Economy & Budget

Social Security is stupid

Social Security is stupid

Yesterday was the birthday, so to speak, of Social Security. On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. That makes SS 78 years and one day too old, and quite ripe for a scathing criticism.

I remember when the concept of Social Security was first explained to me- a few years ago when I received my first paycheck. Basically, as I was made to understand it, the government takes a portion of my paycheck and holds onto it for me, like a savings account or a piggy bank, with the promise of giving it back to me later on, in the event I become disabled, unemployed, or, heaven forbid, old.

“But why can’t I be responsible for overseeing my own savings?” I asked as a naive, independent upstart, quite protective of my minimal wages.

And so I continue to ask. It doesn’t make any more sense to me now than it did when I was a teenager. What I also continue to ask is why are not more young people, like me, baffled, shocked, and enraged about this demeaning system?

SS is extremely complicated, not to mention rife with fraud. An article from Time magazine said that “Getting every dollar you are eligible to receive can be painfully complicated.” For something described so simply as “a program that uses public funds to provide a degree of economic security for the public,” it has been estimated that there are “over 100 million possible combinations in terms of precisely when to take benefits and make various adjustments.”

And contrary to its name, SS is anything but secure. Aren’t we tired of the system not working? Let’s get rid of it before it, too, is exhausted. (By The Social Security Board of Trustees’ latest projections, that will be by 2033.) Stossel agrees with me.

My very sage father (I clearly take after him) has always had an adage about cars: the more extraneous add-ons one has (fancy accessories such as, sigh, heated seats), the more that can go wrong with it. The same is true for government. And the simplest way to avoid problems is to do away with the root of the problem all together.

As for the older generation, you’ve already paid into Social Security, and you deserve to get back what hard-earned money you can. (maybe) To reform the program would add complication on top of complication, so I get it. But as for my generation, isn’t it time we said, “Thanks, but no thanks”? Why should we be forced to trust that a $16-trillion-in-debt-government which borrowed approximately $2.5 million every minute last year will be able to pay us back what it owes us 50 years down the road?

Happy belated birthday, Social Security. May you live to see no more.

Teresa Mull is the managing editor of Human Events. 

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