What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.
“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.
Peter, Paul and Ernest
Why Social “Security” is anything but
By Jim Ray
There is no nice way to put this: the government believes you are stupid. Really, really stupid. If this were not true, why would it brag about what it did for Ernest Ackerman?
Ernest was a Cleveland trolley car operator and the first ever recipient of a benefit payment from the Social Security Administration. The day the Social Security program became law in 1937 also happened to be Ernest’s very last day of work. The government withheld five cents from his check that day. A short time later, he received a lump-sum retirement distribution of 17 cents.
The Social Security Administration proudly tells this story in its official history. But if you do the math (the government assumes you can’t, or won’t) Ernest’s story should illustrate to you plainly why Social Security is founded upon deception. And why the whole program is in big, big trouble.
As Social Security celebrated its 80th birthday last week, lawmakers were pondering options on how to save it. But changes require courage (politician’s don’t have it) and sacrifice (citizens won’t accept it). So why is the burgeoning retirement and disability program falling apart? Here are three reasons:
The Potomac Pyramid Scheme
A pyramid or “Ponzi” scheme is an arrangement in which investors are promised fantastic paybacks – and may receive them, for a little while. In reality, nothing is actually invested, but early contributors are paid monies collected from later investors, while the operator skims a sizeable portion. Eventually, the scheme collapses when not enough new “investors” can be recruited. Pyramid schemes are illegal, unless run by the government.
Case in point: Ernest – when he received his 17 cent distribution from the Social Security Administration, he was getting money collected from others, who were in turn promised a great “return” from the government. At Social Security’s inception, there were six workers paying in for every person receiving benefits. This worked okay for a while. But now there are just three workers for every recipient. Soon there will be two. The government has been robbing Peter to pay Paul … and Ernest.
At its noblest, Social Security helps widows, orphans, the disabled, and those who, through no fault of their own, need help in retirement. But it’s been touted – and Americans have accepted it – as a primary or sole source of retirement income. And to be fair, because the government seizes 12.4 percent of workers’ wages to pay for Social Security, it’s hard to save independently. But as a retirement savings program, Social Security stinks.
According to economist Eugene Steurle of the Urban Institute, couples now in their early 40s earning an average wage will have forked over $808,000 in Social Security taxes by the time they retire, but will get back only $703,000 in benefits. By comparison, the same money invested conservatively in traditional markets would produce two million dollars or more and generate retirement income of around $100,000 per year – while leaving plenty for heirs to inherit – rather than the paltry $26,000 or so paid annually by Social Security, which ends at death.
Trust Fund Fraud
Politicians love to speak of the supposedly sacrosanct “Social Security Trust Fund” and its surplus of 2.7 trillion dollars. In reality, the money is all gone – borrowed by the government to pay other bills. The Trust Fund is nothing but a briefcase full of I.O.U. notes of dubious value. Again, try running this operation in the private sector, and you will be promptly jailed.
What does all this mean? Those who are already retired or very near retirement will probably receive what they have been promised by Social Security. But others can count on the inevitable reality that benefits must be dramatically trimmed in the future.
“The ants are a people not strong,” says Proverbs 30:25, “yet they provide their food in the summer.” If you have ignored the biblical principle of saving for the future because you believe the government will take care of you, you should reconsider, immediately.
- Ask God to give your legislators the courage and wisdom to fix the nation’s broken financial systems;
- Help those in need, recognizing this as the Christian’s rightful role
- Make your own preparations for the future based on the infallible wisdom of Scripture, not the faulty promises of government.
Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.
The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
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