic problem BTD, (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by cpinva on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:27:19 AM EST
    is that FDR had principles that he truly believed in, pres. obama has never articulated any concrete set, ever. a belief in "change" doesn't count. every candidate believes in "change", otherwise, they wouldn't be running for office.

    add to that a seeming unwillingness to use the bully pulpit (FDR's cousin Teddy's concept), the lack of courage to confront the republicans, and i fear we have a prescription for disaster in the making.

    someone needs to tell pres. obama, "hey, you gave the whole bipartisan thing a decent shot. it didn't work. time to just run roughshod over the republicans, and do what needs to be done."

    Hmm or maybe not (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:50:43 AM EST
    How about the budget that Krugman thought was great.  Those aren't concrete ideas of change???

    you're wrong on that. (none / 0) (#118)
    by cpinva on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:54:44 PM EST
    How about the budget that Krugman thought was great.

    dr. krugman didn't think it was great, he thought it was an adequate start. he's stated that multiple times, in multiple venues.

    he's also stated his concern (since borne out) that the obama administration will not go far enough, giving heed to the voices of "fiscal conservatism", with respect to budget deficits (much as FDR did in his second term), stalling the recovery.

    unfortunately, by the time the republican vandals finish sacking the budget, it will be dead in the water. but, obama will have achieved his much desired "bipartisanship", which, along with a buck, will get him a small coffee at mcd's.


    Obviously you didn't get to the end of the (none / 0) (#130)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 05:03:34 PM EST

    Is it just me (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:28:19 AM EST
    or does Bernie Madoff look like George Washington?

    I was sort of taken... (none / 0) (#32)
    by desertswine on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:38:21 AM EST
    Sacrilege! (none / 0) (#35)
    by sj on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:39:30 AM EST
    quite the contrast (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:40:29 AM EST
    which is why it creeps me out so much.

    Looks like a plea deal... (none / 0) (#67)
    by desertswine on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:20:36 PM EST
    His Wife's $$ (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:40:39 PM EST
    I bet that letting Ruth Madoff keep her $62 mil, will be part of the deal..

    Good luck (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by Steve M on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:45:11 PM EST
    No plea deal can immunize that money from civil suits.  She may be able to argue that it's separate property... but she'll spend an awful lot of money making that argument, given the number of claimants looking for a piece.

    Doesn't the federal court (none / 0) (#78)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:48:23 PM EST
    recognize an "injured spouse"?  (Keeping in mind that I'm not saying she IS an "injured spouse")

    i think the correct term is (none / 0) (#120)
    by cpinva on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:06:31 PM EST
    Doesn't the federal court
    recognize an "injured spouse"?

    "innocent spouse". that would be an affirmative defense, raised by the spouse, as protection against liability for the other spouse's (presumably) wrongful acts.

    however, there is a catch: the spouse making that claim must not only prove actual ignorance of the wrongful acts of their spouse, but that they did not benefit by those acts.

    that's where most of them fail; they're not able to show that they didn't benefit (usually financially) from those acts.

    at least, that's what i deal with.


    Enron's Executive (none / 0) (#88)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:16:53 PM EST
    was at risk of losing his fortune (the one that was owed to the thousands who lost their money in the Enron scam) when he died and everything just ended there. His wife got to keep all. I was always surprised at how little news coverage that got.

    We'll See (none / 0) (#69)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:23:36 PM EST
    Wonder what he is selling now? Will it be worth a living life sentence confined to his penthouse.

    Heard Diane Feinstein yesterday... (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Dadler on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:34:48 AM EST
    ...interviewed about the California governor's office she may seek.  Her quote was telling: "I've always wanted to be governor.  I've always like the idea of being able to tell people 'just do it'."

    Now that is certainly a democratic reason to run for higher office.  I really want to be leader so I can tell people to shut up and get my slippers.


    Actually, I think (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by dk on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:43:16 AM EST
    the idiot would be a person who uses that short quote as a reason to oppose Diane Feinstein.  Opposing her based on her policies, her voting record, etc. is one thing (and I certainly have disagreed with her many times over the years), but the fact of the matter is that our system of government relies on the fact that we elect representatives (particularly in the executive branch) to make decisions and, you know, lead.

    And what is with the snark about the slippers?  Did she talk about slippers?  Or did the idea just come to you because she is a woman and/or old?


    Huh (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:21:48 AM EST
    Get my slippers is gender and age neutral, although mostly uttered by men to their underlings or dog.

    The bright side of Feinstein becoming CA gov it that we get her out of the Senate.


    Of all the reasons to (none / 0) (#54)
    by dk on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:39:50 AM EST
    criticize DiFi, that quote seems one of the dumbest, that's all.  I was just curious whether there were other reasons behind that other than sheer intellectual laziness.

    Really? (none / 0) (#57)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:47:51 AM EST
    The quote seems to capture Feinstein's mentality to a tee, imo.  

