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Social Security is a broken promise to the American people, and our gen­er­ation will pay for it.

When Pres­ident Franklin D. Roo­sevelt signed the Social Security Act of 1935 into law, he promisedpro­tection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.” 

The purpose of Social Security was to reduce poverty among the elderly by funding an account with payroll taxes, which would pay workers upon retirement. The act was sup­posed to create a sort of public trust fund, paid for by itself.

Members of Gen­er­ation Z whose parents’ gen­er­ation receive Social Security ben­efits will front the cost of Con­gress’ unruly spending. One thing is certain: We stu­dents can’t count on Social Security ben­efits when we retire.

The Social Security Admin­is­tration is inca­pable of keeping up with demo­graphic trends and the federal gov­ernment is spending far more than it is taking in.

According to Pro­fessor of Political Economy Gary Wolfram, this is partly because the Social Security system is strug­gling to keep up with America’s growing pop­u­lation. In the third fiscal quarter of 2020, America added 3.2 million more retirees, according to the Pew Research Center. With more people retiring — and retiring early — Social Security can’t sustain itself. The large number of retirees with­drawing pay­ments is straining the system, to the point where the Social Security trust fund is pro­jected to “decline steadily” until it runs out, according to the Con­gres­sional Research Service.

The root problem of this dilemma, however, is a bloated federal bureau­cracy that spends far more money than it makes.

As explained by Wolfram, in the year 2022, the federal gov­ernment is scheduled to use $3.735 trillion on mandatory spending, which includes enti­tlement pro­grams. The net interest on the national debt is $305 billion. Simply by spending the bare minimum as required by American law and inter­na­tional financial oblig­a­tions, the federal gov­ernment will have to spend $4.040 trillion in 2022. The same year, the federal gov­ernment will only take in $3.988 trillion. Even by spending the bare minimum, the federal gov­ernment would run a deficit. 

This year, Social Security has taken the same turn as the federal gov­ernment. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Social Security now spends more than it takes in. Due to an increase in spending during the COVID-19 crisis, trustees estimate that the system’s trust fund will be empty by 2034, a year earlier than pre­vi­ously thought. 

At that point, trustees say the Social Security system can pay only what it col­lects through taxes, which is just 78% of what it orig­i­nally promised. 

Con­trary to its original purpose, the Social Security “trust fund” isn’t even a fund at all.

Rather, according to Wolfram, it’s much more like a stack of IOUs. The Social Security Admin­is­tration buys non-mar­ketable secu­rities from the Department of the Treasury, which it sells back to pay enti­tle­ments. So peoples’ money isn’t being stored any­where, rather, it is entrusted to the Treasury, which promises to pay this money back upon request. 

As Hillsdale stu­dents, we know better than to trust gov­ernment promises.

America’s mistake was to trust the bureau­cracy to manage our money, because let’s face it: The gov­ernment can never resist spending — or losing — a little extra money. 

American youth already have their share of eco­nomic obstacles to overcome. On top of a national debt of nearly $27 trillion, young Amer­icans will soon have to deal with this bureau­cracy of empty promises. 

Social Security is like a leaky ship built by poor craftsmen. The ship’s builders thought it was too big to fail. But when the storms rise and the waves begin to crash, the ship cannot hold.