Don Griffin: Taking money

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As Willie Nelson said, "It's not a lot of money if you say it fast."

$2.2 trillion. $2,200,000,000,000. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

The official 2005 report of the Board of Trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund just reported that 12 years from now, the Social Security system will pay out more money in costs and to benefactors than it takes in from working people.

But, during the next 10 years, the Social Security system will take more money from working people than it will pay out. How much extra will you pay? $2.2 trillion in total. (See The Wall Street Journal, March 25, page A8). That's more than $7,500 for every man, woman and child in the United States. Good news, right?

Now the big dirty secret -- this excess money of yours will go into the Social Security Trust Fund. Then your Congress will spend all of your extra $2.2 trillion on other "stuff."

In fact, the "Trust Fund" has no money in it now because for years, your Congress happily has been spending all of your Trust Fund money on other stuff and putting worthless IOUs in the Trust Fund. The only way for Congress to pay those IOUs is to tax you and take more of your money. And Congress has been very quiet about letting you in on this dirty, big secret.

All these years, Congress could have been letting you keep the extra money. Or, all these years, they could have been investing the Trust Fund trillions for us, rather than spending it on other stuff. Today it would be worth a "bazillion," and we would not have an upside-down Social Security system twelve years from now.

Suppose you "borrowed" and spent all the money from someone else's Trust Fund, knowing full well that you did not have the money to pay it back. Wouldn't that be stealing?

As Mark Twain said, "It probably could be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native Indian criminal class except Congress."

Don Griffin

Steamboat Springs

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