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Security and Need
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I believe I've made this request before, but I'll make it again.

In all the current debate surrounding Social Security right now, I think it would be useful to know a few things. In particular, I've tried time and again to find some information on the income levels of households receiving Social Security, and every time I come up blank. Is this information not available? I think that once I found the sort of statistics I was looking for, but for the Canadian Social Security system.

I know the concept of need is ultimately subjective, but wouldn't it be instructive to know what percentage of households have, for example, an income greater than $50,000 a year and are receiving Social Security. I also realize that the notion of income is a slippery one, and that someone with half a million dollars in retirement funds may on paper not have any "income".

What I really want to know is the standard of living of Social Security recipients, with the realization that this is a difficult thing to measure.

My main problem with Social Security, despite the practical arguments of whether or not it is actually in crisis right now, is in principle. I hear lots of people referring to safety nets and not letting old people "fall through the cracks" and so on. But if it really is a safety net program, then why the hell isn't any needs assessment done for recipients?

So, could someone try to find some semi-reliable statistics on the income/standard of living of Social Security recipients?

And while you're at it, could any defenders of the current system explain to me why, in principle, the government should ever be involved in a non-needs-based entitlement program?

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