Sunday, January 30, 2005

Social Security

Never have so many been so confused about so little. If you read the Letters to the Editor, or some of the op-ed pieces in the local papers, you soon realize that most of the people writing are either totally stupid or they have an agenda to push.
The suggested modifications to SS were actually rather simple. Some people (not all, but some) would have the option (not be forced to) to invest a small percentage (not all) of their SS account into selected mututal funds. The underlying idea is probably sound. This would motivate some young workers to think about saving for their retirement, rather than just blow it all on non-essentials and then have to exist on SS as their only pension. SS was never designed as a retirement fund. It was always envisioned as an emergency measure, to provide some support for those who had nothing else.
But if you read the letters and the editorials, you see things like "President Bush is going to force everyone to dabble in the stock market" or "The Republicans are in cohoots with the Wall Street Brokers and will steal all your money."

The really dumb thing about some of the letter writers is their total misunderstanding of how the system works. There is no big pot of money called the Social Security Trust Fund! Too many people have the idea that every month the government stuffs $20 bills into a big box someplace in Washington. It doesn't happen. There is not a vault full of money. Payments come out of the Treasury general account.
Whether SS is in trouble now or in 2018 or 2042 depends on which study you want to believe. One thing is sure---there will soon be more people drawing out than people paying in. A smart person would take action to make sure they have something else besides SS.


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