Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Highly recommended reading

I've run into several articles over the past few days that have been fascinating reading:  in-depth investigations, news reports that lay bare important developments that are usually 'under the radar', and so on.  I don't have time to blog about each of them as they deserve, but I wanted to provide links to them so that you can check them out for yourselves.

First, we've discussed the pension crisis in these pages on numerous occasions.  Now comes this devastating analysis from Daily Reckoning.
... many retirees are in for a rude wake-up in the next few years.

That’s because U.S. corporate pensions are woefully underfunded and may have to cut payments to seniors in order to stay solvent.

Forget Social Security (which we all know is a broken system living on borrowed time). Now many corporate pensions are in the same boat and may soon start reneging on the promises made to workers.

To back up what the article says about Social Security, CNBC reminds us that it faces a $32 trillion shortfall.
A projection, known as the "infinite horizon," takes into account all the program's future liabilities, even those beyond the 75-year period that Social Security actuaries typically use in their calculations.

Under the infinite horizon, Social Security will have $32.1 trillion in unfunded liabilities by 2090, $6.3 trillion more than last year's projection.

The infinite horizon calculation is the most important part of the trustees' annual report, said Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economics professor ... "We're not broke in 20 years to 30 years, we're broke now," Kotlikoff said. "All the bills have been kept off the books by Congress and presidential administrations for six decades."

Changing the subject to academic, theological and archaeological skullduggery, the Atlantic has a long, in-depth article titled 'The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus' Wife'.  It traces the origins and provenance of a fragment of papyrus that allegedly spoke of Jesus Christ's wife.  It turns out that the document is (to say the least) highly suspect, and the probable product of a fraud spanning continents and decades.  Very interesting reading - and a reminder never, ever to take such sensational claims at face value.  There's usually a hidden agenda, and sometimes a very strange, twisted one (as appears to be the case here).

Another interesting article comes from Popular Mechanics.  It's titled 'The Write Stuff:  How the Humble Pencil Conquered the World'.  There turns out to be a lot more to the pencil than meets the eye, including some fascinating historical details of how the modern version was developed as a substitute for embargoed graphite during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

Finally, the twisted, far-left-wing, progressive (and dare I say evil?) influence of international financier George Soros is becoming clearer as his network of agents and sympathizers is increasingly exposed.  Two recent articles shed light on the matter:
  1. Our World: Soros’s campaign of global chaos
  2. Leaked Doc: Soros Open Society Seeks to Reshape Census, Electoral Districts
Both are sobering and very worrying articles.  Basically, Soros seeks to use behind-the-scenes influence and his vast financial resources to undermine democracy and national sovereignty.  If you're not concerned about what he's doing, you should be.  His work has the potential to literally steal elections, including our own.

All the articles I've mentioned are highly recommended reading.



SiGraybeard said...

I know there's a lot of angst about pension programs, but aside from state employees (fire/police/etc.) how many workers actually get a guaranteed pension? I started working in the early 1970s and only the "biggest, best" companies paid a pension. Is the "pension crisis" something the unions invented to get taxpayers to pay for money they were guaranteeing to pay?

I retired at the end of last year. My last 20 years were spent at the only company I'd encountered in my industry that had a defined benefit pension. They offer retiree's health insurance (which they can drop any time). The insurance premium eats up over 50% of my pension. The remainder after paying my health insurance won't even pay my electric bill this time of year. So while it would be inconvenient to lose the pension, it would be much more inconvenient to lose the health insurance.

Re: the social security "infinite horizon" number, that's a very squishy number. It assumes straight line extrapolation with nothing else figured in. It's like saying it was 80 on my front porch at 6AM, and 90 at noon, so it will be 100 at 6 PM - and 120 tomorrow at 6AM. With minor changes to eligibility and retirement ages, it seems quite manageable. As has been said over and over, we were mandated to pay into that account under threat of prison or worse (and if anyone tells you employers paid half of it, congratulate them for being economic idiots). Why is it now optional? Because congress mismanaged the fund? Why is this even questioned?

Anonymous said...

RE: Social Insecurity - a not-so-simple solution, politically impossible to implement: Cap it by age, eliminate mandatory contributions (the so-called "lockbox" was always a fraud, SS is being paid out of general funds). Establish an age floor, below which no one will receive SS benefits. Ever. Establish maximum dollar payouts per recipient, with no adjustments for inflation. Ever. Eliminate all taxation on investments of any kind.

That sets a maximum limit on dollar payout and sunsets SS, making planning much easier; when the last eligible recipient dies the SS system ends - including all administrative expenses (read: government employees to run SS, rent on the buildings they occupy, etc.). In the meantime since investments return percentages tax free each is responsible for his/her own retirement funding.

Will idiots screw up their lives by spending their investment money on toys? Sure. Idiots always screw it up. Not my problem. Act smart or starve, your choice. Yes, the stupid will die early. Again, not my problem.

As I said, impossible to implement, at least until we suffer an economic catastrophe so severe that it kills off 1/3 off the population and we're forced into bartering for life necessities with tomatoes and 14-year-old daughters.

In other news, completely unrelated, I noted the other day that a Canadian sniper now holds the distance record: 2,707 yards. 1.538 miles.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

I realise you're an ordained minister, but you're also a practical soldier in a past life..... Is it too late to just cap Soros, and put him out of our misery, or would his minions just carry on with the program for Dr. Evil, minus his guiding hand? Do you think his evil would carry on without him? What's your best guess? Just an academic question, I have no means, nor desire to go to prison for a further like him.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

^^ dirtbag^^ ah hates auto-spell, too.....