turn on, tune in, opt out

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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6 Responses

  1. Kerry Moorman says:

    Why do you think that the solvency of Social Security is a monster of a problem?

    Most folks without a hidden agenda seem to think that it is a fairly manageable problem.Report

  2. Freddie says:

    Part of the point of a program like Social Security is that even those who would choose to opt out often end up needing assistance that they didn’t think they would need, and they always do end up eventually relying on the state in some form or another. Nobody thinks they are gonna broke someday. Social Security helps us prevent having elderly people in poverty, even those who think they won’t need it.Report

  3. E.D. Kain says:

    Solvency for Social Security will be a problem eventually without reform, but opting out is not the right option. I basically was trying to point that out, and agree entirely with what Freddie is saying. Those low earners who might feel the “need” to opt out are exactly the people who will end up needing the savings the most, and especially so in a culture prone to spend, spend, spend (and encouraged to do so….)Report

  4. I’m with E.D. on this one. I’ve never understood how a private system would work. Would people be forced to contribute the money or would it be completely optional? Would they be allowed to invest in risky stocks or would they be forced to diversify to mitigate risk? What if a person saves and invests dillegently for years and just before they retire the stock market tanks and now their retirement savings have been cut in half?

    In all of these ‘what if’ scenarios, we assume the government will be forced to step in and help because we aren’t inclined to let older citizens become homeless or fall become homeless. In the end, the government will always feel compelled to offer citizens a safety net. That’s why I wish we would just acknowledge that SS is here to stay and we just need to keep it well-finded.Report

  5. I actually agree with everything you wrote here. The problem I have with Social Security is that no one seems to know whether it’s an entitlement program or a forced investment program. If the point of it is forced investment, then an opt-out system makes sense so long as the taxpayer is required to invest their SS money somewhere; requiring them to invest it in a specific fund with a notoriously low return doesn’t make much sense. On the other hand, if the point of SS is to be a social safety net program for the elderly, then it should be funded just like any other social safety net program rather than acting as a regressive tax.

    I have little problem with having either a social safety net program for the elderly or a forced investment program. Where I have a problem is that the form of Social Security as currently constituted doesn’t make sense under either scenario.Report

  6. I mean, a nation that can barely scrape together any savings at all, but can work ourselves into a boatload of debt – is that really the nation you want to be polling on whether or not we would voluntarily put money in savings (read: Social Security) or into that burning hole in our pocket?