Just to prove I can say something good about Donald Trump: he’s right about Social Security.
Anyone worth billions doesn’t need a social security check in retirement. As he said, Trump, “and all [his] rich friends,” should decline this money, because there are many who will go hungry in their neediest years, if that fund goes dry. They have a moral duty to make sure this doesn’t happen.
I’m glad Trump said it, because the last time I made that suggestion I was laughed out of the room. The laughter was sincerely dumbfounding. "Wait… you didn’t say… ‘DON’T take THE money?’ Did you!?”
I can’t put into words how that laughter made me feel. It was just like I had made the dumbest faux pas. Ever. I instantly blushed and almost shrank under my chair. I could have said, “You mean Kennedy’s been shot!?” or “Of course Elvis is alive." And I would have been viewed with more intellectual integrity than by suggesting there may be a legitimate use of “my money,” besides just using it for me.
I understand that creating a national policy on forgoing social security benefits would be impossibly difficult. Given our deeply dysfunctional congress, if I had to place a bet: that such a bill gets through the House and Senate or that Elvis actually is feasting on peanut butter and banana a sandwiches in a government-funded lakeside retreat in Area 51… well, I’d bet on the King, every day!
But that laughter said it all. Clearly, some people seem to have no concept of money and prosperity and security and economy and national purpose and vision, outside of “It’s my money. Right?”
Well, of course it’s “my” money. I have worked hard for what I have, so my money is my money – unless you try to account for the fact that I can’t take any credit for the most important factors in the success I’ve enjoyed.
Most essentially, I didn’t choose my parents – and they gave me my genes. Period. They also provided the environment that modeled the benefit of hard work, taught the value of education , and created an atmosphere where coincidence and opportunity could conspire for my benefit. And I cannot take credit for the time and place in which I was born. There were some advantages to being born white and male in post-war America.
So, yes, I’ve worked hard – but many have worked even harder – with almost nothing in this life to show for it. So… it’s “my money”?
It seems reasonable, that if hard work, and a boatload of unmerited advantages, conspire to make someone comfortably rich – opting to forego a modest Social Security benefit is a reasonable response in the 21st century land of the free.
Speaking from a perspective of enlightened self-interest, it’s clear that in a capitalist economy the stronger the lower and middle classes are, the more money those at the top are going to have.
And speaking from a perspective of faith, God’s concern is not those whose hard work and unmerited advantages put them at the top. It is the well-being of all – especially those whose hard work and undeserved disadvantages have put them closer to the bottom.
And maybe that’s why it was called “Social Security,” and not “Individual Security,” or “My Security.”
When will we learn that wisdom? It’s not “my money” that will make me most secure – but it is the security of our society that will make Mr. Trump most rich.
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