Religious leaders supporting Donald Trump.

In my opinion any religious leader who endorses Donal Trump forfeits the right in the future to criticize anyone concerning any ethical or moral issue. I am thinking specifically of Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University, but there are many others.I say this because Donald Trump is the most unethical and immoral person ever to run for the presidency as the candidate of a major political party.

Now that is a tough standard considering how many of the early political candidates and presidents were either pro-slavery or slave owners or both. But Donald Trump has the fervent support of every white supremacist¹ and neo-nazi organization out there. In addition he has been married three time and has bragged about cheating on all three wives. He is a sexual predator. He deliberately walked into the dressing room of the Miss Teenage America specifically so that he could see under aged girls in various stage of undress including complete nudity, thus he is also a child predator. Trump University was a complete fraud from the very beginning. The Trump Foundation has almost certainly committed fraud. He has stiffed hundreds of contractors on his various building projects². And the list goes on.

So why would all of those religious leaders support him? Well, he a racist, as are most of those religious leaders. He is also misogynistic, ditto the religious leaders. He would rule as an autocrat, which would be fine with those religious leaders as long as he allowed them to impose a Christian theocracy form of rule, which he might do, as long as it did not apply to him or his fellow billionaires.

After Trump crashes and burns in the election all of those religious leaders will go right back to emphasizing the importance of marriage, family values and insisting on a puritanical attitude toward sex while pretending that they were never really all that supportive of Donald Trump. But when they do that I will feel free to ridicule them for their ongoing hypocrisy and simply ignore their rantings. I would ignore them anyway, but without the ridicule part.

  1. I will not use the terms alt-right or white nationalist. They are white supremacists. These are just attempts by the white supremacists to create new code words for groups that the white supremacists will recognize as kindred spirits but that the public will think are something less objectionable and less obnoxious.
  2. Donald Trump likes to say that he only hires the best people. But the reason he gives for stiffing all of those contractors is that they all did bad work. If he always hires the best people then why does he almost always hire contractors who do bad work. Also, to the best of my knowledge, he never can actually point out any bad work that those contractors did.

Global Warming

The Chicago Cubs are the cause of global warming. All of those flying pigs are generating a little more heat. But the main thing is that Hell has obviously frozen over and all of that heat had to go somewhere, so it went into the earth’s atmosphere. It’s still worth it.

The KKK

The Klu Klux Klan has a long history of acts of terrorism. I can think of no other word to describe the thousands of lynching’s performed by the KKK. Picture yourself as a black family in the old South. A group of men wearing white robes and hoods rides up on horseback carrying flaming torches. They dismount and force their way into your house. They seize a male member of your family, take him outside and hang him. You would be terrorized, and that was the whole idea; to terrorize the black community into being submissive to white domination and to be submissive to whites in general.

I read a while back that the KKK has been infiltrating police forces across the US for a few years. I cannot imagine that the KKK is infiltrating those police forces for any other reason than to be able to harm black people with impunity.

Now I know that the public face of KKK has disavowed violence. However, they always have been and still are a secret organization. So, while the public face has disavowed violence, you have no idea what the 99%+ whose identities are not known are doing in the background. As a result, I do not believe the public face of the KKK when they say they have disavowed violence. I think what actually has happened is that the KKK decided to swap the white robe and hood for a police uniform and badge, the flaming torch for a police flashlight, and the noose for a police sidearm. While the vast majority of lynching’s were targeted at a specific individual I think the KKK now tells their police department recruits to look for a set of circumstances, an altercation with a black man and an excuse, any excuse, to kill him. Excuses can be totally subjective as ‘I thought he had a gun’ or ‘I thought he was going for a gun’ or they can be as objective as ‘He had a gun’ or ‘He was carrying a concealed weapon’ ignoring such facts as, in the first instance, he was open carrying in an open carry state or, in the second instance, that he had a permit for a concealed weapon.

As a result, I firmly believe that at least some of the recent police killings of innocent black men were nothing less than KKK executions. Which leads to my question, why has the government not designated the KKK as a terrorist organization?

