[Boston University's Laurence] Kotlikoff explains that America's "unofficial" payment obligations — like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits — jack up the debt figure substantially.
"If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That's the fiscal gap," he says. "That's our true indebtedness."
We don't hear more about this enormous number, Kotlikoff says, because politicians have chosen their language carefully to keep most of the problem off the books.
1. sophy0075 wrote:
I am amazed that NPR is willing to own up to this truth. “Entitlements” and federal “gimmes” are choking the US.
August 7, 2:28 pm | [comment link]
2. Br. Michael wrote:
And yet they will blame the Tea Party for crying “Enough, stop running up the debt!”
August 7, 2:56 pm | [comment link]
3. guest wrote:
As time reveals the financial, cultural and religious legacy of the baby boomers it does not paint a pretty picture.
August 7, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
4. Teatime2 wrote:
You know what? With all of the constant complaining about the costs of Social Security and Medicare, fine. Get rid of it and pass out euthanasia kits for the elderly and sick who don’t have big bucks in the bank and/or family to care for them.
I don’t mean this in a hyberbolic fashion. This is precisely the argument for which the American people are being prepared and right-wing Christians are propping it up (whether they know that or not). Because if you keep referring to people in reference to “entitlements” and “burdens,” then you are dehumanizing them and making THEM the entitlements and burdens in the public consciousness.
That’s how it worked with abortion—it wasn’t a baby anymore, it was a “choice.” It will be even less difficult to turn the public against the elderly and disabled and what we “cost” society because we’re not little and new.
August 7, 3:41 pm | [comment link]
5. Clueless wrote:
Our children and grandchildren have some rights too. Social security and medicare for all means no jobs, high college debt and eventually, no social security nor medicare for them.
It is not necessary to “pass out euthanasia kits”. What is necessary is to STOP STRANGLING AMERICA with senseless taxes, regulation and litigation.
Do you want cheap health care? Fine. Make all nonaddictive drugs available without prescription AT LIST PRICE. There is no reason why somebody with stable hypertension and asthma needs a physician visit to get their monthly lisinopril. Nor is there any reason why this very predictable event should be insured.
Allow any provider to set up shop. Let nurses agree to assist people in sorting out their medications. BUYER BEWARE. Make it LEGAL for people to sign a waver saying that in consideration of the LOW LOW price, you sign away all rights to litigation for malpractice. AGAIN, cash on the barrel. A slew of LPNs, RNs, Physician assistants, and retired physicians will come out of the woodwork and the price of an office visit will drop to that of a haircut.
Allow all providers to work out of their homes. Get rid of the senseless regulation that requires the maintenance of medical records, and malpractice and dedicated office space.
Now you have saved Medicare for hospital care ONLY, and you have given everybody and his brother a “primary care physician” and access to any needed medication. And you did not need to euthaniza anybody.
Same with teaching. We already have end of year exams. Let there be tight security (retinal scans if need be), and let anybody take the end of year exams for each grade. Let the top kids test out of senior English, Bio, Chem, Physics, calculus and go to college. Give everybody the equivalent of a voucher for 60% of what it costs to educate a student for 12 years and let them spend it either being home schooled or schooled by a neighbor for pay or let them save it all AS LONG AS THEY ARE MAKING YEAR FOR YEAR PROGRESS.
Now the college debt problem has been solved.
Want to solve the pension problem? Unfortunately, everybody is going to need to work much longer to solve that problem. When Social security was set up, the age -65 was chosen because most people died by 63. Now that folks live to be 80, the age of obtaining a pension needs to be raised to suit lifespan. IT IS OBSCENE that a young man of 22 working 2 jobs to raise 3 children is robbed of his earnings to support a healthy 70 year old who spends his day on the GOLF links. Folks who can work SHOULD work. Pensions should be for those who are near death (as they used to be).
The solution would be to make it easier for the old TO WORK. Get rid of the regulation controlling what constitutes a day care (or for that matter a school, see above). Let oldsters look after infants, and todlers in their homes, or teach school aged children (see above). Allow them to set up laudry service in their own homes, WITHOUT the litigation, regulation and taxes that make it IMPOSSIBLE to set up a working business without huge capital. There is no reason why most “disabled folk” in the US couldn’t work if they did not have to jump through regulatory hoops or face huge taxes and litigation to engage in the simplest activities.
There. Problem solved, and I have not “dehumanized anybody”. Indeed, I have paid the Boomers and the generations before them, the enormous complement of treating old people as adults and fellow citizens, not as infants who need a nanny to look after them because they are so stupid, helpless and incompetant.
August 7, 5:11 pm | [comment link]
6. Branford wrote:
No, Teatime2, I think you’re wrong. I don’t think anyone (including “right-wing Christians”) wants to remove a safety net for those who need it. It’s just many Americans don’t need everything SS pays out. And the government should never have gotten into the health business with Medicare.
Social Security was never meant to be a retirement program but that is what it has become. If the government cut back on who was eligible to those who really need it, reduced the FICA tax so that more people could keep more of what they earn, and worked hard to educate Americans that SS is not to be thought of as a retirement package, then gradually people would realize that it should be just a safety net.
We have already told our teenager not to expect to see any return on any FICA that he pays—he needs to start saving for his own retirement from day one and not rely on anyone else.
Check out this article from Timothy Dalrymple on “Whom would Jesus Indebt?”:
August 7, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
One of the great difficulties of this issue, for Christians, is that the morality of spending and debt has been so thoroughly demagogued that it’s impossible to advocate cuts in government spending without being accused of hatred for the poor and needy. A group calling itself the “Circle of Protection” recently promoted a statement on “Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor.” But we don’t need to protect the programs. We need to protect the poor. Indeed, sometimes we need to protect the poor from the programs. Too many anti-poverty programs are beneficial for the politicians that pass them, and veritable boondoggles for the government bureaucracy that administers them, but they actually serve to rob the poor of their dignity and their initiative, they undermine the family structures that help the poor build prosperous lives, and ultimately mire the poor in poverty for generations. Does anyone actually believe that the welfare state has served the poor well?
It is immoral to ignore the needs of the least of these. But it’s also immoral to ’serve’ the poor in ways that only make more people poor, and trap them in poverty longer. And it’s immoral to amass a mountain of debt that we will pass on to later generations. I even believe it’s immoral to feed the government’s spending addiction.
7. Teatime2 wrote:
Clueless, in my experience, physicians rake you over the coals when you have no insurance and have to pay cash. Very, very few of them will charge you a fair price or offer a cash discount. Before I had Medicare, I had to pay $200 to be seen by my primary specialist. When I had BC/BS previously, he accepted about $90/visit from them. So how could he start charging me $200 for the same visit? He did nothing extra or special and, in fact, he got his cash on the spot without having to wait for a company to send him a check. Physicians like this—and there are a lot of them—make your scenario implausible and the most vulnerable citizens ripe for being ripped off.
You’re right. Social Security wasn’t supposed to be “it.” Companies once offered good pension plans. Interests rates on savings, CDs, etc. used to be decent. But then corporate America got rid of pensions and decided everyone should enter the stock market.
You do remember that 10 years ago, a lot of older people whose retirement savings was now invested and tied to stocks lost big, right? I’m not quite sure when “playing” the stock market went from a gamble to an expectation but it did, and it’s problematic. It’s too risky for the average person and can only make sense (and money, perhaps) in the long, long term. What happens if one becomes sick and disabled BEFORE the long, long-term? I’ll tell you from personal experience—your savings (which is hardly earning anything) gets eaten up by medical bills and living expenses in a scary-short amount of time and you become poor. It sux.
My parents retired and lived fine on a mix of company pension, safe savings such as regular savings accounts, bonds, and CDs, and Social Security. Let’s reassess according to the present—pensions are gone, savings accounts aren’t paying even 1 percent in interest last I checked (CDs are low, too), so that leaves us with Social Security.
Was it supposed to be that way? No. But it turned that way when government decided to let Big Business have its way with everything. No more pensions, big wage and benefit reductions, layoffs, complain and we’ll close down completely and rebuild in Asia.
Oh, and remember when American workers were loyal to their companies and “seniority” was prized? My father spent 45 years with U.S. Steel. Nowadays, companies try to prevent that from happening because it’s cheaper to have a revolving door of younger, cheaper employees.
August 7, 5:58 pm | [comment link]
8. Teatime2 wrote:
And so again. I do believe that “generation wars” are purposely being created and the elderly and disabled are poised to lose big. This might actually happen sooner than the assault on the personhood of the unborn, since the right wing, which could be counted on to support life in the abortion debate, is leading the charge against the poor elderly and disabled.
I live in a bright-red state and bright red city/county—the right-wing rhetoric against the lower-income elderly and disabled is very frightening in our newspaper and community. When you read it, it’s not difficult at all to imagine these people recommending some form of quick, painless euthanasia for the “deadbeats,” as we’re called. They go on about how they don’t want THEIR tax money going toward programs to help the elderly and disabled. Never mind that I probably paid more into the social programs and for longer than they have.
I really get the feeling that they don’t want the poor and weak in society. Is it coming from a cold, calculated analysis of the bottom line or is it from some sort of pre-determinism remnant, that those who have difficulties are either guilty of secret sin or pre-determined to hell so they deserve their lot? Or maybe they figure if they keep reminding the weak about what a drain and how unwanted they are, they’ll quietly overdose on their prescriptions one day. This, actually, happens quite a lot among the elderly and disabled. Few talk about it and autopsies are rarely done.
August 7, 6:22 pm | [comment link]
9. Sarah wrote:
I don’t think—in the case of SS or Medicare—that people are thinking bad thoughts about the elderly.
I and my friends—including millennials and plenty of other folks in their 20s [and so younger than I am]—recognize that it’s not “the elderly” at all who are causing the problems—it’s the people who stole their money and created the national ponzi scheme in order to fund their other little pet central planning projects.
