The Instigator
ClassicRobert
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
larztheloser
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Resolved: The US should raise the Social Security age of eligibility

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
larztheloser
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/13/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,975 times Debate No: 35558
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (3)

 

ClassicRobert

Pro

This debate will be the beginning of Round Two of the official jury voted tournament.

The debate shall go for four rounds. First round will be acceptance, voting shall last seven days, and the jurors are F-16, YYW, Thett3, Zaradi, and Bladerunner060. If you are not a juror and you wish to leave an RFD, please do not allocate any points, or your vote will be countered.

For reference, the current age of eligibility is 65, and at 62 one can receive reduced benefits. Larztheloser will be arguing that it should stay as is, and I will argue that the age of eligibility should be raised.

As I am arguing for change, I will accept the burden of proof.

Good luck to Con, and thank you to the jury voters.
larztheloser

Con

I thank my opponent for starting the debate and wish him the best of luck. I think this is a very important topic and I'm proud to negate it.
Debate Round No. 1
ClassicRobert

Pro

Thanks to Larztheloser for agreeing to this debate.

I’ll first give some background information, and the rest of my arguments will largely draw from said information.

1. Background Information

  • At its inception in 1935, the life expectancy was about 62. As of 2010, the life expectancy is 78.7 (1). In 1940, there were about 159.4 workers supporting each Social Security beneficiary. This quickly went down as more people started to use it. By 1955, it was down to 8.6 workers for each beneficiary. As of 2010, it was down to 2.9 (2). By 2040, it is expected to be at 2.1 workers supporting each beneficiary. Fertility rates are on a downward trend, and people are living longer, and after reaching the age of eligibility, the average lifespan is even longer (3). Currently, the life expectancy of people who reach the age of 65 is 40%, or six years, longer than it was in 1940 (4).

2. Age 65 somewhat arbitrary

  • The age of eligibility was set at 65 for somewhat arbitrary reasons. The first reason was because that was the age where people tended to retire. The second reason was because about half of the states that already had old-age pension systems had the age of eligibility at 65 (5). So this raises the question, “Why have we clung to 65 for all these years, and why should we continue doing so?” This of course, is a question that Con will need to answer.

3. Worker-Beneficiary Ratio

  • As shown in the background information, the worker/beneficiary ratio is a huge problem. As there are less than three workers paying for the social security benefits of each beneficiary (and this number is trending downwards), the workers are receiving an unreasonably large tax burden. Now the payroll tax is 12.4%, but in 1940, it was only2%. This worker/beneficiary ratio issue is largely a result of increasing life expectancies. The average life expectancy is now about 17 years longer than the life expectancy when Social security was first implemented, so larger amounts of people are reaching the age of eligibility. Also, now that they do reach the age of eligibility, the people that now get benefits receive them for about six years, or 40%, longer than they generally would have received in 1940 (4). Because of rising life expectancies and lower fertility rates, the age gap in America is growing larger, with less young people and more seniors. Clearly, the larger the more workers there are per beneficiary, the better, but the ratio is only getting worse and worse. So how could this issue be solved? The best way to solve this problem is to raise the Social Security age of eligibility to not only reduce the difference between the age of eligibility and the average life expectancy of the average American, but also to reduce the total number of people who receive the Social Security benefits.

4. Financial Issues for Government

  • When Social Security is expected to pay more benefits than it has received in income, it takes money out of a very large trust fund. However, the trust fund is expected to be completely exhausted by 2033 (6). After that, Social Security, if it is not abolished, will be operating at a definite loss if it doesn’t somehow reduce benefits. In order to reduce benefits, raising the age of eligibility is the best option. Through a gradual increase, people will have the time to plan for the change, they will receive no less monthly benefits once they reach the age of eligibility, and they will help to make social security something feasible to the younger generation, who won’t have to be paying at a two-worker per beneficiary rate anymore.

Conclusion

Since Social Security was first implemented, life expectancies have risen, fertility rates have dropped, benefits have increased, amount of workers paying for the benefits has decreased, more people are living to the age of eligibility, taxes have increased, the program will be operating at a loss by 2033, and the only thing that has remained constant is the age of eligibility. Increasing the age of eligibility would make the program sustainable to government, increase the amount of workers supporting each beneficiary, and in doing so, lower the tax burden on the workers. The Social Security age of eligibility should be risen.

Sources:
1. http://www.infoplease.com...
2. http://www.ssa.gov...
3. http://www.ssa.gov...
4. http://www.justfacts.com...
5. http://www.ssa.gov...
6. http://www.nytimes.com...

larztheloser

Con

I thank my opponent for opening their case.

I regret to inform the world that the effects of aging have not ceased to exist. The only thing that's changed much is that less young people are dying, so "life expectancy at birth" has increased, while "life expectancy for those who reach old age" is pretty much the same [4].

