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Social Security provides 83% of income for the bottom fifth of American households age 65 and older, 64% for the middle fifth, and 18% for the top fifth.
Social Security means different things to people at different income levels.
Some zombie lies cannot be smacked down hard enough or often enough. The claim that we should raise the Social Security retirement age because we're all living longer and can therefore work longer is high on that list. This zombie is so hard to kill because the people who control policy will live longer and be able to continue working long past 65. If you've had good medical care for most of your life and you work at a desk in a climate-controlled office, it doesn't sound so hard. But for people who do physical work, it's another story. The reminder of what that means—physical pain, dangerous situations—has to come as relentlessly as the raise-the-retirement-age zombie.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein set a little zombie loose on CBS last week, joining Alan Simpson, Pat Robertson, and too many more to name.

But let's talk about the real world:

The fact is, men are living less than three years longer, women about five. Yes, there are more people living longer because they didn't die at age 3 of whooping cough or polio, but the life expectancy for an individual has not been extended very much at all once age 65 is reached. Disturbingly, pushing the retirement age out five years as is currently proposed actually means an individual male retiree today is at risk of being cheated of two years more retirement than our supposedly drastically shorter-lived forebears received more than half a century ago.
What gains in life expectancy there are come—surprise, surprise—overwhelmingly at the top of the income and class distribution.
Male life expectancy at 65 for the bottom half of the earnings distribution increased from 15 years to 16.1 years between 1982 and 2006. For the top half of the earnings distribution, it increased from 16.5 to 21.5.
Again, at the top, people have good medical care, easy access to a healthy diet, and jobs that aren't physically taxing. The same cannot be said for everyone:
  • Poor health remains a significant barrier to continued employment for older Americans. Roughly 20–30 percent of Americans in their 60s have a health problem that limits their ability to work or to perform basic physical tasks.
  • Many older workers continue to work in physically demanding or difficult jobs. According to recent studies, 45 percent of workers age 62 to 69 have physically demanding jobs or work under difficult conditions, and an even greater share have jobs that require at least sporadic physical effort. [...]
  • ...Returning to work is a particular challenge for unemployed older workers, who are likely to be out of work longer than prime-age workers and to experience larger pay cuts if they manage to find jobs.
  • About 40 percent of workers retire earlier than planned due to poor health, caregiving responsibilities, job loss, or similar reasons.
That's a whole bunch of things that can and do make it horrible if not impossible for people to continue working through their 60s. Bending over dozens of times a day and lifting a mattress to tuck sheets under it, as hotel housekeepers do; carrying boxes or crates, as delivery, warehouse, and stock workers do; bathing patients or helping them between bed, wheelchair, and bathroom as health care workers do. These things break your body down over time, and for many workers in their 60s are simply impossible. Physical injury isn't the only concern people face when they don't work behind a desk, either. In 2008, I wrote:
My closest friend's father is about the same age as my father, but while my college professor father rarely mentions retirement, my friend's electrician father has been counting down the months until he can retire. And one key factor motivating his countdown is that he's a shift worker and is periodically required to work the graveyard shift. Working from midnight to 8 AM is one thing in your 20s or 30s. Think about doing that in your 60s. Think about doing that in your 60s when the tasks you'll be called on to do at 4:30 AM are potentially hazardous.

For the past few years, my friend's father has used most of his vacation time to get out of working graveyard. He can't plan ahead to take a trip, he can't choose when he needs a break.

That was someone with a good working-class job, a skilled job, with health and retirement benefits. Retirement still couldn't come soon enough for him. It did come, though. For many workers, it's even harder to wait, and the hope of having a secure retirement is much more distant.

Social Security provides the majority of income for three-fifths of Americans over age 65; what's more, "for the poorest 40 percent of 65-and-older households, Social Security payouts constitute more than four-fifths of total income." The average monthly benefit is $1,230. That's $14,760 a year. If you begin collecting Social Security before your "full retirement age" of 66 or 67, your monthly benefits are reduced. Yet many Americans are faced with the choice of benefits reduced below that average of $1,230 a month or continuing to work in pain or in circumstances that threaten their health.

Many people who work behind desks and think raising the Social Security eligibility age would be a reasonable solution to the crisis they're told exists in the program are just suffering from a lack of imagination. But too many policymakers and wealthy CEOs and pundits know all this and still push an increase in the retirement age as a "sensible, fair" policy solution. For them, it's the same as opposing an increase in the minimum wage, or blocking paid sick leave for workers. It's about keeping workers powerless and poor and afraid and keeping power for themselves.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Excellent, hell yeah, what are we doing allowing (3+ / 0-)

      consideration of cuts to the safety net?

      The point that he did not address, however, was America’s security.  Why is the U.S. creating military units, stationing them overseas, and sending them back and forth for training to benefit the security of another nation, an advanced and wealthy country capable of defending itself?  Why are American personnel preparing for battle to defend South Korea?

      If American resources were infinite, then it might make sense to shower bases and garrisons all over the globe.  If South Korea was still war-ravaged and impoverished and the Cold War was still raging, it might make sense for the U.S. to maintain a security guarantee.  But neither of those conditions bears any relation to reality today.

      Washington got into Korea inadvertently. Around the turn of the century Imperial Japan colonized the Korean peninsula and ruled with characteristic brutality. At the end of World War II the U.S. and Soviet Union created two occupation zones, which evolved into two competing states.  North Korea’s Kim Il-sung launched an invasion in 1950 to reunite the country.

      Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

      by divineorder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:15:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Safety Net? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        just want to comment

        I've never heard it said, not one time. So I'll say it now!

        This money was taken from me against my wishes, with no recourse. I was never given a choice to participate - they just took it. It's mine. I don't give a fuck what you call it. I call it MINE.

        And I want it. Soon.

    •  selective austerity fetishism (3+ / 0-)
      Today’s interventionist foreign policy is dangerous, entangling America in a host of conflicts not its own.  Constant involvement overseas, especially micromanaging the affairs of other nations and killing people here, there, and everywhere, also creates enemies, determined to do the U.S. ill.

      Moreover, the warfare state is no less expensive and no more affordable than the welfare state.  If America is to regain its financial footing, it must cut back—everywhere.  Including America’s expansive military dole for other nations.  A good place to start slashing would be welfare for South Korea.

      how about all other nations, hmmm?

      yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

      by annieli on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:39:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who's going to hire all the old people anyway? (36+ / 0-)

    Those who want to raise SS and Medicare are just not living in the real world or they are living in the real world and they don't care.

    Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

    by Bush Bites on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:32:35 AM PST

  •  I'm actually holding out for 70 (20+ / 0-)

    which is less than 7 years away. Why? Because the sheet that the Social Security Administration sends out once a year tells me that my monthly payout if I wait will be double what it will be if I file at 65. In my profession, you don't have to retire at 65 anyway.

    I'm lucky.  Most of the people my age who aren't in my position (spouse already receiving benefits) aren't as lucky. It's not "who's going to hire the old people," it's more "what are the old people going to do when they're 'let off'?"

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:37:29 AM PST

    •  Law Firms (5+ / 0-)

      Law Firms do keep you around. I work for one and hope to hang in for quite a while to get the higher Social Security. Besides the job though, one has to consider your health too.

      •  My cousin Morris... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf, Dave in Northridge, kpardue still practicing law almost full-time in his 80s. 83, I think.

        "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 Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:49:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But what if they COULD retire? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sybil Liberty, opinionated, HeyMikey

          Not everyone wants to keep practicing law full-time in their 80s. My sister, a public defender, retired last year at the age of 62. She has a ton of things she wants to do and now she has time to do them (hopefully. She was also diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, but seems to be doing OK).

          Jon Husted is a dick.

          by anastasia p on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:48:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Public defender here, just turned 60 (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pundit, tofumagoo, Laconic Lib, HeyMikey

            I may jump at 62 myself, though I'll have to continue in private practice till I'm 70 probably. A foot injury makes walking to the courthouse hard these days. Something less than 110 demanding clients would be nice too. My wife is having bad hand/arm nerve problems all of a sudden. The 2% have no idea how scary and hard real life can be.

    •  when they're "let off" (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flynnie, kpardue, chuckvw, susakinovember, Chi

      what are the old people going to do? They're going to open up jobs for young college grads who simply cannot find jobs, mebbe?

      If you asked me (which nobody did of course) we shouldn't be raising the age to full benefits but we should be seriously considering lowering it - at least back to 65.

