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Jar full of coins labeled
Whatever you have saved ... it isn't enough.

The day after Christmas I took the day off of work to spend with my son. We spent the day working on the guitar kits we got for Christmas. I had planned on cooking up some steaks on the grill for dinner but time got away from me, so we decided to order a pizza for dinner.

I place the order and the pizza was supposed to be there an hour later. The pizza did not arrive at the appointed time, it did not arrive at 15 minutes past the appointed time. It arrived 90 minutes after the time I ordered it. I was going to take it out on the delivery guy's tip. Then he appeared on my doorstep. He had to be in his late 70s or early 80s. He wore a "Korean War Veteran" ball cap—instead of cutting his tip, I tipped more than I normally do.

I do not know why a Korean War veteran is out delivering pizzas on a cold Wisconsin winter night. I do know that he looked tired. As he walked down my front steps I saw my late father in that man's stooped over walk. I saw my future in his walk. Jobs that used to fall to college kids trying to make a few bucks are now being taken by senior citizens trying to supplement meager retirement funds.

Pensions are going the way of the carrier pigeon and the bill of goods we were sold with the 401K turned out to be nothing more than a pack of lies. The future for many of us does not include a comfortable retirement. We will work as long as we can and if we lose our corporate jobs we will take what ever work we can—be it delivering pizzas or working weekends at Home Depot stocking shelves. The golden years that our parents had in retirement are not for us. My generation will have to work until we die.

It does not have to be this way. It has become obvious that corporate America cannot be trusted with retirement benefits. Hell, any entity entrusted with retirement benefits cannot be trusted (see the city of Detroit). We need our leadership to look at this looming retirement crisis and fix it. If I cannot get out of my student loans via bankruptcy then I do not want to see any entity getting out of paying pension benefits that were promised by declaring bankruptcy.

Social Security must be expanded—everyone should be able to have a comfortable retirement and everyone should be able to get full retirement benefits at 65 (or younger). If we can find the money to piss away away on two wars, then we can find the money ensure that every American can have a comfortable retirement.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:40 AM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing, Social Security Defenders, Military Community Members of Daily Kos, In Support of Labor and Unions, Badger State Progressive, and Daily Kos.

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  •  Tip Jar (230+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Burned, sfcouple, Heart of the Rockies, marykk, HedwigKos, Rogneid, The grouch, FindingMyVoice, Gustogirl, Minnesota Deb, remembrance, nomandates, Glen The Plumber, Matilda, Asinus Asinum Fricat, gfv6800, Dood Abides, onceasgt, BelloBass, Egalitare, geez53, Farradin, rocksout, SuetheRedWA, Naniboujou, CwV, jan4insight, Major Kong, i saw an old tree today, chicagobleu, swampyankee, LakeGirl, shermanesq, koseighty, skod, Habitat Vic, belinda ridgewood, mrblubitz, stretchslr53, tenar, 714day, Azazello, historys mysteries, Mary Mike, Ekdog, Diana in NoVa, kpeddicord, 3goldens, Ninepatch, The Jester, tb mare, Shippo1776, Dem Beans, OHBRAD, FiddleDeeDee, Molly Weasley, fiercefilms, judiev, Bill Roberts, dsteffen, eeff, JusticeSeeker68, Kathy S, clutch1, earicicle, dagnome, boatwright, bookwoman, alx9090, Kidspeak, RadGal70, Jjc2006, Capt Crunch, quaoar, Bill in Portland Maine, geordie, Maverick80229, Blight45, FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph, enemy of the people, BlueJessamine, Teiresias70, Ian Reifowitz, joanbrooker, Above the Clouds, palantir, Polly Syllabic, Most Awesome Nana, maryabein, Keone Michaels, sea note, Vetwife, atana, wxorknot, brn2bwild, jnhobbs, shaharazade, shanikka, VickiL, Alise, tgypsy, mollyd, ORswede, lissablack, Darth Stateworker, dksbook, ShoshannaD, Cassandra Waites, flavor411, Constantly Amazed, Damnit Janet, winglion, Sand Hill Crane, ratcityreprobate, Lily O Lady, Yo Bubba, SuWho, sawgrass727, dandy lion, Parthenia, anodnhajo, jbsoul, FloridaSNMOM, ramara, Otteray Scribe, Nebraskablue, Australian2, MagentaMN, PatConnors, sunny skies, MountainPenelope, wildweasels, LilithGardener, eyo, Dartagnan, erratic, JayRaye, Themistoclea, DSPS owl, llbear, lasky57, rbird, dobleremolque, rlharry, BusyinCA, Zinman, Prospect Park, schumann, ladybug53, greenearth, cablecargal, rebel ga, travelerxxx, Scottsdalian, dkmich, jabney, susakinovember, gorgonza, grimjc, cwsmoke, Mike Kahlow, Mike08, Oly moly, Ishmaelbychoice, Lonely Texan, temptxan, Ashes of Roses, wintergreen8694, Chacounne, mrsgoo, Elizabeth 44, Librarianmom, BlackSheep1, dewtx, Skyye, Santa Susanna Kid, ruleoflaw, leonard145b, barkingcat, flowerfarmer, chimene, AJ in Camden, BlueMississippi, HCKAD, deltadoc, ZenTrainer, prettygirlxoxoxo, jayden, bobtmn, scyellowdogdem, msazdem, Laura Wnderer, asym, cai, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, seefleur, bsmechanic, gardnerhill, Sandia Blanca, zinger99, Darkchylde, emal, mzinformed, tofumagoo, denise b, Grandson named me Papa, revsue, page394, annan, lostinamerica, Jollie Ollie Orange, Debby, worldlotus, Mathazar, SME in Seattle, melo, Sharon Wraight, GreenMother, OooSillyMe, joegoldstein, bryduck, Nulwee, Teenygozer, roses, smrichmond, bartcopfan, OHdog, mercedeslackey, Lilredhead, twocrows1023

    "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

    by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:40:13 AM PST

    •  90% (34+ / 0-)

      A 90% tax on a golden parachute for a CEO who takes retirement, rather than face the consequences of the probably fraudulent actions that he is leaving to avoid the consequences.  Actually, 90% seems a little low!

      My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

      by NM Ray on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:25:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Make it 95% and it still wouldn't be a solution. (10+ / 0-)

        We need more people to work, all to save for retirement from the beginning, and all pay much higher taxes so all people can live a decent life from cradle to grave. We have plenty of money, we just don't allocate it well and merely taxing the rich will get us nowhere.

        Once we completely decouple health and retirement funding from employers and jobs for everyone (if it ever really worked well the antiquated way of the industrial-unionized past will never work in a globalized economy) we'll make progress toward a modern way to tax, invest, and allocate the abundant resources we have for the entire nation.

        No one ever needs to be "out of work" just becasue they have no private employer anyway. The notion of unemployment is just as antiquated as out miserable retirement pension plans and they should ll be set out to pasture as obsolete. People out of work still have time and talents and nowadays it's very easy to match time with tasks without location and portability being limiting factors. For instance, there's no logical reason for a poster on Daily Kos to be "unemployed" becasue anyone who can read, compose, and type can be productively engaged in a world where "work" is just a mater of matching time to an open task. For those who can't read or write there is a nation of children and seniors who need to be tended and tutored, empty spaces to put to better use, and local communities that need attention.

        It's past time for a new architecture and infrastructure for American lives, lifestyles, and livelihoods and collaborative innovations are coalescing. Even the vacuum of our resistance to take planned social action won't stop the progress. We're just slow because so many of our best thinkers have one foot in the past. Like Oprah said, sometimes people just have to die...

        •  Just do as (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, kck, zinger99, MadRuth

          they do to everyone else..

          fix the law, take the money and all assets, into a fund for the actual repairing of the victims and the balance to all seniors.

          what the hell happens to these Fine monies anyway?  Anyone know? or is it our government hires buddy attorney group and these fines are a windfall to them?

          Seriously where do all these so called big fines go, anyone know?

          Yes, imagine, living on a little over 900 a month, and medicare wants you to at 80, pay 20% of all medical??

          Inhumane, imparting suffering upon its people, exacting death sentences by torture... We must, ban together and get some REAL leaders in place, like the bernies, elizabeths and alans.

          We can get these, we can help them.. This is unacceptable to be represented by such a barbaric system.

          •  Yes, the fines should go directly to the public. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JerryNA, Darkchylde

            Recently I figured the $150 billion a year estimated from a financial transaction tax - proposed to go into regulatory agencies - could go directly to the people and make a real difference.

            $150 billion a year is approximately $40/month per American which, at a 3% compound interest, is around $50k at the age of 30 and around $100k at the age of 65. That's worth giving it to the people directly, at birth, cradle to grave, a decent amount to start, or end, life.

            At a more likely lifetime average 7% interest that's almost $700k at age 65! My lifetime average rate of return on the stock market is way, way over 7% so it's a fair guaranteed interest rate on what can be built up as a pretty preferred bond.

            Make fines and forfeitures far more public and publicly tangible and people will be more invested in accountability.

        •  An employer of last resort for all unable to get a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kck

          better job on their own plus a much more generous Earned Income Tax Credit would do much more than increasing the minimum wage which would most likely just increase unemployment.  The make work employer of last resort jobs could be at the current minimum wage and the much more generous Earned Income Credit could be for everybody working at either a private sector job or a regular government job or an employer of last resort job and having total income less than what is needed for modest comfort.

      •  98%.... (12+ / 0-)

        Seems right.
        98% of say, a measly $40 million is STILL a lot of money (probably not for them, but tough sh*t, times are hard all over!).  
        Chances are very good that even with a 98% tax, these guys would still never meet their displaced workers on the food/unemployment lines.

        I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

        by Lilyvt on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:12:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Forget taxes - go after fair compensation for all (28+ / 0-)

      In other words no one, in any company, should make more than 75 times what the lowest paid person in the company makes.
      That includes all forms of compensation.
      I'd like to see that proposal making the rounds.

  •  I think the worst part is (57+ / 0-)

    that we all see these same veterans and other elderly working these same jobs and somehow, we do not see ourselves in that same boat.  We are all on this Titanic and it is a ship of fools who believed and now it is too late to change the course unless we scuttle the whole thing and begin anew.  What a mess.   Thanks for your words.

    •  What? I certainly see myself in that boat! (13+ / 0-)

      The stark reality of having to work until I die is with me always. I'm just hoping that I won't be a homeless elder who is still working.

      "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

      by Sand Hill Crane on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:10:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Propagnda works (15+ / 0-)

      Look at Sunday morning teevee, for example; Meet the Press, George Stepanwhogivesafuckhesatool and football over analyzed and dissected to a microscopic degree.

      Anything to distract from any intelligent discussion of our future which is going to be bleak for millions of Americans if we don't start acknowledging it as a first step.

      Pensions are mostly gone,retirement with dignity is going to disappear for most and our futures are being stolen as the few greedheads at the top vacuum up most of America's wealth............
      and climate change..... that's going to have a huge impact on the quality of life for millions in the coming years.

      You won't hear a peep about any of this from the handsomely paid tools and traitors in the U.S. media.
      Their job is to distract and misdirect our attention.

      •  "George Stepanwhogivesafuckhesatool" LOL! (11+ / 0-)

        Thanks for that.

        But yeah, wonder when they'll start paying attention. Probably when there are elderly tent cities.

        Then of course the elderly themselves will be blamed for not "saving and wisely investing" their $35,000 a year.

        Or not getting exactly the right type of degree or living in the wrong area of the country.

        Something wrong will be found with each and every one of the elderly "losers" and their "bad choices".

        "Nothing to look at here people, move along, it might not seem fair but that's just how it goes".

        •  Outside of SF, NYC, DC and LA etc... (0+ / 0-)

          you can save money on $35k a year. If you don't live a "YOLO, can't take it with you" lifestyle and spend every dime you make and be an adult, it can be done.

          And yes, majoring in English or Women's Studies will impact the amount of money you make, unless you have advanced degrees.

          And yes, living in San Francisco (as I do) means a much higher cost of living. Common sense says that it is hard to live here on less than 50k as a single person. You can exist, but what fun is that.

          This is now a liberal playground and/or sanctuary for the rich.

          •  Alex-You missed the point I think (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            zinger99, lostinamerica, JuliathePoet

            The point I was trying to make is that as we are fleeced we will be blamed one by one. It's called divide and conquer.

            It really wasn't about you living in San Francisco.

            And yes, I know you can save money on $35,000 a year.  Just not enough to retire on.

            Maybe I misunderstood what you were trying to say but it sounded to me like you are blaming people who don't have several hundred thousand saved for retirement because they majored in women's studies or lived a wild life?

