'They have stolen our money'

Washington has to rein in its unsustainable spending

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As a Cypriot cries, “They have stolen our money,” eurozone officials have begun confiscating money from Cyprus bank accounts bigger than 100,000 euros, in order to pay for a bailout of the bankrupt nation.

As Americans look on, they wonder, “Could it happen here?”

In some ways it already has: The money the federal government takes from you as a supposed savings for your retirement has, for decades, been “borrowed” by Congress to pay for other things – today’s comforts, rather than tomorrow’s necessities.

In short, Social Security is a fiction. It’s just another forced tax that the government converts to its own use – while
making its books and the nation’s financial situation look better than they are.

If your boss tried something like that with your retirement funds, he’d be in prison. In Congress, it’s just another day.

To add historic insult to that injury, Washington also knows that its spending is unsustainable, and experts warn that both Social Security and Medicare will need serious reform if they are to even survive.

In addition, there has been some talk that Washington politicians may end up eyeing our retirement funds – fat, vulnerable, unmoving targets of easy cash.

“Slapping a special ‘emergency’ levy on these assets will become an irresistible temptation for politicians,” Steve Forbes writes in his April 15 magazine.

“Don’t put it past our politicians to try it in a financial emergency. The breaking of contracts by the U.S. government, unfortunately, has happened before, and what’s under way in Cyprus shows that feckless politicos will continue to try such things.”

The best way to avoid such unpleasantness – other than electing leaders who abide by their oath to uphold the Constitution – is for Washington to get its fiscal house in order now.

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Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 04/04/13 - 01:42 am
7
3
Stolen funds

Not one boss from the failed banks has gone to jail and they are still angry after having been bailed out and are making record profits. Would you recommend placing social security funds on those hands? That is what this is all about; finding a way to scare the be-hesus out of people and convince them that the government is the culprit. Just make law makers return the money. John McCain ran on the claim that he would put SS in a "lock box." I say do it and keep Wall Street's hands off it. People who understand that SS alone will not meet all of their retirement needs can still make private investments.

ultrarnr
944
Points
ultrarnr 04/04/13 - 02:32 am
0
0
Fear Mongering
Unpublished

Why doesn't the AC editorial staff just come out and be honest and say that they want to privatize social security? It would be a lot more honest than these inane slippery slope arguments. Another example that these editorials should be read for entertainment value only.

carcraft
28497
Points
carcraft 04/04/13 - 04:28 am
9
2
Selective memory?

I got it truth matters, It is sound for the government to under write loans to people that can't pay the mortgage and encourages ( and in some cases force) banks to make those loans then when the people fail on their loans you blame the banks. Guess what, Obama is starting that garbage all over again!

ymnbde
10676
Points
ymnbde 04/04/13 - 05:13 am
7
2
they steal our money too

who pays for indigent care at hospitals?
The people who pay, pay more.
So they've found a way to tax sick people.
And obamacare will cost much more for the same or less services.

20 more sequesters should do it.

Riverman1
93864
Points
Riverman1 04/04/13 - 09:49 am
4
1
The savings in 401K's and all

The savings in 401K's and all forms of IRA's are coveted by those who don't have any savings. As the Democratic base of noncontributors grows they will figure out a way to take the money. And it all will be "legal."

nofanofobama
6993
Points
nofanofobama 04/04/13 - 09:50 am
3
1
truth matters---are you

truth matters---are you serious about this..the govt being responsible with our money??????

dichotomy
37534
Points
dichotomy 04/04/13 - 10:20 am
5
1
There is a reason why the

There is a reason why the government uses tax policy to con you into putting YOUR retirement money into a 401K where you cannot get to it unless you not only pay the TAXES owed, but also a PENALTY to get your own money. That's because they want YOU to keep WHERE THEY KNOW WHERE IT IS WHEN THEY NEED IT.

Seriously, I think if our government ever tried to confiscate bank accounts there would be an armed revolution.....UNLESS we allow our government to disarm us first....hmmm.....like they moving towards now.....while our CIVIL authorities are buying up all of the ammunition.....hmmm.

hishpv
24
Points
hishpv 04/04/13 - 11:42 am
2
0
fiscal house in order?