    What, that a chief executive (none / 0) (#76)
    by dk on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:44:22 PM EST
    tells people what to do?  I guess I don't see how that in and of itself says anything about anything.

    OK (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:52:00 PM EST
    You must be a fan. Personally I think she should leave the Senate.

    <sigh> why does it mean (5.00 / 0) (#82)
    by dk on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:59:47 PM EST
    I am a fan?  Perhaps you read what I was initially commenting on.  I just think that the particular quote is a stupid way of criticizing her.  The quote is utterly generic; if you want to criticize her, criticize her actual policies.  

    Yes (none / 0) (#86)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:09:42 PM EST
    We have done plenty of that. This falls more in the line of news, and makes her look like the power hungry self serving pol that she is.

    YMMV I guess. (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by dk on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:14:54 PM EST
    In my opinion the quote is pretty weak tea.

    Personally (none / 0) (#109)
    by eric on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:09:50 PM EST
    if I were governor, I would say, "Make it so."

    No, No (none / 0) (#112)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:28:21 PM EST
    You have to say it like like Ramses from "The Ten Commandments"?

    So let it be written, so let it be done.

    More Like (none / 0) (#125)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:28:00 PM EST
    Captan Picard from Star Trek

    Gawd knows Arnold has tried this. (none / 0) (#121)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:15:41 PM EST
    My Fair Lady reference (5.00 / 3) (#55)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:40:12 AM EST
    Eliza Doolittle: Here are your slippers! There...
    [throws a slipper at Higgins]
    Eliza Doolittle: And there!
    [throws the other one]
    Eliza Doolittle: Take your slippers, and may you NEVER have a day's luck with them!

    I actually like that leadership style (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:48:28 AM EST
    When I have it in a boss, I find myself doing things outside my comfort zone and being challenged to do better.

    surely this speaks (none / 0) (#107)
    by Howard Zinn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:54:17 PM EST
    to her frustration with serving in the senate, where everything is accomplished via influence peddling and quid pro quo.  

    sure, it also shows her belief that her ideas are right and should be enforced.  if the people of CA believe that, then they should elect her.  if not, they shouldn't.

    this quote is clumsy and ill-prepared, but at least she's speaking her mind.  it is democratic though -- it's an executive office, after all -- she'd still have to work with the legislature.


    I can't believe... (none / 0) (#136)
    by Dadler on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 12:36:11 PM EST
    ...my little post about a little quote that I found to be absurdly indicative of her leadership mentality made such waves.  IMO, and I don't think this is illogical, "just do it" is how you might possibly run a private business, not a public entity like a state.  

    It takes no amount of smarts and humility to say she likes the idea of being governor because she wants to serve the people and the state, and "get done" what is best for them.  I think it's great she's speaking her mind, too.  I just have a entirely different opinion as to what these words say about her personality, motives, dysfunctions.  After all, this is a woman who profited enough, through her husband's company and her shady steering of business to it through her Senate office, to buy a huge mansion in Pacific Heights.  She is a war profiteer, for heaven's sake, and it's public knowledge.

    So, yes, I know more about her than this quote.  But I think this quote says something about her, something entirely separate from policies or votes.  Precisely BECAUSE it is not one of those, but merely a slip of the tongue.

    You the real H. Zinn, btw?  


    No way (none / 0) (#137)
    by jondee on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 12:45:32 PM EST
    No how.

    It's Friday (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by CST on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:54:11 AM EST
    And my company keeps getting smaller.  I am still here but I wonder how long.

    Got Queen on my mind today.

    Good luck... (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:02:22 PM EST
    CST...you're sharp as a tack, no matter what happens you'll land on your feet...cream always rises to the top.  If my sharp as a bowling ball arse can get by, you're golden:)

    "We are the champions my friend, and we'll keep on fighting till the end."


    dammit dog stop mixing your metaphors! (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by DFLer on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:25:37 PM EST
    i'm getting dizzy!

    If I could speak in figures of speech... (none / 0) (#95)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:31:15 PM EST
    all day I would...I never fail to get a kick out of our figures of speech...there is an expression for everything!

    "Sharp as a bowling ball" is one of my alltime favs...


    sharp, cream, feet....yikes! (none / 0) (#96)
    by DFLer on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:39:03 PM EST
    you're sharp as a tack, no matter what happens you'll land on your feet...cream always rises to the top.

    Here's one for you that I made up and, of course, think extremely clever :o> Go ahead and use..

    I avoid clichés like the plague!


    I'll add it... (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:41:55 PM EST
    to my bag of tricks:)...thanks DFL.

    Thanks (5.00 / 2) (#100)
    by CST on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:08:27 PM EST
    I'll be fine, right now I'm more worried about the others.  I'll probably be employed until the day the doors shut.  Which unfortunately may not be that long.

    P.S. - saw this and thought of you.


    Pretty cool... (none / 0) (#101)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:14:50 PM EST
    and smart marketing...now that's what I call a bank!  