            Please understand that I have a household income of about 100,000 a year. I have a solid defined benefit pension plan, 401k, and savings. I have a Master's Degree and I love my job and I am grateful to have it.

            This isn't about me. It's about what is happening to our fellow citizens. It's also about there but for the grace of God go I. It could happen to any of us, and if TPTB have their way, it will.

          •  Oh really? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul, amoverton

            Welcome to my life: Master's degree and professional license, worked as a substitute teacher while the teaching job market left me out to dry for three years, gave up and became a social worker. Make less than $40k, not able to save a dime. $90k of student loans resulting in a $625/mo payment, plus part-time child care for my kindergarten age son coming to $490 a month have seen to that. Hey, look! There's half of my take-home income gone from those two bills alone!

            I live in a small 2-bd townhouse rental in a city of 150k people with moderate-to-cheap cost of living. I drive a 19 year old car that has over 250k miles on it and is worth about $2k. A super exciting outing for my son and I is going to the $3 second-run movie theater and smuggling in our own trail mix or pretzels to snack on. Tell me more about how I'm living a "YOLO, can't take it with you" lifestyle.......

            •  nerafinator- exactly (0+ / 0-)

              But you know, I suspect Alex doesn't care. He appears more interested in judging, blaming, and feeling superior.

              I think most Democrats are much more interested in standing shoulder to shoulder with their fellow citizens and working together so the majority of this country can succeed and prosper.

              I hope and pray you can get into a position with decent pay and some type of public employees pension plan. And then we can both hope and pray our pensions are not stolen out from under us.

              From one helping professional to another- Good Luck and God Bless. Hope 2014 is a great year for you and your little one!

            •  Somewhere in your two paragraph (0+ / 0-)

              autobiography, you are probably leaving out a few choices and/or decisions that have contributed to your situation.

              •  Quite right. (0+ / 0-)

                Yes indeed. I'm a single parent because I chose to leave a terribly emotionally abusive marriage. I do not receive child support because I have not made a claim through DHS for it, because it would put my ex and his new wife and children out of house and home to pay it.

                My son and I could still, I suppose, be living with my mother even though we already did so for nearly three years while I was substituting, but once I got my current job about a year and a half ago I spent a couple of months saving up enough for move-in costs and decided that it was time for us to stop taking advantage of her.

                I chose to go to private college based upon the advice and encouragement of every trusted parent, teacher, professor, academic advisor, friend and mentor in my life when I was younger telling me that the prestige of those institutions would be worth the cost, even in student loans, because it would ensure a great career wherein paying them off would be no big deal.

                Just because I made those choices, which might make perfect sense to some but not others, doesn't mean I deserve to live any worse off than you or anyone else. There seems to be an interesting phenomenon in recent years in which older folks (let's say 60+) who are down on their luck financially, or unable to retire at a decent age, are seen as victims of a faulty and cruel system, while the same people who cry foul in support of the older folks are quick to condemn folks who are currently younger (let's say, 35 or under), to accuse them of poor choices or of not playing the system correctly to end up with a better lifestyle and finances.

        •  Or the Federal Reserve (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, deltadoc, mzinformed, JuliathePoet

          keeps the interest rate akin to zero.  Without compounding interest, you don't have a chance to save enough.

  •  As a 'retired' 70 year old Army veteran driving (78+ / 0-)

    a cab I agree.

    I really feel for the Detroit retirees, what happened there should be illegal.  The appointed emergency manager could have defaulted on Bonds but that would have upset the 'too big to fail' banks on Wall Street---so instead he goes after pensions.

    "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." President Barack Obama 3/24/09

    by sfcouple on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:52:53 AM PST

  •  God, do I feel for that old veteran! (28+ / 0-)

    For years, I didn't talk about being a vet, wasn't especially proud to do it, but since we started a small vet support group that's all it took. A friend in the group works at the V.A. as a social worker, and brings in all the saddest tales. I'm only too aware of the special situation of vets, and especially ones in financial distress or the homeless.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:53:45 AM PST

    •  yep (9+ / 0-)

      I buried my former marine brother-in-law who died in 2001 at the ripe old age of 46.  VA wouldn't perform the heart surgery he needed in time, brother-in-law had an alcohol problem too which they wouldn't help him with either... we tried but fuck, we were homeless for a year one year later anyways due to the wonders of 'free trade' and outsourcing.  Can we get rid of the globalists already and does everybody still have to believe the lies of Milton Friedman?

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:38:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I guess the question is (33+ / 0-)

    Why is there more money to be made in wars than in taking care of the population?

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:54:24 AM PST

  •  Low-Income Seniors (18+ / 0-)

    Philadelphia just opened its first housing complex for low-income LGBT seniors:

    http://abclocal.go.com/...

    The truth is that this is too little, too late and that the target demographic here is too narrow.

    Most late Boomers and everyone after them will require housing and other services that are accessible to low-income people.

    Pensions destroyed, 401(k)s depleted and Social Security constantly in peril from Republicans and Democrats alike?

    We're going to need much strong social programs to take care of just about everyone in the future.

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

    by bink on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:55:14 AM PST

  •  PS (34+ / 0-)

    I" m already one generation deep into this.  My parents already lost corporate jobs and were forced into menial service jobs at the end of their lives to mete out skimpy retirement funds. That led to "premature deaths" and financial repercussions into the next generation because of those inadequate retirements.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:57:18 AM PST

  •  Who pays (5+ / 0-)

    "The 1%" makes 19% of the income and pays 40% of the taxes. US workers already pay around 12% of their compensation keeping SS running, let alone Medicare and similar programs.

    There are demographic challenges as well as the boomers get into old age.

    This retirement issue is an issue of giant incalculable numbers. "Raise SS" is a good talking point. How and who pays for it is another thing entirely. We need a plan with numbers, demographics, and analysis.

    (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 07:59:22 AM PST

    •  Tipped for this (4+ / 0-)
      We need a plan with numbers, demographics, and analysis.
      Absolutely so.  Recently, I've been hearing that we should expand Social Security instead of cutting it.  Over the course of time, I've seen several discussions that include numbers that show how we can avoid cutting SS, but I have yet to see a single discussion of how SS could be successfully expanded -- either what specific benefits changes, or how to pay for the expansion.  "Raising taxes on the top 1%" isn't a plan -- it's a slogan, unless it is backed with a specific discussion of what taxes, how much they would be raised, and how much those increases would generate.

      As it stands right now, the movement to expand SS is reminding me of something from the right wing -- pretty much fact free.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:13:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  1% DO NOT pay 40% of taxes! (34+ / 0-)

      Sorry to get on your case but you're parroting a conservative meme that does a bait-and-switch.

      They (the 1%) pay about 41% of INCOME taxes. If you add in SSN taxes (nearly equal to income taxes, and which the top 1% only accounts for about 6%) that number is nearly cut in half. And BTW, historically the top 1% has typically paid at a rate roughly 2:1 their share of national income - they just haven't been this greedy (18% - 22%  of NI, depending) since the late 20's.

      Conservative sources also play games as to whether or not capital gain taxes are included and closely held corporations taxes, so on.  They also put in local taxes into the mix when it suits them as to crying about how tough the super rich have it.  They do similar with corporate taxation. We do now have the highest statutory corporate rate in the G20.  But the actual effective is about half that and ranks us down at 18/20 in the G20. Coorporate income taxes are barely $200B a year to the Treasury - about 1/3rd of what the poor and middle class pay via SSN, despite record profit levels.

      My default setting is to assume lying and/or deceptive manipulation whenever conservatives throw out numbers as to how tough it is for the rich and corporations.   End rant.

      •  The simple fact is this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlexDrew

        The top 1% make 19% of national income. That's all you have to work with. Even if you expropriated 100% of their income (a pipe dream), everyone else would get maybe a 10% raise (once).

        But you can't expropriate 100% of their income, not even close, without drastically upending global finance and ruining the economy for countless different reasons.

        So, there might be some cash available from the top 1%, but there isn't remotely enough to solve all the problems people want to solve (retirement, health care minimum wage, what else?).

        That's why progressives need to get with the program and start figuring out real plans to deal with these issues using real numbers and realistic financial and demographic scenarios.

        (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 08:53:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your math is misleading (8+ / 0-)

          Let's use another example:

          "The aggregate income distribution is highly concentrated towards the top, with the top 6.37% earning roughly one third of all income"
          Wikipedia  (that was in 2006-- much worse now).

          Now if that one third of all US yearly income were to be siphoned off 100% and all of it went to provide funding for social services for all, indefinitely; that would be enough to provide a sweet, sweet old age to everyone of all income levels, plus free schooling, childcare, you name it.

          I am not suggesting we could or should do this, but the idea that the rich have so little that redistribution is pointless is not fact based ; this example spells this out. If the top 6.3 % were to keep doing exactly as they have been -- except now for no pay (Okay not a very realistic scenario)  -- we could fund cradle to grave superb social care for everyone without any other economic changes.

          There is also the fact that concentrating wealth has many very bad side-effects on a body of people, and on a national economy. A more even distribution brings out creativity otherwise ground under by poverty. The difference could well be enough to pay for all the equalizing.
          Greater efficiency 'growing the pie'
          For all but the top 1- 6% general prosperity and especially the fate of the worse off would improve dramatically...
          IF there are no dramatic downsides to cutting top level pay that dramatically.

          In anything but a fantasy world, I doubt things would go without some, let us say, less than thrilled and far more than passive, reaction from the affected rich!

          In practice, even making investment profits pay taxes at the same rate as workaday income, has proved well beyond our reach in the USA today. For all the screams about "commie redistribution of income" the rich not only keep on getting richer, but it looks like they are doing this ever faster! Like an economic version of a Black Hole where wealth acts like an ever-accelerating gravitational point of no return--warping the political space/time continuum into a hungry sink-hole that will destroy all life, starting with our pension plans.

        •  Your argument falls apart if you look at history. (6+ / 0-)

          The maximum US federal tax rate used to be 92% and the rich somehow managed to get rich anyway.  I realize that other taxes, social security, medicare, state and local were far lower, but the total tax burden on high income people is far lower than it was in the 1950s.

        •  "There might be some cash available from the 1%" (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mike Kahlow, jbsoul, Habitat Vic, JerryNA

          Damn right there is! Hundreds of billions skimmed from the working class over the last 30 years, parked in offshore accounts, doing nothing to grow the economy. If you don't have a net worth in the tens of millions, you have no business claiming how unfair the tax code is to the uber rich. They are waging a real war on the rest of us, winning every battle. If you can really parse the math so they are paying 41% of total taxes, I say make it 65%. Pay us back for all the theft and gaming of the "free market"

          I really don't have any patience for this denial of the situation. We as a civilized society can choose to make life more fair, or we used to be able to back when we still had a Congress that wasn't bought and paid for by the 1%.

          We want you to terminate the GOP's command. With extreme prejudice. (from "Utopia Soon")

          by oddmike on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 01:16:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sparhawk (0+ / 0-)

          you are wasting your time. You are debating economic creationist.

      •  . (7+ / 0-)

        he always does that.   In 2011 Michelle Bachman said the same thing:
        http://www.politifact.com/...

        Consider the source of the 'facts' and the people who regurgitate them.

        There was an estimated $7 trillion in untaxed money being held in offshore accounts reported in 2008 by 'non-official' reports (thereby dismissed as lies) but the bloviators of twisted logic will not acknowledge or, at best, trivialize these things.

        Even Obama, before his true alliances was obvious to all but the hardest core 'true believers', forced swiss banking authorities to allow them to see US account holders in those banking institutions... and, in a complete turnaround of typically secret banking in switzerland, gave the information to US authorities ..... then the whole story went silent.  I guess there were too many congressman, senators and persons in the US government (or used to be in the US govt) to pursue the case of tax evasion any further.

        "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

        by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:09:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Is this your first time with this poster? (5+ / 0-)

        Facts are unimportant to Sparhawk. As long as corporate talking points are delivered, his/her job is done.

    •  What is your suggestion? (21+ / 0-)

      Demographic challenges and incalculable numbers are just an excuse to sit idly by and do nothing.

      A good first step - pass a law that does not allow pensions to be included in bankruptcy. That is pretty easy and does not require any math. Just common sense and decency.

      If other nations can have a national retirement system why can't the U.S.? They seem to have figured out a way to pay for it.

      I for one am not going to sit on my hands and say "It is too hard." I am going to fight not only for my future but for my child's future. We are a better people than this.
       

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:39:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer, AlexDrew
        A good first step - pass a law that does not allow pensions to be included in bankruptcy. That is pretty easy and does not require any math. Just common sense and decency.
        Pension funds are already 100% protected by bankruptcy laws. Not one dollar can ever be removed from any pension fund for any reason other than paying benefits to retirees (and fund administration expenses).

