Monday Morning Open Thread

The 11 Show, starring me, today at 11. Topics for today: the austerity bomb and the Lessons of 1937, the Demography of Ideological Realignment, the new Right Wing litigants and, as they say, much much more. How to Listen

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Open Thread.

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    Great discussion right out of the gate (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:10:35 AM EST
    On what austerity buys us, more loss in demand, less taxable income and then the tax revenue that was supposed to help our debt ratios disappears.  

    Austerity = Suicide (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Dadler on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:58:36 AM EST
    That's exactly what it is.  A nation starving itself in a manner much like an individual with an eating disorder, who has no handle on WHY they have this disorder, or what it really MEANS, or HOW it really happened, and therefore is effectively powerless to stop itself from self-destruction. We aren't genuinely powerless, but right now our national psychology is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO phucked up, it's basically a coin flip. Imagination and creativity will either prevail or they won't.

    If you don't want to use Flash (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by lilburro on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:14:22 AM EST
    I highly recommend Songbird.  It's free and works well.  The audio quality is generally better than Flash, too.  

    I just cannot... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by sj on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:05:10 AM EST
    ...wait until that Natalie Khawam/Gloria Allred post drops off the front page.  Internet Explorer hates it and gives me a script error that I have to dismiss about 20 times.  Wasn't a problem while on vacation -- I just used Firefox, but that's not at option at work.

    Am I the only one having this problem?

    No, I get it too. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:49:40 AM EST
    It's the video that is causing the error script to appear.  Maybe J can disable that for us?  

    I don't know (none / 0) (#14)
    by sj on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:50:39 PM EST
    I sent her an email about it over the weekend (I don't recall exactly what day) to give her a heads up, but I also mentioned that Firefox was no problem.  Plus I figured she's entitled to a holiday weekend herself, so I didn't put any urgency in the email.  I don't think I did, anyway.

    If it's only happening (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:05:46 PM EST
    because a particular story is still on the main page, you could go to your TL "Preferences" and then "Interface" and change the number set in "Number of story summaries to show" and knock it right off the page.

    I'm on Firefox so I'm only guessing that would work.


    A solution! (none / 0) (#64)
    by sj on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:25:41 PM EST
    And a big "duh!" moment on my part.  Thanks, CG!

    I'm sorry, sj (none / 0) (#6)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:25:25 AM EST
    I use Firefox, and as per your experience, have no problem.  Nor do I have a problem with the use of Safari on my iPad.
    And why is your employer still insisting upon using only IE?  It's certainly far from the best web browser.  
    (I just tried accessing TL on Internet Explorer, though, as well as on Google Chrome, and did not have any problems on either.)

    Maybe it's the version of IE? (none / 0) (#11)
    by sj on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:17:44 PM EST
    Not only is IE the only browser permitted but the highest approved version is 8.0 and IE is up to v9 now.

    I have no clue as to why only IE.  It just is :)


    Well, although I don't use it much, (none / 0) (#13)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:48:24 PM EST
    I do have the most recent version of IE, so perhaps that's the difference.
    And as to why only IE- corporate wheels grind slowly, I guess.  

    Mozilla Firefox vs IE (none / 0) (#15)
    by DFLer on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:54:47 PM EST
    Perhaps it's because some sites require IE because they require something called an Active-X technology. Mozilla does not support Active-X

    Here's some explanation from Mozilla support:

    "ActiveX" is a technology owned by Microsoft. "ActiveX" is in Windows only (not Macintosh, Linux or any other system), to add functionality to applications.

    "ActiveX" is often used in Internet Explorer (Microsoft's web browser) to view and use multimedia content in web pages. "ActiveX" is also used by Internet Explorer itself for things that are not related to webpages, but rather to the browser (for example, the browser's interface).

    Firefox does not support "ActiveX" because:

        "ActiveX" is just available on Windows, so pages that use "ActiveX" will not work on Linux or Macintosh, which are both supported by Firefox.
        "ActiveX" is bad in terms of security, and applications that use "ActiveX" are susceptible to get your computer infected with virus or malicious software.

    Mozilla can be set it up to switch browsers to IE, when necessary, with one click of a button.


    I'd forgotten about that (none / 0) (#17)
    by sj on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 02:01:11 PM EST
    I'm sure that you're right and ActiveX is a factor.  Although, as you say, perhaps not in a good way :)

    Same issue in IE9 (none / 0) (#19)
    by vicndabx on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 03:03:10 PM EST
    There is an option to turn on/off ActiveX Filtering via the Tools menu or clicking the Ghostbusters-link icon to the right of the address bar and next to the torn page icon.  First option requires a page refresh, second option refreshes the page after answering yes to a prompt.

    Same problem here, sj... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:26:33 AM EST
    it got so annoying that I switched over to Firefox, too.

    I get the script error, too. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 03:13:43 PM EST
    But I've managed to mostly avoid it because I've got a TL RSS feed on iGoogle, which enables me to simply click on a given thread directly without having to first access the TL home page. That will all change, of course, when iGoogle gets dropped at the end of 2013 -- unless the corporate Googleistas have a change of heart.

    Same here (none / 0) (#12)
    by shoephone on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:40:21 PM EST
    I've been using Safari (which has its own annoyances).

    Dittoed (none / 0) (#16)
    by vicndabx on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 01:28:05 PM EST
    What is the real price of the (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:15:53 AM EST
    cheap goods at Walmart etc.

    DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- The fire alarm: Waved off by managers. An exit door: Locked. The fire extinguishers: Not working and apparently "meant just to impress" inspectors and customers.

    That is the picture survivors paint of the garment-factory fire Saturday that killed 112 people who were trapped inside or jumped to their deaths in desperation. For Bangladesh, where such factories commonly ignore safety as they rush to produce for retailers around the world, the tragedy was unusual only in scope: More than 200 people have died in garment-factory fires in the country since 2006.
    "Managers told us, 'Nothing happened. The fire alarm had just gone out of order. Go back to work,'" Ripu said. "But we quickly understood that there was a fire. As we again ran for the exit point we found it locked from outside, and it was too late."
    The Tuba Group is a major Bangladeshi garment exporter whose clients include Wal-Mart, Carrefour and IKEA, according to its website. Its factories export garments to the U.S., Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, among other countries.....link

    Add this price to the number of American businesses and jobs lost.

    It's not just (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:42:47 AM EST
    the real price of cheap goods at WalMart.  It's the price of all kinds of goods made in countries with no worker protections.  See the problems with the manufacture of iPhones, etc, at Foxconn in China.
    And it's not just workers in other countries.  Check out the increasing use of prison labor in the United States.  Link. Link.
    And on and on and on.  The plight of farm workers in the USA.  Link.  Link.
    Just do some internet searching, and you will be tremendously depressed.   :-(

    Sean Combs (3.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Amiss on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:11:11 PM EST
    Better known as "P. Diddy" and other "popular" designers items labels were also found in the remnants of the fire.

    I Belive There Was a Second Fire... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:53:28 AM EST
    ...in Bangladesh, almost same exact issues.  Two in the span of 3 days.

    As much as I despise Walmart, clothing is uniformly made in 3rd world countries.  I know that the white dress shirts I wear to work are made in either Bangladesh or Honduras, and I can assure you they weren't purchased at Walmart, Macy's I would imagine, GF buy's them.

    I only know this because the ones from the Honduras fit me better, same brand, same size, but impossible to know where it came from until you open the package.


    Over one hundred years after ... (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 03:02:31 PM EST
    ... the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Greenwich Village killed 146 workers (mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant women) who were working late on a Saturday afternoon in March 1911, it's pretty apparent that capitalists the world over have learned next to nothing about the importance of maintaining workplace safety.

    Sadly, it often takes otherwise avoidable tragedies and the ensuing public outcry to compel the authorities in enact, implement and enforce meaningful changes in workplace environments, regardless of wherever it occurs in the world.

    And quite often, only when those in corporate management are called to account legally and lose their personal freedom as a result -- as when owner Emmett Roe pleaded guilty to 25 counts of involuntary manslaughter after the 1991 fatal fire at the Imperial Foods Chicken plant in Hamlet, NC -- do we ever start to realize real improvements in workplace conditions.

    The tragedy in Bangladesh should serve to remind us to maintain our own vigilance over ongoing issues of workplace safety in the United States, and to continue to ask hard questions of those corporatists who choose to relocate their manufacturing operations overseas as a primary means to skirt regulatory oversight here at home.



    So.... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:16:03 PM EST
    How much bacon appears to be the proper amount for the butternut squash recipe? Half a pound?

    I have no measuring device marked "as much as you dare". That's a scary measurement to add the first time you make something.

    I suppose, if you really like bacon, that ... (none / 0) (#28)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:58:10 PM EST
    ... there's probably no such thing as too much bacon.

    Personally, I like to quarter a butternut squash into four wedges, each of which are then placed on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with some brown sugar and cinnamon, drizzled with maple syrup on top to serve as a glaze, covered with foil and baked at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Once cooked, you then pour a tablespoon of syrup over each wedge before serving.

    It's my late paternal grandmother's way of preparing it -- simple, but effective and tasty.

    I love squashes. Let us know how your squash and bacon recipe turns out.


    That sounds good, too, Donald (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:22:49 PM EST
    Another thing to do with butternut squash is to peel it, chunk it into about one or two inch pieces, then roll it into a mixture of olive oil, maple syrup (about half and half each), with a bit of Sriracha sauce, and place it on a cookie sheet and roast it in the oven until done.  Very easy, very tasty.
    And if you want to try a butternut squash pie, as oppose to a pumpkin pie, try this recipe:

    Line a 10-inch pie plate with pie dough.  Preheat oven to 425.

    Mix together:
    3 cups mashed, cooked butternut squash
    2 cups heavy cream
    ¼ cup brandy
    ½ cup brown sugar
    ¾ cup white sugar
    ½ tsp salt
    1½ tsp cinnamon
    ¾ tsp ginger
    ¼ tsp nutmeg
    ¼ tsp cloves
    3 slightly beaten eggs

    Mix well, and carefully pour mixture into uncooked pie shell.  (Unless this is a deep-dish pie shell, this will be very, very full, so be careful).  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake about 45 more minutes, until knife inserted into center comes out clean.  (After about 30 minutes of total cooking time, check the edges of the dough.  If they are getting too brown, cover the edges with foil.)

    Butternut squash makes a much better pie than pumpkin, as far as I'm concerned.


    That pie sounds awesome, Zorba. (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:50:21 PM EST
    I'm printing your recipe up and taking it home to try at Christmastime.

    It is good, Donald (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:23:22 PM EST
    Just be careful not to nip at the brandy too much while making it!   ;-)
    It's also really good to top it with real whipped cream, with a bit of sugar and brandy added to it.

