Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Morning Read

Good morning from Chicago. Was up at 5 to hit the gym, process mail, and draft a memo to a client prior to my 7:45 am breakfast meeting. While streaming Radio Paradise and scanning the blogs and news (not listening to Radio Paradise yet? I'm shocked. SHOCKED.) this morning, a couple of things caught my eye:
  • Eli's coming. If you remember the spectacular but short-lived Sports Night, there was an episode where one character forecasted coming tribulations by saying "Eli's coming," a reference to the Three Dog Night song. Ever since then, wifey and I use "Eli's coming" whenever there's trouble on the horizon (like a big storm, for example, or, perhaps, another two years with Don Rumsfeld as SecDef). Well, I've got news for you: Eli's coming, and Eli is the 76 million baby boomers that are going to hit the Social Security rolls starting in 2008.

    This is the one issue with the capability to truly knock America from her position of power in the world. Left unchecked, the social services the boomers will require will Bankrupt. Our. Country. Better start getting smart. Here's a Google search on "social security reform" ... pick any link and start reading. (I know: not much of an editorial job by me, but I'm pressed for time here.)

  • Have fun. Stay sane. New research today bolstering assertions that staying mentally and physically active, and to a certain extent, having fun, dramatically decreases your likelihood of getting alzheimer's. Dementia is rare ... hell, nearly non-existent ... among my immediate progenitors. Now I know why: we don't go crazy, because we already are crazy. Crazy like a fox. Crazy for a good time. And, it appears, that helps keep the demons at bay.

    So, in the interest of your sanity, go do something, will ya? Start a blog. Restore a classic car. Get so good at crosswords you can do the Times in ink. Chase that single bitty from across the hall around the old folk's home nekked. It's good for you, I promise.

  • Random Wikipedia Entry of the Day: Sandman: The Dream Hunters.

  • The Next Blog: Florida Politics.
Have a great day, y'all.


At 7:20 PM, Blogger Gene Corrigan said...

While it is true that the 76 million baby-boomers will start hitting the Social Security rolls in 2008, the number receiving benefits in 2008 will be just those born in 1946 who retire at the reduced-benefit age of 62. The last of the baby-boomers who reach their full retirement age won't begin receiving benefits until 2031. Social Security certainly needs to be looked at, but depending on who is opining, Eli is either already here, he is visible down the road, or he has not even appeared over the horizon, and with all the variables involved in calculating where Eli is, nobody can know absolutely. What is certain is that Eli is not standing our proverbial doorstep -- the 1.5 trillion dollar social security trust fund surplus assures that. But what is also certain is that with Americans retiring earlier, new retirees outnumbering new workers, and birth rates dropping each year, the seemingly large surplus will not last forever. Steps do need to be taken. Payroll tax increases...reduced benefits...higher contribution limits...diversified investment options...greater incentives to work longer...allow more immigrants in...or Logan's Run.

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was glad to see the comments by Ooser Nahmay. I am a recipient of Social Security. I understand that my standing would not be affected. However, that does little to ease the concerns I have for my children and grandchildren. The most prominent fear I have at present is that Congress will be rushed or bulldosed into a decision. ( I do not mean to be mean, but This is the government that brought us to where we are today in Iraq, they had information but I do not feel the time was taken to really validate it). That said, I have a proposition that I have not heard publically discussed. Instead of raising the percentage of taxable income, why not raise the level of income taxed?
At present it is under $100,000. Why not tax all earned income and reduce the 12.5% to 1 or 2%? This would provide additional dollars and also leave more in the pockets of the lower income earners who most likely could use it to provide for families and individual needs of the present. At the lower tax rate those with higher incomes while paying more in would still recieve more at the other end. Perhaps this ( taxing all income) might be a first step towards the more "compassionate society" President Bush would like to see. My husband and I continue to pay social security on our income. We don't resent it.
It's a privilege to live in this country and citizens have responsibilites toward the country.
Another thought that keeps rolling around in my mind speaks to individuals investing part of their income to supplement social security. When we started investing, the first rule we learned was that only monies one could afford to lose should be considered for the market. I am not certain yet how the investing part of the President's program will work. Will each person choose their own broker? Will a government group handle the investments?

I also think the rolls of those who pay the tax should be looked at. I know there are exemptions. Members of Congress do mot pay the tax. They also have a generous pension plan. Maybe we should all have to pay it.

There are still too many unknowns and I don't want to see our country react as Chicken Little. g

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Michele said...

What's with all the colors? You're like a kid with a new box of crayons.

When I was young (centuries ago), there was a linen salesman who used to come to our house every Saturday. He had one wooden leg and a glass eye, and his name was Eli. And every week when we saw Eli hobbling up the walk, we would all invariably start singing Eli's Coming.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger Gene Corrigan said...


The income limit that is subject to the Social Security is adjusted annually, but the tax percentage does not change. It is, and has been since the early 1980's, 6.2% of an employee's pay, with the employer's contribution being an identical dollar-for-dollar match, resulting in a total tax of 12.4% for every dollar of earned income, up to the limit. In 2004, the income limit was $87,900 and for 2005 it is $90,000.

The unknowns that you mentioned, as they relate to Social Security, are just that; unknown. They are statistical guesses, which obviously, cannot not be relied upon. By law, the Social Security Administration has do provide a 75-year projection of its financial condition, and in doing so, must make estimates of such things as birth rates, life expectancies, immigration levels, inflation, and disability percentages, as well as average incomes and retirement ages. In this his day and age, when lawmakers cannot even define what a "family" is, how can they possibly know what the average life expectancy in 2080 is going to be.

As for allowing private investment of Social Security dollars -- well, my fear is twofold. First, what happens to those individuals who make poor investment choices with their tax dollars? Is the government going to sit idly by and watch them retire in poverty? Secondly, could you imagine the fees the investment firms would earn if, suddenly, 150 million individual investment accounts were put in their hands? Alternatively, individuals would have to invest through a government-controlled source, i.e. a new federal agency. Another layer of government controlling individual's investments does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying the issue of the percent taken out. My biggest fear is the matter of investing. As I said before, I was taught to invest those dollars that one can afford to lose. I have not heard any discussion of this from the administration. What if funds invested to supplement social security were had no fees attached to them by law?


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