Vail Daily letter: Social Security is solvent
I’ve heard many reasons given for the fall of the Roman Empire – lead pipes and wine cups, corruption, the rapid growth of unconquered populations on its borders, etc. Jonah Goldberg, in his column “Just an empty ritual,” says it fell because of the Roman equivalent of Social Security.
Once you get past his vague discussion of the role of ossified ritual in the fall of old regimes, you find that he thinks the Roman Empire fell because “of the endless accumulation of debt driven by entitlements — largely in the form of land and titles of nobility — to more and more segments of Roman society.” While this may be true in part, surely the modern analog would be the tax cuts, government contracts and subsidies handed out for the specific benefit of particular industries and financial interests because they are funding the campaigns of politicians.
Goldberg apparently has no idea that American workers and their employers pay into Social Security their entire working lives, or that the Social Security system is currently solvent and has nothing to do with the national debt (though it’s going to need some changes to stay solvent).
Does anybody really think that the Roman Empire fell because the peasants, servants, stonemasons, blacksmiths, fishmongers, soldiers, road construction crews and housewives gave too much food and living space to their aging parents and grandparents, and if they had only given those resources to the ruling elite instead, the Roman empire would have been fine?