I’m watching Bill Maher’s latest incarnation, whatever it’s called, and they have this wonderful democratic congressman from Massachusetts saying that Bush’s plan to reform social security would take away benefits for disabled people. I wanted to start a holy war. I’ll try to be rational here.
The administrator of social security testified on C-SPAN about SSI (Supplemental Security Income). This is different from the SSA (Social Security Administration). The SSI is a separate system with a separate account. So as of now, it’s leaving this debate. Bye bye, disabled people. Don’t let the door hit you in the wheelchair on your way out.
Now for the SSA. The administrator also said that the funds from social security are procured seperately from the general tax fund. However, these funds enter the general accounting pool. They are earmarked to satisfy social security’s needs for that year, then are taken by the treasury which issues an IOU to the SSA. Currently social security taxes bring in more money than the SSA needs, so these taxes generate a surplus which goes into the general federal budget. At some indetermined point in the future, the SSA will bring in less than it needs. The guesses for this deficiency range from billions to trillions. They’re just guesses though. Let’s define the problem more thoroughly.
When the SSA was formed by FDR he said it was to ensure that no one suffers through poverty-ridden old age. Back then, 19 workers paid for 1 retired worker. Now, it’s about 3. Back then, the retirement age was 65. Most people didn’t make it to 65. Now people live well into their 70’s, and Clinton lowered the retirement age in the late 90s. Add in the damn baby-boomers, and we’ve got WAY too many people retired. Of course another problem is that people are working until they are older and some of those who have “retired” have simply taken new jobs, reducing the number of jobs available to younger people. Why? Too much damn stuff to buy.
I’m sure some of you have heard of the new bankruptcy laws which will make it so that if you can pay back some of your debts, you have to. I hear a lot of tears being shed about this one and I don’t have a lot of sympathy. We all control our spending. With credit cards, it gets easier to get into debt. It’s still us getting ourselves into that debt, though. In the 1930’s they didn’t have too much to buy. You buy a coke, a broom, one of those new big-city fancy-pants refrigeration machines, and you’re living the high life. We’ve been getting addicted to that high life by consuming more and more. We’re spending our money on shit we don’t need because it’s there. And then we cry that we don’t have enough to pay our credit cards or retire. The real answer is we don’t have enough to retire in the fashion we want to.
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