But when you're 70, your joints are stiff, your memory is not what it used to be, and the only job you have is your current one because nobody will take on a new staff member likely to die within ten years, you are in a pretty desperate situation. This is also bad for the workplace, not just because of lost productivity or because old people tend to be set in their ways, but because the jobs in question might be in hospitals or other industries where failure is just not an option.

Incentive to retire

The retirement age should have nothing to do with how long we live, but how long we are able to work. Raising the retirement age creates perverse incentives for people unable to save because they don't earn so much income, to keep working much longer, as otherwise they can't survive. And if they lose their job, they are usually left out in the cold, not least because there's a bunch of far better-qualified young people vying for jobs in today's competitive job market.

It is a well-documented empirical fact that the retirement age is strongly affected by the pension age [1] - largely because the pension makes people less reliant on their work for an income, and without an income incentive there is often not much incentive to work. This is despite the fact that governments don't actually have that much money to give, so the older generation who do keep working past the retirement age are usually empirically much better off [2]. This implies that most people retire when they judge that they are no longer able to work, and when not working is financially possible.

For a company and their clients, this means less is achieved. Incentives are created to lay off the underperforming staff, financially ruining them and their prospects as poor performance can only mean bad references. That means higher unemployment as you're increasing the size of the labour pool without increasing jobs.

The effects on the company and their clients of keeping on older staff might be bad, but the effects on the worker are usually worse. They know their work quality is poor and they have to live with it. They go to work every single day, fearing for their future. The stresses of their job are only multiplied with every day's mundanities.

If they are fit enough to keep working they usually will, the financial incentives are right for that. But 65 is a pretty decent lower limit for when the effects of aging are enough to seriously stifle working ability in many sectors, and when simply switching professions becomes near-impossible.

Retirement is compensation

Retirement is a reward for a generation. A worker during the 60s will have helped create a portion of the wealth America enjoys today, but they didn't just do it for a couple of dimes in their pocket. They did it so that America might have more wealth in general, providing ongoing finance for things like retirement funds. America is the wealthiest country in the world, and these are the people who made it happen.

Giving of pensions is basically the only way old people are shown any tangible respect in our society, being very likely to be poor and recieving little medical care [3]. Presently they might be of no value to society, but without the older generation there would be no society today.

I think it's an important principle to care about the weakest members of our society. It would be less absurd to force a ten year old to work than an 85 year old, because the 85 year old will have earned their retirement, though both would be incompetent. Even if this were not the case, however, it's worth protecting the interests of the poor and helpless, because they can still be very valuable to many of us.

This debate is about the older generation and how we can give them the best possible care, both as a reward and more importantly, because we need people to retire as soon as the effects of aging come in.

Arbritrary

Aside from the above considerations about 65 being a decent lower limit for retirement, people demand to retire at age 65. If a private insurer offers a range of pension options, people will go with the one that allows them to retire at age 65, because that's when people generally expect to retire. Given that this isn't completely unreasonable, it seems a decent compromise.

How to pay for it

The above arguments hold true regardless of the demographic makeup of society. Having said that, I agree a certain amount of pragmatism is quite warranted. The question is whether we should be finding ways to pay for the existing care, or just limiting care based on our ability to pay.

I agree absolutely that my model isn't fair on current workers. It's equally unfair some generations had to live through a world war and others do not. Some have access to the internet and others did not. We now have global warming and other challengers nobody had thought of a hundred years ago. Each generation has unique challenges and oppertunities. We can either rise to that challenge, or choose to fail it. The biggest problem with failing our older generation is that we fail our future.

It's true that rising to this challenge will require sacrifice. And it won't be easy - challenges rarely are. But just because something is a challenge doesn't mean America should avoid it, or shirk from that responsibility. America should rise to the challenge with courage and innovation. Con's alternative is not a solution. It's a way of avoiding one problem by creating dozens of others.

Even if social security runs at a loss, it's not like that debt will be bad debt. It's actually creating something valuable in society that improves productivity overall. And demographics change. As the present smaller generation grows up, this won't be an issue, and it could be paid back by the future generation's savings. That's something almost anybody would bet on. It is possible to work your way out of it.

If this debate were set in India - a country with far more old people, far less money, and a decent pension system - then perhaps this could be a central issue. But they're coping because they care about their families and futures. They recognise that old people are important to society in other ways. And America should too.

Sources

1 - http://ideas.repec.org...
2 - http://www.bris.ac.uk...
3 - http://www.apa.org...
4 - http://www.infoplease.com...
Debate Round No. 2
ClassicRobert

Pro

I thank my opponent for his argument.

First, a clarification of my viewpoint. The age of eligibility should be raised to 70, current beneficiaries will, for lack of a better term, be grandfathered in, and the age will be raised somewhat gradually, so people have time to change their expectations. Now onto the debate.

