Re: [Re: [CNN] Bush 2,909,465; Gore 2,907,722.]

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From: Gordon Mohr (
Date: Sat Nov 18 2000 - 22:13:32 PST

Jeff Bone writes:
> Social security is like reverse-polish pay-it-forward:
> "do favors for three people and then, trust, us, we'll do *1* for you." The only
> problem being that, for us GenXers and younger, there won't *be* enough dollars
> for us to ever collect on that favor.
> :-/

True, Social Security has always been an intergenerational wealth
transfer, rather than an investment program, with vaguely Ponzi-like
qualities. Under static linear projections, the relative demographics
of working vs. retired populations doom it.

But -- though the designers of Social Security couldn't have
expected this -- the more interesting questions for our
generation are:

  * What if productivity continues its recent rapid ascent? Then
    it'll be easy for future workforces to pay off us retired
    GenXers, with just a constant or shrinking proportion of
    their income.

  * What if lifespan/working-years easily grows upward with
    advances in health care? Then, the payments into the system
    will be larger than expected, and the payments out will
    prove increasingly unimportant for the the recipients.
    At its extreme, this leads naturally into...

  * What happens if/when aging is conquered, and people are able
    to work and support themselves, indefinitely? What's even
    the point of classic Social Security, then?

People the age of myself and Jeff are 30+ years from drawing
Social Security benefits. The trends between now and then which
will will completely transcend Social Security are much more
interesting than those which suggest its demographic instability.

- Gordon

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