Black and White Highway wallpaper – The Newest Zombie Lie, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme

Black and White Highway wallpaper

Philip Klein is the Senior Editorial Writer at a new dungeon in Wingnuttia called Campaign 2012 ( I wonder if they paid Jon Stewart for the inspiration and the traffic they hope to leech). Klein gets the Conservative Most Likely to Dry Hump Rick Perry’s Leg Award for this idiotic column – Romney throws America’s youth under the bus

Mitt Romney doubled down on his attack against Texas Gov. Rick Perry this afternoon, warning in an interview with Sean Hannity that his critique of Social Security amounted to “terrible politics” that would cost Republicans the election.

Romney’s decision to pile on suggests that he’s willing to play the “granny card” against Perry if it will help him get elected, a tactic more becoming of the likes of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz than a potential Republican nominee.

[   ]…Romney is wrong — Social Security is forced upon us, and it is a failure. It is a scam foisted upon younger Americans who must fork over payroll taxes to fund current retirees and other government services with no prospect of actually recouping what they put into the system.

Social Security was enacted in 1935. That would make it the longest running and most successful “scam” in history. That “scam” has kept millions of seniors out of poverty. By making it able for many seniors to live independent lives in retirement Social Security has also helped millions more American families stay out of financial hardship. There has been no private business entity that has proved as financially viable as Social Security over the 66 years Social Security has been in existence. Private pensions can be wiped out with a company’s bankruptcy. To say contributors will not recoup those contributions in benefits is a lie. Most people do recoup their contributions and Social Security will be there if we continue to properly finance it. Klein is echoing Gov. Rick Perry’s(R-TX) argument that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme”. Social Security Is Not a Ponzi Scheme

When politicians make clearly false claims, reporters have an obligation to explain to readers why those claims are false—or at least quote someone who can. I would suggest political scientist Jonathan Bernstein:

Very simple: anyone who says that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme either misunderstands Social Security, misunderstands Ponzi schemes, is deliberately lying, or some combination of those…After all, a Ponzi scheme is a deliberate fraud. Saying that Social Security is financed like a Ponzi scheme is factually wrong, but saying that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme or is like a Ponzi scheme is basically a false accusation of fraud against the US government and the politicians who have supported Social Security over the years.

larger size chart.


A blogger at DK also has some inconvenient facts for the governor and his genuflecting fans – Social Security is NOT a Ponzi Scheme, Dammit! (copiously sourced)

Many of my most reasonable friends buy into the myth that Social Security is in deep trouble. It’s so accepted and commonly heard amongst major media talking heads, not to mention Republican politicians. In the debate held 9/7/11 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Rick Perry notoriously labeled Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and “montrous lie.”

What are the facts about Social Security’s solvency?

Well, Social Security continues to be in better shape than everything else in government. It has run a surplus not a deficit for the majority of its years in existence.

Reasonable entities (meaning parties like the Congressional Budget Office not right-wing hysterics) assure us that Social Security will continue to be able to operate paying full benefits for the next 25 years.

[  ]… (the sources used for the column)

Defending Social Security. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The Hill, 3/02/11.

More on Raising the Retirement Age.” Ezra Klein. Washington Post, 7/08/10.

“To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security.” Nancy Altman. New Deal 2.0, 6/14/10.

Lawrence Mishel. Economic Policy Institute.

Top 5 Social Security Myths.

Straight Facts on Social Security [pdf]. Economic Opportunity Institute.

Social Security and the Age of Retirement [pdf]. Center for Economic Policy Research.

Operating Budget Actuarial Table. Social Security Administration.

