published Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Race to disaster

Among the more unhappy headlines you may have read in recent days was this one atop an article by The Associated Press: "Social Security heading for insolvency even faster."

Alas, that also is an appallingly realistic headline. And without serious reform of entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, the situation is unlikely to get better anytime soon.

To be specific, Social Security is expected to become insolvent in 2033, according to the federal government. One needn't be mathematically inclined to realize that is only about two decades away. So if you're in your mid- to late 40s today, the funds may be running dry right about the time you are expecting to retire and to start relying on Social Security to support yourself.

The trends are in the wrong direction, too. As the government pointed out, the 2033 projection for Social Security's insolvency is three years earlier than previously projected.

The factors behind this alarming -- but woefully ignored -- state of affairs are many. But among them is the simple fact, long noted by anyone who has been paying attention, that millions of baby boomers are beginning to retire, putting additional strain on the program.

And the payroll tax receipts that fund Social Security as well as Medicare are expected to decline, trustees of both programs say, because people are likely to work fewer hours even if our nation begins enjoying robust economic recovery.

If the Social Security frying pan doesn't trouble you, try the Medicare fire. It is dubious consolation at best that Medicare's trustees have not sped up the projected date when that program will go broke. But on the whole, Medicare's situation is even more dire than that of Social Security. Medicare is expected to be insolvent in a little more than a decade -- fully nine years before Social Security hits a fiscal wall. (Some estimates say Medicare's insolvency may come even sooner, as the pace of spending on the program grows ever faster, with no clear ideas offered as to how to fund that spending.)

Yet despite the economic threat posed by the insolvency of Social Security and Medicare, there is little inclination in Washington to reform the programs in ways that will make them genuinely sustainable. Talk of reform often is met with a fierce lobbying blitz by special interest groups and with demagoguery by politicians. The issue is so sensitive that lawmakers of both parties frequently are unwilling even to broach the subject in any but the most general terms, for fear of being voted out of office.

That points to the painful reality that not only politicians but "we the people" are part of the problem. There no doubt will be an epic outcry when Social Security and Medicare finally go broke and we are faced with mammoth, economy-smashing tax increases and almost unthinkable cuts in benefits. But at least to some extent, we will have brought that calamity on ourselves by electing people who told us what we wanted to hear and promised us what we wanted to be promised -- and by ignoring lawmakers or would-be lawmakers who refused to sugarcoat the issue.

The trustees of the two programs spelled out the situation clearly -- and urged quick action.

"Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare," they wrote. "If they take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."

But if history tells us anything, it's that that is one mighty big "if."

29
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
nucanuck said...

2033 is when the money we have paid/are paying in would be used up if we hadn't already spent the money on wars and such. Social Security taxes have been used as general revenue, not savings, and we and Social Security are broke right now. Forty cents of every dollar we spend is not covered by taxes. We are a dead-beat nation who can't pay our bills without borrowing and now we can't easily sell our bonds.

If we raise Social Security taxes again now, it won't be for our retirement fund, it will just be spent as general revenue. The cowards need to raise regular taxes to cover what we spend and quit stealing it from our retirement account.

May 1, 2012 at 12:46 a.m.
EaTn said...

nucanuck....very true. The right-wing would love to give SS as early death as possible but have yet come up with a viable alternative for the millions who depend on the monthly check for basic sustenance. The current 50 million unemployed are already having their future undermined by reduced payments into the program. They, like many in lower income brackets, hardly have an opportunity to invest part of their income for the "golden years". Being a critic is easy if no alternative solutions are required.

May 1, 2012 at 4:56 a.m.
joneses said...

And obastard not doing anything about SS is the solution? It appears obastard is the one that is giving SS an early death by his spineless inaction. Obastard is a fool.

May 1, 2012 at 6:02 a.m.
hambone said...

If Social Security were a private retirement fund and the administators did what congress has done. Someone would be in prison!

Congress should set up a plan to began to repay the $2.6 trillion it has "borrowed" from the Social Security Trust Fund!

May 1, 2012 at 6:27 a.m.
conservative said...

Over the years Lieberals have clamored for other people's money. They figured out that they could vote for representatives who would give them other people's money by way of government handouts and programs sustained by other people's money. They put up with taxes to fund these programs and handouts only because they felt certain they would always get more of other people's money than they paid in.

