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February 17, 2005

Much Ado Over Nothing: Defense Of Brit Hume

Confederate Yankee has a good post about the Brit Hume brouhaha.

Some of you may know that the half-vast editorial staff regards Mr. Hume with what we like to call 'respect and admiration'. Therefore we were deeply disturbed to learn that impartial media ethics experts like Al Franken, the Daily Kos, NewsHounds, and Media Matters have called for Mr. Hume to resign in disgrace. No doubt Mr. Hume has assumed the duck-and-cover position and is fondly bidding his tuckus a final adieu.

Meanwhile, on the Air America Show Al Franken Blog (try saying that three times quickly - I dare you) the Bespectacled One is literally chittering with rage:

As Media Matters noticed: here’s Brit Hume, the Fox News Channel’s top news anchor, on February 3:
In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, quote, “Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age,” adding that government funding, quote, “ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.
Hume’s claim is that FDR wanted to replace Social Security with private accounts. Hume is lying.

Well Mr. Franken, the first thing we noticed about your piece is that you never linked to the transcript of Mr. Hume's actual remarks. Had you done so, your readers would clearly have seen that Mr. Hume never made any such claim.

What he actually said was this:

Senate Democrats gathered at the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial today to invoke the image of FDR in calling on President Bush to remove private accounts from his Social Security proposal. But it turns out that FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program when he proposed it.

Since I realize that English may not be your first language, let me clarify the difference between the words "include" and "replace":

include: to take in or comprise as a part of a whole

replace: to take the place of especially as a substitute or successor

Referring to the relevant paragraph of FDR's speech, it does appear that FDR contemplated the eventual inclusion of private investment accounts in Social Security:

In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

The bolded portion is the controversial part. And in truth, this paragraph is poorly-constructed: even Media Matters initially misunderstood it, as they note in the following correction to their main article:

Correction: When this item was first published, it incorrectly suggested that Roosevelt's plan for "voluntary contributory annuities" was similar to Democrats' proposal for supplemental private investment accounts funded by non-Social Security funds. In fact, the two proposals differ as noted above. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out.

And their main article contains the same distortion of Hume's quote that Franken's piece does: Hume never states FDR wanted to replace SS with private accounts. Never.

To sum this up, both Media Matters and Franken have intentionally misquoted Hume (without ever citing his exact quote, which is readily available).

The charge is that Hume claimed FDR "wanted to replace SS with private accounts". Hume never said that. What he said was:

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding, "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

The worst that can be said of this is that it is sloppy editing. FDR did want a 3-part Social Security program:

1. For the first 30 years, (1935-65) a non-contributory pension plan for those too old to work, funded by state and federal governments. Half of the funding would come from the federal government, but this funding would be phased out as this system was supplanted by self-supporting annuity systems (2 and 3).

2. Compulsory annuity plan for workers to build a self-sustaining system for the future (our present Social Security system).

3. Voluntary annuity plan for workers (never implemented) through which "individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age,". This third plan was meant to supplement, not replace, the compulsory plan. Hume stated that FDR intended that "any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities"...

4. The most contentious part of Hume's statement is the potentially misleading "....adding that government funding, "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

Let's stop and think about that one.

SOCIAL SECURITY IS FUNDED BY EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS COLLECTED FROM WORKERS AND PAYROLL TAXES COLLECTED FROM EMPLOYERS, BOTH LEVIED FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF FUNDING SOCIAL SECURITY.

What is this "government funding" Mr. Franken speaks of?

132642__al_l.gif Clearly, Franken deliberately misquoted Mr. Hume. Franken, and not Hume, is lying. When one makes a serious charge of this nature, one should (at the very least) provide evidence to back up the accusation.

Not only did Mr. Franken fail to do this, he deliberately omitted the portion of a two-sentence quote that clearly shows he distorted Mr. Hume's remarks. He then compounded his error by failing to link to Hume's column. This conveniently kept his readers from discovering his deception. Nice move.

And now Franken is calling for Hume's resignation for the heinous offense of.... misquoting FDR?

If misquoting a public figure is a hanging offense, we think perhaps Mr. Franken needs to resign.

Of course, we're not suggesting that he do so... That's just plain silly.

We're just saying maybe he shouldn't be so touchy.


Posted by Cassandra at February 17, 2005 07:27 AM

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Comments

Cass -

I went, on your dare, to AirAmerica to read what passes for thought there. I think this quote says it all (all the "’"s are in the original):

Although it won’t be as explosive politically, this is worse than Dan Rather’s memo scandal. First of all, it’s deliberate. (My thought: Dan's wasn't???) Secondly, it’s untrue. Dan Rather was guilty of being insufficiently skeptical of forged, true documents. (emphasis mine...gotta get me some of them forged, true documents!) But Brit Hume, Fox News Channel’s #1 anchor--not commentator, not editorialist, anchor--is deliberately perverting the words of a hero to destroy the hero’s legacy. (well, whatever...)

I also went to FDR's speech and read the whole thing several weeks ago. It sure sounded to me like he knew Social Security needed a "loading dose" to take care of the soon-to-be-retired, then it would need to learn to fund itself with private investment.

I swear, then next time Al Franken decides to do one of his wrestling tackles on a poor, unsuspecting protestor, I hope he hits his head hard on a table leg and knocks some sense and decency into it. (I would hope for something more damaging, but I was raised Lutheran and though we might think bad thoughts about a person, we're not allowed to say them, or worse, put them on public display on a forum such as this.)

Posted by: MathMom at February 17, 2005 11:44 AM

The amusing thing in all this is that FDR's speech, like all such speeches, was sufficiently vague in outline that it could be interpreted in any one of several possible ways.

Which makes any charge of "lying" awfully difficult to prove, even if you actually have a factual quote to back up your allegation (which Franken doesn't).

Hume's little 'quickie' takes are not meant to be mistaken for in-depth, investigative reports on Social Security - if you watch the clip on the Media Matters site or bother to read Hume's Grapevine column, it's just a brief comment. To try to blow a couple-of-sentence blurb out of proportion with a full-length column (as Media Matters does) is to read all sorts of things into Hume's very brief and to-the-point remark that he never said.

And what is REALLY telling is that both Franken and Media Matters misquote Hume, leaving out over half of his EXTRMEMELY short statement, then Franken doesn't even link to it and Media Matters only links to the video, making it difficult for either of their readers to fact-check their allegations.

To me, to do this is bad enough, but to do it and then use it as the basis for a demand for his head is a tad bit much.

These people have got to stop taking themselves so seriously...

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 11:59 AM

For the life of me, I can't understand all this idiocy.

If it's retaliation for Eason Jordan, it's misplaced: almost no one on the right side of the B-sphere called for Jordan to resign. We just wanted him to retract or back up his statement.

All this 'gotcha' blogging needs to stop. It's destructive and furthers no one's agenda except people who enjoy seeing the Right and Left go picnicking on each other.

How sad.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 12:02 PM

I used to get very moved by Stuart Smalley's self reflections. He tried ever so hard to take himself seriously. Now he appears to have suceeded to the point of absurdity. I, on the other hand, have quit taking him so seriously for some time.

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 12:03 PM

Cass -

Like you, I am a fan of Brit Hume. I have always been impressed by his careful adherence to truth. When his panel members attempt to make a point by using the only helpful part of a quote, and eliminating the niggling stuff which makes the argument less watertight, he will introduce the entire quote rather than let the panelist slip one by. He does this to panelists on the left and right (but I have never seen him have to correct Krauthammer, who as we know is perfect). Because of this, I hold him in very high regard.

I think the "gotcha blogging" is happening because for so long we on the right have seen reporting which willfully distorts or simply does not report things which do not fit the PC template. An example of this is when reporters and political cartoonists aim to catch Dubya in every verbal bloop, to the extent that books and calendars are published with his verbal missteps. The goal is to present him as an intellectual lightweight, and make people afraid.

However, Al Gore's famous youth behind a mule, plantin' 'n' cuttin' 'n' haulin' too-baccy, is swept under the rug. Should we not know this man, who wishes to be President, cannot tell the truth, and is so brazen about it that an amateur could disprove his claims in an afternoon of Googling?

Jean-Fraude received many do-overs because his prose is so dense and stultifying that one cannot remove, even with skillful surgery, a memorable, meaningful quote. Should we not have to don waders and slog through what he actually says, and arrive honestly at the conclusion that perhaps all his verbosity is cover for being an indecisive dim bulb?

I am tired of this state of the world, and am truly glad when arguments can be won on facts and proof. Right now, a lot of facts are seeing the light of day, and they should be evaluated and discussed. When people have been wronged or defamed by the failure of the MSM to report what is true (ie: Eason Jordan's history of defamatory statements about the military) and when the truth is allowed to be heard and natural consequences occur to those involved, there will be a bit of high-fiving. (Of course, if everyone had been raised Lutheran, they wouldn't high-five, but just rejoice that the scales had been removed from the eyes of the blind... :) )

Posted by: MathMom at February 17, 2005 01:13 PM

Meanwhile, Scott [I frequently]"Think Of The Children" Ritter, Traitor-In- Chief, is a columnist for Al Jazeera!?!?!! [or as Blackfive Matt put it so perfectly: "al freakin' jazeera"]

Way to go pedopunk, provoking jihad on our troops and American citizens!

This is a case where you kinda wish there were some truth to the troops targetting *journalists* --- with accuracy and success. After considering his history and reading his a.j.bilge-- is it not safe to deduce, he's basically a de facto terrorist? If nothing else, labeling him traitor is hardly *drama*.

I wonder how many paychecks from Saddam show up on his bank statements.

Err Amerika is still in existence?? Basically, dimunderground via radio waves I guess, eh?

Posted by: CKCat at February 17, 2005 01:56 PM

To paraphrase FDR: F**k Kos. F**k Franken. F**k media matters. And to my worthless grandson: change your name.

Posted by: brit hume at February 17, 2005 03:07 PM

It's probably worth pointing out that the comments on Al Franken's blog were actually posted by Ben Wikler (whoever that is) rather than big Al himself.

Posted by: SZ at February 17, 2005 03:31 PM

Well, if no one else is going to engage in pointless cheerleading...

[Spanish Announcer Voice]

Sccooooooooooooorrrrrrrrre!!!!!

Congrats from Jonah's Military Guy - now, Cassie, which "guy" are you gonna be?

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 17, 2005 03:42 PM

I probably should have read the comments, but I usually get too upset at some of the things people say :)

Thanks for the note though - it's better to be fair.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 03:45 PM

I note that much of the argument involves what FDR either meant or said. In view of the great importance and authority of his pronouncements, wouldn't it be appropriate to follow each mention of his names with "pbuh"?

Posted by: toot at February 17, 2005 03:46 PM

What are you talking about John?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 03:46 PM

What did you do?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 03:49 PM

Check your referrer logs. Follow the trackback (and then the links) from my blog.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 17, 2005 03:53 PM

I believe there is some confusion in your post. The quote you give for Brit Hume is from an article posted on the FoxNews website.


The quote Media Matters, et. al. have been working with was from a broadcast.


Media Matters has a link to the videoclip in their original post on the subject.

Posted by: talboito at February 17, 2005 04:13 PM

"We not only invaded Iraq on false pretences, but we perverted the notion of liberation by removing Saddam and his cronies from his palaces, replacing them with American occupiers who have not only kept open Saddam's most notorious prisons, but also the practice of torture, rape and abuse we were supposed to be bringing to an end."

Sure. Starring Lynndie as Uday, I suppose.

Now I know where to get the fertilizer for the back forty..

Posted by: cw4billt at February 17, 2005 04:17 PM

The video is a word-for-word match to Hume's article. If you don't believe me, bring up the Fox article and read it as you watch the video. That's what I did this morning before I wrote my post.

From MediaMatters:

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, quote, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding, quote,
"ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

From Hume's article:

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding,
"ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

They differ only by the bolded word "quote".

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 04:25 PM

re: Congrats from Jonah's Military Guy - now, Cassie, which "guy" are you gonna be?

(a) THE INVISIBLE GUY...

(b) If you don't ask, I won't tell...

