I know the odds of winning the $500 million jackpot in this Friday night's Mega Millions lottery are longer than Milton Berle's garden hose, something like 176-million-to-one. But I've been reading about the even more remote prospect that Social Security will provide any real money for my retirement, and 176-million-to-one is sounding like a pretty good deal. Judging from the long lines at Mega Millions machines, I may not be the only idiot who thinks so.
For anyone 50-ish or under, the main thing Social Security will end up giving each of us is not a comfortable retirement but a unique nine-digit number. Whether the number comes with actual retirement benefits remains to be seen. We do get to keep the number, though, as the government's free gift. It's a handy way for corporations to keep track of us and dirtbags to steal our identities.
If only the fact that every American has a unique nine-digit number could be put to some productive use. Some way that could give all Americans a chance to be optimistic again about our golden years. Some way that would get us all excited to live another week. Some way that might even help shore up the ailing Social Security system.
Here's what I'm saying. Every Friday night, draw a random Social Security number out of the ping-pong-ball machine, and that guy gets a million dollars. Not an annuity. Just a million dollars, tax free, in your pocket. Maybe it could be $10 million. Or 10 people each getting one million. We'll see what the government can swing. They'll have to use whatever money is left in the Social Security lock box to pay out the prizes. But this is a net money saver. And imagine the ad revenues from the TV show -- who wouldn't watch? How much more thrilling would this be than the old Social Security system? Who wouldn't be willing to give up the grim prospect of $43 a week until you die for the chance to become a millionaire every Friday night?