At 77, Social Security confronts its own mortality
We have technologies to help us celebrate the program, but we still have to reinvent the way we think about aging.
How odd it is that we have technologies in this current century to help us celebrate the policies of Social Security (which turns 77 next week) and Medicare (which just turned 47), both formed in an earlier century. We have birthday cakes on Facebook pages and tweets from all quarters about both of these entitlement institutions.
And how interesting it is, too, that topics normally left to policy wonks inside the Beltway or among academics from Cambridge to Palo Alto have made their way into social media. Or that we are now being invited to take to the streets by the Alliance for Retired Americans in their summer campaign with the slogan, "Let’s Not Be the Last Generation to Retire." The group's goal seems to be to amass signatures on a petition calling for America to keep Social Security and Medicare far into the future. Not exactly the inspiration of the good old American work ethic and our understanding of virtue. And not anywhere in the vicinity of our current demographic realities which, as we live well into our 80s, hardly square with outdated ideas of retirement.
Yet the same crowd that so easily adopts this century’s newest communications technology is hopelessly stuck on ideas and institutions that were invented in – and for – an earlier time. And they are not alone, as was so clearly revealed in the groundbreaking AEGON Retirement Readiness Survey, which questioned 9,000 people across eight European countries and the U.S. who believe they’re worse off today and fear they will not be able to retire in 20th century style.
As we dramatically reduce birthrates across the globe, where there will soon be more of us over age 60 than under 14, it is the reverse that must begin to animate our thinking: What does a working life look like in the 21st century when there are two decades beyond 20th century traditional retirement age?
The campaign for retirement is not only peculiar in light of our longevity – how many people really want to play golf or garden for twenty years or more? Living for decades without an active income is also fiscally unsustainable in light of the dramatic demographic shift of what would be "working to retirement."
Sure, the Social Security and Medicare programs worked when they were invented. But even the vaunted UK National Health Scheme on which U.S. Medicare was modeled is unable to meet the demands of an aging population. And that’s against basic reforms year after year, including a change to the once-uncontested principle that you were either "in" or "out." Today, if you don’t like the health care you’re getting and can afford something on the outside, it’s OK.
In the hotly contested presidential campaign, there’s been barely a word from either of the candidates about these entitlement celebrations. Only in newly minted socialist France does there seem to be any public display of keeping 20th century retirement, but the confiscatory taxes that follow underscore the disconnect. Surely the demographic realities of our 21st century demand something more than retread 20th century policies.
Some may not want us to be the "last generation to retire," but the generations of the 21st century know they must reimagine and reinvent how they will live in their century.
Michael Hodin is a contributor at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' free newsletter.
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As Johhny2001 stated "PLEASE, PLEASE STOP CALLING SOCIAL SECURITY AN ENTITLEMENT. IT IS NOT. WE PAID IN ALL OUR LIVES FOR IT." Personally I have paid in $134,283.61 to S.S. and also $28,299 to Medicare since they itemized it on my pay stub in 1991. I have paid less into my 401K and it's worth almost triple my contribution, if the Government would quit dipping into it it would easily be fully funded with wise investing of the monies paid in by those of us contributing.
the federal government should pay all the ten trillion dollars loan back to ss. and we'll beOK!!!!
Were we just giving the government our money then, in addition to the taxes we are required to pay. I personally have contributed to SS for 22 years. If the government can't sustain SS then will we have all of our money returned? I would say not. Our government needs a complete overhaul. Kick all of the politians out of Washington and start over with limited terms for Congressman. And no pension plan! I bet they will still receive their pensions when we are being screwed out of SS.
It depends on a high birth rate, or immigration rate, to increase taxpayers to fund the program.
We don't have a high birth rate, so that is why the politicians are allowing illegal immigration.
When we started the program, there was 16 taxpayers to every Social Security recipient.
Now, there are 2 taxpayers to every Social Security recipient.
The program is unsustainable, and trying to fund it via taxes will kill businesses, jobs, and eventually Social Security.
We need fixes for the Social Security program. They will be unpopular. Failing to do so will risk destroying the program and the country. The following fixes are among those that are required:
Increase retirement age to 67 or 70.
Reduce or Eliminate Cost Of Living Allowance.
They ship our jobs overseas giving them to foreigners.
They flood the labor market with Illegal Aliens here at home making it even harder to find a job and Driving Down wages even further, making it impossible to save for retirement.
They Strip us of Pensions.
They Strip us of 401Ks.
They Strip us of Health Care Benefits.
They guarantee those who have already been collecting Social Security that They will continue getting it without losing a dime and Tell those 55 years Old and under that They will be Robbed - Stripped of the Social Security benefits in SPITE of having been Robbed Blind in SS Taxes All their Lives.
What is left but Chaos, Miserableness and turning to Crime ?
Social Security was a Ponzi Scheme destined to fail from day one! One only needs to read the wikipedia page on Ida May Fuller to understand why. (HINT: Our very first social security recipient paid less than $25 TOTAL into social security and collected money from it until after her 100th birthday.)
The sad reality is that so many not very smart people bought into the liberal mentality/promise that government would take care of them, and they over-spent their entire lives instead of saving for their retirement. Now they're terrified that the ponzi scheme they're "entitled to" was but a mirage about ready to go bankrupt. All of this confirms that most Americans are mathmatically and economically... ummmmmm, "challenged".
It's the same old song and dance......Social Security was never meant to be for Retirement....Yeah, we got that. We understand that. But who's fault is it that it has become to be relied on for Retirement ? We Americans or the Government ? The Government. The same one ( Congress ) that refuses to do their Jobs and fix this mess. Instead, they go on another 5 week Vacation. If Congress or others want to do way with SS, then fine. BUT NOT IN MID STREAM !!!!! Change they System now, but make damn sure those of US that have paid into the SS "fund" all our working lives, that we get FULL benefits when we Retire !!!!! Not 75%. Not 50%. We deserve 100% just as those who have been getting it for decades and decades did.
I don't much care who gets elected President. I'm voting 100% Anti-Incumbent. Vote them all out. 435 Congressmen, 100 Senators, The President and 9 Supreme Court justices have all the power they need to fix anything they want.That's 545 people who are directly,legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. The house can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they all agree to. The problems in this country are much bigger than just one man. Bigger than just the President. VOTE THEM ALL OUT.
in addition...if the economy collapses, those programs will be GONE! Prepare yourselves...Beans, rice and hard times...We've done it before and we'll do it again!
Take care of one another!
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