Is America next?

French riots over retirement pensions could be window to our future

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Protesters have taken to the streets in several Western European countries now to decry government belt-tightening -- with parts of tourist-filled France now paralyzed.

Fists of demonstrators are seen next to an effigy of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Protesters are trying to prevent the French parliament from approving a bill that would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.  ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Fists of demonstrators are seen next to an effigy of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Protesters are trying to prevent the French parliament from approving a bill that would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

In France, they're protesting a rise in the retirement age from 60 to 62.

It'd be easy to sit back and chuckle at the thought -- considering that our retirement age is already 67 for many workers.

But the point is the extent of dependence on government -- and what happens when the money just isn't there to make good on government's promises. In France, decades of nanny-state benefits have citizens believing anything is possible -- that continuing the good times is just a matter of political will, rather than essential reality.

In the United Kingdom, things are much more calm, but no less urgent: The government is cutting up to 500,000 jobs in an effort to deal with a $250 billion deficit.

Consider that America's deficit is $1.4 trillion.

When will we start dealing with it? When people are in the streets, a la France?

This country's problem is exacerbated by unions and their soon-to-be notoriously over-budget pensions. Some believe that, conveniently after the Nov. 2 election, the news will finally hit that union pension funds are in huge trouble, and that there will be pressure for taxpayer bailouts of troubled union pension funds.

What happens if taxpayers or their elected officials balk at the notion?

What happens if conservatives capture the governorship of California, a state that is headed over a cliff financially? Will residents go along with austerity measures? Will lawmakers? Or will they, too, seek a bailout from Washington?

And if that bailout isn't forthcoming, will we see rioting in American streets?

The simple truth is, austerity is coming: Current levels of federal spending -- a record $1.4 trillion deficit, adding to $13 trillion in debt -- are not sustainable. The federal government has essentially bankrupted America, and is continuing to spend money we don't have and print new money that devalues the dollars we do have.

The question is, will we deal with it honestly and peacefully -- and in time to avert a full-blown, take-to-the-streets crisis? Or will we carry on like spoiled toddlers, denying reality, defying the laws of economics and expecting manna from heaven as if we're entitled to an endless supply of other people's money?

Are we so much better than the French? Is our system, anymore?

Or are we and our system following the same path as our friends in Western Europe?

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BobG
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BobG 10/21/10 - 11:33 pm
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Huge numbers of those

Huge numbers of those protesting and burning cars in the streets are college kids. What are the doing rioting? For crying out loud, the retirement age will probably be changed several more times before any of them get a job and retire. Too much French vino I guess....

soldout
1280
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soldout 10/22/10 - 12:40 am
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Canada had a problem like

Canada had a problem like this a few years ago and have worked through it well and our government can learn from them. Don't look to those who are failing but to those who are solving problems. For individuals there are things that turn finances around. Be a tither and giver, live below your means, market time your 401K, go to a Dave Ramsey class, read how rich people live and do the same, dont envy the rich, be a team if married and have a budget, and trust the Lord to lead you in financial decisions. Whatever the question the Word always has the answer.

orgpsych
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orgpsych 10/22/10 - 02:35 am
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What is the point of this

What is the point of this editorial? Most of it is just recycled inflammatory rhetoric that serves no purpose except to incite those who wish to be incited. It doesn't even have a clear direction except that we don't want to be the French. Did anyone think that we DID want to be the French?

A technical point: the US government prints new money mostly to replace bills that are being taken out of circulation because they are damaged or simply worn out. The new money is not so the government can spend more. This notion is just irresponsible, hysterical drivel intended to inflame anger. What is the point of this anger?

I think someone didn't earn their jelly doughnut today.

dickworth1
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dickworth1 10/22/10 - 03:34 am
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orgpsych, are you saying that
Unpublished

orgpsych, are you saying that this country is not in financial trouble? This
country is headed down a road that we may never recover from financially. The current administration and the democraps truly believe
that they are headed for greatness, but in reality the healthcare issue
will break this country and the health industry will become a joke. Already, some companies are cutting out health benefits to part time
employees, because of obamacare, it is also requiring you to qualify
for group health as a full timer and do not be surprised when the full
obamacare goes into effect, whenever that is, that companies such as
walmart, lowes, home depot and other major retailers, go to hiring
just mostly part time to avoid any type of benefits. Wake up America,
trouble times loom ahead!! Obamacare and this nonsense spending will
cost us all and you will see it next year in your take home pay, so keep
believing that all this spending is great, as stated in the editorial, France
is in trouble and so is America!

justus4
99
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justus4 10/22/10 - 03:38 am
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Of course America is next,
Unpublished