Those who bought into the idea that Social Security was the third rail might want to think again. The Right does have its defenders of Social Security ( Karl Rove has been critical of Perry on the issue), but take a tour of the comment sections of some right-wing websites and their posts on Social Security. They really think the only thing standing between them and financial paradise is Social Security and Obama. We’re all familiar with these zombies and their mentality. All the charts, facts, diagrams and appeals to human decency have to be made and they certainly do have an affect, especially in the case of Social Security. Low income cultural conservatives have the same fears about losing what is in many cases is their only income as everyone else. The conservative zombies are another matter. The same people who believe that social security is a Ponzi scheme are the same people who believe Obama was not born in the US, who believe cutting taxes creates millions of jobs, who believe the earth is only a few thousand years old, who believe Saddam had WMD and was involved in the attacks of Sept 11,2011. So with the knowledge that we’re dealing with people who have a strong aversion to the facts please do not think you can just make their Ponzi scheme mythlogizing go away with some derisive humor and charts. Experience tells us it won’t. Just as there are conservatives who wish the racists elements of the movement would get a grip, there are conservatives who wish the conservative movement was a little more rational about core safety net issues like Social Security – i.e. the rift represented by Romney versus Perry-Bachmann-Paul. Just as their powers of denial and deflection work on so many issues it is likely to be a mistake to take this rift as proof conservative zombie-ism is on its last legs. The Right feels more threatened than ever by progress – even the slightest progress. That fear is driving a very strong far Right re-entrenchment. That fear is a large part of what brought us the teaservatives. If these people can pretend they had nothing to do with the Great Recession, had nothing to do with enabling the senseless deaths of 4,000 Americans, than denying facts about Social Security or taxes or science is a cakewalk. If you’re already tired of reading about Social Security and the Ponzi scheme comparison, get ready to be thoroughly burned out on the subject.


True confessions, I’m not overly fond of presidential speeches. Obama’s are frequently worth a listen. I reached a point where I just read Bush’s at the White House website. Thus as one can imagine I’m not big on speech analysis either. It’s like eating cauliflower, it has to be done occasionally. James Fallows does pick up on a couple of things in regards the intangibles of the speech. People respond to the facts, but emotions help sell what politicians have to say. Anyone who doesn’t think conservatives have their own brand of emotionally laden hopey changey, just look up some of the commentary or naked cowering conservatives have done over speeches by Bush 43 or Saint Ronnie. On the Tone and Structure of the Obama Jobs Speech

1) In his appraisal, the Atlantic’s Chris Good said that the speech’s refrain — pass this jobs bill; you should pass it right away —  amounted to a kind of begging to Congress. That may be the President’s real situation. But I thought that as a specimen of rhetoric, his approach in the speech was quite effective.

In style and structure the constant refrain provided the “music” of the speech. Do you wonder what point the President is trying to get across? Well, in case you’ve forgotten, every thirty seconds he will remind you: Pass this jobs bill; you should pass it right away.

It’s an approach familiar from religious speeches and sermons, and tent-revival orations. When done right, the recurrent refrain seems not repetitive and boring but rather cumulatively engaging: the audience knows where the speaker is going, anticipates the connections he is going to make, and sees how the parts fit together. Most listeners will not know about the theory of rhyme schemes or the structure of refrains in poetry. But we all recognize these patterns when we hear them. Recall how, in a more innocent age, Obama used Yes we can as a stylized connective refrain. After the jump is a passage where I thought the refrain worked well as a thematic device (and was delivered well).

Some wingers have declared that President Obama sounded very angry. I did not sense anger as much as urgency. That the president would be so quickly bounced by the Right for even the subjective appearance of anger is a lesson for liberals who keep calling for him to get angry. It will detract from the message. The message itself might be too late, but in terms of tone it hit just the right mark.

How about the substance? Mark Zandi writing at Moody’s Analytics makes that easy – An Analysis of the Obama Jobs Plan

   President Obama’s jobs proposal would help stabilize confidence and keep the U.S. from sliding back into recession.

The plan would add 2 percentage points to GDP growth next year, add 1.9 million jobs, and cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point.

The plan would cost about $450 billion, about $250 billion in tax cuts and $200 billion in spending increases.

Many of the president’s proposals are unlikely to pass Congress, but the most important have a chance of winning bipartisan support.

