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Bill Stone series

Bill Stone on Social Security

As always, this was a letter to the editor of the Rapid City Journal. This letter appeared in the Feb. 11, 2004 edition.

Social Insecurity

Diverting Social Security taxes into Wall Street is the goal of many politicians. This is a political approach to a serious problem.

Individuals should carefully consider the risks of transferring Social Security support from our entire economy to individual stock picking. It should be understood that owning a few shares of the l7,000 publicly traded corporations is much more risky than dependence on the 6 million private and public companies now supporting Social Security.

Whether government or individuals assume the risk of providing minimum support for old age, funding retirement must come from American productivity, not gambling. Workers encouraged by government to contribute capital to corporate America will be gambling that a few publicly traded companies are more secure than the entire wealth of America.

Diverting payroll taxes into Wall Street will strengthen the bond of multi-national corporations on American government. Financing elections already provides multi-nationals disproportionate government influence.

Some politicians believe increasing the “investor class” through Social Security tax investing will guarantee a more conservative electorate. Social Security is too important to politicize.

Marrying Wall Street and Social Security with the wedding ring of Social Security taxes is the antithesis of security.

BILL STONE

Rapid City

I will begin by admitting that my disagreement with Mr. Stone’s letter originates from my belief that Social Security should be privatized. I, personally, would love to quit paying into something from which I will never receive benefits. As happy as I am to support the elderly of America, I am too darn selfish to pay into something that will never pay back to me.

“It should be understood that owning a few shares of the l7,000 publicly traded corporations is much more risky than dependence on the 6 million private and public companies now supporting Social Security.”

The problem is that it isn’t just “6 million private and public companies” supporting Social Security. It’s you and I and Joe Bloe down the street taking a cut from our paycheck to pay into something that will not be able to sustain itself until our retirement. So what do I do? I depend on my own retirement savings and essentially end up paying double (so to speak) for my retirement.

Additionally, a diverse portfolio is the first rule of investing. Or, put another way, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” (On a side note, Mr. Stone seems to think one can only invest in private corporations. Untrue. There is a government bond market.) Of course, investors will individually have to decide the level of risk they are willing to bear for a certain return.

Also, it is not as though privatizing social security would be a leap into untested waters. Chile has had such a system for quite some time with amazing results for its workers/empowered investors.

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Bill Stone series Opinion Politics Rant

The Bill Stone series

The themes are similar, the arguments the same — here’s another installment in the Bill Stone series. As always, this letter originally appeared in The Rapid City Journal.

Lived too long

You know you’ve lived too long when:

The queers are getting married, the straights are shacking up, and neither want any children.

The queers can marry in Massachusetts, can’t in South Dakota, but can get divorced anywhere.

The workers who fund my Social Security have to be imported from Mexico.

The WWII Axis (Germany, Italy and Japan), who now call themselves the World Trade Organization, can dictate the price of American steel.

When an $800 car costs $16,000-plus and contains only 800 pounds of steel.

When a 1940 dollar is worth five cents and no one sees anything wrong with such government theft.

When the majority of Americans believe moving jobs overseas will bring prosperity at home.

When school districts are short of money because they have too few students.

When 10 million illegal aliens on welfare and Medicare are considered cheap labor.

When a Republican state has two Democratic senators because no one can decide which is the “tax and spend” party.

When our current “best friends” killed 500,000 American servicemen during WWII and the majority of Americans are too young to remember.

BILL STONE

Rapid City

Where to start, really. Firstly, Mr. Stone seems to equate not having children with societal collapse. I would call it a natural process that is proven to occur as standards of living increase. But I guess that’s why we don’t see eye to eye.

Also, though I don’t usually venture into such controversial topics, I must note that I don’t think I or anyone has the right to say that two people can’t be married simply because they don’t fit the traditional mold.

Um, actually, I’m supporting your Social Security. I hope you enjoy it, because it won’t exist for me. Gosh, I sure wouldn’t want to keep that money and invest it myself.

I wouldn’t say that the WWII Axis controls steel prices. An international market does. I guess you missed the part where the US interfered in the market making it highly inefficient and prices high for all US consumers. And while we’re on the subject, that car is probably $16000 because of the overinflated prices resulting from US controls. And I don’t know how you think a car, including R&D, cutting edge technology, labor, and raw materials could be made at a profit for $800. Plus, prices logically increase as standards of living increase.

You summarily judge people as wrong in believing that increasing the prosperity of the people in a country with whom the US trades is a good thing. I’m sorry, but I guess I thought that if I bought goods from a country that had a comparative advantage in producing that good, that I would eventually increase their standard of living to a level where they would begin to demand goods from us that we have a comparative advantage in producing. Silly me.

I don’t live in South Dakota anymore, but if I did I would have a serious problem with being labeled a Republican state. Perhaps the good people of South Dakota chose two Democratic senators because they felt those politicians best represented their view and beliefs. Heaven forbid people vote outside party lines.

It’s been fun, Bill. Let’s do this again sometime.