Of course America is next, but it won't be because of pension plans. It will be due to the excessive disparities between the wealthy and the poor. Oh, of course the so-called "media" will not properly identify the problem because the French situation involves much more than pensions. For example, most European countries CONDITION their citizens throughout their lives for social support and personal comfort which means Socialism. America does not operate that way, so such issues will not motivate Americans to protest because they don't expect the government take FULL care of them. However, we do go on & on about equality and rule-of-law principles. THATS where the US is gonna have issues because of a corrupted system that refuses to address corrupted officials in an equal manner. Yep, it's plain as day ,but for too many, the blinders are on and shut tight.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 10/22/10 - 06:18 am
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orgpsych, you apparently

orgpsych, you apparently don't keep up with the "economic policy" of our current president. He feels the lack of investment by business is because inflation rates aren't high enough. He is currently meeting with Fed officials to prepare to raise the inflation goals. He intends to print additional "money" to aid his newest goal. (this is not a replacement program)
This president continues to dig our hole deeper in an effort to get out.
We're really learning a severe lesson for this horrible diversity experiment.

Japan and Greece have experienced this situation recently and have shown us many things NOT to do. Our president is seriously misinformed about economic matters.

robaroo
707
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robaroo 10/22/10 - 07:14 am
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Except for a brief period

Except for a brief period during the Clinton administration, the country has borrowed money to pay for government services. The S really hit the fan when George Bush and Congress decided to borrow all the costs of running two simultaneous wars rather that raising taxes or cutting services. President Obama followed the same policy, plus pushed a stimulus plan based on borrowed money.


Here is the real problem - most of the federal budget is spent on Social Security (the "third rail of politics"), defense spending, Medicare/Medicaid, and paying the interest on the debt we already have. If you want to really do something to fix the deficit, you have to drastically scale back expenditures, or raise taxes.


I haven't heard any politicians propose cuts to the programs where we spend the bulk of our money. In fact, we've increased our spending with Obamacare. And, tax increases are almost impossible. You can't inflate the dollar enough to blunt the impact of that much of a deficit.


At some point, the Chinese and other lenders will quit loaning us money and social security recipients will get bad checks from the SS administration. Doctors will get delayed and partial payments for Medicare/Medicaid. When the train wreck hits, the hard choices will be forced on us.

slippery 25
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slippery 25 10/22/10 - 07:26 am
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We owe trillions. The plan

We owe trillions. The plan pass more spending programs.( Healthcare Bill etc) We can always print and borrow money. How do we plan to pay it back, of course raise taxes on people who do not have jobs and companies who are not doing well. Time to vote some folks out.

Riverman1
81429
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Riverman1 10/22/10 - 07:41 am
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"A technical point: the US

"A technical point: the US government prints new money mostly to replace bills that are being taken out of circulation because they are damaged or simply worn out. The new money is not so the government can spend more."

That's funny.

Riverman1
81429
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Riverman1 10/22/10 - 07:43 am
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Like I said the other day,

Like I said the other day, the way city employees are reacting to the furlough days, Augusta is going to look like Paris with the protests pretty soon if our city employees are forced to work past 55. At least the French work till 60 now.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 10/22/10 - 07:45 am
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Great article because it

Great article because it contains some international news (I would be surprised if half the bumpkins reading the rag even know what is going on in France unless Fox News is telling them about it) but justus is right, we ain't France or England.

And see this for what it is, a big shot of fear tactics being played against labor unions. Read between the lines people.

In the South, due to a history of slave labor and exploited poor labor, we have a mentality that unions are bad. Unions are bad because they use a collective to lobby the bosses for fair wages, safe working conditions, and job security.

This anti-union mentality has helped the South remain behind the rest of the nation when it comes to workers rights and business accountability.

Now, unions can be used to hurt as much as help and there are legit reasons to take them to task for lots of things, but to say that unions will riot so hence we must do 'this' or do 'that,' is just fear mongering.

I would say look at who has a history of WHO is using violence and destructive behavior in the South and it ain't unions. In fact, it is the anti-union folks who use violence to prevent workers from forming unions and trying to further workers' issues.

I once worked at a chalk mine in wrens when I was growing up. I was a teenager and needed summer school but my mother and father would not pay for it. So if I wanted to pass I had to earn it myself. I stacked two 25lbs bags of cat litter coming off a hot plastic shrink wrap machine, five per layer-eight double bags high (that was over my head) onto shipping pallets for eight hours a nite.

