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Weak

Election Time

By Jeff Thomas, International Man

"Anybody who wants the presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office." - David Broder

"If voting could actually change anything, it would be illegal." - Noam Chomsky

Generally, I tend not to comment on elections, as I consider them to be largely unimportant. That is, regardless of which candidate is elected, the actual outcome tends to be much the same. In most countries, the higher the office being contested, the less real difference there is between the candidates.

First, unlike, say, a beauty pageant, in which the voter may have up to fifty contestants to choose from (as in the US), the governments of the world do all that is in their power to limit the choices to two contestants. Second, the more sophisticated the electoral system, the more likely it is that the two candidates are quite similar in both their level of ability and their apparent sincerity in serving the public who elect them. Third, the more apparent an issue is in the eyes of the voters, the less likely it is that the candidates will actually offer a specific plan to solve it.

In times of economic emergency, as the First World now finds itself in, these facts are even more apparent.

The facts should, in themselves, serve to inform voters that, in fact, it is not the primary goal of the candidates to actually "solve" the problem at hand. The goal is to accede to the throne. Once on the throne, the goal is to remain there. When exiting the throne, the goal is to do so with as favourable an image as possible.

For the candidates, solving the problem may be a secondary goal...but not necessarily. This is a very difficult realisation for the populace to accept.

The US election is the most prominent in the world media at the moment, as the world economy is in a shambles and so much depends upon the Americans with regard to how it will all turn out. They are the most powerful country in the world; their currency is the world's default currency; they ostensibly hold seven million ounces of gold in their Treasury (estimates differ significantly), plus an additional seven million belonging to European countries (again, estimates differ), and they have assured Europe that they will back up the EU in their quest to stave off their collapse.

There can be absolutely no doubt, at this point, that, if there is a central issue, nearly every voter has concluded that, "It's the economy, stupid." And justifiably so - the US government is essentially bankrupt. In such a situation, some will feel that taxes should be raised, whilst others will feel that further taxation will stifle growth. However, even if the income tax to the "one percent" were raised to consume the total incomes of that group, the proceeds would be insufficient to fund the government. At a time when the country has a debt load of sixteen trillion dollars that it cannot repay, and has additional unfunded liabilities of one hundred and twenty trillion dollars, both parties confirm that it is their intent to increase government spending (although the "conservative" party claims that it will increase spending less than the liberal party.)

There are those who believe that the US has gone past the point of no return and that a collapse of the monetary system is inevitable; however, it is likely that far more Americans would like to believe that, somehow, there can be a solution, and so they look to their candidates for an "answer."

Let us suppose that the latter group is correct. If so, then the very first premise of this argument would necessarily be that both political parties genuinely want to reverse the situation; that they want to spend less, if they only could.

If this were the case, the very first consideration would be to eliminate waste. At any given time, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of government programmes that could be either cut back on, or eliminated altogether. Of course, studies would need to be done to identify waste in a thorough manner. In addition, not all voters would agree on what is wasteful and what is not. Democrats may feel that the staggering amount that is spent on "defense" is far beyond what is reasonable, whilst Republicans may say it is essential. However, those programmes do exist that all would agree, could easily be cut or eliminated. Indeed, there are programmes that, amazingly, may have no value whatsoever, yet demand considerable funding each year.

It therefore follows that, if either party were truly focused on keeping the economic train from running off the cliff that is ahead, surely, they would begin by eliminating these. Surely, these programmes should be major campaign issues, as they represent the quickest and most obvious place to begin to cut expenditure.

For the sake of simplicity, let's look at only one of these - the Department of Energy. It has cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars since it was created by President Carter in 1977. Its annual budget is over twenty four billion dollars and it employs sixteen thousand federal workers, plus over one hundred thousand contract workers.

Although most Americans realise that this department exists, few seem to know what its purpose is. It would be understandable, therefore, if they failed to understand whether or not the department would fall into the category of (a) essential, (b) expendable, or (c) a complete waste that should be done away with immediately.

So, here it is: The purpose of the Department of Energy is to lessen America's dependence on foreign oil.

Let that thought sink in for a moment, bearing in mind that this is not just one of the Department's interests, but its stated purpose.

