Social Security = Grand Theft Auto

It was the second time in two months that my ten-year-old Toyota Corolla needed to go into the shop for repairs totaling well over a thousand dollars. It was time to face the music: time to get a new car.

Neither my wife nor I have had a car payment in long time, so this was not welcome news. To make matters worse, the demise of my wife’s car is fast approaching as well. We can handle one car payment. But two? I’ll tell you the truth: it won’t be easy.

Which brings me to Social Security. Most discussions of Social Security focus on the disaster that lies ahead: namely, that to pay future benefits will require raising Social Security payroll taxes from 12.4 percent to something on the order of 19 percent by 2030. That would be a huge burden — roughly a 60 percent increase in what is already the biggest tax most Americans face.

But the burden is already huge. The average American earns about $50,000 a year, which means that $6,200 is taken from him and given to older Americans — $12,400 from a family in which both parents work. Put it another way. My wife and I are effectively making three or four car payments for the elderly each month — and as a result cannot afford to make two car payments for ourselves.