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We Need A Mass Movement to Save And Expand Social Security And Medicare


#1

We Need A Mass Movement to Save And Expand Social Security And Medicare

Dave Lindorff

The latest report of the Social Security Administration trustees is out, and as usual they are issuing dire warnings that the Social Security system is heading for the rocks. The Trust Fund — extra money deliberately collected from workers and employers since 1983 to build up a surplus so as to fund the cost of benefit checks to the wave of Baby Boomers who began retiring in 2011 — will “run out” in 2034, they warn, explaining that unless something is done before then by Congress to bolster the program’s funding, everyone for years would have to take a 21% cut in benefits.


#2

Rules for Retirement Plans

  1. Any changes not initiated by the workers screw the workers.

  2. See number 1.


#3

As an underpaid Social Security recipient who is forced to continue to work at the age of 67 after more than a half-century of hard work, I certainly don’t disagree. But I also recognize the need for mass movements applies to every facet of human life if we are to survive as a species in this biosphere.


#4

Yes, and not just here in the belly of the capitalist beast. I was encouraged by the recent Italian referendum which smacked Berlusconi down good and proper, especially in establishing that water was not to be privatized, but was instead a part of “the commons.”

Now there’s a notion that needs and deserves all our support.


#5

The Italians have long had a faction supporting Burlusconi not unlike the US faction supporting Trump. Hopefully the change of heart in Italy expands and leaps the Atlantic.

Although the 99% have a mass movement to expand earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare, the 1%'s mass movement has a bottomless budget and well oiled propaganda machine to counter that effort.


#6

The 5 trillion dollars that have been spent on the endless wars might fund social security and medicare for quite some time, but we must bring happiness and democracy to the . . .

One is not even allowed to bring this up.

(I should have said, “might have funded.”) Sorry.


#7

Thanx, Dave for a fine essay! I’ll touch on one item and that’s Medicare. In just a few short years my Medicare benefits have be swallowed up by rising co-pays. My meds have increased about 200%, my inhalers-which are vital for my disabled lungs-have gone from $5.00 for two-one was no charge-to $30.00 each and now I need 3 during severe pollen seasons; which are far more frequent due to global warming. That’s 600-800%! That’s 2-3 books with some left over for a pizza a month I now have to do without for severe months, usually April, May, August, September; sometimes even more. That touches on global warming with the ostriches of Congress hiding their heads in the sand. The only things voters are needed for anymore are votes. After the election we get the royal screwing up the wazoo! And I don’t see a way to improve it anymore. I have my 99% sticker taped in my apartment window but it doesn’t help. I wish it would.


#8

Excellent article. Makes sense. Good suggestions.

I am so sick and enraged with the government we have! I write, march, talk, all to no avail! What must all of us do? I want to storm the citadel so to speak…but what would that accomplish? For God’s sake…what must we do!!! We need a total turn over of leadership! We DO NOT need a military coup, but a peoples coup. I see the very slow seepage of progressives being elected into city and state government, but by the time they (and if they) rise up to the top, it will all be over! Many (like Dave Lindorff) can envision the answers…implementing them is the crisis we face.


#9

Tax all income and eliminate the cap. It’s as simple as that. I think it’s important to state solutions simply so the public can grasp the ideas better. Talking about fees for short term stock transactions and the complicated logistics that go with that is a political mistake.


#10

I would argue that unearned income should be taxed, as should property, but that wage income should not.


#11

Sure - you could argue for a completely different funding mechanism if we were building the Social Security System from scratch and had a groundswell of support to do so. Alas, that is not at all the case.

Tax all income and eliminate the cap. It’s as simple as that.


#12

Yeah, what happened to keep it simple.

BTW as per another post on SS my comment that it was a PS was sort of a back handed joke to see what kind of response it would attract !

This article is one of the best on SS that I have seen here.


#13

Yes - I realized you didn’t believe it was a Ponzi Scheme. I just thought I’d respond to you in addressing the issue rather than getting into an even more extended debate with our resident libertarians.


#14

The new Poor People’s Campaign is precisely the movement called for in this article. All the issues mentioner here are included PPC list of demands. If you’re truly concerned, there’s no good reason not to join.


#15

You’re right. The Poor People’s Campaign is a good start. But the key to this happening is to build a massive campaign, keeping it fully separated from any association with the Democratic Party, which has demonstrably become the place progressive ideas and movements go to die (or be killed off). And this is not just an issue for poor people. Social Security is the underpinning for middle class retirement too. In my own situation, my wife and I have no pension, and just a modest 401(k) that would not guarantee income into our 80s. But we’ve held off on filing for retirement and are now a year away from hitting 70, when together we can expect to receive about $55,000 a year from the program, or half that if one of us dies. That is a huge amount of money, and enough to live on, but it’s threatened. Worse yet, people who only earned a minimum wage or a little more in the same situation could only expect to get perhaps $30,000 as a couple or $15,000 as a widow, and that’s only if they managed to keep working to 70. If, as half of working people do out of need, they took their benefits at 62, they’d only get $18000 as a couple and $9000 as an individual. That’s starvation wages.

And as a commenter above notes, the government takes a big hunk o that money to pay for Medicare Part B (doctors) and D (drugs).

It’s crazy. The rest of the world has free health care paid for by the general tax base. I just experienced that care in the UK last year when I spent five days in an NHS hospital being tested for suspected congestive heart failure (turned out it was a treatable lung problem, not a heart problem, fortunately!) If I’d been a Brit, my cost of care for those five days, which included a CT-Scan, Echocardiogram, Xrays, IV-drips of diuretics, and daily visits by a cardio and pulmonary specialist, would have been zip. Instead, as a visitor, my bill was $990.00 (which it took me almost a year to get my Blue Cross plan to reimburse me for.

That’s why dispite years of Thatcherite, Majorite, Blairite and Cameronite cuts in budgets, the UK National Health System produces better results in terms of longevity and infant mortality than the US, at less than half the cost per person. The US should have that or a Canadian-style Medicare for All system, not the jerry-rigged ACA system Obama handed us that was designed to enrich the insurance and drug industries.

I’m calling for a mass movement of all classes (except of course the rich who need to dragooned into financing it. And that movement needs, like Martin Luther King realized in 1968, to tackle US militarism and Empire head on to get where we need to go. It’s all part of the same struggle. Let’s get it on.

I’m all in.

Dave Lindorff
fonding editor of ThisCantBeHappening!


#16

Thank you!