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January 30, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

‘Tweak’ won’t fix Social Security

Another view?

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A letter by Janice Herr on Friday, Opponents mislabel Social Security," said Social Security needs only a little tweaking to be good for the next 75 years. Oh really, just “a little tweaking?”

First of all, you can’t say it’s taking in as much as it’s paying out. If that were true, why would it need tweaking at all?

The problem is that the Social Security taxes go into the general fund, and the government spends the money as fast as it gets it. Then, the feds replace what they borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund with IOUs. Can you see the problem here? Now we’re running trillion-dollar deficits every year, the national debt is over $16 trillion, and we are paying more than $433 billion each year just in interest on our national debt.

If the conservative Republicans can’t fix this mess, you won’t have to worry about our children and grandchildren getting benefits when they get to old age because we won’t have a country in which they can reach old age.

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  1. Yeah! The conservative Republican fix is to turn Social Security over to the Wall St. money managers, and make it vulnerable to gambling in the market.

    Then there wills be some winners and losers, depending on what cycle is present, and many other problems that bring about losers.

    Will they have enough to retire on when the time comes?

    Will all people be able to contribute what is needed for retirement?

    If not, they suffer on the front end and the back end.

    The Republican plan is NOT a safety net, which is what Social Security is supposed to be.

    If people want to invest in the stock market to build a retirement account of their own, that is just what they should do, and all should be encouraged to do so.

    Social Security is not a retirement program, it is a Safety Net for those who could not earn enough to have a solid retirement savings.

    The best thing for Social Security to last is for wages to increase, and end the 30+ years on no growth.

    Second, eliminate the income cap.

    Third, change the law and make it impossible for Congress to raid the funds.

    Fourth, add it to the deficit reduction plans to pay back the IOU's.

    However, DON'T privatize it, subjecting to speculation, market gambling, and the cut for the money managers.

    If it is privatized, is it mandatory? Will contributions and fees be deemed necessary to increase? What happens if people don't have the money to meet the new levels of contribution and fees at some point in the future?

    There are too many questions and too few answers. People are too willing to jump off the pier without knowing how to swim when listening to candidates.

  2. I see many typos and I apologize. I am past my bedtime and can't see straight. ;-)

  3. I second the letter writer's opinion. He is exactly right. The tweaking to social security, after 75 years of kidding ourselves, has to be done with some heavy earth moving equipment. It's the Republican party, under Romney-Ryan, not the democrats, who know it, said it, and will do get it. Obama didn't, wouldn't, couldn't. Choose your favorite word [s]. Doesn't change the facts and the truth.


  4. Well, let's begin with a few facts. If nothing is done, when the 2.7 Trillion Social Security Trust Fund is depleted, Social Security will be able to pay 78% of benefits from then current payroll tax collections. Hence, the "tweaking" required refers to the other 22%. If we tweak now, the tweak has 20+ years to take care of the 22% problem.

    But what will happen in 20+ years is not what is giving many people heartburn about Social Security.
    It's repaying the $2.7 Trillion that's been already borrowed from the Social Secutity Trust Fund over the next 20 Years.

    So when you hear people complaining about Social Security being "broke" or a "Ponzi Scheme", remember that is code for "We don't want to pay back the money".

  5. Smoke & mirrors. That's the Dumbocrat's plan to "fix" Medicare & Social Security. Keep putting fixes off until they are out of office and it becomes the next guy's problem. They're really good at that. When it comes to economics? Not so much! And, since so many of their fellow travelers are sheep, they get away with it. BTW, Osama Obama will not have to worry about Social Security & Medicare going broke. The slug will receive $191,000 a year for life as a pension for only being on the job (and ruining America in the process) for 4 years. The 191 G's does not include other perks the guy with the Cheshire Cat grin will receive. Free health insurance, free security from guys with guns (Osama Obama is opposed to the "little" folks having weapons to defend themselves from the criminal element Osama Obama champions) and who knows what else? So, Osama Obama will become one of the 1% the left reviles. How ironic.

  6. Enjoyed the letter, Mr. Alexander, but you are operating under a premise that the conservatives in the modern day Tea/Republican Party care about Social Security.

    They don't.

    For years and years and years and years, they act like they are concerned with Social Security, but that is only to curry votes.

    They aren't concerned.

    They want it privatized. Not in hopes that it will make it better, but only to provide extra money for their fat cat Wall Street types, in hopes campaign money trickles down their way. And if Wall Street gambles with it, and loses it? They could care less. Still a win for them.

    They say they want to strengthen Social Security by changing the age limit, by offering the younger generation a different type of Social Security. The only intention for this is to make Social Security whither on the vine and die off.