Con opens up his argument by saying that “life expectancy for those who reach old age” is pretty much the same. This is blatantly false, as shown by his own source, which shows a six-year increase in life expectancy for males who reach 60, and a 4-year increase for those that reach 70. For females, it is eight and six years longer once they reach the two cited ages. As stated before, this means that people are receiving benefits for significantly longer, and since the average life expectancy is higher, more people are receiving these benefits in the first place. I addressed this in the previous round.

He then claims that by the age of 70, people are no longer fit to work. However, if the individual is no longer fit to work, then that individual will be able to receive disability insurance (1), or be able to receive partial benefits early, as is done now. Currently, at age 62, one can decide to receive 70% of full benefits (2). This age would naturally raise along with the age of eligibility for full benefits. If the age of eligibility for full benefits were raised to 70, then the age for partial benefits would probably be raised to at least 65, and people could still get them. That being said, even if the age were not raised for the partial benefits, it would still work in the same way for my case. Essentially, if a person can no longer work at that age, they are still covered by disability insurance, or they can just opt to receive lesser benefits.

Incentive to retire

  • “Raising the retirement age creates perverse incentives for people unable to save because they don’t earn so much income, to keep working much longer, as otherwise they can’t survive.”
    • Well, that is the general incentive for people to work. Raising the retirement age does not create that incentive.
  • “And if they lose their job, they are usually left out in the cold”
    • This is addressed in my point about disability benefits and the 70% benefits one can decide to receive early.
  • “Largely because the pension makes people less reliant on their work for an income”
    • By extension, they also would be less reliant on Social Security, which is separate from work pensions and state pensions. That being said, if the age where benefits were received were to be raised, the incentive to work would still be there. People only retire at 65 because they expect that they will be able to retire at 65 and be financially okay.
  • General implications that seniors are underperforming
    • I would like to see proof that seniors are underperforming workers. In the professions they are in, if they are unable to switch jobs, they are at this point likely to be very experienced and skilled at what they do. That being said, if they are unfit to work, they can receive disability insurance or they can just opt to receive 70% benefits earlier in.

Retirement is Compensation

  • “Retirement is a reward for a generation”
    • This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose for Social Security. To cite the background information provided last round, when it was first implemented, and for many years after that, the retirement age was higher than the average life expectancy, and there was an incredibly large amount of workers for each beneficiary. Essentially, very few people actually received benefits. Social Security is not meant to reward an entire generation; if it were, the age to receive benefits would have been much lower at implementation.
  • “Without the older generation there would be no society today”
    • This is, of course, true, but it’s time to pass on the torch. There is something to be said for making life easier for one’s posterity. Without some sacrifice from both seniors and workers, the younger generation will continue to become worse off. As stated earlier, by 2040, the worker beneficiary ratio is expected to be at 2.1 workers per beneficiary. It is not reasonable to expect the average member of the younger generation to pay for half of each beneficiary’s income. The worker/beneficiary ratio needs to improve, and the best way to do this is by keeping the younger generation working longer and older generation receiving benefits for less time.

This debate is not about providing the best possible care for seniors. If it were, then reducing benefits wouldn’t even be discussed. This debate is about the betterment of America as a whole.

Arbitrary

  • My rebuttal for this statement can be summed up with a quote from my opponent. “most people retire when they judge that they are no longer able to work, and when not working is financially possible.” Essentially, it is people’s expectations about the age that they can get away with retiring that keeps them demanding to retire at 65. Simply put, their expectations should not be that they could retire before it is beneficial to society to retire. People’s expectations need to be changed for retirement at 70, as long as they are capable of working until then. It is unreasonable for the age of eligibility for Social Security to be 65 because it leaves the younger generations, which make up the majority of America, in an unreasonable situation where each worker has to pay for half of a beneficiary’s income and it creates a financially impossible to uphold entitlement program that will have to be shut down before the younger generations (who were paying into the program) can even receive benefits.

How to pay for it

  • “It’s true that rising to this challenge will require sacrifice.”
    • I have already shown the sacrifices made by both sides, future beneficiaries and workers, to be overall beneficial.
  • “It’s not like that debt will be bad debt.”
    • My opponent basically concedes here that, as it currently is, Social Security will end up creating massive debt. This is a debt that will continue to be passed down to the younger generations, which will result in even higher taxes for the younger generations and worse worker/beneficiary ratios. Though there is some value to be found, the overall negatives outweigh that value.
  • “As the present smaller generation grows up, this won’t be an issue.”
    • This will continue being an issue. As stated in the previous round, the fertility rate in America is decreasing, so the population will continue to grow older, with the worker/beneficiary ratio worsening, the debt increasing as more people are receiving more benefits for longer, and the debt will just be passed on to the next generation, and the next one after that. The age of eligibility should be raised.

