This plan is based on the latest actuarial calculations that predict survival to the ninth decade for most of today’s middle-aged working folk, meaning they will collect much more in benefits than they contributed over the years, and running the balance sheet into the red zone by mid century.
If I had known that Social Security was only a savings plan, I would have put the money into a bank and gained some interest, but I thought that the security of a life term contract for retirement income was a fair trade. Foolish me! I had no idea that past presidents had raided the fund to cover their overspending, and how the matter has become political poison to reform efforts.
The life expectancy measure fails to take into consideration that life and work are two entirely different things. Life is existence; work is how you pay for it. And some folks pay more then others. Carpenters, carpet kickers, coal miners and common laborers only last for a couple of decades before they are used up in terms of strength and physical ability. By age 40 or so most workers are slowing down and many are suffering congenital injuries associated with their jobs. Clerks and keypad workers get carpel tunnel syndrome, making their hands painful for the rest of their lives. Carpet installers over 40 have no kneecaps left, and framers have deteriorated elbows. Work can kill you and may very well disable you over the years of repetitive abuse.
Perhaps retirement might be determined by estimating the career risk factors, with roofers and long-haul truckers collecting at 50 while white collar paper pushers keep working until their mental faculties begin to fail. Adjusting the number of quarters needed to qualify for benefits might be possible, but only if you can begin collecting as soon as you make the cut of a few years later.Unlikely at best, but no more foolish than assuming that living longer means you’re capable of working longer. Just because it solves the fiscal demands of cash-strapped government doesn’t change the pain and fatigue of the aging work force.
In addition, keeping workers on the job longer means less entry-level opportunity for the graduating young of society. Without jobs to keep them busy, kids will tend toward revolution or crime, depending on their educational achievements, neither of which is desirable for societal stability.
Government should deal with the quality of life for its citizens, not the quantity of work that can be squeezed out of the labor force for the profit of the bosses.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.