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Current Events in American History

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Current Events in American History

Current Events in American History

This year in American History we have come across many different issues that relate to current events. Many of these events have broadened my understanding of American History and Government, providing me with a richer sense of our country and how past events lead to present events which eventually impact the future. The four areas which interest me the most are economic issues, foreign policy, government and science and technology. Because these events are so current, I feel that they will have an impact on me in my life not only for today but for the future, as well.

The first article which appealed to me focused on economics, specifically the implications that any changes in social security will have for me in terms of retirement, financial planning, choice of career, and retirement income. The information contained in this article made me realize that these issues can impact my future. Edmund L, Andrews and Eduardo Porter in their article "Social Security: Help for the Poor or Help for All?," published in The New York Times, Sunday, May 1st, 2005 , discusses President Bush's plan to alter social security. Essentially, President Bush has decided that the social security retirement program, which has been in existence for seventy years, should not allow low income employees to become poor. Even though President Bush's plan does not entail raising taxes, it would not be a meaningful gesture for the middle and upper classes. Specifically, Bush's proposal of "progressive indexation" would enable very low-income employees to acquire retirement benefits equivalent to 49 percent of their salaries. The article indicates that these low salary workers earn about $16,000/year. However, in today's currency, the average income worker who earns $36,500 would receive retirement benefits of only 26 percent of their salary by the year 2075 as opposed to 36 percent of today's salary. Furthermore, the people who would pay the most in taxes, those earning $90,000/year in today's currency, would only receive 12 percent of their salaries in retirement benefits. President Bush and the majority of Republicans are vehemently opposed to any ideas that would raise taxes in order to keep social security viable. To reinforce Bush's plan, Representative Bill Thomas said that the rich people to whom he has spoken said that they would rather have their benefits cut than pay a tax increase. It is important to note that in the article Representative Bill Thomas is a Republican who only spoke for one side, perhaps even attempting to ingratiate himself to Bush and the Republican Party.

Nevertheless, many Democratic critics and lawmakers oppose this concept. Democrats feel that Social Security is not a poverty program, but a retirement system for all who have worked and contributed. Personally, I agree with the opponents of Bush's plan because all of the time that one has spent working and receiving a high level income, a certain percentage is given to social security. If Bush's plan is enforced, then many people will never receive the money that they worked so hard to contribute. I believe that this is very unfair. In other words, the more money that you have, the less it is worth. Also, with Bush's plan, many things can go wrong. Investing money in the stock market, mutual funds, or annuities doesn't offer protection because the stock market and mutual funds can fail, and other money accounts could be robbed by individuals such as those who ran ENRON.

The article continues to discuss two competing approaches to Social Security, one concentrating on benefits in the later years for the poor or making the taxes higher on the wealthy. Since the wages of people's pay have been increasing almost one percent faster than prices, this would mean that retirement benefits for middle and upper-middle class would climb more slowly than promised. Once these employees stop working, individuals without retirement benefits might experience a great plunge in their living standards and ability to reap the awards of their hard

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