Why Nobody Cares About the Climate, er, Debt Crisis

 

I’ll be as upfront as I can: this is not going to be a sophisticated analysis of the budget deficit, the national debt, and its implications on the economy going forward. What it is going to be, is the perception of ordinary people who know full well that all that stuff is way over their heads, and only have what they see and how their lives are going to judge the state of things by.

But first, a divergence into the seemingly unrelated issue of climate change. Why are initiatives such as the Green New Deal failing to catch on outside the most politically connected circles on the coasts? Sure, in the case of the GND specifically, you could argue it’s poorly written with highly impractical and arguably counterproductive goals. But I’m speaking in the general sense. Why is the hysteria of impending climate doom not having a whole lot of impact with any but the most politically aware voters?

The answer to that is straightforward enough. It is because we have heard the same proclamations of doom all our lives. In my case, literally: the first Earth Day in 1970, with the grand declaration that the doom of humanity at the hands of the climate, was on the day I was due to emerge onto this planet, and I must have gotten wind of it somehow because I instead decided to stay in the womb another three weeks before finally being coaxed out.

The point being, when something has been a constant in our lives, and yet never actually seems to impact our lives in the way we’re told it will, it’s entirely natural that we eventually start to just tune it out. Even if it’s not a conscious effort, our brains just process it as noise and move on.

So what does all of that have to do with the debt crisis? Well, more than you might think. Consider everything I wrote in the above three paragraphs, and swap out climate change for the national debt. Sure, there is no holiday to promote awareness of the debt (unless you count April 15), but it remains a fact that we used to be the generation that was going to have to pay off the billions and trillions in debt. But somehow, that bill seems to have gotten lost in the mail.

My father said repeatedly that he never expected to see a dime from Social Security. And yet there the checks were waiting for him after he finally retired, and for my mother after he passed a few years later. Social Security was supposed to have gone bankrupt over and over in my lifetime, and yet somehow there it still is.

But doesn’t that sound familiar? We’re all supposed to have died over and over again from climate change, and yet somehow here we still are. Is it possible that the same noise filters that tune out climate change hysteria, also tune out fears about what disaster is awaiting the economy if we dare to raise the debt ceiling even one more time?

Ah, you say, but unlike with the climate change hysterics, the debt is a real, objectively measurable thing. We even have a big sign that accurately updates it to the second. And it’s certainly a big number, with a lot of digits.

But what … what does it actually mean?

I want to emphasize again that I am not asking this question on my own behalf but on that of the ordinary voter, living their ordinary life. That big, big number keeps getting bigger and bigger and yet … what does it mean? Why is $22 trillion so much worse than $2 trillion, which we were told at the time was already catastrophically huge? How are people’s lives worse because of that big big number, and how would they be better if it were to go away?

I’m sure there’s a perfectly good academic answer to those questions, but that’s missing the point, because those academic explanations are inevitably going to be far over the heads of the ordinary voters I’m speaking of.

It’s not even a case of “they value the goodies they get from the government too much” because even people who are self-sufficient and wouldn’t be directly impacted by the cuts needed to get the budget balanced, aren’t really being given a reason to want it that means anything to them.

The point is, continuing to shriek and point to what has been for many years a dizzyingly high number just doesn’t accomplish anything anymore. The economy is good, the people are prosperous, and these are things that were at least implied wouldn’t be possible until we did something about that big big number.

Can the average voter really be blamed for starting to think that the debt, like climate change, has proven to be much ado about nothing?

At any rate, I hope that’s enough for a starting point for a discussion we really need to have. Are we as guilty as the climate change alarmists in trying to unduly scare people over something that is not as out of control as we portray it? And if not, how do we differentiate it in a way that actually means something to an ordinary voter?

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  1. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Yes SS is going bankrupt

    This is a really significant falsehood, one that seems to be fairly commonly believed even among Ricocheteers, who should know better.

    In fact, the Social Security Administration is simply a department of the US Government.  No department of the US Government can own assets or have liabilities. Therefore, SS cannot go bankrupt.

