HIGHTOWER: "Saving" Social Security

When it comes to all the scare-talk from Washington about the social security "crisis," remember the old line from "Dragnet": Just the facts, ma'am."The fact is, there is no crisis, but we'll all have a crisis if we let Newt Gingrich's Gang of "Reformers" get their hands on our retirement money.FACT #1: Social Security is a program that works. It exists as a compact between generations. The money I put into it now goes into the trust fund that pays today's retirees. Tomorrow, when I'm retired, the generation behind me will be paying into the fund to cover my benefits. Then, when that generation retires, the ones behind them will do their part . . . and so on.FACT #2: Since some generations of retirees are larger than others, the social-security tax has to be adjusted to keep the trust fund flush. This needs to be done today, but this is an adjustment, not a crisis, and it doesn't even require a big adjustment.FACT #3: The problem is not in the viability of the trust fund, but in the fact that congress keeps raiding it, using the surpluses we've amassed in that fund to finance everything from the Pentagon build-up to corporate welfare. We should not be trusting our trust fund to congress, but instead we should make it off-limits to anything but paying for retirements.FACT #4: The same fat-fingered lawmakers who have looted the fund, now want to use its depleted condition as an excuse to turn the whole system over to Wall Street, claiming the trust fund could earn more if it was invested in things like junk-bonds and foreign currencies. What they don't mention is that you'll be more likely to win in Las Vegas than on these Wall Street scams, and that the Wall-Street brokers would skim up to $40 Billion a year in fees off the top.Those who claim we must corporatize social security to "save" it . . . are thieves.Source:"The illusory crisis" In These Times: January 6, 1997.

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