    If you are talking about my recipe, (none / 0) (#29)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:06:47 PM EST
    I would say half a pound.  That's what I use, but you can use less.  Be daring, CoralGables!
    Also be advised that the whole recipe is not exactly great for your diet if you are trying to limit your calories.  This is definitely a recipe for "special occasions," not for frequent use.   ;-)

    Yes I should have directed the question your way (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:10:23 PM EST
    Yman said 3/4's was a little much so I was looking for the definitive starting place.

    I ran 17 miles Saturday morning. Me and calories have no issues.


    Yes, I think that (none / 0) (#33)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:27:49 PM EST
    3/4's of a pound would be a bit much.  Half a pound, or a bit less (down to quarter of a pound) is plenty.  Less than a quarter of a pound would not taste as good.   ;-)

    Wish my creaky knees could do even a fraction (none / 0) (#41)
    by Angel on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:50:09 PM EST
    of those miles on a daily basis.  I wouldn't have to watch my caloric intake if they could.  

    I don't do it (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:08:48 PM EST
    on a daily basis anymore. No more than 3 days a week with one long one now. Too many minor injuries get in the way when I was determined to run everyday no matter the aches. Took me a long time to believe it and follow it, but listening to the body is paying off. And I thank a former ballet dancer for finally beating it into my stubborn head.

    Good for you (none / 0) (#48)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:32:08 PM EST
    that you can do this even 3 days a week- that's amazing!
    I cannot even do any exercise like that, thanks to my arthritis.  I do go to the Y and hit the pool for swimming and water exercise three times a week, and do gentle yoga in between, but the pounding involved in most on-land types of exercise are beyond my capabilities.  

    Yoga and water exercise (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:10:18 PM EST
    may be even better. I just have to try to accomplish a goal I failed at long long ago. Yoga would probably be very good for me too as lack of flexibility is an ongoing issue.

    Here's a facebook video bouncing around the running community today that involves yoga


    Send me samples, I will determine n/t (none / 0) (#67)
    by lilburro on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:28:50 PM EST
    And tomorrow's topic of discussion ... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:35:36 PM EST
    ... on DKos Radio should be whether the 1984 film Repo Man properly receives its due as one of the truly outstanding socio-philosophical treatises of the postmodernist era in American cinema:

    MILLER (Tracy Walter): "A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents, an' things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. Give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness."

    OTTO (Emilio Estevez): "You do a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?"

    Repo Man still stands as one of my guilty cinematic pleasures from my younger years. I finally introduced it to Younger Daughter and her boyfriend on Sunday afternoon, before I took her to the airport for her flight back to school. And afterward, they both stared at me, incredulous that as a parent, I could also be so with it, so happening, so totally now.

    Well, okay, maybe I overstated that a little. Frankly, I'll gladly settle for Generation Y's grudging acknowledgement that we, their parents, were also once young and way cool -- well, some of us were cool, anyway -- and that perhaps, some day soon, they might consider us as something other than living relics from a bygone era and a ready source of emergency funds.

    MILLER: "I think a lot about this kinda stuff. I do my best thinkin' on the bus. That's how come I don't drive, see?"

    OTTO: "You don't even know how to drive."

    MILLER: "I don't wanna know how, I don't wanna learn, see? The more you drive, the less intelligent you are."

    Aloha. ;-D

    James Clyburn can't do enough (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:37:28 PM EST
    to help the Republicans and screw his constituents.

    Right on target is James Clyburn practically sending smooches to his good pal Corker.

    "We want to take a look at what we can do to Medicare and Medicaid, means testing, although we do means test Medicare now. I think we ought to expand means testing and I really think we can take a look at the way we compute the consumer price index."

    He then went on to endorse Corker's plan, to which Mitchell gleefully replied, "how's that for progress!" link

    I'm not sure why Republicans even bother to try and elect people when so called Democratic politicians are so eager to pass their agenda items.

    BTW, I would like to see (5.00 / 6) (#27)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:42:50 PM EST
    Clyburn get off his a$$ and spend two months doing manual labor and then tell us it is no big thing to raise the age for Social Security and Medicare. Age increases to those programs are part of Corker's plan that he is endorsing.

    Agreed. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:41:50 PM EST
    I see an increase in the threshold age for Social Security and Medicare as probably inevitable, given that the older we become, the more likely we are to live into our late '80s and early '90s. Like it or not, people are living a lot longer than they were two or three generations prior, and that has to be considered.

    Some sort of age-level adjustment to Social Security and Medicare is probably necessary, provided that it comes with the corresponding removal of the $113,000 cap on earnings, which would allow for the replenishment of the respective trust funds.

    But absolutely, people who perform manual labor for a living should certainly be allowed to continue retiring at age 62 or 65 -- or at 55, in some of the more arduous professions. That should be simple common sense.

    I worked in manual labor when I was much younger, and it wasn't necessarily any easier when I was in my teens and twenties. I couldn't imagine doing that sort of work later in life. Further, at some point if life, depending upon the profession, your declining reaction time could pose a real risk to both your own personal safety and that of those around you.

    Preferably, I'd make any such increased age threshold for Social Security and Medicare strictly voluntary, by providing additional financial incentives to those who can and / or desire to continue working past the age of 65, i.e., collecting a larger benefit check upon our subsequent retirement at 67 or 70 or whenever.

