Work Longer, Die Sooner! America’s Dire Need to Expand Social Security and Medicare

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Yves here. Lynn Parramore at INET presents threats to cut Social Security and Medicare and Medicare threaten the health and well-being of retirees. That’s a feature, not a bug. Parramore’s post echoes Lambert’s 2014 classic Neo-liberalism Expressed as Simple Rules. From that piece:

In this brief post, I hope to clear the ground by proposing two simple rules  to which neo-liberalism can be reduced. They are:

Rule #1: Because markets.

Rule #2: Go die!

Of course, these rules can’t be applied, willy-nilly, inartfully, in just any context; Rule #1 — and here we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the work of Outis Philalithopoulos on academic choice theory — doesn’t apply to in (let’s label it) Invariant #1: The world of the neo-liberal practitioners themselves; the academic guilds, media outlets[1], and think tanks to which they adhere, Flexian style, are distinctly not market-driven; just look at Thomas Friedman. It follows that Rule #2 does not apply to neo-liberal practitioners either, because of their social position just described in Invariant #1: “wingnut welfare” and its equivalent in the “progressive” nomenklatura; they will have — to strike a blow at random — corporate health insurance. In addition, we have Invariant #2: The world of the 0.01%, to whom no rules apply by definition. Summarizing, the rules do not apply in the following two contexts:

Invariant #1: The rules of neoliberalism do not apply to those who write the rules.

Invariant #2: The rules of neoliberalism do not apply in the world of the 0.01%.

The Parramore article revealing has to explain at some length a point that private equity barons, judges, pundits, and others with status and considerable control over their work content and pace pretend not to understand: for most people, working after 65 is taxing physically and often not a plus intellectually or emotionally.

A small point missed in the Parramore post is that a lot of jobs that might have suited elderly people (as in low stress, offering social contact, and being amenable to part-time scheduling) like being receptionists have been eliminated by technology. For instance, my grandmother, who sadly died at age 71, worked a bit after retirement age in her then-current job, at a VA hospital in the store for the vets and visitors. She particularly liked talking to the vets and their families when they were up for a chat. Those kind of low level jobs, even when they still exist, are too often subject to demeaning supervision and performance requirements.

Having said all that, Parramore acts as if policymakers are too insulated and pampered to understand the generally poor and often life-shortening work conditions most older Americans face. As a rhetorical posture, she no doubt needs to treat them as acting in good faith. But it isn’t hard to believe that many are fully aware of the effects of having citizens of retirement age continue to labor in taxing capacities, and don’t care about the impact.

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Shameful fact: the plight of U.S. retirees is a global exception. In their pursuit of lower taxes, America’s wealthiest individuals support policies that make it extremely difficult for seniors to manage the increasing costs of healthcare, housing, and basic necessities. Not so in other rich countries like Germany, France, and Canada, where robust public pensions and healthcare systems offer retirees stability and dignity. After a lifetime of hard work, older citizens in the U.S. find their reward is merely scraping by, as savings diminish under the weight of soaring medical costs in the most expensive healthcare system in the developed world.

The solution from America’s elites? Suck it up and work longer.

An example of this mindset appeared in a New York Times op-ed by C. Eugene Steuerle of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and Glenn Kramon, a Stanford Business School lecturer. The two accused older folks of robbing economic resources from the young through Social Security and Medicare—never mind that workers fund these programs with their own lifelong payroll contributions. They paint a picture of 65-year-old Americans jauntily playing “pickleball daily” and jet-setting “far and wide,” proposing to increase the age to collect Social Security and Medicare benefits, essentially forcing future retirees to work longer. (Curiously, they overlook how this move robs young people—too young to vote—of future retirement years. This echoes 1983, when the Reagan administration and Congress pushed the Social Security age from 65 to 67, impacting Gen X before they could even vote on it).

Steuerle and Kramon prop up their plan with studies that extol the health and wellbeing perks of working into old age, adding that “each generation lives longer” and therefore, it’s a patriotic duty for the elderly to stay on the job.

Are we all really living longer? Let’s first point out that Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, noted for their research in health and economics, recently showed that many Americans are not, in fact, enjoying extended lives. As they stated in their own New York Times op-ed, those without college degrees are “scarred by death and a staggeringly shorter life span.” According to their investigation, the expected lifespan for this group has been falling since 2010. By 2021, people without college degrees were expected to live to about 75, nearly 8.5 years shorter than their college-educated counterparts.

