Number 1 September 5, 1998

This Week:

Quote of the Week
Social Security: A Program in Danger

Hi, everyone,

I have put your name on my electronic mailing list, either because you are an activist who might make use of some of the information I plan to send out, or because I think you are just the kind of person who might be interested in some of the things I am. I plan to send out not very many notes, but the ones I plan to send will be of several types:

  1. News and publications of my little project "The Social Security Project of Minnesota" (see attachment);
  2. News of rallies, demos, pickets, and so forth. Many of you will already know about them, but so what? Some of you may not;
  3. Copies of essays and columns I will be writing, on a wide range of things;
  4. Other stuff that I think you might find interesting.

Now, if this kind of thing is a nuisance to you, just let me know, and I'll take you off the list. Otherwise, just delete the boring ones and scope out the interesting ones. If you have any urge to let me know what you think of the Project or the writing, PLEASE feel free. I love getting email, so send me stuff to forward, if you want.

Also, of course, if you know of others who might appreciate this sort of thing, forward their address to me.

In solidarity,

National Writers Union
Social Security Project of Minnesota

Social Security: A Program in Danger

The Social Security Project of Minnesota can help you take action to preserve, protect, and improve the nation's largest and most popular social program.

Why Should You Care?

IF YOU are covered by a generous pension plan provided by your employer or have enough money saved to take care of yourself when you retire. IF YOU already have a good life insurance policy and also have insurance that will cover your long-term care needs should you become disabled OR IF YOU DON'T REALLY CARE THAT MANY OTHERS ARE NOT AS FORTUNATE AS YOU ...then the future of the Social Security program in the United States probably doesn't matter to you. BUT, if you don't want to see the return of the Poorhouse, and don't want to be forced to live with your children when you retire, you may want to keep reading.

A System in Crisis?

Social Security guarantees a secure retirement, and also serves as life and disability insurance, for all workers and their families. It has paid out its benefits, on time and without scandal, for over 60 years. Overhead costs? Much lower than private pensions or insurance!

Contrary to what you may have heard, THERE IS NO FINANCIAL CRISIS FACING THE PROGRAM! As people live longer, and the "baby boom" generation gets closer to retirement, some adjustments will likely be needed in order to keep Social Security on solid financial footing. But all of the problems can be dealt with by making fairly minor changes, if we act soon.

What we should be doing right now is working to make a good system even better. But first, we need to make sure that we don't lose what we already have.

Could we lose what we already have? Yes! There is a serious threat to the continued existence of the Social Security program. That threat is known as "privatization," and the fact that this idea is gaining support in Washington is the real crisis facing Social Security.

The Threat of Privatization

What is privatization? Although its supporters claim that it is an attempt to "save" a failing system, privatization would actually destroy the very heart of Social Security. Under privatization, each worker would be required to invest part of their wages in the stock market. A worker might make money, or might lose money. Everyone would be looking out only for themselves.

The current system guarantees that everyone will get benefits when needed, based on the wages earned when working. A privatized system would only guarantee the part about paying in. Instead of a system of social insurance - "one for all and all for one" - privatization would substitute a system of individual investment - "I'm looking out for Number One."

The Social Security system is not failing, as the privatizers assert, so we don't need radical changes to rescue it. Privatization would take a system where all of us pay in and all of us take out, and replace it with a system where the rich get richer, and the poor are on their own.

What You Can Do

Social Security is a strong and popular program, and our political leaders know it. But unless the majority of us - those who want to preserve and improve this important program - make our voices heard, the powerful interests pushing for privatization may get their way. We can make our voices heard, and the best way to do it is through the organizations we're in: unions church groups political parties neighborhood groups senior associations solidarity groups peace and justice organizations poor people's coalitions student groups youth groups study circles

Your Group

The first step is to become informed about the issue. Write or e-mail The Social Security Project of Minnesota for more information, or to schedule a presentation for your group. We have speakers, fact sheets, information packets, advice, and addresses of key legislators. We can help you be heard!

Social Security Project of Minnesota
P.O. Box 14354
Minneapolis, MN 55414