The New York Times ran an op-ed about Social Security, in which well-heeled researchers opined in favor with the line funded (with half a billion) by the Petersen Institute and similar groups that want to gradually privatize and/or phase down benefits under the earned benefit programs (Social Security, Medicare).
Not surprisingly the original writers thought the various proposals for cutting back on benefits made sense. If people are living longer, they say, then we should make them work longer before getting to retire on Social Security.
This completely misses the point that in the US we not only have an extraordinarily unequal distribution of wealth and income, but a correspondingly extraordinarily unequal distribution of the goodies of a life in modern society. Those longevity gains--they've gone to those at the top who've also garnered all the producitivity gains (from the labor of others) these last lost decades of the Reagan/BushI/Bush II radical right takeover.
One responder got it right. See Options for Protecting Social Security, New York Times (letters to the editor) (Jan. 11, 2013).
To the Editor:
. . . The worst [suggested fix] is the idea of lowering initial benefits for workers with lifetime wages above the national average, currently $43,000. This would simply exacerbate the already shameful levels of regressiveness of the Social Security payroll tax.
But the idea of taxing wages above the current $113,700 earnings limit should be a no-brainer. Currently, a person with income of $250,000 pays only 2.8 percent in Social Security taxes. The $500,000 earner pays less than 1.5 percent. These are insignificant amounts for people at those levels, but the $50,000 earner paying 6.2 percent feels it where it hurts.
Madison, Wis., Jan. 7, 2013