Friday, August 17, 2012

Social Security

While Medicare Reform is now politically front and center, Social Security is only slightly less in trouble.

Factor in the Fed's recent embrace of inflation, and it's impact on both Social Security costs, and retiree's defined benefit pensions (those retiring at 60 now -- in a best case scenario -- should expect their pension, if not inflation indexed, to lose 75% of it's value if they live to 100) and the PBGC's looming insolvency, and our retirement system is in dramatic need of repair. And that is before you question the honesty of government reported inflation numbers...

Private accounts are not sensible reform: Pushing unsophisticated investors into the arms of Wall Street doesn't end well either for retirees (who lose their shirts) or capital markets (which require informed and competent investors to rationally function).

A more sensible reform would be the proposal posted previously: Instead of [individuals] holding [bank] accounts that are, in effect, loans to Chase, subsidized by the government [/FDIC] individuals should be able to open accounts that are, in effect, loans to the Government. With the tweaks that accounts ought be capped at $250K, max account size and account interest ought be indexed to inflation and individuals ought to be able to deposit pre-tax dollars and defer all taxes until they withdraw the money.

This would go a long way to protecting the middle class as people could more effectively save both for retirement and economic downturns. It would also, likely, be a safer way to finance debt as domestic individual savers have proven themselves a more stable financing pool than alternatives. Finally, it removes a systematically risky wall street subsidy.

It likely wouldn't please democrats who want to conflate a middle class, savings based, retirement system with a "safety-net" entitlement for the poor.

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