Thursday, March 17, 2005

Social Security: Solved!!

One of my all time favorite Simpson's quotes is a toast, given by Homer:

"To Alcohol! The cause and solution to all of life's problems!"

I had a similar reaction this morning when I opened up my paper to find a story alarmingly titled:

"Children's Life expectancy Being Cut Short By Obesity"

As I read the text of this horrifying news I learned that we have an obesity epidemic in America, and that epidemic is hitting the children of America the hardest. According to the report published in JAMA, the life expectancy of today's adults is already four to nine months shorter than it would be than if there were no obesity. Of course this is a lot like saying today's life expectancy is shorter than if there were no cancer, strokes, or AIDS but sadly this is the level of scare statistic science that the popular media lives to exploit these days. I mean really, how else can a research doctor expect to get on TV and be quoted in the papers if he doesn't come up with something to scare the bejesus out of us.

But I digress.

As many Simpson's fans know, Homer is kind of like a life savant in the way that he, while being completely idiotic, still manages to capture the nugget of a good idea once in a while. Of course he is never aware of it, but sometimes we can learn something from even the most bafoonish of characters. As an even wiser person than Homer Simpson once said, "every problem is just an opportunity in disguise.

With this in mind, ladies and gentlemen I present a slight variation on Homer's words:

"To obesity! The cause and solution to all of our social security problems!"

Think about it. As we all know the Social Security system is a bit of a Ponzi scheme. Actually, its a complete Ponzi scheme. The youth and middle aged folks of today are tricked into paying into a "retirement" system to fund social security payments for shuffle boarding geezers sunning themselves in Florida. In return, they are told that when they're over 65 and fighting for the Booth One early bird at the Sprightly Seagull, their children will support them in their retirement.

Up until now this has worked because there has been a sufficient supply of dull witted young folk, thanks to potent combination of the American educational system and unprotected sex, to maintain funding and keep the system solvent. Like every Ponzi scheme, however, the day of reckoning is coming. Selfish baby boomers, responsible for virtually everything that is bad in America (Tom Jones, Sonny and Cher..... the list is endless) did one good thing for the country. They invented the pill. Having become a teenager in the seventies, I am eternally grateful to the boomers for this particular genius.

Sadly, the drastically reduced birth levels that gave us so much freedom in our youth are now threatening to ruin our retirement as we all will become enfeebled Wallmart greeters. The only solution out of this dilemma is to raise taxes to increase funding and pay off all those bonds in the Social Security "Trust Fund", or reduce benefits significantly. Until now, it seemed that one way or another our generation was going to pay.

Suddenly, everything has changed.

Today's news about the youth, who we really should refer to as "our little funders" or OLF's must be greeted as an excellent development in the social security debate. Why, you ask? Its really very simple. Now that we find these little buggers are munching their way to an early grave we have a third means of getting out of this mess - or at least lengthening the time with which we can get away with our Ponzi scheme.

Its called "adjusting the life expectancy". Today the unfunded Social Security liability is estimated to be approximately $10trillion. This is the dollar amount that the trustees say we would need today to ensure that the system stays solvent in perpetuity. Every year that we do not solve this problem, the $10trillion grows by an additional $600billion. However, if the OLF's don't live as long, well this liability begins to shrink. I like to call this the "Supersize Me Affect".

Our current expected lifespan is roughly 77 years, which translates into 12 years of Social Security payments for every American. Already we're reducing this estimate by months, and if the OLF's keep stuffing themselves with Quarter Pounders (Hey Mom's, don't forget the cheese!) why we can begin to take years off.

Admittedly this will require a fine balance to work. While the shortened OLF life span is going to save our retirement, we can't have these little buggers keeling over from heart attacks in their fifties. As everyone knows, these will be the prime OLF earning years. So be judicious with the drive through meals - I'd suggest no more than two or three dinners a week max. If weight gain isn't sufficient, you can always adjust for your specific situation.

Think of the benefits! Sunny summer days filled with tennis, golf, the aforementioned shuffleboard, followed by happy hour in the senior center meeting room where we can complain about Medicare coverage and send mass mailings to our Congressmen. Cruel you say? Meanspirited? I invite you to pay a visit any Del Boca Vista like development in Florida. Have a look around and just try to find a senior willing to cut their benefits to help pay for your future. You'll soon come to realize, it's the Great American Tradition. So get with the program!

I'm aware that some of you may still be appalled by such a bold, visionary suggestion and that's ok. I have just three simple words for you:

"Welcome to Wallmart"

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