The American people are expressing their outrage over the incredibly high unemployment rate of 10 percent. The primary thrust of the outrage is directed at the stimulus package that has not created many employment opportunities on Main Street. The reality is that we are a very impatient and desperate people looking for a quick fix where one does not exist.
It has taken many years to reach this pinnacle of economic failure and the government must recognize their role in contributing to the problems and work toward correcting some previous legislation that has exacerbated the problems with unemployment. As with any monumental problem, there is no single remedy.
A reasonable first step would be to amend the 1996 Senior Citizens Right to Work Act. This act allows an employee to continue working after reaching full retirement age while receiving their full monthly Social Security benefit. In higher earning positions, an employee could continue to receive their regular salary and supplement that income with over $40,000 per year in Social Security benefits. With over 50 percent of the workforce earning less than $32,000 per year, the concept of receiving that much Social Security is beyond imagining for half the country.
The question remains; how much is enough? At what point do your personal desires override all other considerations of social responsibility? If you have an above average yearly income and you are simply supplementing your income with Social Security benefits to provide luxuries, should you consider retiring thereby opening up an employment opportunity for someone else?
An argument of entitlement notwithstanding, it makes sense to open up the job market with more available positions and/or save benefit money from Social Security. The whole idea that we have fewer available jobs and pay full benefits from a financially strapped government agency makes no sense. In 1996, when the act was implemented, the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent and steadily declined to 4.7 percent by 2001. Clearly, the number of employees available in 2010 is radically higher than it was fourteen years ago.
Historically, lower wage earners must have some means of supplementing their Social Security benefits and they should certainly be able to continue to do so. Reinstating the earnings caps for upper middle and upper income wage earners is the specific issue being addressed for opening up employment opportunities and/or reducing Social Security outlays.
When retirement is a reasonable option and no real financial need is present, it is socially irresponsible to continue working in this economic environment. Congress needs to discontinue the monetary encouragement for people to maintain employment after reaching full retirement age. The earnings caps should be reinstated so that the employees’ Social Security benefits are either reduced or delayed should they choose to continue working.
If double dipping were not so incredibly enticing perhaps more employment opportunities would become available, as some of the work force retired, to those with absolutely zero income trying to support their families.