A future need for Social Security reform was probably far from the mind of FDR when he signed legislation that would create what has become the Social Security Administration. At the time, the U.S. was still struggling to come out of The Great Depression, and nearly every sort of social safety net had collapsed, as people struggled to take care of themselves.
The idea that workers would pay into a trust fund administered by the Federal Government, and then draw back from that on retirement was appealing, and if the original idea had been left unmolested, there would be little need for real Social Security reform. Alas, because large sums of cash sitting around are tempting to thieves, Congressmen and other lower forms of criminal life, the idea of a self sustaining trust fund soon evaporated into a big pile of IOU’s signed by Congress, and payable by the sweat of future generations.
Meanwhile, life expectancy has greatly improved, and what was once considered retirement age can be rationally reconsidered. Rand Paul recently indicated he’d prefer to increase the retirement age on Social Security as one way of maintaining the system, as well as perform extensive overhauls of what is quite possibly an abused system of granting disability to applicants.
The original idea of Social Security has vanished into the wind thanks to abuse, changes to the system, and Congressional mishandling of funds entrusted to the Federal government by generations of hard working American men and women. With an increasing number of people retiring, Social Security has become a Ponzi Scheme, where retiring workers now draw money put in by people still working. The trust fund is gone, as is the money these retired workers paid into it.
Rand Paul’s ideas for Social Security reform may be unpopular to some, after all we’ve had around eighty years to get used to the idea of certain ages as retirement age, and bumping that up is sure to be unpopular for people approaching retirement. But Social Security cannot continue as it is now, and it must also adjust for changes in modern society, productivity and lifespan. As the concept of a guaranteed safety net funded by workers, Social Security is theoretically sound, but as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no good idea survives contact with government. Rand Paul is willing to make hard choices and discuss difficult ideas if it means doing right by America, and we should be willing to listen and discuss those ideas.
Written by Steve Coffman
(Photo courtesy of AFGE, Flickr CC BY 2.0)
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