        So what exactly are you suggesting here? If there is an investment shortfall, city taxpayers should be forced by law to make it up by making extra payments; even if it means laying off teachers, cutting city services, raising city taxes until it drives out everyone who makes any kind of income? With that kind of a law, cities are going to be racing to put all workers into 401ks.

        It's really easy to say "pensions should not be included in bankruptcies", but the implications are harder to understand than a bumper sticker.

        (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 09:08:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Really? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Constantly Amazed, rabel, jbsoul, JerryNA

          I think you may want to read up on that. You are wrong. And yes, if taxes need to be raised they need to be raised. Of course you read that as being an absolute catastrophe so there is no point in even discussing that with you.

          "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

          by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:36:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I might want to read up on what (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AlexDrew

            Funds in pension accounts cannot be touched in any bankruptcy proceeding.

            If you disagree, find a cite. I am right about this. The only discussion here is about future contributions from the city.

            Sure, you can raise taxes. And city taxpayers can simply leave (as they left Detroit), and no bankruptcy or other law will stop this from happening. Small tax increases may not be a big deal. Big ones will have repercussions.

            I think you may want to read up on that. You are wrong. And yes, if taxes need to be raised they need to be raised. Of course you read that as being an absolute catastrophe so there is no point in even discussing that with you
            I don't think it's a catastrophe, I just think taxes in places like Detroit physically cannot be raised (very much).

            That's the other problem with the naive "pensions should be protected in bankruptcy" idea. Detroit population (and average compensation) likely continues to decrease even now. When Detroit eventually has a population of a hundred people (say), how exactly are they going to pay for pensions for several thousand retirees?

            If Detroit's population and industrial base continue to decline, these pensions will be cut because it will be physically impossible for it to continue. Pass all the laws and tax increases you want.

            (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 09:52:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think you need to prove that... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jbsoul, FogCityJohn, JerryNA

              ...pensions cannot be touched. You also need to answer my question. What is your plan to fix the looming retirement crisis?

              "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

              by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:00:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                Retirement Plans

                Workers in bankruptcy situations face two important issues when it comes to their retirement benefits: access to pension benefits and the continued safety of their pension assets. Generally, your pension assets should not be at risk when a business declares bankruptcy, because ERISA requires that promised pension benefits be adequately funded and that pension monies be kept separate from an employer’s business assets and held in trust or invested in an insurance contract. Thus, if an employer declares bankruptcy, the retirement funds should be secure from the company’s creditors. In addition, plan fiduciaries must comply with the ERISA provisions that prohibit the mismanagement and abuse of plan assets. If contributions to a plan have been withheld from your pay, you may want to confirm that the amounts deducted have been forwarded to the plan’s trust or insurance contract.

                From the horse's mouth itself, the Department of Labor

                (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 10:26:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  And whatis your solution? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jbsoul

                  You still have not answered the question.

                  "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

                  by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 12:22:51 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

                    The solution may have to be "Detroit and its employee unions were extremely irresponsible and now they are screwed."

                    The solution, as it were, is to be responsible up front at the time that retirement promises are made. The instant an over-optimistic promise is made, it is already impaired.

                    Frankly, I don't have a solution and don't feel that I need to provide one. I'm describing reality as it really is today. If people had done that years ago instead of lying to employees and taxpayers, we wouldn't be in this mess.

                    (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 12:53:28 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  ERISA doesn't apply to public employers. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JerryNA

                  So your entire argument is based on a misunderstanding of the law governing public employee pensions.  City of Detroit retirees are not protected by ERISA.

                  I believe Laura Clawson has written about this hole in the statute.

                  "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

                  by FogCityJohn on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 01:09:20 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  City pension funds are protected (0+ / 0-)

                    ERISA doesn't apply. The main effect is that pension insurance that private pensions are required to buy doesn't apply to public pensions (another genius bit of public policy).

                    But the funds themselves will not be touched.

                    (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 01:17:37 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Still that's breaching the contract with retirees. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      dagnome, JerryNA

                      The contract was that they worked in exchange for a certain package of retirement benefits. If they're not going to be paid those benefits, that's a breach, and a material one.

                      Recall also that the retirees have performed their part of the bargain. They worked the required number of years, made the required contributions, etc. They are now being asked to take a hit despite being blameless.

                      In many states and localities across the country, public employers simply failed to make their required contributions to the pension funds. IOW, they didn't perform their part of the bargain. They now seek to be rewarded for their own bad behavior. That's not something the law should ever encourage.

                      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

                      by FogCityJohn on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 01:34:30 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        AlexDrew

                        The contract will be voided. It's counterparty risk: this kind of thing happens all the time.

                        In many states and localities across the country, public employers simply failed to make their required contributions to the pension funds.
                        Yeah? And what did public employee unions do about this matter? Nothing, that's what. They didn't want to upset the apple cart by either (a) asking for unpopular tax increases or (b) assuming lower return rates on the pension funds and therefore cutting guaranteed benefits.

                        The public employees were complicit in kicking the can down the road. Their irresponsibility and those of their employers combined to form this mess.

                        (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 01:48:15 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  It wasn't their responsibility. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JerryNA

                          It is not the responsibility of one party to a contract to ensure the other party's performance.  

                          And I have no idea what you mean by "counterparty risk."  If you mean that all contracting parties take a risk that the other party (or parties) will not perform, I suppose that's true in some generic sense.  But the law protects against that risk by punishing breaches of contract.  Thus, the defaulting party is the one that bears the consequences of its failure to perform, not the nonbreaching party.

                          "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

                          by FogCityJohn on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:47:34 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                            It is not the responsibility of one party to a contract to ensure the other party's performance.  
                            So, credit card companies don't evaluate creditworthiness of borrowers? After all, it's "not their responsibility" according to your theory.
                            And I have no idea what you mean by "counterparty risk."  If you mean that all contracting parties take a risk that the other party (or parties) will not perform, I suppose that's true in some generic sense.  But the law protects against that risk by punishing breaches of contract.  Thus, the defaulting party is the one that bears the consequences of its failure to perform, not the nonbreaching party.
                            And yet here we are, faced with pension benefits being cut. According to you, no one who accepts a promise from any counterparty should need to evaluate the solvency of that counterparty.

                            Reality clearly demonstrates that you are wrong.

                            (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 05:19:04 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JerryNA, zinger99

                            Do you even remember what we're talking about here?  These are governmental pension obligations.  They are generally undertaken and accepted by employees decades in advance of their being paid.  There is simply no way for an individual government employee to predict the solvency of a particular government 30 years in the future.

                            Moreover, the solvency or insolvency of a governmental employer is often a matter of choice.  A state or municipal government may claim it lacks the money to pay pension benefits, but in reality all that means is that they don't want to do something politically unpopular like raise the revenues necessary to ensure they can keep their promises.  One cannot escape a contractual obligation that way.

                            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

                            by FogCityJohn on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:26:59 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AlexDrew
                            Do you even remember what we're talking about here?  These are governmental pension obligations.  They are generally undertaken and accepted by employees decades in advance of their being paid.  There is simply no way for an individual government employee to predict the solvency of a particular government 30 years in the future.
                            First of all, the unions have lawyers and accountants, right? They can't figure this stuff out, even well into the city's decline? This outcome was predictable.

                            Secondly, if there is no way to predict the solvency of government actors years into the future, does that mean that people should make risky agreements with these entities, or demand all the cash up front? I know with my 401k that it is completely immune to my employer's financial troubles.

                            Finally, like I said before, these objections don't actually matter. The reality is that the city is bankrupt and pension obligations are going to be cut. Public unions who don't want to suffer a similar fate are going to have to start caring.

                            Moreover, the solvency or insolvency of a governmental employer is often a matter of choice.  A state or municipal government may claim it lacks the money to pay pension benefits, but in reality all that means is that they don't want to do something politically unpopular like raise the revenues necessary to ensure they can keep their promises.  One cannot escape a contractual obligation that way.
                            This type of thing happens in all bankruptcies. The judge will evaluate the city's finances and void whatever he determines the city cannot pay.

                            (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 06:10:28 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Unions don't get pensions. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JerryNA

                            Only their members do and only in some cases. In any event, all the accountants and lawyers in the world can't predict the future, nor can they force governments to live up to their side of a bargain in cases like this.

                            In addition, there are lots of public employees who aren't unionized. I'm one of them.

                            Oh, and if you think your 401(k) is immune to your employer's financial troubles, I guess you don't get a match. Good luck with it though. We've seen how well entrusting our retirement savings to Wall Street has worked out.

                            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

                            by FogCityJohn on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:06:45 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

            •  So is the solution to retirement all or nothing? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, JerryNA

              Not trying to be accusatory here, just trying to make sense of the demographic changes.

              If a city's pensions were established with the assumption that it takes a tax payer base of 1 million people to be solvent, but half the city population moves away leaving 500,000 payers, well that's a huge revenue shortfall. I'm guessing this is what we're seeing in old industrial cities and towns: predictions were based on a stable population, but so many people are moving away thus lowering the tax revenue with which to pay pension holders.

              So, do we need to move to a retirement program separated from physical location? (I suppose with the different 401(k) and IRA options we already have.) Or do we completely wash our hands and say everyone is on their own?

              As a 27 year old, I've half-joked that I need to be a millionaire by 40 to have any chance of a good second part of my life. Either that or not have children, which I am currently lean no for many reasons, affordability being one of them.

              •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mattc129

                These are the real issues that must be discussed, but unfortunately places like Detroit have already screwed themselves and discussions of the kind you are making are only worthwhile going forward.

                Defined benefit pensions are risky for both parties (corporation/city and retiree) because they depend on future people to make good on promises, and these people might be unwilling or unable to cover the bills when the time comes.

                I don't know what the answer is, but I suspect it has to be that large organizations limit their forward exposure as much as possible and use vehicles like 401ks and fixed annuities instead for employee retirement planning.

                I don't know any other immediate way to deal with Detroit's irresponsibility other than to let the bankruptcy process take its course. It sucks and it's especially unfortunate that city workers were not well educated by the city or the union about the risks they were taking when these deals were made. But losses are losses.

                (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 10:21:49 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Side note, many of my peers aren't even thinking (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sparhawk, Cassandra Waites, JerryNA

                  about retirement. Granted, they are in their mid to late 20s and just starting their careers, as am I. But it's never too early to start saving and planning for retirement, which is why I already have a Roth IRA and have been saving considerable cash monthly. I'm lucky that I have a great job that allows me to save at minimum $1000 a month cash after all expenses, but most of my friends aren't so lucky.

                  I know a lot of Millennials are drowning in student loan debt so either they have no money to save or just want to mentally avoid thinking about it. But there's gonna come a time where my generation will have such a late start for retirement savings, and who knows what will happen then.

          •  Indeed (0+ / 0-)

            Here's any easy bean - check out every major airline that's declared bankruptcy since 2000.  What's the first thing that goes in bankruptcy court?  Labor contracts and pensions.

            The PGTB is the dirty little secret of government.  It's so far underwater from private industry bankruptcies that it makes any other government social program look positively solvent in the long term.

            It will not get easier before it gets harder. But the harder it gets, the easier it will be.

            by Richard Cranium on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:08:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  But there's no requirement that pension plans be (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kareylou, Mike Kahlow, AlexDrew, JerryNA

          fully funded, and if the money isn't there, the retirees are screwed.

          Even crazier, under current accounting rules corporations are allowed to make almost any assumption they want as to how much money their pension plan investments will make in the future.  Lots of defined-benefit plans got severely underfunded in recent years because their companies assumed those investments would make 8 or even 10% a year, which was unrealistic to put it mildly.

          The stupidest thing was that companies could recognize this estimated gain as income, and for some publicly-traded companies this non-existent income was a substantial portion of the earnings they were reporting.  I know that accounting inevitably contains many estimates because the future is unknown.  But companies never had to make adjustments afterwards when their pension plan earnings were way too high.  This is insane, but it's what happens when the corps and politicians starting controlling the public accounting rules.

      •  Thank you (5+ / 0-)

        The people who should be fighting the hardest to expand Social Security are the people who are in the work force now and just now entering the workforce.

        Anyone who thinks their investments will bear fruit reliably at their time of retirement has had their blinders on over the past several decades.

        Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. - Abe Lincoln

        by RustyCannon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:14:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nonsense (21+ / 0-)

      Habitat Vic gives you a good reply but I'm also piling on to mention these are absolutely not "giant incalculable numbers".  This is a very simple actuary problem that social programs and insurance companies deal with every day.