I can think of a number of reasons why that has not happened:

  1. They haven’t thought of it. This would be understandable as I didn’t think of it until recently and I have not read of anyone else saying it.
  2. They think they need more evidence. The issue here would be whether the FBI would really be interested in investigating the KKK. During the civil rights era the FBI may well have expended more time and resources investigating Martin Luther King, other civil rights leaders, and leftists supporting the civil rights movement than they did investigating the KKK. So it may well depend on how much things have changed at the FBI.
  3. There would be a huge outcry from the far right about how the poor white supremacists are being picked on or that the only terrorists are Islamic.
  4. There is the problem of what to do with all current members of the KKK since membership in a terrorist organization is, in and of itself, a crime. This is a non-trivial problem as there are at least tens of thousands or KKK members and possibly hundreds of thousands. I would propose a three-pronged approach to this problem:
  • The upper levels of the KKK should be prosecuted.
  • The police recruited by the KKK who have killed innocent black people should be prosecuted. In any case, any police officer who belongs to the KKK should be forever prohibited from holding any position within the criminal justice system.
  • The rest of the KKK membership, presumably the majority, should not be prosecuted. They should, however, be put on notice that if they join any other white supremacist organization which then starts killing black people then they would be prosecuted for their membership in the KKK. The idea here is to avoid having the majority of the KKK members quit the KKK in mass and then join some other organization which starts doing the same thing as the KKK.

If I am right and nothing is done about the KKK then one by one over the coming years police departments across the US will become nothing less than branches of the KKK. As an example, consider the case of a police department in Weirton, West Virginia where the Chief of Police fired a police officer for not killing a black man. I don’t know whether that chief of police is a member of the KKK or not, but that is what will start happening more and more as KKK members get into positions of hiring and firing within police departments.

So, I will finish by repeating my question. Why has the KKK not been designated as a terrorist organization?

A Modest Proposal

This proposal is for a new retirement system. This is not a reform of the current Social Security system, but rather a complete replacement of it.

How would it work?

The basic idea is this: At birth every child who is a natural born citizen citizen¹ would have the government put $8,000 into a retirement fund. The money in that fund would be invested in an index fund such as an S&P 500 or Russell 3000 index fund (I would prefer a Russell 3000 fund). This takes advantage of both the high rate of return of these index funds and the power of compounding when started at the earliest possible age. For example, if the future average real annual growth in the fund is 6%, then for every $1,000 invested there would be, in inflation adjusted terms, ~$44,000 65 years later.

What would be the amount of the annual benefit?

The amount of the annual benefit would be determined by the fund administrators. The administrators would set the amount based of the total amount in the fund relative to the number of recipients. That would make this system a cross-breed between a traditional company pension fund, which would be called a defined benefit plan, and a retirement system based on IRAs and 401ks, which would be called a defined contribution plan. The plan administrators should be somewhat conservative in setting the amount of the annual benefit so as to allow for downturns in the economy when the total principal amount in the fund would decrease. At regular intervals the plan administrators would review the health of the fund and increase amount of the payments as appropriate.

Why an index fund?

A 2010 study showed that an S&P 500 index fund outperformed 99.4 % of all mutual funds. Historically the Russell 3000 index has modestly outperformed the S&P 500 index. So it stands to reason that a Russell 3000 index fund would outperform a slightly larger percentage of all mutual funds.

What would be the expected future annual growth rate?

Good question. The Russell 3000 index went from 888.89 on January 3, 1995 to 6792.93 on January 3, 2017. Inflation for the same period was 61.57%. This results in an annual real growth rate 6.19%. Since January 1, 2013 the index has  increased by more than 65%, more than twice the average previous rate, with no significant change in the economy to justify such a large increase. Now, if you include the period since 2013 in the long term average you get an annual growth rate of over 8%. If you don’t include 2013 you get the annual rate of 6.19% referenced above. 6.19% seems a little low while 8% is definitely too high, especially when you consider that the average PE ratio for S&P 500 is more 24. Since the long term average for the S&P 500 PE ration is around 16 it would seem the the stock market is currently overpriced. So I will make an educated guess and say 6.5%, a little above 6.19% and well below 8%. The reality is that there is so much uncertainty about the future that any such estimate would have a huge error bar associated with it.

Why a fund and not an individual account?

