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Too Many Americans Will Never Be Able to Retire (bloomberg.com)
65 points by petethomas 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments

The article skips over one important point - people are living longer, and are generally a lot healthier at "retirement age" (60-65) than a generation ago. While the number of young people decline, there's no reason why we can't expect people to continue working for 5 or even 10 more years than expected to make up the difference.

I believe what really needs to be fixed isn't birth rates but rather income inequality/working-class wages.

"But now we can keep you alive long enough to squeeze out an extra decade at your desk" is not exactly a silver lining.

Can I do what I'm doing at 75? probably. Can my friends in construction keep working till 75? No, most of them are haven't trouble in their 50's already.

Well, suppose a miraculous breakthrough occurred and the life expectancy shot from, say, 75 years up to 750, pushing back the onset of debilitating age.

Surely it would seem like grumbling to dismiss it as: "Now they can keep you alive long enough to squeeze out an extra 675 years at your desk."

This might be rather millenial of me, but I don't view retirement as some long-deferred tasty dessert for being a good compliant worker who eats their vegetables... as much as a someday-unavoidable lifestyle transition.

> Well, suppose a miraculous breakthrough occurred and the life expectancy shot from, say, 75 years up to 750, pushing back the onset of debilitating age.

I wonder how this would play out economically. Most of us here could probably retire by 100 (and many by 50) and have enough accumulated wealth to live off interest. Could we have a world where that many people live off interest forever it would the extra productive years create enough inflation that it's not feasible?

The fewer people work, the more scarce products and services become, and the more expensive everything becomes. So it would probably make retiring early unfeasible. Unless things get automated to a degree that causes abundance.

Either way I'd imagine you'd be able to live a more relaxed life. With 50 years work experience you'd probably be very effective. Your probably only need to work 2 or 3 days per week.

That's fine for people with office jobs. But manual labor wears your body down, and at that age many workers find it tough to retrain and start over.

I’d disagree here. 75% of Americans will be overweight in a few years. These people aren’t healthy by any means. The trend is not reversing. So a large chunk of these people will get diabetes and other weight related issues.

That or immigration. As it looks right now, those are the only options.

Another option may be extensive automation coupled with wealth redistribution. Japan appears to be pursuing that, to some extent.

Automation creates different problems tho.

you can't fix it with immigration. A greying white population supporting their lifestyle with the labor of poor, young, non-white workers? I can't think of a more reliable path to civil war.

Need to boost birth rate, increase automation, and change economic focus. Cut the welfare state down to poverty relief. Pay down the debt. Get a sovereign fund going.

What about shifting to a more stable form of retirement instead of the DIY solutions (401ks, IRAs, etc.) pushed since the 80s? As great as they are, there's a lot of BS marketing around 401ks (unless you self manage) and while the market has consistent returns over time, the premise "past returns do not indicate future performance" still applies.

Before then there were pensions which seemed more stable. Only thing I wonder about them is what would happen to the pension if the company went out of business.

Public sector pensions are bankrupting states around the country and widely mismanaged. Not to mention extremely politicized and an easy way to get votes by over-promising and kicking the burden to the future.

For all the faults of 401ks and such, they aren't destabilizing state budgets around the country, and the market is in fact relatively stable if you keep it simple. They also aren't dependent on your company remaining solvent for the rest of time.

We can also relatively stabilize Social Security if we want to, but nobody is willing to make the hard choices to do so: http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2019/01/a-plan-to-f...

Until then, we'll suffer the consequences of turning anti-immigrant, years of property value getting held hostage by the few, and politicians who are fiscally irredeemable at this point (another bomb that will drop on our heads eventually)

I fully support high marginal tax rates on high earners (70% @ >$5 million/year in income) to help stabilize social security as well as contribute to the general fund. It’s also not a hard choice to make.

I never understand why “tax the ultra wealthy” is always deemed a hard choice, or thought of as untenable. Could they leave the country? Sure! That’s what the exit tax is for upon renouncing US citizenship.