The way I think the Medicare/SS budget problems could be resolved is as follows:
—recognize that the central planning leaders simply will never spend money wisely—nor will they actually spend the money on what they claimed it was originally for—so the less money they have available to spend on whatever pet projects they’re interested in, the better
—recognize that we owe the elderly their Medicare/SS since they had their money stripped from their paychecks ostensibly to fund the Ponzi schemes, but in reality to simply have more lucre to fund the central planning leaders’ projects
—pay all those 65 and older their SS/Medicare benefits—they [rather mistakenly] planned their retirements based on those benefits and their money was taken from them by the State ostensibly for that purpose
—for those between 45 and 55 years old, raise the retirement age to 75 immediately—they have between 10 and 20 years to prepare for that—so it’s doable—people live far far longer and more productively than they did back when the SS retirement age was established and 75 is quite reasonable
—all those under 45 get to go ahead and designate the money that the central planning leaders are stripping from their paychecks to whatever 401K or IRA or other recognized investment plan they please
August 7, 7:48 pm | [comment link]
10. Clueless wrote:
“Clueless, in my experience, physicians rake you over the coals when you have no insurance and have to pay cash. Very, very few of them will charge you a fair price or offer a cash discount. Before I had Medicare, I had to pay $200 to be seen by my primary specialist. When I had BC/BS previously, he accepted about $90/visit from them. So how could he start charging me $200 for the same visit?”
The REASON your doctor can’t just accept 90/visit or even 10 dollars/visit is BECAUSE of MEDICARE regulations. It is a FEDERAL CRIME to accept medicare and NOT give Medicare the lowest price. Further, all insurance is tied to Medicare. Medicare is supposed to get your BEST discount from our “usual and customary fee”. Thus if your usual and customary fee is 200, Medicare gets a 60% discount and gets it for 80 dollars. Blue Cross links to 10% above Medicare and gets 90 dollars. All the other insurances follow suit. HOWEVER, if the doctor says okay, you can pay me 80 dollars like Medicare or even I’ll let you have it free, that doctor is committing “FRAUD AND ABUSE”. Most of the “fraud and abuse” cases have nothing to do with actual fraud, but consist of doctors feeling sorry for patients and seeing them free or for a few bucks. This is a felony. If you charge a cash only patient 80 bucks (same as Medicare) then this means that Medicare should only pay 40% of 80 dollars or 32 dollars and all the other insurances should only be paying 40 dollars. The Federal government will go after that physician and will say that that physician has been robbing medicare of 48 dollars a patient and will go through all his charges for up to 7 years and demand immediate repayment.
So yes. Get rid of Medicare and the whole diseased edifice crumbles. The problem is not the physicians. It is the government.
August 7, 8:29 pm | [comment link]
11. Sarah wrote:
Word to Clueless!
I have a close family relative physician who in the old days accepted fresh eggs and vegetables for pay. Now he cannot do that and instead is stuck in the nasty Medicare system of payment in which he cannot offer “charity” at all.
I’ve told him over and over—he needs to get out of the Medicare business entirely and accept cash only. He’ll be much much happier, with much less paperwork and expense-raising regulations, not to mention able to do just as he pleases regarding charity.
August 7, 8:33 pm | [comment link]
12. Teatime2 wrote:
Clueless, If that’s the case then they should nuke laws that prohibit discounts or charity care. However, I do know that docs and facilities can be creative when they want to help. ‘Nuff said so as not to get anyone or any entity in trouble.
Sarah, your suggestions look good on paper but I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t work in the situation we have now. The most glaring for me is raising the retirement age to 75. Are there some folks who are able, physically and mentally, to work full-time? Sure. Is it the norm? No, I don’t think so.
By age 75, a sizable portion of the population has had a serious health issue, whether it be cancer, heart attack, stroke, or complications from a chronic illness. They require more medical care, appointments, and prescriptions. Goodness, folks in their early 50s are having difficulty finding companies that will hire them if they lose their jobs. Mandatory work to 75 would create an even larger group of people who suffer from chronic unemployment.
Furthermore, with this country not creating enough new jobs for the current number of workers, what would happen if the retirement was indeed increased to 75? Not only would it mean that there would be more unemployment among the older workers but it would also mean that people would be holding on to their current jobs much longer. Less and slower turnover means that those Millenials you speak of will have an even harder time finding employment. When the older, experienced workers don’t retire, middle-management doesn’t move up, nor does entry level.
As for those under 45 getting out of SSA and Medicare, OK, yes, some of them would be able to invest themselves and do fairly well at it. Would the majority? No. They would lose their money and have nothing. I mean that. Look outside your inner intelligentsia to the average schmuck in America and tell me he or she wouldn’t get taken for a ride by some of these sleazy investment schemers? Wealthy, educated people were duped and lost millions; Joe Six-pack is at much greater risk.
Yes, I care about average people but that’s not exactly what I’m arguing. it simply doesn’t make sense to get rid of guaranteed retirement pay if you’ve contributed to the system in favor of a “go it alone” policy if you’re looking to reduce government spending and dependence. All that will do is shift the burden of the poor, sick, and elderly to the states, assuming, of course, that you agree they shouldn’t die untended due to poverty and illness.
