A Philosopher's Blog

Transition Savings Incentives

Posted in Humor, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on February 7, 2014
Social Security Poster: old man

Time for transition? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Faced with the coming Boomsday, Cassandra Devine suggested a modest solution to the problem of funding Social Security: incentivizing voluntary suicide among the baby boomers. The gist of the proposal is that if a person voluntarily “transitions” at age 65, those inheriting the person’s estate pay no taxes. The incentives for transitioning later are lower, of course. Given that Boomsday is approaching rapidly, it seems the proper time to revive Devine’s proposal. The challenge is, of course, to properly sell it so that it can become a reality. Since American political ideology splits neatly into two camps, the liberals and the conservatives, the sale is made easier.

For the conservatives, the sales pitch is obvious: incentivizing transitions is a way to reduce the number of takers taking from the makers. This idea thus sells itself. There are, however, two potential worries here. The first is that some conservatives have religious objections against voluntary suicide and will vehemently oppose anything that smacks of voluntary euthanasia. Two solutions are proposed. One is that conservatives like the death penalty and killing people they regard as being in need of killing. As such, these takers could be cast as being punished for being a threat to America, freedom, and security and perhaps as criminals of some sort. The other is that conservatives are generally fine with heroic sacrifices, at least when those sacrifices are made by others. As such, the transition can be cast as a great heroic sacrifice.

The second worry is that many conservatives are old people. Hence, incentivizing them would reduce the number of conservatives. The solution is to emphasize that this solution is for the poor and pass a special exemption for the wealthy. By casting the poor as takers from the makers, people will embrace the idea of the poor needing to die to get what the rich get for nothing. Since this is the natural order, it makes perfect sense.

On the face of it, this would seem to be a harder sell to liberals. This is because one primary objective of liberals is to ensure that the takers get as much of the makers’ money as possible for as little effort as possible. However, there are two ways to sell the liberals. The first is that liberals are liberal with other peoples’ money and not their own. After all, Liberal Lucile drives her Prius to Starbucks to Tweet, blog and post on Facebook her rants against corporations using her iPad.  None of that liberal lifestyle comes cheap. If Lucile knows that she’ll get her parents’ wealth without having to pay taxes herself, she’ll write a rant about that and Tweet it.  The second is that liberals really like to kill old people—as shown by the Death Panels of Obamacare to the liberal love of assisted suicide. So, this should be an easy sell.

As with any good idea, it makes perfect sense to extend it to cover everything. Why not extend this saving measure to other areas so as to trim the takers that are taking from the makers? One obvious area to address is the whole social welfare system beyond Social Security. People, regardless of age, could be incentivized into transitioning early—at least those who are takers rather than job creators. For example, spouses and family members could be offered a percentage of the benefits of each person in return for the person agreeing to transition at any age. Job creators could also be offered comparable incentives for transitioned employees—this would lower costs and provide new job openings. However, this program should not be pushed too hard: a reduced work force would increase the value of labor and be damaging to the job creators while assisting the unions. Since unions are almost transitioned, it would be tragic if they were revitalized.

Conservatives would surely embrace this proposal on the grounds that takers were being transitioned and jobs were being created. Liberals would, sadly, be more of a problem: as noted above, they are driven to ensure that the takers maximize their take from the makers and they want the poor to be able to lay around all day, watching TV and eating Cheetos. However, the liberal love of fattening the takers is exceeded by their greatest love: maximizing abortions. If this Radical Incentive Program is presented as a matter of a woman’s choice to have a very, very late term abortion, then the idea would be embraced by the liberals with great enthusiasm. However, great care must be taken when handling the conservatives: while they will gladly support any transitions for kids (to reduce the costs of school lunch programs, for example), they will balk at any suggestion of allowing any actual abortions. Conservatives must, as always, be sold by presenting the youth as takers and not makers. Fortunately, people have shown an inability to engage in rational examination of politics and will, as always, see what they wish. For examples, liberals reading this will be enraged at the accurate description of the villainous conservatives, but enraged by the descriptions of the liberals. Likewise for the conservatives.

Working together, we can transition everyone—thus lowering costs and taxes to zero. Transition now for a better tomorrow.

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24 Responses

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  1. WTP said, on February 7, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Mike’s profound ignorance on economic matters as he lacks understanding of what a wealth creator actually is, let alone who the wealth (and job) creators actually are, gives this a humor fail. As Potsie would say, funny as a crutch.

    Not to mention the casual credibility given to “Boomsday” which lacks even a wikipedia entry beyond some fireworks celebration in BFE somewheres. Yes, I know it’s an idiom, but a lame one at that. And “Cassandra Divine”, yes everyone knows about that self-promoting db. Didn’t she marry Faith Popcorn? Just more Malthusian drivel.

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on February 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Voluntary suicide? Is there any other kind?

    • WTP said, on February 7, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Inspector Renault: “We haven’t decided whether he committed suicide or was shot trying to escape.”