      There are plans out there including raising the SS income cutoff ($107,000 last time I checked) that are simple and easy. We can and should expand Social Security and smart people have solutions but Republicans and idiot Libertarians are stifling them and keeping us from moving forward.

      "Raising taxes on the top 1%" is a solution but it's not simply raising the top income tax rate, it's implementing things like a financial transaction tax, increasing the capital gains tax and the inheritance tax as well as ending tax breaks for certain corporations, etc.

      Your math is wrong and you're spouting Republican and (good gawd) Libertarian talking points. Do some research of your own, think for yourself.

      [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

      by rabel on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:53:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are several sources (8+ / 0-)

      for factual information about Social Security and its funding.

      Besides the SSA's annual trustees reports, being available: http://www.ssa.gov/...

      there are also good sources for analysis of that data and ideas on how to strengthen and advocate for a better system, from organizations such as the NCPSSM (National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare): 2013 NCPSSM.org trustee report analysis

      and SocialSecurityWorks.org

      As far as putting numbers on how to strengthen and expand the program, that's a multi-faceted moving target that begins with wages. Since Reagan opened hunting season for the war on labor (if you're not living off your investments, YOU are labor), wages have diverged from productivity. This threw off the calculations that were made in the 80's to permanently fix social security. Payroll taxes were raised at that time so that boomers would be the first generation to pay for their own SS benefits. That has resulted in a $2.7 Trillion trust fund that will pay for the boomer's benefits. But unless wages are raised, the amount of payroll tax collected is not going to keep up as planned.

      The payroll tax cap needs to be raised. Income inequality, as a result of trickle-down economics, has pushed a greater percentage of wages to those at the top of the income scale, resulting in a smaller percentage of all wages being subject to the payroll tax, in spite of the inflation indexing that takes place yearly.

      As the diary points out, because of the dearth of defined-benefit pension plans and the failure of 401k plans, Social Security will be the primary retirement income for most people in the future. It therefore needs to be strengthened. How that is accomplished is up for debate, but it needs to be done. If it is not done, generations now in the workforce are going to be begging on the streets for food in their retirement years.

      I must also point out that Social Security is not only a retirement benefit. It is also a disability benefit and a survivor benefit for minor children. This one social safety net program has kept more people out of poverty than any other program in our nations history.

      Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. - Abe Lincoln

      by RustyCannon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:11:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  maybe (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, JerryNA

      we should start making our own underwear inside our own borders again before we shit our pants without wearing any?   As far as old age goes, I'll use my 357 for my retirement plan when I can't afford 'depends'.  Fuck this shit and the people who continue support whacked out trade policies... they can deal with it when they realize they will never be in the 1% and cannot even afford the cat food much less heat in their homes if they have one.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:56:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Have you heard of Sen. Elizabeth Warren? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mike Kahlow, JerryNA

      There are plans out there which expand social security; we all know who the opponents are, and why. I gotta ask, is somebody paying you to come here and post your right wing drivel? or do you just enjoy being an ass?

      •  No one pays me for anything (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlexDrew

        I will be interested in seeing her proposal, who pays for it, and how it affects different demographics. But there is no such thing as free money. Someone will pay, and due to the size and scope of Social Security, it will be ultimately the middle class one way or another.

        (-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 Jan 05, 2014 at 03:03:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  In the linked story I came across a 75 year-old (12+ / 0-)

    barman in Tucson. John McCain was responsible for his having to toil at that age.

    •  . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, GreenMother

      http://www.youtube.com/...

      1.5 hr real discussion about the S&L crisis.  Its not much different than what has happened in the runup to 2008.

      All crooks, all the time.  Lived down there for 11 years, saw corruption in small and huge businesses on a scale few can imagine.  The top dogs skated ... always... while literally thousands lost jobs as a result... and I'm not talking about the S&L crisis but other corruption going on.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:23:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most people are too young (28+ / 0-)

    to know what it was like for seniors or their younger family members when there was no social security (or very meager social security) and no Medicare.  My parents grandparents lived with them.  Not enough money to live on their own.  My parents provided financial support to both sets of my grandparents, just as we kids were entering college.  Here is a table of social security benefits during the 1940's, 50's and 60's.  Under 50 bucks a month during the 40's and 50's!

    Seniors who did not have family members to help out ended up on a poor farm or in a poorhouse or homeless.  Social Security reduced the need for poor houses/farms.  See below from Wikipedia.

    Often the poorhouse was situated on the grounds of a poor farm on which able-bodied residents were required to work; such farms were common in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A poorhouse could even be part of the same economic complex as a prison farm and other penal or charitable public institutions. Poor farms were county- or town-run residences where paupers (mainly elderly and disabled people) were supported at public expense. The farms declined in use after the Social Security Act took effect in 1935, with most disappearing completely by about 1950.
    •  My wife's grandmother lived with her family when (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA

      she was a child.  For whatever reason her social security was minimal; I think she didn't work and her husband didn't put much into the program, either.  (He lived off a small farm.)

      Social security, in the absence of savings and other retirement income, was never intended to provide anything but a minimal standard of living for retirees except for a few people who go live in other countries with much lower costs.  But even with just social security the person is much better off than before the program began.

  •  My suggestion to the middle aged now (12+ / 0-)

    single or married, is to start looking for people that you're compatible with that can share housing and expenses during your 7th and 8th decades of working.
    With a couple of younger hopefully related people thrown in for some of the more heavy duty stuff that goes with just being alive, like yard work and home repair.
    Back to the village life that we should never have abandoned especially under this economic system that was bound to fail a whole lot of people.
    I don't see this ship turning around any time soon.

  •  Nearly 40 years of failing to invest (30+ / 0-)

    Nearly 40 years of failing to invest in the human capital of our society has yielded the inevitable result.

    Consider N. Europe where they have done the exact opposite and you will generally find clean cities, low crime rates, a highly educated and well paid workforce, and economies that while not without problems have weathered the current economic storms with much less trauma to ordinary folks.

    When challenged American conservatives will always produce some crap about how long the lines are at their hospitals or how ruinous the taxes must be.  These are nothing more than lies.  The truth is: A German or French or Finnish politician, conservative or labor, wouldn't dream of cutting social services that are correctly perceived as the foundation of a sound and happy society.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:05:54 AM PST

  •  This is about way more than this or that program (16+ / 0-)

    or policy, law or regulation, tax or expenditure, etc. This is, fundamentally, about what this country is, is supposed to be, or at least should be, about, when it comes to those things that government, policy and law can do.

    Is this country fundamentally about freedom, be it economic , intellectual, religious or "lifestyle" freedom? Is it fundamentally about opportunity, in these domains? Is it about equality, also in these domains? Or is it about fairness and dignity, also in these domains, but especially the economic one?

    Obviously it's about all of these, to one extent or another. But I'd argue that it's more about fairness than anything else, especially economic fairness, meaning that no one should be poor or fall below a certain minimum level of nutrition, housing, employment and so on. If you don't have these things, what good is "freedom", which becomes a useless luxury and abstraction?

    We've made this country too much about "freedom", or a very restricted kind of it, which in reality has come to mean the freedom of a privileged and often unethical and immoral few to do really well at the expense of everyone else, because this "freedom" gives them the power to do that. And what good is this sort of "freedom", if it tramples everything else that this country is supposed to be about, including many of the other kinds of freedoms, like the freedom to live without fear of poverty or certainty of economic exploitation?

    Less "freedom", more fairness. That's what the US should be about.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:08:43 AM PST

  •  Work 'til you die (25+ / 0-)

    Is the new retirement plan.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:08:52 AM PST

  •  My Dad is also an 83 Y/O Korean Vet (27+ / 0-)

    lifelong Democrat and union man for 45 years.  But he's been on a steady diet of Bill O'Reilly and Fox News for years. Now I listen to him bash "greedy unions" and "lazy people who don't want to work" and of course, "that asshole in the White House" and how "Obamacare is ruining this country."  There is no point that can reach him.

    I would love to send him this powerful diary, but the point will be entirely lost on him.  Understand, he still has his retiree union benefits (and Social Security), and like many people influenced  by the rightwing misinformation machine, he simply cannot see himself in plight of the less fortunate. After all, the less fortunate are only that way because "they're lazy." It's a sad thing to see and hear from my Dad, and case study in what Fox News does to people.

    I know from MANY debates with him that this powerful story of one of his fellow Korean War vets will just be turned into another example "stupid people making bad choices" and "we should have to pay for their stupidity."

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross. - Sinclair Lewis

    by BelloBass on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:20:11 AM PST

    •  The whole purpose of Faux Noise is to ... (15+ / 0-)

      anesthetize.

      "Pay no attention to the greed behind the curtain. The Great and Powerful Market has spoken."

      Only the Koch brothers and Waltons get the happy balloon ride back to Kansas (and Arkansas).

      21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

      by geez53 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:43:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well.... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade, peglyn, geez53, jbsoul
        Only the Koch brothers and Waltons get the happy balloon ride back to Kansas (and Arkansas).
        With all due respect, I have zero desire to go to either of these places.
        I just want to live quietly in New England and am finding it increasingly difficult if not downright impossible to do.  
        VERY depressing.

        I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

        by Lilyvt on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:27:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's the same for too many of us .... (0+ / 0-)
          I just want to live quietly in New England and am finding it increasingly difficult if not downright impossible to do.  
          There may be cheaper places to live, but how are we supposed to get there? Why is that even a question?

          21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

          by geez53 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 03:01:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  faux news and old age (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      QuelleC, schumann, zinger99

      I see the same thing with my 88 year old papa.  He has a comfortable life because his union pension is secure.  He was actually on the negotiating committee when the pension contract was written - and the union was on strike.  Now he carries on about lazy union workers.  He is also in the beginning stages of Alzheimers.  No matter what facts you present to him, if he has an opinion set, he will not change.  He has moments of confusion and paranoia.  I wonder how many members of the Tea Party actually suffer from dementia?  (Not snark)

    •  . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, JerryNA

      sad.  You have to see the results of a massive propaganda campaign damage the minds of ones that you love.  I got brothers who are just as brainwashed ... there isn't a thing they say that I haven't heard the exact same thing a thousand times from a thousand other sources.  

      Here's a video of the bullshit message machine repeating itself

      http://www.youtube.com/...

      who needs more proof of propaganda being constantly spewed.  What I found weird was the 'laugh track' on the Conan clip... who would find this funny?  Only a laugh track of course which is also a script to tell people when something 'funny' was said.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:35:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The quote for 2014 and beyond, I think: (27+ / 0-)
    If I cannot get out of my student loans via bankruptcy then I do not want to see any entity getting out of paying pension benefits that were promised by declaring bankruptcy.
    mark, can you shorten this so it fits on a bumper sticker?

    May I put it on a T-shirt?

  •  Obama needs to take the bull by the horns (6+ / 0-)

    I was gonna maybe make this a diary, but it fits too well

    Today, I, acting as my role as President of the United States, order the Bureau of Labor Statistics to undergo a rigorous review of the CPI-W with the eye to raising the COLA for Social Security by 20%  

    The history of poverty in seniors shows, a very marked decline in incomes.
    and the expected improvement in poverty rates is estimated to be 2-3% reduction in poverty rates for each $1000 of elderly households.  With average social security benefit equal to $1,234 that would suggest a 20% increase would result in a 6-9% reduction in senior poverty, and the resulting ripple effect would improve the nations GNP

  •  Guess what (18+ / 0-)

    If I have to work 'til I die, your kids aren't getting my job anytime soon.

    Hope you like having them around the house.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:22:57 AM PST

    •  Unfortunately.... (7+ / 0-)
      If I have to work 'til I die, your kids aren't getting my job anytime soon.
      Companies have a delightful way of making life awful for older employees.  So that they either get fired (for totally bogus reasons) or leave voluntarily because of the harassment/abuse.  All the company has to have is a kiss-ass toadie as a supervisor, who will do whatever necessary to get rid of the older employee.  And the employee doesn't have a leg to stand on.  (I've seen it happen far too often for it to be co-incidental).
      Does this happen, you bet your life it does.  Can it be proved?  With all the lawyers on the corporations side, maybe, but it'd take years and money.  And years (and/or money) are things an older employee more than likely doesn't have.
      What's odd is that the toadies don't realize if they do it to someone, the time will come when it will be done to them.

      I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

      by Lilyvt on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:51:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm in a union (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lilyvt, jbsoul, JerryNA

        Yes, a few of them still exist.

        I can only be fired for cause, however I can be furloughed (laid off) and called back based on seniority.

        If they have to lay off they start at the bottom of the seniority list and work their way up. The last one laid off is the first one called back etc.

