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Guest column | Jim Gries

Focus on the next generation, not the next election, to save Social Security

There are no more intimate generational relationships than those among members of a family — a parent and a child, a grandparent and a grandchild, etc. Passing of family heirlooms, traditions and values symbolizes the importance of these relationships, and represents the custodial responsibilities one generation has fulfilled in preserving, protecting and defending what they inherited.

When one generation fails to honor their responsibilities, the generational chain of trust is broken, and intragenerational respect suffers immensely.

Members of the current custodial generation received the chain of trust intact and, along with it, numerous opportunities. However, they're finding keeping that chain intact overwhelming. For each billion dollars of new debt put on their children and grandchildren, it grows weaker.

Nothing demonstrates the dramatic erosion of generational responsibilities better than the current intragenerational abuse that began in 1983 when Social Security reform legislation was signed into law. It was promoted as a plan to avert near-term Social Security bankruptcy, and to fund a long-term solution. Average working Americans began overpaying their Social Security taxes by billions of dollars annually. With their overpayments being deposited in a trust fund, most Americans believed they were doing their part in alleviating senior fears, and at the same time building a fund for the now retiring 78 million baby boomers, thus providing tax relief for current workers and their families.

With no choices, and in spite of significant financial hardships, millions of average hard-working Americans struggled to keep their end of the bargain. Politicians however, chose to renege on their end of the deal. From day one, they've spent excess Social Security trust fund dollars on something other than intended by transferring excess dollars to the general revenue fund.

Using sleight-of-hand deceit, politicians cover up their taxing and transfer scheme by replacing excess Social Security trust fund cash with special obligation bonds, or IOUs, that are represented as assets on the trust fund balance sheet. Obligations created by this taxing scheme will have to be paid again, plus interest. They now exceed $2.5 trillion and are growing at several thousand dollars a second.

Some inheritance we're passing along, huh?

Now the blame-someone-else banner is being hoisted again. Considering the past 25-plus years of financial assault on middle-class working Americans, how can drinking another Kool-Aid cocktail served up in the form of political bloviating be considered a viable solution? It can't.

The solution resides within the current custodial generation and its willingness to speak up and reach out in a spirit of cooperation to the next generations. Ending the vigil of silence that's permitting politicians to financial enslave our own children and grandchildren, under the pretense of saving Social Security, is a good starting point.

The Social Security taxing scheme must be acknowledged for what it is and energies must be refocused from the next election to the next generation. These actions can serve as an appropriate first step in restoring generational commitment.

If you're a member of the current custodial generation, you have an obligation to restore the generational chain of trust while there's still time. It cannot be passed along with a broken link.

Jim Gries lives in Weeki Wachee and can be contacted at [email protected]

Focus on the next generation, not the next election, to save Social Security 04/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 29, 2010 5:07pm]
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