Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good Idea?

Government controlled Federal Reserve
Government controlled Social Security
Government controlled Mortgage Lending

Have any other "good" ideas?

6 comments:

Yonah said...

That middle one is a good idea, for precisely the reason the last one isn't.

Social Security was conceived as one of many safeguards for massive market failings. Following the start of the Great Depression, countless Americans lost all of their retirement as company after company went bankrupt, taking their pensions with them.

Social Security is an insurance program, not a retirement plan. It is meant to supplement whatever you've saved yourself and to provide a baseline income to help seniors in times of need.

It was and remains one of the most successful and prudent of government programs. And, politicking aside, it is and will continue to be solvent.

The problem is that Americans spend more than they have, save nothing and expect more from Social Security than it guarantees.

Be glad your Social Security isn't invested in the market right now.

Andy Rupert said...

You are much more confident than I in the government's ability to oversee the Social Security funds. If today's paychecks are indeed providing for the SS payments to current benficiaries, someone didn't do a good job of overseeing the money.

Sure, it may have been a decent solution to the problems in the past, but is it a sustainable program today after all that has transpired since it's inception? I would much rather have direct oversight over the money I am currently investing in SS.

But in the end, my trust can't be placed in a saving's account, real estate, or any other form of financial planning. As wise as those may be, my confidence must be in God.

Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34. The promised benefits of following God's ways are not health, wealth, and prosperity. But he does promise to provide for the basic needs we have. That ought to be enough.

Yonah said...

A few things to consider...

Social Security, by design, does what you do described as a defect; that is, current payments from the payroll tax fund current benefits. That said, there was a large surplus of SS funds in the late 90s. If you recall from the 2000 election, Al Gore suggested putting this in a “lock box” account that would generate interest; George Bush ended up spending it.

You should have direct oversight over your own retirement: your pension, your 401(k), your savings, etc. But Social Security, and I cannot stress this enough, is not a retirement program.

The bottom line: Social Security is not in jeopardy. It is an imagined crisis which, alongside other imagined crises, instills constant fear and panic and paralysis in our once able people. To be especially cynical, maybe it’s advantageous to some in politics for Social Security to always seem in peril. “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.”

Andy Rupert said...

You've made your point about SS not being a retirement fund several times, Yonah. And I agree that it should not be counted on as the sole provider for retirement. But even if you and I are not counting on it to meet our needs in the future, I don't enjoy being forced to contribute 7% of my income to an account that seems to have a questionable future.

Your comments about President Bush are a bit suspect IMHO. Do you honestly believe that the president is the only one responsible for what has recently transpired with SS? or any other success or failure? The last time I checked, we did have a legislative branch of government.

Yonah said...

But who says the system has a questionable future? Certainly not economists. If ones political goal is to the privatize Social Security, one first needs to create the sense of crisis that would require a drastic change. Politics is not about policy.

Oh, and the Bush Tax "Cuts" of 2001 were funded from the Social Security surplus; that was my point. (Personally, I wish we had used that money to help pay down the debt.) And I say "cuts" as they were accompanied by an increase in spending, so they were more of a tax shift than a tax cut – we will be paying them sooner or later.

There's a lost of waste, graft and pork in government spending (well, in corporate spending, too, but that's a horse of a different color) and near zero focus on transparency, competition and efficiency. If we want to cut spending (and we should) there are plenty of places to trim the fat before we touch Social Security. Like $653 billion going to the Department of Defense for FY09.

Ron Paul, come back.

Andy Rupert said...

Yonah, Ron Paul doesn't agree with your estimation of Social Security's durability for the future. Read his 2004 article: Social Security: House of Cards.

Honestly, I've never thought that the government was my lifeline to life, prosperity, or the pursuit of happiness. Jesus never fails.