Thursday, January 6, 2005

The Real Problem

The following is an essay formed completely of my opinion. No main stream media outlets were harmed in the forming of this opinion:

I know what the real problem with Social Security is. The problem is that the distribution of age in the US population is not even. We have more and more people reaching retirement age without an equal number of younger workers feeding the pool. This causes the benefits money to get thin, and possibly run out. Oh, and throw in on top of that the fact that the government has borrowed the money in the Social Security Trust Fund, so that the "security blanket" for the system is only there in name only. The government cannot actually pay that money back, as things stand now.

I also know how to solve this problem. No, really, I do. Raise taxes, and raise the retirement age. "But Tami," you cry, "We don't want to pay more taxes! We want a magic solution involving every citizen in the U.S. suddenly becoming a fiscal genius and managing to score big on the stock market! Or something similar as long as we don't have to make a sacrifice!"

Yes, I know that's what you want. I, too, would prefer to not have to tighten my belt at all. I'd like to be able to enjoy a nice sashimi dinner twice a week, and know that any old Xbox or PS2 game that strikes my fancy is mine for the purchasing. But the truth is that I have more than I actually need, as do many, many Americans. And I personally am working on a financial plan for my retirement that doesn't count on Social Security being there at all. But I'm fortunate, and I've had some good breaks, and I know that there are lots of people out there who don't have what I do. People existing at say, twice the poverty level - that's enough money that you don't get much help, but you sure as heck can't save a lot, either. People like that, who have worked hard all their lives will really be able to use the help that the government could give them after they retire.

I know that we spoiled Americans don't want to give up any of the money that we've worked hard for, not on a regular basis, but that's what will save this program. I didn't want to get my cavities filled, either, but I did it. I don't want to give up any more of the money that I earn, but I can, and I should. I'm not talking about communism here, just a little more altruism.

I suppose it all comes down to how much of a responsibility people feel for supporting others, just because they're there. Perhaps the people out there who haven't managed to arrange to have sufficient funds to support them in their retirement aren't my problem, after all. Or maybe people should stop thinking about the "Grasshopper and the Ant" and start thinking more along the lines of the "Humanitarian and the Prosperous Country".

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