Back several years ago, we attended one of those “invest for your future” solicitations which gave us a free dinner at a very pricey local Newport Beach Restaurant at Fashion Island. “They” were targeting early retirement folks with sizable cash to invest in a bi-lateral investment program which limited risk and offered a moderate 4% to 8% return. This was all well before the crash of 2008 to be clear, you understand. The mix of investment vehicles included some Hi-Cap stocks, some no-tax Bonds for security. It wasn’t a bad program but you needed about $50,000 grand to make any money at it. For those of us approaching Retirement Age, it was decision time. Take the small money at 62 or wait until 66 years and 7 months to get another 30%.
After the dinner, there was a question and answer period. What came out of that was that taking the little money at 62 would actually be beneficial and require that it might take up to 15 years to make up by waiting till 66 years and 7 months. The Investment Group said: “If it makes sense..take that early money from Social Security and invest it in our Bi-Lateral Program!” We won’t go into the various tax ramifications that may cause……all we knew was – we needed that nearly $1000 dollars a month….just to make rent. Our rent in those days was close to $1600 a month. In 2007 dollars, that was still a bunch. However, the program might have been a pretty good option for those with incoming Pension money to add to the mix. We didn’t take advantage of the investment program, however.
The law of diminishing returns soon took hold 10 years later: as the price of food skyrocketed, as the price of housing jumped up considerably, as the price of energy, transportation and healthcare jumped in leaps and bounds….that $1000 dollars kept getting smaller and smaller for us to keep up with things ,without going into further deficit spending. One year was a Godsend, as then President Bush sent us a check for $600 one year. The writing was soon on the wall however, as the Cost of Living pay raises for Social Security and for the Military soon slowed to a dribble. During the last three years for example, we got a measly $8 a month raise. Anyone, that goes to Whole Foods will tell you – that doesn’t help much! The cost of our Healthcare has risen about 30% and the cost of Prescription drugs never seems to ever go down….only up!
So, we ask: “Anyone in Congress going to fix this?” “Are we going to privatize and outsource Social Security, our Military Veterans and Healthcare System to China too?” The Congress says: “We can’t give Social Security folks a raise; we only have enough money in the system for another 25 years!” Really? Well then, just give us a Trillion Dollars, and let us put it into a bank in Srilanka and draw compound interest for 25 years at 22% a year and tell us again…..that you can’t afford to give Social Security folks a decent Cost of Living Adjustment. What ever happened to the Al Gore “Social Security Lock Box”? We guess that soon went away right after the 2000 election …eh? Congress has been robbing the Social Security account for years and then complaining bitterly that they need to replace it with a diminishing,…. aging “baby boomer spike”…workforce.
There is “talk” and…lots of talk that is: To raise the age that people can collect Social Security. Leave the spouse and children off the roles entirely, even when the Social Security recipient dies early, deny Disability Payments out of Social Security, Privatize the system and put “only part” (the part the Congress does not steal every year!) into the stock market. Great when it goes up…..not so good when it goes down! Since we live in a Global Banking World….that last thought is not so reassuring. How about raising the Limit on how much someone can make – to not take out more SSI? Right now the maximum amount that can be taken out for Social Security is pay up to $118,500 – OF TAXABLE INCOME! What does that mean? If you work for any company, they never do your taxes…..they just keep taking what you get up to $118,500 in your paycheck or 1099. What happens if you say end up with NO TAX, like Donald Trump? Does he get all his Social Security payments returned to him? We don’t know and we doubt whether your Congressperson can answer that either.
As a Social System Net which is designed to supplant Old Age Benefits which kept old folks from eating too much cat food in the old days and today may be the only benefits that many Homeless folks get….it is probably in the best interest of our Legislators to “secure the homeland and public safety”. It is probably best to make sure people are able to get food and find a roof over their heads in “The Greatest Country in the World” – if you can believe that; while watching the endless stream of Homelessness in our country.
The truth is that there should be NO Upper Limits on Social Security or Medicare. 7.65% of every paycheck is presently being taken out when you work for a company, the government or For or Non-Profit Organizations. 6.20% of your pay goes into Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare. Fix it Congress; if you need more to raise Social Security to double…..go for it: take 12.40% and raise the rate all the way up the to an upper tier of $1,000,000 dollars. Want to raise the age of retirement? Go for it – Raise the retirement age to 75! Take a look in the morning papers and see how long folks are living today: 86, 93 and older are typical. Call your local Insurance Actuarial Support Group and ask them how long people are living. Social Security is getting a little grey thinning hair, maturing and growing older. The time has come to get a grip and deal with our aging populations and fix what is broken, not in 25 years….but right now.
Slaving for a New Mature Social Security? Any Congressperson not supporting a serious rise in Social Security payments for retirees…..needs to go!