I am not advocating for squeezing the rich to death like a python, but argue that the pendulum has swung to far towards “let them eat avacodo toast and watch Netflix”. The pendulum must swing back a bit.

> I never understand why “tax the ultra wealthy” is always deemed a hard choice, or thought of as untenable.

I think part of the reason is some of those "ultra wealthy" have spent some of their wealth promoting ideas and policies that are favorable to them, though think tanks, etc. I suppose it's kinda like taking out an insurance policy.

> I never understand why “tax the ultra wealthy” is always deemed a hard choice, or thought of as untenable.

Because the ultra wealthy have disproportionate control of the mechanisms of communication and propaganda and don't want to be taxed.

"The market has consistent returns over time" is simply PR to get people to throw their money in. No different than the PR about bitcoin or any other asset/investment/gambling.

"The market" ( which primarily means the S&P 500 ) has only been around a few decades. Talk about "consistent returns is silly for such a short time frame. Also, if we look at other "markets", like the Nikkei for example, we know that the market doesn't have consistent returns over time.

The biggest problem with 401ks is that if you retire during a major market decline, you will be hurting immensely. Of course if you retire during market booms, everything is wonderful. Not to mention that most people don't earn enough and/or put enough in 401ks for it to really matter.

Ideally we would have government back/protected/insured pensions, just like congress has pensions for itself. But somehow they ended up with pensions and we got 401ks. We already had IRAs so if people wanted to directly be involved in the market, they had the choice. 401ks seem redundant to me. Pensions and IRAs seem complementary.

A interesting tidbit - when my company started offering 401ks in the 90s, apparently their match was 25% ( according my old co-workers who were around ). Now it's 3%. Go figure. It seems like companies dangled high matches to get national support for it and once the legislation passed, they cut their match over and over again. Another interesting note is that the old co-workers match are grandfathered in - which means they get that match til they leave. So it seems like corporate america, politicians and the older working generation threw the younger generation under the bus.

Defined contribution plans like 401(k) are far safer for workers than defined benefit pensions. With a 401(k) you have a numbered account and you really own the assets in it. They can't be arbitrarily taken away. And if you want lower risks as you approach retirement just shift your asset allocation from stocks to highly rated bonds; in fact many plans now have a default lifecycle fund which does that automatically.

Pensions might appear safe but it's all an illusion. If the employer becomes insolvent then you'll only receive a fraction of what you're owed; PBGC insurance is very limited.

>Only thing I wonder about them is what would happen to the pension if the company went out of business.

I can't speak for how they're managed in the states but, in Europe, pensions can be handled in various ways[0]. Generally speaking, they're considered more secured (e.g.: FDIC insurance in the states) than bank accounts and are independent of your actual employer (and follow you, whever you go - even overseas [dependent on bilateral agreements]).

[0] - https://www.pensionsmyndigheten.se/other-languages/english-e...

In the US we have the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. It's responsible for paying out pensions of companies that go bankrupt. This I think was the outcome of Studebaker terminating it's pension plan in 1963.

One change I'd like to see is if a company goes bankrupt the pension fund is ahead of the rest of the creditors. Also underfunded pensions should be considered a liability on the books.

There is a benefit guarantee corporation run by the federal government which takes over insolvent pension funds. First thing is that they cut benefits to the maximum covered amount of $67k/yr.

There is a ton of BS in the financial services industry for sure.

You could easily set up a state(or federally) run pension company that companies would contribute to. That way they couldn't be underfunded either, and there'd be some oversight. They do it for public service workers in Canada.

The US Federal government has a pension plan for government employees in lieu of Social Security. None of this is any sort of Financial Wizardry. Mostly depends on demographics and demographics seldom surprises.

The US Federal government FERS plan is not in lieu of Social Security, it is a supplement to it. It's relatively small, about 1% of high 3 year salary average per year of service.

