Tag Archives: Social Security

What Happens To Social Security Owed To Folks Who Die Young?

Retirement is good. I haven’t felt like going to work a single day this week. I’m thankful that I don’t have to. Been there, done that. Enough!

When I say, hear, or read the words “Social Security” or “Medicare,” my reaction is:

“Thanks to God and the Democratic Party.”

Some say Social Security benefits need to be reduced because people are living longer.

Really?

We’ve always had old folks — eighty years, ninety, one hundred, and even higher. Nothing new under the sun. But are more folks living to advanced ages than ever before? Probably, because the population is larger than ever. But just because nearly everyone knows someone very old, that doesn’t mean that everyone is living deep into old age.

“Are people living much longer in retirement? Or is the truth, now and always, that a few people with good genes and good luck make it to old age?” — From “Me And The Blog”

I personally have known more people in the Boomer generation who died at 60, 62, or 66, to pick a few numbers. Boomers are dying in their forties and fifties. All the folks who die young paid into Social Security every week since they began working. They’re never going to collect a penny. Those who die in their sixties draw benefits only briefly. Who gets the money?

Who gets the uncollected old-age benefits of the masses of people who die young? Seems to me that more Baby Boomers are dying in the fourth, fifth and sixth decades of life, than will make it to the eighth and ninth decades.

Seems to me that the many who die young balance out the few who grow old. I’ll leave it to an enterprising young auditor who understands actuarial data to figure it out.

— John Hayden

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Detroit Bankruptcy, Now We Wait

Largest Bankruptcies

Largest Bankruptcies (Photo credit: Adam Crowe)

Long-term viability of Social Security has been a subject of concern for years. Now, the Detroit bankruptcy filing turns the spotlight on municipal and state pensions.

I personally believe Social Security is in better financial shape than most people think. Social Security can easily survive into the 22nd century and beyond, if only we have the will.

Detroit skyline

Detroit skyline (Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

But retirees, and anyone who expects to retire in the future, ought to be nervous about the shock waves from the Detroit bankruptcy. How many other cities, big and small, will have their credit ratings reduced? How many more will follow Detroit into bankruptcy? Not many, we may hope.

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Returning Now To Our Regular Program, “The Fiscal Cliff”

Photo by John Hayden

It’s 10 days since I last posted on Work In Progress. The Earth continues to spin. Gen. John Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, et al., were pushed from the front pages by a deadly rocket battle between Israelis in Israel and Palestinians in Gaza.

Full-out war appeared imminent, according to cable TV news. But a ceasefire was called in time for Thanksgiving.  (Appropriate that it’s an American holiday. We have so much to be thankful for, compared to the rest of the world. And we take it all for granted.)

The waning of the Middle East crisis made room for a seasonal story: Walmart employees threatening to disrupt kickoff of the Christmas shopping frenzy. (Starting time for the frenzy advanced from Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day, henceforth to be known as Black Thursday.)

The Walmart protests fizzled, naturally. They had as much impact as Y2K. Walmart workers stand exposed as powerless against the energy of American consumerism.

Now we return to the dreaded “Fiscal Cliff,” at least until the next distraction. Be not faint-hearted! In the grand scheme of things, the fiscal cliff is a bump in the road.

Most importantly, the fiscal cliff provides a unique opportunity to put the brakes on the runaway military-industrial defense complex.  Seize the day!    Continue reading

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Mitt Romney’s Economic Divide, Part 2. Lash Yourself to An Oar.

We used to have the upper class, middle class, lower class, working class. Most of us in America pretended that class wasn’t an issue.

Retired folks living on Social Security and pensions were in a separate category. As elders and retired, they were deemed “entitled” (gasp) to the Social Security and pensions they received. They had, after all, worked long and hard to earn those Social Security and pension checks.   Continue reading

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The Great ‘Culture-War’ Election of 2012

A map of the United States of America, showing...

Image via Wikipedia

Will the next election be a “culture war?” Looks like. Please read Jon Taplin’s latest post, “Bring On The Culture War.”

