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What if your email address could demand respect?

Social Security and our Fearless Leaders.

I know, this is long, but it is so worth the read.

With all the buzz about dismantling and or privatizing Social Security, has anyone asked the question "What retirement benefits do our leaders in Washington subscribe?"

There's a chain-email going around bringing this to light. The problem with the email is there are some falsifications and little substantion. So, let's get the record straight; Point 1: The general position is correct in that U.S. Government officials have a fabulous retirement plan that completely puts Social Security to shame. Point 2: The Feds would have you believe that Union organizations are bad for our economy, ironically because of the very same "spin-out-of-control" compensation programs of which our Feds themselves benefit wildly from.

If you stop to ask "the question", you'll find they've conveniently stepped out of the Social Security System and stepped into their own "Washington Only" system that delivers quite lucrative benefits. A program that provides retirement payouts to Washington officials that many Americans struggle to attain during their working careers.

Common sense I would think, but is it too much to ask; when someone is selected to make something better, that they also be someone who will also rely on that resource. One would not experiment with the water they drink? Then why experiment with a retirement system in which you wouldn't be a member?

I don't really blame them for this because it's human nature to want more, at whatever the cost. Heck, look at the number of SUV's on the road or how we flock to purchase goods from foreign sources just so we can increase our spending power - all the while, we never consider the impact of this on our local economy - our neighbors. (My last thought on this subject; the next time you purchase a package of your favorite frozen vegetable, look at their point of origin. Now ask yourself this; "what will be state of our union the day we lose control of our food supply?")

OK, now back to the topic: Tell Washington to dismantle their retirement system and join our Social Security System - then ask them to fix it. - The creative solutions that will arise will absolutely amaze you. It would be like the transformation of the Scarecrow at the end of the Wizard of Oz (if you know what I mean.)

Oh, I should mention; be careful about how you ask, I'm sure their first knee jerk reaction will be an attempt to keep their plan then, add Social Security on top. (Just a theory! But if history proves anything.....)

The Record: Now if you do a search on this subject, you'll find a bunch or propaganda to sidetrack the average reader. However, before you let the smoke and mirrors daze you, I'll make it easy for the average person to get to the quick facts that back up the recent frenzy. Look at About.com here - http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa031200a.htm (In short: Sure, our Feds retirement plan does have some rules, and they do pay into Social Security, but their retirement pension payout is a far more lucrative "percentage" than that of the average American.

Quick facts taken from the above:

- The current salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $158,100 per year.
- Leaders of the House and Senate are paid a higher - $158,100 per year.
- A cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) takes effect annually - unless they vote to reject it (Sure! Sorry, I couldn't help myself here.)
- Members elected since 1984 are covered by FERS (Federal Employees' Retirement System)
- Members of FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security.
- The amount of a Congressperson's pension depends on: The years of service and the average of their highest 3 years of salary. By law, the "starting" amount of a Member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary. (They've always got themselves covered)

Here's a challenge for you; - Which if the above are restrictions verses perks? (Just a joke, don't hurt yourself. They're all perks!)

Oh, one more little thing I just noticed. Our Feds say that Social Security simply does not balance and will never support itself. Well, well, look at the numbers above on the FERS program. They pay 1.3%/yr into their program. Now using my math, a government official would have to work for 75 years just support 1 years worth of retirement (now I know some of these gents are old, but give me a break!) OR a different way to look at it – It takes 75 government employees to support one retired employee. This also makes sense – It’s the reason government must grow.

Now, for those that feel I've not given them enough substantiating public info: Have a look at this:
"I don't feel your 401(k) pain." from : "Ten Things Your Politician Won't Tell You" By: Roben Farzad - Smart Money - October 15, 2002
Lawmakers looking to win the support of irate voters are getting extra mileage out of assailing 401(k) abuses by corporate bosses. But do these politicians really know what it's like to see retirement savings turn to rubble? Capitol Hill pensions, you see, are uncommonly generous — shielding politicians from much of the 401(k) anxiety that plagues their constituents.

According to the nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union, a lawmaker retiring at age 60 who has 15 to 20 years of service can expect to pocket at least $1 million in lifetime pension benefits. All told, congressional pensions are typically two to three times more generous than those in the private sector. Plus, the benefit is inflation-protected with a cost-of-living adjustment (less than 10 percent of private plans have that). But for all their outrage at rogue executives over neglected employee retirement plans, lawmakers still extend pension benefits to politicians in jail. James Traficant, the recently imprisoned ex-congressman from Ohio, remains eligible for an annual pension beginning at $37,120. "Talk about criminal," stews Ilene Davis, a Cocoa, Fla., financial planner who is petitioning legislators to reform government pension plans.

Boy, don't you wish your Social Security plan were this comprehensive!

(Would you like more information on this subject as we collect it? Would you like to sign a petition to make this a line item on the next national ballot? If you would like to be notified by email please indicate such in the comment field.)

I must return to work now so I can save for my retirement (and ah yes, also donate to my Representatives retirement fund.)