September 21, 2008

Obama "does not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age."

A sentence that was just deleted from Barack Obama's website page about Social Security. Noted by Peter Bray, who asks: "Is he trying to stoke anxiety about his position on Social Security?"

My thoughts:

1. Raising the retirement age makes a lot of sense and should at least be considered. People are healthier these days and live a lot longer, and the age ought to be adjusted to account for that. It's at least arguable and belongs on the table.

2. To say that you don't currently "believe it is necessary or fair" to do something doesn't mean you aren't planning to consider it. I know what the meaning of is is. What you believe is necessary now many not be what you believe later after further study, and what is necessary now may not be what is necessary after the situation develops a while longer.

3. Must politicians always butter us up by telling us we're "hardworking"? I suspect that many voters hear that and think about how they actually don't work that hard. I don't like the insinuation that people who aren't nose-to-the-grindstone are written out of all the policy. Slackers vote too you know!

4. What's with the "seniors" talk? Right now, you can start collecting Social Security when you are 62! So it's people under 62 that have to worry about raising the retirement age. Do these people call themselves "seniors"? I'm 5 years away from age 62 myself, and while I often -- being the straight-talker that I am -- call myself "old," it would never occur to me to say I'm a "senior." Euphemisms have a way of becoming more offensive the the original plain English.

75 comments:

rhhardin said...

The only solution of the social security crisis is raising the retirement age. You have to increase the number of workers and decrease the number of retirees, until the one is willing to support the other.

In fact it's so simple that it's not even a crisis, unless somebody wants to suck votes out of it somehow.

You can still retire whenever you want, if you bridge the gap on your own dime. That, at least, is a predictable interval that you can save for, or not, as you choose.

William said...

I will continue to consider myself middle-aged until I have my first disabling illness.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Professor Althouse:

Had you spent your career as a concrete finisher, waitress, nurse, carpet installer, etc. you might have different thoughts about this.

Many of the public policy wonks who are in favor of raising the retirement age have generous pensions from the government or a university.

And let's be fair, lawyers and CPAs have spent the past two decades helping corporations screw employees out of pension plans and retirement benefits.

former law student said...

Retirement ages were already raised, back in 1983. People Ann's age who retire at 62 will receive only 3/4 of their age 66 benefit:

http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/agereduction.htm

SGT Ted said...

Part of the problem of this is ignoring that those who've spent a career doing manual labor are usually broken down physically in some way. Not everyone has an office job that's easy on the body and allows another career in their 60s.

Earth Girl said...

It's easy to say that we should work longer, but who hires someone past their early 50s? How many people do you know who have lost their jobs in their 50s and early 60s? I went from a 6-figure salary (with bonus and stock options) to a part-time hourly job making 4-figures. We had lived under our means for years, with no debt and a mortgage-free house, but still our savings have been drained paying for health insurance, car insurance for teenage sons, and college tuition. Raising the retirement age will only work when those in human resources consider hiring those who are older. On the other hand, I am much healthier and happier in my current job!

Bissage said...

About to turn 46, I have the mind of an immature 25 year old, the body of a decrepit 65 year old, and a retirement plan that consists solely of a bullet to the head, which reduces my anxieties about the horribleness of the future, considerably.

bearbee said...

Options:

Raise age requirements
Apply means testing
Raise SS tax
Cut benefits
Let SS go bust

Name your poison(s)

Steven Pinker - Why Politicians Use Empty Language

video: highlights - 5 min, full -1hr 3 min

Pogo said...

Every job will require a retooling of the current penalties on aging. People could work longer if, by age 55, work hours could diminish to accommodate the vagaries of age. As it stands, your pension is reduced if you do so.

People who are in the trades, from carpentry to laying carpet, will have a hard time keeping up the pace for another 10 years. Raising the age is too simplistic, a view from the think tanks.

I am not engaged in manual labor, yet I suspect that if I do not cut my own pace, I will die in my sixties. The stress level is high, and I see doctors around me dropping off like flies. Heart attacks, cancer, MS, and the like. But I suppose, like with killing Alzheimer's patients, early male death is a boon to society. Patriotic.

