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Week of: April 29, 2001

Stop Pitting Elderly Against Young

by F.R. Duplantier

There's only one way to save Social Security, and that's assuming that it's worth saving.

It's funny how things work, isn't it? If a private company tried to operate a Ponzi scheme like Social Security, the chief corporate officers would all wind up in federal penitentiaries. If private citizens tried to corner the market on pension systems, they'd soon feel the wrath of the trustbusters in Washington. But, if the federal government sets up a fraudulent, monopolistic retirement program, everything's hunky-dory. Or is it? Whether we acknowledge it or not, Social Security is a confidence game. The politicians who established it were -- and the politicians who maintain it are -- scam artists. And we, the alleged beneficiaries, are all a bunch of first-class suckers.

As the 21st Century opens up before us, let's reclaim our God-given rights and responsibilities and bid an overdue farewell to government paternalism in all its forms. What better way to celebrate the dawn of a new millennium than by reasserting our status as free and self-reliant citizens? We're not lazy. We're not stupid. We don't need the federal government to tell us how long to work or how to finance our retirements. We can put the same money aside ourselves -- or more, or less -- and do far better than we ever will on Social Security. Or we can put nothing aside at all and keep working 'til the Lord calls us, or count on family to take us in. What business is it of the government's what we do?

George W. Bush has pledged to reform Social Security and we certainly hope he makes good on that promise. It would be nice, for a change, to have a President we can trust. But it would be even nicer to have a President who trusts us, who appreciates the independent nature of the American people and respects the constitutional limitations of our federal government. It would be nice to have a retirement system that works, too, but it would be even nicer to have one that's honest, one that doesn't rob the young to benefit the elderly. If George W. really is the uniter that he says he is, he'll reform or terminate every government program that pits one American against another.

Of course, there is one guaranteed way to save Social Security: increase the fertility rate to ensure a sufficient number of young people paying into the system to support the retirees. With six kids, my wife and I figure we're doing our part, and we've gotten used to the stares, the head shakes, and the clucks of disapproval from total strangers in the supermarkets and shopping malls. When clerks and fellow customers inquire, "Are they all yours?" we let loose with wry rejoinders like "No, we found three of them." When impertinent clods demand to know if we're "planning more," we stun them with the revelation that we didn't "plan" the ones we have. If they're rude enough to wonder if we're "finished yet," we appall them with an invitation to join our crusade to save Social Security.


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