Social Security, and its current "dire straits" has been in the news off and on for decades, and I hear the same challenges, pro and con repeatedly mentioned, so I'd like to add my opinion.
Let's look at the ever-popular and oldest fear (I've been hearing it since the 1970s) of fewer workers and more retirees. First, the math - take into consideration the thousands of employees who work for 10 years or more, only to die before receiving benefits; those moneys remain in the fund. Add in the tens of thousands who die within the first decade of receiving benefits; only a portion of those moneys are ever paid out to survivors, the rest remain in the fund. Mix in the government employees who have, since 1984, begun paying social security taxes and - something is fishy in the accounting department.
My understanding is Social Security is a tax mandated by the federal government to ensure that retirees have a dependable amount of money to help make retirement a bit more comfortable. Social Security was offered as an interest-bearing trust fund meant to be inviolable; it was to be used solely for the purpose of those workers who have paid into it; until the federal government apparently decreed that all federal taxes can be used for any federal program, including special interest projects.
What I don't understand is why so many Americans remain largely silent regarding appropriation of Social Security funds for uses other than retiree benefits, and have not shown greater outrage over the federal bail-out of manufacturing firms that should be allowed to succeed or fail as any other business; by handling its financial affairs appropriately.
Why won't the government take that same dollar amount and replace the funds that were, in my opinion, misappropriated from Social Security? It was government actions that helped to deplete the fund, why are they not accountable for repayment?
I, as all the Baby Boomers (since we seem to be held responsible for so much of the current financial fall-out) upheld our end of the social contract established by the federal government. We were held accountable (with no input as to when, or how much) for the Social Security amounts taken from our paychecks; an amount matched by our employers as mandated by the government.
The government-appointed bean-counters determine at what age, and how much, retirees are allowed to receive in an effort to ensure the payee dies before the funds run out, with no limit as to how often those levels are changed. When I was first employed my early retirement was 55, along the way it was raised to 62, and now there is talk of pushing early retirement to age 70 - that's early retirement!
I paid the full amount out of every paycheck I earned. I upheld my end of the contract. Do I feel entitled to Social Security payments? Damn right I do! Not the insurance, not the health care, just the retirement funds that I paid into, not because I chose to, because I was told I HAD to. I did it with the understanding that upon retirement those funds are there for my use, to make retirement a little easier, to avoid burdening an already over-taxed America. If I entered into a contract with any other entity, I would have access to legal recourse to ensure the other party complied as well. I see no difference here.
For those of you born in 2000 and on, if you sincerely believe that you can handle retirement funds privately, that no government intervention will be necessary during future financial "bumps", then by all means do so; phase out the taxes levied for Social Security, and find another safety net for the seniors who will need help in their later years.
But never forget, nor be afraid to stand up and yell when an organization - any organization - demands payment for a service and then fails to provide that service, or reimbursement of your hard-earned funds. I'm just sayin'.