The article in Tuesday’s Herald regarding the hiker who tragically fell 200 feet to his death provides a teachable moment. (“Friends, loved ones bolster family after hiker’s death.”) He died just having fun while having a safe and relaxing time hiking with his brother. He left behind a young wife and two toddlers. The commendable brother, a firefighter, is trying to set up a trust to provide for them, as at age 30, there probably wasn’t enough time to set up a paid-off home, and savings for a lifetime without dad.
Fortunately, a little over 70 years ago, some wise and compassionate people, likely over some cries of dissent, passed the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) creating the Old Age, Survivors, and Disabilities Insurance (OASDI). This will provide some survivors’ assistance to Randy Stupey’s family. They certainly will not become rich off it, but maybe this will take some desperation out of their situation and allow them some choices. If there had been another preferred, more normal outcome from that hike, Mr. Stupey would have received a Social Security check later in his life, hopefully supplementing other retirement benefits, instead of insurance benefits for his family. Safety net? Entitlement? Redistribution? Social Security? I am too old to have anyone dependent on me, and Social Security barely provides meal money, but I want my kids and grandkids to have those protections in their young lives. We are all just a banana peel or drunk driver away from tragedy. Think carefully about any proposals regarding Social Security.