Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Pay no attention to that man behind the Social Security curtain . . .

The current AARP Bulletin published an opinion piece by James Roosevelt, Jr.,  the grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Mr. Roosevelt is currently president of Tufts Associated Health Plans, Inc.

Mr. Roosevelt is of the opinion that worries that Social Security will run out of money are "utter distortions," the same sort of vicious foolishness that his grandfather had to endure when president.  He says that Social Security pays back 99 cents for every dollar collected.  He argues that Social Security is solvent because there is a positive balance of 2.6 trillion at the end of 2010, and a projected positive balance of 3.67 trillion at the end of 2022.  Why?  Because of interest to be earned.

Interest earned?  That's because money in the social security balance sheet isn't money.  It is debt, money that has been loaned to the federal government which is supposed to repay the money with interest. 

And how is the federal government doing?  It is currently spending $3.00 for every $2.00 it collects.  The other $1.00 it borrows.  The current federal debt, including money owed to Social Security, is 14 trillion and growing. 

So where is the cash that Social Security is going to pay out in the future going to come from?  It's going to come from future tax revenue.  In other words, we all have been paying money into Social Security once.  The government borrowed and spent it.  We'll pay again at tax time so the federal government can repay Social Security so that Social Security can return our 99 cents on the dollar.

Why it almost sounds as if there's some spinning of the facts, particularly in light of the unmentioned fact that Tufts Associated Health Plans, Mr. Roosevelt's employer, sells Medicare Advantage plans.

Top ten tips for new lawyer mentoring . . .

The Oregon State Bar, funded by generous and mandatory attorney dues and CLE purchases, has come up with yet another grand scheme.

It's new lawyer mentoring. 

Since newly graduated attorneys can't seem to find that big-bucks job they always assumed would be waiting for them at the end of the bar exam, many are choosing to go into practice solo as rank beginners.  But they don't quite know how to practice law because law school doesn't teach how to be a lawyer.  It teaches how to pass tests on the law, stressing retention over application.  (Except where the law school has a legal clinic intended to permit law professors to enjoy the illusion that they can practice real law.)  So, experienced attorneys, who won't or can't hire beginning lawyers, will nevertheless teach rookies the ropes, as it were.

Yeah, that's what I would want to do if I were an experienced attorney who was still practicing law.  I'd want to train up my competition for the same scarce client dollars. 

I'm not in practice now and I won't be asked to mentor anybody.  But if I was still in practice I'd want my new competition to keep the following top ten tips in mind. Yeah, that's the ticket. 

  • Always address the judge by his first name.  Clients love insiders.
  • No matter what, always pay your malpractice insurance premium unless you need to pay your bar bill instead.
  • Develop a network of people who can refer clients to you, like hair dressers and cab drivers.  Pay them a cash "gift" for every paying sucker they send you.
  • Find a bar close to your office where you can spend three or four hours every afternoon and evening, developing client contacts.  Run a tab if they let you.
  • Once you've got the retainer, don't be in too much of a hurry to close the case.  You might screw things up and lots of times things just work themselves out if you let them.
  • Get a gimmick to develop recognition.  Sure you'll look silly going to court in a batman costume, but client's love that sort of flash.
  • Go ahead and commit to the most expensive office space there is.  The money will show up to pay for it.
  • Don't be afraid to lie.  They expect it and will be disappointed if you don't.
  • Use double entry book-keeping.  One book for you; the other for IRS
  • Ethics are for suckers.
Hopes this helps

Thursday, June 02, 2011

How to avoid going over budget . . .

The Democrats are in charge in the Senate.  Surely, they could get a budget passed because they have the votes.   But they haven't.  For the last two years!  They aren't even trying. 

Note that in recent years it's been Senators running for the presidency: Gore, Kerry, McCain, Obama. 

Really showing some leadership skills, there, guys.  Way to round up that budget problem.  What say you remind us of how you bravely resisted the urge to do your Constitutional duty to pass a budget the next time you need us to vote for you for anything.  Both parties!

So, this sucks . . .

So it looks like the much applauded, elusive mystery recovery isn't happening yet.  We keep getting all sorts of news about the state of the economy, all of it bad and all of it "unexpected."  Unemployment got worse, not better.  Industrial orders fell lower, not higher.  Confidence deflated, not grew.  Maybe there wasn't a recovery on the horizon, after all,despite pronouncements that things had turned around.  It's kind of like the Iraqi news spokesman for Saddam announcing that U.S. tanks were nowhere near Baghdad, as they were drag racing outside the ministry where he was.

Hope and change?  I haven't seen any of the hope part, and the change part really blows backwards.

I don't know if the situation is the result of incompetence or deliberate sabotage.  But I know it isn't simply bad luck.  There's deliberately selected policies at work.