Social Security must be fixed.

Ailey O’Toole
   Staff Writer

During the 2016 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama made the following statement about social security:

“For everyone else, especially folks in their 40s and 50s, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher. Americans understand that at some point in their careers, in this new economy, they may have to retool and they may have to retrain. But they shouldn’t lose what they’ve already worked so hard to build in the process. That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever. We shouldn’t weaken them; we should strengthen them. And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That, by the way, is what the Affordable Care Act is all about.”

Now, some of you may be thinking “I don’t understand what social security really is,” considering it is not really taught in the public school system anymore.

Generally, the term social security describes a program that uses public funds to provide a degree of economic security for the public.

The U.S. established its social security program in 1935 to provide old age, disability, and survivors insurance, as well as supplemental security income, an income for elderly or disabled people.

In the U.S., this system primarily functions by having employers and employees pay payroll taxes. The money raised from these taxes primarily goes to providing benefits for those who have reached retirement age. In this way, today’s workers provide funds for today’s elderly population, and when today’s workers retire, the workers of a future generation will (theoretically) provide the funds.

Americans receive social security benefits based on the amount of taxes they paid into the system, which is based on their income. Social security does, however, pay more money to people earning lower incomes; they need the money more, and a dollar they pay in social security taxes provides them higher benefits than a dollar paid by someone with a large income.

In this way, the principle of social security provides for those in need.

I’m sure most of you know that the benefit of social security is highly debated.

While it sounds good on paper, it doesn’t necessarily work that well in reality. On the website “Voices of Reason,” Don Watkins writes, “In the end, no responsible individual benefits when the government has the power to seize as much of a person’s wealth as it deems in ‘the public interest’ and force him into collectivized welfare schemes…just on a financial level, a person may rationally value spending a certain portion of his income today regardless of how much that money might be worth decades in the future. For such a person, being forced to forego spending that money today represents a loss, irrespective of any future ‘return.’”

He also argues that social security causes less capital and less labor to be supplied to the economy – two things that fuel economic progress. Of course, this is only a portion of the argument; for instance, many people also feel that people who live in poverty are abusing the social security system.

So why would President Obama want to strengthen social security?

Before social security was signed into law, nearly half of senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, the elderly poverty rate is 10 percent. Although that is a dramatic improvement, many people believe that it is still high.

He is also in support of expanding social security because while that money is protected from being collected by creditors, it can be garnished by the federal government; this is occurring more and more often as student debt is mounting.

It cannot be denied that social security benefits many, and I agree with President Obama that expanding social security would only profit the citizens of this country.


Categories: Columns, Opinions, Uncategorized

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