By Mark Skousen
Editor, Forecasts & Strategies
October 19 is a special day. In American history, it is the anniversary of the day the Americans ended the Revolutionary War by defeating the British in the Battle of Yorktown. More recently, it is the anniversary of the day the stock market crashed in 1987.
It is also my birthday, when I turn 65 years old — the age when Americans traditionally retire from work and sign up for Social Security and Medicare.
I’ve thought long and hard about what to do on this day. I have no intention of retiring; I love what I do, and I hope I will be able to do it until the day I die working — writing my investment newsletter, speaking at conferences, publishing books, and producing conferences like Freedom Fest.
As an ardent supporter of self reliance and limited government, I also feel a little reluctant to accept Social Security payments when our government is so deeply in debt. While everyone can use a little extra cash, I don’t really need Social Security. I’ve worked hard, saved, and invested to build up my net worth. I’ve paid off my home mortgage, and I have both a company pension program and an individual retirement account. Like many wise Americans, I’ve followed the golden principles of “industry, thrift and prudence” advocated by Benjamin Franklin in “The Way of Wealth.”
Over the past year I’ve pondered two questions:
1. Should I sign up for Social Security?
2. What should I do with my monthly Social Security check?
I’ve asked a variety of friends and colleagues what they do with their monthly Social Security check. Many say they don’t do anything special with the money. It is deposited directly into their bank accounts, and they spend it as they do any other income.
This started me to thinking: Can Social Security payments be used for a good cause?
In the early 1970s, my uncle W. Cleon Skousen, a political conservative, told me that when he turned 65, he would refuse Social Security payments because he didn’t believe in a government-imposed pension system. But in 1978, when he turned 65, he couldn’t resist the extra monthly income of $650. After all, he had earned it during his working years. It had been deducted from his paycheck and set aside for him (theoretically at least) in the Social Security trust fund. It was his. But he compromised. He didn’t just spend the money for daily living expenses. He decided to sign the monthly Treasury check over to his favorite cause, his National Center for Constitutional Studies. His personal mission was to teach Americans about the Constitution and how to preserve it. Through NCCS, he traveled the country giving Constitutional seminars to patriotic Americans.
I think he made the right decision. I’m sure his foundation made better use of the money than the federal government would have by wasting it on some boondoggle.
Put Your Social Security Check to Good Use
Following in my uncle’s footsteps, I’ve decided to sign up for Social Security and invest my monthly government check into a variety of good causes. Based on my past earnings, I should receive a check of around $1,800 a month, automatically transferred into my bank account.
I invite you to join me in this cause. Take the Social Security Pledge. If you are wealthy enough, use part or all of your Social Security proceeds to invest in your favorite causes. They might include:
–Alma mater or other colleges/universities
–Think tanks or foundations
–Churches or synagogues
–Political parties and causes
–funding a business
You don’t have to limit yourself to giving to non-profit organizations that are tax deductible. You are free to give your Social Security check to any organization, public or private. You can even give the funds to a student scholarship — for your grandchildren, for example.
One wealthy friend told me he is tired of giving money to charities and political causes that he thinks are wasteful and useless. I suggested to him that he invest his government check in free enterprise. Buy shares in individual stocks or mutual funds through his brokerage account. Better yet, fund an inventor who could use the money to advance his work.
There are lots of possibilities. Be creative and have some fun with it. Give it away monthly, or let it build up in a separate bank account and give a larger donation at the end of the year. Put it to good use!
Your pledge is informal, so it is entirely flexible. You can change it at any time. If your interests change, change your recipient. If your personal circumstances change, use the money for living expenses. It’s up to you.
On this website, we encourage you to sign up for the Social Security Pledge, and tell us what your favorite causes are. Feel free to identify the organizations you support, and provide a link, so that other readers might join your cause.
The potential is huge for the Social Security Pledge to help charitable organizations, enterprises, and movements grow.
Banking technology has made it simple and efficient to invest in good causes with your Social Security check. Simply use an online banking service. Make a list of how much money you wish to give to each organization or cause, so that donations equal your monthly Social Security check, or whatever amount you feel comfortable giving. Then inform your bank of the names and addresses of the organizations and how much you wish to donate to each. Your online bank will do the rest by automatically sending them a check every month. You can change the organizations and amounts whenever you want. It’s that simple.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, once gave a popular talk called “The Sermon on Wealth.” According to Wesley, the mission in life was three fold:
Work all you can.
Save all you can.
Give all you can.
The Social Security Pledge is a great way to live up to John Wesley’s sermon.
Welcome aboard. Click here to take the pledge today!
Yours for peace, prosperity, and liberty, AEIOU,