        I will have to retire at the FAA mandated age of 65, unless they raise it sometime between now and then.

        But yes, I understand how tough it is on older workers. I've worked in other industries and saw exactly what you described.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:05:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, JerryNA, zinger99

          Good for you to be in a union.
          The thought crosses my mind, at least once a day (every single work day), how very different my work life would have/could have been if I was fortunate enough to have been in a union.
          I know, I know, there are the pension problems, and some management problems with unions, but on the whole, at least I would have known someone had my back and I wasn't facing the crap all by myself.  And even now with age discrimination.

          I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

          by Lilyvt on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:23:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  by the way, this is really what the attacks on (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jbsoul, JerryNA, zinger99

        tenure and seniority are all about. don't be fooled. do you really think a kid just out of college with no background, and sometimes no training in teaching, is going to be better than a seasoned veteran who has stuck it out in tough circumstances? I'm sure there are some, but a lot? no.

        •  Well.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JerryNA, leftangler

          I'm fully aware of these attacks, first hand as well as observing them happening to others over a 'certain age'.
          This is harassment AND abuse, and it's being allowed to happen.  Older folks (if they don't kiss major ass) get targeted.
          I have done everything I can think of, I reported this to the 'Employee Assistance Program', reported this to AARP, reported this to the labor board, reported this to the attorney general.  Like whistling in the wind.  Nothing.  The best I got was 'you're lucky to have a job'.
          No dammit, I am NOT lucky to have this dead end, mind-numbing, useless, crappy job which doesn't cover my bills.
          What I am, is getting VERY, VERY angry.
          I may be old, but I'm not dumb, and what's happening to those of us still working after a lifetime of following the rules, and a lifetime of steady work ethics, and a lifetime of excellent work, is unconscionable.

          I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

          by Lilyvt on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:14:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The elite or everyone? (7+ / 0-)

    There is the legend of AARP in which the founder saw retired teachers living in back yards in shanty's and eating cat food.  This lead to the idea that we need to make sure our retired teachers are taken care of.  So now, AARP, as flawed and as corporate as it has become, tries to make sure that resources are there not only for retired teachers, but for everyone.

    I bring this up because on way conservatives win is by using wedge issues.  For example, governement health care is bad, except for the military.  Pensions are bad, except for the military in which a person of working age might receive a pension for 40 years.   COLAs are bad, woops, except again for the military.

    Someone who has fought in a war is at a loss.  Even if there is no physical injury, there is always psychological trauma.  Extra help is needed to get them back to a normal life.  But I also know several retired veterans from the Korean war who never made it to action.  They got paid for hanging around the base in the US.  Yet the still get many benifits.

    Wedge issue, caused by saying some people deserve stuff and some people don't.

    Here is something that might be an innovative idea.  The mother who wakes up every day, takes care of her kids, works two jobs, get the kids graduated from high school, working, she is a hero.  When she retires she needs a pension.  Mamas Always on Stage.

    So how do we do this.  Single payer health care.  It is good enough for our vets, so it is good enough for everyone.  Social security with a good COLA.  In times like this when the economy is not doing so well, extended unemployment benifits. A person who has spent 20 years in the military pushing paper gets a pension, so why not a hero mother who spent 30 years working to feed her kids?  

    Wedge issues like this are why we lose.  That someone who has worked hard for 40 years does not deserve help, but someone who worked for 20 years does.

    Wedge issues in which people present a special case as the norm is why we can't move forward.  We see this in health care.  The myth that the average person has always had a full range of doctors conveniently located adjacent to their homes.  The myth that the average person makes enough to save for retirement.  The myth that pensions are failing because they are too generous, not because corporate chooses not to fund them.

    •  Vets have gov't medical care, not single-payer (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Habitat Vic, RustyCannon, JerryNA

      The gov't employs medical professionals and runs hospitals to provide health care for vets - that's socialized medicine a la the UK. The gov't provides health insurance to the old and poor via Medicare and Medicaid - that's socialized health insurance a la Canada, but with private-sector hospitals and staff, AKA single-payer - which I would like America to have :-)

      There's a million ways to laugh; everyone's a path.

      by Tom Lum Forest on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:35:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "We can't afford it" = lie (22+ / 0-)
    If we can find the money to piss away away on two wars, then we can find the money ensure that every American can have a comfortable retirement.
    Precisely. I have tired of the 'we have no money' argument. There is plenty of money. Tons of it.
  •  is it OK to hate the rich yet? (4+ / 0-)

    Hate makes so much sense.  I'm sick of having to be the good guy who needs to do right by everyone no matter what they do to me or anyone else.  "We have to win the predators and crazies over with unconditional love or we're just as bad as they are!  If there isn't a place for everyone at the table then the table isn't big enough!  Kumbaya!"  I'm tired of having to always carefully pick out the few good bits of a piece of rotten fruit because it's not fair to them to throw the whole thing out.

    I hate the rich.  I hate businesspeople.  I hate our government that loves them both with all our hearts that they're ripped live from our chests.  Blood for Mammon!  Halleluyer!  I hate capitalism: the ethos that says profit is the sole arbiter of right and wrong.  I hate conservatives who are just fine with all of this.  I hate fundies.  I hate rednecks.  All I feel anymore when I actually sit down and think about the world is goddamn fucking hate that I can do nothing with because it's wrong!

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:26:44 AM PST

  •  Why The Courts Let Corporations Get Away (17+ / 0-)

    with stealing pensions from their workers is one of the biggest moral catastrophes in this country.

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

    by rssrai on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:31:38 AM PST

  •  Wish I could tip and rec this 1,000 times (18+ / 0-)

    Remember all those TV ads in the 1980s about how stinkin' rich we were all going to be at age 65 by investing in 401(k)s, in which our retirement funds would grow 12 percent per year forever?

    What a pack of lies!  

    Completely agree with Mark that Social Security retirement should be increased and that people making more than the current cut-off point should have to pay into the system.

    And yes, if we can piss away money on two stupid wars that have solved absolutely nothing (not that there was a problem with "Eye-Rack" in the first place), we can certainly afford better pensions.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:32:26 AM PST

    •  . (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      schumann, jbsoul, Diana in NoVa, JerryNA

      my favorite vid of a politician is this of reagan.

      http://www.youtube.com/...

      A fucking Merrill Lynch CEO telling the conservatives favorite 'leader' to fucking hurry it up.  Some leader that was.  During that time those 401ks and the HMO's started springing up like mushrooms in a cold, damp cave.  Also at that time, financial derivatives were just starting to appear though not outright legal, they were approved on a case by case basis.  I guess they eventually persuaded clinton, thru the crook Robert Rubin, to be retroactively made legal (or something).  And here we are.  

      Instead of letting the banks go down and bailing out homeowners, they 'just had' to save the banks otherwise our 'print out of thin air currency' and feed the war machine game would have ended and we'd have to go some sort of sound money and trade policy.   But no...

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:59:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a grotesque moral atrocity: (17+ / 0-)

    Student loans are carved out and excluded from bankruptcy relief, while public and private pensions workers have paid into for decades, under bankruptcy are simply stolen and handed to millionaire investors to make them whole on their risky investments.

    If this doesn't prompt pitchforks & torches, then nothing will. We are officially sheep.

  •  The sad and sorry truth here... (14+ / 0-)
    The golden years that our parents had in retirement are not for us. My generation will have to work until we die.
    Many of us have found ourselves just one unexpected occurrence away from reduction or removal of all material security. The ACA will help alter that a bit, perhaps, but still...there is much else that creates such an abyss. It's almost funny to think of the time when there was a 25 year stint at one business concern and loyal employees were rewarded with a gold watch, retirement , and a farewell dinner. Now they are cut loose before benefits will kick in and thrown to the curb.
    The real horror lies in trying to find any employment at all past the age of 55. Fitness and mental acuity notwithstanding, it's just the way it is. This in spite of the fact that older workers are more reliable, responsible, and content with employment. It's hard not to think of this when austerians talk about gutting SS and raising eligibility age.
    It's tragic.
    •  So true, 714day, and I fear it will get worse (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RustyCannon, 714day, JerryNA, Mike Kahlow
      The real horror lies in trying to find any employment at all past the age of 55.
      Pretty soon people are going to think that anyone over 40 is "past it."

      I don't see much hope under the current system. We need to get rid of Fox News. Don't know how, but that's the place to start.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:41:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't get the 401K bashing. (5+ / 0-)

    These kinds of accounts have served my mother and my in-laws well (in combination with Social Security, of course), and my wife and I have ours in pretty good shape, despite a late start because of advanced degrees.  They are better than pensions, in my opinion, because we own them and have complete control.  If employers go bankrupt or ownership changes, these cannot be taken away.

    I recognize that we are fortunate.  We work for employers who have contributed matching amounts and, even though we have spent most of our lives below the average income, we have had adequate income to save some.  I know there are some people who have been hit with crises like unemployment or health problems, and have survived by pulling their money out early, but this is a separate problem and hardly makes 401K accounts a big lie.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:40:48 AM PST

    •  They're great if you can afford (15+ / 0-)

      to contribute to one.  My daughter worked for Whole Foods who had one.  Her $10 an hour salary didn't leave her enough to contribute.  Instead, she had to take a second job to make ends meet.  She's 30 and so far has no retirement plan.  Her life is simply about making ends meet and hoping that her 1997 Honda lives to see another year.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:01:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, the problem for people like your (7+ / 0-)

        daughter is low pay, created by an economy with too few jobs.

        So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

        by illinifan17 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:25:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So true. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RustyCannon, JerryNA

          When I was in college, I worked for a local grocery chain that was unionized.  They had a pension.  The salary was better than other retail jobs but not terribly high.  My sister in law retired about 15 years ago from that same grocery chain and has lived quite comfortably after working there for about 25 years.

          “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

          by musiclady on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:41:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  My daughter (0+ / 0-)

        is 21 and works for Walgreen's she makes $12 and has a 401k with a match and health benefits for $25 dollars a month.   She only contributes what she gets matched of course.

        She lives on her own and has no car at all.  In expensive Seattle.  

        •  She's fortunate she can manage. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JerryNA

          My daughter has some college loans.  That takes a chunk of her income.

          “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

          by musiclady on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 11:07:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Walgreen's (0+ / 0-)

            has proven to be a halfway decent employer.

            She is facing a bit of belt tightening right now. She had to kick out her roommate due to non payment of rent.  The roommate works for Starbucks and makes min wage with few hours and no benefits.  She also was buying $40 bottles of wine.

    •  401Ks are great as long as the economy is doing (9+ / 0-)

      well. But what if the stock market tanks? Where are your savings then? Pensions shouldn't be an item prone to the market... they should be a guaranteed return. You won't get rich with a pension but neither should be dirt poor. 401Ks can go either way.

      •  401k's can be managed like any other (5+ / 0-)

        investment account.  Mine is balanced so that it does not fluctuate as wildly.  I think it is crazy to have it all in stocks.  As I get closer to retirement I will move even more toward low-risk investments.  I have now been through to "tankings" of the stock market and am doing okay.

        So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

        by illinifan17 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:33:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you have those choices, good for you. (4+ / 0-)

          But not all employers provide such choices. And even with the most conservative choices you can get (unless it is a guaranteed interest fund or U.S. Treasuries), in a catastrophic cash, you're going to lose a significant portion of the value in your account.

          And since the rules don't allow for rolling it over until you're age 55, one can find themselves jobless at age 53 and watching helplessly as their life savings goes up in smoke.

          Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. - Abe Lincoln

          by RustyCannon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:58:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  timing is everything (6+ / 0-)

          And if you need to live on your 401K when the market is in the toilet and there are no jobs available?  How would you have fared in 2008?  If your employer downsizes your job and you are "retired" before you planned?   You live on Social Security, because that's what left.  
          Mine was balanced too - didn't matter when the chips were down.  

    •  If you find yourself laid-off (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Damnit Janet, BriarRose, jbsoul, JerryNA

      in your early 50's (as is very common these days - just survey the long term unemployed), you will not likely find employment that will pay as well as what you are used to. If you're laid off after a huge stock market crash such as what happened in 2001 and 2008, and unable to get back into a decent paying job, you may find yourself drawing on your 401k while in your 50's and before it has recovered from the crash.

      This happened to many, many people over the last couple decades.

      Judging by our 401k's in the 90's tech bubble, we were wealthy folks, looking forward to a better than average retirement.

      Keep your living expenses at a minimum, including your mortgage payment, and hope to hell you don't find yourself in such a situation.

      Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. - Abe Lincoln

      by RustyCannon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:52:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Stock Market Speculation controls your retirement (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, JerryNA

      401Ks can work okay, but you should be clear that stock market speculators have control of your retirement funds and there is no guarantee that you will ever see that money.

