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Hang on to Your Wallet! Don't Let Them Touch Social Security!

The administration and congress are pushing a huge scam, claiming Social Security is in trouble and needs to be destroyed in order to save it. Don't believe a word of it. After all, when's the last time you can remember a Republican doing anything nice for a poor person voluntarily?

There's an old saying: When a man in a fancy suit starts to tell you how he's got a great idea to help you make a lot of money, walk away, and hold on to your wallet.

Well, President George Bush, fresh from his tainted election win, and the gang in Congress where Republicans picked up seats in both houses, all of whom wear fancy suits, are coming at us now with a scheme they claim will help us "save" our Social Security benefits, and even make our pensions a whole lot bigger.

The scheme, however, is really a scam.

For some years now, with the help of some conservative Democrats (like the late and unmourned Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan) or the still semi-quick Sen. Joe Lieberman) who have been in on the con, they have been working to scare us into believing that Social Security is in trouble, and that it might not even be there for younger workers when they retire. They've also tried to tell us that it is making a pitiful rate of return on our "investment" and that we could do much better if we could take that money that the government has been pulling out of our paychecks each month, and invest it ourselves in the stock market (a claim that sounded better back in the '90s when the market doubled, but that doesn't resonate much these days).

Let's first look at the premise. Is Social Security really in trouble?

The answer is no. Assuming no changes were made, it's funded right now right clear through 2043, a distant year when kids not yet born will be watching their own kids going off to college!), and even after that, it will have huge assets that can be counted on to cover over 75 percent of the demand that will be placed on the system by retiring Baby Boomers (like myself).

Would there be a shortfall in the fund after 2043 if no steps were taken to bolster it? Sure. But then you have to ask, what would need to be done to fully cover that Baby Boom wave of retirees? The answer is, all you would have to do is lift the ceiling on income that is subject to Social Security taxation. Right now there's a ceiling of $83,000. Earn more than that, and there's no Social Security tax taken on the additional earnings. In other words, the rich don't have to pay as much, percentage-wise, into the fund as the rest of us. It's the opposite of a progressive tax. It's downright regressive. Now you might not want to pay 7.5 percent tax on that extra $17,000 you'd be making if you got a raise to $100,000 a year, but remember, your employer is also paying that extra money into your account, so you're really making money. What's the beef? (Of course, if you were making $100,000, you'd probably be a Republican, and probably wouldn't be reading this column anyhow.)

Besides, there are other ways to fix things up through tinkering. If the government just changed the formula, and had employers pay an extra 1 percent tax into employees' accounts, the problem would be solved too--and at no cost to us, just to corporate shareholders who'd be seeing smaller profits.

Now the Bush guys who are running the show these days in Washington don't like these ideas. They don't want to see businesses and the rich--the people Bush so tellingly called his "base" in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911"--getting socked with higher payroll taxes. In fact, what he and his gang of con artists want to do is use this fake scandal to get rid of Social Security taxes. How to do that? Just wreck Social Security, a program that has been protecting the nation's elderly and the disabled since the dawn of the New Deal in the 1930s and that has been on the GOP hitlist since it's inception.

To accomplish that, all they have to do is start getting people to opt out of the system. And that's what this Bush "reform" plan is all about. Divide and conquer. They're proposing that the younger workers--people under 50 who are still relatively far from retirement and who just see Social Security as a deduction from their paychecks--get an option to take some of that money and, instead of having it sent to the Social Security Administration for payment to current retirees (their parents actually), invest it themselves in something like the stock market.

That might sound attractive if haven't read the financial pages, or have only lived during a time when the stock market has risen, but have you noticed that lately the market has mostly just gone sideways? And sometimes it's even gone significantly south.

What they also neglect to mention is that if you invest that money, some broker is going to be collecting a hefty fee to do your buying and selling. The Social Security Administration doesn't do that.

They also don't mention to you that your benefits under Social Security aren't determined by how well the SSA invests your money--they are set by Congress based upon the amount you put in over your lifetime of work. That's a very solid "investment"--one that you don't have to worry about. And it's there for you even if you've just worked 10 years and then have a disabling injury or disease--something you can't say about a private investment fund.

If you really want to know why you should be suspicious about this "reform" that's being touted for our Social Security, ask yourself this: When is the last time that Republicans did something good for poor people on their own initiative, without being forced to?

And ask yourself this too: What other problem facing this nation over the course of its 228-year history was addressed by any government, Republican or Democrat, 38 years in advance?

If you answered "never" to the first question and "none" to the second, you should be highly suspicious about this new campaign to allegedly "save" Social Security on your behalf.

For the rest of this column, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .

homepage: homepage: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

This guy is right 30.Nov.2004 13:55

PHH

The public does not understand these things. If they did they would be outraged. Actually there is much more bad news.

