Saturday, March 15, 2014

Social Security, the Fix.

Ah, more calls for privatization.  It has worked so well for countries like Greece and the UK, that American Exceptionalism dictates, "Hey y'all lets try this".  Recently some persons who will remain nameless have expressed some views about Social Security to me, and not in a way I agree with.  As a whole there is one person, who seems to think its not worth fighting back, just let the tide rise, and while I share the sentiment, I am a contrarian, but I take it to a whole other level.  If what he thinks is coming does, I will go out kicking and screaming to the bitter bloody end.  It is in my nature to do so, and it is my belief that no labyrinth is inescapable.  There is always a way out, a solution to the problem, you just have to bide your time, and think.

But, this entry is not about any of that per say.  Right now, I am going to talk about the favorite target of raiding, looting, and demonizing by the conservatives.  I am going to talk about Social Security.  You know that so called "entitlement" program.  Well, the truth is, it is an "entitlement program" in name only.  Just like the Big Bang, it is a misnomer, the wrong designation for the program.  We pay in, we collect later.  That isn't a ponzi scheme either.

Alright, first, Social Security gets raided, every day.  In a very real sense, Social Security buys bonds that offset the National Debt.  According to Sen. Hollings, as of 1998 the US Government owed Social Security over 736 Billion dollars.  See this is part of the problem, Social Security gets a little surplus and bang, money gets shuffled around, it gets spent, and conservatives whine insistently that Social Security is broken.  Imagine what would happen if we stopped raiding it?  Well our debt everywhere else would increase, as rather than the debt being held by the workers paying into social security, it would be held by some other group, but in the meantime, while it is busy using its surpluses to cover government debt, they and you don't need to whine about it, until you check your politicians, and their crap.

Next, raise the roof.  Well, not a roof, but the cap on payments.  See right now, anything up to $117,000 is taxable for social security.  That needs to go out the window.  As people are living longer, more benefits are being paid, and the highest earners are going to live longer, so they should pay more.  Its called paying your fair share.  But here is how your checks are calculated.  Take the 35 years you earned the most, and that dictates your monthly payment.  So by removing the amount paid in, you are adding a massive surplus to the program, which half way takes care of the first issue.  First it would take be able to take on the current level of debt it holds, without putting it at risk.  It will also mean that retirees can live longer, without adding strain to the already allegedly strained system.

Another thing I take exception to is calls to raise the retirement age.  However, I see this as a problem in the current economic environment.  What we have currently happening is older Americans who should be sitting on some riverbank somewhere fishing, or building ships in bottles working full time, or part time jobs just to make ends meet.  I know a man who at 63 years young has no business working a full time job.  His health is just that bad, yet he is waiting to go back to work after a blood clot in his lung, because its not enough to survive.  Sure he could go on disability, but the man works for what he gets, he always has, and I suspect he always will, until he gets his retirement from the government.  At 75 he would pass away, and not collect anything, which is a net gain for the program.  See, as people put money in, their account grows.  When they pass away, whatever is in it, goes back to the government.  So, if you die at age 45, that is around 27 years worth of payments in, if you started working at 18.  Really what we need to be doing is lowering the retirement age, full benefits at age 60-62 years old.  Then people would have full benefits at a slightly younger age, and depending on health, lifestyle or occupation, they might be more willing to turn over their job to someone younger.  This would free up more jobs, assuming that their check is sufficient to live on. 

Which brings me to another pet peeve I have with social security.  It is the payouts for it.  I have counted more elderly people on social security eating dog and cat food.  Yeah, just want I always wanted to see, an elderly cancer survivor eating Alpo dog food.  We should be ashamed of this fact.  We should not have a single person eating Alpo unless it is a choice, not a necessity.  If we did all three of those things, stopped using it to fund overspending on wars and bullshit, raised the cap on the pay ins, limited the payouts based on income, and lowered the retirement age we might be able to overt this, as people would have full payments plus any income they earned to live on. 

I also want to point one other thing out, just so you know.  Even when you are collecting your full benefits, when you work, you still pay social security taxes.  Let that sink in for a few moments.  Even as you collect you are still adding to the program.  There is no magic button that turns off that collection.  You do not get it back as part of your tax refund every year.  And that is one thing, I actually feel is right with the program as it stands today.  It is a safety net, some do not qualify for it, but the majority of citizens do, and as such it should afford them the ability to live a decent life, kind of like wages.  Speaking of which, when the minimum wage increases, guess what else does?