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the only earth?

things you should know

You probably already know this, and/or know more about economics than I do. But even if you've read this paragraph I think it's worth re-reading1 as the administration marches into its next cycle of selling fake crises to the public:
This year, the Social Security system—the payroll tax, which brings money in, and the pension program, which sends money out—will bring in about $180 billion more than it sends out. It will go on bringing in more than it sends out until 2028, at which point it will begin to draw on the $3.5 trillion surplus it will by then have accumulated. The surplus runs out in 2042, right around the time George W. Bush turns ninety-six. After that, even if nothing has changed, the system’s income will continue to cover seventy-three per cent of its outgo.[newyorker]
I feel like people of my generation have been repeatedly taught to expect that there won't be a dime left in the social security system by the time we're old enough to retire. Maybe this is true, maybe it isn't? Now, though, I'm starting to get the sense that it's part of a vast right wing conspiracy to create a sizable portion of the population that is indifferent to the continued existence of the program.

But what do I know? I'm supposed to be in a four-year news hibernation cycle. (I still haven't gotten to the Seymour Hersch thing about the coming war against Iran)

--
(1) the whole essay is worth reading, too. It isn't very long and Hendrik Hertzberg (a) does a nice job of summarizing the non-crisis; (b) makes a moral case for social programs; and (c) is generally a MVP of the "talk of the town" section.

Comments

From what I learned in economics class, the whole 'running out of social security for our generation and we're going to be fucked up the ass' is a myth. There is going to be money for us, just not very much as compared to what people are getting now and that it will be most likely for our generation that the retirement age will be higher is what I was taught. Who know though, really. This whole thing is confusing to everyone!

Did you get a letter in the mail from the Social Security administration recently? I just got one (and so did a few other friends) and it was strange seeing that the amount we receive is based on how many 'points' we have accumulated throughout our working years and how much we would get if we stopped working now/got on disability/retired at 65/etc.
I'm repeatedly reminded that social security will run out of money by the time I'm old["unless changes are made!"] each time I call about medicare. Currently medicare only pays for three years of transplant anti-rejection medication [which costs about $1000/month without insurance]. Part of why I lost my k idney was the fact that I couldn't always afford the medication. It's sad that happens if there is so much money to go around.
Now, though, I'm starting to get the sense that it's part of a vast right wing conspiracy to create a sizable portion of the population that is indifferent to the continued existence of the program.

It would probably do some good to raise some sort of awareness.
Another article, originally published in the NY Times:

http://www.thinkingpeace.com/pages/arts2/arts343.html
thanks! that looks good.
My personal feeling about Social Security is that, while I'm happy to pay my taxes and put money into it which I'm sure is going to some very needy senior citizens (both my grandparents (I never knew my grandfathers, so I'm talking grandmothers here) had very limited, fixed budgets), I don't plan on or even care if I see any of the money in Social Security myself. I don't think it's smart at all to depend on the government to support me in my old age, and even if the money is there, it's not like it's a small fortune which is going to provide me with the leisure lifestyle I'd want to enjoy in retirement. No, better to focus on things more within your personal control like finances, 401Ks, stocks, IRAs, etc. That's the only money I ever plan on seeing, and fortunately it'll be up to me to determine how successful I am with that, and thus determine how posh my retirement lifestyle is.
I think that's sensible -- and the government already encourages people to save for retirement by setting favorable tax schemes to money put into the type of accounts that you mention. Social Security seems to be a system for keeping senior citizens out of poverty; the idea of moving the money to 'private accounts' seems to be a way to make a lot of financial planning firms very happy.

It's also important to realize that Social Security does more than distribute checks to senior citizens -- disability is another big component.
Kudos for keeping the "private" vs. "personal" thing straight. The Republicans are making that very tricky to figure out. ;-)
I was just thinking of this issue as I scanned tax-related documents and saw how much I actually paid into Social Security this year.

I'm pretty . . . uh. . . okay . . . . dumb, as far as the world of economics goes - but if people are working, doesn't that mean that the people who aren't will get the money? Are we going to "run out" of employed persons? Will they just not be required to pay? I guess the theory is that there won't be enough working people to "support" all of the retired people. But there will still be *some* money coming in, right?

p.s.

I blame it on KVCC, by the way. My dumbness, not the lack of social security.
the main idea of the "crisis" is that the ratio of working people to retired people is getting closer to 1:1 as the Baby Boomers retire. I think it's actually projected to be something like 10:1, but at that point the system will rely on the trustfundlockbox until there are extra workers.

But, I too took my economics at KVCC and didn't learn much about this.
Is that really possible? For there to be as many retired folks as there are working folks? Wow.
no, I don't think it will happen, but it's just approaching 1:1. When it started it was 35:1 and in fifty years it might be 10:1.

The whole thing is a sham.
It's also important to realize that Social Security does more than distribute checks to senior citizens -- disability is another big component.

And not just that, another big thing social security money goes to is widows and children with deceased parents. Like my brother and I were able to collect social security on my dad until we were 18, which was a big help in sending me to college and in my mom being able to afford raising two kids on her own for most of our childhoods. So even though I don't necessarily care a lot about being able to depend on social security money when I retire, I think it's pretty important that it be available for people with disabilities or who lose a parent or spouse.