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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/16/19

A Wall Street boost for Social Security

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Message Gerald Scorse

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The aging of America is putting the squeeze on Social Security. About 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day and the number is heading even higher. Ready or not, our retirement system faces its first major overhaul in decades.

Lawmakers should listen to Warren Buffett before they settle on any new payroll tax or benefit schedules. "I'm a card-carrying capitalist," Buffett says, "I believe we wouldn't be sitting here except for the market system."

Social Security should become a card-carrying capitalist too. It should invest part of its $2.8 trillion trust fund in the stock market, specifically in broad-based, low-cost index funds.

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Call it a Wall Street boost for Social Security. It could make the coming overhaul less costly for workers and employers alike. It would effectively give tens of millions of low- to middle-income workers their first share ever in the market. Lastly, it's the smart thing to do: research has shown the reward easily justifies the risk.

Trust fund dollars have always been invested in ultra-safe government securities. The idea of seeking higher returns by putting some of the money into stocks has been proposed before, but it's never gone anywhere.

The coming reform (the first since 1983 and only the second ever) gives Congress a chance to begin making up for lost time.

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And for lost opportunities too. By mid-March of 2019, the S&P 500 had risen by more than 300 percent from its financial-crisis low in March 2009. According to Goldman Sachs, the index's annualized gain of over 15 percent represents one of its best decades ever.

The huge bull run didn't add a penny to the Social Security trust fund. In fact the fund's return over the same decade was lower than usual: many of its holdings were paying (and still are) abnormally low interest rates.

All the more reason to make sure a stock market boost becomes part of the overhaul. Let's give the trust fund its first chance for substantial gains. Let's keep pushing back the year the fund runs dry. The program's trustees now estimate it'll happen in 2035. If Congress doesn't act before then, benefits will have to be cut by roughly 20 percent.

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Gerald E. Scorse has an M.B.A. from Baruch College. He is retired and lives in Manhattan.
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Alexander Kershaw

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The key word is Social not Capital. Look at the evidence in the world. Chile put its social security system in the market and it is a disaster 40 some years later. There is nothing secure about the stock market. This conversation always comes up when interest rates are low compared to returns in the market. When Social Security was created in the 30s they understood that funding was crucial. The system was allowed because workers and employers shared the cost and self employed contributed also. A key to the program was that FICA taxes were capped so the rich did not have to pay the same rate on their income and eventually capital gains were also excluded.

In general the rich and powerful are like Leona Helmsley. They think that only the little people should pay taxes.

Because of that FDR was accused of being a traitor to his class. He famously said that his greatest accomplishment was saving capitalism.

For capitalism to save itself now it should double Social Security and fund it just like the Pentagon. The increased income would be spent into the economy and stimulate it not drag it down. There are many more arguements against Wall Street and SS but that should do.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 3:05:46 PM

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Gerald Scorse

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Alexander: It likely won't convince you, but you should read the Munnell book. Even easier, go to the link "research has shown" in the 4th graph.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 3:37:30 PM

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How far from Wall Street do you live?

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 3:53:17 AM

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Lou Pintada

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Gee, what a great way to empty out the trust fund and get the money to those that truly deserve it - the banksters.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 5:13:50 PM

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First thought that stuck me too.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 3:51:50 AM

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First Wall Street have been dying to get their greedy hands on Social Security for decades. Their eyes light up with all the ways they can skim fees off of it.

Second there is no squeez on Social Security. Just like there is no squeez on the war chest and the bailout the banks fund.

Third the soundest way to fund Security would be to raise the cap. It should be raised anyway so that everybody has a minimum income regardless of age.

Fourth, most people have enough risk in their finances without assuming more...such as dispersing SS funds to private IRA accounts, the way 401K's work---which is what Wall Street wants it.

---and many more.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 5:33:35 PM

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lila york

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Yup. It's a trick. as always

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 5:41:58 PM

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Gerald Scorse

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Lou, David: Forgive me, but it's clear from your comments that you didn't really read the piece, or maybe didn't understand it. What I'm proposing would help all workers; most important, it would help workers who don't usually get any help. It would *not* help "the banksters"; index funds have extremely low expense ratios.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 5:44:29 PM

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I read it and I understand it and the idea is ridiculous. What next, put Medicare in the stock market? Those would be a great gift to wall street, and believe me, if Congress gets greased by Wall Street and does it their way, SS will end up in self-directed IRA's. Then the neoliberals will wash their hands of the elderly.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 5:58:33 PM

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Gerald, Gerald, Gerald. Your patronizing response to David's assessment of your article reminds me of the neoliberal remark made to the outraged masses when the DNC cheated us out of putting an honest man in the White House and gave the nomination to that Wall Street streetwalker in 2016. They told us we "didn't understand how the sausage was made."

And yet the working people keep on ending up with a turd on our plate and we have yet to see any sausage.

As much as I admire David Pear, I have to say Joe Giambrone's comment was the best.

Oh, btw, those Baby Boomers currently "putting the squeeze" on Social Security are the ones who paid into it all their lives.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 5:51:14 AM

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This very same thinking is what leads many desperate people into the casinos. And what is the Stock Market but the biggest casino of all?

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 5:48:28 PM

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f*ck you. Go away.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 7:26:54 PM

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Thank you. Best response yet.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 7:37:59 PM

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Gerald Scorse

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Lois, Joe, David: How sweet you all are; you give social media a bad name. Joe, David: Happy Father's Day (if you're fathers). Lois: Wish Joe and David a Happy Father's Day (if they're fathers).

