We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Social security is easy to fix, just raise the retirement age for benefits until what workers are willing to pay equals what the retired take.
Raising the age raises the number of workers and reduces the number of retirees. Somewhere is an exact match, probably within reasonable range.
The benefit of SS isn't getting your money back but its insurance aspect. It's an annuity that's inflation adjusted that guarantees you won't outlive your savings.
It's a lot harder to save for the longest possible retirement than to save for an average retirement.
SS pools the savings so that you're covered for the longest possible retirement if you save for the average.
A private company can't do that because, (1) inflation isn't an insurable event - all your policies go bad at once; and (2) a private company probably won't survive the 50 years anyway, leaving your savings gone.
--re the EPA guy --remember this: Everything the Nazis did was legal. After coming to power thru the electoral system and parliamentary politics, they took great care to pass 'enabling acts' prior to any planned outrage. So much so that a new legal concept ("Crimes Against Humanity") had to be developed in order to have any legal basis for the Nuremburg Trials. IOW, because they so richly deserved it, they were more or less prosecuted under a Bill of Attainder --which, inside the nation of one of the Nuremburg prosecuting nations, was then and is now Unconstitutional.
Listen to the EPA guy --watch that 'sweeping-away' hand motion as he says that the first thing the Romans woulkd do upon entering a conquered town was 'crucify the first five guys they saw' so that for the 'next several years, they wouldn't have any trouble' with the town.
Now imagine that the 2010 elections had gone the other way. Now imagine the fiendishly logical 'for the children' explanation the EPA could have had, for their own police force --and their own administrative court, and punishment bureaucracy --just like the other tough-minded governments with 'sweeping-away' hand gestures.
Tom.... I don't know if it is possible for the United States to eliminate a state from the Union, but I do know that Texas, which had been a Republic for Six or eight years before we were "invited" to join the Union, reserved the right, as a condition to joining the Union, to withdraw if, later on, we decided to become a Republic again. Gov. Perry mentioned this a few years ago, and several prominent governmental figures got their knickers in a twist about it.
I wouldn't say that it was "easy" to fix Social Security, unless someone has a crystal ball that can predict the future of the economy and the trend in national demographics. However, in agreement with your suggestion, I believe Congress should raise the EARLY retirement age from 62 to something like 65 for people who are now between 25 and 45 years of age (with a comparable increase in the corresponding full retirement age), and to 67 for people who are now younger than 25. By 2060, the early retirement age should be raised to 70 or even 72 in order to keep pace with our longer life spans. The retirement age for full benefits has been raised quite a bit in recent years, but it is the early retirement age that needs to be increased in order to rescue the program from long-term default.
PS: "A private company can't do that because, (1) inflation isn't an insurable event - all your policies go bad at once; and (2) a private company probably won't survive the 50 years anyway, leaving your savings gone."
Oh? Won't survive 50 years? Here's just one example, taken from Wikipedia:
MetLife, Inc. is the holding corporation for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, or MetLife, for short, and its affiliates. MetLife is among the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs, with 90 million customers in over 60 countries. The firm was founded on March 24, 1868.
For the math challenged, MetLife was founded 144 (!!) years ago. That' a century and a half ago, three years after the Civil War ended.
I think the early retirement is a wash as far as benefits go - the usual advice is wait until you're 70 exactly and start payments on the last month, since the benefit increases to compensate for reduced remaining average lifetime, giving you the largest insurance component.
It may be that you're working less and so not paying in with early retirement and that doesn't figure into the benefits correctly, given a clamp at some number of years you have to put in in their computation.