In his May editorial, R. Cort Kirkwood felt compelled to speak for Ayn Rand and to castigate “entitlements” for “home-owning, white Republicans” with retirement income in excess of $50,000 per annum. Kirkwood is sorely confused.

Rand would indeed have been offended by the compulsory form of savings for retirement that Social Security imposes on “home-owning white Republicans” who would rather set aside and invest for their own retirement in ways not subject to federal “borrowing.” But Kirkwood certainly does not know the same Rand that the rest of us know when he suggests that those of us who have more than paid for our benefits help comprise a “ponderous burden.”

In fact, anyone with a retirement income of $50,000 per annum almost certainly has paid into the Social Security system far more than will ever be made available to such home-owning, white Republicans. It is this very class that has helped subsidize the far more numerous class of retirees that receives a “minimum” benefit that far, far exceeds any contribution made by them to the system. Kirkwood had better figure out just where the “ponderous burden” rests, and not do a doublethink in the name of Ayn Rand.

        —Douglas Thornsjo
Kennebunkport, ME

Mr. Kirkwood Replies:

I do not understand Mr. Thornsjo’s complaint, for he does not dispute my facts. Of course, retirees, whether they are rich white Republicans or poor black Democrats, are entitled to receive the money they “invested” in Social Security, The problem is, recipients often collect more than they contributed. Moreover, an increasing number of Americans never contributed any money to the Social Security system, yet thanks to Congress are eligible for benefits.

As for Social Security itself, anyone who ever believed the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington could be trusted to save money for retirees is either naive or stupid. I say scrap the program for everyone 45 years old and younger. Return their money and let them fend for themselves. Give people 46 years or older a choice; take your money now, with interest, or stick with the system. Let this group know that an individual will not receive a dime more than he put into the system.

Ideally, Social Security ought to be abolished immediately, but the government has gotten too many older folks accustomed to the idea that it will care for them in their dotage. In fact, that was part of the agreement with today’s retirees when they paid their money into the system. The government has no right to breech it. However, Americans mv age deserve the option of opting out. It is amusing, and perhaps telling, to note the town in which Mr. Thornsjo lives. It is Kennebunkport, Maine, home of white, George Bush Republicans who typically earn more than $50,000 per year, own their own homes, and in all probability receive a corporate pension and the Social Security payments he defends.