As a result, black men have the least return on their investment, dying soonest of all. Our nation thanks them!

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

former law student said...

But I suppose, like with killing Alzheimer's patients, early male death is a boon to society.

Encourage smoking once more. Stop the TV commercial ban, bring back the Marlboro man. Millions more will die before they can collect more than a couple of years' worth.

Johann said...

When all else fails, bring out the social security boogey-man.

Question: Will politicians consider revamping the system before or after social security checks start bouncing?

It's a ticking time bomb. And it's about to go off.

People need to start getting used to the idea that it won't be around for future generations.

bearbee said...

DOES Sweden have the answer?
Didn't the current administration propose something along these lines on a voluntary and limited basis? Sweden has a population of only 9 million so I assume replacing the traditional plan logistically would be less problematic.

Notional Pensions: Does Sweden Have the Answer?

AllenS said...

I'll be 62 Nov. 10, and will receive my first SS check on the 2nd Wednesday of January. I retired at age 52 in 1999. I'll be a very rich man when I collect that $1388 every month. I deserve every penny of it. I started working at a very early age, and always worked 2 or 3 jobs throughout my life. The only exception was when I was drafted into the Army.

Ann Althouse said...

Pogo, the system is built on the prediction that many will die in their 60s.

I understand the problem of people having difficulty continuing in some lines of work and moving into something else suitable.

I don't necessarily agree that a sit-down office job is great for your physical health. And mentally, it can be very tiresome, as much as the physical jobs that have been named. I don't see why most nurses and carpenters aren't capable of continuing until they are 68.

Look at the people out there who are 68! Do they look like they need to stop working and be supported by all the young people who are trying to get established, trying to raise children or the middle-aged people who have kids to put through college? Who gets to lean on whom in this society? I don't think the 65-year-olds have such a great argument on balance. Yet they do vote.

D said...

Raising the retirement age makes a lot of sense and should at least be considered. People are healthier these days and live a lot longer, and the age ought to be adjusted to account for that. It's at least arguable and belongs on the table.

This is a statement I have heard from a lot of attorneys, politicians and other white-collar types. Surely, it's all well and good to work into your 70s when the hardest thing you do all day is write on a legal pad, stand in front of a class, or have an aid write a speech for you, but try most blue-collar jobs at that age.

Steel-worker, brick-layer, police officer, firefighter, long-haul trucker, roofer, carpenter, assembly-line worker, commercial fishing, nurse, etc. etc.

I don't see why most nurses and carpenters aren't capable of continuing until they are 68.

Try doing those jobs for 30 years and then I think you will understand. Hell, try doing it for a month at your age and see if you feel the same way. I remember building a house on one summer break and it damn near broke my back and I was only in my teens.

Desk work, no matter how stressful, is not the same thing as physical labor compounded over three or four decades.

Dave Hardy said...

As far as physical labor goes, the real question is injuries. My father laid tile all his life, and set my office floor when he was 75 (he did need help moving the tile in, as it comes in 50-60 lb boxes). BUT he'd managed to avoid any serious injury in those years. His helper at one point had a wheelbarrow slip and fall on him, took back injuries, and was out of action around age 50 (even modest back injuries being inconsistent with toting 50-60 lb units all day). Manual labor implies working out, 8 hours a day, which leaves a person in good shape UNLESS they take an injury.

What finally got Dad was emphysema, in his 80s, probably brought on by a life spent breathing cement dust.

nick said...

Raise age requirements can be done slower

Apply means testing aboe 250K for single

Raise SS tax threshold

Dody Jane said...

I agree, the retirement age can be raised a bit. Office jobs do sap your energy and can ruin your health (stress). I for one, am working on a master's degree in order to be employed part time doing something else. Something a little more rewarding. I hope to work part time into my 70's, I wonder how many other people think about this option?

Pastafarian said...

Ann -- you look great for 57.

SGT Ted said...

I don't see why most nurses and carpenters aren't capable of continuing until they are 68.

Sorry, Ann but this statement is ignorant.

D said...

Oh yes, I wanted to also say that if you don't feel the young should be supporting the old via Social Security as a matter of principle that's a valid argument.