    Let's see some 3-piece snake get his slimy paws on that hard-earned cash...he/she would have to break in like an honest thief:)


    Greenwald on media (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:32:15 AM EST
    permitting White House spokespersons to so so without attribution, justification, etc.:


    FAB-U-LOUS read! (none / 0) (#53)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:39:17 AM EST
    As a subscriber to NYT, (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:48:12 AM EST
    I look forward to the Public Editor's response.

    Relevant lesson for the banking bailouts (5.00 / 2) (#99)
    by BobTinKY on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:59:59 PM EST
     Like Geithner et al I got degrees and professional experience. Forget all that.

    Here's the applicable lesson I learned courtesy of the American Red Cross water safety training I took many years ago to become a lifeguard.  

    Never let a drowning victim direct his own rescue.  Both victim and rescuer will surely perish.

    Wall Street is drowning and if Wall Streeters like Geithner & co. direct this rescue they WILL pull down all of us with them. The Wall Streeters are grabbing at anything to keep their own heads above water.  

    A successful rescue will need to be conducted by folks outside of Wall Street who understand that the most critical aspect of completing the mission is to maintain the distance necessary to insure their own safety and continued ability to rescue the drowning party.

    I would think if everyone just stopped where (none / 0) (#105)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:36:19 PM EST
    they are and the country was to roll back the value and price of everything 40% (that's housing, rents, food, utilities, cars, gas, etc., but only adjusted pay levels for those job titles that unrealistically exploded over the past 15 years to a 20% rollback, and those that didn't grow more than 20% leave as is, everything would be just fine. Thriving, actually.

    The money isn't real, anyway.


    Obama's (none / 0) (#2)
    by SOS on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 08:58:36 AM EST
    smart enough to know that everything they've proposed so far has not worked in restoring confidence and will not work. As evidenced by last Friday when traders pounded the bank stocks lower after the release of more details of Geithner "Bank Rescue" Plan.

    Don't look to traders (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by Steve M on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:05:10 AM EST
    All the traders care about is making money in the short term.  If Obama announced that we are going to cut blank checks to the banks for as much money as they want, the bank stocks would soar, but does that mean it's good policy?

    Bank stocks go up in the current environment when people expect a government bailout of the stockholders.  Bank stocks go down when people think bold action like nationalization is more likely.  The Dow is not a referendum on good policy.


    Damn right BTD and FDR.... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:02:46 AM EST
    Try Something!!!

    Suspend income tax witholding for 2 months, let everybody keep their gross less SS & Medicaid, catch up on their bills, pay back their banks, spend some dough, stimulate the economy.  

    If it doesn't appear to be working, turn the juice back on after the two months...it appears giving the banks checks with mucho zeros isn't working, lets try Joe and Jane Blow.

    Stimulus 101 (none / 0) (#48)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:17:18 AM EST
    One more time: Giving the banks or loaning the banks money is not intended, was never intended, will not stimulate the economy.  The purpose of giving the banks money is to keep the financial system from collapsing altogether.

    Please, please, please try to keep the basic difference between the financial system, the stock market and the economy in mind.  They are interrelated and interdependent, but they are not the same.

    Look up what happened when Lehman was allowed to fail and you will get a sense of why letting any of these really big banks go under would be a literal catastrophe.


    I'm with Jefferson.... (none / 0) (#56)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:46:27 AM EST
    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies

    I'm ready, err I've been ready, to imagine a society without them.  

    I know, I know...I'm a rube, uneducated, and I don't "get it".  

    Tell you the truth I don't wanna get it because the more I hear the more sick to my stomach I get.  I'll keep paying my vig to those that "get it"...no worries.


    On being bold (none / 0) (#6)
    by Faust on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:11:58 AM EST

    Fiscal policy in the US and China has also its limits. Of the $800 billion of the US fiscal stimulus only $200 bn will be spent in 2009 with most of it being back-loaded to 2010 and later. And of this $200 half is tax cuts that will be mostly saved rather than spent as households are worried about jobs and about paying their credit card and mortgage bills (of last year's $100 bn tax cut only 30% was spent and the rest saved). Thus, given the collapse of five out of six components of aggregate demand (consumption, residential investment, capex spending of the corporate sector, business inventories and exports) the stimulus from government spending will be puny this year.

    A report reveals (none / 0) (#7)
    by SOS on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:12:24 AM EST
    that about 7% of American taxpayers - 3.8 million - fall into the bracket of making money in excess of $200,000. Their tax burden translates into 62% of all federal taxes received. Under the Obama tax plan, a good number of deductions are slated for phase out, while other sources of making money, such as capital gains and also dividend rates, would be taxed at a higher rate.

    One financial attorney unabashedly states that at this point the biggest goal is to get the reportable income below $249,999.00.

    So who really needs empowerment here? The 3.8 million who already have every resource imaginable to come out ahead?

    What kind of financial attorney (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Steve M on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:02:26 AM EST
    doesn't understand the concept of a marginal tax rate?

