Social Security Can Be ‘Fully Funded’ Anytime Congress Decides To Do So!

Various media source keep running stories over the past several years about ‘How Social Security Is Going Broke’, which is entirely true if NOTHING is done to change anything about the system. The problem with such articles is that it is well within our means to make changes to the system at any point and to FIX the problem.

Social Security is basically a ‘pay as you go’ system. People work until retirement age, and then apply to retire and start collecting benefits. Retirees also get a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) every year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The full retirement age use to be 65, with people being allowed to take early retirement at age 62.5 and a 25% reduction in the monthly payout, or delay retirement to age 70 and getting an 8% increase in the monthly payment for every year beyond their full retirement age. The full retirement age has been increased a little over the years, such that for many people they do not qualify for full retirement until age 67 now.

The system is called a ‘Pay as You Go’ because current payments for retirement benefits to retirees are paid with money collected from workers at the same time. There is no money saved up from the past to make the payments with. This system of ‘Pay as You Go’ works as long as there are enough people working to be able to make the payments.

When the system was originally started, most people only lived a few years in retirement, meaning that payouts were not for that long, plus there were a lot more workers per retiree years
ago. In past decades the number of workers per retiree was 5 or more; today it looks like the number of workers per retiree may drop to only 2 or 3. This drop in workers per retiree is a problem since the system is a ‘pay as you go’, that means each retiree is only supported by the taxes collected from 2 or 3 workers. As a result, over time, there will be a problem with collecting enough money to keep paying the promised Social Security Benefits BUT it is well within the power of Congress and any administration to fix the problem.

There are many ways the problem can be addressed and a number of web sites that post ‘social security fund’ calculators to show various options and how the changes would effect the situation. C-SPAN’s Washington Journal one morning several weeks ago had a guest on that mentioned the web site at . Using that social security calculator, my simple options for fixing the problem was two parts: 1: Slow Benefit Growth for the top 70% of earners which would close 58% percent of the predicted gap between tax collection and retirement payments and 2: Subject all Wages to payroll tax which would close the gap by 72%.

These two simple items, that I selected from many, would close the gap by 129%, meaning that the fund would start to run surplus as time went on and build up finds for future generations. This change was a large change from the current course of systematically and slowly drained of all funds and causing a crisis with social security payments.

While there are all kinds of other options that could be looked at or done, this simple exercise shows that it is very well possible for Congress and the Administration to fix the shortfall in Social Security funding at ANY point that they choose to do so; the real problem is that all sides need to get together, compromise and agree to make the changes!

It would seem that the real problem is NOT the funding gap for the social security payments, the real problem is for all sides, Congress and the Administration, to get together, compromise, and pass legislation that would fix the problems for decades to come!

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Monday, November 26, 2018

Is the future for radio stations online streaming over the internet?

Is the future for radio stations online streaming over the internet or is there still a place for over the air waves broadcasting?

One of the interesting questions related to advertising for media companies is if the future for radio stations broadcasting over the internet or the traditional business model of broadcasting over the airwaves or a mix of both.

Until the rise of the Internet with broadband connections, all radio stations were over the airwaves with all revenue from advertising spots sold, usually as part of a radio program or specific times of day, in an effort to target specific listeners as potential customers.

Prior to the more recent decades, radio broadcasts were all usually specific broadcast programs with the schedules published in newspapers. As television took market share from radio stations, and listeners, as the television networks really expanded in the 1950s, more and more radio stations turned their business model into a ‘music jukebox’ format and away from set programs or broadcasts.

In the current era, most radio stations are doing one specific format; news radio, talk radio, religious station, music jukebox of a specific genre of music, community radio station, non profit PBS station, etc. On top of all of that, most radio stations are now part of a corporate conglomerate where the programs are all feed to it from a central HQ location. This results in the radio station itself is really nothing more than a transmitter being used for its bandwidth in a specific area and the offices of said radio station mostly vacant of any staff except for an engineer or two to make sure the transmitter is working.

One of the ways to expand the reach of any radio station is to do over the internet broadcasting. This change would allow a radio station to reach anywhere there is an internet connection. The problem for all radio stations in the past for competition for listeners was limited to the transmission range of the radio transmitters. Today, as radio over internet gains in popularity the potential for competitors for all radio stations is any station anywhere in the world that has streaming audio over the internet. With much of the content somewhat generic, there may be little to no differentiation for advertisers except for expected market and reach. i.e. Advertisers will look to pay the least amount per potential realistic customer for their product or service. So a local ice cream shop may get no benefit from one million listeners that are so far away that they would never go to the shop where as a manufacturer that has a web site and ships worldwide could care about such potential customers, could benefit from such listeners and be willing to pay to advertise and reach those potential customers.

