Why not lower the retirement age instead of raising it? And if there is a problem with Social Security, so fix it already…

With so many people out of work, what is the sense of raising the retirement age? Wouldn’t it make more sense to encourage people to retire, even retire early, to make more jobs available for younger people?

And really what is all this bologna about the insolvency of Social Security? If there is a problem with the program, fix it and be done with it (of course when politicians spend more time trying to get re-elected than dealing with the problems of government, that is a problem). And the Social Security trust fund should not be used as a piggy bank for other endeavors.

And I think it probably was a wise idea to make all people (well almost all) contribute to Social Security and as part of the bargain make it available to everyone, regardless of personal assets. You have to pay for it, but you cannot be denied it when you retire.

But instead of steadily raising the retirement age from 65 to 66 or 67 or higher, it seems to me it ought to be lowered if anything. Life is too short to have to labor the whole time. And it seems the trend is for there to be fewer and fewer jobs as technology steadily advances.

There is always the argument that people should be allowed to keep more of their own money, not pay it out in Social Security tax withholding, and make their own decisions on how to invest for their retirement. Certainly for those with the means, wise investing is the answer. But so many people have neither the means nor the savvy and we saw what happened to all those 401K accounts. Do you really want to put your retirement on the gaming tables, the stock market? Let me clue you in: the game is rigged.

I tried to read up on how exactly the Social Security program works and is funded but it made my eyes buggy. Like so many things it seems far more complicated than it needs to be.

(Well, actually in concept, I guess, the way it works is relatively simple and I address that further down, but it still makes my eyes hurt.)

And its critics are right on one thing. People should not depend totally on Social Security for their retirement. And I think the program should remain modest so that people do not get complacent and fail to use sound financial practices in their own life.

But you know?  It‘s nice to have something there in case everything else does not turn out the way you planned it. And more importantly it adds stability to the economy that would just not be there without it. It also adds stability to the social structure.

What with the economic turmoil the nation and world has been going through, we here in the U.S. could easily wind up like Egypt, except maybe it would be a bunch of oldsters in the streets.

P.s.

I plead to being fairly ignorant as to exactly how the Social Security system works. I mean I know that basically current workers pay out the benefits for retirees with their Social Security payroll tax withholdings, and I know that reportedly the system for the first time ever is now paying out more than it takes in. I also know it has a trust fund to feed from (and from what I read it is nowhere near going broke). It starts getting murky when I read that when the government takes in more money that it will pay out for Social Security (which apparently is not the case this year) it takes that excess money and invests it in government securities. But those securities will eventually have to be paid back with interest by the government. So the government is lending money to itself and then eventually paying itself back — now that’s a neat trick if you can do it.

It does seem a bit of a hocus pocus or legerdemain to me.

Maybe there should be some kind of privatization of Social Security, using sound business practices (something that has apparently been lacking in much of the business community), but there would have to be safeguards, it could not be straight up capitalism where you win some and lose some — we’re talking Social SECURITY here, not the lottery.

I think social programs such as Social Security have a place in the free enterprise system as long as they are not expanded to the extent that people become complacent and simply look for big brother government to take care of them.

I have seen no evidence that pure cradle-to-grave socialism works well over the long haul or is more desirable than free enterprise and capitalism. The Scandinavian countries have come closest to it, but they have had their own problems now. Nations such as China and Vietnam and Cuba are mixing their communism with capitalism.

And the United States cannot and should not simply try to be like everyone else anyway. We are unique and proud of it and people all over the world still want to come here — go figure.

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