It seems reasonable to assume that even smaller a percentage of individuals who are not financial managers would be able to outperform an S&P 500 index fund. An individual account which would allow trading would simply be an excuse for the banks and/or Wall Street to syphon off 1% of the principal in the fund annually. I did consider individual account without a trading option which would pay benefits based on the principal amount in the account, but I realized there was a problem with that idea. Consider two children. One is born on December 9, 2007, the day the stock market peaked just before the housing bubble broke. The other is born on March 9, 2009, the day the market bottomed-out following the bubble. At that point the first child’s principal amount would have declined to $4,292.37. From that point on they would have exactly the same growth in their accounts, but the first child would end up with only 43% of the annual benefit of the second child. In fact, it would be even worse since, if they both retire at the same age, the second child would benefit from an additional 15 months of growth in the fund. It would be very unfair to have such a large difference in the benefit received based solely a person’s date of birth. The only way I can see that would allow for people retiring at the same age receiving the same benefit is for all of the initial money to go into a fund.

Inheritability

One of the key features of this proposed system is that the benefit would be inheritable. But instead of inheriting the annual payments, the heirs would inherit the amount of principal necessary to pay that benefit. I would propose that the benefit would only be inheritable by the children of the person receiving the benefit. That would mean that not only would everyone covered by this plan would have a decent income in retirement, buy also that the second generation of people covered by this plan would inherit a reasonable amount of money from their parents.

Funding of the new system

In the long term the funding of this proposed system would be much easier than the current system, requiring an employee payroll tax between .6 and .8 per cent with no employer contribution needed. Now, when I say long term, I mean long term – 65 to 70 years. This is because of the need to continue funding the current system until the last group of people eligible for the current system reach retirement age. At that point the payroll tax can be gradually reduced for employees and gradually eliminated for employers. But that is for the long term. For the short term there is a very real funding problem since the first people entering the new system will not enter the work force, and thus start paying the payroll tax, for some number of years.

I can think of a number of ways of solving this initial funding problem.

One is to have the Treasury loan the money to the new trust fund, to be repaid as the people in the new system start paying the payroll tax. This has the advantage of requiring no money other than that coming from the employee payroll tax. It has the disadvantage of diverting money away from the current OASI trust fund, which already has funding problems to resolve.

Another is to increase the payroll tax by .5%, .a .25% increase for both the employee and employer. This is probably not a good idea in a sluggish economy and is also probably a political non-starter.

The third way is to initially fund the system from general revenue. This is the option which I would prefer. This would divert no money away from the current OASI trust fund, which would mean that any funding problems with that trust fund are problems they would have anyway. The obvious problem is that this would be a new spending program. What would be unusual about this spending program is that there would be a fairly definite date in the future, albeit 65 years in the future, when the spending would end.

Transition from the current Social Security to the new one

There are actually two transitions required.

The first is a bureaucratic transition, new forms, procedures, etc. While a non-trivial problem, it is readily resolved. Bureaucrats know how to do this sort of thing and it should not be a significant problem.

The second is the financial transition. If the public funding option mentioned above is implemented, then the financial transition is trivial. The funding problems for the current OASI trust fund would be no greater than they already are. If any funding option for my proposed new system is implemented which diverts any payroll tax money away from the current system, then the funding problems for the current OASI trust fund would be greater, probably significantly greater. So while there would be no legal linkage between the new and old systems, there would be financial and political linkages.

What about other savings for retirement?

The only other retirement savings program I would keep would be the 401K program and then only to the extent that there is a company matching amount. All of the rest of the current retirement programs, including the 401K contributions beyond the amount matched by the company are really primarily beneficial to people who have sufficient income that they should not need any government assistance in their savings effort. I would encourage people to save for retirement beyond what this program would provide, it’s just that I don’t think the government should be involved in since such involvement has a strong tendency to end up benefiting the financially better off portion of the population.

Note: I have another proposal coming up which would interact with and almost certainly cause changes to this proposal. I will discuss those interactions and changes when I post the other item.

  1. The Supreme Court has never ruled on what is meant by the phrase ‘natural born citizen’. I think it is obvious, a natural born citizen is anyone who is a citizen of the United States by reason of their birth, that is, either their father or mother is a U.S. citizen or they are born in the United States.