For decades, politicians have referred to Social Security as the third rail of politics; tinkering with it meant committing political suicide. Now I'm not a politician, so I'm in no danger of losing votes that could cost me an election. However, I am in danger of losing the respect of my 15 grandchildren if I don't speak out about the so called "third rail". Losing their respect would make losing an election pale in comparison. So let me share my thoughts regarding the third rail.
I've not only touched the third rail, I'm riding on it. A few years ago I was issued my boarding pass as a result of a lifetime of paying Social Security taxes. Right across the top of my pass in bold letters was "I'M ENTITLED", and now I can go anytime, anywhere the third rail goes. There's no tolls, no pat downs, no electronic screening, and no waiting. I mean this "I'm Entitled" thingy is the slickest thing you've ever seen. When I do disembark, say at a local diner, my boarding pass even gets me a meal deal. Rumor has it we'll be getting a "meal deal" toy soon; it really is A ll A bout R etired P eople; isn't it?
Now our children and grandchildren aren't eligible to ride just yet, but they do get to participate by funding the boarding pass program, and like everything else the pass price has increased significantly. For example, a 1960 retiree's boarding pass fee was only 1.6% of their working lifetime wage; for a 1980 retiree it was 5.15%; a 2000 retiree 9.66%, and for those just entering the boarding pass program in 2010, the fee was 12.4% of their annual wages. Do you see a trend here? With 78 boomers on the horizon, and at the risk of committing political suicide politicians introduced a new super funding fee for the third rail program in 1983. This new super fee was hailed as a plan to ensure boarding pass funding for the next 75 years. Not knowing the full story, middle class working Americans applauded, saying congress and the President demonstrated great political courage.
Now 28 years later we're beginning to sense the wheels could be coming off. In fact some even suggest the 1983 super fee program wasn't an act of political courage at all. They say it was a virtual world political dream, that's morphing into a real world economic nightmare. If that's the case maybe we should slow down this rail ride, catch our collective breath, and open a dialogue with those who are funding our ride. Failure to do so may leave us holding a boarding pass with nowhere to go. God forbid I should have to get out there on that old dirt road and hitchhike a ride. You see hitchhiking is just not my style, after all I have an "I'M ENTITLED" boarding pass that entitles me to ride the third rail anytime anywhere. Need I remind you; It's A ll A bout R etired P eople, isn't it?
One more thing. Don't think your elected reprehensibles are going wave their magic wand and fix it anytime soon. They're too damn scared to even touch it; after all it is the third rail. Get involved before the third rail wheels come off; www.aarp2.com