  3. apollonian said, on February 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Real Social-Security Only Attained By Freedom, Free-Market

    Ho ho ho–this is interesting satire by Mike in spirit of Orwell’s 1984. Thus we have a total dictatorship which masks itself as it pretends to offer a “choice”–this btwn the false-choice, false-paradigm of “liberals” and “conservatives.”

    And how is it society didn’t need any “social security” until a few yrs ago?–”social security”?–that was taken care of by means of having kidsoes.

    And indeed, we see now ZOG pushes AGENDA-21 genocide (“pop.-reduction”) justified by idiot moralism/Pharisaism of environmentalism, “for the earth.” Culture of Death (suicide) is founded upon the Empire of Lies–esp. the “noble lies” of Leo Strauss and philosophy of subjectivism, hubris, absolute “free” will, and “good-evil” delusion/fallacy/heresy (Pelagianism).

    Thus ZOG is headed by the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), Trilateralists, and Bilderbergers behind the all-powerful US Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) COUNTERFEIT scam which, we see, funds both the “liberals” (homosexuals and the very few genuine leftists, socialists, et al.) in addition to the “neo-cons,” esp. the Judeo-Christian (JC–see Whtt.org and TruthTellers.org for expo on JCs) traitors who back and support terror-state of Israel–these are the establishment.

    Want REAL “social-security”?–REMOVE the present soc.-sec. establishment boondoggle, including now Obongo-Care, and especially the big-bro. dictatorship behind it. Real liberalism is in favor of freedom and the free-market. And that “conservatism” which seriously wants to preserve what’s worth anything is also in favor of limited-gov. of Jefferson and the original American founders, don’t forget.

  4. Ian James said, on February 9, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Lest we forget the incentive of rebirth:-

    Transition now for your better tomorrow.
    Your future needs YOU.

    Suicide is no solution of any spiritual problem or difficulty — it does not liberate from suffering after death, for the suffering in the vital continues; nor does it prepare better conditions hereafter, for the conditions created for the next life are worse and the same difficulties present then for solution.
    ~ Sri Aurobindo.

  5. CK said, on February 22, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    I enjoy a tale that can poke fun at both sides of the political spectrum. On a serious note, we could save social security if we did a different kind of transition. Upon retirement, if a person has a certain level of assets, they would not receive social security. There really isn’t any reason to give a check to every retired person. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates just wouldn’t have any use for it. Neither would the thousands of citizens who prepared for their retirement. Folks with a solid retirement who feel cheated by what I recommend can make themselves happy by thinking of themselves as winners and everyone getting a social security check as losers. :)

    • WTP said, on February 22, 2014 at 11:58 pm

      And you are forgetting that the money in question was taken from those very people. SS isn’t a gift from the govt when said “gift” was already paid for by the receiver. Wealth doesn’t just grow on trees, you know. Somebody has to go out and EARN that wealth. And who is more likely to generate wealth from wealth, those who have already demonstrated an ability to do so or a bunch of, as you say, losers?

      • magus71 said, on February 23, 2014 at 7:06 am

        Not only that, I thought part of the outrage against the rich is that they are comprised of only 1% of the population. Wouldn’t help much.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

          People are angry in many cases because so few have so much relative to everyone else. Historians I work with like to point out what has always happened historically to empires with extreme inequality.

          • WTP said, on February 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

            And he loses it all back on this post. How many fallacies can one cram into just two sentences. This is simply a baldly stated assertion without supporting data. And an appeal to authority, and provincial people-who-Mike-knows authority at that. Examples please, along with some justification as to why it was the perceived inequality that brought said empire down vs. any number of other factors.

            What “empires” have endured? Aside from the ones existing today, they have all fallen. What civilization that ever succeeded had no inequalities? I submit that those empires that have tried to enforce equality of results over equality of opportunity have failed in more dramatic fashion.

            I submit that when there are elements of society that receive benefits without making contributions (see Roman empire re bread and circuses), there is where your empire becomes vulnerable. Where those who receive lack skin in the game but demand wealth for nothing.

            You will note that even within the American “empire”, so-called wealth inequality has risen and fallen, just within the past 100 years.

            http://www.aei-ideas.org/2011/11/the-chart-that-closes-the-case-on-the-inequality-myth/

            I doubt there is reliable data from pre-1900, but when you consider how the average sod-buster lived in 1875 relative to the typical railroad baron, especially in regard to how close said sod-buster lived to Hobbes observation of “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, the poor are way better off with today’s inequalities. I give you again, M. Thatcher who could well be speaking of Mike here

          • WTP said, on February 25, 2014 at 10:18 am

            And income inequality greatest in Democrat stronghold cities:

            However, some cities are much more unequal than others. The big cities with the highest 95/20 ratios in 2012 were Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, and Boston.

            In another six cities (Washington, D.C., New York, Oakland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Baltimore), the 95/20 ratio exceeded 12.

            http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/02/cities-unequal-berube

            • T. J. Babson said, on February 26, 2014 at 12:12 am

              But of course. Only the rubes think the Dems are on the side of the poor.