    Sounds like the kind of genius advice (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by ruffian on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:17:41 AM EST
    I hear bandied about my office after the dittoheads get their daily dose of Rush.

    Has anyone done the math to see what incomes (none / 0) (#44)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:59:05 AM EST
    Would actually lose money.  That is, if you make 251,000 dollars a year this would be bad.   But assuming these tax increases go to the right programs, decreasing true costs of health care, decreasing energy expenditures and growing the economy, what salary would be equal to 250,000 dollars under today's tax system?  

    It would be a higher rate on the last $1000, not a (none / 0) (#92)
    by jawbone on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:23:25 PM EST
    higher rate on the person's entire income.

    But it's a good Repub talking point.


    They have no intention (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:16:18 AM EST
    the stress tests for the banks assumes a 10.3% unemployment which tells me that they are going to let it cycle through. They will only do another stimulus if it spirals worse than their analysis, perhaps come June as May is a 5 cycle pay period.  They have ceded 9% this year.

    Political Capital (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:23:36 AM EST
    The administration is not building any political capital by not being bold.  Assuming they have ceded 9% UE this year they have to understand that hope has a short shelf life when job creation is close to frozen.  

    Had they asked for 1.5 trillion and got turned down they would have some capital in the form of "i told you so" as it stands, the stimulus will likely have neglible impact and the republicans will say "you should have used our plan".  A slam dunk distraction for the 2010 elections.....

    They are over reliant on the job creation potential of overhauling healthcare.


    Stocks down over fifty-percent. (none / 0) (#9)
    by SOS on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:19:35 AM EST
    McMansions pushing the thirty-percent down number

    Automobile sales off almost fifty percent (and prices to follow)

    Corporations going bankrupt left-and-right

    ...so at least we can get some picture of the scroomage.

    If you're on skid row... (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:26:09 AM EST
    its the same as it ever was.

    If you live check to check, and you still have a job, its the same as it ever was.

    Same as it ever was, same as it ever was....unless you were under the illusion you were in the club.


    Except for... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by EL seattle on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:01:59 AM EST
    ... the collapse of a lot of 401K accounts.  There are plenty of normal paycheck-to-paycheck working folks who've been kind of counting on those accounts to supplement their SS.  And the sort of long-term recovery that will be needed for those 401K stocks doesn't seem to be happening yet.

    A lot of folks are still waiting for a sign that their 401K accounts will be starting to at least hold, and not continue to lose their value.

    Still waiting.... still waiting...


    Counting on a 401k... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:19:50 AM EST
    is like counting on pocket Aces to hold up through the river...ya can't count on it....it's f*ckin' gambling.  

    One of the great con-jobs of the 20th century was the haves convincing the have-nots that a 401k was a sure thing.  


    pocket rockets (none / 0) (#25)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:25:50 AM EST
    most overrated hand.

    I'll still take 'em everytime... (none / 0) (#31)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:35:09 AM EST

    In poker, just like life, all you can do is put yourself in the best position to win...then it is up to the gods of fate.  Aka dumb luck.


    there's always some elephant at the table (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:39:04 AM EST
    playing to the river, no matter how much you try to chase him away.  

    We are all holding two-seven with a short stack watching the flop right now.


    Yeah.... (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:54:17 AM EST
    and when he cracks your hand you wanna get your elephant gun:)...but in the long run thats exactly the guy you wanna play.

    Plenty of people in the Haves column (none / 0) (#29)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:34:12 AM EST
    contributed gleefully to this scam, as well. They thought their huge paychecks were just the pocket change to the windfalls those 401Ks were going to bring them come retirement.

    But, I agree completely with you on the money in these accounts...the only REAL money that existed was the person's own contributions. Anyone who has at least that much left in their account didn't lose anything real.

    There are probably millions of people who wish they had closed their accounts, paid the taxes and penalties by withdrawing early...before the market took this great dive. They probably would have gotten more of a return if they had.


    Sad Thing Is... (none / 0) (#47)
    by gtesta on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:13:26 AM EST
    even our own contributions came with a price.  A lot of people might not even realize that that great "pre-tax" pitch included not paying social security taxes to yourself and getting that company SS match for yourself too.
    So people who were contributing more and more to their 401k's, goaded on by company matching policies (100% match for the fisrt 3%, then 50% for the next 3% then maybe 25%, etc.), were doubly hurting themselves.
    I mean there was definitely a break point where an individuals risk became greater than the potential rewards.
    I usually limited my 401k contributions to whatever level a company was willing to do a 100% match on, but no more.

    gtesta, you do pay social security taxes (none / 0) (#68)
    by Teresa on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:23:34 PM EST
    on your 401k contributions. You may be thinking about health/flex plans?

    I honestly didn't know that. (none / 0) (#85)
    by gtesta on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:03:42 PM EST
    If SS is on gross income and the employer splits the cost with the employee, then what is the financial incentive for an employer to offer matching contributions to get employees into a 401k.  Is it just to reduce or eliminate defined benefit "traditonal pensions"?