Curious wonks will find more detail at the link. Here’s the thing. How many votes will it require to pass the Senate? Do not look in your old civics textbook. The answer is not 51 votes or a simple majority. It will take sixty votes. The economic terrorists or tea bags have a big enough majority in the House to kill it from step one. Some analysis puts the chance of passage of some form of The Jobs Bill at 50%. Seeing that like the last stimulus( The Recovery Act) this one is composed of mostly tax cuts that would make Republicans look like hypocrites once again. Something that Obama has gotten good at doing. And hey Krugman kinda likes it – Setting Their Hair on Fire

Still, the plan would be a lot better than nothing, and some of its measures, which are specifically aimed at providing incentives for hiring, might produce relatively a large employment bang for the buck. As I said, it’s much bolder and better than I expected. President Obama’s hair may not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking; clearly and gratifyingly, he does grasp how desperate the jobs situation is.

But his plan isn’t likely to become law, thanks to Republican opposition. And it’s worth noting just how much that opposition has hardened over time, even as the plight of the unemployed has worsened.

This story is a couple of week old, but worth a look at Paul Ryan(R-WI), one of the biggest wusses of conservatism. Ryan both insults a senior citizen and constituent,  and cowers at the thought of having to honestly answer a question: Ryan’s Approach to 71-Year-Old Dissenting Constituent: Tackle, Handcuff, Arrest, Disdain

Incredible video of Paul Ryan at his only, $15-a-pop public appearance, wherein he makes the lunatic claim that “most of our debt comes from our entitlement programs” – Bush tax cuts? Iraq? Afghanistan? anyone? – as police wrestle to the ground retired plumber Tom Nielsen for objecting.

As Ryan kept talking, Nielsen, 71, found himself face down on the floor being handcuffed by police. He was thrown to the ground, placed in handcuffs, and arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest after objecting to Ryan’s plans to gut Social Security and Medicare during his congressman’s only public appearance scheduled during the August recess — a $15 Rotary Club luncheon in West Allis, Wisconsin on Tuesday.


I probably have quite a few readers who have had jobs or still have jobs where you have to deal with the public. I bet you’ve dealt with much worse and managed to address the person’s concerns and calm them down without getting the police involved.

As Pawlenty Exits The Corrupt Rick Perry Takes The Stage

Pawlenty Drops Out of Republican Race

Mr. Pawlenty, who had been weighing a presidential campaign for years, had developed a robust plan to win the Republican nomination. But his strategy did not take into account the rising popularity of a fellow Minnesotan, Representative Michele Bachmann, whose candidacy had overshadowed Mr. Pawlenty’s. He had staked his entire campaign around a strong finish at the Iowa straw poll, which he did not achieve.

In my last post about the Iowa debates I was going to hazard a prediction that Pawlenty would stay in the race through at least a couple of primaries as a way to set himself up for the VP slot on the Republican ticket in 2012. Who knows he might still lobby for VP especially if it looks as though Romney would lead the ticket. T’Paw is pretty far to the Right, but he is the natural fire-breathing fanatic that is the flavor of the season among the tea smokers. Huntsman will also likely be gone soon or also try to make a deal with Romney.

By now everyone has heard Texas Governor Rick Perry is running. He and Bachmann are cut from the same crazy mold. Conservatives are as interesting as a box of crayons that only has few shades of beige to choose from. They’re only interesting in a four car pile up kind of way. In that sense Perry versus Bachmann has some dark entertainment value. One the Right’s eye rolling qualities is their ability to believe their own hype. Bachmann on Pawlenty dropping out and why she won the straw poll,

“I’m talking about what people really care about,” she told Jake Tapper, the host of the ABC program. “You saw a big message sent to Washington. They really want someone they can trust and can believe in.”

Bachmann was one of the reasons for the S&P downgrade. So other conservatives who have a deep emotional investment in further wrecking the economy feel Bachmann is a kindred spirit. Makes perfect sense.

