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Last week the Wisconsin State Journal published an editorial entitled, "Slowly increase retirement age." In this editorial they make their case for raising the retirement age.

• [I]ncrease the retirement age for full Social Security benefits from 67 to 70.

• Gradually raise the age, now 62, at which Americans can opt to receive earlier and smaller payouts.

• Return worker contributions to Social Security to 6.2 percent. The payroll tax for employees was lowered to 4.2 percent for 2011 and 2012 to help the economy. The cut was sold as a temporary — not permanent — change. This tax break should expire at the end of this year.

• Raise the amount of income that's subjected to the payroll tax for Social Security. The first $110,100 in wages are taxed now.

• Limit the growth of Social Security benefits for higher-income people.

• Allow young people to invest a third of their Social Security contributions into individual retirement accounts, similar to those federal employees now enjoy.

I agree with them on three points. Limit the growth of benefits for higher income people. I am all for a means test. If you are in the 1 percent you don't need to collect Social Security benefits. By all means the cap on the payroll tax should be eliminated and it should include all income, including capital gains. I also agree that worker contributions should be moved back to 6.2 percent, maybe not right now, but in the very near future. As for putting any of Social Security money in the stock market, not only no, HELL NO!

That being said, the retirement age should not be raised for a couple of reasons and if anything it should be moved back to 65. I am still somewhat bitter over the fact the retirement age was raised to 67 for my generation before we even had the ability to vote. I turned 18 in 1985 and just six days before my 16th birthday Ronald Reagan signed H.R. 1900 into law.

The argument today is that people are living longer and thus, should be able to work longer as well. Then, a year after retirement if they would be so kind as to croak so that the benefits they earned no longer have to be paid out. As it stands I will more than likely be unable to retire and will have to work until I die; however, I do have retirement fantasies. One of those fantasies is to be able to retire while I am healthy enough to enjoy it and with enough money that I can maybe go on a trip once a year and that I can afford to eat healthy food. In my retirement fantasy I have to wait until I am 67 to have that retirement (unless I win the lottery, but that is a different fantasy). If the Wisconsin State Journal editorial staff has their way I will now have to wait until I am 70 to retire. So I not only get screwed over by Ronald Reagan before I turn 16—the Wisconsin State Journal wants to screw me over again at 45.

The point that is missed when discussing raising the retirement age is that if I have to work until I am 70 then some kid out of college has to wait three more years for me to retire to get my job. According to the U.S. Census, in 2006 15 percent of the entire U.S. workforce was over the age of 65; 28.9 percent of those older workers were between the ages of 65-79 and 16.3 percent were between 70-74 years of age. Now think about that for a minute ... as of today the unemployment rate in this country is 8.1 percent and we have 15 percent of the population over the current retirement age still in the workforce.

Obviously some of those over 65 and still in the work force are their because they want to. Hey, if you want to work beyond 65 more power to you; however, if you cannot retire because you would not have a financially secure retirement that is another story.

I say lower the retirement age and allow younger workers to get into the workforce and paying taxes. Eliminate the cap on earnings and make damn sure every type of income is taxed. If you have the means to have a comfortable retirement without Social Security then you do not need to collect it. Honestly I would rather see 401k plans and company pensions eliminated and that a real honest to goodness national pension plan be introduced in this country. One that would allow us all to have the ability to retire at 65. Unfortunately that kind of plan would not get any traction in today's political climate.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu May 10, 2012 at 08:59 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm with you on most points, (24+ / 0-)

    but I'd argue that high-income people should still get Social Security for two reasons. One is, politically it would be difficult enough to raise the $110,000 cap, let alone while also taking Social Security benefits away from many of those people. The other is, historically programs tend to come under attack when they're seen as being for poor people. Once you start to exclude the richest people from Social Security, it starts to move into the territory of something that may be stigmatized as welfare or whatever. There should be a ceiling on what they can get -- I don't think someone making $5 million a year should get more Social Security than someone making $100,000, but I think they should probably get the same. While paying their 6.2% on all $5 million.

    I also want to add that another reason to lower the retirement age is that lots of people just plain need it. The people making decisions about the retirement age work at desks, probably enjoy their work, and in any case aren't physically taxed by it. But lots of people face chronic knee and back and other pain by their late 50s, let alone 65 or 70, and cannot do their jobs without hurting themselves. It's wrong, terribly wrong, to say that because rich people who work at desks are living longer and feel comfortable working, everyone should have to keep working.

    •  I agree with you Laura (5+ / 0-)

      Social Security is one of those programs that is an entitlement. You pay in, you are entitled to benefits, and keeping it so that all people collect at least a little ensure the political survival of such a program.

      I think once you raise the payroll limit and include all income, we'd find that program solvency wouldn't become a question ever again, that should also allow the lowering of the retirement age as you mention.

