Friday, November 12, 2004

Fixing Social Security

President Bush has suggested that people be allowed to put part of their Social Security money in their own retirement accounts. Fine, but the problem, as I understand it, is that the Social Security Administration is not putting your money away safe in the bank where it's earning interest (as it should be doing), but rather is using your money to pay current retirees. Therefore, if the gummint lets people put part of their money into their own retirement accounts, that means there's less money to pay current retirees, which means that for a while, there'd be a shortfall.

With that in mind, I want to share my ignorance - for free! - about how to minimize the shortfall to reduce the cost of Social Security.

  • Why not let anybody who is eligible for Social Security work tax free? No federal taxes - at all. If these people were going to retire otherwise, that's no income loss to the government. In return, the government would ask that they delay collecting Social Security for a few years. Nobody would have to do this, but some would, and that would save money. This has the side benefit of helping boost the economy and keeping seniors active and hopefully healthier. Also, I suspect that some of these seniors would be covered by their companies' health plans, which would save money for Medicare.

  • Alternately, working Social Security recipients could be taxed at maybe five percent of the normal rate, and the small amount that is collected from them would help fund Social Security.

  • The Social Security age for people just beginning to work should be raised. Lifespans have been increasing and people can generally work longer. People in the system, however, were promised a retirement date, and we should honor that.

  • Why not let workers put part of their Social Security money in private accounts if they agree to wait until they're older to withdraw their money. The older they are, the less delay they have to accept. If they want no delay, they'd just keep their money in the current system.

  • Why not give workers larger Social Security pensions the longer they delay taking it. I believe this is done to some extent already, and I think the concept should be extended.

  • Why not give people the option to donate their money to the Social Security system. Not many people will do that, but even if some do, it would help.
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