The Department of Energy has, arguably, in its thirty five year history, failed entirely to deliver on its objective, yet has grown into a vastly expensive bureaucratic monster that expands annually. Surely, a government that had spending cuts in mind would begin with departments such as this one, taking immediate action, then working its way down the line with other departments, in accordance with their level of real contribution, if any.

Yet, such programmes are not even an issue. Whilst no one should be more aware of such waste than a candidate for Presidential office and no one should be more concerned with cost-cutting than a candidate for Presidential office, cost cutting is not even a matter for consideration. The candidates only dispute how much costs should increase.

Hence, neither candidate, neither party, intends to actually solve the central economic problem.

But, lest we be too unfair to the American government, let us not overlook the fact that, throughout the First World, the situation is largely the same. Although most countries do not have the enormous budget that the US has, their budgets, too, are growing annually. After all, this is the nature of governments - to grow themselves. Other countries do not spend as much money that they don't have, as the US does, but that does not mean that they are more frugal. For example, a comparative description of, say, the UK and the US might be as follows:

The UK is the equivalent of someone with a gold credit card who is maxed out at Marks & Spencer and planning to spend more, as compared to someone with a platinum card, who is maxed out at Harrods and planning to spend more.

The US is the equivalent of someone with a gold credit card who is maxed out at K-Mart and planning to spend more, as compared to someone with a platinum card, who is maxed out at Saks and planning to spend more.

Whether we look at Greece, Spain, France or any other First World country, the formula is the same. All that differs is the number of zeros on their relative debts.

The lesson to be learned from this is that, in the final end, those who are running for office, regardless of their party affiliation, invariably claim, "I sympathise with the average guy out there. I understand how hard this economic situation is for you," yet, this is far from true. In fact, neither party has the slightest intention of cutting waste - waste that is in the billions and possibly trillions. As much as the average voter would like to believe that one candidate or the other "might have the answer," neither one has any intention of effecting a true solution. They offer, instead, to increase the very cause of the problem - government spending.

And, if we look this conclusion straight in the eye, what then? Do we then say, "Well, then, all is lost"? Hopefully not. Hopefully, we take the difficult decision to say, "Neither party will solve the problem. That means that it is up to me to provide my own future.

Some First World residents may find a way to remain where they are and still have a good future, even if it is somewhat diminished from what they now enjoy. Others may consider the fact that the entire world is not at the cliff edge and are actually doing rather well economically. Many will consider planting flags elsewhere.

Sometimes the wisest course is to choose not to wait for the storm to hit, but to move away from the storm.

[If you're going to successfully internationalize - whether assets, income or personally - you'll need some good resources to do it. Join us at the International Man Network and gain access to our library of useful reports on a wide range of diversification topics from moving gold overseas or finding an international broker to getting set up on the ground in a number of different countries around the world. Click here for more information.]

Comments

  1. Sue says:

    It is a shame that Republicans are a part of the PROBLEM and not solution.

    • gg says:

      Sue, you need to take a closer look. You seem to be denying the fact that OB had two years to pass his jobs bill. When he was elected, he had two years, two years, two years, with a majority of dems in the House and the Senate. He, himself, has just recently said that he did not care about jobs. He wanted to get his socialist health care bill passed which forces Americans to buy insurance. He, OBama man, in his campaign of 2008, pointed to Hillary, and said, "she believes we should force people to buy health insurance in a very condescending tone. The dems are the problem; they don't even want God as a part of their platform. People who are uninformed should get informed, and if he is elected, you will pay the price. Have you heard about the fiscal crisis (cliff) we are facing?

      • Sue says:

        GOP and its right wingers are part of the problem... they want to take us to dark ages by making ABORTION illegal to start with... and possibly take us all back to 1800s by disenfranchising many of us... if this party does not change its overall outlook sooner, it WILL NOT see the inside of Oval Office for the next
        20 years starting from Nov 7,2012. This is not wild assertion but based on changing electorate... shrinking white population and growth of minorities. It is Real.