      Many people who saved for retirement by putting money in 401Ks, lost that money during the 2008 crash of the stock market. Sure, some people have seen their values of their 401Ks inflate since 2008 crash, not everyone has been so fortunate as you have been. Many people had their 401K funds lose all or most of their pre-2008 value and there wasn't any money left to inflate as the market rebounded. Since the funds in 401Ks are not insured, these people lost all of their retirement money.

      Just reading the disclaimers on 401K's prospectus make it clear that nothing, including your principal, is "safe" with a 401K:

      Notes: All investing is subject to risk, including possible loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.

      "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

      by Sand Hill Crane on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:04:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Like with any investment (7+ / 0-)

      401ks will have winners and losers.  Therein lies the problem.

      You and your wife, as intelligent, educated people - were able to properly manage and invest and ensure that it grew at a reasonable rate.  The reality is that most people cannot do that.  They don't have the knowledge base to know how to wisely choose investments, in many cases the investments you can choose with a company plan are severely limited, and even if you do have the knowledge base to choose wisely and have a wide range of investments you can choose from, one unlucky turn of the market can wipe you out.

      401ks were never meant to be primary retirement vehicles.  In fact, when section 401 of the IRC was written, section 401k was written specifically to provide for a supplementary way of saving for corporate executives with pensions.

      Pensions make much more sense as a plan for the masses, because the funds are professionally managed, and the actuarial risk is spread out over the entire group of pensioners, employees, and the employer - instead of all the risk being only on one party - the 401k holder.

      I take no issue with the idea of 401ks in general, but they should be part of personal savings leg of the traditional 3 legged stool of retirement that is pensions, Social Security, and personal savings - especially as that was the original intention of them in the first place.

      •  This is a real problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerryNA

        We have a good 401k plan and a generous match at my job; several of us have a bragging-rights contest where we share our monthly rate of return on our accounts. Our rates of return are usually triple or quadruple the average rate of return for the plan, which means some of our co-workers are earning next to nothing on their accounts.

        There was a PBS documentary about this a few years ago. They compared two workers - had similar salaries and made similar contributions - but due to different investment choices, one ended up with $40,000 and one had $300,000.

        Employers need to bring in someone to give advice about investment decisions.

        They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

        by 1864 House on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 11:29:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A generous match is a great thing. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JerryNA, 1864 House

          Most employers don't do much more than 3%.

          That being said, even with professional help, some investors will still make bad choices, and some investors will have shitty investment advisers who give them bad advice.

          As such, I still feel pensions are a better idea for a primary retirement vehicle than 401ks when it comes to long term retirement planning for the masses.  401ks should be supplementary as the 3rd leg.  Not primary with only SS as the second leg.

    •  . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA

      they work okay but they are very limited in your choices.  I lost 1.28% in 2008 because they had a 'preservation trust fund' and I had moved everything into it before the crash.  Not long after the crash that fund was terminated in the 'plan' I have... why? I have no idea but I guess they can't have clients not getting their clocks cleaned.

       Everybody I knew lost >40% and have only recovered where they were in the most recent years.   Meanwhile, wall street insiders are surfing the wave of retail 'investors' that flood the markets, stealing here, there, whereever through their HFT algos, and insider info.

      In a sound currency system and an unmanipulated stock market with reasonable interest rates (5-7 percent), its possible for it to work out okay.  Savers are not wiped out by low prime interest rates like they are today.  If anyone can explain in real terms why the stock market has climbed like it has this year please let me know.. it doesn't make any sense to me.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 11:10:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This made me wonder (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerryNA, Sparhawk
        Everybody I knew lost >40% and have only recovered where they were in the most recent years.
        I went back and checked how my 401k did over that period.  Defining "X" as the amount in my account at the end of 2007, here's the following performance with year-end results for each year since

        2007 = 1.00X
        2008 = 0.83X
        2009 = 1.15X
        2010 = 1.37X
        2011 = 1.52X
        2012 = 1.66X
        2013 = 1.93X

        Those are actual numbers and I'm no investment guru. Yes, 2008 was a bloody experience, but things bounced back pretty quickly. I'm wondering if your friends might be exaggerating somewhat.

        •  . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JerryNA

          I don't think so, but perhaps they were mostly invested in funds that took the biggest hits.  I have read elsewhere that most 401ks didn't return to where they were until 2011/2012 time frame.

          I was warning people in 2007 about a crash coming and most dismissed it.  After it happened, the looks I got from them had daggers in their eyes.  Aside from those people, I know one person who lost most of a $250k pension fund acquired over a 20 year career, and two people who lost slightly over $100k and & $75k respectively in stocks that were lopsidedly (new word) invested in certain companies.

          "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

          by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 02:00:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No, 401ks were designed as incentives for execs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      not as pension plans or replacements for pension plans. A 401k is a place to stash excess money, of which an average to lower income worker has little to none. Additionally, a pension costs a worker very little during work years because it was counted as a part of compensation, and is supposed to be guaranteed income in retirement. A 401k costs as much money as you can afford to invest, taking away from take-home pay, and nothing is guaranteed in retirement, neither one of which is beneficial for the worker. Companies switched from pensions to 401ks in droves precisely because it was cheaper (more profitable) for them. This was NOT expected at the time, because 401ks were not designed for this purpose. The fact that you and many other people were able to scrimp and save enough is besides the point. Even more people were not able to save money simply because their meager income went to living. When companies went to 401ks, they also went to giving executives huge bonuses and keeping worker pay flat or firing people here to hire for much less overseas. Compare top 1% pay and income over the last 40 years to ... just about everyone else. 90% of all profits and productivity were funneled upwards at the same time that their tax rates dropped.

    •  because the market can tank your 401k (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA

      or you could lose it all like Enron employees. that's why I wanted a government pension, because who the fuck would ever think a government entity would not pay its pension obligations? silly me.

  •  I am not without sympathy but (4+ / 0-)

    we need to understand that life choices are a huge part of where we end up when we are old.

    My dad was  WWII vet who got nothing from the state where he joined.    He logged for many years with no pension.  He worked for the city of Seattle only 10 years and got a small pension.   He had a third grade education.  never made more than 13K in his life.  His pension was less than $500.

    My mom worked also most of her life.  She worked at pink collar jobs and never got a pension.  She had a high school education.

    They managed to raise three daughters and we never wanted for anything.

    Dad had to retire early due to illness.

    They also saved and saved and saved.

    Mom is now 92 and has more income than I do on my 50K salary. She gets $120 from my Dad's pension.

    Life has not changed all that much.  If we plan and save we will be ok.  

    They did not expect that Dad woudl get sick but he did and they did fine.

    •  The key (11+ / 0-)

      Is your parents were able to save.  Here in Silicon Valley saving is almost impossible.  The cost of housing is extremely high, and unless you work a job that pays at least 60 to70 k a year you are barely able to survive.  

      We have done ok, but we have a pension and social security, and I am still working.  We also saved, but not near enough because it is so expensive to live here.

      Far too many people are not able to save, not because they are spending their money on extras, but because their income is far too little.

      Raising wages for the middle class will once again allow people to save, without higher wages people just cannot do what they did before.

      My husbands father was a milk man and able to save, but his wages were three times what wages for comparable work is now.  

      •  well we grew up in Seattle (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mattc129

        which is a very expensive place also.   I still live here and make only  50K and manage to save 25% of my salary and as a single mom.

        •  Good for you... (9+ / 0-)

          ...I am glad you are able to do that. The sad truth is you are in the minority of those who can. Just because you are able to sock away money does not mean that everyone can. And some life choices are forced upon us, and are not truly what one would call a choice.

          "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

          by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:05:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  do some math (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mattc129

          as I said Dad never made more than 13K.  Most of his life he made much less.  Our house payment was $200 a month here in Seattle, $100 when we lived in the country but as a logger he was often laid for for 6 months a year.   My mom has every tax return they ever filed.  many years be made less than 2K.  She added at best maybe $300 a month.  Three kids to feed and clothe.  

          Don't forget the money they gave to the church also.

          My checks are about $1200 every to weeks because I have no much taken out.  I pay $1100 in rent.  We have all we need and most of what we want.

          I will retire in 4 years at 62 with MORE income than I have now and only about $500 will be from a pension.

          I do believe that wages need to go up but people also need to learn to live within their means.  

          Too many have an inflated expectation of what it really means to live. I have  no cell phone, no cable, a 20year old car, a modest apartment, etc.

    •  So are circumstances that are beyond our control (7+ / 0-)

      like job losses and illness.  Being out of work for an extended amount of time can drain one's nest egg.    Once you have no money, those life choices become fewer.  I always hear people say that the unemployed should just pick up and move where the jobs are as if they can just sell their house and afford to move like it's nothing.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:03:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Really??? (12+ / 0-)

      You believe that???

      My dad worked as a policeman for over thirty years.  His pension was cut by the state when the republicans took over, and his social security was minimal.  Did he save over the years?   He and my mother (who started working at age 12 in a factory and worked all her life, only to die young (age 55)) tried.   But things happen.  One daughter got very ill at age 16, ended up in a hospital for over a month.   Even though they had insurance, they still had to mortgage the house to pay the bills, and the constant needs for prescription drugs.   Still they helped get both their children through college.

      Their house was never paid for, but he was able to sell it to my sister for next to nothing, because her husband, a Vietnam Vet, got cancer in his 30s and lost his job.

      Seriously, we all just save and we will be all righ??  Fairy tale myth.   Sure, if no illness invades the family; no accidents.  My parents paid their bills always, and neither really got a pension and my dad's meager Social Security was barely enough.  He continued to work as a bank guard until his health failed.  

      What did save my dad was our county had a residence built for low income elderly residents who qualified.  My dad did.  That was his safety net as they all paid only a percentage of their income.
      Just because your parents were able to do it, were lucky to not be saddled with income destroying medical bills, does not mean that is the norm.

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

      by Jjc2006 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:08:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dad got sick at 55 (0+ / 0-)

        and had to retire.  He suffered serious brain damage from a massive heart attack.   Mom took care of him for 16 years until his death and still worked part time.

        My oldest sister missed a year of school in the 60s due to back surgery what kept her in traction for all that time.

        Bad things happen and we have no control over that.

        I do believe that we need better safety nets in the US but we also have to take some personal responsibility.

        •  Ensuring that there are social safety nets (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JerryNA, zinger99

          is all of ours personal responsibility.

          You really shouldn't judge others sight based on your own eyeglasses.  

          "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

          by Damnit Janet on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:14:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Personal responsibility (0+ / 0-)

          means going to school when PUBLIC education is provided.   It means eating healthy IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT.  

          When I grew up, we were poor, BUT fruits and vegetables were the cheap foods.   We ate less meat, there were no fast food places (or very few), and we walked everywhere.

          However getting sick as a child is NOT a result of not taking personal responsibility.  Chronic illnesses like asthma, IBD, diabetes are often a result of genetics or environmental problems, over which we have no control.

          During my youth what we had going for us was the chance at upward mobility.  Public colleges were available and affordable.   Government loans bypassed greedy bankers so if you needed a loan you could pay it off.  While not all adult jobs were great,  the fact is that when unions were strong, it affected everyone, even those in non union jobs.
           Weekends, child labor laws, workers comp, workplace safety spread because corporations needed to compete for workers.  When corporations were given the freedom to go where they could get the cheapest labor, unions were diminished.   No matter how much personal responsibility one takes, if your job does not give benefits, you're screwed financially.  No matter how much you try, if your job provides no pension, you will rely on the social safety nets of Medicare and SS.   And when the average SS payout being less than $20,000, personal responsibility is a joke.

          It is difficult to take personal responsibility is you live in an inner city where corporations have taken stores out of the city leaving the poor, especially those who cannot afford a car, to buy their food at chains like seven-eleven where the prices for fruit or vegetables (if available at all) are  ridiculous.   When inner cities lose stores, workplaces and PUBLIC transportation, those left, the poor, suffer.  Their schools suffer, their PUBLIC services are either pathetic or non-existent.  

          Social Security is a safety net, as is Medicare.    But for those younger people, without jobs with benefits, what personal responsibility can they take.  The ER is their health care and by then, for many, it is so late they are even more expensive to treat.  Working at minimum wage jobs for a lifetime, gives those low SS payout.
          Jobs at BIG BOX stores, fast food places don't pay enough for anyone to subsist on, let alone get health care.  
          UNIONS formed in the Gilded Age to fight the greedy oligarchs who wanted minimum wage, no benefits labor for everything.  We overcame it once.  THAT was taking personal responsibility.....fighting and making sure government was OF the people, FOR the people, BY the people.   We have to do it again, not diminish, demean or degrade those who do not even get a chance to take personal responsibility.  