      Old people in good shape can always occupy themselves doing volunteer work...remedial reading volunteers comes to mind.

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:11:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow. So someone who has a spring in their step (4+ / 0-)

        and valuable skills should jump ship to make room?

        And what have young people done for them lately?

        Maybe if employers stopped handing out egregious bonuses they could keep the experience and bring in new blood.

        But that's just me, thinking again. Feel free to ignore it.

        •  Actually, (0+ / 0-)

          I could write a book about what a young person
          has done for me lately. Somehow I doubt it would be "lofty" enough for a thinking person such as yourself.

          "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

          by Sybil Liberty on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:51:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Its one thing when a person has to retire, (0+ / 0-)

            because they really have lost their ability to work, or want to because they lost their desire. But there is this mentality out there that says, once a person hit's a certain age, it's time to retire them, which as often as not, means put them on a shelf or throw them away.

            These are people we are talking about here. People who just might love their jobs, who just might still have what it takes to perform their duties with excellence. The expectation that "old" people step aside to me, feeds into that.

            We loose so much when we force our elders into silence and exile.

            Would the younger workers be bullied as easily if the elders were there, to nip that in the bud? Would the younger workers learn some of the rules of engagement better if their elders were there to help them out with that?

            Going for the newest, the latest and greatest isn't an instant recipe for success. Sometimes it's just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

            •  If you're presuming that's my mentality, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you would be wrong. At age 74, I simply believe that raising the mandatory age to collect earned benefits to age 70 is insane for those of us whose jobs would have seen us in wheelchairs or immobilized by the time we reached our "sunset years".

              I had the option to collect reduced benefits at age 62 which I took, so that I could fill the roll of caregiver to a family member. Shouldn't future retirees have that same option? That those young and seeking full-time employment might see a few job openings as a result? How is that a bad thing?

              "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

              by Sybil Liberty on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 07:41:07 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree with you: (0+ / 0-)
                At age 74, I simply believe that raising the mandatory age to collect earned benefits to age 70 is insane for those of us whose jobs would have seen us in wheelchairs or immobilized by the time we reached our "sunset years".
                I misunderstood your original post. I thought you meant it just that old people should just get out of the way.

                My mistake.

    •  Do the math: (13+ / 0-)

      At what you would get at 65 for five years, how many years at whatever you'll get at 70 will it take to equal the five EXTRA years you already would have from 65 to 70?  I figured it at 11 something years.  SS has a calculator that figured it at nine years and some months.  People who fall for that argument forget the money they will be collecting between whatever earlier age they retire and 70:  it's substantial.

      Furthermore, you don't get yearly increments, you get monthly increments.  Every month after your earliest start date, you get an increment.  Not huge, of course, but like annual interest rates that can be divided into smaller time slices, SS increments are divided into monthly increments.

      I went thru this exercise for myself and then with a SS agent.  When I mentioned the blather about waiting till 70, she responded that she didn't understand why people would wait if they need the income.  The work restrictions are much lower and end much sooner than formerly, so that's not an impediment--or shouldn't be.  I had her calculate what I'd get if I waited several months and my increment per month was laughably small.  Certainly not a reason to wait.

      If you have any doubts, go to your SS office and have an agent do the math.  Check it out.

      I'm beginning to believe that the Wait Till 70 campaign is designed to drop the SS rolls--thru death.

      Acceleration is a thrill, but velocity gets you there

      by CarolinNJ on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:27:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey, why not. The VA is the perfect example of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge, kpardue

        attrition by death.

      •  Do The Math (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge, johnrhoffman

        Your last sentence nails it. Drop the rolls--thru death!

      •  CarolinNJ we did just that and decided on (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CarolinNJ, DSPS owl, vigilant meerkat

        early as a consequence

        If you have any doubts, go to your SS office and have an agent do the math.  Check it out.
        Good thing we did, because we had some big health care expenses come along .

        Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

        by divineorder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:19:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hey, National Nurses United! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Given the current rules about earned income while collecting, it really doesn't make sense for many people to wait.  I didn't have to wait even a year because I took SS in Jan and my birthday was Oct:  I only had cool it until Oct 1; your wait period is until the first day of the month you were born, no matter what day.  Supposing you were born the last day of a month and started SS the month before, you'd only have to wait a month to drop the earnings restrictions--which aren't terribly restrictive in the first place.  There is some sort of lag between applying and receiving, but as I recall, it was only from Jan when I applied to Feb or Mar when I received.  Can't remember and I'm not looking it up.

          The government too many people complain about is actually very efficient, very pleasant to deal with in those areas I've had contact:  SS and Treasury bills and notes.  The Treasury people at Phila Fed Reserve were absolutely terrific.  Couldn't have been nicer or more helpful and professional.

          Acceleration is a thrill, but velocity gets you there

          by CarolinNJ on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:25:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  As inconvenient as it can be, waiting in a dingy (0+ / 0-)

          SS office for your name to be called, it's well worth the time.  You'll spend maybe a couple of hours and get definitive answers that will allow you to make rational decisions--with, you know, facts and real numbers and stuff.  Just push aside all the self declared experts and go to the horse's mouth.  YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID.  You will also be a little shaken at all the misinformation and almost but not entirely true information out there for your uninformed delectation.  The crap I've heard............  Some in the service of Peterson and the Koch brothers' agenda, offered not by subversive agents but by ignoramuses.  Honestly, some people ought to just sign over durable power of attorney to the right wing agency of their choice--which is the last choice they'll have to or be able to make.  Give the wingers everything and be done with it.


          Acceleration is a thrill, but velocity gets you there

          by CarolinNJ on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:01:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Forgot about this: (0+ / 0-)

        Your eligibility, NOT YOUR BENEFIT AMOUNT, your eligibility is counted as the first day, Jan 1, of the year in which you become eligible.  I applied in Jan.  I was 64.  I turned 65 that following Oct.  I was eligible as if I had been 65 at the time I applied.  My benefit was calculated on my date of application, or first check, I don't remember which.

        The eligibility ages have been horsed around, but you're eligible as of the first day of the year in which you become whatever eligible age.

        Acceleration is a thrill, but velocity gets you there

        by CarolinNJ on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:33:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually its a bet and the odds are against you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The reason SS pays more to people who wait until 70 to collect is that you are gambling that you will reach 81 before you actually make up for 3 years you delayed collecting. And that is just actual dollars not any interest you might have accrued by having that extra money for three years.

        If you are still in good enough health to continue to work past 67 it should be because you absolutely love you job and can't imagine a better way to spend what could well be the last few years of good health you have. Put another way you are betting that not only will you live well past 81 but that your health will allow you the same quality of life you enjoy between 67-70. Personally I think it is a suckers bet. The SS administration knows that it will almost certainly make more in interest holding on to that money for those three years then you will ever get back which is the only reason that offer that option.

        •  Some of us here were eligible at 65. Like me. (0+ / 0-)

          I was well advised not to wait and, in any case, I needed the money.  But knowing how the system actually works and running the numbers, I was confident I was doing the right thing.

          What's the average lifespan of a working class or middle class male these days?  Less than 81, I would think.

          You can't beat the people in the green eyeshades.

          Acceleration is a thrill, but velocity gets you there

          by CarolinNJ on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:32:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Made the Same Decision (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CarolinNJ, khughes1963

        CarolinNJ-My brother-in-law made the same point to me about not waiting to collect.  Also, while my father lived to be 88, my mother died at 73.

        I worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  We've had several major RIFs which I survived.  In addition, there has been a wage freeze with only two minimal exceptions for years for management employees as I was. I've lived my life with spinal issues that finally became too much to get through an entire day even as an attorney. The Commonwealth doesn't allow part-time or telework. I retired just shy of my 60th birthday. With the pay freezes, there was no point to waiting since pensions are determined based on the three highest years.  I had enough time in to qualify on medical and retire on service with a de minimis reduction for retiring a few months short of 60.

         I'm fortunate to have a defined benefit pension and a deferred compensation plan into which I was able to rollover my pension plan contribution.  When I got my SS award letter, I looked at it and realized that, while it is a much appreciated supplement to my pension and deferred compensation plan for me, for many, this would be what they'd have to live on.  The odds would be they would be living on far less since I made well more than many.

        I always try to remind myself of how very fortunate I am and to put myself in the shoes of those who have all my physical problems and much worse without having my options.  I will continue to fight to make sure that they are not sacrificed to the Republican agenda of welfare for the wealthiest.

