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April 21, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Social Security isn’t a handout

Another view?

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I just wonder sometimes how the human mind works. I was furious at a letter writer who branded Social Security as a “handout from our federal government.” I and my employers paid into the system for some 55 years.

And, the “pittance” he mentions is merely a drop in the bucket to keep food on the table and pay bills for the elderly who worked hard to earn it as the cost of living continues to rise.

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Previous Discussion: 32 comments so far…

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  1. Social Security was supposed to be an insurance fund paying out to persons who paid in. It was called pay as you go. And perosns earned their benefits. No more. We are approaching the point, and soon, when the current input will pay ONLY the past earners. That's not pay as you go. It's morphed into nothing more than a "ponzi" scheme. The first-in and first out get theirs. The last in and last out will get nothing. You can argue the reasons for it. But it doesn't change the current facts and circumstances. The SS fund is in need of reform and quick like.

    CarmineD

  2. How does Social Security become a handout when $2.7 trillion more has been "handed in" than has been handed out?

  3. Carmine D....let me propose that if SS is a Ponzi scheme then all forms of retirement investment are the same. If I put x dollars in an annuity the company, based on actuarial tables, gives me fixed monthly payout. If I beat the actuarial table and live 20 years more the company uses ROI and other income to cover their "loss". They may have to raise rates, which is what SS needs to do....raise the taxed income limit to $500,000 or more and treat all income equally.

  4. When you borrow 2.7 trillion dollars from the social security trust fund and don't pay it back.How is it that we find other reasons to say that social security is in trouble.

    If we would just face up to the facts of who put the SS trust fund in the position it currently is in.Stop blaming the workers and their employers who faithfully put equal amounts of money into the fund for all of their working years.

    If our govt. took the same amount of money (2.7 trillion) out of the federal govt.workers pension plan and used it for other programs such as it did with SS trust fund. Would this also be called a ponzi scheme? Would we also be saying that the govt.workers are getting more out of it than they put in?

    It's time to face the real issue,of who did what and stop blaming the workers.It's also time to fix the SS trust fund and leave for it's intended use (retired workers).

  5. <<- The older than 60 age crowd have their retirements and SS benefits locked and loaded with many getting more benefits than they paid into the system. They want status quo>>

    Excuse me??? That "older than 60 age crowd" worked for more than 40 years and paid into the system all those years as did our employers. Of course, they want the status quo.

    The 40-50 year old crowd has also paid into the system. A 50 year old already has at least 25-30 years of working under their belt and why shouldn't they get what they have coming?

    The 20-30 year olds could care less. Their money goes to the newest electronic device technology; they would rather pay $300-400 for a new IPhone/Smart phone plus all the apps than save for their retirement.

  6. Pat Hayes et al:

    The difference is that retirement investments like annuities are optional and voluntary. Social Security is not.

    CarmineD

  7. "Would we also be saying that the govt.workers are getting more out of it than they put in?" @ Sam Pizzo

    As a Federal civilian government retiree, the answer to your question is IN MOST CASES, especially if survivor benefits is selected, a resounding and unequivocal "yes." But Sam, and it's a big one, as I posted to Pat Hayes and others, a government job is a choice I made, Social Security is not. It's mandated. That's the difference.

    CarmineD

  8. Thank you for explaining it, Jerry. We NEED to voice our concerns and positions over the din of those clamoring for more handouts. Someone else (Peter?) on a related thread suggested authorizing lower income earners to pay double. We could even do an optional SS "savings" so you could qualify for greater SS benefits if you say saved/purchased extra quarters of coverage or maybe purchased into a larger "income" calculation.

  9. Carmine,

    A government job is a choice I made, social security is not it's mandated.That's the difference.

    One is mandatory,SS contributions have to be put in by employee and employer alike,set aside for retirement. The other is a choice (Govt.job)worker's still have to contribute into this pension program for retirement.So why would it be O K to raid one and not the other?

  10. Sen. Orrin Hatch refers to the Bush/Cheney era as a time in which Republicans decided "it was standard practice not to pay for things." Just borrow the money from China. In just eight years, GOP policymakers not only eliminated the surplus -- the nation had been on track to eliminate the national debt altogether by 2010 -- but they'd also added $5 trillion to the debt in eight years. Their reckless tax loopholes and subsidies for their wealthy campaign donors still continue to to erode our economy. Now the USA has welfare for the wealthy (tax loopholes and subsidies). The RNC wants to talk about the "unprecedented fiscal recklessness of the Obama administration"? Seriously?

    Their goals is to get rid of Social Security by any means, even bankrupting the USA.
    David Axelrod refers to Bush/Cheney legacy as the unending debt. Maybe they will be happy when our streets and towns look similar to those of Banglasdesh.
    How come you do not hear of any effort to eliminate the abuse of these programs.The RNC goals are to use the debt they have racked up to destroy the safety nets that are in place to aid the poor and disabled. Social Security is not an entitlement, it is a benefit for the investment made during your working years, no matter how pitiful it is. The average income for a Social Security recipient is $1260.00 a month, try living on that.

  11. Social Security seems to be upsetting to some. Instead of passing on the debt to other generations, they're finding THEY actually might have to start paying back borrowed money to the Social Security Trust Fund.

  12. Social Security was never intended for what people are using it for. It's intention was to provide a little supplemental income for people that lived long lives. Increasing numbers of people are living to be 100.

    When Reagan, Kudlow and Arthur Laffer worked on baby boomer retirements baby boomers were supposed to have four legs in their retirement system. A defined-benefit pension, Medicare, Social Security and substantial savings. That's why things like IRAs and deferred comp programs were set up.

    Instead the entire defined-benefit pension system has collapsed. 125,000 plans under Ronald Reagan and 25,000 plans today. In addition the $500,000 plus in supplemental savings that baby boomers were supposed to have never materialized.

    As a result large numbers of retirees are using Social Security as their primary source of income and living much longer lives and were expected. It's a complete fiasco given that the average Social Security check is only about 1200 bucks a month.

    People are getting out of Social Security about what they paid in. On average people pay about $150,000 into Medicare and take $350,000 out. Its Medicare that's really causing the problem.

    We need a sound national pension system that will replace a substantial portion of a worker's income when they retire. The way the system works currently millions of seniors are living in utter poverty. In addition we need to dramatically reduce medical cost inflation or it will suck the country dry as people try to pay the $150 trillion in medical bills that are coming due over the next few decades.

  13. "So why would it be O K to raid one and not the other?" @ Sam Pizzo

    I never said it was okay, just the opposite. I think it is morally reprehensible for our government to make Social Security mandatory and then use it as a slush fund to pay off borrowing unrelated to it. If any other fund managers did this [used the monies set aside for a particular purpose for other unrelated expenses], they would likely be staring at jail time.

    CarmineD

  14. Zippy: you don't have the timing right--SS was enacted long BEFORE deferred comp.... SS was envisioned to provide subsistence / dignity for AGED Americans who had worked and contributed. Aged has changed but that doesn't mean people can work into their 70's.

    Even moderate or low-demanding physical stamina jobs are pretty near impossible after 40 or 50 years of say, standing, bending, lifting--even for Jack Lalane.

    EVERYTHING ECONOMIC is an issue of priorities. Would you rather adopt illegal anchor babies or provide a modest income for Americans who worked and worked? Would you rather provide endless benies for welfare moms and masses of kids with absent fathers or would you prefer to provide a "leg up" for displaced adults with an issue or two? Would you rather dump carte blanch on K-12 or provide options for retirements? Would you like to pay for ACA so illegals can get free ER care or would you pay for expulsion and deportation?

  15. What happened with the money that was paid in is completely irrelevant. The money comes from a printing press. As long as the government pays the benefits that were promised they are fulfilling their obligation to retirees. My wife gets her direct deposit on the third Wednesday of every month. So does every other Social Security recipient.

    Social Security should have been at least partially privatized from the get-go. It wasn't! The system will be revamped in the future to cover the young who are saving absolutely nothing. Current generations will get the Social Security benefits that they have been promised and future generations will get something demonstrably better.

  16. BRUIN: The "deficits don't matter" stance has imploded. We're at the end of the bell curve. Many things work (or do damage but don't completely obliterate) within a small range but after deficits absorb ALL the wiggle room in the economy and we keep putting more and more strains on government services when there is no more room to enhance revenues, things fall stagnate and then fall apart. Tax RATES should not have to increase--except that we keep adding and expanding programs. We expand benefits when times are "good" and never cut benefits when things are not good. The concepts may be to help those "in need" but when the vast majority are "in need" it just doesn't work out.

    INTEREST RATES must RISE. Let's pretend we have a functioning economy and see if we can restart parts of it. Don't have to go double digits but let's get 3-5% ROI for investors, savers, seniors, retirees, everybody. Let's return to capitalism where those who do (are productive) get some ROI. Those who don't can make do as they always have--bleeding us dry. Let's just take the government out of the process.

