Social Security Reform: Keeping Administrative Costs Low

Public pension programs – including the U.S. Social Security system – tax workers to pay current retirees' benefits. But in the United States, as in other developed nations, falling birthrates and rising life expectancies leave fewer workers to support each retiree. Without reform these factors will eventually require large tax increases, large benefit cuts or both to keep the programs alive.

Social Security Reform: Looking at the Options

The present value of Social Security's long-term funding gap is $11 trillion in 2004 dollars. That means we would need $11 trillion in the bank today, earning the government's borrowing rate, to eliminate all of the program's future debt. Another way to reduce this debt is to reduce Social Security's obligations.

Thinking Outside The “Big Box”

Neighborhoods, city councils and the media are debating whether to welcome or discourage big-box retailers. While Wal-Mart comes to mind, big-box retailers are defined as any free-standing store greater than 50,000 square feet, and most big-box stores now range in size from 90,000 to 200,000 square feet. Critics claim that large retailers crowd out mom-and-pop competitors and replace them with windowless warehouses filled with minimum wage workers. Big-box retailers promise economic benefits such as sales tax revenues, jobs, competitive wages and low prices. But do they deliver? Empirical evidence shows that they have provided numerous benefits.

Act Now to Lift Burden Off Our Children

Each day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 55. Most are enjoying their peak earning power right now and billions of dollars are pouring into the Social Security fund. However, those dollars are flowing into a "pay-as-you-go" system so they're flowing out just as fast as they come in. Nothing is saved.

Medicare Now and in the Future

By 2024 Medicare spending is expected to exceed Social Security spending and the differential will continue to escalate thereafter. Here I discuss several ways to assess the current and future status of Medicare as it pertains to the Federal budget.

Surviving the Retirement Boom

Ten thousand baby boomers turn 60 every day. In just two years, 77 million boomers will begin reaching early retirement age and will become eligible for Social Security benefits. When that happens, they will stop paying into Social Security and begin drawing money from it.

The Coming Fiscal Deluge

In 2011, the first group of baby boomers will reach the age of 65. When the last of that generation retires in 2032, 77 million of them will have ceased working and paying taxes and will have begun receiving taxpayer-funded health care and pension benefits.

Patient Power: Access to Drugs

Consumers recently lost a money-saving opportunity when a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel voted against over-the-counter (OTC) access to the cholesterol-reducer Mevacor. This is the third time the FDA has turned down a request to make cholesterol lowering drugs available without a prescription, thus denying consumers the power to control an important aspect of their medical care.

The Minimum Wage Is Bad Policy

The concept of a minimum wage seems straightforward: If we believe the wages of some workers are too low, we should pass a law requiring those wages to be higher. What could be simpler? The problem is that increasing the minimum wage may make some people better off, but others will be harmed. Experience proves that the minimum wage hurts more people than it helps.