Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pursuing Citizenship

I found out the name of that government report on the deficit and social security: "The Moment of Truth." It may be melodramatic; but I'm sure this committee appointed by the President wants to stress the importance of its bureaucratic message. The 65-page report is heavy going, jargon-y and complicated; I almost gave up on the idea of reading it. However, I decided to just LOOK at it. Nobody needs to be satisfied except me, so why not try.

Starting towards the end helped, with the section about Social Security. If there's anything I'm motivated to understand it's Social Security. Raising the retirement age comes recommended. But collecting half at age 62 is also suggested, as is putting state and federal employees into it (including Congress? doesn't say). There is also a minimum hardship benefit of 125% of poverty. The committee also says the ability to collect lower benefits at 62 and then turn them back in to get full benefits at full retirement age should no longer be tax-free; as it now constitutes a tax-free loan available to the wealthy. Who knew about that last part?

In thinking about the man who cleaned my fireplace yesterday--55 y/o who was fired after 29 years on the job with no health insurance and unemployment benefits running out, and who has diabetes--the change might conceivably be a help to him and allow him to subsist on his part-time business. So I would be OK with these changes to Social Security.

Regarding unemployment benefits and other topics still to be read about, the main thing the authors seem to want is better measuring tools, "integrity adjusted" this and that. There is a section about raising the ceiling on the payroll tax, which I do want done. For any more scrutiny, I'm saving my pennies to afford a 65-page printout.

The whole subject is be-fogged with boredom and inscrutability; yet citizenship requires checking the primary source whenever possible.

Update: net result of studying and stewing and reading the "Moment of Truth" document: a letter to my Congressman. In the process, I realized that when I began numbly "whimpering out" or whatever I posted--others too began to roll over and mew.

The body politic stirs.


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