Government benefits: screwing the young
December 10, 2003 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Screwing the young. American government benefits will give a typical man reaching age 65 today a net windfall of more than $70,000 beyond what he paid in. A luckless 25-year-old, by contrast, can count on paying $322,000 more in payroll taxes than he will ever get back in benefits.
posted by NortonDC (36 comments total)

 
At some point—don't worry, not anytime soon—we will have to embrace a duty to stop functioning as a fiscal burden on our children and start serving as a nutritional resource for worms.

Well.
posted by namespan at 6:40 PM on December 10, 2003


Old Man! *shakeing fist*
posted by stbalbach at 7:04 PM on December 10, 2003


the young man has only his parents to blame for begetting him too late...ps: social security was not meant to be a banking account with interest piling up. What is wrong with getting back nothing but what you and your employers have put in?
posted by Postroad at 7:16 PM on December 10, 2003


i thought this thread was about - um, never mind.
posted by quonsar at 7:28 PM on December 10, 2003


I like the overt slant against the elderly and how they live so high on the hog. I've know plenty of older folks that buy cat food to get by.

This sort of biased journalism is pretty despicable.

Then again, if I'm paying in an extra $300K then someone's gonna get my waggling finger and maybe even my cane shaking at them too.
posted by fenriq at 7:52 PM on December 10, 2003


What is it with buying cat food? Can't you just buy tuna fish instead? Doesn't it cost about the same?
posted by ricecrazy at 8:07 PM on December 10, 2003


I think they like the cat food because you can get Ocean Whitefish, Giblets, Turkey and Gravy and a whole bunch of other flavors.

Actually, tuna is alot more expensive than cat food. I've seen ten cans of cat food for a buck before.
posted by fenriq at 8:12 PM on December 10, 2003


cat food comes chock full of extra political calories.
posted by reverendX at 8:12 PM on December 10, 2003


I found some cat food in a grocery store once that seemed to basically be plain old tuna -- in fact, when I first picked it up and put it in the grocery cart, I thought it was just really cheap tuna ($.20 a can). I was pretty poor at the time, working on a volunteer minister stipend, and so I snatched a few up. Before I checked out, I noticed the little picture of a cat on part of the label and read a little more closely. I decided to take one can home and try it anyway (figuring if it was good I could come back and stock up).

I don't know if it was all in my head or if this was truly a problem, but it did not taste good, and the little sharp and/or crunch bits didn't inspire confidence. I didn't finish the can.

Just thought I'd share.
posted by weston at 8:24 PM on December 10, 2003


Paraphrase:

"You know, in my day, we didn't have all these fancy medi-cations and things. And we had to take our walkers five miles through the snow to get to the doctors office. We did just fine, thank you!"

What a crock.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:28 PM on December 10, 2003


What is wrong with getting back nothing but what you and your employers have put in?

The dollar I paid in fifteen years ago isn't the dollar I'd get back today. The one I paid in fifteen years ago could buy more. Give me that dollar back.
posted by trondant at 8:31 PM on December 10, 2003


This phenomenon is why my 76 yr old mother openly mocks me whenever she gets her social security check and I'm around. On the other hand, she never really had a shot at a fair wage, either, so maybe it's evening out.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:46 PM on December 10, 2003


CRAP! and i turn 25 tonight WHY ME GOD WHHYYYYY!

hell, i'll be surprised if i get any money out of social security at the end of my life, iether that or they'll just roll back the age of starting social security to 70 or 75 and i'll have had my heart attack before i get to have my free meds. I'm just glad i like my job as i'm going to be doing it for a LONG time.
posted by NGnerd at 8:52 PM on December 10, 2003


oh, the simplistic projections of youth! mother nature doesn't just hand you the big one on a platter and away you go! ooooh noooooooo! she has much more interesting things in mind for you! how about a series of small heart attacks, including a monthly prescription budget of about $1300 if uninsured as a bonus, before she lays on what you think is the big one, but only turns out to be the old triple bypass special? and because you survive all that, and have no money, you end up in some filthy assembly line state home where minimum wage aides clean the fecal matter from wrinkled remains of your pathetic scrotum, and talk about it on IRC late into the evening. i'm just sayin'...
posted by quonsar at 9:15 PM on December 10, 2003