    •  Precisely (0+ / 0-)

      I have no idea why they keep saying the retirement age is 65 or 66 to get your "full" amount. I am also an early baby boomer, like you, and my monthly payout with be more than 50% more at 70 than at 66. So 70 is effectively my retirement age NOW. How high do they want to raise it? 75? 80? 85?

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:47:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd add. (18+ / 0-)

    I don't know too many offices that want 65 year olds walking around either.

    Fact is, there are few older workforces than those in congress and in the CEO ranks.

    Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

    by Bush Bites on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:37:42 AM PST

  •  I'm almost 65... (20+ / 0-)

    and I can tell you for sure that physical work is a lot more difficult than it was even 5 years ago. I have no idea what it will be like at 70 but I'm pretty sure I won't enjoy it.

    •  On physical work & Soc Sec--not so simple... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      laurnj, tommyfocus2003, DSPS owl

      The obvious and the counterintuitive.

      It's obvious, as you note, that as we get older it's harder to do physical work. Thus it would be unfair to expect people doing physical work in their 60s to continue doing it even longer, which would be the effect of raising the retirement age.

      What's counterintuitive is that it's actually decades of sedentary work, not decades of physical work, that's the real life-shortener. There's solid research (easily Googlable) that spending decades sitting takes years off your life, and remaining active throughout youth and middle age is associated with a longer lifespan.

      The Social Security disability rules take account of this to a significant extent, but probably not enough to account for raising the retirement age. The current SS disability rules:

      1. If you're (a) no longer physically or mentally able to do your past work; and (b) limited to "sedentary" exertion (can only be on your feet about 2 hours a day); (c) have no skills transferable to sedentary work; and (d) age 50 or over, then you're disabled.

      2. If you're (a) no longer physically or mentally able to do your past work; and (b) limited to "light" exertion (can be on your feet most of the day, but can't do much lifting); (c) have no skills transferable to light work; and (d) age 55 or over, then you're disabled.

      "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 Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:03:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i'm pretty sure you won't either (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:14:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whenever I hear a prognosticator... (18+ / 0-)

    prattling on about how much longer everyone is living than was envisaged 70 years ago and quotes statistics of life expectancies from birth, I no longer give them the benefit of the doubt (i.e. sheer ignorance.) Rather, I assume they're being willfully deceptive and therefore I'm skeptical of absolutely everything they say henceforth on any subject.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:38:55 AM PST

    •  Pundits and politicians. (7+ / 0-)

      Everyone who understands the numbers (economists, actuaries) don't say this sort of crap.

      But I've come to realize this is a reason we should be very wary of electing  Congressional representatives well into in their 80s, yes even on our side.

      It's just harder to understand why people can't work until they're 70 when you're going to work every day at age 83 yourself. Some people can. But human nature makes it more challenging. .  

      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:05:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It depends on the job. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

          Some jobs you can coast into 70 or whatever. some jobs you are beat after 5-10 years, and a lot in-between.

           Means testing puts the system in jeopardy, but if you incentivized continued contributions past the age of 60 graduated to 70 or whatever, so the longer you work past retirement age and the age where you can draw from tax-free investments the more you increase your return when you eventually fully retire. You can also incentivize paying in and taking out.

        I am sorry if you don't like my comments. At least I never promised to just put the tip in.

        by Marcellus Shale on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:13:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ed Rendell (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian S

      Every time I see this guy on MSNBC, that's what he is saying. Probably has never "worked at a real job" in his life. Sickening to think that this guy was DNC chairman.:( A true dickead!

  •  Work (22+ / 0-)

    Many older folks can't find work even if they want it.  Blind politicians and CEOs will do us all in if we don't fight back now.  Social Security is not an entitlement. It is earned.
    Young folks have been lied to if they think otherwise.

  •  The Fact Is (27+ / 0-)

    That Social Security doesn't contribute one cent to the deficit and therefore, the debt.  There's absolutely no budgetary reason for Social Security benefits to be part of any deficit/debt negotiation.  Why is it even mentioned in the same breath?

    If we want to strengthen Social Security there are many reasonable and responsible ways to do it.  The most obvious ways to increase revenues to the program include subjecting 90% of wage income to the Social Security tax by raising the income limit beyond today's $110, 100 and by subjecting dividend and interest income to the FICA tax.

    It's always people who will never have to depend on Social Security for dignified retirement years with the loudest voices calling for benefit cuts to the program such as  raising the retirement age.

    If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    by stewarjt on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:41:12 AM PST

    •  that's a fact (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stewarjt, shaharazade, dotdash2u, Chi

      I came on here to post the same message so thanks for saying it.  My question is why doesn't this idea get mentioned by anybody when this argument comes up.  I asked a doctor I work with why raising the salary cap wouldn't solve the problem and he basically said it was unfair to him because he wasn't relying on SS to help him retire so asking him to pay more was a burden on him.  I know the President has suggested this idea (or the donut hole concept) on the stump so why aren't we hearing it now?

    •  Actually, there is a reason (17+ / 0-)

      For decades, the government has been using the money coming in from Social Security to bolster it's finances. If benefits aren't cut, they have to start paying that money back soon.

      Basically, they want the American people to forgive the loan they took without asking us if it would be OK to use our Social Security contributions to pay for wars and upper-income tax cuts.

      On paper, the Social Security trust fund is solvent until 2038. But that's figuring that general fund money makes up the difference between what's coming in and what's going out until all the money they already spent on non-Social Security stuff is paid back.

      People like Simpson and Bowles don't want to have to pay back all the money they took to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:59:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Agree With Your Sentiment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, Laconic Lib

        But question your analysis.

        The law is that Social Security must lend any "off budget" surpluses to the federal government if the federal government runs "on budget" deficits. If the federal government didn't borrow from Social Security, it would have to borrow somewhere else.

        Let's suppose the government runs on budget deficits and has to borrow $500B. Let's say it borrows $500B from Social Security. So the deficit in that year is $500B and the US debt from this year is $500B. Now let's say it's time to repay Social Security and the federal government is still running deficits. It has to borrow the $500B from some other entity. This doesn't add to the US government's debt at all, (though one may argue that it adds to the deficit) because the government is merely rolling over the debt. Spending, in this case borrowing, that adds to the deficit, but not the debt is irrelevant.

        If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

        by stewarjt on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:07:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bottom line (0+ / 0-)

          If the government borrows from outside the government, it takes in fresh capital ($z) to fund its operations. It had $x available from general revenues and $y from Social Security and now has $x+$y+$z (along with interest obligations and eventual payback of principal. From an accounting view, it has purely contracted a debt to an outside party.

          When it borrows from Social Security, no fresh capital is brought in. It had $x+$y, and that's still all it has, only now it has relabeled all or part of $y, borrowing from itself in an accounting transaction. Essentially, it now has booked the Social Security funds simultaneously as revenue and debt, pretending that Social Security still possesses the money it received from payrolls, now in the form of special Treasury notes.

          Honest accounting (which government refuses to do in any form) would once again book Social Security as part of the U.S. budget and deficit.

          •  Your Math Examples (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Laconic Lib

            Aren't a substitute for legal obligations.  No amount of arithmetic can change Social Security's legal funding status.

            If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

            by stewarjt on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:53:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You need to factor in what SS would do... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Laconic Lib

            ...with their surplus if they didn't loan it to the general Federal government. It would not be rational to just store it in a vault being eroded by inflation (even though it would count as an asset in that case, but that's another post...).

            So, the surplus would be invested somewhere. Since future benefits rely on these funds, such investments should be as safe as feasible. That vehicle would likely be (in the view of the markets, rightfully or wrongfully) US Federal securities although other options are possible.

            Assume Social Security has a surplus of $d and, just to make the example simple, the Federal debt happens to be $d as well.

            First, consider the case where things work as they do now. The general Federal government borrows nothing on the open market, they however borrow $d from Social Security and Social Security has no additional surplus to invest elsewhere. In this case, the Federal debt remains at $d financed by outstanding securities and Social Security has a current asset of $d in the form of Federal securities. Considering Social Security and the general Federal government, the net total debt remains $d.

