Only a brave few acknowledge an entitlement crisis

George F. Will
The Washington Post
4/11/2010

Apuzzle from Philosophy 101: If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? A puzzle from the prairie: If an earthquake occurs in Illinois and no one notices, is it really a seismic event?

Gov. Pat Quinn called it a “political earthquake” when the state’s legislature recently voted — by margins of 92 to 17 in the House and 48 to 6 in the Senate — to reform pensions for state employees. There is now a cap on the amount of earnings that can be used as the basis for calculating benefits. In some states, employees game the system by “spiking” their last year’s earnings by accumulating vast amounts of overtime pay.

An even more important change — a harbinger of America’s future — is that most new Illinois state government employees must work until age 67 to be eligible for full retirement benefits. Those already on the state payroll can still retire at 55 with full benefits.

The 1935 Social Security Act established 65 as the age of eligibility for payouts. But welfare state politics quickly becomes a bidding war, enriching the menu of benefits, so Congress in 1956 entitled women to collect benefits at 62 and in 1961 extended the entitlement to men. Today, nearly half of Social Security recipients choose to begin getting benefits at 62. This is a grotesque perversion of a program that was never intended to subsidize retirees for a third to a half of their adult lives.

It also reflects the decadent dependence that the welfare state encourages…

The article continues at the Washington Post.

Comments are closed.