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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Detroit, the royal baby, and more (80 comments)

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  •  Plutocrats (Wall Street) already controls those $ (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SueDe, enhydra lutris, codairem

    I think it is a far more complicated problem.  Right now, the vast majority of those pension funds are being managed by a sector we call Wall Street, but is actually far more dispersed.  I watched Morning Joe this AM, and got to listen to Steve Rattner.  Remember him, the former NYTimes reporter who set himself up in that Wall Street universe by bribing the State's officials responsible for their public employee retirement funds?  He got off by paying a fine, but I think that the Forbes headline summarizes the matter nicely: "Rattner Shows Cuomo, SEC Justice Is Corrupt, Not Blind" (http://www.forbes.com/...).  

    He, his firms, and the many, many other firms doing this business right along side of him, took billions out of transactions involving pension funds all across the country.  That money was pension fund money, and to the extent that fees were inflated and kickbacks were delivered (and boy howdy, were they ever), it was those pensioners' money.  And the talking heads sit around their show talking about shortfalls and pointing fingers at Detroit, while a big part of the problem was sitting right across the table, a living breathing example of massive corruption in our public employees retirement system.  Things didn't work out?  Uh huh, they worked out just fine for the Rattners and Cuomos, and the workers got screwed.  So what else is new.

    To be fair, public officials underfunding pension funds because the bills won't come due in their terms ought to be a far more serious offense than it is.  The blame in the first instance goes to those cities and states that have committed what amounts to a fraud on their employees, past and present.  The pensioners ought to acknowledge that their unions and they themselves, failed to take effective action after years of watching that shortfall continue in good times and bad.  But passivity in the face of fraud is not the same as committing the fraud.  The punishment ought not to fall exclusively on the weak.

    I do not claim to have a crystal ball, but it seems to me that the trend here is inescapable.  Detroit is a trial balloon, another step in the efforts of the sociopathic elites to shred the social contract.  Many other local and state governments will follow in its wake if this effort to use bankruptcy to break municipal unions and seize municipal assets is successful.  In the face of this serious challenge to the interests of the people they claim to represent, the passivity of the Obama White House, and the national Democratic Party, does not bode well.  

    I am thinking about the question of: What's to be done?  Loathe as I am to contemplate a massive adjustment in Social Security (being on it myself), I think that is where the solution lies.

    •  I hope you're not suggesting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      salmo, pundit

      that all - or even part - of our Social Security money should be turned over to the Wankers of Wall Street.   The federal government should guarantee the pensions of Detroit and sic the (heretofore toothless) SEC on the speculators and rentiers who robbed those pension funds in the first place.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:09:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't have a coherent suggestion yet (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SueDe

        I agree that a massive effort to claw back the stolen pension money is a necessary step, not only for the funds themselves, but also to instruct the next would be criminal.

        As to Social Security, I haven't thought it through.  Here's what I know.  I observe that this will be a massive - some say $1,000,000,000,000 - problem, and that the alternative to finding a solution will be enormous suffering, including homelessness, starvation, premature death, etc, involving millions of people.  I know those people; they are my relatives, friends, business partners, neighbors, etc.  That matters.  Even the most ruthless Conservative should be able to see that this would pose a significant economic problem for the nation - the bail-out the banksters argument, this time for the middle class.  It should also matter to them.  

        In a better world, where the rich haven't already gamed the tax code to the point where governments are ready for their bathtub experience, there might be alternatives.  But in this one, the only place where a store of value exists on the required scale is the Social Security System.  I think the ultimate solution will be to take what assets the pension systems do have into the Social Security Trust Fund, and fold the public employees retirement obligations into Social Security benefits.  That will necessitate changes like lifting the cap on contributions.  Changes like raising the retirement age, chained CPI and other such schemes will slip in more easily through the opening such an adjustment will provide.  Of course, lurking in the details are enormous complications and inequities, and the specter of Wall Street's greedy tentacles, vampire squids, etc.  As I said, I don't have a coherent suggestion yet.

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