Overall life expectancy in America dropped in 2020 and 2021, with increases in mortality across the leading causes of death and among all ages, not just due to COVID-19. In August 2022, data confirmed that Americans are dying younger across all demographics. Again, the U.S. is an outlier. It was one of two developed countries where life expectancy did not bounce back in the second year of the pandemic.

So the argument that everyone is living longer greatly stretches the truth—unless, of course, you happen to be rich: A Harvard study revealed that the wealthiest Americans enjoy a life expectancy over a decade longer than their poorest counterparts.

Could the idea that working into our seventies and beyond boosts our health and well-being hold true? Obviously, for those in physically demanding roles, such as construction or mining, prolonged work is likely to lead to a higher risk of injury, accidents, and wearing down health-wise. But what about everybody else? What if you have a desk job? Wouldn’t it be great to get out there, do something meaningful, and interact with people, too?

Perhaps it’s easy for people like Steuerle and Kramon to imagine older people working in secure, dignified positions that might offer health benefits into old age – after all, those are the types of positions they know best.

But the reality is different. Economist Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor at the New School for Social Research, focuses on the economic security of older workers and flaws in U.S. retirement systems in her new book, Work, Retire, Repeat: The Uncertainty of Retirement in the New Economy. She calls those praising the health perks of working longer “oddballs” – those fortunate folks in cushy positions who have a lot of autonomy and purpose. Like lawmakers or tenured professors, for example.

She points out that academic researchers often base their theories about the benefits of working longer on a hypothetical person who just tacked on a few extra years in the same position, noting that researchers often make the faulty assumption that people are not only living longer, but can also easily choose to work longer, keep their jobs without facing pay cuts, and continue stacking up savings into later life.

That’s not really how it plays out in real life for most folks. Ghilarducci found that most people don’t actually get to decide when they retire, noting that “the verb ‘retire’ isn’t a verb that really belongs to the agency of the worker – it’s the employers’ choice.” Retirement often means somebody above you telling you it’s time to go. You’re ousted—laid off or pushed out because your productivity’s slipping or your skills are aging like last year’s tech. Or simply because of biases against older workers. Age discrimination is a huge issue, with two-thirds of job seekers aged 45 to 74 reporting it. In fact, people trying to find a job say they encounter significant biases as early as age 35. For the high-tech and entertainment industries, this is particularly true.

So there’s that.

There’s also the fact that continuing to work in an unfulfilling job might be hazardous to your health. The reality is, a lot of us are grinding in jobs that are stressful and insecure, and that constant stress ties into a whole host of health issues — hypertension, heart problems, messed up digestion, and a weaker immune system, not to mention it can kickstart or worsen mental health troubles like depression and anxiety.

Many are stuck in what anthropologist David Graeber memorably dubbed “bullshit jobs” — roles that feel meaningless and draining. Graeber described these jobs as a form of ‘spiritual violence,’ and found them linked to heightened anxiety, depression, and overall misery among workers. His research found strong evidence that seeing your job as useless deeply impacts your psychological well-being.

The link between job dissatisfaction and poor health has been found to be significant in study after study. Unrewarding work can demotivate people from staying active, eating well, or sleeping regularly, potentially leading to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health issues. In contrast, retiring from such a job could free up time and energy for wellness activities, enjoyable hobbies, and a healthier lifestyle overall.

Ghilarducci points out that reward-to-effort ratios, crucial for job satisfaction, are declining due to factors like stagnant real wages. She also highlights the problem of subordination, explaining that it can be “lethal” to remain in a job where you lack control over the content or pace of your work. According to her, such factors can lead to higher morbidity and lower mortality rates.

Okay, what about social engagement? That’s crucial for seniors, right? True, but demanding or unfulfilling jobs can make it hard to find the time and energy to socialize, leading to isolation and loneliness, which are major factors in declining mental health and quality of life for the elderly.

Also, when talking about delaying retirement, we can’t ignore cognitive decline. Sure, working longer might keep your mind sharp if the job is stimulating. However, research indicates the opposite for dull jobs. Florida State University researchers found that not only can tedious work accelerate cognitive decline, leading to increased stress and reduced life satisfaction, but “dirty” work does as well. They show that jobs in unclean environments with exposure to chemicals, mold, lead, or loud noises significantly impact brain health as we age.