  17. When Social Security was enacted people were lucky to make it to 60. The Reagan administration realized the shortcomings. His administration helped put together various supplemental retirement programs that would allow people to have additional money other than the few hundred dollars a month that they were getting from Social Security in the early 1980s. I think my father retired around 1980 and got a mindbending $380 a month in Social Security benefits.

    Nearly all of the tax advantaged deferred retirement accounts were set up in the late 1970s and 1980s. The problem is that the financial markets have been loaded with cancer. Hybrid financial instruments and program trading have contributed to three huge financial catastrophes since Reagan was in office. These financial events have left many people with almost no post retirement savings.

  18. Ultra right wingers love to throw out as much jargon as they can about Social Security, hoping that it gets the masses fired up. And the jargon like "handouts" and "entitlements" and "makers and takers" and other crap talk like that has no basis in fact.

    However, since they like to do that. Here's a term for you. Institution. Social Security is a time honored institution that, all throughout the years, has proven to be very popular. An institution that is carved in stone. You can chip away at it all you want, try to weaken it, but it's not gonna work.

    Why is it not gonna work?

    Because we, the American voters out here, won't let it.

    Any politician, don't matter which side of the aisle, touches Social Security in any way that will degrade and/or destroy it, WE WILL PULVERIZE THEM TO DUST IN THE NEXT ELECTION.

    So long as politicians understand that they pursue that course of action, they need to understand that if they do anything to Social Security other than to make it better, it is the same as touching the third rail on an electrified train track.

    ZAPPPPPPP!

    Bet on it.

    If you don't believe me, go for it. Try to monkey with Social Security.

    Because I know I speak for a majority of American voters.

    You mess with it? Destruction. Period.

  19. Munch 7:57. True as far as that goes. What about those who won't work? They want the benefits. They want to receive SS or similar but they haven't paid in enough. So, various government services provide food/shelter/health care to those who refused to work. Perhaps we can't outlaw refusal to work but we DON'T HAVE TO give them everything they want. UNentitlements have to be cut. Perhaps a way to offer reasonable benefits for the LT unemployed as their UC runs dry. But after another year or two, we can't keep carrying everyone. After another year or two, if you've found no steady income, you HAVE TO divest yourself of the house, cars, standard of living. You have to deal with another way of life. DOWNSIZE sooner rather than later. My point: We can assist those facing changes rather than just dump money into welfare programs for the chronically "in need." (Exception for those disabled so severely they cannot.)

  20. I agree with you on this point. The feds zero interest rate policy is a complete fiasco and is murdering savers in this country. You have to go out five years on the yield curve to get a half percent on a CD. There are trillions of dollars invested in money markets and banks that are collecting dust.

    That being said Bernanke came out a couple months ago and said he wouldn't raise interest rates until unemployment was below 6.5%. That could take years. The policy is ridiculous.

  21. Zippy 10:13: I see your thinking evolves--that's a good thing. Any money you can't afford to lose should NOT be in the stock market--especially retirement nest eggs. So with ZERO interest rates, what are we to live on? The small defined pension OR SS doesn't always cover it. Some financial consultants say you need to retire to MORE income than when working--more time on your hands, more home projects need doing, more health needs. Perhaps, tis why many "retirees" "choose" to work part time, volunteer, find productive things to do.

  22. Colin: So how do you get the Politicos to deal with "discretionary" spending in the federal budget? Sequestration looks like it'll take care of some of the excess in "defense". And we need to add some funding for border security, tracking visas, tracking work permits, enforcing our laws. Maybe we could CUT the UNENFORCEMENT costs at the AG and the cost of suing the States for upholding State and individual rights.

  23. @Carmine....participation in private sector retirements is often not voluntary. Many companies require participation as a condition of employment, diverting a portion of your compensation into a plan. In some cases the company is the trustee of the plan and either places the assets in company stock or in a controlled trust. It can then liquidate those assets as it sees fit. Look no further than Hostess [Interstate Bakeries].....multiple buyouts and restructuring a la Bain Capital drained every last dime from the pension plan. Executives received multi-million bonuses and retention payments while bankrupting the company while workers got only the portion of their retirement through the Federal pension benefit corp.

    Social Security and Medicare are two Federal programs which ensure seniors a reasonably secure retirement. They need to be adequately funded and made universal to include all workers, public sector included.

  24. Ronald Reagan: "Social Security Has NOTHING to Do With the Deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on the employer and employee."

    "If you reduce the out flow of Social Security, that money does not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget..."

    -from a debate with Walter Mondale, in Louisville, Ky 1984.

