I read some time ago that NYT columnist make at least six figure salaries. Seeing that whether people agree with them or not Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd drive a lot of traffic to their site, they probably are above the columnist minimum. Even at the rock bottom of six figures that still leaves us with what is clearly pity or charity pay for Ross Douthat. By way of here – Don’t Eliminate the Link between Social Security Contributions and Benefits – Douthat writes,
But now Washington is in danger of practicing payroll-tax bipartisanship of a more destructive sort. While the White House and Congressional Republicans wrestle over where to set income tax rates and how and whether to cut spending, the payroll tax holiday has been orphaned. Lacking noisy champions and press attention, it’s in danger of expiring at the end of the year out of political indifference.
That outcome would be unfortunate. Payroll taxes are a relic of New Deal Machiavellianism: by taking a bite of every worker’s paycheck and promising postretirement returns, Franklin Roosevelt effectively disguised Social Security as a pay-as-you-go system, even though the program actually redistributes from rich to poor and young to old. That disguise has helped keep Social Security sacrosanct — hailed by Democrats because it protects the poor and backed by Republicans as a reward for steady work.
Payroll taxes for Social Security are there to assure the people that they have paid into an insurance or entitlement program – thus are entitled to benefits. FDR was very clever to do so. By disconnecting entitlement programs from general revenues Americans would see those benefits as insurance, which indeed they are – Social Security keeps millions of people out of poverty and allows millions more a life of dignity and relative comfort in their retirement years. Social Security was motivated by the Great Depression and the mature grown-ups admitting that our economic system has innate structural issues and by no fault of their own, many Americans can work hard all their lives and end up with nothing because of some knuckleheads on Wall Street and on the broads of America’s largest corporations – our shadow government. As the Economist View notes detaching Social Security or Medicare from their own unique funding will mean the end of those programs, which is just what social-Darwinist plutocrats like Douthat want – not for any practical reason, only for reason of blind zealotry.
Ross Douthat Argues that Social Security Would be Easier to Cut If It Were Changed from a Social Insurance Program to a Welfare Program, by Dean Baker: Ross Douthat argues convincingly that if we eliminated the link between contributions and benefits it would be much easier politically to cut Social Security. Of course he thinks ending the link would be a good idea for that reason, but his logic is certainly on the mark, people will more strongly protect benefits that they feel they have earned. …
The payroll tax certainly can cover the program’s expenses. In fact, had it not been for the upward redistribution of income over the last three decades, which nearly doubled the share of wage income going over the cap on taxable income, the projected 75-year shortfall would be about half of its current level.
Even with the current projected shortfall, if ordinary workers shared in projected productivity growth over the next three decades, a tax increase equal to 6 percent of their wage growth over this period would be sufficient to make the program fully solvent. The problem is clearly the policies that led to the upward redistribution of income…, not Social Security.
It is worth pointing out that when Douthat proposes “means-testing for wealthier beneficiaries,” his notion of wealthy means school teachers and firefighters, not Bill Gates and Mitt Romney. …
Douthat is so typical of the wild-eyed ideology of the far Right. They have no answers. They simply believe. They believe in dog-eat-dog social-Darwinist ideology of laissez -faire economics. If you don’t claw your way to a sizable savings for your retirement just go begging to the back door of your local church or die. If the part about wishing people dead sounds like hyperbole - a reminder of the conservative mind-set. The kind of pure and nightmarish capitalism that Douthat and other conservatives believe in does not provide for the elderly, the disabled or children. We all know the talking points since they have been beamed into every America’s head since birth – all of this helping people stuff should be voluntary and private. The first charity hospital for children was founded by Ben Franklin and used partly public funding from the Pennsylvania legislature. So we have never been a country that had a pure than pure laissez -faire attitude towards those American who do not get paid six figures in charity from the NYT to write pure hackery.
Dean baker makes an excellent point about how busy we have been redistributing the capital produced by labor to the top 10%. Since unions have been demonized as Marxist thugs and fair wages, a living wage, is devil talk, the average American workers is earning less than their fair share. That means they contribute less to entitlement insurance like Medicare and Social Security. Why Raises For Walmart Workers Are Good For Everyone
Chances are you missed this particular bargain on Black Friday: Agree to spend 15 cents more on every shopping trip, and Walmart, Target, and other large retailers will agree to pay their workers at least $25,000 a year.
