Social Security for me but not for thee

In sixteen years, benefits paid out by the Social Security Administration will exceed generated surpluses. The options of the federal government at that time will be to reduce payments to the retired and/or disabled, increase payroll taxes on employers, employees or both, raise the cap on taxable wages, increase the age of retirement, or all or some of the above. According to The Kiplinger Letter Forecasts For Executives And Investors, if the federal government were to place social security on sound financial footing now, it would require a 22% payroll tax increase, a 17% reduction in benefits or a combination thereof. Waiting 16 years would require a 23% reduction in benefits, a 29% payroll tax increase, or a combination thereof.

In sixteen years, I may or may not be alive. That said, do not older Americans have a moral obligation to leave this country is as good a shape or better than the way we found it? Unless I missed it, I have not seen a tweet laying out a specific solution from our President. Neither am I aware of serious legislation having been sponsored by either Senator Hoeven, Senator Cramer or Congressman Armstrong, all of North Dakota.

From my observation, all three of these fellows are competent individuals who have to be aware of this pending, if not current, financial problem. I feel confident in saying that if the Trust Department at First Western Bank & Trust were operating in a similar manner as the Social Security Administration, their lawyers, insurers, and auditors would be warning Senator Hoeven his family’s institution of committing malpractice. Trust Departments and Banks have a fiduciary duty to their clients and depositors. Presidents, Senators, and Congressmen also have a fiduciary duty to their citizens. Public office holders can’t be sued for malpractice, however. It is safer to drop the ball in the public sector than in the private sector. Not being re-elected only places public office holders into their generous public pensions with no personal financial liability.

This is not a partisan issue. I am unaware of many heroes regarding this issue on either side of the aisle. If the younger generation remains silent and allows our leaders to remain asleep at the wheel, they are the ones who will pay the highest price. No one will ever accuse my generation of having been the greatest generation. This happened on our watch. Our leaders are committing financial malpractice. Allowing that to continue in a country with free elections is malpractice by the electorate. This is especially true of those who may still be alive in sixteen or more years. For my generation, allowing this to happen on our watch makes lip service about family values ring hollow.

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Jim Maxson

Mr. Maxson is a retired Minot attorney, former ND State Senator representing Minot's 3rd District from 1986-1994, and former ND Democratic National Committeeman from 2000-2008. He speaks two languages, English and Metaphor, and is cursed by a long memory.

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