It's just when you use that "people are healthier these days and live a lot longer" reasoning that you lose me.

Yes, people are living longer, but people who have worked physically demanding jobs for 30 or 40 years are I would argue a lot less healthy than their white-collar counterparts. At least when it comes to joints and back pain caused by overuse and injury on these kind of jobs.

It's pretty damn hard to pour concrete or lay bricks or climb up on a house to put in a roof when you have a bad knee or shoulder or back due to decades of hard labor or injuries.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

As Rust Belt says. Your position on what is a fair retiremnt age depends on what you do for a living. I'm in a job that I can work well past age 62 if I want to. Others like my husband have jobs/businesses that are physically demanding and after age 62 it is often impossible to continue in your own occupation.

Is the solution to force people to work even though disabled? To force those who can no longer lay bricks, pound nails, stand on their feet all day long to work? Maybe they want us all to get a job as Wal Mart greeters in our senior years?

Look at the people out there who are 68! Do they look like they need to stop working and be supported by all the young people who are trying to get established, trying to raise children or the middle-aged people who have kids to put through college? Who gets to lean on whom in this society? I don't think the 65-year-olds have such a great argument on balance. Yet they do vote.

Many, unlike you tenured professors, have worked all their lives and paid into the SS fund and THEY have no pension plan provided by their employers, no cushy insurance and very little savings, becuase they did all those things you stated while THEY were young, starting families etc.

So, because the young NOW are paying for the retirees we should yank the rug out from under the "seniors" who did the same thing? Pay in for years and years to support the seniors who came before them? Because our government is unable to be in the least fiscally responsible and unable to generate a decent return on the SS fund, we should force people to work at McDonalds or clean motel rooms until age 68 or 70, instead of giving them the measly stipind from the amount they paid into SS?

Inquiring minds need to know.

In some cases this stipend makes the difference between eating and paying utilities.....EVEN when working as a Wal Mart greeter at age 68.

Uncle Scrooge instead of Uncle Sam.

It's bad enough that I'm forced to pay 12.4% of my income to SS and 2.9% for Medicare. Sure I get to take a tax deduction for half as a self employed person, but I still have to pay the full amount. If I had been allowed to invest some this money in even a modest portfolio with an average 5% return over the last 40+ years I would not need government hand outs in the form of SS.

Not only have I been robbed for years by the government, now you want me to be happy that I've been robbed and willing to never get any of my money back.

Screw that!!

chuckR said...

Add up the number of years worked and the desired retirement age. We've seen the evident cracks in the public employees system, where its possible - at least in the hapless state in which I reside - for people to collect with a number, as defined above, lower than 80. This isn't an issue with a defined contribution plan, but it sure as hell is for defined benefit plans.
IIRC, FDR's original program had a number of about 110. And the eligibility age was about the then current life expectancy at birth. Today, the number for many is 102 - 106 with eligibility age 13 - 17 years less than life expectancy at birth. The big difference is that expected time to collect - that time has to be decreased. Or, we can beggar our children.

EnigmatiCore said...

I think it is clever of his campaign to try to somehow get people focused in on Social Security. Democrats traditionally have an advantage on the issue, support with seniors has not been an Obama strength, and it takes the attention away from Fannie Mae/Mac before it can rebound on Obama the way it looks like it will.

After all, his plan is still his plan, with or without this sentence. And the media will run with his denials about him waffling about retirement age and will be skeptical of anything McCain has to say.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If I had been allowed to invest some this money in even a modest portfolio with an average 5% return over the last 40+ years I would not need government hand outs in the form of SS.

I mean people in general, not myself directly, had been allowed to direct their money into even a portfolio of CDs and a bank savings account they would not be relying on or even needing government support.

Social Security is a joke. SSI goes to people who have never worked and people who are scamming the system. I had a relative who collected SSI for being disabled. You know what the disability was. He drank and was declared an alcoholic. So he got SSI which paid for a whole lot of beer.

bearbee said...

Options:

Raise age requirements
Apply means testing
Raise SS tax
Cut benefits
Let SS go bust

Name your poison(s)

Because our government is unable to be in the least fiscally responsible and unable to generate a decent return on the SS fund,...


