Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Crazy Idea: Social Security and Medicare Are Good for Young People!

The elderly: selfish bastards!

Those who claim that Social Security and Medicare are programs that "steal from our grandchildren" don't know what they're talking about. Sure, Social Security is a bit like a Ponzi scheme in that it relies on contributions from today's more youthful workers for the benefits currently being paid to retirees, and, yeah, Medicare pays out more than what retirees paid in during their lifetimes, but that's okay in my book.

And this is not just self-interest, even though I'll turn sixty-five later this year and will qualify for Medicare. As for Social Security, because I worked for some years later in life as a teacher and receive a small pension, most of my Social Security has been wiped out by the windfall penalty for having a private pension. So I get a paltry $140 a month. Oh well.

No, my notion is based on a simple idea: If the elderly were reduced to poverty -- as many surely were during the Great Depression when Social Security was dreamed up -- then who would take care of them? Why their children or grandchildren would.

The more secure, stable, and independent our senior citizens can be, the more independent and unburdened their off-spring can be in their peak earning years, when they need to be concentrating on themselves and their own families.

What do these people expect, a mansion, for chrissake?

If Grandma and Grandpa are indigent and need to be taken in or have their retirement homes paid for, what do Mom and Dad do? For starters, they just might tell their kids to make do with a lesser university, settle for junior college for two years and then go to the local state college, or just beat it at eighteen and get a job. Yer on yer own, kiddo.

And heaven forbid one or both of the grandparents have life-threatening illnesses or ongoing conditions that require regular care. With weakened Medicare, who's going to pay for it? Yep, the kids, right when they're in the prime of their lives. Dad is sick, so let's sell the house or take out a second, and so on, in many cases right into bankruptcy. (Medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country as it is.)

Children who don't want to take care of their parents for whatever reason -- family feuds come to mind -- will leave their elderly parents indigent and at the mercy of the state for housing and medical care. Who pays? Taxpayers, all of us. Medicaid or welfare can't solve it as these programs aren't designed to fill in gaps. People will fall through the cracks.

With many getting by on substandard care, Grandma and Grandpa die earlier and have no Golden Years, and the taxpayers still end up on the short end of the stick.

What's better? Have a robust Social Security and Medicare program and pay for it, whatever it takes. I could be snarky and say oh, that's what we've got already -- and that's generally true about Medicare -- but our Social Security leaves a bit to be desired.

So let's hope we raise contributions and raise benefits. Our society -- especially, yes, our children and grandchildren -- will be the better for it.

Old and broke is for the birds. We can do better.

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