November 05, 2004

Give Up The Dough, Working People. With federal deficits already running amok, it is unclear how President Bush will pay for his second-term agenda, a potentially multitrillion-dollar smorgasbord that includes overhauling Social Security and revamping the tax system.

In case anyone starts believing the hype about how Social Security needs to be privatized, remember that it is perhaps the most effective program in the history of the US government.

  • I won't argue for or against privatization of SS (because I don't have all, or even many of, the facts), but the report in your link appears to be totally bogus. It says that, essentially, in the presence of Social Security, if you take away benefits, 40% of the non-poor become poor. Fine. But how about if SS didn't exist or was somehow different in the first place? We don't have those numbers. We can't know what people will do if given different options and forecasts for retirement. (This, of course, doesn't mean that SS isn't, as you say, effective, but only that this isn't proof. I haven't had time yet to really dig into it, as I will not at all rely on SS for my retirement. Selfish, maybe.)
  • It better be effective, the government spends enough money on it. Privatized or whatever, Social Security needs to be fixed.
  • perhaps the most effective program in the history of the US government A two word answer to why as someone under 50 I'm very concerned and assume I'll get zilch: Baby boomers. For non-US people on this thread, here's a pretty good although somewhat dated backgrounder on the aging of the Baby Boom in the U.S.
  • I don't know whether it can or will be fixed by privitization or whatever, but I work for a financial services company that has a division that does retirement and estate planning, and for several years now, when we do plans for clients, we have not included Social Security in their overall retirement income plan. We simply omit it. It does not factor in to our equations. I'm not sure that means we believe that SS will *disappear*, but the general feeling I get from the finance pros (which, by way of caveat, I am not, just so you know) is that the program is in such a state of disarray that they do not feel comfortable including it in the discussion when people talk about retirement income and standard of living. In short: it may or may not be there when our clients reach retirement, but we cannot say with certainty that it *will* be, so we see our fiduciary reponsibility met in leaving it out of the plan.
  • Similar programs in other nations are in trouble too. A question for the experts: Did all Western governments deliberately design such programs so that each generation would pay for the previous one? Or did the programs evolve in that direction? In (useless) hindsight, I just don't get it. How did they expect these programs to work with population aging and boom/bust cycles?
  • Well, not leaching the money out of the fund and neglecting to pay it back would be a step in the right direction.
  • Yay! Let's all get ass-raped with a lead pipe! sorry, was that too bitter?
  • Bush plans a multi-tiered strategy to pay for the war: 1. Beat up old ladies for their pension funds 2. Send in the F-16s to shoot up elementary schools for their kids' lunch money 3. Rape the rest of us who make under $200K with higher taxes, whilst abolishing the tax code for everyone above the scale It will all be broadcast on an amalgamation of Fox News and WB's Blue Collar TV, which will henceforth be broadcast 24 hours a day into everyone's place of residence. Anyone who turns off said TV or turns down the volume will be summarily taken outside by Bush's stormtroopers and shot for treason. Since we will not longer be watching anything else, cable bills will no longer factor into the monthly budget. More money for Bush's overseas adventures.
  • I'm no expert, but... Did all Western governments deliberately design such programs so that each generation would pay for the previous one? Yes. It's called "pay-as-you-go", in American Social Security parlance. How did they expect these programs to work with population aging and boom/bust cycles? Until recently there was no such thing as aging populations. The subsequent generation was always way larger than your own. Check out this population pyramid from 1950. Everyone below 65 is paying for everyone above 65; it looks pretty easy. (I couldn't find a similar pyramid for the 1930s, when SS was introduced, but life expectancy versus birth rate was even more favorable then.) Probably they thought these effects would swamp any boom/bust problems. And it has, till now. Not like I'm saying privatization is the answer.
  • Darn people living longer. *shakes fist at people*
  • This America, it vibrates?
  • I suppose if you do away with social security in the years ahead you can look forward to a declining life expectancy, in what was once the wealthiest country on earth. The thing that bothers me is when you look at the unified budget and realize that the current yearly ss surplus is covering another 400+ billion not covered in the deficit. At what point do deficits affect the average person, "perhaps when you need a wheelbarrow of cash just to buy a loaf of bread!".
  • Thanks, verbose. I'm just going to point and laugh at the those who designed these pay-as-you-go programs all over the world. Stupid myopic people. Couldn't even foresee that ever-increasing life expectancy would one day meet a baby boom. Should've been *so* obvious.