Shouldn't you young'ns be getting back to work at your second jobs instead of wasting time on the internet? Oops, I'm late for the early bird special.....
posted by HTuttle at 9:31 PM on December 10, 2003


the day younger people vote in numbers like the aarp crowd will be the day this is fixed. (and it's old news--us people turning middle-aged soon already resigned ourselves to never getting what we put in)
posted by amberglow at 10:23 PM on December 10, 2003


I know that unless I die an early death, I will never see what I put into Social Security. I'm not counting on Social Security for retirement but then again, I'm not saving for retirement either. I just basically plan on being dead by 65, or winning the lottery, whichever.
posted by patrickje at 11:23 PM on December 10, 2003


Thank you, Amberglow. We have to continue rocking the vote. I, for one, am a voter. I am 20 years old. This makes me rare! Rare! Life amazes me.
posted by Keyser Soze at 11:26 PM on December 10, 2003


Why don't you vote to have them all killed at age 70 or so?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:29 AM on December 11, 2003


The only thing that is dying in this old world is egalitarianism.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:21 AM on December 11, 2003


By comparing a typical 25 year old with a 65 year old, aren't these statistics failing to take into account all the people who paid in and didnt get to collect? The surviving 65 year olds have played the odds and collected, plenty didn't make it and lost out.

Also, if old people want fresh meat but can only afford cat food, can I suggest they think of it as bait?
posted by biffa at 4:00 AM on December 11, 2003


There are problems though. I discovered that my ex-wife can collect my social security benefits. It doesn't cost me anything. But my present wife who is foreign born and neither a US citizen nor a resident alien although we file a joint tax return, is entitled to zero. Why should ex wives get the benefit? Eliminate that and there might be a little more left for the grandkids.
posted by donfactor at 4:33 AM on December 11, 2003


biffa, the point is that even the 25 year olds that "win" by living long enough to collect will lose $322,000.
posted by NortonDC at 5:00 AM on December 11, 2003


biffa: Exactly!... And more: The guy at Slate says:


...Retirees eyeing this bounty feel no pangs of guilt, thanks to their unshakable conviction that they earned every dime by sweat and toil. In fact, economists Laurence Kotlikoff and Jagadeesh Gokhale say that a typical man reaching age 65 today will get a net windfall of more than $70,000 over his remaining years. A luckless 25-year-old, by contrast, can count on paying $322,000 more in payroll taxes than he will ever get back in benefits.


This is supported by a link to a Cato institute piece of statistical hocus pocus [pdf file] that states the following...

For example, recent estimates by Gokhale and Kotlikoff show that under current policy a male reaching 65 years of age today can expect to receive $238,000 in Social Security, Medicare, and other transfers during the rest of his life in present value terms (Figure 5).28 Since he will pay $167,000 in taxes the rest of life, he will secure a net gain of $71,000 from the government. That net gain comes at the expense of the young. A 25-
year-old male today can expect to receive $202,000 from transfer programs in the future, but pay $524,000 in taxes during his lifetime, for a net loss of $322,000.


In other words, the article used as supporting evidence for this journalist's claims, does not even attempt to calculate the money the elderly have already contributed to the system when they were young, which is something that the Cato institute spin doctors do calculate for the younger generation and only for them (the Cato institute analysis BTW is full of silently implied assumptions that are "obvious" only to libertarians")... In other words the elderly were giving the government money when they were young, expecting to get some of it back in their old age. That was the agreement. Suddenly, lately, its not about the money they put in the system (and which Mr. Chapman suggests the government effectively steal from them), but about the money they're receiving, forgetting that this is in effect a loan repayment. So you have a partisan journalist misrepresenting an, already biased, source. The result is an opinion piece short on meaningful facts but really aggressive in rhetoric.

