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#274183 - 02/06/09 12:42 PM Congressman asplodes
melliferal Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 1159
OK, I'm sure you're all familiar with, or at least heard of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scandal. I'm not going to get into the details of the scandal itself; what's important is, it's the largest ponzi scandal ever to be executed in the history of the US, and it's been going on for over a decade, and the US government has an arm called the Securities Exchange Commission whose job is to detect fraud like that. The SEC presses charges against many people every year; but they're only now pressing charges against Madoff, after his sons turned him in. While it's true that some scams are obviously well-hidden, and the SEC is not God and so cannot see everything all the time, it turns out that there were other individuals who discovered Madoff's scam as early as 2000, and have been trying ever since then to get the SEC to investigate, and the SEC pretty much ignored them.

So, Congress decided to hold a set of hearings on why this happened. The object is to find out what when wrong so it can be fixed. This requires the SEC to explain why it did not investigate when those other individuals contacted them about Madoff.

Well, the SEC sent some people to "testify" at the hearing, but aside from giving some very general information about how the SEC works, they all repeatedly told Congress that they "cannot discuss" Madoff or anything to do with him, because there is an "ongoing investigation" now. After over an hour of "can't talk about that" and "not allowed to discuss that", one of the Congressmen asploded.

The video of the hearing is here. The asploding Congressman starts at about 03:30:15 on the timer (just move the little slider under the video up to that point) and goes on for about 12 minutes. I laughed lots.

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#274189 - 02/06/09 01:42 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: melliferal]
Hauser Offline
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Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2962
Loc: United States
It's mind-boggling isn't Mel? I find this to be a natural occurrence when we misplace our faith in government to protect us from fraud on this scale. Why do I say this? Well, if you will kindly allow me to correct you about an assertion that you mentioned in this post? The largest Ponzi Scheme in history is NOT this Madoff scandal, nay, it's actually Social Security, and who's in charge of that? (hint, it's the same group of officials that are apparently supposed to protect us from the Madoffs of the world.)


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#274214 - 02/06/09 04:38 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: Hauser]
melliferal Offline
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Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 1159
Social Security does not qualify as a Ponzi scheme, although it is set up much the same way, because the defining characteristic of a Ponzi scheme is promised EXTREME growth with little to no risk. Social Security was set up so that ideally, a person would receive no more than he paid in (although if someone lives to be 100 or so, he may possibly get more than he paid in). In most instances, a person will receive considerably less than what he paid in over his life, by the time he dies. Further, this fact isn't hidden or misrepresented.

Ponzi schemes like Madoff's attract investors under the false pretense that they will double, triple, or quadruple their invested money over a short period of time. Social Security makes no such claim, aside from a very paltry interest figure - in fact, some people have criticized it for just that reason, saying that a private investment retirement account could very easliy make anybody much more money. This has prompted a few people to petition for the privatization of social security, or at least a return to the 80's-era rules whereby one could opt out of Social Security in favor of a private retirement fund if they so choose.

In either case, while it may be similar in many ways, a barely-livable stipend every month when you have no other source of income is pretty much the exact opposite of the outcome promised by a Ponzi scheme.



Edited by melliferal (02/06/09 04:38 PM)
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#274217 - 02/06/09 05:42 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: melliferal]
Hauser Offline
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Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2962
Loc: United States
Understood.................

And what if you get nothing whatsoever? (hint, you and I aren't going to see a dime of it unless they "save" Social Security again like Bob Dole and friends did back in 1983, with the largest tax increase in history.) References you ask? Well, let's just see what the former Comptroller of the U.S. says. It's not pretty.






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#274224 - 02/06/09 06:45 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: Hauser]
melliferal Offline
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Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 1159
That's a pretty bad business, and it's fairly a no-win situation for us. How do you tell 70 million seniors that paying for all of their medical bills is bankrupting us as a nation? The Comptroller is right - all this stuff may have looked fine on paper when the average life expectancy was like 75 years. People would only be on Medicare for ten years or so before they just died and stopped needing money. The system was able to remain stable.

But with science increasing the average life expectancy, and with medical costs rising because the equipment and procedures are becoming more and more specialized and complicated, the system is unbalanced. Instead of drawing ten years of Social Security benefits and Medicare, people are drawing 30 and 35 years. Of course we can't keep up. How can we?

