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Molon Labe

I take a bit of pride in being, largely, level-headed as a blogger. I don't get truly worked up and outraged and furious around here, preferring calm reason (or, far too infrequently, sarcasm or other forms of humor). It takes a lot to get me spitting mad.

Well, I've found something.

Senator Tom Harkin has once again floated his trial balloon -- to get rid of individual 401K retirement plans, and replace them with a new government program, the Guaranteed Retirement Account.

Harkin's pet Communist (speaking purely economically) says that the 401K system is too risky, and too many people are depending too much on their plans to cover their retirement. She is pushing (and keeps pushing it, thanks to Senator Harkin) a plan where... well, let me just quote Human Events here:

In a nutshell, under the GRA system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a "fair" pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions.

What's wrong with that, you say?

This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending.

What this would boil down to is first to get the government's hands on a hefty hunk of money to bail out pension funds, primarily union pension funds, that have been very poorly (if not criminally) mismanaged and are in serious financial trouble. Then, once that's done, it guarantees the government a fresh, healthy revenue stream that it can treat just like it treats Social Security -- a handy, sizable hunk of cash it can loot at will and leave IOUs behind.

When I heard about this, I immediately logged into my 401K plan and checked how it was doing. I took a hell of a hit, but didn't recall the details.

Between April 2008 and February 2009, I lost about 20% of my plan's value. But since then, it's gained that back and then some -- it's gone up 63% since then.

(Note to self: send thank-you gift to ex-girlfriend who helped me choose chose the funds my plan is invested in back in 2006.)

OK, enough calm reason. Time to get pissed.

That money is MINE. Every penny in that account came from my paycheck, either directly out of my pocket or matched by my employer as part of my benefits package. I own it, I am responsible for it, and I will be damned if I'm going to sit idly by while Harkin and his pet Communists take it "for the common good."

Over at Ace Of Spades, the usual gang of hotheads are talking about buying rope and measuring DC-area lampposts.

For once, I'm right there with them. Should this start to come to pass, I'll find some way to close my account or pull as much out as I can before it can take effect. And I'll contribute it all to the rope funds.

Because this just isn't about the confiscation of billions and billions in private wealth. It would also deal a crippling blow to the private sector.

I've got my 401K split into three funds (thanks again, Chiq!):

Fund 1 (25%):

  • Seeks to provide long-term capital appreciation.

  • Invests primarily in large and midsize U.S. companies the fund's advisor believes have above-average earnings growth potential not reflected in their current market prices.

  • Advisor seeks out leading firms with excellent long-term growth prospects, many of which have increasing sales, improving profitability, and strong management teams.

Fund 2 (25%):

  • Most conservative type of mutual fund; goal is to maintain the $1 value of its shares while providing income.

  • Invests in high-quality, short-term securities.

  • Appropriate place for savings that you want to preserve, but also want to earn income on.

  • Has typically offered higher yields than bank accounts.

  • Provides convenient access to your savings; transfer money electronically to and from your bank account.

Fund 3: (50%)

  • Founded in 1929, XXX is XXX's oldest mutual fund and the nation's oldest balanced fund. It offers exposure to stocks (about two-thirds of the portfolio) and bonds (one-third). Another key attribute is broad diversification--the fund invests in over 100 stocks and 400 bonds across all economic sectors. This is important because one or two holdings should not have a sizeable impact on the fund. Investors with a long-term time horizon who want growth and are willing to accept stock market volatility may wish to consider this as a core holding in their portfolio.

My money isn't sitting in a vault somewhere. It's part of the economy, with most of it being constantly invested and re-invested by some fairly competent brokers. It's circulating among businesses, working hard and advancing the economy.

Our stock market -- hell, most of our economy -- has grown dependent on the huge amounts of capitol provided by private retirement plans. And it has been a mutually beneficial relationship -- the investments from the plans have been, on the whole, quite profitable for the plans.

And the most beautiful part, the best part, is that it is entirely voluntary. Everyone who participates does so of their own free will. I chose, years ago, to ask my employer to take part of my paycheck (before I got my hands on it) and set it aside for my retirement. And they agreed (except for one period when things got rocky) to match, within limits, to match it, dollar for dollar, as part of my benefits package to keep me as a profitable employee.

Let me spell that out: I chose to participate in my plan. I chose how much money (well, what percentage) I would contribute to my plan. And I chose how that money would be invested, generally. And I can choose at any time to take loans from the plan or close it out at any time.

Because, Senator Harkin, it's MINE. It's not yours. It's not anyone else's.

From a recent pay stub, I see that in that pay period I paid about 9.4% in income tax, 5.9% in Social Security, and about 1.4% in Medicare. On the other hand, my own private insurance ran 4.6% and my 401K contribution was a nice, round 5%.