Since my dad joined the federal government before Reagan he got 2%

CSRS was a very different pension plan, and those under CSRS did not contribute to nor draw social security. CSRS was phased out in the 80's, I don't recall exactly the year. All new federal employees since then contribute to social security and are under the FERS system.

Pensions are insured, so in theory you can't lose everything just because the company went tits up.

Also, I don't have statistics handy but as I recall, we tend to think today that pensions were far more common in the past than they really were.

> Also, I don't have statistics handy but as I recall, we tend to think today that pensions were far more common in the past than they really were.

Best I could find was [1]. 60% of private sector workers covered in 1980 vs. 10% in 2006. Seems to me the reputation is appropriate.

[1]: https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/pensions-1980-...

I may be misremembering, then. I had seen different numbers than that. It may also be that what I'm remembering is a comparison from farther back that explains that the pensions of 30 years ago were a brief blip and that what's going on now is we're reverting to the long term mean. Or I'm entirely wrong, which there is a lot of precedent for.

If the company went out I’d business and the pensions had enough to cover the people with pensions then it would operate as usuall as long at it is solvent.

Back in the runup to the election of 2000, George Bush proposed investing Social Security funds in the stock market. Al Gore took the other side of the argument, correctly stating that the market carries risk.

Of course the long arc is always up. Today's market is far above where it was, even after the crashes of 2000 and 2008.

It's an idea that probably should be revisited.

> Before then there were pensions which seemed more stable. Only thing I wonder about them is what would happen to the pension if the company went out of business.

"Seemed" is exactly the right word to use, there. At least you're asking the right questions though, so please don't feel so unhappy about it! Here's a hint which has remarkable general usefulness: if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

The more glib the delivery, the higher the burden of proof.

(Not that I'm saying you're wrong, but you're already dealing with vagaries such as "seemed more stable.")

> Before then there were pensions which seemed more stable.

That's the problem. Companies/governments said they were stable but they were in fact not because they were based on the capitol returns which as you said "past returns do not indicate future performance". This lead to a bunch of companies/governments overpromising pension payouts and now they either get screwed if it was a company that went/is going bankrupt or the taxpayers get screwed because they are on the hook for those overly generous pension payouts.

Depends, a lot of companies used the pension fund to buy back their own stock. Not that companies didn't also use 401k's for the same purpose with the same result. See Enron's 401k plan.

According to https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/24/most-americans-live-paycheck... 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. So at a minimum, 78% of Americans will never be able to retire, except perhaps into extreme poverty. The percentage only goes up from there.

Play stupid games (40 years of anti-natalist policy, dilution of labor bargaining power) win stupid prizes.

What "anti-natalist" policy are you referring to?

You can't deny that there is a reduction in birth rates. Many policies combine to make this the case:

1. Supplementing housing prices or guaranteeing mortgages makes them unaffordable. People cannot afford to have kids

2. The severity of the divorce process makes people unlikely to want to marry. Marriage rates have declined. Less marriages, less kids.

3. Helicopter money keeps real wages down. Cannot afford to have kids.

You may say these are not explicitly "anti-natalist" but in effect they are.

Someone who was some years older than me and had been a hippy once told me something like "TV went off at 9pm. There wasn't much to do after 9pm other than sex and drugs."

We now have the internet available 24/7. You can have live conversation with people around the world at any time of the day or night. You can get a lot of your sexual and emotional needs met through some means other than a relationship in meat space.

Historically, the default assumption was you got married and presumably the result would be children. We had a lot of cultural norms, like shot gun weddings, to deal with the reality that birth control mostly wasn't a thing and there were consequences to getting your needs met. This was part of why we generally insisted on standards like no sex before marriage.

A lot has changed over the years. For good and for bad.

Sure, the above are not the only reasons.

I don't think it's a bad thing that the birthrate in the US has gone down. In general, it means women have more opportunities, and that's a good thing. More access to birth control. More women choosing to start a career. They didn't used to have that choice -- they were dependent on marrying a man for financial security.