      --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

      by idbecrazyif on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:29:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are entitled to it because it's Your Money. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        antirove, Roger Fox

        You paid for it your whole life. Don't let anyone steal it to give tax breaks to the rich.

      •  It is NOT an "entitlement" (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        efrenzy, NonnyO, BeninSC, Kiterea

        It is an investment - we pay our money for it and we have earned the right to collect on it.

        Stop calling it an "entitlement".  An "entitlement" implies the recipient did nothing to deserve it, it simply accrues to them through little or no effort of theirs.

        Social Security is an investment that we pay so we can collect it when we are older, a savings account managed nationally for us.  And because we were a loving, caring people when the Social Security was created, we designated a portion of that money to help orphans, widows, and the disabled.

        Not an entitlement, an investment in ourselves and our our fellow citizens.

        All knowledge is worth having.

        by Noddy on Thu May 10, 2012 at 11:11:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree, I feel its an entitelement because (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brooke In Seattle

          Not only do retirees get it, but also the disabled. It's our  societal insurance against destitution due to age or injury.

          So in that regard, yes you are entitled to it.

          --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

          by idbecrazyif on Thu May 10, 2012 at 11:27:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then I will respectfully and always (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roger Fox, NonnyO, BeninSC

            disagree with you.  Assisting orphans and the disabled is not, in my opinion, an "entitlement", it's an investment - the disabled can work, but need extra assistance for their assistive devices and medical care.  By helping them provide that, they also work and pay towards their own social security.

            And I hold with helping others to be an investment in our society.

            All knowledge is worth having.

            by Noddy on Thu May 10, 2012 at 11:41:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Remember the word entitled shows up in the DI law (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              over 20 times, in the original 1935 SS law 9 times.

              And I do like your point, very good.

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:04:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  As pointed out the word appears in the law (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roger Fox

              So I think we may just be spinning our wheels over the context of said word.

              I do agree with you though that it is an investment, but they are still entitled to it. So perhaps we can agree the two words are not mutually exclusive?

              --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

              by idbecrazyif on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:13:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right, its a good investment too. (0+ / 0-)

                FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:17:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  The reason I object to the term (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Bruce Webb, NonnyO, BeninSC

                "entitlement" is because the political right has changed the definition of the word and is using that term for people who they think aren't working for the goods and services they receive (not entirely true, but that's fodder for a longer diary).

                By using the word "entitlement" they are trying to equate Social Security with people who haven't worked for the money they receive.  By actively and consciously changing that now negative word "entitlement" to "investment" we change the conversation.

                It's harder to take away someone's hard-earned investment than it is to take away a presumed unearned entitlement.

                All knowledge is worth having.

                by Noddy on Thu May 10, 2012 at 02:07:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's BOTH investment and entitlement. (0+ / 0-)

                  The benefits formula has a quite progressive skew. Low-income workers get back way more per dollar paid in than high-income workers.

                  Benefits are based on a taxpayer's  average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) up to the taxable cap. Of those earnings, averaged over 35 years, those who retire at age 66 currently get the following in SS benefits:

                  *90% of the first $761 of AIME

                  *32% of the AIME between $761 and $4,586

                  *15% for the AIME above $4,586 (up to $8900, beyond which there's no tax or benefits).

                  At present, if your work life is completed and your AIME is $8900, your monthly takeaway is $2,556, or 28.7% of your AIME.  At an AIME of $4586 (roughly $55k/year), you'd get $1909, or 41.6%.  If you earned just $3k/month over your working life, your monthly SS payment would be $1401, or 46.7% of your AIME.  For an income of $2k per month, the payout would be $1081, or 54% of income.


                  "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                  by HeyMikey on Fri May 11, 2012 at 12:52:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  YOu pay SS insurance payments, thusly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            you are entitled to recieve benefits.

            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:05:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  If we create a lot of jobs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        we'd find that program solvency wouldn't become a question ever again,
        Creating jobs is not, fixing the economy can fix SS, thru 2060- even 2090.

        See page 66 of the Trustees report- footnote b

        SS is good thru 2090, in the low cost scenario.

        Historically the cap has been at 90%, its now at 83% (110k), it has been adjusted before and needs to be adjusted now.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:08:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't disagree, but thats not what I said (0+ / 0-)

          What I said was buffering SS with an increase in participation amount by raising the payroll limit and include all forms of income it would eliminate any issues we would ever have with SS.

          Essentially hinge the program not on number of participants as it is now, but progressive structure like we already do with our other taxes.

          --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

          by idbecrazyif on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:17:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Including cap gains? (0+ / 0-)

            Thats probably overkill. Thats my point. Lets not go overboard here.

            Last year CBO put the scale of the problem @ .6% of GDP.

            Heres a chart that show solutions and how much they save.  

