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Businessweek Archives

Social Security Is Unfair To The Young

Readers Report


Bravo to Gary Becker for "How to secure Social Security's future" (Economic Viewpoint, July 12). As he correctly noted, the crux of the problem is how the world has changed since Roosevelt created the Ponzi scheme--I mean the Social Security program--back in 1935.

When Social Security was set up, there were 55 workers for every retiree, so taxes for the old-age program could be kept low. Today, the average American lives to 75, and the ratio of workers to retirees has dipped below 3 to 1. A recent forecast from the Social Security Administration noted that, in 2030, the ratio will dip below 2 to 1. In the future, either benefits will be paltry or taxes will be astronomical to support the baby boomers.

Ida Mae Fuller, the first Social Security beneficiary, got 900 times what she paid in. The average worker retiring today gets back all contributions in less than six years. Since I am still in my early thirties, however, I am currently projected to recover less than one-eighth of what I should get back based on my "contributions," plus a reasonable level of investment returns.

Who would support such inequity? Certainly not today's young. Although I am 100% behind Becker's move toward privatization, I am not optimistic about seeing any change soon. Regrettably, lobbying efforts by the American Association of Retired Persons will protect the generational wealth-transfer scheme until the government can no longer pay benefits.

Mark A. Grimmett

San Gabriel, Calif.

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