The great thing about Gov. Rick Perry is he is to deranged what gravity is to falling objects. He cultivates, believes in, attracts and magnifies the worse of right-wing nationalism, bigotry, misogyny, injustice, wage-slave economics, dog-eat-dog culture, the perversion of religious values and butt sniffing pandering to special interests:

Five Questions for Rick Perry

Despite his mediocre approval ratings [2], national conservatives credit Perry with governing Texas as a right-wing mecca: low taxes, few regulations to protect the environment, no mass transit, a bare bones social safety net, with guns and executions aplenty. (They also wrongly believe, a misconception Perry actively encourages, that Texas has experienced unusually strong economic growth and that this is attributable to Perry’s policies. As Brad Plumer demonstrated [3] in The New Republic, neither claim withstands scrutiny.)

[  ]…As Governor you’ve presided [7] over 230 executions. Of the thirty death row inmates whose sentences you commuted, twenty-seven were juveniles after the Supreme Court outlawed executing juveniles in 2005, and two were developmentally disabled adults after the Supreme Court outlawed executing that group. Do you think executing juveniles and the developmentally disabled should be legal? Is there anyone who you think should not be executed? Do you think it’s possible Texas has executed anyone who was innocent? [8]

Perry has also said Texas has the right to succeed. Here again right-wing originalists such as Perry claim they have the last word on the Constitution. The question of Texas or any state succeeding from the Union was decided in the Civil War and even in a legal suit involving Texas. In a case called Texas v. White the SCOTUS ruled that under the Articles of Confederation, adopted by the states during the American Revolution, was the law of the land – “the Union was solemnly declared to ‘be perpetual.’ The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase (a Republican appointed by Lincoln). This is not a matter of opinion but of the law of the land. We are not a free country in the sense that anything goes. We as citizens are bound by a legal and social contract. I can’t find the link, but in commenting on who were the best U.S. presidents I read a conservative write that one of the reasons he admired Lincoln is because Abe saved the Union. Perry and most of the rabid Right no longer feels that way, if they ever did.

Want to pray for rain. That is well within America’s social and cultural norms. Stuck on a rooftop during hurricane Katrina, afraid you and your family may die, and praying to be rescued. Even many atheists might pray just in case. A member of the government use the weather as a dog whistle to gather the religious extremists to your cult of personality. Not acceptable or even respectful to Christianity, Five Scriptures You Won’t Hear at Rick Perry’s Prayer Event

God doesn’t withhold rain because we’ve done something wrong

“God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45)

Perry recently called Texans to pray for rain, which implies that God steers clouds toward the worthy. According to Right Wing Watch, one of the events co-sponsors has said the earthquake in Japan happened because the emperor had sex with the Sun Goddess. It may be a part of our lower nature to blame disasters on people we don’t like or understand, but Jesus taught that God sends rain on the just and unjust.  Furthermore, he said our love should be equally nonselective.

I have chosen Christianity as my life’s religion, but when nonjudgmental love is taken out of its center, it becomes poisonous and predatory.


If one buys into the framing of the drought created by Perry and his exploitative co-believers than maybe Texas is in  one of its worse droughts in decades because Perry is acting like an arrogant and false prophet. If anyone thought Bush 43 injected too much of his peculiar brand of right-wing religion marinated politics into government just wait for the Perry presidency – New Exposé Reveals Rick Perry’s Close Ties to Radical Evangelicals and Self-Proclaimed Prophets

The Texas Observer has just published an explosive new article titled “Rick Perry’s Army of God.” It exposes how a group of radical Christians and self-proclaimed prophets from a little-known movement known as New Apostolic Reformation have been quietly pushing for Perry to run for president. The author of the article, Forrest Wilder, is a staff reporter at theTexas Observer. He’s joining us from Austin.