            You want to raise the CAP, Ok, its at 83% now, historically its been kept @ 90%. Lets adjust it back to 90%. Fine. If thats what you mean, then we agree.

            Job creation does more to put SS house in order than anything you do structurely.

            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:26:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  More or less yes, back to at least 90. Personally (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roger Fox

              I'd rather see it at above 90 to account for recession dips and population waves.

              And yes I would like to include a small marginal amount on cap gains. Nothing crazy just a point or two and then use that to expand benefit amounts to existing recipients.

              --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

              by idbecrazyif on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:40:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  No means test (7+ / 0-)
      into the territory of something that may be stigmatized as welfare
      I cannot agree with this more. A means test makes SS a target and makes SS adminstratively a welfare program.

      When we look at the new 2012 SS Trustees report, OASDI does not go broke thru 2090 in the low cost scenario. Booomers are dead by 2060, after which assets start to grow.

      Historically the employee cap has been at 90%, it has often drifted down, like today, where the cap is at 83% ($110,000), historically the cap has had to be readjusted to 90%, lets do that again.

      The diary advocates to tax all income, remove the cap, cap gains included, this would likely over fund the SS trust fund significantly, especially when the economy rebounds.

      Right now SS is structured to be fine with GDP growth of 2.8% or more, workforce growth about .5% looking out 20+ yrs and widespread job growth.

      Many of us at DK SS Defenders advocate for fixing the economy before making any changes to SS, except for adjusting the employee Payroll cap back to 90%, back to where is has been historically.

      The intermediate scenario that assumes SS goes broke in 2033 is relaint of border line recession levels of GDP growth for more than 20 years, assumes very low workforce growth thru 2030's (about .2% in last yrs Trustees report) and net job growth that leaves significant portions of the US with jobs, much as we see now with U6 at 14.5% - about 23 million people.

      Fix the economy first, create jobs first, before you touch SS.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:33:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It Never Goes Broke nt (3+ / 0-)

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:46:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly what the Actuaries tells us in the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          We Won

          low cost scenario.

          See page 66 of the Trustees report- footnote b

          SS is good thru 2090, in the low cost scenario.

          The job of an actuary is to provide a conservative financial estimate, so the low cost scenario is quite realistic.

          People forget that and freak out on the 2033 number, its just not reality based. Predicting a 20+ yr recession is somewhat extreme. ANd thats what it would take for SS to go broke by 2033.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 10:02:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You tell my tale (8+ / 0-)

      First, I agree in general with your take on the economics of the situation, and with Mark's comments on letting the younger workers get into the jobs. I think that was a part of the rationale behind SS in the first place.

      Also, as most probably know, the life expectancy of working class people after the age of 65 hasn't gone up very much. I don't want to get into details, but those who don't know what I mean can easily find out.

      Finally, I'm one of those people, 62 years old, working manual labor, with arthritis in my feet, knee , back and hands. (gawd, my hands!) I would retire yesterday if I could afford it. If it weren't for health insurance, I would flee to another job, and cheerfully let a younger person have mine. If there was another job I could get.

      •  If SS Age goes up, we must update Labor Laws (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sydneyluv, The grouch, HeyMikey

        and mandate that employers make suitable jobs available for the older workers between 62 and 70+ years old, and require full health benefits.  That's only part of the solution.  We need to address SSD/SSI, pensions & PBA, COBRA, Medicaid, and our significant problems with failing to enforce age discrimination laws, and, vice versa, our tolerating different (vastly  lower) pay scales & benefits for new younger hires versus current, which tends to force younger workers with families back into their parent's homes.

        We must make the SSD and SSI disability options proportionately available to those in the 50 to 75 age range who often do not have what it takes to work 40 hours anymore. We need to have employers accommodate workers willing to work but limited by total hours they can work and the degree to which they can be productive and functional.  Many older people might happily work 20 to 30 hours a week, but at present, few can find living wage jobs working hours offered like that, especially ones that also include the much needed health benefits.  

        I'm not sure which US employers are so eager to hire or keep on the payroll all our age 62 to 75 workers.  It doesn't seem likely that it is the employers pushing Congress to do this, although big monied interests are pushing it (smells like more ALEC shenanigans).  We ought to poll the US Chamber of Commerce to see which employers plan to increase hiring of the above age 50 workers to help this come to pass. From what I've experienced, employers currently don't seem keen at all on keeping workers older than in their 40's around, due to cost impacts on group health plans. We must remove the age discriminant from group health plan pricing. Also, stockholders sure love maximizing the productivity of the American worker by having the employer rely mostly upon energy of the 20 to 40 somethings, who are willing to do overtime plus overstress themselves, just to keep a paying job.  And we know companies do reorganize these days (okay, since the 1970's really) to get rid of substantial tiers of older age groups and to cut pension obligations.  It is vital to get rid of the rampant age discrimination, and we must require and fund full enforcement of this.  Failure to comply needs to come out of stockholder, CEO and Wall Street pockets with strong punitive damages.