This was accomplished with Socialism Security, a Ponzi scheme that over time would fail just like all other Ponzi schemes. The scheme would work long past the lifetimes of it's authors who would escape accountability. This was accomplished by forcing everyone to pay into the Socialism Security scheme but only allowing a certain age group (the elderly) to benefit from other people's money. I have read estimates anywhere from 30 to 40 people paying in for each one receiving a check. However today, that ratio has fallen to 2-3 paying those taxes to each one that receives a check.

To make matters worse the other people paying Socialism Security taxes today are only paying for each recipient of a check and nothing for his own retirement! The scheme has run its course, we are almost out of other people's money.

So now the Lieberals once again clamor for other people's money by way of tax increases on those poor saps who work so that they will not see a reduction in their Socialism Security check. How selfish!!!

May 1, 2012 at 9:19 a.m.
Plato said...

A few minor adjustments could make Social Security solvent for another 30 years beyond the current date. Simply raise the eligibility date by one month for the next 24 years, and raise the earnings cap by 5%. That only makes sense since people are living much longer today than a generation ago.

Medicare is a different animal. One of the biggest underlying problems with medicare is the cost of health care itself which is rising 8% per year. It's unsustainable. That will require a more comprehensive solution including what I would call a war on obesity which is responsible for about half the cost of health care in this country.

Unfortunately there is very little willingness to compromise in Washington right now so no solutions appear on the horizon and unlikely until we suffer a catastrophic economic hit. IMO that will come when the rest of the world is no longer willing to finance our debt - probably coming within the next 5 years.

May 1, 2012 at 10:15 a.m.
nucanuck said...

con-man, may we assume that you are equally upset buy the subsidies that flow from blue states to red? You don't get it, as plato says, the fix for Social Security is doable and relatively simple.

Your re-distribution hang-up fails to acknowledge that even insurance is a re-distribution system. We don't pay equally for roads, sewers...lots of things. A healthy community is anything but Darwinian. Socialist you say? Give us an example of community life where all costs are shared equally. You won't, you can't, because it only exists in your mind.

Social democracy is the best mankind has been able to come up with to live together in relative harmony.

May 1, 2012 at 10:39 a.m.
Livn4life said...

A beginning to help Social Security is even more simple; STOP USING IT AS YOUR GENERAL FUND! Whomever allowed that should be villified and the ones continuing it prosecuted. But nah, we've gone too far down that road. So as one earlier suggested, that economic catasrophe is about to unfold. Would anyone like to wager that whomever is in charge will blame previous persons for the complete collapse? Ooops that can't happen if a Conservative/Republican is in the White House. If so, it has to be his fault.

May 1, 2012 at 10:58 a.m.

I want the option to opt out like that town in Texas did. I know it isn't going to be there when I retire. Livin4life is right on the money. This just a big slush account for the criminals we keeps sending to Washington. I am beginning to think the problem is more us than them. We are the ones allowing this crap to continue.

May 1, 2012 at 11:33 a.m.
EaTn said...

I'm age 66, not one of the wealthy and appreciate the medicare and social security that I've contributed to most of my working life. The major difference between me any many of you right-wingers on here is that I'm not so gullible as to believe the wealthy propaganda that it's a patriotic duty to support their power and lifestyle, and that I don't deserve my hard earned benefits.

May 1, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
conservative said...

con-nuck, con-nuck, where do I begin?

you wrote..."con-man, may we assume that you are equally upset buy the subsidies that flow from blue states to red?" If you mean "ear marks" and "pork politics" such as museums, sex studies, nature trails, statues, etc, of course and why aren't you? Is it because you are a Socialist?

you wrote...."the fix for Social Security is doable and relatively simple." We agree on that but of course our plans would differ as you well know. That is why you will not state what your "simple" plan is. My hunch is that it would involve big tax increases on current workers and no reductions in YOUR check.

you wrote..."insurance is a re-distribution system." Yes it is but it should be voluntary and not forced and people should be able to buy only the coverage they need or want and not have to pay for sex change operations, drug and alcohol rehab, mental health, and the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse forced on them mostly by mandates to insurance companies dictated by Demoncrats in state legislatures. As a responsible citizen, I chose to be self insured where the law allows instead of relying on other people's money.

