Social Security should be abolished as it exists now. This is an odd statement to make for this side of the debate. Yet, while the system is severely broken right now, it is not the concept that is flawed, but rather the implementation.
Look back at the origin of Social Security, and you can easily see that the same concerns still exist today, and the need is more urgent. Companies are doing less to ensure the long term financial well being of their employees. Families are becoming looser knit and more and more people have insufficient safety nets to see them through the regular trials of life.
The problem with Social Security is that it extends well beyond those who would be otherwise destitute. I submit that a welfare program which will currently pay benefits to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates is a program which reaches much further than it should.
Social Security should just provide a small, predictable income for those people who do not have other resources to fall back on. There should be a means test that phases out who can receive Social Security benefits to ensure that the program is truly as small as possible. It should not benefit those who are well enough off to see to their own retirement without it, and it should not be sufficiently large an entitlement to penalize those who worked hard to save for a better retirement.
Setting the numerical limits is something that I am going to avoid in this article, as the limits are something that will need to vary over time anyways. Additionally, where to draw the line is a large enough debate on its own – and is one that will say much about how we view ourselves and our responsibility to the prior generations.
Ask yourself what Social Security should be for. When I do that, the same answer always comes up. Social Security should exist to provide the basics of life for those who have worked a full life to provide for themselves and their families, and yet still find themselves without enough resources to provide for their own basic well being and dignity in retirement.
Under this definition, although I am paying into Social Security, and expect to continue to pay into it, I should not anticipate receiving any benefits from the program. To be honest, I do not want to receive any benefits, since that would mean I will have done less for my family than I believe I can. Most people should find themselves in the same situation.
For various reasons, not everybody will be able to do that, which is why the program is very important to have. Yet, at the same time, is it not appropriate that those who can do better for themselves be expected to do better? For the majority of us that have the skills and health to work hard and be able to support ourselves during our working lives, should we not also expect to be able to plan enough to support ourselves during our post-working lives?
This does demand sacrifice and forethought on each of our parts. Yet, even the founding documents for our great nation recognize that life is not all fun and games, nor is it one that guarantees success. That is why we are guaranteed the right to the ‘pursuit of happiness’ and not guaranteed happiness. Yet, if our forefathers were able to look far enough ahead to give us a framework to live in that has produced the most prosperous country in history, can we not also draw upon our own intelligence and skills to plan for our individual futures?
Lets ensure that the least among us are taken care of, take care of ourselves and our families, while defending against taxing ourselves to take care of others who are very well equipped to care for themselves. Lets reform Social Security and make it the program it should be rather than fighting to get rid of it completely.