Sunday, September 25, 2011

What wonderful balance!

Here, we see a wonderful case of journalistic balance, where the author is careful to avoid any partisan sniping. By reporting equally on what Republicans say and what Democrats say, we avoid any messy, partisan conclusions, like "the citizens of this country have a right to vote."

Because, honestly, who would like to have a mere journalist take on such a contentious issue? Sure, we nominally grant the right to vote to all citizens, age 18 or older, but is that non-controversial? In the past, we've only demanded registration and a reasonable cause to believe that a person lived in the proper voting district, but that, while allowing people to vote, certainly allowed the possibility of voter fraud. And, sure, one can argue that these new voting rules could disenfranchise millions - but there have been dozens - yes, dozens! - of fraud prosecutions. So, clearly, there's controversy here, and no journalist should come out and make the hideous, partisan suggestion that we should allow all citizens to vote.

Thank heavens we have fair and balanced journalists. What kind of country would it be if journalists took on basic principles, like "the citizens have a right to vote" and held politicians' feet to the fire if they dared try to restrict that right? Especially when the principal that one citizen gets one vote is so controversial!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Let's try this...

What's the difference between a Ponzi scheme, and life insurance?

In both cases, sales people try to get people to put in money. And, some people - the people who "withdraw" early, get huge returns on their investment.

But with life insurance, actuaries figure out how much money must be on hand to pay promised benefits. And, they figure out how to balance the amount paid in versus the amount that will be paid out (barring unexpected calamities).

With a Ponzi scheme, there's no balance. If there was - if people could keep paying in, and taking out, indefinitely - it wouldn't be a Ponzi scheme.

So, which model fits Social Security better?

Do I really have to answer? Okay, I guess I do.

Social Security uses actuaries, and can plan for births, deaths, and the increasing average age of our population. Just as an insurance company has to use careful statistical models to plan for how many plan participants are required to support each beneficiary, Social Security uses similar models to plan how much money is required in Social Security taxes to continue to pay benefits.

So, what does this tell us about people who claim Social Security is a Ponzi scheme?

Well, they can be stupid - so stupid that they open their yaps without learning what a Ponzi scheme actually is.

Or, they can be liars.

(Or, they can be the sort of person who trusts people like Rick Perry. These people aren't exactly stupid, but they are too trusting.)

There's not much middle ground here.

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