Mary Pitt: The Social Security "Problem"
The Social Security "Problem"
by Mary Pitt
Trent Duffy, assistant to the President, and many others have been telling us that, under the ''privatized'' Social Security plan which this administration is attempting to foist off on us, our savings for retirement will then be OURS, and cannot be taken away by the government. Well, Mr. Duffy, in case you did not realize this, the money that has already been paid into the Social Security fund is OURS, too, but that didn't keep your boss from hijacking it and spending it on his ill-conceived War on Terror. If memory does not ill-serve me, there was something like 1.75 trillion dollars as a projected surplus for this program at the end of Bill Clinton's service. Information is not really clear, but we can only assume that OUR money has been absorbed into the national deficit and will be repaid "some day"as has all the money we have paid into Social Security for the last fifty years.
When this social program was passed, it was meant to be an involuntary insurance plan. As a matter of fact, the original given name was Old-Age and Survivors' Insurance. As with any other insurance, the plan was that each worker would pay his premiums and at death, disability, or retirement. the funds would be available to him or to his family to sustain them in their time of need. For over half a century American workers have been dutifully accepting the removal of a portion of their paychecks in the trust that their money was being safely held by their democratic government and would be available if needed.
But, like too many other trustees in various fields, our government has been "dipping into the till", using OUR money for various pet projects such as wars, foreign aid, or pure pork. Suddenly the President and the Congress realize that time is short and soon they will be called upon for an accounting. The "Baby Boomers" are going to want to retire! The "trustee" is going to have to come up with the bucks that they squandered over the course of many years! During the 2000 campaign, we heard a lot from both sides about the "Lock Box" which both candidates favored. The surplus that existed at that time was to be withheld from use and kept as a separate liability account in preparation for demand.
I doubt whether anybody has found a source fti discover the total amount of money that has been used from the funds paid in for Social Security over the years, but it is safe to assume that it is a sizeable percentage of the National Debt. As is the case with the other criminal absconders, the men and women who have approved this misuse of funds find that a way is needed to repay the funds or to wriggle out of a bad situation and the latter appears to be the easy way out for them. Ending the system beats all hollow any idea of budgeting to provide for repayment. It's as simple as killing your creditor just before your loan comes due!
The administration is stuck on the horns of this dilemma. As a matter of party policy, they are dedicated to terminating all the social programs that have been instituted since the days of Roosevelt and returning the nation to a system of haves and have-nots. Also they and their predecessors have dipped into the reserve fund so many times that it is impossible to continue with the current situation that requires payments to be made for current recipients must be paid by the deductions from the earned income of current workers. Simultaneously, they have written "finis" to the amounts that have been paid by current workers in the financing of the Iraq War. There is only one tenable position that they can take. They must end Social Security once and for all and "privatization" is the only way they can see to accomplish it.
The logical way to solve the problem, removing the cap on the income on which Social Security premiums is based, is simply not politically-tenable for Congress. Their very positions hinge, on a regular basis, upon the campaign contributions of the wealthy and they are afraid to increase that burden at their own peril. Those who earn over $89,500 per year become indignant at the suggestion that they should be paying more of the cost while getting no more benefits than the laborer, but the situation is one that has been approved since time began by all civilizations in the world.
In many churches, if you are a member, you are asked to tithe, to contribute to the charity by giving a percentage of your income. They do not limit this based on your wealth, but appreciate the "widow's mite" as well as the rich man's gold. Therefore, I would say, "If you believe in the freedoms which we enjoy; if you believe in the equaltity of man as outlined in our precious Constitution; if you feel that even your government is not allowed to steal your personal resources; then send a message to those in office and tell them to let Social Security alone and START USING THAT LOCK BOX!" The matter is simple and unequivocal. It WAS our money and they owe it. It is time they started planning for an honest way to pay it back!
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org .