            Consider the alternative case where Social Security doesn't borrow directly from the Federal government (but still requires investment safety). In this case Social Security has to invest their surplus somewhere and Enron would not be a good idea, so they pick an investment whose risk profile meets their objectives - US Securities (either on the secondary market or directly at auction). In this case, the Federal debt remains at $d financed by outstanding securities and Social Security has a current asset of $d in the form of Federal securities. Considering Social Security and the general Federal government, the net total debt remains $d.

            In this simplistic example interest rates on the securities may be somewhat different in the two cases because in the latter case open market competition sets them while in the former case, lacking a benchmark since there is no open market Federal debt to benchmark them again, some "calculated" rate would have to be determined. However, as long as the general Federal debt substantially exceeds the Social Security trust fund, the general Federal government will still have to borrow on the open market thereby creating a benchmark.

          •  Social Security is NOT "the government" (0+ / 0-)
            •  honest accounting (0+ / 0-)

              the government borrowed from social security.  this brings "fresh money" into the government... borrowed from the PEOPLE who paid into the Trust Fund for their own retirement.

              The United States of America is NOT the same legal entity as "The Social Security Trust Fund."

              for the US to pay back the money it borrowed, of course it has to find it somewhere else.

      •  In other words, they want to "Bain" all of us. (12+ / 0-)

        That is the most significant reason i hated the idea of a Romney presidency. Replacing higher paying jobs with lower paying jobs was bad. Shipping any job over-seas was worse. But stealing the pension fund and putting it in his back pocket is what placed him in the sub-human, bipedal life form category with me.

  •  Forcing older workers to stay (27+ / 0-)

    ... in the workforce only makes it harder for the new workers entering the workforce.

    By all means, anyone who wants to stay should be allowed to stay, as long as they are able to do the work as long as they WANT to do the work. But there are many of us who have worked most of our lifetimes, and are looking forward to a bit of leisure time -- before we're too old to enjoy it.

    I've been paying into Social Security for 44 years. I've been paying into the pension fund at my current job for 24 years. I deserve to start getting that money back pretty soon. I don't need some wealthy idiot Congressperson telling me to wait longer because I might actually get some benefit out of that money and that would make me a freeloader!

    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:42:31 AM PST

  •  The flip side of extending the age at which (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, democrattotheend, WillR

    someone can draw old age [OA] benefits is the fact that older individuals are more prone to medical conditions that will allow them to meet the disability requirements of the Social Security Act, and therefore make them eligible for disability benefits in their 60s even if they are not old enough to draw full old age benefits. Are there proposals to again tighten the eligibility criteria for disability benefits for people of 'advanced age' [caveat: 'advanced age' is a term used in the disability criteria, and is defined as ages 55 and older]?  The DI portion of the OASDI is having difficulty as it is, more so than the OA portion.

  •  why not raise the amount of income getting taxed (8+ / 0-)

    for social security? my understanding is a rise of 10 or 20k in the amount of earned income that gets a social security tax fixes this problem that is 20 or 30 years away as it is. oh that's right we can never raise taxes. on one of the babble shows this morning they had grover and jim cramer  as the economy wonks. i wasn't sure if grover was supposed to represent the left or jim....i knew they wouldn't go on air with an unbalanced line up but i sure as shit couldn't figure out who was who.....

  •  Even sitting at a desk gets taxing (8+ / 0-)

    I know most people think office workers have it easy, but sitting in front of a computer all day gets painful too, especially since most officers are not set up properly from an ergonomic perspective. Office workers are at risk for carpal tunnel, repetitive stress, and other painful muscular conditions. So even those who work in climate controlled offices might find it physically tough to keep working beyond the current retirement age.

    •  Takes a mental toll too. n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4mygirls, Debs2, Brooke In Seattle

      Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

      by Bush Bites on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:50:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So true. Those CEO's and Congress people have (6+ / 0-)

      peons do do all that for them, they don't have to go to the office if they don't want to.

      Oh for crying out loud!

      by 4mygirls on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:54:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sitting at a desk (5+ / 0-)

      For me, it isn't physical, it is the stress of doing the job.  When someone wants an older person to retire, there are many ways that can be used to make retirement happen.  But, why, as others have mentioned, can't we discuss revenue enhancements to social security?  The discussion about social security matters is almost always one-sided.  Raising the earnings cap would bring in a lot more money into the trust fund.  It is a sensible alternative that doesn't really create any hardship for higher income people. (Besides, their benefits go up.)   Raising the retirement age  essentially lowers retirement benefits because while people may live slightly longer they rarely can work longer.  And. while I'm at it, if the Medicare eligibility age were lowered to age 60, I think more people would be able to retire.  Employment and health care need to be de-coupled.

      •  Decoupling the work-life (0+ / 0-)

        situation is one of the best potentials for substantive change to this system possible. How long do we think it will take for people to wrap their heads around this idea?
        As fewer good paying jobs are available to workers there will be less revenue to the system. Raise the cap and make just being a human the real value of our system.

  •  It was a bad idea in 1983 and it still is (19+ / 0-)

    I was on the Congressional staff that developed and wrote the 1983 Social Security Amendments that "raised the retirement age" from 65 to 67 in 1983.  I put that in quotes, because in fact it's impossible to actually raise the age since there is no mandatory retirement age any more except is specialized circumstances - what we did in 1983 was cut benefits, plain and simple, but only for those people who can't keep going in their jobs till they're 66 (the current age for full benefits) or 67 (the eventual full age).  Maybe they have health problems, maybe they've been laid off and can't find other work, maybe they're just too damned worn down.  I advised at the time that if we felt compelled to cut benefits, which I didn't think we should do anyway, we should cut them across the board rather than placing the burden of the program's solvency on those in the worst position to bear it.  I lost that argument then, but it's still the right argument, in some respects now.

    However, there is NO justification for further benefit cuts in Social Security, now or in the future - to justify cutting a program, you need to make a case that benefits are excessive, and that case simply cannot be made.  Quite to the contrary - benefits should be improved, given the collapse of the private pension system for most Americans.  This is why the Peterson crowd and the beltway policy wonks talk about 'raising the age' rather than 'cutting benefits' - sounds more reasonable, when in fact it's the exact same thing.

    •  Re (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      However, there is NO justification for further benefit cuts in Social Security, now or in the future - to justify cutting a program, you need to make a case that benefits are excessive, and that case simply cannot be made.
      There is a serious disconnect here on this theory.

      Any program that the government runs should meet two tests:

      (a) Do we need it
      (b) Can we afford it

      If (b) doesn't work, then no matter how much of (a) there might be, it doesn't really matter because we can't pay for it.

      All government programs are supported by diverting economic productivity from other uses (generally private sector uses) and putting it to the use in question. Economic productivity is finite, as is the willingness of economically productive people and entities to give up productivity in favor of government programs.

      Social Security is something I submit we do need and can afford. However, my point is just that you can't just look at one side of the equation. "People need or want this" might not be enough to sustain a program if the underlying economic productivity and/or willingness to fund it isn't there.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:57:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a question of priorities, distribution (9+ / 0-)

        Until we assess the proper taxes on the upper end (raising the wage base cap would solve the majority of any long term solvency gap), and stop wasteful military spending, there can be no serious proposal that "we can't afford Social Security".  It's a necessity, just like defense, not a luxury we can do without.

        •  I generally agree (0+ / 0-)

          I just take issue with the statement you made that the only reason to cut benefits may be because someone judges them to be excessive. However, that's not the only potential reason. The other reason might be that they are unaffordable.

          While Social Security definitely doesn't meet that definition, a number of state pension programs may well be in that boat.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:11:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think the problem with willingness to fund (8+ / 0-)

        stems from the constant and relentless attack on the SS system that is is not a "good deal" and you can do better investing your own money.  As you said, we can afford it, and we do need it. For anyone who is 25 years old and has not yet watched a substantial investment in the private sector go to hell in a handbasket two years before they planned to start living off of it, that argument sounds great.

        But for those of us who have diligently contributed to our SEP, 401k, and IRA, only to see the value evaporate when the Wall Streeters went crazy, we recognize that, as unexciting and downright boring as it is, SS is a slow steady and safe way to set aside for a future income stream that is pretty guaranteed. It should not be measured by private market standards of rate of return  or return on investment, because it is not that type of investment, and to compare the two is apples and oranges. SS is the foundation of your retirement house. SEP, 401k and IRA are the nice trim on the house. But I personally know of many people who have cashed in their private retirement accounts to fund a better lifestyle, or start up a business that failed, or to pay medical bills or other inexpected expenses. But they could not touch their SS. That to me is one of the biggest pitfalls of private retirement investments, and one of the biggest safeguards of SS.

