Question of the Month

May 25, 2002

Q: May's question asked whether the Enron scandal had left readers uneasy about retirement and what steps the government should take to protect retirement accounts.

Let taxpayers put their money in stock market

Given the pending insolvency of Social Security, I support President Bush's goal of giving taxpayers the choice of investing a small portion of their own money to build retirement nest eggs.

It would shock most Americans to find out that the Social Security trust fund currently earns just over 2 percent return annually, which is below the annual rate of inflation.

Why shouldn't we be able to invest a portion of our own Social Security to earn more than 2 percent?

The current Social Security system is antiquated, and will not meet a retiree's needs in the 21st century.

This is common sense, given that people are living longer and the cost of living is rising more than 2 percent.

The more money a person invests today, and the higher the return, the better off he or she will be. But good investment education is needed for this to work. And those who fear the volatility of the stock market should be able to stay in the current Social Security program.

Anti-choice elitists, including Maryland's U.S. senators, will play on the emotions of the elderly by stating that President Bush is trying to take away their Social Security check.

But who are these politicians to tell us that our money can only earn 2 percent?

And why haven't they come up with a better solution themselves?

How little credit they give us for being able to think and invest on our own.

If we don't do anything about the looming Social Security disaster now, the system won't be around much longer.

And why shouldn't we have a choice to manage our retirement nest egg? It's our money, isn't it?

Michael P. Beczkowski

Bel Air

Ensure the future of Social Security

The Enron scandal has made me very thankful that I am in the state of Maryland retirement program.

It is not the best retirement system around, but for the past 14 years I have been living very comfortably - with total security that my monthly check will always be here on time.

Appropriate laws must ensure all retirement systems are protected. And the viability of our Social Security system must be maintained.

To direct a portion of our Social Security payments into private stock market accounts would be a big mistake.

Social Security must stand alone, as it has done all of these years.

It simply must be fine-tuned to maintain its security and reliability.

Walter Boyd

Lutherville

One retirement plan for all U.S. citizens

I'm a retired federal employee enjoying a comfortable, and reasonably safe, retirement, but the Enron scandal has increased my longstanding concern about retirement in general.

Employee investment plans were intended to help people ensure that their quality of life will not suffer appreciably when they retire.

But lack of government oversight, and the lack of a national retirement plan, have allowed unscrupulous corporations to jeopardize or destroy the dreams of many hardworking Americans.

I've always felt all U.S. citizens should have similar or identical retirement plans - a national retirement system, with federal and private employees sharing the benefits and contributing the same amount.

Social Security and other retirement plans could and should be combined into a single comprehensive and secure national retirement plan covering all American citizens.

This could allow people to enjoy a well-deserved retirement, with benefits above the poverty level, at a reasonable age.

Ron Parsons

Glen Burnie

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