I don't expect to ever see any of my Social Security money. First, I have no faith that it will actually survive until I reach retirement age. Second, I have no faith that I will survive to retirement age. (Thanks SO much, genetics.) But right now, Washington's taking one dollar in six I earn.

That's enough. That's more than enough.

Keep your goddamned hands of my retirement fund, Harkin. You and your pet Communist economists can find some other way to bail out your crooked union thugs and pay for your socialist fantasies.

I'm a New Hampshirite, Harkin. And our state Constitution has one part I cherish -- Section I, Article 10:

Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

I'm a lifelong Granite Stater, and those words are engraved on my heart -- along with "Live free or die; Death is not the worst of all evils."

You want MY retirement money, Harkin?

Come and get it.


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Comments (33)

Commie bastards skip town ... (Below threshold)
914:

Commie bastards skip town but somehow have time to attempt more theft to line their filthy nest eggs. A firing squad is to good for this trash.

Saw this the other day and ... (Below threshold)
AJ:

Saw this the other day and my reaction (and that of my husband's) was pretty much the same as yours was, Jay. The whole thing is outrageous.

The prospect of this pisses... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

The prospect of this pisses me off no end. Right now the main portion of my 401k is earning 14.4% annually. I'm putting 12% of my gross pay into it, trying to play catchup for 15+ years where I either didn't make enough to shove some into a 401K or didn't work for folks who HAD 401ks for their employees. I'm already behind the power curve on this, and trying to play catchup. I figure Social Security's a benefit (that may or may not be there) which it's MY responsibility to supplement for my own comfort.

And this (deleted) wants to CONFISCATE it, and give me... what? Some sort of shitty 'fair' payout?

I'm like Jay -

That money is MINE. Every penny in that account came from my paycheck, either directly out of my pocket or matched by my employer as part of my benefits package. I own it, I am responsible for it, and I will be damned if I'm going to sit idly by while Harkin and his pet Communists take it "for the common good."
I'll be paying taxes on it when I withdraw it. That's ENOUGH.

I'm HOPING Social Security will be around when I retire, but I'm not counting on it. I'm saving what I can, because the idiots in Washington WON'T. They wouldn't even discuss the possibility of reform under Bush, while admitting it needed it under Clinton.

And now they want to be 'fair' and take MY savings? Fuck that!

Oh, to be 'fair' I should point out that this was floated in 2007 and 2008, and the October 7th, 2010 paper "The Wobbly Stool: Retirement (In)Security in America" DOES point out a lot of the problems inherent in the system as it exists. But even it plays the class warfare card -

Most Americans don't realize that someone with a salary of $300,000 or even $30 million a year pays no more in Social Security taxes than someone earning roughly $107,000. When they do realize this, they don't like it. A poll commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) found that 83% of respondents support lifting the Social Security tax cap so that all workers pay the same payroll tax rate, regardless of income.
But what isn't pointed out is that the folks making $300 mil or $300k won't GET any more Social Security benefits when they retire than the poor schmuck making $25k.

That's ACTUALLY fair, to my thinking. So I've got no problems with the present level cap. After all, how 'fair' would it be to raise the cap so you can take more of someone's pay and not raise the benefits they'd get?

The Dems try to pass this, they might as well cut their own throats as a political power. This is a naked, blatant grab for gold to line their pockets.

(Hmmm... funny thing, if you've got money in a 401k you might want to pay attention to the overseas funds. Looks like they're going VERY well - Fidelity Advisor Overseas Fund (T) is showing a 3-month return of 19.14%...)

It doesn't take much time, effort, or knowledge to manage a 401k. But you DO have to look at it from time to time and adjust things...

"But what isn't pointed out... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"But what isn't pointed out is that the folks making $300 mil or $300k won't GET any more Social Security benefits when they retire than the poor schmuck making $25k."

Let me change that. Just went to the Social Security Retirement Estimator, and up to a point your benefits ARE dependent on what you earn. I put in $150k for this year's work, and had a max benefit of $1500 a month. My actual pay showed a benefit about $160 lower. I put in $300k - and still peaked at $1500.

Your mileage may vary and I could well be wrong but it looks to me like the max primary retirement benefit you can get is $1500/month, no matter what you earn.

I was in financial services... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

I was in financial services in the 80's and set up lots of IRA's. I saw then that every time the popularity grew the government could not leave their hands of them. They were continually changing the rules to benefit themselves. I said back then, even though my crystal ball had a big crack in it, someday when the pool of money gets big enough the government will step in and grab it. Well, If this isn't one of the first things the new congress deals with there will be a third party by 2012. People have been sacrificing and saving in these plans for 30 years and they will not take lightly the "Grab" by the government as can by seen by peoples reaction to this when they hear about it.

Don't forget in addition to... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

Don't forget in addition to this theft, we all are going to be taxed additionally to fund outrageous government pensions.

