Thursday, September 23, 2004
Third Rail Realities
Social Security has always, at least in my memory, been called the "Third Rail of American Politics". It supposedly means that if you touch or otherwise mess with it, your political career will become little more than a charred hunk of carbon lying beside the Political Subway. The American people have lived with this system for a half century. We pay into it, and when we retire, we draw on the system to sustain us through our 'golden years'.
The only problem is, the people drawing on the system take out far more than they ever put in. This has thus far been mitigated by two factors: a) there are far more people working that there are retired - currently three workers work to support one retiree and b) tax rates have risen steadily on the aforementioned workers - currently set at 15% of the first $85,000 earned in a calendar year.
In a perfect world, this system would never need to be reformed. Unfortunately, we live in a world that must deal with a strange concept to liberals. Its called REALITY. Two important realities that will inevitably affect the Social Security system. 1. People are living longer. 2. There are fewer overall workers in the system. When the Baby-Boom generation retires, the ration of workers to retirees will fall to two to one.
Social Security needs massive reforms. Lurch went out yesterday, and in a voice hoarse from weeks of campaign lies, stated the following:
I will never privatize Social Security, ever. He also stated he would not raise the retirement age or cut benefits to Social Security recipients. He then claimed Social Security would be "fixed" by a continuously growing economy.
If a growing economy could fix the Social Security problem, we wouldn't be talking about it. With the exception of a few years over the past twenty-five years, the economy has grown. What Lurch did not talk about, or even elude to, was the fact the only other way to infuse cash into Social Security short of raising the retirement age or cutting benefits is to raise taxes.
This brings me to the point I want to make today. I'm 33 years old. This means that, barring any changes in the system, I should retire in 2036. I'm right on the cusp of people who would be able to participate in W's plan to allow workers to invest a portion of their Social Security money in a private retirement fund. Lurch, of course, opposes this.
Well, Senator, here's my answer to your arrogant stubbornness.
It's my money!!
Right now I'm throwing away 15% of my hard earned income into a system that will give me a return of slightly more that 1%. The stock market, even in a bad year, gives a return of 7-8% even if you don't know how to invest properly. Frankly, a monkey throwing darts at a stock chart can give me better that 1%. Don't think that's a joke. Its actually been done.
W has the courage to take on this looming problem now - while guys like me still have a chance to do something other than watch our money evaporate. Lurch - well, he'd rather punt it down the road a for a few more presidential terms. They system cannot continue in its present form.
Lurch doesn't care about Social Security. He doesn't have to. Short of the Ketchup Queen throwing him out of her castle and cutting off his allowance, he'll never have to depend on it.
Just remember, Lurch.
Its not your money!