One of the interesting mix of both ways to get radio is Emmis Communications Corporation NextRadio app. NextRadio App ). All smart phones can get radio over the internet through specific apps from the station, or internet web site links setup for streaming audio to listeners. NextRadio adds an interesting feature to most smartphones in that the chips within most smart phones have the ability to receive over the airwaves radio broadcasts and the NextRadio app allows one to tune them in.

One important note on Apple iPhones is that many Apple iPhones are not able to do this because, at the moment, Apple has deliberately blocked the receiving of FM signals on the phones. Some people speculate that part of the reason for this deliberate ‘crippling’ of iPhones is that Apple has agreed with the phone carriers to force people to get radio broadcasts on iPhones only by using internet broadband. This boasts peoples usage of data, thereby forcing people to pay more each month for the data plans on their smart phone service.

Over time any media that is available on the internet will need to do or make something so it is not generic with all other media it is competing with, otherwise, eventually, its business model will probably fail.

As an example, let us say I setup a radio station, WLOU, and my business model is to go the broadcast over the internet route. I don’t have any content but I find out how to license and legally play music over station WLOU, and then start to sell advertising. Now, my content is nothing special and anyone else that can get the same music is a competitor that is exactly the same as my station. There is nothing special to differentiate WLOU from any other station. Since WLOU has nothing to differentiate it from any other internet radio station, I can probably only compete by pricing my ad spots as low as possible.

Now let us say things go on like that for a few months, and then I decided to start adding my own commentary or editorials for 10 or 15 minutes every hour, in segments of a few minutes at a time. Now WLOU has something that no one else has, me talking. While it may not be a big draw for listeners, it is SOMETHING that no one else has and no other station can get unless I make an arrangement with them. If people want to listen to my commentary, they have to listen to WLOU, and advertisers may now be willing to ‘pay up’ to advertise on WLOU.

That is the challenge for all media companies; what can my company do that differentiates it from other companies that I compete with, so I get listeners, which then bring advertisers and advertising revenue?

The ‘base of’ any of this problem is listeners; if a media company has listeners, advertisers will follow as long as the pricing is right. If a media company is having problems with revenue then there are two things that need to be done: 1: Unique content or market area that will get listeners/readers/viewers/subscribers 2: Lower the advertising rates to more be in line with the amount and type of listeners/readers/viewers/subscribers the company is getting. As an example, if a radio station can’t sell a 30 second advertising spot at $500 to an advertiser, lower the price and see if that will sell. Some revenue is better than none. Once the time for a radio spot passes and nothing was paid for it in that spot, that revenue is gone forever since one can not go back in time.

Hopefully, all media will be able to find their special nitch market and unique content that will allow everyone to make a profit and serve the general public in the best way possible.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr
Sunday, November 25, 2018

Can Newspapers Be Saved?

Recently I had been looking around the Internet plus had many discussions with my friend Bob about newspapers and the newspaper business plus media in general. One of the ‘great shocks’ to me is how a number of newspaper and media companies seem to be having all kinds of problems staying profitable or even going out of business. I still find it amazing that there are a number of cities and towns in the United States that have no local newspaper!

As an example of problems newspapers are having, the local paper in my city, The Worcester Telegram, over the years has gone from where they use to have a Washington bureau, to now where the only outlying reporters are within the county and based out of the distribution offices in the towns around Worcester. Where the paper use to have its own printing presses in the main T&G building on Franklin Street, which the company no longer owns or is even based out of anymore, I am told the paper is now printed at presses located far outside of the city. Where the paper used to have its own process and systems for creating the paper, now most of the layout work is all done through a remote computer and software system that The Telegram does not own or even have on site in its offices. Where in the past the paper was completely contained in its main T&G building at 20 Franklin Street, now the paper is just a few floors in an office building after having sold off the 20 Franklin Street building years ago.

The older typical business model for a newspaper was that subscriptions were priced to typically cover the cost of delivery of the paper and the main profit for the operation was the selling of advertisements in the paper. This business model made a lot of sense since the advertising rates would be a function of how many subscribers the paper had; so by pricing subscriptions just high enough to cover the cost of delivery would get a newspaper as many subscriptions as possible. Doing that got the subscriber numbers as large as possible, then the advertising rate would be able to command the highest possible rate since the rate for advertisers would be based off of the number of subscribers.

In recent years this whole model seems to have broken down. I think part of the problem is that people are able to get news online for free, making it hard for newspapers to charge for subscriptions; a declining subscriber base would cause advertising rates to decline which would then cause more problems for any newspaper.

Another part of the problem is competition from other forms of advertising. In the past the media competing for advertising dollars were newspapers, magazines, radio, television and direct mail. Today, advertising over the Internet has taken a large part of the overall advertising market and caused all kinds of problems for all of the old line media companies.

