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Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014

Solving the problem of Social Security

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Let me take one more stab at the hot topic of Social Security. As I read about our esteemed leaders in Washington, D.C., I get the distinct impression they don't know much more about the topic than I do.

If the Democratic party is overly concerned about giving Americans a small portion of their wages to invest in some program other than Social Security, then make it voluntary. If you want to take a few limited dollars and put them in some conservative fund, go right ahead. If you fear your investments will bomb and you'll lose some of your retirement nest egg, leave it just where it is today.

I suspect that less than a third of the workers would initially opt into an investment plan. But over time, if the investments reap more benefits than Social Security alone, I strongly suspect that number would grow.

And why in the world would the American Association of Retired People (AARP) be so strongly against the plan since under the proposal, not a single member of that organization would be involved in any privatization in the first place?

I sense that the Democratic party wants to continue to control the lives of most Americans. They don't want to offer the flexibility that is currently available to millions of others and I, for one, don't really understand their position.

I was talking with a money man the other day and he pointed out a guaranteed bond pays a return of a modest 3 percent. But hey, over time that 3 percent certainly beats the 0 percent investment gain with Social Security. And it's guaranteed!

The easy road for President Bush would be the same taken by all former presidents in the past two decades or so. Do nothing. The "crisis" won't hit for another decade or so. So why not just appoint yet another panel to study the issue and go on down the road?

Here's why. At some point, the issue must be addressed. The numbers don't lie. We will someday be forced to reduce benefits for retirees, raise the retirement age or increase the taxes withheld from your check to pay for the upcoming benefits. On these points, there is absolutely no disagreement from either political party.

An increasing number of Americans put more into the Social Security coffers than they will ever withdraw. And an increasing number of Americans put little to nothing into the coffers but will still receive a monthly check when they reach their golden years. At some point, those who pay cannot support those who do not.

Historians tell us that the original intent of Social Security - coming directly after the Great Depression - was to provide supplemental financial assistance to those no longer able to work. These funds would supplement their savings and would also reflect the lower spending that comes with age. Medicaid and Medicare came along much later to assist in the health care needs.

But Social Security for some will be the largest paycheck they have ever received. And the idea that it will be supplemental has long since vanished. Add to that the baby boomer generation and the increased life expectancy and you have the makings of a problem.

If the Democrats are so opposed to the private accounts in the Bush plan, then let them offer a solution. But you can darned well bet it will mean higher taxes. And all that will accomplish is to delay a solution for another generation - you know, like our children and grandchildren.

That is unacceptable.



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