    I guess. I haven't ever worked where (5.00 / 2) (#98)
    by Teresa on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:46:00 PM EST
    there was a traditional pension so I don't know the difference to the company. I know at my old job, they put it off as long as they could but they had to do it to compete with other employers.

    Remember the good old days when employers had to compete for us??


    How many of those folks (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:20:16 AM EST
    who have their 401K contributions taken from their regular paychecks have taken their contributions down to the bare minimum? Would you continue to throw money into that pot in today's economy?

    Employer match, or not, you wouldn't find me continuing to feed this monster.


    Coworkers used to look at me funny (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by ruffian on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:38:36 AM EST
    back in the early 2000's when I told them that even though I contributed to the 401k, I only figured I had at best a 50-50 shot at having it still be there when I retired. I thought I was exaggerating out of my distrust of the Bushies. turns out I was right. I still put in - it does at least shield that money from taxes, and in this market I am buying low. I'm betting that in 15 years it will be better.

    yea (none / 0) (#59)
    by CST on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:01:25 PM EST
    I am lucky, since I didn't have much of a 401k before the crash.  I sure haven't stopped contributing though.  Not now when everything is so cheap.  I can't imagine that by the time I retire the market will be anything close to this bad.  Then again, I have the luxury of time.

    However, I sure won't rely solely on that.  Not after seeing what happened to my parents.  And they were lucky, they got out early and on a good day.  So they only lost ~25% instead of 50 or 60.


    So You Would Turn Down More Pay? (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:11:58 AM EST
    That's what the employer match is.  The 401K was intended to be a carrot and a stick  to get people to save for retirement.   People who are set to retire in a short period of time, should not have had their investments heavily weighted towards equity.  Properly invested, they would have seen losses but not quite as bad as the equity markets.  People with longer investment horizons have seen paper losses but within 10-20 years the markets hopefully will come back.  And if you continue to invest now you will be buying low.

     Not all 401ks are created equal.  Some have very restrictive investment options and might not be good.  But those with a good variety of investment options allow employees to diversify between stocks and bonds.  And a well-structured plan provides tools for employees to figure out their best diversification options.    

    Right now every type of savings is subject to risk.  So what do you recommend?  Not saving?  Putting your money into cash (which is subject to inflationary risk)?  Durable goods (depreciation risk).  Real estate (depreciation risk and loss of value).


    Not save for retirement... (none / 0) (#52)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:35:03 AM EST
    gamble on retirement.

    Sorry but I don't understand your ... (none / 0) (#61)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:02:48 PM EST

    Simply that... (none / 0) (#62)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:05:24 PM EST
    a 401k account is not a savings account, it's a gaming account.  You could end up with more, the same amount, a lesser amount, or lose it all.  That's gambling.

    Well, living is a gamble also. (none / 0) (#73)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:37:27 PM EST
    Life is not risk free.

    Exactly my point... (none / 0) (#84)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:02:21 PM EST
    A lot of people don't seem to get it.

    You even forgot in your original comment, calling a 401k a savings.


    Sorry but any kind of savings is also a ... (none / 0) (#111)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:27:51 PM EST
    gamble.  (I prefer to use the term 'at risk" because "gamble" has a pejorative connotation).

    To clarify:  401ks have a deferred compensation and a savings component.  The employer match is treated as tax-deferred compensation, which means that you still get taxed on the employer match but not until you withdraw it.  The concept is that when you withdraw it, your income will be reduced (because of retirement) and so taxed at a lower rate.  The savings part is taxed on withdrawal but at the lower capital gains rate.  If you frustrate the purpose of the 401k by taking money out prior to 59 1/2 (except for hardship cases) you get penalized.  Used properly and invested wisely, it is not a bad savings vehicle, especially with the employer match.    


    True, even savings is a gamble (none / 0) (#117)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:50:39 PM EST
    But I''ll take my chances with thieves getting to it, or termites getting to it, before I'll take my chances with the Wall St. crew.

    Shrug (5.00 / 1) (#129)
    by Steve M on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:54:00 PM EST
    Inflation can also get to it, and it's caused by the same sort of market factors that can cause your investments to disappear.  Imagine if you had a small fortune during the Depression - like $100 - and you were smart enough to stick it in a mattress.  Well, somehow, it's still worth $100, but a lot of the purchasing power seems to have dwindled away.

    If you're the sort of person who sees even T-bills as a gamble to some extent, then I gotta tell you cash is no bargain either.  The only scenario under which T-bills are valueless is if the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government disappears, and if that happens there won't be a lot of people clamoring for your dollar bills.


    Ya got me there... (none / 0) (#132)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 07:19:48 PM EST
    unless the barter system that replaces the full faith assigns it some value, cash is worthless aside from its uses as paper.

    Though there could be a small window where no one touched T-bills and cash still had some value on the street.

    Inflation is an issue...thats why I need Haynesfield to hit tomorrow and take it all the way home through the Derby!


    How do we get this message... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:31:48 AM EST
    through everybodies thick indoctrinated skull Inspector?

    We been had...now what do we do?  I wish I knew...but I'm fairly confident the answer is within ourselves, our households, our communities...not in DC.  I hope we find it.


    Anything that locks up a person's own money (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:44:22 AM EST
    with the threat of taxes and penalties for early withdrawal is a scam for the wealthy. Nothing has ever prevented people from making their own direct investments.

    I chuckled at a comment Donald Trump made during some promotional interview he did on tv. He said Bernie Madoff had asked him to invest with him. Trump replied that he could lose his own money without Madoff's help. THAT'S the mindset that would keep people away from 401K's.

    Pay the tax rate you know (rather than wait for the rate that may be in place when you retire), and save your money where you won't be penalized for withdrawing in the case of an emergency.

    Personally, I believe that the timing of all this, and the people who were leading the charge take away the element of surprise that this happened now. Very interesting that the S&L mess was under the first bush, and the banking mess came under the second bush.


    Re: Timing (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:05:46 PM EST
    No secret about timing - Reagan ushered in the era of "Government is Bad, regulation is bad".  The S & L crisis happened during Bush I because Bush adhered to that philosophy.  And his son pushed it to the extreme.

    Employers (none / 0) (#45)
    by Spamlet on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:10:28 AM EST
    routinely offer no pensions, and only a Hobson's choice about which scam to "invest" in. If you decline to make such a choice, your employer makes it for you. Either way, your hard-earned money is expropriated and given to Wall Street. That's the way it worked at my last job for anyone over 50.

    But when the market meltdown began, plenty of people who should know better started characterizing ordinary schmoes, folks coerced into owning 401ks, as villains on the order of nineteenth-century robber barons.


    I have known of 1 (none / 0) (#72)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:37:22 PM EST
    company in my part of the country to still have any offering at all of a pension. Premera BlueCross still gives it to their employees - it's not an either/or, and they offer a 401K with match to those who want to participate.

    Doesn't mean there aren't others, but at least 90% of the employers here have no pension offering at all.


    Sure but do you get the employer match with... (none / 0) (#113)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:29:12 PM EST
    direct investment?

    Ask the tens of thousands of people who are (none / 0) (#122)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:20:24 PM EST
    turning 65 this year and having to forget retiring whether or not they GOT the employer match after this crumbling of the market. That is only higher pay if the plan governing it is not subjected to the freefall of the economy.

    Inspector..... (none / 0) (#126)
    by vml68 on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:38:59 PM EST
    not to rub salt in an open wound but the people who were close to retirement should have moved most of their 401K money from high risk equities to more conservative options a few years ago. But many people got caught up in the market bubble just like others did in the housing bubble.

    Question for you... (none / 0) (#127)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:40:02 PM EST
    Would they be in better, worse, or the same shape, if they didn't have 401ks with an employer match?

    Don't get me wrong - 401ks are not right (or wrong) for everyone.  There are disadvantages and advantages.  And not all 401ks are structured the same way.  Some have limited investment choices.  Some have good choices.

    And investing in the market is not right (or wrong) for everyone.  A lot depends on time horizons.  Yes there is a downside risk.  And the risk becomes greater when there is a lack of transparency.  But there is a risk with other types of savings as well.      


    We must ask those who believe 401K is REAL (none / 0) (#104)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:28:12 PM EST
    money, where that money is now. The people who have 401K accounts don't have it. The banks don't have it. The corporations you bought stock in don't have it. The retail merchants don't have it. So who has it? And, if the answer is no one, where did it go? How real is that money?

    I disagree with part of this (none / 0) (#134)
    by Amiss on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:04:28 PM EST
    its the same as it ever was.
    If you live check to check, and you still have a job, its the same as it ever was.

    If, when this all started months back, you were living check to check, I doubt seriously that that still applies. I think that you are pretty much going in the hole each check now rather than being able to make that check stretch til the next paycheck. YMMV tho.


    Only if they own property or stocks (none / 0) (#135)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Mar 07, 2009 at 08:23:01 AM EST
    otherwise, it's quite possible.

    There has to be some (none / 0) (#12)
    by SOS on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:28:50 AM EST
    kind of confidence game we can jump start here isn't there?

    Quotes from the era (none / 0) (#13)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:53:49 AM EST
    Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury Secretary:

    We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong . . . somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. . . . I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot.

    Bold is good.  Counterproductive is bad.  Mistaking one for the other can lead to painful results.  You may remember that part of bold back then was to burn food while people went hungry.  A replay of that hubris is not needed.

    Morganthau was proven wrong (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 09:58:56 AM EST
    He was a terrible Treasury Secretary.

    He caused the 1937 recession.


    Morgenthau (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by lobary on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:54:32 AM EST
    This Morgenthau quote has been dug up by revisionists in an attempt to discredit the success of FDR's policies. That quote isn't as authoritative as many believe it to be because Morgenthau was not a Keynesian and was opposed to FDR's spending policies. He wanted FDR to balance the budget and put an end to a good chunk of New Deal spending programs because by 1936-37 the economy had stabilized and unemployment dropped enough that many economists thought the worst was over. Morgenthau then pushed for a balanced budget, which the Keynesians in FDR's inner circle cautioned against. Ultimately the Keynesians won out, but not completely. FDR took Morgenthau's advice to heart and cut back on gov't spending, which resulted in an abrupt economic contraction and a depression within the depression. Morgenthau attributed that contraction to the spending when in actuality it was the spending cuts that triggered it. In response to the new crisis, FDR reversed course and by the end of 1938 the economy had gained half of what it had lost in the aftermath of the spending cuts and employment had increased by 2 million, factory payrolls increased 26 percent, and steel production was up 127 percent.

    BTD, Krugman and (none / 0) (#103)
    by Slado on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:27:04 PM EST
    anyone who thinks spending will work are wrong.



    Or more accurately (none / 0) (#133)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 08:25:27 PM EST

    spending alone.

    What are those bold things (none / 0) (#18)
    by Saul on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:11:38 AM EST
    that Obama could do right now?  Is there a laundry list of items that are options right now that Obama has not looked at or has failed to implement?

    Is there a link?

    Could this be the problem? (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:21:08 AM EST
    Part of it, I'm sure... (none / 0) (#64)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:10:10 PM EST
    I'd throw in MBA programs as well as economics, though.

    The accepted wisdom was that triple A ratings were good as money in the bank and credit default swaps from Triple A rated companies like AIG eliminated the risk.  No one dared to ask tough questions about solvency assumptions.


    Ah..........the golden MBA (none / 0) (#94)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:27:02 PM EST
    Hospitality, Airlines, CRE, Autos, oh my (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 10:24:15 AM EST
    Wal-Mart sales up month to month tells me that a great deal of folks are buying groceries at Wal-Mart.  People are eating out far less, travelling when necessary and replacing cars as opposed to adding.  Small and big biz are starting to fold and will accelerate quickly in the next 3 months creating a greater strain on CRE than just their retail issues.  GM will likely go bankrupt and autos are going to shed jobs close to double digit percentages.

    It takes about 3 months of stalled spending in these industries to create new crises and the wheels are in motion.  I am sticking with my October crash.

    We needed a jobs program last year and much higher commitment in the stimulus.  

    I have not heard any economist say that we could begin recovery in the second half of this year and Bernanke saying it confounds me.  

    I cannot believe they can sit back and watch us move to 1982 levels with such stark differences in the economics.  

    Maybe I am most frustrated because I am not smart enough to understand their long term strategy but I am perplexed.

    I think you're plenty smart enough J.... (none / 0) (#66)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:14:33 PM EST
    I don't think there is a long-term strategy....we're just trying to squeeze a few more eggs out of the golden goose before it drops dead.

    then let's you and I kidnap that goose (5.00 / 2) (#71)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:27:45 PM EST
    I'm in... (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:56:33 PM EST
    but I ain't pickin' up a pitchfork without at least 998,000 more my brother...no cages for me, and the powers that be ain't letting loose of that goose without a fight.

    Gibbs Interview for The Hill (none / 0) (#50)
    by samsguy18 on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 11:24:03 AM EST
     Sam Youngman's interview with Gibbs for The Hill is revealing. The fact Obama and his administration find the Santelli,Cramer and Limbaugh discourse fun and amusing indicates immaturity and absolute arrogance. Americans are losing their Homes, Life Savings, Retirement funds........ OMG... I may not understand economics however I know when I'm being manipulated

    Not amusing but frightening that ... (none / 0) (#65)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:12:21 PM EST
    people take Santelli, Cramer and Limbaugh seriously.

    In all fairness (none / 0) (#70)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:27:10 PM EST
    We take politicians seriously too....

    Politicians Have their Own Agendas and... (none / 0) (#74)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:39:58 PM EST
    sometimes their agendas coincide with our own agendas.

    SC dismisses appeal by accused enemy combatant (none / 0) (#79)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 12:49:59 PM EST

    The Supreme Court has granted the Obama administration's request to dismiss the pending appeal of an accused enemy combatant held on U.S. soil.

    The decision "to dismiss the appeal as moot" came in a brief order from the nine justices issued Friday.

    Ali al-Marri has been held in military custody since 2003, and was challenging the president's unilateral authority to detain him indefinitely and without charges. The court's order is a defeat for him on the larger constitutional issue.

    But the Qatari man was indicted last week on federal conspiracy charges and President Barack Obama wanted him transferred to civilian custody immediately, and to have the pending high court case thrown out.

    No explanation was given by the high court, which had the option of going ahead with oral arguments as scheduled in late April.

    The ruling means the larger constitutional issue of the president's power to detain accused terrorists and other criminals in the United States will remain unresolved.

