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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Social Security: Nobody’s fallback plan

- - Friday, September 27, 2013

Chuck Woolery is right to point out that there is a coming war on the elderly — but basically they deserve it ("The spreading war on seniors," Commentary, Sept. 26). I am in that senior citizen group and did not wake up to find out what was going on with government finances until I was 50 years old; I am now 66. There is no shortage of information, in the form of government studies and private research, documenting what a scam entitlement programs are. They take money from the young and channel it to the old. Unfortunately, there is no actuarial balance, and there never has been.

The notion that "We paid into it all out lives, and we deserve it" amounts to someone paying for a Chevy and receiving a Cadillac instead. Medicare Part B premiums cover 25 percent of the cost, and Social Security has unfunded liabilities totaling trillions of dollars. These are gross mismatches that never would have been tolerated by a real insurance company that sold you a simple lifetime annuity. You would receive much less or else the insurance company would be insolvent.

The Social Security trust fund balance, although a complete accounting ruse with a balance of $2.7 trillion, does not come close to covering the unfunded liability. Additionally, the federal government does not even follow its own accounting rules. That is why the Obama administration threatens nonpayment of Social Security if the debt limit is not increased. Given a balance in the so-called trust fund, there is no effect on the debt limit until that trust fund balance is reduced to zero; any nonpublic debt reduction is matched by a public debt increase, netting to a zero change.

In the early 1960s, the autoworkers union secured a deal to extend pension benefits for Packard-Studebaker in lieu of a salary increase. The company subsequently went bankrupt, and the workers lost all of their pensions, every last dime. Municipal employee pensions are underfunded by a cool $1 trillion across the entire country, and that is a low estimate. Once again, government employees and the public stuck their heads in the sand and the unions, working with the politicians, did their dirty work.

Young people do not deserve what is about to happen to them. If you are old, you better prepare for less; if you are young, you better wake up before you are 50 years old to the fact that the only thing you can depend on financially is yourself — not the unions, and certainly not the politicians.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston