Log in

No account? Create an account
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.


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. ;-)