Additional option: Disqualify all elected Congressional types from receiving SS and medicare. Rescind once the balance budget amendment becomes constitutional law and the US debt has been reduced to under $100 billion.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Bissage and I have the same retirement planner!

Not mentioned so far is the fact that when SS was planned out the ratio of able-bodied workers paying into the system to retirees taking money out was much higher. The original SS projections planned on Americans having shorter lives and having many more children. That worked out for at least a generation or two, but then come the spoilers. The childless or only-child-having Boomers are essentially depending on other peoples children to finance their SS payments.

rhhardin said...

You can't have the population retire at 65, whether they save on their own or via social security.

Future services are supplied by future workers. If there are too few of them to willingly service the too many retirees, it won't work no matter how you try to save for it.

Money is not wealth. It's a ticket in line to say what the economy does next, presumably something for you. These tickets chase goods.

You don't get more goods in total by having more tickets!

Money acts like wealth to one person, but not to a nation of people.

The nation of people can't save for retirement at 65 any more than the government can, and for the same reason.

It doesn't work out demographically.

Where it breaks in the case of private savings for everybody is that at 65 there are not enough buyers for stocks that the seniors want to start selling, because there are no longer enough workers, which is to say savers. The stock price falls, which reduces the return on investment.

Reduces the return until what? Until you postpone your retirement enough, saving a little longer before cashing out.

Which is the solution in the first place, raise the retirement age. It will happen absolutely, whether you like it or not.

cottus said...

The gulf between the white - and blue collar worlds is soooo evident in these comments. Chair warmers seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that almost all tradesmen like myself have short time jobs. Hire by the hour - get fired by the hour.
By my age of 63, most of us have developed work - arounds, like self employment. It's silly to suggest I go out and hump lumber, punch nails, like I did 30 years ago, in competition with kids. But of course our smug, condescending, betters assuage their consciences and make themselves feel so virtuous in these matters by caving to the crass desires of politicians like FDR, who while in over his head in the Great Depression, thought he MIGHT help pull his chestnuts out of the fire with Social Security, but DEFINITELY buy zillions of sucker votes for all time to come.

A modest suggestion - maybe now is the time to reconsider the whole stupidity that is Social Security. Naaah! - we gotta look out for our poor, stupid inferiors (who take their social security check money to the casino or the 7/11 for the daily lottery ticket).

With Sarah Palin in it, I hope this election is more about this:

http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/elitism-the-culture-wars-and-the-campaign/

and less of the usual vote buying in all its twisted forms.

rhhardin said...

I'm a free market kind of guy, but social security has a feature that the market can't supply - an inflation-adjusted guarantee that you won't outlive your savings.

You can buy annuities but they're not inflation protected (that's an uninsurable risk to a company - every policy pays out at once), and 30 years is too long to be sure than any company you pick will exist.

SS is an insurance policy against living too long. You can't save for the worst (longest life) case, but you can easily save for the average case. So it's an insurable thing, otherwise.

When the benefits kick in hardly matters. You can save for that gap.

rcocean said...

The obvious solution is mandatory euthanasia at age 75, problem solved.

SwampWoman said...

As a former construction company owner, I would also like to say that people's joints, hands, backs, and knees usually don't stand up under the strain until current retirement age, let alone past it. Many of our guys were pretty crippled up by their 50s.

My mother, a registered nurse, retired at 62. She didn't feel that she was up to the physical demand of the job any longer.

cobaltbob said...

Way off topic perhaps, but for some reason I thought AA was 50. Even hotter at 57.

jk said...

I wish politicians and the media would stop pretending and call social security what it is - welfare for old people - and institute means testing?

Bruce Hayden said...

This is a dilemma. There are no easy solutions, which is why it is obvious that Obama is pandering here.

As an attorney, I am one of those desk pushers. And as such, I can probably expect to follow my father's lead by not retiring until my mid 70s or so (he faced the absurdity for paying and receiving SS at the same time for most of a decade). And overall, that is where our economy is going, and has been for generations. Fewer and fewer of the jobs that would disable you by 65.

