SOCIAL INSECURITY

THE NUMBERS DON'T ADD UP--AND THE POLITICIANS WON'T OWN UP. THE ONLY WAY TO AVERT DISASTER IS TO START CHANGING THE SYSTEM NOW

YOU KNOW A GOVERNMENT program is in trouble when it's less credible than a flying saucer. At a Senate committee hearing last month to reconfirm Shirley Chater as commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Republican Alan Simpson of Wyoming confronted Chater with a poll showing that more people under the age of 35 believe in UFOs than in the prospect that Social Security will pay them benefits upon retirement. Whatever the merits of their judgment on extraterrestrials, on Social Security the new workers have it exactly right. Given enough time, reality bites.

Long before they get their first serious wrinkle--in 20...