        We already have seen many workers in their 50's going on disability, partly because the sort of jobs they used to do no longer exist, and no new employment opportunities that they can manage are out there, and because they've been delaying dealing with serious medical conditions while they were still on a good company health plan (and struggling to pay off an underwater 1st or 2nd mortgage and provide a roof to their young who can't find any jobs).  Now, if they do happen to find part-time work, it's probably with little to no benefits.  We need to have a progressive ramping up of 'social safety net' so that part time workers retain basic financial supports, health coverage, have mortgage payment protection or rent payment protection, yet still have an 'incentive' to search for full time work.  

        Raising retirement age will not work at present since shockingly few employers seems to be hiring people over 50 years old into new positions these days.  Getting rid of this rampant age discrimination must be a critical part of any drive to push up retirement age.  So job protections for the over age 50 must be strengthened especially so people in the vulnerable age 62 to 70+ range aren't unfairly targeted for job cuts, and get a fair portion of the new jobs, and perhaps quotas will be needed at first to ensure this happens.

        Often the older people who are working past 65 have 'retired' partially, and are working at somewhat reduced pay and hours, while taking advantage of their Medicare. The employer saves a bunch by getting their older workers off from their group plan and onto Medicare. This also allows the worker to boost their own eventual Social Security benefit by deferring receipt, and we all indirectly benefit by them paying a few more quarters into it and with other taxes paid.  Raising Medicare age will make this even less likely than the current lucky few that get to do this.

        If the SS age is mandated to go up, this may also push people off from utilizing Medicare when they have no real alternative.  Otherwise, state Medicaid programs have to expand to pick them up, and states seem to be scrambling to dump people from their Medicaid programs rather than take on more.  So this increase in SS/MCR age must be combined with strengthening Medicaid.  There isn't likely to be much private insurance these people wil be able to afford.  Individuals in this age group, unless quite wealthy, will find they have no affordable health plan coverage option in our 'uniquely American' free market insurance plans. The company group insurers are very likely to complain they cannot afford to add or retain older people on these plans, unless more mandates require this.  A saner overall solution would be to keep the eligibility age for Medicare where it is, regardless of employment status.  I'm pretty certain there are companies that would rather pick up the cost of Plan B coverage, instead of a regular group plan cost, if they can keep an experienced, productive retiree working for them.  We must require that COBRA plans be extended and supplemented, allowing people ousted from employment and over age 50 to continue on them up to age 65, and premiums to the ousted worker should not exceed 25% of the current costs.  For most people, the unemployment or welfare check is barely enough to eat and live on, let alone pay for health coverage.  State Medicaid programs could fund the 75% or more of these COBRA costs.

        The problem of corporate pension programs being butchered and converted into filet of mignon slices for stockholders and Wall Street instead of providing hamburger for many workers needs real attention as well.  The real financial crisis isn't Social Security. It's the very broke and nearly forgotten PBA. The PBA (the federally created Pension Benefit Assurance corporation) has not, for the last decade or more, received from business required contributions (at 1% per employer dollar set aside for pensions) to provide even a 33% benefit for existing claimants let alone anything for future ones.)  Any plan to set back SS retirement age must also include fixing the PBA and mandating full participation by all corporations. Any federal industry 'bailout' program should be amended to protect the older worker jobs (without taking away future earnings of younger workers--like the GM deal did) and include fully funding the PBA in case that company still fails.

        When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

        by antirove on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:01:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The people (16+ / 0-)

    The people who make this kind of argument generally work at the sort of jobs where the most strenuous thing they have to do is refill the coffee maker.  Now, that's not to say that long-term office work takes a toll on the body, but it's generally the sort of thing that can be alleviated by going to the gym.

    My husband works construction.  He's mid-fifties.  Medically, he looks far older.  People who work physical occupations get beaten down by the work.  Most of the people he worked with when he was young have gone on disability due to one chronic condition or another.  He just hasn't physically broken down far enough yet.

    I'm at a desk job.  I don't really want to stay into my 70s, but I could very well do so and I have colleagues in their 70s who are still zipping around the office because they love the work.

    •  Self-employed (3+ / 0-)

      I also wonder how many of those counted as still working are self-employed.  My Dad was still renewing insurance policies into his 80's but he wasn't out selling new ones.

    •  My parents are college professors, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nina Katarina, opinionated, antirove

      my best friend's parents do/did much more physical work -- her dad worked in a factory and then was an electrician, her mom did day care then more recently has been a custodian.  Our parents are just about the same age.

      For my parents, retirement is way off. The impact of age on what they do just isn't visible yet. My friend's dad retired when the shift work got to be too much for him -- he didn't feel good about doing electrical work when he was exhausted on the overnight shift.  Her mom is getting to where it's not clear how much longer she can do her job on the most basic physical level.

