Monday, November 29, 2004

Social Insecurity

Big Media Matt is right - the first graph here is all you really need to know about the social security 'crisis.' Even once it goes "bankrupt" - only having the money to pay out roughly 75% of promised benefits assuming the general fund isn't tapped, the amount of benefits that can be paid out will still be greater in real terms than the benefits paid today. The reason this happens is that social security benefit levels don't just rise with cost of living increases, they rise with general standard of living increases as time goes up. Productivity goes up, wages go up, benefits go up.

So, even if no changes are made at all the system is currently projected to pay out a higher level of benefits in real dollar terms than it does now. Clearly this rather odd benefit-level curve cries out for some tweaking, and such tweaking could indeed be called "reducing prommised benefit levels," but the point is that such changes are hardly catastrophic.