    I'm certainly open to a respectful discussion regarding the available means to prolong the solvency of the Social Security and Medicare programs for future generations.

    But I'd approach any such discussion with my eyes and ears wide open. I'd be ready to quickly draw the line at the imposition of any wholesale or radical cuts in benefits as a one-size-fits-all (and wholly unnecessary) type of solution, and will further oppose any proposals which would effectively privatize those programs to the benefit of the financial community and at the ultimate expense of actual future beneficiaries.



    Not everyone is living longer (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:07:24 PM EST
    While it is true that average life expectancy has increased overall, it hasn't increased for everyone. For example, over the past 30 years, men in the top half of the income distribution have seen an increase in longevity past 65 of 5 years while lower income men had a gain of only a little over a year and lower income women actually had a decrease. Dr. Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize winning economist, points out that the group that has not seen much of an increase in longevity are primarily those in physical labor jobs, who would be the most burdened by an increase to the retirement age.

    Raising the age on these programs would seriously hurt the people that need it the most.

    Also, raising the age on Medicare would actually not save money. It would cost more.


    There's an excellent argument (5.00 / 6) (#38)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:15:20 PM EST
    that we aren't living longer at all. We're just not dying young which moves the average age of death upwards. Sounds contradictory but it's not. Lowering childhood mortality rates boosts the overall lifespan averages greatly. Rather than living to an older age than previous generations, there may just be a lot more of us getting there.

    I'm so glad you made this point, CG; (4.50 / 4) (#46)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:16:50 PM EST
    as I was reading Donald's comments, I was muttering, "no, no, no - it's not that we're living longer, it's that infant and childhood mortality rates are lower!"

    And means-testing Social Security is a terrible idea, one that will attach a stigma to receiving it, one not unlike the stigma attached to welfare.  As it is, everyone who earns a wage pays into the system - while it's true that "rich people" may not "need" it, it would be worse to be paying in and getting nothing out.

    Want to secure Social Security for future recipients?  Raise the ceiling on wages subject to the payroll tax; stop giving an automatic raise to those who are lucky enough to make more than the current ceiling.

    I just hate this debt and deficit hysteria, and even more, I hate that the safety-net programs have been co-opted into the discussion; I wish I knew why our representatives seem to be working a lot harder thinking of ways not to help people than they do thinking of ways to foster the economic conditions that will lift up the least among us.


    Another point (5.00 / 3) (#49)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:39:15 PM EST
    that seems to be lost in the noise, the problem with Social Security over the next 30 years is the baby boomers that screwed with the age pyramid. In thirty years though, all the baby boomers will be dead and the age pyramid falls right back to it's geometric pattern. Trying to find a permanent solution to a temporary problem isn't the brightest approach.

    we will all be dead in thirty years? (none / 0) (#69)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:45:48 AM EST
    I am not even the tail end of my generation and will only be mid 80s in 30 years.  
    Good point otherwise.

    Growing majority? (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by CoralGables on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 08:57:38 AM EST
    Don't want to burst any bubbles. How about if I change "all" to the rapidly growing majority.

    Although the boomers are technically from 1946-1964, the big increase in births was from 1946 to 1957. Baby births for the most part began to shrink again in 1958, making those from the rapid birth burst years between 55 and 66 now. With life expectancy once achieving age 60 approximately 21 years for men and 24 years for women, we baby boomers are on our way to becoming a dying breed.

    But rather than thinking of all of us dying, it's more fun to look at age pyramid changes. By 2030 you can see things starting to work themselves back to the proper shape so I guess I'll stick with my very conservative 30 year forecast.

    Just don't concentrate on where you would be on the totem poll


    I agree with you that means testing is ... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:45:45 PM EST
    ... a terrible and wholly unnecessary idea. But practically speaking, the politics of Social Security / Medicare and the so-called "Grand Bargain" is currently not working in our favor. As I've stated earlier, I happen to agree with you that the solution to Social Security and Medicare solvency lies in raise the ceiling on wages and earnings subject to payroll taxes.

    That said, we need to work patiently and diligently to counteract years of effective GOP propagandizing that government is somehow a problem, and convince people that the sky won't be falling in on us, were we to actually do as you stated above.

    This means that each one of us here need to be contacting our respective congresscritters personally and immediately, and further encouraging like-minded others to start doing the same.

    Debating the issue amongst ourselves is all well and fine, to a point. But if we're going to do that in lieu of taking direct action ourselves to let our concerns be known to those we've ostensibly elected to act on our collective behalf, then we'll be effectively taken ourselves out of the discussion.

    Having worked in the legislative sector of government, I can assure you that elected officials do take public opinion into account quite seriously, especially on bread-and-butter issues like Social Security and Medicare. Coordinated mass action can be very effective in compelling lawmakers to find a fair and equitable solution to this otherwise self-manufactured crisis.



    We are living longer (none / 0) (#84)
    by me only on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:34:10 PM EST
    Life expectancy at age 65
    1920 12.5
    1930 12.2
    1940 12.8
    1950 13.8
    1960 14.4
    1970 15.0
    1980 16.5
    1990 17.3
    2001 17.8

    Great discussion, everyone. (none / 0) (#52)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:03:46 PM EST
    I have to go now, but before I do, I'd like to note that I think we're pretty much all in general agreement here that (a) this is a manufactured "crisis" of the Beltway's own making, and (b) lifting the cap on wages and earnings would be a very good first step in resolving whatever looming solvency issues there are with Social Security and Medicare.