    •  Nina, you are exactly right. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nina Katarina, opinionated

      And whether we make those up-aging changes slowing or quickly, for those that do hard physical work (and I am one) doesn't matter.  I just won't be able to do another 12 years of this kind of work, physically.

      It's a point we need to make constantly with our peers and those younger than us particularly if they are not doing physical labor.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Thu May 10, 2012 at 10:52:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  right (0+ / 0-)

        And the Republican attitude is, "well, you should have sold your stock so you could stay in school and get a white collar job".

        I'd be all for a graduated retirement age, letting people retire from physically strenuous jobs earlier, but I fear that any rule like that would be gamed by people whose jobs aren't strenuous at all but who can afford better lawyers.

        •  The statistics say otherwise. (0+ / 0-)

          The early killer is sedentary work. Those with desk jobs die younger than those with physical jobs. Even if you get regular exercise, it does not offset completely the lifespan-shortening effects of thousands of hours of sitting.

          A few minutes with Google will easily confirm all this.

          Understand, for my living I represent disabled people seeking Social Security. So I have plenty of respect and sympathy for the toll hard physical labor takes. But I suspect even more of my practice is representing obese people with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and anxiety or depression (also linked to lack of exercise and exposure to the outdoors).

          About a year ago I got a standing desk with an exercise bike. I alternate all day between standing and biking at my desk. I think I'm going to switch to a treadmill desk soon.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri May 11, 2012 at 01:02:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Plural of anecdote---- (0+ / 0-)

            why don't you spend a couple of minutes on Google and give us some relevant links and then while you are at it explain why people who DON'T have sedentary jobs are obese ANYWAY.

            The equation Sedentary=Obese is in my opinion meaningless. Because I have seen plenty of people working very hard non-sedentary jobs (housekeepers/factory workers/assembly-warehouse workers/even farm workers) who were clearly obsese.

            Because not even hard work has you exercising every muscle group in ways that make you whippet thin or fix your fucking diet of high fat/low whatever diets.

            If you have evidence that people in the executive suite are typically fat pigs and people working the mail room have perfect heart/blood pressure/chloesterol numbers findable via a couple seconds of searching of Google than bring it.

            What effing statistics?

            •  Here's the data. (0+ / 0-)

              From those wild-eyed speculators at Scientific American:

              In 2009 Dr Peter Katzmarzyk and colleagues at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center published an influential longitudinal paper examining the links between time spent sitting and mortality in a sample of more than 17,000 Canadians (available here). Not surprisingly, they report that time spent sitting was associated with increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality (there was no association between sitting and deaths due to cancer). But what is fascinating is that the relationship between sitting time and mortality was independent of physical activity levels. In fact, individuals who sat the most were roughly 50% more likely to die during the follow-up period than individuals who sat the least, even after controlling for age, smoking, and physical activity levels. Further analyses suggested that the relationship between sitting time and mortality was also independent of body weight. This suggests that all things being equal (body weight, physical activity levels, smoking, alcohol intake, age, and sex) the person who sits more is at a higher risk of death than the person who sits less.

              The above findings linking excessive sitting with poor health are far from isolated. For example, a similar longitudinal study from Australia reports that each hour of daily television viewing (a proxy of sedentary time) is associated with an 11% increase in the risk of all-cause mortality regardless of age, sex, waist circumference, and physical activity level. And as my colleagues and I summarize in a recent review paper (PDF), numerous epidemiological studies have linked sedentary behavior with obesity, cardiometabolic risk, and even some cancers.

              New evidence also suggests that in addition to the quantity of sedentary time, the quality of sedentary time may also have an important health impact. For example, Genevieve Healy and colleagues examined this issue in participants of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study. A total of 168 men and women aged 30-87 years wore an accelerometer (an objective measure of bodily movement) during all waking hours for 7 consecutive days, which allowed the researchers to quantify the amount of time that participants spent being sedentary, as well as how frequently they interrupted these sedentary activities (e.g. standing, walking to the washroom, etc).

              What did they find?

              The greater the number of breaks taken from sedentary behavior, the lower the waist circumference, body mass index, as well as blood lipids and glucose tolerance. This was true even if the total amount of sedentary time and physical activity time were equal between individuals—the one who took breaks more frequently during their time at the office or while watching television was less obese and had better metabolic health. Importantly, the breaks taken by the individuals in this study were of a brief duration (<5 min) and a low intensity (such as walking to the washroom, or simply standing).


              You're right, sedentary does NOT = obese. But both being sedentary and being obese independently decrease your life expectancy. And being sedentary increases your risk of obesity.

