Paul Jacob

To postpone Social Security’s inherent insolvency by either a dramatic tax increase or a setting back of the retirement age — or both — would be to admit, quite plainly, the swindle at the heart of the system.

Which, in its way, would be a good thing. If, to pay off retirees, we have to raise the retirement age, we should all recognize the inherent unfairness of it. Similarly, a tax increase. Raise taxes and you further scuttle Social Security’s very purpose: providing a safety net to back up workers’ other retirement savings. (If FICA withholding steals that much of your paycheck, it ain’t a safety net system, let me tell you.)

Whatever costs that a fix of the system requires should be ascribed to the system, not to the fix. Or, to change meanings, the fix was in a long time ago: the swindle hepled politicians buy off whole demographics of voters by an inter-generational swindle, always helping older folks at the expense of higher taxed younger folks.

So, if politicians ever get around to making Social Security stable, let’s make sure of one thing: we all recognize that it always was a system based on swindle, a swindle that politicians devised and politicians exploited and politicians still praise.

So, it’s about time for Hillary, and Rudy, and Mitt, and the others to start talking about these issues up front, and honestly.

But if we citizens do not press them, if we do not take the initiative, they will wait until it’s way too late. Further, we must do this before they commit another atrocity, concoct yet another huge swindle of a welfare state system . . . as many of them are planning to inflict on us right now. We must tell our politicians to Fix Social Security NOW — Prove to us that you can be trusted with our health.

The best way to prevent a health care reform fiasco? Make politicians deal with Social Security first. The rule should be: fix what you’ve broken before you fix what you’ve merely damaged. And learn from your mistakes, for goodness sake.

As for Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, the first Baby Boomer to collect early Social Security retirement: enjoy the benefits. Baby Boomers just a bit younger than you may have to work longer, while those much younger than you will probably have to pay and pay and pay for your retirement. Don’t think we’re blaming you. It’s not your fault. Politicians are at fault.

Which ones? The ones that have taken the credit.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.