At least as of 2009, female happiness has been in steady decline. Not a surprise, you could have asked any man if he would prefer to play with his kids than work and 75% of them would tell you they would rather not work.

More opportunities to work, fewer to start a family.

The shift of the state and local tax burden off of real estate held by wealthy savers and on to sales and purchases of household expenditures, the shift of the federal tax burden off of property income (most 'capital' gains are land value gains) and on to payroll earned by younger workers.

All of these changes to the tax code have increased the rent which wealthy property owners can extract from younger workers without having to work themselves, at the cost of increasing the tax burden on younger working families, so that they cannot afford to have as many children as early in life.

I am hard pressed to think of any policy enacted by the US government in the last 100 years which wasn't explicitly (and probably purposefully -people used to worry about over population) anti-natalist.

> I am hard pressed to think of any policy enacted by the US government in the last 100 years which wasn't explicitly (and probably purposefully -people used to worry about over population) anti-natalist.

For US federal policies that are explicitly pro-natalist (and not merely not explicitly anti-natalist), consider the Child Tax Cred, Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, Family and Medical Leave Act, mandatory maternity coverage in the Affordable Care Act, among others.

My family doesn’t know this, but I have a solid retirement plan. It’s not really a retirement plan in the traditional sense, because I won’t be able to retire from the workforce and enjoy the spoils no matter how hard I try. However, when I’m no longer able to work for money, I’ll pull out my gun and put a bullet in my head. I’m at peace with the idea because it leaves me free to raise my child in the best way possible. What happens to me after is unimportant.

My wife has a friend whose husband ended his own life that way. The family members who found him not only lost a loved one, but they also have the horrific images of his self-mutilation seered into their memory. I’d really urge you to think about that aspect...

Yes, that does sound horrible, but I’m not what one would call a suicidal person acting out of desperation. I’m also not an idiot. When the time comes, no one will be subjected to horrific images.

I get that you're trying to do an unselfish thing here, but I worry that it's going to harm your family more than you expect. Once your kids are 'raised' they're still going to want you to be around as a solid support, even in your 'unproductive' years. I'm 35 right now, and if my parents (~65) ever did this to me 'for my benefit' I'd be so mad at them.

You are important your entire life.

Part of raising your child in the best way possible is raising your grand-children.

That is an awful, selfish plan. It is not selfless or solid. You are worth more than any amount of money. Please reconsider.


What a disgusting piece of "advice" to give to someone.

Everyone has the right to end his life when he sees fit. Sharing knowledge of how to do so safely is the opposite of disgusting. To encounter someone who intends to end his life in a risky manner that could lead to lifelong disability and extraneous trauma for his loved ones and not share knowledge of a safer and more certain method is what would be disgusting.

How about letting prices deflate so that retirees and millennials can afford to live with normal wages and savings?

The whole ponzi scheme is needed only because we have govts, Central banks, Wall Street looking for inflation and returns. Why not let Wall Street go bankrupt and let the economy deflate?

I think this basic fact will push American politics towards more socialist European style programs like universal healthcare. While the boomer generation talks big about some of these conservative values, the basic economic facts will push the drive for leftist policies, even if they are sold as something else in the political world.

Full socialism is the only true answer. Don't provide the elderly a money stipend, provide them medical care, housing, and other basic needs (and probably free rides on public transit infrastructure).

Yes! What could possibly go wrong?

nothing that couldn't be addressed?

Nothing that couldn't be addressed, if we turn out to be Sweden. Plenty that won't be successfully addressed, if we turn out to be Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

Given the current competence of our government - on both sides - I don't think we can count on being Sweden.

Why do people bring up Venezuela for any social experiment? And should humanity give up after one failure (even if we call that).

As someone who's family is from a former Socialist/Soviet Bloc country, I have to note that "one failure" is a bit of an understatement...

That's why I also brought up Zimbabwe.

Should I also bring up the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)? (If you're going to claim "that wasn't really socialist", I will not argue, but I will point out that they at least claimed to be.)

