Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Are you pulling the wagon, or are you in the wagon?

You can't be both. Either you, as an American citizen or other human who is breathing American air and treading on American soil, are a net positive to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), or you are a negative to GDP. That math is easy. (Yes, to quibble, you can net out at zero, but that category of folk are statistically insignificant, and accordingly irrelevant to the discussion).
The private sector is where all wealth in the U.S. is generated. All of it. The money that the public sector takes for its unending public 'needs' must come from the private sector through taxes. That's just how it works. Lately, our public sector spending has risen to the top of the kitchen table topics in America, as it has burgeoned to levels beyond anyone's wildest imagination. This spending has got to stop, and to remain a viable world power, this crazy spending has got to be rolled back. And rolled back by a whole lot.
Of course, this involves pain; pain suffered by those who depend on public money. This public money (call it entitlements, welfare, pensions, Medicare, Social Security, unemployment benefits, ad infinitem...) was promised to the recipients. And all of these promises were made by politicians at all levels to their short term political gain, but to our long term damage as a nation.
So, where do we cut?
In other words, whose ox shall we gore first?
In my last post, I was accused of being insulting and inflammatory because one of those 'in the wagon' wanted an exemption for being in the wagon. He was entitled to be taking money out of the private sector because he was a veteran. He took part in defending and securing our nation as an active duty military guy a decade, or perhaps two decades or more ago. But my only argument is that regardless of what any American did in the past, when we cash a government check today, and provide nothing for it today, this individual is a net negative on GDP. Or, in other 'inflammatory and insulting' words, this individual is 'in the wagon.'
'But Fredd, but Fredd, these military veterans deserve their pensions, they made it possible for you to type away on your blog with the freedom they provided decades ago.' OK, okay, fine. Military veteran pensions are off the table.
Then I had a retired policeman get all hot and bothered when I wrote that he, too, was 'in the wagon,' while the rest of us pulled the wagon he was in. He protested, saying 'I chased thugs, criminals and ne-er-do-wells during my prime, I still have the injuries incurred from that career, I protected your life and property, I deserve to sit in this wagon, Fredd, you are a jerk for calling me a parasite.' (I paraphrase here). OK, okay, fine. Retired policemen are off the table, and they can remain in the wagon that I am pulling.
But where does this thinking stop? We in the private sector are now pulling a wagon that is just too damn heavy, and we will, like John Galt in Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged,' just eventually disappear, leaving the wagon to sit there motionless. Then where will all of those entitled, righteous wagon sitters be? The gravy train is ending, everyone can see this is true, but nobody wants the finger pointed at them, because they have a righteous claim on private sector money in the here and now, many of them for services provided decades prior.
Where does it end? The retired fireman will layment that he, too, can lay sideways in that wagon because he, years ago, prevented whole neighborhoods from burning to the ground, back in his younger days. He is now entitled to a big hefty retirement check for the remainder of his ever extended life. Ok, okay, firemen are exempt from pulling the wagon.
But the librarian pipes up, hey, without my past services, the public would be ignorant and illiterate, I deserve an exemption. Ok, fine. Librarians are exempt. But what about retired city hall administrators? Without them, nobody would have gotten their tax levies in the mail, nobody would have known when they should show up for jury duty, society would have collapsed. OK, fine. These guys are exempt, too.
Doesn't anyone out there get dumb ol' Fredd's point? When we pay people not to work, we slowly go broke. We are now broke. The public (and some private) pension systems (that defer wages onto future generations that should have been paid when the services were consumed) that were the rage 100 years ago clearly and demonstrably don't work for the benefit of society now. They patently and obviously do not work. Eventually the chickens come home to roost, and the checks start to bounce. Nobody will be exempt when that day comes. And that day is indeed coming. Hell, that day is almost here.
And once that day comes, there will be blood in the streets. The people riding in the wagon will jump out and grab pitch forks, demanding that the checks start flowing again (just look at the riots in Greece and those U.K. students, to list just a few examples). And the private sector folks who stopped pulling the wagon will grab their pitch forks, telling the wagon riders to take a hike.
These retired pensioners, while they ostensibly agree with my conservative take on things for the most part, have taken their first step towards grabbing pitch forks, demanding that I shut up and just write the damn check. In the chaos that follows the ultimate collapse of our economy owing to irresponsible, wild public spending, these guys will be on the opposite side of the battle lines, and we both will be armed with pitch forks.
Inflammatory and insulting remarks aside, which side will you be on, and who will you be waving your pitch fork at when Armageddon arrives?
Next post: 'The Fix.'


Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

I'll post the fix right now Fredd; Everybody pulls their own damn wagon!

Pensions are fine (I do not have one) but are way out of line when their value exceeds even by half that of what they recieved on said job.

This is not deserved, this is theft and greed.

Fredd said...


We agree, and disagree.

1. We both agree that everybody should pull their own damn wagon. When you start organizing your life around regular checks from the government, but provide no service for it, regardless of what you did in the past, you are living off of other people's taxes. That's called socialism, and it doesn't work. Ever, anywhere.

2. Pensions are not fine. In any manner, shape or form. They remove the responsibility from the employee for his/her own retirement, and in retirement make the pensioner a ward of the state, a dependent on the government. Additionally, public employee pensions typically are defined in their benefits, but union bosses can change the terms, COLAs, age requirements, etc, as time goes along, and what seemed a reasonable pension a decade or two ago is now a crushing burden on the taxpayer.