Even university professors can suffer the effects of dirty jobs: North Carolina State University has recently come under fire for knowingly keeping faculty and staff working for decades in a building contaminated with PCBs, resulting in dire health consequences, including nearly 200 cases of cancer among those exposed.

Finally, it’s not a coincidence that those talking about raising the age for Social Security and Medicare are usually white men. They would suffer less from it than women, especially women of color. Women typically outlive men but earn less over their lifetimes, which already means smaller Social Security checks. It’s even tougher for Black women who often earn way less than their white peers and are more likely to have unstable jobs with skimpy benefits. Plus, women frequently take breaks from their careers for caregiving, shaving off years of paid work and further slicing their Social Security benefits. Pushing the retirement age higher forces women, especially Black women, to either toil longer in poor-quality jobs or retire without enough funds, making them more vulnerable to poverty and health problems as they get older.

Ghilarducci observes that for women in low-paying jobs with little control and agency, “working longer can really hasten their death, and the flip side of that is that retirement for these women really helps them.”

Bottom line: The whole “work longer, live healthier” spiel doesn’t fly for most. In the U.S., the well-off might be milking the joys of extended careers, but lower-income folks, particularly women and people of color, often endure the slog of thankless jobs that negatively impact their health and well-being. Elites shout from their comfortable positions that we need to push retirement further back as if it’s the magic fix to all economic woes. But when such people fantasize about happy seniors thriving at work, they’re missing the harsh reality many face—painful, boring, insecure jobs that speed death.

The myth that we’re all living longer and healthier is just that—a myth belied by life expectancy stats showing not everyone’s in the same boat. What America desperately needs is a beefed-up, fair Social Security and Medicare system that serves all Americans, not just the ones who can afford to retire without a worry. No one should be stuck choosing between a crappy job and retiring into penury.

Yet Republicans are on the warpath against Social Security and Medicare. Senator Mike Lee has explicitly stated his goal to completely eliminate Social Security, aiming to “pull it up by the roots, and get rid of it.” His fellow Republicans are enthusiastically getting the ball rolling: House Republicans have released a new proposal to weaken Social Security by raising the retirement age. For his part, former and possible future president Donald Trump indicates a willingness to consider cuts to Medicare and Social Security, despite previously criticizing his primary rivals on the issue, who were almost wall to wall demanding drastic cutbacks.

Democratic lawmakers typically show more support for Social Security and Medicare in public, though their track record has not fully alleviated concerns about the present and future vulnerability of these programs. In his recent State of the Union speech, President Biden advocated for the expansion and enhancement of Social Security and Medicare, declaring that “If anyone here tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop them!” But it’s important to keep in mind that he supported raising the retirement age during the 1980s and again in 2005.

Polling shows that voters, whether Democrats or Republicans, do not want to cut these programs. Actually, they want to expand Social Security and Medicare. That’s because those who face the realities of daily life understand that working endlessly is a cruel and unreasonable – not to mention unhealthy — expectation that no society should endorse. The idea that America can’t afford to do this is outlandish when the evidence is so clear that American billionaires pay historically low tax rates that are now lower than those for ordinary workers.

What America can’t afford is the super-wealthy and their paid representatives working the rest of us to death.

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  1. DG

    “As a rhetorical posture, she no doubt needs to treat them as acting in good faith.”

    The Jay Gould quote comes to mind:
    The truth of Jay Gould’s assertion that he “could buy the vote of a farmer member of the legislature for the price of a bull calf, about seven dollars and a half,” was clearly disproved at Topeka last January, where not a single People’s party member of the Kansas House could be bought at any price.

    It is my prayer to God that all farmers and other toilers will now unite in one solid phalanx, so that the other characteristic remark of the same gentleman, that he “could hire one-half the farmers to shoot the other half to death,” shall also show him to have overestimated the power of his money, supplemented though it may be by Satanic cunning,

    John Livingston,
    President New York State Farmers’ Alliance.
    Campville, Tioga Co., N.Y., Oct 21, 1891.

    This one letter by Livingston describes both the attitude of the elite toward the majority of people and how active the elite are in shaping laws to their continued advantage as expressed by Jay Gould.

