Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Sunday, February 20, 2005

  Social security fixes

Changes I'd make to social security:

1) Stop calculating it as an employer's share and an employee's share. If we eliminate the distinction between employment tax and the Self Employment tax - require that we give everyone a raise to match the change - we'd have a lot more rational discussion on this topic if everyone realized that the effective tax rate was, really, and truly, 12+% already - higher than what most people pay in income taxes.

2) Eliminate the cap at 90k. No, don't just raise it - eliminate it. I can hear the howls from the Republican administration now - and I would love to hear some enterprising Democrat run the calculation on this scenario - as merely raising the cap to 150k isn't effective enough and unfairly burdens those in the 90k-150k tax brackets.

3) Raise the retirement age to 70. Or higher. I note that in part, originally, Social security was intended to take people OUT of the job market at a certain age, leaving more room for more of the young to be employed. I'm not sure if raising the retirement age is such a good idea after all, maybe lowering the age is a better idea.

4) Re-institute the inheritance tax - direct some of the proceeds towards social security. Social Security currently steals from the young to give to the old - Stealing from the old to give to the old has a nice symmetry to it. Let the baby boomers pay for their own mistakes. I really like the idea of pitting the largest voting block against itself - instead of it's children.

5) Let kids below that age of 18 opt out entirely until they are 18. Why should a 16 year old with his Mcjob in danger of being outsourced to India have to pay into a system to retire an infinite number of years hence?

6) To balance out the "baby boom bulge", increase and enhance immigration of the young and qualified - along the way, eliminate the H1B program and make it easier for immigrants to get citizenship.

While much of the recent debate has been about the privatization of a portion of Social Security, few have pointed out that private investment is not a panacea -

Banks fail. Economies collapse. People make bad investments. Pension funds can be plundered. Having the government back some level of retirement support for elderly is a good thing. Mandating what is effectively a portable extension of the 401k programs is also a good thing, but private investment is no assurance against financial disaster.
 
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