        It is only if the funds being paid into SS are diverted to some other scheme that the SS system will fail. If fact, diverting FICA to private accounts will all but guarantee that SS will fail. Then all anyone will have to look to for that future income stream is the market. That's not where I want to place my bet for retirement.

        [Sorry, I got off on a bit of a rant there. I'll step down off the soapbox now. Peace.]

        •  Better education is required. (0+ / 0-)
          But for those of us who have diligently contributed to our SEP, 401k, and IRA, only to see the value evaporate when the Wall Streeters went crazy...
          Most who found themselves in that situation and are actually negatively impacted by it (in other words, not just temporarily on paper) failed to understand or apply basic investment wisdom that hasn't changed substantially in decades.

          The hypothetical 25 year old should consider having a substantial portion of their investments in higher yielding, higher risk diversified instruments (for most, that means through a variety of ETFs or low cost mutual funds). This person could, for example, responsibly take a gamble with a portion of their assets on a Google (years ago), a Facebook (now), or (shudder) a Zynga (a few months ago).

          Someone a few years from beginning to rely on drawing from their retirement nest egg should have a substantial portion (perhaps, for example, that portion they expect to draw on in the next ten years) of their retirement assets in low risk (and, therefore, lower yielding investments). One option is to invest in the same thing Social Security invests in - Federal securities. Rightfully or wrongfully, Federal securities are still considered to be among the safest investments -- and if that assumption is wrong, obviously Social Security itself is potentially in deep trouble as their nest egg is invested in an asset that may default.

          Too many people react completely incorrectly when their investments tank. When they tank due to a systemic decline, usually the last thing one wants to do is liquidate their holdings and put the proceeds in "something safe" yet many people do just this. When they tank due to a single stock or sector going south (which suggests asset allocation was not done appropriately in the first place), too often they hang on to it hoping, with little rational basis, that it "will come back" and follow it into the ground.

          I've not looked into the research as to why these reactions are so common. Perhaps it's a validation thing - people like to be right on an individual basis but if they are wrong, they feel much better about it if an entire crowd is wrong? When an individual stock tanks, the decision to buy it was that of the investor and, at the same time, there were (retrospectively) other stocks that would have been much better investments that they passed over -- so getting rid of the loser in that case is admitting that they made a suboptimal decision. As well, they likely know few to commiserate with who also made the same suboptimal judgement. On the other hand when entire segments or even the entire economy tanks, the personal investment in the decision is less and a lot of people are in the same boat so it's emotionally easier and there are many to commiserate with - making it easier to abandon the decision and "invest in something safe instead".

          Using one's funds specifically earmarked for retirement to start a new business or for almost anything is rarely wise unless the person is very young so they have plenty of time to recover (but, probably, few assets in their retirement funds anyway). To the extent the money is in accounts that are protected from creditors and which incur tax penalties for early withdrawal (such as 401(k)s and IRAs), doing so moves from "rarely wise" to "likely insanely stupid". The responsible thing to do is NOT spend the money (just like you can't spend the money in your Social Security "account") -- creditors can't touch it so if you have to go bankrupt, do so (just as you would have done if the government had withheld the money from your paycheck and put it in Social Security).

          I'm sure none of this is news to most people here. Sadly, however, our education system is so weak that we let people get a high school diploma without a basic understanding of personal finance (even very basic things like compounded interest). With 12 years of schooling, we should expect every child in the top three quartiles of ability to have a solid understanding of this sort of thing and our society should essentially demand it. Sadly, those who don't understand such things make bad decisions at the polls as well since they lack the tools to make informed decisions about financial matters -- not only their own, but that of government at all levels.

      •  Can we afford it? (9+ / 0-)

        The productive capacity of this country has gone from $13, 526 per capita in 1981 to $48,442 in 2011 (2011 dollars, World bank figures from here:

        I submit that we can afford to increase social security spending significantly; in addition, increasing consumer spending power for social security recipients (who spend almost all of it) increases economic demand.  And lack of economic demand, as Paul Krugman cannot stop saying, is the heart of the current economic stagnation.

        In the meantime trillions of dollars in capital lies idle for lack of economic demand.  Lowering the social security age and increasing benefits is really what we should be doing.

        What stands in the way is the unwillingness to raise taxes (or otherwise more evenly distribute the economic gains) of the tiny minority who have benefitted from increasing automation and outsourcing.

        •  Re (0+ / 0-)
          I submit that we can afford to increase social security spending significantly; in addition, increasing consumer spending power for social security recipients (who spend almost all of it) increases economic demand.  And lack of economic demand, as Paul Krugman cannot stop saying, is the heart of the current economic stagnation.
          This is where I differ from most people on this site. I consider this opinion to be foolish in the extreme.

          Consumption is something that happens after you produce something of economic value. You take your profits and consume. Consumption is not an end in itself, it is the reward you get for doing useful work.

          I'm not going to sit here like Krugman and arrogantly declare that I understand the entire economy and the problem(s) we face, but I suspect that the real problem we face is that many workers these days simply are not necessary anymore.

          Automation and outsourcing are increasing productivity levels massively. However, automation is dependent on robots, so jobs doing repetitive work are being replaced by fractions of jobs building, maintaining, and programming robots. Additionally, other low-skill jobs are being replaced by overseas workers who care about you like you care about rich bankers. We have neither the moral nor the actual power to tell these people that they can't have or want what we have.

          Assuming this trend continues into the future, people are going to have to have less kids and educate the ones that do exist a lot more. There simply will not be a lot of work to do.

          Demand is what happens after you've produced something of economic value and sold it to someone. People who advocate "stimulating demand" are putting the cart before the horse.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:03:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I fear it's worse than that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Assuming this trend continues into the future, people are going to have to have less kids and educate the ones that do exist a lot more. There simply will not be a lot of work to do.
            If, in fact, the "fewer kids, more education" trend were universal, I don't think we would have a problem with too few low-skill jobs for those who are only able to do those jobs.

            However, I fear we are well into a worse, and possible death spiral, scenario.

            Suppose parents that place a high value on education, and therefore see to it that their kids are well educated, reduce their birthrate. Suppose that parents that don't place a high value on education, and therefore don't see to it that their kids are well educated, maintain or even increase their birthrate relative to the first set of parents.

            That's a pretty scary scenario as it results in the ratio of low-skill workers to high-skill workers continually increasing while the percentage of low-skill jobs to high-skill jobs decreases. Unfortunately, there is evidence we are on this slope.

            If we can't figure out how to get all segments of society to place a high value on education, the US will inevitably continue to decline economically with respect to the rest of the world.

            It's not important that the parents are well-educated, just that they take an active role in their children's education and discipline. It's their job to make sure their kid is doing their homework before they play video games. It's the school's job to provide the necessary instruction and communicate to the parents if there is a problem with, for example, homework not getting done or the child acting up in class (or, just not trying). It is also the parent's job to assume the teacher/school reports on achievement, effort, and behavior are usually accurate and their "little angel's" conflicting version is more likely inaccurate -- either intentionally or due to lack of objective judgement skills. Unless we put the kids in boarding schools (not feasible), the teachers and schools just can't have much success.

            Discipline and priority setting, with school guidance if requested, is the parent's job. If the kid cuts school or even misbehaves, it's the parents' job to insure there is a substantial price to pay. For example, for repeated offenses, selling the Xbox and games on eBay and using those funds for a few hours of tutoring while explaining to the kid the tutoring was necessary because they are falling behind due to not working hard enough and they won't be having time for video games for some time anyway.

            While education funding is important, if the parent's don't place a high priority on education, increased funding won't help very much. Funding should be focused on those kids who are most able to meet their full potential educationally (i.e., not just the "smart" kids) -- which almost always requires parental involvement (unless, of course, we put the kids in boarding schools). The self motivating fifth grader, in the absence of parental expectations, is a fairly rare thing but the system should certainly seek them out and help them as well.

            If we can figure this out, there will still be low skill workers who simply can't handle high skill jobs due to personal limitations arising from genetics, disease, or accidents. However, there will always be some low skill jobs (many of them service jobs) that are not suitable for off-shoring and that many of these workers could do well, perhaps with some support. Fortunately, by reducing the supply of low skill workers, those that remain in that classification should be able to get better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Supply and Demand at work.