The question today for any newspaper is this; is it possible to somehow stay with the old business model, or maybe transfer to a digital only business model where there is no more print edition of the newspaper but instead an online distribution only? While at first look an online only model would seem to work because of the lower costs of distribution but my observation over the years with magazines and other print publications that went from print editions to online only is that without a printed copy to distribute is that people simply seem to ‘forget’ that the publication is out there, subscribers drop off, and at some point the publication simply ceases to exist.

At the moment it looks like the current still surviving print publications are mostly, if not all, part of large conglomerates that look like they are trying to bring some kind of economies of scale to making and distributing print copies of newspapers and magazines. Hopefully time will tell if this attempt to use economies of scale to keep print publications going will work.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Saturday, November 24, 2018

Why I Will Never Retire

A lot of people, and myself included, hope, dream and plan to retire someday; when they will be able to no longer work a full time job and just ‘enjoy life’. For years I had done the same thing, but have recently started to realize that I will never retire because to do so would be a great loss of experience from the workforce, the world and could even be considered irresponsible when there are so many things that need to be done in world. While there may come a day for many of us that it may be impossible to continue to work, where one’s health declines to the point where they are simply not able to work anymore. Most of us should be able to continue to work and contribute to the world for years, if not decades, into our retirement ages.

There are lots of things to do in the world and lots of things that need to be fixed. While no one person can do or fix anything, each of us in our own way can try to do what we can to improve the overall condition of the world and to simply retire from the world would be irresponsible.

While in recent years there have been large strides made in improving conditions in the world overall, there is still a long way to go until everyone on the planet can have a reasonable standard of living. While some people may define that as something like a middle class life style like that in the United States, I do not think that is the right way to measure such an objective. In many part of the world, things like everyone having a car may not be necessary. As an example, if someone lives in a village where most things are within walking distance, why would they need a car? Having a car would just add an extra layer of expenses and work needed to maintain something that was not needed.

So how would I define when we know an area has reached on ‘ok’ level and what we should be trying for on a global level?

What Everyone Should Be Working Towards In The World

1: People are able to work and support themselves from their weekly and monthly income. Debt is only needed or used for long term capital purchases that provide a net positive present value when incurred. Example: Mortgage on a house, as time goes on, the value of the house goes up and the mortgage goes down, resulting in a fully paid off asset at the end of great value.

2: Health care is available to take care of any health problems and to prevent health problems with annual checkups, vaccinations, eye screenings and dental care.

3: No threats from wars or other violence.

4: Ability to move freely to where one wishes.

5: Able to save money each month based on their income. Monthly expense are lower than month income, resulting in savings that can be used as a reserve for emergencies and large savings serve as capital to invest in new projects.

6: No one needs government aid or assistance to survive.

7: Projects and businesses are able to provide a real rate of return on investments, which in turn results in a demand for labor so people are able to earn a living and paid a ‘living wage’.

8: Food and shelter needs are able to be meet from monthly income and are safe.

9: Education is available to everyone through the high school level. College or trade school level is affordable to people that have the ability to do well in those areas, but just because someone does not go into a trade or go to college does not mean they are somehow shut out of higher levels of income or destitute because work is available for everyone.

As time goes on, I expect I will make changes to this list plus come up with some kind of name to give it, but at least this is my first attempt at such a list of what people in the world should be working towards.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

I have had the good fortune to be able to listen to some of the hearings the last several days on the XM radio in my car, some of the hearings live. From what I hear and can tell, it looks like Kavanaugh will be approved within a few weeks and his nomination confirmed by the full Senate prior to the mid term elections.

While some of his detractors may have some valid points or concern, I think that the Democrat party, of which I am a member, is spending a lot of political capital on a fight that they can not win and would not expect them to win for several reasons.

1: Instead of saying why Kavanaugh should not be confirmed, no one has said who should be confirmed. I think that a better tactic than attacking every possible angle with Kavanaugh would have been to find or propose someone else that would be at least equal or more capable as a Supreme Court judge. Throughout the entire process, no one seems to have proposed anyone else as a nominee for the court. If someone else was proposed, and that person was more capable, then stopping Kavanaugh might be possible; but as it is now, it is highly unlikely.

2: Complaints about ‘not all of the documents have been released’. Opponents have been complaining that all kinds of documents were not released, but most, if not all, of those documents were work Kavanaugh did for an administration. As such, they would be privileged and can’t be released unless the administration agreed to waive privilege. While some have questioned such an executive privilege, it would seem to me that any legal work Kavanaugh did as part of an administration would be like that of an attorney with his client or as an employee of the executive branch covered by executive privilege. As such, it is not up to Kavanaugh as to whether or not to release the documents, it is up to the administration. While the administration can waive the privilege, and there is precedent that Regan did for a nominee, I can’t see anyone doing that in the current hostile political climate. In one part of the hearings I believe it was mentioned that something like six or seven million documents have been released so far. Just exactly what does anyone think are going to be in any additional documents? Kavanaugh has worked and published for years plus even clerked for judges so there is a more than ample body of work to examine by the committee.

