Social Security System Is Broken!

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 27, 2005

Mr. Black,
   I agree with most of your assault on the know-nothing culture of the Bush administration ["Page Two," Sept. 16]. But I was concerned to see the perpetuation of a myth about Social Security and the stock market. Social Security is no longer particularly liberal. First, it now benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. The oldest Americans (who receive benefits) are now the wealthiest; the youngest (who pay) are now the poorest. It is also a regressive tax, costing the poor a much greater percentage of income than the rich. Furthermore it is a tax on the next generation, which has no representation, will not be able to afford the cost, and will not receive full benefits themselves.
   Due to the graying of America, the number of Social Security beneficiaries is outpacing the number of contributing workers. This is causing the return on investment to fall. It will become negative if no reforms are made. Young people would be better off putting their money under the bed than putting it into Social Security! Stocks, bonds, CDs, even savings accounts are all becoming much better and safer investments than Social Security. I oppose Bush's private accounts plan, because it costs too much and ultimately does not give citizens control over their own assets. A much better approach is what they use in Australia – mandatory savings for retirement, based on a percentage of income. There, citizens keep their own retirement money and have a choice of investments. That way, the poor are not subsidizing the rich (as in Social Security) – they are investing themselves! A much better arrangement. By the way, Australia has no long-term pension-system debt problem! See the wonderfully nonpartisan book Running on Empty by Peter G. Peterson for a full account.
Will Cain
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