            If we can't figure this out we are headed for serious and extended consequences which are nearly unimaginable to most who are middle age or younger in the US today.

      •  Hidden assumptions there (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Minnesota Deb, Laconic Lib

        What if the economic activity doesn't disappear, but just gets relocated? And what if the government program enhances productivity?

        People on Social Security aren't sending their money to the Caymans. They're supporting their landlords, their utility companies, and their grocers.

        They are also less of a burden to their children, the children who are probably in their peak economically productive years.

        •  Productivity is productivity (0+ / 0-)

          You're either producing a good or service of a tangible value to someone, or you aren't. If not, you are consuming the resources of those who are. Consumption is not some kind of service to people.

          See the Broken Window Fallacy for details.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:50:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Lower the age requirement. (6+ / 0-)

      Give some of our tired, worn out with physical labor not- quite seniors a break.  Free up some jobs for youngsters.

      •  Bureau of Labor Statistics (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        conniptionfit, Laconic Lib

        BLS has been describing and classifying jobs for decades, see their current list. At the risk of creating endless debate between Repugs and Dems, it should be possible to assign retirement ages to the most strenuous and stressful jobs, strictly based on mortality tables if nothing else. It would be much more interesting to graph job classifications against health care claims.

        I know this is opening a can of worms, but if the Repugs want to raise the retirement age, let them do it on the hedge fund managers and senior executives, but lower it for the workers who literally do the heavy lifting.

  •  even a desk job can be too much (5+ / 0-)

    I hurt all over and I mostly sit behind a desk, only moving from school to school all day. A while back we had a " get up and move" event from the mayor's office; one of the ladies in her 60's went outside to the municipal steps to move around, took a misstep, and tumbled down the concrete stairs. The family waited two days to pull the plug. Folks, I don't feel like working until 70, or even 65. i was hoping to get out at 55. During the recent storm our schools in NJ were closed for two weeks. I felt no compelling reason to get back to work. I like my work; it is fulfilling. i make a difference. But i am sore and tired. I want to rest and not be bothered by some school functionary questioning my every move. Where were you? How many times must you go to the bathroom? Why don't you have a student with you right now? Your lunch is from 12 to 1, no exceptions ( except when they make an exception for THEIR needs )please submit this paperwork right now, stop whatever you are doing, the state needs this today, and so on. I have a friend who is an accountant. He is severely diabetic, 49 yrs old. In 30 years, he has not had one accounting job that didn't either end badly or just take advantage of him. Acounting never gets better; the books are never really reconciled; the accounts never settled; the bosses never happy. He has had it; he is on insulin, he is tired. He cannot do this for another 15 years.

    •  I was able to start collecting SSD in 2000 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftangler, DSPS owl

      at age 54.  The SS Judge made reference to my "advanced age," and the fact that I was diagnosed with Major Depression, Recurrent & Social Anxiety Disorder after a lifetime career working in child abuse investigations and juvenile court cases, as well as Protective Services for Children & Families.  The judge also referenced my burnout and the fact that I attempted teaching to dual enrolled High School Seniors getting college credits - and that attempt was aborted mid semester (I could not handle the entitled students at the upscale school).  I suffer from PTSD/MST from trauma while in the USAF.  

      I was relieved and remain so content that I was able to  have SSD, a small state retirement pension and 30% VA Disability.

      If I could live in Costa Rica or Panama I could have a housekeeper and live a luxurious life due to the lower cost of living (now I am in FL).  My true preference as an expat would be the South of France (so very beautiful, great cuisine, loving & good people - uninhibited and gracious).

      I am afraid of the gun culture and the violence in my part of the US (South Florida).  Life is very strange when you think about the essence of one's living situation.

  •  The idea that Republicans want to save SS (11+ / 0-)

    is a joke. It's a part of the New Deal and they've hated it since its inception.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:03:19 AM PST

  •  here is an e-mail I sent to Mark Warner (4+ / 0-)

    I ask you to consider the workers who work with their bodies, the workers who use their backs, knees and feet to earn their living.  The worker who works behind a desk can continue working after the body begins to decline as long as their minds continue to function adequately, but what about the worker that has worked for years and worn out their joints?  Is the only concern we have for the office worker?  How about the highway worker, the truck driver, the garbage collector?  When it snows there are people who drive the plows and shovel the sidewalks so the rest of us can get to our jobs and schools.  As far as we have come with technology there are still needed workers who work with their bodies, can they continue until age 70?  
    If we must raise the retirement age can we, will we consider the people that work with their bodies for the common good every day?  Social Security Disability is difficult to qualify for, and forces many into poverty before they can qualify.  If the retirement age is raised without consideration for the worker that uses their body to earn a living, more workers may be forced to take this option against their will.  

  •  They have raised the SSI retirement age enough! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Brooke In Seattle, wsexson

    For people born in 1960 or later the full SSI benefit isn't seen until age 67 and the reduction for retiring at 62 is 30%, instead of 20% at 62 for those who where eligible to retire with full benefits at 65.

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by notrouble on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:09:40 AM PST

  •  It's not even the case that all Americans are (7+ / 0-)

    living longer. Here's a snip from an recent article in the New York Times

    Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S.


    Published: September 20, 2012

    For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country’s least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.


    The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.

    White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed. But blacks over all do not live as long as whites, while Hispanics live longer than both whites and blacks.

    A lot depends on access to health care.

    “Social Security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or erasing or lowering the deficit.” -- Ronald Reagan, 1984 debate with Walter Mondale

    by RJDixon74135 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:10:30 AM PST

  •  That ain't the half of it. (6+ / 0-)

    Not only is an upper income worker going to live 35% longer and therefore draw out 35% more from SS just because of that, he is also going to draw out at a higher rate.  His widow is going to live far longer than he (10 yrs more) and far longer than her lower income cousin, drawing survivor benefits for far longer.  And if the primary recipient gets himslef a nice new wife of 20 something when he is in  his fifties, she is going to claim survivor benefits for 4 decades more.  LIFT THE CAP.  

    GOP Wars against: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Immigrants, Mexicans, Blacks, Gays, Women, Unions, Workers, Unemployed, Voters, Elderly, Kids, Poor, Sick, Disabled, Dying, Lovers, Kindness, Rationalism, Science, Sanity, Reality.

    by SGWM on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:11:42 AM PST

    •  Maybe it's time to review the advantages (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brook, SGWM

      that are given to married people.  

      Maybe people should collect social security on the merits of the work that they have done, rather than on the work their spouse has done.   Likewise there should be some equalization for job and wage discrimination.

      A woman that's raised four kids for her husband and cared for her and her husbands aging parents and kept them all from being a burdon on society should get a nice retirement.  

      A spouse that never worked outside the home, and never worked inside the home, either, should probably draw less, regardless of marital status.

      My mother worked outside the home at a demanding job so her kids could go to college, and also worked at home, very hard.  She was up at 4:30, went to bed after 11:00, and was also a contributor to the community.
        My dad worked hard, but I don't think as hard as she did.
      I was shocked at how little SS she eventually drew.

      Something a little more fair should be in order.  

  •  Is there a reasonable way to make retirement age (0+ / 0-)

    Dependent on job classification and pay scale, so that there is no change in retirement age for people who work most of their lives in lower-paying jobs with more physical labor, but someone who makes way more money in a non-physical job behind a desk has a higher retirement age?

    •  Probably, but bad political engineering (3+ / 0-)

      Once there's a difference in eligibility ages, everyone becomes more vulnerable to political chiseling. The people with physical jobs will get targeted for their Lucky Ducky "special privileges" even if they're not minorities, and the desk jockeys won't be in solidarity with them. The people with desk jobs will then be subject to round after round of "but you had a non-demanding job".

      It would be divide and conquer.

  •  Bad economic performance (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink, shypuffadder, tardis10

    If social security provides the majority of income for three-fifths of Americans over 65, that is a terrible indictment of our economy.  I had thought SS was just one leg of a three legged retirement plan, the other two being from pensions and personal savings.  It means that pensions have been wiped out and personal savings are negligible.

  •  Tie retirement age to *maximum* benefit (0+ / 0-)

    The current system pays a percentage of nominal payments based on age.  If you retire at 66 you get 100% of the value; if you retire at 62 you get less.  This doesn't matter if you are at the top of the scale (paid the limit) or were a $30k/year working stiff with a physically-demanding job.