Someday soon I'm gonna tell the moon
About the crying game
And if he knows, maybe he'll explain
Why there are heartaches, why there are tears
And what to do to stop feeling blue
When love disappears

I know all there is to know about the crying game
I've had my share of the crying game
First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then, before you know where you are
You're sayin' goodbye....


Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 04:32 PM

Geez, Cass,

I clicked on a link at InstaPundit, and found myself here! Congrats!

Posted by: MathMom at February 17, 2005 04:33 PM

QUOTING FDR....FDR's grandson, James Roosevelt, was on Keith Olbermann's show last night to say that Fox News anchor Brit Hume should offer "a retraction, an apology, maybe even a resignation" over his deliberate misquoting of FDR's views on Social Security. I've mentioned this before, but since my original post provoked several questions I want to make crystal clear what Hume did. Here is FDR's exact quote. All I've done is add paragraphs for easy reference:

In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles:


(1) First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions.


(2) Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations.


(3) Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age.


It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

In other words, #1 (a temporary program for people who were already retired at the time) would eventually be phased out and replaced by #2, which is the permanent Social Security system we have today. (#3, which FDR didn't care much about in the first place, never even got enacted in the final bill that created Social Security.)

Now here's what Hume said:

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding, "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

By clever truncation of the quotation, he's trying to make it look like FDR thought #2 (Social Security) should eventually be replaced by #3 (private annuities). FDR neither said nor meant any such thing, and Hume knows it.

So why is a major network news anchor allowed to get away with this? This isn't just a difference of opinion or a matter of Hume's point of view versus mine. It's a deliberate misquotation in the service of ideology, and it's been making the rounds for two weeks now. Does Hume plan to ever apologize and air a retraction?

Posted by: FDR at February 17, 2005 04:37 PM

To the MOON, Alice! or Cass...
What a launch! nice post too.

Posted by: AFSister at February 17, 2005 04:42 PM

A link from Jonah Goldberg on the Corner! To think I knew you when :)

Posted by: Ith at February 17, 2005 04:46 PM

You all are very sweet, but it's a fluke. Tomorrow I'll be linking to my own posts again...

(sigh...) I'm just happy to have you all reading :)

That's the best thing reason to do this.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 04:51 PM

And I didn't do anything... other than link and cheerlead.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 17, 2005 04:58 PM

FDR, isn't that from Kevin Drum?

And isn't it a complete waste of time to try to wonder "what FDR really meant?". I've read several bios on the man, and he was an enigma - I'm not even sure HE knew what he thought! Fascinating guy, but more twists and turns than a country road up a mountainside. Read Doris Kearns Goodwin's bio of him if you haven't already - it's quite illuminating. He excelled at keeping everyone around him guessing.

And I've addressed what you say in my post.

First of all, both in the written and oral versions of Hume's report, one can tell it's a spliced quote if one is paying attention. I already said he could have been more careful, but as I already noted, the para was poorly written (why didn't FDR put his part about "supplanting" up with item #1 where it belonged instead of down with #3 where it was sure to be misinterpreted?). Hume even inserted the word "quote" in his on-air broadcast, a dead giveaway that the words directly before were his and that something had been omitted ('adding that' is an indication that something has been going on in the meantime).

Granted, this requires one to think. Pity, that....

Hume was unclear. However, HE ABSOLUTELY DID NOT, AS FRANKEN AND MEDIA MATTERS ALLEGE, EVER SAY THAT FDR INTENDED TO REPLACE ITEM #2 (OUR PRESENT SS SYSTEM) WITH PRIVATE ACCOUNTS.

Saying that:

1. Any SS plan should "include private accounts" and

2. Govt funding ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuities (AS IS CURRENTLY THE CASE, IN INTENT IF NOT IN PRACTICE, I MIGHT ADD) is NOT the same as saying that FDR wanted to replace our current system with private accounts.

And no matter how you try to twist Hume's words, you can't make a sow's ear out of them.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 05:04 PM

Dearest Cass...you tried the "Next week I'll be a nobody again" line LAST week!!The sky's the limit kiddo.Bravo Zulu.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 17, 2005 05:04 PM

Nope... looked in the mirror. I'm still a hopeless dork, Greg.

But thanks.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 05:13 PM

I linked your site to Tom Maguire's blog when a commenter used the term Humeify by saying:

Should we replace Dowdification with Humeify?

Perish the thought! Dowdification is entirely appropriate for purposefully misquoting a person in order to change the meaning of their words, because it actually, you know, fits.

Hopefully that person will read your great summary on this story. At any rate I'll be checking back here every so often, so the Corner link is helping already!

Posted by: Brent at February 17, 2005 05:23 PM

Thanks for reading, Brent, and for the kind words :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 05:30 PM

"he's trying to make it look like FDR thought #2 (Social Security) should eventually be replaced by #3 (private annuities)."

No he isn't. I saw this myself (I think on the "Grapewine"). The impression I got was correct, i.e that FDR originally wanted a mixed system, just like Bush is proposing. That Franken is too ignorant to understand Hume is not our problem.

Hume does not have any obligation to also make clear FDR wanted the non-voluntarily part of SS as well, since this is self evident to any informed viewer. It is by the way also clear from the word "include".

Also, it is 100% clear from Hume that the proposal "never even got enacted in the final bill that created Social Security". Why else would Hume even have the segment otherwise?

Posted by: Tino at February 17, 2005 05:32 PM

You got it all wrong Cassandra.

You almost got it right in your point 4. It is misleading. That's the whole issue. Hume made it sound like FDR wanted to replace SS with private annuities when he says:

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding, "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

Hume does not explain, as he should, that the government funding FDR is referring to are the SS payments for people who never paid into SS. All FDR is saying is that in time all those getting benefits woould have paid first into the system. But by truncating parts of the speech and not making things clear Hume leaves the impression that FDR wants to supplant SS with private annuities.

Posted by: GT at February 17, 2005 05:57 PM

Forgive for being dense and all - but couldn't Point 2 of Roosevelt's plan be taken to mean an outright call for personal accounts rather than the Ponzi scheme we have now?

Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations.

The government is forcing me to save a portion of my earnings for *my* retirement.

Posted by: BumperStickerist at February 17, 2005 06:11 PM

GT, I would agree with you .... IF that was all Hume had said, as Media Matters and Franken disingenuously imply.

Let's take this slowly ONE MORE TIME.

1.FDR made a long speech.

2. Hume made an EXTREMELY short statement about one paragraph of that speech, WHICH HAPPENED TO BE QUITE DENSE AND, BY THE WAY, CONFUSING. We know this because even MMatters didn't get it right the first time :) Everyone else is still arguing over what FDR meant, too!

3. In Hume's statement, he said two things. I am going to paste them both in, IN FULL, so you can see how badly Franken and Media Matters distorted what he said.

(a)[Hume's words] "Senate Democrats gathered at the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial today to invoke the image of FDR in calling on President Bush to remove private accounts from his Social Security proposal. But it turns out that FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program when he proposed it."

HUME IS REFERRING TO FDR'S ITEM 3, THE VOLUNTARY PENSION PLAN, WHICH WAS NEVER IMPLEMENTED.

There is some debate over whether you can term item 3 a "private account". Well, if it is voluntary and owned only by the contributor and is an annuity, it's hard to describe it any other way. What is an "annuity"? (FDR's word)

An annuity is a type of investment that guarantees payments of specific amounts at specific times. You can either receive periodic interest or a lump sum payment. They come in two forms: fixed and variable. Fixed annuities are like CD's that pay a set rate of return. Variable annuities allow you to invest in stocks and bonds and the rate of return depends on how your investments do.

Either way, the speech is sufficiently vague that a charge of "lying" here cannot be supported.

SO PART I OF HUME'S STATEMENT, WHICH NEITHER MEDIA MATTERS NOR FRANKEN QUOTED (AND WHICH COMPRISES OVER HALF OF HUME'S TOTAL REMARKS, WHICH ONE MIGHT THINK HAS SOME BEARING ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE WHOLE) IS SUPPORTED BY THE RECORD AND A REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF FDR'S SPEECH.

(B) [HUME'S WORDS] In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, [FDR'S WORDS] "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," [HUME'S WORDS] adding that government funding, [FDR'S WORDS] "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

First, if you just look at the literal truth of that quote, FDR said both those things, but that's not the point and we both know it.

What I find amazing about the brouhaha over this is simply this: Hume's piece was short, breezy, drive-by commentary.

1. Franken and Media matters go into nauseating detail over a two-bit soundbyte, and both state (without producing an applicable quote) that "HUME CLAIMS FDR wanted to replace Social Security with private accounts. Hume is lying."

The truth is: THEY INTERPRET WHAT HE SAID TO MEAN THAT. HE NEVER SAID IT.

How can you leave out fully 1/2 of the man's quote (Franken and Media Matters), not link to what he DID say (Franken), then re-state what he said wrongly, then call for him to resign (Franken again)? Is this responsible journalism?

And furthermore, anyone who makes voting decisions based on Brit Hume's "Grapevine" needs to get a life! C'mon... Comparing this to 60 Minutes or Eason Jordan... I am not disparaging Mr. Hume - I respect him. But look at the clip. It was a trivia bit. They're making a mountain out of a molehill.

By the way, I do agree with you. **As I admitted in my post, if you go back and read it** the worst that can be said about this is: sloppy editing of an inherently misleading paragraph. FDR put that sentence in the wrong darn place in the first place, GT. Re-read it.

And by the way, I NEVER had that impression at all. Because Hume's FIRST sentence was so clear to me, and because I already know how our CURRENT SS system works, that interpretation makes absolutely no sense. A marginally alert listener would not go there.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 06:31 PM

And I'm going to say one more thing and then I'm going to have an enormous beer:

Context is important here.

This was a blurb, for Pete's sake.

Listeners, like patients in a doctor's office, still have some duty to engage their brains. If you are listening to a 20-minute In-Depth Special Report, that's one thing. If you're listening to a 20-second drive-by "Didja Know..." that's another.

Should reporters take pains to be accurate? Absolutely.

This was confusing stuff. I've read more darned threads where smarter people than I can't agree on what FDR intended, much less what a private account is, whether SS is in trouble, what we should do about it, whether the sun came up today, whether Bush is Hitler (no) or Harry Reid is an asshat (yes) :)

We need to stop yelling at each other for a few seconds and all go have a few cold ones.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 06:41 PM

Actually, GT, it isn't misleading at all. Your statement is.
FDR could not have been suggesting that "in time all those getting benefits woould (sic) have paid first into the system", because that was true from the beginning. While the first beneficiaries may have paid in very little before beginning to draw benefits, they all did pay something.
Secondly, the Social Security system as now designed is not by any stretch of the imagination a self-supporting annuity. No money is invested. Beneficiaries do not receive back "their own money"; that money was spent long ago. What we have now is a disguised public assistance program in which one person's money is simply given to another. That isn't what FDR or anyone else anticipated in 1935.
It is, however, a cornerstone of Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society". Draw your own conclusions from that.

Posted by: MrsPurpleRaider at February 17, 2005 06:42 PM

Cassandra,

For better or worse the time when both sides were willing to think the best of the other os long past. If it ever existed.

Hume said what he said and the interpretation is clear. Heck, some of your posters still don't know what FDR said!

Hume could have used other words but he chose these.

Posted by: GT at February 17, 2005 07:01 PM

I for one want to know the answer to this: Why would what FDR said before SocSec was even law mean one flipping thing to me about what we should do with SocSec today?

The SOB is f'n dead and the system is over 70 years old today. We aren't in the great depression and we aren't fighting Nazis and the Japanese. FDR means nothing to me on how to improve (or do away with entirely) the current SocSec system. Screw FDR.

Posted by: Insensitive Man at February 17, 2005 07:03 PM

Let me ride on the Mrs coattails for a Minute.

1. It's not Social Security, it's Social Security Insurance. IF you reach 65 years of age you get a monthly check. If you die before age 65 you get nothing, all the money you paid in is now the government's to do as they wish. If you die before all the money you paid in is paid back to you (with interest I might add) again too bad, so sad.