“Bring on this culture war to end all culture wars. We need a real clear decision. Do we (all the people, not some of the people) want to move towards Rick Perry’s vision on the future or Barack Obama’s vision of the future. Down Perry’s road lies a world where gays stay in the closet, women are submissive, where Social Security is abandoned to the care of Wall Street (for a big fee), and where we keep trying to play the role of policeman of the world.

Pretty much the opposite would be what Obama believes. So let’s choose as a country.”  — Jon Taplin

At stake in the 2012 culture-war election, of course, is nothing less than the future of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Will America be a democracy of the people, or an aristocracy of the wealthy and powerful? Will we have a middle-class in America, or a deep divide between wealth and poverty?

Are people willing to give President Obama a fair hearing, or are they predisposed to hate the man?

— John Hayden

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Debt Madness Was Always About Killing Social Security (via roger hollander)

Below is a commentary worth reading. Conservative ideologues have hated Social Security from the beginning, in 1934.

Social Security is not the cause of the U.S. public debt, and neither is Medicare. To blame Social Security and Medicare is to lie! The methodic run-up of defense spending, starting in 1971, and the extension of U.S. military influence to every corner of the globe over the past four decades — those are the primary causes of the U.S. public debt, in my opinion. — John

Debt Madness Was Always About Killing Social Security Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by TruthDig.com   by  Robert Scheer This phony debt crisis has now passed through the looking glass into the realm where madness reigns. What should have been an uneventful moment in which lawmakers make good on the nation’s contractual obligations has instead been seized upon by Republican hypocrites as a moment to settle ideological scores that have nothing to do with the debt. Hypocrites, because their rad … Read More

via roger hollander

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America: What I Believe In 2011

Image via Wikimedia Commons

(Please click on “comments” at the left side of the title for an interesting back-and-forth between polar opposite points of view.)

The deadlock over raising the debt limit seems almost like a clash of religious beliefs. The two sides hold different beliefs. The deadlock has helped clarify my thinking about what I believe. Maybe this debt crisis of 2011 will help us all clarify who we are, and what we believe.

Image via Wikimedia CommonsI believe that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the best part of America. I believe that without Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, a large part of the American population — more than half the people over 65 — would fall into hopeless poverty.

Some people believe it would be impossible to balance the American budget without deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I believe that America is still, right now, the most prosperous society the world has ever known. I believe that America can afford Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

I believe it would be fair for the most prosperous among us — those with incomes of $250,000 or more a year — to pay a little more in taxes for the good of America. These people have prospered in America. They live the good life. Aren’t they patriotic enough to want to keep America strong? I believe they ARE patriotic and willing to help. It is inconceivable that they could be otherwise.

Some politicians say they oppose any tax increase because a tax increase would “destroy jobs.”

I don’t believe it. How would a modest tax increase destroy jobs? The president is not talking about making rich people poor. He’s talking about a modest tax increase on incomes over $250,000. How exactly will that destroy jobs? Will people earning $250,000 or more even notice a small tax increase? Will a small tax increase change their way of life? I don’t think so. Some may believe otherwise.

I believe there are other ways to balance the American budget. I believe we are spending far too much on a worldwide military presence. I believe we do not have to be fighting foreign wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. I believe we could drastically reduce foreign military spending, pull American soldiers out of harm’s way and closer to the North American continent. We could reduce defense spending by perhaps a third, and still have a military that is by far strong enough to defend the North American continent.

I simply cannot understand why anyone would want to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I believe the vast majority of Americans support these programs. I believe that common-sense cuts in general government spending and defense spending, combined with a small increase in taxes on the most fortunate among us, would bring the American budget into balance.

What do you believe?

THIS CHART PUTS THE FINANCIAL CONDITION OF MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY IN PERSPECTIVE. BEGGING THE QUESTION: IF MODEST CUTS WERE MADE IN U.S. SPENDING ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT AND DEFENSE, AND SOME EFFICIENCIES ARE FOUND IN MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY, THEN HOW MUCH WOULD STILL NEED TO BE RAISED IN TAXES? Chart via Wikipedia

Keep the faith.

