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Author: brucedoe Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 35367  
Subject: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 10:43 AM
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I've posted some snips on a Washington Post article concerning the Personal Accounts in Social Security on the Economy and Markets board. To see the whole article, you may have to register with the WP but it is free.

For the whole article see:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59136-2005Feb2.html

It is hard for me to believe that this plan will survive untouched by congress.

brucedoe


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Author: terminalwriter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11805 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 12:22 PM
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To see the whole article, you may have to register with the WP but it is free.

Or you can go to http://www.bugmenot.com .

TW

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11809 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 2:24 PM
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One key point is that, with private accounts, Bush is proposing to eliminate annuitization in favor of passing along any remaining money to heirs. Annuitization, of course, substantially boosts actual income, precisely because you can't pass the money along. To get annuitization through private insurance would eat up much more in added costs than the current system. The bulk of people receiving social security are already living on the edge and the loss of the annuitization boost would leave them with less to live on.

Bush is a spoiled brat from a rich family who is completely clueless about how real people live. If you have so much money you never have to worry about making ends meet or eventually running out, its pretty easy to worry more about not getting your full share if everything goes right than about destitution if anything goes wrong.

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11810 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 5:24 PM
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I just wrote a substantial check for disability insurance, so I'm in the mood to pontificate on how different the world view of the truly rich is from the rest of us.

Rich people are essentially self-insured. Most probably buy insurance, anyway, but for most of the stuff that the rest of us must have insurance for, except personal liability, they really don't need it. If a rich person's house burns down, it can be done without or replaced. If the $100,000 sports car gets totalled driving drunk at 50 miles above the speed limit in a school zone, as long as the lawyers get you off with a fine and a warning, the cost of a new sports car is a blip. Disability is covered by family resources, as is long term care. Life insurance is not needed if you can leave a hefty inheritance.

The above items, along with increased payments for our part of health insurance, now constitute around 25% of our "discretionary expenditures" budget (everything but federal and state income taxes and Social Security/Medicare). 25%, including property taxes, home improvement and vacation budget, clothes, food, medicine co-pays, emergency plumbing and electrical services, car repairs and maintenance, etc. Most of this money will go to waste, at least I hope so. But we have to pay it anyway, because we do not have to resources to be self-insured, and if any of the things we are insuring against go wrong, we would be in deep trouble.

For rich people, Social Security is just a low-return investment, because they don't need the insurance. For the rest of us, it is, as FDR insisted in the first place, it is not an investment behicle, but a form of insurance that not only guarantees some kind of minimal pension, but covers some level of disability and survivor beneits. Like other insurance plans, some people will end up with less than their share, others with more, only with Social Security a lot less of the pot is skimmed off.

For rich people, it is not just that Social Security is progressive, so that anyone paying near the top limit would theoretically do better buying the same yield government bonds on his or her own. Since the insurance aspects of Social Security are irrelevant for them, my reasons for shrugging off my own losses to the progressive approach—well, if something bad happens, I may not stay at the top end, in which case I will benefit from the progressive approach—do not apply.

For rich people, the added income boost from annuitizing is also irrelevant. Since annuitizing, even with the efficiency of Social Seurity, is always worse for investors than 50/50 playing of the actuarial tables, on the average, if you don't need the income boost and the insurance against long life, you win by keeping the money to yourself and passing it on to your heirs.

For rich people, and this pertains not only to Social Security but to investment in general, being "stuck" in low paying government bonds is a loss of the potential returns from higher risk investments. Of course, rich people aren't taking the same kind of risks if high risk investments don't pay off. If you have 10 times or 1000 times the money you could ever need to live a comfortable lifestyle, a huge stock market downturn at worst provides a minor crimp in your lifestyle. For the rest of us, if we have too much money invested in stocks to survive a downturn without selling for losses, the risk of relying on historical trends that have no guarantee is much higher.

For most of us, "Better safe than sorry" is a much more reliable proverb than "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," only works if you've hit bottom. Being able to venture, even recklessly and ineptly, becuase you can't really get hurt (though others, might) is the hallmark of privilege.

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Author: Quakeboy02 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11811 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 6:21 PM
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Wow, very nice post!

The rich are, indeed, different from us. I've got a bone cyst in my shoulder that the HMO won't even consider working on unless it cripples me. If I was rich, I'd just have it fixed, and move on with my life. "Created equal"; what a myth.

Hedge

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11812 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 7:35 PM
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Author: Lokicious | Date: 2/4/05 5:24 PM | Number: 11810
Rich people are essentially self-insured. Most probably buy insurance, anyway, but for most of the stuff that the rest of us must have insurance for, except personal liability, they really don't need it. If a rich person's house burns down, it can be done without or replaced. If the $100,000 sports car gets totalled driving drunk at 50 miles above the speed limit in a school zone, as long as the lawyers get you off with a fine and a warning, the cost of a new sports car is a blip. Disability is covered by family resources, as is long term care. Life insurance is not needed if you can leave a hefty inheritance.

