Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saving Social Security Is Easy -- My Cousins Can Do It

Ramesh Ponnuru compares Social Security to a Ponzi scheme, saying
Participation may be mandatory, meanwhile, but having children isn't--and Social Security is actually worse than the typical Ponzi scheme in that its structure discourages the generation of new participants; studies suggest that the crushing tax burden it puts on workers suppresses the number of children they have.
If you're worried about Social Security running short on new participants, there's an easy fix -- import some from other countries! There are tons of bright young people around the world who would be overjoyed to come here in their twenties and pay into Social Security for forty years, keeping the system afloat. We can choose among the best and brightest as we please -- in addition to paying Social Security taxes, we can get doctors to cure our sick, computer programmers to keep our machines going, and scientists (like my father, who was born on a tiny Indian village and came here in the 1970s) to do all the things scientists do.

(If you're okay with saving the system in an entirely illegitimate way, illegal immigrants are even better. Since payroll taxes are deducted from their wages but they have no way of claiming benefits, they're basically free money for the Social Security system. Their presence in the country is worth a 30 basis point increase in the payroll tax rate, or $13 billion per year. Of course, this is wildly regressive since they're some of the poorest people in the country.)
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