By Ryan Fuhrmann, CFA
I just read through Robert’s bullish side of our Social Security Duel, and I think it was pretty tame for the most part. I’ve seen much worse, and have been called much worse, if you can believe it. Ryan “Let Old People Starve” Fuhrmann? Far from it! I’m just a forward-looking Fool worried that our government might step on the goose that lays the Social Security eggs if it doesn’t start planning for a future that will be much different from anything our country has ever experienced. As I detailed in my opening arguments, the baby boomers are an influential group whose sheer numbers could wreak havoc on the nation’s retirement safety net.
Overall, Robert and I seem to agree that Social Security has done our society a ton of good since it was created after the Great Depression and does a great job of keeping a certain amount of elderly people out of poverty. And Robert even offered the following details for you number-crunchers:
“But there’s a cost to not providing a safety net. Social Security accounts for 50% or more of the income for two-thirds of beneficiaries. It’s the only source of income for 20% of the elderly. Where would they be without Social Security?”
Precisely! And that cost is going to go through the roof over the next few decades. That’s exactly why I’m concerned about Uncle Sam’s current road map for ensuring that Social Security remains solvent for our kids and our kids’ kids. It’s not that Social Security isn’t inherently good — just that it’s at risk of running out of moola just when we need it most, because of a graying America and the fact that people are living longer.
Robert “Your Foolish Retirement Guru” Brokamp should know better than anyone else that results going forward may not bear any resemblance to those that occurred in the past. Social Security has been one of the most successful social programs in U.S. history. With a little foresight and preparation, it can stay that way for a long time — or until scientists of the future learn how to grow trees with money in place of leaves to help us out as we enter our golden years.
If retirement is on your mind — and it really should be — try out Robert Brokamp’s Rule Your Retirement service free for 30 days.
Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Feel free to email him with feedback or to further discuss any companies mentioned here.