Saturday, 22 January 2005

Social security reform

People really need to get their terminology straight. Apparently these LaRouchies think that privatizing part of Social Security is both fascist and anti-capitalist:

No organization is more responsible for the forced-march drive to privatize Social Security—stealing trillions of dollars of its funds for Wall Street accounts—than the Cato Institute, a multi-million dollar Washington, D.C. think tank. During the past 20 years, Cato has had more than a quarter of a billion dollars lavished on it in contributions by the most powerful Wall Street banks, and largest right-wing think tanks—led by the ultra-right-wing Koch group of foundations. Cato has spent this money on a host of projects intended to destroy the sovereign nation-state and implement fascist economic austerity. But the lion’s share has gone into the privatization of Social Security.
The title of the post: Cato Institute: Anti-Capitalist Clique Leads the Attack on Social Security.

With all of the partial information and misinformation out there, it’s tough to get a handle on the scope of the problem, and what should be done. Lately I’ve been opposed to the idea of private accounts, and remain so. They will have to be funded and will not reduce the unfunded liability.

Still, the case for reform is a good one and consider this from an earlier post about a NYT story (excerpt from original story):

Seniors now get an initial benefit that is tied to a fixed portion of their pre-retirement wages. If the index was changed, their pensions would be pegged to a fixed portion of a previous generation’s income. If this standard had been in force since the beginning, retirees today would be living like those in the 1940’s—like Ida Fuller, which would mean $300 a month in today’s dollars, as opposed to roughly $1,200 a month.
This raises a good normative question: how fair is it to expect workers to fund standard-of-living increases—and pay increasingly higher taxes—for each succeeding generation, especially with the baby boomers set to retire, when seniors are already a very wealthy demographic? One solution would be to just begin increasing benefits to keep up with the cost of living; another solution would be to give them half of the increase in real wages, instead of the whole as they get now. The second idea would reduce the amount of the unfunded liability while still raising the standard of living for retirees; just not at the pace of wage increases. It would lighten the burden on the economy as a whole.

Of course, any attempt at reform—including reductions in the automatic increases will be fiercely opposed by the AARP. Yet another reason I won’t be joining that organization when I hit fifty.