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

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  •  Interesting watching the union killers in Detroit (25+ / 0-)

    still attempting to pull off this shit and thinking that no one knows what they are trying to do.  Pensions are BAD, but only if the 1% can't get their hands on them...

    Someone once asked me why do you always insist on taking the hard road? and I replied why do you assume I see two roads?

    by funluvn1 on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 04:50:05 AM PDT

    •  My question is (10+ / 0-)

      how many of those pensioners gave up access to Social Security in favor of locally-funded pensions?  The average public pensioner in Detroit stands to enjoy $17,000 to $19,000 in yearly pension income (approx. $30,000 for  police and fire fighters), and most of those who are due to receive pensions from the state or the city of Detroit gave up their rights to collect Social Security in order to receive those pensions.

      Congress saw no problem bailing out TBTF banks and other financial institutions to the tune of close to $1 trillion, even though those recipients brought about their own problems due to their own greed and fraud, but Congress won't consider bailing out a huge American city whose financial problems stem in large part from the failure of its manufacturing base and white flight?  Inconceivable - and I know what that word means.

      "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 06:13:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If only Detroit was a corporation (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SueDe, enhydra lutris, gffish, salmo

        If Detroit was a corporation like General Motors or a bank Obama and Congress would have bailed them out.

      •  Arrrgh. Bailouts. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SueDe, salmo

        OK, Dino, count to ten...

        Perfect point:

        Billions for the rich, nothing for the folks whose work made them rich.

        And they still call this America?

        Methinks Thomas Jefferson would remind us that he believed in periodic revolutions.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:22:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  From what I've heard, ordinary employees did not (0+ / 0-)

        but police and firefighters ARE ineligible for SS (which is why the city gives them relatively generous pensions).

        We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

        by Samer on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:38:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh and don't forget that Snyder cut business taxes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        by raising taxes on seniors, further lowering their economic power!

        We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

        by Samer on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:38:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No choice (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        When I was working for state and local governments, I got put into those pensions.  It was not a choice, Social Security was not available.  I acknowledge limited information regarding state and local plans where I did not work, but it seems likely that I did not select the exceptions.  

        I did make a choice upon leaving those jobs to withdraw my money from the pension plan, and give up the employers' contributions.  But that did not convert those pension fund contribution quarters into quarters of Social Security qualification.  

        A retired public employee whose entire career was with, say - the City of Detroit, would have had no alternative beyond some sort if IRA/403(b) to put away tax exempt retirement savings.

        •  Local government employees don't get SS (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          salmo, SueDe

          Your income as a government employee isn't taxed for Social Security. So, if you only worked for the government, you are not eligible for SS.

          If you worked for both government and a private employer, your SS can be cut by half the government pension. (3/4 if you have a dependent covered by your SS.)

          •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

            I had Social Security eligible quarters when I worked for employers covered by Social Security and therefore paid taxes into the system.  In theory, there would have been some claw back if I had kept my vested interest in state and local pension plans.  I suppose that if I had worked for a railroad it could have really been a mess.

    •  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" (  

      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:

          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.

    •  but almost zero support for federal bailout of Det (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Detroit.  Taxpayers in all the other states (and many in Michigan outside of Detroit) will not support a federal bailout of Detroit.

      •  What happens when the next half dozen municipal (0+ / 0-)

        bankruptcies arrive in federal court?  And the half dozen after that?  Detroit isn't just a one-off problem; it's the trial balloon for an avalanche of these union busting, municipal asset stripping attacks on what is left of the middle class.  Have you ever wondered exactly what the "drowning in the bathtub" moment would look like when government was small enough?

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