Apart from all of that, the tone of the piece is strangely shrill, like the author really doesn't like old people.
posted by talos at 5:25 AM on December 11, 2003


I don't know where you people are buying your canned cat food, but tuna is cheaper where I shop.

Even cheaper still, you can get a pound of tomatoes, a pound of bananas, and a loaf of bread for under three dollars, on average. Who couldn't get five or six meals out of that? It's nutritious, too.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:35 AM on December 11, 2003


Also, if old people want fresh meat but can only afford cat food, can I suggest they think of it as bait?

Yeah but cats don't taste all that great and hairballs really suck.

Cato Institute and its minions hates Social Security. Imagine that. I'm shocked and awed.
posted by nofundy at 6:05 AM on December 11, 2003


social security was not meant to be a banking account with interest piling up.

Amen. It makes me crazy when people (and politicians) act as though the program were some kind of federally mandated 401K. Its not. As I've said on MeFi before, Social Security was never designed or intended to be a "pay in-pay out" pension plan. It was designed to be - and still is - an insurance plan. Like all insurance, it is possible that you'll pay more in premiums than you'll ever collect in benefits.
posted by anastasiav at 6:56 AM on December 11, 2003


This is one of the many reasons I made $0 taxable dollars for the past couple of years. I'm sure the IRS will catch up with me sometime, but for now, I'm not supporting anything the government is doing. My Mom & Pop made enough that they can support themselves. That's more than I could say for myself if I let the gubment use my money for their wars and corporate payoffs.

Well, I guess I still buy stuff & pay sales tax...
posted by password at 7:30 AM on December 11, 2003


I'm sure the IRS will catch up with me sometime,

Well as long as you don't do anything stupid, like, say, posting that fact to a website read by thousands of people, you should be ok.
posted by boaz at 7:46 AM on December 11, 2003


mmmmmkay....

People used to all die before 65. Now they live well past 75 a lot of the time, live on cat food and get all the Tylenol they want without having to work to earn a wage.

Verily, slacking is an inter-generational movement. Burn the freeloaders!
posted by scarabic at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2003


I made $0 taxable dollars

Tutorial, please?
posted by scarabic at 9:33 AM on December 11, 2003


$322,000, huh? Such precise accounting of things that will happen 40+ years from now is truly impressive.
posted by Daze at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2003


If Social Security only paid out exactly what was put in by each individual, woudn't it be pretty worthless? A bank account would be an improvement if that were true. And a 401k? Even better. As an insurance policy though, I wish it was more like Car Insurance, that I could choose the carrier. But it's a funny sort of insurance: everyone wants to collect on it. Usually collecting on insurance is a bad thing.
posted by jupiter at 11:38 AM on December 11, 2003


It was designed to be - and still is - an insurance plan. Like all insurance, it is possible that you'll pay more in premiums than you'll ever collect in benefits.


Except I can't choose to opt-out of this insurance plan.
posted by gyc at 2:48 PM on December 11, 2003


Except I can't choose to opt-out of this insurance plan.

Actually, gyc, you can. That's what the Amish and Mennonites do - they take care of their old people and are exempt from Social Security tax.

Go join a recognized religious group that doesn't believe in insurance, provides adequately for its members, and has existed continuously since 1950. Then file form 4029 and you're home free.

I worked at the IRS as a tax examiner fixing returns with errors in them this year, and will do the same next year.
posted by beth at 8:36 PM on December 11, 2003


Is it really not too late to just eliminate the whole social security thing?

And erase the medicaid taxpayer-funded bonanza?

And public employees and services?

And public education?

And public libraries?

And the I.R.S.?

Now?
posted by hama7 at 10:24 AM on December 13, 2003


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