Pension consulting firms will mess you up.
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Forget Occupy Wall Street. Forget Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Diego. The next protest movement should be OccupyTowers Watson. Or Occupy Mercer. Or Occupy International Business Machines or San Diego’s Sempra Energy.

Towers Watson and Mercer are pension-consulting firms that help their corporate clients to “tap their pension plans like piggy banks,” according to a hot-selling new book, Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, by Ellen Schultz, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

In the book, she highlights sticky-fingered strategies by many companies, such as International Business Machines. She also gives much attention to pension-draining strategies called cash-balance plans that shortchange older workers, according to numerous complaints, lawsuits, and one government study. She wrote about Sempra’s use of the alleged ruse in the Wall Street Journal.

Schultz relates how companies will claim that they are freezing traditional pension plans and slashing or eliminating retiree medical benefits so they can stay competitive, particularly with foreign companies that don’t have such burdens. But that’s hooey, says Schultz. Taking advantage of legal accounting maneuvers, companies are whacking benefits so they can boost their own profits and thus grant even higher remuneration to already-overpaid top executives.

Money cut from pension plans can be added to profits. Decades ago, pension consultants like Towers Watson and Mercer began to realize that “Every dollar a company had promised a retiree — for pensions, prescription drugs, dental coverage, life insurance, or death benefits — was the equivalent of a dollar that could potentially be added to a company’s income.” So the consultants told their client companies (subtly, of course), “Cuts generate gains, which lift earnings, which help the stock price, which boosts the compensation of the executive whose pay is based on performance.”

In short, companies cut pension benefits so chief executives can rake in even more money. So, fleece the employees even more.

The book explains how companies make the pension changes so complex that employees don’t understand that they have been cheated. Even securities analysts may not see that a big portion of a corporation’s earnings comes not from improved operations but from money squirreled out of pension funds. Schultz tells how pension consultants and their clients talk in code but chuckle in private meetings that they have deluded the employees into thinking a pension fund is being “modernized” when, in fact, it is being plundered.

The law requires that pensions be managed for the exclusive benefit of plan participants, but “Pension law is like a toothless dog: it might sound scary, but it has no bite,” writes Schultz. To pluck the funds, companies exploit loopholes and rely on friendly judges and regulators.

She gives numerous examples. Retirees who elect to take a lump sum instead of a monthly payment wind up with a lot less money, she points out.

Another trick is companies telling retirees that in the past they have been overcompensated. They must return money to the company right away. She cites many examples of retired persons who are suddenly told they must give money back. But they don’t have the money. One widow was told that she had waived her right to her survivor’s pension. She couldn’t remember having done any such thing. She wanted proof. But the company told her she would have to subpoena the records. Living on $950 a month of Social Security, she could hardly afford a lawyer.

Companies siphon money from pension funds to finance downsizings and sell assets in merger deals. They purchase billions of dollars of life insurance on employees and collect tax-free benefits when the workers retire or die.

Schultz dissects the so-called cash-balance plans that have caused a ruckus in San Diego and elsewhere. The essence of these plans is complexity. Essentially, a company drops the old formula that calculated benefits by multiplying years of service by average salary. Under this old calculation, an employee who stayed on the job would see benefits rise sharply in later years. But under the new system, the company figures how much a pension would be worth if an employee quit immediately. That becomes “the opening account balance,” which grows slowly.

The bottom line is that older employees, whose salaries are higher and who have already accrued good benefits, get screwed. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office concluded that benefit declines under such plans are greatest for older workers. Professors at two universities concluded that when companies lower pension benefits, particularly through adoption of cash-balance plans, the pay of chief executives tends to leap inordinately.

Sempra Energy switched to a cash-balance plan in 2003. Older employees complained. “It became clear that it would take older workers more than a dozen years under the cash-balance plan to accrue the amount of money we had already accrued under the traditional plan,” recalls Don Wood, then a veteran Sempra employee. “I decided to retire from [Sempra] at age 56. Unless I worked past age 65 under the new cash-balance plan, I would never accrue as much as I had already accrued under the traditional plan.” It was a way for top management “to siphon money out of the employees’ pension system into their own pockets.”

In 2004, Sempra chief executive Stephen Baum raked in $13.5 million in total compensation, four times the industry median. Former San Diegan Graef Crystal, one of the world’s ranking experts on executive compensation, figured that Baum would then be making $154,000 a month in his retirement.

Baum was succeeded as chief executive by Donald Felsinger. He gobbled up $10.2 million last year, which was more than 300 times the median pay of American workers, according to the AFL-CIO. He was replaced as chief executive in June and will officially retire late next year when he turns 65. ■

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2crudedudes Nov. 16, 2011 @ 8:53 a.m.

Isn't this exactly the point of Occupy Wall Street? BS like this?

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Don Bauder Nov. 16, 2011 @ 12:38 p.m.

Absolutely. These kinds of corporate theft are exactly what Occupy Wall Street is all about. I didn't mean to denigrate Occupy Wall Street; I support the protesters. I was just using literary license: go Occupy TowersWatson or Occupy Sempra for pension abuses, in addition to keeping Wall Street on its toes. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Nov. 16, 2011 @ 10:01 p.m.

I think both Occupy and the Tea Party have the same root cause...

Nobody is jealous of the genuinely successful executive who builds a business.

We're angry at the CHEATERS and LIARS who robbed legitimate businesses under the noses of incompetent or toothless regulators, blessed by elected officials who they later hired as lobbyists, and then destroyed those businesses or moved them overseas.

These crooks, felons, traitors to their nation, are who we want to see dancing on the ends of pitchforks by firelight.

Is that so unreasonable?

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 4:44 p.m.

Exactly, Fred. This was proven recently. Look at all the praise heaped on Steve Jobs. He was a billionaire, but one who CREATED something. So many of the others accumulated their wealth by shuffling papers, making deals, engaging in financial engineering. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Nov. 29, 2011 @ 10:42 a.m.

The bulk of Jobs "wealth" was from the proceeds fron the sale of PIXAR. His salary at APPLE was only $1, I believe and obviously he received stock options. It was reported that at the time of his death, he owned about 5.5 million shares. I suppose it can be said his vision led to the creation of many, if not most of APPLE's products, but be certainly did not "create" anythin at PIXAR.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 3:56 p.m.

No, it was Lassitar and the others that made/are the soul of Pixar, but without Jobs money and backing (from the sale of his apple shares when he was forced out at apply in 86 (??)) Pixar would have been long gone.......

As I said before, Apple was 90 days away from BK when Jobs came back on board, shares were selling at $11 a share and my Mom wanted to buy 1,000 shares because she LOVED Apple, I told her NO WAY, Apple is going BK, and with Jobs back Apple became the biggest turn around in US history, to the largest company in the world, trading places with Exxon for #1. I have never heard the end of that. Get bitched at over that every year, still.

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tomjohnston Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:03 a.m.

Maybe we really owe a debt of gratitude to George Lucas' ex-wife. If it weren't for her, Jobs wouldn't have been able to by Pixar, which means he never. I think Jobs actually used most of his APPLE money to start NEXT. As I recall, after a relatively short time, he was running out of money and talked good ol' Ross Perot to invest a ton of money. Whatever the chronology, I'm glad it happened. Over the last12 or 13 yrs APPLE has been very VERY good to us, particularly the last 12-18 months.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:14 a.m.

Apples comeback is the most amazing comeback in America, (and probably world) history.

But Apple was also the fastest company to go from start up to Fortune 500 status, in 3 years. So they have set many high marks in business.

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tomjohnston Nov. 30, 2011 @ 1:58 p.m.

surfpuppy619, where do you get your information from. I am pretty certain APPLE didn't enter the Fortune 500 until 1983. It entered the list that year at #411 (cool # for a tech company, lol)which would make it 6 yrs after start up. It's interesting that APPLE climbed into the Fortune 100 in 1990 AFTER Jobs left and that it took until 2009 to get back there .At one point I think Apple fell all the way down to something like 325 in 2002 rankings even after the 1st IPod release. I don't think it was until after the release of the first IPhone that they finally got back into the Fortune 100. Apple was 35 this yeaar, up from 56 last year. I don't know about that whole most amazing comeback in world history though. Sounds like too much kool aid to me.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 30, 2011 @ 4:45 p.m.

The start up to Fortune 500 was in one fo the books on Apple, I forgot which one. I am looking ovet their sales now, they had $775K in their first year 1977, and 335 million in 81, I don't know if they made the F-500 in 81. I need to go and seeif I can find the F-500 list for 1980 and 1981.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 30, 2011 @ 4:50 p.m.

Looks like 1983 was the first year at #411, but that would be for sales of the 1982 year, so start up to F-500 in 5 years. I am sure that was the record then I doubt it is today.

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Visduh Nov. 16, 2011 @ 4:37 p.m.

When ERISA was being debated in the mid-70's, many corporate execs feared it, because they claimed it would increase the costs of having such plans greatly without giving that much more to the retirees. What it did was result in corporate America eschewing such plans. Many large corporations that had such plans cut them back and finally abolished them. Newer corporations have tended to avoid them and use the 401k plan instead. That would be fine if a 401k, as typically structured, actually provided a decent retirement after a thirty year career. But few such plans achieve anything like that.

