Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 6, 2013/ 24 Adar 5773

Social Security truths --- as hard as they may be to stomach

By Jack Kelly




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | At a meeting in his state, the Congressman (who shall remain nameless to save him from being tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail) asked members of the Tea Party: "In the interest of really cutting spending, how many of you would be willing to temporarily forego your Social Security check for a short time, say three months?"

The answer was an emphatic "no."

"We're entitled to that money," was the angry response. "We're only getting back what we paid in."

Members of the Tea Party are hardly alone in their belief that the government should reduce spending -- except for spending from which they benefit. But these are people who know there is a fiscal crisis and profess to be worried about it.

In point of fact, the typical retiree receives more in benefits than he or she paid in payroll taxes. The longer people have been receiving benefits, the greater the advantage.

A milestone was reached in 2010. Most people who retired that year will receive less than they paid in, according to a study by the Urban Institute.

A single man who retired in 1980 and who earned the average wage all his working life would receive in Social Security benefits about 211 percent of what he paid in payroll tax, the Urban Institute said. But if that guy retired in 2010, he'd get back only 90 percent of what he paid in. The gap will grow with each succeeding year, absent reform.

Social Security and Medicare have transferred an enormous amount of wealth to seniors from younger generations. In 1984, households headed by persons aged 65 or older had 10 times the wealth of households headed by persons under 35, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2009, households headed by seniors had 47 times the wealth of the younger generation.

But even most of those who seem to be coming out ahead get less in Social Security benefits than if what they'd paid in payroll tax had been invested for them in mutual funds or Treasury bills.

Politicians have found a way to cheat every generation simultaneously. This is possible because benefits are paid to those retired by those still working. In the private sector, this is called a Ponzi scheme. It's illegal, for good reason.

In 1950, there were 16.5 people paying Social Security tax for each person drawing benefits. Today, there are fewer than three. That's the chief reason why the Social Security Trust Fund went into the red -- paid out more than is being collected in payroll taxes -- in 2010. Reserves will be depleted by 2033, Social Security's trustees estimate.

When the reserves are gone, the law says benefits must be cut to the level of payroll tax revenue. "As it stands, that would amount to a 25 percent haircut," estimate Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy of Reason magazine.

But really, there are no reserves. The Social Security Trust Fund is an accounting fiction. When you pay Social Security tax, the money goes into general revenues (where it is spent right away). When you get a Social Security check, it comes from general revenues.

So the good news is you needn't fret about the Social Security Trust Fund going broke. The bad news is the finances of the U.S. government as a whole are in even worse shape than the Social Security Trust Fund would be, if it actually existed.

Politicians pretend there is a Social Security Trust Fund in part to foster a sense of entitlement among those who mistakenly believe benefits are based on their contributions. Mostly the politicians do it to fool people about a tax few would stand for if they knew the truth.

Payroll taxes are high, and they're regressive. Politicians justify both by pretending Social Security and Medicare are social insurance programs, when in reality they've been structured like welfare programs.

Payroll taxes should be abolished. Social Security and Medicare should be funded from a reformed, preferably flat, income tax. This wouldn't make them more fiscally sound. But it would raise the money to pay for them more fairly and efficiently. And the honesty and clarity reform would bring would make Americans more aware of how much Social Security and Medicare cost, and how that cost affects the fiscal health of the nation.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration.

Jack Kelly Archives


© 2013, Jack Kelly

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast