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March 29, 2013


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The austerians in both parties are really pushing generational warfare. The latest talking point of the "Fix the Debt" crowd is how the federal government spends 7 times as much on seniors as it does on the elderly. OMG a 7:1 ratio! The way they arrive at that figure is by taking all outlays to retirees, including Social Security and Medicare funding specifically collected and allocated for those programs, and comparing to direct federal spending on programs for children.

The 7:1 ratio ignores state and local spending on children. When that is considered, the ratio is more like 2.5 to 1. Of course that doesn't take into consideration how Grandma is usually supporting herself mostly or entirely from her SS check and has to use it to pay for her food, housing, utilities, medication, property taxes, etc. These are not expenses that children generally have. But that 7 to 1 spending figure is meant to make young parents resent old people. Hopefully they're smart enough to see through it because I guarantee that cuts to Social Security and Medicare will not be passed on to children.

I meant to say "the federal government spends 7 times as much on seniors as it does on the children"

You're right, the inconsistency is absurd. Nobody complains that the Defense Department doesn't pay for itself, yet in 2011 more was spent on National Defense than on all non-defense discretionary spending together; hundreds of billions more was spent on defense than on all means-tested entitlements together; far more than was spent on Medicare or Medicaid; and roughly the same as was spent on Social Security.

(out of online time)

I suppose it's merely semantical, but when did "entitlement" become a bad word? I suppose the common usage "he feels entitled" (when an individual isn't entitled) then morphed into condemning entitlement entirely. But isn't from within the realm of capitalist, property-owning philosophy that the idea of being "entitled" (i.e., to a parcel of land) derives?

So, while I suppose that the greedheads can credibly lambast welfare recipients for allegedly "feeling" entitled to assistance, but I'll be damned if Social Security & Medicare aren't indeed entitlements that were paid into and legitimately due.

So, yea - I feel "entitled."

Funny, how a person with a broad based education and who continues to educate his/her self all through life, reading, research, discussion, is one who will not be swayed by slogans or extreme rhetoric.

Our country is populated by a majority of citizens who don't fit the description stated above.

Obama's chained CPI adjustment offer to Republicans appears to be a modest reduction in social security annual cost of living increases to retirees.

An application, however, of the chained CPI retroactively to wage bases for middle aged workers will reduce their expected payment by 10 to 20 percent when they begin to receive retirement benefits at age 66 or 67.

It will be especially bad for the many people who had their highest inflation adjusted wages during the 1990's and have now been downsized out to $10 retail jobs or other lower paying jobs which won't allow them to add to the wage base to compute their initial benefit amount.

Younger workers complain about the lack of opportunities for job advancement and good paying jobs. It is unfortunate that Washington's solution to budgetary imbalances is to weaken the public's confidence in the survival of Social Security and Medicare.

Older workers would be far more likely to retire and open up more jobs for younger workers knowing that Social Security and Medicare can be counted on throughout their retirement years.

Class warfare by age, perpetuated primarily by the Republican Party, is certainly a divide and conquer strategy. It is the party of surplus labor, low wages, and government for the large corporation by the large corporation.

Since the Roman Empire and now how has the economic philosophy changed in this planet of have and have nots?


Both numbers have increased?

While reading this, I'm thinking that our veterans are entitled to the kind of care that supersedes our "need" to support our defense dept's current love affair with a new plane that will likely hit the runway at a cost of ONE BILLION each! The Military-Industrial Complex does not lack for lobbyists and financial lubrication, does it?

Forcing well educated and still healthy and vital seniors to work into their retirement years also tightens the job market for younger people.

I worried as I turned 65 that employers in labor intensive industries would shy away from hiring the 'old guy'. To my surprise, I found that we were valued for our knowledge and work ethic -- any perceived 'slowness' overcome by the fact that we arrived on time, knew what we were doing, and stayed 'til the job was done.

We can also work for less, since we have Medicare and a little retirement money from SS.

The Boomers have always traveled through the American intestinal tract like a big blockage that has caused discomfort and pain all along the way.

I'm afraid it's going to take the passing of the Boomer tumor out of the large intestine of America before things have a chance of evening out and improving.

We are a sorry lot. We're old now and all we want to do is whine and wish we could go back to the times when we first became malignant.

"Are they the huge subsidies that the fossil fuel industries receive from American taxpayers?"

Is the nuclear industry included in these subsidies?

For a recent example of intergenerational spatting see this (especially the comments section):

All the while the real divisions between the have-secure-futures and have-nots are becoming too apparent. This is an addendum to the "Internet is making us poor" link on the front page:

I don't subscribe to all the boomer bashing but this example, by an old acquaintance, is funny:

In his podcast he described "putting Boomers out to the curb like broken televisions" as a possible retirement scenario.

Side-note: new replies in the What Killed Downtown Phoenix Part III thread:


Great column. As you suggest, it is a major mistake for progressive forces to go on the defensive about terminology. In a case like this, defining the terms of debate is tantamount to winning the argument: if the major participants in a debate allow "entitlement" to be redefined from the original meaning of "something one deserves" (i.e., is entitled to), to mere parasitism, then Democrats might as well quit, because who will support parasitism?

Recipients of major social programs like Social Security and Medicare are well-organized, politically active, and tenaciously defend their benefits.

The most vulnerable are the poor who receive Medicaid (whether adults or the child version, CHIP), food stamps, and other means-tested social benefits. That's why, in the Ryan budget recently rejected in the Senate, Social Security and Medicare spending was nearly identical with the Democrats' budget over the ten year budget window, but programs for the poor accounted for nearly all of the cuts.

Social Security is the best argument ever (and quite definitive) in support of the argument that government spending can reduce poverty.

"Between 1960 and 1995, the official poverty rate of those aged 65 and above fell from 35 percent to 10 percent, and research has documented similarly steep declines dating back to at least 1939. While poverty was once far more prevalent among the elderly than among other age groups, today's elderly have a poverty rate similar to that of working-age adults and much lower than that of children."

The graph showing Social Security spending per capita versus the percentage of seniors below the poverty line tells the story at a glance.

I can't seem to get the link posted. Let's try again:


The VA can't keep up with their present backlog of claims because they lack the budgetary resources, yet there's another groundswell coming our way as the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan continues. Yet I am furious that nobody much talks about our responsibility to the veterans.

morecleanair I agree with you but i have always equated the word veteran with mandatory conscription. Wonder whif we would have let the murderous Bush regime get away with murder under those rules.

Awinter: "'In his podcast he described "putting Boomers out to the curb like broken televisions" as a possible retirement scenario."'

If his generation were not a bunch of lazy, know-nothing jerkoffs, that scenario might have worked

One for the "We're #1 (not)" file - an email from a friend:

I am in China... I took the fast train from Beijing to Shenzhen which is the longest high speed route in the world. We cruised at 310 kph and did 2400 kilometers in 10 hours with several stops...


Incidentally, he also said this, but it just pissed me off:

...I'm sharing an apartment with two sexy Russian girls. They like blues....

(He's a blues guitarist.)

"There never was a land use program.This was a beautiful city once, and it isn't anymore."
Robert Redford in Esquire magazine.

Let's not forget the 1983 Social Security fix. It was supposed to take care of the boomer retirement bulge -- which everyone knew would be coming on day. I'm 55 -- my employers and I have been paying higher SS rates for my entire working life because they told us in 1983 that it would fix SS for the boomer generation. Yet I rarely hear this mentioned in media coverage of SS, even by thoughtful, high-level outlets.

"Earned benefits" is the definition I prefer for ss. Entitlement is a dirty word today because of the white-right.

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