by Mark Lipman
Let’s begin by shutting the door on the myth: Social Security is NOT going broke and it does NOT add a penny to our national debt.
Social Security just so happens to be the best functioning program this country has ever come up with and we have a lot of thanks to give Franklin Delano Roosevelt for that – the greatest of all American presidents, who gets far too little credit for the benefits he gave this nation.
What Social Security does is it guarantees a basic income to those who are either too old, or otherwise incapable of working. This is a right that we have, because we, as a people, have paid into it, out of our pockets, to protect ourselves from the selfish greed of those who would see the infirmed and disabled die out on the streets.
The last thing we need is to hand OUR money – our life-saving savings – over to a bunch of Wall Street Privateers and Banking Cartels and all the other proven criminals on K Street, who just a short decade ago made trillions of dollars by destroying our housing market and collapsing our economy.
What we need to do instead – out of pure logic and economic fact – is to expand Social Security. Today, we have millions of people unemployed and millions more working 60 to 80 hours a week in jobs that do not pay a living wage, while massive corporations and their CEOs log record breaking profits. We have seen the cost of living skyrocket, while our incomes have literally disappeared.
The only real solution to the fact that outsourcing and automation have transformed this country into a jobless society is to provide a guaranteed basic income to everyone.
How we do this is by expanding Social Security to meet the needs of the People in the 21st Century and beyond.
Right now, if you earn over $144, 000 per year, your contribution to Social Security is capped. We’ve heard a lot about this, and it’s correct – in the richest country in the history of the world – the only way for a society to function properly is for the rich to pay their fair share. So yes, we do remove the cap and properly fund Social Security.
Moreover, and what does not get discussed, is what to do with those at the very bottom – those who earn 12 to 20 thousand dollars a year – a good half of our population – those struggling for the basic necessities to get by?
Today, from dollar one – we are all charged 7.5% to pay into Social Security. If you are self-employed, or an independent contractor, that payment is 15%. Now, for someone making over a million, an extra couple thousand here or there isn’t going to do much to change their quality of life … but for someone trying to survive on less than $1,000 a month, and extra $75 can be the difference between life and death.
As an immediate solution, to provide some relief to the bottom half of our country, in addition to removing the ceiling, we need to lift the floor, so that there is no individual payment until you have reached at least $25,000 in income – without loss of benefits.
This is how we start to rebuild a just society – from the bottom up.