My gloves were crappy so I had to take some of my own money and purchase heavy duty welders gloves and then wrap them with packing tape to be able to handle the hot bags coming off the line every few seconds. I received about $4.25 an hour, a full dollar over min wage at that time I think, and I was glad to be able to work. I received a 30min break for food, I gobbled up my sandwich I brought and then tried to grab a quick 15min nap. It was in a non-air-conditioned plant in summer in South Georgia...fun fun fun.

One nite I mentioned in a joking way, while taking a five minute break, that we should start a union. I was one of three white guys working there, one was a forklift operator, and one was the Line Boss, and one was me. All the black workers sitting with me started ooooing an saying "No no no no no, we don't want that around here." That also broke up the little break, everyone showed their obvious disapproval of my union statement and left. BOY, that was a mistake. The Line Boss called me to his office later and said that if I mentioned the word union ever again while at work, I would be fired and anyone I was talking to would be fired as well. Then, just to make sure the message was clear, he had his lackey, a really large black fella that was called "Buster" come by my work station and tell me that they would "eff me up if I ever talked about unions again."

I was 16 years old. these guys were making threats against a 16 year old boy working a summer job. True story there.

One of the other workers told me later, away from work, that once several folks had started talking about a union and the entire shift was fired, even the folks who had not been a part of the conversation. That was why they all reacted that way and left very quickly.

I needed my job so I never, even in jest, mentioned the word union again. But I never forgot the bully tactics and even threats of violence for just suggesting we consider a union to help get conditions better for we workers.

So for all you folks blaming unions for violence, know that it is not all one way folks.

I can also tell you a story about when I worked for US Air Express and helped the Teamsters with a vote. It seems that heavy handed tactics are much more on the side of the bosses than the unions and I challenge anyone to provide me personal proof and stories of union abuse verses the greedy anti-unionist.

Brad

Riverman1
81429
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Riverman1 10/22/10 - 07:55 am
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Brad, I did my time in

Brad, I did my time in factories when I was young, too. I was in one when there was an attempt to bring in a union. The facts are that before there is a SECRET vote to determine if a union can come into a workplace, union supporters are allowed to address the employees.

Over the next twenty years, most of the industrial growth in this country is projected in the South. That is in no small part due to our right to work laws. The North, with its unions, is decrepit and dying a slow death trying to pay exorbinant pensions to union workers living down South with us.

Brad Owens
4178
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Brad Owens 10/22/10 - 07:56 am
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robaroo, your posting of 7:14

robaroo, your posting of 7:14 is spot on.

Bravo, keep that sort of clear thinking coming.

Brad

Riverman1
81429
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Riverman1 10/22/10 - 08:08 am
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Brad said, "Then, just to

Brad said, "Then, just to make sure the message was clear, he had his lackey, a really large black fella that was called "Buster" come by my work station and tell me that they would "eff me up..."

Imagine that, someone wanted to beat Brad up. Heh, heh, heh.

Fat_Bladder
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Fat_Bladder 10/22/10 - 08:17 am
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Brad, the article just

Brad, the article just mentions unions. It is more mentioning that we need to deal with our blouted federal gov't and blouted federal deficit. how many cups of coffee have you had..

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 10/22/10 - 08:23 am
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the people of Augusta will

the people of Augusta will only riot when the convenience stores run out of energy drinks, cigarettes, and beer.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 10/22/10 - 08:31 am
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my only experience with a

my only experience with a union was being automatically "enrolled" into one when I started working at Kroger (the old one near Alexander Dr.) as a teenager. What a waste of money. I tried repeatedly to cancel/revoke/abandon my post (and keep the 20% of my paycheck that was going as "dues") only to have the bosswoman [yes MA'AM] ignore/trash/delete my calls/emails/pleads. A union may be beneficial to someone who wants to spend the rest of their life doing whatever... but not for a kid bagging groceries who just wants some play money for dates!

maninthepi
0
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maninthepi 10/22/10 - 08:32 am
0
0
iget tired of hearing people

iget tired of hearing people complaining about the
cost of social security. it was lyndon johnson while
president stole yes stole all the money and put it
in the general fund. if he hadn't done that there would
still be money in the ss fund.

Riverman1
81429
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Riverman1 10/22/10 - 08:45 am
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Omnomnom, I had a similar

Omnomnom, I had a similar experience at my first real factory job. That was when I was 17 years old and lied and said I was 18. Apparently, the company that owned the factory had a national contract with the union that required all workers, including those in right to work states, to be members of the union. They took out my dues every week from my small paycheck even though our factory had never voted to join the union. Didn't seem right.

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 10/22/10 - 08:50 am
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This country is TRILLIONS IN
Unpublished

This country is TRILLIONS IN DEBT, yet there are still millions of Americans who think our government can wisely run our healthcare. I'll stop now and let you all digest this.

