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Jim Tailor BS: *Strengthening* Social Security... (203* d) RE: BS: *Strengthening* Social Security... 13 Feb 05

This has become one of those "pox on both their houses" topics for me, if ever was.

I think that, at some point or another, we need to "pay the piper" for a system that was poorly set up -- mostly to expedite its possibility of ever being instituted in the first place.

And so, what we have is a system, sold to us as a sort of "retirement package" into which we place our money, and, like any good savings account, renders us financial security in the end.

But that's not what it is – and it never had a chance to be that. It is, as any entitlement, the decision we made as a republican democracy to collectively vote ourselves something we thought to be in the public best interest – a way of caring for elderly who could not care for themselves – just as we voted ourselves a highway system, just as we voted ourselves a standing miltary.   We collectively decided that…

…We could afford to pay for our elderly so that those elderly who had either poorly planned, or fallen on hard times despite good planning, would not suffer needlessly. We obviously further thought that, though magnanimously voting that for those in need, in reality we were voting it for ourselves as well.

But at the time in which it was first instituted there was a more pervasive work ethic in our country wherein more people believed more strongly in the notion that those who refuse to work had no inalienable rights to partake of the hard labor of others.

So the wise folks who set up Social Security sold it to us as the retirement plan, the illusion that many still believe in today. Many still believe that the money we will (do) draw from Social Security has some sort of direct correlation to the money that had(s) been withdrawn from our paycheck for years.

When the Democrats (they were the majority then – it would probably only be a matter of time if the Republicans had been a majority – they'd have done the same thing if in power) "raided the Social Security Trust Fund" ha ha ha ha ha! …in a perverse manner, they really did us a favor – they helped remove the illusion that SS is anything but the same kind of entitlement voted ourselves for any number of reasons. It just had a more justifiable cause.

Now we know that all the tax revenue is essentially pooled – and SS is no more secure than the stability of the Fed Gov't.

As a "retirement plan" it is in DEEP shit. But it always has been because that illusion – the illusion that made it possible (by deception) to set up SS in the first place – perversely allowed perhaps the biggest tax scam in our entire history – a scam that we have to make right in some manner or another. The scam…

…is that, though I am against a progressive tax structure – I am at least equally against a regressive tax structure. IN THIS MATTER the wealthier haven't even come close to "paying their fair share". The guy who makes $1,000,000 a year pays no more than the guy who makes $90,000 (but looking at this with a broader history – it's more like the guy who makes $50,000 – because the ceiling has been raised within the past ten years).

But revenge almost always costs the avenger more than it costs the target. It's just true. The more you try to get back at someone for a perceived inequity, the more likely that you'll be paying double for your trouble…

…because NOW, in order to get even with those who had the free ride for so long, you risk hurting the employability of those upon whose backs you can least afford to put the public burden.

Knowing that, I think that the one way (and I know this is impossible because the whole mess is a VERY effective political tool wherewith to terrorize the masses on both sides) to correct it MAY be a sort of "coming clean" type policy, whereby a joint congress addresses the American people thusly:

We are in as deep a shit as you think (congress may be able to word it a bit more delicately). If we do nothing, the manner in which older people expect to get a monthly check is not going to happen because we will not have the real means to finance such a huge expenditure. We spent all your money.

But here is a plan for recovering at least some of it…
For a three year period there will be no ceiling on Social Security. We all benefit equally from the program and we should have been paying in equally all along. We have not been.

We are aware of how adversely this is likely to affect employment, and we wish there were a better way, but...

1. We are virtually begging the well-off among us to make the sacrifice. The middle class – those for whom the existing system has been an unfairly inequitable burden have born their huge share and will continue to do so through this process. See if it isn't possible for you to maintain the level of employment that you currently have so that the burden may be distributed to those who can most take it. Be patriots, damn it!

2. Accept that our life expectancy is going up, and our general well-being with it. Retire when you need to, and don't take SS if you don't need to. It never was your money we were "saving". WE LIED FROM THE BEGINNING. Those who were the architects of the deceit are no longer in office - mostly not even alive, so there's nobody to charge with high crimes. Get over it. Be patriots, damn it!

3. We will continue to make private retirement accounts attractive by making them tax-deductable or deferred – your choice as always.

4. After these initial years we will re-evaluate where it stands. We must be able to find out how adversely affected the poor will be by so burdening the wealthier, and we have to be able to determine how much, in real financial terms this is really gaining us. If it looks as though the Government can actually maintain a retirement system then we will do so. If we cannot we will be replacing it with a two-pronged system – welfare for those in need, and laws that require minimum savings.

Man, I can sure be full of shit sometimes.

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