These raids on the plans, and the de facto theft of the funds already placed in the plans, are what ERISA was supposed to prevent. Looks like that didn't happen as planned. Then there is the law of unintended consequences, wherein retirement security (the "S" in ERISA stands for security), was supposed to be enhanced. Instead the employee in the private sector faces a poorer retirement prospect than he/she did decades ago.

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Don Bauder Nov. 16, 2011 @ 9:16 p.m.

Sigh. Supposedly well-intentioned government plans often end up with consequences they were set up to thwart. ERISA is a good example. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Nov. 16, 2011 @ 10:07 p.m.

Visduh, I would add that the 401k money that has sloshed into the system over the last few decades has already been squirreled out by the crooks and liars running the show.

So those 401k funds, meager as they already are, will prove to be a chimera...the vaults are empty and the crooks have absconded to a tax-friendly no-questions-asked bankers haven.

Problem is, I have no proof of this assertion...just a gut feeling based on how these charlatans have already acted. They have no shame, pity, or empathy and will happily rob granny of her last cat food.

As one writer put it, "We've eaten what's on our plates, now we're gonna eat what's on yours."

Pitchforks. Torches. It's gonna get ugly folks...

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 4:46 p.m.

You may be right, Fred. Those sticky fingers might have already filched the 401(k) bucks. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 16, 2011 @ 8:06 p.m.

Sad that our country has come off the tracks liek this....

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Don Bauder Nov. 16, 2011 @ 9:17 p.m.

We've been going off the track for more than three decades. Question: since we are going along off the tracks, when will we experience a crash? Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 16, 2011 @ 8:10 p.m.

Hey, read this fairly short article, another fantatsic piece by Matt Taibbi of Rolling STone magazine, this guy has put out so much good financial reading it is amazing;

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/owss-beef-wall-street-isnt-winning-its-cheating-20111025

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Don Bauder Nov. 16, 2011 @ 9:22 p.m.

Yes, that is another very perspicacious essay by Taibbi. Just about everything he writes is outstanding. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Nov. 16, 2011 @ 10:14 p.m.

Taibbi spent several years covering Moscow politics and culture...he knows grift and graft when he sees it.

Time to starve the vampire squid!

It's long past time for so-called "reporters" to abandon their sham "neutrality" and just tell the truth as they see it. Sometimes it's not fair to give equal time to "both" sides...like when one side behaves with remorseless criminality.

Taibbi sets a great example and does a great service in his work. The Reader gives similar trust and latitude to you, Don, so that you can abandon the chains of "objective" journalists who report press releases as news.

That's the reason The Reader is forbidden any contact with our city's elected officials and public employees...because you actually tell the truth rather than parrot the same lies and lazy equivocations.

I'm sure Taibbi is equally welcome on Wall Street as The Reader is welcome on C Street.

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 6:22 a.m.

The City under Mayor Sanders won't talk to the Reader. Same for Sempra Energy. The reason is exactly as you described: the Reader tells the truth about what's going on. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:03 a.m.

The City of San Diego and Sempra Energy have a "blanket policy" of not speaking-no one- to the Reader?????

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 4:47 p.m.

Yes, both have blanket policies. Sanders has made that policy in public several times. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Nov. 17, 2011 @ 9:17 a.m.

The Tea Party and Occupy have much in common as their complaints. But the Tea Party has some simple points to make and some clear desires for reform. It wants the system to get out of the way of job creation, shrinkage in governments at all levels and especially the federal government, and a reduction of the tax burden. While Occupy objects to many things that are wrong, such as corporate abuse and income/wealth inequality, unemployment, and unaffordable health care, I don't see the concrete desires for reform. What I see is a great deal of sound and fury signifying little or nothing.

Actually these occupations remind me of the anti-war movement of the 60's and 70's. So, in giving away my age, what I remember was a mass of loud and intemperate objection to the war, but not much accomplishment. The movement had no discernible effect on shortening or ending the war. (In fact, it may have had just the opposite effect, although that is a debate for another time and place.)

Occupy and the Tea Party could both benefit from each other, for there is much common ground. Will it happen? Very unlikely.

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 4:50 p.m.

I disagree, Visduh. Many observers criticize the Occupy movement as being unfocused. But I think it is very well focused. The problem is Occupy's targets are complex, unlike the Tea Party's targets. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Nov. 17, 2011 @ 5:48 p.m.

Don,

We seldom disagree. Perhaps part of this is due to the news reporting--or lack of same--on the Occupy efforts. I'd like to see these Occupy groups produce some sort of short list of clear steps they want. Thus far, I just don't detect the sort of things that would make this movement a real force.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 17, 2011 @ 8:22 p.m.

Visduh - I agree with you 100%.

I have said it many times, the Tea Party and OWS are two different sides of the same coin.

People are tired of crony capitalism and back room deals- TP and OWS are the result. I think it is amazing how close the two really are in ideology.

Last-I think we are going to see riots and violence, OWS is going to ignite sooner or later and we will see Rodney King type meltdowns.

We started this depression in the 4th Quarter of 2007-we are heading into the 5th year of depression and it is not going to take much to set this powder keg off IMO.

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:06 p.m.

You may be right. It will take something like that to wake up business and financial executives. They are sheltered in their own crystal palaces. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:05 p.m.

I think the 99% angle is a pithy expression of Occupy's aims. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 18, 2011 @ 5:37 a.m.

While the OWS people have a few valid complaints, most are misguided. Still, the valid complaints should have a place at the table. Sad thing is that they will not play well with middle America when stuff like this is done. http://tinyurl.com/64kv5h4 Furthermore, despite the small size of the protests, a surprising amount of criminal behavior is noticed. http://www.verumserum.com/?p=33490 Still, I support their right to protest. I wish that the media wouldn't glamorize what those people are doing, especially since they are busy calling the Tea Partiers racists. I noticed how the OWS crowd wanted a moment of silence for the guy who shot at the White House. http://tinyurl.com/7v6xwos Yet the main media doesn't even mention a thing. Bet if some Tea Partier wanted to take a moment of silence for a guy who was shooting at the White House, they'd be pilloried in the media, called racist, and there would be more calls for gun control.

But I digress, I agree with the crux of Don's article that there are too many games being played with pension money. I support a fully segregated account system. As far as the 401-K money is going, as long as one has their 401-K in a fund of your choice, then the only risk should be market risk. All retirement funds are inherently risky just by the nature of deferred payments, money value, time value, etc. There is no reason to make it more risky by heisting a good portion of the money to improve the bottom line to the shareholders.

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David Dodd Nov. 18, 2011 @ 10:46 p.m.

At fault: The government. People are apparently afraid to point out that HIGH CEO SALARIES are paid in order to take full advantage of tax breaks given to corporations that pay such salaries. Government and the #occupystuff people vilify corporations for attempting to take full advantage of what the government allows. That includes shell games with pension money, where corporate gain is offset by their ability to directly funnel that money toward salaries that are designed to ensure maximum relief from corporate taxes. The government are enablers.

It's one thing to gift an alcoholic with a still. It's another thing to not expect the alcoholic to acquire potatoes after the alcoholic has been gifted the still. The government is implicit in this behavior.

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Don Bauder Nov. 20, 2011 @ 3:56 p.m.

Many of the corporate scams with pension money result from bad government policy. But do Not exonerate companies. Their behavior may be legal but it is ethicallyreprehensible. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2011 @ 4:32 p.m.

24.At fault: The government. People are apparently afraid to point out that HIGH CEO SALARIES are paid in order to take full advantage of tax breaks given to corporations that pay such salaries. == 100% tax deductible

Limit CEO comp tax deductions to $500K and you will se a game changer.

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ noon

Bill Clinton tried to limit CEO pay but gave up. Companies probably threatened to yank payments to him. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 20, 2011 @ 3:50 p.m.

Market risk should be the only risk in 401ks. But is it? Best, don bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 20, 2011 @ 6:10 p.m.

Funny thing is that one sees the average wage of a CEO in the top of the Fortune 500 is around $11.4 million and change. Yet the top 10 Hollywood movie stars make $12 million a picture, and the top 40 stars have an income commensurate with the CEO's. Why is no one going after the top Hollywood types? Why is nobody going after Michael Moore who finances some of his films through a unit of Goldman Sachs and he has a net worth of $50mm and change? He's suing Wasserman for more money by the way.... Finally, has anyone noticed that Warren Buffett's company Netjets is suing the IRS to not pay $650mm and change in taxes they owe? I would think that the honorable Buffett would show his munificence and pay those taxes(after all he complained that he doesn't pay enough), and perhaps add a little lagniappe to do his part as a concerned, patriotic citizen.

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ 11:58 a.m.

I find pay of movie stars disgusting, but it is determined by market forces. Pay of CEOs is determined by friends of the CEO who are on the board. Market forces have nothing to do with it. Pay of professional athletes who perform in publicly-subsidized stadia should be examined. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 22, 2011 @ 7:05 p.m.

I don't find any big salaries disgusting because if someone is stupid enough to pay a huge salary, why shouldn't one be able to collect? I would also question the contention that movie stars pay is determined by market forces. Has there been a study on that? Couldn't one make the same contention that the CEO pay is determined by market forces, but the market for CEO's is a a small market, composed of board members... it's still a market though.

