I take exception to the letter submitted by reader Wilton Jere Tidwell. In it he lumps Social Security with other programs for which the federal government makes payments to individuals.
A distinction exists which may have escaped Mr. Tidwell's notice. In the case of Social Security, these payments are paid from moneys collected and held by the government, from the individuals receiving the benefits. The fact that the Social Security Trust Fund is invested in U.S. Treasury securities does not mean that the money need not be paid back to the trust fund, any more than Treasury securities bought by China need not be paid back.
I contributed to this trust fund for some 48 years. I feel sure that Mr. Tidwell feels no guilt when he cashes his personal checks. This is because he knows that he has established funds at his bank for this purpose. In much the same way I feel no guilt about my Social Security checks because I have established funds there for that purpose.
By coincidence, there is an excellent discussion of the program in a column by Ms. Froma Harrop printed just below Mr. Tidwell's letter in the Nov. 29 issue. A few key points from that column: Social Security is an earned benefit; the money in the trust fund was loaned, not given, to the federal government; the law forbids Social Security to take a single penny from general revenues.
I heartily recommend it to anyone wishing to truly understand the situation.
Donald W. Davis