Posted by: John Linkous | August 21, 2009

Boomer Arrogance On Parade

“…payroll tax revenues continue rolling in, and Social Security still has enough revenue to pay roughly three-quarters of promised benefits [after 2037].” — Alicia H. Munnell, Professor of Management Sciences at Boston College, CNN.com OpEd, May 2009

I read the above commentary again today, and was reminded that Boomer arrogance is boundless.  No doubt this estimate is certainly comforting for a tenured professor sitting in the ivory-tower walls of academia who will be retired long before that date, but your favorite antipartisan happens to turn 67 years old in 2037.  Hypocrisy like this is not so easy to gloss over when you’re the one affected.

Like many other rational Americans, I have invested wisely in my own 401(k), SEP, annuities, and other vehicles, and have amassed a significant amount of investment savings on my own — all without the benefit of government-directed investments.  The best option for people like us – whom, despite what this academic would probably like to believe, are likely the majority of Americans – would be to “buy out” of Social Security: if I were given the option to forfeit all SS benefits, as well as the monies I’ve invested in this sham of a program to date, I could use the same money I’d be spending on SS moving forward on rational-returning investments, and would easily make up the money I’ve lost to date — and ensure that these investments were not in a vehicle that the federal government could “borrow” against.  This would allow me to get the federal hand out of my pocket, while providing significant additional capital to the SS program for people who opt to stay in it.

Of course, our federal government would be horrified of accepting any deal like this that would have even the remote possibility of showing the SS program isn’t the “best idea ever!”: much as academics such as professor Munnell make decisions based almost solely around their desire to perpetuate the doling out of tenure in deus ex machina fashion, our career politicians in Congress are transfixed on the continuation of the status quo regardless of its affect on our citizenry.  And so, despite the viability, no such “buy-out” program will ever go into place — and after all, where would all those useless Social Security Administration employees who clog up the beltway around my city every morning go?

Unfortunately, it will be my generation that likely has to deal with this issue rationally, since the “me-monkey” Boomers will never reduce their own benefits, now that they’re drinking from the well.  Perhaps in another 20 years…

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