I look back at some of the jobs I had much earlier, and I sure couldn't do them into my later 60s. I spent a lot of time over the last 6 years at a ski area, and many of the instructors in their later 50s are now disabled.

On the other hand, we have a lot of teachers, etc. retired in their early 50s coming into the ski areas to work in a dream job as they enjoy their golden years of retirement. The ones I know are all physically capable of years more labor, yet are often on full retirement 15 years before SS kicks in.

The problem is that something has to be done for SS. It is easy to say, as I think Obama has suggested, that the cap on SS earnings be lifted through the roof. But that severs the tie the program has as a retirement program, and becomes simply income redistribution from those working with families to what is typically the richest segment of the population, with their houses paid for and their kids educated.

Another problem is that the younger generations know that SS is a Ponzi scam, and know that they are at the bottom of it, with little expectation of ever getting their money out.

It is a Ponzi scheme, and Obama is pandering to the Baby Boomers, many of whom are too cynical to his ways to get sucked into his nebulous Change and Hope (or on Mad TV, "Chope"). The youth is already in his pocket, but the older generations are not, and that is why he is promising the later at the expense of the former.

Bruce Hayden said...

SS is an insurance policy against living too long. You can't save for the worst (longest life) case, but you can easily save for the average case. So it's an insurable thing, otherwise.

That insurance aspect is what is being threatened by removing the cap on SS earnings (but presumably, not the cap on SS benefits). The bigger the disconnect between the amount one puts in, and what one gets out, esp. in comparison with otherws of differing incomes, the less that politicians will be able to get away with calling it a retirement program, but rather, will have to own up to its effects of redistributing from those most in need in many cases, to those who are, on average, the richest.

William said...

The sticking point seems to be that certain jobs take a greater physical toll than others. Here is a suggestion: why not give certain jobs, e.g. construction laborer, more SS credits than other jobs such as accountant.

AJ Lynch said...

Am I supposed to have reported as income the cash Ann leaves on my nightstand in the morning? :)

Maybe if I had the soc security crisis would not be so bad.

Seriously the system was looted in the last 40 years, requires a dedicated to replenish the money that was looted. If that is not done and it continues as per usual, bloggers will be having this same discussion in 1,000 years.

Linda said...

This is a tough one. I don't see any way that means testing isn't going to be required at some point.

I fully agree about the manual labor wearing the body out - MANY physical laborers are a wreck by their early 50s.

And, yet, some so-called "white-collar" jobs are equally hard on the body - such as teachers and nurses. Many nurses lift heavy weights, spend time on their feet, receive injuries from abusive patients, etc.

Teachers, in many districts, are punching bags - "what did you do to that poor CHILD that they broke their hand on your face?" Because they are juveniles, they often receive little punishment. Many administrators, under the gun to reduce violent stats, shove the incidents under the rug. Often, the reports understate the teacher's injuries - if they are filed at all.

Temperamentally, keeping your cool when an out-of-control kid goes "off" in your face is major-league stress.

So, I think we've got to look at the big picture - although SOME seniors may be able to work, many will not - yet will need the money. We've got to stop, right now, the automatic COLA adjustments. They're killing the system.

The Drill SGT said...

One of things things I most hold against President Clinton was his appointment of his SS Commision in1998 headed by Senator Breaux. Then Clinton refused to use any of his huge capital to make the recommended changes.

the retirement age must be raised. sooner rather than later.

Bruce Hayden said...

This is a tough one. I don't see any way that means testing isn't going to be required at some point.

The problem with means testing is that it severs the connection between being a retirement system and the contributions people make to it. It will then be just a method of redistributing money from one, often poor, group, to another, often quite a bit richer, group.

quadrupole said...

OK... so I believe I counted two objections to raising the retirement age:

1) Disability: Folks who do labor that is more physically taxing on their body are prone to becoming disabled earlier.

2) Obsolescence: There comes a point in many older workers careers where they can no longer (for whatever reason good or bad) find a comparable job should they be fired.

I would maintain that reason 1) is already addressed by the current system, because someone who is actually physically disabled by their taxing work is eligible for SSI.