Big box retailers aren’t actually offering that deal, but a new study by the liberal think tank Demos argues that it would be a great bargain for us all if they did. Increasing the average wage at large retailers from $21,000 to $25,000 would probably cost you less than $20 a year at the register yet lift some 1.5 million people out of poverty (including your cashier), create 100,000 new jobs, and boost GDP by some $13.5 billion.
Demos argues that retailers would benefit, despite higher labor costs, because their low-wage employees could suddenly afford to buy more of the basic necessities that they scan and load into plastic bags every day.
If you are still wondering what’s in it for you, however, then consider this tidbit from Sasha Abramsky:
In 2004, a year in which Walmart reported $9.1 billion in profits, the retailer’s California employees collected $86 million in public assistance, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley. Other studies have revealed widespread use of publicly funded health care by Walmart employees in numerous states. In 2004, Democratic staffers of the House education and workforce committee calculated that each 200-employee Walmart store costs taxpayers an average of more than $400,000 a year, based on entitlements ranging from energy-assistance grants to Medicaid to food stamps to WIC—the federal program that provides food to low-income women with children.
The economic challenges facing America and labor are framed as everyone being either lucky stiff because the Walton family was good enough to bestow a job on you, even if you cannot live on what they pay. The truth is just the opposite. The Waltons, the Romneys. the Kochs, the Sheldon Adelsons, The Papa Johns are all leaching off the labor of the American workers. The six heirs to the Walmart fortune ( the Walton’s own Walmart, Walgreens and Sam’s Clubs among other business interests) are worth $115 billion dollars. They owe part of their fortune to the ridiculously low tax rates on capital gains. The other part comes from taking the pie and leaving workers – the people who did the actual work of creating their fortune – the crumbs. Every single person on Fortune’s most wealthy people in America list are thieves. They’re entitled to a healthy share of their profits, but not to the kind of massive unearned wealth they have accumulated on the backs of people making $8 to $20 an hour. It would be great f this was just a simple argument about rights and wrongs, fair and unfair. It is those things, but it is also about average folks versus people who have a deranged sense of entitlement to unearned wealth, Fiorina: ‘It is not fair’ that public workers are ‘so rich’
Carly Fiorina, who reportedly stood to receive more than $42 million after being ousted at HP in 2005, says that public workers should receive less benefits because “it is not fair” that unions are “so rich.”
During a Sunday panel segment on NBC, MSNBC host Al Sharpton asserted that Congress must agree to raise taxes on the wealthy before cutting spending.
“This is about fairness,” he explained. “Why do we need to need to deal with the tax on the rich first? Because we must ensure Americans we are dealing with fairness. We keep talking about shared sacrifice, there was not shared wealth and shared prosperity. So, you’re asking people that didn’t enjoy the good times to share in paying for the tab that they never enjoyed.”
“Let us accept Rev. Al’s point and the president’s point about fairness,” Fiorina replied. “But equally, it is not fair that public employee union pensions and benefits are so rich now that cities and states are going bankrupt and college tuition is going up 25 and 30 percent or police and firefighters are being cut. There’s a lot that isn’t fair right now.”
During Fiorina tenure as the CEO of HP, at least 18,000 workers were laid off after the company’s disastrous merger with Compaq.
Fiorina failed. She lost millions. By the rules of her own conservatism she should have been out on the street looking for a job. She left HP with a golden parachute of $20 million. She could live to be 300 years old and never earn that kind of money. There are people smarter than her teaching calculus or programming at your local community college. Part of our economy is attached at the hip to a work hard just to survive capitalist system and the other part is connected to a welfare nanny state for the ruling plutocrats like Fiorina whose hobbies include whining about how much teachers and firefighters make. Like Romney, Fiorina was born into the upper middle-class. Privileged, and like Old World royalty they think they the elite who deserve everything they siphoned off the hard work of others.