Conclusion

It serves an overall positive to increase the age of eligibility for Social Security. Overall benefits will be reduced, but that means that the working generations, where the majority of the American population lies, won’t need to pay as much taxes to support an increasingly dismal worker/beneficiary ratio and Social Security will be able to continue so people will continue to be able to expect benefits when they reach the age of eligibility. Seniors who are incapable of work can still receive benefits, experienced workers will continue to be used, and all that needs to really be changed is people’s expectation of when they can get away with retiring.

Thank you Larz, I look forward to your response.

Sources:

1. http://www.ssa.gov...

2. http://www.ssa.gov... (BB. P.L. 98-21, The Social Security Amendments of 1983, section 1)

3. http://www.justfacts.com...

larztheloser

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

If you just got fired from your job for being grossly incompetent, that does not prove you have a disability. It certainly does not meant the US Social Security Administration's definition of one [1]. After all, it's not impossible for old people to keep working, it's just harder for them to do so, and thus more mistakes are to be expected. Besides, the main reason they won't get hired is because they're old and thus won't be able to stick around for a long time. Pro admits his model isn't what's best for the old people, so the only voting issue in this debate is the question of who should have to bear the load - the old folks, or younger people.

A compassionate society is more costly to run than an individualist dispassionate one in terms of money, but in terms of quality of life, both for the givers and the receivers, showing some compassion to the elderly is absolutely superior.

Incentive to retire

Before I begin, please note I use "pension", "social security" and "retirement benefit" interchangably. I didn't know these meant different things in the US so I thought I should clarify.

The reduced benefit receivers still require a significant amount of saving, which lower-income people just can't achieve. They subsidise mostly the upper middle class to move into retirement, not the poor who are most likely to be in desperate need of money. Disability insurance isn't even analogus. Being old has never been a reason to give disability insurance by itself, but it sure has been a reason to not hire somebody, especially when younger workers need jobs.

So it turns out we still need to create incentives to retire.

Raising the retirement age forces people to keep working for longer. The reason that incentive is perverse is because the older you become, the more punishing, the more cruel, and the more badly usual work tasks become. Pro wanted to see proof of this. Here's a pretty picture courtesy of New Scientist from one of the biggest studies on age vs productivity:



As you can see, once you get over the age of about 30, your abilities generally begin to decline. Similar trends have been repeatedly observed in countless studies. That's not because the majority are disabled - it's because aging is normal. Even if they are very experienced, like I mentioned last round, many of these professions we're talking about really have no room for error. We shouldn't employ 70-year-olds if we wouldn't trust 10-year-olds. I might add that child labour would increase the size of the labor pool much more efficiently to pay for the older generation, and it would be no more morally abhorrent than what pro is proposing.

Retirement is Compensation

It's frankly insulting to a person who has spent their entire life working for something, to tell them that their age is a disability. I think old age would be more rightly classified as a transition than an impairment - it might not allow people to work as they used to, but it also brings a great deal of reflectiveness and wisdom. Pro is advocating state-sponsored ageism. If the state does not qualify the people as disabled then they are left without care, if they do qualify them as disabled then they legitimize the stigma that exists against hiring older workers. Either way, it's not a fair deal for those whom our society most needs to protect - our most vulnerable.

Retirement may not have been thought of as a reward for a generation by the legislators who introduced it to America, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't serve that purpose. A law can have an unexpected advantage, and that's a reason to protect the law.

Pro does not rebut the claim that the older people are among society's most vulnerable, nor the causal link that they are therefore worth protecting. Pro also does not rebut the extension to this, that older people are less likely to receive support from society in other ways in relation to the respect they deserve. These are each true quite independant of what these facts mean for younger people, which I deal with in my cost rebuttal. But in terms of earning this compensation, there can be little doubt that old people have done so.

Having old people hog all the jobs hardly makes things easier for their posterity when young people are still occasionally making records for their levels of unemployment. Working on doesn't give young people more money, but old people more money, as I showed last round. The problem is that young people really need jobs.

Arbritrary

My opponent doesn't really continue to claim that 65 is a totally random arbritrary figure. It might be a bad figure for America and it's future, but that does not mean it is arbritrary.

Here's what's arbritrary - using life expectancy rather than working years expectancy to justify a retirement age. There is simply no connection between the age at which it is best for a person to retire and the age at which they are likely to die.

How to pay for it

When a smaller generation retires, there aren't so many expenses, and thus a portion of earned money that otherwise would have been expended could be used to hedge against higher-need generations that may come. When a larger generation retires, they create expenses. It's no secret governments often create irresponsible debts, but this is not one of them. It's a debt with an inbuilt mechanism for paying it back. It's worth noting that pro's solution of moving them on to the disability benefit is no better, in that the money still reaches their pockets at the expense of the taxpayer.

The fertility rate has long finished decreasing and has instead been steady since about 1970 [2]. Hopefully that means another disaster like this can be averted in future. Nor is it getting worse. When our generation grows up, we will solve that problem our great-grandparents made, without even needing to do anything. The alternative is to pay it off now, off the backs of toiling old people.