Anyway, the point is not that one should cite Venezuela for "any social experiment". One can cite Venezuela (and Zimbabwe) for the position that having the government controlling the means of production often winds up in poverty. (Socialism is defined as "a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole", per dictionary.com.) That's relevant because mjevans not only called for the government to spend a bunch of money, but called for "full socialism".

While you didn't explicitly claim Sweden is socialist, I think that may be your implication. Please excuse me if I interpreted you incorrectly.

Sweden (and other Nordic countries to varying extents) are not socialist. They are market economies first and foremost but offer social programs similar to our own that, at least from an outside perspective, appear for more successful in their goals.

Personal views aside (I favor personal freedom and responsibility and the consequences that come of it), the only way I feel you're ever going to achieve any of that here is by addressing human nature. Some subset of the population is only interested in gaining and exerting power over others, others want everything handed to them and don't intend to provide any contribution themselves, another subset wants only to be left alone, and so on. I don't personally see how such disparate views can be reconciled under such a system to avoid the authoritarianism that has always resulted.

[0]: https://fee.org/articles/the-myth-of-scandinavian-socialism/ [1]: https://www.quora.com/Is-Sweden-socialist

I cited Sweden because Sweden is often claimed as an example of socialism working by people who advocate socialism. I will agree that Sweden does not actually meet the definition.

Sweden has never been distinctly socialist. But it used to be more socialist than today. For instance the Swedish government used to own Absolut Vodka from 1917, when Sweden nationalized the alcohol industry, until 2008.

Population of Sweden: 9.995 million Population of USA: 325.7 million

What makes people think any Swedish model can work large scale in the US?

All I see is two numbers, and absolutely no argument as to why that makes any difference.

I think the idea may be that human societies (and governments) don't scale linearly. That's at least plausibly true. Is it a large enough effect to be relevant? I don't know.

Or, the idea may be that smaller countries are more socially cohesive (fewer degrees of separation between people), and therefore it's politically an easier sell to ask people to contribute to the welfare of others.

Scale matters. If you don't think so, look at Bubble Sort. It works just fine if you're list size is trivially small. Now try running it on a list with a size > 1 million.

Ok, but that still doesn't explain why this particular difference in scale matters.

OK, pick a Swedish program and hypothetically scale it to the USA.

What makes you think it won't?

Is there a single country the scale of the US you know of that has the same social structure as Sweden?

"socialism will never work!" He exclaimed, as the boundless growth of the current economic model pushed the Earth and all its inhabitants toward an entirely needless global extinction event.

Always better to purge your own population first. Less mouths to feed.

These thing should be already provided by the government for all citizen, not just elderly.

That sounds expensive.

So we should stop spending trillions on war and fix the healthcare system, and then there will be more than enough to cover the costs. It's completely absurd that more tax dollars are spent on healthcare per person in the US than any other country and yet it's not covered. Somehow other countries give full coverage with less money - it makes no sense.

Its not, if the said government intention is to take care its citizen

Do any countries actually provide that where it has worked out well? A quick Google search for "does Europe have a homeless problem" returns a bunch of articles about growing homeless problems and and they seem to have the most safety nets outside of oil backed economies and socialist economies and the socialist ones are much worse off then capitalism based ones as far as I know.

Australia, but not quite exactly as stated. We provide a monetary stipend but have heavily subsidized government built housing. We also have free medical care and in some places free public transport (outside of peak hour times).

Of course we never eliminated homelessness entirely and due to lack of investment in government housing in recent decades along with skyrocketing real estate prices we have a growing homeless problem. But overall it works out well, I'd rather by poor here than in the US.

“We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us.”

Social security, Medicare, general health, income security, and veterans benefits and services take up over 62% of the United States federal budget. How should socialism address this growing problem?

What a poignant comment, considering right this very moment, there's a socialist collapse in Venezuela being broadcast.

Perhaps we will have to increase the budget somehow. Or print some extra money, as we are already quite willing to do.

