The federal Social Security program was the crowning intervention of the New Deal. It has always depended heavily on illusions. The first of these was that money paid in to Social Security was actually being sequestered someplace, subject to convenient materialization when contributors reached senior age. A second illusion was that the program was designed for those who would otherwise be in need. A third illusion was that money paid out would correspond in some way with money paid in, and that the age at which payments would be activated would coincide in some way with the age at which physical decrepitude set in.I'm on the far right on this one. This is one area where the government needs to pull out completely. We're all responsible adults. We all realize we're likely going to get old someday--too old to work. And we need to prepare ourselves accordingly. There will always be those who don't, but why should that be anybody else's problem? You worry about your retirement and I'll worry about mine. Don't come crying to me (or my government) when you can't support yourself and I won't come begging from you. Deal?
What happened, of course, is that Social Security became a general welfare program. Year after year, politicians proclaimed it untouchable. In fact it has been modified over a dozen times.
Obviously, we can't just end Social Security cold turkey--that just wouldn't be fair to all the people who have been rightfully counting on it up 'till now. However, there's every reason to raise the retirement age. People are living a lot longer than they used to--and as great as that may be for retirees, it's a huge drain on the government. In fact, there are some who believe the day is not far off when we will live to a thousand and beyond.
Clearly, that's going to throw a wrench into the whole idea of retirement. We're eventually going to need to phase out Social Security--I believe the time to start is now. People my age (28) have plenty of time to save for retirement--whenever that might be--without the governemt's help and should be encouraged (but not forced) to do so. As with just about everything, this is one thing we can do for ourselves far better than the government can do it for us.