September 8, 1995
O blest retirement! friend to life's decline--
Retreats from care, that never must be mine,
How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease.
Oliver Goldsmith, 1770
I hate to tell you, kiddies, but you are about to be skeerooed by congress, and it is being done so quietly and gently, that you may barely notice it. By "kiddies," I am referring to people who are now 35 years old or younger.
When I retired, I had the option of retiring at 62 and taking a lesser monthly Social Security payment than if I waited until I turned 65. I chose the 62 option because it seemed to me to be a good time to retire. Some people find it too young and others prefer to work until they either get sick or die. I have no quarrel with this; everyone to their own taste. There have been times when I have had regrets, because I think that I have worked harder since retiring than I ever did when I was being paid.
Beginning in the year 2000, the retirement age will be boosted to 67. A bill is in the works to have it will rise to 70 by 2030, which would apply to people who are now under 35. A lot more people will die before retirement than do now, thereby lowering the amount paid out. Of course, it is possible that, should there be a large reduction in tobacco use, life expectancy might increase. That would constitute a major tragedy for those people who are concerned with balancing the federal budget.
An increase in the age of eligibility should be perfectly agreeable to people who want to die in the saddle. For those who would like to spend their later years doing something else, it is a disaster; particularly for those who die at or before age 69.
The Social Security tax is the only tax that I know of where the tax burden is proportionally much greater, the less you earn. You are only taxed on the first $61,200 of your income. If you earn(?) 50 million bucks annually, your tax is the same as it is for someone who makes $61,200. If our representatives wanted to do right by most of us, there would be no limit on the amount of income taxed, so that the more you make, the more you pay. In this way, the wealthy would subsidize the poor and the wage earner. And why not? The working people have been subsidizing the wealthy for millennia.
One purpose of Social Security is to have those who earn support those who retire. My working did that for my parents, and your working will help to take care of your parents. Your kids will take care of you. Why should the young subsidize the old? For one thing, if the old people don't get out of the way, the youngsters wouldn't get the work opportunities that they deserve. I think that you will find that those young people who hope to retire at some reasonable age and travel, or tend their garden, or write, or do any of a number of things that you don't get paid for, are more sympathetic to keeping the retirement age where it is. Those who want to die in the saddle don't see why they should subsidize those people who don't believe that working for money is the only thing that there is to life. The wealthy don't care one way or the other -they've already got it made.
The main reason that those under 29 will get the business is because there are no lobbyists working for them. Us oldsters have the American Association of Retired Persons(AARP), a very influential lobby that works full time protecting Social Security and Medicare.
Senator Alan Simpson is attacking the AARP and wants to do away with their non-profit tax status. That's not really what he wants. He would like to intimidate the organization into stopping its lobbying against what he, and Democrat Bob Kerrey, want to do; which is to disable Social Security and Medicare. They say that they are trying to save it. That's like trying to save a drowning man by holding his head under water.
So, kiddies, if you want your retirement protected, you had better form your own organization: The American Association of People Who Hope to Retire Some Day (AAPWHRSD). If you don't organize, the only people who will be able to afford to retire are the wealthy. In other words, it will be the way it was in the good old days before Social Security and Medicare. -But you don't remember what it was like then, do you?
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