Work with me here for a minute.
Social Security serves a great purpose. I completely understand that there are a whole host of reasons why someone might need a helping hand, and I have no problem giving it to them. Especially if it's a situation where someone is in bad straits simply because they drew a rotten hand in life.
But the problem with Social Security is that massive numbers of people from multiple generations have assumed that Social Security would take care of all
of their wants and needs for many years in retirement.
401(k)? Nah. IRA? No way. I'm already paying into Social Security. That'll be just fine.
When these folks are hit with the reality of what Social Security provides (or doesn't provide) compared to what they want/need, it's often too late to do anything of substance about it. I've watched many people from the Greatest Generation struggle through retirement because they didn't plan for their retirement, assuming that Social Security would be adequate. I'm watching now as many people from my parents' generation (the Boomers) are realizing that they aren't going to be able to completely retire in their late 50s / early 60s because they didn't save enough for retirement. In a lot of cases, many Boomers are having to put off their retirement because they're at least partially footing the bill for their parents in retirement.
Worst of all, I'm watching as many people in my generation (X) are following down the same path. "Retirement? I can't afford to save for that. Besides, it's so far away that I don't need to worry about it right now. I'll worry about that later when I'm making more money."
Something needs to happen to get the masses tuned in to the fact that Social Security alone does NOT equal a viable retirement program. It's a minimal supplement. That's it. Nothing more. If increasing the retirement age to 69 gets more people to start thinking about, and more importantly, actively preparing for retirement, then we as a society will be better off in the long run. We'll have fewer folks depending on a government handout every month. More people will be self-sufficient and financially independant.
Finally, the thing about retirement planning is that it isn't rocket science. If you can buy a car, or buy a house, or graduate from high school, you can comprehend the basic financial principles that are the basis for investing and long-term wealth accumulation. With the telecommunications available, all you have to do is flip on your tv every once in a while and listen to Suze Orman or watch MSNBC. If you can work a web browser you can teach yourself all of the basics of retirement planning in less time than it takes to watch a 9 inning Reds game.
Heck, it's so simple that even I
can understand it.
And I'm a complete idiot.