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 9:58 p.m.

Disagree completely. CEO pay is determined by boards appointed by the CEO.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 9:39 a.m.

31.I don't find any big salaries disgusting because if someone is stupid enough to pay a huge salary, why shouldn't one be able to collect? == Because the OWNERS of the company did not authorize the pay, the Board did, that is the problem. / I would also question the contention that movie stars pay is determined by market forces. == Jeff, that is a ridiculous comment. You do not need "a study" for common, easily establishd facts. If I said the sky is blue and San Diego is in southern CA would I need a "study" to prove it to you? Of course not.

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nokomisjeff Nov. 29, 2011 @ 11:07 a.m.

Hey Falstaff, I'm not answering you. And yes you do need study for established facts, just ask Copernicus.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 2:38 p.m.

And yes you do need study for established facts, == Oh brother....you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, especially if his name is nokomisjeff.

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Twister Nov. 17, 2011 @ 2:25 p.m.

"Equal time" is like "fair and balanced," a thinly-veiled smoke-screen for propaganda. There are all kinds of tricks, from "running out of time" to packing one side with a brilliant spinner and the other side with a congenital idiot.

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 4:50 p.m.

Fox TV claims it is balanced. It is precisely the reverse. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Nov. 17, 2011 @ 6:55 p.m.

Is there a TV news source that is truly "balanced?" I have no opinion, because I have no TV and seldom watch anything in that medium.

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:08 p.m.

You're not missing much. I watch sports and financial shows, primarily Bloomberg. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 18, 2011 @ 2:19 p.m.

That financial TV will rot your mind just as much as the financial media.

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Don Bauder Nov. 20, 2011 @ 4 p.m.

Some coverage is pretty naive....or unethical. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 17, 2011 @ 8:24 p.m.

Fox is a right wing TV station and they know it.

I LOVE Greta, I love Judge Napalitano of Freedom Watch, but I CANNOT STAND Sean Hannity or some of the others. I like O'Rielly though.

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:09 p.m.

I can't pass judgment on any of them because I don't see it enough. Best, Don Bauder

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stupidflanders19 Dec. 9, 2011 @ 2:03 p.m.

"Fox TV claims it is balanced. It is precisely the reverse." Best, Don Bauder

It sounds like you already passed judgement on them earlier in the comment section.

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nokomisjeff Nov. 20, 2011 @ 6:14 p.m.

Just like CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, the NYT, Washington Post all claim they are telling the truth. Actually the only real news is the prices I see over the ticker all day long....everything else is copy and inches that are interpreted through the lens of human bias and are just editorial and basically useless.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 21, 2011 @ 12:16 a.m.

everything else is copy and inches that are interpreted through the lens of human bias and are just editorial and basically useless. == May have some bias, but certainly not unless.

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ 12:05 p.m.

To avoid human bias, should we have robots handling the news? Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 22, 2011 @ 7:06 p.m.

No, the market ticker report has no bias whatsoever. Absolute raw data and eliminate the middleman, the reporter that thinks it's his duty to explain things to the public.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 4:03 p.m.

49.No, the market ticker report has no bias whatsoever. == Baloney, the ticker is just a reflection of a market at any given time, and we all know the markets are biased and gamed.

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ 12:04 p.m.

But stock, bond, and commodity prices are artificially inflated by the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve. The Fed wants inflation of asset prices, trying to avoid inflation of goods and services. But look what happened when the Fed was trying to pump up housing values. It succeeded. Crash! Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 22, 2011 @ 7:09 p.m.

But couldn't one easily make a coherent argument for the exact opposite of what you're saying? But then again, you say that the Fed wants inflation of asset prices, yet wants to avoid inflation of goods and services. That statement is very confusing to a simple mind like me.

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Don Bauder Nov. 23, 2011 @ 10:01 a.m.

Remember the Greenspan put? Now it's the Bernanke put. You would think the Fed chairman would be smart enough to conceal his glee when stocks rise. But he goes out of his way to point out that stocks rise; he credits Fed policies, presumably such as QEII. This exacerbates the uneven distribution of wealth and income, one of our festering sores. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 17, 2011 @ 9:53 p.m.

The very fact that OWS has eschewed concentration of power and did not take the bait laid down by the talking-head dog-poisoners to "enumerate what they want" is, ironically, the very nature of diffused power against concentrated power. Intuitively perhaps, "they" seem to sense that countering concentrated power by concentrating power is a fundamental error.

"We" all know what "they" want, just read their signs. "They" want what we all want--to get rid of a government that oppresses its people. Sound familiar?

In re to: By Visduh 5:48 p.m., Nov 17, 2011

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Don Bauder Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:11 p.m.

Good point. OWS is not a concentrated movement, so you can't expect it to have simplified slogans. But I do believe that the 99% angle is a potent one. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 22, 2011 @ 7:11 p.m.

All of which raises a good question. If it's okay for the 99% to revolt against the 1%, isn't it okay for the 90% to revolt against the 10%, or the bottom 51% to revolt against the top 49%? Where does it end?

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Don Bauder Nov. 23, 2011 @ 5:55 p.m.

A 90-10 revolt would be fine. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 25, 2011 @ 4:52 p.m.

So, since you or some family members are/were in the 10%, you wouldn't mind if your heads rolled for fairness sake? Furthermore, why a 90-10 revolt? What about an 85-15? Where do you get the data to draw the line and formulate your opinion?

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Don Bauder Nov. 27, 2011 @ 9:47 a.m.

There are tons of data on distribution of wealth and income. Wikipedia is a good start. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:33 a.m.

Wikipedia is a good START, but I agree that any info on Wikipedia needs to be verified.

Much of the info on it is from gov sources and easily verifyed.

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 9:55 p.m.

True. Often sources are sound. Best, don bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 9:53 p.m.

Disagree. Sometimes it is promotional, ignoring negatives....see Wikipedia on John Moores, e.g. But often it is balanced and informative. Best, don bauder

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Twister Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:17 p.m.

If OWS stays peaceful, it will both minimize and magnify the violations of civil rights and incivility of the government goons. DON'T TAKE THEIR BAIT!

Keep the videos rolling. Have people who have cop friends gently, lovingly, show concern for both the cops and their fellow citizens they are macing and beating, and if it becomes necessary to ostracize them, do so openly and with sadness, explaining to them how much you hate to do it; how dismayed you are that the cops are taking money for taking freedom away.

In re to: By SurfPuppy619 8:22 p.m., Nov 17, 2011

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Don Bauder Nov. 20, 2011 @ 4:06 p.m.

Yes, kep those videos rolling. Best, don bauder

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Twister Nov. 17, 2011 @ 10:24 p.m.

Yes, the 99% is a good "angle," but it arose out of some pretty solid statistics--something the drivel dribbled down to US the unwashed heathen by the priests of Wall Street, K Street, and Washington DC are lacking.

I just heard there is now a bill afoot to control the Internet. That's how potent it is. Somebody doesn't want a US fall. Or do they? Irony again.

In re to: By dbauder 10:11 p.m., Nov 17, 2011

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Don Bauder Nov. 20, 2011 @ 4:13 p.m.

Internet sales should be taxed, and there should be tough enforcement. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2011 @ 4:31 p.m.

40.Internet sales should be taxed, and there should be tough enforcement == We dont disagree much, but I totally disagree here, if the store is not physically present in the state there can be no taxing.

I would not mnd payng a REASONABLE SALES tax, but Im not paying a pension tax for gov employees.

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David Dodd Nov. 23, 2011 @ 1:06 p.m.

Agree with SP, you can't tax thin air. Well, you can I suppose, but you shouldn't.

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Don Bauder Nov. 27, 2011 @ 9:32 a.m.

Tax receipts go to many other things besides pensions. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:41 a.m.

61.Tax receipts go to many other things besides pensions

Not in this muni;

"Just like scores of other communities across Rhode Island, if you live in Warwick, you’ve seen a steady increase in property taxes every year over the last ten years—more often than not, by the maximum allowed by law.*** But a GoLocalProv review of reports shows Warwick’s tax increases went, almost exclusively, to increases in the costs of benefits to city employees—not to increases in services or infrastructure. ***

To be more precise, 92.5-percent of all new revenue went to pensions, healthcare, salaries, sick pay bonuses, and longevity. The remaining 7.25-percent went to services and infrastructure."

http://www.golocalprov.com/news/warwick-facing-pension-meltdown/

I stand by my comment, most of the gov's taxes today goes to gov employee compensation (90% in many munis), and a large chunk go to pensions.

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JustWondering Nov. 20, 2011 @ 9:31 a.m.

To be clear, FoxTV is NOT FoxNews, just as FoxSports is neither. All are stand alone entities within Murdock empire, but run separately and have the own editorial slants. But I did understand what you intended the statement to mean.

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Don Bauder Nov. 20, 2011 @ 4:16 p.m.

Everything in the Murdoch empire is run by Murdoch. Best, don bauder

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Twister Nov. 20, 2011 @ 7:30 p.m.

"But do Not exonerate companies. Their behavior may be legal but it is ethicallyreprehensible. Best, don bauder"

Much that is legal is criminal.

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ 12:06 p.m.

Agreed. Blatant scams are often legal. Exposing them is the job of journalists. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 25, 2011 @ 4:55 p.m.