For rich people, Social Security is just a low-return investment...

For rich people, it is not just that Social Security is progressive....

For rich people, the added income boost from annuitizing is also irrelevant....

For rich people, and this pertains not only to Social Security but to investment in general, being "stuck" in low paying government bonds is a loss of the potential returns from higher risk investments....

Of course, rich people aren't taking the same kind of risks if high risk investments don't pay off....

For most of us, "Better safe than sorry" is a much more reliable proverb than "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," only works if you've hit bottom.....


I can't let this go unanswered.

How do you think rich people become rich? Do you think they just luck into it? Or maybe you think they inherit it?

Well, the answer is that most wealth is the result of hard work over an extended period of time. The only luck that most wealthy people have ever had is that they were born in a country where everyone is free to use their intelligence and apply their work ethic and take chances in order to succeed.

You may be surprised to learn that less than 1 percent of this country's wealthy people became wealthy from inheritance, and that number is continually going down from one generation to the next. The tax structure in the past has made it nearly impossible to pass on a family fortune. At the same time, the number of millionaires continues to climb. Why do you suppose that is??

It's because of freedom - and especially the American free enterprise system!!

Do you realize that Americans work more hours per week than any other developed country in the world? Why do they do this? Because they enjoy it!!! Because they have tasted success, and competition, and winning, and they like it. That's what freedom is all about. That's what sets our country apart from all the other countries in the world.

Most of the losers in this country are simply not willing to put out the hard work necessary to succeed. They want an easy job that doesn't take much education or ambition and the end result is a lack of financial success. Then they expect the government to take money away from the high achievers and give it to them. Well, that, my friend, is socialism, and that will spell the end to our great society.

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Author: iamdb Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11813 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 8:27 PM
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Hey, Russ,

That's more flag waving than I've read in a long time. You really bought into this stuff. Let's see, I didn't try very hard at school and I had mediocre SATs, but I got into all the best schools; I ran several businesses into the ground, but kept getting new ones to run; I have a DUI on my record, but I was governor of a large state and president of the US. God, that great American system really works! Equal opportunity must indeed be God given.

db

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Author: Foolferlove Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11814 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 10:01 PM
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How do you think rich people become rich? Do you think they just luck into it? Or maybe you think they inherit it?

Me, I WAS born into it. I've done SOME work on my own, and I do have SOME personal accomplishments, but basically, starting from birth, all I had to do was stay out of jail and I would be assured that I would inherit the family business, if I wanted it. I've had private schooling my whole life, and I have never had to have an e-fund, because I knew daddy could take care of things.

I can coast along on neutral and be in the top .5% of the country as far as wealth is concerned.

But I rejected the family business and went off to make it "on my own". I'm proud of myself and where I am, but i have no illusion I "earned" but a fraction of my success. When you start on rung 9, it's easy to reach rung 10. And that's even if you "reject" the low hanging fruit. I didn't reach for those, but I STILL had a ladder than others didn't.

Same goes for my brother who took 6 years to finish college (and never did get his diploma) has a drug habit, had (has?) a gambling habit, and spends literally 6 hours or more a day playing computer games on-line. Oh, yeah, he's been arrested twice for drugs and good lawyers got him minimal punishments. Now works in the family business. At 27 he bought a LARGE house and he gets 6 figures as salary.

Take 1000 kids, born to single parents, or born into poverty. Assume all the kids are smart and hardworking and can overcome the obstacles before them. I doubt TWO will be as "successful" as my brother.

So maybe my brother is one of the 1% you talked about.

So in this country "anyone can make it", but let's not kid ourselves that there is an equal playing field. I've told this story before, but when I was 16 I went to work for a restaurant that was a friendly competitor of my own family's restaurants. I didn't want to work for my dad, and wanted a "real" job. Well, the job was in downtown detroit, and we were hiring. But I was instructed by the manager to trash the application of anyone who was black, and only pass along the white ones. So much for the american dream.

FFL

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Author: TerryMcK Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11815 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 10:39 PM
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Get over it...

Bush bashing is old hat...and whining about the rich is not much better.

If the subject is social security, try to address the problem and/or solution which is not Bush or the rich.

If you want to do something positive, write to the RNC or DNC, write to your Congressional rep, write to your Senators, and write to your newspapers. However, I suggest you provide something positive and not whining.

Some suggestions....

Tell them that any fix should include everyone; there should not be any exceptions. Stop all government, municipal workers, and teachers unions from opting out of social security.

Tell them that if they want to give some options to the workers they should also provide some options to the small employers who pay the other 50% of social security.

Tell them that any reductions in benefits should be based on the number of years one has contributed and not the age. For example, a person who contributes from age 18 to age 62 (44years) is penalized about 25% for collecting social security early. A person who is working on a second job after retiring from a selective service job after 25 years can start to contribute at 50something to 60something gets the same reduction in benefits if they only contribute for 10 years (although a lower amount).

Tell them that if they want to (arbitrarily) use 35 years in their formula, why not use 35 years to be fully paid up or to base reduction on.

Tell them to save some money and stop sending out reports to everyone; in particular sine most folks don't want to see them.

Tell them that there is an alternative to the private accounts and that is for the government to stop using the money from SS. If it's possible for workers to get a better return on 2-4% of their money why can't they. Well that requires them to leave the money alone so it can earn something. This is the most basic fix and will not be supported by either party since they all want to spend money.

Just some food for thought.





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Author: Quakeboy02 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11816 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/4/2005 11:20 PM
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FFL,

You've more or less corroborated my thoughts on the matter. If I were to imagine that there are 10 rungs in life, then I would think that we have an opportunity to move up maybe 2 or 3 of those rungs. Of course, there is always the guy in the right place and the right time, like WEB or Gates. But in the main, I don't think most of us get a chance at the rung more than 2 or 3 above us. We don't have the social or business connections, and we don't have the culture. I know that I moved up about as far as I was comfortable, and that was that. I honestly did have the opportunities, but I chose not to pursue them, as I think most people would. If it really were a world where we could go from 1 to 10, we'd see more CEOs who grew up in trailer parks, and who didn't go to college on a sports scholarship.

Hedge

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Author: cocomurph1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11817 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 10:09 AM
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I've got a bone cyst in my shoulder that the HMO won't even consider working on unless it cripples me. If I was rich, I'd just have it fixed, and move on with my life. "Created equal"; what a myth.( Hedge )

Hi Hedge!

I believe the phrase "created equal" refers to before the law and before God.....not in talents, health or most other factors.

Besides, think what a boring world it would be if everyone was indeed, created "equal".

Regards,

Murph






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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11818 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 12:00 PM
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Author: Foolferlove | Date: 2/4/05 10:01 PM | Number: 11814
Me, I WAS born into it. I've done SOME work on my own, and I do have SOME personal accomplishments, but basically, starting from birth, all I had to do was stay out of jail and I would be assured that I would inherit the family business, if I wanted it. I've had private schooling my whole life, and I have never had to have an e-fund, because I knew daddy could take care of things.

I can coast along on neutral and be in the top .5% of the country as far as wealth is concerned.


Well, I'm happy for you! You are clearly one of the 1% I mentioned, but I sense your wealth is not making you very happy. Maybe you are feeling guilty and that is why you are so willing to give it away?

I am in pretty good shape myself, but I earned every penny of it (including my college education) by working multiple jobs, 80 hour weeks, and saving, saving, saving. The fact that I earned it means far more to me now than how much I have.

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11819 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 12:36 PM
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Author: iamdb | Date: 2/4/05 8:27 PM | Number: 11813
That's more flag waving than I've read in a long time. You really bought into this stuff.

Go read the Political Asylum board if you really want to see lots of this.

Let's see, I didn't try very hard at school and I had mediocre SATs, but I got into all the best schools; I ran several businesses into the ground, but kept getting new ones to run; I have a DUI on my record, but I was governor of a large state and president of the US. God, that great American system really works! Equal opportunity must indeed be God given.

You will be amazed.

He was never given any business, and he never ran any business into the ground.

He was always very good at putting together deals, like the partnership that bought the Texas Rangers baseball team. He did not use any family money in that deal.

He learned politics through his efforts on his father's successful presidential election in 1988.

He was not given the Governorship of Texas. He ran one of the smartest campaigns ever waged against a very popular democratic governor named Ann Richards. Democrats ran the entire state at that time, and everyone thought Ann would grind him up into little pieces. Well, he worked the 80 hour weeks and pressed the flesh, and won that election, and almost everyone in the state was totally amazed. They all misunderestimated him, just like you. BTW, he took no money from his family to run that campaign. He raised it all himself.

Then, he ran for governor a second time and became the first governor in Texas history to be elected to a second consecutive four year term. Again, everyone was amazed. From what was written in the newspapers, you'd think everyone disliked him.

Then, he went on to win the Presidency, and everyone (at least all the vocal ones) were amazed again.

Now, he's won it a second time, and still people are amazed.

So, when history eventually shows him as one of the most influential and successful people in history, everyone will be amazed again.

He isn't successful because of his birthright or his money. He is successful because he works hard and fights for what he believes, regardless of what others might think. His position is rock solid on traditional fundamental values, and that's his secret. You would really be amazed to learn how many people in this country believe in traditional fundamental values. His supporters don't care how much money he has, and neither does he.

