Saturday, January 15, 2005

Virginia Horse Center Follow-up

Here's the email response to my second request for information from the Virginia Horse Center, the recipient of a $1,000,000 grant.


Dear Mr. Delgado,

As I stated in my first response to your request on January 4, 2005, it
will be several months before we will know exactly how the monies will
be utilized. We have scheduled a meeting with federal UDSA representatives
to determine what the options may be. Appropriating federal monies is a
time consuming process and it would be premature for me to comment on how
the monies will be utilized until an application has received final approval
by the USDA.

Thank you for your interest in the Virginia Horse Center. I will keep
your correspondence and let you know how the monies will be used when
the application has been finalized.

Lethia C. Hammond
Director of Marketing, Public Affairs & Development
Virginia Horse Center Foundation
P.O. Box 1051
Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: 540-464-2950
Facsimile: 540-464-2995


Blogger tetricus said...

Opponents to Social Security reform should address the following illogic implied by their opposition:

As Social Security is currently structured, individuals must first be employed. Secondly, employee contributions are matched by the employer. These two things are prerequisites for the continual funding of the program. If I were a proponent of Social Security in its current format, I would be a strong proponent of a vibrant and growing economy that allows for the perpetual contributions; from employees and employers.

You can’t have Social Security without economic growth. No employers, means no employees, means no contributions, means no Social Security funds over the long-term. The Government just can’t tax non-existent assets and profits to meet its obligations. Assets and profits are a prerequisite of Social Security. With me so far?

Now, here’s the kicker. If you assume that the current system requires a growing economy to sustain itself, why would you not translate that same assumption to the Personal Account structure of retirement funding?

Admittedly, there are no guarantees either way. That’s the very definition of a risk; no guarantees. Both structures involve risk. And BOTH sides of the issue (pro/con reform) assume a long term growing economy with occasional set backs.

I planted several Silver Maples in my backyard 15 years ago. The trees were barely 3 feet tall when I planted them. I did my research on what trees would do best considering soil and weather conditions. I almost went with Weeping Willows, but was advised against them. They grow very quickly, but according to the garden store owner, are ‘stringy’ and disease prone. My Maples have survived severe winters, summer droughts and insect infestation. But through it all, most of them have managed to survive; over the long term. They’re now about 40 feet tall. Long-term investing involves a similar patience and risk taking.
# posted by The Unhyphenated American : 9:43 PM

Of course Maples were the choice over Willows. I’m sure realized that Weeping Willow Trees are indigenous to Asia and are a fast growth/short lived species. A Maple is a slow growth/long lived species, indigenous to the region where you live, Ohio. Let’s get two things straight about Social Security. Thanks to Social Security, poverty among the elderly has been greatly reduced. Most Americans rely on the program for much (42%) of their retirement income. Social Security is not, and was never intended to be the sole source of workers' retirement income. Longer life expectancy and lower birth-rates are indicators of a problem the system may face in years to come. Payments will rise higher than its revenues as “baby boomers” retire. There is not a crisis, as this administration calls it, until as early as the year 2042, that’s with no changes whatsoever. An independent assessment from the CBO illustrates that the program can pay all benefits through the year 2052. By calling it a “crisis” this administration is capitalizing on fear. Karl Rove must have passed out copies of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs after September 11th to all GOP policy hounds.

The financial burden from Medicare will be much worse than Social Security. Bush’s pay out to the pharmaceutical industry in his first-term decision to implement a prescription-drug benefit for retirees worsened Medicare's long-term financial situation by more than twice as much as the entire Social Security problem.

A debt-financed transition of Social Security will not boost national savings; though the accounts will imply higher private savings, government borrowing will rise by the same amount. The gain from private accounts might be eroded by high management fees or poor risk-management by account-holders. And, of course, there’s always the Enron factor when human greed and light penalties equate to high temptation. I see a nation of people driving SUVs and eating fast food, are we ready to talk about long-term investments? While part of the story here is that many workers are simply not earning enough to save, part of it is due to the lack of easy mechanisms and a reasonable incentive structure. Simply making a low cost portable defined contribution pension system available to all workers would likely lead to a substantial increase in savings.

The method Bush plans to employ for his reform, much like his tax cuts, is rather simple -- eliminate most of their future Social Security benefits while maintaining most of their future Social Security taxes. I’m not sure of your age Mr. Maple Tree Man, but I’m twenty-two and not interested in paying off debt for Bush’s litany of flawed decisions. Progressive indexing of retirement benefits by wage level would be a more equitable way to “solve the social security crisis.” Prince indexing alone, instead of the current wage indexing, would have a tremendously negative affect on low-wage earners dependent on Social Security. That wouldn’t be ‘compassionate conservatism,’ now would it? We should continue wage indexing for all workers with average career earnings of $25,000 or less, and increase this level as time progresses. The initial benefits of all workers with average career earnings above something like $100,000 retiring after 2011 would be increased by price indexing. It is fair to say that these workers receive significant amounts of retirement income from company plans and other savings vehicles in addition to Social Security. The current tax system even suggests this as a fact because they would be paying a lot more on taxes if they didn’t invest their income to IRAs and other forms of personal savings. The initial benefits of workers falling between these two groups would be increased by a proportional blend of wage and price indexing.

When a worker earning $100,000 a year saves, he or she gets a tax deduction equal to 25 percent of his or her savings. A worker earning $16,000 a year gets no tax incentive. It would be simple and cheap to change the tax code to extend savings incentives to all Americans. But, instead, let’s throw caution to the wind and start up another false crusade. Like looking for weapons of mass destruction as a false pretext to pre-emptive war on hijacked 9/11 fears, lets reform social security in a way the benefits the most wealthy and turns us all into slaves of the market to avoid this inevitable “crisis.”

Deception Accomplished.

P.S. Do you really want to get into Bush’s supply-side economic taxation policies, the current Gini coefficient (of income inequality), the net amount of jobs lost during Bush’s administration, and the income level of the new jobs that are being created in this country? Cancer is also a growth, I suggest you talk about economic development next time.

Ref: Dean Baker, Robert Pozen

January 15, 2005 at 4:23 AM  

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