A Modest Proposal For The 21st Century
There has been much discussion regarding the unsustainability of national entitlement programs – specifically, Social Security and Medicare. These programs are either a) dangerously underfunded; b) out of money; or c) figments of all our imaginations. We can eliminate (c), unfortunately. Which leaves us with varying proportions of (a) and (b), depending on the time of day, wind direction and particular news network reporting the issue.
Current political circumstances dictate that these programs remain untouched by the scalpel-wielding budget writers. Suggesting cuts in disbursements from any of these tax-payer supplied ATM’s would be political suicide, and the last thing any elected official is prepared to do, is to take the knife intended for an opponent’s back, turn it on themselves and slide it neatly between their third and fourth ribs. Additionally, newly elected conservatives, who ran on promises of curbing spending and reducing the size of our bloatocracy, are trying to maintain their footing in the quagmire of political compromise, with a nervous eye on their calendars, recognizing that the summer of 2012 will be soon be upon them. Thus, few, if any, politicians will recommend increasing tax-payer contribution levels to these programs.
Instead, our legislators have done what they do best – they have rolled up their sleeves, sat down to serious business and played “trim the fat off the fat side of the fat” with the budget, which affords them the luxury of appearing engaged without angering any particular large financial donor group. Since each political party controls one house of Congress, it’s not surprising that stalemates and gridlock clog up Capitol Hill. Normally, I applaud such a condition. The less legislation that gets enacted, generally speaking, the better off the populace remains. However, our present circumstances require swift action. There is no time to waste.
Which brings me to my modest proposal. It will require no reduction in Social Security payments, or Medicare coverage; nor will it demand an increase in taxes of any sort, to anyone. Furthermore, my proposal will help propel the “green power” agenda forward, for what it’s worth, as well as ease the burden on middle class America. The final result will be a return to solvency of the aforementioned entitlement programs, and place our great nation back on the road to prosperity and security for all its inhabitants.
You see, the question is not how can the reserves in Social Security be increased. The question is, how can we effectively, efficiently and fairly decrease the number of recipients? The disparity in size between the two pools – those paying into Social Security and those receiving funds – will become so great, that the only sensible way to stave off the impending imbalance is to reduce the size of the pool of recipients. As the recipient pool grows faster than the payer pool – as more and more ‘Baby Boomers’ join the ranks of the retired – the demands on Social Security will exceed the supply. There is no fair, effective and efficient means to increase payments into the program – therefore, the only logical solution is to decrease the number of people receiving those funds.
There could be a number of ways to do this, but I believe, quite humbly and modestly, that the best, most humane method is to just kill off the elderly.
Oh, not all of them – that would be cruel. And not all at once, either. Both approaches would squander a resource, and as we’ve learned in regards to oil, why, we Americans are addicted to oil, rapidly depleting the world’s supply. Conservation, therefore, is a prerequisite. Using US Census Bureau data, formulae would be created to calculate the necessary percentages of elderly needing to be killed on an annual basis; these formulae would be adjusted year-to-year based on numerous factors, including but not limited to out-of-program deaths, immigration, age bracket migration, annual births and unemployment numbers.
And I’m not suggesting they be “killed” indiscriminately either, but in a sensible, reasonable fashion. I suggest the environmentally-friendly method of bio-cremation – reduce them to a gooey mass of liquids and biodegradable chunks (which provides the opportunity to fish out the reusable titanium hip joints, pacemakers, cochlear implants and such), and then use the remains as a biofuel to provide energy for a cleaner America. In fact, those who die out-of-program could likewise be included , and surviving family members would be eligible for a modest home-heating tax credit.
“WAIT!” you all cry out. “This is unspeakable! Unbearable! Why….why how in heaven’s name would you choose people for such a program?”
I’m glad you asked. I envision a system similar to a military draft, where retirees over the age of 65 are randomly selected for enrollment in the REDUCE program (it has to have an acronym, you know) – Retired Elderpersons Discretionary Uniform Contributory Endowment. It’s long, has large words and sounds innocuous. It just sort of rolls of the tongue. Those who are selected would be taken to regional “warming centers” for…admission.
Granted, some will flee to foreign countries to avoid the draft, which is quite acceptable – the recipient pool would be lowered, which is the goal of the program. Others may decide to work past the traditional retirement age of 65 – again, a most agreeable option, because fewer people would be receiving disbursements.
“Intolerable!” many of you exclaim. “This is undignified!”
I disagree – to paraphrase a current legislator, it’s more undignified for our elderly to live the remainder of their lives being forced to eat Ramen noodles and mayonnaise sandwiches. The REDUCE program affords them one last opportunity to contribute to the well-being of the country.
“Completely unacceptable!” many will retort. “Those retirees paid into the program, and are entitled to their money!”
Pish posh. People die all the time before they start drawing on their Social Security benefits, and no one’s complaining that they weren’t given the funds they were entitled to. Some elderly die just as they begin to receive payments – again, no one’s crying “Unfair!” The best-case scenario for Social Security is for a person to contribute for 40+ years, and then die just before receiving their compensation. The REDUCE program would only serve to coordinate that naturally occurring process.
“Never!!” shout the opposers. “You’re only creating another layer of government!”
I’ll grant you this one. However, the REDUCE program could be set-up as a publicly-traded corporation staffed with former retirees, with limited government oversight. The bio-cremation processes would generate revenue in three ways: a modest fee to admit out-of-program deaths; the sale of biofuel to energy converters; and the sale of common stock. The rest of the operating expenses would be covered by the sale of titanium hip joints, cochlear implants, pacemakers and other such recoverable components. And if the EPA gets eliminated, some of those monies would more than cover any bureaucratic costs.
One only needs to look at predictions as provided by the Congressional Budget Office to see the need for such a program (click to enlarge):
The REDUCE program would dramatically arrest that projection. Admittedly, an increase in the birth rate would be of great assistance, too. Unfortunately, sex education programs across the nation have only resulted in more sex but not more babies. Perhaps those programs should be renamed “baby education”…but that’s a discussion for another time.
I understand that the REDUCE program can be unsettling, especially those of you who are in that 65+ age bracket. Rest assured, this would not be a permanent program. It would only need to last, say….let’s see, take 1 from 6, add the ten to the 5, subtract 6 from 15…..only 19 years. By then, the crisis will have been averted, and I will be eligible to receive Social Security payments.
We are living in difficult times. Difficult times require difficult choices. Any solution is bound to anger or upset one group of people – it’s unavoidable. But we mustn’t allow emotions to get in the way of making the tough decisions. Just as science and facts and our nation’s well-being were the reasons why our great nation approved programs such as abortion on demand and tax-payer funded ESCR, so too it’s appropriate to apply those principles to this problem. Now is the time to REDUCE.
Our president has said on several occasions that everyone has to put some “skin in the game”. Well, some will have to put organs, muscle and bone into the game along with their skin. It’s the patriotic thing to do.
My apologies to Jonathon.