Florida Next Winter

Note: This post was first published Jan. 8, 2015 on one of my experimental blogs. Now it’s December 2015. The year has come and gone, and a new winter will begin Dec. 21. And I’m not in Florida yet. My excuse is that major life decisions take time. I’m working  on it. 

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Tuesday, we had snow and 26 degrees. Wednesday, it was 17 degrees in late afternoon, and down to 12 degrees by the time I got home from work, around 9:30 p.m. I live in the Mid-Atlantic states. The climate here is supposed to be relatively moderate.

Except when it’s not. Tonight, it’s cold as a witch’s tit.

The heater in my 216-square-foot apartment runs constantly all night. It can’t raise the temperature inside high enough to cut off.

Is it any wonder that every year about this time, my thoughts turn to Florida? I’ve only been there once. I flew into the Tampa airport to help rescue my brother (he was very ill) and drive him back to Maryland. I have very little direct experience of Florida, but I know a lot about it second-hand. (Update: Took a two-week road trip to Florida in June 2015 to research housing options. So I’ve made a little progress.) Continue reading

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What Happens To Social Security Owed To Folks Who Die Young?

Retirement is good. I haven’t felt like going to work a single day this week. I’m thankful that I don’t have to. Been there, done that. Enough!

When I say, hear, or read the words “Social Security” or “Medicare,” my reaction is:

“Thanks to God and the Democratic Party.”

Some say Social Security benefits need to be reduced because people are living longer.

Really?

We’ve always had old folks — eighty years, ninety, one hundred, and even higher. Nothing new under the sun. But are more folks living to advanced ages than ever before? Probably, because the population is larger than ever. But just because nearly everyone knows someone very old, that doesn’t mean that everyone is living deep into old age.

“Are people living much longer in retirement? Or is the truth, now and always, that a few people with good genes and good luck make it to old age?” — From “Me And The Blog”

I personally have known more people in the Boomer generation who died at 60, 62, or 66, to pick a few numbers. Boomers are dying in their forties and fifties. All the folks who die young paid into Social Security every week since they began working. They’re never going to collect a penny. Those who die in their sixties draw benefits only briefly. Who gets the money?

Who gets the uncollected old-age benefits of the masses of people who die young? Seems to me that more Baby Boomers are dying in the fourth, fifth and sixth decades of life, than will make it to the eighth and ninth decades.

Seems to me that the many who die young balance out the few who grow old. I’ll leave it to an enterprising young auditor who understands actuarial data to figure it out.

— John Hayden

Giving A Few Texas Oil Millionaires Their Due

Thanks to Sen. Bernie Sanders for tweeting this quote from President Eisenhower:

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President Eisenhower’s quote needs only to be updated to insert “billionaires” in place of “millionaires.”

— John Hayden

Dwindling Jobs, College Debt, Clueless Politicians (With Extended Discussion in Comments)

Economic and political difficulties — especially issues of justice — are on my mind, as always. Guess I’ve been reading too many scary books about economics and the jobs outlook.

What is the outlook? In developing countries, manufacturing that’s always on the move, stalking the cheapest labor. In Western countries, an abundance of jobs for machines, robots and computers; for human beings, not so much. Continue reading

Forgiveness of Student Loans Should Be THE Democratic Issue For 2014

Protecting Social Security and Medicare — the strong and fundamental safety net for older Americans — is a core mission of the Democratic Party and Democratic voters.

Equally important — it’s a moral obligation — is making sure we don’t leave younger generations bereft of opportunity and buried in debt. We must preserve hope for everyone from today’s elementary school children to today’s forty- and fifty- somethings.

President Obama’s call for quality early childhood education for all children gets us thinking in that direction. But what about today’s working adults, from age 21 to age 62? Too many will find themselves caught in the middle between the costly (privileged?) senior generation and the expensive (and essential!) younger children.

I’ve long been troubled by the accusation that preserving Social Security for today’s elders will lead directly to the indebtedness and impoverishment of our children and grandchildren. Continue reading

Raise the Social Security Retirement Age? Huh?

