Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Retirees in Trouble? Lucky them!

I happened upon this article that explains that with no rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) this year, social security recipients will not get their usual cost of living raise this year. Because medical care costs are not included in the CPI - what government genius thought that up? - rising costs for their health care will effectively make any of our seniors on SS a little poorer this year.

Do you know what I say????? Boo Hoo HOO! Pretty calous? Damn straight. Here's why: because Citizen Zane has been paying 7.65% of every pay check this year to fund Social Security and Medicare and my dear employer has been matching those contributions. Assuming that I make $100,000 (because that one and those zeros make for an easy calculation) this year, my employer and I will have shelled out $15,300 to pay for seniors. When my wife was still gainfully employed, we were paying her share too, and for what? How much Social Security and Medicare will I be blessed with? I am still a good 25 years away from collecting and we have to survive all of the baby boomers who are holding out their greasy palms for their share and are in line before me. In other words - I AM NOT GOING TO GET JACK SH*T WHEN I AM OLD! That's because that account in my name that Bill Clinton promised would be there has absolutely NOTHING in it. Congress already looted it and used it for some stupid pork barrel project or a war in the Middle East.

So if you are lucky enough to be collecting anything at all right now, count your blessings. When the baby boomers start retiring, we are going to be buried under the social security and medicare obligations owed to them that we don't have savings for. Here's what's going to happen...everybody who isn't collecting SS or medicare will vote to reduce the benefits for the people who are. Either that or the system and the governemnt will simply collapse from the accumulated debt. And the baby boomers have nobody to blame but themselves. Everybody in the free world has known that the system is going broke since as long as I can remember. Problem is, nobody did anything about it. If you think that Congress today is going to worry about your problems 10 years from now, you are a fool. Go check your face in the mirror, point to the reflection, and say thou fool!

I remember when President Bush Jr. was talking about privatizing SS, and there were a bunch of ding dongs out on the street corners with signs telling him to keep his filthy hands off of their benefits. HAHAHAHAAHAHA!!! The joke is certainly on them. There was nothing there for him to sully his paws on. I think that our only hope is to let a bunch of new immigrants who will work and fund the next round of retirees into the country. Let's hope that our immigration policies in the near future will be smarter than our retirement plans are right now - Citizen Zane

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Will Reality Eventually Set In?

I wasn't surprised to see this headline, but it turned my stomach nonetheless.

Yep, the White House is predicting a $9 Trillion (with a capital T) deficit over the next 10 years. That's in addition to all of the other money that we owe and doesn't include all of those nasty unfunded deficits for Social Security and Medicare that we have conveniently swept under the rug. Big deal you say? We've always had a big debt and we seem to have come out of it ok this far. Well, dear reader, there comes a point where we've finally bitten off more than we can chew.

Here is the problem: we have to continue borrowing from other sources to fund these deficits. So far, big exporters to the United States - China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia among others - are lending us back the dollars that we have paid them for their sundry goods. Its an interesting dynamic. They fund Uncle Sam, who pays federal employees, defense contractors, farmers, welfare moms, and this list stretches out from here to Nancy Pelosi's private jet. These folks buy gas, electronics, clothes, cars, etc., and hand the cash back to the guys who lent it to us to start with and the circle continues. Pretty neat system, eh? Yeah, neat until China decides that enough is enough and quits lending to us and crashes our economy. Of course, they probably could never do it because it would crash their main export market, but they could always threaten to and use it as leverage against us in other matters. Why do you think the government is propping up all of those mortgage backed securities out there. Yup, cuz lots of them are held by the Chinese and they also hold a huge chunk of our national debt too so its wise not to piss 'em off too badly.

So what are we supposed to do with all of this debt that we can never pay back? The answer is....monetize it!!! Yep, those printing presses at Treasury are going to be working overtime to print up more paper money to pay that debt off. When this happens, the value of the dollar will plummet against the world's currencies and we will effectively be The United States of Banana Republic. All of our creditors will take it in the a$$ because their loans to us will devalue to nickels on the dollar. I thought about the US being too big to fail. In a sense, if we crash, we bring everyone down with us. Its like a big game of chicken where we have them by the short hairs and they have us in the ol' genital cuff. But the more I thought about it, I realized that the situation is far more dangerous than that. Those guys know that monetization is the only end game possible if we don't get our house in order and they are going to start parking all of those dollars somewhere where they are backed by hard assets - not flimsy paper.

Remember a few years ago when the Japanese were making headlines buying up trophy real estate and golf courses in the US? The dern fools overpaid for everything and their investments went belly up in a lot of cases and they were left with nothing more than Michael Crichton's "Rising Sun" novel and subsequent movie (with Tia Carrere - rrrowr!) for their trouble. Take it from me, the Chinese are not so foolhardy with their cash. And neither will be the Japanese next time around. They will buy on the cheap. What will they buy with all of their cash? Property? Yes. Equity stakes in US companies? Absolutely. Defense contractors, technology companies, and research labs? Yup. Oil and other natural resources? For certain. Heaven forbid...lawyers...lobbyists...congressmen...and...dare we say players??? Yeah, the imagination runs wild. Those dirty imperialists!