Russ

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Author: SisypheanFool Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Motley Fool One Everlasting Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11820 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 1:37 PM
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Now, he's won it a second time, and still people are amazed.

Not at all. Those that were dissatisfied didn't need to repeatedly be told what was wrong. Treating people as if they're ignorant and can't figure that out does not build confidence nor hope.
Listening to attacks and counterattacks is droning noise that drowns out the ability to hear the message of a better plan. Taking someone like Edwards, who can present a hopeful spin, and turning him into the attack dog was the death knell to that campaign.
Ultimately what I got out of that campaign was, "Bush/Cheney are Satan's spawn and I can do a better job." But I really don't know what "the better plan" was when all was said and done.
If the air isn't certain to be better smelling, many will accept breathing the same cr@p, since at least they already know what it smells like, and proceed to keep complaining about the odor.


So, when history eventually shows him as one of the most influential and successful people in history, everyone will be amazed again.

I admit that I took more than my fair share of drugs, but I ain't anywhere close to taking that leap. Guess I'm not as moderate as I think.

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Author: brucedoe Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11821 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 2:35 PM
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rk:

Nice try. In the case of Dubya, every time he screwed up in business, some angel (Saudi's are suspected but only the principals know for sure.) bailed him out at prices that made him richer than ever.

Some years ago, we had our concrete driveway replace. We contracted with a company and the work was done by Hispanics, none of whom spoke English, including the foreman. Well, these guys worked as hard as anyone ever saw. It is well known that physical work won't get you very far unless you have exceptional talent in professional sports.

Let's face it rk. Most of us who have done reasonably well, got a helping hand along the way, or two or three or more. And skill is very nice, but luck is hard to beat. Yes, I worked hard but had a lot of luck too. I lost my little investment kitty in 1973-1974 when my investment adviser got me involved in the margin. I ended up running all around the country having to cover margin calls while I was doing my work. Talk about stress. I tried to talk my adviser into selling everything at one point in 1973 but he talked me into stay put except for selling control Data at $25/sh when I bought it at $35/sh (It was to go down to $10/sh). I did sell everything finally but my kitty was wiped out. I was so burned I only invested in CD's and MMF's through the 1980s (also kept my BRE) so I missed out on the Reagan stock market. But here is the good part. I did carefully enter back into stocks in the Clinton period and was lucky enough to make out very well. Amazing how smart you are in a rising market!

Well, I don't know what is ahead, but with any luck we will be comfortable, not wealthy enough to self insure (though I am doing that for one of us instead of long-term care insurance). We are fortunate to live in the age of Medicare. I had a spine operation last year and the Medicare approved bills exceeded $100,000. The actual bills were more, something like $50,000 more (one $25,000 bill was reduced to $500+ by Medicare for example). Medicare covered about 95% of the charges and our backup insurance covered, essentially, the rest. I might comment that with the Medicare B rising as it does (13.3% last year, 17.1% this year) and our backup insurance rising as it has (13.6% last year, 18% this year), we qualify for a health deduction on our income tax before there are any dental bills, etc., not covered by insurance. Our property tax went up 23% three years ago and 15% this year (with further increases promised) You have to be good or lucky in your investments to stay ahead of that type of increase. Fortunately, last year we did. But this is another year.

brucedoe

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Author: brucedoe Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11822 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 2:43 PM
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Quake:

Yes, Gates lucked into it. He and another bought the rudimentary operating system for $25,000 and managed to sell IBM on using it. So far so good, but the big gains came from restraint of trade which is not so good. At least Melinda and Bill Gates seem to be doing a lot of good with their foundation so maybe they will be a net plus by the time all the tallies in life are counted up.

Incidentally, Gates has said he will leave his children $10 million each, which should make for a very compfortable life but a trivial part of his fortune.

brucedoe

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11823 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 5:34 PM
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Well, I guess it's obvious that I am in the minority on this board when it comes to supporting Bush. I'm just glad that most of the people in the country agree with me.

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11824 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 6:28 PM
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Author: brucedoe | Date: 2/5/05 2:35 PM | Number: 11821
Let's face it rk. Most of us who have done reasonably well, got a helping hand along the way, or two or three or more. And skill is very nice, but luck is hard to beat.

I am pretty well off now, but I never got any helping hand. After I finished high school, I was 100% on my own. I joined the Army and became an electronic technician. When I got out I decided to go to engineering school and got an MSEE degree. My parents offered to help, but they really didn't have the money, so I turned them down. I worked two jobs all the way through college, and that combined with the GI bill is how I paid for college. I felt that by going to war I earned the GI Bill, so taking that money was justified. I did not make a single loan or apply for any of the available government money to go to college. I paid for it myself as I went.

I never asked for nor received a helping hand at any point in my life, nor did I ever want one. I am not an especially smart person. I grew up close to poverty; my father was a high school teacher, and my mother stayed home. We had just enough to put food on the table and hardly a cent more for anything beyond. New clothes were a rarity.

But, what I learned from my parents was worth far more than any money they might have been able to give me. They instilled a drive in me that said that if I worked hard, saved my money, maintained strong moral values, and held a belief in myself, that I could succeed at any level I wanted to. They were so right!! I set my sights high, and that's exactly where I went.

You will only succeed to the level you believe you can get to. If you believe you are stuck in poverty, or in the wellfare system, that's exactly where you will stay. Money is not the answer to these problems. It's motivation and ambition.

Anyone who is willing to put out a lifetime of effort aimed at their goals can become successful, regardless of the starting point they come from. Hard work alone is not the answer; you have to set a goal. And, there is proof everywhere around that I am right. Take a look at people like Collin Powell, Alberto Gonzales, Marion Berrie, George Foreman, and millions of others who will tell you the same thing.

Russ

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Author: snoot65 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11825 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/5/2005 7:22 PM
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russ


amen to that

tim

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Author: markr33 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11826 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/6/2005 1:50 AM
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Well, the job was in downtown detroit, and we were hiring. But I was instructed by the manager to trash the application of anyone who was black, and only pass along the white ones. So much for the american dream.

Well, if you did that, it is against the law, and you ought to be prosecuted and punished for it. What's that you say? Just following orders?


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Author: 2old4bs Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11827 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/6/2005 12:13 PM
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Russ, I applaud you industriousness and success, and I fully understand the pride you feel in accomplishing what you have. But I feel I would like to point out some of the advantages you had, that you might not perceive as advantages, but others don't have:

First, your claim that your family was 'close to poverty' doesn't ring true with me. Women go to work when a family is in poverty or close to it, they don't stay at home. Because your mom was at home, you had the advantage of her guidance during your formative years.

Second, your father had a good job, with a good pension and great benefits. Your dad had summers off at the same time you had summers off from school. I'm sure you and he spent a lot more time together than if this had not been the case. So, you had the advantage of this additional time spent with you that many kids don't enjoy.

Third, as a high school teacher, your father obviously had a higher education, and I'm sure you benefitted from the knowledge and perspective that goes along with this.

But, what I learned from my parents was worth far more than any money they might have been able to give me. They instilled a drive in me that said that if I worked hard, saved my money, maintained strong moral values, and held a belief in myself, that I could succeed at any level I wanted to. They were so right!! I set my sights high, and that's exactly where I went.

Based on their experiences, they obviously believed this, which is why they were successful instilling it in you. But the experiences of most people who actually do live in poverty do not lead them to believe this philosophy, thus the reason why poverty is so often described as a 'cycle'.

You will only succeed to the level you believe you can get to. If you believe you are stuck in poverty, or in the wellfare system, that's exactly where you will stay. Money is not the answer to these problems. It's motivation and ambition.

Here you made the point yourself. It's far easier to pull oneself up by the bootstraps if one is wearing boots to begin with.

2old



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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11828 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/6/2005 3:11 PM
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Author: 2old4bs | Date: 2/6/05 12:13 PM | Number: 11827
I feel I would like to point out some of the advantages you had, that you might not perceive as advantages, but others don't have:

Your point is well taken. I did have the advantages that you listed, and anyone who does not have those same advantages will have a harder time of making a success. But, I still say that it can be done, no matter how bad the situation, and that the answer is convince people that they can succeed instead of just throwing money at it.

First, your claim that your family was 'close to poverty' doesn't ring true with me. Women go to work when a family is in poverty or close to it, they don't stay at home. Because your mom was at home, you had the advantage of her guidance during your formative years.

Women didn't go to work in those days, no matter how bad it was at home. Our family income was below the poverty level as defined by the government.

Second, your father had a good job, with a good pension and great benefits. Your dad had summers off at the same time you had summers off from school. I'm sure you and he spent a lot more time together than if this had not been the case. So, you had the advantage of this additional time spent with you that many kids don't enjoy.

He had to work another job in the summers or we wouldn't eat.

Third, as a high school teacher, your father obviously had a higher education, and I'm sure you benefitted from the knowledge and perspective that goes along with this.

He did have a BA in Education. But, I don't think you realize how poorly teachers were paid in Vermont in the 60s. In 1965, he made about $6000 a year. Poverty at that time was defined as $7000. He retired in 1976 making about $12000 a year. I think that was just above the official poverty line. I started working in 1974 at $15500, fresh out of college with my MSEE degree. So, after working for 35 years as a teacher he made 30% less than I did as a starting engineer. You really have to love teaching to put up with that. Government programs were available to us, but my father would not take them.

But the experiences of most people who actually do live in poverty do not lead them to believe this philosophy, thus the reason why poverty is so often described as a 'cycle'.

