We’ve been brainwashed into believing that a secure retirement is incompatible with the objectives of a capitalist economy. I grew up in a time when we understood that taking care of our citizens made sense from a moral and practical standpoint.
I’m reaching the age where I’m looking toward collecting my pension and taking advantage of the options which should be available to every American. I’m fortunate because I’m fairly secure, but that’s not true for everyone. I wish a secure retirement was the result of my astute financial planning, but that’s not the case. When I began working, I was covered by a pension plan and I was oblivious to the importance of it until I had already built up an significant nest egg.
When you’re in your 20s and 30s, your mind is occupied with more pressing issues like paying next month’s bills. So older folks with more wisdom set up these programs for us because they didn’t want us to go through what they had to endure. I’m the beneficiary of their efforts and I wish they were around to thank, but they’re all gone.
Unfortunately, the concept of a secure retirement is becoming less and less certain. Pensions require thinking decades ahead, not years. Fewer companies are offering defined benefit pensions and the companies who have them are trying to escape their obligations. A pension is a contract, you pay your employees part of their salary now and the rest is placed in a fund gaining interest until they collect it. It’s not a gift or a hand out, but a contractual obligation.
In addition to pensions, Social Security is also becoming a target. Whenever federal budget discussions begin, these programs always seem to be the focus of anti-government folks. They want to create the impression there is a pressing urgency to cut benefits to seniors. This is especially troublesome when it’s a member of Congress, because they know Social Security is a self-sustaining fund, which doesn’t add to the deficit. They know cutting benefits won’t decrease our national debt.
They want to create the myth in the public’s mind that Social Security is going broke and young people will never receive any benefits. The truth is that even with no changes to the system, Social Security will still be able to pay out every benefit until 2033, after that time they will still be able to pay out 75 percent of benefits to future retirees. With a few minor tweaks Social Security will be able to pay all of its obligations for generations. Anyone who tells you anything different doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or they are trying to personally profit from you believing otherwise.
Their goal is to privatize Social Security. They want you to get into private retirement accounts, which can have a very uncertain future. While this may be good for Wall Street, don’t think they’re doing this because they’re concerned about your well being. The $2.7 trillion surplus sitting in the Social Security fund is a very tempting target. But they can’t get their hands on it unless the public is convinced Social Security is broke and nothing can be done to fix it.
Social Security has been one of the most successful programs to prevent poverty in our elderly population. Even though it was intended to supplement retirement programs, it’s become the sole source of income for one in five Americans aged 65 and older. Benefits cuts will hit this population especially hard because according to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefits for retirees in December of 2012 was $1,261.61, or $15,139.32 per year. Anyone who’s tried to live on that type of income can understand that these seniors aren’t living a lavish lifestyle.
Seniors use this money to pay rent and bills, re-circulating this money locally, and stimulating the economy. They pay rent, buy food at the local grocer, and purchase products at local stores. It’s a closed system where the money they spend remains within the community they live.
On the other hand, money spent on overseas military operations drains money out of our country. Tax breaks given to top income earners is stashed away in Swiss bank accounts or used to finance building manufacturing plants in third world countries, shipping jobs overseas and destroying the economy in the country which gave them the tax break.
Plus, keep in mind that we have moral and ethical obligations to our elderly citizens. But when I talk to younger people they often speak of older people with a mixture of envy and contempt, and I really don’t understand the reason for this hostility. When you’re young, it seems like you’re constantly broke and older folks have everything. But they didn’t accumulate it overnight, it’s the result of a lifetime of hard work. If a person with a middle class income appears to have a secure financial situation, it’s because they made prudent decisions with their money. They shouldn’t be envied, they should be emulated.