          Welfare is needed more when the oligarchs keep getting their way and yet the oligarch media has even convinced (some) progressives that if only people would take more personal responsibility, these problems will go away.  Other than being born rich what personal responsibility did the Kochs, or the Bushes,  or their ilk take.   They don't build their own roads.  Hell, the millionaires get subsidies for every and anything they want because they own congress.  

          If you truly believe in democracy, why buy into the right wing meme?  Personal responsibility is their code, their way of convincing people that the COMMONS, (public ed, public roads, public utilities, public police, firefighters, military) will be better privatized.  There is money to be made by taking away the social safety net provided by government, and privatizing it all.  They are already doing it with prisons, pushing it with education.   Ergo, according to the oligarchs, if you are "personally responsible" you will abandon the public stuff and go to the charters, use the privatized roads, prisons etc.  

          Democracy, representative democracy, for me, means community.  WE gather together in communities and help each other by pooling our resources for schools, roads, protection services.  NO ONE MAKES A PROFIT off those things because the benefit all.  There is no "YOU ONLY GET THE REWARDS OF OUR COMMUNITY IF YOU SHOW PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY by NOT getting sick, NOT needing protection, NOT needing to use benefits.  That's their game.  Don't buy into it.

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

          by Jjc2006 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:49:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No, BriarRose, the choices were made for us by (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, zinger99

      corporations and CEOs and their bought Congress-critters. See my comment above in reply to illinifan17.

    •  and in those days my dad drove a concrete truck (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, JerryNA, zinger99

      with the Teamsters and my mom worked at Western Electric with IBEW representation with an 8th grade education. They bought new cars every 2 years. They owned a house in the NYC suburbs. They had a rental unit in a town near the GM plant that was always rented. They bought a house in FL and traveled there in winter. They put two sons through college; they had a daughter who was severely disabled but the state paid for custodial care in what were then state of the art developmental centers ( and the ones run by the state here are still head and shoulders above the private ones and that is where my sister still resides after 40 years ) Union jobs, pensions, and generous government help. THAT is how you build a middle class.

  •  In our paper today. (13+ / 0-)

    Let’s say neither the 2008 crash nor Chinese slave labor got your job. Or you’re a Maryland public employee whose Democratic legislature and governor are committed to saving the economy by saving jobs. (In Republican-run states, those geniuses think the best thing for business is to axe the jobs of potential customers.) But you aren’t dumpster-diving for lunch, yet. How’s the future look?

    55 percent  of American workers have no pension.

    * Conservative legislators and judges smile and wave as companies and states welsh on pension benefits.

    *  Anti-worker policies have left only 11 percent of American workers with the proactive protection and guidance of a union pension plan.


    Businesses goosed profits by moving from pensions to DCAs –  “defined contribution accounts” – such  as 401Ks. That hangs retirement on the investment talents of cashiers, carpenters, mechanics, data entry clerks, waitresses, clinicians, janitors. If retirement fills your head with visions of a diet of surplus cheese and fingernails, you aren’t alone.

     

     Seven in ten workers with an employer- based plan have only a DCA.

    *  For  workers whose income ranges from $20,000 to $80,000, the median 401K balance at retirement falls short of recommended targets by 58 percent to 83percent.

    *  The 50th percentile of workers’ retirement savings – half saved more, half saved less – among those between 26 and 79 years old, is $2,500.


    The good news? When your cash goes into that retirement account, Wall Street takes theirs off the top. Even if your investment skills stink, the financial sector – which lobbied for years of disastrous economic policy, and brought us the 2008 crash – will be OK.

    Since Reagan’s long-ago morning, America toils under a conservative policy ascendancy that created and sustains budgets and tax laws that:

    *  Kept real wages flat for thirty years;

    *  Increased income disparity; and  

    *  Cut taxes for the wealthiest, shifting the tax burden to a hobbled middle class.

    The dividend elite get richer, while for job slobs there’s nothing left to save.  Don’t forget everyone who got hosed in the housing bubble – via foreclosure, or just vanished value. American’s median net worth has decreased 39 percent in the current depression. Pffft!  Twenty years of accumulated wealth, gone.

    What’s left, besides scrapping your assets to Fred Thompson or Fonzie? Social Security. What’s core to every Republican's half-assessed bar-napkin budget plan? "Reining in benefits." That means reining in your taste for three meals a day, tubby.

    *  Since the 1983 reforms, the spending power of SS benefits decreased by 25 percent.

    *  In 2002, benefits replaced 39 percent  of pre-retirement income; now, they replace about 35 percent; by 2030 that’ll be 31percent.

    *  For a third of all seniors, Social Security is 90 percent of their income.

    *  By age 80, most retirees have only Social Security.

    Retirement was supposed to be a stool with three legs supporting the elderly: pensions, accumulated assets, and Social Security. Without progressive reforms to create a survivable, humane retirement, that stool best serves when you stand on it to tie the noose.  “Reining in benefits” kicks the last leg away.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:45:04 AM PST

  •  OBSCENE is the idea that Pension funds are not.... (13+ / 0-)

    ... the personal property of the pensioner.

    This shit's been going on since Ronnie Raygun in the private sector, and the Democrats were solidly in control of Congress for 15 years while the green-mailing and hostile takeover shit was going on .... leveraging the CASH in corporate PENSION funds as a way of financing hostile takeovers.

    HOW THE FUCK that was EVER allowed or legal is one of the monumental failings of the Democratic party under ONeill and Foley. It was and is an obscenity, I have no idea where the actual working people who's money was being stolen are or were in all this, but if you stole my money ... there would be BLOOD.

    Fast forward to now, and we have the new wave of Republican scum diligently trying to now steal state and municipal and federal pension funds and benefits.

    Just as an overt example of the sick twisted thought process look at the USPS pension debacle, which no one has fought back on.

    STRIKE!! Fucking STRIKE!! what the hell kind of union are you if you are totally powerless. STRIKE!! Make Obama get off his ass, break out the BIG STICK and beat Congress's fucking brains out with it.

    Where is AFSCME!?!? ... STRIKE!!! Nationwide, ALL STATES until Congress makes it LAW that your pension funds are part of your compensation, it is YOUR MONEY and not subject to anyone walking off with it.

    STRIKE!!!

    That is your weapon. Use it. For crying out loud, the French have more balls in their pinky fingers than US Union workers have in their whole bodies.

  •  Snow Crash (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole

    For some reason, the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson comes to mind.

  •  Well.... (5+ / 0-)

    The sentence may be amended to....

    It does not have to be this way. It has become obvious that corporate America cannot be trusted...
    There's something fundamentally wrong when CEOs of many, many corporations make hundreds (if not thousands) times what the workers (who provide the manpower to run these corporations) make.  The CEOs would be nowhere without the workers.  These folks have taken the 'selfish me, me, me' concept and gone crazy with it.  And we, the little guys, have tried in vain to do something (anything) to stop it.  The response - 'you don't like it, go someplace else, get another job'.  Money talks to money.  No money = no say.
    I have worked at, and been laid off, various corporate jobs.  Not fired, laid off. Same difference though, not being able to work at something you're good at and not being able to find comparable work is, ultimately, the same....depressingly awful.  The companies go down the crapper, but the CEOs responsible for the dismal downturns have gone on to other companies (the CEO buddy system is thriving for these vultures) to wreak their crap elsewhere.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:07:14 AM PST

  •  Part of the answer is to lose the lie that Social (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, AlexDrew, JerryNA, zinger99

    Security is some kind of forced savings or insurance plan, and admit that it is just another government program.

    Why?

    That lie is part of the justification for capping social security taxes.  That lie is part of the justification for applying it to payrolls but not to other kinds of earnings.

    That lie is why is why middle income earners only receive a fraction of the payout v payin that lower income earners do while the wealthy all but skip out of the system.

    We need to accept that decent lives for the elderly is not an affront to the nation, and take the steps to make it happen.
    At this point, that step requires tapping the wealthy for their fair share.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:09:45 AM PST

  •  Recently the head of a county agency here in L.A. (6+ / 0-)

    was asked why there were so few promotions for younger employees.

    He responded with the truth: older workers are staying on because their severely revised pensions won't provide nearly enough income unless the worker stays on well past normal retirement age. Every additional year adds a little bit more, up to a cap that still isn't the 100% they need. Everybody knows inflation will take a huge bite if the retiree survives into their 80's or 90's.  So many are staying into their seventies now.

    The Law of Unintended  Consequences strikes again.

    I must be dreaming...

    by murphy on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:10:48 AM PST

  •  This is a clearly written indictment of the system (0+ / 0-)

    as it stands today.  Thank you for giving voice to these thoughts.

  •  I'm convinced we would all be economically as (6+ / 0-)

    well as financially better off if we ditched our crazy patchwork quilt of a tattered social safety net and replaced it with a guaranteed minimum income that includes a single payer health insurance system such as the people of France enjoy.

    But if we can't do that right now, expanding Social Security is the way to go.  Fund it by removing the cap on earning subject to the Social Security tax.

  •  I don't believe in taking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Damnit Janet, cai

    the impact of operational issues, such as the manpower shortage that led to the late pizza, out of the servers' tips.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:23:02 AM PST

  •  And, Elderly Grandmas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Damnit Janet, QuelleC

    working behind the counter at McDonalds.  

    Really sad!

  •  I am more interested in this veteran. Most of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Damnit Janet, JerryNA, zinger99

    people that I know who wear those veteran ball caps, mostly Korean War and Vietnam these days, see themselves as patriotic, and have probably voted reflexively for the Republican Party for most of their lives.  Although I cannot tell about this individual guy, all of those major veterans groups like the VFW and American Legion, who have been in lockstep with Republican Party since the days of the Vietnam War and still harbor very conservative tendencies.  

    To me, this represents one of the major failings of the Democratic Party, since that middle class veteran and that Reagan Democratic union member, have never embraced the progressive message and plainly rejected John Kerry, the one Democrat who played up his veteran status during his presidential run.  

    As for this pizza delivery guy, I cannot know his individual story, but he probably thinks that his station in life as an elderly pizza deliverer is his own fault, rather than the result of forces beyond his control that have transferred the bulk of his money to the ultra wealthy.  I would lay odds that this guy voted for Mitt Romney.  I see this all the time among the veterans of that age group that I know in my personal life.  

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:40:47 AM PST

    •  No all vets are conservative... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      ...and with this being in a very liberal community it is unlikely he was a conservative.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:44:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  For the record... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kareylou, jbsoul, Santa Susanna Kid

      ..I wear a 101st Airborne Veteran's hat...please don't assume a vet is a conservative just because they are a vet.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:45:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know that not all vets are conservative, but in (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerryNA, zinger99, Damnit Janet

        my experience here in NJ, most people who are wearing a vets cap, if they are not a member of an ethnic minority, are in fact, conservative and are a reliable voting block for the Republican party.  

        And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

        by MrJersey on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:18:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  maybe it's because the ones I see in NJ (0+ / 0-)

          often have bumper stickers that say bad things about Obama.....but I've also met vets at the Rutgers Social Work conferences and they are very much appreciative of any government social services they can get. So I can't paint with a broad brush; my dad was a WW2 vet and wouldn't for a republican even when it was Dwight. He admired 3 president; FDR, Harry S, and JFK. he died before Obama was elected.

  •  On the mark ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, zinger99

    Just open your eyes as you go to the likes of McDonald's and you will see the likes of your grand father working hard for a very modest pay.

  •  also blame the courts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    organicus, jayden, JerryNA

    Why are contracts of exective compensation carved in stone, while contractual obligations to workers are written in chalk on tissue paper?

    is not a contract a contract?

    Are bankruptcy judges all paid off?

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:51:06 AM PST

  •  he had to be in his 80s (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kareylou

    the Korean conflict ended in 53,  that was 60 years ago.
    Even if the guy went in late in the war at 16, like
    Hackworth,  he'd likely be 77,  and if he was
    a draftee, then he'd be older.

    Jeez.

  •  I would have asked for proof that (0+ / 0-)

    he was not a republican voter and if he couldn't produce proof I would have stiffed him.

    Knock twice, rap with your cane

    by plok on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:11:02 AM PST

  •  WRONG.. "Obviously" This Guy Made Some (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbsoul, jayden

    "bad life decisions"... and thus deserves to be delivering pizzas; or whatever, to keep a roof over his head and food on the table.

    This is ''Murica!!!

