How to save Social Security for the long term

To the editor:The June 15-26 issue contained a fine article about so-called Social Security (“Social Security: What is at stake” by David Certner, legislative policy director of AARP). Both my wife and I receive Social Security benefits and also are members of AARP and support their efforts to protect Social Security. All seniors can be grateful to AARP for the continuing efforts.While we must continue Social Security as it is and as AARP is attempting to improve it for the short and mid-term future, the way to “save” Social Security is to reform it completely for the long run.I am in no way suggesting Social Security be eliminated or reduced in the short run. I am, however, suggesting there is a much better way to provide retirement income to our seniors, one in which the politicians can’t get their irresponsible hands on our money.We need a plan where each individual wage earner has a personal account, and the taxes on his earnings, plus employer contributions, go directly, tax-free, into this account without passing through Washington’s filter. An income tax would be levied at retirement. There could be no withdrawals before retirement for any purpose. Death and disability would be handled by a separate program.By law there would be selected options as to where these funds could be invested. Savings accounts and certificates of deposit come to mind. By law, Wall Street and any kind of financial planner would be forbidden to be involved at all.Everyone would be covered, including those that are now exempt, which is a significant part of our society. If a person dies before using any or only a portion of his account the remaining money would go to the heirs, even if it is a charity or other option.Over time, the present system would transition to the new system, and each wage earner would finally possess and benefit from his own efforts. The savings would eventually be monumental – no more bureaucrats to support, no more office buildings, etc.An additional benefit would be that the money that each wage earner places in his retirement account would be available through the banks to the economy as they lend it out in the regular course of business. Also, the money would no longer be available to the politicians to spend on projects like the “bridge to nowhere.”Do I think the above would make it through Congress? Not on your life. There is just to much money in this slush fund for Congress to change the system truly and fully benefit the wage earners whose tax money makes it all possible. If anyone has any doubt, just look at the national debt — $16 trillion and counting.Donald BradleyRye

Categories: Cook on Concord, Opinion