Last week the Wall Street Journal issued forth another sob-story for the better-off in this country, this time about the “unfairness” of the Social Security tax and how it is doled out upon retirement. According to the Journal, wage-earners on the lower end of the scale are the “winners” since they supposedly pay less in social Social Security taxes than the benefits they get out of it. Of course such concepts as “relativity” have little meaning in this context; a household making $22,500 in 2015 dollars in 2020—and that is for all practical matters near poverty wages—would receive roughly double the amount of Social Security payments as the taxes they paid in, presupposing they live another 20 years after they retire, which may not a fair assumption, since people on the lower end of the spectrum likely cannot afford the best health care that those on the other end of the income spectrum can.
On the other hand, the "losers" are those who pay more Social Security tax, up to the current $118,500 income “cap,” who will receive “only” 75 percent of what they put in from SS taxes. Of course, this is assuming that those on the higher income levels who can afford better health care only live as long as those who can’t, which of course is probably not true. Furthermore, the amount of Social Security that the top cap amount payers receive is still considerably higher than what those on the lower levels receive.
According to the Social Security calculator, if I retired at the age of 62 after an average yearly income of $22,500, I would receive $12,461 a year; at 65, I would receive $15,428; at 70, I would receive $22,074 a year. If I was one of those fortunate ones at the cap level, I would be able to retire at 62 with an income of $33,766; at 65, $41,805 and at 70, $59,814. Now who’s making out like a bandit at government expense? Of course those are average incomes over a working lifetime; back when the minimum wage was $5 or less, I was fortunate to make $10,000 a year. Thus the reality is that even if I retired at the age of 70, I might only qualify for $16,500 a year—and by then that might get you a concrete sleeping space under an overpass.
Yet those on right of the political spectrum believe that being poor is a ticket to paradise. But being on the lower-end of the income scale usually means not just living in much meaner conditions over a lifetime than those whose living standards are artificially enhanced at the expense of the working poor, but having difficulty in saving money at all for retirement. This means that unlike the well-off who have been able to amass small fortunes to spend their golden years in ease and comfort, the working poor have only that very modest income to look “forward” too, which may mean nothing anyways if they have to continue to work in order to survive—and die before they get to the “promised” land. Those fortunate persons near or exceeding the Social Security “cap” have only their petty personal politics to “worry” about.