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:55:12 AM PST

  •  My mum (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    QuelleC, peglyn, jbsoul, jayden, cai, JerryNA

    She's 78 now, retired briefly, after working 2-3 jobs at a time for most of the last 30 years after the divorce.  Raised 2 kids by herself, too. She been working FT at the local pizza place for the last 7? 8? years because she couldn't make it on what should have been an adequate retirement income.  She was finally persuaded to get her hip replacement last year, and hated having to take time off to do it. She should have done it the year before, but couldn't take time off. Luckily, she's in great health otherwise, and healed quickly and well. I wish I could help her, but I'm 1400 miles away and barely making it right now. Trying to catch up from 3 years of unemployment sucks, and I'm not getting any younger, either.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is that this isn't an isolated case. Our elders are working far into what we consider 'retirement' years, and while this isn't entirely a new phenomenon, it is increasingly prevalent. I'm 48, and doubt that I'll ever be able to fully retire. I may have to stop working outside my home someday, but the jobs I have had don't carry pensions or any benefits at all. Welcome to the new age.

    •  ...yes, unfortunately this IS getting to be... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA

      ...common. And yes pensions are going the way of the dodo bird. The "three legs" of retirement are now two legs for most. The legs that are left are Social Security and personal savings. Personal savings overall are not that great. In fact, that's exactly why Social Security exists in the first place...

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

      by paradise50 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 01:34:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I work with HS kids (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, cai, zinger99

      and almost none of them have jobs, or cars, these days. I had my 1st job at 15. A manager isn't going to hire teens when he can get an older person. Recently I was at the meat counter at a warehouse club, and the line was very slow. I could see the person cutting the lunch meat was in her late 50's. Normally I get pissed and yell at the management, but it was clear she was new on the job ( the slicing machine takes a bit of time to feel confident with )and probably took it out of necessity. So I held my tongue. It could be my wife. or me.

  •  Elderly vet delivering pizza? (0+ / 0-)

    In reality, not so great. As a porn premise??? Internet gold.

  •  I object to your premise that working until you (0+ / 0-)

    die is ALWAYS a bad thing.  

       My family has always celebrated the vigor of our old people, who were able to live and care for themselves into their nineties, who held down jobs into their late 70's, and were contributing members of their communities and churches and social clubs their entire lives.    In fact, some of them looked after and cared for family members/friends that were many years younger who had illness or bad luck in life.  

    In fact, many got along on small pensions /SS and the greater part of their work was volunteer or donated -- the figured if you don't use it, you lose it.

    It's really time for all of us to face up to the fact that we are going to have to live the ends of our lives with less than we started with, and be planning a 'second career' of living that will suit us, and developing skills/social supports that will see us through.    

       

  •  Working Elderly (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not 100% opposed to raising the retirement age; many people are healthy and able to work even into their 70s. Not all are, however. My husband may need to retire before he's 60, but I expect to be able to work into my 70s. (We're in our early 50s; he had lymphoma and has leukemia, but I'm in excellent health.)

    Maybe Social Security should add a tier or two to encourage the healthy elderly to continue working while allowing those who can't to retire.

    •  ...in a way SS does have a "tier" in that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA

      ...you can choose to retire at different ages which results in different payment rates. The later you get SS the more per month you'll receive.

      The only alternative they have is to be designated disabled to be able to get SS before age 62...

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

      by paradise50 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 01:37:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i don't know what to think about this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Santa Susanna Kid

    if he's taking the pizza from point a to point b, he's a taker.
    but if he's making a trip, he's a maker.

    if he was the pizza maker, he'd be a maker.
    but then if he's taking ingredients ….

    his manager is a maker, making him do his job
    but his manager is probably taking whatever the owner or corporate office makes him take …

    the owner or corporate office is taking all the dough they make
    and making it theirs, or somebody's.

    but when they take all this criticism from us
    for all the money they're making by taking from us
    it's enough to make a body want to go gault.

    so they take a little trip
    a vacation or day off
    or they make a little stink
    to take "their" country back
    or make us go back

    to the good old days we left behind.

  •  Uh oh bad idea (0+ / 0-)

    Perhaps as likely that this guy was home for the holidays, his grandson, who was in the car, took grandpa along for the ride, and put the hat on to goose your generosity (don't feel silly, woulda worked on anyone).

    Bad idea to start a discussion with an anecdote, the heart of which is a concoction of fantasy and assumption (but hey, maybe you are that good at knowing strangers lives)

    I agree with your positions and your criticisms, but attaching them to an imagined anecdote only weakens all that.

    Fox, okeefe and the like fabricate evidence when they need an anecdote to dramatize a position.  At least such can be refuted as bs.  Imagined anecdotes?  I don't get it.

    "the best revenge is not to be like them" Marcus Aurelius

    by lopaloo on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 03:37:19 PM PST

  •  Scene from "Shawshank Redemption:" (0+ / 0-)

    An elderly man is finally pardoned and gets a job at a grocery store sacking groceries. Problem is, he doesn't have a clue how to fit into a society that had extensively modernized over the last 50 years. He is constantly being yelled at for not double bagging, for instance. Finally, he hangs himself and writes a suicide note to his fellow prisoners.

  •  american voter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zinger99

    Hey you can bet that pizza delivery guy with a vet shirt on has      voted republican most of his life.

    Americans vote against their own best interest decade after decade. America is a republic look  no farther than the voters for the problems in America.

    Remember the trickle down theory Americans loved.

    Americans are still voting for Reagan economics politicians that is taking most of them to third world status.

    Think of religious America as a christian nation that thinks medical care for all of its citizens is a privilege.

  •  Delivering Pizza? (0+ / 0-)

    Gosh, that's kinda reminds me of the current Administration-led Congress cutting the benefits of battle-injured vets....some of those vets just WISH they could deliver pizza!

  •  could be he wants more money? (0+ / 0-)

    I've relatives that could retire but why would they, they say?  the SS money is good and the keeping on working is just bonus.

  •  For most of human history if was that way. (0+ / 0-)

    Sad that we could not progress in this.

  •  Do you know he was a veteran? (0+ / 0-)
    instead of cutting his tip, I tipped more than I normally do.
    Did you actually talk to him about it or did you just see the hat?  I bet that hat gets a lot of tips

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:26:42 AM PST

  •  I wish I could deliver pizza. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    Vietnam vet here.  Laid off from a great job in November 2009 at age 62.  Looking for work ever since then, but no hires as there are at least five younger people for every opening.  Struggling like crazy.  What a world!

  •  We must expand Social Security (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, chuckvw

    The wages of the 98% have flat-lined for a full generation; Anyone talking about doing anything but increasing Social Security benefits (paid for by making the FICA tax progressive and unlimited) is either ignorant of the massive aid to the economy such changes would produce, or they're a Republican, which means they're also too cruel to give a shit.

    If Social Security recipients had money to spend, they would spend it. The same can't be said of the Kock (sic) Brothers, and other uber-rich people, who could buy a Cadillac every day for a lifetime, and never run out of money.

    The economy is locked-up in the Cayman Island accounts of greedy scumbags like Romney, the Kocks (very sic), etc; "Redistribution" of that money ("earned" on OUR backs) is long overdue.

  •  Thank you and consider the nest steps (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw

    Mark, thank you for this moving personal story.    We have become much too accustomed to seeing people in such difficulty.

    I agree that Social Security needs to be strengthen (and not privatized), but also want to encourage you and others to view the documentary "Inequality for all" which not only clearly shows why so many more people are in poverty in the US or struggling to stay out of poverty.   It also includes a number of very possible actions to correct our current skewed economy.

    Consider how shareholders would react if all executive compensation had to be exposed (clearly - not in cryptic jargon) and the ratios of exec pay to worker earnings were included in all financial statements.   We would begin having a much more constructive conversation in the country that would lead to a correction of the excesses of the "corporate elite class".

    Never underestimate the power of a few committed individuals.  to paraphrase Margaret Mead.

  •  PROTECT RETIREMENT PROGRAMS (0+ / 0-)

    HOW CAN "WE THE PEOPLE" TOLERATE THE FACT THAT An elderly veteran IS delivering pizza IN THE U.S.A.? The system has failed THEM AND us ...

    ASK YOUR CORRUPT REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE AND YOUR CORRUPT REPUBLICAN SENATOR AND YOUR CORRUPT CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT REPRESENTATIVE AND CORRUPT DEMOCRAT SENATORS WHO ARE VOTING TO CUT THE PAY AND BENEFITS FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO PRESENTLY SERVE IN THE MILITARY.  THE SAME CORRUPT REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE AND YOUR CORRUPT REPUBLICAN SENATOR AND YOUR CORRUPT CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT REPRESENTATIVE AND CORRUPT DEMOCRAT SENATORS WHO ARE VOTING TO CUT THE RETIREMENT BENEFITS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED BRAVELY TO DEFEND EACH AND EVERYONE OF US WHO HAS NOT SERVED.  

    THE SAME CORRUPT REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE AND YOUR CORRUPT REPUBLICAN SENATOR AND YOUR CORRUPT CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT REPRESENTATIVE AND CORRUPT DEMOCRAT SENATORS WHO PROTECTED THEIR OWN DAUGHTERS AND SONS FROM HAVING TO SERVE IN THE MILITARY SO THEY COULD STAY HOME AND PARTY AT THE RICH BOYS AND RICH GIRLS COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.

    WHY IS IT THAT OUR CORRUPT REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE AND OUR CORRUPT REPUBLICAN SENATOR AND OUR CORRUPT CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT REPRESENTATIVE AND CORRUPT DEMOCRAT SENATORS WHO NEVER WANT TO PASS A LAW THAT WOULD MAKE THE RETIREMENT BENEFITS OF ANY WORKER IN THE U.S.A. BE 100% PROTECTED AND UNTOUCHABLE BY THE CORPORATIONS, COMPANIES, INSTITUTIONS AND FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE INCLUDING THEIR BANKRUPTCY.

    "WE THE PEOPLE" NEED TO FIND HONEST MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE COMPASSION, INTEGRITY AND MORALITY TO RUN FOR ELECTED OFFICES.  FROM WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM HISTORY AND OUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES THAT WOULD ELIMINATE ANY RICH PERSON FROM EVER HOLDING ELECTED OFFICE.

  •  There is now a fundamental flaw (0+ / 0-)

    with our economic system.
    1.  Save all of your pennies by "investing" in the stock market.  When you buy stocks, you buy from someone (not a company unles an IPO) who owns the stocks.  You are trading Bubble Gum cards in the hope you bought a Mickey Mantle card and not some one season wonder.  If you are lucky, your card will increase in value and Mickey will pay an annual bit of his profits.

    2.  Socking all of that money in stocks take those dollars out of circulation.  When you use your money and buy something that one dollar is spent five or six times.  For example:  you go to the market and buy a loaf of bread.  That dollar paid the owner of the store, the delivery van guy, the company that bakes the bread and the company that milled the grain and the farmer who harvested the grain.  The farmer is the person who then goes to the store and buys a loaf of bread.  Jobs are created by placing money into circulation and not hoarding them in a dark box or secret overseas accounts.

    There was a proposal to establish a retirement fund by (I believe) Senator Dirksen.  It is a voluntary expanded Social Security on Steroids.  People voluntarily pay into the program above what  you paid into SS.  Depending on how much you put into the fund, when and for how many years, when you decide to retire you will have a safe annuity.  You will avoid the pitfalls and foibles of Wall Street who use you as Chattel and Conon Fodder or a Company that sells you down the river.  You are now retired and your investment in this Country is providing a comfortable life and not delivering Pizza while Diamond gets rewarded Millions for screwing up the economy and you.

    Who will hate this?  Guys like Jamie Diamond who on a whim gambled and lost and sent US down the road to ruin.  Tens of Billions will no longer be invested in Wall Street, which is well over valued now.  Your dollars vested in this program are invested in this Country.  Funds will be used to rebuild the infrastructure gone to pot under the Prince of Austerity.  Post WWII Japanese Govt.  invested in R&D and manufacturing to get itself out of their depression.  Their twist is only one was selected to develop a technology like Beta Max, VHS, integrated cirsuits,, radios, TV and so on.  The deal was the technology was exploited by that one company but after six or seven years had to shared with everyone else.  Japan owned the entire Electronics consumer sector for decades.  So why not us?

    Critically think about it and decide what your comfort level is.  Depending on a Company to keep its word or Wall Street?

  •  We're all screwed... (0+ / 0-)

    It is not only veterans that are getting the short end.  Older workers with a college education are also finding it difficult to find employment that is suitable for their years of experience and education.  Is this what we all have to look forward too?  Are we all expendable?  In short yes.  

  •  linkage between student loans and pension robbing (0+ / 0-)

    is good

    been here, left, and might come back.

    by BikingForKarma on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:14:47 PM PST

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