Friday, March 04, 2016

You Fucked Up - You Trusted Us!

Years ago I had an opportunity to speak at a retirement income conference. The title of the panel was something like "Beyond Social Security." My role was to say Beyond Social Security - MOOOOOOOAAARRRR SOCIAL SECURITY. Anyway, everyone involved - even the conservative guy (it's Washington, you always have to have a conservative guy)- admitted that nobody had any money to retire on and this was a big problem. But I was the crazy guy advocating for the most insane solution, while everyone else was suggesting various nibbling around the edges strategies. State savings plans! More tax benefits for savings! Essentially, just trying to modify the 401(k) slightly in hopes that it would work for The Kids Today.

But nothing's going to help current and near-retirees other than increasing Social Security benefits. Amazingly old people vote, and perhaps if there was a political party willing to (justifiably!) pander to their needs they might get some of those votes.

Years ago the fact that old people vote made me more sanguine about the prospects for Social Security and Medicare. And, yes, we have managed, so far, to not destroy them. But there is a retirement crisis which is only going to get worse. The 401(k) experiment failed. We have to do something for the people who were failed by it, unless you delight in seeing homeless 70somethings, coming to a suburban neighborhood near you.