Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apparently Phony Buffett Email Chain Letter To Strip Congress of Pension and Health Care

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  Hey folks, read stuff before you pass it on.  Here's an email I got from a friend today:  [My comments in brackets]
Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the
    best quotes about the debt ceiling:
['recent' turns out to be a July 7, 2011 Idaho mountainside interview with Becky Quick on the impending Congressional default on the national debt. ]
"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a  law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of  GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."
[He doesn't say this until 5 minutes and 24 seconds into the 8 minute interview.  While I'm guessing he'd thought about it before the interview, I don't think he had any thoughts of this being a constitutional amendment when he said it.]
 The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!  Why? Simple!  The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.
Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure.
Warren Buffet [sic] is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
[I looked online to see if I could find any evidence that Buffett was asking. I couldn't.  I did find my way to  Rumor Has It which says there was a similar email, without the Buffet introductory reference in 2009.  It then goes on to fact check the rest of this.]
In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message.  This is one idea that really should be passed around.
 _*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_
[An "Act" tends to be something passed by Congress, not a Constitutional Amendment. More evidence that this was cut and pasted onto an older document, that was a Constitutional Amendment.]
  1. No  Tenure / No Pension.
 A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.
[This sounds more like the  governor of Wisconsin who ended collective bargaining for public employees and Koch brothers sponsored ALEC - who have all kinds of proposals for defunding government including cutting public pensions.]
 2.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
[The Snopes link says they are part of Social Security as of 1984.  Here's a link on this from the US Senate. that says members of Congress DO pay the same Social Security everyone else does.]
 3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan,  just as all Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
 6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
 7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.
Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
[Not sure what contracts this refers to.  But the 1/1/12 date - less than three months away - adds credence to the idea that this isn't a new proposal.  There's no way this could become effective that soon.  Besides, stereotypes of Congress members are like all stereotypes - there are enough examples to make them believable, but you have to judge each person individually and not because of the class they're lumped in.  When it comes to public pensions, people like me, who have made career decisions that traded higher salaries for secure pensions, breaking those contracts is unthinkable.  It's a legal contract that we entered into and performed our end of the bargain.   Changing future conditions is more acceptable if there truly is an impending crisis.  But we know that Alaska legislators made such changes based on faulty contractor predictions which led to a $500 million settlement paid to the state by Mercer.  So let's be careful here when we make these kinds of decisions.]
If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message.  Don't you think it's time?
If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete.
You are one of my 20+ - Please keep it going, and thanks.

[A couple more comments.
  1.  This proposal never actually addresses what Buffett proposed - ending the terms if they get the deficit is over 3%. 
  2. The judges in the Alaska Court system have their pay withheld if they have have any decisions uncompleted or undecided for more than six months.  (See this memo for details.)  That seems like a much better option.  This could be used, particularly for important Congressional functions like passing the annual budget on time.  Though the pressure would be less on wealthy members of Congress and there might be incentive here for lobbyists to make up the salary.
  3. In general Constitutional Amendments should be reserved for important general principles, not for details that then become very difficult to fix as unanticipated consequences show up.  And in this case Constitutional Amendment and Act seem to be mixed up.  There's no way Congress would pass this.]


  1. I always wonder who comes up with this stuff. Somebody took the trouble to write up a lot of irrational conditions and rules, make it look like a law/amendment, stick in some (false) "facts," and organize it into a chain letter.

    But that's the lesser evil. The greater evil is the people who receive this gibberish and pass it on. Something in the claptrap rings a bell and the dog salivates, whether or not the whole thing makes any sense.

    As if we need more proof that we get the Congress we deserve. The American public is deeply ignorant, willing to seize upon nonsense instead of thinking through an issue for more than ten seconds. The public falls for crap peddled by chain emails and lobbyists, and of course by candidates. And then refuses to vote for adequate taxes so we could properly educate the next generation of voters.

    Believe me, the deficit is the least of our problems.

  2. This feeling to remain hidden or to keep your email address under the table is really great and you can just tell anyone your anonymous email address and all emails will receive on your primary email address.
    get anonymous email


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