Monthly Archives: November 2010

Hannity Gets Social Security Wrong

Sean Hannity does a lot of good work getting important information into the public conversation.  He’s not perfect, and he’s never claimed to be.

 On November 11, he spent at least several minutes re enforcing the common misperception of Social Security.

 Let’s get this straight; all money paid into Social Security is simply tax revenue for the Federal government. It doesn’t go into a special Social Security fund, and it certainly does not go into an account with your name on it. What you pay in today goes into buying new Stimulus Plan road work signs tomorrow. When it comes time for you to collect Social Security, you’ll be taking right it out of the pockets of your kids and grandkids like everyone else.

Yes, there is a Social Security Trust Fund and yes it doesn’t have any “money” in it. It would be criminally irresponsible of the Trustee if it did. What the Trust Fund contains is the safest investment in the world US bonds.  The Trust Fund was established in 1937 or so to handle the excess receipts. It’s not a trust fund of your receipts to be paid out when you retire. That’s Al Gore’s “Lockbox”.

So on the 11th, Hannity was yammering away about the Trust Fund being empty, and getting back “your money” that you paid into Social Security. He really couldn’t have sounded less informed. He needs to talk to Rick Perry.

Dana Milbank speaks to Experts

A few weeks ago Dana Milbank wrote a column for the  Post where he had some suggestions on how to combat global warming.

I’m glad he has used the access to experts afforded to Post staffers to learn:

 “To remove carbon from the atmosphere, we could bury wood and agricultural waste…”.

 This is called land filling, it’s where most trash goes.

I’m not an expert, but perhaps he could use the vast resources at the Post to learn if paper is made from wood. (And paper products, too?) Next, find another expert to learn if most paper is made from 1000 year old redwoods or 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation trees grown on tree farms. (Yes, I am aware that the Post does buy its paper from unsustainably managed virgin tropical and boreal forests, but most paper is more locally produced). Then, find another expert to explain about the energy inputs (all of the inputs) required to recycle paper. Another expert will be needed to explain land fill capacity. (Hint: landfills aren’t forever, Hint 2: What’s with all that space in “flyover country”? ) Finally, find yet one more expert to put it all together.

Here are some potential outcomes from the final expert’s analysis.

  1. Recommends that landfills be re-named “carbon capture facilities”.
  2. Tells you that if you’re the sort of person who believes a trace gas like carbon dioxide is in any way a significant climate driver, you should stop recycling paper and wood based products.
  3. Mr. Milbank may learn that a large portion of the trash in the DC area is burned, so stopping paper recycling would have fewer benefits there.

Mr. Milbank will need to be careful to ask only experts. If one does this oneself, one may stumble on to sites like, where information can be misleading and contrary evidence is omitted. Make sure to ask the right experts though. Don’t ask the ones who made predictions about the swine flu. Or hurricane activity. Or Arctic ice extent. Or the ARRA keeping employment under 8%. Or President Obama’s health care reform reducing premiums