Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Roller Coaster That is The Dow The Fault Of Congress

Down triple digits for two days, then up triple digits, then down again triple digits...what will today's opening on Wall Street bring us, and is there anywhere that we as Americans can feel safe in putting our hard earned dollars? More importantly, is much of what is happening in the economy today more about systematically stripping away the Baby Boomer generations wealth and assets for future generations rather than us as a nation surviving a sluggish down turn in the economy? Has our government, and the Uber rich decided the promises made to 79 million Baby Boomers simply to costly to keep? Has it become politically expedient to put the retirement safety nets that we as Baby Boomers have paid for on the chopping block in the name of reducing the federal debt, and more importantly is there a target painted on the backs of every Baby Boomer in America...all seventy nine million of us?

A great deal of Wall Streets roller coaster ride in the past few weeks can be attributed to the actions (or lack thereof) of our elected officials in Washington DC as relates to the raising of the debt ceiling. The Republicans are insistent that there be no new taxes on the job creators, and that the federal deficit must be addressed through entitlement reforms...most specifically, they want to reduce Social Security and Medicare payouts to America's seniors....those on the rolls now, and those about to go on to the rolls(79 million Baby Boomers). Most young people are more than ready to embrace this plan which will cut these benefits back, as they believe it is unfair that they will be forced to pick up the tab for our retirements. That belief and the desire to cut our EARNED BENEFITS is simply wrong sighted, stinky thinking that should not be allowed to continue.

Go back to 1983 and the Greenspan Commission who's report saw Congress enact legislation that increased what we as Baby Boomers paid into the Social Security System, and decreased our benefits significantly...IE, the retirement age in that legislation was moved back from the age of 62 to the age of 65, and the percentage of money taken out of our paychecks was greatly increased. It was also around this time that we as Baby Boomers were sold on the concept of putting money into our own retirement accounts. The basic concept sold to us by our government was, "accept these changes, put money into your retirement accounts, and between the two of those retirement income streams, your Golden Years will be lived comfortably. We bought into the deal, accepted the cuts in our Social Security, accepted the increased costs, and started putting money into our 401K's.

Despite these changes, Congress realized as early as 1996 that the monies being collected from our paychecks would not be enough to meet future financial commitments to retirees unless those collected monies were in some fashion invested into the private sector...despite this reality, nothing was done to invest the money, but instead Congress robbed the Social Security Trust Fund, leaving worthless IOU's in the till, simply ignoring the bubble they knew would burst. Now the time has come to pay the piper, 79 million Baby Boomers have or are about to retire, and just as happened in 1983, Congress realizes they have a serious problem in the immediate here and now, can no longer kick the ball down the field to be dealt with at a later date.

Medicare and Social Security is a benefit we have prepaid for. It is like our car insurance, our home owners insurance, a policy there for when we need it, and according to the rules, our premiums are PAID IN FULL through forced payroll deductions. Is it now fair to come to us as citizens who have played by the rules and say, "We are going to cut your Social Security benefits, reduce the health benefits you have access to through the Medicare program"?

The average American lives to the age of 78...the Social Security reforms enacted back in 1983 effectively saw our collecting of benefits cut from an average of 16 years to 13 years based on the average life expectancy. Pushing the retirement age back another two years to the age of 67 drops that number to 11 years. Does not take a Mathematician to figure out the 1983 overhaul to Social Security slashed our benefits by around 20 percent, and that the changes Congress is wanted to implement now slash our benefits in totality by almost 1/3, while both the new proposals and old see us paying a lot more into the system while getting a lot less out of it. Is it fair to reduce the federal deficit by robbing seniors of their entitlements and their dignity?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of's time that our United States Congress sets aside their party line bickering, time for them to get down to doing the peoples business, including meeting their obligations to our citizens. The Republicans steadfast refusal to allow taxes on the uber rich combined with their efforts to tie debt reduction to the lifting of the debt ceiling crashed the market once again, destroying our 401K's in the progress. They raised the debt ceiling so that America could meet its financial obligations to foreign nations (like China and Russian), but when it comes to meeting our nation's obligations to its own citizens (79 million Baby Boomers) they want to escape their moral and legal responsibility to us by passing a law that will rob us of our benefits...that is wrong, and cannot be accepted. If we as American citizens can be expected to accept the pain necessary to cover our moral and legal responsibilities to foreign nations, surely we as a nation also have the same responsibility too fulfil the contractual obligations we made to our 79 million Baby Boomers?

Let us as a nation deal with our debt problems, let us take the steps necessary to live within our means, but in reducing our debt as a nation, let us not turn our back on citizens who have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits, have paid for them in full over the course of their entire working lives.

Editorial Opinion of Sherwood Martinelli