  2. Bob says:

    “In a blockbuster announcement yesterday, Donald Trump announced that he is a very sad man who has nothing to live for other than drawing attention to himself,” the announcement read. “‘I’m a sad, pathetic human being and a complete waste of life,’ said Trump, adding that he lives an empty existence, and that he is nothing more than a corporate shill, as well as a failed husband, father, and human being.”

  3. Bob says:

    Around here, Obama has already been re-elected, and we’re comfortable with that.

    Obama won the debates. All of them. Yes even the first one. His “performance” may have been excessively “coma-like” but there was Romney proposing a completely nonsensical budget. Now tell me how you can propose something that is completely nonsensical, and be declared the “winner.”So I’m going to jump ahead one more step and write a brief Romney concession speech.

    “My fellow, Americans, it has been a hard-fought campaign, but the people have spoken, and we shall go forward together as one nation under our re-elected president. I guess some of the things I said about him aren’t really true, like how ALL his policies were wrong, including the ones I agreed with. And yes I eagerly climbed atop a party that has tried for four years to de-legitimize a sitting president with a collection of tactics and fabrications and I was only to happy to ride it. Suffice it to say that my position now has changed, again, to ‘never mind’. Let’s support the president, NOW. Yes I helped to widen the terrible political chasm that has opened in this country. Damage done. But I’m not going to say I’m sorry, because that would be an apology tour.”

    • gg says:

      I know the liberals can only call Bush a liar, but they need to open their eyes to the fact that Obama is a liar as well:

      NEWS TODAY: OBAMA CAUGHT IN HUGE LIE

      CBS News, hardly a right-wing news outlet provided hard copies of the emails the State Department was sent as the attack on the American Embassy in Libya was unfolding. Ambassador Stevens also sent emails the day he died that he was concerned about their security.

      They provided copies of the emails to the public in their news reports today. Here are excerpts:

      Sent Tues Sept 11 at 4:05 pm
      Subject: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack

      The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi and four COM personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.

      Sent: Tuesday September 11 2012 6:07 pm
      Subject: Update 2 Ansar al sharia claims responsibility for Benghazi Attack

      Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli

      More emails are being released tonight. There is also a video of the interview for 60 Minutes in which Obama says on Sept 12th that the attack on the embassy in Libya was different from the attack in Egypt. The attackers in Libya had in mind to specifically target and hurt Americans. 60 Minutes aired without this portion of the interview. And, we the people were told it was a spontaneous attack because of a video........

      I am not comfortable with Obama being our next president, and anyone who has looked at some of more than 90 executive orders will not be comfortable. Please everyone, this is the most important election in our nations history. Study the candidates and vote for God and Country.

      • Sparrows345 says:

        So..... what part do you not get that it no longer matters which guy is to blame or not to blame etc. and that it's far too little, too late? Sort of like a puppy chasing it's tail, keeps it busy, but never accomplishes anything of substance.

        • gg says:

          A puppy chasing it's tail? That's how you describe a terrible incident in which 4 Americans were killed because our current administration provided no extra security when asked and refuses to admit it's a terrorist attack.

          I just watched what went down at the embassy. It was horrible, and you are very sad.

        • gg says:

          I have to say you do not get it. Our president is involved in a cover up, and no one is holding him accountable.

      • Bob says:

        You got to be ashamed for politicizing the issue... instead of finding solutions to strengthen the security abroad for diplomatic personnel you are looking for ways to tear down a successful President in an ever changing world. GOP, which is a part of the problem, will soon become irrelevant if it keeps up this approach.

        • gg says:

          So politicizing the capture of Osama is ok, and not giving credit to the special forces who captured him is okay with you. As OB said last, The war is over in IRAQ and I got Osama, is okay with you, Bob.

          But we the people should be ashamed for wanting answers about why 4 Americans who obviously could have been saved, calling for help at 4:05pm, were left to die and Hillary, Obama, and his other talking mouths lied to us., No, we shouldn't bring that it. We are politicizing.

          I just heard a clip of Obama debating with Hillary in 2008. He actually pointed to her and said, "She wants to force people to have health care insurance....." HE LIES.

          That was not politicizing that was telling the truth about what has happened in the killing of 4 Americans, and you don't even care.

          YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!

