The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned for three days and killed nearly 300 people. In the aftermath of the destruction, blame was placed on a cow owned by local resident Catherine O’Leary. The cow kicked over a lantern, the story goes, which started the fire and burned roughly three square miles of the city. This tale continues to be told today, despite the fact that it just isn’t true. The story was invented by a journalist who simply wanted attention, and in the anti-Irish community of Chicago in the late 1800’s, this was sure to sell newspapers. It’s interesting to see the number of popular misconceptions that continue to live on in our society. For whatever reason, the story is just more interesting than the truth.
The finance industry carries its share of misconceptions as well. David Cechanowicz is tackling one of the most popular misconceptions in the industry with this recommended reading article, discussing the belief that our social security fund is going to run out of money soon. Cechanowicz does an excellent job of pointing out the reality of the situation and its likely impact on retirees. As he shows us, even in the worst case scenario, retirees can still expect to receive 74% of planned benefits through the year 2090. While not ideal, this is a far cry from the sensationalistic headlines depicting the program as virtually broke. Lawmakers can avoid the worst case scenario by initiating reforms to shore up the program, but regardless of whether politicians take action or not the program will continue to play an important role in retirement planning for many years to come.