2. In 1965 during the passing of LBJ's great society programs, the US Congress passed a law removing the Lockbox provisions of SSI. Before this provision was passed, the funds for SSI WAS put in a trust fund for future generations. The 1965 law removed this trust fund and treated it like general revenues, to be spent on whatever whim Congress had. BTW, in 1965 both houses of congress were controlled by Dems.

3. In 1993, under President Tiparillo Clinton's greatest achievement, the largest tax increase in US history, a provision was snuck into the tax bill in the dead of night taxing SSI benefits. The tax bill was passed, Tiparillo signed it into law, and the Seasoned Citizens howled. BTW, in 1993 both houses of congress were controlled by Dems.

SSI hasn't been solvent ever, the lockbox notwithstanding.

As for Mr Hume, and this turn of events: It is clear to me that FDR MAY have talked about wanting private accounts, but being America's first Socialist president, would have proposed it only with a gun to his mistress's head. However, gleaning from this statement, and this statement only, it is clear that at least he was thinking about it. He may have been lying through his cigarette holder, but he was thinking about it.

For all those who want Brit Hume to resign, Kiss My Grits.

Posted by: Purple Raider at February 17, 2005 07:05 PM

What my crass brother meant to say is that FDR's words about how Social Security should be designed today may carry little relevance in today's very different world.

Posted by: Sensitive Man at February 17, 2005 07:07 PM

I saw "The Grapevine" as I do most days , and I've read the actual text of FDR's statement, and NEITHER wanted to "replace" SS with private annuities, but "supplement" them with accredited private contributions.Ergo, "private accounts" are NOT evil Karl Rove concoctions.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 17, 2005 07:08 PM

Heresy!

I demand Insensitive Man's resignation! He has defamed the Great Man's Legacy, and for this, he must pay!

GT, you are a reasonable opponent, and I for one am willing to think the best of you. I can respect someone who is honest and forthright, while perhaps not agreeing with their interpretation of the facts.

It is that which I wish was more present in debate. Because we WILL often disagree in our interpretation of the facts. And the facts aren't always 100% clear, either. And then, all we have left is good will.

Yeah, I know I'm an idiot.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 07:10 PM

Shut up you p*ssywhipped dolt. FDR gave us more commie imitating garbage than any other President before him and laid the groud work for Johnson's programs to keep generations of poor people dependent on government. I don't care what FDR said about any economic issue.

Posted by: Insensitive Man at February 17, 2005 07:12 PM

OK, Cassandra. I resign. Now what? Do I get a spanking, too? At lest slap me in the face. What good is punishment if it doesn't sting? Sensitive Man could use a little more positive discipline like that. He usually is just pulled around on his nose ring by his ball busting wife. HERE THAT BROTHER!! Quit shaving your back for that wench!

Posted by: Insensitive Man at February 17, 2005 07:16 PM

You can't fool me, IM.

You're just angling for a spanking. Probably a publicly humiliating spanking, too. That would be just like you hypocritical, snake-handling, Bible-thumping "family values" types - all mealy-mouthed one moment and the next you're surreptitiously eyeing the naughty cable channels.

You disgust me, sir....

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 07:27 PM

fwiw, I receive Social Security benefits and yet I see the need to save the system that we now have, while adjusting it to provide a like level of benefits (albeit less than a 401k fer example) to the youth of America.The AARP can kiss my ass, they are a for-profit org. anyways.

Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 17, 2005 07:30 PM

Oh, Ms. Cassandra, you have to forgive IM. He has had a hard time of it since Dad grounded him in 1962 and took away his bike for a week. Well, I must go. My honey bunny needs help with the dishes.

Posted by: Sensitive Man at February 17, 2005 07:34 PM

... Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. ...


Social Security is not an annuity funded self-supporting scheme.


It could be argued that some of the proposed changes are an attempt to implement this "Second".

Posted by: htom [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 17, 2005 07:44 PM

Cassandra,

i don't think you've done a very good job of tarring al franken. the key quote which he is going ape about is:

"adding that government funding, quote, “ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

and that is a direct quote of brit hume.

the reason why that statement is such a problem is that in FDR's world "self-supporting annuity plans" is the entitlement system we currently have. you acknowledge this. and the "government funding" is the original pension system that was phased out decades ago.

but the way hume uses the quote, unless you were across the details of FDRs proposal you would think that "self-supporting anuuity plans" were private accounts and "government funding" was a vague description of our current entitlement system.

and surely this misleading context was deliberate. If hume wasn't try to imply these meanings, there would have been no reason for him to have uttered the sentence as it would have borne no relevance to the current debate.

essentially he is taking the archaic and complicated language of FDR out of context to confuse viewers.

franken's bile is about that point. i don't like the word "lie" in this case (i regard hume more as being weasely) and i wish franken hadn't used it but i think you're pushing sh*t uphill to suggest franken was misrepresenting hume.

also if you find the term "government funding" vague maybe you should excoriate hume not franken, because hume is the person who used it. in this case i happen to agree with you by the way, and think hume should have used the phrase "non-contributory pension plan". it is his loose wording that allows him to be deceitful.

your protests about hume using the word "include" not "replace" are irrelevant because that isn't the part where hume was dodgy.

but i do agree that franken should have linked to the actual quote and should have given hume credit that a) his entire statement wasn't misleading - just that one line (the use of the word "include" in the intro does ammeliorate the later miscontextualisation)and b) it was a very short editorial. it's not like hume made that big a deal out of it.

but needless to say i don't think you've achieved much in your thread except to distract from hume's (or his scriptwriter's) intentionally misleading rhetoric. but maybe that's all you meant to do.

Posted by: chazza at February 17, 2005 07:46 PM

by the way i should add that i for one don't know if FDR would have supported Bush's plan or not.

the truth is that social security is different now to what FDR proposed and i find it quite disingenuous that either side could claim to be the heir to his legacy.

however, that is not relevant to the issue of whether hume intentionally twisted a quote of FDR's to make it seem as if he unequivocally supported an eventual full-privatisation plan.

whether FDR would support bush or not, his quote was taken out of context.

that is the issue at hand.

Posted by: chazza at February 17, 2005 07:55 PM

Chazza, I just don't see it. I saw the statement on the Grapevine segment and thought little of it except that FDR had some form of annuity idea that was part of SS at one time. After reading FDR's quote, that appears to be the case. I don't think it was misleading -- perhaps vague or not as detailed as it could be, as all 4 second soundbites, no matter who offers them, are.

Misleading is news report that a budget proposal that increases spending 1.5% instead of 3% is a "cut." Franken and his ilk do that ALL the time, and that is flat out lying.

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 08:03 PM

1. "pushing sh*t uphill..." I like that :)

2. No, honestly that's not what I'm trying to do.

Let me explain my purpose in writing this piece.

a) I object to Franken's use of the word "lie".

As I stated, they could (possibly) get away with saying Hume intended to mislead (an opinion by the way, as subjective intent is something no one can ever prove), but to be honest I have watched the man for years and he is careful and pedantic with the facts. I don't think you can make "intended" stick. They don't know what he "intended" and his record just doesn't support that accusation. It's unjust and unsupported.

(b) Thank you for making my case here

You stated:

the key quote which he is going ape about is:

(AND I AGREE)

"adding that government funding, quote, “ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

and that is a direct quote of brit hume.

STIPULATED

the reason why that statement is such a problem is that in FDR's world "self-supporting annuity plans" is the entitlement system we currently have. you acknowledge this. and the "government funding" is the original pension system that was phased out decades ago.

EXACTLY - THE ORIGINAL PENSION PLAN WAS REPLACED BY SOCIAL SECURITY AS WE KNOW AND LOVE IT

but the way hume uses the quote, unless you were across the details of FDRs proposal you would think that "self-supporting anuuity plans" were private accounts and "government funding" was a vague description of our current entitlement system.

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!!

THIS IS THE LIBERAL-CONSERVATIVE DISCONNECT.

LIBERALS OFTEN TALK ABOUT 'CODE WORDS'. I DIDN'T READ 'PRIVATE ACCOUNTS' FOR 'GOVERNMENT FUNDING' AND I HADN'T READ FDR'S SPEECH YET, WHEN I READ HUME'S REMARKS! SO THAT INTERPRETATION DID NOT OCCUR TO ME BECAUSE OF ANY PRIOR KNOWLEDGE. IT OCCURRED TO ME BECAUSE -- AND ONLY BECAUSE -- OF HUME'S PRIOR SENTENCE, AND THE LEAD-IN TO THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE, BOTH OF WHICH CONSPICUOUSLY USE THE WORD INCLUDE, NOT REPLACE:

But it turns out that FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program when he proposed it.

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities...

I am a careful listener, chazza.

Words have meanings to me. When someone uses the word INCLUDE twice in a two-sentence lead-in, THAT MAKES A PRETTY BIG IMPRESSION ON ME.

Franken and Media Matters heard the word INCLUDE twice and got REPLACE out of it.

Explain that one to me.


Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 08:10 PM

And FWIW, I don't think we know whether FDR would have supported Bush's plan. Frankly I think it unlikely given historic events, and ultimately irrelevent. Who gives a rat's behind? The man's dead. And he's hardly an expert on modern economic conditions.

I don't think Hume made that claim.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 08:15 PM

Um, Cassie - got those regressions done yet? I've got some filing over at the Castle you could help with... in between spending more words in the comments on this post than have been expended in the entire MSM on this subject...

8^) Just offering sanctuary!

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 17, 2005 08:24 PM

Is it just me, or is Al Franken calling out Brit Hume's integrity just absurdity? Sheesh.

Greg

Oh, and nevermind that he is on FNC, watch him for a week.He is the Dean of anchors.

Posted by: Greg at February 17, 2005 08:30 PM

Hume's stated premise: "that FDR himself planned to include private investment"

Then Hume backed up that premise using FDR's own words.

To claim (without quoting Hume's stated premise) some other unsupported premise as implied by the selected quotes, is invalid and dishonest.

The backing quotes selected by Hume do in fact support his premise. In isolation those same quotes out of context (Hume's or FDR's) seem to imply something different, but it is Hume's accusers, not Hume who have removed the relevant context.

Posted by: boris at February 17, 2005 08:33 PM

I know... I just feel like if people are nice enough to leave a well thought-out comment, the least I can do is respond. Not everyone's going to agree with me, and it takes guts to say you don't like what someone has posted.

And even the ones I've disagreed with have been well-reasoned. Let's face it, I could have deluged with obnoxious people but everyone has been very nice so far and I'm very impressed. Looking at some of the threads I saw earlier today, I was a bit apprehensive.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 08:37 PM

fair enough cassandra,

you may well be right about the liberal-conservative disconnect. i am a liberal (although i'd like to think a reasonable one) and i read the statement differently, as you suggested a liberal might.

i certainly can't dispute the way you interpreted hume's statements and i do believe you have mounted an honest case.

so we should probably put this one down to different initial readings. having said that i think we actually agree on many points (like for instance i also think hume demonstrably didn't "lie". and i also think the use of the word "include" is one that should have been taken into account by franken when criticising hume)

and i hope most people interpreted his remarks the way you did because if that's the case no one was misled and it's no harm, no foul as far as i'm concerned.

either way, i thank you for providing a forum for rational discourse on the web which doesn't require name-calling.

and KJ, i agree entirely about the budget "cut" thing. that irritates me as well. although my opinion is that often journos as guilty of bias towards sensationalism, controversy and laziness as they are towards liberalism.

Posted by: chazza at February 17, 2005 08:39 PM

I know what you mean Cass. I can't stand obnoxious people either. Of course, I can't stand ball and chained little weinies who jump every time their permentent female companion shakes the jar she keeps his testicles in want a new pillow for her corn covered feet either.

FWIW, if Bush's plan would have really upset FDR, would he be turning over in his grave, or doing wheelies?

Posted by: Insensitive Man at February 17, 2005 08:45 PM

A reasonable lib on a right of center blog. That doesn't happen every day. It isn't my blog but don't be a stranger.