    And lastly, the most fanatical Tea Party types just want to outright kill it off. Let the disabled, the senior citizens and anyone else who receives Social Security to just survive by digging through dipsy dumpsters.

    In other words, THEY WANT IT DESTROYED.

    They aren't interested in tweaking it. If they were, that would have happened right now. After all these years, they haven't lifted a finger regarding Social Security matters.

    That is why it is VERY, VERY important that Tea/Republicans understand one thing: You touch Social Security in any way shape or form, and in a way that is outside the strictures of how Social Security is set up, and you do it to destroy will be held accountable to the American voters.

    Tea/Republicans need to understand that the American voters out here will destroy them so fast their heads will spin.

    At the voting booths, there will be blood. It's guaranteed there will be Tea/Republican politicians flung out of power all across this nation.

    So, be warned, Tea/Republicans. Keep your grubby mitts offa Social Security. Social Security is not a privilege that can be taken away. It is not a privilege, rather a right. It is an institution that is carved in stone. It cannot and will not be removed. No amount of rhetoric from the ultra-far-right is going to change the outlook. Like I say, Tea/Republicans, keep it up, guaranteed you will run off a cliff if you keep following this course of action, we'll destroy your entire political party you keep up the lame and transparent attacks on it. Our power is the vote. And we'll damn sure use it.

  7. Bypeacelily 4;03a.m.,

    Good post by you this early in the morning.The real culprits are the politicians who raided the social security trust fund and issued IOU's.

    That is the feal problem for the social security downfall (the raiding of it) and needs to be addressed. Social securiy can and will be fixed if we do what has been suggested by you and many other concerned citizens.I agree with most of what you suggest.Keep up with your honest and straight comments on what you think about our great country.

  8. Don't trust the Republicans with Social Security. It's a Democratic program that they wanted to get rid of from the moment it was created.

  9. Carmine, don't fall for it. We CAN fix SS / Medicare with several actions that include raising the payroll cap on employee contributions, inching up retirement age, limiting Medicare coverage to reasonable procedures--those with a real chance that the patient will recover consciousness. Enough of the millions spent on a patient to prolong vegetative existence. Don't fall for the line that nothing will fix it--to save the affluent income earners from paying the "insurance" contributions on all their earned income. This would also work towards a flatter tax rate--the wealthy pay more. Sure, it's not going to cover MedicAID--nothing will fix that short of eliminating the program. We will never run out of people who refuse to work so they and dependents get a free ride.

  10. "So when you hear people complaining about Social Security being "broke" or a "Ponzi Scheme", remember that is code for "We don't want to pay back the money"."

    As recently illustrated by RefNev, even Dr. Paul Krugman, a liberal keynesian economist, called social security a ponzi scheme. The guru of government regulated economies got it right this time although ee mostly gets it wrong. Thank goodness for Hayek, Friedman, Mises and Schumpeter.


  11. CarmineD

    You fell for a refNV "illustration"? Wanna see what Krugman really said and meant? Read the following quote.

    "But anyway, anyone who uses my statement as some kind of defense of Rick Perry and all that is playing word games. I explained what I meant in that Boston Review article, and it was nothing at all like the claims that Social Security is a fraud, is destined to collapse, and all that. Social Security is and always has been mainly a pay-as-you-go system, which is nothing at all like a classic Ponzi scheme."

  12. Hayek, Friedman, Mises, Schumpeter and rand are trickle down crack pots.

  13. If Romney, Heck and heller win, so does poverty!

  14. Great writing to all the Dem's here. The repugnant's have always wanted to dismantle SS since it's inception. Pices41 hit the nail directly on the head. The repugnant's just don't want to pay back what they raided.

  15. A couple of points. When people get into their 60s it's all about Social Security and Medicare. Most have very little else. Because of cost factors people under 35 are accumulating almost no wealth whatsoever. Young people are going to be completely reliant on programs like Social Security and Medicare.

    In terms of us not having a country anymore. Horse manure! Countries don't disappear because they owe some money. Read about the Latin American debt crisis, The Asian contagion, the Russian debt crisis. The Treaty of Versailles in in which Germany was supposed to pay for World War I until 1988. One way or another countries will dispose of the massive debt that is currently being accumulated to pay for aging populations around the world. When that happens the world will be a much stronger place financially.

    The United States has the ability to print money. As long as you keep the printing press is going Social Security checks will be deposited on the third Wednesday of every month.

  16. The Las Vegas casino industry is currently sitting on $46 billion in debt. Margins are thin. They have zero chance of paying back all that money. Does that mean all of the casinos are going to disappear? I doubt it. Debt bubbles come and go.

