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Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)

As the scaremongering begins, this is your fight too!


Let me start out with full disclosure: I'm 69 and next April I will start collecting nearly $30.000 a year in Social Security benefits -- the amount I qualify for both on the basis of my highest 35 years of work history as an employed and later self-employed journalist, and because I've waited until I hit 70, the maximum age for starting to collect benefits, before starting to receive my checks.

So it particularly galls me to read news articles about that program (and Medicare) saying things like:

New warnings about cuts to Social Security and Medicare are a reson to worry

Social Security is Running Out and Nobody Will Like the Solution

and Ryan's Retirement Won't End the Social Security Debate

Such ill-informed and often deliberately scare-mongering pieces make my blood boil, particularly because I know they, and news reports like them, are targeted at younger people, where the goal is to make them believe that Social Security is not going to be there for them, and so they should stop supporting the whole program. Take, for example, the dire stories warning that the Social Security program this year has begun drawing funds from the Social Security Trust Fund. Actually, as I explain below, that was precisely why the Trust Fund was created! It was advanced funding for that predictable time when an increase in retirees meant that more funding would be needed.

For years, the defense against a concerted drive by the right to kill Social Security by privatizing it as George Bush tried and failed to do, or to whittle it away as Barack Obama tried and failed to do in pursuing a "Grant Bargain" of benefit cuts and tax increase, has been a solid lobby of the elderly retirees who know full well how important the program is. They for years made it a "Third Rail" that politicians challenged at their own risk. But now the strategy appears to be to say, "We won't take Social Security away from current retirees or people about to retire, but younger people will have to expect something less." The other tactic is to simply do nothing to fix the system, while the cost of doing so rises with each passing year of shameless inaction.

This article is addressed to those younger Americans -- from people just starting to work on up to those in their 40s and early '50s -- because it's really you who are being conned and who need to start fighting to keep what was created for all of us, young and old, some 83 years ago. You're also the ones who are starting out as adult workers without for the most part, or the benefit of a healthy, powerful trade union movement to keep pay and benefits high. You will have a much harder time, between greater college debt, higher costs-of-living, and lower net wages and job security, building up the kind of assets your parents and grandparents had.

story | by Dr. Radut