What your suggestions do is create a larger divide between the rich and the poor; the educated and the uneducated. It also would make it impossible for people to go into vital but low-paying professions such as teaching and law enforcement because they don’t pay enough to enable one to save large sums of money to live well and be able to invest. Thus, those who were born with family entitlements and went on to make large sums of money would fare well; those born outside of privilege and who couldn’t obtain a quality education would not. Furthermore, those who were intelligent and talented but in the humanities and lesser-paying professions would be put at greater disadvantage.
Government can’t do it alone and neither can most individuals. There needs to be a balance and responsibility sharing, as there was in decades past.
August 7, 9:53 pm | [comment link]
13. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:
Teatime, what clueless is proposing is, in fact, correct. As a physician, I have a government granted monopoly to “practice” medicine while others do not. this is obscene. The licensing fee system, board certification (I am board certified, btw), insurance, third party payers (Medicare and Medicaid included), the FDA, etc are all scams designed to transfer money and power out of the pockets of sick patients and their doctors and into the pockets of insurance executives, bankers, lawyers, and especially politicians. Competition is the way to lower cost and increase quality but that would divert power and cash away from the ruling class, which is anathema to those in power. The insurers and pharmaceutical companies, the lawyers and even some physician groups “lobby” (bribe, actually) the politicians to keep their hand in the public’s pocket.
The truth is, there is a vast amount of money in the healthcare system. Too much money, in fact, and it is travelling to all the wrong people and not the doctors or coming back to the patients in lowered costs of care. It’s the same problem in education, as the teachers are not getting the money, but somehow the costs just keep exploding. It’s going to various “managers” which are needed to “track compliance” with various government and private goals, that are only needed to follow the misdirected (printed/borrowed) money with which the professions are awash in.
In fact, all that tracking is why we have the disaster of SOL testing and electronic medical records (which BTW, lower time with patients, increase cost of caring for those patients and result in greater privacy risk than old-time paper charts). The electronic record is ONLY needed to please insurance companies, the govt and lawyers. It greatly detracts from patient care. BTW, I use EMR every day and am considered by my collegues to be very adept at it. But I digress….
It is the government which will eventually ration care, not doctors.
Right now you can hop on a plane and travel to Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Singapore, etc and get health care for $5-$10 dollars a visit in some cases. For a bit more, you can get world class medical care in these countries. Check out the medical tourism websites if you don’t believe me.
The reason your doc can’t put out the shoebox and accept donations, even if he was somehow able to pay the staff to answer the phone, chase the charts for lawyers and insurance companies, respond to endless “prior authorization” denials from drug companies, etc, IS as Clueless states. It really is illegal. The rest of the high price is cost shifting from no pay/slow pay patients to what I call the honest poor, who actually attempt to pay their bills.
I frankly look forward to the day when the US runs out of borrowed/printed money, in the same way that I look forward to the liquor store burning down before the alcoholic can come back for his next binge. It can’t come soon enough. Sure, the alcoholic is convinced that life will end if he can’t get alcohol, but somehow (with proper detox he survives and realizes what slavery he was in all those years.
The main difference right now between the Democrats and “moderate” establishment Republicans is the size of the whiskey bottle that they hand to the alcoholic. Dems prefer to dispense in fifths, while Republicans prefer one to two shot glasses at a time. Either way, the patient ends up passed out, but maybe it takes an hour longer for the Republican alcoholic to go down.
August 7, 9:55 pm | [comment link]
14. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:
Teatime, responding to your #12, the problem is not insufficient income or joblessness. The problem in our society is excessive cost, which results in unemployment (employers can’t afford to hire, due to all the new employment mandates as “safety nets”). Excessive cost in healthcare results in the “need” for insurance. Excessive cost in housing results in the “need” for homeowner’s insurance and Fannie Mae, etc, along with outragous mortgage costs, realtor fees, etc, etc, etc.
Excessive cost in education results in the inability to train competant people to go into low paying professions, because they can’t afford to pay back the tuition for college costs. Add to that the fact that a high school education has been dumbed down so now you have to get a Phd to earn a good salary, etc, etc, etc.
Notice how all these problems result in the “need” for more and more regulators, managers, trackers, bean counters, etc. It also fuels the need for more “educators” at higher levels who produce students who somehow are still not qualified to actually do a job?
It’s the out of control cost of living in this country that is sinking us, and the only solutions that seem to be proposed accelerate that very process that is destroying the middle class.
Many Americans have simply been priced out of our own country.
August 7, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
15. Sarah wrote:
RE: “The most glaring for me is raising the retirement age to 75.”
Actually, back when the “retirement age” was set for SS at 65, life expectancy was *less* than 65. So raising the retirement age to *that* equivalent would mean raising it to around 85. SS was meant to cover people who were truly *in old age* and frankly, 75 is nothing like age 65 from 60 years ago.
75 is a perfectly reasonable retirement age—very fair, since people are actually living well beyond 75 now as opposed to back when SS was first started.
RE: “They require more medical care, appointments, and prescriptions.”