I just don't buy this argument. It's a cop-out. It's simply an explanation that fits. No one wants to face the simple possibility that many people remain in poverty because they are lazy (coupled with a lack of self confidence). And we make it even easier for them to stay there by giving them money.

Russ

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Author: brucedoe Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11829 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/6/2005 6:37 PM
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Russ:

You have an admirable story and are to be congratulated. I think it is common that such people as yourself feel that "If I could do it, anybody can." But I also feel sorry for you if in your career nobody offered you a helping hand somewhere along the line. As to Powell, I know no one becomes a General, much less a Four Star General, without some powerful backing. Please note, I admire Powell too as he was given opportunities, was a success at them, and didn't let his backers down. But he did have a helping hand, probably several. In a much more modest way, I had similar experiences in that I had some professors who saw something in me that permitted them to recommend me to graduate school at Caltech (perhaps the marines of educational institutions). They even overshot the mark in that I was accepted on a Fellowship even though my grades were not outstanding. I've done my best to not let them or Caltech down. I did manage to get a Ph.D. and come out of college without debts (My parents did help some when I was an undergraduate.).

I recall when I was Assistant Director of Research at the U.S. Geological Survey, there were many young mothers who complained to me of the difficulties of not have a nursery school in the million square foot building or at least nearby. When I talked to older women employees about this, they had no sympathy because "I did it so why can't the younger generation?" When I talked to young women who didn't have children, they couldn't seem to imagine they would ever have this problem. So the young mothers didn't even get any support from other women. The Associate Director, a man of course, didn't want a nursery school on site because he feared the mothers would be running down there every half hour to check on their children. I was going to drop the issue, but Rep. Wolfe (Virginia Republican) insisted that the Federal agencies set up a nursery school for Federal employees in his district, so it happened. When I lived in his district, I used to vote for him which was well before the nursery school incident.

You see, there are Republican's with a heart. I also vote for Tom Davis (another Virginia Republican) whose district I live in now. I may not agree with all their votes, but, in my opinion, both Wolfe and Davis are admirable politicians.

brucedoe

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Author: PolymerMom Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11830 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/6/2005 6:43 PM
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No one wants to face the simple possibility that many people remain in poverty because they are lazy (coupled with a lack of self confidence). And we make it even easier for them to stay there by giving them money.


To brand everyone who is in poverty as being "lazy" is a cop-out in the other direction.

Some surely are. But it does a great injustice to those who work hard and never quite get ahead due to luck, circumstances, or other random factors.



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Author: Foolferlove Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11831 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/6/2005 6:53 PM
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Well, if you did that, it is against the law, and you ought to be prosecuted and punished for it. What's that you say? Just following orders?


FYI, the applications went into a box. I put them all in there (black and white) for the few days I worked after I was given those instructions, and then quit. Then I went back to work for my dad. If I had come across that situation today I would have likely told the police or whatever. At just shy of 16 years old all I wanted to do was get out.

FFL

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Author: 2old4bs Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11832 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/7/2005 8:56 AM
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Women didn't go to work in those days, no matter how bad it was at home.

That just isn't true. I am older than you. My mom worked full-time outside the home as soon as I started kindergarten. My 2 sisters and I were 'latch-key' kids before that term was coined. My mom collated papers and stuffed envelopes 8 hours a day for minimum wage. That was how we were able to eat, because my dad's pay barely covered housing expenses. My father's last school year was 6th grade, my mother managed to make it through 8th grade. Our family also never accepted public assistance.

He did have a BA in Education. But, I don't think you realize how poorly teachers were paid in Vermont in the 60s. In 1965, he made about $6000 a year. Poverty at that time was defined as $7000. He retired in 1976 making about $12000 a year. I think that was just above the official poverty line.

My point wasn't that higher education leads to higher pay, but that higher education opens one's eyes to a larger perspective on the world, and the possibility of greater opportunity. You dad was able to pass this enlarged viewpoint on to you.

2old


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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11833 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/7/2005 9:54 AM
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First, my original point does not concern whether rich people deserve to be rich. I'm talking about a different way of thinking about "risk taking" versus protecting against disasters and hard times that comes from having so much money "risk taking" isn't really risk taking at all. The worship of risk taking seems to be particularly pervasive among those born to wealth, because for them it isn't risk taking. Thinking about Social Security as an investment program that encourages greater risk taking in the hope of higher returns that have a reasonable chance of never materializing versus thinking about Social Security as an insurance program that protects against bad things happening and provides at least a minimum for survival is the difference between risk taking not really being risky and risk taking having potential to leave the risk taker destitute.

Second, not all people born to wealth choose to live lazy, wasteful, lives. Some are like Foolferlove, who has chosen to use the advantages he has had to achieve something on his own and do good for others. There are also many from wealthy families, in the noblese oblige tradition, who choose to dedicate their lives to doing "good works"—as some one who cares a great deal about fine art and classical music, I know that without patronage by the wealthy, there would be no hope for museums and orchestras if they had to rely on being a tax priority of the "masses."

