2009 November 04 Wednesday
Social Security Bonus Illustrates Decay Of Common Bonds

David Leonhardt asks which group in American deserves $14 billion dollars.

If you wanted to help the economy and you had $14 billion to bestow on any group of people, which group would you choose:

a) Teenagers and young adults, who have an 18 percent unemployment rate.

b) All the middle-age long-term jobless who, for various reasons, are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

c) The taxpayers of the future (by using the $14 billion to pay down the deficit).

d) The group that has survived the Great Recession probably better than any other, with stronger income growth, fewer job cuts and little loss of health insurance.

Obama chose option d: retirees. The Obama Administration wants to send a special bonus check to all Social Security recipients because the inflation rate was too low (negative really) for them to get a cost of living increase in their monthly checks.

My answer: c, the taxpayers of the future. Do not pile up more debt. This isn't free money.

The trajectory of US government debt, heading toward 100% of GDP, makes me think some form of social glue has dissolved. The people who live within the borders of the United States of America do not feel a large enough sense of common bonds to see the US government's debt as their debt. A sense of common ownership of some aspect of American identity might be expected to cause people to demand restraints on their government.

I'm not sure how to put this into words. But if people identify with each other and they all feel members of the same club you might expect them to see the club's decay as their own decay. But instead there's a greater demand to deliver stuff to people today a little sense of owing something to the people of the future.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 November 04 10:04 PM  Democracy Failure

Stopped Clock said at November 5, 2009 11:14 AM:

Mmm, coulda sworn I read this same thing just a few minutes ago.

mrm said at November 5, 2009 12:11 PM:

This is a direct 'buy the votes' move straight out of the Chicago playbook. I don't know who is more foolish, the media for saying its a good move for the elderly, the Chinese and oil exporters for lending money and purchasing US notes and bonds for this, or Obama passing up on the COLA break the govt got this year with no increase.

Steve Johnson said at November 6, 2009 6:13 PM:

Can I go with option e (give all the money to Goldman Sachs)?

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