Washington can't get "its" house in order because it is not "its" house. It's the country's house. It is the whole country that demands government pay for this, that, and the other, and the whole country that cannot agree how to pay for it.
We can demand a balanced budget; we can demand tax cuts; but to demand both defies the laws of arithmetic.

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/04/13 - 11:51 am
1
2
If the AC editorial staff is
Unpublished

If the AC editorial staff is so concerned about the stealing of retires money, it should take a look at the Georgia state legislation passed last year that allows the state to risk state retiree funds in high risk investments (also know as Venture Capital).

State employees were not asked about this, rather the state legislature just went willy-nilly along with with the governor via partisan vote.

You can bet it's "good ole boys" getting to risk the retiree's funds.

And when those high risks do not pay off, will the state raise taxes to be sure the retirees get the retirements they were promised, or will the state legislature say to the retirees, "Tough luck" and just walk away from the whole scam?

I wonder how many conservatives on here will say the same thing (as long as they are not the ones whose state retirements are lost)?

Let the concerned AC editorial staff write about that!

Darby
29335
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Darby 04/04/13 - 01:15 pm
4
0
"Not one boss from the failed...

banks has gone to jail "
.
Maybe that's because far too many politicians with dirty hands would have been implicated and didn't want to press the matter.

justthefacts
25084
Points
justthefacts 04/04/13 - 01:54 pm
2
1
It's about time

"Georgia state legislation passed last year that allows the state to risk state retiree funds in high risk investments (also know as Venture Capital)." Georgia is the only state that doesn't allow this. There was a recent article about California enjoying a 32% return since 1992.

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/04/13 - 02:53 pm
1
2
"There was a recent article
Unpublished

"There was a recent article about California enjoying a 32% return since 1992."

That's interesting, as I did some research on Venture Capital last year and didn't find that. Musta missed that report - if you'd be so kind as to post the source, I'd like to see it.

The AC article above states, "there has been some talk that Washington politicians may end up eyeing our retirement funds – fat, vulnerable, unmoving targets of easy cash."

I don't expect it, but if the AC is really concerned about retirement funds being targeted, it only needs to look at the Republican Georgia Legislature and its Republican governor's dipping into Georgia State Retirees retirement funds.

CNN Money reported (Dan Primack, senior editor), Feb 16/2012, "The median net return to VC fund investors has not been positive for any vintage year since 1998. Despite the past decade's many hits (Google, you Tube, EqualLogic, etc), the typical VC fund has lost money for its limited partners. Even the top-quartile benchmarks aren't very impressive over the past decade, with the best figure coming in at 5.59% for 2001 vintage funds."

I offer you this article;

http://www.dailymail.com/Business/201109154103?page=2&build=cache

Venture Capital is not sound investing, it is pure speculation (and in the case of Georgia State Retirees, nothing but a 'gamble' with State Retiree's money).

And, I ask again, when those high risks do not pay off, will the state raise taxes to be sure the retirees get the retirements they were promised, or will the state legislature say to the retirees, "Tough luck" and just walk away from the whole scam?

I wonder how many conservatives on here will say the same thing (as long as they are not the ones whose state retirements are lost)?

That money's GONE !!!

justthefacts
25084
Points
justthefacts 04/04/13 - 03:10 pm
2
1
Dahreese

No changing your mind. You comment on this topic once a week.

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/04/13 - 04:04 pm
1
2
Why should I change my
Unpublished

Why should I change my mind?

I've taken a careful look at it and I have documentation to support my views, which you can check for yourself.

I'd like to see your documentation.

I take it you support Venture Capital investments?

But it's the state retirees money that is being risked - from mostly sound, conservative investments that have and are paying promise bnefits, to speculous investments being made and being with no risk to the investors.

What Deal accomplished is finding promised funds for good ole political buddies at no risk to the buddies if the investments fail, but a big loss to retirees.

And I'm asking are those retirees going to be told "tough luck" we lost your money; will the state find a way to replace the lost funds - via raising state taxes; or will the state say "tough luck."

