Mike the Mad Biologist

Defining a New Time Unit: the Samuelson

Named after economist Robert Samuelson, who, along with the Concord Coalition, is fighting the Glorious War on Social Security. It’s inspired by the Friedman Unit, named after NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who predicted for several years running that the “next six months” will be critical in Iraq. So what’s a Samuelson Unit?

The length of time it takes for the Social Security Trust Fund to go bankrupt. As Atrios puts it:

Well, another year and not much has changed. Last year they said Social Security could pay full scheduled benefits without any program changes until 2040, and now it’s 2041.

During the Clinton era, the Samuelson varied between 32-36 years. Are we starting to see a pattern yet? And remember, that the Bush economy isn’t exactly hot stuff. So here’s the unit conversion table for you:

1 Samuelson Unit = 68 Friedman Units = 34 years

Of all of the economic things to worry about, Social Security ain’t it (like I said).

Comments

  1. #1 bigTom
    April 24, 2007

    There used to be a “time until fusion power becomes feasible”. This used to be 25years, but unlike the Samuelson is not time invariant. It seems to have doubled in the last 25 years.

  2. #2 KeithB
    April 24, 2007

    But, the flat wall-mounted TV is here! Progress!

  3. #3 Coin
    April 24, 2007

    But, the flat wall-mounted TV is here! Progress!

    Perhaps we could attempt to measure technological progress by the exact proportion of gadgets featured in “the Jetsons” which actually now exist.

  4. #4 Noturus
    April 25, 2007

    Ooh, and also changing government tax receipts as the economy goes up and down, and estimates of those receipts. Aren’t those figured into the projections? So if the economy does better than expected it gets put off a bit, and vice versa.

  5. #5 Noturus
    April 25, 2007

    Ah, this was supposed to go to the post above it, sorry.

  6. #6 Mike the Mad Biologist
    April 25, 2007

    Noturus,

    You’re right, but given the robustness of the tax base used (wage income under $90k), the estimates are relatively constant (as the graph shows). Unlike Medicare, the stability of the program largely rests on the stability of the payouts. The point is that Social Security isn’t going to go bust, barring a sustained collapse (a couple of decades) of the U.S. economy.

  7. #7 olvlzl, jamais cool
    April 26, 2007

    It would be interesting to know what the relationship of the Samuelson unit has in relation to a unit I proposed, the Stossel, a unit to measure media whoring. Since the allged journalist it’s named after has to measure 1, I’d thought that others could only achieve a fractional value. But, watching cabloid TV proved that a 1 is not only possible, but frequently met. Though never exceeded.

  8. #8 image upload
    December 21, 2007

    the flat wall-mounted TV is here! Progress!
    Perhaps we could attempt to measure technological progress by the exact proportion of gadgets featured in “the Jetsons” which actually now exist..

  9. #9 bitkisel ürünler
    May 18, 2009

    Ooh, and also changing government tax receipts as the economy goes up and down, and estimates of those receipts. Aren’t those figured into the projections? So if the economy does better than expected it gets put off a bit, and vice versa

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!