    I suggest that the rule be changed.  Your maximum benefit depends on age.  So if you only earned $30k/year, your maximum benefit is pretty small, and you can collect that at age 62.  If you paid the max, then you can collect it if you retire at 67.  (It's a continuum in between.)  This way, the people who place the least load on the system, and who also have the shortest life expectancy, can collect earlier, while the biggest payments come later.

    Of course the Villagers and legislators would personally lose on this scheme since they're high on the income ladder.

  •  Delaying Retirement Eligibility (4+ / 0-)

    For three years is like a 25-50% benefit reduction for people in the middle quintile of life expectancy past 67, right?

    The GOP and its allies in the Democratic Party need to break the social contract if they want to continue to extract wealth from the population at the rate that they have for the last 35 years.

    Everything else is gone: affordable home ownership, affordable higher education, affordable medical care.

    They need to take this.

    And then they'll have us totally powerless.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:20:24 AM PST

  •  Have You Ever Seen a More Evil Looking F@#&? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Than Lloyd Blankfein?

    We will never have the elite, smart people on our side. - Rick Santorum

    by easong on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:21:46 AM PST

  •  The entire reason that SS is being questioned now (4+ / 0-)

    Is because the SS Trust Fund is currently at or near its peak balance of $2.6 trillion.  It simply has no funding issues at all for the next 25 years.

    However, if its net cashflow is made zero or positive through throwing enough grannies under the bus then that's $2.6 trillion that never, ever has to be repaid to the people who've stumped up their entire working lives.

    What do you think this $2.6 trillion is more likely to be spent on over the next few decades: Medicare, or a 1% tax break and a few wars?

    Fake candidates nominated by the GOP for the recalls: 6 out of 7. Fake signatures on the recall petitions: 4 out of 1,860,283.

    by GeoffT on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:23:46 AM PST

  •  Office Workers aren't all that healthy after (5+ / 0-)

    after 40 years of sitting at a desk.

    It is a myth that sitting at a desk is a safe and comfortable task.

    Unless the average cubical worker makes extra time and effort to vigorously exercise to counteract the effects of sitting, typing, running 10 key adding machines, heavy phone and computer use, they will have the following problems:

    Spine and disk injuries, pinched nerves in neck.
    Carpal tunnel, hand and finger and wrist wear injuries
    Varicose Veins
    Heart issues
    Strength issues
    Eye strain issues
    Ear problems, especially from listening and transcribing with certain ear phones.

    Granted, many other jobs have life threatening dangers on a regular basis, but it is myth that old people are able to continue to sit at a desk indefinitely.  

    The higher you go in an organization, the more control over your job you have and the more opportunities to walk around, take a break, negotiate for better ergonomic equipment, spend money on exercise programs.  

    However, the guy or gal that has to sit at a desk for 8 plus hours a day in a bullpen or cubical and meet stressful job requirements will have serious health issues at the end of 10 years, not to speak of 30 or 40 or 45 years.      

  •  If we'd just scrap the damned cap, Social Security (6+ / 0-)

    would be solvent essentially forever.  Especially if we made ALL income (from capital gains, not just salaries) taxable for Social Security.

    Yes, it really is that simple.

    •  If the cap would be raised a good amount (0+ / 0-)

      25 years from now, then Social Security never has any solvency issue at all.

      That's how close to bankruptcy it is!  But instead act now out of fear!  We only have days left to avert this disaster a quarter-century hence!

      Fake candidates nominated by the GOP for the recalls: 6 out of 7. Fake signatures on the recall petitions: 4 out of 1,860,283.

      by GeoffT on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:33:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This: (3+ / 0-)

    It's about keeping workers powerless poor and afraid and keeping the power for themselves.

  •  Retirement? That's for rich people! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Lowering retirement age so that younger (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    workers can get jobs, pay off student loans, build careers, etc, all which support the economy and continue paying into Social Security as well, seems a lot more logical to me.

    Has any research been done on this idea?

    Extending this, the retirees, esp those in physically demanding jobs, are younger and can focus on getting healthier before they get too sick will then lower health care costs.

    Seems win-win to me.

    That is, if you truly care about all retirees and have the ability to think outside your theoretically "austerity works" box.

  •  Don't think about raising the retirement age unles (0+ / 0-)

    The cap on salary deduction gets raised first. THAT is the only fair option if we all share in the "sacrifice".

  •  So the rich would do better? Well, knock me over (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minnesota Deb, Brooke In Seattle

    with a feather.

  •  I can do my job beyond 65 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (in 11 motnhs.) It's not physically difficult and I like what I do.  But I don't want to - I've been working since I was 12, I've done a lot of different jobs (baby sitter, library page, waitress, pizza maker/deliverer, banker, mortgage banker, office manager, and executive assistant) and now I want to spend my time helping my kids and caring for and playing with my grandchildren (ironically, back to my first job.)  

    I can do this because my last two employers had defined benefit pension programs and nearly 40% of my retirement income will come from that.  They also had 401k plans and that is almost 20%.  Without the pension plans I would not be able to retire next year.  

  •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Brooke In Seattle

    It's a bad idea and doesn't reflect reality.

    If you wanted to strengthen our retirement system, you'd boost the revenue into Social Security and Medicare. The way to do that is to rescind the cuts in the payroll tax and boost the employer contribution. You would also increase our tariffs to account for the drain on the system caused by our trade deficit.

    And, overall, you'd act to boost wages, because every extra dollar of wages paid is another 10+ cents going into our retirement funds. You would do that by moving wealth-producing jobs back to the U.S. and raising the domestic minimum wage.

    Anything else is unnecessary and counter productive.

  •  Means test (0+ / 0-)

    Instead of raising the retirement age, I would welcome means testing to reduce SS payouts (as well as raising the income ceiling on 'contributions'). Many here on DK have in the past objected to this on the ground that Social Sec. is insurance, not welfare. But this was always a fiction and now is wearing particularly thin. I know multi-millionaires who collect Social Security; one such lady tells me she thinks of it as lunch money—and also believes that she is fully entitled to collect it, having "paid in" to the system.

    •  that's a terrible idea (7+ / 0-)

      Means testing strikes at the heart of what has made Social Security such a widely accepted program in this country - you earn your benefits, they are not a "handout".  The benefit structure is based on the sound proposition that people who work for most of their lives are entitled to a floor of retirement income security.  That's not fiction at all, it's reasonable social policy.

      Moreover, means testing would save next to no money at all unless you go very far down into middle class income levels - again, it runs contrary to the entire purpose and success of the program, which is to sustain middle class people until their deaths.

      It's a ridiculous idea as well - you really want to march 35million people into an office each month to prove they're poor enough to deserve benefits?  

      •  No marching required (0+ / 0-)

        An annual statement of income would do, something the IRS could take care of without problem.

        •  Except that it wouldn't be just income, what (0+ / 0-)

          about assets?  They would have to go in and prove the value of their house, their car, their appliances, and other things just like people on food stamps/medicaid have to.  Besides, you would have to set the threshold so low (around $250k) to see any meaningful savings that either it wouldn't make much difference or you would really be screwing lots of people who aren't "rich".

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:28:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  For the same reason having variable (0+ / 0-)

        retirement ages depending on the "physicality" of the job is just too arbitrary, and those classifications and exceptions create resentment, division, and fraud.  People's bodies and aging are so variable that any arbitrary designations based on occupation would be unworkable.  It's not my concern what wealthy people do with their social security, any more than how people legally choose to spend their food stamps.

    •  Actually, they did the math and found that for (0+ / 0-)

      means testing to have a noticeable effect the threshold would have to be set as low as $250,000.  Remember, there is going to be quite a bit of overhead on means testing, especially if a primary residence is not exempted.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:26:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Raising the retirement age... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    ... will only work if universal health care is put in place. The main reason that corporations shed their older employees is the rising cost of insuring them. (Remember that lowering corporate costs is a valid reason to lay off an older worker and is not currently considered discrimination.) Decoupling health care from your employment would make it more likely that you'll even be able to keep working with a higher retirement age; it at least takes that health care cost argument away from the corporations. Hell folks, hit forty nowadays and you have a huge target on your back. What makes any of the pundits that someone in their late sixties is going to be able to find work? There are only so many "greeter" positions available at the local Wal-Mart, you know. And do those jobs pay enough to meet the monthly the bills?

  •  chained CPI trick - social security benefits (0+ / 0-)
    The "Social Security Chain-CPI Massacre": Underhanded, Unnecessary, Unfair, Un-American
    Do you hear a noise like power saws cutting away at your Social Security benefits? That's the sound of the politicians working on the "Chain Gang."