    It's now our challenge to make our voices be heard. Aloha.


    Well, if I had my way, I'd ... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:11:26 PM EST
    ... eliminate the qualifying age threshold for Medicare entirely, and use that program as the primary basis for the implementation of a single-payer system health care coverage for everyone, from the cradle to the grave.

    Of course, that would require an increase in payroll taxes, but I could easily live with that, if the practical result would be that Americans will no longer have to worry about the prospect of pending bankruptcy when faced with a severe and / or prolonged medical problem / crisis.

    We do indeed see indications that life expectancy of undereducated white Americans has in fact been decreasing. But overall, the average life expectancy in the United States has increased by nearly ten years during the period 1960-2010, which at the very least means that more of us are reaching our golden years than ever before. And right now, Social Security and Medicare aren't accounting in full for that particular statistic.

    I agree with you that to simply raise the retirement age and be done with it is both callous and no practical solution at all, because as you've rightly stated, doing so would tend to adversely impact many of the very people who've come to rely upon these two programs. We're clearly going to have to be a lot more sophisticated, sensitive and multi-faceted in our approach to the problem of program solvency.

    (One thing I'd rule out right away is any proposed solution that somehow involves Wall Street, the banks and insurance companies. I'd no sooner agree to offering them a piece of the action, than I would be partial to giving everyone their share of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and then encouraging them to head off to the nearest casino.)

    But we do have to have this discussion, and it's therefore important that as many people as possible get engaged in it, so that we enlarge the pool of potential consensus as we consider various solutions to this problem.



    Regardless of people living longer (5.00 / 5) (#37)
    by shoephone on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:11:46 PM EST
    Age discrimination is alive and well in employment. Anyone who thinks 50+ year-olds are getting hired at a respectable rate is not paying attention to reality. Manual labor or NOT.

    Boy, do I get tired of this "but people are living longer" argument.


    ... it is nevertheless a fact that people ARE living longer now, because our average life expectancy in this country has increased from an average of 69.7 years in 1960 to 78.3 years in 2010.

    Correspondingly, the worker-to-beneficiary ratio for Social Security and Medicare has declined in our own lifetimes from 5.5:1 in 1960 to 2.9:1 in 2010 -- and is further projected to decrease to 2.1:1 by 2040, if everything remains in place and as is.

    I, for one, tend to favor a slight increase in payroll taxes as well as the removal of the $113,000 cap on earnings. I happen to believe that capturing a greater amount of taxable earnings would resolve most if not all of the pending fiscal problems with the trust funds. But honestly, whether or not a majority of people can be convinced that this is a viable solution remains an open question.

    I fully understand and appreciate your arguments about age discrimination in this country and its generally negative impact upon older workers in the labor force, and I would urge that we do everything possible to maintain benefits at the levels people have to to expect and rely upon.

    But at the same time, I would argue that doing nothing in the face of the looming arithmetic is simply not an option here, nor is drawing political lines in the sand and shouting down any forthcoming proposals an effective solution.

    As I said, we need to have a respectful discussion about this terribly important but very touchy subject.



    It cannot be said enough that the "we're (5.00 / 5) (#51)
    by caseyOR on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:53:33 PM EST
    all living longer" claim is just anti-Social Security propaganda. As others have pointed out, the increase in life expectancy is due to the decline in childhood mortality, not an increase in years lived beyond age 65.

    In reality, the average life expectancy once a person has reached the age 65 has increased only a modest five years on average since 1940.

    So let's be clear. Workers who reach the age of 65 today are only living five years longer than their parents. The designers of the program were fully aware of this possibility when they calculated the retirement age and they constructed the program accordingly.

    The whole fake SS crisis is being stirred by this propaganda, which is riddled with lies. There is no "crisis in Social Security". As for Medicare, well the costs of Medicare are actually coming down and will decrease further provided Obamacare survives long enough to be implemented. Don't think for a minute that the SC decision on the mandate saved Obamacare. The Republicans never give up.

    Read this article about the myths surrounding the entitlement crisis. Get your facts straight.


    Leaving aside for the moment that I don't (5.00 / 3) (#78)
    by Anne on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:48:07 AM EST
    understand the concept of coming up with solutions to a self-made crisis, what I don't get is why the solutions only seem to be ones that essentially force people to stay in the workforce longer because they fear that when the day arrives that they physically or mentally can't work anymore, retirement will relegate them to something resembling poverty.

    And the more people you have in the workforce at the upper end of the age spectrum, the less room there is to accommodate workers at the younger end of that spectrum.  So, when something has to give, when employers want younger employees (for many reasons, among them lower compensation and less expensive benefits)  the older workers are let go, and there they are, staring at a yawning chasm between themselves and their ability to collect Social Security, and a job market that doesn't want them.

    We know there are better ways to handle this - like Begich's plan, for one - but those ideas are just drowned out by the chorus of "raise the retirement age," and "means-test benefits," and "chain benefits to the CPI," and there is little discussion about how those "solutions" don't solve anything for the people these programs are designed to benefit.

    If you raise the Medicare eligibility age, you ensure that the pool will never benefit from having younger, healthier people in it to spread the risk.  Costs will go up, not down.  And then what?  How will they "solve" that problem?  My guess - they will want to scrap it altogether, and put everyone into private insurance, which will be even more expensive and won't improve anyone's health.  But maybe we will die sooner!  Yeah, that's the ticket - that will make everything better.