Posted by: Pile On® at February 17, 2005 08:46 PM

Chazz,

"my opinion is that often journos as guilty of bias towards sensationalism, controversy and laziness as they are towards liberalism"

I won't argue the premise. I think they are more likely to use sensationalism, controversy and lazy language when it has a tendency to help liberalism though -- as opposed to the other way around.

Your honest debating style here is - I think - appreciated by the regulars here as well as Cass (we think of this as our site too you know).

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 08:50 PM

chazza,

You are welcome here anytime. FWIW, my oldest and dearest friend is a very liberal Democrat who voted for Kerry but would have preferred Dean. The best thing coming out of this election was that we were able (after being apart for 2 years) to sit down and talk about the election for 3 hours without losing our tempers or our friendship. And we're both passionately partisan, but we both love our country more than our respective parties.

And both my brother and sister-in-law are also Democrats. We still love each other :) My husband's oldest friend is also a Democrat and we argue like madmen over beers. But they're the people I'd turn to if I need help - among others. I trust them - they're my kid's Godparents.

I think rational debate is something of a lost art.

We even argue with each other here - KJ and I have gotten into it a few times, but I respect him deeply and he's an old friend.

We get excited sometimes and the fur flies, but then everyone calms down and in the end there is always mutual respect.

Thanks so much for being willing to contribute your thoughts - if we all sit around and agree with each other all the time, it gets a tad incestuous... :) I was going to say something worse, but decided against it.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 09:36 PM

re: Pile's "it isn't my blog"

Actually, it is your blog.

One of the reasons I chose the name "Villainous Company", Pile, was that it reminds me that this is about more than just me - a blog is a community.

And that how I think of VC. There is a weird continuity between TOB and Jet Noise and VC and I hope it will continue. You guys mean a lot to me - you've enriched my life (which I was already very happy with) in ways you can't begin to imagine.

So don't you dare ever say, 'it's not my blog'.

Especially you :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 09:41 PM

I agree with Cassandra. I have several good friends who happen to be liberal, such as one good friend who is a Honda Civic Hybrid, and another VW Golf Deisel. We don't agree on much politically, but we enjoy each other's company. I also dated a liberal Prius once. She liked having me around when the road got crowded. We were friends for a while until I started dating her rich sister, a Lexus. That ended our friendship. I do miss it.

Posted by: Hummer at February 17, 2005 09:47 PM

Yeah, Pile On. Be like me -- claim this place as your own. The continuity from TOB, to ILJN, to VC, means Cassandra serves us - the customer.

You enriched us too Cass. Now, group hug. Hands above the waist.

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 09:50 PM

Well...I won't make that mistake again, I just felt a bit presumptous to tell someone not to be a stranger, but if you'll notice I did it anyway.

Now someone get me a beer damn it.

Posted by: Pile On® at February 17, 2005 10:01 PM

Cassandra,

I don't think the issue is between you and me, meaning that it's gerat we can be civil to each other but that is not where the conflict lies.


Hume said somthing clearly misleading. You want to give him the benefit of the doubt, becasue you like him and/or trust him. But many others (like me) do not like or trust him and so we base our opinion on what he said and not on what we may think he could have meant.

What he said was misleading, to say the least. Was it an accident? I doubt it but can see why others could believe that

Posted by: GT at February 17, 2005 10:31 PM

"Hume said somthing clearly misleading. You want to give him the benefit of the doubt, becasue you like him and/or trust him. But many others (like me) do not like or trust him and so we base our opinion on what he said and not on what we may think he could have meant."

Translation: you like him, so you are biased in interpreting him. I don't like him, so I am unbiased in interpreting him, and therefore right.

Kettle, I'm Pot. You're black.

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 10:33 PM

GT, I guess I see it almost the way you do, but with a slight difference.

See if you think this is a fair comparison:

I can't stand Peter Jennings. I have to be 100% honest. If Peter Jennings had said the same exact thing, I might be all over him for it. Might - I'm not sure. I KNOW I wouldn't be calling for his resignation :) I still think that's silly. And I wouldn't call him a liar. But I would mock him mercilessly.

Part of the difference, to me, is reputation. And part of that is the perception of bias, which is what you allude to.

Does that make sense?

There are conservative (and liberal) commentators that I despise. There are conservative commentators that I think are biased as hell. Honestly, I don't think Hume is one of them. Sometimes conservatives get mad at Hume for being "too impartial"! (not me, but some do) But you don't have to agree with me, and I understand and accept that.

Either way, thank you for your civility. I have really enjoyed hearing your side of things - you have presented a good and challenging argument. One I can respect.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 10:41 PM

...and I'm REALLY tired (I got up at 3 am) so I have to clarify one thing I left out.

re: so we base our opinion on what he said and not on what we may think he could have meant

I think this is where we still differ.

I absolutely agree that I am more inclined than you to give Hume the benefit of the doubt - that goes without saying.

However...

I also think that the whole "Hume's words were misleading" contention rests on the listener's subjective interpretation of his statement, to a greater or lesser extent, i.e., it is not only what he said, but what you read into it.

See chazza's comments for elucidation - I've had it for tonite :)

Cheers.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2005 10:49 PM

Cassandra said "FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program."

Sorry, but FDR's "voluntary contributory annuities" are quite unlike a "private investment account" in the sense that phrase is used by Bush, and in the sense that phrase is commonly used in the discussion about Bush's plan.

FDR was clearly not talking about investment in the private sector, as the Bush plan encourages, and as implied by the phrase "private investment accounts." FDR's proposal of "voluntary contributory annuities" was for insurance-type annuities, to be issued and guaranteed by the government. Income from this program "would go into the trust fund along with the payroll taxes collected under the mandatory program." This is clearly explained here.

The phrase "private investment accounts" implies money is put in the hands of Wall St. Indeed, that's what the Bush plan encourages. FDR's phrase "voluntary contributory annuities" was referring to money that would be placed in the hands of the government. Hume pretends this distinction is meaningless. If the distinction is meaningless, then so is Bush's plan.

FDR was talking about allowing workers to voluntarily send extra money to the government, to add to the mandatory retirement fund, and to support a guaranteed benefit. Bush is talking about taking money that currently goes to the government and sending it to Wall Street instead. To treat these two proposals as equivalent is a fraud. I think it takes incredible contortions to imagine that perpetrating this fraud wasn't Hume's exact intention.

"There is some debate over whether you can term item 3 [FDR's 'voluntary contributory annuities'] a 'private account.'"

Nice little understatement. You conveniently obscure that you and Hume both didn't just say "private account," you both said "private investment account." If FDR's "voluntary contributory annuities" are fairly described as a "private investment account," then SS as we know it is a "private investment account," since the only difference between FDR's "compulsory contributory annuities" (SS as we know it) and his "voluntary contributory annuities" is embodied in the words "compulsory" and "voluntary." I don't exactly see where this leaves room for "some debate," or for "subjective interpretation."

Hume might just as well have run a report saying "We already have private investment accounts; the system is called SS; Bush says 'Never mind'"

By the way, you refer to a definition of the word "annuity." The idea of a fixed return (which rules out an investment in equities) is inherent in the word itself (and the modern hybrid innovation of a so-called "variable annuity" is sort of an oxymoron; by throwing in this term I think you're just creating confusion). And although you repeatedly claim FDR was vague, the article I cite shows that his language was precise and clear. In particular, he was utterly consistent in his use of the word "annuity," and he explicitly indicated these annuities would be issued by the government, not by the private sector. He also generally avoided terms such as "private," or "investment," or even "account." FDR used his words carefully and clearly. So I think it required a deliberate act on Hume's part to create the false correspondence I've described.

Chazza said "but the way hume uses the quote, unless you were across the details of FDRs proposal you would think that 'self-supporting anuuity plans' were private accounts and 'government funding' was a vague description of our current entitlement system."

Cassandra, if I understand you correctly, you claim that you didn't interpret Hume's words that way. Apparently that's because you already have some knowledge about the history of SS. But I have seen a number of blog comments (in various places) that make it clear that certain people, perhaps most people, did interpret Hume's remark incorrectly, in exactly the way Chazza described. Therefore I think Chazza is correct that your replace/include argument against Franken is not well-grounded.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 17, 2005 11:45 PM

So, when a listener takes a speaker's statement, ignores the qualifying words of the statement and are ignorant of other underlying facts, and therefore misunderstands or misstates what the speaker said, it is the speaker's fault?

And let's not forget that Hume wasn't reciting a term paper on all things FDR. He read and accurately relayed FDR's words in the speech in a drive by commentary.

When Hume does a 20 minute story (or even a whole minute) based on false quotes and false docs, I'll join you. As for now, this whole debate is really lame.

Posted by: KJ at February 17, 2005 11:54 PM

One more thing. Chazza said (correctly, in my opinion) that part of how Hume's statement was misleading was the way it created the impression that "'government funding' was a vague description of our current entitlement system."

Cassandra, you objected to this. I think you claimed that only a liberal would misinterpret Hume's words in that way.

Interestingly enough, the exact misinterpretation that Chazza predicted can be found in your trackbacks. CY says "So we can see that Hume's 'great sin' against FDR was to leave out the clause which states that the government would assume one-half of the cost of what would become known Social Security."

Look at this remark in context and I think you'll see that CY is confused in exactly the way Chazza predicted.

By the way, I think you (Cassandra) are familiar with CY's article, since you posted there, and the two articles (yours and his) are crosslinked.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 12:26 AM

Well, GT (the Humeify Guy) took my bait and came here, and I'm glad because he (she?) did an admirable job of debating his side.

Jukeboxgrad, damn dude. Where do you miss the whole "context" and "include" part of this "argument"? I suggest re-reading this thread and then perhaps swallowing a chill pill.

P.S. You had me at "FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program." but then you just had to ruin it by typing 4232 words describing how we really didn't read those words, it was all an illusion. Oh, and Look! A kitty!

Posted by: Brent at February 18, 2005 12:42 AM

Brent, I'm impressed by how high you can count, and the feline reference is also adorable. Other than that, you're blabbering incoherently, as far as I can tell.

Anyway, please humor me and explain (if it's not a violation of your value system to write a post that actually contains some factual information mixed in with the puerile snark) why it's OK for Hume et al to treat FDR's "voluntary contributory annuities" as the equivalent of Bush's "private investment accounts" when they're not.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 01:47 AM

Cassandra:


Since you give Hume the benefit of the doubt based primarily upon your belief in his past punctiliousness, you might want to head over to dailyhowler.com, and google "brit hume." It should disabuse you of that notion quite well. This was, in fact, classic Hume, especially when hanging with the All-Stars. Mangling quotes is practically his forte.


As you do appear to acknowledge, nothing in what FDR ever said on the matter can honestly be interpreted as his contemplating "private accounts," the characterization that Hume uses in the prefatory paragraph you hold up as giving some sort of context to the disputed mangled quote. Do you really believe that FDR envisioned the voluntary contributions being put into a separate account that could be passed on to the contributer's heirs, for example?


Hume's use of the term, "private accounts," actually gives the game away. It demonstrates his intention to deceive. What he did was take advantage of archaic terminology. To the present-day listener, "annuity" means "private," particularly when preceded by "(v)oluntary contributory." Hume then adds his own word, "government," knowing that to modern ears this means social security as we know it, to be "supplanted" by those private annuities. Otherwise, the paragraph that has people up in arms would serve no purpose. To state, as FDR intended, that the annuities, compulsory and volutary, would supplant the government contribution for those who were too old to have contributed to the system at its outset doesn't advance Hume's argument that FDR contemplated private accounts. So Hume had to contrive a quote that would. It's really quite Brit of him.

Posted by: Bloggerhead at February 18, 2005 01:48 AM

jukeboxgrad:

I can't even BEGIN to debate the arcane differences between private accounts and FDR's voluntary contributions.

And the reason I looked up the def'n of 'annuity' was that I'd seen others debating its meaning and, frankly, was unsure myself and wanted a refresher. The term conjured up a general sense of what it meant, but I'm not a finance major. I'm a former housewife - and so, perhaps, better equipped than some to comment on what Joe six-pack might think of Hume's remark precisely b/c I DON"T know or care much about Social Security.

