Close Close
Popular Financial Topics Discover relevant content from across the suite of ALM legal publications From the Industry More content from ThinkAdvisor and select sponsors Investment Advisor Issue Gallery Read digital editions of Investment Advisor Magazine Tax Facts Get clear, current, and reliable answers to pressing tax questions
Luminaries Awards

Retirement Planning > Social Security

Too Much Noise

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

I dont know about you, but Nov. 2 cant come fast enough. My political persuasion is not a secret, so its not that Im not keenly interested in the outcome. But while I admit to being a political junkie and strongly rooting for one candidate, this particular presidential campaign has me fatigued for one simple reason: I cant take the noise any more.

The noise? Yes, as in the din of unrelenting attacks by both sides that have given a new, water-torture dimension to the word repetition. As in loud and annoying static when so much energy has been focused on what happenedor didnt happen30 years ago as opposed to issues that are really pressing now and likely to grow more serious with every passing month. As in the “yadda, yadda, yadda” quality of a discourse that is bereft of dialogue. As in the cacophony that results from taking remarks out of context and distorting their meaning with blatant disregard for the spirit of what was originally said.

Youll notice that Im not blaming one side or the other (strong as the temptation may be). This is most definitely “a plague on both your houses” situation.

I invite you to imagine, if you will, what the campaign could have been like if both candidates were forced to engage in dialogue about the issues that Americans tell pollsters concern them the most. If each man were forced to come up with ideas and programs instead of slogans, and then were forced to listen and respond to his opponents ideas and programs (as well as defend his own), we might actually have learned what each candidate intends to do about issues like health care inflation run amok, college tuition costs run amok and a federal deficit run amok.

As it is now we have not much more than fear-mongering on either side concerning issues like the future of Social Security and Medicare and the potential for catastrophe as millions of baby boomers reach retirement age financially underprepared.

It is the height of speciousness to pretend that the slogans that have been volunteered regarding Social Security, for instance, come anywhere near to addressing the gravity of the situation. This applies to seeing privatization as a panacea, on the one side, to doubtful pledges of never cutting benefits, on the other.

And as far as the health care system and the 45 million or so uninsured, does it really further a solution to this crisis to hear, on the one hand, that one candidate wants to nationalize the system (not true) or that the other has not done anything at all regarding it?

But blaming the candidates is the easy way out. The truth is they are giving the American people what they want or at least what people are willing to accept in place of true dialogue on issues that matter.

It may be human nature to not want to focus or concentrate on tomorrows troubles, but we in this country seem to be taking denial and making it into an art form.

If we dont demand to hear the truth, then we dont deserve to have responsible leaders who will buck the tide and deliver news about what needs to be done without sugarcoating or outright lies.

In a sense this desire to run away from reality among the public at large simply magnifies what is going on in individual lives as they face retirement with a full set of illusions and misconceptions intact. So, yes, many in this society believe they can spend, spend, spend and still have enough money to retire on 90% of their pre-retirement income because the government is going to take care of all those pesky incidentals like long term care and prescription drugs.

Perhaps when the next electoral cycle comes around there will be so much fiscal wreckage that people will want to break through the noise, listen up and face reality. In the meantime, one can only pine for candidates who lead rather than simply reflect a citizenry in denial.

–Steve Piontek


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, October 21, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.