Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Social Security Elephant

I've talked about this a bunch of times but I've never written about it because it is a bit outside the scope of usual GuvWurld fare. However, today the NYTimes has a news story about the Social Security "debate" called "In Overhaul of Social Security, Age Is the Elephant in the Room". The article focuses on the increasing lifespan and tendency toward earlier retirement. We are now supposed to believe, if you get the metaphor of the title, that this is the most central element of a crucially important issue and we've all known it but refused to discuss it. In my recent conversations about this topic I've seen a lot of a-ha! moments when I describe the different elephant I see.

First of all, the figures used for the discussion of Social Security include forecasts for 2040 and beyond. Have you ever tried to keep to a budget? Ask any small business owner how far out she can project costs when revenues are uncertain. Look at all the corporate re-statements of earnings. Anything this government says about 2040 is a joke. Even allowing a generous margin for error, the scenarios used do not consider the economic turmoil that Peak Oil will bring us. Likewise, how economically devastating will another terror attack be? Cheney and others have said they are guaranteed to happen. Sounds like a terror threat to me alright.

The entire push for Social Security reform is a canard.



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