Can't honestly say I've ever thought much about it before the last few months.

It strikes me that you are trying to defeat my premise in detail, while ignoring the main points:

1. Hume didn't say what Franken, et al said he did.

2. He didn't lie; in Bloggerhead's view, their premise rests on the listener's subjective interpretation of two phrases: "government funding" and "annuity".

One problem with this: those words didn't mean that to ME (or my husband - and we rarely see things the same way) at ALL. Franken is doing the classic PC thing: making the speaker responsible for the hearer's subjective issues. There has been enough debate on other threads that it is apparent that these terms are not at all clear. Different people read different things into them.

3. THEY COULDN'T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO QUOTE ALL OF HIS TWO-SENTENCE STATEMENT FOR PETE'S SAKES - NOW I WONDER WHY???

4. THEY DIDN'T EVEN LINK TO IT SO THEIR READERS COULD SEE IT FOR THEMSELVES - AGAIN, WONDER WHY?

5. INSTEAD, THEY LEFT OUT THE FULLY ONE HALF OF A 2 SENTENCE REMARK, RE-PHRASED THE SECOND HALF, AND USED THAT TO CALL HIM A LIAR AND DEMAND HIS RESIGNATION.

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy, and again, sleazy and as far as I'm concerned, sloppy.

If you want to compare the two journalistic techniques, how does Franken stack up on misleading?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2005 05:30 AM

Whew. That was a tough wade through a labyrinth of quicksand.

I read this thread, and I am reminded of when we humans lived in a world lit only by fire... and of the learned men of the Church, sitting around a table, earnestly discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

When the discussion veers from substance to parsing, I suggest you have hit your vanishing point - everyone has staked out their territory... built their moats, and aren't going anywhere.

And thank you, William Manchester, for that phrase.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 18, 2005 09:42 AM

As the Unit likes to say, "Welcome to the Vortex of Crap".

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2005 10:18 AM

"I can't even BEGIN to debate the arcane differences between private accounts and FDR's voluntary contributions."

If you think understanding the difference between a fixed-return T-bill and a variable-return private-sector equity investment is "arcane," I think you should be finding other topics to write about. Nobody twisted your arm to defend Hume by making false and ignorant statements such as "FDR contemplated the eventual inclusion of private investment accounts in Social Security."

If you don't know what you're talking about I suggest you keep your mouth shut. ("It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." -Lincoln)

"I'm a former housewife - and so, perhaps, better equipped than some to comment on what Joe six-pack might think of Hume's remark"



Nice job ignoring the fact that your pal CY interpreted Hume's remark in exactly the way you suggested only a liberal could. Likewise for well-known liberal Glenn "Joe six-pack" Reynolds ("Instapundit").

"Hume didn't say what Franken, et al said he did."

Nice try. Hume did say "include," but then Hume also said "government funding, 'ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.'" In other words, Hume exploited FDR's use of the word "supplanted" to create the phony impression that FDR intended that private accounts would someday "supplant" SS. In other words, Hume compounded his fraud by suggesting that FDR went even further than Bush. Bush proposes partial privatization; Hume implied that FDR advocated full privatization.

If you look around you'll notice that many ignorant wingnuts (including CY and Glenn, as I mentioned) are interpreting Hume's words in exactly the manner I just described. They drank the Kool-Aid, in other words.

"their premise rests on the listener's subjective interpretation of two phrases: 'government funding' and 'annuity'."

There's nothing particularly subjective about the question of whether or not it's reasonable to treat the Bush and FDR proposals as interchangeable (because that's what you and Hume both did).

Anyway, as I've said, Glenn and CY and probably most other observers interpreted Hume's words in exactly the manner you claim that Hume didn't intend. Hume knew exactly what he was doing, and he was highly effective.

"these terms are not at all clear. Different people read different things into them."

Hume was exploiting ignorance, and it worked. For example, Hume was counting on the idea that he could get away with treating the word "annuity" as a synonym for "private sector investment." But it's not. He was also counting on the idea that he could get away with implying that SS currently runs on "government funding." But it doesn't. He got away with lying, in other words. And instead of helping to clear things up, you're just encouraging people to stay confused. Nice.

"THEY COULDN'T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO QUOTE ALL OF HIS TWO-SENTENCE STATEMENT FOR PETE'S SAKES - NOW I WONDER WHY???"

The fourth word of the Franken piece is a link to the MMFA piece that goes into detail about what Hume said, and includes a link to the actual video. So what's your problem exactly?

No need to shout, by the way.

"THEY DIDN'T EVEN LINK TO IT SO THEIR READERS COULD SEE IT FOR THEMSELVES - AGAIN, WONDER WHY?"

The video is two clicks away from the Franken piece. I realize all these internets get confusing sometimes. Let me know if you need help understanding about hyperlinks.

"INSTEAD, THEY LEFT OUT THE FULLY ONE HALF OF A 2 SENTENCE REMARK, RE-PHRASED THE SECOND HALF, AND USED THAT TO CALL HIM A LIAR AND DEMAND HIS RESIGNATION."

Given that the video is two clicks away, please explain what was "LEFT OUT."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 10:19 AM

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding, "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

Which said to me that the "Voluntary contributory annuities" (whatever the helk that's supposed to mean) would be taken out of the gov't and placed in "self-supporting annuity plans", not the whole thing. Only the VCA would become private.

Much like the rule for pronouns, I take "Gov't funding" (which, like a pronoun, refers back to a subject without having to repeat yourself) back to the most recent subject, which was the VCA not the whole bloody SocSec system.

I'm a statistician for cripes sake, there's a darned good reason why I didn't major in English, but even I know the bloody rules for pronouns.

Posted by: Masked Menace© - Your Friendly neighborhood Sadistics Researcher at February 18, 2005 10:21 AM

John said "earnestly discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin"

If you think understanding the difference between a fixed-return financial instrument and a variable-return financial instrument is similar to discussing angels on a pin, I'd love to have a chance to sell you some securities. Stocks, bonds, what's the diff. They're all the same to you.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 10:25 AM

There is no need to be insulting. Try to stick to the point.

You insist on mis-stating my position, so I keep using caps to remind you of it because you appear not to be paying attention.

And for clarity, if one accuses someone of something saying something inaccurate or false, one ought to link directly to a full transcript of what they said or quote it directly. Especially if you're demanding they resign.

To do otherwise is just plain irresponsible - you put the burden on the reader to chase down the original material.

I'm a webmaster and also do usability work on web sites and s/w. Studies have shown the vast majority of users do not click on those links. They overlook them. Or they're too lazy to bother.

Even as a writer before I ever was on the web, I would not have done as Franken did.

You have repeatedly said I said "only a liberal" would interpret Hume's words in that way. I said nothing of the kind. That is YOUR interpretation. You are very fond of substituting YOUR INTERPRETATION for someone else's literal words. Dangerous practice.

What I referred to was the liberal-conservative disconnect. There is a spectrum of beliefs. To imply that what I said means "only a liberal" would draw a specific conclusion is ludicrous.

But you are so fond of jumping to conclusions and then pinning them on other people that this does not surprise. I really don't think this discussion is going anywhere.

You aren't listening to anything I'm saying, and you reinvent what I do say to suit your subjective agenda.

That's not a discussion.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2005 10:30 AM

Hume is really tall - maybe gravity keeps as much blood from getting to his brain. Franken is ugly. This makes him sad. He can't even diet to look pretty. jukeboxhero - Cassandra shouted because she thought that maybe you listened to too many Who concerts next to the big speakers. FDR - you are dead. I don't give a flip about you. Say hi to your buddies Marx and Engles. Sensative Man - grow some balls, wuss.

Posted by: Insensitive Man at February 18, 2005 10:33 AM

"I take 'Gov't funding' (which, like a pronoun, refers back to a subject without having to repeat yourself) back to the most recent subject, which was the VCA not the whole bloody SocSec system."

As far as FDR was concerned, government funding had nothing to do with VCA. And even Hume wasn't trying to suggest that it did. In other words, I think you've managed to find your own unique interpretation of Hume's words.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 10:34 AM

And jukebox, fixed vs. variable return annuities really have NOTHING to do with this debate.

It's a red herring. If I had picked a simpler definition of annuity (and believe me, I'm not cursing myself for providing you with that opening) we should not be having this discussion at all.

As I said, you're trying to defeat the main argument in detail by haring off on some tangent.

I think we should just stop chasing our tails and agree that we disagree.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2005 10:34 AM

What you are saying jiveboxdropout is that Hume should not have quoted FDR without doing an extensive body of research into what FDR meant by every term of his speech, by referencing other papers and uses of the term? I feel sorry for the next person that quotes Clinton.

What you should asking is whether Social Secuirty reform is good for us?

Posted by: The Children at February 18, 2005 10:39 AM

How certain are you that what FDR wanted was a fixed return T-Bill and not some new gov't accounting designation aka "lock-box". We don't really know how FDR wanted the accounts to be handled, and neither do you, so arguing about the specific tactics of how a program that was never implemented was to be implemented is futile.

As far as FDR was concerned, government funding had nothing to do with VCA.
Oh really, then who was going to be paying the interest, HMMMM? Santa Clause? An Annuity is an interest bearing account. Someone has to pay it. If the Gov't doesn't do it, we might call it a "private" annuity.

Posted by: Masked Menace© - Your Friendly neighborhood Sadistics Researcher at February 18, 2005 10:42 AM

What does any of this have to do with me? Brit Hume should have run a feature on how great I have been for J.Lo's career instead of some boring fuddy duddy social security comment made by some famous guy known by his initials. Was FDR an actor? Anyway, LOOK AT ME! There you should feel better now.

Posted by: J-Lo's Butt at February 18, 2005 10:47 AM

And even Hume wasn't trying to suggest that it did.

Glad to see we have a mind reader among us to tell us what Hume was trying to suggest.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 10:48 AM

"if one accuses someone of something saying something inaccurate or false, one ought to link directly to a full transcript of what they said"

I realize you think two clicks isn't "directly" enough. Obviously you're entitled to your opinion.

"You have repeatedly said I said 'only a liberal' would interpret Hume's words in that way. I said nothing of the kind. What I referred to was the liberal-conservative disconnect. There is a spectrum of beliefs."

I'm still having trouble getting your point. You seem to be saying that most people wouldn't be misled by what Hume said. I pointed out that CY and Glenn, among many others, were misled in exactly the way you suggested wouldn't happen. Nice job in avoiding that obvious fact.

"you reinvent what I do say to suit your subjective agenda."

Nice job not bothering to offer an iota of proof to back this up this accusation, or to refute any of the other factual challenges I've presented to you.

"I really don't think this discussion is going anywhere."

Translation: "it's become clear that the facts aren't on my side, so I'm going to do whatever I can to avoid being held accountable for my false statements."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 10:51 AM

You seem to be saying that most people wouldn't be misled by what Hume said. I pointed out that CY and Glenn, among many others, were misled in exactly the way you suggested wouldn't happen

She never claimed it wouldn't happen. There's your evidence of distortion. I haven't clicked over to Glenn or CY to see if you're even correct in your claim about what they believe (given the distortion I just mentioned, I'm suspect), but even then CY and Glenn aren't "most people".

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 11:00 AM

Some were misled, some weren't. Some cases on your side, some on mine.

Neither proves the case definitively. Waste of time - that's why I'm not addressing it.

*************

I really don't think this discussion is going anywhere."

Your Translation: "it's become clear that the facts aren't on my side, so I'm going to do whatever I can to avoid being held accountable for my false statements."

Possibly the best possible proof I could offer of this:

"you reinvent what I do say to suit your subjective agenda." :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2005 11:03 AM

It's just not that complicated.

The FDR quotes were selected to support Hume's premise: FDR planned to include [voluntary] private investment

Drawing some other inference from Humes selected quotes and alleging that implication to Hume without quoting his stated premise is invalid and dishonest.

As in:

Hume exploited FDR's use of the word "supplanted" to create the phony impression that FDR intended that private accounts would someday "supplant" SS

That's an unwarranted inference not implied by Hume.

Hume implied that FDR advocated full privatization.