    • #61
  2. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Yes SS is going bankrupt

    This is a really significant falsehood, one that seems to be fairly commonly believed even among Ricocheteers, who should know better.

    In fact, the Social Security Administration is simply a department of the US Government. No department of the US Government can own assets or have liabilities. Therefore, SS cannot go bankrupt.

    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue. This almost happened in 2018 and will almost certainly happen this year and for the next projected 75 years.  The Trust Fund can make up the difference by redeeming Treasury bonds that it purchased with the surpluses of prior years. Those bonds will last until 2035 at the current rate, after which all payments will be made with incoming revenue from both the designated Social Security taxes and the general taxes. This is what is meant by “Social Security going bankrupt.”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/social-security-costs-to-exceed-revenue-next-year-trustee-report-shows-2019-04-22

    • #62
  3. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Yes SS is going bankrupt

    This is a really significant falsehood, one that seems to be fairly commonly believed even among Ricocheteers, who should know better.

    In fact, the Social Security Administration is simply a department of the US Government. No department of the US Government can own assets or have liabilities. Therefore, SS cannot go bankrupt.

    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue. This almost happened in 2018 and will almost certainly happen this year and for the next projected 75 years. The Trust Fund can make up the difference by redeeming Treasury bonds that it purchased with the surpluses of prior years. Those bonds will last until 2035 at the current rate, after which all payments will be made with incoming revenue from both the designated Social Security taxes and the general taxes. This is what is meant by “Social Security going bankrupt.”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/social-security-costs-to-exceed-revenue-next-year-trustee-report-shows-2019-04-22

    But it is still only paper. The bond redemptions are accomplished with incoming revenue and that cash looks very much like the same incoming revenue cash when the bonds are exhausted.

    • #63
  4. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Yes SS is going bankrupt

    This is a really significant falsehood, one that seems to be fairly commonly believed even among Ricocheteers, who should know better.

    In fact, the Social Security Administration is simply a department of the US Government. No department of the US Government can own assets or have liabilities. Therefore, SS cannot go bankrupt.

    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue. This almost happened in 2018 and will almost certainly happen this year and for the next projected 75 years. The Trust Fund can make up the difference by redeeming Treasury bonds that it purchased with the surpluses of prior years. Those bonds will last until 2035 at the current rate, after which all payments will be made with incoming revenue from both the designated Social Security taxes and the general taxes. This is what is meant by “Social Security going bankrupt.”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/social-security-costs-to-exceed-revenue-next-year-trustee-report-shows-2019-04-22

    But it is still only paper. The bond redemptions are accomplished with incoming revenue and that cash looks very much like the same incoming revenue cash when the bonds are exhausted.

    Oh, agreed. It’s nothing but an accounting trick to make people think there’s money there. But said accounting trick is how the numbers are reported and thus why it’s not fair to accuse folks talking about the Trust Fund getting depleted as spreading a falsehood.

    • #64
  5. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Yes SS is going bankrupt

    This is a really significant falsehood, one that seems to be fairly commonly believed even among Ricocheteers, who should know better.

    In fact, the Social Security Administration is simply a department of the US Government. No department of the US Government can own assets or have liabilities. Therefore, SS cannot go bankrupt.

    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue. This almost happened in 2018 and will almost certainly happen this year and for the next projected 75 years. The Trust Fund can make up the difference by redeeming Treasury bonds that it purchased with the surpluses of prior years. Those bonds will last until 2035 at the current rate, after which all payments will be made with incoming revenue from both the designated Social Security taxes and the general taxes. This is what is meant by “Social Security going bankrupt.”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/social-security-costs-to-exceed-revenue-next-year-trustee-report-shows-2019-04-22

    But it is still only paper. The bond redemptions are accomplished with incoming revenue and that cash looks very much like the same incoming revenue cash when the bonds are exhausted.

    Oh, agreed. It’s nothing but an accounting trick to make people think there’s money there. But said accounting trick is how the numbers are reported and thus why it’s not fair to accuse folks talking about the Trust Fund getting depleted as spreading a falsehood.