              Here's more, from those crazies at the American Cancer Society:

              Scientists have long known that sedentary lifestyles lead to health risks like weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes. But a new study found that sitting six or more hours a day increased the risk of early death from all causes by an average 35% for women and 18% for men — even if you exercise.

              Researchers from the American Cancer Society compared a large group of long-time sitters to people who sat less than three hours a day and controlled for factors like smoking. Death from heart disease was the biggest risk associated with prolonged sitting, and again women were more vulnerable. See the study’s abstract here.

              Women who sat more than six hours a day faced a 33% higher risk of early death from cardiovascular disease compared with women who sat fewer than three hours a day. Long-sitting men had an 18% increased risk of premature death from heart disease.

              In cancer, there was a 30% higher risk of early in women who sat the longest compared with women who sat the least. There was no indication of increased cancer risk among men who sat the longest.

              Failing to exercise plus sitting for long stretches proved even more hazardous. The combination of little physical activity and long periods of sitting was linked to a 94% higher risk of premature death for women and a 48% higher risk for men compared with those who sat the least and exercised the most.


              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:31:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Which doesn't mean... (0+ / 0-)

                ...that I want to privatize or gut Social Security. Far from it. I'm fully aware that Social Security faces no short-term financing problem, and that fixing its long-term problem would require about 0.6% of GDP, which could be done with modest tweaks.

                I'm also fully aware that you've done great work debunking Social Security myths here at DKos, and probably elsewhere, for which you are due all of our thanks.

                But I want our arguments for preserving and really strengthening (as opposed to the GOP's death-by-"strengthening") Social Security to be sound. And arguing that people with desk jobs have a lifespan advantage isn't sound.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Fri May 11, 2012 at 06:43:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Canadians and Australians (0+ / 0-)

                have access to universal health care.  That study might want to control for that. In particular the fact that a study of Canadians doesn't show outcomes varying by income makes it very vulnerable on that point.

                Plus it is one study and one that doesn't remotely justify a flat out statement: "Those with desk jobs die younger than those with physical jobs.". At a minimum a little qualification is in order here.

                And while I don't want to run down Scientific American which has been doing a great educational job for many decades it is not a peer reviewed journal as such.

                Still the reader can make those determinations for themselves IF and ONLY IF the data/links are supplied to them rather than just the conclusions asserted with a fairly dismissive "A few minutes on Google will easily confirm all this" (emphasis mine)

                •  1. Americans. 2. Your data? (0+ / 0-)

                  1. The American Cancer Society study was on Americans.

                  2. Your points are otherwise reasonable. But...turn them on yourself. You seem to assume (correct me if I'm wrong) that those with physical jobs die younger that those with desk jobs. The data supporting my position might not be perfect, but it is pretty good.

                  Is your position supported by any data at all?

                  "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                  by HeyMikey on Mon May 14, 2012 at 02:02:57 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And peer-reviewed. (0+ / 0-)

                    Follow the link above to the ACS study. It's in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which is peer-reviewed:

                    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                    by HeyMikey on Mon May 14, 2012 at 02:11:29 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Great. Thanks for the due diligence (0+ / 0-)

                      Too bad it didn't show up in the first and overly dogmatic and dismissive comment.

                      Respect your audience and maybe the tone gets elevated. Or you can play King of the Mountain and assert authority you haven't earned. I'll play either game.

  •  I take no prisoners on this issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I will vote this issue.  It's totally my third rail.

    Also, I do know people over 65 hanging on to jobs they financially don't need Social Security or not.  Meanwhile a generation of young people are being held out of the workforce and this will bite them their whole life through.

    Encourage people to retire so that young people can start the careers that will fund their own retirement plus keep funding the safety net.  Every job a boomer has today is an opportunity foreclosed to the next generation.

    •  I agree with encouraging (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle, opinionated

      people to retire if they can, but I assure you there are many people out there continuing to work past 62 or 66 because they can not get by otherwise. And it's not just people with hard physical jobs who are really ready to retire by 65 or 66. Even if you have a desk job, long commutes, difficult managers and the corporate grind contribute to a desire among many to be able to kiss the working life goodbye after 40 years or more. Every time I see something on the box about some noble elder continuing to work at the supermarket past 70 or beyond because they like being with people, I'm hoping to gawd no legislators are watching. Fine for the few who want to do it,  shame on us for those who have to do it, but please don't force it on the rest of us. Was able to retire and am grateful - my husband at 65 is a year away from it and I've seen the difference in his energy level over the last few years. He is really ready to get out. There are plenty of things you can focus on in life once you don't have to be up at 5:30etc. And we're lucky. We'll probably be ok on SS and some savings.
      It's insane to be even considering raising the retirement age. As I once said here, there aren't enough jobs by a long shot and it's damn difficult to find work when you're over 50, nevermind 65.