I’m sure they do—but we’re not talking about Medicare—we’re talking about SS. It’s good for people to work—I don’t particularly believe in retirement at all, frankly. Most people need—psychologically—to work and it helps their health, not hinders.
RE: “Goodness, folks in their early 50s are having difficulty finding companies that will hire them if they lose their jobs.”
Of course, that’s nothing to do with age and everything to do with the obscene level of regulatory burden on hiring, as well as the fact that companies have wisely clamped down on all overhead and expenditures of cash during this time. Again—that has to do with the dreadful central planning decisions made throughout the recession and nothing to do with “age.”
We’d have a lot more of both young and old hiring if the Central Planning State would get out of business’s hiring decisions.
RE: “As for those under 45 getting out of SSA and Medicare, OK, yes, some of them would be able to invest themselves and do fairly well at it. Would the majority? No.”
Wow—an unbelievably condescending assertion about people. I have nothing to say to that since I don’t have the same low opinion on people’s ability to rule their own lives and manage quite well without our Wise Dear Leaders telling us what to do with them.
Of course, if you like, we can “allow” people to place their money normally placed into the giant thieving Ponzi scheme the State set up to fund their own little schemes and programs into recognized and approved investment vehicles and they shall, over a life time, receive far far far more than the State claims it will hand out through its little Central Planning vehicle called Social Security.
RE: “What your suggestions do is create a larger divide between the rich and the poor; the educated and the uneducated.”
Not at all—in fact quite the opposite. The poor and the uneducated have the individual liberty to make wise decisions rather than have the Dear Leaders suck the money from their paycheck to fund their special little policies and programs under the guise of “caring” for the poor and uneducated. What the State does is keep the poor poor and the uneducated uneducated. It is a disgrace, since it is the “rich” who are able to better limit and avoid the massive damage that the State does to individual liberty.
It is shocking and an utter disgrace what the State does to limit the poor from exercising their liberty to make wise decisions and claw their way out of poverty and achieve their very best by their own definitions. Instead the State throws up repeated and ever-higher roadblocks to success and achievement.
In other words, the larger and more controlling the State, the more advantage comes to the rich, not the less. They have the means to buffer themselves from the machinations and control and burden of the State’s demands.
August 7, 10:44 pm | [comment link]
16. robroy wrote:
Regarding the raising the retirement age: someone pointed out that simply looking at average lifespan wasn’t really fair because a lot of young men were killed soon after the implementation of social security…in World War II. I looked into it and found a chart that looked at future lifespan of a 20 year old in the 1940 and a thirty year old in 1950 (meaning they survived WWII) and I came up with a figure that raising the retirement age to 68 would be fair.
Non serviri, sed servire.
August 8, 2:16 am | [comment link]
17. Teatime2 wrote:
Sarah, There’s a huge difference between working at age 75 because you enjoy it and working at age 75 because, if you don’t, you will starve because you can’t retire. There’s also a big difference between having a “hobby job” to keep active and get out of the house and being a 75-year-old machinist whose reflexes and eyesight aren’t what they were but he needs the money because he can’t retire. We had a 70-something almost turn our downtown post office into a drive-through last week because she got confused over the gas and brake pedal. But it’s beyond anecdotal, as well.
I’m sorry, maybe it’s because no one in my family has even lived beyond the age of 76, aside from one aunt who was rich and never had to work a day in her life, but I simply don’t believe the evidence would show that the vast majority of 75-year-olds, particularly those in blue collar jobs, could work 40+ hours per week successfully.
And I’m confused—what “central planning” conspiracy forces companies not to hire middle-aged people? At one point you seem to mean it was a business decision but then you allude to it being a government thing. I don’t understand what you mean. All I know are the statistics showing the plight of the laid-off, middle-aged worker. It is what it is and it’s a variable one must take into account if one is proposing great policy changes.
Regarding investments, I’m condescending? Nope, I’ve been to Wal-mart and looked around. Realistic? Oh, absolutely. The math and English proficiency rates for the US are astonishingly low yet you have deemed the majority fit for long-term, high-stakes investing. The interest rates on low-risk investments are so pathetically low that they’re simply not adequate or worth the service charges. And there is a good reason why it’s long been called “playing” the stock market. It’s a gamble and you have to know what you’re doing. No financial advisor I’ve seen recommends that people get on “E-trade” and pick stocks themselves—they call it foolish. But the brokerages have conned people, as well, so how secure is the average person in investing for their own retirement? Not very. I know highly educated people who lost more than half of their retirement savings in Sept. 11 stock market beating and, already being middle-aged, they have precious little time to regroup.
Look, if you want to assert that the government has no responsibility for the citizenry and it’s survival of the fittest, then that’s a valid position. I may not agree with it but I won’t dispute it’s a valid POV. Just don’t dress it up with claims that all Americans can easily work full-time until they’re 75 and become investment whizzes, to boot. That’s simply not realistic.
August 8, 2:27 am | [comment link]
18. clarin wrote:
#16: yes, I’ve never understood “average lifespan”: if you survive to middle age ,isn’t your lifespan is to be 80+? Weren’t older models of lifespan based on times of high infant mortality?
August 8, 2:29 am | [comment link]
19. clarin wrote:
#15: most school teachers I know are ‘whacked’ by the time they are 60, and quite a few succumb to heart attacks not long after retirement.
August 8, 2:32 am | [comment link]
20. Teatime2 wrote:
robroy, It already is 68 for Gen X and beyond. And, yes, I’m not quibbling about that. But the mandatory age to 75? No way. Our life expectancy isn’t that good.
I agree. We live in a very expensive society. However, you can’t blame the government for it all. Much of it is the government accommodating/benefitting their Corporate Masters which is why the Corporate protestations about not hiring ring very hollow, indeed.
Why is life so expensive? Does Corporate America expect me to forget that in the past couple of years, I’ve had to buy a new TV or a digital converter box because they decided everything should go digital? That, without my consent or input, the utility company installed a new “smart meter” on my electric box and I have to pay $3.50/month for the next 3 or more years because of it? And what about the CFL bulbs I had to go out and buy—and buy again, because they’re rubbish?
The government didn’t come up with crap like this—the corporations did. And then they bought the political representation that would take these things to Washington and pass them.
Who do you think is behind all of this school testing? The government? Heck no—it was the educational publishers! It’s a big business here in Texas and good ole GWB took it national! Here in Texas, they make sure that they change the test every several years so the schools need new workbooks, teacher workshops, study materials, etc.
From Pre-K through college, our educational system is all about making money and is nothing more than a cash cow. The corporations see the American people as nothing more than potential consumers who can be easily duped and they see the government as the enablers in that enterprise.
Hey, I still remember the days when companies and corporations were proud members of the community and even cared (or pretended to care) about the employees. There were good pension plans, company picnics, charitable enterprises, and incentives to remain with the company. Employees were loyal, too.
That changed with the “global economy” thing. Companies closed down, moved out, diversified and failed, and basically accepted no responsibility for the fallout. No more pensions, way fewer benefits, lower salaries, layoffs, concessions, cheap labor. And Corporate America expected its enabler, the government, to pick up the slack.
August 8, 2:49 am | [comment link]
21. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:
Teatime, the cfl thing was forced onto the country by congress. We have been wanting to get that repealed ever since then. The digital tv conversion change was also forced onto the people by congress. You are right that the educational textbook industry is in bed with the congressmen.
Every example you cite is due to businesses offering a product for which there would be no demand without congress outlawing their competition.
Of course business would love to use the state to force people to buy their products.
If we were still governed by the constitution, the examples you cite would not be.
The founders of this country saw, these exact abuses in the old world and sought to prevent them. This process of legislative favoritism always happens in unrestrained government throughout the ages. People always wish to use the power of the state to create artificial markets for their products.
In the 1700s it was called mercantilism. Look it up sometime for light reading.
Also, I think Sarah is not talking about converting ss into stock picking. She is reminding us of a proposal from a few years ago that involves groups of packaged in investments that people can choose from, not self-directed investing.
Don’t forget that there is no ss trust fund. The politicians stole it years ago, so its safe to say that ss is 100% risk. They will just pass on the bill for the stolen money to me and my kids. I hardly think that an annuity or conservative bond fund approaches the risk of ss.
August 8, 6:58 am | [comment link]
22. Sarah wrote:
Teatime—it is incredibly ironic that you chose the horrible CFL bulbs and the digital thingy and the “smart meter” as your examples of what *corporations* have done to us when all three of those are State/central planning initiatives!!
Re: the cfls—I have steadily and slowly stockpiling my halogen/incandescent bulbs. For reasons of health I buy mostly halogens. I’ve hoped that Congress would repeal its idiotic legislation doing away with the incandescent but so far it has not happened.
Hopefully the 2012 elections will take care of that, but in the meantime I stockpile for the future.
RE: “Hey, I still remember the days when companies and corporations were proud members of the community and even cared (or pretended to care) about the employees.”
I have a number of corporate clients, and the amount of money and *free* volunteerism they pour into their communities is nothing short of amazing, considering the grossly heavy burden of expensive regulations that the State has inflicted upon them. I can think of two initiatives right now from just one of my clients—the boys home that their company has worked with [including employees—not just the bosses] and the community trail they’ve been working on. And those are just the latest within this summer—they have other ongoing projects. This is a small corporation too.
RE: “what “central planning” conspiracy forces companies not to hire middle-aged people? At one point you seem to mean it was a business decision but then you allude to it being a government thing.”
Oh, I was pretty clear. Here’s what I said: “Of course, that’s nothing to do with age and everything to do with the obscene level of regulatory burden on hiring, as well as the fact that companies have wisely clamped down on all overhead and expenditures of cash during this time. Again—that has to do with the dreadful central planning decisions made throughout the recession and nothing to do with “age.””
The level of unemployment we’re enduring right now has to do with 1) the massive burden of regulations on businesses and 2) the uncertainty of placing yet another expensive “burden” of overhead in the form of *hiring* another person on payroll.