          • Bob says:

            NOT ME BUT YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!!!!!

            Obama succeeded George W. Bush, a two-term President whose misbegotten legacy, measured in the money it squandered and the misery it inflicted, has become only more evident with time. Bush left behind an America in dire condition and with a degraded reputation. On Inauguration Day, the United States was in a downward financial spiral brought on by predatory lending, legally sanctioned greed and pyramid schemes, an economic policy geared to the priorities and the comforts of what soon came to be called “the one per cent,” and deregulation that began before the Bush Presidency. In 2008 alone, more than two and a half million jobs were lost—up to three-quarters of a million jobs a month. The gross domestic product was shrinking at a rate of nine per cent. Housing prices collapsed. Credit markets collapsed. The stock market collapsed—and, with it, the retirement prospects of millions. Foreclosures and evictions were ubiquitous; whole neighborhoods and towns emptied. The automobile industry appeared to be headed for bankruptcy. Banks as large as Lehman Brothers were dead, and other banks were foundering. It was a crisis of historic dimensions and global ramifications. However skillful the management in Washington, the slump was bound to last longer than any since the Great Depression.

            At the same time, the United States was in the midst of the grinding and unnecessary war in Iraq, which killed a hundred thousand Iraqis and four thousand Americans, and depleted the federal coffers. The political and moral damage of Bush’s duplicitous rush to war rivalled the conflict’s price in blood and treasure. America’s standing in the world was further compromised by the torture of prisoners and by illegal surveillance at home. Al Qaeda, which, on September 11, 2001, killed three thousand people on American soil, was still strong. Its leader, Osama bin Laden, was, despite a global manhunt, living securely in Abbottabad, a verdant retreat near Islamabad.

          • gg says:

            Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. President Bush has been out of office for 4 years, and you are still blaming him, while Obama is destroying America. Wake yourself up.

        • gg says:

          Bob, take off your blinders. Tell me how this president has been successful? And by the way, Pres Clinton started the "house for everyone" program, Bush never stopped it, and so it would be ever so easy to say the housing crisis is all Pres Clinton's fault. Go on the internet and check out Clinton's campaign promises. You don't have the facts correct.

          • Sue says:

            A woman voting for Romney and the GOP is like a Jew voting for Hitler and the Nazi Party. !!!!!!!

          • Bob says:

            Obviously, you do not understand economic cycles and how long
            does it take to repair the damages caused by the retard Bush and
            his neocon friends Dumbsfeld and Cheneeeey.

    • gg says:

      BOB: "Around here, Obama has already been re-elected, and we’re comfortable with that." Uh, Bob, the polls aren't agreeing with you.

      NEW POLLS OUT:

      Mitt Romney is now attracting support from 50 percent of voters nationwide, while President Obama earns the vote from 47 percent — an indication that the GOP candidate is holding his lead and momentum after the final debate earlier this week.

      More importantly, a new Rasmussen poll shows the Republican leading Obama in the crucial swing states that will determine the election, according to new data released Thursday.

      The swing states collectively hold 146 Electoral College votes and include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

      In the 11 swing states, Mitt Romney earns 50 percent of the vote to Obama’s 46 percent. Two percent like another candidate in the race, and another two percent are undecided.

      This is now the third day in a row - and the fifth time in the past six days - that Romney has hit the 50 percent mark in the combined swing states in a Rassmussen poll.

      Read more on Newsmax.com: Rasmussen Poll: Romney Leads Obama in Swing States 50-46
      Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

  4. Bob says:

    Only thing you got to know in the current election cycle is ... rMoney is a wolf in sheep's clothing....

    • gg says:

      I think voters should be informed and study the candidates, and then vote.

      • Bob says:

        It is impossible to look at the G.O.P.’s behavior in the last four years — from its unwillingness to consider Obama’s jobs bill, which was praised by independent economists, to the unwillingness of its presidential candidates to consider a $1 increase in taxes for $10 of spending cuts, to the time it spent on sheer lunacy such as questioning the president’s birth certificate — and not conclude that many in the party just wanted Obama to fail in the hope that they could pick up the pieces. Too many Republicans, particularly moderate business types, don’t want to admit how much their party has been led around of late, not by traditional conservatives, but by a radical Tea Party base that has driven decent, smart conservatives — like Bob Bennett of Utah, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine — out of office.

