Skip to comments.No reasoning with the elderly on issue of Social Security
Posted on 05/25/2005 8:42:08 AM PDT by qam1
The debate over whether to reform Social Security is full of idiosyncrasies.
Here's a big one: No matter what fix we're talking about - partial privatization, raising the retirement age, means testing so millionaires forfeit benefits, tying benefits to inflation rather than wages, etc. - the most ferocious opposition comes from the demographic that won't be affected either way by any proposal being discussed at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue: Americans already 55 and over.
If you can imagine that, you're already two steps ahead of the Bush administration. White House officials seem baffled that their biggest fight has turned out to be with a group with whom the administration went out of the way to avoid picking a fight. The polls on this issue back that up. Most show the same trend: The older the polling sample, the less support you find for tinkering with Social Security. The younger the sample, the greater the support.
The more the administration tries to reassure seniors that they'll squeak by before any rule change takes effect, and so this debate doesn't concern them, the more concerned seniors get. Here's what the White House missed: This isn't just about self-interest. It's also about sentimentality. No other generation is as passionate - and therefore as protective - about Social Security as the World War II generation, those Americans now in their 70s and 80s. For that demographic, this debate is about preserving a program that served their generation well and which they hope will be around several decades from now to serve their grandchildren.
That's interesting. If they really wanted to protect their grandchildren, they'd do everything they could to ensure some generational fair play. Unless something is done, the current system will - 10 or 20 years from now - soak taxpayers with tax rates that experts say could easily top 50 percent when you combine income taxes with the payroll taxes necessary to fund Social Security and Medicare.
But there's no reasoning with the elderly on this issue. I know. I tried.
Recently, I agreed to sit on a panel here in Coronado and discuss Social Security reform. Home to a lot of retired naval officers, the well-to-do community has a reputation for being conservative. But you wouldn't know it from the way the audience - made up almost exclusively of senior citizens - seized every opportunity to tear into President Bush and his proposal to allow young people to invest part of the money they contribute to the current system into private accounts.
The way these seniors see it, this isn't about demographics and the undeniable fact that, with every year that goes by, we have fewer workers supporting more retirees. This isn't about the fact that Americans are living longer, and so it only makes sense to push back the retirement age.
For this crowd, the whole issue of reforming Social Security comes down to trusting George Bush. For those who don't, it's tempting to buy the argument that the administration is manufacturing a crisis to gin up public support for a scheme that will make a fortune for ''Bush's friends on Wall Street.''
Judging from their questions and comments, that's what many in the Coronado audience believed. And they couldn't get past it. They insisted on making the issue political, when it's really generational.
That disappointed me. So did the fact that these seniors had convinced themselves that there was no ''crisis'' in Social Security because the best estimates are that benefits will continue to be paid out for the foreseeable future. They didn't seem to care a whit about the financial strain that future taxpayers will be put under to make that happen. This is the real crisis.
You know what else was disappointing? That many of the seniors were so openly contemptuous of the idea of letting poor and working people invest their own money in private retirement accounts. To listen to these seniors, the less well-off aren't smart enough to know what to invest where, and so need the government to provide them with a guaranteed benefit.
Putting aside the rank condescension, such comments were horribly naive. Given the demographic changes ahead - beginning with the retirement of 70 million baby boomers - don't expect the Social Security system to give out any guarantees or to honor them if it does.
That's something that older generations need to understand - and which younger generations figured out a long time ago.
Your post was so on target, I figured I should repeat it in case any confused individual missed it.
I've said it before on this forum, if you take a look at everything the government has done "in respnse" to 9/11/01, you'll find that in every single case, it has not made us any safer, but has increased their control over us, and costs us more. The best thing they could do to prevent hijackings is to make sure that every pilot was armed. This wouldn't cost us a dime, or at least very little, as I'd expect pilots would want to carry their personal firearm. The only problem with this solution, is that it gives us power rather than FedGov. Of course, this just can't be allowed.
Then you are NOT a RINO... RINOs LOVE government checks..
RINO = smarter but very confused democrat...
You can take the democrat out of the party but its damned near impossible to take the democrat from the democrat..
The AARP also sells high fee mutual funds for retirement.
The cato plan is an excellent plan. I dont understand why people who are paying 50/60% of thier income taxes are demonized as not paying enough.
Its THE BIG LIE... no politician, not Republican nor Democrat, not Independent, NONE have told the truth that this is a GENERAL FUND TAX... not a system for the security of the people. They should change the name of the SSA to the Social Accounting Office.
Wait until they start giving you $1000 a month in return.
Good to hear. I just like to make sure that SS is discussed in the propert context. It is welfare, pure and simple....
I bet 90%+ of freepers understand this. I just wish the man on the street did.
Is it a conservative principle that we have people depending on the government for their well being?
Prescott showed that hours HAVE gone done in Europe because of the crushing tax load. I am advocating 'shock' treatment of a national strike so that we do not go the way of Europe.
Very true, but the word does get out. I tend to NOT back down when telling the truth of this "system" to people around me, and I believe that the grassroots effort will get the truth out. A wonderful thing ...the Internet.
Social Security has no chance of disappearing unless Americans realize it was never intended to be the sole source of post-retirement income.
"We can't support ourselves on Social Security" has become the rallying cry of the AARP. However, instead of proposing strategies involving responsible personal investment (low-to-no risk), the AARP, the RATs, and the media clamor for the government safety net to be expanded ad infinitum.
The bigger they make the net, the more likely it is we're all going to end up tangled in it.
No they're still the greatest generation.. Practically everyone from the greatest generation has passed (that I know of at least...). The greediest generation is the kids of the baby boom...
Mugs99, I agree about the government control part, but from a mathematical/financial standpoint, the proposals on the table in re social security reform are sound, viable, practicable, and necessary, in comparison to the status quo.
Because your a freeper and say your older, I'll assue that your an early baby boomer or a latter member of the great generation. When you were a youth, thirty people contributed for every person drawing benefits.
Due to the wonders of science and technology, people live longer, but that creates a small problem for social security, people live longer--drawing more money from a reducing roll of people paying into the system.
Now, if we had the same numbers of people paying in to drawing i'd probably be still for privitization, but saying "what's the rush?" well there isn't its more like 2 paying in for every person collecting, in about ten years it will be 1:1. That is why it is necessary..
As for government control, again, I'm with you...
agree to the max.
Of course not. However, the comment I responded to dealt with the elderly already dependant. I do not, will not, and cannot support any plan that would cut them loose as the post I responded entailed.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.