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Retirement Shouldn’t Mean Poverty

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/29/retirement-shouldnt-mean-poverty

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According to the Presidential debates, Majors doesn’t even exist. Problem solved.

Politicians and the media tend to always focus on “The Middle Class” and what can be done to protect “The Middle Class” , or describe how “The Middle class struggles and needs to be restored”.

There are few if any that speak to the issues of the poor and those living in poverty. Implicit in the “Let us protect the Middle class” message is “Let us ensure the poor continue to live in poverty” because if there was no people living in poverty , there is no “middle class”.

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True, the best defense against feudalism is the middleclass. True again about the role of politicians once electied set the standard for poverty. (federal and state) Part of the issue here is that the institutions that govern the social contract in various areas including aging don’t consider it poverty. It is happening to the middleclass too. Media in general is not well informed.

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Social Security, Medicare for All, free college and student loan forgiveness plus an UBI would practically eliminate poverty and make America the happiest country. The oligarchy is the only impediment. Pitchforks and guillotines would fix that.

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You are right. Student loan forgiveness, free education, doubling Social Security and creating an Uniform Basic Income would create a dramatic increase in consumer spending that once again capitalism can be saved with a social safety net.

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I and the wife have been retired for the last 6 years with SS, plus additional income from pensions, enough to live without worry since everything is paid up. The one gremlin that could have brought all this crashing down into poverty was a stage 4 cancer diagnosis for me last fall. Though I’m out of the woods and close to a full recovery, if we didn’t have access to affordable health insurance as a union retirement benefit, we would have been facing the same problem as the couple in this story, since medical costs would have been a budget buster.

We are lucky that our employment was accompanied by union contracts. The current push for eliminating union contracts through Right-to-Work legislation is bad news for workers. Changes from defined benefit retirement benefits to 401k and similar self funded plans are going to put more future retirees into the poor house, either because not enough is there at retirement to cover a reasonable budget, or the money will run out long before the end of life. If the retiree needs to tap that fund to cover medical or nursing home costs, the plan will soon be empty.

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I don’t see where a struggling middle class is much better off than the poor.
Both generally have a place they call home.
Both struggle to pay to live and have little or nothing at the end of a pay period.
Neither can afford college for their kids, go out to eat, or to buy consumer goods or healthcare and drugs unless they ardently try to save a meager part of their income over a period of time.
Generally, the poorer you are the more discounts and public assistance you get.
It shouldn’t mean poverty, but it increasingly does.

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We don’t have a strong middleclass, only 23% of average Americans have no debt.

“The average American household carries $137,063 in debt , according to the Federal Reserve’s latest numbers. Yet the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median household income was just $59,039 last year, suggesting that many Americans are living beyond their means.”

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In today’s economy, I can say from experience that $60,000 a year as a single income supporting two adults is no picnic, and makes it a struggle to save anything for retirement. Both having high medication costs doesn’t help.

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I can understand, that is where a lot of people are, with the event of injury or other things it can get pretty tricky. I’m retired and have social security. This is a real adjustment living on a fixed income. I don’t have routine medication costs but a medication was suggested that was $4000 dollars a month. I didn’t even try to work that out. (for more reasons than cost) I would just like to see politicians acknowledge these things. For the woman in the article and many others including myself to have a better security.

One finial thought, is avoid debt. I can’t imagine leaving school with thousands of dollars of debt. It is a real burden

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This is perhaps one of the most salient nuggets to tease apart. Society has been weaponized. Few “middle class” materialists would hesitate to throw their hostage weight behind whoever can appear to guarantee the impossible: NOT being squeezed to secure the buffer against those of us most impoverished by the predation set in place by Reagan and whipped into shape by his successors.

So the challenge is how to shake off the crustiness of the adherence to materialism and reveal the vigor of societal coherence to regenerate the ecological and broad spectrum of balances for the future. So much of the system is denial, delusion and redundant empty promise traps that are manipulated - quite literally for generations - on an industrial scale.
The suppression of science is itself evidence of the extent to which the failed system has become parasitic. The irony being that what we desperately need is for science freed from the ball and chain of commodification and privatization of " innovation" and research for short term gain - in all spheres. Its stunning how insensate capitalism as a system has become - its like a death rattle at times.

Union of Concerned Scientists document a stunning litany - just waiting to be leveraged

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I’m glad you were able to get something from that. After I wrote it I thought, hum I’ve spent to much time watching Muller testify. True, True etc. I agree, reality takes some getting use to once you finally have the truth.

There are still lifeways that exist that don’t have these issues, granted we don’t have much contact with them but as humans we must carry some of that knowledge. I probably should have said, knowledge is the best defense against feudalism, followed by ability to do something about it and you are right, class shouldn’t really have all that much to do with it.

That list creates a lot of contradictions for society and the environment which we all share.

Well said. Thank you.

As a retiree scraping by on $830 a month S.S, I am in the same leaky raft. Hunger and chronic pain become one’s constant companions.Still, I manage to write, publish and give what I can to Bernie Sanders.

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Social Security needs a 10% increase across the board. The meager increases recipients have received have not kept up with living expenses.

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FDR August 1935

We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age

Bernie 2020: Back to the Future

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Problem is that most Republicans (probably some right wing DINO’s too) have a perverse need to see people hurt and hurting. It makes them feel better about themselves. A significant portion of the population are emotionally damaged individuals.

And I like the torches and pitchforks plan. It’s the only thing the rightwing mentality understands. Well, that, racism and bribes

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Totally agree. Call them nazis, fascists, authoritarians, neoliberals, neocons, and so on. They all call themselves “conservatives”.

It also needs to re-instate the 30% reduction that is imposed on people 62 and older.

M4A could help a lot of low income and retirement people survive on Social Security. Low cost and no cost medication. A bit higher tax rate for all buys a lot of security.
Many young folks don’t consider retirement income, just the way they think they are invulnerable to health issues, and don’t need health coverage.

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