Riverman1
93864
Points
Riverman1 04/04/13 - 04:29 pm
3
1
Dahreese

The "venture funding" by the state you are referring to, is an attempt to loan money to start-up businesses in the state to create jobs. If the company is successful the state makes money as part owners in addition to the jobs provided. It will be run by the state Seed-Capital Fund.

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2013/03/24/2409354/legislature-renews-push-into-ven...

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/04/13 - 04:44 pm
1
2
"The "venture funding" by the
Unpublished

"The "venture funding" by the state you are referring to, is an attempt to loan money to start-up businesses in the state to create jobs."

I am aware of this and have been from the beginning (the politics included).

But the issue is that state retiree's money is being risked, not private money.

That money belongs to state retirees.

Not to the state!

Not to the governor!

State law may not allow such risky investments with state taxes, but it's ok to allow risky investments with state retirees money?

Your state legislature sold out state retired employees because state employees weren't organized well enough to stop this.

If these start-up businesses are so good, and not all that risky, why shouldn't banks and other commercial interests be making the risks, not state retirees?

Unless you know something that I don't, it is a fact that if these investments go south, the retirees will be the losers, not the state legislature/legislators nor the investors who received the start-up loans.

Would you want to be a state retiree in that circumstance?

Shall we talk "business ethics"; a contradiction in terms.

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/04/13 - 04:58 pm
2
1
Senator Heath made if very
Unpublished

Senator Heath made if very clear that if the companies fail, there is no financial return.

And so the state employees are supposed to just suck it up?

Riverman1
93864
Points
Riverman1 04/04/13 - 05:10 pm
3
1
Sounds Like a Great Program

A state retiree fund is not being tapped. Various funding procedures were suggested, but the ten million that has been budgeted to start the program will come from the OneGeorgia funding.

From the Macon Telegraph same story I linked above:

"And the Senate has found $10 million for it. Its proposed budget for the year beginning this July cuts that amount from the OneGeorgia Authority. OneGeorgia offers rural counties help in attracting investments by paying for sweeteners, such as lot grading or sewer work."

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/04/13 - 05:53 pm
1
1
Actually, state retiree money
Unpublished

Actually, state retiree money IS being used.

In an article, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Sept, 20, 2011, "Gov. Nathan Deal open to state pension dollars being invested in venture capital funds."

And also in 2011, from the state legislature itself; "Senate Bill 80. To amend Article 7 of Chapter 20 of Title 47 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the "Public Retirement Systems Investment Authority Law," so as to define certain terms; to provide that certain public retirement systems may invest retirement system assests in certain types of alternative investments, private placements, and other private investments; to provide that such investments may be made up to a certain amount; to shield information related to such investment from public scrutiny; to amend Code Section 50-18-72 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to when public disclosure of records is not required and disclosure exempting legal authority, so as to exempt certain public records from public inspection; to repeal conflicting laws...."

And look at the safety net the legislators have built in for themselves!

I obviously can't post everything I've found about this, but you can get the picture if you're willing.

And even if there are profits from these risky ventures, those profits will go to the investors who control the investments first, to be re-invested, and the state employees will never see a dime of their money.

"They have stolen our money" indeed.

Riverman1
93864
Points
Riverman1 04/04/13 - 06:34 pm
1
1
Dahreese, read the link I

Dahreese, read the link I posted of what was actually passed by the Republican controlled legislature, not what was proposed a couple of years ago... and how it is funded.

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/04/13 - 07:28 pm
1
0
What I posted was passed, Feb
Unpublished

What I posted was passed, Feb 24, 2012.

I don't know if this will work or not;

www.pionline.com/article/20120224/DAILYREG/20229924

Darby
29335
Points
Darby 04/04/13 - 09:45 pm
1
1
Watch out for the evil Republican Georgia

Legislature and its Republican governor...

Dahreese has warned you.

Meanwhile, Obama the Great and Powerful is watching your back. Him, you don't need to worry about.

Riverman1
93864
Points
Riverman1 04/05/13 - 08:06 am
0
1
Dahreese, not to prolong the

Dahreese, not to prolong the argument, but the final bill that passed the House and Senate and signed off by Deal is as I described. What you say passed the House last year, but that's not the final bill. The final bill was just passed, THIS YEAR.

