Getting Old Ain’t For The Faint Hearted

It’s funny, most of the stuff I do these days is, “just in case”. While we’re in our twenties and thirties we didn’t think too much about “just in case”. We had plenty of time. While the politicians have been telling us forever that Social Security was going to die, we had time when we were younger to change course and plan for our future. Now that I’m past sixty, I find it’s not that easy to chart another course.

“Just in case” Social Security does die, what plans do I have? None. I guess I’ve always believed that the politicians would never be stupid enough to screw with retirees. In fact, I’ve bet my future on it. As we old timers become a bigger and bigger demographic, and all of us baby boomers are retiring, the politicians want to blame the “imminent” failure of the system on us. Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but I can do my times and goes-intos. Seems to me that back in the early fifties somebody in charge should have been doing their math homework and doing some projections on how much money would be needed based off of births and deaths. For a point of reference, find any actuarial and pick his brain. I mean, if an insurance actuarial can calculate how to payout a $10,000 burial policy for a premium of $9.99 a month, and make a profit, Social Security should be child’s play.

In fact, it’s the children playing with Social Security that have been the problem. The children I’m referring to is Congress. Over the years, members of both parties have borrowed money from the Social Security Trust Fund, and not repaid it. The amount that can be “borrowed” from Social Security for other programs is now calculated at 2.9 trillion dollars. This was money generated from our payroll taxes and during many years, resulted in a surplus. As is its nature, Congress abhors a surplus, and Congress promptly converted the money to wars, vacations and gym equipment. While performing this sleight of hand, the conservative shills publicly called out all of the current and future recipients as communists. How dare we expect the government to give us back the money they’ve been taking from us for forty plus years?

In sad truth, much of this vitriol has stuck with the younger generations, and they fully expect that Social Security will not be there for them when they need it. I don’t know if they expect the payroll deductions to stop first, or not. I do know that one little change to the system will keep it healthy through 2065, and no, it doesn’t involve carnage to Congress. By removing the limit on the Annual Social Security Wage Base Limit, Social Security gets well. Currently it’s capped at $142,800 in wages per year, but there’s a whole bunch of folks making more than that. Of course, that’s the folks that already think they’re paying more than their share. The Donald should be happy to pay taxes on his full income, after all, the folks working at Burger King do. Adjusting the tax rate from 6.2 to 7.0 would work as well, it’s all about wanting to preserve the system.

Conservatives don’t want to preserve the Social Security system for a couple of reasons. First, what conservative wants the largest example of socialism in the world to be working? Kind of cuts across the grain of a conservative. Next, is the movement by the conservatives to hand Social Security to Wall Street. The most recent attempt at privatization was by “W” back in 2005. Dubya talked about it all of the time. I mean, what if all of that income was put someplace that was not guaranteed by the government, someplace that was super safe for the elders, you know, like the stock market? We all know how the stock market favors the average uninformed investor, what could go wrong?

I don’t think it will happen, but I guess I need to start on my “just in case” plan. It’s probably going to involve a Mason jar and a hole in the back yard.

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