Thursday, November 29, 2012

Social Security Lies/Blankfein Madness! (Judge Orders Tobacco Companies to Admit Deception)

I think it's just polite that our mainstream media (MSM) heroes interview m/billionaire bankers in order to arrive at  how much the lower classes need to sacrifice for the upper-classes'  lifestyles not to have to ever change.

BLANKFEIN: But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.
PELLEY: Because we can't afford them going forward?
BLANKFEIN: Because we can't afford them.

It's hard to figure out how we could afford to take care of our old people in 1937 and 1965, when our country was one–quarter or one–half as wealthy as it is today, but can't afford to do so today. Unless it has something to do with the fact that in 1937 and 1965 – people like Lloyd Blankfein didn't make $16 million a year.

Or paid very little to the government in Federal taxes. In 1965, the top Federal tax rate was 70%. Under Eisenhower in the 50's when the middle class was being strengthened by tax policy, it was 90%.

You Think You're Getting Social Security But You're Not, Says Multimillionaire Banker

26 November 2012

Jim Naureckas, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

What should the U.S. do about the so-called "fiscal cliff"? Who better to ask than Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, "one of the world's most influential bankers"?

That's what CBS Evening News must have been thinking, anyway, when they did a segment last night (11/19/12) all about Blankfein's opinions. CBS's Scott Pelley began: "When we asked Blankfein how to reduce the federal budget deficit, he went straight for the subject that politicians don't want to talk about."

BLANKFEIN: You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's expectations. The entitlements, and what people think that they're going to get, because it's not going to – they're not going to get it.
PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?
BLANKFEIN: Some things.
It's maddening, isn't it, when someone who obviously knows exactly what needs to be done insists on being so coy about it? Luckily, Blankfein did offer some specifics on one of those things that we think we're going to get, and aren't:

And you can go back and you can look at the history of these things, and Social Security wasn't devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. So there will be certain things that the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised.
Huh. So Blankfein – who was paid $16 million last year, and owns $210 million worth of his company's stock – thinks that people can retire on Social Security after working for 25 years?

As Gene Lyons pointed out, that would mean that people are getting their first paychecks when they're 42–or, assuming they're willing to take the severe benefit cuts that come with early retirement, at 37. Or possibly he mistakenly believes Social Security allows you to retire at 41.

He also thinks people typically live to be 92 or 97, depending. In real life, of course, most people start working as early as 16, so they reach retirement age after 51 years of labor, when they have a life expectancy of 17 years – or 14 years if they're an African-American man.

On the basis of this peculiar understanding of U.S. society – which, strangely, doesn't seem to trouble Pelley at all – Blankfein has some news for us:
BLANKFEIN: But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.
PELLEY: Because we can't afford them going forward?
BLANKFEIN: Because we can't afford them.
You often hear this "we can't afford them" line, sometimes from people who aren't multimillionaires. For the record, in 1937, when the Social Security Act was passed, the per capita GDP of the U.S. was than $7,971. In 1965, when Medicare was created, it was $18,575. Today it's $42,671. (All figures in 2005 dollars.)

It's hard to figure out how we could afford to take care of our old people in 1937 and 1965, when our country was one–quarter or one–half as wealthy as it is today, but can't afford to do so today. Unless it has something to do with the fact that in 1937 and 1965–people like Lloyd Blankfein didn't make $16 million a year.

And, yes, it's too late for my Father and uncles, who would never have smoked if the truth had been known about those "cooling" cigarettes, but it's never too late to tell the truth about these well-paid liars for evil deeds.

Judge Orders Tobacco Companies to Admit Deception

David Ingram, Reuters

28 November 12

ajor tobacco companies that spent decades denying they lied to the U.S. public about the dangers of cigarettes must spend their own money on a public advertising campaign saying they did lie, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

The ruling sets out what might be the harshest sanction to come out of a historic case that the Justice Department brought in 1999 accusing the tobacco companies of racketeering.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote that the new advertising campaign would be an appropriate counterweight to the companies' "past deception" dating to at least 1964.
The advertisements are to be published in various media for as long as two years.
Details of the campaign - like how much it will cost and which media will be involved - are still to be determined and could lead to another prolonged fight.
Kessler's ruling on Tuesday, which the companies could try to appeal, aims to finalize the wording of five different statements the companies will be required to use.
One of them begins: "A federal court has ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes."
Another statement includes the wording: "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day."
The wording was applauded by health advocates who have waited years for tangible results from the case.
"Requiring the tobacco companies to finally tell the truth is a small price to pay for the devastating consequences of their wrongdoing,"  said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an anti-tobacco group in Washington.
"These statements do exactly what they should do. They're clear, to the point, easy to understand, no legalese, no scientific jargon, just the facts," said Ellen Vargyas, general counsel for the American Legacy Foundation, which is known for its "Truth" advertising campaign that began in 2000 and was credited with curbing smoking by the young.
The largest cigarette companies in the United States spent $8.05 billion in 2010 to advertise and promote their products, down from $12.5 billion in 2006, according to a report issued in September by the Federal Trade Commission.
The major tobacco companies, which fought having to use words like "deceived" in the statements, citing concern for their rights of free speech, had a muted response.
"We are reviewing the judge's ruling and considering next steps," said Bryan Hatchell, a spokesman for Reynolds American Inc.
Philip Morris USA, a unit of Altria Group Inc, is studying the decision, a spokesman said.
A spokesman for a third major defendant, Lorillard Inc, had no immediate comment.
The Justice Department, which urged the strong language, was pleased with the ruling, a spokesman said.
Kessler's ruling considered whether the advertising campaign - known as "corrective statements" - would violate the companies' rights, given that the companies never agreed with her 2006 decision that they violated racketeering law.
But she concluded the statements were allowed because the final wording is "purely factual" and not controversial.
She likened the advertising campaign to other statements that U.S. officials have forced wayward companies to make.
The Federal Trade Commission, she wrote, once ordered a seller of supposed "cancer remedies" to send a letter on its own letterhead to customers telling them the commission had found its advertising to be deceptive.
"The government regularly requires wrongdoers to make similar disclosures in a number of different contexts," Kessler wrote.
Early in the long-running case, the Justice Department hoped to extract $280 billion from the companies to pay for a smoking cessation program and other remedies.
It later dropped the demand to $14 billion, and then Kessler ruled she could not force them to pay for such a program at all.
When Kessler first ordered the advertising campaign in 2006 - setting off six years of debate on the wording - the statements were to run on major television networks, on cigarette packaging, as full-page newspaper ads and on corporate websites.
The idea was to "structure a remedy which uses the same vehicles which defendants have themselves historically used to promulgate false smoking and health messages," she wrote then.
But in the years since, "the types of media in which defendants convey commercial messages of this nature have changed dramatically," Kessler wrote on Tuesday.
Perhaps, she added, the ads should also be in the online versions of newspapers.
Analysts who follow tobacco companies declined to comment on Tuesday's ruling, saying it would be hard to estimate the impact of the court-ordered advertising campaign until all of the details are known.
Vargyas, of American Legacy, is expecting a drawn-out fight.
"The tobacco companies will appeal absolutely everything," she said.
The case is USA v. Philip Morris USA, et al, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 99-cv-02496.
Separately, tobacco companies are battling in court with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the warning labels on tobacco products. The FDA has proposed new graphic warning labels - one of which includes a photo of a man with a hole in his throat - that companies consider a free speech violation.

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