Thursday, February 03, 2005

Social Insecurity

Here's an idea. Instead of whining about how unfair Social Security reform is for "our grandchildren," why don't we just go ahead and teach them (since most of them don't actually exist yet) not to rely on Mother Government for their retirement?

I know Social Security is a volatile political issue, but surely it is somewhat less volatile among those who haven't even been born yet. They're not even an entrenched lobby yet (possibly because Democrats have successfully fought to abort so many of them). Perhaps we could persuade the yet-to-exist (though I grant that public schools haven't had much success teaching children much of anything) that if they want to retire someday (which is actually a relatively new concept developed mostly by fat and lazy modern Americans), they'll need to do the appropriate planning themselves? I know my idea is at least somewhat viable, seeing as though we managed to survive without the Social Security system from the very Birth of Humanity right through the 1930's.

Of course, President Bush's reform plan is relatively gutless, since he does headstands to avoid calling on today's retirees (who on average receive three times in inflation-adjusted dollars what they ever put into the Social Security system) to forego even a cent of their youth-funded largesse. Any real reform would need to begin there. But at least Bush recognizes that the system is a loser that cannot continue indefinitely on its present path.

Last night, Senate Dem leader Harry Reid bellowed that "it's wrong to replace the guaranteed benefit that Americans have earned with a guaranteed benefit cut of up to 40 percent." Of course, Americans have "earned" no such thing. One could wish that Bush's plan have enough guts to do what Reid claims it wants to. Simple logic tells you that if everyone kicks $50,000 into a pile and later takes $150,000 out of that pile, the pile is going to have to get a whole lot of money from somewhere else. That somewhere else is the "children" and "workers" politicians claim to be protecting.

If Grandma and Grandpa actually want to receive back precisely what they've earned, I'd take that deal in a heartbeat and simultaneously solve the entire problem. But this isn't about what they've earned; this is about what they want. It's about what they demand you do for them.

The best thing to do would be to progressively eliminate the Social Security system entirely. Sure, it would stink for those being born right now to have to pay into a system they would never see a dime from, but let's face it: they're probably going to end up doing that anyway. We might as well get 'em used to the notion. Hey, being born into Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" sucked too, and I didn't have any say-so in that. Let our grandchildren grow up with the idea that they're paying into Social Security in order to make it go away. They'll probably be grateful. In reality, every one of us is forcibly paying for all kinds of government "benefits" that will never benefit us anyway. Wouldn't it be great to know that our payments would eventually put an end to the nonsense we're paying for to begin with? If I knew that my tax check was actually helping to kill FDR New Dealism, I'd be able to get excited about sending it. Taking a little medicine now will save our grandchildren lot of medicine later.

So why don't we get wild and actually consider raising a generation of kids that won't be looking to everyone else to support them?

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