    ::banging head on desk::



    Yes, living longer does not mean you (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 11:25:02 AM EST
    Possess the physical health to work longer.  Improvements in medicines and life saving surgeries doesn't mean that you stopped aging or your muscle tone and mass and your bone mass improved and you are five years younger.

    Yep...try convincing my wife of that. (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by easilydistracted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:04:04 PM EST
    Damn. (none / 0) (#80)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 11:47:27 AM EST
    I'm not disagreeing with you. (none / 0) (#56)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:17:04 PM EST
    I'm not arguing that people are genrally living longer as individuals, but that more of us today are reaching retirement age than were those in our parents' and grandparents' generations. Therefore, average life expectancy in the United States has increased by nearly ten years in our lifetimes.

    Coupled with the decline in the worker / beneficiary ratio, we need to consider some necessary adjustments, because absent any action, we'll be drawing directly on the corpus of the two trust funds by the time we reach retirement age.

    We can easily account for all that by lifting the present cap on wages and earnings subject to payroll taxes to ensure solvency of Social Security and Medicare long beyond our own lifetimes. We just have to have the collective political will to do so.



    P.S. to caseyOR: (none / 0) (#57)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:28:10 PM EST
    Thank you for the link. That's a really good article.

    As I replied to Anne (none / 0) (#85)
    by me only on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:35:07 PM EST
    We are living longer
    Life expectancy at age 65
    1920 12.5
    1930 12.2
    1940 12.8
    1950 13.8
    1960 14.4
    1970 15.0
    1980 16.5
    1990 17.3
    2001 17.8

    Do you have a link for the those (5.00 / 2) (#87)
    by caseyOR on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:36:35 PM EST

    According to your numbers, we are living longer beyond 65, but not by much, an increase of 4 years from 1950 to 2001. Certainly not by enough to justify this current panic-mode po;icy discussion.

    Also, if you read the article about the myths of SS to which I linked, you learn that the people who created SS actually knew what they were doing and figured expanded life expectancy into the formula.

    Additionally, the changes made to SS under Reagan, the change that created the SS Trust Fund, raised the FICA tax specifically to deal with the baby boomers and their retirement. The Trust Fund is there to pay for us. The expectation is that it will be the vehicle for paying for the boomers, not that it will remain as some kind of untouchable never to be used vault of money.


    I agree, casey (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by Zorba on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:52:19 PM EST
    If they would just eliminate (or at the very least raise) the cap on Social Security withholding, we would be fine for many, many years.  
    And if they would stop giving us Social Security Withholding "Tax Holidays," we wouldn't even have to raise the cap for a number of years.  
    SS for seniors is not projected to run out until 2035 if nothing is done.  SS Disability is projected to run out in 2016, however.  The two trust funds together are projected to run out in 2033.  Of course, this assumes that we do nothing about raising or eliminating the cap on withholding, and stop giving "Tax Holidays."

    The Tax Holiday (none / 0) (#90)
    by me only on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 03:01:42 PM EST
    had no effect on the Trust Fund.

    A few years ago the Trust Fund was going to last until 2038.  If the economy doesn't recover it is going to be depleted earlier.


    It won't have an effect (none / 0) (#91)
    by Zorba on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 03:39:27 PM EST
    as long as they don't keep giving Tax Holidays ad infinitum.  
    And I would ask, what would your solution be?  Do you agree with raising the retirement age?  Because I know a whole lot of people who do physically difficult work, and are more than worn out well before they are able to go on Social Security.  What is your answer to this?  And is there a good answer to this?  I am genuinely interested in your thoughts on this.  

    Zorba, (2.00 / 1) (#92)
    by me only on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 04:13:28 PM EST
    I don't understand your comment about the Tax Holiday.  It has no effect because the money still goes to the trust fund.  If your concern is that we have a huge deficit because of that, well okay, but I don't see this as a make or break aspect.

    I would readjust the inflation index to CPI instead of wages.  I would change how hedge fund managers get paid so that they have to pay into it (basically everyone gets to pay in on the first portion of their income, no "I am paying myself in stock options, so that isn't income" ploys).  I would put a 2% tax on all income (whatever kind) over $1M/year.

    Slowly raise the age for retirement, very slowly.  Life expectancy at 65 is rising about 6 months per decade, so raising the retirement age by 1 year every 25 years would be gradual enough.

    Increase the early take penalty, so that more people pay into the system until they are 66 (eventually 67).

    Slow, gradual changes.  Nothing that alters the fundamental nature of the program.  People are living longer, but more importantly they are MUCH healthier (in the aggregate) at the same age than they were in the past.  (Unless they choose to not be.)  Smoking is down, surgery is actually progressing so that people can get their knees and shoulders fixed.  This notion that people can't work because of X is silly.  That is what Social Security Disability is for.  Prove that you can't work and SSD pays.  Complain about working, well...


    Social Security Disability (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by Zorba on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:06:54 PM EST
    is difficult to obtain.  Nearly two out of three who apply for it will be denied.  Link.
    (And the age to go on full Social Security benefits will be rising to 67 already, for those born in 1960 and later.  It is already 66 for me and Mr. Zorba.)