— John Hayden

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American Debt Crisis: Rich and Powerful Demand Total Victory over Middle Class and Poor

No. 3 in a series on the Debt Crisis of 2011.

President Barack Obama floated a trial balloon on the front page of the Washington Post on Thursday, in a long story that said the President is prepared to discuss cuts to both Medicare and Social Security. As the headline put it, Medicare and Social Security are “on the table,” otherwise known as the chopping block. No one quoted in the story was willing to have their name attached to the information.

In the whole, long newspaper story, the words “defense” and “defense cuts” were never mentioned. Not once. What? You mean Medicare and Social Security are on the table, but the elephantine defense budget is not? It’s not credible, not believable.

As Obama was supposedly preparing to sacrifice Medicare and Social Security, Republicans repeated their long-stated position: Tax increases for the rich are NOT “on the table.” Republicans allowed as how they might be willing to wheel and deal on tax breaks and loopholes, so long as the net effect is no increase in taxes on the rich.

Also yesterday, AARP, the largest organization representing senior citizens, made its position clear: The AARP opposes any cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

So, the lines are clearly drawn in the class war to divide up what’s left of the American Dream. The rich and powerful have made clear they will accept nothing less than total victory over the middle class and poor. President Obama hints he might be a willing accomplice in the cashing out of Medicare and Social Security. If so, it would be a presidential betrayal of the American people on a historic scale.

(If you cringe at the words class war, don’t forget that class warfare will probably be followed by generational warfare, pitting mother against daughter and grandfather against grandson. See “Divide And Conquer: The New Plan To End Social Security by Dividing America at 55.”)

Could President Obama possibly be serious about caving in to the rich and powerful on both Medicare and Social Security? Plus a player to be named later, Medicaid?

I hope the President is not serious. To balance the budget by cutting Medicare and Social Security for the middle class and the poor, while at the same time refusing to raise taxes on the rich by a single penny, would be a craven injustice. Remember, the rich are paying tiny taxes, compared to what they have paid historically, and their wealth continues to expand, in a continuing social transfer of assets from bottom to top.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the American budget that could not be remedied by modest tax increases on the wealthy, accompanied by modest spending cuts in the defense budget. That’s what should be “on the table.”

I hope Obama floated this balloon simply to highlight how outrageous it would be to force the middle class and the poor to pay for the financial crisis created by the rich and powerful. In any event, the trial balloon provided an easy target for Democrats in Congress to shoot down.

Do you suppose that anyone is negotiating in good faith as the clock ticks down to financial default by the U.S. government?  If U.S. leaders fail to behave responsibly, the hard times ahead could test the fabric of American society like never before.

— John Hayden

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My Life Organized Into “Projects”

Social Security Poster: old man

Image via Wikipedia

So now I realize that my wayward life has become a series PROJECTS.

I use the word “project” in the baseball sense. Major League teams are eager to sign talented young players who are promising “prospects.” Note the difference between a prospect and a project.

A “prospect” has a real chance to make it in the Major Leagues, after a year or two in the minors. Baseball scouts have high expectations for a prospect. He probably gets a bonus simply for signing a contract. Hence, the term, “bonus baby.” Millions, sometimes, for raw talent.

A “project,” on the other hand, is a young player who appears to possibly have the makings of a Major Leaguer. But the wise old men of baseball understand that this player needs a lot of coaching, and maybe years of seasoning in the minors. Developing this rookie into a Major Leaguer is a project for the long term.  The outcome is by no means certain.

My projects are never going to the Major Leagues, but they will require perseverance to reach humble goals. I’ve already mentioned the first two projects:

  • My Austerity Project. The first part of this project is simply keeping a record of how much money I spend every day, with a goal of bringing my budget under control. The record keeping is easy enough, and I’m sticking with it every day. The frequency of unbudgeted expenses, however, is discouraging. The $328.33 for routine 50,000-mile maintenance on my car this past week, for example. This project is going to be like pushing a rock up a hill every day.
  • My Fitness Project. I mentioned that I got a good deal on a one-year gym membership. So far, I’ve been using the gym every third day, sometimes walking on one of the in-between days. I’d like to ratchet up the Fitness Project to every other day at the gym. Even better would be working out almost every day. Just showing up is clearly 80 percent of the Fitness Project. So far, so good.

