I've written a lot of controversial articles over the past couple years. None, though, earned me as much grief as my recent assertion that we should raise the Social Security retirement age to 80.
I was ridiculed, cursed, called names, and roundly slammed by almost every email I received. Pretty much all of these emails were from people who are currently retired or almost there. Once I waded through all the vitriol, a main point started to emerge from the emails.
People, especially the elderly, are ticked off that the government raided Social Security to fund other government programs. I get that. But that money is gone. It's irretrievable. Now we have to decide what to do to fix the problem.
But get mad at the legislators and bureaucrats who stole your money. Don't get mad at me.
You may not think it's fair to make people work until they're 80. But is it fair to make younger people pay in to Social Security all of their lives, then not give them anything when Social Security crashes and burns?
Ideally, we would, over time, phase out Social Security entirely. But I just don't see that happening. If we don't trash the program, then we have to figure out a way to make it work. And one of the best ways to do that - maybe the only way to do that - is to raise the Social Security retirement age.
So maybe we don't raise the Social Security retirement age to 80. Maybe we just raise it to 75. Soon-to-be retirees would still be livid. Seventy, then? I don't think that would go over well either.
Someone once remarked that America's real motto is Ubi Est Mia - Latin for "Where is mine?" The response to yesterday's article has proved the validity of that remark beyond any shadow of a doubt in my mind.
Even conservative tea-partiers who don't mind protesting all sorts of government spending and debt, don't have a problem accepting money at 65 that is being taken from other people. They want their slice of the pie.
I understand the mentality. "I paid into Social Security, so I deserve my money back!" Yeah, actually, you do. But there is no money left. In a perfect world you would get everything you paid into Social Security back with interest. But there is no money left.
Something must be done to fix this screwed up program we call Social Security. Either we get rid of Social Security altogether, we privatize it, we cut the benefits being paid out, or we raise the retirement age to life expectancy. I'm a fan of phasing out the program completely. But since that doesn't look likely, I would also be fine with any of the other options.
I don't care whether you're old or young, liberal or conservative, rich or poor. We all need to own up to the fact that something must be done about Social Security.
The problem is, right now everyone's too busy trying to get as much possible for themselves they can't see reality.
If you don't want to get rid of Social Security, privatize it, cut benefits, or raise the retirement age, what do you think we should do? If we don't do anything, then the program will die on its own.
I don't want to hear about how the government stole our money. I want ideas. Assuming that doing away with the program entirely and creating the possibility of opting out are both taken off the table (because let's face it, in reality that's the case), what's your solution to the problem of Social Security?
Send your ideas (along with your age, so we can know where you're coming from) to email@example.com. I'll post the best ones next week.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)