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December 22, 2004

Social Security

I should probably find some info on the origins of Social Security. My understanding (read memory of history class) is that SS began as a response to the CRASH of the stock exchange. I'm really unclear why so many people put so much faith into that big guessing game / legal gambling system. You don't have to be a socialist to be wary of the stock exchange. You simply have to be poor. Personally, I doubt I'll ever make enough money to be able to own a significant amount of stock in any company, nor would I ever want to. Right now, I don't even make enough money to pay my bills; forget about saving any of it.

Right. So, I look at SS as guaranteed income when I retire. Just the way I expect most employers to offer a true pension: guaranteed money not tied to the stock exchange or employee participation in a savings plan. I can't do anything about forcing private employers to provide pensions (other than encourage people to join unions), but I have a voice in how SS works. Here's the thing: if there's a problem with funding SS, that should be worked on. Personal Savings Accounts cost trillions of dollars and aren't a cure for the future funding problem. They also put people's money in jeopardy since there's no frickin guarantee your money will be there if you put it in the stock exchange. I know from familial experience: my rents put their money in an aggressive mutual fund because they were behind the eight ball on saving for retiring and the recent serious slide in the market cut out a huge chunk of their retirement fund. They're both over 60 and I don't know when they'll be able to retire.

In conclusion, my stance on SS:
1. It should be guaranteed and completely separate from private business. My tax money should not be used to line the pockets of any Wall Street fat cat.
2. Pushing money out of the current system and into accounts where the money is poured into the stock market will NOT fix the impending discrepancy between the amount of money SS brings in and the amount it doles out.
3. It's all well and good for an upper middle class white guy to tell me that SS was never intended to be a person's sole income during retirement. Exactly what are you planning on doing with the thousands (millions?) of grandmas and grandpas who are penniless without SS? Throw them in jail? Euthanize them because they're no longer pulling their weight? What is this, a brave new world?

Posted by cj at December 22, 2004 6:16 PM


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