What about the scams, made up stories, biases, untruths, misquotes, fabrications(especially by financial journalists) all perpetrated by journalists? Are you willing to eat your own kind? If you told an untruth, quoted someone wrong, got the facts wrong, etc, would you fall on your sword, or is that for the other guy?

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Don Bauder Nov. 27, 2011 @ 9:50 a.m.

If I make a mistake I take the hit. Best, don bauder

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Twister Nov. 20, 2011 @ 7:33 p.m.

"Internet sales should be taxed, and there should be tough enforcement. Best, don bauder"

Please explain your logic for this conclusion.

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ 12:09 p.m.

Internet sales should be taxed just as sales at a retailer are taxed. There is no justification for permitting one method of sales to go untaxed while a bricks and mortar competitor has to collect sales taxes. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 20, 2011 @ 7:39 p.m.

"Limit CEO comp tax deductions to $500K and you will se a game changer."

Elegant in its simplicity and fair, with zero costs for implementation and administration. Beat that!

What's the estimated revenue?

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ 12:10 p.m.

Trouble is, lobbyists representing the companies and Wall Street firms would never let that happen. In Washington DC, money talks. Why must it nauseate? Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 22, 2011 @ 2:14 p.m.

It ain't quite that simple. If you travel to another jurisdiction and make a purchase at a bricks and mortar store, you pay taxes to that local/state government, not to your home state.

But sales taxes make indentured tax collectors out of businesses and some states refuse to play that game.

It's not quite that simple either. Granted it's "unfair" that the business I run out of my garage doesn't have to be a tax collector for 50 different states, but why should any business have to do that? My wife wants to do a flower arrangement every now and then, and make a little extra money. The effort she would have to go to to do it legally is ridiculously out of proportion to the benefit, so she can't do it--or she must become a criminal. Is that freedom? Or bureaucratic nit-picking?

Sales taxes are regressive, and become more so at the lower end where the burden is proportionally greatest.

Solve these problems, please.

In re to: By dbauder 12:09 p.m., Nov 22, 2011

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Don Bauder Nov. 22, 2011 @ 2:47 p.m.

Agreed. Sales taxes are regressive and brick and mortar retailers have to serve as the tax collectors. But the Republicans in Congress insist that their superrich benefactors should be taxed at extremely low rates. Somebody has to be taxed. What do you want, another Greece or Italy, where many dodge taxes? Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 22, 2011 @ 7:15 p.m.

Has there been a study comparing our tax dodgers vs. Greece or Italy? Who has more scofflaws? Is there empirical data? Do Democrats have superrich benefactors, or is it only the Republicans?

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2011 @ 7:35 p.m.

Do Democrats have superrich benefactors, == Bill Lerach is throwing a huge Dem fundraiser, not very expensive for a La Jolla Farms Road party....

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Don Bauder Nov. 23, 2011 @ 10:02 a.m.

Democrats are backed by the tort lobby. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 23, 2011 @ 9:58 a.m.

I have seen an estimate on Greek tax dodging, and it was shockingly high, but I don't recall the number. Obviously, Democrats have superrich benefactors, too -- Obama is a classic example. Both parties are for sale. But Republicans seem to want the economy to go down so they can win the 2012 election. You can't say that about Democrats -- or at least most Democrats. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd Nov. 23, 2011 @ 1:04 p.m.

Not in 2011. Go back to 2008. And Democrats certainly approved a downward economy. That's politics. And they got voted out of office for it. So will Republicans in 2012. The people aren't stupid. Well, mostly not so.

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Don Bauder Nov. 24, 2011 @ 9:21 a.m.

Maybe the people aren't stupid, but how do you explain how such a bunch of clowns are running for the Republican nomination? Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Nov. 24, 2011 @ 1:53 p.m.

Well, as the perceptive Stephen Sondheim wrote: "And where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother - they're here."

Unfortunately, they are EVERYWHERE.

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Twister Nov. 22, 2011 @ 5:51 p.m.

My goodness! A suggestion that a simpler and much less expensive approach to civic responsibility in the form of taxes gets dismissed but an extremely expensive form of taxation that is full of contradictions gets embraced like a long lost love? And bringing in straw-men to insinuate extremes not cited? E tu Bauder?

No. I want sales taxes off of necessities altogether, and off all purchases under the yield curve (and then some) disregarded. That is, collect taxes only on expensive items like cars, and jack them up on luxury trinkets like diamond rings--yes, in addition to luxury taxes.

A government that doesn't look at the actual economics of taxes, including the cost of collection, the impact upon those nearer the bottom of the ladder in terms of need as well as the actual yield, and fails to opt for the most efficient and equitable, is sitting on its ass, playing golf, or soaking it up at the 19th hole.

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Don Bauder Nov. 23, 2011 @ 10:08 a.m.

I wouldn't have a problem with a progressive sales tax such as you suggest. Trouble is, the most creative tax dodgers are the owners of luxury yachts, who have all kinds of ways to dodge taxes even when their craft is built in the U.S. And then they register the yacht in a tax haven. But even if you have a stiff luxury sales tax, what do you do to replace the money that you once collected from a regressive sales tax? A progressive income tax with prison sentences for offenders -- strictly enforced -- sounds the best to me. We should join other nations and try to shut down the world's tax havens, even though it includes such places as Hong Kong. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 25, 2011 @ 4:59 p.m.

Are the most creative tax dodgers the owners of luxury yachts......really? That sounds so 80's. Yachts are the stone age and the world of evasion is really advanced. Shut down tax havens? Do you even have an inkling of what would happen if all the world's hot money suddenly couldn't find a home? Go back to the drawing board of Econ 101 and figure that one out. Furthermore, don't you have a problem with the US sharing your personal income data with other nations?

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Don Bauder Nov. 27, 2011 @ 9:55 a.m.

I repeat. Shut down the tax havens. Throw the violatiors in prison. Tax havens assist the cozeners. Nations use them to thwart fair trade. Best, don bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 28, 2011 @ 6:12 a.m.

So if you make a little mistake, fudge your taxes a little, or don't declare that little freelance job, or pad your expenses a little, you should go to jail...or is that for the other guy?

Perhaps you should study the mechanics of how a tax haven actually works and how 99% of their transactions are perfectly legal. Furthermore, how would you shut down the Caymans, which is the 5th largest banking system.....nuke them, invade them, kill them??

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:32 a.m.

You could EASILY shut down tax havens, including the Caymans, are you really that out of it Jeff.

Here is my daily homework for you Jeff, research how the US COMPLETELY shut down the major Columbian banks a decade (and more) ago who were laundering drug money for the cartels. They could do the same with the Caymens and any other tax haven with the stroke of a pen.

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nokomisjeff Nov. 29, 2011 @ 11:16 a.m.

I think it would be easier to shut your big mouth than shut down those banking centers. Falstaff, you really haven't thought of the ramifications of shutting down a large banking system, the liquidity problems, and finally the simple mechanics of doing so. You oversimplify greatly because it would take more than a stroke of a pen. You'd need an entire bureaucracy and work out group the size of the Resolution Trust to close down a center. Plus, they would be suing in the world court etc as a breach of sovereignty etc. Columbia was small potatoes, Caymans, Bahamas, Channel Islands, etc are huge. Furthermore, have you considered the negative implications if they closed tax havens? Why should the US insist on other countries enforcing our tax laws? Why should the US dictate economic laws of other countries? Why should money laundering be illegal anyways?

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 2:45 p.m.

think it would be easier to shut your big mouth than shut down those banking centers. Falstaff, you really haven't thought of the ramifications of shutting down a large banking system, the liquidity problems, and finally the simple mechanics of doing so. You oversimplify greatly because it would take more than a stroke of a pen. You'd need an entire bureaucracy and work out group the size of the Resolution Trust to close down a center. Plus, they would be suing in the world court etc as a breach of sovereignty etc.

"sueing in world court"....LOL...best line I have heard in ages!

Yes, I am sure "sueing in world court" will remedy USA policy- rendering it void.

The USA has already SHUT down large banks in Columbia, where billions were taken out of the liquidity market-the sky didn't fall.... and the sky won't fall if the USA does the same to thew Caymans. I swear, my pet rock has more brain power than you do, you progressive surrender monkey............

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:11 p.m.

The fact that the Caymans are the fifth largest tax haven in the world, and that is true, is a sorry commentary on the state of world business and financial institutions. Best, don bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:28 p.m.

Make that the fifth largest money center...not fifth largest tax haven. Best, don bauder

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jv333 Nov. 23, 2011 @ 10:49 a.m.

Getting back to addressing the 'retirement heist' article ... So I take it that the DeMaio efforts to move city workers into 401K plans is I'll-advised?

Plos I recently read that 84% of private sector employees had defined benefit retirement plans in the early 1980s .... As of 2009, that number is down to 21% ... If true, no wonder voters are being turned against gov workers ...even if they waived Soc Sec benefits ...

The big money powers are getting their way .... Making pension plans extinct ...

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 23, 2011 @ 11:59 a.m.

Plos I recently read that 84% of private sector employees had defined benefit retirement plans in the early 1980s .... As of 2009, that number is down to 21% ... == I know of only a handful of FORTUNE 500 companies that offer DB's and they are no where near the kind of DB's gov offers, which is 90% of pay indexed for inflation for life at age 50-55.

