Now, I know that it is a long way away... but two score and one (or maybe three) years from now I will reach the official retirement age. So, the question is, will I have a rats chance of getting a Social Security check? Will that FICA stuff, ripped away from my paycheck, ever come back home? Up until recently, I would have said "No" and promptly written another check to my Roth IRA.
But, with President Bush's new campaign to reform Social Security, I'm starting to rethink my pessimism.
Social Security reform should be the top of my agenda (no matter how anti-social I may be), because any reform will benefit ME... and every other young professional. Social Security was designed to give everybody a small financial safety net for their retirement. It provides each eligible retired worker with a monthly check. It may be small, but it is still an important safety net.
When he signed Social Security Legislation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said:
This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens.... We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.
(Presidential Statement Signing the Social Security Act, August 14, 1935).
But Frankie, we now have a problem. This great "moral victory of the 20th century" is slowly failing. As President Bush said in the 2005 State of the Union address, the Social Security system, "on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy" because today "people are living longer and, therefore, drawing benefits longer."
Just today, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan declared that "benefits promised to a burgeoning retirement-age population under...Social Security and Medicare, threaten to strain the resources of the working-age population in the years ahead. Real progress on these issues will unavoidably entail many difficult choices. But the demographics are inexorable, and call for action before the leading edge of baby boomer retirement becomes evident in 2008."
Ok, I know he talks like an economist, but he is saying that there is a problem that is only getting worse. He's pretty much the most powerful economist in the world right now... so he's probably a good person to reference.
So, Social Security is in trouble. It isn't a disaster yet, but it is in trouble. And if we can see a train wreck coming, we should probably do something about that. In fact, President Bush is speaking in a New Hampshire hangar, trying to convince people that there is a problem.
And if younger people don't do something about it... um... we're going to suffer here.
But, as we hear about Social Security reforms, there are a lot of people whining about reform... especially on Capitol Hill.
Here are some important things to remember as you watch the news and learn about Social Security Reform:
- Benefits will NOT change AT ALL for anyone born before 1950. This is important to remember, because seniors are the most active voters. So... that "working retirement" add from MoveOn.org is a load of bunk. Don't let anyone over 55 think that they will lose their check. Bush has been quite clear on this... and most people agree about this.
- Bush is not calling to privatize social security. Privatization implies that the government will pass responsibility for the program to another company. But, if you read any proposals that President Bush presents, he never uses the word "private." He is proposing Personal Accounts, similar to Government employee benefit programs. That means that I will actually have some control over how my social security money will get invested.
- President Bush has said many times that he is open to any viable suggestions, as long as they do not affect people over 55 and do not raise payroll taxes. In fact, every suggestion he gave during his State of the Union address came from people in the Democratic Party.
- Social Security Reform is still in the planning stage. Right now, our congresspersons need to hear from constituents. Call/write/e-mail your congressperson and say you SUPPORT SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM, and encourage him or her to investigate the problem. They need to know what you think.
Social Security is an important problem, especially for younger workers. If I have any chance of getting any retirement benefits, we need to change Social Security SOON.
I reccomend that anyone visit the White House Social Security information page. There is some really good stuff there.
That is all.