No, Social Security is not The Blob

I heard this story on NPR and thought about writing something on how misleading it is. Squarely Rooted saved me some time by writing a good piece for me. The idea that we, as a nation, aren’t wealthy enough to provide secure retirement for our elderly is still ludicrous, and somehow never dies.

squarely rooted

my god nothing can save us

So NPR gave time this morning to Paul Taylor to wax catastrophic about why Social Security is going to eat us all in a naked attempt to create an anti-senior backlash among millennials. No transcript yet, but among the many scary numbers he cited is the beneficiary-to-population ratio, which basically gives the impression that senior citizens are an all-consuming mass whose insatiable hunger for early-bird buffets and tchotchkes for the grandkids will surely doom us all.

Needless to say, this is extremely misleading. And it’s misleading because, hey guess what, productivity and technology have also increased a wee bit since the Truman administration. Here’s the share of GDP going to Social Security since 1960:

alert the president! the blog has been subdued by secular trends in labor and capital productivity!

Everybody panic! It’s…1980!

Now, in that time the senior share of the population has increased:

senior share

But ever since the ’83 reforms to Social Security, it’s growth has basically been level with GDP growth. Now, that above…

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