Saturday, June 2, 2012

Short Discourse on the evolution of Social Security and Medicare

Social Security was enacted in 1935. Taxes started being collected in 1937 and the first benefits were provided. In the early years the beneficiaries were granted income far in excess of their own personal contributions. That was to be expected and should not have been a concern. It had to start sometime and the vestiges of the great depression were still being felt. The payments, even as low as they were, aided poor people who were desperate. At first only men were eligible. As the years passed by, the Act was amended many times to include house employees, farm labor, etc. The amount deducted and the benefits paid were also adjusted nearly on a two year cycle. This continued until 1956 when Dwight Eisenhower was President. At that time SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) was added. This provided benefits to disabled persons below the age of 65. Eisenhower opposed it but did sign into law after passage by Congress. It was funded by the Social Security Payroll Tax. Disability can be mental, back pain and other hard to prove ailments. Wikipedia reports that in 2002, 7.2 million people were receiving benefits. This increased to 10.6 million in 2011. In 1972 when Richard Nixon was President SSI (Supplemental Security Income) was approved. This program provides income for people over 65 and blind or disabled children. It is funded by General Revenues. At the same time, people in the SSDI program were made eligible for Medicare after receiving benefits for 24 months. It is my contention that the SSDI program enactment and subsequent amendments paid for with funds from the Social Security Trust Fund has drastically depleted funds from its original intention, thereby hastening the doom for the Fund. The monies placed into it to provide supplemental income for seniors is now being siphoned off at an ever increasing amount to where today it is rapidly depleting the Fund. This never should have been allowed to pass. It is not that I am insensitive to those in need; it is that welfare should be handled separate from old age insurance and Medicare. The reason I am taking the time to write this paper is after receiving an e-mail yesterday entitled “Where are the gray hairs”. It showed a picture of a Social Security Office filled to overflowing with obviously much younger people applying for benefits. Another interesting piece of information I gleamed from my research was that in 1983 when Reagan was President, Social Security income was taxed for “rich” people; singles earning $25,000 and families $32,000. Every year when I prepare my income tax, I am angered that I must do the calculation to see how much of it will be taxable income. The funds taken out of my paychecks during my working years amounted to fewer funds available to support my family. The only justification could be to add funding to run the government. It is a wonder to me that anyone bothers to work today. There are multiple ways to scam the system; the items mentioned above, food stamps, unemployment compensation extended year after year, free health care for those deemed in need, welfare checks, income to support arts and studies of all kinds. Just look at your income tax form to see the many lines that can be used to decrease taxes paid. I read recently that many holders of food stamp debit cards sell them to others and claim they were lost. This can happen multiple times without recourse, unbelievable to me that safe guards cannot be enacted to correct abuses like this. I see little hope for sanity to somehow be discovered. The truth is no politician (either party) has the gumption to correct issues like the above, since they must pander for votes. How far have we fallen when the citizens must be bribed for their votes? Whatever happened to patriotism, self-reliance and responsibility? Farewell to the American dream of a free country better than all the rest, full of movers and achievers. A major reason has been our government’s inability to preserve good paying manufacturing jobs. Our companies pay the highest corporate taxes of any other country, our regulations are far more restrictive and costly, we allow countries like China to manipulate their currency and steal our industrial secrets, all for the sake of Wal-Mart shoppers searching for the lowest cost merchandise. Jack B. Walters June 2, 2012

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