    Most Ponzi schemes don’t get a bailout like that.

    • #65
  6. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Yes SS is going bankrupt

    This is a really significant falsehood, one that seems to be fairly commonly believed even among Ricocheteers, who should know better.

    In fact, the Social Security Administration is simply a department of the US Government. No department of the US Government can own assets or have liabilities. Therefore, SS cannot go bankrupt.

    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue. This almost happened in 2018 and will almost certainly happen this year and for the next projected 75 years. The Trust Fund can make up the difference by redeeming Treasury bonds that it purchased with the surpluses of prior years. Those bonds will last until 2035 at the current rate, after which all payments will be made with incoming revenue from both the designated Social Security taxes and the general taxes. This is what is meant by “Social Security going bankrupt.”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/social-security-costs-to-exceed-revenue-next-year-trustee-report-shows-2019-04-22

    But it is still only paper. The bond redemptions are accomplished with incoming revenue and that cash looks very much like the same incoming revenue cash when the bonds are exhausted.

    Oh, agreed. It’s nothing but an accounting trick to make people think there’s money there. But said accounting trick is how the numbers are reported and thus why it’s not fair to accuse folks talking about the Trust Fund getting depleted as spreading a falsehood.

    Most Ponzi schemes don’t get a bailout like that.

    I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m saying there is a thing called the Social Security Trust Fund that consists of IOUs. The fund is deemed to be bankrupt in normal parlance when those IOUs run out, requiring Social Security has to be funded directly by general revenues instead of just redeeming the IOUs. If we consider it “bankrupt” when it has to redeem those IOUs, it is bankrupt today.

    That is not the same thing as saying that SS is a government department and government departments can’t own assets so SS can never go bankrupt.

    And as having kids to sucker for their retirement is something Baby Boomers were too spoiled and lazy to do, you better believe that they will take a haircut. As noted in my previous comments, it will probably be done by inflating currency while keeping their welfare payments the same in nominal terms and denying them medical treatment when they get sick.

    • #66
  7. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    I Walton (View Comment):
    At least with SS those who pay get something back.

    That’s not true.

    1. The US Government pays billions to SS recipients each year.  Because it starts and ends each year with about the same cash balance, the unavoidable fact is that those payments are funded solely by the current year’s taxes and borrowings.  They certainly are not distributing dividends from, or capital gains from the sale of, wealth-creating firms, shares of which are owned by the Government on behalf of SS participants!  And they certainly aren’t distributing the proceeds of principal and interest from loans by the US government to other persons. (Note: the only kind of loans by a person that can logically exist are that kind: loans to other persons.  No one can loan money to himself.  Not even as seemingly omnipotent an agent as the US Government can overturn a law of logic.)
    2. SS recipients are simply getting redistributions of money taken from taxpayers that year, or borrowed from that years lenders.

    To be more accurate, there is some connection between paying some amount of the employee half of SS tax and receiving some amount of money benefits in the future. It is this.  So far, you have had to qualify as a member of a legally defined class of income-earner to be taxed under the SS law, and also to receive benefits later in your life.

    But even that is easy to misinterpret as creating a loosely defined “payback” condition.

    This second flaw in your thinking is to believe that the US Government has, as result of taxing you in a given year, some legal obligation to distribute money to you in the future. 

    The USG taxes an employer and his employee under SS law in a given year because it wanted to (and because no Legislative or Executive internal scruples concerning the rule of law are functioning, nor any Constitutional constraints imposed from without by the Supreme Court.)

    The US government in any given year sends out SS checks to whom it pleases, in the amounts it pleases, because it wants to, not because it had to.

     

    • #67
  8. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Yes SS is going bankrupt

    This is a really significant falsehood, one that seems to be fairly commonly believed even among Ricocheteers, who should know better.

    In fact, the Social Security Administration is simply a department of the US Government. No department of the US Government can own assets or have liabilities. Therefore, SS cannot go bankrupt.