Soon retirement will only apply to government workers as the private sector will continue to be slaves in order to pay the taxes to fund it.

Next will be a tax on GRA distributions, further diluting your saved money.

I first read about this in ... (Below threshold)
Gladius:

I first read about this in 2008 when it started to look like Obama was going to win. This isn't Obama's idea it was Democrats but everything in this article was the same as what I read with the add ons of the gubmit paying 3% per yr.per 401k that they confiscate and nation wide there is about 80 bil in assets in 401K's. JT I agree with you if they want it sombody will get hurt ...I am willing to take my chances.

Just how tone-deaf are Hark... (Below threshold)
Hank:

Just how tone-deaf are Harkin and the dems?

They're already looking at decimation in the upcoming elections due to the passage of Obamacare, out of control spending, and the debt. And now they want to confiscate private retirement accounts??

This isn't even a smart enough idea to be called stupid.

But coming from Harkin, it is not surprising. The man, after all, supports burning our food.

As for the unions.....

Democrats accuse Republican... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Democrats accuse Republicans of wanting to privatize Social Security. This is socializing Private Security.

"Next will be a tax on GRA ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

"Next will be a tax on GRA distributions, further diluting your saved money." TexBob

We have a prise winner

Exactly! Just the way Social Security payments now become taxable for some of us recipents. Bob, you have a future in politics. Be a conservative reformer and you'll go far.

If Media Matters has a 401K... (Below threshold)
SER:

If Media Matters has a 401K plan, our resident trolls will be on our side! However, if one or more doesn't work or has a government job (same thing), then they will be on the other side. It will be interesting to see which camp the trolls are in.

There are no words to adequ... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

There are no words to adequately express my anger over this that don't involve choice oaths and curses.

WHO THE [FOUL] do these [FILTH AND FOUL] think they are?

Oh, I know who they think they are. And they're the same kind of [blankety blank blanks] who the Patriots tarred and feathered back in the 1770s.

the only "choice" liberals ... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

the only "choice" liberals will fight to the end to defend is your right to "choose" to kill your unborn child ... everything else is fair game to them ...

Citizens have public servan... (Below threshold)

Citizens have public servants; tyrants have subjects and slaves.

Money is simply a means to aquire power, whether it be via various taxes, or confiscation of 401K funds, - and we all know what 'they' say about power.

"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it." - H. L. Mencken

It seems to me that modern Liberalism is now the false face of erstwhile fascism. And they're brazenly proud of it, too.

Ah...Communism at work, via... (Below threshold)
oldpuppymax:

Ah...Communism at work, via our "good friend" Tom Harkin. What I'm wondering is WHERE are the republican voices screaming so as to break the clouds at this disgrace? Has anyone heard little Mitchie the Kid McConnell or Mr. Boehner clearing their throats?? No. Neither have I.

It will happen. The gover... (Below threshold)
Matt:

It will happen. The government, regardless of who is in power, will not be able to resist seizing funds that are held electronically. Remember, most politicians see the money generated by the voters as being the governments money. IRA and other savings/retirement plans are ripe for the pickings as being represantative of money that the "upper" class is hoarding and keeping from the poor and needy that truly need it.

When Argentina's economy crashed on of the things the politicians did was raid pension funds, retirement plans etc. The only answer was convert the funds into physical assets and/or push them off-shore where they were safe.

I predict that likely about the time they seriously consider seizing 401K's and like instruments they will start with a one time tax across the board as a warning shot. They will also raid regular savings accounts etc. It will just be a one time fee, with maybe some regulatory changes to improve administration etc. They will lie succesfully a couple of times than take any funds that exist electronically.

The politicians are not worried about the economy as long as it doesn't impact them. If they have the chance to keep funneling our money into huge profits for corporations, they will, voters be damned.

"The politicians are not... (Below threshold)
914:

"The politicians are not worried about the economy as long as it doesn't impact them. If they have the chance to keep funneling our money into huge profits for corporations, they will, voters be damned"


True.

However they'll start worrying to hell when they get pitchforks crammed up their asses and ropes around the neck.

I really, really, really wa... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

I really, really, really want to say what I'd do but I know its illegal so I'll just say this:

If the legislation makes it into law there's probably going to be a line forming to take shots at the politicians that helped pass the legislation.

I know I'd be bringing my 'A' game to participate in the hunt. I'll bet it would be open season, no bag limit, baiting allowed.

The goal of socia... (Below threshold)
macofromoc:


The goal of socialism is communism.

Vladimir Lenin


Take what I've e... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

Take what I've earned through my honest effort and GIVE it to someone who has done NOTHING to deserve recompense??

That would not end well.

Foreclosures and repossessi... (Below threshold)
914:

Foreclosures and repossessions at an all time high and Barry sees fit to run a lotto scam.

I asked My grandparents about living in the great depression and it sounded a lot like this.

