Social Security and Entitlement Reform?


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Gramma Minnie Hayes Wilson was our great grandmother.  She was born in 1856 in the Land of Lincoln and died in Venice, California in 1955 at an Elder Care facility at the age of 99.  Minnie received OAB (Old Age Survivor and Disability Benefits) of $24 dollars a month.  Until our Grandmother Gertie put Minnie in “the home” Minnie rented a small Hollywood Garden Apartment in Venice, California for $14 dollars a month.  Minnie wanted to live to be 100 years old with a determination that might be hard to describe with clarity.  Minnie had fought her entire life against Alcohol as one of the founding members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Kansas City, Missouri.  She marched and carried signs for women’s rights and then joined the movement to demand that Congress approve the 19th Amendment and the a Women’s right to vote.  Minnie lived in Illinois when she saw the body of Abraham Lincoln on the black train with her hand in her mother’s.  Minnie, was also on a train with her mom in Missouri, when a distant cousin Jesse Wilson James robbed their train…..but didn’t take anything from her mom….because “they were cousins”.  Minnie also was a 2nd cousin to Rutherford B. Hayes and his family.  Minnie was also related to Woodrow Wilson as a distant cousin.  Minnie spent her entire life engaged in Social change.  She wrote Cowboy Pulp Novels under an assumed name:  Robert H. Wilson; because no publisher would go for “a woman” writing Cowboy and Western Novels in those days.   Minnie passed away in 1955 six weeks from her 100th birthday.  Under the water pitcher next to her bed was written on a paper coaster:  “They kilt me…….”  Referencing the fact that “the home facility” wouldn’t turn over the 72 pound body of Minnie Hayes Wilson daily she died of bed sores!  Her only son Robert S. Wilson…….was a die hard alcoholic Carpenter from Stockton, California…..and as she was being buried he danced on her grave and screamed:  “Thank God the Bitch is Dead!”  In spite of Uncle Bob’s urging – we all cried and I held my mother’s hand.

Old Age Benefits was the name for the FDR American Social Security program designed in 1935.  The Great Depression had created a society with over 50% of the senior population in poverty.  The bread and soup lines stretched endlessly, people took to riding the rails as hobo’s and other transient farm workers chased after less and less jobs.  Children that were not put into orphanages were prisoners of rode.  On August 14th, 1935 Congress paid the Old Age Survivor Act – Social Security……to make sure that people 65 and older who were still alive….could at least be able to afford a cup of soup and an occasional roof over their heads….. The Tin Can Homeless (named for those making homes with Tin and Cardboard) existed all the way through World War II and in the 1950’s  Tin Can Beach in Huntington Beach, California existed and was finally torn down in the 1970’s.  Tin Can Beach ran from the Santa Ana River Jetty almost to the Huntington Beach Pier.

The first Old Age Survivor and Disability payments went out in 1940, but were adjusted upward a little in 1942.  You had to be 65 and had to have worked 10 years in a documented job.  The actuarial tables said:  If you were 65 in 1940 there was every good chance you might live another 12.7 years to almost 78 years of age (this was built into the actuarial process and the system).  You could make up to $14.99 a month without having your benefits reduced.  There was a very modest death benefit if your spouse died……today it is $250 dollars….for example.  The system became unsustainable back in 1970’s, but the benefits were so meager that the Congress had to do something, so they adopted the COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) which was supposed to reflect the inflationary dollar adjustment necessary to make the payments somewhat viable.  Whatever happened to the Al Gore:  Social Security Lock Box?  The Congress figured the the system was broken, so why not borrow whatever was in there to buy other stuff?  Congress has been playing the game with Social Security – ever since the 1970’s thereafter.

Since this article is designed to fix the system, we need to fast forward a bit.  Originally, everyone got the same monthly payments.  It was not a so-called progressive system.  If you were a millionaire or pauper you got the $29.40 per month.  Then somewhere along the way, things changed.  Yep, Acts of Congress…..meddlers and aspiring politicians with big ideas.  A Global Economy.  Inflation.  The FED cranking up the Currency Printing Presses.  The Greedy, The Needy, The Infirmed,  Immigrants and the very criminal Elected’s and Politicians trying to mess up the works.  Designed as a Safety Net by FDR for the Aged and Disabled, the Social Security program has evolved over the years into a system which most benefits the rich……not the poor.  A typical example is a 70 year old business owner that retires with a benefit of over $3000 dollars a month.  Someone without a job at 62,  has to take the early money just to exist and winds up with a little over $1000 dollars a month.  The Age Creep has made the official benefit retirement age move up to 68.4 years.  If we apply the 1940 Actuarial additional length of life as 12.7 years……we are talking about 81 years of age.  People in fact are living longer and those that do take care of themselves seem to make it up to 84….on a regular basis.  But that “old folks are living longer” argument is as full of holes as Swiss Cheese!

So, do we “Means Test” everyone – Making sure they actually need the cash?  Do we extend the Retirement Age to 71?  Do we limit the Retirement Rewards?  Do we Double the current Social Security Retirement Rewards?  What about Disability?  Do we wrap a Healthcare Insurance Program into the allowed Disability Payments?  Do we do away with Disability Payments?  Do we limit all Social Security payments to those 71 years of age or older?  Do we untap the upper wage limit of required Social Security wage deposits?

The questions are a little more complex because of a diminishing required work force.  Jobs that have decent wages are going or soon gone to Artificial Intelligence and Robotic.  Less and less folks will make those big pay checks to qualify for the top of the Social Security Payment Schedule.  There is little doubt, that the Republicans are going to try and force through Social Security reductions (Reforms)….not increases.  There is little doubt that they will pay the price in November and hopefully all be put out on the street.  Taxes and Social Security and Healthcare are all issues which require Bi-Partisan Blame.  One party doing any of these by themselves creates more problems that they solve. One thing is very sure:  Prescription Drug Costs are a central theme to all of these issues.  Taxes, Social Security and Healthcare.  The outrageous temerity of the Drug Companies to raise Drug prices by 30% in the last year is totally unacceptable.  Our solution:  A Congressional Law, that makes the Drug Companies Rebate all Consumers for all their drug purchases in 2017 – at 100%.  Think that might get their attention?  If not, then Doubling the Social Security Payments will certainly help pay for a lot of consumer and healthcare necessities.

Whatever happens in 2018…..events have people talking for many years to come!  Since this is the year of the Earth Dog in Chinese culture,  perhaps we can get Fido to sit up, roll over and shake hands.  Maybe we can get Fido to stop crapping on the carpet or raising his leg on our favorite potted plant and have him bring in newspaper instead.  Perhaps we can find someone that knows how many Social Security recipients we will have in 10 years.  Perhaps some volunteer Actuary is out there willing to put themselves on the line…

Social Security and Entitlement Reform?


About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk show...is the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.