Young people will wake up to intergenerational theft… eventually.
(Page 2 of 3)
Admittedly, economists are more likely to know the finer details of Social Security funding than barely employed Millennials. But we actually do have an understanding of how it will fit into our future plans: It won’t.
“I’m at the point in my life where I have a plan to be able to live without it, should that become the case,” Monica said. “It’s kind of like, hoping for the best, planning for the worst.”
Monica is part of a minority in that she’s even contemplating retirement at all. According to a Scottrade survey from last year, 55 percent of people ages 19 to 27 haven’t started saving for retirement, and 64 percent say they don’t think about retiring at all.
Typical is Allison, 27. She has a limited 401(k) plan through her job, and the money automatically filters in. But that’s the extent of her planning for post-65 life.
“I’m doing a little better now, but for so long, it was just like, you’d break even, you know? Your paychecks would come in and then disappear for rent, groceries, student loans, everything else. You can’t save for anything when you’re breaking even to pay the bills in front of you.”
EARLIER THIS YEAR, the annual Social Security trustees’ report came out with more evidence that the program is crumbling. Initially expected to exhaust in 2036, the program’s trust fund is now expected to run dry in 2033. The Boomers began retiring in 2011, and the program was already strained. One million more people collected benefits in 2011 than in 2010.
Joe Weisenthal, a writer for Business Insider, swooped in to disarm the alarm, declaring cynical Millennials to be wrong: “If the ‘fund’ goes bankrupt in 2035 or whenever, then your Social Security check will just come out of general revenue/expenditures. No big deal. Nothing changes.”
In other words, if Social Security runs out of money, we just won’t have it be Social Security anymore. That’s not meant to sound flippant; it actually hints at an attitude that’s been held by Millennials for a long time.
Social Security was initially sold as a property right. “Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you….The checks will come to you as a right,” declared a 1936 government pamphlet. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said the fundamental terms of the program were that contributors had a “legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions.”
In other words, you contributed your money that was kept in an account for you and then returned to you when you reached retirement. None of that messy collectivism here! Social Security was established as individual retirement savings accounts, not a from-each-according-to-his-means glob of a welfare program.
And that’s the difference today. Young people don’t think of Social Security qua Social Security anymore. The definition has changed. Every Millennial I interviewed told me they didn’t see FICA as an investment, returned to them as theirs when they retired.
“I think of FICA as another tax that comes out of my paycheck,” John said. “I don’t really see it as mine.”
Steve, 25, expounded further. “It’s a tax because I’m not likely getting it back. It’s like a welfare transfer. Of course you want to honor the obligations of people who have paid into the system for that many years. But at the same time, it’s like, what the heck? This is not fair. And literally, if it’s a direct wealth transfer, what is this?”
Part of such feelings might be attributable to the way FICA taxes, which fund Social Security, are collected. Most employers pay half of each worker’s FICA. The half paid by the worker is extracted automatically and listed alongside more orthodox taxes like the income tax.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online