It's also the case that things become more affordable when a large older population dies because they leave behind estates. These are taxed. I would not dispute that it would be easily possible to waste that oppertunity and spend it on some more short term project, but that's why you need financial prudence. It won't "end up creating massive debt" - it won't "end up" at all for one thing, and any debt it creates is manageable by nature. It's like taking on debt to start a company you can prove will make money. If the company isn't absolutely disasterously managed, there isn't a problem.

I do agree the figures are scary. About 2 workers per beneficiary sounds plausible for a period. But it isn't forever, and it isn't that bad. My country is currently on 1.5 workers per beneficiary [3] and our budget is looking a lot more positive than yours in any decent economic opinion. We're not even suffering that much hardship, and our debt overall is actually decreasing. I know America is in a bit of a tough time right now, but please don't let that distract you from what is both financially sensible and true to the value of compassion that is so important to protect. Con is yet to justify why, exactly, 2 workers per beneficiary is "financially impossible to uphold".

Conclusion

Pro said I misrepresented my figures. It's true, the real life expectancy has gone up by about 5 years. But that's a short time considering that they were already paying for an average of 15 years for seniors in the 30s, and that was during the time of the Great Depression.

What's scary is the thought that elderly people should be forced to work to save the young people a few cents on their taxes. I'm proud to oppose that notion.

The resolution is negated.

Sources

1 - http://www.ssa.gov...
2 - https://www.google.co.nz...
3 - http://www.interest.co.nz...
Debate Round No. 3
ClassicRobert

Pro

Thank you Larztheloser for your response.




  • “If you just got fired from your job for being grossly incompetent, that does not prove you have a disability.”






    • The point that I had been responding to was Con’s point about excessively stiff joints or memory loss, not incompetence. This would count as a disability if it prevented the senior from working. That being said, if a senior truly didn’t see themselves as fit to work by his or her own definition, that person could receive 70% benefits. If large amounts of people chose to do this rather than waiting until they turned 70 to retire, raising the age of eligibility would still have the desired effect, which is to reduce the overall benefits distributed, and therefore improve the worker/beneficiary ratio. My model wouldn’t be what is best for old people if the age were raised immediately. However, it would be best for America as a whole, including future retirees, if it was raised somewhat gradually, so workers would have the time to adjust their retirement plans.



  • “A compassionate society… but in terms of quality of life… showing some compassion to the elderly is absolutely superior

    • If there were less people receiving benefits, or more people receiving partial benefits rather than full benefits, more people would be in the workforce paying significantly less taxes. Right now, there are about 161,000,000 covered workers (1) and 22,349,000 social security beneficiaries over 70 (2). This means that if the age of eligibility were raised to 70, the worker/beneficiary ratio would be about 7.2 workers per beneficiary (5). With this amazing improvement in the ratio, workers would be paying hundreds of dollars less in taxes. Though the worker/beneficiary ratio will likely worsen by 2040 slightly, we are looking at each person paying a little less than a sixth of a senior’s income, rather than each couple supporting a senior, as the 2.1 number would suggest. This is forcing people to be more strongly compassionate to others when they still need to support their own families. Even though people won’t start receiving benefits until they are older, their overall quality of life will improve as less money is taken out of their payroll and they will be able to afford to save more and spend more on their own.



  • Incentive to retire

    • My opponent’s point about not being a reason to hire somebody is not lost on me. However, it seems to be based on the faulty presumption that as the size of the workforce goes up, unemployment will increase. This is not true, because even though the population is increasing, unemployment is on a downward trend (3), so it is faulty to presume that an increase in worker age would leave older or younger people dramatically more unemployed than they currently are. In fact, it is more probable to assume that the unemployment will still decrease over time, but the younger people will still have a higher unemployment relative to the older people.

    • “I might add that child labour…would be no more morally abhorrent than what pro is proposing.”

      • It has already been established that people retire at age 65 because they expect that they will be able to, not because they are incapable of work. I have also shown that from a moral and practical standpoint, it serves a net benefit to the people to be able to not pay as much into Social Security. However, child labor has a whole slew of problems associated with it that don’t even have to do with Social Security. This is time that the children should be spending educating themselves, establishing relationships that will last them a lifetime, not ruining their bodies through work, and many more that I don’t have the space to go into. It would absolutely be more morally abhorrent to employ 10-year-olds. That being said, when you look at the unemployment rates by age, it is clear that very few children would even be employed in the first place, so it wouldn’t be a more efficient way to increase the labor pool and pay for the older generation.





  • Retirement is Compensation

    • “Pro is advocating state-sponsored ageism.”

      • Not at all. People aren’t considered disabled because they are old, but would be considered disabled if they were incapable of working, as I said when I responded to your point about joints and memory loss. I never said that old people are disabled, but that if they didn’t fall under disability insurance, they could opt for the more all-encompassing early benefits.





