I was listening to a Dubya press conference last night, and he was very careful with his words to answer the questions given while not give the reporters any juicy sound bites that might undermine his policies. But he made a couple of key mistakes that an intelligent listener might pick up on.
1) "Arr! I'll compromise with ye and only take the booty from yer ship that we can fit in our hold!" He claims to want compromise on Social Security from the Dems but lists impossible conditions for that compromise. He wants no tax increase, continued benefits for existing members, and higher benefits for future members of the Social Security program. Given that it's already going broke (albeit slowly) at least one of those has to give.
2) "Swab the decks, lads, ye'll get as much as ye deserve, I swear it!" He was very careful to specify that future beneficiaries of Social Security would get at least the same benefits under his plan as current benefits. Of course, there was no mention of Cost of Living or inflation in that analysis... one wonders if "the same benefits" means the same cash amount, or the same quality of life.
3) "Har! Ship ahoy! Me mateys, we'll be eatin' hearty tonight from that poor ship o'er there." Personal retirement accounts, even if successful at providing benefits to their owners, are a gift to the credit industry. Dubya says, "We have a lot of debt," referring to individual consumers, and this was the point that resonated in my mind. Americans do have a lot of debt. And with no property to take to recover that debt, the credit industry has to suffer some losses for taking advantage of people who are unable to make sound financial decisions in their life. But if those people all had a personal account that they had paid into, then there would be plenty of cash to plunder. Given the bankruptcy "reform" taking place, this amounts to a massive gift to the credit industry. Do they really need more encouragement to continue sending out credit applications to people with no money, to take advantage of impulsive mistakes and desperate situations?
Finally, analysis of the cash flow in this country clearly shows taxes flowing from dense, highly populated "blue" states into the federal government and out into less populated "red" states. With rules (or threats to create rules) in Congress that would basically co-opt any power held by the minority party, I think it's time to start the "No taxation without representation" cry once again.
In particular, I'm tired of the economic success of the S.S. California being plundered by the Jolly Roger of Middle America. I propose that legislation be introduced in California which co-opts the federal income tax. We can calculate what percentage of the US income tax that our citizens would be paying into the system, and what percentage of benefits we expect to get out of it, and reduce our payments to the feds appropriately. The extra money would either go into the state General Fund (budget problems solved!) or refunded to individual taxpayers.
We can fight the pirates! Our cannons are as good as theirs, and our swords twice as sharp!