How to fix Social Security for the future

Res Stecker
Res Stecker

Alright, so no one really likes to pay taxes. I mean no one looks at their paycheck and thinks to themselves, “Yippee! I am so happy I paid 12 percent of my paycheck to the government!” But whether we all want to admit it or not, the taxes we pay are vital to the health and well-being of not only ourselves, but our nation.

Taxes fund everything from the construction of roads to the building of public schools, and when these establishments begin to fall into a sub par form, we all demand that someone do something about it. Sadly, and a bit unintelligibly, many people demand perfection from these public services without being willing to put up the necessary funds in order to create said perfection. Quite simply, most people are unwilling to put their money where their mouth is.

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The person who said, “The best things in life are free,” was, in my humble opinion, downright wrong. Nothing in this life worth having is free. That is to say, anything worth having is worth putting in the effort for.

Thus in a materialistic sense, paying taxes is a good way to make the collective community a better place. No average person could afford roads by themselves, but a community is able to pave tens of millions of roads; the point being that taxes are actually a good thing in proper moderation, and are indeed necessary for the establishment of a society.

Now, part of anyone’s paycheck in America is going to be “collected” by the government and stored into what is essentially a giant pool that everyone else pays into, which is continuously siphoned off to pay for the people no longer participating in the workforce. And great for them, they worked their entire life paying into Social Security, and now get to reap the benefits. However, our generation is getting the proverbial short end of the stick of this arrangement. In fact, we all may not be getting any part of the stick at all.

By now most people know that the Social Security system is not flawless. The main problem is that with the thousands of baby boomers retiring daily, they are going to be taking out more than the smaller generation (namely, us) will be putting in. Thus, the Social Security system itself estimates that if current procedures are not changed, there will be no Social Security benefits for anyone by the year 2036.

Does anyone see a problem with this? Our generation is paying for the old to retire, but could quite possibly not see any of the benefits from paying this tax. The problem lies in the fact that Social Security is set up like some sort of quasi Ponzi scheme, where the new pay off the investments made by the older people. This is great for the older people; in fact the first person to ever receive retirement benefits paid only $44 dollars into the system, while they eventually collected over $20,000 dollars. This example should show that the system is not sustainable, especially with a smaller generation than the one that come before it trying to sustain the latter.

The only reason that the scheme is able to continue on for so long, is that it’s nearly compulsory for every working American to pay into the system, thus keeping the benefits rolling up until 2036, when expenses will exceed new revenue for the Social Security system.

This is a huge problem, not only for the morality of paying for something that you will never use because it was mismanaged, but also because if anyone from our generation wants to retire before they die of old age, well they are pretty much S.O.L. How can someone be expected to work when they are 75? Especially work enough to earn a living wage. It’s simply not possible, and the system must be fixed.

Social Security tax is a regressive tax, and regressive taxes are something to be detested unless you are part of the one percent. Still, taxing the rich is not a viable solution; it’s simply a political rhetoric line. Instead, if anyone who is currently young and spry hopes to retire during their lifetime, we must all pay a little bit more.

Currently workers all across America pay 6.2 percent of their wages into the federally taxed system of social security, if this were to be raised to 7.6 percent, we could eliminate the revenue gap in 2036 all together.

And paying a little more now is better than being totally screwed later, and I think everyone would agree.

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Res Stecker is a senior international studies and history double major, and is happy to write witty whimsical words of wisdom for all. Questions and comments can be sent to letters@collegian.com.