  • Arbitrary

    • Like I said in the previous round, people largely retire when they do because they expect that they can. As the population is aging, people need to change their expectations, as it is better for America and its future for the age of eligibility to be increased.



  • How to pay for it

    • It’s a debt with an inbuilt mechanism for paying it back.”

      • The inbuilt mechanism that my opponent cites is the Social Security trust fund, which is, as I have previously shown, expected to be entirely exhausted by 2033. As the costs of the program are starting to outweigh the payroll tax income, this situation cannot be presumed to be improving. I would like to add that I don’t understand why Con is focusing so heavily on my claims about disability insurance, which were in direct response to his claims about inability to work. What is more important here is that the beneficiaries could receive 70% benefits early, which still accomplishes the goal of decreasing overall benefits to something more manageable.



    • “The fertility rate… nor is it getting worse.”

      • While it is true that it can be assumed that things won’t be getting worse after around 2040, where the worker/beneficiary ratio seems to become relatively stable at 2.1/1, this is not a ratio we should be content with. One working husband and wife couple should not be paying for a person’s entire income. Whether or not New Zealand has a worse ratio is irrelevant. America is in a tough time now, and the times will continue to be tough if we don’t raise the age of eligibility.



    • “Things become more affordable when a larger population dies because they leave behind estates.”

      • This is not a change to the current system, and is therefore not improving or worsening the situation.



    • “Con is yet to justify why, exactly, 2 workers per beneficiary is ‘financially impossible to uphold.”

      • I justified that when I showed that in 2033, the trust fund will be exhausted and a dramatic 25% decrease in benefits paid out would be imminent (4), which would be drastically worse than the way of reducing benefits that I’ve suggested. I also justified when I said that each person will be paying for half of a person’s entire income by 2040, which is entirely unreasonable. After 2033, Social Security will either need to be abolished, to drastically reduce benefits, or to run at a huge deficit, which will mean an even larger burden on the working population.




    • Conclusion


      Increasing the age of eligibility to 70 would improve the worker/beneficiary ratio to around 7.2/1, would decrease the tax burden on the working population, would reduce the deficit, and would make Social Security financially manageable to continue. This is not just saving the working population a few cents on their taxes. This translates to hundreds of dollars each month saved by the working population. The increase in real life expectancy can't be ignored, because more people are beneficiaries now, and for about 40% longer, as shown in the background information. We can’t ignore the numbers because people are trying to support their own families, not half the income of others.


      The resolution is affirmed.


      Thank you for a great debate. Also, I apologize for the awkward spacing. I think it might be a DDO bug from copying and pasting from a word document.



      1. 1. http://www.ssa.gov...

      2. 2. http://www.ssa.gov...

      3. 3. http://data.bls.gov...

      4. 4. http://www.nytimes.com.... security.html?_r=0

      5. 5. 161,000,000/22,349,000= about 7.2/1






larztheloser

Con

I thank my opponent for posting his round, and for a fun debate, even if the paste from word button didn't behave.

Pro's whole case rests on ONE unproven assumption

Pro had the burden of proof, meaning he had to provide two things in this debate - a problem and a solution. His problem was a worker-beneficiary ratio of 2.1. But he has never justified WHY that is a problem. It is not enough to simply assert that number proves a problem that must be overcome, rather, pro had the burden to prove that problem. This is particularly true when I have directly challenged whether or not that ratio is a problem, and when I have provided plenty of analysis, coupled with international examples, to show that it isn't. If pro has failed to show a problem, then the presumption must be that there is no solution, since there isn't a problem to solve in the first place. Pro accuses me of ignoring numbers, which is unfair, untrue, and most importantly deeply ironic, since pro has never answered for their own numbers.

The ratio and the cost

It's not enough to assert my examples are "irrelevant". I appreciate America is in a tough time right now, but the reason you are in a tough time is not having too many beneficiaries. That might be contributing in some small way, but it is not the cause of your problems. This is why my examples are relevant - they prove that it is possible to run a fair economy with far worse worker-beneficiary ratios than 2.1, so the problem must be somewhere else.

Other than that quick assertion, pro's whole case merely asserts that there needs to be "a change to the current system", or that a couple "should not be paying for a person’s entire income" because that "is entirely unreasonable", or that my model would be "drastically worse". His job in this debate was to prove these things, not assert them and expect voters to just take his moral judgements as law. This is especially true when his entire argument depends on that ratio.

However, I also proved last round the ratio won't stabilize at 2.1. Currently the birth rate is too low and stable for that. The reason we're paying so much is because the baby boomers and their immediate offspring have somewhat larger families than us younger generations. The ratio of 2.1 was caused by the relative instability of an aging workforce. When the birth rate stabilizes, the retirement rate stabilizes when that generation retires. So after about 2040 when the smaller generation from the 70s retires, things will go back to stable.

