With all the major problems facing America (the economy, social security, health care, etc.), I thought I’d share some ideas I’ve had about how to improve the situation.
I won’t go so far as to say these ideas would actually solve any of the problems… but they should improve the situation in ways that will not conflict with implementing real solutions.
I believe that the federal government should not be involved in retirement at all (other than in the role of protecting the rights of retirees). Retirement should be the responsibility of the person who wishes to retire. Period.
Unfortunately, we’re now in a situation where people have come to depend on social secutity for their retirement, but since it was never set up as a retirement fund (i.e. a fund that people pay into and then draw out of at retirement), there seems to be no solution. If you cut off social security, retirees will be faced with the prospect of living on virtually no income. If you continue it, it will just propogate the problem.
So, I’d favor immediately changing social security from “retirement” into “employment”. The employment would not be physically difficult… but would entail real work. The work would become less taxing (both in terms of the type of work being done, and the number of hours worked) the older you get, but, barring health issues that prevent work entirely, it would continue for the lifetime of the recipient.
First, is it really fair to put these “retirees” back to work? I believe in consequences. I believe in PAYING those consequences… NOT in avoiding them. It is an aboslute fact that the social security system, as it is currently implemented, was put into place by people that retirees voted for. The problems with the social security system have been well understood since the day it was founded, but people have chosen to ignore them, and to vote for people who maintained the system, rather than fix it, or (the better solution) abolish it. Is it fair that the very people who have voted for the status quo for their entire adult life be forced to pay some of the consequence? YES!
A second, and far more important objection is this: is it a good idea to take jobs away from younger adults and give them to retirees? My response to this is that the objection is irrelevant, at least in the long term. The impact from such a change will have many ripple affects… and many of those will be positive. Imagine if ten million retirees who were producing nothing suddenly become productive individuals who are producing something of value to society. There is no way that that can be considered a negative. The “retiree” who is required to continue thinking and working (in a capacity for which he or she is physically capable) will be physically and mentally healthier than someone who stops working at retirement.
In short, this system will take a segment of population who were non-productive resource consumers and turn them into productive members of society. I am absolutely certain that the overall impact will be positive.
One side-effect of this solution is that the current working-age population would be required to take responsibility for retirement themselves. If they relied on social security, they wouldn’t be able to retire.
One thing to note is that the types of “employment” available for social security recipients would NOT be a “punishment”. When a person retires, one benefit of social security would be to put them in a new type of job. Just changing employments would be good for them mentally.
There are several problems with the education system. I have an idea which would potentially improve two things. The classroom size has increased to the point where it’s difficult to effectively teach one-on-one.
Budgets can be (and are) stretched (to a point) very easily in education… just increase the student to teacher ratio. If you double the ratio, you can cut your salary base by two. Very few other jobs can be stretched as easily. No matter what you do, a construction worker cannot build two houses in the same time they built one before. A secretary cannot type twice as many documents. But a teacher can give a lecture to 50 students (or 100 or 500) with virtually the same amount of effort that giving the lecture to 10 or 25 students would entail.
This could be solved (at least to some extent) by taking people from the pool of new “employees” created by my Social Security suggestion and putting them in the schools as teaching assistants. They would NOT be teachers, so they would not displace the teachers. A requirement for getting these assistants could be that a school war required to maintain the current number of teachers. The assistants would be placed in the classrooms at a ratio of perhaps 1 assistant per 5 to 10 students. Much of the one-on-one would come from these assistants who had a lifetime of experience to draw on.