  •  The claim that Soc. Sec. must be "reformed" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKinTN, Roger Fox

    because "people are living longer now" is probably false. The Obesity Epidemic may well mean that future generations will die younger than their parents. There are old people and there are fat people but there are very few old, fat people.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:18:29 AM PDT

    •  IIRC the Trustees in 2011 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove, opinionated, Azazello

      factored in people living longer after the implementation of the Healthcare act, it meant SS would go broke 6 months earlier.

      SO yeah its a minor factor. Creating jobs is not, fixing the economy can fix SS, thru 2060- even 2090.

      See page 66 of the Trustees report- footnote b

      SS is good thru 2090, in the low cost scenario.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:01:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For many, the big issue isn't even (15+ / 0-)

    retirement income, but health insurance. A lot of people could "afford" to retire early if they knew they could get and pay for health insurance. Single-payer health insurance, a la Medicare for all ages, would alleviate that concern.

    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Melanie in IA on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:19:57 AM PDT

  •  Once you allow one third of contributions to be... (5+ / 0-)

    diverted, SS is dead. Wall Street since the 401k's were created have had a feeding frenzy and giving them more will just give more power and wealth to the 1 percent. Raise the cap and all is well for all of our lives.

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:43:20 AM PDT

  •  Mark, have you looked at the 2012 Trustees report? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    See page 66 of the Trustees report- footnote b

    SS is good thru 2090, in the low cost scenario.

    In fact when was the last time you looked at any SS trustees report?

    Are you aware that generally each report includes 4 scenarios? Low cost, Intermediate cost, high cost and a stohastic model?

    I simply cannot advocate for your reactionary panic scenario major overhaul of SS.

    You are publishing for Daily Kos Labor, I would hope you are aware that widespread job creation goes a long way to making SS good thru 2050 or even 2060 when the Boomers will be dead.

    It is with a heavy heart that I am placing this diary on the queue for SS Defenders, and will leave it up to Bruce Weber to decide if it should be republished.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:44:31 AM PDT

  •  People Are Not Living Longer on Several Counts: (8+ / 0-)

    Per the SS's own web page, a worker retiring in 1935 expected 13 more years of life. Today that worker expects only 15.

    Worse, all the tiny increase in retirement lifespan is limited to the upper half of incomes, and that includes a lot of people who don't depend on SS whatever it pays them, so it wasn't designed to address their needs.

    Virtually all the increase in "lifespan" since the 30's came from a drop in infant and childhood mortality, and the big drop in infectious disease when antibiotics came in.

    Finally, since Bush became President life span has begun creeping DOWN for Americans other than the rich.

    The whole argument is a lie.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:45:31 AM PDT

  •  Could not agree with you points more. (5+ / 0-)

    The idea of putting any SS money into the stock or bond markets makes me sick.  Money intended for retirement has no business being invested in anything risky.  And the markets ARE risky these days.  

    Those of us who had money in 401(k) accounts know what happened to us both in 2000-2001 when the markets tanked due to the technology bust, and then against in 2008 due to the mortgage bust.  Even the largest pension funds were not protected when the markets blew in 2008.  As a retired teacher, my husband's pension is in the WI State Retirement System Core Fund.  That fund lost $8 BILLION in 2008.  Losses are smoothed over a 5 year period in order to prevent huge annual losses to the pensions (called "annuities) paid out of that fund.  His pension decreased by 7% starting in May of this year as part of that "smoothing" process----that meant a drop of $187 per month to his pension check starting on May 1.  So Social Security is extremely important in helping retired folks (and those on Social Security Disability) make ends meet.  That money should be protected and not put at risk.  

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. Louis D. Brandeis

    by 3goldens on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:51:11 AM PDT

  •  Putting Money In The Stock Market Is (7+ / 0-)

    like betting in a casino.  I say HELL NO TOO.  If young people want to bet in a casino, bet in a 401 plan not social security which should be safe from wallstreet and greedy bankers.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Thu May 10, 2012 at 09:52:52 AM PDT

  •  One more point (4+ / 0-)

    Several excellent points raised above.  Also....

    Workers over 60 (over 50?) who get laid off their job rarely get another job that pays as well, if any new job at all in tough economic times.  SS, even reduced at age 62, is a lifeline for them.

    •  Another job issue relates to 'skilled' workers. (0+ / 0-)

      One of the complaints we hear from the MSM version of employers is that so many of the people who apply to them for work don't have the skills the employers need. If the premise of rejuggling the work force is more skilled workers, it does seem somewhat unlikely that those in the upper age grades necessarily have all the modern version of 'skills', in general, not in particular. And there is therefore another reason to financially encourage retirement  so that the younger workers with the newer skill set can meet employment and the employers have the skills they need.