This is the "inbuilt mechanism" I cite - that generations are of different sizes, and that they eventually die. I said right from the beginning that it's quite possible to run a deficit as long as you know how and when you can pay it all back. We do - we can pay it back when the smaller generations retire, because paying for a larger generation will always cost more than paying for a smaller one. This is why the trust fund has never been relevant to the debate - even if there was no trust fund, there would still be no problem.

Taxes

There are many ways America could lower taxes. Pro seems to push this as the key benefit of his model because that helps with saving, and some weird point about encouraging families to be compassionate (I say weird because to make policy on the basis that every single family will be equally compassionate, especially for those people who have no family to support them, actually undermines the whole point of compassion). Thing is, it isn't a benefit to his model if those same people still do need to be supported in other ways. Moreover, there are plenty of expenditures (*cough*military*cough*) that America is already spending far too much money on, and which would seriously cut down those taxes.

There are other ways costs might be affected, of course, such as lost productivity, workplace injuries, and even disability insurance (if that were actually true). I'm all for helping people to save for their retirement, but taking money from retirees is not the way to do that.

My claim was that the most important thing for young people to have is actually jobs not low taxes, which his model undermines. While unemployment is on a downward trend, that's not to say that implementing a program that creates unemployment for youth is ever a good idea - let alone when it is still high. Moreover, a lot of that unemployment reduction is not from younger workers.

I think Pro also ignored my points about relative affordability and taxing estates (of course I'm not arguing for changing the current system, that's why I'm con and you're pro, but what does that have to do with estates of larger generations?)

Old people deserve it

If the same people go on other benefits, be they disability or the 70% benefit, the people still pay that cost. It's just shifting things around and adding bureaucracy, totally undermining the extent of pro's tax benefits. Of course ultimately it's all just a nice way of putting the fact that old people get less.

You don't get disability for being a poor worker, but for being disabled. And the 70% benefit still means you pay 70% of the cost to an even broader age range, so it doesn't even save all that much, while it also fails to give the elderly enough money to live if they don't have savings (bearing in mind that even 100% benefits isn't exactly a great salary).

I've explained at length why old people should get the retirement benefit. Pro needed to defeat these reasons to win the debate.

I explained that the elderly need to be shown tangible respect, because they are of value to society. Pro did not rebut this reason.

I explained that retirement is a reward for a generation. Pro dropped this as the debate went on.

I explained the elderly need to be looked out for as the weakest members of our society. Strike three, pro did not rebut this reason directly. He did try to rebut my example with the ten-year-olds rather late in the debate. All his reasons for not hiring 10-year-olds, however, also apply to older people - they have reduced mental power, should be focusing on other ways of benefiting society, will ruin their bodies through work etc. And for unemployment rates by age, very few old people would be employed either, because it's normal for people to become worse at their work as they get older, while a 10 y/o is likely to become better. Morally, forcing somebody to work to their grave is a bad thing, if forcing somebody to work from birth is also a bad thing.

This is all still state-sponsored ageism because it gives old people less of a value by giving them fewer benefits.

Incentive to retire

The lower the benefit that beneficiaries get, the lower their incentive to retire. Pro's only rebuttal to my numerous examples of analysis from our first round of clash, including all the consequences of poor work performance on the firm, their stakeholders, and most importantly the individual, can be basically summed up in two words - prove it. So I did with that pretty graph from last round. Having conclusively proved my point, pro has no persued it any further.

The reason why this destroys pro's case is because creating an incentive to retire is the key benefit of the retirement system. If pro doesn't want retirement, why pay money to seniors at all? It's just creating another arbritrary standard. But the effects of that standard are problematic, and these problems - millions of lives ruined (since there are millions of people pro wants to deny benefits to and force to work on to survive) - far outweigh the minor inconveniences of not solving a problem that doesn't exist.

Conclusion

There are good reasons why the retirement age is where it is. At one point pro tried to say it was arbritrary - he dropped that after I showed his standard was even worse. What is at stake here are American values, integrity, and respect for the elderly, all for the sake of shirking from a challenge that Americans don't even have to do anything to resolve.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
RFD:

I found Con's points about the older generation being deserving of benefits to outweigh Pro's impacts of higher taxes for the young. Con also successfully pointed out that not all old people may classify for disability. While Pro makes strong points about the worker-beneficiary ratio, he doesn't really elaborate on why a small ratio is bad which Con points out.

Pro's main reasons for raising the age are geared towards having the young pay less taxes and the fact that the US will be even more in debt. Con's counters that a society that takes care of its older citizens is a more moral society easily outweighs. After all, young people will become old at some point and being eligible for benefits later is more important than saving a bit on taxes now. I think Pro could have explained the impacts better. Overall, I found Con's points more powerful with regards to what society should ideally aspire for.
Posted by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
Sorry, that should be "when CON noted that..."
Posted by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
All in all an excellent debate. I'm relatively neutral on this topic; though I live in the US, I'm not competent to determine whether I think the age should be raised (I recognize economic issues supporting it, while at the same time have selfish bias against doing so...equalling a net "I dunno").

