Opinion: We’re shedding the Social Safety propaganda struggle


It’s a good rule: before you start a war, soften the enemy with propaganda. Convince them they lost before the first shot was fired.

If they think resistance is useless, they may not even fight.

With that in mind, here is one more piece of evidence that the campaign that is driving us all to give up social security is bearing fruit.

Only 4 in 10 Americans expect to receive their full entitlements from the country’s retirement plan when they retire, and about 1 in 5 think they won’t get anything at all. That comes from a new survey by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research. And it mirrors, for example, the results of a survey by the Pew Charitable Trust two years ago.

The latest study also shows that the way we report on social security finances in the media has an impact on the public. A Boston College study found that headlines really matter. Headlines relating to the anticipated “bankruptcy” of the trust fund prompted readers to start drawing benefits earlier, increasing the number, which predicted cuts of 20-40%.

Oddly enough, however, the same headlines didn’t make readers save more.

In both cases, the changes were not great: some groups wanted to start applying for benefits half a year or a year earlier than others. But they were there. However, what really impressed me was the pessimism pervasive among everyone, regardless of the headlines. About two-thirds of the most optimistic group expected benefit cuts of 20% or more when the time came.

And that’s what we’ll get … only if we don’t do anything to save Social Security finances. The Trustees’ latest report predicts that the Social Security and Disability Trust funds, which are generally considered together for these calculations, will be able to pay around 78% of benefits once their accumulated savings are depleted over the next decade. (The trustees say this will happen in 2034. The Congressional Budget Office, gloomier, says 2032.)

Apparently, Congress can raise money to bail out a private sector pension fund run by the Teamsters, but it won’t be able to find enough money to bail out Uncle Sam’s public pension fund.

It’s hard to imagine the disastrous consequences if we cut social security. The average senior is dependent on Social Security for over 60% of their retirement income. A third rely almost exclusively on it.

Time is our enemy. Every year this topic is postponed, costs rise and it becomes politically more difficult to find a solution. It’s worth noting that the total proposed funding gap after 2034 is just over 1.2% of GDP per year. But maybe the Federal Reserve can just print the money we need. That seems like the solution for everything these days.

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