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Preserving Social Security will require sacrifice

While I agree with some of Max Richtman's commentary on Social Security ("Protect senior programs," Feb. 17), many of his observations are misleading.

Certainly, most any poll will show that people do not want any benefit cuts, and I would bet that most would want benefits to increase. That's just human nature. As an old saying goes, "When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you'll always have Paul's vote."

However, his use of such terms and phrases as "earned benefits" and "economic reason" do not pass muster when certain facts are considered. For example, for the first 13 years that Social Security taxes were collected — that is, 1937 through 1949 — the maximum amount collected from any worker was $30 per year or 1 percent of the first $3,000 of wages. Certainly, the dollar was worth much more then (in fact, the Consumer Price Index has gone up approximately by a factor of 15), but that translates to a maximum of $450 in today's dollars, and $900 adding in the employer's contribution. Today, the maximum Social Security payment is over $24,000 per year, so that's a very good return on that $900 tax. Of course, most workers do not collect the maximum, but neither did they contribute the maximum.

So while those workers of the 1940s did contribute, they are reaping far, far more benefits than they "earned." Of course, as time passed, Congress greatly increased the amount of the tax, so that it is now well over $6,000 per year, but benefits were increased even more, thus significantly contributing to our deficit problem.

I am a senior, and I like getting a bargain as much as anyone, but we really have to consider those young and middle-aged workers who are going to have to pay for our largesse unless some steps are taken.

Allan G. Scott, Towson

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