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Profile: Amy

Amy, a 31-year-old graphic designer, is exactly the type of American that privatizers would like to recruit. She’s young, earns a decent salary, believes in the long-term prospects of the stock market, and is actively involved in her own retirement planning.

Amy contributes 10 percent of her pre-tax salary to a 401(k) at work, puts away the maximum she can into a Roth IRA every year, buys stock directly through an online brokerage, and is even involved in a stock investing club in her community.

Yet she firmly believes in preserving Social Security as a social insurance program with a guaranteed, lifetime benefit.

“Private accounts are a horrible idea for Social Security. As someone who’s heavily invested in the stock market and will likely never work at a job with an old-fashioned [defined benefit] pension, I don’t need another opportunity to take on more personal risk in my investments. I have plenty of exposure, opportunity, and risk in my 401(k), my IRAs, and my direct stock investments. Instead, I need a baseline of protection that I can’t outlive, that I can’t lose to poor investments, and that I know will be adjusted for inflation in my retirement years.

“Plus, I like the concept of collective social insurance—I know my parents, my partner’s parents, and so many elders in our society can rely on it for a baseline of retirement benefits, which in turn makes my life more financially secure. Also, the disability protections are particularly valuable to me, given my age and my dependence on my paycheck.

“The only thing I don’t like about Social Security is the fact that, as part of a lesbian couple, my partner would not be eligible for any benefits based on my earnings should I die before she does, should she become a caregiver to our (future) children, or should I become disabled. I hope this discriminatory approach can be rectified soon.”

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