    I would wish that SSD would be easier to acquire for those who need it, but it is not.  What would you tell a construction worker, a brick-layer, a ditch-digger, or even a cook (I do a lot of cooking myself, for my church's various food festivals, and I can barely do it for a week or two at a time, much less year-round, and I am 64), if they cannot do the job that they were trained for?  What if they cannot get SSD?  That they could get some kind of desk job that they are not qualified for?  Who would hire them?  Jobs that require a lot of physical labor are not easy to do, even if you get your "knees and shoulders" fixed.  This also assumes that people not yet on Medicare have decent health insurance to pay for such surgery, and that they have a job that pays for sick days for their time off.

    Raise or eliminate the cap on Social Security withholding.  I would agree about treating what hedge fund managers get as income, rather than "capital gains."  I would also raise the top marginal income tax rate back to what it was under Nixon, at least, if not earlier.  Oh, and rather than the Affordable Care Act, let us have some type of real Universal Health Care (Medicare For All), which would provide decent health care for everyone, while controlling costs.  This would also include instituting "best practices" in medical care.  (It would also allow those who can afford it to buy supplemental health insurance, if they so which, as they can do now under Medicare.)  I would try to find some way to reduce the costs of medical school, as well, so that physicians do not graduate many thousands of dollars in debt that they must pay back, and also doing something about the cost of medical malpractice insurance.

    But that's just my opinion.  YMMV.  


    if everyone had the same insurance (none / 0) (#94)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:07:05 PM EST
    that in itself would lower the cost of malpractice insurance.  Part of the motivation to sue for malpractice is to make sure that future medical costs are covered. Under "Medicare for All", which is the system I would favor, there would be no incentive to sue to cover future medical costs.

    Yes (none / 0) (#95)
    by Zorba on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:09:48 PM EST
    I agree.  Medicare for All.  Now, how do we get our legislators on board with this?

    National Vital Statistics (none / 0) (#89)
    by me only on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:54:43 PM EST
    from the CDC.

    It's not relevant to the SS issue (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by shoephone on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:24:31 PM EST
    As you and I and many others here have commented numerous times: raising the income cap would solve any funding problems for decades to come. That's relevant.

    Living longer means zilch when it comes to hiring scenarios. And living longer does not equal living better, for a huge number of people.

    There's nothing more I need to say on this because I think we're all on the same page.


    Right, Medicare means testing (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by KeysDan on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:00:16 PM EST
    is done now.    Clyburn's (and others)definition of people of "means" varies depending upon whether we are talking about tax increases (above $200 000 single) or Medicare premiums (above $85,000 per year, single).  

    And, the $200,000 may be raised and/or tax rates stay the same, but some "loop holes" will be removed (cf. Mittens Romney)--easier to fill in the loop holes later than to change the tax rates (for example, the grand debate on taxing carried interest as capital gains rather than as ordinary income is not deeply etched in most minds)

    Meanwhile, the premiums are going up in 2013 for Medicare by $5 on the low end, and up to $42 for other four stops on the "means" scale.  And, deductibles are increasing. All of which puts a dent in the cost of living increase, but,  that does not mean that the chained and lesser increases should not be given. It is important to get the grand bargain now before we go off the cliff--and lose the lame duck legislators.


    I think it's much more important ... (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:26:47 PM EST
    ... to approach this problem both thoughtfully deliberately, and to not allow ourselves to be stampeded into some sort of half-a$$ed solution because of an artificially self-imposed deadline or timeline.

    It's been my considered experience from my years working as a legislative policy analyst, that the biggest public policy fiascos tend to occur when legislation is unnecessarily rushed from drafting to enactment, without any real due consideration given to the potentially adverse consequences of the action in question.



    Here is a sensible plan for Social Security, (5.00 / 4) (#53)
    by caseyOR on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:05:30 PM EST
    proposed by Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska). This plan extends SS solvency out so far in the future the government has no model for calculating that far out.

    It raises benefits for recipients and changes the cost-of-living formula to a CPI-E, a formula based specifically on the cost of things that seniors buy, things like medications and health care procedures.

    Begich would raise the SS tax by eliminating the cap and by raising the payroll tax from 12.4% to 12.5%. This wipes out any hint of a shortfall ever.

    Of course, this plan requires that no one suffer and sacrifice. So, it is not getting much play. I know I have not seen it discussed on a single national news broadcast or a single talk show.

    Call your senators and tell them to support the Begich plan for Social Security.


    Because on the east and west coasts (none / 0) (#26)
    by shoephone on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:42:39 PM EST
    the GOP needs pretend Democrats to provide cover for them and their reckless policies.

    DWTS (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:07:12 PM EST
    finals starting now on the east cost. Should finish 1) Shawn; 2) Melissa; and 3) Kelly... although Melissa could pull the upset as she may be the best but lacks Shawn's fan base.

    No spoilers pls (none / 0) (#60)
    by nycstray on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:15:46 PM EST
    Starts in 45 mins here :)

    What are people using for Anti Virus these days? (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by womanwarrior on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:46:59 PM EST
    I have been using AVG, but is there something better?

    Kaspersky av gets my vote (none / 0) (#59)
    by DFLer on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:12:24 PM EST
    antivirus (none / 0) (#62)
    by womanwarrior on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:01:32 PM EST
    Thanks. I will check it out.  

    they make a couple of versions (none / 0) (#73)
    by DFLer on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 08:49:22 AM EST
    We use just the av suite.

    We also turn off some of the protections to be running always in the background.

