Based on the date of my last post in this space, it would seem that I took a brief summer vacation. That was not my intent as such, but I confess to finding myself more than unusually busy over the last several weeks. I’ve been working on my 100+ year-old house, my 49-year-old tractor, and any number of other things to either prepare them for the coming winter or simply catch up on tasks which accumulated.

Since my break, I see that very little has changed in the world. We are still at war in the Middle East–and likely to open  up another front in that war if the current scuttlebutt is to be believed. We are also finding ourselves as a culture far more interested in the personal failings (though serious) of a football player and his wife than in the behavior of the IRS. I’d say par for the course, but it seems awfully close to mixing a metaphor. I also see that we are finally warming up the competitions for a number of the mid-term races across the country. Now that we have less than two months to go, we lack little more than a handful of October surprises before we come up on the big day.

Tomorrow marks an important anniversary of a tragic day in our history. Thirteen years ago, I was in my 20s and married without children. One of those things is still true. That aside, the world has changed, and largely not for the better, since we Americans were briefly shaken our of our first-world complacency by 19 men who used the tools of the 21st century in an attack whose end goal would seem to be to move us back to the 7th century.

To those who would see only those things which are not going well (and the list is long), don’t become discouraged. I am reminded of the following statement by James Whitcomb Riley:

The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.

Carry on.

Does one pay the piper anymore? It seems as though someone’s been forgetting to:

Social Security paid out nearly $71 billion more to retirees and other beneficiaries than it collected in tax revenue in 2013. This is the fourth straight year the retirement and disability programs are running cash-flow deficits, as highlighted in today’s trustee report.

Deficits are only growing worse. The trustees project $80 billion in deficits in 2014, which will more than double before the end of the decade. At $110 billion in average annual deficits throughout the next decade, the combined programs are facing more than a trillion dollars in deficits just over the next 10 years.

Social Security’s reported long-term (through the end of 2088) unfunded obligation of $10.6 trillion is further exacerbated by the $2.8 trillion in IOUs in the old-age security (OAS) and disability insurance (DI) trust funds.

Simply put, the Social Security Accounts Receivable was $71,000,000,000.00 less than the SS Accounts Payable for last year. And that’s without even looking at the other years data.

So, what ought to be done? In most businesses (assuming they weren’t already bankrupt from such a differential) people would either need to increase revenues or cut costs, or both.

Increasing revenues to SS would have the nearly immediate benefit of constricting the economy further than it already is. Cutting costs involves telling people who have been paying into the system for years that their investments haven’t really amounted to anything.

As one of the people who will be losing his SS investment, I’m in favor of the second approach, despite the fact that it will be painful. Of course, it’s not as though I’m really losing anything.

For the most part, ignoring problems does not cause them to go away. Though, if we ignore problems for long enough, we end up going away and the problems are inherited by our children. Sounds kind of selfish, doesn’t it?

 

P&R pens an excellent piece on paying attention to what things really cost.

Bottom line? Nothing (materially speaking) is free. You and I are paying for it somehow. It had better be worth it.

Bill Whittle speaks to just how wrong the idea that “it takes a village” really is.

Anybody got a shovel?

It doesn’t truly make the world go ’round, but it certainly makes my head spin from time to time: money.

Charity says, “No, we won’t explain how we spent the $300,000,000 you all gave us.” It may be too late to get that money back, but I’d recommend giving elsewhere next time. In fact, don’t give to charity if you can give directly to a needy person (preferably through a person you trust so you can remain anonymous).

New head of the IRS is a miracle maker on the make. He’s going to restore something which has not existed for a number of years.

And finally, a brief treatise (if such can be true) on debt.

Visible here. Wow.

Do we have another option?