    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue. This almost happened in 2018 and will almost certainly happen this year and for the next projected 75 years. The Trust Fund can make up the difference by redeeming Treasury bonds that it purchased with the surpluses of prior years. Those bonds will last until 2035 at the current rate, after which all payments will be made with incoming revenue from both the designated Social Security taxes and the general taxes. This is what is meant by “Social Security going bankrupt.”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/social-security-costs-to-exceed-revenue-next-year-trustee-report-shows-2019-04-22

    Actually, expenses have exceeded incoming FICA taxes since about 2010. It’s only the interest income on those special-issue bonds that has kept it from going negative until now. 

    • #68
  9. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    Perhaps, but that money is long gone.

    That isn’t true.

    Money is fungible, so “that money” is a meaningless term.  If you receive a dollar and pay a dollar, you can’t say that “that dollar” that you paid is or is not “that dollar” that you received.

    • #69
  10. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue.

    Amy,

    The “Social Security Trust Fund” is not legally a trust fund.

    A trust fund

    1. is a legal person
    2. can have legal assets and liabilities
    3. has trustees who have a legal fiduciary responsibility.

    The “Social Security Trust Fund”

    1. is simply an internal account of the US Government. It is not a legal entity at all!
    2. has no legal assets, and no legal liabilities
    3. is no more a trust fund than your Vacation Fund on Quicken is

    Here is how Social Security Trust Fund and the other internal accounts of the USG work, using Quicken as an example.

    If you decide to buy a new car, and you sit down to enter the transaction on Quicken, you might realize that there isn’t enough in your New Car fund.  So you decide to record a transfer of funds of 10,000 from your Vacation Fund to your New Car fund.  Your Vacation Fund now has a negative cash balance, say -5000, but it has a new Asset: it is owed 5000 by the New Car fund.

    So you have recorded a promise to yourself to repay your Vacation fund in the future from you New Car fund.

    But you are determined to stop this squandering of Vacation money on extravagant purchases like new cars.

    You pass a statute.  You promise yourself to put 100 USD every month into your New Car fund, and then transfer it to your Vacation fund, until the cash balance of your Vacation fund is back to zero.

    But sadly, it has no more IOUs to cash in from your New Car fund!  The problem of moving “dollars” around between your arbitrary Quicken accounts is that you never get any richer!  Everytime you  increase one Asset (money owed to you by yourself) you increase a Liability (money you owe to yourself) by the same amount.

    This is how the accounting works that you are talking about as if it actually affected anyone.

    It doesn’t.

    • #70
  11. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

      This topic gets turned into a discussion of SS when my original  point is and it’s the important point,  government spending in Washington has a negative return, and is not accountable to the people.  The people can have an impact should they choose on local spending, and in less populous states on state spending, but are far too removed from Washington to have any impact.  This was the reason, even way back then, such power was not given to the Federal government.   SS is a separate issue.  It can be dealt with much more easily than general spending, but probably wont be.  

    • #71
  12. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Jason Obermeyer (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I think that we will become comfortable with leaving old people to die rather than pay for super expensive healthcare that just lets them live a few years longer. Seriously, we can bring down the debt massively cutting Medicare and Medicaid for non-working old people.

    Which is where the “Death Panels” come in. Whatever you call it, in government run healthcare eventually someone other than you is going to have to decide when enough is enough.

    I think Death Panels will become popular among young people. 

    • #72
  13. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Here is what I believe to be the most relevant graph about the debt — debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP.  The total debt is higher, but it includes intergovernmental debt, which I don’t really think should be counted, as it is analogous to a company in which one subsidiary owes a debt to another.

    The link to this graph, with full data, is here.

    [Added comment:  Note that this graph overstates the increase, as the x-axis crosses the y-axis at 20%, rather than at 0%.  This is copied directly from the St. Louis Fed website, so it’s how they do it.  The increases are still substantial, but this alteration of the axis exaggerates the change.]

