I love reading letters to the editor from all over the country. A recent local letter was titled “Entitlements making America collapse.” The author said “entitlements is a dirty word,” and reported that 50 percent of Americans are receiving some form of entitlement. He was convinced these were all a bunch of deadbeats.
In 1950, 1 in 50 Americans received Social Security benefits. Today, that number is 1 in 6. I don’t think the letter writer realizes that the majority of that 50 percent are retired people on Social Security and Medicare. As I look at the current budget situation, its history and trajectory, I realize that poor people are not the ones dragging us down. It’s the old people.
Now, I’m not knocking old people. I’m well on my way to that status, and I guarantee you I’ll be waiting there for my checks when it’s my turn. After all, I’ve worked all these years and paid into the system. Don’t I deserve those benefits? Am I not ENTITLED to them?
The Supreme Court ruled that Social Security is not a benefit. It’s a tax, which means no matter how much I’ve paid in, I’m not guaranteed to receive any of the benefits. IF the money is available, IF the system is sustainable, IF there is the political will, I’ll receive some benefits.
The last time we made changes to the system was in 1983. At that time, the full retirement age was bumped up from 65 and gradually extended to 67. Also, increases in the tax were applied. The result is that I will not get as much out of the system as my parents, even though I have paid more into the system.
I suppose I should be mad. I suppose I should be writing a letter to the editor about those deadbeat old people sucking us all dry. Instead, I think I’ll write a letter to my congressmen asking for more long, past due changes to the system. And when it’s my turn, I’ll be happy to be part of that entitled 50 percent.
Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.newper.com.