Marc’s off the mark and owes seniors an apology
This letter is in response to Marc Carlisle’s Jan. 27 commentary about “greedy seniors” and the Social Security debate.It appears to me that Marc didn’t consider the impact of Father Time in his commentary on the lucrative three-to-one payback for seniors.Let’s take a look at his contentions from a couple of different angles and assume for the moment the government takes all the money I paid out of my paycheck for Social Security benefits and stores it in a giant pot with no interest income. I’m probably going to work for 40 years (age 25 to 65). Let’s keep it simple and assume that I’m putting $1 a year in the pot during the working years for a total of $40.Come retirement at 65 and the end of my average life expectancy at 78 , I’ve withdrawn $3 a year (my 3:1 ratio) from the pot for 13 years or a total of $39. Gee! What a surprise; I didn’t take out all of the money I put into Social Security.We haven’t even considered the money put into the pot by my employer. If we assume my employer matched my contributions as Marc suggests, I’d have an additional $40 to spend.Again, taking out $3 per year I could live to the ripe old age of 91 and still leave change in the pot.Let’s go one step further and assume that instead of putting the money in the pot, the government invested the $1 (from my paycheck only) that I put into my Social Security account annually at reasonable interest rates of 4 to 8 percent.If left alone for 40 years as probably envisioned, that $1 a year would be worth $95 to $259 at the respective interest rates. Since we’ve shown above that $80 will take me well beyond a reasonable life expectancy, I’ve left at least $15 to $179 (95-80 and 259-80) in the pot for those who can’t contribute for themselves because of handicap or disability problems.Notice that this doesn’t include any money from my employer.One other thing Marc seems to have overlooked is the impact of inflation on benefits. I graduated from college in 1965 and as a graduation present to myself, I borrowed enough money to buy a new shiny 1964 Buick LeSabre convertible off the showroom floor for an outlandish total of $2,400 (about 60 percent of my starting job salary).I filled it up with gas at 27 cents a gallon and set out to conquer the world. If I had equal buying power now with my Social Security dollars at Marc’s 3:1 benefit ratio, the LeSabre convertible would cost $7,200 and gas would be 81 cents a gallon.The long and the short of it is that Social Security benefits don’t cover my monthly living expenses much less provide extra money for me to fritter away or return to the pot.Anyone who is planning on Social Security alone to get them through their golden years better rethink their strategy while they’re young.I find it a little hard to believe that Marc’s contention of greedy seniors is justified. If the above fits the definition of greedy, then color me greedy.Further, it’s my opinion that Marc’s commentary is totally out of bounds and that he owes seniors an apology.
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