Wednesday, September 19, 2012


From USA Today:

Viva Social Security

For decades, the burden of retirement saving and planning has been shifted onto individuals, having them accumulate money in 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), instead of the defined benefit programs which were common only a couple decades ago. The results have not been good. People fail to save enough, and one crisis, such as spell of unemployment or bad health, can lead them to empty out their retirement accounts, despite the significant penalties for doing so.

This reality has inspired proposals for new forms of retirement accounts, with various means of funding and varying degrees to which the programs are mandatory, but we're missing the simple answer.

We already have an excellent, if not especially generous, program in place. Workers contribute during their working lives in exchange for a promised benefit level during their retirement years. This program is called Social Security.

Instead of considering some exciting new program to try to encourage workers into saving more, another Rube Goldberg incentive contraption designed to nudge individual behavior in the right direction, we should increase the level of retirement benefits in the existing Social Security program.

More here.

The column's byline is "Duncan Black," but I've known him by his internet pseudonym for a decade now: I read Atrios' words every single day over at his blog Eschaton. And this column he's got for a while seems to be fairly representative of what he's about. I mean, it's cleaned up a bit for the newspaper crowd, and more extended in terms of train-of-thought than he usually gets for his blog, but otherwise it's the same old Atrios, the former economics professor who's been ripping apart conservative views for ten years.

Like this one excerpted above. He doesn't even take time to argue with conservatives on their own terms. He sets up his terms, and digs up right-wing thought like the rotting mulch and manure it is. I love it! No, we don't need to cut Social Security benefits; we need to raise them.

Anyway, check it out. It's a solid argument that's very difficult to refute, I think. Good stuff.