06 July 2016

Social Insecurity

Every now and again, there's a report that Social Security is dying, "dying I say; we must stop squandering moolah on unproductive oldsters!!!" Well, the Trumpian versions aren't quite as authentic, of course. Trumpian versions are various sorts of lies.

Then again, some business reporter does the homework, and debunks the lies. Most often, such reporting occurs obscurely. The main takeaway from the piece is one that these endeavors have spoken to ofttimes: money into Social Security is "invested" in Damn Gummint fiduciary instruments. It isn't invested in private physical investment (or public infrastucture investment, either). This "investing" merely moves moolah from one of Uncle Sugar's pockets to another, with an added bit.

While that arrangement seems silly, as I've written before, the alternatives are worse. The piece has a trenchant rundown. I like it.
If the Social Security trust fund invested in something other than U.S. bonds, what would it invest in and where would the money go? A review of the list of possible investments shows serious challenges with any one of them:
If the Social Security trust fund invested in U.S. corporate stocks or bonds, or bonds of state and local governments, the money would get spent, as noted above. And if the fund owned too large a slice of U.S. corporations' stocks and bonds, or state and local bonds, you might call it socialism or communism.

Bank CDs? Current CD interest rates are lower than the rates the fund currently earns.

The trust fund could buy commercial or residential real estate, but that would put it in the business of selecting and managing these real estate investments -- once again, raising concerns about socialism or communism.

There's always international stocks and bonds, but you can imagine the outcry if the trust fund bought European or Chinese stocks or bonds?

I'd call it fascism, but that's because the Damn Gummint would be required, as an investor, to support all manner of questionable activity. What if Social Security had been a major investor in Enron or CountryWide? Think about that.

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