Sunday, June 3, 2012

Social Security Reform

Let’s get real
Of our entitlement programs, Social Security should be the easiest to fix.  So the issue is timely.  When one looks closely at this program, one realizes it is based on political/social thinking from the last century.  In fact, the basic structure of the program hasn’t been changed since it was enacted over 75 years ago in 1935.  Not surprisingly, it is very out of date. 
Consequently, the greatest risk we face is not taking a serious look at how the program can be made viable in the twenty-first century.  Rather, we may just do the easy, quick fix instead.  A quick fix is likely because the program is extremely popular and has historically been successful at addressing an important need.  However, its very success argues for serious reform that will preserve its benefits.

The quick fix would be unfortunate.  The program ignores many twenty-first century realities.  It’s worth thinking about how Social Security can respond to those realities.  It is then that the irrelevance and shallowness of the current discussion become apparent.  The realities aren’t even being discussed, and reforms that are suggested by reality are radically different from what is being discussed.

A series of postings on Social Security reform will follow.  Because the issues the suggestions address totally depend on the importance of addressing reality, the postings start pointing out the realities that need to be addressed.  Only then are suggested reforms discussed.

Throughout the series of postings there will be references to data.  The references will be from coverage of research rather than the source research.  The coverage is generally more accessible.  Some of the source data is in proprietary research reports.  Some is in rather boring government documents.  However, the big benefit of using the reports is that they provide any interested readers with examples of how others are viewing the same information and frequently overlooking the important implications of the very data they are reporting.

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