    There is awareness of the falseness with Bill Gates wearing a sweater to convey himself as kindly concerned Mr. Rogers.

    Bill Gares and Barack Obama’s favorite author Yuval Noel Harari blandly states 40% of people are not necessary.

    So our elites are acting in good faith – their faith.

  2. John Beech

    Yves, are there any numbers to prove the recent betterment of SS’s financial position is entirely due to the huge number of COVID deaths, as I posit when I am wearing my tinfoil hat?

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      i sure as heck dont expect to benefit from either of them…as i had to “retire” at 37(then wait almost 7 years to get a hip replacement, after which i was too bunged up to just resume work, and as if anyone would have me)
      i’ll be 55 this september…so, 7 years to go(i think).
      Wife’s tiny pension will last for another 3 years after this august.
      i can eventually make some money from the farm(3 days labor is all i’m lacking to move forward on the infrasturcture)…and i suppose theres still a bit of inheritance to look forward to(altho those folks have the healthcare and resources to live for a long, long time yet)….but whatever…i cannot rely on the dern gooberment to help.
      ive accepted this…even as it still makes me very angry when i read stuff like that first NYT bit(the authors of which look more and more like compost feedstock, to me).
      and…all my troubles aside…i’m still in a better place than most folks in my situation…place is paid for, and almost in Trust, and if i have to, all i really need in money for property taxes.
      ive endeavored for decades to get ready for just this eventuality, since it became apparent that i would be on my own.
      let the jamie demons and andrew sullivans come tell me to my face,lol.
      im sure the chickens would find them quite tasty….and therefore at least somewhat useful.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>let the jamie demons and andrew sullivans come tell me to my face,lol.
        im sure the chickens would find them quite tasty….and therefore at least somewhat useful.

        Now, let’s not be too hasty as you just might poison the chickens.

        I am lucky enough to have worked a real job that paid decently, which means my disability payments are not too terrible. Certainly better than most. However, I live in the Bay Area, and there does not seem to be any affordable housing in Northern California as housing costs have risen even in the most isolated areas. I might have to look those housing programs set for the disabled and/or poor. Of course, most of have waitlists of years (section 8 can be longer than a decade depending on the county). They usually have an income cap of $107,000 meaning that the cost of living in the area is so high the federal government considers anyone making less than that as poor. Since most Californians make half of that, what does that say about the Golden State?

        Housing costs alone makes living impossible as two thousand dollars seems to be the minimum for a one bedroom apartment near any areas where there is any work.

  3. JonnyJames

    The last paragraph sums it up in a nutshell: public opinion does not matter. The US has no functioning democracy, it’s clearly an oligarchy. All three branches of govt. are institutionally corrupt, that should be clear by now. When political bribery is legal and formalized, we can not expect otherwise. There is simply no way for the vast majority of the population to affect public policy. Not to sound typically pessimistic and skeptical, but the US has been on a downward trajectory for years now, and the trend will only continue.

    To be crude: in the last decades before the collapse of the western Roman empire, many saw the writing on the wall and moved to Constantinople or other destinations in the prosperous and wealthy east. I would recommend doing something similar for young people who are willing and able to do so.

    Even for the not-so-young: Two of my good friends have moved to Thailand. There are gringo expats even in Mexico who say that the quality of life there is better, and more affordable. This, despite the US -fueled cartels and violence in parts of the country.

    As conditions worsen for the majority in the US, any walls and barriers on the southern border may well be used to prevent too many gringos from escaping. The “build the wall” crowd better be careful what they wish for.

  4. ciroc

    To be fair, US health care is always the worst, not just for the elderly, but from birth to death.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s due to insurance limiting patients to HMOs or PPOs plus the corporatization of care. In NYC, where there are still a lot of doctors in solo or small practices, you can find good one. But you have to shop and again most people don’t have that luxury in terms of their need for care or their insurance set-up. So your point is generally but not absolutely true.

  5. WG

    When I was in my 20s I could relate to part of Steuerle and Kramon’s rant. Seemed unfair to me that I was working at low wages, barely able to afford food much less furniture and a good chunk was being taken out of my paycheck for, a few at least, buying memberships at golf clubs. But even then I wasn’t so stupid as to buy into the solution of raising the retirement age or the rest of the drivel written with an agenda in search of cheap arguments to buttress it.