Rather than provide variable term pensions (which is what they ALL are) that act as annuities later on in life, we should....ah, but that is the stuff of my next post, stay tuned.

Silverfiddle said...

For the record, I am pulling the wagon according to your book, because I have a job in the private sector.

Fredd sez...

"When you start organizing your life around regular checks from the government, but provide no service for it, regardless of what you did in the past, you are living off of other people's taxes. That's called socialism"

It logically follows that those who collect such checks are socialists, based on what Fredd sez.

You've drawn a stark line, Fredd. There's no sitting on the fence. Do I stand with staunch commie fighter Fredd, who lives in the dark heart of socialism and lets the Illinois and Chicago socialists rape him every day, or do I stand with the "socialists"?

It's no choice Fredd. I stand with government retirement check recipients (and in your book, socialists) General Douglas MacArthur and Ronald Reagan.

Kid said...

Fredd, Personally, I think we were essentially fine until:
-people started calling their friends and screaming that Kmart was giving free money away.
- you have to know that many were calling their friends and telling them that 'Countrywide was giving away free houses' too. All cross America and industries.

If I take the view that "management" has to take some responsibility for making it too easy for people to steal from the cash box or the A/P system, then I take the position that all of this fell apart because of the asinine and intentionally destructive policies of the Democrat party, starting with LBJ, projected through Carter's house for everyone - through Clinton's ditto and Greenspan's housing bubble that he created to recover from the tech bubble.
If you reward the homeless you get more homeless. If you reward the single mother with 8 kids, you get single mothers with 9 kids.

From my view you are banging on the wrong people.
(In my opinion this is a complicated subject and I don't mean to slight you, but rather to potentially excuse my own lack of explanatory skills.)

I see nothing wrong with a pension program based on a guaranteed return on investment. So, if a fender installer of Ford F150's gets a pension equal to X after working Y years, I have No Problem with it unless it becomes the taxpayer's responsibility to pay for it. Anyone who wants to bolt fenders on F150's for 45 years can have that.
Anyone who wants to serve in the military for 20 or more years can have the pension and go get another job beside when they leave the service. Anyone who wants to invent the Mac can even have much more reward. I see these as simple choices that people make that result in some people getting bigger or smaller pieces of pie than people making other choices. This is America to me. This is free will. This is opportunity choice.
I simply demand all programs are able to pay from themselves.
In the case of the military, the taxpayers pay, and I have no problem with that since this is the one and only service associated with the federal government I approve of and value.
The fact that taxpayers are being leaned on for all of these things now is because politicians have been kicking the can down the road for many decades and any processes or agencies put in place to circumvent such problems fail because everyone in those positions ultimately does not have the authority to do jack and probably doesn't give a damn anyway. It's government.

Government has to turn off the free ice cream machine, but unfortunately now is not the time to do it since the 20+ % of people that are out of work are not the kind of folks who will stand shivering in soup lines like they did in 1932, they will be doing crime, home invasion and all manner of evil to make sure they stay comfortable. It's a mess, but government, going back at least 4 decades is to blame.

Kid said...

Fredd, maybe more concise...
I'm saying government needs to Make some people pull their own wagon. Many won't do it on their own.

Pensions were fine until union bosses stole the money and replaced it with worthless IOUs

SS was fine until the government stole the money. And Ok, kicked the can down the road as life expectency increased.

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Fredd,,I think we agree on your #2 point if I dare to repeat myself about a pensions value being "way out of line when their value exceeds even by half that of what they received on said job".

When fully realized what this means, it leads to the logical point of one saving for their own retirement so as to not see their lifestyle (whatever it may be) cut in half or less upon said retirement.

Now back to pulling ones own wagon, if the now retired pensioner did not fully realize the logic beforehand, well they are now shit out of luck.

p.s., I should state that I am speaking on this strickly on the private sector side of the equation. I do not believe in public sector pensions, especially for any politician.

Fredd said...


You and I both have to come off our high conservative horses a smidge owing to our circumstances.

You espouse free market capitalism at every turn, yet on occasion must take time out, climb down from your stump, put your bullhorn aside while you amble down to the bank and cash your government check.

Fredd, as you accurately point out, screams from the mountain tops about diabolical commie pinkos under every rock destroying our country, and yet I reside in the bluest of blue states this side of Massachusetts, and am knee deep in pinko neighbors.

How do we square this? I could move, I suppose. That would, of course, consume a great deal of my money, time and effort, and I am inclined not to do so. I just don't want to die here.

Silver can burn his government checks, and be square with his philosphy, too, but I don't know that Mrs. Silver would put up with this noble gesture more than once. If that.

Anonymous said...

I think the first thing we need to do is cut pensions across the board, then completely cut pensions to nonessential services.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on so much and enjoy your blog, but I have to speak up for my husband's experience as a federal worker. Without getting too specific, he worked for an organization with a three letter acronym. He was forced to retire before he was ready because some president said so. After retirement he worked as a private contract investigator and had regular work until the Obama administration began. The work just dried up. Again, I don't want to get specific, but it wouldn't make you feel too safe if I did. Anyway, my husband earned his annuity. He paid into it his entire career and put his life in danger regularly. He would have gladly worked longer but the system wouldn't let him. What would you have us do?