BTW, I think it would be wonderful if all you Lieberals would just get together and insure yourselves and leave us Conservatives alone. Start your own company, call it the Liberal Insurance Co. of America. Just think about it, you could all practice your sexual perversions, eat, smoke, drink, and take drugs to your hearts delight and then you could just pay the premiums and you wouldn't hate insurance companies any more.

you wrote...."A healthy community is anything but Darwinian. Socialist you say? Give us an example of community life where all costs are shared equally. You won't, you can't, because it only exists in your mind."

Speaking of existing only in your mind, you then did what Lieberals often do - make a strawman, make a false accusation. Also why are you down on Darwin, I thought you people attributed your existence to his theory of ape evolution?

you wrote...."Social democracy is the best mankind has been able to come up with to live together in relative harmony"

Oh yea, define that, tell us where that is practiced and why you aren't there. It can't be in America because you wouln't be complaining all the time, or would you?

May 1, 2012 at 12:45 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Con, I do not see how you are a living breathing person. You call names, and argue about things you have no clue. You have called me several names and thrown insult after insult. You are not one of the nicest posters so I ususally just ignore you. You seem to be so caught up on Darwin and Socialists that I have come to think you are one. Most people are a combination of all things. Conservative when it comes to financial matters and socialistic when looking at social matters, or anything in between. That is what socialistic is, social. I have learned long long ago that when a raving Republican starts yelling about some guy doing something, it is that Republican doing that very thing to you. Like the kid with his hand in the cookie jar, yelling that little jonny took the cookies. So think what you will Con, but the more you post, the more I am convinced that it is you that would like for this country to be under the thumb of authoritarian control.**

May 1, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.

eatn, You might have been much better off had you been able to keep what you put into ss and medicare and invested it wisely. Depending on the government for anything is why our economy is now crashing and burning.

May 1, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

EaTn said... I'm age 66, not one of the wealthy and appreciate the medicare and social security that I've contributed to most of my working life. The major difference between me any many of you right-wingers on here is that I'm not so gullible as to believe the wealthy propaganda that it's a patriotic duty to support their power and lifestyle, and that I don't deserve my hard earned benefits.

I am not so sure it is gullability so much as ignorance. One has to question whether or not someone would think differently given new information. For some, it is a safe little world where their opinions are the only ones that will ever matter. But it is also delightful to watch many of these zombies wake up. And realize they are not alone, that they didn't get to where they are alone, and that we are all in this together. It has taken 4 years, but I have watched many of my Republican friends wake up. They will not admit it,(yet) that they are no longer Republicans, but they will show it. Even some Republicans hate liars.

May 1, 2012 at 2:37 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Con-man, I'm not going to waste my time even thinking about your many, many lame-brained statements, let alone responding to them. But as to your comment about liberals who "eat, smoke, drink, and take drugs to your heart's delight," I just have to say...it is liberals who you will find more likely to be living a healthy life style, such as walking or biking, eating healthfully from organic and locally grown foods, and promoting an all around healthier form of living. While it is the conservative mindset that clings to your "right" to eat fatty and unwholesome fast food, drink yourself into a stupor with your cheap beer and smoke your cigs as you sit on your fat Nascar-loving butts watching cars drive round and round and round and round and round a track for hours on end. You think that promoting healthy foods in schools is government intrusion ahd believe it's better to let kids go on making their own immature and self-indulgent choices to eat and drink sugar-laden sh#t 'til they balloon up to the size of a small tank and get diabetes. What makes you think that you conservatives have the market on healthy living? Oh yeah....because you're con-man, and saying really stupid crap is what you do best.

May 1, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater said... eatn, You might have been much better off had you been able to keep what you put into ss and medicare and invested it wisely. Depending on the government for anything is why our economy is now crashing and burning.

You mean like some did with Jack Abramoff? So in other words, you think people should know how to play the market to be able to make it into the golden age? EaTN is very knowledgable and might have made more, but some wouldn't have lasted a month. I think you mistakenly think most people are smart. They aren't. So far, the Social Security system has been the best solution for everyone. If we could just keep little Jonny's hands out of the cookie jar, aye?

May 1, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.

JOW, Little Johnny will never take his hands out of the cookie jar.

I don't think it is my problem to fund other's stupidity. Socialists all seem to revere Darwin and then forget survival of the fittest. People have to take responsibility for themselves. I am not saying I wouldn't help someone who is down and out, but I absolutely HATE being forced to provide for someone who never once thought of preparing for the future. I like to have the freedom of choosing who I help. If I lived in the original America instead of this pseudo dictatorship I live in now, I would have that choice.

