For most, the last 12 months have been like nothing we could ever have imagined. The unexpected shutdown in the economy has hurt many households in the pocketbook.
Meanwhile, Operation Warp Speed encouraged pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine, and they rose to the challenge in record time. And from a financial perspective, I firmly believe the rapid development of the vaccines was the best possible economic stimulus to get the economy rolling again.
In other words, not only do the vaccines help reduce the spread of the virus, but they also provide hope and confidence to stop the cocooning and motivate people to get out of their homes. Without willing people the economy doesn’t recover.
As a society I have no problem helping those in need. But keep in mind that the money to help families in the proposed bills isn’t in some government vault. Whatever legislation is ultimately passed, the stimulus dollars are essentially borrowed dollars. And as critics of the bill point out, there’s a whole lot in the bill that has nothing to do with helping those with a genuine need.
We’re waiting for the final numbers from the recent national census, but estimates say that we’re a nation of 331 million people. It varies every day, but roughly 10 million people are unemployed. I would also like to point out that there are 73 million in our country under the age of 18. And at the other end of the scale there are 45 million retirees and 10,000 people that turn 65 every day.
All these numbers, of course, constantly fluctuate. The key point is that the current civilian labor force is 160 million. And it shoulders the entire financial burden of our nation. The debt load is so large that much of what we’re currently spending will ultimately be the financial responsibility of the 73 million young people who have yet to enter the workforce.
Many retirees that collect Social Security will point out that they paid into the system for years. This is an accurate statement but it’s somewhat misleading. The fact is that many, if not most retirees will receive much more money than they put into Social Security. The program works in such a way that as soon as the deposits go in, they go right out the back door to support those already retired.
The trustees of Social Security have been sounding the alarm for years. The current labor force and future labor force are being asked to do some heavy lifting. And by that I mean they’re likely to face tax increases into the foreseeable future. The interest alone on our debt is astronomical.
The perception that government money is free money is simply not accurate. It would be nice if our elected officials came up with creative ideas and solutions to help those truly in need. It’s time to stop adding pet projects that increase or national debt. I hope that our elected officials will someday become good stewards of our tax dollars.
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Ken is a registered representative of LPL Financial. Securities and financial planning offered through LPL, a Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Ken is Vice-President of the Society for Lifetime Planning in Troy. All opinions expressed are those of Ken Morris. LPL and Society for Lifetime Planning are independent companies. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.