  6. Milton

    Am I missing something or wouldn’t it behoove corporate America to want the older worker to retire earlier as they are usually the more expensive staff to keep on the payroll. Having a conveyor belt of fresh employees, at starting salaries, could only benefit companies. I get it that corps have less pull due to finance capital having a stranglehold on policy but shouldn’t there at least be some add’l pushback to the neolibs’ gut SS mantra?

    1. Mr. QRO

      You don’t get it. They don’t want the older people to work in corp. or the white collar world. They are supposed to be Walmart greeters, 7/11 clerks, burger flippers, you know fill all those “BS jobs” that they are finding hard to fill. Heavens no! They don’t want them to stay in their high pay, corp. spots.

      As was pointed out in the article, they start to weed out, and not hire, the older folks as much as possible. Having worked in the tech industry for 40 years. What is said is accurate, once I hit 45, I found getting employed harder and harder, now at 60, It’s impossible. Been looking for 18mo, and nothing! (I was in manager/director positions since the 90’s, well thought of in my field, now….. Get lost!)

      We’re just useless eaters now, and if we can’t fill a need in the serf workforce….Die! (ASAP, Preferably)

      1. Milton

        Yeah, I’m in a bubble of sorts–62 and still working in the tech industry. I must have assumed that a large percentage was in the same boat. For me, the past 5 years have seen our mom and pop-style biz turn Uber-corporate; leaving me wondering if I’m supposed to focus on our products or on process. I’m planning on 5 more years but feel as though I’ll be turned out in the next 2.

        1. Paul Art

          Tech veteran here as well. 30 years from 1994, 10 of that in Silicon Valley. Recently hit by outsourcing to Bangalore and also insourcing from H1-Bs. Moved to the US Government now. Applying and getting a job was a tough process. Started with redoing the resume in plain English, weeding out all tech terms like USB, Ethernet, Device Driver, ISR, etc and replacing with stock software terms like coding, developing, testing, unit testing, integration etc., and then mindlessly applying to any and every job that has even a single keyword match in your background. If there is one model employer (for most part) in America today it is the Federal Government. They are struggling to find technical people but their hiring process and the OPM (Organization of Personnel Management) follows archaic but necessarily old models of resume selection and interviewing. One problem with their Tech jobs is, most ask for Secret Clearance but if you have a clean criminal record then it should not be an issue.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              You ‘tude is out of line, particularly given that you appear to have a reading comprehension problem. Paul Art said that employers ASK for a clearance but don’t actually require it if you don’t have a criminal record.

              1. Mr.QRO

                The only “Tude” I have is toward the system and was not directed at the poster. My implication being that by having an existing clearance and proximity, is of no help in my case. Are you looking for contention where none exists?

                How exactly am I reading impaired by saying I have a clearance, therefore if they ASK for one, I already HAVE one. Give some thought to whom here actually has comprehension issues.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  The ‘tude was a challenge directed at Paul Art: “Hey, what do you know.” You” is Paul.

                  And yes, we take issue with commentors getting stroopy with other readers, which your own words confirm.

                  And you doubled down. Paul Art made clear having a clearance was not necessary, just a nuisance level issue. So your comment about having one as if it made a difference in actually getting hired (as opposed to having to do some extra ‘splaning during hiring) did indeed show a lack of understanding of what he said.

                  On top of that, Paul never suggested his location mattered re government job opportunities. That is you reading something into his words that were not there.

                  I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet, elsewhere.

              2. Thomas Schmidt

                I thought Paul’s point was that obtaining a security clearance was not a problem so long as you had a clean criminal record. He is not specific as to what the “it” is. It’s reasonable to assume that the it refers to the security clearance, the closest noun.

    2. jrkrideau

      Having a conveyor belt of fresh employees, at starting salaries, could only benefit companies.

      This works really well until you suddenly need an expert with 30 years experience to sort out an obtuse technical problem or to explain just why that labour contract was written as it was and just how much it will cost the corporation to try and change the provisions.

      See Boeing. Just don’t fly Boeing.