I think the fundamental problem here is that Con sees the retirement age as a reward, while Pro sees it as a security for the aged. It's very name (Social Security) would seem to lend itself to Pro's basic concept.

Con had a tough row to hoe, as it were. And the case was hurt further when Pro noted that "...when you're 70, your joints are stiff, your memory is not what it used to be...you are in a pretty desperate situation", considering Pro's case was to raise the age to 70, which would neatly buttress that.

That older workers = poorer workers was never sufficiently supported; though Con gave some studies and graphs supporting lack of function, they neglected to factor in experience, a point that Pro brought up in the aged's favor.

Con notes that he "agree[s] absolutely that my model isn't fair on current workers." He tries to argue the general point that life is unfair...but that's not sufficient to justify the unfairness he grants.

Con's point that "Even if social security runs at a loss, it's not like that debt will be bad debt." fails when Pro points out that the demographics are such that it may very well BE bad debt. I didn't think it was particularly necessary for Pro to go into detail about why running a permanent system at a loss would be a bad thing, I find it prima facie so, and because of that it was up to Con to give us reasons to think that it wouldn't be.

I thought Pro's victory on arguments was narrow, to the point that I was tempted to give Con some points in another category to compensate. But that seemed wrong, so 3 for arguments it is.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
Please PM me with any questions...I realize that some of my RFD probably comes off as a bit confusing.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
Please PM me with any questions...I realize that some of my RFD probably comes off as a bit confusing.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
Honestly a lot of the debate was kind of hard to follow. It"s not necessarily the fault of the debaters, its just the nature of trying to debate changes to a very complex system in short rounds.

I think the most consequential argument in the round was the incentive to retire argument. From this I have bad economic reasons if the status quo is changed, by incentivizing non-productive workers to work longer. I think Larz should have tried to quantify this more, but it"s a really difficult thing to do. However his chart shows pretty clearly that at least on some level this is going to harm productivity.

Cons point about old people deserving societies support I found difficult to weigh but whatever.

Bottomline:

It was a good debate, but ultimately I vote con because while his arguments could"ve been sharper had he used some kind of empirical evidence, he still presents risk in changing the status quo. Pros points would have been much stronger had he implemented more cost-benefit analysis" the economy will use X money for Y or something. Yes the payroll tax might decrease, and yes the ratio will be lowered, but I just was not told why these things are super beneficial, and I don"t have enough impact to change the status quo.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
This was a great debate on an important topic that I know little about, so I want to thank both participants.

Some general critiques:

Larz should have used more empirical data and statistics to make his points and impacts be really more important in the round. Its kind of hard to weigh the arguments he was making--how much are we harming the work force/economy by decreasing the incentive to retire? How many people are actually going to be harmed by a change in the status quo, and in what ways?

Classicroberts points are difficult to weigh for a different reason---he should have really used the statistics to make his case. Yes the worker-beneficiary ratio is approaching 2 to 1, and yes that sounds scary but Larz is quite frankly right when he argues that Pro needs to explain why this is important. More on this later. Pro also argued that the trust fund will be exhausted in 2033, but doesnt really explain the impact of this other than SS operating at a definite loss, but how much does that harm the system and the people in it? Millions of tax dollars will be freed up, but how will this effect the economy, ect. It's just kind of hard (not just on CR's end, but both) to know what will actually happen if these changes actually take place and how it will effect people.

There was a lot of quibbling about the ultimate fate of the worker-beneficiary ratio but I'm really tempted to just chalk it up as irrelevant. While it seems self evident that thats a ridiculously low ratio, Larz showed a stable system (sort of...I wouldnt agree with CRs characterization of this as irrelevant, but NZ is certainly a different country with a different system from the US so I'm hesitant to compare the two) with an even lower ratio so I dont know what to make of it.

Ultimately I side with Larz here, it's true that the large population of baby boomers is presenting a problem in funding *right now* but I was shown that the fertility rate has been declining for a long time so it w
Posted by ClassicRobert 3 years ago
ClassicRobert
I apologize, I must have linked it incorrectly. Source 4 in the final round is the same as source 6 in the first round of argumentation, http://www.nytimes.com...;
Posted by ClassicRobert 3 years ago
ClassicRobert
Devils advocate, was that at me? I'll repost source 4 link in the comments later today, and 5 was just the math to show the worker beneficiary ratio.
Posted by 1Devilsadvocate 3 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
My bad, that was supposed to be a question for Classic Robert.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
ClassicRobertlarztheloserTied
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Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
ClassicRobertlarztheloserTied
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Vote Placed by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
ClassicRobertlarztheloserTied
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