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I couldn't agree more. People like you, for instance, will argue that any paltry return from SS is 'risk free', because you don't have to invest. Well, any such return is only 'risk free' if you don't understand the word 'risk'. There is the slight issue of 'insolvency', which is what happens when people are taking out at a faster rate than they are putting in.

So something needs to be done to close that gap. Boomers are certainly taking money out at a faster rate than the current generation of workers can pay into the system.

Oopsie! So, it's a *guarantee* that either we'll have to raise taxes, cut benefits, or a combination. But no risk, there, right? I suppose in your world, it isn't risky if it was designed to fail, like every other social program.

Not necessarily. SS is taken as a percentage of the employee's wages, yes? Raise the amount of pay the employee is getting and even if the percentage withheld is the same, more money will flow into SS. So it would appear that raising the minimum wage and wages in general, would help more than just the current employees who need the money. It would also help those who are currently retired be assured of stability in their income.

One story about private investing for retirement:

When I first went to work in education 30 years ago, we paid into the Teacher's Retirement System. A pretty straightforward investment in which both the employee and employer placed money. In the mid-1990s, someone got it into their heads that allowing employees to take greater risks with their income could give them a better return for retirement. So we had a one-time offer: you can keep your money in TRS, or you can move your funds to OAS and take on the greater risk in hopes of greater rewards. A lot of faculty and staff opted to do that. I did not. My boss at the time did.

For a few years things were looking very rosy for those who opted to handle their own wealth, and those of us who opted to stay with TRS were viewed as being "behind the times". Then came the dot.com collapse. Turned out, OAS had invested pretty heavily in tech firms and a lot of money was lost. A lot of employees suddenly found their pensions were worth only a fraction of what they had been before the move.

What we sometimes miss when looking at taking risks is despite disclaimers like "past performance does guarantee future returns" many people have the idea that even if it stops gaining it won't fall as hard and fast as it sometimes does.

My boss was really quite thankful for social security when he was forced into retirement in 2009. He still hadn't recouped the money he lost from the dip a decade earlier. If he didn't have the SS to supplement, he would have had to find another job, a tough thing to do when you are older and not trained for anything beyond what you've done for almost 40 years.

My little retirement savings might not be as risky, and I might not get massive returns, but at least I haven't ever lost anything from it, and can retire in 18 mths to start career 2.0 fairly comfortably.
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