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can I really be the first to comment on the new format

I liked the old one better but will probably get used to this.

Also I don't like that filling the E-Mail field is now mandatory.

You missed out on a beautiful pun by swapping items 3 and 4's order.

affenkopf, you can always just put, that's everyone's favorite made up email address, it's not like you need to use your own addy.

I've always used "" because Netscape Navigator (or Communicator) required you to fill in an e-mail address in your settings page, using the phrase "Enter an email address (eg" So I did.

Brian Caplan's policy of requiring real e-mail addresses pisses me off a lot, however. Please don't go there.


They are predicting the dollar to rise or fall in value... relative to what?

I'd be more inclined to give credence to that "1/3 of wages" piece if they didn't call unemployment, social security, and medicare "handouts". They are not plausibly handouts, as I and everyone else who gets most of those things, pay or paid into them every paycheck. It's like calling payments from your insurance company a "handout". Stupid and dishonest.

7. Have they, really?

5. That's funny, because today I filed my tax returns and realized I paid one-third of my wages in taxes in 2010, not including sales tax and other taxes.

@Matt: Sorry to say you are being...ignorant...and dishonest.

Yes, those programs are at least partially handouts. The marginal tax rates are proportional, but there is significant redistribution in the benefit structure. A person my age and income will have a NEGATIVE rate of return in the SS system (unless I become disabled). That's not "insurance" for me - that's robbery.

Unemployment insurance pays a much higher proportion of prior wages to low income workers than high income workers. The last time I was unemployed, I got less than 25% of my prior wages. A low-skilled worker has a replacement rate closer to 70%. Lower-skilled people are also more likely to become unemployed and remain unemployed longer. With a 70% replacement rate for doing nothing, I'd be surprised if that didn't lengthen unemployment by itself.

Wealthier people are far less likely to actually USE Medicare benefits. I will have retirement health benefits through my employer and also through the Veterans Administration. Every dollar of my Medicare tax payments will go to OTHER PEOPLE - 100%. On the other hand, I have to be grateful for the generous VA health care that you pay for. Oh, but I paid for it too in blood, sweat, and tears.

These programs are all DIS-insurance. An insurance company will have premiums that are positively correlated with the probability of loss, and positively correlated with the payment given loss. All three of these programs charge premiums exactly opposite the way an insurance company would. They are REDISTRIBUTION programs.

And if you were to consider that the wealthy would opt out of these if they could (and most middle class people too), it bolsters the idea that these are not insurance programs.

The requirement that people maintain automobile liability insurance is to protect OTHERS from people who have nothing to lose and therefore wouldn't buy insurance at all. I happen to carry far in excess of the minimum liability coverage.

All these redistribution programs are required ONLY so they can rake higher income earners over the coals. A mandatory, fully-funded, individually-owned retirement plan would satisfy the goal of retirement security for most people. For the rest, we could distribute what it really is: WELFARE.

The fact that Jerry Mathers was left off the Famous Philosophy Majors list, as far as I could tell, was a disgrace that Philosophy Blog needs to correct.

The "wages" article is disgraceful. First of all, transfer payments aren't "wages" at all. Sheesh.

But take the last three paragraphs:

"Social welfare benefits have increased by $514 billion over the last two years, according to TrimTabs figures, in part because of measures implemented to fight the financial crisis."

In part? How much? What percentage of the shift is due to these measures? What percentage is due to decreased wages? Without this information, the rest of the numbers are meaningless.

"Government spending normally takes on a larger part of the spending pie during economic calamities but how can the country change this make-up with the root of the crisis (housing) still on shaky ground, benchmark interest rates already cut to zero, and a demographic shift that calls for an increase in subsidies?"

How can the country change this make-up? Well, the economic calamity will end, we hope, and the economy will return to normal, and transfer payments will decrease. As for the demographic shift: (a) that's hardly the fault of government, and (b) the easy answer as to how to fix it is to allow massively increased legal immigration, such that the aging of the population is offset by an influx of new workers. Why not advocate for this obvious solution?

"At the very least, we can take solace in the fact that we’re not quite at the state welfare levels of Europe. In the U.K., social welfare benefits make up 44 percent of wages and salaries, according to TrimTabs’ Schnapp. “No matter how bad the situation is in the US, we stand far better on these issues (debt, demographics, entrepreneurship) than other countries,” said Steve Cortes of Veracruz Research. “On a relative basis, America remains the world leader and, as such, will also remain the world's reserve currency.”

Seriously? Someone is stupid enough to think that the dollar is the world's reserve currency *because* our welfare state is less generous than Europe?

And Tyler thought this mishmash was worth linking to? Or was this a joke?

7. Have they, really?

Sigh. Humans are apes.

(There is no comment preview? Oh god I hope html works.)

All the people complaining about transfer programs also need to make the case that we need more capital investment in our economy.

Anyone interested in knowing what Feynman would have done in any situation should consult <a>this flowchart.

the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt in advance the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by member States

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