The "market" isn't the only way to make money you know, small businesses are the backbone of our entire economy. It is why our economy WAS so strong. There were almost as many ways to make money as there are different kinds of people. Unfortunately the government is making it harder and harder to be successful. Socialism is destroying this country.

May 1, 2012 at 2:59 p.m.
conservative said...

People need to understand that Socialism Security is basically a Ponzi scheme. All Ponzi schemes are doomed to fail for it is mathematically impossible for them to work over the long haul.

The first Socialism Security recipient was Ida Mae Fuller. She lived to be a 100. She paid in $24.75 and received $22,882.92 in benefits! Although subsequent recipients have not gotten this payout, they for the most part have received many times over what they paid in.

The Socialism Security taxes that are paid by workers today go to pay current retirees not to some mythical trust fund for their own retirement. Today they have a heavy burden requiring the taxes of 2-3 workers per recipient. When Fuller was getting her check there were around (articles vary) 40 people paying those taxes per recipient, so the burden was light.

The Socialism Security trust fund has always been a lie! If there had been a true fund with true funds in it and not IOUs as it stands now, the scheme would have already been exposed. Wait till the current workers realize that they are paying this Socialism Security tax to get checks to people sitting at home with more wealth and property than themselves.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-31/how-social-security-really-began-echoes.html

May 1, 2012 at 3:10 p.m.
nucanuck said...

con-man,

I do not believe that a relative few rich can make a healthy society without some degree of success within the much larger middle class. I do not believe that my success is more important than the success of the greater community. I do not believe in spending without taxing. Put whatever label you like on me, but I believe in community first.

As to government and government regulation, I believe that as our society has grown larger and more complex, we have needed more government. I also happen to believe that when size of government becomes too large, we should consider reducing the size of the goverened units. That, of course, would mean several countries where we are now one. Pretty radical I know, but we have lost our ability to govern the US as it now stands. We have become divided and an unhappy country. We need to talk about how we can change that.

As to social democracy, I live in one now and I long for a system in my birth country that works as well. I can't speak for all of Canada, but Victoria comes pretty close to perfection in the ways of community. Community here always takes precedence over the individual. At the same time we are a city of strong individuals who excel at every level and skill on earth, but almost all of whom care deeply about the common good. There are some very rich people here, but mostly there is an enourmous middle class, well educated, well informed, and positive in attitude.

If this is socialism, then that's what the world needs because taxes cover our spending, we care for the least among us and the happiness index is way up there.

May 1, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

People like FPSE and indeed most of today's teabaggers are so full of themselves, suffering from the delusion that they are completely "self-made," they are devoid of any empathy for others whatsoever. They are mind-numbingly unaware of the many advantages they have had just by virtue of being born into a society whose government has helped them in ways too numerous to mention. No one who drives on our roads, walks on sidewalks, drinks clean water, calls the cops or the fire dept., has any education at all, eats safe non-toxic food, bought their first house, raises kids, benefits from work safety regulations on the job, etc., etc., etc. has "made it on their own." If it weren't for governmnent legislation in the past that guranteed a level of safety and security for each individual in the first place, there is no doubt that the many governmment haters today would not be luxuriating in bitching and whining about the "evils" of government as they sit in the comfort of their homes.

I wish they would all move to Texas and then let Texas secede and live happily ever after in their utopia of guns, God, no taxes, and no regulations. I'd give 'em one year before they gave up on their libertarian pipe dream and blew themselves to smithereens.

May 1, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"People need to understand that Socialism Security is basically a Ponzi scheme. All Ponzi schemes are doomed to fail for it is mathematically impossible for them to work over the long haul." -con-man

Social Security was signed into law in 1935 and went into full effect in 1940. This is 2012. While SS definitely needs a little tweaking (not a major overhaul) going forward, it is still working today and providing a much needed safety net for many millions of Americans. Impossible to "work over the long haul?" Hmm...I'd say 72 years is a damn good track record. Keep on spewing out the crap, con-man. You just can't help yourself, can you?

May 1, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.

Rickaroo,

The delusion is on your side. I never said I believed all government and taxes were bad. You are over the top in what you think I believe. Your belief in government as the answer to all of your problems is ignorant and makes me imagine you standing on the side of the road with your hand out waiting for someone else to provide everything for you.