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Bill Stone series Economics Opinion Politics Rant

Apparently today is lambast Mr. Stone day

I’ll admit that perhaps I’m picking on Mr. Stone. And, really, it’s in quite a cowardly way. If I had any chutzpah at all, I would actually write a reply to The Rapid City Journal. Regardless, it does ease my mind to vent my irritation. The US steel industry is a touchy subject for me, as one will find with most economists or, in my case, econ junkies. Prepare yourself:

Sheer stupidity

Recently the World Trade Organization judged the U.S. guilty of unfair trade practices regarding our protection of American steel-making companies. Which begs the question: Since when did we delegate to Japan, Germany, and the European Union the authority to determine U.S. productive capability of material necessary for our national defense?

As I recall, our steel manufacturers produced the necessary steel that created millions of small arms, tens of thousands of Jeeps, tanks, and artillery pieces, thousands of fighter planes and bombers, and hundreds of ships, all of which defeated Japan, Germany, and Italy, the same nations that now want to limit our steel-producing capacity.

Some of the countries now trying to decimate our steel-making capacity were instrumental in killing 500,000 American servicemen. America should never forget history to placate nations who tried to destroy America.

I can tolerate equitable free trade, but jeopardizing our national defense in the name of free trade is sheer stupidity. Reducing our defensive capability to benefit Japan, Germany, and Italy would be beyond stupidity – it would be treasonous.

BILL STONE

Rapid City

First of all, Mr. Stone seems to have a somewhat glorified view of the steel industry in the United States. Perhaps the US was at the cutting edge of steel manufacturing at the time of WWII, but then again — THAT WAS IN THE 1940s. I’m guessing the industry uses much the same technology today, a situation which has put it in the dire straits in which it finds itself. What does outdated technology and resistance to change mixed in with competition from highly technologically and structurally advanced foreign companies create? A crumbling mess. But a mess that refuses to change, yet can lobby the government for special interests like no other. In fact, for all of our claims of free trade, the US is not actually among the most globablized countries of the world.

The big picture of the US’s protection of the steel industry spans the entire country. The thirty-three percent raise in steel tariffs caused a direct raise in prices of steel products of approximately 33%. So, to save a few thousand jobs, every Jones family that wants to buy a house, will pay more. Car manufacturers are facing huge red profit margins as they have had to take the price increase (couldn’t plausibly pass it along to the consumer). Think of the Caterpillars, home builders, and other manufacturers of intermediate products utilizing steel that must either pass the increase in production costs on to us the consumers or cut jobs, etc. THAT AFFECTS EVERYONE IN THE UNITED STATES. Call me heartless, but I’m not going to pay more for products to save a few thousand overpaid jobs in a decrepit industry that refuses to change. But that’s just me.

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Bill Stone series Economics Opinion Politics Rant

Bill Stone, international man of ignorance

This is not the first time the Stone man, with his infinite ignorance, has made it into an entry of my humble weblog. I think the letter alone speaks for itself.

Eskimo health care

Following the World War II baby boom, Americans made a seismic cultural shift, substituting possessions for children, resulting in an aging population of health care users. Health-care costs now total 15 percent of our Gross Domestic Product and are increasing 8 percent annually.

Congress is attempting to reverse these cost increases. While adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare, Congress intends to shift health-care liability back to individuals through private insurers.

No one wants to admit the obvious, but our use of birth control and abortion has deprived us of younger workers to finance Medicare costs. Globalization is further exacerbating this problem, since American workers must compete with foreigners who receive no health-care benefits.

Americans will continue to face higher health-care costs. We are living too long and having too few children.

In order to compensate, older Americans must be encouraged to die younger – a formidable task for a Congress representing an increasingly socialistic electorate.

The Eskimos reportedly put their elders on an ice cake and set them adrift. Congress is faced with the task of hiding an iceberg in Medicare reform.

BILL STONE

Rapid City

My tally of subjects on which Mr. Stone seems to be lacking knowledge: globalization, free trade, cause and effect, economics in general. Any others?

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Bill Stone series Economics Favs Opinion Politics Rant

The Stone man strikes again

As I may or may not have mentioned in a previous entry, I believe everyone should have to take an economics course at some point during their education–and I don’t mean the crappy run-of-the-mill economics course we all take in high school. Case in point: Bill Stone. He writes a letter to the editor of the Rapid City Journal like clockwork. I can pick this guy’s letter out from 50 yards away. His latest act of brilliance (eck) was to be found in the July 4th edition. Here it is entitled Put Americans First, as copied from the Journal website.

After 25 years the myth of globalism is unraveling. Every day we import $1.5 billion more than we make. That’s $547 billion American workers should be producing every year and still maintain our trade balance. That’s more than all the monetary stimulus passed by Congress.

Interest rates are at 45-year lows. Deficits are at least $400 billion already. The money supply was increased 6 percent last year to mitigate deficit spending.

Americans consuming American-made products are the engine for economic recovery. Plugging our landfills with Communist Chinese goods is foolish. Creating jobs in Communist China merely highlights our hypocrisy.

There is nothing sensible about creating Chinese jobs while American workers draw unemployment. There is nothing cheap about foreign imports, which are being paid for with deficit spending. There is nothing logical about tax policy that creates jobs in foreign countries.

Supporting our troops is a given. How about supporting those same people in civilian clothes, who are the economic troops in peacetime?

Let’s do more than wave the flag. Let’s put Americans first.

BILL STONE
Rapid City

How many things are wrong with this? Where do I start?…