Politicians’ election prospects are enhanced, the more goodies they can promise and the less taxes they collect to pay for them.
That is why welfare states in Europe as well as here are facing bitter public protests as the chickens come home to roost.
It has been said innumerable times that nobody already on Social Security will lose their benefits. But it needs to be spelled out emphatically, so that political demagogues will not be able to scare retired seniors that they are going to have the rug pulled out from under them.
Retired seniors have the least to fear from a reform of Social Security, since neither political party is about to take away what these retirees already have and are relying on.
Despite irresponsible political ads showing an old lady in a wheel chair being dumped over a cliff, the people who are really in danger of being dumped over a cliff are the younger generation, who are paying into Social Security but are unlikely to get back anything like what they are paying in.
The money that young workers are paying into Social Security today is not being put aside to pay for their retirement. It is being spent today, paying the pensions of the retired generation — and it can’t even cover that in the years ahead.
What needs to be done is to allow younger workers a choice of staying out of a system that is simply running out of money. Nor can the system be saved by simply jacking up taxes on “the rich.”
Generations of experience have shown that high tax rates that “the rich” can easily avoid — through tax shelters at home or by investing their money abroad — do not bring in as much revenue as lower tax rates that keep the money here and the jobs here.
Since the law does not allow private pension plans to be set up in the financially irresponsible way Social Security is, that is where young people’s money should be put, if they ever want to see that money again when they reach retirement age.
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