Social Security Isn't Broken?

Columnist Charles Krauthammer is right, of course.  Social Security is a disgusting fraud.  Yet of all the entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, "Social Security is the most solvable."  So it's a scandal that the Obama administration doesn't want to fix it.

But Social Security isn't broken.  When OMB Director Jacob Lew says that:  "At the moment, we look out and we see it solidly funded until 2037, and we think it is important to make the commitment to current retirees and workers, who are future retirees, that the system will be sound," he is right. 

The simple fact is that Social Security payments are about 4.9 percent of GDP right now and they will rise to 6.2 percent of GDP by 2037 if nothing is done, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  In the chart of the CBO Long Term Budget Outlook below, Social Security is the horizontal blue section.  Medicare and Medicaid are the bright red section, the one that's going to eat the budget at 10 percent of GDP by 2037, 12.3 percent by 2050.  Click this link if you want to look at the numbers.

Because "Social Security is the most solvable" of the entitlements, at a mere 5-6 percent of GDP, it might seem like a good idea for reasonable people to work on a solution in a spirit of civility.  But President Obama is signaling that he's eager to use Social Security as an election issue for 2012.

We are never going to fix Social Security, anyway, until it is broke.  What does "broke" mean?  It does not mean that Social Security itself would be broke; it would mean that the government was broke.  It would mean that the federal government can't sell its next debt issue and it's afraid to get the Fed to print it, and therefore it can't send out the entitlement checks any more.   If you add President Obama's intransigence to the to the recent Wisconsin farce you realize that the liberals won't cry "uncle" on entitlements until then. 

Until then, the right thing to do is for conservatives to engage their moderate friends in civil conversation, one-on-one, and persuade them get off the liberal train before it is too late.

Then, when the train wreck comes, we'll have a political majority and a mandate for genuine reform. 

The hole in the government finances, the utter mess of ObamaCare, the coming Medicare maelstrom: how did we get in this mess?  The short answer is that it all started in about 1850 when sensitive people started worrying about the poor suffering workers.  Oh no, they cried.  We have to do something.  They were sensitive, those people, but they were not smart.  Their "do something" always ended up as some centralized administrative government program, with government taking money from its least favorite citizens and giving it to its most favored citizens, and calling the result compassion.

Earth to sensitive people.  Scientists have not called humans "social animals" for nothing.  "Society" is not an administrative mechanism but a living organism in which each human participates in complex acts of cooperation, social mores, and, as a last resort, force.  The "trick," as climate scientists put it, is to get as many people as possible acting out of cooperative and moral motives. 

Let's put this in evolutionary, Darwinian terms for our liberal friends.  The reason that all human societies have adapted to feature cooperation and religion is because these social inventions reduce the need for force and its administrative horror show.  In our age we are foolish enough to  put this to the test.  We have created a mechanical monster, the modern centralized administrative state, to rumble over society, tearing up its complex social interactions with unstoppable force.  Pay for the government's Social Security plan or go to jail.  Join the government's universal health plan or go to jail.  Send your kid to government school or go to jail.  The result is like an Asian tsunami, a debris field of broken dreams and promises.

Since government often gets rather slack about shoving people in jail, especially its supporters, the administrative state is an open invitation to free-riding.  That's why the low-income culture in the welfare state has become a nether-world of off-the-books work and benefit fraud.  That's why you can see ads all over the place from lawyers anxious to help you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

No, Social Security isn't broke.  It's worse than that.  Social Security is a bottle on a shelf of social narcotics that kill the social instinct and poison people with an addictive sense of entitlement to the fruits of other peoples' labor. 

In the life after liberalism, when liberal power has collapsed, we'll reconstruct all the social ties that liberals have so energetically broken up.  Today, as we live through the decline and fall of the liberal empire, and endure the truculence of its leaders and its rank and file, it's the time to think, to organize, and to plan.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us.  At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer is right, of course.  Social Security is a disgusting fraud.  Yet of all the entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, "Social Security is the most solvable."  So it's a scandal that the Obama administration doesn't want to fix it.

But Social Security isn't broken.  When OMB Director Jacob Lew says that:  "At the moment, we look out and we see it solidly funded until 2037, and we think it is important to make the commitment to current retirees and workers, who are future retirees, that the system will be sound," he is right. 

The simple fact is that Social Security payments are about 4.9 percent of GDP right now and they will rise to 6.2 percent of GDP by 2037 if nothing is done, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  In the chart of the CBO Long Term Budget Outlook below, Social Security is the horizontal blue section.  Medicare and Medicaid are the bright red section, the one that's going to eat the budget at 10 percent of GDP by 2037, 12.3 percent by 2050.  Click this link if you want to look at the numbers.

Because "Social Security is the most solvable" of the entitlements, at a mere 5-6 percent of GDP, it might seem like a good idea for reasonable people to work on a solution in a spirit of civility.  But President Obama is signaling that he's eager to use Social Security as an election issue for 2012.

We are never going to fix Social Security, anyway, until it is broke.  What does "broke" mean?  It does not mean that Social Security itself would be broke; it would mean that the government was broke.  It would mean that the federal government can't sell its next debt issue and it's afraid to get the Fed to print it, and therefore it can't send out the entitlement checks any more.   If you add President Obama's intransigence to the to the recent Wisconsin farce you realize that the liberals won't cry "uncle" on entitlements until then. 

Until then, the right thing to do is for conservatives to engage their moderate friends in civil conversation, one-on-one, and persuade them get off the liberal train before it is too late.

Then, when the train wreck comes, we'll have a political majority and a mandate for genuine reform. 

The hole in the government finances, the utter mess of ObamaCare, the coming Medicare maelstrom: how did we get in this mess?  The short answer is that it all started in about 1850 when sensitive people started worrying about the poor suffering workers.  Oh no, they cried.  We have to do something.  They were sensitive, those people, but they were not smart.  Their "do something" always ended up as some centralized administrative government program, with government taking money from its least favorite citizens and giving it to its most favored citizens, and calling the result compassion.

Earth to sensitive people.  Scientists have not called humans "social animals" for nothing.  "Society" is not an administrative mechanism but a living organism in which each human participates in complex acts of cooperation, social mores, and, as a last resort, force.  The "trick," as climate scientists put it, is to get as many people as possible acting out of cooperative and moral motives. 

Let's put this in evolutionary, Darwinian terms for our liberal friends.  The reason that all human societies have adapted to feature cooperation and religion is because these social inventions reduce the need for force and its administrative horror show.  In our age we are foolish enough to  put this to the test.  We have created a mechanical monster, the modern centralized administrative state, to rumble over society, tearing up its complex social interactions with unstoppable force.  Pay for the government's Social Security plan or go to jail.  Join the government's universal health plan or go to jail.  Send your kid to government school or go to jail.  The result is like an Asian tsunami, a debris field of broken dreams and promises.

Since government often gets rather slack about shoving people in jail, especially its supporters, the administrative state is an open invitation to free-riding.  That's why the low-income culture in the welfare state has become a nether-world of off-the-books work and benefit fraud.  That's why you can see ads all over the place from lawyers anxious to help you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

No, Social Security isn't broke.  It's worse than that.  Social Security is a bottle on a shelf of social narcotics that kill the social instinct and poison people with an addictive sense of entitlement to the fruits of other peoples' labor. 

In the life after liberalism, when liberal power has collapsed, we'll reconstruct all the social ties that liberals have so energetically broken up.  Today, as we live through the decline and fall of the liberal empire, and endure the truculence of its leaders and its rank and file, it's the time to think, to organize, and to plan.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us.  At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.

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