Friday, April 10, 2009

Social Security and Foodies

I've one caution for those foodies who seek the simple life for its rewards. I surely agree one could be happy with a patch of land, a simple house, some animals, and some organics, at least as long as there's a good library nearby and broadband Internet connection.

But, and it's a big but, emulating the Amish or reverting to the diverse farms of 100 years ago is not simple. One of the hidden prerequisites of such a way of life is a large family, or at least a close-extended family. In other words--when there's no social security, when you become a geezer you become dependent on your children for your support. That's true for the Amish, it was true in 1910 farm life. Large families seem uncommon these days. To the extent single women have taken up farming, they are particularly vulnerable.

Yes, we have social security these days. (Social security coverage was extended to farmers in the mid 1950's.) But the size of your benefit is somewhat proportional to the amount of income you report and the amount of FICA tax you pay. If a quest for simplicity leads you to minimal income, or minimize your income on the 1040, or to skip paying the full 14-15 percent FICA tax for self-employed people, then you're vulnerable in your old age. (Unless, of course, you spent years toiling at the keyboard and establishing your 40 quarters. Then you will benefit from the structure of the system, getting higher benefits.)

1 comment:

Walter Jeffries said...

Ah, so let's combine the best of both worlds...

Large rural families living simply on the land with access to the plethora of information available on the Internet interconnected thus with their city cousins. As a child I didn't have the net - wish I had - so I read our entire town library. It was a small town.

We large rural families can help keep up the population since we need more people to come up with the next great advances and urban people aren't having enough babies - witness the shrinking population in some countries and the fizzling of the population explosion curve.

As to FICA vs family, there's a place for both. SS should not be so good that people lack incentive to do better themselves but we need some sort of safety net to catch those who fall. Like with most things in life, it is a balance.