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/05/13 - 09:24 am
1
0
Sometimes we seem to be
Unpublished

Sometimes we seem to be talking about the House and sometimes the Senate. But regardless of the number of the bill in whichever "parliment", the bill to use risk retirees monies passed both.

The investment bill passed last year, not this year.

Perhaps the "organization" that is supposed to oveersee these risked funds is what you are referring to?

"Georgia Senate passes bill allowing state pension funds to invest in alternatives

By Rob Kozlowski | February 24, 2012 2:14 pm

The Georgia State Senate on Thursday passed legislation to allow most of the state’s public pension funds, including the $13.8 billion Georgia Employees’ Retirement System, Atlanta, to invest in alternatives.

Georgia House OKs state pension plan investing in alternatives

The bill allows large public retirement systems in the state — excluding the $48.1 billion Georgia Teachers’ Retirement System, Atlanta — to “invest retirement system assets in certain types of alternative investments, private placements, and other private investments.”
-------------------------------------------------

There is nothing in the passage of these bills that protects state employees retirements if/when these high risks do not pay off.

The retirement funds belong to the state employees, not the state.

This is simply gambling with somebody else's money.

Again, I would like to read your source of information if it is indeed, "as I described."
-------------------------------------------------
Darby, I am not a hard supporter of Obama. I'm just opposed to Republican ideas (of which even Republicans are now backing away from) that have carried this country down to the brink that it finds itself.

An economy is created by the flow of money, not the hoarding of it.

Darby
29335
Points
Darby 04/05/13 - 11:09 am
1
1
"An economy is created by the....

flow of money, not the hoarding of it."
.

Exactly, and that's why some risk is always present when you invest for other people. You have a responsibility to try and get the best (and safest) return possible for them.

A guaranteed return on investment is never possible. Short of hoarding the pension funds, you need to do your research and invest wisely.

Some people seem to think that "investing" other folk's money means to spend it like it is your own, planning to pay it back later. (Seeing a lot of that going on in government.)

dahreese
4907
Points
dahreese 04/05/13 - 12:09 pm
1
0
Investing for other people
Unpublished

Investing for other people who volunter their money is one thing, but in this case the state legislature and Deal intentionally changed the law requiring retiree investments to be conservatively invested to allowing high risk, speculative investments; i.e., their good ole buddies needed investment money that banks will not lend them and so "let's risk state employees retirements."

The Georgia State Retirees Association Bulletin that I have from last year (which, unfortunately has no date nor number on it, only a name and address of the Georgia State Retirees Association in Bethlehem, Ga) contains these words;

"...it authorizes the respective boards of trustees to invest in highly risky insturments, such as hedge funds, unsecured, subordinated, non-recourse and/or uncollateralized corporate debt, mezzanine funds.

"The bill does not require reports to the members of the respective retirement systems. Although there is a report to the Governor and Standing Retirrement Committees of the General Assembly, there are no requirements to make that same information avaiable to tthe members whose funds are being invested.

"...the total to be invested in these type of investments is limited to an annual amount of 1% of assets up to a total of 5% of assests - that's about $700 million for ERS. The bill does not give ERS members anything we do not already have...."

This is politics, pure and simple; the state legislature (mostly Republicans) and a Republican governor have bowed to political pressure from the "good ole boys" who stand to lose nothing and the retirees who stand to lose it all.

It may be legal but it sure as heck is unethical, and that is a my point.

(By the way, I may get cut off here after awhile, and can't access the conversation).

Darby
29335
Points
Darby 04/05/13 - 02:40 pm
1
1
Well, Dahreese - I hope you don't get....

cut off but if you do, it's been interesting and informative.

With regard to the Georgia State Retirees Association Bulletin, it may be right on target or it may be a bit biased, depending on the editorial slant.

Regardless, any plan to invest someone else's money by the state should be insured against loss. If I were a legislator, I would insist that it be insured at least to cover the principle amount of the investment or it wouldn't get my vote.

Without further information, I'd say that what they did may not be illegal, or unethical but may be ill advised and reflecting poor judgment.

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