Students Launch “Don’t Get Screwed” Campaign

“Social Security is a dead issue!” said a friend when she heard I work for a student based non-profit organization that advocates for Social Security reform ( But the problems with the Social Security system are not going away just because Congress is ignoring the issue, and it is our obligation as voters to demand reforms.

Why should we be concerned with Social Security? In a nut shell, we’re getting screwed. On average, today’s 20-year-old workers will pay about $84,000 more in taxes over the course of their life than they will collect in benefits. We are not just getting screwed by the system because it is unfair, but also because it is not built on bedrock American principles of ownership and choice. Unless reform occurs, Congress will likely raise taxes even more to cover the shortfalls.

Social Security is another government entitlement program that is etching itself more and more into our lives, forcing us to be dependent on the government, rather than allow us the opportunity to be self-reliant. This is a scary thought for freedom-lovers, like me.

It is in our best interest, as workers, to ensure the system is reformed. At S4, ( we advocate for Social Security reform through Personal Retirement Accounts. We want the choice to put some of our SS tax dollars into an account that is OURS. If young workers could invest that $84,000 mentioned above, with the power of compound interest, they could have $1.2 million dollars when they’re ready to retire!

“That’s really cute of you to be working so hard at such a futile cause,” my friend proceeded to say to me. To some, the “third-rail” issue of Social Security reform is an insurmountable battle. But touching on Hayek and “Public Choice” theory, Max Pappas, the policy expert from FreedomWorks, recently described to a room full of interns, “Politicians are corks floating in the sea of public opinion. The way to make a difference is to change the tide of public opinion.” It is up to US to change the tide!

The 2006 elections are coming up, so now is the time politicians are especially paying attention. If Social Security emerges as a voting issue by having citizens demand reform, politicians will respond because it is in their best interest. As Oregonians, we have a unique position in that, even though neither of our Senators are up for re-election, our views carry a lot of weight because Senator Smith and Senator Wyden are BOTH on the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Social Security reform would not be a “futile cause” if citizens get behind it. So far, with just over a year under our belts, S4 has been successful in getting the word out. We have almost 300 campus chapters nation wide and representation in all 50 states. Here in Oregon, we have students at 18 colleges, and over 160 at Portland State alone. By joining S4 and making our voices heard, we are showing Congress that if they want to protect their own self interest, (i.e.- get re-elected) they need to start acting in OUR self interest and reform Social Security.