Letters to the Editor

Social Security reform and redistribution of payments

John Lester (Letters, Nov. 8) challenges my proposal to reform Social Security by setting benefit amounts based on time worked rather than dollars earned. He declares it redistribution, plain and simple.

Since my proposal states that we can’t change any benefits for current recipients, or anyone close to retirement, it would not effect him (age 76) or myself; I’m older than he is.

The proposal is to strengthen it; make it affordable and sustainable for our children and grandchildren without having the demographics bankrupt us; to pay more to those who need it most and less to those who don’t (the basic problem), and to do it without means testing.

He is concerned that someone working part of a year would get credit for a year. The proposal would be based on full-time work for, say, 40 years, or 160 quarters, with perhaps some credit for part-time work. You don’t get credit for income not earned now and you wouldn’t get credit for time not worked under my proposal.

We both agree on lifting the cap on taxable salary, so there is no disagreement there.

It comes down to how you view Social Security. Is it a government-administered, tax-funded, anti-poverty program, paying an earned benefit that provides a decent standard of living to the retired or disabled, or is it merely a government-mandated and administered personal savings account, with benefits purely related to the amount they and their employers were taxed?

Mr. Lester objects to the proposal because it pays more to those who need it most, redistribution. I would point out that that is exactly what long-term reform must do, and note that his suggestion, to means test anyone making $250,000 a year, is also redistribution, plain and simple.

John A. Ristow