And is there any particular reason, aside from partisan ideology, to point at Venezuela, which is different in many important aspects from the U.S., instead of one of the very successful Western European nations?

Sovereign wealth funds, or the abrupt lack thereof, seem relevant.

Because our sheer size is more comparable to the EU than it is to take the entire nation and compare to a member state.

Us healthcare is insanely overpriced.

US healthcare is complete regulatory capture.

> Social security, Medicare, general health, income security, and veterans benefits and services take up over 62% of the United States federal budget. How should socialism address this growing problem?

What exactly is the growing problem? That those services exist? That they cost money? That the government doesn't spend more on other things that it should, messing up the proportions?

From a socialist's perspective, I don't think the fact that those programs take up "over 62% of the budget" would even be considered a problem at all. However, a socialist would clearly see it as a problem if they're mismanaged or wasteful.

> there's a socialist collapse in Venezuela being broadcast.

To be honest, it seems like that collapse has more to do with authoritarianism and rampant corruption than socialism.

> To be honest, it seems like that collapse has more to do with authoritarianism and rampant corruption than socialism.

I think the critique of socialism is that it leads to authoritarianism and rampant corruption because it eliminates economically productive ways to provide for yourself.

> I think the critique of socialism is that it leads to authoritarianism and rampant corruption because it eliminates on economically productive ways to provide for yourself.

There are critiques of capitalism that say the exact same thing.

Personally, I think the key variables that makes a successful economy are actually found outside of the details of its economic system (e.g. rule of law, strong yet uncorrupt institutions, democratic representation, cooperative social mores, etc).

Maybe a better way to put it is that capitalist systems can produce enough excess to pay for rampant corruption, whereas socialist/communist systems cannot, since they are fundamentally crippled without the price mechanism to inform resource allocation.

> whereas socialist/communist systems cannot, since they are fundamentally crippled without the price mechanism to inform resource allocation.

Socialism does not necessarily mean central planning.

You're right, thanks for pointing that out. I think social control of the means of production still has a similar problem to not having price signals: resource allocation becomes motivated by political considerations, rather than by a profit motive.

> I think social control of the means of production still has a similar problem to not having price signals: resource allocation becomes motivated by political considerations, rather than by a profit motive.

Resource allocation via the profit motive is a political consideration; it's not some neutral thing that's somehow above politics.

Because all else being equal, if you want to do more, you have to spend more.

Are you seriously expecting things to become more efficient? That's very optimistic for a nation with so many key economic factors for its working citizens stagnant or declining since the early 70s. Very optimistic.

> Because all else being equal, if you want to do more, you have to spend more.

And, all else being equal, if you want to spend less, you have to neglect more problems (and people).

Venezuela is not socialist. It's a dictatorship run by one man.

Don't let the marketing fool you.

It just calls socialist just like North Korea calls itself a Republic.

The USA is a good example of a socialist country. Or 'democratic socialism' is a better term.

Social democracy (which is what I think you meant, since the U.S. is definitely not an example of democratic socialism) and socialism are very different. The first redistributes the proceeds of capitalism. The second has the state controlling the means of production without the price mechanism which is necessary to coordinate economic activity in a large, technologically advanced society.

Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism are both subsets of the giant umbrella of socialism. Also communism falls under this umbrella.

The U.S. state does control the means of production in certain industries which you see with this current govt shutdown.

Aircraft, roads and highways, and many other industries.

The key tenant of some schools of socialism is for govt to control the means of production for key areas of the public interest such as police,fire fighters, roads, health care. Etc.

What bothers me is the inability of people to differentiate between full on communism and America's/Sweden's/France's measured version of socialism.

It's all lumped under the same umbrella of 'socialism is bad reeeee'.

Social democracy is not a form or variety of socialism. From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

"Social democracy is a political, social, and economic ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and capitalist economy."

"Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and workers' self-management of the means of production"

And the U.S. government generally does not own the means of production (there may be a few small exceptions). In all of the examples you cite (aircraft, roads, and highways), the government is buying something that is produced by a non-governmental corporation. That is not the same as owning the means of production, which would entails something more like the government owning the heavy equipment used to make roads and highways and employing the workers who operate those machines, or the government owning and operating airplane factories.

Yeah, that's fucking bullshit. The US isn't a socialist country, but okay. I guess you don't know what socialism is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

Thats a list of self declared socialist states...

North Korea has self declared itself to be a Republic.

Don't believe the marketing friend.

It isn't really socialism as such though. Doesn't even the US already have these type of programs at least for certain groups? (you would probably need to expand them of course).

They do ish. There's Medicare which is state sponsored health insurance, Social Security which provides a stipend every month in retirement and a bunch of NGOs they fund to provide meals and other stuff.

Nothing much for housing besides the general housing assistance schemes.

There is also the VA, so I guess they just have to start the department of elderly affairs.

Yeah exactly. Calling it Socialism is inaccurate.

Socialism is a giant umbrella of political philosophy.

More accurate term would be 'regulated calitalism' or a subtype of socialism called 'democratic socialism'. Both of which coexist alongside of capitalism just fine.

It's always extremes with people on both sides because most people from either side don't understand what they're talking about.

The reason socialism is scary is that there are a lot of great-sounding ideas that, taken to extremes, turn out to lead to everyone starving and the political system becoming vulnerable to dictators.

Now, you say '[democratic socialism can] ... coexist alongside of capitalism just fine'. It seems much more likely that it is actually normal socialism with the names of things changed. The issue with socialism is that it vests decision making power with government (topically, the thing that is shut down in America at the moment, showing how reliable governments are).

Decision making power can really only be vested with one person. That person might be a capitalist, a politician, a bureaucrat, a worker or a customer. The only system we know reliably works is a capitalist/customer hybrid where major decisions are split between the two (capitalist gets the how, customers the what), with very mild influence from the rest (eg, safety and environmental regulation, wage negotiations with workers).

When the government starts making and enforcing allocation decisions like 'everyone must be paid this', 'everyone gets a house' or 'everyone should get medical attention', it doesn't matter what you call it - wealth will be destroyed. If the wealth destruction exceeds the ability of the economy to create wealth, there will be mass suffering. It doesn't matter what it is called.

'The only system we know reliably works'

Nothing you said is a fact. Everything you said is 100% opinion.

Everyone's entitled to their opinions.

We should phase in a federal 400% annual land value tax on the appraised price which all land would sell for if clear of improvements over the next 80 years.

A 400% annual tax on the market value means the expect purchase price of an empty lot will approach 3 months worth of tax payments for holding it. A percentage of the gross revenues can be prebated to citizen residents at the beginning of each year to afford taxes due at the end of the year. A large deduction can be granted for land and real estate property tax payments made to state and local governments.

The additional revenues gained from the tax can be used to abolish sales and payroll taxes which fall more heavily on younger working families so it is more affordable for future generations to have a larger number of children earlier in life.

My retirement plan includes living somewhere where I can own the land and not be raped by property taxes. Many people, my in-laws included, have to flee their high property tax states upon retirement in order to be able to afford to do so. How does this help maintain stable communities? Shouldn't people be able to retire in place?

They can't use a reverse mortgage to pay property tax?

Why should people have to enter into an exploitive financial agreement with a bank to pay a tax to stay in their homes that they putatively own during their aged years? How is that just?

Why should people use government services without paying tax? If they don't want to pay property tax they can live somewhere with a homestead exemption.

In what world do government services cost 400% of the land value per year? That isn't paying for services, it's paying for the right to exist, no less than being taxed to breathe.

Why should we all have more kids to subsidize social security? I doubt I'll receive any to begin with; I don't factor it into retirement projections at all.

With the continuing trend of politicians and businesses attacking American retirement options, there's no incentive. Who even says to themselves and their spouse, "Oh man, we should really have more kids, because 40 years from now, social safety nets are going to be compromised if we don't."

Kids are expensive.

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