[  ]..FORREST WILDER: Well, as I write about in the article, the organizers and the endorsers of the event largely come out of what’s called the New Apostolic Reformation movement. And the founder of this movement, the sort of intellectual godfather, is a guy named Peter Wagner, and he’s termed it “the most radical change in the way of doing Christianity since the Protestant Reformation.” Little bit of a grandiose statement, but it is really this movement that’s happening at the bleeding edge of evangelical Christianity in this country. And it wasn’t—it’s not really widely known, although it does have growing influence.

And I think one of the defining characteristics of it is this idea that there are modern-day prophets and apostles, that the prophets and apostles didn’t end in the Bible, and we have them now walking amongst us. And so, the leadership of the movement are self-proclaimed prophets and apostles. They hold themselves out as such, and they’re recognized as such by their followers. So this was, by and large, the set of individuals and organizations that were running The Response.

Perry also has close ties to the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), an affiliate of the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Koch brothers in turn are one of the powers behind ALEC. Rick Perry Pushes ALEC-Backed Education Policies To Turn Texas Universities Into Businesses

The perils of running higher education like a business, meanwhile, are well-known. The nation’s for-profit college system — which targets efficiency and profits the way Perry hopes Texas’ universities will — is rife with fraud and abuse of students, promising quick degrees and quality job opportunities at low prices. In reality, they more often leave students with “crushing debt and bleak job prospects,” hardly the situation one finds in the current Texas university system, which is regarded as one of the nation’s top statewide university systems.

One of the things I wish more of the general public understood about education is that the tax dollars spent are the nation’s way of training workers. Business gets someone who has a good basic skill set and in the case of professional undergraduate/graduate degrees, some specialized skills. Asking business to pay back the expense of providing that training (taxes) is a reasonable arrangement for a modern enlightened civilization. Universities already have a close relationship with business. Which is fine, but universities already provide services off which businesses and workers make a profit. In a report by the very conservative Texas Comptroller’s office the Texas economy receives $5.50 for every dollar spent on education. What Perry and his sycophants want to do is turn the university system into one of those commercial paper-mill type schools where the standards are so low the degrees are sometimes meaningless. Basic economics – when you remove the value from something( a degree in this case) no one will want it anymore.

Remember K-Street, Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and the Conservative Culture of Corruption. They have nothing on Rick Perry – Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism Problem

The Emerging Technology Fund was created at Mr. Perry’s behest in 2005 to act as a kind of public-sector venture capital firm, largely to provide funding for tech start-ups in Texas. Since then, the fund has committed nearly $200 million of taxpayer money to fund 133 companies. Mr. Perry told a group of CEOs in May that the fund’s “strategic investments are what’s helping us keep groundbreaking innovations in the state.” The governor, together with the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the Texas House, enjoys ultimate decision-making power over the fund’s investments.

Among the companies that the Emerging Technology Fund has invested in is Convergen LifeSciences, Inc. It received a $4.5 million grant last year—the second largest grant in the history of the fund. The founder and executive chairman of Convergen is David G. Nance.

In 2009, when Mr. Nance submitted his application for a $4.5 million Emerging Technology Fund grant for Convergen, he and his partners had invested only $1,000 of their own money into their new company, according to documentation prepared by the governor’s office in February 2010. But over the years, Mr. Nance managed to invest a lot more than $1,000 in Mr. Perry. Texas Ethics Commission records show that Mr. Nance donated $75,000 to Mr. Perry’s campaigns between 2001 and 2006.

So a conservative politician sets up what seems on the surface to be a kind of Keynesian fund to stimulate business and job creation. Conservatives always swear government does not create jobs. So hypocrisy one. Said fund is milked of funds by  friends of Rick’s ( one went completely sour and tax payers left with the losses). Why would a conservative even take money from the government for a private business. That is not simply hypocrisy but an action fundamentally opposite what conservatives say they believe in. There is more about the uses and abuses of Ricky’s little scheme at the link. Let me reiterate that this fund is only Keynesian on the surface. It has turned out to be largely a fund for Ricky’s conservative Texas cronies or welfare queens in ten gallon hats.