HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 16, 2006, Herald Journal

Social Security threat looms


Every day that passes, the likelihood that the Social Security system will crash gets greater and greater. We have wasted an entire decade for reform because Democrats claim they are worried the only reform Republicans want is private accounts. Now they’ve reached the point where they won’t even talk about reform, much less do anything about it.

A decade ago Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., argued that runaway Social Security would drain money away from other social programs that liberals care about. Bill Clinton’s Social Security commission came out in favor of personal accounts, also.

Now, Sen. Bob Bennet, R-Utah, proposes a progressive fix to Social Security that does not involve personal accounts. Are Democrats interested? Absolutely not.

Why am I worried? Social Security is a Ponzi pyramid scheme. The people who come in from the bottom pay the people at the top. As long as there are more people coming in at the bottom than at the top, the scheme continues. When the structure becomes top heavy with Baby boomers taking money out, and a smaller population group paying in from the bottom, the scheme will collapse.

There’s another problem that is developing, though. Social Security benefits were set up in the 1930s to benefit traditional married couples. Married couples make up a declining population.

Since 1970, the married share of whites dropped 10 percent, the married share of Hispanics dropped 14 percent, and the married share of African Americans dropped 22 percent, according to Sebastian Mallaby of the Washington Post.

Social Security benefits were not set up to protect singles. In the early 1990s, 2.4 percent of married retirees lived in poverty. But for divorced retirees, it was 21.2 percent, and the never-marrieds, it was 16.2 percent.

“If Democrats cared about poor women and minorities, they would be clamoring to reform Social Security. But instead, they get a childish gratification out of stamping their feet and refusing to discuss the subject,” Mallaby said Oct. 2.

We are running out of time to fix Social Security. Let’s at least talk about it.