    "Reagan is like Jesus for Republicans. They know what he said and they love him, but they don't believe what he says."

    Two enormous truths put together in one place.

    "The less money toward Social Security and Medicare, the more is available for wars", like Iraq.

    A third truth to go with the first two.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pik72TpDj...

  25. Let me see if I understand the Social Security problem and its cure.

    Problem: Congress has dipped into the SS trust fund, removing cash and leaving IOUs.

    Solution: The existence of those IOUs proves that SS contributes to our deficit. Pay off those IOUs by cutting spending on everything, including benefits, but don't immediately halt the raiding of SS cash reserves.

    Problem: Second- and third-hand stories tell of isolated instances of fraud in SS.

    Solution: Cut SS by a flat percentage and mandate that SS must make it up by eliminating fraud - whether or not its an actual problem. Whether or not it's a systematic problem that may not actually exist - as opposed to isolated instances.

    Problem: In the foreseeable (but not immediate) future SS will be unable to pay 100% of benefits as currently defined. Benefits hill HAVE to be reduced at that time!

    Solution: Cut benefits NOW!

    Problem: The retiree population is growing too fast and is living too long.

    Solution: Eliminate Medicare, so the elderly will die off faster. Eliminate Medicaid so the unfit will die off faster. Decide that anyone incapable of paying cash for medical care can't have any. Defund birth control options so the population can grow even FASTER.

    No. I was wrong. I DON'T understand. . .

  26. "@Carmine....participation in private sector retirements is often not voluntary. " @ Pat Hayes

    However, as a prospective employee, he/she has the option to accept or deny the job based on the mandatory requirement to participate in the company's retirement plan. Again, there is freedom of choice. Not so with social security.

    CarmineD

  27. Carmine,

    We agree on something!!!

  28. So we all know congress has drained the SS fund. Not a huge surprise. Anybody here that pays attention remembers 'Rubbergate'. You know? The scandal where the U.S. was blind-sided by a VERY irresponsible congress who bounced THOUSANDS of personal checks to the house bank, never honored them, and the house bank had to close. Congress fails, over and over, to stay within their own personal budget, so how can we expect them not to be tempted by a fund, paid into by hard working Americans, to get us by when we are too old to work? DO NOT blame our current POTUS. Take a good, hard look at our local electards who have been in office for 25+ years and have taken hundreds of millions of graft, bribes, and kickbacks, and STILL cannot balance their own checkbooks!

    WAKE UP PEOPLE. The only effective way to get these thieves out of office, and salvage the future of the working class (BTW, the FICA tax has gone up 33% this year) is to actively force them out. Yes, this includes Reid, Heller, and the rest of the 'Good old Boys' club that can't get a real job in the real world, and survive on the wages it pays to finance their high-end lifestyle.

    I suppose everybody in Clark County forgot about the Hot Mess Blonde Bombshell, who tried to run against Shelley Berkely in 2010, who owed the IRS over $80,000 in unpaid back taxes AND had a $47,500 lien on her home (which she allowed to go into foreclosure). Yupper, we have some REAL winners running for office these days who are about as morally and ethically sound as Boss Tweed when he ran his gang during the 19th Century.

    My advice? Get involved and quit wandering around sightless and deaf about what is really happening here in the U.S., I see the common citizen walking around out here in Nevada with earbuds on, mindlessly tesxting on their IPhones, or driving around, earbuds in not paying attention.

    Yeah, we are a nation of zombies and it is no longer a joke. PTF attention and maybe this country might survive.

  29. I.D. theft of SSN's used to qualify for SSI, SSDI, local welfare benefits, UC, tax refunds, TANF, CCDF, EBT Food Stamps..... All the feds do is a database cross check to be sure it's a real SSN, not that the claimant fits the birth date, race, gender....of the MIA who owns the SSN.

  30. "Carmine,

    We agree on something!!!"Sam Pizzo

    "Quite astounding and momentous Sam! :)" Freeman

    On the big issues, we usually do.

    CarmineD

  31. If we had a National ID, which included finger prints, or better yet, eye scanners, with readers in places of employment, banks, all government facilities & stations, and polling places, we could prevent more fraud.

    Social Security cards are not supposed to be used for identification, but it is all we have, other than another unsecure form, the driver's license.

    If we were serious about protections against fraud, we would fight to get more security in place.

  32. There seems to be something morally healthy in consciously acknowledging our willingness to support prior generations through Social Security.

    I did that for my parents, as most others. It is disheartening to read people's comments that appear to be limited to ME mentality, rather than WE. It leads to all kinds of malfunctioning, present and future.