Thursday, January 13, 2005

Walking: Java Object Persistence

I went to a presentation of the St. Louis Java User's Group tonight where Patrick Linskey of Solarmetric talked about advances in object persistence and some things coming soonish. He gave an overview of issues surrounding object persistence, discussed Java Data Objects, and went on to discuss the current collaboration between the Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0 working group and the Java Data Objects (JDO) 2.0 working group.

I've worked on this problem in the past, but it's been years since I took a serious look at the state of the art. Things have gotten much nicer than they used to be. It's time to go tinker...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Walking: Social Security (4)

Well, for a clearly reformist website you can check out the Heritage Foundation's 'Social Security Reform Center'.

It's amazing to see how much spin this issue is generating. Everyone is busy pushing their agenda and using inflammatory statements. For example, many people describe Social Security as bankrupt because in thirty or forty years it can't pay benefits as paid today. This is a rather interesting definition of bankrupt. Similarly, some of the retirement-oriented websites are squawking about how there is no crisis and there's plenty of time to reform things later (especially since the audience they are targeting will be dead by then, I suppose).


Walking: Social Security (3)

Over on Brad's World, Brad Shuler expresses skepticism about some of the plans being discussed for private savings accounts as a reform for Social Security. I agree with Brad's assessment that these plans seem to assume it's okay to rack up additional deficits in order to get people off of Social Security. The basic premise seems to involve a two-pronged approach to the problem:
  1. Get people off of Social Security - this is generally via private accounts
  2. Cover the future shortfall for Social Security (due to all those people not paying into it any more) by deficit spending
I think it may be possible to avoid the deficit spending if we reduce benefits in some minor ways. For example, if we change things so you begin receiving Social Security 10 years prior to your life expectancy (instead of at age 65), it would greatly reduce the Social Security shortfall for the future. No one seems to be talking about this though, probably because they don't want some retiree advocacy group to drop a cluster bomb on them...

Even more troubling are the recommendations in some of the plans to tie increases in Social Security benefits to cost-of-living increases instead of wage increases. At first, this seemed like a reasonable idea to me. Then I read an article (which I now can't find) which pointed out the problem: if the creator's of Social Security had tied increases in benefits to cost-of-living instead of wage increases, Social Security today would not provide enough money for its recipients to have electricity or a telephone. Yes, it's true. Most people had neither when Social Security was formed. And a cost-of-living index would not have adjusted for the change in living standards that has occurred in the last 70 years. Imagine living without electricity or a phone today, and you can see why a cost-of-living metric is a built-in problem for the future.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Walking: Social Security (cont)

Well, the information about Medicare is on a completely different website. I still need to peruse the documents from the trustess describing the state of Medicare.

This business of predicting how the finances of these programs will fare in the coming years is becoming more and more murky. Everyone has their own set of estimates and simplifying assumptions. I think I'm going to stick with the offical numbers and estimates from the government websites when coming up with my estimates.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Walking: Social Security

Well, the Internet is clearly still a work in progress. I've been researching Social Security and trying to educate myself on the various proposals starting to fly around for reforming it. Google is my friend of course, but there are so many sites that get hit with only slightly different queries. I hope to publish something a bit more formal over on The View From the Fringe soon.

In the mean time, here are a collection of links related to Social Security I've found interesting and useful:

  • The Social Security Administration. Of particular interest are the 'Actuarial Resources' (e.g. what does the financial future for Social Security look like?)
  • A rather interesting article describing just how poorly many Americans are saving for retirement.
  • The Century Foundation has a site dedicated to Social Security reform. I can't yet tell where they fit into the political landscape but they make some intersting points. Still trying to figure out the types of charged particles here.
  • I haven't yet read President Bush's position on Social Security, Retirement Security, and Medicare
  • The Cato Institute, a conservative thinktank, always seems to have something to say. So it's no surprise they have a big site about Social Security reform. Lots of charged particles that are useful, as long as you account for their spin.

I'm sure I'll find many more.