(This is an archive written by the late Leslie Centanni. July, 2005) Everyone seems so preoccupied with social security these days, I decided it was high time for me to look at it in more depth. Apparently, there's a crisis, and everyone is up-in-arms because grandma won't get her check. But after reading as much as I could stomach, and trying to wrap my mind around all the financial implications (Larry Kudlow, you're my hero!), I've formed an opinion. The so-called crisis is more one of realizing the price of inaction over many years, than of a government program's status as an economic tanker. And I'm doggone mad at myself for being a part of the problem.
First and foremost, there must be a means of financial support in place for every single American when they are no longer able to support themselves. That is one of the pillars of American life, and one in which we take great pride. It differentiates us as a nation, separates us from the uncivilized, and mustn't be done away with. The words must stand: "We take care of our own." Like "women and children first" and "no man left behind" ..this distinctly American compulsion to care for our fellow countrymen, in a spirit of brotherhood and charity, cannot be allowed to fall. The desire to ensure some means of security and health care is in place for every one of us, for as long as we live, is a noble cause we should pursue with great energy.
But how we go about achieving personal economic security for everyone, to me, is such a simple matter. I truly don't understand all the confusion, or should I say, lack of guts? The challenge isn't about getting the money.. it's about managing the money we get. Put a checkbox on our income tax return for earmarking a deductible donation to a fund for our two most pressing national needs - social security and health care - and the overwhelming generosity of both rich and poor Americans would easily fill the coffers. Add to that the ability to write-off large donations to those funds as tax-relief, give working citizens a hand in managing their personal social security funds, encourage individuals to start small businesses that will support this momentous undertaking, and you have all the makings of a great American success story.
As you can see, a combination of approaches are required to manage these funds, as greedy hands are always outstretched, and manipulative minds are always lurking and looking for opportunities grab power. This is where corporate America could step in, and by working together with our social policy leaders, really step up to the plate. Cooperative organizations could work to encourage non-profit companies into the mix... organizations that serve the public interest, instead of leaving it solely in the hands of the government. There would be rules, requirements, and certainly fiscal ordinances, as well there should be. But stimulating the small business world giving by them such an important and necessary market to serve, and access to larger corporate entities as who have an interest in becoming their customers in that market - would be extremely exciting.
Obviously, such profound changes would require government slogs to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.. but the fact of the matter is, we can't allow our public servants to get off the hook on social security and health care. Do what you can to push them into action, and remember that all of us have some accountability here. We the People can get these processes under control through our very own power, so it's our responsibility to make sure our government has the means to do the job. If every major corporation made a yearly effort to gather dollars for these funds (think golf classics) and raise awareness (think concerts, lapel ribbons, parades), we'd have our problem solved.
Envision if you will: banks of people answering calls for advisory assistance, money managers encouraging investments, banks creating new offers for fledgling personal accounts, analysts competing for the opportunity to inform, security firms developing network safeguards that guarantee information safety, financial insurance firms dropping rates to compete for and boost economic enthusiasm. There is virtually no area of fiscal concern that cannot be addressed, indeed resolved, once we've made a national decision to take action. And frankly, there is no time like the present to get it done.
Economically speaking, our huge deficit is beginning to shrink, a fact big media is choosing to ignore, but nonetheless has begun to be realized. The war in Iraq will begin to wind down this year, and our battle weary military will be coming home to recover. They deserve to come home to a nation hard at work taking care of business, and each other. Look at it this way: We the People are on sentry duty, and must take the hill in our mission to ensure the collective security of our individual futures. We must be diligent to hold our posts with open eyes, open ears, and an intense awareness of the ever-changing landscape.
For those of you who labor even now to solve our societal dilemmas, and for those of you yet to join the fray, keep in mind this simple thought: a dignified life must be free of unfounded oversight, respectful of individual rights, and allow for personal growth. A society that ensures a dignified life for everyone will ensure a better life for us all. If you find arrows in your back, you'll know you're a true pioneer. So even if you hate each other, are rivals for a committee appointment, want to take someone else's job, or just plain old don't agree on anything. You had best get this job done and done right. We the People are waiting.