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Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Forty-Seven (Our Aging Population).


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event. So we're going to keep plugging along with the case for reform, even as the issue goes off the political radar screen.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

America's Aging Population.

The first wave of Baby Boomers are now retiring. The demographic iceberg is-a-comin' for us, and it's not going to be pretty if we fail to act now.

First, however, some good news:

Since 1960, the U.S. population over 65 has doubled and the nation’s economy has nearly quadrupled.

Awesome. A strong economy does offer us a bit of a buffer against that iceberg. But that buffer works when dealing with small icebergs. When "the big one" hits, it could wreck our economic buffer, magnifying the problem beyond what is even projected.

Indeed, America's population over 65 is rising rapidly. Not only that, but America's population over 85 is projected to rise substantially in the coming years:


Personally, I tend to believe that with medical and scientific innovation, the numbers of Americans living beyond the age of 85 will dramatically rise-- and rise more than these projections predict. And that's a good thing.

I sincerly hope, mostly out of self-interest, that these projections underestimate the power of technology over the next few decades to prolong health.

It's great that Americans are living longer. It would be terrible if the average life expectancy were only 25 or 30 or even 40, as it once (even recently) was for humans.

But living longer is terrible news for the sustainability of Social Security.

With so many people collecting benefits, with relatively fewer people paying into the system, Social Security is simply not on a solid foundation.

Indeed, as entitlements creep upward as a percentage of federal spending, it hurts our ability to project power and prestige into the world. It hurts our economy. It hurts our ability to respond to crises, current and future, at home and abroad.

Social Security and Medicare have grown remarkably over the past 4 decades:


In a grad school seminar a while back, I brought up that out-of-control entitlement growth will eventually preclude the United States from acting, militarily, in the event of a world crisis that negatively impacts our national security.

The lefties in the seminar eagerly conceded the point: "Exactly."

So, that's the whole idea? Seriously? To load up the government with entitlement programs until they cripple America's ability to project force. I know academia is a little disconnected from reality, but geez.

Fortunately, because of our rapidly growing economy over the past half century, we've had a buffer against a national security collapse. We spend less, but we're still the big dog on the block. Nonetheless, if entitlements grow as they are projected to, the lack of resources available for national defense will indeed become a problem for American foreign policy in a changing world with less-than-friendly superpowers emerging.

But the lack of Social Security reform will hurt us more than just militarily. As we siphon off more and more of our economy into this awkward government-run confiscation/redistribution pyramid scheme, we fail to actualize those dollars in the free market economy, the same free market economy that made us so great to begin with.

The problem is clear. Can we all at least agree on that one?

The solution is either more of the same (raising the tax rate, raising the tax cap, cutting benefits, raising the retirement age, and so on), or something innovative, such as personal accounts.

For those of us under the age of 30, there's no reason to expect to retire at age 65. There's also no reason for us to expect to receive a meaningful Social Security check at retirement.

Thanks for that, AARP, Rock the Vote, the DNC, squishy GOPers, and all you other great socialists out there!


It's time for reform.

The clock is ticking:


Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:

-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
-Week Two (Social Security Can't Pay Promised Benefits).
-Week Three (Americans Getting Older).
-Week Three, bonus (The Templeton Curve).
-Week Four (Fewer Workers, More Retirees).
-Week Five (History of Payroll Tax Base Increases).
-Week Six (Seniors Living Longer).
-Week Six, bonus (Less Workers, More Beneficiaries).
-Week Seven (History of Payroll Tax Increases).
-Week Seven, bonus (Personal Accounts Do Achieve Solvency).
-Week Eight (Forty Year Trend Of Increasing Mandatory Spending).
-Week Nine (Diminishing Benefits Sans Reform).
-Week Ten (Elderly Dependence On Social Security).
-Week Eleven (Entitlement Spending Eating The Budget).
-Week Twelve (Benefit Comparison, Bush's Plan versus No Plan).
-Week Thirteen (Younger Americans and Lifecycle Funds).
-Week Fourteen (The Thrift Savings Plan).
-Week Fifteen (Understanding Progressive Indexing).
-Week Sixteen (The Graying of America).
-Week Seventeen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Eighteen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Nineteen (Reform Needed Sooner Rather Than Later).
-Week Twenty (Global Success With Personal Accounts).
-Week Twenty-One (GROW Accounts: Stopping The Raid).
-Week Twenty-Two (Millions of Lockboxes).
-Week Twenty-Three (Support for Ryan-DeMint).
-Week Twenty-Four (KidSave Accounts).
-Week Twenty-Five (Latinos and Social Security).
-Week Twenty-Six (AmeriSave).
-Week Twenty-Seven (Cost Of Doing Nothing).
-Week Twenty-Eight (Chile).
-Week Twenty-Nine (Entitlement Spending Out Of Control).
-Week Thirty (Reform Better Deal Than Status Quo).
-Week Thirty-One (Social Security As A Labor Cost).
-Week Thirty-Two (Social Security And Dependence On Government).
-Week Thirty-Three (Social Security, Currently A Bad Deal For African-Americans).
-Week Thirty-Four (Longer Life Expectancies Straining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Five (Howard Dean & Salami).
-Week Thirty-Six (Growing Numbers of Beneficiaries Draining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Seven (The Crisis Is Now).
-Week Thirty-Eight (Disability Benefits).
-Week Thirty-Nine (Broken Benefit Calculation Formula).
-Week Forty (German Social Security Disaster).
-Week Forty-One (Crumbling Pyramid Scheme).
-Week Forty-Two (Overpromising, Globally).
-Week Forty-Three (Demographic Wave).
-Week Forty-Four (The Jerk Store).
-Week Forty-Five (Defined Benefit Plans).
-Week Forty-Six (Even The Empty Promises Are A Bad Deal).

Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 February 2006 01:43 PM


Do it for the puppies!

Posted by: Ken McCracken at February 23, 2006 02:45 PM

Do it for Heidi Franklin!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at February 23, 2006 07:22 PM

Are they doing anything at all towards Reforming SS?It doesn't seem like they are even trying??

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at February 23, 2006 08:09 PM

Some solutions that have already been implemented during the Clinton administration are:
1. Taxing Social Security money
2. Raising the age of retirement from 65 to 67 and the minimum age of retirement from 62 to 64.

#2 could be increased.

I wonder how many of your readers know this?

Posted by: Chief RZ at February 24, 2006 10:49 AM

The lefty comment is not a surprise. The ENTIRE idea behind expanding entitlements beyond the breaking point is that short of a massive repudiation of obligations or a revolution, there's no turning back.

The government's job will be to hand out goodies. Anything that distracts from that is a threat (See: Europe's inability and unwillingness to respond militarily to anything).

We have less than 10 years from that tipping point, and it may be closer to 5 if the economy hiccups.

To close the loop, they delude themselves into thinking that no one can or will conquer or subjugate us, or do anything else that might disrupt the flow of those benefits, so, shoot, why even have a military?

Posted by: Thomas Blumer at February 25, 2006 06:41 PM