But how do we solve the problem? No mention is made of it, but I'll bet a fin that the Comptroller's solution is to eliminate Medicare. Where does that leave a hundred million seniors who have no money? If they can't pay for medicine or surgery, they die - and the life expectancy will naturally drop, which actually may bring the system back into balance. But a lot of people would consider that cruel, or morally bent - not the least number of whom would be the seniors themselves. The fact is, eliminating Medicare means People Will Die. It is a fact that pro-Medicare groups will not hesitate to repeat at every possible opportunity. Not to mention the fact that it's now the Vietnam-era vet's turn at the Medicare window. Gonna deny all the vets health care benefits? What Congressman or -woman would ever even suggest eliminating Medicare? It's an uphill battle likely to end many, many careers before it ever starts to gain ground.

What's the alternative? Raise taxes. Nobody likes that either.

And that's the reason that, as the Comptroller said, nobody wants to talk about this issue. Because talking about it will lose support, no matter which side of the discussion you fall on. Unfortunately, just ignoring this problem won't make it go away, either.

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#274232 - 02/06/09 07:34 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: melliferal]
FormerTexan Offline
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Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 11073
Loc: Denver, CO
The asploding representative is a jerk. I would get thrown out of the room because I would have been in his face about how rude he is.

The asploding representative said something very wrong - he called our fifth-amendment-right a privilege. It is NOT a privilege. It is a restriction on the Congress, thus a right for us.

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#274234 - 02/06/09 08:02 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: FormerTexan]
Trucker51 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/20/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
Actually, the biggest Ponzi scheme in US history is the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve put together, which makes the Madoff thing small potatoes. But it is interesting how one guy could have bilked $50 billion from investors for 10 years without the SEC acting on their tips.

Speaking of senior citizens and Social Security's ability to pay benefits, I wonder if that is what the recent rise in obesity is all about??? Fat people ain't going to last as long, that's for sure. I wonder if any food additives can be blamed, like high-fructose corn syrup or Aspartame???

I can't wait for fisticuffs or thrown shoes to erupt in our Congress too!!!

Mark

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"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark



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#274266 - 02/06/09 11:11 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: FormerTexan]
melliferal Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 1159
Originally Posted By: FormerTexan
The asploding representative is a jerk. I would get thrown out of the room because I would have been in his face about how rude he is.


Put simply, an hour of being amiable and polite was getting nowhere. The jerkitude is the SEC's fault, in my opinion; I only say this because I watched the whole thing live (I have no life) and know how the proceedings had gone up until that time.

Jerk or not, the asploding Congressman was correct. The SEC counsel evoked executive privilege unilaterally - generally, the president (or a representative of his) is the only one who can give permission for executive privilege to be used. The congressman did err in calling the fifth amendment right a "privilege", but I'm willing to allow that he was frustrated; he was venting and hadn't used a prepared speech. His only point in bringing up the fifth amendment was to allude that, in his opinion, he could see no reason for the SEC to be as wholly uncooperative as they have been unless they were trying to hide something self-incriminating.

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#274272 - 02/07/09 12:04 AM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: melliferal]
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Originally Posted By: melliferal
he could see no reason for the SEC to be as wholly uncooperative as they have been unless they were trying to hide something self-incriminating.


Agreed. The SEC's cya'ing in this was maddening. At best their inaction in the Maddoff thing shows their gross incompetence, and at worst it was criminal. Heads need to roll in this, besides Maddoff's.

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#274341 - 02/07/09 12:44 PM Re: Congressman asplodes [Re: EGL]
Hauser Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2962
Loc: United States
Just to elaborate a little bit more on Social Security. At it's initial inception, to my understanding, SS was untouchable, and couldn't be raided to fund other government functions. But only a few years after it started, the politicians (just like today) couldn't resist, so they CHANGED the rules. This then allowed them to replace the actual funds in SS with "IOU's", which then took away the very important element of compounding interest for future generations which need to draw on it.

BTW, can you imagine signing up for a lifetime Intuity with a private insurance company, who then changed the rules after the contract was signed, and then reneged on the promise? They would be in jail, right? So, what makes it ok for the government to do that?

Anyway, my whole point to this is that I don't want you (mel) to draw the false conclusion that the ever-lengthening lifespans of senior citizens is the problem. The problem is that politicians are running this scam and they're not held to the same level of account as, say, a private insurance company would be. This is fraud, BIGTIME.

Oh, I thought this might humor you too. At Social Security's official web-site, they feature a prominent politician from the 19th century as their guiding light and role model, Otto Von Bismark Please view here: http://www.ssa.gov/history/ottob.html Isn't that wonderful? They feature one of Adolf Hitler's idols as a guiding figure in their quest to help us arrive at their brave new world. Very wonderful indeed!


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