    The justices also approved the transfer of al-Marri's custody from military to civilian custody. There was no immediate indication when that transfer would occur.

    Not Surprised (5.00 / 1) (#128)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:44:12 PM EST
    You forgot this part, you know that one that matters:

    The Supreme Court today vacated a lower court's decision that said the president has the right to indefinitely detain a legal resident of the country without charging him with a crime.

    We deserve better not hidden agendas (none / 0) (#83)
    by samsguy18 on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:00:38 PM EST
    Many people in this country voted for Obama expecting life to improve......instead his hidden agenda is wreaking havoc on a trusting and unsuspecting public. I'm sure his 401k and college funds are secure

    Who has a secure 401k? (5.00 / 4) (#91)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:23:09 PM EST
    I want their phone number right now.  I want to know what they are in!

    555-Luddite.... (none / 0) (#106)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:45:36 PM EST
    I'm hoping to make my retirement/life savings grow with a little wager on Haynesfield in tomorrow's Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct...impressive NY bred, 4 wins in 5 starts, coming off a convinving win in the Whirlaway.  I'll waive my commission for you Tracy:)

    Got a C-note on him in the Kentucky Derby Futures Pool I at 32-1 too....let's hope he at least makes it to the Derby:)


    Just make sure... (none / 0) (#114)
    by santarita on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:30:45 PM EST
    that, if you win, you don't fall victim to a pickpocket.

    That's what front pockets... (none / 0) (#115)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:41:23 PM EST
    are for:)

    My bigger concern if I hit is to track down "IRS Harry" to cash the ticket for me, for a small fee of course.


    I'm not a big Kos reader (none / 0) (#90)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:22:05 PM EST
    Not since pie.....I just can't get that same old feeling for him again.  I did like what he had to say though today about the Rush spectacle being a circus of Wingnut creation, and that if Democrats were doing anything other than standing on the sidelines and watching, it was playing very very few of the cards that could be played in making it noticeable that the Rightwing is NUTS.

    everyone loves a parade (none / 0) (#102)
    by DXP on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 02:18:58 PM EST
    the important thing is style and substance its lost. Rush and Michael Moore can mud-wrestle while the tragic blind chorus (MSM) hoots and curses. There is not much difference in style between the "wings" and the show must go on.

    Franken loses a motion (none / 0) (#108)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:03:16 PM EST
    to dismiss

    The Minnesota Supreme Court today ruled that Al Franken was not entitled to be certified winner of the U.S. Senate election pending the outcome of a trial challenging his 225-vote recount lead.

    The court said state law says a certificate of election cannot be issued until the state courts have finally decided an election. The court also said federal law did not require states to certify senators by the time a new term begins in January. Moreover, it said the U.S. Senate could always seat Franken even without a certification.

    This was not a motion (none / 0) (#116)
    by eric on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:42:17 PM EST
    to dismiss. It was the motion to have the Election Certificate issued by the Supreme Court.  The motion to dismiss motion was brought before the three judge panel and was only argued today.

    You're right (none / 0) (#123)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:20:57 PM EST
    I read it as the two motions being the same.



    Screw You Too NY State... (none / 0) (#110)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 03:20:19 PM EST
    Just received some bad news, my moms saw her tax accountant last night, he said nobody in NY should expect to see their state tax return until August at the soonest, regardless of how or when you filed.

    Annoying but no biggie for me, that's play around money, but I know struggling families who bank on that money coming in a reasonable time frame.  Plan around it and count on it.  They're in for a shock and a long wait.

    And even worse, he said some states are just gonna stiff people all together, refunds due will not be paid....ever.

    But if you owe the state...that is still due on the 15th.  Thieving Bastards.

    Are the banks that currently own (none / 0) (#124)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:24:14 PM EST
    all these properties they have foreclosed on not paying their property taxes?

    What's the unemployment rate in NY right now? Probably not too many percentage points higher than it was a year ago, right?


    Depends What You Mean (none / 0) (#131)
    by daring grace on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 05:13:16 PM EST
    by 'too many percentage points':

    "The January rate [7%] was 2.3 percentage points higher than the state unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in January 2008, marking the biggest absolute rise in the state's jobless rate in any 12-month period on record"

    Still, the rate of unemployment in New York City and state is slower than in the country at large, but that's expected to change in the coming months.

    NY Times


    SC Turns Down Case (none / 0) (#119)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 04:01:12 PM EST
    But vacates a BushCo appeal giving the president the right to hold "enemy combatants" indefinitely.

    The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear Marri's case now that it had charged him. But his attorneys said that if the justices agreed, they should also vacate the 4th Circuit's opinion.

    "While we would have preferred a Supreme Court ruling that U.S. citizens and lawful residents detained in the U.S. cannot be held in military custody as 'enemy combatants' without charges or trial, the Supreme Court nonetheless took an important step today by vacating a lower court decision that had upheld the Bush administration's authority to designate al-Marri as an 'enemy combatant,' " said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project and lead counsel in Marri's case.