Saturday, July 12, 2008

McCain gaffe not a gaffe

John McCain has made a lot of foolish statements recently. I found his joking about Iranian civilian deaths to be offensive and not at all funny. But one statement he made is defensible; he said: "Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed."

Perhaps "disgrace" is a strong word, but why is it taboo to criticize the way Social Security is funded? Allow me to quote a friendly biographer of Franklin Roosevelt, William Leuchtenburg: "It was an astonishingly inept and conservative piece of legislation. In no other welfare system in the world did the state shirk all responsibility for old-age indigency and insist that funds be taken out of the current earnings of workers." (Source is Walter Karp's great book Indispensable Enemies), p.130. I believe Jimmy Carter in the 1970s proposed funding Social Security through general revenues, an idea which makes a lot of sense. Why can't the subject be discussed? Is the present system sacred?

No comments: