By SHAWN McCOY
SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR
In 1962, Students for a Democratic Society opened their Port Huron Statement with the words: "We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit." The same can be said today, as my own generation nervously takes note of the state of our nation.
While we have not yet fully developed our political voice, we see the necessity and are beginning to speak as those generations before us have done. Our concern lies not in radicalism, as it did with SDS, but instead with the economic concerns presented by our current Social Security system.
While our predecessors advocated a radical agenda, we fight for pragmatic public policy. Students want to be left with a secure retirement not higher taxes. The debate over reform is of utmost importance to young people. While retired persons and those nearing retirement are safe in today's system, my generation faces a crisis. Social Security will not be able be able to pay us our expected benefits. The only way to permanently fix the problem is through ownership.
Despite what tax and spend lobbyists from the AARP and other organizations may say, the only permanent fix is personal retirement accounts. While older generations are being manipulated by the AARP into believing that the partial privatization of Social Security poses a threat to the benefits they enjoy, the truth is that the benefits of older Americans will NOT be affected. Only young people will be affected and poll after poll has shown that we favor personal accounts by over a 2 to 1 margin.
Everyone deserves a fair and decent retirement. Unfortunately, if the system remains as it is today, as a 20-year-old male, I will take less out of the system than I will put into it. This can be corrected though, by allowing young people the option to divert their payroll taxes into their own personal retirement account. This money would be put into extremely safe investments, which would still outperform the traditional system. While many may argue this is too great of a risk, these people have clearly not done the appropriate research. The investment options are safe and are managed by a professional. The real risk is to allow Congress control over my money.
Empowering the disadvantaged
Personal accounts make the American dream of ownership and opportunity available to all Americans. Personal accounts would empower the disadvantaged, allowing them the same opportunities as America's wealthy. They would be able to look to a better future and pass something on to their families. The personal account will belong to the individual, not to the government. If you pay the taxes for your retirement, then what right does the government have to spend them? Individual accounts are the only way to stop the raid on the trust fund.
Our country has evolved since the time of FDR, so should Social Security. This is not a partisan issue; it is about securing our future.
On Aug. 1, 2000, the Democratic Leadership Council issued the Hyde Park Declaration, which established the Democratic principles and a policy agenda for the coming decade. Signers of this declaration included prominent Democrats, such as Sens. Kerry and Lieberman. They pledged to "create Retirement Savings Accounts to enable low-income Americans to save for their own retirement" and "give beneficiaries more choice and control over their retirement." Unfortunately, these men do not stand behind their word. They have put partisan differences ahead of saving Social Security. We must ask our congressmen to put their support behind personal accounts and help to secure our future.
X Shawn McCoy is from Columbiana, Ohio, and is the campus leader representing Students for Saving Social Security (www.secureourfuture.org) at the University of Notre Dame. He also serves as the national outreach director for the organization. SSSS is a non-partisan, grassroots network on college campuses across the country seeking genuine reform through personal ownership.