William Spriggs, Chief Economist at the AFL-CIO, has a terrific blog post today that we recommend to you as a must-read.
In Understanding the Need for Full Employment, Spriggs lays bare the absurdity of the intergenerational warfare campaign waged by the Wall Street funded anti-Social Security lobby and makes the case for the real issue we should be focusing on…unemployment, especially among young workers.
Here’s a highlight but we recommend you read the entire blog post:
“This is tangible, easy to see costs of high unemployment for young people. Unfortunately, it is money they will not make up easily. Evidence is that entering the labor market in times of high unemployment permanently lowers the earnings of workers. The downturn of the 1980s left permanent scars on the earnings of those who graduated into the labor market between 1981 and 1983. The only way for the current young workers to make up those lost earnings will be to work longer—make it up at the ends of their working lives.
But, if America would return to getting to full employment faster, young workers would benefit greatly. And, Social Security would benefit. This is the true inter-generational struggle. The current generation of politicians is ignoring the immediate and long-term needs of young workers.
Now, the perverse twist is that the debate is on cutting the Social Security benefits of future retirees—meaning the current set of young workers who are suffering the most from high unemployment. The same set of young people who are not building up the savings needed to help them when they are old.
Here, the Social Security Trust Fund report is helpful. The report says that Social Security is currently taking in more money than it is paying out—revenue from current taxes and interest on the Trust Fund are more than current outlays to pay benefits. So, the Trust fund is continuing to grow. The Trust Fund is large enough to pay all promised benefits until 2033. That means well past when the first wave of the Baby Boomers—those born before 1949—will be finished receiving benefits—more crudely, when they are dead. This means the current jargon on intergenerational transfer is a false debate; making it appear the AARP is trying to squeeze money out of young workers.
Instead, those who are fighting to protect Social Security—like the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare—are really fighting for today’s young workers. Protecting Social Security is making sure that young workers do not have to pay for the nearsightedness of austerity budgets that cheat the young out of policy debates on generating jobs, and then make young workers pay in retirement because of that same world view.”
So, the next time you hear our nation’s wealthiest CEO’s and Wall Street millionaires as part of their billion dollar lobby campaign led by “Fix the Debt”, the Business Roundtable (and countless other Pete Peterson backed organizations) decrying, “What kind of nation are we leaving our children?” while suggesting that shredding their retirement safety net somehow makes it better, we hope people will ask one simple question: “What’s your plan to create jobs for our young workers?”
The silence could be deafening.