Doing nothing can be doing something bad

Every day the collapse of Social Security and Medicare gets closer, and the only people who can do anything do nothing.

With 14.4 percent of the residents of Jacksonville over 65 and thousands more nearing that number, it is of interest to the area.

Eye on Jacksonville asked U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean why Congress continues to sit on its hands.

Bean agreed something needs to be done but said he does not know why the lack of action persists.

“There is talk of having blue ribbon panel but nothing was done,” he said

Bean, a Republican, said, “Both parties have to accept responsibility.

“If we don’t fix it in coming years and make changes, then changes will be coming to us.”

Trustees of the Social Security fund say if nothing is done, retired people’s benefits will be cut substantially when the money falls short, currently estimated to be 2035.

At the end of last year, the program was making benefit payments to about 67 million people: 53 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 9 million disabled workers and dependents of disabled workers. Last year, an estimated 183 million paid payroll taxes.

Social Security began in the late 1930s and works like this. Every worker pays a payroll tax, matched by his employer. That money is used to pay people who have retired. If the payroll tax is not enough, money is “borrowed” from another government pocket. If there is too much, the surplus toes into the government pocket.

Roosevelt tried to fool people by declaring it to be “insurance” and many uneducated people believed their payroll tax was invested and kept in a fund for their retirement.

For years, the payroll tax has not been enough to pay retirees and the government is repaying the borrowed funds, with interest, which is keeping the fund going. When the surplus is repaid, the fund will be short.

Republicans have tried to fix the problems several times. Ronald Reagan established a commission that recommended changes, and those changes passed with bipartisan support. They including raising the retirement age, and taxing benefits.

George Bush tried in his first term and his second term to allow workers to put a portion of their ss tax into personal accounts that experts said would earn more money but failed.

“Younger workers should have the opportunity to build a nest egg by saving part of their Social Security taxes in a personal retirement account. We should make the Social Security system a source of ownership for the American people.” 

But Democrats trashed the plan and it failed.

Barack Obama made the problem worse, by cutting the payroll tax for two years.

So frequently there are stories such as this, purporting to show the plight of retirees.

As the story says, four out of five Americans are worried about Social Security imploding, according to the Gallup Poll.

This story, however, misses the mark because Social Security never was intended to be the sole source of income for retirees, as it implies.

Democrats want people to be dependent upon an all-powerful government, so they fight any effort to encourage private sector investment and they make no effort to fix the looming problem because they hope to use massive tax increases to “fix” it when the system is near collapse.

The Medicare financing problem is as bad or worse.

One quick and easy fix for Social Security is to raise the age of retirement again. People are living longer and can work longer than before. Increasing the payroll tax also may be in the offing.

But the real lesson is this: Workers have to look out for themselves, not rely on the government. They should have a retirement plan with their employer and also save their own money for retirement.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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