Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Questions with Succession and its Ramifications

          In the wake of the most recent presidential election there has been a growing movement of people wishing to break away from the United States.  The loudest cries in the succession movement are coming from libertarians and the extreme right of the Republican Party which is the Tea Party.  They are not the only ones calling for this but they are the loudest.  This essay is just one part in a series of essays I will be writing covering some of the downfalls of any state; red, purple, or blue who wish to pursue succession.  The first essay will focus on a major concern to many; Social Security. 


          Social Security has been a political football ever since its inception and has continued to be one up into the present day.  For those who are unaware, Social Security refers to the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) which is a federal program that encompass’ several social welfare and social insurance programs.  Social Security is primarily funded through dedicated payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA).  Tax deposits are formally entrusted to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, or the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund which comprise the Social Security Trust Fund.  Now I realize that I have enlarged the word federal a total of six times so far when giving the definition and explaining the role of Social Security; but to be fair I enlarged the word state every time it was mentioned as well.  The only problem is that Social Security is ran, regulated, and maintained by the federal government, not the state government. 
Another fun fact about Social Security is that it is estimated to keep roughly 40 percent of all Americans age 65 or older out of poverty (1.)  Although this is an 8 year old statistic it is very reasonable to believe that 40 percent is still at best the most optimal situation but considering the recent global financial crisis it may even be higher than 40 percent.

So with all this being stated, if a state were to go through with succession what would this mean for those drawing social security or close to retirement?  What about states like Florida and Arizona where the amount of retirees are much higher than in other states?  Would there be anything put in place by the succeeding states or would people of every age have to fend for themselves?  These are a couple of the issues that would surely arise if states were to start breaking away from the Union.  Some could take the Ayn Rand philosophy and merely shrug at those who weren’t prepared for the collapse of the federal government but I have a hunch that a great deal elderly people would face dire choices if they were to lose their Social Security benefits.  And notice I called them benefits and not entitlements; these elderly people have been paying a FICA tax most, if not their entire working lives.  

One possible solution to this problem is that if a state were to succeed from the United States, the federal government could still pay the benefits regardless of where the beneficiary lives.  There is only one flaw with this scenario, I do not see a federal government helping out a state that has just succeeded from it.  You can’t merely flip someone the bird and then ask them for assistance.  Few people would be willing to do this and if the blood is that bad between the U.S government and a succeeding state I doubt they will be any different.  With that being stated responsibility for the elderly more than likely now becomes a state issue or rather a succeeding state issue.  

Could these states bear such a financial burden in the infancy of being an independent state and now a nation?  It is very doubtful considering the other financial burdens they would soon be getting ready to deal with due to their new found freedom.  There is also no mechanism in place to deal with this on the state level, so what would people do in the meantime till such a structure was established?  Succeeding seems to bring more questions than tangible answers and that is only on the issue of Social Security.

I am not in favor of any state succeeding from the United States, period.  For better or worse we are one big family and merely saying I’m done and leaving will weaken the government and create more burden on the succeeding state than they can handle.  I think the issues we face as a nation are fixable assuming reasonable adults can sit down at the table and agree on reasonable solutions.  Compromise is not a dirty word, it is the solution.  

Works Cited

  1. Orr, D. (November – December, 2004). "Social Security Isn't Broken: So Why the Rush To 'Fix ' It? In C. Sturr & R. Vasudevan (Eds.), 2007, Current Economic Issues. Boston: Economic Affairs Bureau.