Bass boat or Baby? Feminism or family? Another mouth to feed or leather seats in your luxury SUV? For over thirty-five years most Americans have decided that children are a blessing –the kind to be enjoyed in a very small number that does not interfere with the better marketed blessings of ambition, “me time”, and competitive consumerism. The “population pyramid” we all learned about in Social Studies class is thus as dead as a restrained Judiciary (or the Dodo, for that matter), replaced by a weakening “population column,” as people have fewer and fewer children. This will mean two things.
One is the collapse of Western Civilization. But more importantly for the “Me” generation, the other is that the pyramid scheme of Social Security –which depends upon the taxation of the broad young base of the population pyramid to support its small aging peak– is now demographically unsustainable. The extra children we were not willing to share our pie with yesterday will not be there to share their pie with us tomorrow. The Social Security system will thus have to be adjusted by either significantly decreasing benefits or else drastically increasing taxes. Period.
Or we could, as President Bush has proposed, augment the questionable pyramid scheme with private investment accounts through which individuals could save for their own retirement using compound interest. Surprisingly though, the idea of owning one’s own retirement funds is viewed as a risky scheme by the public; while depending instead upon an un-guaranteed and legally unenforceable government IOU for an amount to be determined later and paid for by future workers that will not be born is somehow viewed as a sure thing. President Bush assured us, however, when the initial shaky poll numbers for the private accounts idea came out, that as people learned more “the numbers will move.” They have moved straight down from there, so score one more for W.
Never being one to attempt to improve a situation I can instead exploit for personal gain, I am proud to now share with all of America an exciting new investment opportunity. Today I announce to you, the supporters of Social Security, my personal investment and guaranteed wealth-building retirement system, Socialist Sincerity. This fabulous investment of a lifetime is the only decision you’ll ever have to make regarding your financial golden years. It’s the private-sector retirement program you’ve been waiting for — one that preserves all the salient features of the Social Security system you love, but has no limits on the amount of money you can send into it! You’ve already decided that Social Security is a better deal than any risky scheme like investing in the future growth of the American Economy through so-called “stocks” and “bonds,” so wouldn’t you be stupid not to put every penny you have into this wealth-spurting super investment? Now you can! Simply sign up for my Socialist Sincerityprogram and let the wealth come to you! I will now take a few spontaneous questions regarding the “rock-solid” and nearly fully guaranteed Socialist Sincerityprogram.
Excellent questions. Socialist Sincerity is so simple even a Democrat can use it. You simply send to me (under irrevocable legal obligation and threat of imprisonment) a large chunk of your earnings every week for your entire life. Then, when you reach retirement age –which I currently am going to say is “67”, but I can change to any number I want later– I will send you guaranteed monthly payments in an amount I will determine at a future date! This amount will be based on my financial situation at the time and my fickle spending priorities (which could include invading my uppity neighbor’s backyard, turning my driveway into an enormous underground highway system so that I don’t have to look at it, or building a chain of monuments to the founder of Socialist Sincerity).
You betcha, partner! The US stock market has produced a measly annualized rate of return of 7-8% over the last few generations. Bonds have averaged just 3%! Socialist Sincerity, on the other hand, is aiming for a rate of return which I GUARANTEE is currently estimated (for a 25-year old male) at negative 0.82%! How is this possible, you ask? Simple: contributions to Socialist Sincerity won’t be invested in any high falutin’ financial instruments. Instead, your contributions will go straight into the impregnable Socialist Sincerity psychic lockbox, which just happens to look a lot like my checking account or “general revenue fund.”
Once safely deposited in the psychic lockbox, these funds can then be used to buy all the things I might otherwise have to seek loans to purchase. How does this benefit you? Just think of how much I’ll save in interest spending your money at 0.82%, rather than having to acquire loans at market rates! This is exactly the model that works so well for the Federal Government, which spends your Social Security taxes just as fast as you pay them. The national debt is huge. But just think how huge it might be if you weren’t wisely subsidizing it with your Social Security payments. Socialist Sincerity can put even more of your money to work for someone else. I’ve got my eye on an AWD Volvo XC90 V8 SUV with built-in butt warmers in the leather seats. (see “spending priorities”, above)
It’s wise to think of your loved ones before tragedy strikes. Since I will not pay out any of your contributions to anyone should you die young, you can rest assured that they will not be burdened with the sort of inheritance paperwork that a nasty private account would impose on them.
Oh God, yes! I can safely say that Socialist Sincerity benefits no one more than the already old and entitled feeling. Our investment strategy is based on the teachings of noted early twentieth century economist Carlo “Charles” Ponzi. Do a little research. I think you will find the early investors in his scheme did quite well indeed.
Don’t be silly! Just like rock-solid Social Security, Socialist Sincerity is funded by a fixed percentage of its contributors’ incomes. If the economy collapses, incomes will probably just go UP, not down. Thus you can rest secure knowing the rock-solid guarantee of programs like Social Security and Socialist Sincerity will be totally immune to the sort of prolonged economic collapse that could reduce the return from a risky, risky, risky private account.
One last question, please.
Like you can trust the US government, my friend. Now if you’ll just sign on the dotted line . . .