    3. herman_sampson

      It would also behoove employers to campaign for single payer health, as then they would not have to provide health insurance benefits. But: then they would lose another mechanism to keep employees in line and subservient to the employer’s whims.
      And since the advent of defined contribution retirement plans (401k’s), replacing defined benefit plans, employers don’t mind keeping older employees, as long as they keep up with the bogus metrics used as a bullwhip.

      1. Thomas Schmidt

        Older employees still cost a LOT more for healthcare. So there’s that.

        A friend applied for Social Security after age 65 wanting just the SS, not wanting to enroll in Medicare. You cannot do that: if you take SS past 65, you MUST take Medicare. Congress has elected not to change this, and I have to imagine it’s due to employers wanting the benefit of older employees’ being covered by Medicare. It could literally save billions to enact a change to allow people to voluntarily turn down Medicare (presumably if they’re covered by employers’ health care.)

        It would help get a lot of older people jobs to offer Medicare at 45.

  7. homeroid

    At the young age of 66 I get a paltry SS of 700 a month.Combined wife’s SS and mine wont cover a months rent. Which means wife and i have to work to the end. When i moved here in 1980 it was most affordable. Came to Alaska with the Dead in 80 leaving was not going to happen. Now the hamlet i inhabit has been bought up by the rich. price of everything has gone through the roof. Thank dawg we have our health we can both create art for sale and get buy. Others i know are not as lucky. Right about now i will start fiddlehead gathering. My fave stretch of woods i harvested has now become a housing development. AND SOON THIS AREA OF THE COAST WILL FISHED OUT. Nowhere to run now. Struggle for what i can and spit.

  8. edman

    Biden is serious about cutting Social Security and Medicare. He was VP when the great “HOPE” Obama proposed cutting Social Security during his “Grand Bargain” gambit more than a decade ago. Lucky that the Republicans didn’t buy it. Also, Biden is privatizing Medicare now via “innovations” (privatization programs) created by the enactment of the ACA. Also, the Medicare Advantage scam is privatization and drains monies from the Fund. Brain dead Labor union leadership promote Biden as “most pro labor” are now selling MA plans instead of resisting it and fighting for single payer. Positive political climate is that the mass of the population is for expansion of these programs but that is also true of almost every social program. it is simply ignored by both corrupt parties.

    1. Telee

      Biden is adamantly opposed to any National Health Care plan. Like Obama, he promised a Public Option. He was instrumental in getting Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. When UB weopons inspector Scott Ritter testified that there were no weopons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq, he told Ritter that he had a higher paygrade and the only way to be sure there were no WMD was to invade Iraq. Although he promised that raise the minimum wage, get federally mandated sick leave but when the RR workers went on strike he sent them back to work without a single day of sick. In the primary debate, Sanders pointed out that Biden made speeches in the Senate putting all entitlement programs on the chopping block, Biden lied saying he never made those statements. He was Obama’s point man on Ukraine when the US sponsored the coup overthrowing a democratically elected president with the new government declared war on the Russian speaking people in eastern Ukraine. After the train derailment in East Palestine, his EPA wouldn’t test for dioxins, a deadly carcinogenic compound. Under the Clinton administration, he worked with Strom Thurmond and Jim Eastland, two avoid racist to write the crime bill that put blacks in jail and feed the prison industrial complex. What’s not to like about Joe, the politicians liberals call a decent man?

      1. Paul Art

        Hear! Hear! Totally agree but I must say that Biden’s approach to Antitrust is pretty serious. Lina Khan is doing a very good job if Matt Stoller’s Big newsletter is to be believed. I regularly get Big but it is unfortunately pay walled. However David Sirota’s Lever News covers Matt quite regularly and is free. So there is something – even if only a little to, cheer in this Biden administration. The other fun part is, there are some GOPers like Matt Gaetz who actually support Antitrust and the things that Lina Khan is doing – especially the recent Airline’s refund proposal which cretins like Ted Cruz tried to derail. Sirota’s Lever News outed these Senators who took airline money and tried to clobber the automatic refund rule by Booty Judge and I think it has been included back in the legislation now. The person who blew the gaffe on this first was Liz Warren.

  9. no one

    An excellent background analysis on this topic is WSJ reporter Ellen E. Schultz’s “Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder & Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers,” from 2011 (Penguin Portfolio). As she said at the time, the book was met with bad reviews galore but *never* refuted.

