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WSJ: Free This Week & Econoblogging!

You’ve probably seen this elsewhere, but the WSJ Online is running an econoblogging feature this week. It’s pretty interesting an informative at the moment, the current discussion is on Social Security. I do want to point out what I see as a major flaw in John Irons’ (the “liberal” econoblogger they’ve recruited) thinking about social security:

The right way to think about the system is not “what do I get out of it,” but rather, “how do we as a society wish to treat our elderly?”


Again, we need to think about the system as how we, as a civil society, want to treat our elderly — ensuring (and insuring) a modest income during retirement is the right thing to do. It is a “good deal” because we get a lot out of the system.

Why shouldn’t we restructure social security as a welfare program? Because what we’re doing is the “right thing” of course! It doesn’t matter if it’s massively expensive, it’s right! We must find a way to fund it! Furthermore, it’s the government’s job to provide for the lifestyle of the old! Private investment has fundamental flaws! Geesh. Irons is at least more like Brad DeLong than like Paul Krugman. DeLong might be wrong pretty often, but he’s at least civil and readable most days.

  1. Timothy says:

    Heh. You and I are going to disagree over the relative merits of social security, I see.

  2. Melissa says:

    *******Sarcasm Alert*******

    Giving people money has nothing to do with how we treat them. You could throw all the social security you wanted at Gramma, and still lock her up in a care home and only visit her lawyer to make sure she doesn’t change her will.
    I mean, geez, what good is putting money into something if you don’t get anything back?

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