Inkwell hesitates to wade into the Social Security arena because the IWF has genuine in-house experts who have a great deal of insight on Social Security.
Nevertheless, I want to call your attention to a really radical piece about Social Security in the New York Post. In it, Nicole Gelinas explains how those who resist Bush’s plan to save the system by tinkering with it could actually create disaster for those they seek to protect, the not-so-rich elderly.
“Within two decades, too few workers will be working to support too many retirees,” writes Gelinas.
“But the centerpiece of Bush’s plan would also protect workers from a subtler threat: As the Baby Boomers retire, our perception of the elderly as poor and vulnerable is likely to change — and Social Security may lose its near-universal support…
“It may sound crazy to warn that future generations could force 75-year-olds to work for their benefits. But when FDR knitted his social safety net, it would have sounded equally crazy to warn that society would someday force single mothers to work for their benefits.
“Social Security and welfare were born at the same time, and on the same basis: Universal social empathy.
“Any taxpayers could empathize with being elderly, vulnerable and indigent — so all were willing to pay to ensure that the elderly could live in dignity. Likewise, any taxpayer could empathize with a poor widowed mother; a housewife with a working husband could see herself in that situation.
“But as decades passed, voters saw welfare not as a universal entitlement to vulnerable widows, but as a benefit for a separate class of people who had made a conscious choice to be single — ’welfare mothers.’ As married mothers went to work, they resented paying welfare benefits for mothers who didn’t.
“Hence, welfare reform.
“The same thing could happen to Social Security.”
On the other hand, Gelinas points out, under the Bush system, a worker making $35,000 a year could build a $250,000 nest egg over a 25 year period. “That’s money that future pols couldn’t take away — even if future pols someday end Social Security as we know it,” Gelinas writes.