Another unwarranted (dishonest) inference derived by stripping the context; Hume's stated premise.

Hume was counting on the idea that he could get away with treating the word "annuity" as a synonym for "private sector investment

Where's "voluntary" ??? Who is stripping context now?

A voluntary annuity IS a form of private investment. Unless one claims that investing in government bonds by private citizens is NOT private investment. Hume is not the only person to take FDR's intended meaning this way.


Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 11:03 AM

Ouch.
I guess if you're trying to defend yourself against distortion of the other sides argument you really shouldn't "translate" it to say what you want to hear.

Boris,
<Thick Russian Accent>
Despite your Russian sounding name, you are obviously in league with these capitalist running dogs. You vill be hunted down as the Chinese toy-loving, Rand-worshipping bootlicking minion of the top 1% traitor that you are. Your counter-revolutionary rhetoric is dangerous to the health of the state, therefore, all of your possessions up to (and possibly including) your life will be confiscated by the state and redistributed to those with the most need. If you are lucky you will only be given 10 years instead of 9mm. And please do run and hide, it is much more enjoyable to kick in your door in the middle of the night to take you prisoner.
</Thick Russian Accent>

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 11:18 AM

"fixed vs. variable return annuities really have NOTHING to do with this debate"

That's true, for the most part. I mentioned "variable annuities" only because you did, and because the name itself is inherently confusing.

"you're trying to defeat the main argument in detail by haring off on some tangent."

You said "FDR contemplated the eventual inclusion of private investment accounts in Social Security." That's the exact same lie Hume told. There's ample proof you're both wrong, yet you're sticking with the lie. How is that a "tangent?" On the contrary, it's the heart of the matter.

You're the one who's trying to create a tangential distraction by making an ungrounded accusation against Franken regarding the idea of "include" vs. "replace."

"What you are saying ... is that Hume should not have quoted FDR without doing an extensive body of research into what FDR meant by every term of his speech"

If you think looking at a readily available and simple article like this represents "doing an extensive body of research," then I think your standards for journalism are too low. But that's already obvious.

That clear, simple, brief article contains enough information to see that Hume lied.

If what you're trying to say is that Hume made some sort of innocent mistake, then I guess we should be looking forward to him posting his correction.

"How certain are you that what FDR wanted was a fixed return T-Bill and not some new gov't accounting designation"

The article I cited makes clear that FDR's proposal of "voluntary contributory annuities" was for insurance-type annuities, to be issued and guaranteed by the government. Income from this program "would go into the trust fund along with the payroll taxes collected under the mandatory program."

If you're still confused about what FDR meant, it's because you're working really hard at staying confused, because you'd rather do that than face the fact that Hume lied to you.

"We don't really know how FDR wanted the accounts to be handled"

No, actually we do. He was very clear, and I've provided the relevant citation.

By the way, if you claim that we have no idea what on earth FDR meant, you need to explain why people like Cassandra and Hume are comfortable emphatically proclaiming that "FDR contemplated the eventual inclusion of private investment accounts in Social Security." The vagueness sword cuts both ways, in other words.

"'government funding had nothing to do with VCA' Oh really, then who was going to be paying the interest"

The phrase "government funding" is commonly understood to refer to tax revenue from outside the SS system. Hume used that phrase to convey the mistaken impression that SS is based on general tax revenues (rather than payroll taxes).

The interest on VCA would be paid from within the SS system, most likely via money earned by holding T-bills. That's not "government funding," anymore than we're sending "government funding" to a bank in China when we pay them interest on T-bills they hold.

"Glad to see we have a mind reader among us to tell us what Hume was trying to suggest."

I've waded through hundreds of comments on numerous threads. The fact that you came up with a unique interpretation, previously unmentioned, makes it a pretty safe bet that your imagination is better than Hume's. It's not mind reading, just an educated guess.

"She never claimed it wouldn't happen"

I'll assume you're right. In that case, I should have said "she implied it wasn't likely to happen." Mea culpa. Nice to know you're such a careful reader. You should read Hume this carefully.

"some were misled, some weren't. Some cases on your side, some on mine."

I notice that you don't bother trying to address the irony that the very blogger you link to in your first sentence is one of those who were misled. Or the irony that righty uberblogger Glenn Reynolds was also similarly misled.

I notice you're also completely sidestepping the central issue, which is that when you claimed "FDR contemplated the eventual inclusion of private investment accounts in Social Security," you yourself were being fundamentally misled by Hume. Nice to know you don't mind passing along that propaganda to your readers, even though you now have the facts available to see why the statement is false.

"The FDR quotes were selected to support Hume's premise: FDR planned to include [voluntary] private investment"

Trouble is, that premise is false, unless you're willing to call SS as we know it a form of "private investment."

"That's an unwarranted inference not implied by Hume."

How odd that people all over the righty blogosphere (from Glenn Reynolds on down) are making exactly that "unwarranted inference."

"A voluntary annuity IS a form of private investment."

FDR's VCA are not a form of "private investment," unless you think of SS as we know it as a form of "private investment."

"Unless one claims that investing in government bonds by private citizens is NOT private investment."

As I've pointed out several times, FDR's VCA were to generate money to go into the exact same fund as the rest of SS. Therefore, FDR's VCA are not a form of "private investment," unless you think of SS as we know it as a form of "private investment."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 12:02 PM

This is the last post on this excruciatingly, mind numbing parsing of words on this boring, unimportant and irrelevant piece of shit subject.

Posted by: Blog Referee at February 18, 2005 12:08 PM

FDR's VCA are not a form of "private investment," unless you think of SS as we know it as a form of "private investment."

SS as we know it is NOT VOLUNTARY.

I DO consider PRIVATE citizens investing in bonds (government of otherwise) to be PRIVATE investment.

You're conflating private investment with investment in the private sector. You are quibbling semantics to attack Hume.

Hume expolited ...
Hume implied ...
Hume counted on ...

Your definition of the term private investment might be different than mine, but that doesn't give you the ability to read Hume's mind.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 12:17 PM

The claim that: VCA = SS as we know it

Is false. Even if both were backed by T-bills, they would not be the same. VCA could be withdrawn, or passed on as inheritance.

Therefore the VCA would be more akin to a private sector investment.

Even using your own definition of terms, Hume is closer to the truth.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 12:39 PM

unless you think of SS as we know it as a form of "private investment."

If SS taxes were "voluntary" instead of confiscated, I would call the whole of SS private investment.

I'll assume you're right. In that case, I should have said "she implied it wasn't likely to happen." Mea culpa. Nice to know you're such a careful reader. You should read Hume this carefully.

Or perhaps, I did read it carefully following established rules of english and others were sloppy and went back to the subject they wanted it to be.

The phrase "government funding" is commonly understood to refer to tax revenue from outside the SS system. Hume used that phrase to convey the mistaken impression that SS is based on general tax revenues (rather than payroll taxes).

There is no SS system to be inside of. Payroll taxes are only seperate from general funds on your W2. Payroll taxes get paid into the general fund and SS benefits are paid out of the general fund. There is no practical distinction between the two.

You said "FDR contemplated the eventual inclusion of private investment accounts in Social Security." That's the exact same lie Hume told.

In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

"Gov't pays half of the cost", sounds like gov't funding to me. This funding was then to be moved somewhere else. Well, if it got moved out of the gov't it sounds "private" to me. So saying FDR wanted it completely gov't contained is wrong. Saying someone lied because they didn't come to your wrong conclusion is circular logic.

Or the irony that righty uberblogger Glenn Reynolds was also similarly misled.

Glenn isn't a righty, he's a hawkish libertarian. And again, even if he were, she never claimed that no one on the right wouldn't interpret it your way or that no one on the left wouldn't interpret it her way. Holding up one or two examples on either side is meaningless.

Posted by: Wiccan Bolivian-Turkish House-keeping Chica at February 18, 2005 12:57 PM

Whoops, remember to change name when being serious.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 01:07 PM

Foul on boris and WBTHKC (aka MM). But since you did great harm to rude and logic impaired jukeboxgrad, no penalty will be accessed.

Posted by: Blog Referee at February 18, 2005 01:23 PM

I shall hang my head in shame for at least 30 seconds.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 01:30 PM

"SS as we know it is NOT VOLUNTARY."

True. You've managed to hit upon a superficial similarity between the FDR proposal and the Bush proposal. The only similarity between what Bush proposes and what FDR proposed is embodied in the words "voluntary" and "retirement." Beyond that, there are distinct differences. FDR's "voluntary contributory annuities" are quite unlike a "private investment account" in the sense that phrase is used by Bush, and in the sense that phrase is commonly used in the discussion about Bush's plan.

Conversely, the only difference between FDR's "compulsory contributory annuities" (SS as we know it) and his "voluntary contributory annuities" is embodied in the words "compulsory" and "voluntary." In other words, the only aspect of FDR's VCA that resembles Bush's plan (the fact that they're both voluntary) is also the only difference between FDR's VCA compared with SS as we know it. Of course it's also important to remember that Bush's plan is a partial replacement to SS, whereas FDR's plan was a supplement to SS.

"I DO consider PRIVATE citizens investing in bonds (government of otherwise) to be PRIVATE investment."

Of course. But there's a distinct difference between having my own personal account in which I can buy and sell T-bills all day long, as compared with FDR's VCA, where my money would be intermingled with the rest of the SS trust fund (including contributions from the compulsory portion), and it would stay there until I started collecting on my annuity in retirement.

In other words, for the zillionth time, FDR's VCA is only fairly considred a "PRIVATE investment" if you consider SS as we know it to be a "PRIVATE investment." If that's your perspective, then Hume's report is pointless and so is Bush's plan.

By the way, if you interpret Hume's term "private investment account" to strictly mean a chance to buy only T-bills, then you're obviously missing a central element of Bush's plan, i.e., that a portion of payroll taxes instead of ending up in the SS trust fund will end up on Wall Street, in the form of
variable-return private-sector equity investments.

"You're conflating private investment with investment in the private sector."

You're exactly right that what's going on is "conflating," but it's Hume who's doing it, not me. Hume's phrase "private investment account" is intended to sound like a reference to "investment in the private sector." That's exactly how that phrase ("private investment account") is used in the context of discussion about Bush's plan. FDR was clearly talking about money to be held by the government, in the form of T-bills. Hume has effectively given many people the false impression that FDR was talking about money held by Wall Street, in the form of variable-return private sector equities.

"You are quibbling semantics to attack Hume."

If you think the difference between a private-sector stock and a government bond is just a matter of "semantics" or "quibbling," then I'd love to have a chance to sell you some securities.

Also, by your "logic," Bush is "quibbling semantics" when he claims it would be much better for people to move their money out of government hands and into Wall Street's hands. After all, to you it's all the same. So why is he making such a fuss about it?

"Your definition of the term private investment might be different than mine, but that doesn't give you the ability to read Hume's mind."



It's not a question of how you or I define the term "private investment." It's also not a question of reading Hume's mind. It's a question of accepting the reality that Hume lied about FDR. The effectiveness of the lie is evident in many, many blog posts and articles that use Hume's lie as a basis for falsely claiming "FDR supported privatization" and "FDR supported Bush's plan to someday replace SS with individual investments in private-sector equities."

"The claim that: VCA = SS as we know it"

Speaking of misquoting, I don't know anyone (including and especially myself) who made that claim. The correct equation is that FDR's "compulsory mandatory annuities" are essentially SS as we know it. And the only difference between FDR's "compulsory mandatory annuities" and his "voluntary mandatory annuities" is embodied in the difference between the words "compulsory" and "voluntary." Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The meaning is plain, in other words.

"Even if both were backed by T-bills, they would not be the same. VCA could be withdrawn, or passed on as inheritance."

Nice job just making stuff up. Look at the citation I provided. FDR made clear that it was simply a question of adding on (voluntarily) to the compulsory portion of the program. Workers would have a chance to make SS bigger, in other words. Speculation about other ostensible differences comes strictly from your imagination.

"Therefore the VCA would be more akin to a private sector investment."

Given that you're willing to just make stuff up, you could also say that VCA is "akin" to space travel.

