Thursday, February 03, 2005

State of Social Security

Could someone give me a GOOD explanation for why personal accounts are a bad idea? Several years ago, when I graduated from school and starting working full-time, my grandmother said to me, "You need to start saving money, because Social Security won't be enough for your retirement." And I laughed out loud. I told her, "Grandma, I don't plan on ever getting any money from Social Security."

I would like to point out that I don't know anyone from my age group (aka Generation X) who seriously thinks that we'll get back the money that they take out of our paychecks every month for Social Security. My husband and I just consider it a type of income tax, not a part of our plans for retirement.

So if Bush wants to put a PORTION of the money that I'm paying and put it into an account in my name, I can't see why I'm supposed to be upset by that. As it is now, ALL of the money that I'm paying will go to other people. (Does anyone seriously want to claim that's not true?) I know that Bush's plans for renovating Social Security go beyond just the personal accounts, but it's the idea of privatization that seems to be drawing the greatest fire, and I haven't heard any rational arguments for why it's a such bad idea. (And no, claiming that it's a bad idea just because Bush is the one pushing for it is NOT a rational argument.)

For people my age, I think it would be great to get SOME sort of guaranteed return. Younger people should see even more of an advantage to this, since they will benefit more (through the magic of compound interest) from starting even earlier. (And how many other opportunities do people under the age of 25 have to start saving for retirement? Most people that age don't have 401k or IRA accounts.) I'm not sure why the AARP is so upset by the idea, since Bush has already stated, on several occasions, that people who are already at retirement age would continue to receive the benefits that they have been promised.

So is it the people in the 40-50 age bracket that feel threatened by this proposed change? Obviously, they'll still be able to draw out of the existing pool, plus they'll have access to some of the money that the government will be collecting from my age group and the people younger than us. (And I'm OK with that. Since I've essentially already written off the entire Social Security system, I'd be pretty silly to argue about what happens to the remainder of the money that doesn't go into my personal account now.) If they believe that the pool isn't enough for them, isn't that just a stronger argument that it certainly won't be enough for people coming along later?

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