In addition to Austerity and Fitness, the care and organization of my small and disorderly living space has achieved the status of full-fledged project. My Apartment Project. More on this to come soon, with “before” pictures.

And now I see that the Holiday Project is upon us again. This is primarily a Survival Project. The Holiday Project will make all the other projects more challenging. Normal life resumes on Jan. 2, 2011.

After the holidays looms My Job Project. Talk about a humble project! It’s weighing on my mind a little. But not too much, thanks to Social Security.

I feel a rant coming on soon about politicians who want to solve the national budget and debt crisis by killing Social Security. They want to throw aging workers under the bus. Or put us on an iceberg and let us drift out to sea.

Excuse me, but I’ve been paying taxes into Social Security since I went to work at McDonalds at age 16. Social Security is not like welfare, or even food stamps. My Social Security is b0ught and paid for. I own it. It belongs to me. Do I make myself clear?

As you can see, I’m dealing with a full load of projects here. And I haven’t even mentioned the Laundry Project, which has reached the top of the priority list for tomorrow, or the Blogging Project, the one that keeps me typing until the middle of the night.

If it weren’t for the Blogging Project, consisting of three different blogs (which is two blogs too many), I’d have more time to focus on the important projects.

— John Hayden

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Austerity Project, Day One

On this first day of November, in the Year of Our Lord 2010, it’s time for me to begin.

After a lifetime of free spending, I’m changing my ways. I’ve never had expensive tastes, and in the past two years, I’ve downsized my lifestyle and focused on simple living.

Now, I have to get really serious. In June, I turned 62, and in August, I received my first Social Security payment, direct-deposited into my checking account. For a variety of reasons, it looks like I’ll never have a middle-class job again. So it’s me and Social Security, and whatever part-time or seasonal work I can find. The rent is covered, and a few other items that I still think of as “necessities.” (Food comes to mind.) But there’s no budget line for “discretionary spending.” There’s no financial margin for error or excess.

Therefore, I will begin today, Nov. 1, 2010, to keep a record of everything I buy, everything I spend, down to the dollar. Hopefully down to the penny. I call it my Austerity Project. I should have done this a long time ago.

I have one of those old-fashioned elementary-school composition books, bright red color, made in India, I forget how much I paid  for it. (See, that’s my problem. I never pay attention to how much I pay for the things I think I need. I need it, so I buy it.)

In this bright-red composition book, I will record every expenditure, every day. On this, the first day of the Austerity Project, I did one load of laundry at the laundromat ($3.25). While waiting for the clothes to dry, I had the off-season special from the Pizza place next door ($4.23, including tax, for two slices and a large Coke). I invested in an eight-pack of budget paper towels, which were on sale at Food Lion ($5.08). I bought a gallon of Turkey Hill iced tea and two bananas at Super Fresh ($3.65).

Total damage for Day One: $16.21.

Today was the last day of the 2010 election campaign, and tomorrow, Election Day, will be a long day volunteering at the polls. So I knew these first two days of the project were going to be hard on the budget. Tomorrow, I’ll probably grab a quick lunch at McDonald’s or someplace. The polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., so that probably means a couple shots of caffein during the day. Maybe a doughnut. Hey, Election Day is a special day for me. I’ll even go to a  party after the polls close.  Whether it’s a funeral or a celebration, I’ll buy at least one Coke at the cash bar.

Wednesday, the day after, will be hangover day, nothing to do but drive around and take down the campaign signs. No more excuses about hamburgers at McDonald’s or Cokes at 7-Eleven.

I never thought it would come to this. But then, I never was much of a realist.

I never thought a newspaper or a Coke would be a luxury I couldn’t afford. I can still enjoy those luxuries, but now, I must have discipline to drink the Coke at home, and read the newspaper at the library.

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

— John Hayden

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