March 28th, 2010
08:14 AM ET

Dear President Obama #433: Social insecurity

Reporter's Note: I am beginning to think that retirement, like Brigadoon, is something that exists largely in the fantasy realm. Especially with Social Security unexpectedly running into red ink. That said, in a spirit of optimism, I’m still using regular ink to write my daily letter to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

This country has been good to me. My parents were both born into struggling, working class families, which in all fairness would be called poor by most people. Mind you, my folks never called themselves poor because they always knew others who were worse off. And because they had their pride. And I think they felt it was kind of self-indulgent and pointless to sit around whining about such things. To the contrary, they believed that hard work was the great savior of families, and my sister, brother and I were taught from the cradle that labor was a virtue.

I didn’t always feel an eagerness for it. Like most kids I groused about feeding the dog, and mowing the yard, and painting the basement, and digging ditches, and planting shrubs, and building sheds, and on and on.

My father once wanted to put a sump pump drainage pipe beneath the concrete slab of the garage. And his plan to accomplish this, while ingenious, still makes me shake my head in disbelief. We used a 12 pound sledgehammer to drive the pipe sideways beneath that slab; pounding through the black earth gumbo of central Illinois hour after hour, all day long one spring weekend. The further we went, the more the progress slowed, so that each time the hammer slammed against the pipe, it crept only a quarter inch forward… sometimes less.