     

    If you follow the link, you can point at the graph line and read the quarterly figures.  Here is the progression:

    38.8%  End of Reagan (Q4 1988)
    46.8%  End of Bush 41 (Q4 1992) — UP 8.0%
    32.7%  End of Clinton (Q4 2000) — DOWN 14.1%
    43.8%  End of Bush 43 (Q4 2008) — UP 11.1%
    76.1%  End of Obama (Q4 2016) — UP 32.3%
    77.0%  Trump thus far (Q1 2019) — UP 0.9%

    You can clearly see that there has been no significant growth in the debt under President Trump, even though the annual deficits have been fairly large.  The good news is that with decent economic growth, we can run a deficit every year and essentially maintain a steady state.

    The math on this may be counterintuitive.

    At present, GDP is roughly $20 trillion and debt held by the public is roughly $15 trillion (picking round numbers for ease of calculation).  That’s a ratio of 75%.

    Imagine that we have real economic growth of 3% and inflation of 2%.  That would be a pretty good year.  Now imagine that we run a $700 billion deficit, which sounds bad.

    But when we do the math:  The economy has grown to $21 trillion (5% nominal growth on GDP of $20 trillion).  The debt has grown to $15.7 trillion.  The ratio would decrease to 74.8%.

    No reason to worry about this.

    It would be nice if we could get spending reduced, and start driving down the debt figure, but I see no reason for serious concern.

    Obviously, if interest rates increased, this could create a problem, but there is a counterbalancing factor that would likely be involved.  High interest rates generally accompany high inflation, which would imply greater nominal GDP growth.  Essentially, we would be “monetizing” the debt through inflation — which stinks for bond-holders, but isn’t catastrophic for government finance.

    • #73
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    It’s also possible to accomplish spending reductions if the benefit is based on need.

    All of this stuff was set up on lies and run that way. Intergenerational theft. Nothing will change until the bond market collapses. 

    • #74
  15. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    DonG (View Comment):
    I used to worry about the national debt a lot, then I suddenly had to choose between “ignore the debt” and “ignore the rise of socialism” and the debt is the lesser of those evils. The Dems are using the Lethal Weapon ploy: spend like mad or we are crazy enough to destroy everything. 

    I agree with this 100%. 

    • #75
  16. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Inflation isn’t always a bad thing. If there’s no inflation, you’re going to have very low saving account deposit interest to compensate. It’s largely a wash if you don’t get hyperinflation. The Fed likes to pretend (and people are convinced) that they control interest rates, but they don’t really, the market does. The Fed follows where the market goes (or at least is defies it at its peril.) That’s the reason the Fed is going to lower rates at the end of this month. The market is telling them they are going to cause a tight money recession if they don’t. Luckily, the Fed has learned from past failures, so they are probably going to succeed at extending the expansion a while longer.

    Next recession will probably start in 2023/2024, which makes me afraid no matter who wins the next election.

    Without discretionary central banks all savings would get a fair return. It would grow in real terms.

    • #76
  17. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Jason Obermeyer (View Comment):
    the “promised” social security payments.

    Fleming v. Nestor:

    The Court ruled that no such contract exists, and that there is no contractual right to receive Social Security payments. Payments due under Social Security are not “property” rights and are not protected by the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The interest of a beneficiary of Social Security is protected only by the Due Process Clause.

    It’s been settled law for almost 60 years that you aren’t actually entitled to “your” entitlements. Of course, Social Security reform won’t be nearly as ugly as Medicare reform. That’s where the death panels will have to exist because there simply won’t be enough money to pay for everyone’s treatments.

    This is accurate.

    • #77
  18. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I Walton (View Comment):
    What is the return for the nation of the billions we spend on Washington employees doing stuff we don’t know about and they’d have difficulty explaining? Folks don’t know, but they’re told it’s important and they can’t renege on their tax obligations. They pay. The fact is, most of it is far less than what we’d earn with our savings or enjoy with our spending. That’s a good guess for most of it has a negative return. That waste should be our focus, not the debt. It’s not easy to sort out, and can only be sorted out by the people who pay the taxes which means it should be state expenditure paid directly by the tax payers of each state to each state government. Some of states would get it right and cut the hell out of it. Washington won’t because it’s not in their interest to sort it out and it never will be.

