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Showing posts from October, 2010

The T-Party Movement and Running Government Like a Business

There is a media narrative out there about the T-party that it is made up of people who are angry because they lost their jobs or fear losing their jobs. The actual demographics of T-party supporters don't really reflect this at all. Instead, the typical T-party adherent is male, moderately well to do and in his 40's. Of course, not all fit that demographic. But far from being "trailer trash" as some people imagine, the T-party folks have been relatively successful.
So why are they angry? Because they fear life is getting worse, rather than better. And they, as individuals, react psychologically to their fears by getting angry, as opposed to other extreme of going to bed and pulling the covers over their head. But to focus on the causes of their anger, which are mostly personal psychology, is to ignore the causes of their fear.
Of course, we can't expect politicians or the media to address those causes. Success in politics requires validating that fear and ange…

Five Solutions to Social Security

As I discussed in Friday's article, there is a concerted political campaign to "wean us off" social security, as one of the program's congressional opponents put it. Central to that campaign is the notion that the program is going "bankrupt" and future generations will not receive any benefits. While that argument has little merit, there is some reality to the underlying problemt. Lets look at the reality.
The real problem facing Social Security is demographic. That huge group of baby boomers born after World War II is approaching retirement. This means they are ready to leave the workforce and start collecting social security. That demographic bubble means more people will be receiving benefits and relatively fewer people will be paying for them.
This problem has been anticipated for a while. The solution hit on 25 years ago was to switch to having current workers pay more in social security taxes than the costs of paying benefits to current retirees. The…

Social Security and Retirement

The current media narrative is that "social security" is not reliable. It has gotten to the point that this urban myth has become an accepted part of unrelated discussions of retirement. Here is one on article on retirement planning that is an example. This repeated media driven mantra has lead many young people to adopt the attitude that, as one told me 15 years ago, "I don't expect to get any social security."

But in fact that is wrong. Even once the social security trust fund is gone in 30 years, continued revenue is expected to cover at least 75% of the projected benefits. And even that is based on projections that assume US workers wages will continue to represent a declining proportion of any increases in productivity. And reducing benefits to 75% of those promised is only one of many options, if in fact social security taxes don't cover all the promised benefits.

The reality is that for many people Social Security is the ONLY reliable leg of the stool.…