  5. Jamie Shepherd says:

    Its not the First World that is broken, its MONEY that is broken. Close your eyes and think for a minute - if all savings and stocks and bonds evaporated in a hyperinflation parabolic explosion, what would we have left? All the people would still be there of course, with all of their skills and knowledge to apply to the new situation the world would find itself in. Then all of the buildings, roads, factories, machinery, power plants, telecommunications networks, all would still reflect the morning sun of the next dawning day after the numbers all hit zero.

    So the end game of the debt problem I see not as a disaster, but a choice. Do we sit scratching our heads at all the mess and decide not to go in to work that day? Then a deep recession and unemployment takes over. Or do we decide it was a dumb way to run "money" and re-invent the banking and financial system from the ground up? Seems in this latter we will eventually have no choice. You can patch and repair the broken and threadbare monetary system for a long time, but history shows it will reach a tipping point and collapse.

    It is not money itself that is the problem, but the ownership of money. Its a bit like land in that respect. If no-one owns the land underneath them, they will be slaves to whatever government or evil forces make them work their fingers to the bone to scrape a living, the rest creamed off in tithes and taxes. Likewise with money. If the banking system (private) is given power to create money out of thin air (fractional reserve banking), then loan it out at interest, what you have done is to give something away that rightfully belongs to the people. What we need to do to fix this problem (and fix it we must) is to claw back the fractional reserve banking system into public ownership. Do away with the Fed, and all other clone institutions around the globe. Set up new state or national banks with the power to issue money AT NO INTEREST to the people. These banks then can lend money AT INTEREST to all the private banks, who then lend it on in the normal way. That way an economy can function in defecit, without that debt costing the people interest. In effect, the debt has been monetised, an amount of money has been created by the people's government bank, which exactly balances the current debt level. The banks can still operate on a fractional reserve system, but with the difference that any money they lend out which they don't actually have, HAS to be borrowed from the people's bank at the base rate of interest. Thus the system can actually mirror the current system and therefore replace it seamlessly. The difference is the banks lose the ability to create money out of nothing and then charge interest on it, which has been the whole problem in the first place. Instead, a responsible arm of government sits and decides what interest rates to set and how much money to create. There is and always has been a "right" amount of new money to print each month. As new people are born, and as the economy grows, the money supply has to keep pace with this. But over-egg the pudding, and you have the property bubble and the subsequent crash. With the banks in charge, lending funny money like there was no tomorrow, its no wonder we got to here. We cannot perpetuate this flawed system, that is why the power of the banks has to be conquered.

    Its a brave government and an even braver President who would risk tackling this. Not for the risk of the plan going wrong, but perhaps some agents of the financial system would see their way to "correcting" the governments opinions.

    • gg says:

      Hi Jamie, It would be a brave government and President to make this happen. Maybe you should run for a government position. Not being sarcastic, we need individuals right now who think out of the box. This is exactly what you have done. Well done.

  6. Sparrows345 says:

    Amazing how many are simpy unable to distinguish between "the deficit" and the oustanding debt. Not to mention tens of trillions more of future unfunded liabilities. When confronted with terms such as parabolic and exponential to describe the magnitude of growing debt, too many just draw a blank and assume everything will be just a-okay.

  7. Jeff says:

    Huh? The only way to grow the economy is to cut costs? Have you forgotten that FDR even existed? When he was growing the economy by more in 12 years than every Republican president of the last century combined (48 years), he was not taking a cost cutting approach.

    • gg says:

      That's why we are in the condition we are now. Our current indebtedness has grown from all his entitlements. The Americans were very self-reliant and took care of one another. My grandmother fed people who came to her door needing food. Then FDR steps in, and now it's the government's job to take care of people. Where has our self-reliant independence gone?

  8. Karl Trommeshauser says:

    Wow! A lot to think about. It sounds like all is lost... just a matter of time. This article makes me angry, sad, frustrated, hopeless and lost. What was all that pain for? all that wealth? all those lives?