English: Demonstration in Barcelona on January...

Demonstration in Barcelona on January 22 against raising the retirement age (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People are living longer, therefore the U.S. needs to raise the Social Security retirement age.

The above statement fills me with despair. It can be spoken with a straight face only by a young person or a rich person who doesn’t understand:  a) What it feels like to be sixty-something in the 21st century, and b) The place of the American worker in the market for human labor,  given the new-normal, flat-world economy.

Full disclosure: I come at this retirement age question from a Baby Boomer point of view. I celebrated (?) a 64th birthday in June. For which I’m grateful. It means I’m one of the survivors. I am now enjoying my 65th summer on the planet Earth, which is one of my favorite planets.

Continue reading

Debt Madness Was Always About Killing Social Security (via roger hollander)

Below is a commentary worth reading. Conservative ideologues have hated Social Security from the beginning, in 1934.

Social Security is not the cause of the U.S. public debt, and neither is Medicare. To blame Social Security and Medicare is to lie! The methodic run-up of defense spending, starting in 1971, and the extension of U.S. military influence to every corner of the globe over the past four decades — those are the primary causes of the U.S. public debt, in my opinion. — John

Debt Madness Was Always About Killing Social Security Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by TruthDig.com   by  Robert Scheer This phony debt crisis has now passed through the looking glass into the realm where madness reigns. What should have been an uneventful moment in which lawmakers make good on the nation’s contractual obligations has instead been seized upon by Republican hypocrites as a moment to settle ideological scores that have nothing to do with the debt. Hypocrites, because their rad … Read More

via roger hollander

America: What I Believe In 2011

Image via Wikimedia Commons

(Please click on “comments” at the left side of the title for an interesting back-and-forth between polar opposite points of view.)

The deadlock over raising the debt limit seems almost like a clash of religious beliefs. The two sides hold different beliefs. The deadlock has helped clarify my thinking about what I believe. Maybe this debt crisis of 2011 will help us all clarify who we are, and what we believe.

Image via Wikimedia CommonsI believe that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the best part of America. I believe that without Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, a large part of the American population — more than half the people over 65 — would fall into hopeless poverty.

Some people believe it would be impossible to balance the American budget without deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I believe that America is still, right now, the most prosperous society the world has ever known. I believe that America can afford Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

I believe it would be fair for the most prosperous among us — those with incomes of $250,000 or more a year — to pay a little more in taxes for the good of America. These people have prospered in America. They live the good life. Aren’t they patriotic enough to want to keep America strong? I believe they ARE patriotic and willing to help. It is inconceivable that they could be otherwise.

Some politicians say they oppose any tax increase because a tax increase would “destroy jobs.”

I don’t believe it. How would a modest tax increase destroy jobs? The president is not talking about making rich people poor. He’s talking about a modest tax increase on incomes over $250,000. How exactly will that destroy jobs? Will people earning $250,000 or more even notice a small tax increase? Will a small tax increase change their way of life? I don’t think so. Some may believe otherwise.

I believe there are other ways to balance the American budget. I believe we are spending far too much on a worldwide military presence. I believe we do not have to be fighting foreign wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. I believe we could drastically reduce foreign military spending, pull American soldiers out of harm’s way and closer to the North American continent. We could reduce defense spending by perhaps a third, and still have a military that is by far strong enough to defend the North American continent.

I simply cannot understand why anyone would want to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I believe the vast majority of Americans support these programs. I believe that common-sense cuts in general government spending and defense spending, combined with a small increase in taxes on the most fortunate among us, would bring the American budget into balance.

What do you believe?

THIS CHART PUTS THE FINANCIAL CONDITION OF MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY IN PERSPECTIVE. BEGGING THE QUESTION: IF MODEST CUTS WERE MADE IN U.S. SPENDING ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT AND DEFENSE, AND SOME EFFICIENCIES ARE FOUND IN MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY, THEN HOW MUCH WOULD STILL NEED TO BE RAISED IN TAXES? Chart via Wikipedia

Keep the faith.