"Even using your own definition of terms, Hume is closer to the truth."

Speaking of making things up, I see you're also using your own peculiar definition of the word "truth."

"SS benefits are paid out of the general fund. There is no practical distinction between the two."

Nice to know you have your own unique perspective on this. Anyway, you should let people know about this. Most people think the federal government is running a budget deficit. Typical reports of that deficit treat the general fund and the SS trust fund as separate. It's nice to know that you know better.

"'Gov't pays half of the cost', sounds like gov't funding to me."

I see you haven't paid the slightest attention to numerous citations that can set you straight on this. "Government funding" (in that context) was a reference to federal (50%) and state (50%) money used to pay pensions to the first unfunded generation (people born roughly 1870). That welfare pension program was indeed long ago "supplanted" by SS as we know it (which is self-supported by payroll taxes and, with minor exceptions, does not rely on money from the general fund). Now you know what "supplanted" really means. Compare this to the false impression Hume successfully created, in the minds of Glenn Reynolds et al.

"Saying someone lied because they didn't come to your wrong conclusion"

The wrong conclusion is all yours, and you embarrass yourself and waste everyone's time when you don't make a minimal effort to get your facts straight before you open your mouth.

"Holding up one or two examples on either side is meaningless."

Uh, it's not just "one or two examples." One example is the exact blogger our host linked to in her very first sentence, and the other example is one of the most widely-read bloggers in the world. And if you look around in the obvious places, you'll see scores of wingnuts making exactly the same mistake. Hume earned his money this time around. Nice job twisting yourself into knots in order to avoid dealing with the truth.

"rude"

Translation: "someone who is willing to insist that we use facts to back up our specious allegations."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 01:34 PM

I command you all to take a giant step back, take two deep breaths, and say to yourselves:

"FDR is dead....It's Friday....soon work will be over and I can go have a cold beer...and I will no longer care about FDR, Brit Hume, Cassandra the Half-Witted but Devastatingly Attractive Blog Princess and what she says about Al Franken, or whether Glenn Reynolds is a conservative, a Hawkish Livid Terrier, or a closet Rainbow Warrior with unresolved transgender issues..."

Posted by: Blog Princess at February 18, 2005 01:52 PM

as compared with FDR's VCA, where my money would be intermingled with the rest of the SS trust fund (including contributions from the compulsory portion), and it would stay there until I started collecting on my annuity in retirement.

That's the stupidest hypothetical on this whole forum. I you can believe that's what FDR really really meant, than your drug induced delusion is totally impervious to logic.

SS as we know it:

Not voluntary
Not owned by investor
Can't be passed on as inheritance
Can't be withdrawn

Private investment:

Voluntary
Owned by private citizen
Can be passed on as inheritance
Can be withdrawn

FDR's VCA:

Voluntary
Owned by private citizen
Can be passed on as inheritance
Can be withdrawn with restrictions (401K)

Clearly a VCA is closer to private investment than SS as we know it.


Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 02:01 PM

"SS benefits are paid out of the general fund. There is no practical distinction between the two."


Nice to know you have your own unique perspective on this. Anyway, you should let people know about this. Most people think the federal government is running a budget deficit. Typical reports of that deficit treat the general fund and the SS trust fund as separate. It's nice to know that you know better.

I certainly don't want to appear rude, jukebox, but the fact is that Social Security has been counted as part of the budget since 1968 (LBJ wanted to make the deficit caused by the Vietnam War look less...ugly). There is no "lockbox" for these funds, and as quick as the SS taxes come into the Treasury they are put to work building things or blowing them up. No only is it not "a unique outlook," its a well known and very troubling issue. You can read all about in the Congressional Budget Office's "Testimony on Budgetary Perspectives on the Outlook for Social Security" of February 9, 2005. Check out page three, where we are being cautioned about the impact the draw down on Social Security will have of all matters bugetary.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 18, 2005 02:08 PM

I said "as compared with FDR's VCA, where my money would be intermingled with the rest of the SS trust fund (including contributions from the compulsory portion), and it would stay there until I started collecting on my annuity in retirement."

You said "That's the stupidest hypothetical on this whole forum. I you can believe that's what FDR really really meant, than your drug induced delusion is totally impervious to logic."

Nice to know that your idea of the "stupidest hypothetical" is from the exact description of FDR's proposal, as written by SSA historian DeWitt. I guess we need to stop feeding drugs to our government-employed scholars.

"FDR's VCA ... Owned by private citizen ..."

Not in any sense that SS as we know it isn't also "owned by private citizen."

"Can be passed on as inheritance"

Really? And you base that assertion on what, exactly, except your own imagination?

"Can be withdrawn with restrictions (401K)"

Really? And you base that assertion on what, exactly, except your own imagination?

"Clearly a VCA is closer to private investment than SS as we know it."

Only if you're willing to make stuff up.

I realize you can't be bothered to offer an iota of proof to back up your nonsense.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 02:18 PM

Hume lied about FDR

Actually, you just lied about Hume.

Hume: FDR planned to include private investment ...

If Hume considers a VCA to be a form of private investment (as I do also) then that is not a lie.

Even if you consider that private investment only applies to stocks and not to government bonds, your statement is still a lie.

Why?

Because you don't know that Hume shares your more restricted definition. I sure don't.

Private citizens voluntarily investing in and privately owning any property, government bond or private sector, is private investment AFAIC.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 02:19 PM

"SS benefits are paid out of the general fund. There is no practical distinction between the two."

Nice to know you have your own unique perspective on this. First, it isn't unique as I'll explain later. Second, even if it were, unique and wrong are not the same thing. At one time "most people" thought the sun revolved around the earth. That da*n Galileo and his unique perspective. Anyway, you should let people know about this. I just tried. You weren't listening. Most people think the federal government is running a budget deficit. That's because we are, so what!. Typical reports of that deficit treat the general fund and the SS trust fund as separate. Again, so what. Just because an analyst removes SS taxes from his calculations on deficit proportions doesn't mean anything. Financial analysts often remove fraud losses from loss rates because it doesn't reflect customer behavior, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hit the books just as hard or isn't a loss.

It's nice to know that you know better.
If I were an analyst I might report it the same way, but, as I said, just because it is reported one way does not mean the accounting is done that way.

I see you haven't paid the slightest attention to numerous citations that can set you straight on this. "Government funding" (in that context) was a reference to federal (50%) and state (50%) money used to pay pensions to the first unfunded generation (people born roughly 1870). If I was willing to concede your point, all Hume did then was be wrong about which part of SS FDR wanted to remove from the gov't (privatize). It still says that part of it was to funded in the private sector. Of course, if FDR was meaning to partially privatize a part of SS that was going to go away anyway as people did have the time to pay into the system, that would make it idiotic to start with. Great, you're defending an idotic idea from a guy who died a long time ago.

As for my "unique" perspective I'll quote Purple Raider above:


2. In 1965 during the passing of LBJ's great society programs, the US Congress passed a law removing the Lockbox provisions of SSI. Before this provision was passed, the funds for SSI WAS put in a trust fund for future generations. The 1965 law removed this trust fund and treated it like general revenues, to be spent on whatever whim Congress had. BTW, in 1965 both houses of congress were controlled by Dems.

There is no lockbox. Politicians (on both sides) continue to talk like there is, but it doesn't exist. That most people are unaware of it is meaningless, most people are unaware of quantum physics or why the sky is blue. It doesn't change reality.

If only we could phase out SS completely. You can keep what you've already taken, I don't want it back. The difference between what me and the LG could earn from SS and mutual funds is the difference between 6,000 and 60,000 a month.

I need a drink, and for disobeying the Blog Princess, I shall buy the first round. Cheers!

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 02:23 PM

Hume's phrase "private investment account" is intended to sound like a reference to "investment in the private sector."

Spurious and false allegation.

My "private investment account" can contain any type of investment property. It's private because it is MY PRIVATE ACCOUNT, OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY ME, A PRIVATE CITIZEN.

You either dishonestly conflate private account with private sector or you are utterly ignorant of the language.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 02:26 PM

I'll be in the bar if anyone needs me. Ya'll are welcome to join me, but not if you are going to continue parsing words. There is some impressive prancing and capering going on here but Cassandra won this argument before it even began.

Posted by: Pile On® at February 18, 2005 02:31 PM

"Can be passed on as inheritance"

Really? And you base that assertion on what, exactly, except your own imagination?

Exactly my point. You have a completely untenable position regarding what FDR meant by VCA. If you believe FDR was suggesting people would put their money where it couldn't be inherited, then either FDR was a fool or you are a fool.

FDR was no fool.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 02:32 PM

If you think the difference between a private-sector stock and a government bond is just a matter of "semantics" or "quibbling," then I'd love to have a chance to sell you some securities.

I wondered how long before you start lying about what I write.

Here's what I wrote:
You're conflating private investment with investment in the private sector. You are quibbling semantics to attack Hume.

Did Not Say "stock = government bond"

You lied.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 02:47 PM

Technical foul on jukeboxgrad. You are being rude and disrespectful -- have been for some time. Two free throws to everyone else. Now I'm going to the bar.

Posted by: Blog Referee at February 18, 2005 02:48 PM

Two free throws to everyone else.
Can I throw scotch bottles? ...After I drank them dry, of course.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 03:36 PM

Juke - since my personally managed portfolio only managed a %24 return last year, I'll be happy to solicit your sales skills.

Where shall I send the check? I'll just leave it blank, but signed - what the heck I'm just one of those guys who used to work on the "blowing stuff up" part of the budget Spd was talking about.

And absolutely nothing that appeared after my "angels dancing on the head of a pin" comment changed the fact that there was nothing new of import introduced, it was just re-shuffled, re-packaged, and re-looked from two steps to the left or right of the original POV.

I.e., a round-robin discussion of... "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin."

Your Eminences...

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 18, 2005 04:01 PM

Not bad, Cassie. Roughly 1040 words in the initial post.

17,150 or so in the follow-ups (not including this post... so make that 17,189. So, I guess 17,189 angels (at least) can dance on the head of this pin!

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 18, 2005 04:10 PM

"There is no 'lockbox' for these funds, and as quick as the SS taxes come into the Treasury they are put to work building things or blowing them up ... Just because an analyst removes SS taxes from his calculations on deficit proportions doesn't mean anything."

This is a restatement of Bush's "T-bills aren't real, they're just IOUs" meme. This is an odd position for him to take, as the head of the government. Here's hoping our creditors, especially overseas, aren't paying attention to either him or you, because if they did then suddenly our $7.6 trillion debt would become even more unmanageable. Not to mention the elevated interest cost of borrowing a few trillion more to pay for Bush's various pet projects.

This is kind of like Arafat making different statements in English and Arabic. Bush needs to tell overseas bankers that the US government is the safest investment in the world, so they should keep buying T-bills. Because if they stopped, the whole edifice would come crashing down. At the same time, Bush (and you) want the American public to believe that the SS trust fund isn't real, because it's "only" invested in T-bills.

Typical BushCo doublespeak.

"If Hume considers a VCA to be a form of private investment (as I do also) then that is not a lie ... You either dishonestly conflate private account with private sector or you are utterly ignorant of the language."

I've already addressed all this. Nice job repeating yourself instead of dealing with the answers I've already provided.

"if FDR was meaning to partially privatize a part of SS that was going to go away anyway as people did have the time to pay into the system"

Sorry, but the way you're using terms like "privatize" makes absolutely no sense to me. I have a strong feeling you still haven't managed to grasp the simple language here.

"Great, you're defending an idotic idea from a guy who died a long time ago."

No, I'm not defending FDR's ideas (although I could). I'm pointing out that Hume lied about FDR's proposal. There's a difference. I realize simple distinctions like this are over your head.

"Cassandra won this argument before it even began."

Turn up the volume in the echo chamber. It's important not to let any inconvenient facts seep in.

"If you believe FDR was suggesting people would put their money where it couldn't be inherited, then either FDR was a fool or you are a fool."

I have news for you. FDR created SS. SS money is not inheritable. I guess that means you think FDR was a fool. Obviously you're entitled to your opinion. You continue to make statements that are remarkably untethered from any remotely factual basis.

"Did Not Say "stock = government bond"

In order to claim that Hume didn't lie, you need to claim that FDR's "voluntary contributory annuities" are the equivalent of Bush's "private investment accounts." In order to claim that FDR's "voluntary contributory annuities" are the equivalent of Bush's "private investment accounts," you need (among other things) to claim that there's no difference between a fixed-return annuity (which is very much like a T-bill, and this is essentially what FDR was talking about) and a variable-return private sector equity (which is a key part of what Bush is talking about). Hopefully I've made this simple enough now that even you can understand it.

"You are being rude and disrespectful"

Translation: "you don't realize that it's our God-given right to repeat lies without providing facts to back them up."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 04:21 PM

"If you believe FDR was suggesting people would [VOLUNTARILY] put their money where it couldn't be inherited, then either FDR was a fool or you are a fool."

SS money is not inheritable. I guess that means you think FDR was a fool

SS is not VOLUNTARY. An account that nobody in their right mind would voluntarily put money in (the family loses money if you die) would be foolish. Did you deliberately miss the point or does your reading comprehension suck?

you need to claim that FDR's "voluntary contributory annuities" are the equivalent of [Hume's] "private investment accounts.

FDR's VCA:
Voluntary
Owned by private citizen
Can be passed on as inheritance
Can be withdrawn with restrictions (401K)

Yes, the VCA closely corresponds to a 401K.
If my 401K contains any government bonds, you must therefor claim that it no longer is a private investment account. Well?

In this free country you may choose to believe that FDR's VCA would only add to one's FICA contribution to obtain higher SS payments after 65. What he said and wrote does not exclude the more sensible interpretation.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 04:49 PM

compoundnamewithoutcapitalletters:

Get over yourself. Do you have a real subjects on which you can burn so much brain vapor fuel? Like what would be a good way to fix SS maybe?

Rephrasing everyone else's words (as you were correctly accused of doing many times) and calling people names (which you don't consider to be rude, just stating opposing facts) doesn't seem to be a very productive use of your time. Of course, I don't know what your opportunity cost alternatives are. Perhaps it is the most productive use of your time.

Posted by: KJ at February 18, 2005 04:49 PM

This is a restatement of Bush's "T-bills aren't real, they're just IOUs" meme.
Of course they're IOU's that's all bonds are. It doesn't matter if their gov't bonds or corporate bonds. They are a promise to pay X amount of dollars in the future in return for Y amount of dollars today. Any decent financial planner will tell you that.

At the same time, Bush (and you) want the American public to believe that the SS trust fund isn't real, because it's "only" invested in T-bills.

No, we are saying it doesn't exist because it isn't invested in anything. It get's paid into the general fund and immediately get's paid out of the general fund. The money I pay in does not go into a T-bill to gain interest for 40 years. It goes to my Grandmother next month. If SS is around when I turn 65 (God can only hope not) I will not be paid money from a T-Bill. It will come from the tax money my grandchildren pay.

There is only one "pot" of money. FICA taxes, income taxes, capital gains, excise taxes, gas taxes and all the other various taxes all go to the same pot. All expenditures come out of that pot. There is no investing or savings done. Until you can get that basic concept through that skull of yours, I'll not waste my time anymore.

BTW, you do realize the dollar isn't real either. It hasn't been secured by gold or silver for decades. Not that gold or silver have any intrinsic value either. They, like the dollar, only have value in as much as people desire them.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 05:02 PM

"The claim that: VCA = SS as we know it"

Speaking of misquoting, I don't know anyone (including and especially myself) who made that claim

Since I did not attribute the claim, I misquoted no one. But since you bring it up, you did write ...

FDR's VCA are not a form of "private investment," unless you think of SS as we know it as a form of "private investment."

That means:
VCA is not Private Investment Account
Unless SS is Private Investment Account

Or symbolically:
V != P UNLESS SS = P

Equivalently:
V = P if_and_only_if SS = P

Since both V=P and SS=P, the only way this is always true (iff) is for V=SS.

Your long winded incoherent posts reveal a lack of logical skills so I don't expect you to understand that in effect you did claim that:

VCA = SS as we know it

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 05:06 PM

"The money I pay in does not go into a T-bill to gain interest for 40 years. It goes to my Grandmother next month."

It does both. If it only did the latter, there would be no surplus in the SS trust fund. But there is. So by definition, you're wrong.

"There is only one 'pot' of money."

That's only true if you deny the Constitutional requirement that the general fund meet its obligation to pay its debt to the SS fund.

"An account that nobody in their right mind would voluntarily put money in (the family loses money if you die) would be foolish."

You need to explain that to the insurance industry, which sells annuities like that all the time. An annuity is sort of like a life insurance policy in reverse; it involves making a bet about how long you expect to live. If you live too long, you win and the insurance company loses. And vice versa.

You should really educate yourself about basic facts such as these before you put your foot in your mouth.

"Yes, the VCA closely corresponds to a 401K."

Not in the sense of "Can be withdrawn with restrictions (401K)." The idea that FDR's VCA had that characteristic is something you pulled entirely out of your hat, just like the statement about inheritability.

"If my 401K contains any government bonds, you must therefor claim that it no longer is a private investment account. Well?"

You're missing the point. If 401k were typically used to hold government bonds, and especially if they were restricted in that regard, then indeed there would be some basis to compare 401k and VCA. But 401ks are typically used to hold variable-return private-sector equities. To that extent, they are very much unlike a VCA.

Likewise, if Bush's "private investment accounts" were limited to government bonds, there would be more of a basis for Hume (and you) to claim some equivalence to a VCA. But the whole point of what Bush is doing to encourage private sector investing, at the expense of SS as we know it. That's utterly disconnected from anything FDR proposed, and for Hume to suggest otherwise is blatantly fraudulent.

In other words, if Bush's proposal was equivalent to a VCA, it wouldn't be fair to call Hume a liar. But Bush's proposal is dramatically dissimilar from a VCA.

"In this free country you may choose to believe that FDR's VCA would only add to one's FICA contribution to obtain higher SS payments after 65. What he said and wrote does not exclude the more sensible interpretation."

You should let DeWitt (the SS historian) know that you understand FDR better than he does. Because the idea "that FDR's VCA would only add to one's FICA contribution to obtain higher SS payments after 65" is an excellent summary of what DeWitt wrote here.

It's fascinating how you're willing to dismiss direct expert evidence in order to hold onto an idea that's a product of your imagination (and what you happened to see on Faux News).

"Like what would be a good way to fix SS maybe?"

As a society, we're not going to have much luck putting our heads together to come up with good solutions if we start with the belief that it's OK for the press to help the government lie to us. And this is a problem that's a lot bigger than the SS discussion.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 05:26 PM

"Since both V=P and SS=P, the only way this is always true (iff) is for V=SS ... so I don't expect you to understand that in effect you did claim that: VCA = SS as we know it"

You must be joking. That's like saying "I see a dog that is black" and "I see a cat that is black" so therefore "the dog is a cat."

One can claim that VCA is a private investment, and also claim that SS is a private investment, and this is definitely not the equivalent of claiming that VCA=SS.

"Your long winded incoherent posts reveal a lack of logical skills"

To quote a famous blogger, heh.

Go back to explaining how annuities can't exist, because no one would ever buy such a dumb thing.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at February 18, 2005 05:27 PM

"If my 401K contains any government bonds, you must therefor claim that it no longer is a private investment account. Well?"

You're missing the point. NOT

You're dodging the question. The private in private investment account refers to who owns and controlls it, not the nature of the investment properties contained.

It is quite possible to have a 401K consisting entirely of governmnet bonds. So by your own admission such a beast is comparable to a VCA.

Your entire argument just went up in a puff of smoke.


Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 05:33 PM

I see a dog that is black" and "I see a cat that is black" so therefore

the dog is the same color as the cat

Your comprehension of logic is beyond lame.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 05:35 PM

Any news yet of a plan to fix Social Security?(other than the President's that is)

Posted by: spd rdr at February 18, 2005 05:36 PM

One can claim that VCA is a private investment, and also claim that SS is a private investment, and this is definitely not the equivalent of claiming that VCA=SS.

Your claim is stronger. VCA is only if SS is.

In context VCA=SS means that relative to a private investment account they have exactly the same membership logic.

If VCA is a member so is SS
If SS is a member so is VCA
If SS not a member neither is VCA
If VCA not a member neither is SS

Get a clue.


Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 05:39 PM

Not in the sense of "Can be withdrawn with restrictions (401K)." The idea that FDR's VCA had that characteristic is something you pulled entirely out of your hat, just like the statement about inheritability.

My hat contains logic. Won't say what's in your hat.

Private investment account annutities have withdrawal and inheritable death benefits. Otherwise nobody in their right mind would buy them.

Posted by: boris at February 18, 2005 05:52 PM

It does both. If it only did the latter, there would be no surplus in the SS trust fund. But there is. So by definition, you're wrong.

Wrong, the surplus is an accounting trick that said the revenues generated from FICA are X, the outlays to SS were Y, Z is the surplus. Or, we expect FICA revenues over time to be X, we expect SS expenditures over the same time to be Y, Z is the surplus. None of this said the surplus was going to be held at all, much less in a trust fund for SS. Only that inlays exceeded outlays now or for a certain period of time. Just because there is a surplus doesn't mean that there is a trust fund to put it in.

Similarly, my family saved more for furniture in January than we actually spent. Did we save it for future furniture purchases? No, we bought an X-box instead. We had a furniture savings surplus, but there ended up not being any furniture fund cause we spent it on something else.

Before the mid 1960's you would be right, surpluses were saved in a trust fund. That was the way it was designed to work, but that's not the way it works anymore.


Of course, as (I think) KJ mentioned long ago. None of this deals with the fact that SS is an abominable program that essentially steals money from people under the guise that "It's for your own good". To paraphrase: We could give you your money back, but you might not spend it right.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 06:18 PM

Does Franken's deliberate deception surprise ANYONE?

I'm concerned that the divide over red state/blue state has gone beyond a simple geopgraphic divide. Lefties may as well be on another planet altogether... so a mis-statement of quotes or historical fact is nothing new.

It all fits in with the "fake, but accurate" philosophy exhibited in the CBS News forged documents scandal.

Sadly, it won't matter a whit to lefties, who will willingly believe ANYTHING that supports the ediface of their failing ideology.

Is it any wonder that following the results of the '04 presidential election, there was a measurable uptick in upset Dems seeking psychological counseling?

All I can say is that perhaps the prescription drug benefit in medicare was not such a bad idea after all.

Posted by: Mike on Hilton Head at February 18, 2005 08:47 PM

I guess that the answer to my prior question in "no." So be it.
In a Democratic Society, one decides questions based upon two ideas: one that is known (status quo), the other which is not(change). What is "known" here is universally recognized as being "busted."

Now, shut up and deal...or just shut up.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 18, 2005 08:59 PM

Hmmm. You can fit more angels on a pin than I realized...

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 18, 2005 09:39 PM

OR, maybe Cass's thread title was correct.

Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 18, 2005 09:55 PM

In that he has never let facts sully any of his arguments, I must give Franken his due.

Posted by: RIslander [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 18, 2005 11:10 PM

Hey, I offered to buy everyone a round after breaking the rules myself, but no one took me up on it. What, you guys don't like me so much I can't even bribe you with free beer? :-)

*sobs*

*but very manly sobs*

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 11:45 PM

Menace, had you offered top shelf margaritas, on the rocks, with salt - I'd a been your guy!

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 19, 2005 11:13 AM

Given the comments, I demand to see JukeBoxBoys' transcript to determine whether, in fact, he graduated.

At present let's just call him Juke. 'Cause all the shucking and jiving he's required to do to support his position reminds me of a Barry Sanders' Juke.

I'd take the offer of a beer if I wasn't on the wagon. :)

Damnedable wagon. 8^)

Posted by: Birkel at February 19, 2005 04:54 PM

Hey Einstein,
(supplant)
* verb:   take the place or move into the position of

Posted by: Jon of Means at February 28, 2005 07:52 PM

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