    They're promoting the "chained CPI," Washington's latest gimmick for tricking voters and cutting their hard-earned benefits to protect the wealthy. That may sound like inflammatory rhetoric, but the numbers don't allow for any other conclusion. People retiring today could lose more than $18,000 in benefits over their lifetimes - and people who are already retired will feel the pain too.

    What's wrong with this idea?

    1) It's an underhanded way to cut Social Security benefits (its true intent).
    2) It's unnecessary.
    3) It's unfair to women, the poor, minorities, and the very elderly.
    4) It reflects a un-American political culture of pessimism and lost faith in the future.

    Any politician who signs onto a "chained CPI" approach to Social Security will feel the wrath of the voters - and deserves to.

    No math required.

    Although they're using hocus-pocus to make the idea sound complicated, it isn't. The government calculates the cost of living in order to do things like determine next year's Social Security benefits. The "chained CPI" approach would alter that calculation by including changes in the way people spend their money when prices go up.

    As a government agency explains, "Pork and beef are two separate CPI item categories. If the price of pork increases while the price of beef does not, consumers might shift away from pork to beef." So if people can no longer afford pork, they're spending less. Under a chained-CPI approach cost of living adjustments (COLAs) would then go down.

    See where this is going? If not, stick around.


    The "chain gang" insists that this wouldn't be a benefit cut, just a more accurate calculation. That's an attractive argument with only one flaw: It's wrong. The "chained" approach would understate the cost of living for the elderly and disabled people who rely on Social Security.

    In plain English, it would gyp them.

    The Simpson-Bowles Commission otherwise known as the Cat Food Commission, is pushing to initiate another phase for 'The Elite Americans Movement' towards their core principle for budget deals "making life miserable for everyone less fortunate than you."

    by anyname on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:21:03 PM PST

  •  Thank you dear for informative, pertinent piece. (0+ / 0-)
  •  Blankfein is an alias (0+ / 0-)

    His real name is Blofeld.  He never appears with the white Persian cat in public, that's to help his disguise.

  •  We should be lowering the retirement age! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    As we ship all the good jobs for people without college degrees overseas, or give them to robots, what do they expect people to do?  Our government programs should be encouraging early retirement, not forcing people to work until they die or are disabled.  

    Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your shackles. It is by the picket line and direct action that true freedom will be won, not by electing people who promise to screw us less than the other guy.

    by rhonan on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:44:38 PM PST

  •  If you want to see the deficit go away (0+ / 0-)

    and maintain middle class tax cuts, you have to consider some time of entitlement reform or else you are just as clueless as the Republicans.  Any increase to the social security or medicare eligibility age should be phased in over at least a decade, and Obamacare should help some with increasing the Medicare eligiblity age.  Perhaps there can be an exception for those who spend more than x amount of years during jobs that are physical labor intensive.  I support means testing for social security and medicare, and it will affect me directly.  I have no objection to paying into a system that doesn't benefit me directly, and I've heard a similarity sentiment from both my parents and in-laws, who would also not receive benefits (or pay higher medicare premiums as a result).  Being absolutist is just not realistic.

  •  This illustrates the divide between reality and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    meme; one that has been talked about a lot in the last four years:

    The fact is, men are living less than three years longer, women about five. Yes, there are more people living longer because they didn't die at age 3 of whooping cough or polio, but the life expectancy for an individual has not been extended very much at all once age 65 is reached. Disturbingly, pushing the retirement age out five years as is currently proposed actually means an individual male retiree today is at risk of being cheated of two years more retirement than our supposedly drastically shorter-lived forebears received more than half a century ago.
    I heard a retired SS actuarial speak to this last week, and I am VERY glad this is coming out now.

    And now, the meme can finally be put to rest. I hope.

    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 Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:07:18 PM PST

  •  Anybody see Ed Rendell on MSNBC today? (0+ / 0-)

    He said that we have to cave to the GOP on raising the eligibility age for Medicare because people are living an average of 15 years longer than when it was created.

    Call me paranoid, but I was praying this wasn't a trial balloon from the administration.  

    •  Ed Rendall has NEVER been part of THIS (0+ / 0-)

      Administration....he is a Clintonite.  Ed is more in line with the Goldman Sachs of the world NOT the Obama Administration.  If anything, they need to lower the retirement age to 60 or 62 since the average person only receives abougt ten or eleven years of SS.  American's live much less than their parents did sixty or seventy years ago.  Those born in the late 40's and early 50's are dying before receiving any benefits.  I know too many baby boomer men who have died before their 65th birthday but retired from working over 30yrs at their jobs to only receive a pension.  

  •  Something missing from this conversation (0+ / 0-)

    The suggestion here seems to be that low income people  are likely to have a hard life, inadequate health care, poor nutrition, etc. which results in a shortened lifespan. I'm sure that is true in many cases. But this ignores the fact that many people are impoverished because of health issues, many of which are due to poor lifestyle choices.

    For example, I recently walked by a soup kitchen where there was a long line waiting for lunch. I couldn't help but notice the number of smokers in line. I wondered, "How is it so many people who are too poor to afford to buy lunch can afford to buy cigarettes?" Then it occurred that I had it backwards. It's the cigarettes that have driven many of these people into poverty.

    Do the math... Assume one pack a day from age 15 to 65, average cost $6.00 inflated at 3% annually, investment earnings 6% annually. The non smoker will retire with $1.1 million more than the smoker. Double that for a married couple where both smoke. (This doesn't include indirect costs due to employment, health, insurance and other issues.)

    Smoking a Pack a Day Can Cost You Millions

    So, it may be the poor choice made by a teenager trying to be cool that leads to a life of low retirement savings and a much shorter lifespan. My guess (I have no data to back this up) is that there is a much higher percentage of smokers in the bottom half of earnings distribution than in the upper half. Without controlling for this variable, the results are not very meaningful.

    •  Oh not ANOTHER zombie meme! (0+ / 0-)

      By all means blame the victim and berate the "stupid, lazy, undeserving poor" who "brought it on themselves" because yada yada yada. (rolleyes)

      Calvinism is alive and as virulent as ever - and it isn't just found among wingnut fundagelicals.

      No I don't smoke, never did, never would. But I sure as hell didn't see any great savings from not smoking, either. When you're shit out of luck you're shit out of luck whether you smoke or not.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 12:58:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never blamed the "victim" (0+ / 0-)

        "Stupid, lazy undeserving poor" were your words, not mine. I only point out the obvious, that a life of smoking is detrimental to your health and to your wealth. They go together. To ignore this is to ignore the facts.

  •  Better solution for Social Security (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Rather than tinker with the retirement age, we should lift the cap on wages that Social Security is taxed from.  The growing income disparity in this country has put much of the wealth out of the reach of Social Security.  If we lift the cap, Social Security is solvent indefinitely.  

  •  Great post, Ms. Clawson. A good friend of mine had (0+ / 0-)

    to give up working as a carpenter as his arthritis worsened. He survives on SS and "scrapping" (collecting scrap metal for recycling.) He manages to make ends meet, but barely. Without early SS (he's 63), he'd be living on the street.

    If you can work on into your 70's (as I hope to do), great. But there are many people who simply cannot work full time any longer by their mid 60's.

  •  The only good ideas for SS reform are eliminating (0+ / 0-)

    the payroll tax ceiling and raising the floor of benefits for those earning under $1000/month.

    COLA needs to give more to those at the lower end of the scale.

  •  raising retirement age (0+ / 0-)

    actually, it's not just people who have "hard physical jobs."  work in a cubicle for forty years doing stupid work for a stupid boss and you are ready to kill yourself if you can't get out by the time you are in your sixties.

    thing is,  with Social Security  THE WORKERS PAY FOR IT THEMSELVES.  if they want to retire who are we to tell them they can't.

    the catch of course is that with rising life expectancies, the present level of payroll tax will not allow them to pay for it enough to make it last for their expected life.  this could be fixed by letting them raise their own tax about one tenth of one percent per year... about 80 cents per week per year.

    meanwhile "the left" is demanding to "scrap the cap"  which would raise the tax on "rich people" tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.  the rich won't do this.  and if they did, it would only be so the next time they have a chance to kill SS, you won't be able to say "we paid for it ourselves."

    if you pay for it yourself they can't take it away from you.

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