*Social Security is being vilified by the front runner for the Republican Presidential nomination as being a Ponzi scheme. By doing so Perry reflects the belief of a significant segment of the population.
And truthfully the way the program is currently run is troublesome because younger people are paying for older people already eligible instead of putting money away for when they enter retirement. Nevertheless the program should remain. A program being run inefficiently does not mean the program is useless; it means the logistics of the program should change.
Social Security is a government program that started during the Great Depression. The thought behind the program was to put money in the hands of elderly people so that they could participate in the economy. But because 60 year olds had never been investing in a retirement program before the 1930s, from its beginning Social Security meant younger workers paying for the elderly. This situation should have been gradually changed but is not and was never a deal breaker for Social Security.
And if it was a deal breaker?
Well, because more people are living longer the program is edging toward being “unfunded” – more money going out than coming in. The positive, particularly for fiscal conservatives, is that the government would no longer be operating at a deficit in this area. But the negative is that to abandon the program is to damn elderly people to poverty specifically because the current generation of 60 and 70 year olds have been depending on the program in their retirement. To abandon the program means that the elderly would no longer have the same buying power as they currently do. Furthermore that they would be more dependent on their children for financial assistance, thereby decreasing their children’s ability to buy goods and stimulate the economy.
An auxiliary problem would be that less money for the elderly in general means less money for healthcare more specifically. Ending Social Security would be worse from a public health standpoint than the fictional death panels that were abhorred as part of the Obama health plan.
So if the program should remain, then how should it be funded?
Nearly one-third of the federal government’s budget is dedicated to national defense. That is the problem. By decreasing the amount of money going to the military, which can be done by simply making that department more efficient, the government could begin funding Social Security without using as much of the current workforce’s money. This would allow current workers to fund their own retirement rather than paying into a system.
Social Security is a program that should remain. It just needs to be altered.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected]