Gallery B

Lifeline For The Elderly
Page 2
Page 3

How Dare They Consider Attacking Social Security

By James Donahue

It seems that the Tea Party gang in and around Washington wants to include things like Social Security, Medicare, veteran's assistance, food stamps and other government programs serving the poor and elderly when they talk about spending cuts. Just the threat of doing this when our government is wasting so much money on defense, Homeland Security and stuffing the pockets of the wealthy makes my blood boil.

When I was a young man just getting into the labor market I was shocked to see just how much the government was cutting from my weekly paycheck and pouring into a mandated social security program. My wife at that time was working in a hospital facility where union workers, also in a rebellious mood, were fighting to get out of forced Social Security payments and, instead, create their own retirement program.

It didn’t take a genius then to calculate just how much money could be generated by just setting aside this same portion of our weekly paychecks and simply placing the money in a long-term savings account that paid a relatively low interest rate on the money accumulating in the account. If we had been given the option of doing what that hospital union sought to do, both my wife and I would have accumulated a handsome nest egg to cover our retirement years.

But it was not to be. The union lost its battle. And we were both forced to give up that portion of our earnings each week to that government program. We were told it was for our best interest. And perhaps it was. If given the option it is very likely we would have procrastinated about that plan to set aside anything in the interest of retirement. So for most Americans, the forced retirement savings plan was, indeed, the best option. And, we had no choice.

We always believed that the money was ours when we retired. We were promised that it went into a special account that made monthly payments to retired Americans once they reached 65 years of age and went home to tend their gardens, write books, travel and do the other things they didn’t have time to do when punching time clocks. They promised us that the account was safe from prying hands and we believed that.

During those early years we were well aware that most of the retirees never lived more than a year or two after they retired, so they never had a chance to get much of the money they invested back. One economist told me the Social Security program was depending on this to keep it solvent. My wife and I were optimists, however, and we wanted to believe that we would live long enough to get most if not all of our investment back.

We both had professions that we knew we could use long after we reached retirement age, so we never worried much about being forced by the corporations we labored for into really going to the old rocking chair when we reached 65. But things changed. I was forced into early retirement at age 55 and my wife developed health problems that forced her into early retirement at about age 60.

Advancements in medicine indeed expanded the average life expectancy for elderly Americans and the so-called "baby boom" from World War II that created an imbalance in the money being poured by workers into the Social Security program became subjects of debate among Washington politicians about the health of the program. This, of course, was untrue. The Social Security program had been so successful it had accumulated a massive multi-trillion dollar balance of cash which, if left untouched, should have kept the program solvent for a very long time, even if we were living longer.

The problem has been that the Washington politicians couldn’t leave that fund alone. They began "borrowing" from the Social Security Trust Fund during World War II and have been unable to resist borrowing more and more of this money ever since. In an effort to soften the blow, I suppose, the government invented the 401K program, allowing workers and employers to invest additional money into stock in the hope that there would be a second nest egg waiting retirees. With the instability of the stock market I am not too sure the 401K program is working out that well. We got into it too late to find out.

Today the looting of the SS fund has become so ramped that there is a real threat that the demands of seniors will cause what is left in the fund to run dry.

What the political thieves in Washington are really saying when they attack Social Security is not that the program is too costly. Their secret worry is that they have run the nation so deeply in debt they cannot afford to pay back the stolen money. Thus they are verbally attempting to shift the blame on the seniors, and claiming the Social Security program is no longer solvent.

Don’t believe it.

The big banks, the military war machine, and the big corporations have been busy looting our tax money for years, and given the power to do it by the Supreme Court which has gone rogue, without any easy way for us to pull in the reigns except stage another violent revolution. And nobody wants to go that route. So Americans find themselves slaves to the crooks that now control the nation.

The sad thing is that a lot of senior citizens, unemployed workers and wounded veterans in America are now totally dependent on those Social Security, welfare and veterans checks coming regularly each month. It is not a lot of money but at least for the seniors, the money covers the basic costs of living, keeps food on the table, some gas in the car, and covers basic medical costs. A lot of next generation Americans, finding themselves out of work or unable to live on the wages paid them, are moving in with their parents and tapping into those social security checks too.

If these and the food stamp payments stop, all hell is going to break loose. Payments for heat and electricity won’t be made, nobody will be shopping in the malls and grocery stores, and general commerce will be dramatically reduced. It will be a recession worse than anything we have ever experienced.

We also predict that the bankruptcy courts will be overwhelmed.