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March 08, 2011

Debt Commissioner Links Social Security Debate to "The Enema Man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg"

I'm almost 99% certain he's referring to Eminem and Snoop Dogg. Whatever, former Republican senator and current Obama debt commission co-chair Alan Simpson has got the gift for epic ranting:

“This is a fakery,” Simpson said on Fox News. “If they care at all about their children or grandchildren, and sometimes I doubt that – I think, you know, grandchildren now don’t write a thank-you for the Christmas presents, they’re walking on their pants with the cap on backwards listening to the enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg, and they don’t like them!”

The former Republican senator of Wyoming, who apologized in the summer for comparing Social Security with “a milk cow with 310 million tits,” also denied that his panel had proposed privatizing Social Security. “It is fakery,” he repeated. “We never suggested that!”

“The sinful nature of the discourse is ‘cutting’ Social Security,” he said. “We’re not cutting Social Security – we’re trying to make the stuff solvent for 75 years! And young people say, ‘Well, I know there won’t be anything there for me; I’m not worried about it.’ Well, I tell ya, when you waddle up to the window at 65 and you put 6.2 percent of all your jack in that thing, you’re gonna want something back!”

Awesome. Video at the link.

And it's true. People look at Social Security as an entitlement and if we change nothing about the system, my own Millenial generation will too. The one solid uncompromising feature of every single Social Security reform proposal is that current benefits are abso-freaking-lutely sacrosanct and not to be touched for anything. Seniors and the soon-to-be eligible Baby Boomers cry bloody murder if you even nod in the direction of means testing or raising the retirement age. And don't think for a second that they don't have an interest in foot-dragging just a biiiiiit longer -- just long enough to start suckin down those checks they think they're entitled to -- before the hammer comes down.

"That's my money!" they scream, even though (1) no, that's not their money and (2) this is the system they wanted. I say it's not their money because their money got spent on their parents' generation. The Social Security "trust fund" isn't a trust fund as such; its a slush fund used to pay for other people's benefits and sometimes other government spending. The Baby Boomer's money is gone. It got spent almost as fast as it was taken out of their paychecks.

The expectation is and always has been that productive youngsters will keep coming along behind to pay for the current beneficiaries just like those beneficiaries paid for the beneficiaries in front of them. That was a nice expectation, but it's proven to be a futile one. There are a damn lot of Baby Boomers and they're going to live a damn long time and there aren't enough folks coming along behind to pay for them.

So that's problem number one up there: it's not your money; your money was already spent. But the second point is even more important. The first point just describes reality. The second point describes morality: the Baby Boomers and their predecessors wanted it this way and, as a result of the way they wanted it, the whole scheme is crashing down. That's on them.

It's not like the Social Security funding crisis just materialized yesterday. This has been on the radar for decades. This structural flaw -- and it is a structural flaw, integral to the whole scheme -- has been evident for a very long time. It didn't just happen, as if it were an uncontrollable, unpredictable, and unfathomable Act of God. You did this; you were there and have been in the best position to do something about it for decades. But the only question was how far you thought you could kick that can down the road. And the Usual Answer was: who the fuck cares, as long as it's until after I'm dead.

Well, it just couldn't last that long. The Baby Boomers are now going to have to deal with structural flaw in the program that they've been a part of for decades. Hell, as a group only the oldest have even started getting benefits. And the whole bunch aren't going to make it in before the program is either totally reformed or collapses.

Look at all the reform proposals. It's always about keeping Social Security solvent for just so many more years. They throw out these dates -- fully solvent until 2045 or 75% solvent until 2075 or whatever and on and on. Fully aware that this is going to have to be fundamentally changed at some point because it will come crashing down at some point. Hey, guess what happens in 2045? That's the first year Millenials, my generation, start turning 65.

So now it's time for some frank conversations between the entitled generation -- the Baby Boomers -- and the Gen Xers and the Millenials who are going to have to pay the bills. For one thing, I don't like the communist set-up you got going here. If I've got to give money to the government to pay for my own retirement (and I don't really think I should have to, but that's apparently not up for negotiation either), I'd like to have my own individual account, thankyouverymuch. And while we're at it, I notice that a great many Baby Boomers are substantially wealthier than me and the other folks in my cohort. I'm wondering a bit why these people are "entitled" to age-related welfare at all.

So I appreciate that Alan Simpson wants to make Social Security solvent for 75 more years. That's nice, but that's not long enough. Any proposal that just kicks the can down the road perpetuates an ultimately unsustainable scheme and I'm going to end up paying, not just for the irresponsible, entitled Baby Boomers who spent their adult lives propping up this Ponzi scheme, but also for myself when the whole damn thing comes crashing down.

It's a tough conversation, but it's time to talk about just what the Baby Boomers are really entitled to.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 07:47 AM

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