— John Hayden

And They Call Themselves ‘Patriots’

The western front of the United States Capitol...

Image via Wikipedia

No. 4 in a series on the Debt Crisis of 2011.

Here’s an American paradox, or maybe it’s a morality story. You work to pay your bills. I work to pay my bills, thereby maintaining the fiction that I’m solvent and creditworthy.

While you and I are working to pay our bills, right-wing zealots are conspiring to prevent the government of the United States of America from paying its bills. They even pretend that it would be right and good for the U.S. to ignore its debts.

The premeditated intent of these patriot-politicians is to subvert Congress and sabotage the U.S. Treasury, force financial default, and destroy America’s credit rating. With malice aforethought, they plan to run the U.S. government straight into bankruptcy and shut it down.

By bankrupting the Treasury, these people — the Tea Party, the Libertarians, the Anarchists, the tax protestors — hope to smash and destroy the government, and kill its hated programs and taxes. Then they will wave the American flag and celebrate.

Isn’t it sedition and treason to destroy from within the government of your own country?

Believers in this Tea Party and Libertarian conspiracy call themselves “Patriots.”  But aren’t they really traitors and turncoats?

— John Hayden

American Debt Crisis: Rich and Powerful Demand Total Victory over Middle Class and Poor

No. 3 in a series on the Debt Crisis of 2011.

President Barack Obama floated a trial balloon on the front page of the Washington Post on Thursday, in a long story that said the President is prepared to discuss cuts to both Medicare and Social Security. As the headline put it, Medicare and Social Security are “on the table,” otherwise known as the chopping block. No one quoted in the story was willing to have their name attached to the information.

In the whole, long newspaper story, the words “defense” and “defense cuts” were never mentioned. Not once. What? You mean Medicare and Social Security are on the table, but the elephantine defense budget is not? It’s not credible, not believable.

As Obama was supposedly preparing to sacrifice Medicare and Social Security, Republicans repeated their long-stated position: Tax increases for the rich are NOT “on the table.” Republicans allowed as how they might be willing to wheel and deal on tax breaks and loopholes, so long as the net effect is no increase in taxes on the rich.

Also yesterday, AARP, the largest organization representing senior citizens, made its position clear: The AARP opposes any cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

So, the lines are clearly drawn in the class war to divide up what’s left of the American Dream. The rich and powerful have made clear they will accept nothing less than total victory over the middle class and poor. President Obama hints he might be a willing accomplice in the cashing out of Medicare and Social Security. If so, it would be a presidential betrayal of the American people on a historic scale.

(If you cringe at the words class war, don’t forget that class warfare will probably be followed by generational warfare, pitting mother against daughter and grandfather against grandson. See “Divide And Conquer: The New Plan To End Social Security by Dividing America at 55.”)

Could President Obama possibly be serious about caving in to the rich and powerful on both Medicare and Social Security? Plus a player to be named later, Medicaid?

I hope the President is not serious. To balance the budget by cutting Medicare and Social Security for the middle class and the poor, while at the same time refusing to raise taxes on the rich by a single penny, would be a craven injustice. Remember, the rich are paying tiny taxes, compared to what they have paid historically, and their wealth continues to expand, in a continuing social transfer of assets from bottom to top.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the American budget that could not be remedied by modest tax increases on the wealthy, accompanied by modest spending cuts in the defense budget. That’s what should be “on the table.”

I hope Obama floated this balloon simply to highlight how outrageous it would be to force the middle class and the poor to pay for the financial crisis created by the rich and powerful. In any event, the trial balloon provided an easy target for Democrats in Congress to shoot down.

Do you suppose that anyone is negotiating in good faith as the clock ticks down to financial default by the U.S. government?  If U.S. leaders fail to behave responsibly, the hard times ahead could test the fabric of American society like never before.

— John Hayden