There is no way 21% of the private sector has DB pensions for new hires, I doubt there are even 3-5% of the Fortune 500 that have DB's for rank and file employees.

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jv333 Nov. 24, 2011 @ 7:58 a.m.

wow, SP...this is not our father's america. it is no wonder that 20-somethings are in the streets. definitely generational class warfare, wouildn't you agree?

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Don Bauder Nov. 24, 2011 @ 9:26 a.m.

Defined benefit pensions ballooned post-World War II when corporations were afraid the nation would go socialist. Also, there were widespread labor shortages. It wasn't really altruistic -- it was self-preservation for many companies in a competitive environment. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 24, 2011 @ 1:25 p.m.

Ditching db is one reason the private sector is better off than the public sector. That does not stop the private sector from begging for government welfare payments, however. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 25, 2011 @ 12:33 a.m.

80.Ditching db is one reason the private sector is better off than the public sector. == Nothing wrong with DB pensions, it is the multiplier numbers that make it wrong.

A DB of 50%@age 67 is OK, a DB at age 50 with 90% is not.

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Twister Nov. 23, 2011 @ 12:59 p.m.

Don, the trouble you cite with the progressive sales tax is no different from the problems with the regressive version we have now, except that that the progressive scheme I've outlined (highly simplified version) is more efficient and allows for tough enforcement that has a chance of actually netting a fraction of the evaded taxes, and penalties for evading can boost total revenue and actually have some value in terms of compliance.

In re to: By dbauder 10:08 a.m., Nov 23, 2011

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Don Bauder Nov. 24, 2011 @ 1:29 p.m.

I question whether your tax scheme will bring in sufficient revenue. Best, don bauder

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Ponzi Nov. 23, 2011 @ 6:50 p.m.

Traditional mail order businesses are not taxed. Does this mean that because of technology, an age-old tradition of not taxing out of state mail order firms is going to be tossed?

Lands’ End, LL Bean and other mail order companies have been operating since the 1950’s and earlier. They only collected sales tax for sales within their state-lines. They used catalogs and magazine ads to attract customers. All that the internet is, when it comes to commerce, is an electronic catalog. This is just a desperate grab for more taxation.

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Don Bauder Nov. 24, 2011 @ 1:33 p.m.

The desperate need for more revenue begets desperate methods. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 25, 2011 @ 12:36 a.m.

We don't need more revenue, we need to cap out of control state spending.

CA has AVERAGED 12% annual spending increases since the depression began in 2007. That is just nuts. Crazy. Who is nutty enough to increase spending by double digits when we are in a major downturn???????? Arnold was part of this too.

We should lock in and cap spending at no more than 5% of the previous year. If more revenue comes in it should go into one time expenditure funds, such as road building.

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Don Bauder Nov. 25, 2011 @ 5:27 p.m.

Capping spending may be a good idea but politically, it's difficult to achieve. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 25, 2011 @ 10:43 p.m.

Capping spending may be a good idea but politically, it's difficult to achieve. == Here let me fix this sentence...LOL:

"Capping spending may be a good idea but politically, it's IMPOSSIBLE to achieve."

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nan shartel Nov. 24, 2011 @ 2:59 p.m.

off subject: Happy Thanksgiving to u Don...and all the rest of u guys in the Bauder Bunch!! ;-D)

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Twister Nov. 27, 2011 @ 8:49 p.m.

Let's start at the beginning. Taxes are to be sufficient for the government to comply with the consent of the governed. If unusual needs arise, debt is necessary, and is assessed to said governed, which can pay it off over the useful life of things like "infrastructure," or over a reasonable term acceptable to the lenders and borrowers. No manipulations, no scalping.

Don, please outline your preferred kinds of taxation, and summarize your rules.

In re to: By dbauder 1:29 p.m., Nov 24, 2011

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 27, 2011 @ 10:39 p.m.

98.Let's start at the beginning. Taxes are to be sufficient for the government to comply with the consent of the governed. If unusual needs arise, debt is necessary, and is assessed to said governed, which can pay it off over the useful life of things like "infrastructure," or over a reasonable term acceptable to the lenders and borrowers. No manipulations, no scalping. == I agree 100%.

And today taxes IMO, provide more than enough $$$ to cover running the government if the government were paying market prices for goods and infrastructure, and market wages for employees-they over pay on all.

There is no good reason to raise taxes and fees when wage concessions are available. Government wages must reflect California's ability to pay, not what other munis are paid.

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 12:48 a.m.

A progressive income tax combined with stiff luxury taxes, topped off with a global transaction tax should get us on our way to solvency. Best don bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 28, 2011 @ 6:16 a.m.

How do stiff luxury taxes get us solvent(what about the poor workers who produce luxuries who lose their jobs?)? Please explain the economics of this as I can't understand how taxing more will make a country solvent? Did you ever take econ 101, and if you did, what was your grade?

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:29 a.m.

We need higher capital gains taxes. 15% is way too low.

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nokomisjeff Nov. 29, 2011 @ 11:18 a.m.

Hey Falstaff, since you think taxes are so low, put your money where your mouth is. Pay more taxes and show you have the courage to practice what you preach.

Gifts to the United States U.S. Department of the Treasury Credit Accounting Branch 3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D Hyattsville, MD 20782

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 3:58 p.m.

Thank you progressive surrender monkey, my check is in the mail.

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nokomisjeff Dec. 4, 2011 @ 2:17 p.m.

Falstaff, I suspect that the only thing you own that's big is your mouth and that your wealth is significantly less than your ability to do simple statistics problems....Perhaps your big mouth is overcompensating for other areas of your anatomy where you were shortchanged by God.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 4, 2011 @ 5:38 p.m.

Just don't "sue me in world court" for spanking you on this board and I will survive, OK Mr. Knowitall/nokomisjeff :)........

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:24 p.m.

When I took Econ 101 in the 1950s the wealth and income disparities were not so destructive as they are today. Luxury taxes in this era of huge gaps do not dent luxury consumption and hence exacerbate unemployment as in the 1950s. Best, don bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 9:37 a.m.

Our problem is official rule making policy at the highets levels of gov. They are allowing these major mego mutli national corps to call the shots on everything.

I would bust up all the TBTF companies- like they did to Standard Oil in 1909-broke it into 39 different companies.

Between 1909 and 2011 those 39 different companies merged and merged and merged some more to the point we now have merged those 39 companies into 5, forming an oligarch/monopoly. A modern day Standard Oil.

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tomjohnston Nov. 29, 2011 @ 10:32 a.m.

It was 1911. The Antitrust lawsuiot was filed in 1909, but SCOTUS didn't rule until 1911 and I think it was only 34 independent companies with different boards of directors, but I would have to check on that. My grandfather owned bunches of Socal stock. I think that he sold some of it to pay for the land he bought in Topanga in the 40's and I think my dad sold most of the rest of it in the mid '80's. He and my mom were both retiring about the time Socal was merging with Gulf. They sold thier AT&T stock about the same time when it got broken up. My wife and I held on the the last few hundred shares because they pay a pretty decent dividend

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Don Bauder Nov. 29, 2011 @ 10:43 a.m.

Both Verizon and AT&T pay excellent dividends. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Nov. 29, 2011 @ 4:39 p.m.

My mom worked for ma bell, Pacific Bell actually. She started about the time I started school, so probably 1956, maybe 1957. When they got broken up in '84, I guess she was offered a pretty good early retirement package, so she took it.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 5:08 p.m.

Back then Pac Bell was a monopoly, they offered wages benefits and pensions FAR above the public sector, same with all the rail roads and utilities.

Today things have switched, except for the utilities, and no one gets a decent pension in the private secotr.

It is shameful.

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tomjohnston Nov. 29, 2011 @ 7:32 p.m.

I can do you even better than the phone company. My dad worked for GM at the Van Nuys plant. He got hired on sometime in late 1949 or early 1950 and decided to retire in 1984 when my mom did, so he 34 or 35 yrs in. We were the quintessential American Family. Our haouse actually had the white picket fence, we had a dog, my dad was an auto worker and my mom a phone worker, I mean how more American can you get. My brother was the kid who vounteered for the Army and I was the longhaired radical who went to Berkeley and joined the anti-war movement. Can't get much more All American than that.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 9:25 p.m.

Funny how this state actually had CAR MANUFACTURING, bigtime, just 30- 35 years ago. GM, Ford, even Toyota had a plant in San Ramon until a few years ago. Remember the Ford Mustang was made at the So Cal Ford plant-they cusomized some Mustangs with side scoops and a rear spolier on the trunk deck and that was the super cool "California Special"........that was when the top 1% didn't try destroy the country and it's people by off shoring to save a few cents.That was when this country was great and put OUR people to work, instead of Chinese, Korean or Indian Citizens .....

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tomjohnston Nov. 30, 2011 @ 7:31 a.m.

This is getting way too skinny for me so I'll post a reply at the bottom of the page

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:50 p.m.

Yes. Public sector pensions are too high; those in the private sector get fleeced by their own greedy managements. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 5:11 p.m.

When they got broken up in '84, == I thought they broke up in 82 and 83???