Third, no I do not believe all rich people are born that way or have achieved nothing of value. I do know that the majority of the wealthy come from wealthy families, and many of them, like Bush, have just cashed in on their family's wealth and power. There are other wealthy who are crooks or corrupt, many of whom, like Chaney, are protected by laws that allow big-time white collar crime. I also know that executive compensation has gone up at 10 times the rate of average workers since 1980, not because these executives are doing a better job, but because they have rigged the system and do not have to compete for their jobs with those who could do as well for much less. Then there is the absurdity of "market" compensation, which "the invisible hand" doesn't seem to do well with, that allows some child porn star with little musical talent to get marketed to the point of making millions and millions, while some of the most skilled musicians in this country can't afford health insurance.

Finally, let me again make a point from personal experience as an educator: the vast majority of my students who cheat, try to find angles instead of doing their assignments, and generally screw off and party their way through college (like Bush) come from wealth and privilege. The vast majority of those who do not comes from privilege (the exception being some "affirmative action" students who are used to being pushed ahead with low expectations) work hard and try to learn all they, many while holding down nearly full-time jobs, because college in no longer affordable, thanks to tax cuts.

There are plenty of poor people who do not have the work ethic to get out of poverty—listen to Bill Cosby who has angered the PC in the African American community. There are also plenty of those born with a "silver spoon in their mouths" who are congenitally lazy. That's why I love estate taxes.

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Author: edhken Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11834 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/7/2005 11:33 AM
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I do know that the majority of the wealthy come from wealthy families

If one is to believe the findings of the research presented in the book "The Millionaire Next Door", the above quote is a common misconception. The majority of America's millionaires are first-generation rich. A few snips from the book's first chapter:

Have you always thought that most millionaires are born with silver spoons in their mouths? If so, consider the following facts that our research uncovered about American millionaires:

Only 19 percent receive any income or wealth of any kind from a trust fund or an estate.

Fewer than 20 percent inherited 10 percent or more of their wealth.

More than half never received as much as $1 in inheritance.

Fewer than 25 percent ever received "an act of kindness" of $10,000 or more from their parents, grandparents, or other relatives.

Ninety-one percent never received, as a gift, as much as $1 of the ownership of a family business.

Nearly half never received any college tuition from their parents or other relatives.

Fewer than 10 percent believe they will ever receive an inheritance in the future.

**********

That's why I love estate taxes.

You love it that a (potentially large) portion of a person's wealth, accumulated over a lifetime of hard work, is forcibly confiscated by the government upon their death? I never understood that point of view.

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11835 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/7/2005 11:52 AM
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I'm not talking about the inflated millionaire, a popular misconception that these people are "rich," and misused as an excuse for seeing large numbers of people as affiliated with the wealthy. On paper I'm a millionaire, so are my in-laws and probably my father. We've gotten that way through frugal lifestyles and saving for years with upper middle class incomes. To maintain a middle class lifestyle through retirement, we continue to have to live frugally and be careful not to lose through risk taking in investments.

That's not being rich, though it is certainly well-off. Most really rich people, which now means tens of millions, as being a millionaire meant being rich 50 years ago, don't get that way by slow accumulation of wealth through a lifetime of hard work and saving.

Sorry, but a million ain't worth squat, anymore. Not complaining, but if we retired now and tried to live off our savings and investments for, lets say, 40 years, even with our frugal lifestle, we really would have to get historical returns on the stock market and being almost all in stocks, something I wouldn't risk.

Sure, there are lots of people now worth in the $1-$3 million range. How many are worth $10 million and up?

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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11836 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/8/2005 10:20 AM
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I want to go back and make a couple further points on being "rich."

The word "millionaire," meaning a net worth of "a million" pounds or dollars, and used as a synonym for being truly rich, according to the OED, goes back to the early 1880s. We know from popular songs of the Great Depression of the 1930s, that "millionaire" was a commonplace euphemism for the "have mores," as Bush calls his base.

So, using inflation (ballpark figures), $1,000,000 75 years ago would be around $15,000,000, now. Using growth in the stock market, which probably more accurately reflects assets of the wealthy than inflation, the figure would be closer to $100,000,000.

