You're gonna love this tidbit. Know how you occasionally receive statements from Social Security as to how much you may expect to receive when you retire? Some of you probably toss it in the circular file (usually applies to those 30 and under), while others who are closer to retirement age, scrutinize it under an electron microscope. Well, perhaps everybody will enjoy the next annual statement from our government where you will see in rather blunt and stark language that those funds are in jeopardy.

No, I am not kidding. The language will say, "By 2042, the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted." Nice, eh? According to a Social Security spokeswoman, this language is designed to "educate the public." Kind of strong isn't it for educational purposes and rather threatening? She goes on to say, "The point is to make the information in the statement more clear and easy to understand so that the public can take part in the discussion about its future."

Now, if I were a political pundit, I would begin to question whether this was nothing more than an endorsement of the present administration's proposal to have workers invest some of their payroll taxes in stock and bonds. David Certner, director of federal affairs for the AARP, doesn't think so. He says that this language gives emphasis to the solvency or insolvency of the entire retirement system. "Some who are interested in more radical reforms have tried to create a crisis atmosphere about Social Security's financial condition. We believe Social Security is not in a crisis."

Then what, pray tell, is it all about? This warning language is to be included in the annual letter that Social Security sends to some 138 million workers over the age of 25. Keep in mind that the nation's elderly are the fastest-growing population group and that Social Security estimates that the number of people over the age of 65 will double within the next four decades. Thus, you have that 2042-year date. In short, the number of Social Security beneficiaries will grow much faster than the number of workers who are paying the payroll tax and although the present tax revenue exceeds benefit payments, the letter estimates that this climate will last only for 14 more years under current law.

Do I have any answers? Nope. Forty years from now, I don't expect to be around and if I am, I don't expect to be cognizant of where I am. But to my children and grandchildren, I have a concern.

I agree with Mr. Certner. Right now, there is no crisis, but with the aging population, something clearly has to be done. Got any ideas?

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