    I keep hearing "we are the best!" - maybe I've heard it so often, I (want to) believe it. This is my country! I don't want to move elsewhere! I want to be proud of my nation and my nationality, not slink around too afraid to show my flag! I follow our nation's laws with respect, I pay my taxes without complaint, I remain humble before God, and when required I accept with a sad heart our military losses. And yes, when I was of age, I also wore my uniform proudly. Surely the dream of our nation is worth fighting for? Isn't it? Why have we lost our way?

    Too busy watching Entertainment Tonight, too busy playing video games, too busy being entertained.

    • gg says:

      I share your feelings. There is way too much reliance on our government's hand outs. We are fast losing our self-reliance and independence.

  9. Hmsinflammable says:

    It is so like the average politically minded American to look at anything the government does and forget that it's agencies have been, over time, managed by both parties. Small wonder they are so messed up. The EPA did wonders under Carter, but when Reagan arrived he gutted all the laws that made it work properly. So it lingers as a cripple. Americans have what they deserve and want and therefore should not complain about how badly it functions.

    Hitler had the right idea. When faced with a greater economic crisis than we now face, he turned it around into an economic miracle in just four years. His first step? He got rid of his Congress.

    Here's another:

    Polybius in his history of the Roman Republic credits its great success to the fact that government officials found committed acts of graft or fraud faced the death penalty.

    One more pet comment in this vein:

    All that talk one hears about simplying the tax code is a total joke and an assinine idea. Reagan tried and the code doubled in length. He did, however, achieve some good nonetheless, but the real problem is that tax code benefits are always traditionally grandfathered, so the only way to implement a new code is to incorporate it on top of the existing code, making both much more complex. If for a moment you think the rich and privileged with real influence in Congress are going to give up all their specially negotiated tax deals, you are complete and ignorant fool.

    Have a nice day. The public has the tax code all the energy and creativity it could muster to subvert the original code could achieve. They will never stop undermining its value to the country for their own benefit, and so it will always increasse in complexity. Enjoy it. It's yours. You made it and you will always keep it.

    • Jeff says:

      Hitler did have his down side, though. In fact we should be aware that after Hitler and Mussolini, there was a movement with similar aims in France using the Croix de feu that had a big showdown in 1934 and there was a planned coup attempt in the US in the 1934-1936 period That wanted to put smedley Butler in place as a figurehead.

      The point we should take away from all this is, don't feed the sharks. When the most profitable companies are there because of innovation and customer service, then we will have a healthy economy. When working the system becomes a business model and we have companies like CCA and Haliburton that don't understand the meaning of restraint and we may not like the appetite that they eventually develop.

  10. William Harden says:

    The problem of debt is one that has to be faced. One convention had the exact amounts ticking away on the wall while the other did not want to mention it. As a retired man on Social Security I know that I am part of the 47%, and while I need the benefits, I feel guilty about adding to the deficit. But then again, people say I am weird. Everyone else is talking about how to get more from the government.
    This is as great a threat to our country as that we faced after Pearl Harbor and yet where is the "Greatest Generation" now. Where are the heros, the patriots that were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country? Have they all passed on into history? Are their children now so spoiled and selfish that they can't see that we are destroying the very fabric of our society? Perhaps they are as all I hear is "Give me, Gimi Gimi." As we all crowd together to demand our share of the welfare pie, we froget that we are standing on a frozen lake and the ice is getting thin.

    • Jeff says:

      Don't feel guilty about adding to the deficit. We went from 120% of GDP in 1945 to 30% of GDP in 1980. All we have to do is undo Reaganomics and Bushanomics and we will be back on track.

    • gg says:

      Hi William, you have no reason to feel guilty about receiving your "earned retirement" checks. Remember, you paid into Social Security for years before you retired. You probably paid more in (without any interest) than you will ever receive. You are not receiving a benefit called Social Security. You are receiving your own money back that you paid into the system. It is not your fault that our government has been so reckless for so many, many years, and believe it can go on forever without any consequences.

      We the people need to clean up and kick out the greedy who run our government and have given little thought to the retirement of the largest generation, the baby boomers. How could this generation's earned retirement checks be overlooked?

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