Glamour Weighs in on Social Security Reform
While I'm not a total girly girl, I do read a couple of women's magazines. Now normally you can't count on these magazines for much more than the latest variation on the "12 things men really want you to do in bed" (hint-it's always the same thing) or "150 great looks that won't make your butt look big - all under $50!!", but I noticed that my latest issue of Glamour has an article on Social Security reform.
Glamour, under the totally non-scary headline of "Will you die broke?", helpfully tries to explain "what women could lose" under the Bush Social Security plan. The article points readers to the Center for Economic and Policy Research's Accurate Benefits Calculator so each and every Glamour girl can see how she'll be screwed by the proposed reforms.
Being the skeptic that I am, I checked out the site. The first thing I noticed was that the site simply calculated the difference between what you'd receive per month if Social Security carried on as normal in perpetuity vs. what you'd receive with a 25% benefit cut with no private account and then what you'd receive under the Bush plan with a private account. And, according to the calculator, I must really suck as an investor, because my benefits would be less if I had a private account than if I went with the Bush plan but had no private account at all.
The Glamour editors seem to think this is a great public service, rather than the complete b.s. that it is. Two quick things I noticed:
- The calculator assumes that the rate of return on your private account would be 4.35%. The S&P rate of return was 6.8% last year and the forecasts from the Social Security Adminstration that the Bush plan are based on is a rate of return of 6.5%. Now, this nonpartisan group isn't stacking the deck against private accounts or anything, are they?
- The calculator is far too simple. You simply put in a single amount that you expect to earn in a typical year. As far as I can see, there's no way to account for earning more and more throughout your career.
But finally, this calculator misses the whole idea of why Social Security either needs to be reformed or simply go away. It's irresponsible to pretend that younger people today can retire under the same benefits structure that currently exists. That's not an option, unless we're willing to accept higher and higher taxes. The fact is, if we want the same benefits when we retire, we need to be prepared to keep far less of our paychecks over course of our lifetime in the workforce. I won't die broke, but I won't live lavishly in the meantime.
Or, alternatively, our economy will continue to grow at a healthy pace, we'll all earn more and the government will cut spending on things other than Social Security and will therefore be able to afford to pay the same benefits to the Baby Boomers and beyond. Heh. I crack myself up sometimes.
In any case, Glamour needs to stick to telling women what the "12 things men want to say to you but don't" are and stay out of the political arena.
Posted by at May 9, 2005 06:40 PM
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|# May 10th, 2005 9:53 PM james|
|the ssa calculator at SSA.gov calculates the income for a person born in 1982 and retiring at 65 at $1239.00.
this site's calculator puts it at $1890.91.
"accurate" my ass.