  17. the Social Security system is going to be replaced with a national pension system. Currently the average payout is about a grand a month. Families headed by someone over 70 are the poorest in the United States. Many seniors are near starvation. The young people of today are not going to work their entire lives to get the equivalent of $1000 a month when they retire. It's never going to happen.

  18. Zippy, every generation since the Depression has worked their entire lives to get less than $1K a month from SS. (It was the Depression that showed people that a small pension saved the masses from soup lines and starvation.) Listen to the affluent from another perspective for a moment: they seem to think the masses of poor are always going to be out there--there will always be poor--Biblical quote. So they think let them fight it out among themselves but leave us, and our money, out of it. Whatever SS, national pension, Medicare, Medicaid, TANF, any program they want to have is fine IF THEY PAY FOR IT THEMSELVES. The affluent don't need any program but they don't want to pay for every fool that chucks out six kids with no means of supporting them. Can't say I blame them. Confiscation of gains (ill gotten or otherwise) is not a desirable government program, in any form. Further, there are not enough rich people to pay for all the indigents we already have. And you want to IMPORT MORE???? Fine. Just leave the affluent alone and they will let you do whatever you want to. OK, Zippy, you can stop thinking from their perspective but you're not going to get the legislation UNLESS YOU CONSIDER THAT POINT OF VIEW.

  19. Rather than looking at Social Security as a Ponzi Scheme, why can't we see it as an investment in each other, no matter when it is that we collect it, if we need it, or who collects it?

    We are first human beings, and everything else is secondary.

    If we have any sense of compassion, any sense of community and caring for what befalls others, we should be seeking ways to help others in need of a safety net. Social Security is that safety net.

    401K's are retirement accounts. Think of ways to make those more accessible to individuals, employers participation or not, if we must have a Wall St. driven retirement system, rather than coming up with something more secure.

    The question is are we human beings of compassion, community, and caring?

    Or are we a bunch of bean counters, tallying the beans in all the piles, or ideologues that are detached from humanity, including our own?

    I want to see the solutions that take people's needs into consideration.

    At minimum, eliminate the cap, and if worse comes to worse begin means testing.

    We should also start trying to find a solution for growing wages in proportion to growth in profits. This keeps things in balance and workable. If we don't, say goodbye to the middle class, and hello to the increasing poor class who will not be able to afford to pay more taxes. A look at history tells us why that is so important.

  20. Kepi,
    Very good information on your up with fact check.

    A lot of Republican's who have govt. pensions are in full support of doing away with social security. We the tax payer's pay into social security all our working lives.The govt. employees have a built in pension it comes with the job.If the govt.tried to take away their govt. pension they would cry like we never heard crying before.

    You are 100% correct Gov.Romney will do away with social security as we know it,along with medicare.God help us if he is elected.

  21. ""But anyway, anyone who uses my statement as some kind of defense of Rick Perry and all that is playing word games. I explained what I meant in that Boston Review article, and it was nothing at all like the claims that Social Security is a fraud, is destined to collapse, and all that. Social Security is and always has been mainly a pay-as-you-go system, which is nothing at all like a classic Ponzi scheme."

    It's called walking it back. Post Klugman's original quote about Social Security and let readers decide what he really said and meant.


  22. "Hayek, Friedman, Mises, Schumpeter and rand are trickle down crack pots."

    Typically the reaction of those who don't read and comprehend their economic theories.


  23. Mea culpa: Should be Krugman.

  24. Bob 4:16. Difficult to impossible to collect repayment of benefits from those who don't produce, don't save, don't accumulate assets. State Welfare tried to file liens on people receiving endless TANF benefits but their attorneys got ahold of it. Something about filing a lien was a "collection activity" which violated their clients rights as indigents and/or bankrupts.

  25. Here is the link to the original Krugman post that compares SS to a Ponzi game:

    The relevant portion is paragraph five:

    "I like Freeman's idea of providing each individual with a trust fund when young rather than retirement benefits when old, but we had better realize that this is a significant change in the character of the social insurance system. Social Security is structured from the point of view of the recipients as if it were an ordinary retirement plan: what you get out depends on what you put in. So it does not look like a redistributionist scheme. In practice it has turned out to be strongly redistributionist, but only because of its Ponzi game aspect, in which each generation takes more out than it put in. Well, the Ponzi game will soon be over, thanks to changing demographics, so that the typical recipient henceforth will get only about as much as he or she put in (and today's young may well get less than they put in)." - Paul Krugman

  26. Thank you boftx for posting Krugman's original comments comparing Social Security to a ponzi scheme. Sure did take him a heck of a long time to walk it back. He must have taken a leave of his senses for a dozen years before it dawned on him.