Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Gaming the Boomers

Since 9/11 I have been unable to read Molly Ivins, but I found this column inadvertently, and I remember why I liked her. Addressing the pension theft issue, she makes us understand that some of the greatest crimes are financial. Capitalism is the only way to go, but it is a cruel and relentless beast that must be watched very carefully. Democrats are right that we have to take care of one another. Republicans are right that we have to stand on our own two feet. Neither of them do a very good job of making business perps responsible.

10/18/2005 11:31 AM

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At Tuesday, October 18, 2005 5:13:00 PM, Blogger mal said...

Laissez Faire does not work. The fact is that there are societal needs that are not addressed by market forces (Remember the Cuyahoga burning?) The pure free market types contiually ignore this...of course those that advocate controlled economies are incompetent to do that too....so where is the line? I think we are slowly finding our way there

At Tuesday, October 18, 2005 5:49:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Basically, nobody assesses the externalities. If you try to impose the costs on the industry, the companies that follow the rules become uncompetitive. When society decides that it would be good to impose certain standands and responsibilities on the industry, everyone resists. The industry finds that it's cheaper to subvert the regulator than to follow the rules, and the People don't want to pay the taxes to fund the enforcement. Ask yourself whether China is going to enforce Kyoto on its citizens.

Pensions require heavy continuous funding. If one company chooses to underfund its pension plan, other companies become relatively non-competitive. If the government tries to push the issue, the company can afford to spend a lot of money on various forms of dissuasion and regulator-capture. If the auditors make a stink about it, the same applies. I don't really think things are getting better. The business perps are just getting smarter.

Pension-theft makes me sick, but I don't know the answer. Thank God for 401Ks. I know someone will find a way to parasitize those plans eventually, but they seem safe for now.


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