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January 10, 2005


Patrick R. Sullivan

"...critics agree that the promise to make payments to beneficiaries from the Trust Fund is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States."

Maybe some do, but this one predicts that if the SS special bonds were incinerated in a bonfire before the Army-Navy football game, the U.S. credit rating would improve.

Dave Schuler

Frankly, I'm baffled by all the kerfuffle. So we start to adjust spending priorities in 2018. We've adjusted priorities before and we will again.

Robert P. Mitchell

The NYTimes also had a good bit of reporting on Social Security in its Friday, 12/31/04 edition, which pointed out that one of the key assumptions behind the Social Security actuaries' estimates that the Trust Fund could make to 2052 before bankruptcy, is that longevity will only increase 4 years in the next 75 years (even though average longevity increased 30 years in the 20th Century). Any significant breakthrough in longevity exending lifespans beyond the projected 4 years would move up the bankruptcy point dramatically; and of course, we are spending far more on drug and other research now than we did in most of the 20th Century. Needless to say, Krugman and the NYTImes other editorial writers continue to treat the 2052 date as gospel, ignoring completely the 12/31 report.

Dave Schuler

Robert P. Mitchell:

Most of the increase in life expectancy in the 20th century was in reduced infant mortality and most of that through antisepsis. There isn't that much more to be gained by reduced infant mortality and the actual life expectancy of some who actually makes it to age, say, 20 hasn't changed enormously. Adding 4 years is a lot more than it sounds like.


Oh really? And if people stop smoking and inner city youth stop killing each other? I agree that adding another four years not going to be as easy as the first four were, but let's not pretend it can't happen.

As far as readjusting spending priorities, isn't that a little convenient? What you're suggesting is not that you change your spending habits but that your children do. In order to avoid making hard choices now, you put the pain on your kids when, if you took the hit today, it would be less painful than the one your kids would take.

That's really what we're talking about here. I wouldn't mind if the generation that received the greatest benefit from SS were going to help us fix it, but that's not going to happen. So it's up to us, those who will be lucky to get our money back, to make the hard choices now.

Greg F

Most of the increase in life expectancy in the 20th century was in reduced infant mortality and most of that through antisepsis.

The non-quantitative statement, “Most of the increase in life expectancy”, is not very useful. The numbers given here">">here indicate, compared to the 20 year old age group, that roughly half of the increase in life expectancy is due to “reduced infant mortality”.

Chester White

I keep pinging around the Web, posting this same damn thing, in the hopes somebody will learn:


It's a bunch of government bonds owned by a government agency. In other words, one part of government promises to pay money in the future to another part of government.

It's exactly equivalent to me writing an IOU to myself with my right hand and putting it in my left pocket.

THERE IS NOTHING THERE, except the power of the government to raise taxes or borrow money. I hope that everybody under 40 can understand this, since they may not get anything for their tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars of contributions.


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