Or maybe they STARTED in 82 or 83 and finished in 84, although that seems like a long time to split Pac Bell up.

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tomjohnston Nov. 29, 2011 @ 7:04 p.m.

It wasn't actually Pac Bell that got split up, surfpuppy619. The Bells were the names the companies took after the divestiture. At some point AT&T had become the parent company. There were 3 or 4 companies that made up the whole thing and all of them did different things. From what I remember at the time, there was an Anti trust lawsuit filed way back in the '70's and that was finally settled in '82 or '83, so you're partially correct. But the Bell Systems divestiture, I think there were about 20 different phone companies , wasn't in effect until 1984. That was part of the settlement agreement and that's when their names changed. The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company became Pac Bell, Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company became Mountain Bell,Northwestern Telephone Exchange Company became Northwestern Bell, ect. And that was whenthey started thinning down thier employees. I think it was in March or April that my mom left. I could be a little off in the specific numbers of companies, but I'm pretty sure of the dates. I'm feeling too lazy this evening to look them up, but feel free if you like. But I am sure about when my mom was offered her package because our daughter had already had her first birthday and she was born in Oct. of 1982.

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:48 p.m.

Those who got retirement packages at the breakup of the Bell System got very generous ones. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 2:34 p.m.

I do not recall the exact date Standard Oil was busted up, but it was in the time frame mentioned, 1909-11.

I think it was 39 different companies, but that is from memory from the book on John D Rockerfeller called "Titan". I read that book like 15 years ago when it came out and was going from memory.

Back then oil was not used for cars but for lighting and heating purposes, when the internal combustion engine became mass produced that is when oil really took off as a commodity.

Rockerfeller was a very smart guy, and I have to think that some of the stories about him crushing the little guy may be a bit over the top. Many times hi OVERPAID for a local oil dealer's company, and many times he would have to shut the facility because the equipememnt was so out of date it was useless to him.

Then there was that ida tarbell who wrote a critical expose on Rockerfeller in McClure's Magazine, she claimed Rockerfeller drove her father out of business.........

I will have to check on exactly how many companies Standard oil aws broken into........

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tomjohnston Nov. 29, 2011 @ 4:21 p.m.

It was on May 15th, 1911. SCOTUS by a vote of 8-1, affirmed the decree of the Circuit Court for the Eighth Circuit directing the dissolution of the Oil Trust with minor modifications in two particulars: the period for execution of the decree is extended from thirty days to six months, and the injunction against engaging in inter-State commerce on petroleum and its products pending the execution of the decree is vacated. According to Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, 221 U.S. 1, it was The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and 33 other corporations, so a total of 34. Up until that time, the main product from oil refining was kerosene. Perhaps coincidentally, in 1911, the U.S. market for kerosene refining was surpassed by that of gasoline. That was also the year SCOTUS ruled against American Tobacco Company in United States v. American Tobacco Company, 221 U.S. 106., so I guessit was a bad year for big business. But the most important thing I found out was our wedding anniversary is the same day as the Standard Oil ruling, May 15. I find that totally amusing for some reason.

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:47 p.m.

Agreed that excessively large enterprises should be broken up. But first we have to end their ownership of government legislators and regulators. Teddy Roosevelt did it. We should study him. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Dec. 4, 2011 @ 2:19 p.m.

Should Apple Computer be broken up? It is an excessively large enterprise, at least according to its market cap.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 4, 2011 @ 5:44 p.m.

1-They are not "Apple Computer", they are "Apple".

2- If they were in a market/s where control was dominated by a handful of companies, like the major oil companies, then yes, they should be broken up. But that is not the case with Apple.

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nokomisjeff Nov. 29, 2011 @ 11:23 a.m.

Really, Luxury taxes don't dent luxury consumption? Tell that to the boat manufacturing industry in Florida that in 1992 was 90% wiped out. In 1992 when the government imposed a lot of luxury taxes, the taxes took in 97 million than projected. Why, because people stopped buying luxury items, or they went offshore and bought those items and used various means to dodge the taxes.

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Twister Nov. 27, 2011 @ 8:57 p.m.

GENERAL COMMENT:

Most of the contributors to this column are fairly clear and straightforward, but I have noticed that a minority speak vagueness when they claim authority, plead facts not in evidence and without citing sources, and tend to be jerkily nasty with their judgments--you guessed it, without specifics.

Such antics do provide a source of amusement, but should be ignored as a bratty child.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 27, 2011 @ 10:35 p.m.

Most of the contributors to this column are fairly clear and straightforward, but I have noticed that a minority speak vagueness when they claim authority, plead facts not in evidence and without citing sources, and tend to be jerkily nasty with their judgments--you guessed it, without specifics.

Such antics do provide a source of amusement, but should be ignored as a bratty child. == SurfPuppy pleads the 5th :)

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 12:52 a.m.

Twister was aiming at somebody. You think that he was aiming at you. Ask twister. Best, don bauder

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Twister Nov. 28, 2011 @ 12:52 p.m.

Progressive capital gains taxes, say equal to income taxes?

By SurfPuppy619 10:29 a.m., Nov 28, 2011

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 28, 2011 @ 9:08 p.m.

I have no problem slapping a capital gains tax as high as the income tax, it certainly CANNOT go any lower than the 15% it is now. I woudl cap it at no more than 35% though. I just think anything over that 35% causes problems. But 35% is an increase of 166% over the current 15% which is less than what a median income taxpay in CA pays.

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:41 p.m.

And those hedge fund nabobs who pay low cap gains taxes on income that should be taxed as income should be stopped from getting away with murder. Best, don bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 29, 2011 @ 10:45 a.m.

Low cap gains taxes are supposed to stimulate investment but stimulate gambling, too. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 2:37 p.m.

130.Low cap gains taxes are supposed to stimulate investment but stimulate gambling, too == According to former savings and loan regulator Bill Black, he says the lower capital gains taxes are producing NOTHING, the people who get the windfalls are actually taking that windfall tax money and building manufacturing plants OFF SHORE with the money, so the lower tax is destroying jobs, not creating them.

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Don Bauder Nov. 29, 2011 @ 4:50 p.m.

Black is describing exactly what happened in the U.S. in the post-1980 period. The tax cuts did not stimulate the economy in the U.S. The beneficiaries were offshore manufacturing locations such as China and Singapore, and offshore banking centers such as the Cayman Islands. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 28, 2011 @ 10:36 p.m.

I agree with SurfPuppy. Capital gains taxes could be progressive. We desperately need income everywhere in the world. In a perfect world, capital gains taxes would not be progressive. But these are desperate times. Best, don bauder

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nokomisjeff Nov. 29, 2011 @ 11:26 a.m.

Better yet, lower taxes and cut 43% from the government immediately. The government doesn't need more income, they need to spend less.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 29, 2011 @ 3:57 p.m.

I agree 100%, cut the 43%, take 33% out of the defense spending.

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Don Bauder Nov. 29, 2011 @ 4:48 p.m.

I would like to see defense spending whacked, too, but remember what happened to the Southern California economy in the early 1990s. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:17 a.m.

The early 1990's was- for the most part- aerospace R&D and production-which has been long gone. We don't have any defense industry left to lose really. General Dynamics is long gone.

We do have General Atomics and SAIC, but SAIC is not expanding in San Diego, haven't for a long time.,

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:51 p.m.

SAIC isn't based in San Diego anymore. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 1, 2011 @ 8:08 a.m.

I thought they moved to DC or a a suburb but could nto recall......

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Don Bauder Nov. 29, 2011 @ 4:46 p.m.

The public (voters) would not stand for spending cuts of that magnitude, and many such cuts such as interest on the debt are off the table. I feel that defense spending should be slashed severely, but most entitlement cuts will be difficult to achieve -- even SS and Medicare cuts that are necessary because of demographic changes such as people living longer. Sorry. Taxes for the highest incomes will have to go up, and taxes for the upper middle may also have to rise. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 29, 2011 @ 9:57 p.m.

It is true that "government" is a money-laundering basket case.

So how to fix it? What's the most effective easiest route to solvency and efficiency?

Vote with your money. Don't patronize immoral entities. If AT&T was a neighbor, I wouldn't loan the D/SOB a cup of sugar. I wouldn't invest in her/him either, because I don't want blood money or money gained through scheming. I want my money to come from "honest toil," not shoving widows and their children out into the streets.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:27 a.m.

What's the most effective easiest route to solvency and efficiency? ==

1- CUT DEFENSE SPENDING, way over budget, we spend more on defense than all the other major countries combined.

2- Cut all gov employee comp, progressively. They are grossly over compensated, especially on the local level. We have gotten to the point that rank and file, entry level, public safety jobs now have compensation in the top 5% nationwide, more than professionals like doctors, CP, lawyer and dentist. At least in CA

3- This pains me to say, but we need to RAISE the age SS kicks in to 73, 74 or 75. When SS was started in 1935 the retirment age was 65, but he average mortailty age was 59. That was a 6 year spread in favor of SS. Today the retirement age is 67 (for those born after 1960), and the mortality age is roughly 80 when you average the 78 for men and 82-85 for women. That is a spread of 12 in favor of the people. Add the 6 year SS surplus in 1935 to the 12 year deficit in 2011 and the change is a whopping 18 years that was not indexed. We simply cannot support that as a country.

