If you are intending to retire on Social Security, make sure that you are mentally prepared to live without running water and indoor plumbing.
Because that’s what’s happening right now in Jefferson County, Alabama.
Now, if you are Larry Kudlow, you are probably shouting:
“Aha! If Social Security had been privatized those poor people could have put their funds in a program run by reputable, private-sector firms like JP Morgan and making a much higher return right now!”
But according to the BBC story, JP Morgan helped to cause the problem:
“Investment bank JP Morgan Securities and two of its former directors have been fined for offering bribes to Jefferson County workers and politicians to win business financing the sewer upgrade.”
Water-and-sewer bills can be as high as $300 a month in Jefferson County, and some people have resorted to outhouses and bottled water. If your social-security check is only $600 a month, then you don’t really have much of a choice.
Maybe you think that I’m exaggerating about civilization ending. But consider this quote from Niall Ferguson’s book Civilization:
“My idea of civilization is as much about sewage pipes as flying buttresses, if not more so, because without efficient public plumbing cities are death-traps, turning rivers and wells into havens for the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.”
Half the population of Birmingham fled a cholera outbreak in 1873. Will we degrade to that level? Maye not, but having people install port-a-potties in their back yards is clearly a step in the wrong direction.