Dark Age (reprise)

Though the last post I made, Dark Age was a near-term tale of speculative fiction, the following information is straight from the source, presented here for you to draw your own conclusions. Maybe we can put together an anthology of speculative fiction.

The following table is an excerpt from the Social Security Administration’s own website.

The numbers listed here are in thousands, meaning 222 is 222,000, and 43,498 is actually 43,498,000.

Year Employed Beneficiaries Ratio
1996 143,909 43,498 3.3
1997 146,736 43,792 3.3
1998 149,692 44,075 3.4
1999 152,453 44,366 3.4
2000 155,295 45,166 3.4
2001 155,546 45,668 3.4
2002 154,894 46,176 3.3
2003 154,954 46,752 3.3
2004 156,900 47,367 3.3
2005 159,081 48,133 3.3
2006 161,852 48,863 3.3
2007 163,057 49,603 3.3
2008 162,485 50,420 3.2
2009 156,021 51,860 3
2010 156,725 53,398 2.9

As of last year, every two people paying into the system are paying the benefits for 9 other people. For contrast, here are the same numbers from three of the ten years between 1940 and 1950:

Year Employed Beneficiaries Ratio
1940 35,390 222 159.4
1945 46,390 1,106 41.9
1950 48,280 2,930 16.5

Obviously, the ratio of workers to beneficiaries has been in free fall mode since then, hitting 3:3 in 2009. If I remember my junior high school math correctly, a ratio of 3:3 can also be expressed as 1:1, meaning every person currently employed and paying into Social Security is paying to support someone else who is receiving benefits. The 2010 ratio of 2:9 is clear indication that this system is not only broken, but utterly unsustainable.

The trustees of the Social Security Administration have also acknowledged this in their recent report. This acknowledgement is not buried hundreds of pages in, as if expecting it to be missed or glossed over. Rather, it is in the opening paragraphs of the overview, on the first page of text in their report. You can read it for yourself at http://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/2011/tr2011.pdf. Their recommendation is for an increase of the mandatory withholding taken from every paycheck. Their proposed increase is greater than 2% and is listed as a short term fix. Small band-aid might be a better term.

Dark Age Anthology submissions can be made here at Unofficial View.

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Just for fun, to see how much you could sock away for your retirement, here are two calculators to help. I used the amount mandatorily deducted from my paycheck for my current contribution to Social Security. The numbers were … surprising is probably a mild term.

Compound Interest Calculator

Roth 401k

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