Saturday, July 9, 2011
The Difficulty with Mirrors
I am always amazed at what people see when they become introspective. Since I am people, this post includes me as much as anyone.
I think that as a society and perhaps a species, we are finely tuned self-deception devices. I can't think of anyone who doesn't feel that someone else should take the hardships required. Few people want their taxes raised, it is always someone else who better serves the society by giving their money.
Our country is a potlatch economy. Our leaders distribute goodies to those who keep them in power. We pay take in approximately 2.1 trillion dollars. We distribute 2.1 trillion dollars in transfer payments to just about everyone. Then we go out and borrow money to do the stuff that government is supposed to do. This year it is around 1.6 trillion.
We are stuck in a debt spiral. We probably aren't going to get out. The boomers are already starting to stick their straws in what remains of the social security trust fund and it is running at a deficit as well. When they (we) start retiring in a big way, that thing is going to become a huge albatross around our collective necks. It will steepen an already steep spiral of decline.
There are a lot of folks out there in the blogosphere who rant that the social security money is there, all we have to do is tax the rich folk (which is a fabulous idea, but not enough). We also have to realize that there will have to changes. The first thing that we have to realize is that we (not our government, we) have spent our retirement money. The social security trust fund is filled to the brim with IOU's. The cash we pay out is all the current revenue that the program takes in plus a bit out of the general fund.
So, here we are getting old and broke and now we are panicking. Getting up to go to work every day is getting stale. But the money we put away is gone, spent on stuff we really didn't need. So what us boomers are hoping is that we can keep the charade going long enough for us to pull out what we think is our due and then shaft the folks behind us in the line.
My big trouble with this is that it just kicks the can down the road for my kids to deal with it. They have enough on their plate. So, the only thing that I can do is to give up on the idea of a retirement and keep working. A lot of this is due to the reason that my retirement account is filled to the brim with stocks from failed companies. Another is that the cash that I do have buys less every day. Another is that retirement looks boring as hell.
There are going to be a lot of folks like me. I am hoping that me laying down the nature of my self delusion will help them over the hump of their rationalizations.
at 8:26:00 AM