There can be no doubt, Barry is the worst president evah!

This is pissing me off also... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

This is pissing me off also. I fervently pray for a "hostile" takeover of congress in the next election. This bunch of corrupt clods need to be schooled on a government "of the people, by the people and for the people". I live in the Lone Star State of Texas where we revere independence and in fact do not trust government. That is why our legislature meets every other year and only for a few months. I think more and more states are going to reject the federal government and then there will be hell to pay all around. The left doesn't mind because a huge majority of them are not independent. They are on the take. They have no comprehension of investment and responsibility. So I am not surprised at their leaders wanting to take more. ww

Well socialism only works a... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Well socialism only works as long as you have people to TAKE MONEY FROM.

<a href="http://www.youtube... (Below threshold)
THREAD WINNER #18 !!!... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

THREAD WINNER #18 !!!

EXACTLY what would happen...

DHS would wet themselves if this passed.

One by land, Two by Sea kinda stuff ALL OVER the place.
;)

Can you imagine how much mo... (Below threshold)
BlueNight:

Can you imagine how much more prosperous America would have been today, if Social Security had never been enacted and instead, every schoolchild had been taught (properly) how to save and invest money?

Come on Trolls, try to defe... (Below threshold)
Maddox:

Come on Trolls, try to defend this one.
Where are ya?

So.... here's my conspiracy... (Below threshold)
2nd Ammendment Mother:

So.... here's my conspiracy theory for the day.....

Retirement accounts aren't just giant piles of cash sitting in the bank earning interest (oh for the good old days of rolling CD's).

Retirement accounts are full of all sorts of financial instruments including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and the like.

If the government seizes every IRA, they won't be getting a giant pile of cash. They get all those stocks. Stocks in every publicly traded company in the United States.

And when you combine all of my great-granny's AT&T stock with all of your great-granny's AT&T stock and everyone else's AT&T stock..... Guess who will have majority ownership if AT&T?

And when the government has majority ownership of every publicly traded company in the US..... Well, I'll let someone else finish that thought since I've now freaked myself into a fetal ball under my desk!

Likewise, all those little old ladies lean towards lots of safe investments like municipal bonds... and if the Feds aquire most the outstanding bonds issued by the City of Austin.... Guess who suddenly "owns" the City of Austin?

For grins I'll throw in a couple of random items that don't really fit, but then again they do:

This President is very fond of governing by regulation and executive order, executing hostile takeovers of industries and destroying industries that he doesn't like.

No one is still completely sure what's in the Financial Overhaul Bill.

Obama "appointed" Elizabeth Warren, a person whom Dems wouldn't even approve and who is openly hostile to the entire financial services industry, to write all of the new rules.

The Unions are still pissed over Card Check, but the fastest way to eliminate Right to Work is for everyone to suddenly be government employees.

"Come on Trolls, try to ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Come on Trolls, try to defend this one. Where are ya?"

Probably looking at their OWN 401Ks and going - "Shit."

Harkin remains substantiall... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Harkin remains substantially the same neo-marxist tool he's always been. Some of us have been complaining about him for more than 30 years. The fact that Iowa elected such an evil man and kept re-electing him, IMHO, should disqualify them from a prominent position in the Presidential nomination process, if not provide cause to revoke their statehood.

Lawson, get real. How many ... (Below threshold)

Lawson, get real. How many trolls do you think can even SPELL 401K, let alone have one?

J.

Oh JT, c'mon. Remember the... (Below threshold)
epador:

Oh JT, c'mon. Remember the trash that used to continually brag about how much his was making profit while the regular market was tanking. THere's at least one for you.

Jay Tea -I like to... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Jay Tea -

I like to think we have trolls here that are well above average. (Okay, Dane was an exception...)

As such, they likely have day jobs (or off-duty jobs, depending) and are probably planning for their futures just like the rest of us. (Well, not quite. We don't wank off at the idea of taking everything from folks who are labeled 'rich'...)

They're likely putting SOME of their money away - 1, 2% - so they can tell their folks (or parental pondful of slime molds) that "Yes, I'm saving for the future. I've got a 401K, even, so stop bugging me!"

So they get the day's talking points, remember they've got a 401K, look at the money in it... and all of a sudden they understand that THEY are the 'rich' that the Dems want to steal from.

"Shit."

And they're notably absent. Goodbye (for a time) 'reality-based' thinking, because reality just gave you a hard wedgie and said "Pay attention, you idiot! SOMEONE (we won't say who) wants to grab YOUR money. Yeah, that amount you've managed to save. That you've had deducted from YOUR paycheck. That's YOURS. And they want you to argue about how it's RIGHT to take 401Ks so they can give back a portion? How fucking 'FAIR' is that?"

And suddenly a 'fair' distribution of confiscated wealth doesn't seem quite so attractive as it used to be...




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