You deserve ‘a say,’ like everyone else
The “You’ve Earned a Say” election year campaign by AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, is misguided. While it may pat the backs of all those Baby Boomers who are now retiring, it sends a bad message to younger Americans. “You’ve Earned a Say” infers that simply because they are older, AARP members deserve a louder voice in Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs. They don’t.
Why should your editor have more say in these things now that he’s in his sixties than he did when he was 16? Way back then, he got his first paycheck and Social Security was deducted from it. A few years later, after the then-controversial Medicare program narrowly passed Congress, they began deducting for that, as well.
Truth is, every teenager working in a fast food restaurant has earned as much right to a voice in these programs as the elderly activists who are looking to protect their “entitlements.” Those kids are paying into the system and it’s taking a bigger chunk of their paychecks than it did when we were young.
The young are also the ones who will be paying off the debts we run up today because we lack the courage to cut government spending and raise taxes. When they get a little older, they’ll be struggling to raise families and cover their bills, all the while paying into Social Security and Medicare. They’ll be putting in year after year while we older folks will be taking out and grumbling about why our cost-of-living increases aren’t more.
Now and then, we hear people claim they would have done better by investing their money themselves, rather than contributing to Social Security. Of course, this is unlikely. If that money hadn’t been deducted from their pay, most people would have spent it. Even if they had invested, the ups and downs of the stock market might have left them in a hole at the very moment they needed the income. Social Security began because so few people were financially prepared for retirement.
In the end, today’s young people will be the ones hurt if the Titanic entitlement system hits the iceberg. No wonder so many of them aren’t convinced Social Security will be there when they need it.
If we are truly all in this together, then one generation of Americans shouldn’t have more “say” than another. We won’t get anywhere by pitting generations against each other.