Teatime—I have the suspicious feeling that you’ve never had to make the agonizing choices of business owners regarding 1) the expense of an HR decision and 2) the hours that the business owners are working. My advice to most of my clients is to hold off on hiring and work 80+ hours a week—or pad with contract labor—so that you don’t have to take on that expense in a time when the State is 1) exploding energy costs through the EPA’s cap and trade boondoggle, 2) expanding HR regulations so that hiring people can cost more, 3) adding in the Obamacare scam costs on top of hiring costs [so they’ve gotta make decisions about their insurance coverage now—and it ain’t gonna be pretty], and 4) loudly and publicly considering tax hikes.
“. . . the statistics showing the plight of the laid-off, middle-aged worker . . . ” are fairly meaningless—I can cobble together plenty of statistics showing the plight of recently graduated college students over the past five years who haven’t found work too. Young, old, middle-aged—they’re all suffering and depending on which group the media wishes to highlight, they’ll come up with the stats to support their latest tales of woe.
It all comes down to the burden and cost that the State imposes on companies in order for them to hire people AND the horrible economic uncertainty caused by the State in its dreadful decisions over the past four years.
RE: “Nope, I’ve been to Wal-mart and looked around.”
Clearly, since we don’t have the same beliefs about the competence of human beings, we’re not going to agree about pretty much anything about the role of private property, the free market, individual liberty, the size of government, or the Constitution. People just need to roll over and allow their betters to decide how they should spend their money and to whom it should be given.
RE: “. . . yet you have deemed the majority fit for long-term, high-stakes investing.”
Lol—ooohhhh . . . how frightening and “complex” it is to have IRAs and mutual funds. My mechanic has those, Teatime. Do you just not talk to any “normal” people out there? You know—the uneducated Walmart shoppers? They’re all out there investing away . . . have you even glanced at the stats of the percentage of Americans who are happily engaged in “long-term, high stakes investing”???
RE: ” . . . claims that all Americans can easily work full-time until they’re 75 and become investment whizzes, to boot.”
Understanding now as I do how you regard your fellow human beings, I won’t claim anything further, Teatime, about what human beings can accomplish. We just don’t share the same viewpoint about human beings and in that light, I understand your view that the State should do the things it does for them.
That being the case, it’s hardly sensible for you to complain when the State’s rules and regulations and work for its stupid citizens means that certain other consequences occur—like corporations not wanting to play in the playground that your notions about human beings has produced.
That’s just the price you pay when you decide that the State’s gotta do for human beings.
You know—break a few eggs to make omelettes, I suppose.
When human beings are stupid, the State can make their decisions for them and we can all be happy. Of course, certain human beings won’t like that, and they’ll do all in their power to get out of that.
Hey—maybe the State can just announce that All Corporations Are Hereby Mandated To Hire More People! That’ll solve the problems of unemployment nicely!
August 8, 8:12 am | [comment link]
23. Sarah wrote:
RE: “I looked into it and found a chart that looked at future lifespan of a 20 year old in the 1940 and a thirty year old in 1950 (meaning they survived WWII) and I came up with a figure that raising the retirement age to 68 would be fair.”
Hi Rob Roy—keep in mind, though, that the rise in the retirement age that should take place for those between 45 and 55 is for those people who were born in the 1960s.
I’m not talking about raising the retirement age for those who are *now 65* or even 60 or even 56. They get grandfathered in since their government stole their money and put it into the ponzi scheme to fund their various other pet projects and programs and departments.
I’m talking about those who are today 45-55. Their retirement age gets radically raised—we shoulda done that years ago. They have a far greater lifespan then those who are now 65. Plus they have the time to plan their finances and such so that they are not entirely dependent on the government run ponzi scheme. They’ll just have to invest extra beyond the money that the State is stealing out of their paycheck to have that additional income stream. Heaven knows everybody my age and younger is doing that already, understanding as we do the bankruptcy [both moral and financial] that our government is in.
August 8, 8:19 am | [comment link]
24. Clueless wrote:
“There’s a huge difference between working at age 75 because you enjoy it and working at age 75 because, if you don’t, you will starve because you can’t retire. There’s also a big difference between having a “hobby job” to keep active and get out of the house”
Well, Duh. That’s why it is called “work”. The 23 year old college graduates would prefer to just have hobbies also. However my kid works 15 hours/week as a nursing assistant (while going to college). My 83 year old mother still works (as a teacher) 40 hours/week. My 70 year old former nanny works as a home day care provider 50 hours/week. All of my grandparents worked into their 80s (one as a kindergarten teacher, one as a secretary, two running a small home farm). I know lots of people in my neck of the woods who are farmers, or who run small businesses who are 70, 80 and one 90 year old. The ones who insist on lifting more than 40 pounds and who have spinal stenosis I try to get to cut back to 20 pounds, but the rest? Why shouldn’t people work, Teatime? People used to EXPECT to work. Why is it that everybody of the age of 65 is now expected to just putter around and have hobbies, and be taken care of by the kids busting their tails in order to fund their educations? The whole concept of healthy older people “retiring” is brand new! It used to be normal to work into extreme old age, right up until about 1960.