So when Congress and the President casually talk about these crazy deficits blowing up like they are nothing too important, and continue to flood us with stupid legislation and pork barrel projects, I can only shake my head and wonder when this house of cards will come tumbling down. All those free goodies and neat social programs that we are borrowing money to pay for. Those will be up in smoke. Our tax bills will be up too - just without the smoke. Is it too late to vote them all out and put some sensible people in charge? I don't know.

Geez, I just reread this rambling and I have become a certified nutcase. Oooooh, I need some insurance reform to cover all of the psychiatric care that is in my future - Citizen Zane

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Read My Lips....

Remember when George H.W. Bush provided us with those immortal lines that came back to bite him in the butt at the next election? Well, President Obama has likewise promised the middle class that they would not pay one more dime of taxes. That being said, I wasn't surprised in the least when White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod came out and admitted that the President may not be able to keep that promise.

Shortly after I saw this, I heard a similar announcement from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stating that tax increases were not completely of the table. Of course the President came rushing out to deny that there will be any tax increases for those making less than $250K per year, but reality tells us otherwise. The bloating of the national debt under President Obama and the left-leaning Congress is going to make for a lot of ammunition for the Republicans next fall and the Chinese, Japanese, and Saudis have got to be chewing the fingernails down as our national debt threatens to eat away the value of the treasuries that they hold.

I'm guessing that the idea of a tax increase for all of us was floated out there for two purposes: 1) to check the reaction of the public to get a reading on how we will react when the tax increase comes; and 2) to start to get us all used to the idea that taxes are going to go up soon. Despite all of the campaign promises that the President made regarding taxes, he and Congress are going to have to face the reality that they need money to fund all of their ridiculous spending. They will certainly soak the rich to some degree, but the rich can only be taxed so far before they are tapped out. We are already taxing our corporations heavily, so don't expect much more from them either. Let's see....who does that leave....hmmmm...who could it be? Is it going to be you and me? Count on it.

The tax increases are coming. The only mystery that remains is whether or not the mainstream press will hold Obama accountable for his campaign promises like they did Bush the Elder. My guess is that everyone and his dog will rush to the President's side, sadly shake their heads, and say, "That mess that Lil' Bush left us gives us no choice but to ask for a tax increase". The stupid among us will nod their heads in agreement and blindly mark that "Democrat" box on their ballots next fall - Citizen Zane

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pitchforks and Torches Show Green Shoots

I really had to smile when I came across this article describing the trouble that current members of Congress are having at their once sedate "town hall" gatherings:

It seems as though the local villagers are showing up with their pitchforks and torches and brandishing them at their noble, self-sacrificing Representatives who come to discuss the issues. Apparently, the targets are likely to be members of the Democratic Party who are following lock-step with President Obama's agenda. Iowa Rep Bruce Braley puts out his own theory for the town halls gone wild as, “I think it’s just the fact that we are dealing with some of the most important public policy issues in a generation...I think in general what is going on is we are tackling issues that have been ignored for a long time, and I think that is disruptive to a lot of people...We are trying, one by one, to deal with a set of issues that can’t be ignored, and I think that’s unsettling to a lot of people.”

I give Representative Braley half credit for being half right. Congress is tackling some of the most important public policy issues. The half that he forgets is that they are making an absolute sh**ty mess of the whole thing. While the vast majority of the American electorate runs around as confused as Patrick Star on those Sponge Bob cartoons that my little boy loves, enough people are actually figuring out that we are not exactly getting good representation and that the slide that we have been on for the past 10 years or so is getting steeper by the minute. Blame it on whatever you like Mr. Braley, but the real culprit is the Internet. I can follow the regular goings on of the nitwits in Congress and read quick analysis, both pro and con, of the nonsense that is tucked into legislation (at least when the leadership of the Democratic Party finally allows it to go public after it has passed by their majority vote before any of them bothers to read it).

The other problem seems to be that our so-called Representatives are nothing of the sort. Do you really think that the majority of sane Americans were for cap and trade? Would the average American who is paying attention want your version of health care "reform"? No wonder your constituents are angry! If you are a citizen of the United States and you are not appalled by the job being done by Congress then its time to turn off the Sponge Bob and introduce yourself to the wonders of the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the politics section of your favorite internet portal. Well, be careful if that portal is frequented by Elliot Spitzer, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, and Bill Clinton, it may not be informative enough to stimulate you above the waistline - Citizen Zane