Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Question for Conservatives

Thinking about Social Security today.  A lot of liberals appear to believe that virtually every proposed change in Social Security benefits or taxation is, in fact, a stealth plot to undermine and eventually eliminate Social Security.  This gets me to wondering: what do conservatives really think about Social Security?  What would you want to happen to it if you had your first preference?

Let me throw some options out, of course, is fully eliminating it, and returning retirement (and disability) planning back to individuals.  A second would be fully replacing it with some sort of government-sponsored optional (or required?) investment plan.  The third would be keeping it in place and fixing long-term finances somehow -- with a higher retirement age, reduced benefits, or higher taxes.  And I'm sure there are other possibilities I'm not thinking of.  If it were up to you, what would you want to do?


  1. Until we, as a country, can develop the national will to kill poor people while they lay in their cribs, the elimination of Social Security will have to remain the nation's primary intermediate goal.

  2. Mr. Wayne,
    Why kill them so young? You have to raise them first, then kill and eat them. Solves both the poverty AND the hunger problems.

  3. When I watched so many people buy tech stocks eleven years ago I came to the the conclusion that the majority of the population is incapable of intelligently investing for retirement and that privatizing it would be a disaster. When you add up the people who don't save with the people who do save but invest poorly getting rid of social security would mean a lot of homeless seniors.

    I think ss is a form of insurance which means benefits should be reduced for seniors who have a lot of other income.

  4. Mercer -- you aren't really conservative, are you?

  5. "Mercer -- you aren't really conservative, are you?"

    Do you think to be conservative you have to be for getting rid of social security? The last time the conservative party was in control of congress they did not have a vote on Bush's plan in a single committee. That was not the result of a liberal conspiracy. It was because the GOP congressmen knew most voters, even those who call themselves conservative, oppose changing social security.

  6. Sorry, forgot the ;)... It is nice to encounter in the wild a conservative who willingly admits, even argues for, some basic safety net. You don't see them in captivity (Congress, punditry), there, they won't actually follow through, they talk a big game.

  7. Ha, I'd been thinking that Mercer reminds me of Doonesbury's coverage of John Anderson's 1980 Presidential campaign (admittedly before I was born so I don't know the real story, but) in which Mike totally falls for Anderson and after every speech he is the entire audience for says something like "Gosh, are you really a Republican, sir? You sure don't sound like one!" But then I remembered that Anderson replies: "Great." and realized that saying something like that kind of sounds like you just think "Republican" is negatively valenced and don't want to apply it to someone you respect, which is pretty insulting to those who self-identify as such. So I'll just say: Mercer, if conservatives like you were more prominent today, I would probably self-identify as a moderate conservative instead of a moderate liberal, and hope that that sounds like the expression of respect Anon and I meant all along ...

  8. If mandating the purchase of health care coverage is unconstitutional (see today's decision), would not it also be unconstitutional to mandate American citizens to purchase investments in a privatized social security system?

  9. I don't think the value of privatized ss is increased returns; I think it is greater control. Predictions from a Gen-Xer:

    1) The US will drive off a debt cliff in the next decade or so; the biggest victims will be boomers, whose ss benefits will be severely cut.

    2) Forecasters will predict that we Gen-Xers will get a better shake due to our smaller numbers than the Boomers; unfortunately, some endless war will pop up to suck away what might have been our restored benefits.

    Because social security is a 'pay as you go' system, you are 'investing' in a plan whose returns are entirely at the mercy of the budgetary planning acumen of the Fed Govt.

    Is it right to infer that widespread opposition to privatization implies faith in the budgetary planning acumen of the Federal Govt? Hard to fathom.

  10. Social Security is the thing I am most conservative on. All the conservative hatred directed toward poor people as sponges and taxation as theft, I don't buy -- you can tell who the overall system is set up to benefit and it's not poor people. But it is old people -- they actually have the power to sway the government toward them, and they actually have the attitude of entitlement and unwillingness to work that conservatives accuse poor people of.

    I hate and resent old people because of this program. I think $1000 a month is an utterly enormous amount for the government to just give anyone. I would like to kill the program, teach people to save, and give just enough welfare for people not to starve.

    I can buy some kind of argument that the market method of compensating people only when they have full-time work means old people will never have enough money because human savings psychology doesn't work that way. But this program is so far beyond the scale of anything the government does to help other unlucky groups, it just seems like the old and powerful are doing a wealth transfer from the young via the government, just as they do by encouraging people to buy stocks and subsidizing house purchases. It's a big scam.


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