The problem then becomes 2). 2) is really difficult to deal with, because it has been my observation that

a) Older workers are much more expensive, whether because they put a greater tax on health care or because they demand higher wages.

b) A lot of workers level off in terms of the growth of their productivity in middle age. Sure they keep getting more experienced, but what does that experience buy the employer? In some cases a lot, in many cases very little.

I'm really at a loss as to how to solve 2). Anyone else have any thoughts?

blake said...

Blue- or white- collar, there's no guarantee that you can work your job into your sixties, though for different reasons.

Some blue collar workers seem to hold up better than anyone, having struck that perfect balance between physical exertion and physical exhaustion.

Contrariwise, I've got this treadmill hooked up to keep me from becoming disabled long before my 60s.

I'm in tech. Even if I can keep up the volumes of learning I must do to say employed and relevant, there's the question of whether anyone will believe I can. It seems my whole life has been confronting with people's notions about age (whether too young or too old, which judgments have actually overlapped at times).

blake said...

Raise age requirements
Apply means testing
Raise SS tax
Cut benefits
Let SS go bust


Import a LOT of immigrants to shore up the system.

That does seem to be the plan, doesn't it? We only exist to shore up the tax base, you know.

blake said...

Not only have I been robbed for years by the government, now you want me to be happy that I've been robbed and willing to never get any of my money back.

Screw that!!


It should seem obvious that the solution to this issue is not going to be fair.

But what you're asking the younger generation to do is to pay money for a system they can't possibly benefit from, and that previous generations implemented and repeatedly failed to fix--at a time when they are poorer than the people their meager wealth is being distributed to.

I've been hearing my whole life that SS wasn't going to be around for me. This is not a surprise to anyone. Yet there is no fix.

(I've also been hearing my whole life about how bad the educational system is.

And how there's a serious drug problem.

And how health care costs are skyrocketing.

And...)

vbspurs said...

Ann, why would he take a stand on this position, if it's well-known that black Americans consider the present retirement age to be very unfair to them?

They have often complained that they die earlier than whites, thus never collect SS to begin with.

Pogo said...

We need to devise (or at least permit) a retirement plan that is in fact grossly unfair.

Although this will be better for all, egalitarians will hate it, because some people will do better than others.

vbspurs said...

Although this will be better for all, egalitarians will hate it, because some people will do better than others.

Pogo, you just defined "Liberal" not egalitarian.

Kirk Parker said...

"Do these people call themselves 'seniors'?"

Ann, I'm 3 years younger than you and nothing annoys me more than getting a come-on from the AARP in my mailbox!

Micha Elyi said...

vbspurs said...
In vbspurs comment at 3:39 PM, the remarks vbspurs made,"...black Americans... have often complained that they die earlier than whites, thus never collect SS to begin with" were only half correct. Black women outlive black men and white men. The worst of the Social Security problem isn't racial, it's womanfirster sexism.

Ann Althouse said...

If getting a lot of exercise is so ruinous to the body, why do all these desk-job people make a point of working out, running and stair-mastering and so on?

Ann Althouse said...

The AARP quit bothering me. I refused to shell out the money.

blake said...

If getting a lot of exercise is so ruinous to the body, why do all these desk-job people make a point of working out, running and stair-mastering and so on?

It's not the exercise, it's the RSI. Blue-collar workers have had it long before white-collar workers thought to give it a TLA.

dick said...

I ould very much fight means testing. I paid into SS from the time I was 18 and it was the max each year. There was never a year that I didn't pay the max. Now I get a grand total of $1487/month all in. Big drop from 6 figures the last year I worked before retiring.

They are raising the age of retirement. It goes up 6 months every year. I had to wait to 65.5 years to get SS. Now it is about 67 to get SS and next year it will be 67.5.

Granted I realize if I could have invested all that money intead of paying SS I would have been sitting very pretty now but there was no option to do that.

I think I am damned well entitled to that at this time of my life.

blake said...

I think I am damned well entitled to that at this time of my life.

I've seen a lot of that in this thread. What I don't see is how this ends any way but the country going out of business.

Didn't the many opportunities that you had to fix the situation diminish that entitlement?

quadrupole said...

