Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Vault Full Of Worthless Paper

I think I have this straight.

It really doesn’t matter, though.

It’s a good story.

And I like good stories.

And in the post truth, post fact, alternate universe era of donnie, good stories are about all we have left.

So I hope this story has no basis in fact at all.

So I can be just like donnie, railing on about anything that comes to mind with no relation to truth or reality.

Apparently pretty early in the Social Security era there began to build up an alarming surplus.

That was because Social Security coincided with a variety of New Deal programs that created and filled quickly millions of jobs.

So there were a lot of paychecks to take Social Security contributions from.

There were millions of immediately eligible old people waiting to receive the benefits from the program, but the contributions had them covered and then some.

Apparently they were covered by quite a lot and then some.

That situation was alarming because money shouldn’t just sit around.

Anybody with any sense pointed out that all that money and growing ought to be invested.

Having all that money laying around not earning anything was just stupid.

I guess that sort of decision – to invest government money – requires Congress to pass a law.

I guess somewhere back then Congress passed a law.

I guess that the law said that Social Security had to be invested in only one thing.

Social Security surpluses had to be invested in United States Treasury Bonds.

What could be more secure?

And they paid interest, the way bonds do.

Which is so weird, from my point of view, that I always have to stop and think about how that works.

But they do pay interest.

And they are backed by the United States of America.

What could be more secure?

I guess nobody knew about Paul Ryan and Grover Norquist, Ayn Rand and donnie the dildo back then.

I can see how that could happen.

So nobody ever thought that that secure investment of Social Security surpluses in Treasuries could ever become a key talking point for why a quite solvent program was bankrupt.

One more fact that I guess happened is that one reason, probably the real reason, that Social Security funds had to be invested in Treasuries is that that setup made it easy for one branch of the government to borrow money from another branch of the government to finance useful things like wars and defense budgets and have the debt from one branch turn into an asset to another branch.

That’s pretty neat.

I guess that might be true.

So now in the Twenty First Century that neat trick – if you look at it a certain way - can be the basis for railing about Social Security being bankrupt: one branch of the government owes another branch of the government the principal and accumulated interest on trillions of dollars that have been book-cooked via that neat transaction described above.

Lacking any surplus Social Security (because it’s all in Treasuries) is attacked as bankrupt by all the fiscally responsible republicans.

I guess that means that one branch of the government doesn’t acknowledge that a debt exists to another branch (can you spell default?).

I guess that’s the end game of the neat trick described above.

Besides it’s pretty easy to forget that sort of thing.

Most of us Americans barely have the attention span to remember that donnie consorted with a porn star while his wife was giving birth when the new thing, that he decided to fire Mueller last June had just replaced the porn star in our attention span.

So the debt that makes Social Security solvent is easily forgotten.

And that debt has done a lot of good.

Not only can it be railed about as the reason to shut Social Security down, it has provided the funds for great programs like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and each year’s defense budget.

“All they (Social Security) have is a vault full of worthless paper” the republicans rant.

I hope the Chinese don’t hear about that.

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