So I couldn’t get to a brand new post tonight, so it’s time once again to reach back into the archives and pull forward a post from months ago that most people haven’t seen yet.
This one is particularly relevant right now because our government is in danger of reaching our debt limit and defaulting on our loans. We need a long term, sustainable solution to solving our debt problem, and I have one idea right here. Enjoy, and I’ll be back with my Race to $1 Million update tomorrow.
Yesterday the Federal Deficit Commission released their preliminary report on how they propose to tackle our outrageous federal deficit and debt. You can read all of their suggestions here, but the one I want to focus on is how they intend to save money on Social Security. For those that don’t know, Social Security is a federal program that pays people a monthly stipend once they reach a retirement age, depending on how much they paid in FICA taxes while they were working.
The retirement age is already increasing from 65 to 67. It will increase gradually until everyone born in 1960 or later gets full Social Security benefits at age 67, or in 2027.
The plan proposed by the Deficit Commission is to increase the retirement age from 67 to 68 by 2050, and to 69 by 2075.
Call me crazy, but I think we can give them even better.
Make it 70 by 2050!
I know what you’re thinking; “Why the heck would you want to raise the age even higher? Don’t you want to retire as soon as possible?” Great questions.
“Why do you want to raise your own retirement age?”
I have two simple answers to this question.
1. I love my country and want to do my part to help fix the deficit.
2. I believe it is the right thing to do.
The first reason is simple; I want to do what is best for America because I want my country to prosper. Obviously delaying the payment of benefits will help fix the deficit, so if it makes sense then I want to do it.
To understand why I believe it is the right thing to do, we need a little history lesson. Social Security was established in 1935 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt with a full retirement age of 65. According to government information, about 53.9% (male) or 60.6% (female) of the adult population in the 1940’s would live to 65 years old, and those people were living an average of 12.7 (male) or 14.7 (female) years past 65 years old.
Now let’s fast forward 50 years. In 1990, the percentage of the adult population living to age 65 increased to 72.3% (male) or 83.6% (female) and those people were living an average of 15.3 (male) or 19.6 (female) years past 65. That means as of 1990 we had millions more people on Social Security than in 1940 and they were living (and receiving benefits) three to five years longer.
You can’t add millions more people to Social Security and have them receive benefits longer without putting a huge strain on the system. To make matters worse for Social Security (but better for human beings), this study shows that people are not only living longer, but are also remaining in good health until a more advanced age.
If we are expecting to live a decade longer than our parents or grandparents in good health, then why should we expect to retire at the same age?
Social Security was designed to provide income to Americans who became too old and, in many cases, physically incapable of handling the demands of a job in the 1940s; a time when most jobs were much more labor intensive than they are today. If we were to alter Social Security today to accomplish the same goal it set out to accomplish in the 1940’s, I truly believe the retirement age would be 70 or higher based on today’s life expectancy and medical advances.
Maybe you still aren’t convinced. Maybe to you, 70 sounds like an old guy in a wheelchair pissing in a diaper and talking about the weather on his front porch. If that’s how you feel, let me introduce you to some 70 year olds (with pictures as recent as I could find):
I give you Ann Margaret, Al Pacino, Chuck Norris, and James Caan. All 70 years old in 2010. Do they look OLD to you?
If these guys are looking this good at 70 in 2010, I can’t even imagine how young I’ll look and feel after 40 more years of medical advancements. I don’t believe anyone in good conscience could suggest that, in 2050, 70 will be too old to work. If you take care of yourself and your body, you will be healthy and active well past 70 years old.
“Don’t you want to retire as soon as possible?”
I find my work quite fulfilling today, but I’m sure I’ll look forward to retiring at the end of my career. I’m almost certain I will want to retire before I’m 70 years old; I just don’t believe it is the government’s responsibility to provide me with retirement income until I’m 70 or older.
From what I understand, our senators and representatives view “raising the retirement age” as political suicide. I may only be one voice, but I’m going to tell my congressmen that we should raise the retirement age because, very simply, it is the right thing to do.
Who’s with me?!