Saturday, January 29, 2005


Blue-Tie Flails

Wherein wild attempts are made at "personalization" of Social Security and at Bush's nickname.

Blogger-economist Marginal Utility puts his economic prowess in the service of a worthy cause in these three posts by exploding the mythically distorted numbers of right wing think tanks who are starting to shill for the Bush Administration's planned assault on Social Security. Apparently, the Administration's flunkies will claim that you can increase your monthly retirement benefit by $5,000 simply by transforming the benefit-giving vehicle from something called "Social Security" to something renamed a "Social Security personalized account" in which you make a personalized decision to invest the money in exactly the same way the government now does for you. Sounds good to me!

You have to be really scared that the presidential administration that can convince the nation that they've got the Iraq quagmire under control can easily convince the nation that privatizing Social Security will "make us all millionaires with no money down" (to quote a late night infomercial).

Here's a snippet from Marginal Utility's post:
The Social Security Trustees project the maximum benefit at normal retirement age in 2035 — when I would in fact turn 67 — to be $2754, so while I have no idea why Heritage didn't use the Trustees' projected maximum benefit, the error is a minor $56 in their favor. This ends the good news for the privatizers.
Deploying my own economic acumen, I discern the following. Mr. Bozzo, Marginal Utility's author, turns 37 this year. Otherwise I have to admit my eyes pretty much glaze over. It's really great that we have some folks with number crunching capability on our side, isn't it?

From Numbers to Words

So let's return to a realm where my own prowess is stronger. Words. I'm a word man. A wordsmith. Words are my home field. You wanna play with words, you're playing in my house. The road to words runs through me, my friend.

Note for example, the very clever title to this post. All my titles are clever, to be sure, but this one puns on the increasingly obscure song lyric "Blue Tail Fly,"which school children used to (still) sing, apparently in an ambiguous reflection of our nation's slave-owning history. The subtitle to this post explains the meaning of "Blue-Tie Flails."

How clever can word-play be if you have to explain it? You might well ask. The classic in the field of ruining jokes by explaining why they're funny is Sigmund Freud's Wit and It's Relation to the Unconscious. Seriously, you should read it sometime -- it's a hoot! Here's a taste:
Two Jews met in a train at a Galician railway station. "Where are you traveling," asked one. "To Cracow," was the reply. "Now see here, what a liar you are!" said the first one, bristling. "When you say that you are traveling to Cracow, you really wish me to believe that you are traveling to Lemberg. Well, but I am sure that you are traveling to Cracow, so why lie about it?"

This precious story, which creates an impression of exaggerated subtlety, evidently operates by means of the technique of absurdity. The second Jew has put himself in the way of being called a liar because he said that he is traveling to Cracow, which is his real goal!
No kidding -- This is really from the book!

The Nickname the Prez Update!

My partner, B, had been gathering nickname entries via email, but a virus destroyed her inbox. If you emailed your entry to her (you know who you are) please resend them. Otherwise, the entries so far are kind of paltry:

Junior (From Marginal Utility, who kind of ruins "Blue Tie" by finding pics of Bush in a red tie)

Dumb-ya (from the hilariously witty CS in LA, who acknowledges this is one is sort of lame)

Boy George (from MK in LA)

Sorry, folks, so far my own "little w" remains in first place. Keep those entries coming!

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