  10. VietnamVet

    ‘Department of Veterans Affairs officials improperly approved nearly $11 million in bonuses to senior executives intended for other workers. The average bonus was over $55,000. The money was recently allocated by Congress and intended to be used to recruit “critical skill” employees dealing with health issues from being exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic hazards but ended up in the hands of senior executives in the VA’s Washington DC office.’

    The wait time for an appointment with the Primary Physician at the VA DC Medical Center is a month and half. Appointments now are only made in the morning starting last month. Clearly there are staffing problems due to Long COVID and the trashing of non-pharmaceutical pandemic interventions. The US Public Health Service that once was the best in the world was terminated. Old-farts like me are noticeably gone in the VA hallways. The VA admits that 25,000 Vets died with COVID. The Silent Generation is almost killed off. Early working-class Boomers born in the 1940s are going too.

    Funding for Social Security and Medicare is similar to the 95 billion dollars for more war in Ukraine, Gaza and Taiwan. The graft is diverted to the connected. The collapse is upon us. The system is too corrupt to buy medicine or provide healthcare. Homelessness proliferates. All that matters is getting the money to the profiteers. New artillery shells, drones and armament can’t be bought due to de-industrialization in the West. Giving peace a chance by signing Armistices and setting up UN DMZs between the combatants in the proxy WW3 is unmentionable even though the current path leads to certain defeat if not a nuclear war.

  11. Lefty Godot

    How many opportunities have the Democrats had for raising the threshold for Social Security withholding taxes? So many of these problems have simple solutions, but the faux opposition party has no genuine desire to implement those solutions, or even make the attempt to push them through Congress with a loud publicity campaign.

  12. gwb

    I’ve never heard of Outis Philalithopoulos. How can all his academic work disappear? Even if he was blacklisted, surely there must have been something published online. A Google search comes up with *nothing* — the only mention is your 2011 post about his passing.

  13. Paul Art

    Not germane but the repeated root cause analysis I have done of the continual Blue Dog attacks on Social Security and Medicare always leads me to the 1970s when the “Centrist” disease carrying parasite infected the New Deal Democrat party, to wit, Al From. The man along with Tony Coelho almost single handedly destroyed the New Dealers in the Democrat party with the gold from his Corporate masters. I recently read in “A Fabulous Failure” – Lichtensten and Judith Stein, that From would repeatedly visit Clinton in the Oval Office to remind him that Clinton ” was not dancing with those that brung him” anytime Ol Bill showed Leftist sentiments in his policy making. Someone should have written a searing biography of this evil man for the still ongoing rot of the Democrats. If they did and anyone knows the title please share.

  14. anaisanesse

    “Polling shows that voters, whether Democrats or Republicans, do not want to cut these programs. ”
    Democracy in action in the USA. Who cares about what the people want???

  15. Boo

    Here’s a cynical take…Medicare/medicaid will not be allowed to die because it’s a back-door jobs program.

    I’ve had to deal with my 95 year old, dementia addled mother for a decade now. I’ve run down all her assets, some of my own retirement assets. She’s on medicaid now, in a assisted care facility.

    I’ve dealt with countless people, and websites, from profit, to non profit, local, county, state and federal government entities. It seems the list is endless, it makes my mind boggle. I’ve even had to talk with tech support for various websites that fail to work properly. The stress has affected my own health.

    The process and care could cost a lot less if there weren’t so many mouths feeding off the government teat. Not to mention the unnecessary complexity purposely introduced. For example, Colorado’s medicaid program is not called medicaid, it’s called Health First Colorado because of the ‘stigma’ when it’s called ‘medicaid’. And I still have to have my mother enrolled in a medicare advantage plan as well. Does she really need to be ‘enrolled’ in two different places (maybe a third if you count federal medicare online account I have for her)?

    It’s a endless treadmill, circling back to the beginning to rinse and repeat each year (and sometimes sooner when the computer system knocks her off for no apparent reason) to prove to the county, state, care facility, and so on, that she’s still impoverished and still has dementia and still needs assisted care.

    The tragedy is that from the neck down she’s physically fit and able bodied for 95 (on one blood pressure med that the primary care is considering removing since she doesn’t seem to need it), but from the neck up does not recognize me, cannot understand a coherent question, nor speak a coherent sentence. She’s effectively brain-dead and on life support, providing employment for many folks I cannot begin to count.


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