    “Public goods” only.

    • #78
  19. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    What is the return for the nation of the billions we spend on Washington employees doing stuff we don’t know about and they’d have difficulty explaining? Folks don’t know, but they’re told it’s important and they can’t renege on their tax obligations. They pay. The fact is, most of it is far less than what we’d earn with our savings or enjoy with our spending. That’s a good guess for most of it has a negative return. That waste should be our focus, not the debt. It’s not easy to sort out, and can only be sorted out by the people who pay the taxes which means it should be state expenditure paid directly by the tax payers of each state to each state government. Some of states would get it right and cut the hell out of it. Washington won’t because it’s not in their interest to sort it out and it never will be.

    That is not a positive return in reality. 

    • #79
  20. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    What is the return for the nation of the billions we spend on Washington employees doing stuff we don’t know about and they’d have difficulty explaining? Folks don’t know, but they’re told it’s important and they can’t renege on their tax obligations. They pay. The fact is, most of it is far less than what we’d earn with our savings or enjoy with our spending. That’s a good guess for most of it has a negative return. That waste should be our focus, not the debt. It’s not easy to sort out, and can only be sorted out by the people who pay the taxes which means it should be state expenditure paid directly by the tax payers of each state to each state government. Some of states would get it right and cut the hell out of it. Washington won’t because it’s not in their interest to sort it out and it never will be.

    What do you recommend?

    • #80
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Everyone needs to spend $1 and with the long interview of David Stockman https://www.realvision.com/recessionwatch/?utm_source=Organic&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_campaign=43664_RECWATCH_KA_SMT%20_RV_W1_TGRAPH

    • #81
  22. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    The Social Security Trust Fund can have its outgoing expenses exceed its incoming revenue.

    Amy,

    A legal person has these six attributes: it can

    1. have expenses
    2. have revenue
    3. have assets
    4. have liabilities
    5. be insolvent
    6. be sued and be subjected to court judgments

    We will come back to these attributes in a moment.

    Here are some examples of legal persons:

    • The US Government
    • You
    • Me
    • Any legally constituted Trust Fund, i.e., one that is set up by a wealthy couple to handle their estate.
    • General Electric

    Arbitrary mental concepts are not real persons. Because of this, none of the six attributes of legal persons apply to concepts.

    Here are some things which are not legal persons:

    1. “All blue-eyed people”
    2. The “Vacation Fund” you set up on Quicken
    3. A vacation fund you set up on Quicken and call “The Springfield Marching Band Trust Fund”, even though you never legally created a Trust Fund, in order to embezzle funds from a marching band that you are treasurer of.
    4. The Social Security Trust Fund, which is conceptually nothing more than a Quicken account set up by US Government accountants to artificially subdivide the total amount of monetary assets owned by the US Government into departmental piles.

    The “Social Security Trust Fund” is not a Trust Fund.  It is an internal accounting entity set up by US Govt. accountants. It has no assets because it does not exist, except as set of figures in a computer.  It has no liabilities.  It cannot be sued.  It cannot go bankrupt.  It cannot have expenses, nor income, nor a deficit.

    • #82
  23. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    1. be sued and be subjected to court judgments

    We will come back to these attributes in a moment.

    Here are some examples of legal persons:

    • The US Government

    Of course, the Feds can only be sued if they agree to it.

    • #83
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Amy,

    A legal person has these six attributes: it can

    Mark,

    Nobody (other than you and that guy who worked for SSA) care about the technical details. Yes, we all know that it’s all one pot. Money goes in and money goes out. Yes, we know the “Social Security Trust Fund” is a fiction that does not exist in any form of reality, only in the mind of some uninformed voters (who are not on Ricochet) and government books. Yes, we know that checks are not sent out. Can you let the conversation flow without being so literal about every term that you want to apply in the most technical sense. You are drowning in facts that hide the truth.

