Social security was designed to provide some income for the elderly during the dreary years of the great depression. In the decades since it has become much more, and is now the single largest expenditure of the federal government. In the 1960’s LBJ also turned it into an income system for the disabled. Not just way more than the program was designed to do, but far more than it could possibly support. The result has become a ponzi-scheme funded program that will become insolvent in the next 20 years. It depends on increasing numbers of people paying in to take care of those receiving the benefits. There won’t be enough to pay in the near future. This isn’t news. The public and the politicians have known this for decades. And they have done nothing. Republicans and Democrats have been content to do nothing and let it collapse. It gives them something to blame each other for and drive out the base voters in election years. So every year we just watch the countdown to disaster continue.
Many feel like they have a social security account; they are entitled to their benefits they paid for. The program was sold to the public as this type of program. It is not. There is no account. The government seizes the revenue from you through payroll taxes and immediately spends it. And spends even more. The “surplus” in collected funds didn’t go to support the program, it was used to make the budget deficit appear smaller. And now that surplus is gone, requiring general funds to make up the difference and pay back those previous “loans.” I am 50 years old and have no thoughts of ever collecting anything from social security. It isn’t going to be there. It won’t be there for anyone younger either. It won’t even last for those that are older than I am. The money you paid into the program isn’t there. It’s already spent. You won’t get it back. This is wrong.
Libertarians are philosophically opposed to Socialist Security. We don’t need the nanny state to tell us how to take care of ourselves. This isn’t a legitimate function of government. People should be entitled to the wages of their labor, and responsible for their own lives. Philosophically libertarians are right. Practice, however, is different. The program already exists. It doesn’t matter if it would have been better if it had never existed. That ship sailed long ago, we can’t go back in time to fix it. People have been promised benefits. They have paid for benefits. They ARE entitled to those benefits. The Libertarian Party isn’t just a philosophy club. It is the party of solutions. I have a solution.
First you have to make it solvent. SSDI disability is the most abused and fraud filled program in the federal government. End it. No new recipients starting now. There are plenty of disability insurance options available on the market. Use one, or not, at your own leisure and/or peril. Those already dependent on SSDI disability would be grandfathered in. It wouldn’t be right to change the rules after the fact at a point where no other options exist. This will drive down costs, and increase the available funds for the original purpose of retirement income. Next, create the dedicated trust fund account most believe Social Security to be and make it a defined contribution plan. These two changes alone will extend the solvency by decades.
There’s more we can do. Eliminate the cap on SS taxes, while simultaneously lowering the tax rate on employers and employees to 5%. This would make things easier on employers that would have lower expenses. It would increase the take home pay of workers, leading to increased economic growth and spending without the immediate inflationary pressure of increased wages. Most importantly, it would make Social Security solvent for everyone. Once we have that, then we can discuss “privitizing” part or even all of the program. Until we fix it and make it solvent, there’s nothing else we can do but watch it collapse. Democrats and Republicans are content to do just that, and do not care at all about all those that will be impacted by the collapse. I say we give this Libertarian a chance do right by the folks that are paying for it and fix it instead.