Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Social Security is not in crisis.

An article in The Washington Monthly talks about Social Security.
In other words, after actually studying the issue, I changed my opinion almost 180 degrees. Nothing is going bankrupt, benefits will continue to be paid forever, and future funding problems are both modest in size and not that hard to deal with.

Unfortunately, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and now George Bush, each for their own reasons, have found it politically convenient to use Social Security as a useful bogeyman for scaring the public. The difference is that, unlike me back in 1995, they all know better. It's too bad they couldn't have figured out some real problems to focus on instead.
A few things come up in the comments.
  • SS has been running surpluses for years (that is, it got more money than it paid out).
  • It's about to run deficits instead (gets less than it pays).
  • The surpluses were deliberate because the deficits were forecast, and the result was supposed to be a trust fund to carry SS through the deficit years.
  • That trust fund has been ransacked (er, borrowed from) again and again to fund other things (this is why Al Gore kept talking about a "lockbox" for it).
  • Now we're supposed to believe there's a SS crisis because SS has been mismanaged, but the truth is other things have been mismanaged, and SS was sacrificed.
Now it's true that Social Security is lacking money it needs, but that's not because of anything wrong with SS. I regret that I have but a few minutes to give for this topic, else this post would be linked-to-the-gills with supporting material. Suffice it to say that I think that Social Security abolition/privatization is a Bad Idea.
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