Sunday, November 24, 2013

Janitors can't retire 'cause lawyers live longer?

Paul Krugman, making another excellent case why we should expand Social Security, not cut it (November 21, 2013):

"Let me briefly take on two bad arguments for cutting Social Security. One is that we should raise the retirement age because people are living longer. This sounds plausible until you look at exactly who is living longer. The rise in life expectancy, it turns out, is overwhelmingly a story about affluent, well-educated Americans. Those with lower incomes and less education have, at best, have hardly seen any rise in life expectancy at age 65; in fact, those with less education have seen their life expectancy decline. So this common argument amounts, in effect, to the notion that we can’t let janitors retire because lawyers are living longer. And lower-income Americans, in case you haven’t noticed, are the people who need Social Security most."

Editor's Note: A study by the Congressional Budget Office found that the life expectancy gap between the rich and poor in the United States, as well as the educated and less educated, has been growing since the 1980s. Another study confirms this and has found that wealthy people possess more than just spending power, they also have more time to live than poor people. The super-wealthy don't struggle with life, they embrace it --- and they seek to extend it --- even though the rich already live longer than everybody else. (Now, back to Paul Krugman...)

"The other argument is that seniors are doing just fine, [but] the senior poverty is at 14.8 percent, close to the rate for younger adults. Furthermore, the elderly poverty rate is highly likely to rise sharply in the future, as the failure of America’s private pension system takes its toll."

As I earlier posted, a group of Republican senators has introduced a bill to slash retirement pensions for new federal employees, saying "the current system unfairly compensates public-sector workers as compared to their private-sector counterparts."

But guess what's happening to their private-sector counterparts? Hundreds of thousands of retired union workers are also facing pension cuts that could slash their monthly payments in half , or even more. The proposed cuts are part of a desperate effort to head off insolvency at some of the nation's biggest pension plans.

In their argument for cutting Social Security, the Washington Post had made the wild claim that the poverty rate among the elderly is only 9.1 percent, lower than the national rate of 15 percent — and much lower than the 21.8 percent rate among children. But the Census Bureau's supplemental poverty measure, which is a more comprehensive assessment of poverty, shows a poverty rate for seniors of 14.8 percent compared with a poverty rate of 18.0 percent for children.

Besides raising the retirement age (from 65/67 to 70 years old), the Republicans also want to cut Social Security benefits by using chained-CPI for cost-of-living-adjustments --- all while keeping (and expanding) tax loopholes for the rich and large corporations...

...just so that wealthy CEOs and politicians can live longer, while their old and arthritic janitors have to work until the day they drop dead while sweeping and mopping their damn filthy floors. Which makes the other 99 percent of us wonder --- what makes these rich and powerful people so unethical, were they born that way?

* Here is the proposed bill that Congress should pass to expand (not cut) Social Security: S.567, the Strengthening Social Security Act

** See the Update to this post: The Social Security MINT Debate

My Related Posts:

Pensions vs 401ks - The Decline in Retirement Plans

Your Pensions, Social Security, and the Sequester

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