Reform of the Retirement System

by Donald Daniel, 3-21-05, revised Feb 2012

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Reform of the retirement system is in the air. Most of the discussion centers around sufficiency and reliability of the retirement system. Another important aspect is making retirement issues as independent as possible from other issues.

Currently, some people are indentured servants of their jobs because they would put their retirement at risk if they changed jobs. This should not be. It should be illegal to have a retirement tied to a job. Automobile liability insurance is not tied to your job, and neither should be your retirement or your health insurance.

Currently, some divorced women dare not remarry because the retirement they derive from their ex-husband would be put in jeopardy. This should not be. Some fraction of the joint income of a couple should be split 50-50 into his and hers retirement accounts. The accounts should go with each upon divorce.

Some will object that retirement systems are welfare, and therefore bad. This is similar to the question of whether a glass is half full or half empty. It is similar to the question of whether a law that a worker must be paid a minimum wage is the same as a law that some unskilled worker who would be glad to have a job at less than the minimum wage cannot be hired unless he is worth the minimum wage. Retirement systems can also be looked on as analogous to garbage collection, not for the benefit of the individual, but so society will not be cluttered with indigent helpless elderly citizens. Automobile liability insurance is also in the spirit of garbage collection.

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