    We are in trouble. It is not if we will have to pay the piper, it is only a question of when and how much.

    And yes, I know that technically, there is no piper playing.

    • #84
  25. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Nobody (other than you and that guy who worked for SSA) care about the technical details.

    Hope you are not referencing me, a retired Department of Treasury official. Keeping the books on government revenues and expenditures as well as collecting and disbursing dollars is a Treasury function. Other department and agencies, like SSA, don’t generally do those things.

    • #85
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Nobody (other than you and that guy who worked for SSA) care about the technical details.

    Hope you are not referencing me, a retired Department of Treasury official. Keeping the books on government revenues and expenditures as well as collecting and disbursing dollars is a Treasury function. Other department and agencies, like SSA, don’t generally do those things.

    I stand corrected, Bob. My point is that nobody on Ricochet really has to be corrected on the technical details because they use a term or terms loosely. We know it’s not really a trust fund. We know they don’t pay with checks but with electronic blips and bloops. Have whatever drink relaxes you, and watch the government fictions show.

    • #86
  27. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Nobody (other than you and that guy who worked for SSA) care about the technical details.

    Hope you are not referencing me, a retired Department of Treasury official. Keeping the books on government revenues and expenditures as well as collecting and disbursing dollars is a Treasury function. Other department and agencies, like SSA, don’t generally do those things.

    I stand corrected, Bob. My point is that nobody on Ricochet really has to be corrected on the technical details because they use a term or terms loosely. We know it’s not really a trust fund. We know they don’t pay with checks but with electronic blips and bloops. Have whatever drink relaxes you, and watch the government fictions show.

    If we’re going to get technical, I wasn’t really bankrupt when my house was foreclosed on, my car was repossessed, or my checking account was at -$1000 because I never actually declared bankruptcy. Most people understand what I mean though.

    • #87
  28. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    1. be sued and be subjected to court judgments

    We will come back to these attributes in a moment.

    Here are some examples of legal persons:

    • The US Government

    Of course, the Feds can only be sued if they agree to it.

    It is always and everywhere true that a court of law decides what petitions it will hear.  Even a village council of elders in a primitive society.

    But that isn’t a defect of our Constitution.  It is a necessary condition for having the rule of law.

    • #88
  29. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    1. be sued and be subjected to court judgments

    We will come back to these attributes in a moment.

    Here are some examples of legal persons:

    • The US Government

    Of course, the Feds can only be sued if they agree to it.

    It is always and everywhere true that a court of law decides what petitions it will hear. Even a village council of elders in a primitive society.

    But that isn’t a defect of our Constitution. It is a necessary condition for having the rule of law.

    Well, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act.

    • #89
  30. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Amy,

    A legal person has these six attributes: it can

    Mark,

    Nobody (other than you and that guy who worked for SSA) care about the technical details. Yes, we all know that it’s all one pot. Money goes in and money goes out. Yes, we know the “Social Security Trust Fund” is a fiction that does not exist in any form of reality, only in the mind of some uninformed voters (who are not on Ricochet) and government books. Yes, we know that checks are not sent out. Can you let the conversation flow without being so literal about every term that you want to apply in the most technical sense. You are drowning in facts that hide the truth.

    We are in trouble. It is not if we will have to pay the piper, it is only a question of when and how much.

    And yes, I know that technically, there is no piper playing.

    A:

    I think that the prospect of the Social Security Trust Fund running out of funds by running a deficit (expenses exceeding revenues) and being unable to send out benefit checks is not a “technical detail” that “nobody cares about” except me.

    Amy cares about it.  She wouldn’t have brought it up if she didn’t.  I believe that the only reason that folks on Ricochet keep bringing up the issue of the financial health of the Social Security Trust Fund is that they think it is of urgent importance.

    You are mistaken if you think I have ever brought it up as a concern.  On the contrary, I do not think it is a logical possibility, let alone a concern.   I have only responded to others who have raised it as a concern.

    • #90
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