4- CAP the growth of the budget at no more than 5% of the previous year. CA needs to do this also. Any surplus goes to retiring the $15 trillion national debt.

Those first 3 would be a great start- no brainers, and more than likely a great finish that would totally cure the problems.

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:31 a.m.

OK, there it is.

A pretty good plan.

It took me 10 minutes to think it out, type it up and post it. Why can't our local, state and federal gov match, or even top, this?

It aint rocket science.

Oppssss......$$$$ and special interests control our gov today, not commn sense or morality.

My bad.

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:54 p.m.

Don't tell me that you've forgotten that special interests control government. Come now, SP. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:52 a.m.

Why does # 3 pain you? It's something I've been saying needs to be done for several years. And I would add to it raise if not remove completely the salary cap on SS deduction. Anyone who says taking that withholding on the amount over $106800.00 would hurt is full of crap. My wife and I have both made more than that for quite a while and it would be no problem. Anyone who makes that kind of money and can't manage their finances is a pos and doesn't deserve to make that much.

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:55 p.m.

There is no question that the retirement ages, as well as Medicare eligibility, have to be raised to adjust to demographic realities. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Nov. 30, 2011 @ 11:59 a.m.

The place defense spending is fat is in the contracting. Gates, as he recently exited the SOD job, complained that nobody could tell him how many people were working on contracts nor could they tell him how much many things actually cost. It is not a problem of having too many people in uniform, it is those who are NOT in uniform. As the world's sole remaining superpower, we went into 9/11 with a standing army of fewer than a half million, and they were spread all over the world meeting commitments. Some of the richest countries in the world no longer keep forces adequate to even defend their own shores or borders. Check out Norway and New Zealand. Add Canada to that list, although they can still spare troops for peacekeeping missions (while renting them out.)

The fiasco in Iraq, after we had won the war with Saddam, was due to insufficient numbers of troops to run a decent occupation. But the US simply didn't have the boots to put on the ground. The Marines have become our second land army because the first one was far too small.

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:58 p.m.

We should close many if not most of those overseas bases. They are a relic of post-World War II -- a long time ago. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:52 p.m.

Your suggestions might even be enacted some day, too. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:45 p.m.

I take it that if you won't patronize immoral entities, and the government is just such an entity, then you are for not paying taxes. Is that correct? Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:35 a.m.

re SurfPuppy619 9:25 p.m., Nov 29, 2011 Whoa, hold up there surfpuppy619. Don't get to far ahead of yourself on the GT/CS. The Mustang WAS built up in San Jose ,but the fibreglass body parts for the GT/CS were built back east in Michigan. They were made by the same vendor who did the glass bodies for the Vette. And I think you mean Toyota in Freemont, not San Ramon. That’s where GM and Toyota partnered. It shut down last year, but Tesla is supposed to start making their sedan there next year. GM Van Nuys closed 20 yrs ago. Most people don't realize that at one time GM and Ford each had 2 plants in L.A. I think there was about a 20-25 yr period when all 4 of the were open simultaneously. Chrysler also had a plant up here during part of that time frame also That's where the "Cuda, Charger and Challenger were made. Plus, don't forget, one of my fav cars of all time was built here, the Nash. Gotta love that Metropolitan. Not to defend GM and Ford, but by far more of their sales are now in foreign countries than in the US so it only seems to make sense that the manufacturing for foreign sales would be done elsewhere. 20 yrs ago they were selling 14-17 million cars. With a U.S run rate of only about 10-12 million , which is about what was being sold back in the late 60’s and 70’s, they simply don’t need 50 + U.S. plants. Foreign auto makers have been even with Detroit in sales of cars since about 2000 but the U.S. sales of light trucks, pickups, suvs and minivans, kept them ahead in the overall market until about 4 yrs ago. Since then the foreign auto makers have sold more than 50% of the vehicles in the U.S.. The declination of the auto industry took a while to get here, but really, it was inevitable.

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Don Bauder Nov. 30, 2011 @ 10:01 p.m.

Now some are predicting that Detroit employment will surge back to pre-recession levels by 2015 -- I believe that was the date. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 1, 2011 @ 8:13 a.m.

Don, I don't know if you have followed Detroit recently, I have b/c I have ties to it. Detroit is the most critically mismanaged major muni in America today. It is going to be taken over by the state any day now. They are essentially bankrupt.

Detroit has SFR's you can purchase, move into and live in for less than $10K. That is how bad it is there. They went from 1.9 million in population to 750K today. They are in terrible condition and the policy of our country t outsource jobs (and the tax base) off shore is going to make sure this downward slide continues.

This should scare and concern every citizen of this country, b/c for most of the last 75 years GM/Detroit was the largest employer in America, with excellent wages. Today Wal-Mart is the largest employer in America with minimum and near minimum wages- And no benefits for the majority of their work force.

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Don Bauder Dec. 1, 2011 @ 12:45 p.m.

I agree that the collapse of Detroit is one of the most frightening stories in our economy. Ditto for Cleveland, Dayton and other rust belt cities. Metal fabrication industries have crumbled in the U.S. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 1, 2011 @ 3:55 p.m.

Yes, those idustries have crumbled because of horrible economic policy, not on the merits, that is a fact.

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Don Bauder Dec. 1, 2011 @ 6:21 p.m.

As electronics rose, metal fabrication declined -- a natural progression from mechanics to electronics. However, we lost much of the metal fabrication to foreign competition. This was the fault of management and government, and the unions certainly hurt their own cause. Their constant strikes helped justify management's move of our manufacturing base offshore. Best, Don Bauder

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nokomisjeff Dec. 4, 2011 @ 2:23 p.m.

Detroit might be a tangled mess, but there are some good bargains in their different muni issues right now.

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Don Bauder Dec. 4, 2011 @ 10:58 p.m.

Tell us what those Detroit area munis yield. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 5, 2011 @ 8:40 a.m.

In BK you will be lucky to get 20 cents on the dollar.

That is the problem with junk bonds, they offer the higher yeilds for a reason. And they got their name for a reason.

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Don Bauder Dec. 6, 2011 @ 10:50 a.m.

There is no denying that junk bonds sport high yields because they are in trouble. But gamblers can make out well with them on occasion -- particularly in trading them, but also, sometimes, in buying and holding them. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 4, 2011 @ 5:33 p.m.

ANYONE-especially nokomisjeff- who buys a Detroit muni issue today is a moron. Detroit is MUCH MORE than "a tangled mess", they are bankrupt.

They will be taken over by the state and will eventually default on every debt they have. There is no other choice for them.

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Fred Williams Dec. 4, 2011 @ 9:29 p.m.

I believe Jeff is saying there are interesting TRADING opportunities in muni bonds...not investments.

Traders try to make money whether the issue goes up or down, depending on their strategy. Since Jeff deals with derivatives rather than real goods, he's experienced in this craft of squeezing points out of price movement...not actual value, but short-term movements in the market.

Since anyone with an IQ above room temperature can see that US municipalities, especially our beloved San Diego, have been mismanaged for decades and issued a mountain of debt that cannot be serviced in any likely future scenario, I'm sure Jeff is betting on the Detroit bonds dropping in future value.

Jeff, would you mind telling us how to take advantage of our certainty that San Diego is going to eventually default? How specifically would you profit from this knowledge?

Best,

Fred

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Don Bauder Dec. 4, 2011 @ 11:01 p.m.

No one has said a word about California munis. Anybody have some thoughts? Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 5, 2011 @ 8:44 a.m.

186.I believe Jeff is saying there are interesting TRADING opportunities in muni bonds...not investments. == Sure, there are trading opportunies in everything if you want to short a market, but the fact remains that when a muni is about to be taken over by the state, a BK, then everyone shorts. So jeff is not Einsteion in that regard.

Either wsy, I would not want to "tangle" with anything in Detroit.

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nokomisjeff Dec. 13, 2011 @ 7:34 a.m.

It's a rather complex and expensive proposition to short a specific bond in the muni market as finding a counterparty to the trade is very expensive. What happens in that market is that the bids just dry up(or the spreads get really, really wide) causing the price to go to a lower level where it will trade. But when one mentions munis, one must remember that not all munis are created equal. There's a big difference between General Obligation Bonds, Assessment Bonds, and Revenue bonds, etc. especially in the workout phase after a default. There's also senior debt, junior debt, subordinated debt, insured, collateralized, etc. all of which affects the price, the risk of the bond, and the return after workout. Also, one must look at the average price of defaulted bonds and what the recovery will bring, keeping in note the conditions of the general bond market. For the group as a whole, the average recovery of a defaulted muni in the US after workout is around 67 cents on the dollar although there is a very wide range of values in this treacherous market. Still, it helps to remember that during the Orange County bankruptcy, a plurality of the bond holders were repaid at par within 3 years. That's a great rate of return as some of the senior debt with a huge coupon traded as low as 32 if memory serves me correctly. But the thing about the Wayne County(detroit) Muni market's broad decline is that even the senior revenue notes are trading at a fear discount despite the fact that many are safe, and many are insured. I'd have no problem buying a 2028 Wayne County Airport Revenue bond with a 4.75 coupon at 91, especially when similar revenue bonds at Atlanta (ATL) are priced at in the ballpark of 105. Even looking at the Jefferson County Alabama bankruptcy, lots of their debt is fully secure,collateralized, insured, and even with bonds like their Jefferson County General Obligation bond that matures in 2016 with a 5.25% coupon. That bond was trading at 80 the day after the bankruptcy and that price shows that the market expects at least an 80 cent on the dollar recovery rate. It is interesting to note that the price of those bonds went up significantly after the bankruptcy. To eliminate some confusion here, my little instruction for people looking at bonds is that price and yield are in an inverse relationship...lower price, higher yield....higher price, lower yield.