Many of the comments in this thread remind me of my least favorite justification for all the welfare for senior citizens:

"We built this country, you owe us!"

to which I always respond:

"Yes, and you were paid for services at the time you rendered them."

AJ Lynch said...

Blake:

That would be kinda funny.

"America..Out of Business". Heh.

AJ Lynch said...

There is only one answer. We need a dedicated tax to fix the social security deficit.

If it takes a payroll tax for the next 20-30 years, then figure it out and we should start paying it. Folks over 45 should pay 2/3 of the tax and those under 45 pay 1/3.

And those under 45 can now opt out of social security and keep their money.

Got it.
1-Levy a new tax now to pay the shortfall.
2-Folks under 45 get out of social security if they want.
3- How many would stay in? 10% maybe.

former law student said...

Personally, I'd be more willing to accept a maximum age limitation than a further increase in the minimum age. Unlike McCain, I've already outlived both my parents. I'd like to collect a couple of checks before I shuffle off.

LargeBill said...

We may not like it, but the BS fix I see coming will be means testing. Basically, if you've been responsible and saved for your retirement they will say screw you. Conversely, if you've been irresponsible and spent every cent as fast as it came in then we'll give you more each month.

Michael_H said...

Look at the people out there who are 68! Do they look like they need to stop working and be supported by all the young people who are trying to get established, trying to raise children or the middle-aged people who have kids to put through college?

Which people are you looking at? In my part of the world, I see a lot of 60 year olds who were masons, carpenters, plumbers, roofers, lathe operators, heat treaters, waitresses, etc., who are spent. Telling them that the retirement age is going to be raised is inhumane.

Odd, isn't it, that on one hand we're being told that 65 year olds are vigorous and too young to retire, while on the other hand a 72 year old is too old to run for the presidency.

By the way, anyone here ever get downsized at 60 and then find a comparable job! That is a very rare thing in a world filled with 40 year old HR Department heads who want to hire 35 year olds so they can "grow with the company".

blake said...

That would be kinda funny.

"America..Out of Business". Heh.


It's not as funny as it sounds. But what a cast!

save_the_rustbelt said...

"I don't see why most nurses and carpenters aren't capable of continuing until they are 68."

Obviously you have never done either. And it is not like going to the gym and doing Pilates - God.

I suggest you spend some time moving and positioning morbidly obese patients, walking 6 - 8 miles a day on hard floors, wrestling dementia patients, etc.

My wife (aka the world's great nurse) had to cut down to part-time by the time she was 45, had carpal tunnel surgery, will need a new knee by the time she is full retired (likely no later than age 58), various back injuries and has paid for her career with arthritis in several joints.

And last week she had to deal with an Alzheimers patient who wanted to stick a fork in her chest.

Just like an office job - hooey.

Need a summer job - try shoveling and finishing concrete!

blake said...

Seriously, though, maybe everyone's starting their own business because you just can't trust those bastards in HR to hire you.

Or those suits to keep you on after 20 years.

Chris Glick said...

I'm not certain, but I believe the Japanese national pension system is that everyone ends up drawing the same monthly check, no matter how much they paid in. You have to work a minimum of 25 years to get the minimum; 40 or more years to get the maximum. Depending on where the check is set, I rather like the system: if you're blue-collar and physically broken, you get something; if you're white-collar you get something too, in addition to whatever else you put aside privately. But Japanese demographics are even worse than in the US. And homes/condos are so small that taking in boarders isn't an option.

Stinger Assassin said...

Social Security's original retirement age of 65 was set in 1935 when life expectancy was 63.

Today, life expectancy is 77 — and, for those who live to 65, life expectancy is 83.

The system used to benefit financially from people who paid Social Security taxes but died before collecting any benefits.

USA Today....

Life expectancy....63...that must have sucked.

dick said...

Name one opportunity. For the first 36 years we had a Dem Congress and Senate and there was no way they would do anything about SS. If you mentioned it they got the vapors. Then for the next 12 years we had the Dems and the RINO's also kicking and screaming if you tried to do anything about SS. Bush tried and made some suggestions but that got nowhere. And now we have the same fools in charge again with no way they will do anything but raise the % for SS and Medicare and raise the age as they are doing now. They are afraid to do anything more because all the older people who vote in huge numbers might vote against them if they did.