August 8, 10:06 am | [comment link]
25. Clueless wrote:
“Why is life so expensive? Does Corporate America expect me to forget that in the past couple of years, I’ve had to buy a new TV or a digital converter box because they decided everything should go digital? “
That’s odd. Nobody put a gun to my head and forced me to by a TV set. I don’t even have a TV set. I wasn’t aware that “poverty” meant having to pay more for a “digital TV set” instead of being entitled to inexpensive Television. I set the thermostat high in summer and low in winter. I keep the lights turned off, especially in the summer.
Teatime, are you even reading your posts? Do you really feel entitled to free entertainment? Me I read books, walk the dog, and work in my vegetable garden when I want to relax. I don’t expect the Millenials to go into debt in order to make sure that I have free access to cable.
I hate debt and refuse to permit my kids to get a credit card or a student loan. They go to state colleges, charter schools and work part time. They have no debt and neither do I.
August 8, 11:43 am | [comment link]
26. Teatime2 wrote:
25. Clueless, Um, thank God that you can “walk the dog and work in the garden.” I have mobility, vision, and neurological issues that make those sorts of things impossible now. Are you saying that since I receive SSD and teacher retirement, I am only entitled to sit in a dark room and stare at the wall? That the disabled must suffer and have absolutely no joy in life?
I use TV to do yoga and exercise programs in lieu of further physical therapy. Not that it’s any of your business, of course, but I bought the TV used on Ebay for that purpose. I don’t have cable or satellite so don’t worry. I don’t think that you or your kids are going into debt for my “entertainment.”
I have no debt, either, and never have done. Everything I see is mine and was paid for from the savings I once had. In fact, the used TV funds came from items I sold. But I’ve always lived that way because teachers don’t earn huge salaries. So your assertions that I’m a burden on your kids is both sad and wrong. And the fact that you think that after decades of good service but the misfortune of being shortchanged in the gene lottery, I’m a parasite because I use a TV is breathtaking.
Sarah, I do believe we’re in a situation in which the tail is wagging the dog. You and I disagree on which is the dog and which is the tail.
We also disagree on the innate wonderfulness of humans. I admit that I have a poor view and limited expectations of humans, particularly Americans. It’s because in my life and career, I’ve seen far more mean-spirited, selfish, and ignorant people than I have of the good and laudable variety. After many years of being a journalist and seeing the dark side, I became a teacher out of a desire to help youth develop the skills that could get them out of their horrific circumstances. My charges were often pressed into service in the drug trade by their parents and some of the girls were even pimped out by their mums. At least 30 percent of the girls had a child or children by the time they graduated.
There is a large, multi-faceted underclass in America and there is another class that is always waiting to take advantage of them, their mistakes and their misfortune.
August 8, 4:20 pm | [comment link]
27. Clueless wrote:
I don’t think it is appropriate to force future generations into debt in order to help current generations however worthy they might be. If I feel strongly about helping somebody specific (beyond my church tithe/other generic charities) then we have a family council, determine what areas we cut and we figure out how to pay for it. We have paid for a number of large ticket expenses (including tutoring for several kids in our neighborhood and/or church, college/vo tech courses, other education) for folks whom we know. This sometimes means giving up the family vacation, and sometimes simply means belt tightening in other ways, in order to make finances work. What we do not do, is to take out a credit card in our children’s name, and go spend the money on our “worthy cause of the day”, gather in the gratitude and recognition, and expect our children to pay for it once they are older.
Countries are no different from families. It’s wrong to stick our kids with the bill for our charities. If it’s that important to us, it needs to be paid up front.
August 8, 6:06 pm | [comment link]
28. Teatime2 wrote:
So, what would YOU do, Clueless, if you lost the ability to work, had no family to help, about $40K in savings but increasing medical bills, and your insurance ran out? Since you wouldn’t accept Social Security or Medicare, would you just let yourself die passively without treatment and a place to live when your money ran out or would you end your life directly by your own hand?
Those would be the only choices unless you run into a huge amount of luck and encountered someone who would help you in the longterm, for the rest of your life, paying for your housing, utilities, food, and medical care. There aren’t a lot of people like that around. On the contrary, there ARE a lot of scams and scam artists that target the vulnerable elderly and disabled.
August 8, 7:30 pm | [comment link]
29. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:
Tea. I don’t think clue is saying he/she would refuse govt help. I think clue is saying that our current system is immoral and will destroy our children’s future. participating in such a system doesn’t make you immoral. Were I in your situation I would accept help from govt programs as long as I honestly qualified for them.
That would not stop me from aggressively voting against them at every turn rather than defending them as you seem to do.
heck, better than half of my income comes from Medicare, but I still think it’s a fundamentaly dishonest and destructive system.
The existence of the safety net as currently structured is perverse and both a sign and a cause for judgement on our nation.
There is plenty of money in our society to care for the deserving poor and those in need of medical care. The politicians have taken advantage of people’s dysfunction to get them hooked on govt and buy their votes on the backs of our children.
That is not compassion.
August 8, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
30. Clueless wrote:
What he (#29) said.
August 8, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
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