The Coastal Post - January, 1997

Social Security Is A Pyramid Scheme

Where Is Moses When You Need Him?

BY STEPHEN SIMAC

The projected bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare along with the dismantling of welfare as we know it, while increased military spending and corporate welfare continues to be ladled out, winches even wider the division between the haves and have-nots in America.

Our federal representatives vote for more than enough military spending to fight two wars at once, while they decide poor children have too much government cheese. They lack the political will to begin the wholesale reform of Social Security or Medicare necessary to allow those same children any hope of receiving their share if they live to retirement age, mainly because old people vote, kids don't.

Surveys show that support for increased military spending, police and prisons correlates with increasing age levels, support for schools, social services and environmental protection with decreasing age levels. Confidence levels in Social Security show a similar decline with age. In fact, more people under 35 believe in UFOs than that Social Security will provide for their retirement. Even so, most Americans are saving nothing for their old age.

There's a pattern here. We seem to be willing to stumble into the next millennium of our worst nightmare, led by old people who are still living in the past. Sure, the baby boomers have been protesting that leadership since they became old enough to squall, but given their history, they will prove the most selfish generation ever when they begin to retire in 2008. If we think the retired vote is strong now, wait until the bulk of the boomers has lodged in the python. The combined deficit for Medicare and Social Security under current law in 2030 when all boomers (1945-64) have retired will be $1.7 trillion. There will only be two poorly-educated, latte-making, burger-flipping younger workers to support each retired person. Their take-home pay will be taxed at 55% to fund elders who never showed any concern for them.

And we wonder why teen drug abuse is increasing. Unless we can show the youth that we are concerned for their future by beginning to create a sustainable future both economically and ecologically, then it is hypocritical to pretend to care whether they are having unsafe sex, becoming drug fiends, or starting vampire cults in trailer parks. We should just admit we only need them as material for daytime television talk shows or America's dumbest videos.

Our military spending is over $300 billion a year, our law enforcement spending and prison building is ever increasing. We have to ask ourselves at what cost Security, or merely illusions of security.

The biggest danger to our future safety is not foreign nations attacking us or our vital interests, or even shadowy criminals, although those are our biggest fears. An aging, unhealthy population accepting social and environmental destruction on a global scale is a prophecy for disaster. Much of our doom is preventable if we change our lifestyles. There's no mad rush for the sustainable exit, but unless baby boomers flex their political might and choose a sustainable future instead of a 4x4 with airbags and a nanny, it's like withholding child support.

Military spending's titanic attraction for tax dollars will run up against the iceberg of retiring boomers in 2013 when the annual surplus of Social Security tax revenues over outlays disappears. Currently $60 billion of that tax is plowed back into the budget to deceptively reduce the deficit.

Medicare already runs a deficit, and by 2010 will be costing $100 billion more than it takes in. The American Medical Association fought the creation of Medicare for decades, even going into league with tobacco companies to prevent it. Doctors have profited enormously since 1965 when it was finally passed in their fee-for-service model, the last gasp for FDR's New Deal program, which began Social Security insurance in 1935.

When the Republicans attempted to scale back the percentage of increase in Medicare, President Clinton's campaign team hung the MediScare red flag on Bob Dole and the Republicans. The Republicans' insurance companies and doctors' unions created a similar panic over Hilary Clinton's health care reform, which helped them win the majority in '94. The Republicans have promised to ambush any bipartisan attempt by Clinton to reform either Social Security or Medicare, leaving mass merchandising of Dr. Kevorkian franchises as the cheapest option for future politicians.

Together they have managed to make billions in cuts to mothers and children, immigrants, alcohol and drug addicts and the mentally ill. They are easy scapegoats even though their cost to the budget is not significant.

If the predictions for disaster about welfare reform unfold, it will make the sidewalks where homeless people hang out even more like a Fellini movie, Calcutta or Dicken's England. Some will die quickly, most will do whatever they need to survive. Many will commit crimes to gain a roof, food and medical care at a much higher cost to society. It's unlikely they will all pick themselves up by their bootstraps, get a job and pay taxes.

Even though they lived through the Depression and WWII, Americans who are retired now have been called the fortunate generation because they received far more in government benefits than they put in. Their bootstraps were yanked up by massive government spending after WWII, including GI bills, highways to suburbs, housing and mortgage subsidies, military spending on weapons never used, and when they retired, far more income than they paid into the system. All from the magic of demographics, which they contributed to by having litters of children, the Baby Boomers.

The boomers, at least the first cohorts, continued to benefit from this government largesse, but didn't have as many children, crippling the pyramid scheme of younger workers paying for older retired folks. Massive immigration was seen as an infusion of younger workers, Ponzi props, until they brought over their elderly parents and got them on SSI.

There are many proposed solutions to the aging population and their unfunded benefits, now at $17 trillion. Most don't consider both the ecological and the economic problems of the next millennium. An immodest proposal to solve the problem is an exchange program of America's elderly people for younger workers from Mexico, Ireland, China, Cuba, Haiti, Iraq, the Philippines and other high immigration countries. The retired folks would be supported by foreign workers' payroll taxes, and they would boost those countries' economies which attracted them to live there. Many would leave Florida.

They could live with local families, helping them economically, get more exercise, eat healthy peasant food, get involved to improve the problems of the Third World. They could live very well and much cheaper. Since there won't be that much pension money coming, many would see the wisdom in retiring to a simple, third-world lifestyle rather than a trailer court next to a Kevorkian center.