Social Security Reform

Lots of folk are going to be talking about Social Security (SS) reform in earnest now since the President's State of the Union (SOTU) address last night. I might as well throw in my two cents on the matter.

I never expected the government to take care of me and mine. I never expected that Social Security would give me jack when I get older. No matter what is done with it I still won’t expect jack from SS. Many pundits have noted that the majority of younger workers don't expect to get anything from SS. I have yet to hear anything from anyone to convince me that it will be otherwise. All the opponents of the President's SS reform plan have offered us so far is the assertion that there will be something for us when we reach retirement age. And they know this how? In any case, it shouldn’t be the government’s job to take care of me when I get older. It’s my responsibility and that of my family.

The grand solution of personal accounts makes no sense to me. The government takes your money from you then gives some of it back to you so you can invest it in ways that they approve? Who's going to pay for the bureaucratic juggernaut that will be needed to manage this whole mess? You and me. If the government wants me to invest money for my retirement they should stop taking it from me to begin with. It's cheap and it's simple with zero opportunity for government waste.

But what about those people who wouldn't know how to invest for their retirement? Tough noogies! Those folk will just have to be responsible for what they do with their money. Playing nanny to people who don’t know how to handle their money shouldn’t be the government’s job. You are grown people, take a class at your local community college or BOCES on financial planning.

No matter what is done with SS it will still leave women out in the cold. Those of us who only work at raising our children aren’t going to be paying into the system. I'm not implying that the government needs to come up with some elaborate scheme to compensate women who stay out of the work force to raise their children. I am saying that the whole idea of SS shoots us in the foot when we get older. In a society were people change spouses like they change shoes women aren't likely to receive any of the money that their husbands put into the system either. That's part of the problem with government programs. They can't change to address individual needs. They just shove everybody into the same mold.

I shared a more bare bones version of my thoughts thus far in the comments section of La Shawn Barber's live commenting post on the SOTU. One commenter responded:
Sam - trust me, I’m sympathetic to your position. But at this point it’s unreasonable to propose something like that. This seems like a good starting point for weaning us off the gov’t teats…

People may be too used to the way things are to change them but I'm just saying. We need to start taking responsibility for ourselves and stop expecting the government to do it for us.


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