    The worst is Norton. While their protection is good, it's a big hop, and too expensive, and a pain to remove its deep footprint, imo


    I use Trend Micro (none / 0) (#68)
    by lilburro on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:31:27 PM EST
    which in the past few weeks hasn't been syncing up with Windows well.  But no problems so far other than that.  AVG seems good too, I use it at work, which is often a more uh, lascivious task, I guess, than my home life - I happen upon a lot of websites that are now adult rated havens (no, really I do!!!).  Been safe on both comps.

    I used to use the free version of AVG... (none / 0) (#97)
    by unitron on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:33:33 PM EST
    ...but they dropped Windows 98 SE support before I was through running it, so I changed over to the free version of Avast! about 2 or 3 years ago (and have since started running XP) and I like it fine.

    Updates itself about once every 24 hours.


    I use Webroot SecureAnywhere (none / 0) (#99)
    by Rupe on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 12:13:17 AM EST
    You have to pay for it, buts its completely unobtrusive and works extraordinarily well from my experience, worth the money.

    Thrift Shop song (none / 0) (#21)
    by Dadler on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 03:46:11 PM EST
    I can't get this stupid funny song outta my head (link):

    I'm gonna pop some tags
    Only got 20 dollars in my pocket
    I-I-I'm huntin' lookin' for a come up
    This is phucking awesome

    I'll wear your granddad's clothes
    I look incredible
    I'm in this big ass coat
    From that thrift shop down the road

    Georgia Republicans (none / 0) (#32)
    by CoralGables on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:23:39 PM EST
    starting to line up to take on the liberal Saxby Chambliss in the GOP primary for the US Senate. With a little luck the Tea Party wing will find someone on the line of Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, or Christine O'Donnell.

    why? (none / 0) (#96)
    by TeresaInPa on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:20:52 PM EST
    Seriously, why?  We need moderate republicans in the party to win some races.  We are not going to knock out all republicans and in states that are red like GA., we may as well root for moderate republicans.  Otherwise we are likely to be stuck with another tea party rep in office.

    For starters (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by CoralGables on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 11:24:42 PM EST
    Saxby Chambliss isn't a moderate and there isn't much to the right of him. In case you haven't noticed, moderate Republicans are being run out of the party. The American Conservative Union ranks Chambliss as the 18th most conservative Senator in Washington over his career. He was tied for number 1 as the most conservative in 2010.

    You don't win Republican primaries being a moderate. And the only way for Dems to win in those areas is for a right wing extremist to win the GOP primary and get challenged by a moderate Dem.

    If you're looking for a moderate Republican you can find one in Maine. But look quick as it's an endangered species.


    Fox is tone deaf (none / 0) (#61)
    by Politalkix on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:51:37 PM EST
    They have concluded that there is a war on men.

    Oy..to the battlements! (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by DFLer on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 08:51:54 AM EST
    the end was peachy:

    Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature - their femininity - and let men surrender to theirs.

    If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.

    Marriageable men? (5.00 / 6) (#77)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:06:24 AM EST
    For what sort of marriage?  Those that peeled off, stay off....and stay away from my granddaughters.  Your DNA is not wanted in my gene pool :)

    Oh dear (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by sj on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:17:51 PM EST
    If that's the conclusion, I'm doubly glad I didn't click on the link...

    I think she spent (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by Zorba on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:29:46 PM EST
    way, way too much time reading The Total Woman, The Surrendered Wife, and Fascinating Womanhood.

    She probably though the (5.00 / 3) (#86)
    by MO Blue on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 01:16:17 PM EST
    Stefford wives were real people.

    Negotiator-in-Chief (none / 0) (#65)
    by Politalkix on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:51:26 PM EST

    David Corn revisits the last tax fight.

    Where's Oculus when you need her? (none / 0) (#66)
    by shoephone on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 11:15:01 PM EST
    I'm listening to a choral version of Barber's "Adagio for Strings" and I don't think I've ever heard one before. Doesn't hit me emotionally the same way the strings do, but it's really mournful and ethereal sounding.

    In Mumbai. No Samuel Barber here! (none / 0) (#72)
    by oculus on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:41:50 AM EST
    We did see where the world's plastic lawn chairs are recycled into tiny granules, ready to become something else. Very labor-intensive.

    I prefer the Barber "Adagio" in his original setting--string quartet.

    Met HD of Verdi's "Otello" is showing here, as is "Life of Pi."  But I opted for the Prince of Wales Museum


    re the chairs; (none / 0) (#75)
    by DFLer on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 08:54:23 AM EST
    All molded plastic products start out as "tiny granules" of plastic.

    How's come you knew (none / 0) (#100)
    by oculus on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:33:44 AM EST
    that and it was news to me!

    (Rhetorical question.)


    Rhetorical or not, I'm going to respond (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by DFLer on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:50:24 AM EST
    because I find it a very interesting process. I used to work at a composite plastics plant here.

    What I learned was: a molder (say someone who makes telephone cases, or electronics cases or chairs) submits a list of requirements to the compositor, ei. hardness, temperature endurance, electrical conductiveness, pliability, color, etc. The compositor brews up a batch of stuff meeting those requirements, reduces back to pellet stage, ships to the molder, and voila! Plastic stuff!

    There is actually quite a composite industry in this city, with a department at the State U here, dedicated to it. When the Soviet Union broke up, and some state docs were eventually revealed, this small city was supposedly on the first nuclear strike list, because of it. Apocryphal story? Maybe, but sounds good to tell.


    Site violator, Whaa? (none / 0) (#71)
    by nycstray on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:31:32 AM EST