Today I tell you what the two biggest problems are with Social Security.
1: Its long-term financial solvency
2: And its name
The political debate around the long-term financial solvency of Social Security is so hairy and smelly and sweaty that I want to leave that to the side for now. I’m not saying it’s not important. It is. Wildly important. It’s just I want to use this time to focus on the other big problem: Social Security. As in, the name Social Security.
Because names matter.
Imagine you named your son Dinglebarry. You were torn between Dinglebarry and Barry. And dammit, Dinglebarry won the day.
Now, thanks mom and dad, whenever anyone meets your son Dinglebarry, the first thing that person is going to think of is: dingleberries. That’s how the world works because names influence thoughts and perceptions. Dinglebarry, unless he wisely changes his name, will forever be associated with dingleberries. Which probably will affect his Tinder matches.
And did you know there are countries that actually forbid this kind of thing? Which means there are laws that regulate what you can name your baby, i.e., baby naming laws. And which means in these countries a few people go to a room, maybe sit around a table, drink coffee, and weigh the pros and cons of naming your child something like Nipplesquiggle or not (except in countries like Morocco where baby naming laws were put in place for more sinister reasons). If too many cons, throw it on the banned names list. Just imagine what that debate looks like.
Because I bet it’s fun. And I want to invite you to have a similar debate over the name of the United States’ most important baby: Social Security.
The name Social Security stinks because every time you hear it, you think Stalin is going to pop out of your mom’s belly button and belly dance you into becoming a Communist. And most Americans think Stalin was weird.
And it also doesn’t help that Social Security’s initials SS are the same as that of the worst group of human beings to ever set foot on earth.
Chew on the idea that Bernie Sanders might have lost the 2016 Democratic primary not because Americans don’t like socialism per se (the U.S. has many popular socialist programs), but because they’re turned off by anything that includes in its name the prefix social. And so calling himself a “Democratic Socialist” was probably a losing strategy, even in a Democratic primary. If Bernie called himself a “Democratic Independent” instead, perhaps that would have been enough to defeat “Democrat” Hillary Clinton.
And so I predict that if you and I and the rest of the team change the name of Social Security to something like the…
- Bald Eagle Dividend or
- American Dividend or
- Mount Rushmore Capital Gain or
- Freedom Fund or
- Star Spangled Fund or
- Red White and Blue Endowment
…more Americans will grow to love the program and want to fight for its long-term financial solvency because every time you hear, say, Bald Eagle Dividend, you will feel patriotic and proud and that you can fly like an eagle.
And remember you don’t have to wait for the government to pass a bill to change a name. Because you can call things whatever you want whenever you want. Take the Affordable Care Act for example, which has effectively been re-named to Obamacare. No law made that happen, just a bunch of people saying it.
And so starting today, on Gilbert Index, you will no longer see that ancient, misguided name. For, unless you would like to weigh in and vote for a different name, it shall now be referred to as: Bald Eagle Dividend.