In the meantime even though a lot of people my age (68) might be doing all right but still we were promised that if we paid in we would get back.

I think if you are going to change this you are going to have to start with the younger ones and come up with a way they can believe in. We have been told over and over all through our education and while they were taking the bucks from us that we were entitled to a COLA-adjusted return for our paying into this mess even when we knew it was a crock. Problem is once you start paying you have to keep paying and if you are self-employed you have to pay double.

Some Schmuck said...

McCain might have the cojones to try it if he is elected. But I rate his chance of succeeding as very low.

What I see happening is probably the worst choice. The Treasury is going to get out its magic checkbook and create money.

That's going to work for a few years. Hopefully until I'm dead but I'm not counting on it. Then the inflation is going to set in and the worth of the SS payments, as well as the value of everyone's savings is going to go into the toilet.

They we'll be told to be thankful for the great job the jerks in Washington did saving SS.

rhhardin said...

You don't pay double if you're self-employed. The employer takes his share out of your salary too.

He hires according to your cost to him, not your explicit salary.

Making half the self-employed SS tax tax deductible in fact just makes the tax exactly the same for self-employed as for other-employed.

Aside from all that, the FICA tax is just a general revenue tax and always has been and cannot be anything else even if you wanted it to be something else. (The government must instantly return to the economy every dollar taken in, lest the money supply fall; and in fact does so continuously and automatically by buying or selling debt to get the overnight interest rate to match its target each day; which is the significance of the Fed's interest rate target.)

The FICA tax is the best possible one, a flat tax; so it's really better to keep quiet about it lest the Dems tinker with it too.

rhhardin said...

The system used to benefit financially from people who paid Social Security taxes but died before collecting any benefits.

But that's what you want. It's insurance against living too long.

Most people who buy fire insurance never collect. They pay for the people who have fires.

What you wanted in both cases was peace of mind, and got it.

bearbee said...

There is only one answer. We need a dedicated tax to fix the social security deficit.

If it takes a payroll tax for the next 20-30 years, then figure it out and we should start paying it. Folks over 45 should pay 2/3 of the tax and those under 45 pay 1/3.


For starters how about congress doing less earmarking and pork-barreling and putting that money back into the SS fund?

(The government must instantly return to the economy every dollar taken...

Does that mean the gov cannot set aside and build up a dollar reserve in a ss fund?

downtownlad said...

The retirement age is already going up to 67. How high do you want to make it?

McCain is 72, and it's obvious that he should have retired quite a few years ago.

rhhardin said...

`` (The government must instantly return to the economy every dollar taken...''

Does that mean the gov cannot set aside and build up a dollar reserve in a ss fund?


Yes. Any money that the government sits on is simply removed from the money supply.

If the Fed is on the ball, it maintains the money supply that keeps the economy as busy as possible without chasing goods up in price. It will notice that the money supply is a little small (since the government just sat on some SS tax receipts) and buy back government debt with newly printed dollars to increase the money supply again to what it was.

Result: idle dollars in the SS fund replaced by new dollars in the economy, exactly the same as if the government simply took them as general revenue, which is what it does in fact.

Lamont said...

I hereby serve notice:

I have, since 1974, paid into Social Security against my will. When I got my first paycheck I was appalled. "Who is this FICA bastard, and who said he could take my money?"

The deal was, when I turned sixty five, I would start getting paid back.

Any politician that MENTIONS cutting my benefits or rolling the retirement age forward will get $)@#*(&-ing FIRED.

It's MY goddam money and I'll vote against any politician who MENTIONS taking it from me.

Lamont

blake said...

Lamont,

I have, since 1974, paid into Social Security against my will. When I got my first paycheck I was appalled. "Who is this FICA bastard, and who said he could take my money?"

Hahahahaa! I had that exact same experience.

But you know what? Our money is gone. Long gone. It's now primarily a matter of "Are we going to inflict this on the younger generations?"