3: Kavanaugh is a ‘boy scout’. If you have the time, I would recommend you watch the nomination hearing for when Kavanuagh was up for the DC Circuit.

MAY 9, 2006 Judicial Nomination Hearing

While I did not get to watch the whole thing, it was, what one can only describe, as a beautiful performance. He already at that point in 2006 had a long list of achievements and his wife and relatives were present in the audience, which he made reference to. Kavanaugh has had an exemplarily background and decades of experience that shows he is fully qualified to serve. This constant trying to slow down the process only makes the party look ineffective and even petty with the constant motions trying to delay the process for no good reason.

4: Last minute attempt to say there is something in Kavanaugh’s background and the process should be stopped.

Kavanaugh “Categorically And Unequivocally” Denies Sexual Misconduct Claim; White House Backs

I am of course, referring to the allegation by Senator Feinstein saying that there was someone from back in High School that Kavanaugh had acted improperly with. Feinstein refused to provide details and refused to bring forth the accuser. This, of course, has now all blown up on the Democrat party since one is to believe that throughout these years, and the prior nomination process, no one ever thought to say or report anything. But now that Kavanaugh is within weeks of being confirmed to the Supreme court, now all of a sudden someone decides to ‘report’ an incident to Senator Feinstein. The senator refuses to give any details all the while claims the process should not go forward until ‘all’ of the documents are presented to the committee. Even worse for the Democrat party, a statement from 65 women who went to school with Kavanaugh now state that they knew him and never knew or heard of him ever doing anything improper.

65 women of bipartisan backgrounds who knew Judge Kavanaugh in high school:

Quote from the letter by the 65 women to the committee:
“We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983. For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect. We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time.”

While I can understand the ‘politics’ of trying a routine like this by a party, this is a beyond stupid thing to have tried. Senator Fienstein and her cohorts trying to stop the nomination now have to disclose the identity of the woman making the charge, otherwise it will look like they are at best, completely wrong, and at worst, out and out right lying to stop the nomination.

If this is the best my party, Democrat, can do at this date, it would be best for all if they would just simply stop what they are doing and let the nomination go through. At this rate I would not be surprised if this kind of behavior starts to cost the party seats in the upcoming mid term election and even result in a net loss of seats to the Democrats.

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Friday, September 14, 2018

Does the Muller investigation have anything to report yet? If yes, what is Muller waiting for? If no, then why not issue a report as soon as possible?

In recent days there has been speculation that the Muller investigation is going to release something of ‘great importance’ but not specified as to what that would be.

Chuck Todd: I wouldn’t miss work tomorrow

One interesting question is how and why does Chuck Todd know anything that the public would not know? Is someone leaking information to Chuck Todd? If yes, isn’t that illegal?

Again, isn’t the special counsel supposed to be trying to complete their investigation and issue a report as soon as possible to the public?

Some commentators are starting to claim that the report would not or should not be released until after the mid term elections for fear that the results of the report would unduly influence the mid term elections. The only problem is that if there is something in the report that WOULD influence the elections shouldn’t the report be released BEFORE the midterm elections so people could act on the information? Doesn’t the public have a right to be informed of facts and information that would influence their voting in an election instead of finding out important facts until it was too late to do anything until the next election in 2018?

What is going on with the investigation and why is it taking so long for anything to be reported from the investigation? If there is nothing to report, why is money being spent on what seems to becoming an endless investigation into nothing? If there IS something to report, when is anyone planning on ever finishing the investigation so action can be taken? If there is something to report, what is the plan, to wait until the end of the second term for the administration before anything is done?

At the current rate things are proceeding everyone will be gone from old age before anything is done!

This is NOT how a competent investigation is supposed to proceed. As of May 31, 2018 the cost of the Muller investigation was $16.7 million.

Mueller’s investigation cost $16.7 million in just under a year, new documents show

Is running endless investigations the new paradigm for make work or no show jobs for Washington insiders? How can so much money have been spent with little to nothing to show for it and no report issued? How much money and time does Muller thinks he is going to need to spend ‘before he can issue a report’? Is this how Muller ran investigations when he was at the FBI? Is the reason why it seems that criminals never get caught or go to jail for anything is because the FBI is simply unable to do the job they were created to do or somehow being prevented in doing their job by people at the upper levels of the organization?

On the Muller investigation, in short:

What is going on?
Why does no one seem to be able to get anything done?
Why does no one seem to be able to tell what is being accomplished with all this money being spent?
When, if ever, do they plan on finishing the investigation?
How is it possible that things are being allowed to be run like this?

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Friday, August 31, 2018