Simple Social Security Solution

(Photo:AP/Barry Thumma)
(Photo:AP/Barry Thumma)

We have been inundated for years about how Social Security is going to go broke. Is it going broke? If so, how do we fix it?

Each year the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees issue a report on the health of the trust funds. In April of 2012 the latest report came out. These key statements from the report sum it up nicely:

The actuarial deficit in Social Security increased largely because of the incorporation of updated economic data and assumptions. Both Medicare and Social Security cannot sustain projected long-run program costs under currently scheduled financing, and legislative modifications are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.

Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare. If they take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits.

According to the report Social Security will go broke in 2033. Going broke means expenditures exceed revenue and reserves. In 2010 and 2011 expenditures exceeded revenue for the first time since 1983 and continues to accelerate negatively.

An article in Forbes from April 24th by Rick Ungar nicely sums up how we got here and what our government did in 1983 to shore up the system.

Mr. Ungar discusses the Greenspan Commission, led by the inimitable Alan Greenspan, and how they came up with a solution to deal with the retiring baby boomers based on certain assumptions. The critical assumption by the Greenspan Commission was the “expectation that 90 percent of income would stand as the tax base for Social Security contributions.” The problem is that, “our current circumstance whereby only 83 percent (or less) of income is being taxed for the Social Security fund as more money flows into the pockets of those earning more than the cap.”

The cap Mr. Ungar is talking about is that only the first $110,100 of income is taxed for Social Security revenue. Anybody making more than $110,100 per year in payroll taxed income stops paying the 6.2% at that mark.

If Mr. Greenspan accurately calculated that 90% of all income needs to be taxed for Social Security and we now only tax 83%, isn’t the simple solution to raise the cap to whatever it needs to be for 90% to be covered? How much is that?

From a Congressional Research Service report in 2010 that number would be $150,000 of income taxed at 6.2% to ensure proper coverage of Social Security.

Congress could pass a law pegging the cap for Social Security to the 90% number the Greenspan Commission used to eliminate this problem and we could end this discussion now. Our current Congress has not only done that, they did worse.

With a bipartisan majority, the Democrats and Republicans have undermined Social Security and our federal budget by slicing 2% from workers Social Security taxes. And where is that 2% coming from? The general fund portion of the federal budget is making up the difference!

How can this be? We already have a terrifyingly large federal budget deficit and instead of addressing the issue at hand, the fools in Washington are putting all of us deeper in debt.

Congress needs to immediately get this straightened out. End the payroll tax holiday now. Fix the cap on taxable income to the 90% level that the Greenspan Commission and the bipartisan vote of Congress in 1983 supported. Incidentally President Reagan supported this position and rightfully signed the law.

They Really ARE Watching You

Watching You

Whatever happened to the Fourth Amendment and our privacy? How about free speech on the Internet?

Remember that the Fourth Amendment protects US citizens from the government coming into our homes, searching us or our stuff, and requires a detailed search warrant.

Between the Patriot Act passed after 9/11 and this year’s Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) our government is running roughshod over not only the Fourth Amendment but infringing on the First Amendment’s right to free speech.

Big Brother really has arrived.

The Patriot Act has allowed our government to spy on us in ways that are utterly unprecedented.

SOPA forces private businesses like Internet service providers (ISP) to become extensions of law enforcement agencies. The music and movies industries lobbied the government for this act in light of dwindling revenues due to pirating. The problem is that this bypasses due process and allows the shutdown of websites based upon discretion of industry instead of law enforcement.

CISPA takes the Patriot Act combined with SOPA in a whole new direction by forcing private business to share information about individuals like internet usage or web sites visited. Without due process, CISPA then allows any and all government agencies to have access to that information.

What these laws mean is that the government is deciding they no longer need to follow procedures and rights laid out in the Constitution.

You may be saying to yourself that this doesn’t affect you — you don’t break the law, and the end justifies the means if it results in stopping crooks and terrorists.

The Constitution had these procedures and rights built in by our Founding Fathers to protect us from the abuses of government they escaped in Europe. Government interference begins small and incrementally becomes repressive and oppressive.

Tyrannical use of government powers litter human history. Hundreds of millions of people throughout history have died at the hands of government actions. Just in the 20th century alone roughly 100 million people lost their lives due to government oppression, genocide, opposition purges, attempts at control, and more.

There are examples of tyranny all across the world today in China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, and more. Oh wait, it isn’t just autocratic regimes either, Google is sharing information that our beloved western democracies are behaving like police states as well.

Every single time you use a Google product like their search engine or gmail, they track you, and you gave them permission. I’ve written about their potentially onerous privacy policies before. Consider that the next time you sit down in front of your computer or open the flap on your iPad.

With all this data gathered about you, governments are deeply interested, and Google is now sharing some of what governments request. Google has what they call the Transparency Report to let all of us know what governments are doing to suppress information of a political nature and shutdown sites, videos, links and more. Google released their fifth and latestupdate just the other day.

From the latest update announcement regarding the United States:
The number of content removal requests we received increased by 103% compared to the previous reporting period. 

Not only is our government attempting to pass unnecessary legislation that impedes on First and Fourth Amendment rights, they are attempting to expand government powers into areas that should greatly alarm us all. With passing of these laws we have further crept from a free republic into a police state.

Be aware when using modern communications. The government and its minions really are watching you. Let your Representative and Senators know how you feel. Tell them to vote against CISPA, SOPA, and any Patriot Act extensions that violate our Constitutional rights. Think about this topic in the elections this fall.