Opinion: Goodbye, retirement

By ADAM CZARKOWSKI

Published: 07-25-2023 11:54 AM

Adam Czarkowski works in the technology sector and lives in Penacook.

Goodbye retirement, we never even knew you! Since I was sixteen years old, I have watched the government take a portion of each paycheck for Social Security. When I was a young man, I dreamed of the days after a long career I could retire and take up gardening or maybe become a scratch golfer.

That outcome is becoming increasingly unlikely. By the time I am ready to retire Social Security will be out of money or the minimum age to collect will be so high I’ll be underground at Blossom Hill cemetery before I qualify.

According to the Washington Post, in 1978 there were 5.0 workers for each retiree. By 2038 that ratio will be 2.9 and it only gets worse. Thanks to the baby boomers, the ranks of retirees are growing faster than new workers entering the workforce.

According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted by 2037. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s predictions are even worse, predicting the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted by 2033. Social Security already makes up 21% of the federal budget. For Generation X retirement is going to be like Blockbuster video stores. Something that existed in the past but doesn’t anymore.

What can be done about this? There are really three options: increase taxes, reduce benefits, or allow younger workers to opt out. When I was a new manager, I was taught to avoid using ‘never’ in my written communications. So instead of saying ‘I never support higher taxes,’ I’ll say ‘I consistently oppose new or higher taxes.’

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The government takes enough of our money already. Reduced benefits are going to happen despite what Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren say. Anyone over 50 would be wise to take advantage of catch-up contributions to their retirement account. The third option is my favorite, let younger workers opt out. Let younger workers keep more of their own money so they can invest and save for retirement.

If I’ve learned anything in my life it is that our politicians won’t act until a problem becomes a crisis. By allowing younger workers to opt out at least they can have some of the money they earned over the years instead of it all disappearing with Social Security’s demise.

I am pessimistic about getting anything back from my Social Security contributions. My generation will just need to accept we will have to work until lunchtime on the day of our funeral.

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