Will Limousine Liberals Fix Social Security?

I have always been amused by liberals who consistently mire the working poor and lower middle class in all kinds of schemes that sound good in theory but have the opposite effect in reality.

Life experience shows that having a positive mental attitude produces many excellent results, but instead, leftist politicians are convincing people they are victims. Let’s get real: if you think you are a victim in the USA, try a few other lovely spots in this world.

I could list numerous programs that illustrate limousine liberalism, but the foremost is the Social Security program, which, if not repaired, will deliver absolutely nothing to its participants in a few years. So much for government “help.” The system is flat broke. If you want proof, read the trustees’ report, which currently projects that workers in their 20s will get an expected 70% of their money back. That’s the optimistic side.

Young folks think it will be zero, and I think they are correct. Those stark numbers apply to everyone, but the system has been particularly hard on lower wage-earners.

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You might ask, “Hasn’t Social Security helped a lot of people?” Yes. The Titanic did a great job of carrying passengers up to a point as well.

Otto von Bismarck invented the pay-go system in the 1880s, and we now know today that it cannot possibly work mathematically and demographically. All the minor corrective adjustments being proposed such as increasing the retirement age will not be enough to correct the humongous, fundamental deficits that are being created. Yes, if you raise the retirement age to 100, you might solve the problem, but let’s see how many hands go up in favor of that solution.

Why are limousine liberals still pushing a program that’s so hard on the poor? If we had a system with private accounts, even at a 5% return, the system would produce triple the current retirement level. Think of the working couple struggling to earn $30,000 per year that is obligated to pay 15% in FICA. They cannot afford shoes for their kids, and yet $4,500 goes into a system (it was just 1% initially) that is simply not going to return their contributed funds to them at retirement. How is that fair?

If one really cared about the inner cities, one would place accounts in individual names so their families could inherit their money. At a 5% return, minimum wage workers would leave at least $250,000 to their families in 40 years. Two generations would change the inner cities and empower families if limousine liberals would let it become the law of the land.

To those who say 5% growth is optimistic, the entire history of equity investing refutes their pessimism. But for the sake of argument, let’s just guarantee what the current system projects as a safety net. Would it really be that hard to beat a negative 30-percent return? That’s right: today, Americans are putting in $1,000 and getting just $700 back after 40 years. How much worse could private investment be?

The last time private accounts were brought up in the public policy debate, “liberals” scared the old by saying Wall Street was going to steal their money. The truth of the matter is that no proposal would allow anyone over 50 to participate.

Liberals are now warning us about our national debt. The entitlement debt is much worse. The only way to fix Social Security – the only way – is to have private accounts that allow 6% of FICA to go into equities. In this way, we can work our way out of Social Security debt in fifty years – an idea that has been scored by the chief actuary of Social Security.

More than 30 other countries are using private accounts. These include the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, Poland, and Chile. The average Chilean has seven times the savings of the average American, and their systems are becoming financially sound. We need another honest statesman like my friend, former Democrat senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from New York, to lead the repair of the current system. Who will step up?

Will today’s limousine liberals do what’s right or ignore all the voluminous information available on this issue, continue to kick the can down the road, and hope they are long gone when this whole unworkable structure explodes in the American public’s face?

Denison Smith is chairman of Longevity Health Foundation, a new start-up devoted to lowering health care costs through research and education. Smith is a former assistant attorney general for the state of Idaho, staffer for Sen. James McClure (R-Idaho), and trustee of the Reason Foundation. He has over three decades of experience in investment banking, including as the former regional vice president of the Pioneer Fund of Boston, the fourth oldest mutual fund in the United States.

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