googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: The Elephant in the Room

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

There’s an elephant in the room and I’m not talking about the GOP mascot. Instead, I’m referring to the social security crisis that is looming on the horizon and I’m dumbfounded about why nothing is being said about it during the presidential primaries.

There are a lot of issues being discussed in this campaign season: global warming, national health care, taxing the "rich", the candidate’s personal beliefs, etc. Most of these would be OK topics in other election years, but as far as I’m concerned, there are only 2 topics this election that are THE issues which need to be addressed: national security and social security.

National security is getting a fair amount of coverage. Democrats want us to surrender in Iraq and Republicans want to press on in the war on terror. But nobody, on either side, is saying a peep about social security. Consider these quotes taken from the Social Security website’s FAQ :

"Social Security is not sustainable over the long term at present benefit and tax rates without large infusions of additional revenue. There will be a massive and growing shortfall over the 75-year period."

"People are living longer, the first baby boomers are nearing retirement, and the birth rate is low. The result is that the worker-to-beneficiary ratio has fallen from 16.5-to-1 in 1950 to 3.3-to-1 today. Within 40 years it will be 2-to-1. At this ratio there will not be enough workers to pay scheduled benefits at current tax rates."

"If Social Security is not changed, payroll taxes will have to be increased, the benefits of today's younger workers will have to be cut, or massive transfers from general revenues will be required."

At present rates, there will be more social security benefits being paid out than revenue coming in by the year 2017. By the year 2040 the social security fund will be completely exhausted. Why is no one is talking about this?

Here’s the fundamental flaw in social security: the benefits being received by retirees now are being paid by those people still working. When the current workers retire, future workers will pay their benefits. This is formally known as a “pay as you go” system. You might know it better as a pyramid scheme. Such a plan is doomed from the start. This is what happens when the government gets involved in “helping people.” And now some people want us to do the same thing with health care?! In 50 years the health care system will be in the same boat.

Ok, so the government shouldn’t be involved in our retirement – but here we are. We’ve got to do something to fix the system. We need to start getting people off this train wreck. We’re on the eve of 2008; in 9 short years the bankruptcy of social security begins!

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