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nokomisjeff Dec. 13, 2011 @ 7:53 a.m.

Fred, I'd buy good senior bonds right before I felt that a bankruptcy was imminent and sell them on the usual pop that comes after the bankruptcy. There are ways to tell if the county/city is going bankrupt...one way is to ask their largest vendors if they are becoming a slow pay. There are other ways that my sagacious friends in that market employ but they are proprietary and I haven't a clue. You need to watch out what bonds you buy and what you pay for them. I suspect (and history bears this out in other cases) that if Detroit or Wayne County files for bankruptcy, many of the bonds will rally sharply.

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Don Bauder Dec. 4, 2011 @ 11 p.m.

Money can be made -- and, yes, lost -- in junk munis. I don't touch them, but I know some smart gamblers who do, on occasion. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Dec. 8, 2011 @ 8:33 p.m.

To own "munis" here, you have to live there . . .

Follow some of the links to learn more . . .

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Don Bauder Dec. 8, 2011 @ 10:20 p.m.

Despite today's low interest rates, quality munis are still good buys, comparatively. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Dec. 10, 2011 @ 6:56 a.m.

You must not have looked at the link, but it's about a municipality, the citizens of which own all of the industry and hire and fire the executives. To be an economist and not know about the Mondragon example is unfortunate, which is where I was only a few short years ago. I still want more detail, this is number one on my European bucket list.

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2011 @ 7:43 a.m.

Well, a number of citizens of Green Bay own the Packers, the only thing in town. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Dec. 10, 2011 @ 2:44 p.m.

"It ain't no sin to BE ignorant, but it's downright criminal to STAY ignorant." --Josh Billings (. . . may be a paraphrase . . .)

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Don Bauder Dec. 10, 2011 @ 8:59 p.m.

I'm so ignorant that in my old age I am not recognizing who Josh Billings is. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd Dec. 10, 2011 @ 9:25 p.m.

Henry Wheeler Shaw. If not for Samuel Clemens, you would certainly recognize Josh Billings. Billings was a bit upstaged, to say the least.

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Don Bauder Dec. 11, 2011 @ 7:54 a.m.

Well, it's said that Shaw (Billings) was not only upstaged by Twain (Clemens) in his day, but had little lasting power. Maybe that's why I didn't recognize him. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Dec. 11, 2011 @ 7:12 a.m.

Pshaw--now that youze is enlightened about Billings, let us get down to business concerning municipal gummint.

The issue remains the concentration of power. We didn't kick George III's ass for nuthin'. And we broke up Standard Oil. We haven't broken up the too-big-to-fail institutions, and we're letting other people do our work ('cept you, Don--you do more than your share by writing this column) by "occupying" City Hall's PUBLIC square.

Now we DO have CHOICES. We can challenge power, yes. Good. But we can perhaps more powerfully undermine power by not buying their shit--the bs they hand us via Tee-Vee, the crap they have Chinese kids make for us, and the way they restrict our activity arbitrarily.

The Mondragon system is an example of an alternative, and no serious student of government should ignore it, much less kiss it off. It is real, not imaginary, though I wouldn't sell any alternative short. The way we have allowed the slick to ease us out onto the slippery-slope toward serfdom may be regrettable, but there are lots of ways to assert our independence. Mainly, the issue is cooperation rather than compliance.

SPECIFICALLY, how can we begin to change our municipality into self-government? What are the exact steps that can be taken to get us out from under the tyrannical thumb of the simple good-ol'-boy system we have endured too long. Let's work on a way to phase out the absurdity by cooperating with each other at a social level and actually doing business with each other rather than joining in the scheme that ends in our subjugation to a pack of ribbon-clerks gone wild.

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Don Bauder Dec. 11, 2011 @ 7:58 a.m.

The way Manchester and Lynch are talking, the good ol' boys downtown will have an even more suffocating monopoly on San Diego propaganda. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 11, 2011 @ 12:42 p.m.

The movie Citizen Kane must have made a lot of money for its producers. San Diego's downtown boosters are driving the city into bankruptcy. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 12, 2011 @ 2:01 p.m.

Expect more of the same. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Dec. 11, 2011 @ 3:21 p.m.

The movie "Citizen Kane" was NOT financially successful, thanks to the power of William Randolph Hearst who prevented the film's wide release. Of course, the riches, real estate holdings and power of media mogul Hearst make Manchester look like a rank amateur. My point was that control freaks like Doug (and old man Hearst) not only want to be publishers but also want to exert power over politicians, and push their own dubious agenda. It's good to see the California Coastal Commission standing up to Doug's awful (and quite ugly) Navy-site development plan. Like bad tuna, the current project stinks on ice.

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Don Bauder Dec. 12, 2011 @ 8:46 a.m.

Hmm. Didn't know Citizen Kane was unsuccessful financially. It has certainly had lasting power. I'll have to do more homework on that. Since Manchester and Lynch have publicly announced -- stupidly, in my judgment -- their intention to use the paper to push their agendas, such as cheerleading for local business and pushing a Chargers stadium, I am not sure the reading public will be swayed. It's the old question posed by William H. Whyte more than half century ago: "Is Anybody Listening?" Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Dec. 12, 2011 @ 12:05 p.m.

Hearst's movie theater chain not only refused to show "Citizen Kane," but Hearst also wouldn't allow the film to advertise in his papers. And he reportedly put pressure on other theater owners to not show the film, or he would ban them from their newspaper advertising.

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Don Bauder Dec. 12, 2011 @ 12:43 p.m.

How about the mysterious death that occurred on Hearst's yacht? Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Dec. 12, 2011 @ 1:22 p.m.

I did see the Peter Bogdonavich film about that alleged murder, "The Cat's Meow."

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Don Bauder Dec. 12, 2011 @ 2:03 p.m.

Unfortunately, I go to few movies and didn't see it. I heard a lot about the incident from a former close friend who had worked with Hearst, whom he called "The Chief." Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Dec. 12, 2011 @ 3:13 p.m.

It's certainly worth renting! Bogdonavich gave it the right look and feel, and the acting was good. It wasn't a popular film, though.

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Don Bauder Dec. 12, 2011 @ 9:12 p.m.

Too bad it wasn't popular. Did Hearst media have anything to do with its lack of success? Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat Dec. 12, 2011 @ 11:02 p.m.

I don't think so, but not sure. Bogdonavich just hadn't had a hit movie in many years, so that was probably the main reason. His time for success had passed.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 13, 2011 @ 12:06 a.m.

Bogdonavich has been doing a LOT of commentary on TCM and other places that run clssic movies. His knowledge of the industry is truly amazing. I like to listen to him because he has such great insight into the creative side of movie making-and of course he has made some fantastic movies.......his personal relationsships with Dorothy Stratten and then his marriage to her younger sister are a bit off the wall, but I do like the guy and deeply admire his insight and intellect into movie making.

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Don Bauder Dec. 13, 2011 @ 7:38 a.m.

Marrying your lover's younger sister is nothing in Hollywood. A yawner. How about that movie producer who was caught in bed with a young girl and fled abroad -- to Switzerland, possibly. Can't remember his name. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Dec. 13, 2011 @ 11:53 a.m.

Roman Polanski? I think he fled to France, but was pinched in Switzerland three decades later.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:40 p.m.

YES, Roan Polanski. The Swiss refused to extradicte him though, a STUNNING rebuk of LA Procesutor Cooley. The Swiss said if Cooley really wanted him they could have nabbed him long ago. The old "laches" defense.....

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Don Bauder Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:46 p.m.

Funny. The Swiss have taken down their bank secrecy walls slightly but still harbor adults alleged to be guilty of statutory rape. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:44 p.m.

Yes, Roman Polanski. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:48 p.m.

These long, thin posts are a bit phallic, particularly considering the topic of Roman Polanski. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Dec. 17, 2011 @ 7:55 a.m.

How thin can they get?

A b s u r d !

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Don Bauder Dec. 13, 2011 @ 7:34 a.m.

One problem is that the name Bogdonavich is pretty long for a headline. Could the papers call him "Bog?" In Denver, a guy named Hickenlooper was mayor, and now is governor of Colorado. Denver Post headlines call him "Hick." Could be apt. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 14, 2011 @ 9:23 p.m.

RE-Roman Polanski.

It was not statutory rape;

1) because a 13 year old cannot consent, and

2) it was forcable, and

3) under the use of drugs.

And it was actually much more than a "rape". I have read the reports of exactly what happened and it is dispicable. If it were a fmaily member I would probably break that pipsqueaks neck.

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Don Bauder Dec. 14, 2011 @ 9:31 p.m.

I admit I never read much about the Polanski case -- basically, just the headlines. So I bow to your expertise. Best, Don Bauder

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