THE JOKE I RECEIVED BY MAIL FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Today, I received my official Social Security Statement, in an envelope marked TO BE OPENED BY ADDRESSEE ONLY, UNDER PENALTY OF LAW.
The report -- Prepared especially for James A. Merritt,
as the Social Security Administration reminds me in large, bold type -- tells me the level of benefits that I and my family can expect to receive, should various events transpire, in view of my contributions to the fund since 1972. Basically, I can expect to draw in a little less than half of my current take home pay if I retire at 66.5, and a little more than half, if I am willing to wait until 70 to retire.
During my working life, my employers and I have kicked in well over $100,000 to my retirement. As I write this, I am drinking some irreverently labeled Merlot, which I am using to toast all of this money that I expect never to see again. This isn't just my jaundiced opinion. The report itself admits the following:
Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2042, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 73 percent of scheduled benefits.
In other words, the report means nothing (unless, perhaps, I die or become disabled in the near future). Money and effort (my own taxes, again!) were expended to send me a joke in the mail.
Let me drink a little more of this Merlot, and maybe I'll feel like laughing.
I have a proposal for the federal government: When Social Security goes bust, and if current trends continue, it surely will, just give me an amount of federal land on or near California's Central Coast (where I was born, and where I have endeavored to live for most of my life) that would sell for the amount I have paid in up to that time. We'll call it square.