            • magus71 said, on February 26, 2014 at 9:30 am

              It’s been said that the first thing to go in people with utopian dreams is a sense of irony. As we can see from the subjects on this blog alone, rarely is the question asked on the left as to if the policies they advocate for will or can accomplish what they wish. And when the policies lead to even more evil than the policies were meant to cure, the sense of irony simply isn’t there to right the ship.

              Another popular tactic, here and throughout the leftosphere, is to misrepresent what conservatism or the right in general represents. The left, barren of an even rudimentary understanding of human nature and psychology, cannot fathom that the handouts from a cold, mammoth and distant government has a profoundly different effect then the help of one individual to another.

            • T. J. Babson said, on February 26, 2014 at 10:50 am

              This reminds me that Mike never answered my question as to why adjunct professors are treated so shabbily, despite the fact that 95% of the people running the universities have the same political views as Mike.

              Could it possibly be that lefty policy prescriptions almost always exacerbate the problem that they are trying to solve?

              Will anybody be surprised when it turns out that a big minimum wage hike will “unexpectedly” reduce employment opportunities and lead to more poverty and inequality?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

              The people running the finances are typically not leftists in deeds, although perhaps they like to think they are still leftists at heart.

            • WTP said, on February 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm

              TJ, you might see an answer from Mike, but I know he will never address my request for examples of his income-inequality-leads-to-fallen-empires statement, nor any justification as to why it was the perceived inequality that brought said empire down vs. any number of other factors.

            • T. J. Babson said, on February 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm

              The best way to reduce income inequality is to create an economy in which the demand for workers outstrips their supply.

              This is why letting 12M undocumented immigrants compete for jobs against low income Americans is not in the best interest of those Americans. How can any sane person believe that flooding the US labor market with cheap labor will help those at the bottom?

            • WTP said, on February 26, 2014 at 1:48 pm

              Perhaps because the reason many of these people are at the bottom, or at least the ones that remain at the bottom, is due to their poor reasoning skills. Now of course Mike has previously stated that when those of us commenting on this blog raise such an argument, it demonstrates a hate of the poor, etc. etc. Yes, it’s a stretch but it is kinda like academic freedom. Re:
              To explicitly adopt a principle for deciding what is allowed and what is not based on ideological views would, as history shows, have a chilling effect…merely offending people is not enough to warrant restrictions—even if people are very offended.

            • magus71 said, on February 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm

              But this doesn’t take in to account that there are very good jobs that are available and cannot be filled due to an unskilled populace.

              Nursing and IT are two such jobs. A nursing degree takes two years and you make around $50,000 starting out. Plus, it’s a real skill that’s not going away anytime soon. The Occupy Wall Street types could have stopped complaining and refocused their careers on the demand in place.

            • WTP said, on February 26, 2014 at 3:10 pm

              The people running the finances are typically not leftists in deeds, although perhaps they like to think they are still leftists at heart.

              This is just BS, plain and simple. My post references cities run by Democrats, re leftists. Is he saying that because possibly the schmuck doing the math his not a leftist therefore the policies being set by leftists are not responsible for the income inequalities described? By what BS logic does that apply? WTF does this even mean?

            • T. J. Babson said, on February 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm

              The king is good. It is those evil advisers of his that cause all the problems.

              Kings like it when the peasants think this way.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      There has been, I recall, some talk about doing this. On one hand, it makes sense to pay out less to folks who have no need of it. On the other hand, if a person pays into SS they have earned what they get later.

      If I had no need of my SS I would be willing to forgo it. Provided that the money would not just be puddled away by the politicians. Like most folks, I think I could spend it better than them-I’d most likely donate the money to my track club’s scholarships, my universities, and the animal shelter.

      • WTP said, on February 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm

        Mike’s on target here. And I won’t even attribute this one to blind nuts/squirrels.

    • WTP said, on February 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      This is a good read on demand vs. supply side economics. The conclusion:


      The heart of the Keynesian philosophy is that what drives the economy is the demand for and not the production of goods. Economic recessions are predominantly the result of insufficient demand. In the Keynesian framework an increase in demand not only lifts the overall output but that output increases by a multiple of the initial rise in demand. Within this framework something can be created out of nothing.

      Reality, however, shows that all the attempts to create something out of nothing lead to economic impoverishment and more misery. In the real world, an artificial boost in demand that is not supported by production leads to the dilution of the pool of real savings and, contrary to the Keynesian view, to a shrinking in the flow of real wealth. (emphasis added)

      http://mises.org/daily/1889

      The only part of this I find wanting is the psychological factor. The fact that you can fool people into thinking they have more wealth than they actually do. It’s the Stone Soup story, which sound all well and good until people understand that the soldiers just ripped them off. But so long as the villagers are fooled into believing they have more, they’re mentally better off. Malnourished, but mentally satisfied. Provided the time period is short lived, and the villagers are dumb enough, you can get positive short term results from a rise in morale. But the longer the situation wears on, the more villagers wise up and cynicism sets in, the result is lower morale and consequently much lower productivity and much societal damage over the long run.


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