Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Before They "Mess" With Social Security --

I am getting concerned about Social Security.

Bush 43 tried to put it into Wall Street. Aren't we glad that failed?

Now Obama is saying it is on the table for consideration of reconstruction.

Let me be clear about this: I receive a very small SS check each month, but that is not why I am really worried. I got by before I began receiving it and I will get by if it stops. My concern lies elsewhere.

I grew up in a small, rural town in Oklahoma. I am old enough to remember when, as a child, most old people around me did not receive SS. I remember what were euphemistically called "poor farms" here in Oklahoma. I remember how desperately people tried to stay off the poor farms.

I remember my grandmother's much older cousin, Sol, a widower, going from house to house among family members; never staying more than a few days, and at most a week, in any one house. He had all he possessed tied up in a red blanket.

I now suspect he stayed out many summer nights after stopping for no more than a meal and maybe a bath with family. He was a very funny, pleasant fellow and it was obvious there was a great deal of affection between my grandmother and him--they talked about their youth and laughed a great deal.

"Uncle Sol" came around a lot in the summer time, though; he helped Grand-dad with the full-lot sized garden to the east of the house. In return, he had a good meal or 2 or more or he took away some of whatever was ripe at the time.

But Sol never stayed overnight in the summer. And I never saw him much more than a couple of times in the winter. Maybe he gave in and went to the poor farm in the winter. I just don't know.

But no single household of his extended family had enough to just take him in. My grandmother and grandfather were already supporting my great-grandfather in a one room house which sat near the back of their large, deep lot.

But as the years passed, and more and more old people began to receive SS benefits, the quality of life of the older population increased dramatically. Their lives regained some dignity. The poor farm closed.

As far as I am concerned, "good" fixes for Social Security include (there may be others):
  • means testing (if you have enough other taxable income to render your SS benefits taxable, reduce or eliminate your SS benefits)
  • raise the limit from which Social Security is withheld; still limit the top benefit received
  • income taxes paid on benefits of high income individuals should be returned to Social Security fund
  • increase the % of benefits subject to income tax to those with high incomes.
Keep the poor farms closed.

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