In either case, these are not figures that can be achieved by a well-paid, upper-middle class professional or small businessperson, simply by saving and investing and living well below her or his means or 30 years. $1-$2 million, on the other hand, is perfectly plausible, if someone chooses to save instead of spend, living a middle-middle class lifestyle with an upper-middle class income for a sustained period of time and no major life set-backs. My estimate, with conservative stock market expecations, is that 10-years from now, it will require $2,000,000 or more to maintain indefinitely a lifestyle that now costs in the range of $40,000-$50,000 in after-payroll expenses. That is not the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Given inflation, wealth cannot be defined by some absolute dollar amount. Social class if about possibilities enabled by levels of wealth. People with upper middle class incomes do, at least, have the opportunity to accumulate enough assets to retire and live out their lives in the style to which they have become accustomed, assuming the style has been well within their means—I, personally, know many people in our income range who have saved little and will be dependent on the kind of stock market returns the husslers like to promise not to end up in poverty. People in the middle middle class (lets say $50,000-$80,000 salary or wages, in current $$$), unless they also have strong pension plans (that don't go broke), are unlikely to accumulate enough to stay in the middle-middle class. Below that, most people will be almost completely dependent on Social Security and pension plans, if they have one (increasingly unlikely).

Being rich means you don't have to worry about money. You have enough so you can live the rest of your life, not working if you so choose, without having to protect yourself against commonplace personal or financial setbacks (disability, unemployment, divorce, stock market crashes, long term care, small business going under, unexpectedly bailing out the kids or the parents) and without fretting over reasonable discretionary expenditures (by reasonable, I don't mean buying yachts and mansions).

At this point, in my mid-fifties, without any desire to change my basic lifestyle, but with a desire to be able to increase my discretionary spending in moderate ways (buying kayaks or a canoe, not a yacht, going to the Stratford, Ontario, Shakespeare Festival every year, in addition to current vacations) I estimate it would require $4,000,000 to retire early, pay medical insurance, and feel comfortable. For my savings poor friends, living upper middle class lifestyles (SUVs, big weddings and graduation parties for the kids, annual holidays in the tropics, big houses in the 'burbs) it would take a lot more than that to live indefintely in the manner they seem to desire.

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Author: snoot65 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11837 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/8/2005 12:34 PM
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that "millionaire" was a commonplace euphemism for the "have mores," as Bush calls his base
================================================================

the liberal new leader micheal moore didnt put the "have mores" in context .....as if a W bashers really care about the facts

the comment was made at a roast with algore during the "selection" process for pres in 2000

it was a joke !!!!!!

i put selection in stead of election in the last sentence for added humor

tim



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Author: SuisseBear Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11838 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/8/2005 12:44 PM
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Great discussion. Very much agree with Lok's sentiment on $1m net worth being both achievable by 'many', and no longer being worth squat [at least on a basis of warranting "good times" long term, e.g. retirement]; perhaps there is a connection between those two <gg>.

Now if being mere "Millionaire" is not an indication of having been wildly successful when it comes to money, then those snips from "The Millionaire Next Door" are a tad less relevant:

Only 19 percent receive any income or wealth of any kind from a trust fund or an estate.
Fewer than 20 percent inherited 10 percent or more of their wealth.
More than half never received as much as $1 in inheritance.
Fewer than 25 percent ever received "an act of kindness" of $10,000 or more from their parents, grandparents, or other relatives.
Ninety-one percent never received, as a gift, as much as $1 of the ownership of a family business.
Nearly half never received any college tuition from their parents or other relatives.


Even so, you turn some of those around

19% receive income or wealth from a trust fund or an estate
20% inherited 10 percent or more of their wealth
25% received gifts of $10,000 or more
9% received ownership of family business
50% or more received tuition from relatives

and add them up (of course there will be partial overlaps) it's obvious that contrary to the bias the book may want to convey, a significant fraction got a substantial starting advantage.


SB





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Author: terminalwriter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11839 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/8/2005 1:32 PM
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50% or more received tuition from relatives

It makes me wonder what qualifies as "from relatives." My dad has work for in the medical facility of a major university for over 20 years. When I was in school, the first time around, the university was covering up to 80% of the university's tuition, towards any private university. My folks couldn't shell out anywhere near that kind of money, but it was me recieving tuition assistance from them.

Although, I'm looking forward to my net worth hitting a positive number in the next month or two, far from me being a millionaire.


TW

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Author: terminalwriter Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11840 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/8/2005 1:32 PM
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My dad has work for in the medical facility of a major university for over 20 years.

~sigh~ One of these days I'm going to learn to proofread before I post.


TW

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Author: SisypheanFool Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Motley Fool One Everlasting Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 11888 of 35367
Subject: Re: The Personal Accounts in SS Date: 2/19/2005 8:19 PM
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Well, I guess it's obvious that I am in the minority on this board when it comes to supporting Bush.

Taint nothin wrong with being in a minority. And I gotta give you credit Russ, you pledged your support w/o bashing the opposition.

Sorry if my reply seemed like a flame - twas meant more as snippy humor about my tainted past aspects not being far W's. Though I remain far away from placing GWB in as high esteem as you, I don't think he's Satan's spawn either.

As evidence that I'm relatively non-partisan, I voted Rep across the board for my state's offices. Though more motivated by (my perceived) similar need to break the momentum and return back towards center.

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