Before the government became the freedom trampling, economy and constitution crushing juggernaut it is now, people provided almost everything for themselves and we still ended up with the greatest country in the world. It wasn't the government that made this country great, it was the people and their belief in freedom and self reliance. Noone makes it on their own, but they shouldn't rely upon anyone else to make it for them.

For the record, all of your statements make it seem like everyone born in this country, should make it, but we both know that isn't the case. It still takes effort on the part of the individual to do all of the things you listed including get an education. You can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink.

The safety and security of the country were provided for in the constitution. The safety and security of the individual and community were also provided for in the constitution.

On the Texas thing, lets go back to the founding of the country, seems they made it just fine without all of this government intrusion.. They even made it longer than a year.

May 1, 2012 at 4:07 p.m.

Rickaroo, Socialist Insecurity hasn't been going along fine, it is failing and has been failing for decades. They keep moving the age you qualify back and printing money to pay the bills. We are broke and no amount of tweaking is going to fix that ponzi. Get over it, socialism always fails when given enough time because you will always run out of other people's money.

May 1, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

FPSE: In 1983 the law was changed to increase the NRA (normal retirement age) from 65 to 67, gradually, beginning in the year 2000. I wouldn't say that a one-time change over a 72-yr. period qualifies to validate your comment that "they keep moving the age you qualify back." But then, if hyperbole helps to convince yourself that your argument is strong, go for it. Please tell me exactly what decade did SS begin to deteriorate? If it's been failing misearably all these years, every retired person I know who has never once missed a check and has indeed gotten paid like clock-work would never know it. You seem to have a very bizarre definition of failure.

May 1, 2012 at 4:37 p.m.
conservative said...

con-nuck.....I want to thank you for not trying to refute anything that I wrote. Silence often pays homage to truth. I deeply appreciate it.

I can't address your feel good liberalism. The stuff is nearly always lacking in specifics, vague and sounds so good. I too want joy and happiness for all and a home for all, and a car, and a well paying job, and a father and mother for every child, and a good education also, and for everyone to be healthy and happy, and to have health care.......see how easy it is to be a liberal!

you wrote....."I do not believe in spending without taxing" Do realize what you wrote? Are you paying attention to what you write? I have read many articles stating that we have unfunded liabilities of over 12 trillion dollars! Unconstitutional programs such as Socialism Security, Medicare, food stamps and welfare are not funded with tax dollars but with borrowed money! We are broke and you and your fellow travelers either don't care or don't know it. I have read enough of your comments to know that you do believe in spending without taxation.

Listen up. We don't have the money to pay for these programs, nor are you willing to cut back on these programs or to take a reduction or elimination of your check.

Correcting you could take pages so I will close with a request that you ask all these poor brainwashed lieberals who comment here to join you up in utopia Canada.

May 1, 2012 at 5:10 p.m.
nucanuck said...

I hear you con-man, you don't/won't hear what you don't/won't to hear. You are entitled to your rigid narrow perpective...another of your many entitlements that you think you earned.

May 1, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.

Nucanuck how exactly does someone "earn" a perspective? Rickaroo, Simple math. 1983-2012. 29 years. Does that qualify as decades in your mind? It was in trouble then and is in trouble again. Seems like it wasn't ever fixed. Being a ponzi, it won't ever be fixed.

May 2, 2012 at 11:38 a.m.

Wow, 28 posters on this subject, but mostly from the same people.

But I will say this, FPSE, you should be able to recognize thatyou can never achieve a perfect and static system. Nobody can, the universes is in constant flux.

Nothing is ever fixed, and putting too much value in setting things in stone is a sure way to disaster.

Not to say constant change is better, that too is an extreme. The balance is somewhere in the middle. Be willing to change to keep your rots in the ground.

Also, conservative con-man, the US has a GDP somewhere around 15 trillion dollars. But that is economic activity, not the wealth or value of the nation. That is in excess of fifty trillion dollars. Now maybe you want to hoard it all like some Egyptian pharoah being buried with a hoard of gold, but somehow I can't agree with that mentality.

Especially since you don't mention the trillions spend on the military, which is itself an expensive obligation. Why aren't you willing to cut back on that? You're like somebody who has to buy the latest car while ignoring that the roof needs to be replaced. Remind me of my brother-in-law. Yells about the kids outgrowing their shoes, but never puts his own wants as needs.

May 2, 2012 at 8:08 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.