Though we don’t have a union contract, workers at the University of Memphis last month took quick action and backed management off its plan to privatize our Social Security—for now, anyway. The university made the announcement December 12: on just a week’s notice, almost 2,000 temporary workers, including one of the authors of this article, would be laid off. We could reapply in hopes of getting our jobs back. The affected workers included many long-term temps, such as people working as data and lab techs, custodians and groundskeepers, and lots of adjunct faculty. …. Public employees are denied our right to bargain in Tennessee, but that hasn’t stopped us from organizing. … The mass layoff was part of a new temporary employee policy. If rehired, we would be no longer participate in Social Security. Instead, we would be enrolled in a “FICA alternative plan.” ….. It turns out that Congress created this type of plan for public employers in 1990, overturning previous regulations that had ensured that public employees could not be exempted from Social Security. These FICA alternative plans can only affect temporary seasonal workers in new positions, which is why the university had to fire and rehire us. They’re used by various public entities, particularly in the South….
Source: Associated Press, July 24, 2014
After spending nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, the Social Security Administration still can’t get it to work. And officials can’t say when it will. Six years ago, Social Security embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. …. “The program has invested $288 million over six years, delivered limited functionality, and faced schedule delays as well as increasing stakeholder concerns,” said a report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm. …. Maryland-based Lockheed Martin was selected in 2011 as the prime contractor on the project.
The idea behind operating gas, water or electric services as public utilities is that those things are important to people’s health and survival and therefore, must be protected from corporate greed. Some things belong in the private sector, others don’t. Here are six things in the United States that should remain in the public sector. 1. Running Water … 2. Prisons … 3. Fire Departments …. 4. Social Security …. 5. Medicare …. 6. Gas and Electric
The government’s scale and ability to look beyond narrow self-interest make its involvement in many programs the smart choice. Medicare is a prime example….
…Here’s a rule of thumb to consider for when government should take a role in providing a service: When it’s cheaper.
That doesn’t mean cheaper merely in a narrow sense, such as cheaper at the cash register, or for some people rather than others. Government can always achieve that end simply by subsidizing things by fiat. Congress could cut the cost of tablet computers simply by deciding to subsidize every household’s purchase by, say, $50 or $100. The same thing goes for dishwashers, or fine crystal.
Rather, it means cheaper for the economy or society at large….
Democrats are eagerly renewing their fight against privatizing Social Security now that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. It was a fight that didn’t go well for the GOP when President George W. Bush pushed the idea in 2005. In his 2010 “Road Map for America’s Future,” the Wisconsin congressman proposed a plan to allow younger workers to divert more than one-third of their Social Security taxes into personal accounts that they would own and could will to their heirs….
Most of the top Republicans running for president are embracing plans to partially privatize Social Security… [They] are keen on letting younger workers divert part of their payroll taxes into some type of personal account…These proposals are popular among conservatives who think workers could get a better return from investing in publicly traded securities. …Romney says the stock market collapse in 2008 shouldn’t scare workers away from investing in private accounts, but he acknowledges it’s an issue.
How Privatized Social Security Works in Galveston
Source: Becca Aaronson, New York Times, September 17, 2011
A recent working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research critically analyzes previous attempts to explain conversions of government pension provision systems, or social security systems, to personal accounts.
Common rationales include: higher returns; improvements in domestic financial institutional development; improving labor supply and retirement incentives; and hedging demographic changes. In each case, the report authors contend, a politically-stable and transparent government could have achieved similar results within the traditional system.
In A Matter of Trust: Understanding Worldwide Public Pension Conversions, (subscription required) Kent Smetters and Walter E. Theseira point out that the traditional system also tends to have lower transaction costs, less adverse selection, and other costs.
Thanksgiving is upon us, making this a perfect time to go searching for turkeys – the financial variety, of course. But this year, rather than looking backward at inept deals or government programs, let’s try to find future turkeys. And the biggest one is . . . privatizing Social Security. …. Why is privatizing Social Security such a turkey? Because retirees shouldn’t have to depend on the market’s vagaries for survival money. …. But Social Security isn’t supposed to be a gambling program, or a wealth-building program. It’s an intergenerational social insurance program, in which we make sure our parents don’t have to depend on food banks and homeless shelters when they get old, and we hope our kids do the same for us.
Source: By KEN KUSMER, The Associated Press, June 25, 2010, 11:20AM
The federal government has levied a $1.2 million penalty against Indiana’s human services agency for miscalculating food stamp benefits at a rate more than one-and-a-half times the national average last year, state officials learned Thursday.
Indiana is one of four states facing financial penalties for poor food stamp performance during the federal fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, according to letters sent to Gov. Mitch Daniels and others.