Market Overview

A Comfortable Retirement is a Thing of the Past

There was a time when people would work for the same company for their whole life, all the while paying into the social security program, then retire and think of nothing else but traveling in that RV that they saved for. Just ask your folks. If they were smart, they paid into their own private pension plan and, between that and their social security, they were set for a long, happy and stress-free retirement.

It would seem that those days are well and truly over. Kaput. Done.

News came through on Monday that the Social Security retirement program is on track to go bankrupt three years earlier than expected unless reforms are made. This news will surprise practically nobody. We have been hearing for a couple of years about how there is very little money in the fund.

There are those who won't care. Ask the average libertarian, and he or she will tell you that it is a needless government program aimed at aiding freeloaders. It is the government's way of sticking its big nose into our financial affairs, taking money from good, hard-working Americans and giving it to the leeches who want something for nothing. Right?

Wrong.

It is an unavoidable truth, especially in this economy, that there are many people who work hard every day, sometimes more than one job, and can still only just manage to pay the bills. Putting extra money aside for retirement is simply unrealistic. These are not freeloaders; they are the spine of the country.

Let's not forget too that social security is not the same as welfare. We pay into it every time money gets removed from our paycheck. To paraphrase Jon Stewart, stop paying for a war I don't want with my taxes, and I'll pay for my own retirement. Thanks.

People deserve the social security that we have been promised and yet the fund is currently expected to run dry in 2033. Last year, the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 started retiring. 10,000 people are expected to retire daily over the next 19 years.

"Never since the 1983 reforms have we come as close to the point of trust-fund depletion as we are right now," trustee Charles Blahous told reporters. "Our window for dealing with it without substantially disruptive consequences is closing very rapidly," he said.

As if that news isn't bad enough, the Medicare healthcare fund for the elderly is expected to run dry by 2024. So, for those of us looking to retire around 2040, we will likely have no social security and no healthcare. Better start playing that lottery.

Unless we all want to work for the entire length of our natural lives, reforms are going to be necessary. Whoever is the President in 2013, whether it be Obama or Romney, that person will need to grab this issue by the scruff of the neck and instill some sense of stability and comfort into the nation's workers.

After all, a restless, nervous workforce cannot be good for the nation's economy. That is what you call a vicious circle.

Follow me @BCallwood.

Posted-In: Social SecurityNews Politics Economics General

 

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