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GUEST COLUMN: Social Security: A changing priority

Greyson Oswalt-Smith, guest columnist

Greyson Oswalt-Smith is a guest columnist for Rome News-Tribune

The American people are stuck in a position in which we are steadily decreasing our confidence in our representatives to effectively start lowering our accumulative debt and collecting credit. With the political gridlock and polarization in the U.S. Capital, our statesmen are terrified to cross party lines and compromise on a solution that will lower the rapidly growing debt. This is partly due to the nature of the common man to have fiery, unreasonable passions. These passions put pressure on cowardly and vulnerable men who feel that their seat in office is more important than the Republic’s welfare. It is probable that the vast majority reading this are aware of the growing debt that burdens our great nation. Some point to military spending, others accuse entitlements. There are arguments on either side that can be justified, but in a contemporary sense it appears that the most likely reform will take place in the entitlement outlays.

Before I postulate my premise, let me make clear that the United States’ continuously accumulating debt is a positive state of affairs. The Union earns, keeps and maintains credit through paying off substantial debt, increasing our relevance and holding our leadership role in the world. We have been in far more debt in relation to national GDP in the past, particularly after World War II, and we leveled out in the end earning our place as the hegemony of the world. If we were to strive for a balanced budget the Union would fail to adequately provide for its citizenry. The United States would also fall into economic oblivion. I write this in the sense that our credit would become obsolete and irrelevant in comparison to those who continue to keep their credit alive. It is important to keep a cycle of debt, but with the political gridlock it is coming time to pay more than the interest we owe. Otherwise, we will argue and intimidate ourselves into irreconcilable economic ruin.

Under my own convictions, I feel that if one entitlement program were to go it should be Social Security. A quasi-private solution should be in place so that we may discontinue our borrowing from the program and continue to provide for our senior citizens. Upon passage of this idea into law, those who have worked their 40 quarters and more will still be eligible for their benefits. Those who wish to have a dual SSI and Quasi-private retirement will have that option. For those who have not met their 40 quarter minimum of work to be eligible for SSI will be enrolled into the new program. This will be similar to a mandatory 401k program. You pay into the fund, your employer will match according to the business policy, and you will receive your retirement monies from the third party entity that manages your retirement fund. Taxes would be significantly less than they currently are with a 401k.

This broad plan will eliminate nearly one quarter of our expenditures that we spend yearly, as well as over $2.5 trillion we borrow. This is immediately increasing our revenue and decreasing the amount we owe. This will take time due to those who have earned the benefits. Eventually, this will be an astronomical burden lifted, leading to some of the extra monies to go to paying off the debt to keep and maintain our credit. This will also act as an incentive for many young people to work so that they may satisfy their energetic ambitions and start their retirement funds as early as age 16. This helps our youth learn the value of currency, investment and forward thinking. This mode of thinking is preferable to relying on the government for a retirement check. One also has control over their retirement fund. They have the ability to ensure a low risk investment or gamble with a high risk investment. The money is solely the earners. Now with these emphatic persuasions, there are areas of concern that involve low-income earners and the fluctuation of the market.

It is the government’s duty to be concerned with the general welfare of the Republic and its citizenry. With this being said, the government must ensure that its poorest citizens have a sustainable income to live on comfortably. President F.D. Roosevelt said the measure of a nation’s progress is how it treats its less fortunate people. Social Security is barely doing this anymore. For those with low incomes, depositing a reasonable amount for retirement is next to impossible. A possible solution may be government subsidies with matching employer contributions. Citizens must apply for the subsidies, then an algorithm may calculate need based on annual income, wealth and dependents. This is government spending, but it would not be significant enough to thwart the proposition’s objective and benefits it bestows upon our Republic. The second concern is in regard to the fluctuations of the market. A completely free market is chaotic, and it is well known that regulation is necessary for capitalism to thrive. We are haunted with the fear of another recession of the likes of 2008. The market nearly crashed and took many years to recover. This took place because of the lack of regulations in the housing and banking industries and the common avarice of man. With necessary regulations in the market, the market is less susceptible to synthetic capriciousness. We may even venture to add a government promise of repayment if the market declines. The government can borrow, pay the citizenry, then pay back the creditor, furthermore increasing its ever strong credit. This will be an option for market crashes, not avarice individuals who exhibit no prudence in investing their financial gains.

Social Security is a historic program with a diminishing return to the nation. We must advance to another system that will promote economic reliability, quality of life for our citizens, and the general welfare of our Republic!

Greyson Oswalt-Smith is a political science major at Kennesaw State University who plans on going to law school. He enjoys being politically involved locally, and serves on the Sara Hightower Board of Trustees. He may be reached at