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 10/22/10 - 08:52 am
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Sorry about double posting.
Unpublished

Sorry about double posting. Problems with the computer.

Brad Owens
4178
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Brad Owens 10/22/10 - 08:54 am
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RM, Right to work laws are

RM,

Right to work laws are fine but there should be a way to have workers protected and NO ONE should be threatened for talking about unions.

Brad

Rhetor
982
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Rhetor 10/22/10 - 08:59 am
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In case nobody has noticed,

In case nobody has noticed, the inflation rate has been near zero for about two years. Just a quick fact check.

Rhetor
982
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Rhetor 10/22/10 - 08:58 am
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As far as any effect that

As far as any effect that this has on the money supply (which conservative economists believe to be the best measure of inflation potential), at the moment the M2 supply is rising and the M1 money supply is falling, so take your pick.

Rhetor
982
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Rhetor 10/22/10 - 09:00 am
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The reason that the money

The reason that the money supply isn't going up with the deficit is that all the bank failures and bad loans and so forth sucked a lot of money right out of the economy. Thus, the Fed and the Congress are basically just trying to compensate for what was lost. Will it work? Time will tell.

So crates
0
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So crates 10/22/10 - 09:05 am
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I think this is a well formed

I think this is a well formed question and summarizes nicely what voters should consider this election cycle. The intention of the third party movement may have started out fuzzy and may include elements unfriendly to a diverse crowd, but the message they have focused their movement on is smaller government and reigning in spending. This is what is an important consideration at this time, and the third party is setting themselves up to take the blame for it. This gives dems and reps both an opportunity.

We have to reconsider the purpose of government in the modern era. To govern by definition is to control, but the beauty of

Brad Owens
4178
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Brad Owens 10/22/10 - 09:08 am
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RM1, I just saw the funny

RM1,

I just saw the funny quote, you are right, LOTS of folks want to punch me in the mouth.

As far as unions go, the reason you were getting the check you were is because of the unions I bet. Had you had your dues back and the unions were out, your check would have been just as small I can bet, maybe smaller even.

Brad "Take Your Best Shot" Owens

Riverman1
81429
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Riverman1 10/22/10 - 09:16 am
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Brad, I remember how this

Brad, I remember how this went at the S. C. factory I worked in. We had a meeting and the company told us no one could talk up the union during work hours. But they also had to allow the union representative to give their side during a few meetings on company time before the vote. The company would also present their side after the union rep spoke. But remember the vote is SECRET.

You present an anecdotal thing, but it's not the law or the way things usually unwind. At my factory, we overwhelmingly voted the union down. Keep in mind this was many years ago when I was a teenager and still the law was protecting union activies.

Today it is even more so, but most workers realize unions are not in their best interests if they want to keep a profit making company and the jobs that go with it.

Riverman1
81429
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Riverman1 10/22/10 - 09:18 am
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Brad, we were paid minimum

Brad, we were paid minimum wage at least, but got paid more if we did more work. It was called working on "production." I worked hard and did twice as much as some workers and received double their salary. That same drive led me to get the heck out of the factory and go to college, etc. Heh.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 10/22/10 - 09:28 am
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When George Soros rolled into

When George Soros rolled into town several years ago we should have known trouble was coming. This man is a communist at best.

He is for World Financial Order and has said that CHINA should have a heavy hand in running it. China? Really? The country who just drug a pregnant woman kicking & screaming from her home to abort her 8-month pregnancy because she already had a child?

He has destroyed the currencies of other countries (Fact. Look it up). He is banned from financial transactions by China, in 2002 France fined him millions for insider trading, in 1992 he just about ruined the British Pound and in 1997 he was at the epi center of the Asian Fiancial crisis - doing the most damage to the Japan Yen. Each time, he has become richer.

I often wonder why he isn't under federal investigation for his financial antics and for his his spread of socialism/communism. Conspiracy charges come to mind. His donations to the media to restrict freedom of speech are anti-constitutional. Why are we allowing this madman to do business in the USA?

I recently read an article from 2003 warning the USA that George Soros had us on his radar. Well, now we see that he is in tight with the current administation AND the media. The radical left and media have embraced him and they are greedily accepting his socialism bribes.

He is the puppet master. You should be afraid. Don't take my word for it. Do some reasearch on this monster. He is not our friend, that's for sure. Oh yes, I'm waiting. All of you on the radical left will say that this is fear mongering or Fox News propaganda. Just keep believing that. Blind allegiance will get you no where. Do your own research. I did, last night, it was scary, this man is hideous.

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