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 8:13:30 PM

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It's quite obvious they didn't like the idea. And, as "abrupt" as Joe's response was, I have to agree it's the best one here. Sorry.

The Stock Market is obviously the most destructive element of our world economy. It only benefits the 1%, at everyone else's expense. We'd be better off if we could completely obliterate it.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 10:24:15 PM

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I'm still hoping.

Submitted on Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 10:37:01 PM

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Michael Dewey

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For 10 years now have been saying to remove the whole cap (Only way to ever get back the $-Trillions stolen.) and have it back US Notes (As Lincoln used to fund his war.) loaned from the Treasury to Public Banks (City or State as North Dakota has.)at the Post Office to loan to Community Banks to invest wisely in worker owned companies or maybe partly community owned companies. But I would just like to see cities and towns steal cable and phone industry,,,turn them into Public Service Utilities (With a Post Office style set up.) though, guess we could buy out the share holders.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 3:49:04 AM

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Gerald Scorse

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Brenda: It's your response that's patronizing. Devil's Advocate: Not liking the idea is fine. Name-calling and insults aren't my idea of civil discourse (but apparently they're yours). Sorry.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 12:34:25 PM

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Yet, if you re-read all the comments, it appears nobody actually engaged in name calling, or insults. Telling someone to F.O., as rude as it can be, is also a strong statement of disapproval, and really nothing else.

I dunno, perhaps Joe wouldn't have said that if you weren't summarily dismissing everyone that disagreed with the article's theme as if they were uninformed or just didn't read the piece. But, that's just a theory of my own.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 3:56:59 PM

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Buddy. I wish I had your ability of defusing, I'd be working on landmines....

or maybe sticky drones on tanker hulls.

Hope you enjoyed Fathers' Day.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 5:54:50 PM

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Gerald Scorse

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Devil's Advocate: I wasn't summarily dismissing anyone. If anything, it's the article that was being summarily dismissed. As for name-calling, I guess you missed at least two instances of "neo-liberal" (whatever that's supposed to mean); but whatever it does mean, the users clearly meant it as a pejorative. P.S. I don't take "FU" seriously; it just doesn't add anything to the conversation, which is disappointing.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 6:02:43 PM

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Reply to Gerald Scorse:   New Content

I have no wish to argue semantics here, or keep this going just for the sake of keeping it going.

Since you were not actually the one being targeted with the "neo-liberal" label in any of these conversations, I would say something's been misconstrued. I certainly understand what was being said, and why the term was used.

It was all simple reference to what the neo-liberalists have to do with the current financial landscape, and therefore, the perjorative was on those neo-liberals. I don't see any direct reference to you.

For what it's worth, I did read and absorb every word you posted before commenting. I also looked over your post on the Daily News ("The Warren Buffet Social Security Fix:...") for anything not included here. I just don't see the intended logic.

Submitted on Monday, Jun 17, 2019 at 6:22:58 PM

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Your logic baffles me. The term "neo-liberal" is used, pejoratively, in response to an article I wrote...and you say it wasn't meant to apply, negatively, to me? Yes, baffling. You say you don't see the logic in the proposal? Consider: would Brookings Institution and the Center for Retirement Research waste their time on a proposal that had no logic? Think what you will; personally, I'm sure they wouldn't.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 1:16:28 PM

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All I'm basically saying is that the rejections were directed at the proposal, not at you personally, as I see it.

"..would Brookings Institution and the Center for Retirement Research waste their time on a proposal that had no logic?"

I don't have enough background on Brookings to attempt an answer to that one. Have any research operations, in general, ever wasted their time on developing ideas that are doomed to fail?... Absolutely!

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 3:44:45 PM

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"...the rejections were directed at the proposal, not at you personally, as I see it." A combination; a good number were directed at me personally (as I see it). Only a few comments went to the proposal itself. In the main, they were ideological denunciations and little else.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 3:56:45 PM

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As I said, I have no desire to argue an unresolvable difference of perspective with you here. I told you what I thought about it all. That's all I can do.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 4:33:28 PM

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Devil's Advocate: Same here.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 8:20:36 PM

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Are you having trouble with the "reply to this" feature?

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 10:03:15 PM

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Yes, the reply link is not working for me.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 10:24:11 PM

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I find that this site isn't cooperating with ad blockers lately. When I have AdBlock Plus on, the reply button and the format bar won't work. When I turn it off for this site, it all works again.

This is a point of contention for me.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 11:32:10 PM

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Reply to Devil's Advocate: Extremely interesting. I have an Ad Blocker too, but I hadn't connected it to the problem. The whole OpEd site wasn't working for me; the article was in fact posted by Rob Kall (who runs OpEd News), whom I contacted when I ran into problems.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019 at 12:09:05 AM

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But, did you try turning off the blocker and seeing what happens? I don't think it matters who posted the piece. The problem seems to be with the site's present code, which appears to be blocking certain functions (whether intentional or not) when an ad blocker is detected.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019 at 12:18:03 AM

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There needs to be a Social Security Government Bond in each contributor's name. The bond needs to be required to pay a minimum of 3% above the FED's goal of inflation (Currently 2%).


Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019 at 12:42:11 AM

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Gerald Scorse

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Devil's Advocate: I hadn't tried it, but I will be. Thanks for alerting me to the problem.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019 at 10:25:55 PM

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