       But you can't encourage retirement without making sure that the older workers have the funding to do it.  How many pensions have been gutted by the automatic habit of corporations who go through preplanned bankruptcies to get rid of plans after workers have accrued benefits under them, leaving it to literally poor old PBGIC to hold more and more bags? Or had reliable defined benefits plans converted to something which reads more like the Full Financial Industry Employment and Guaranteed Profit act?What we're looking at now is employees who can't afford to quit because the Rs are trying to eliminate what used to be a reliable part of  retirement planning AFTER the workers have put in forty or more years paying for it,  and the Rs and the private big employers have simply siphoned off that money for whatever they used it for instead of fulfilling those commitments.

  •  No to most of this (4+ / 0-)

    Means testing for the general benefit is a losing proposition. You don't want to go there. There isn't much benefit in doing so (there is a reason income inequality is being framed as 99%...) and LOTS of potential downside.

    I am a person who personally sees their paycheck go up when they pass the cap. I also see the reduction in withholding that was done and extended. My view all along was that when this reduction was done, or at least when it was extended, we should have partially offset this and then fully offset this rate reduction by increasing the cap. Simply put, the stimulus from this should have been made progressive. It is not too late to use the fact of its having been done to at least make it less regressive.  I'd recommend raising the cap by whatever it takes to make SS whole. ONLY if by completely removing the cap would I even touch the rate and allow it to go back to where it was.

    My contention is that if we handle that way can both win the messaging war and make the system perpetually solvent.

    Finally, diverting contributions to 401ks is an insidious thing that must not happen. Ever. SS is not intended to be an investment program. It is insurance - and the risk it protects against is largely in sync with conventional investments.

    Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum -- when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes. - PJ Crowley

    by nsfbr on Thu May 10, 2012 at 10:04:01 AM PDT

    •  Historically the cap has been at 90% (0+ / 0-)

      right now its at 83%, its been adjusted back to 90% before, we should do it again.

      In short if we create lots of jobs, that means more FICA, which helps SS. My take is to fix the economy first before touching SS.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Thu May 10, 2012 at 11:56:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  90% by what measure? (0+ / 0-)

        90% of the heads or the $?

        I don't understand why I got a piece of this stimulus. I don't need it and didn't ask for it. The way I would have funded the extension would have been to raise the cap. Just like there is no stimulative effect of giving a tax cut to the wealthy, I think there is minimal effect of giving one to the quite comfortable. In fact, I'd argue that the harm to the economy of the arguing over the extension hurt me more than I've gained from getting the payroll tax cut.

        Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum -- when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes. - PJ Crowley

        by nsfbr on Thu May 10, 2012 at 12:35:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  90% of 'covered income' (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nsfbr, Roger Fox

          That is wages and wage equivalents or what used to be called "earned income" as opposed to "unearned income" or roughly capital gains and dividends.

          Today of course the MOTUs have managed to flip that distinction on its head and hold that ONLY returns on investment are really 'earned' and that workers are all 'parasites'.

          But the point is that even a return to the 90% level for FICA incidence might not touch the top 0.1% at all. For example it is not clear that Mitt actually has 40 quarters of covered earnings to get even a minimum SS check. Because distributions from Bain literally don't count in this score

        •  Harm, basically yes. (0+ / 0-)

          The employer side tax cut has a very poor mulitplier, basically 1/1, while the employee side might be 1/1.1 or 1/1.2.

          In the sense that 100 billion spent on infrastructure would create 2 to 2.5 million jobs, while the same 100 billion spent on payroll tax breaks arguably created 20k jobs. 20k jobs probably doesnt rise above the noise level as far as creating demand.

          SO at best, the stimulative effect is minimal, at worst nothing happened and the overall effect is the economy lacks demand to grow, meaning the fundamentals in place allow the economy to slide downward.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Fri May 11, 2012 at 09:07:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Social Security is insurance not welfare, Simpson (5+ / 0-)

    Bowles wants a so called means test to pit the middle class against the poor. It's a two part strategy, first turn social security into a welfare program so it loses support, then cut it to the bone.

    If social security Insurance is done like that what is next, unemployment insurance? The result would be the same, the middle class would be pitted against the poor, and in the end both would lose.

  •  There is already a sort of means test in SS, (0+ / 0-)

    not the kind being discussed here, though. I do hope everyone here is aware that if your retirement income exceeds a particular sum, 25K for the single and 34K or so for couples, you start paying income tax on half your SS, and when it rises a bit more, 32K or so for singles and a bit more for couples, you pay income tax on 85% of it.

    What this is is a kind of roof on SS benefits, preventing people from having more in SS  that somebody thinks is necessary. I am near that position and with a COLA or two more, will be paying income tax on my straight SS without any other source of income. Think on how a single person does on that much money, and then realize that I will be paying a tax on that which I paid a tax on before. And think on it again without Medicare (June 1 is when it starts for me). And all of this kicks in long before you start worrying about increasing the first tax cap for SS.

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