Surprising Honesty From Social Security

So I'm on hold with the Social Security office, who may give me some money because my son was born at 27 weeks. (It won't be much, but taking money from the government is a moral imperative). Now here's the weird thing - the on-hold-messages are mostly honest comments about the solvency of SS and what changes need to be made! We're talking warnings straight out of the anti-SS rhetoric:

* How the baby boomers will strain the system.
* How demographic changes are increasing the ratio of workers to retirees.
* How there are no individual accounts, but rather, money is paid in and paid out (the only time they said something I disagreed with was here, where they claimed the balance went into the SS Trust Fund).
* How the system is solvent for decades to come, but structural changes are necessary for long-term solvency, and the sooner they are made, the better.

Awful surprising for a government agency to be so honest about its own future, but certainly pleasant to hear!

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Not terribly surprising, is

Not terribly surprising, is it? I mean Bush is in office, and reform is part of his platform.

Given that Social Security

Given that Social Security reform is one of the big issues that Bush has been pushing, it doesn't seem all that surprising to me. Someone with sufficient power within an agency can override its natural tendencies to promote itself.

That said, this doesn't strike me as very effective targeting. Aren't most of the people who call the SSA those who will likely be dead before any of this hits the fan?

Patri, ...Now here’s the


...Now here’s the weird thing - the on-hold-messages are mostly honest comments about the solvency of SS and what changes need to be made! ...

You give them way too much credit. Their approach is entirely political and almost ensures that no reform will be possible.

The idea that SS can be solvent or bankrupt is a complete fantasy.

The existence of the trust fund is a matter of complete economic indifference, as it cannot ameliorate the future difficulty of making up for future payroll tax shortfalls in any way. For a given shortfall, whether new borrowing to make up for it converts any SS pseudo-bonds that might still exist to new public debt or not, the increase in public debt is the same.

There is only one way in which creating current SS surpluses could help in any way to deal with future shortfalls. That would be if a part or all of the surplus were to be dedicated to reducing the amount of Federal debt held by the public.

Empirical studies have shown that every dollar of the SS surplus is not only spent, but spent 1.76 times. This means that current SS surpluses only make things worse.

Regards, Don

The government tells you

The government tells you what it wants you to hear. When Republicans control the government, you shouldn't be surprised to hear what Republicans want you to hear. son was born... I must son was born...

I must have missed the announcement! Congratulations, and good luck with the next 18 years. It's a fun job, but hard work nonetheless, preparing a new individual to take on the world!

This could also be a way of

This could also be a way of greasing the skids to handle future complaints, whether from the inevitable shortfall or significant reforms.

Congratulations! My daughter

Congratulations! My daughter was born last month at 26 weeks, and I was surprised to learn that prematurity is considered a disability. Hey, it's only your own money you're getting back.

It's a long road that lies ahead, but you won't believe what you see along the way. Good luck!