Social Security 30.Nov.2004 18:05

Bill

Don't blame me, I voted for Kerry.

one other thing.. 30.Nov.2004 19:18

Rob

So, business goes sour, (as it does, and will) and what will out government do when you've got your invested SS money? Well, they'll (damn the free market) support business with general tax dollars to avoid problems, claiming that they're 'saving' us. It's throwing good money after bad, and puts so much money into the hands of investors, people who literally play games with the cash, that it will be the end of effective government by any people but the rich. This isn't even expediency (which seems to be the substitute for philosophy when it comes to business and politics; come to think about it, religion, too, lately) but a scam guaranteeing Ponzi his cash. And will business ever be responsible for it? Hell, no. Ask your broker sometime to pay you back for the bad advice he's given you. What a joke. The real problem, though, is that most people haven't the foggiest idea of what the stock market is, or does, how it's not connected to the real world (Greenspan, in Congress, told them that the market has predicted 5 of the last two recessions, or soemthing like that, if I remember correctly, while I watched some of those Congressmen literally sleeping)and how it relies upon bubbles to make money and that bubbles burst. It's a game, based on game theory. http://www.boston.com/globe/search/stories/nobel/1994/1994j.html This is all about transferring wealth into private hands (selected private hands) and many, because they understand none of it, will bite. Most don't understand business, how much debt is off the books so that their stock price looks good, how business is basically cash flow offsetting current debt (sounds to me like Social Security) while ignoring later debt in the equation.

When the time comes 30.Nov.2004 21:42

yip

When the time comes for "retirement" - that is if they don't keep raising the age that you can collect SS in which case it might be never - and you find that the money in your so-called SS account is not only heavily taxed but isn't worth enough in real buying power to keep you in toilet paper because the "private investment accounts" are rigged just like everything else, and in the meantime they've devalued the hell out of the dollar so they can use cheap money to pay the maintenance on a quadrillion dollars in debt obligations and a loaf of bread costs $39.95, and everything you've worked for your whole life is liquidated just to continue to pay the rent on the miserable dump you had to move to when things went bad, and (if you're lucky) you have to choose between eating and being treated for the cancer that your workplace environment caused because you haven't been able to afford health insurance in twenty years and what passes for Medicaid has been so strictly rationed that you'd be dead waiting, when your back is really to the wall and things can't get worse and nobody gives a damn anyway --- EAT THE PIGS! Slaughter them and eat them! After all, that's what pigs are for, isn't it? Sell everything if you have to, but not your gun.

it doesn't have to be so 01.Dec.2004 13:49

greg snyder

It find it upsetting when people say things like,

"Oh, social security won't be there in the future. It's going bankrupt."
or,
"Maybe investing in the stock market will infuse large amounts of money into social security."

In making statments like these, people seem to accept the dissolution of social security as something inevitable, that it's a done deal. And, they have been persuaded to believe that converting social security into a gamble by investing in the stock market, mutual funds, or high risk stocks, whatever the fund managers determine to do, that it will, in the long run yield good results. Well, gambling is gambling. And, we have seen that the stock market has been very unkind to a lot of people recently, with many loosing huge fortunes and many others simply loosing most of, if not all of the earnings they ever made in playing the stock market. If people believe that social security will likely benefit from infusions of money by playing the market, maybe they should consider a few other factors. Maybe one should consider the general state of the economy. We now have a huge national debt and it's getting larger by the day. The economy absolutely depends on borrowing vast sums of money and incurring an ever-growing debt to nations like China. Without those countries' infusions of cash, this country would very quickly be in very serious economic trouble. With these changes in our debt profile, we are experiencing increases in the interest rates and taxes will likely have to be increased to generate needed revenues. We have a huge trade deficit that doesn't look like it's going to improve anytime soon, and certainly not with the policies that are being implemented by the Bush administration.

So, do you really think that gambling with Social Security, which has been doing just fine and which, at the end of the Clinton administration was pretty much guaranteed to be solvent for the next 75 years or more, do you really think that gambling with high risk money markets, stocks, etc. is a prudent financial policy?

I don't.

I think it's a hideously stupid thing to do. And that by doing just that, the prophecy that social security won't be there when we need it is virtually guaranteed to become true.

I have a question for the economists of the world. And, that is, when people loose money on the stock market, where does that money go? Into whose pockets does it go? When the high tech stock market bubble burst a few years ago and many many people lost large amounts of money because they had to sell their stocks low or because they simply didn't do anything with their stocks until the stocks became worthless, where did all that money go? Not everyone, however, lost money. Some people had to have made money, lots of it, because the money that was lost had to have gone somewhere, hadn't it? I don't think it just disappeared. Who were those people who posted big gains when others lost everything? I don't understand how, but I feel that the stock market is highly manipulated and that concentration of wealth is probably fairly easily engineered by those who run the economy. Therefore, maybe I'm a fool, but I don't think it is a very safe thing to invest in the stock market. It's a gamble. If, as W/ wants, the social security fund is put on the market, it will be lost, we will not be able to count on that meager piece of security in the future. If our legislators permit it to happen, I think it's pretty much guaranteed that it will all be lost. And, in the long run, if it does happen, I am sure that there will be those who profit from the loss of this gigantic, community-acquired-over-decades-by-the-hard-work-of-millions-and-millions of American laborers laboring loss. And, my guess is, the individuals who will gain from this loss probably don't really need the additional funds as it is. It will just be more icing on their cake.

It's my contention that the loss of Social Security doesn't have to occur. Social Security can be kept intact and even fortified with the correct management. But that will depend on the American public telling their legislators that they don't want to see Social Security gambled away. And, W/ should not get his way with the rape and pillage of something that was intended to benefit the average working American. Those are the people, after all, who have been investing in it for over 50 years.