Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Was Wrong

I've mentioned in the past that a raise in the Social Security retirement age is something we should do to help get our fiscal house in order. I was wrong. The retirement age is already set to rise to 67, and that's far enough. Blue-collar workers are the ones who will be disproportionately hit by this, and they're the ones who're least able to work at that age. Many of them would end up filing for disability anyway, negating most of the savings. Besides, while life expectancy at birth has gone up, people only live a few years longer once they reach retirement age than they did decades ago. So I was wrong.

I still think Social Security should be means-tested, however. If you've got an argument against that, I'll listen. But "fairness (to the rich)"  isn't going to cut it.


  1. I used to think that raising the retirement age was a good idea, but, like you, I've changed my mind. It seems pernicious to sock younger workers -- who are already oppressed enough by the pay as you go nature (aka Ponzi scheme) of Social Security -- to take on even more of the burden of righting the system.

    And the blue collar worker observation is a good one. I mean, if you have a cushy white collar job, especially one like teaching at a university with tenure, well, retiring at 67 or 72 or 75 isn't all that different.

    Considering how large the unfunded liability for Social Security (and even more for Medicare) is, however, I don't know that means testing is enough. I think we may need to rethink fundamentally what we're doing and basically provide subsistence support for poor old people. Everyone else should provide for themselves.

    So in short, I don't disagree about means testing. I just don't think it goes far enough.

  2. A lot of people who do not qualify as "poor old people" will not prepare for retirement and will reach retirement age with nothing. Some live from paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to save anything. Others could save but will not. What do you think should happen to those people if there is no Social Security?

  3. People who are living paycheck to paycheck because they earn, say, less than $50K a year and can't afford to save, should get social welfare payments of some sort.

    People who could have afforded to save but instead blew their money on booze, second homes, too many cruise trips, fancy cars, whatever . . . well, why should my kids slave away to pay for their personal *choices* to play the grasshopper instead of the ant?

    I don't mean to sound like a totally heartless bastard, but people really need to take personal responsibility for themselves.

  4. Those people will be eligible for all sorts of social benefits: SSI, Medicaid, food stamps, Low Income Energy assistance, HUD housing and a variety of state and local benefits. All of which are funded by your kids taxes. The recipients will contribute nothing.

    If they receive Social Security benefits at least they would have contributed toward their checks. I'm not sure the taxpayers will save any money by eliminating Social Security taxes. Their other taxes will just go up.