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Triple-dipping

2015-05-03T21:34:09+00:00

Darling wife has a problem with the behavior of some acquaintances. They are both retired Native Americans, and they are pulling down three income streams:

  1. Their retirement savings
  2. Their Social Security benefits
  3. Their Indian tribal disbursements

So they own three houses, including at least one gigantic one which is laughably ostentatious. It was a visit to this domicile (while the owners are away at one of their other homes) that spurred darling wife’s indignation.

I did some research. It turns out their particular tribe does not pay out monthly benefits to tribal members like some other tribes do. Their tribe is focused on educating the young and providing for the indigent, which neither of these people are. So apparently they have only two income streams.

Not to give any credence to Politifact, which is a Democrat party propaganda organ, but these numbers were interesting. They show that most people will get a high rate of return on their Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid payments that they paid while they were working, to the tune of +25 percent to +200 percent or more. That is because the US government has an ugly habit of deficit spending, and also because the “entitlement” programs of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are simply real-time wealth transfers from current workers to current retirees. You are not paying money into your account, which you will get back later. Your payments are being spent as fast as you can make them, to support current retirees. Your only hope is for future workers to pay for YOUR retirement. The US government blandly calls this arrangement “pay as you go.” It functions only as long as there are current workers to support current retirees. In the 1930s when Social Security started, there were 16 workers in the US for every retired person, so this worked well. By 1950 that had fallen to 7. In 2015 it is 4, and the arrangement is shaky at best. By 2030 government analysts hope there will be 2.67 workers to support each retired person, but I think that is optimistic. In Japan, there are only 2 workers to support each retired person, and it is an ongoing fiscal and governmental crisis for their society.

Japan’s present is the United States’ future.

So, darling wife was offended at the idea of these acquaintances double-dipping, of consuming Social Security benefits that they don’t need, to fund their extravagant lifestyle. I agree, I think. I think it would be best to manage the diminishing tax stream from the dwindling supply of current workers, by forcing retirees to submit to means-testing for Social Security and for Medicare. You get “entitlement” checks calculated proportionally based on your need. If your retirement savings indicate you don’t need them, then you get reduced benefits from Social Security and Medicare, or possibly none at all. That makes the remaining money go farther for the people who do need it.

“Unfair!” many retirees will no doubt scream. No, what’s unfair is the pyramid scheme of confiscating wealth from current workers to pay for current retirees’ extravagant lifestyles. The “pay as you go” arrangement is simply a game of musical chairs. When the music finally stops, some people are going to find themselves without a seat.

I wish I could be sympathetic. But at the rate things are going, the programs will collapse sooner than later unless means-testing is imposed.

And when that happens, retirees like our acquaintances will have to fund their extravagant, ostentatious homes on their own.

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