Social Security Crisis

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pay Your Taxes

At a forum in Connecticut, an elderly man had some input:

"Social Security is unsustainable as a pay-as-you-go system," Lockhart said, assuring those attending that people over the age of 55 aren't going to be affected by the problems and proposed changes. Some of the solutions discussed during the forum included raising Social Security taxes, slowing the growth of benefits or increasing the rate of return on the Social Security's trust fund.

"I believe the solution to the problem will probably be a combination of these things," Shays said.

Although most in attendance remained calm during the discussion, an angry Trumbull man briefly disrupted the forum. "I don't give a damn," said Leo Adelson, who appeared to be in his late 80s. "People have to pay their taxes."

Pay your taxes...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

How Social Security could narrow rich-poor gap

When Congress created the Social Security system in 1935, 8 of 11 people reaching retirement age were not just poor - they were indigent. They had almost no income. Some lived on the street, many with their children. They relied heavily on charity to survive.

Those drafting the Social Security bill wanted to redistribute income to these destitute retirees. They succeeded. Today's seniors are relatively flush.

Now, the income gap between the rich and poor in the United States has gotten wider again. A reformed Social Security could help readjust that balance.

It's unclear whether President Bush's plan will do that. But Social Security could be altered to accomplish that goal, says Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale University. He frets that the growing rich-poor gap "is going to fester eventually. It will be a source of resentment."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I "Get It"

A local MN citizen has written these profound words on Social Security reform which I have the honor of posting here tonight.
I "get it" -- unlike Senator Dayton and the others in the Democratic party crying fowl. The private accounts being proposed are no different than what most people have access to with respect to deferred comp and the various accounts they can put their defferred comp monies toward. People won't actually have the money in their hands to with as they want -- they will simply defer it through payroll deduction like is currently done -- only to a different account that will invest it as you choose. The options will be limited like they are through deferred comp. You have low risk options to more high risk options. It's that simple. I think our deferred comp plan has 5 options of varying risk levels. How complicated is that? What could possibly be wrong with workers actually owning their retirement accounts? It's our money -- let us have it!

But consider this. Welfare reform was a huge struggle too -- why? As you probably know, the federal government first authorized the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act back in the '30s -- about the time Social Security was enacted. Times were tough back then -- ya, tougher than they are right now, Nancy Pelosi!! People had survived WWI, the depression, etc. The ADC program was started to aid widows and orphans -- widows whose husbands had been killed in WWI, leaving them to raise orphaned children with no income, resources and no ability to make a living. Back then, women didn't traditionally work out of the home, they didn't traditionally have ready access to educational opportunities, they didn't have access to reliable birth control (did reliable birth control even exist?), or abortion on-demand. Obviously times have changed because everything women didn't have back then, we have now. But our welfare programs essentially treat women like we are still back in the '30s -- poor, helpless, uneducated women with no opportunities available to them.

The same is true with Social Security. When that was enacted, the average worker didn't have access to saving for retirement, investing in their future, IRAs, deferred comp, 401Ks, etc. etc. But the average worker can or should have access to these investment opportunites now so why do we -- or our government -- feel compelled to continue to treat workers like workers of the '30s?

And another thing. Before the invention of government programs such as Social Security and welfare, people had to rely on their families in their old age -- elderly parents lived with their children until they died. The elderly weren't shuffled off to a nursing home because no one could afford such care. And if a women was widowed, or God forbid, she turned up pregnant and not married, she would have to turn to her family for help. Both the Social Security system and the welfare system essentially replaced the roll of the family. Once these goverment programs were in place, families gradually began to relinquish their traditional rolls of caring for one generation to the next, and for taking care of each other in financially difficult times, because they learned that the government would do it if the family didn't. From my perspective, this is, probably the saddest and most destructive aspect of these programs.

Again, times have changed. Opportunities have changed. But neither our welfare system, and especially the Social Security system, has kept up with the changing times. Reforming Social Security is overdue and I support the President's proposal wholeheartedly!!

Paige Turner

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Alternative to Social Security?

WASHINGTON — For 5 million American workers, including Kansas City's police officers and firefighters, the debate over Social Security overhaul has little meaning: They're already exempt from the system.

So are most of Missouri's teachers.

That class of public sector workers — who don't pay taxes into Social Security during their working years and don't receive Social Security benefits when they retire — accounts for about 6 percent of the U.S. work force.

Instead of Social Security, they pay into pension funds that invest in stocks, bonds and other investment instruments, much as President Bush wants individual Americans to be allowed to do with a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes.

But as the fight in Washington heats up over how to reform the massive safety net, opinions vary as to whether such pension systems — many of them quite successful — could be copied on a larger scale.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What Made America Great?

Mr. Hasson believes he knows what made America great. It wasn't that Americans believed in personal freedoms, or personal sacrifice, or any other noble attribute.

Democratic moderates (sometimes maligned as "tax and spend liberals") need to make their voices heard in Congress to the effect that raising taxes in order to stabilize Social Security is not such a bad thing. Taxes made this country great. Paying taxes assures our society that everyone has a stake in the common good and brings us that much closer to dealing with deficits, rather than borrowing money from foreign sources.
Our regressive system of taxation ensures that small subsets have the greatest stake in the common good, and a large subset has a greater stake in reaping the benefits. Is this something that makes Americans proud?