Tag Archives: Social Security

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Not responding to e-mail is still a pet peeve. Days now trying to save myself $50 and perhaps gasoline money . . . FWIW, the free flu shots that I cannot get because, silly me, I work, are paid for by New Jersey taxpayers. According to Elizabeth Cubbage RN BSN, Public Health Nursing Supervisor for Cumberland County Health Department the money comes “from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Vaccine for Children Program for adults and children that qualify for the Vaccine for Children Program and from budgeted monies from the County Health Dept.” . . . I am not certain how towns opt out of Social Security, but apparently you can. What’s the result? Three Texas counties and their retirees are quite pleased, as they should be . . . 18 years in and I’m stuck. I can’t move and I can’t retire. You can’t believe what goes on with public education. It makes my blood boil and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. Needless to say, what is best for students does not appear to be the focus . . . Go vote for my entry in Wizbang’s photo caption contest. I think I have the winning entry this week . . . I’m glad I don’t bank with Bank of America. $5 monthly to use a debit card?!? All to recoup poor decisions on the bank’s part . . . can’t embed this, but anyone who likes Quicksilver Messenger Service will appreciate this video dug up from the Winterland in ’73 (probably ’75 or ’71 since Cip wasn’t with QMS in ’73). I had the pleasure of seeing Cipollina in Boston, but this show is hot! . . . While generally I have applauded the job Chris Christie has done as governor of New Jersey, I think it would be a mistake to jump into the presidential race. I don’t think his straight talk will fly nationally. I also don’t think he is the right kind of guy to lead our nation . . . Witnessed some poor sportsmanship the other evening at an event full of “professionals”. It was disappointing . . . I can’t get excited about anything on Facebook these days. Might have something to do with having deleted my account . . .

Welcome to the Machine

One of the things I have written about over the years is the size of government. To me, all levels of government I witness are too large. The federal government has so overstepped its purview, folks cannot even conceive it not having a role in areas it shouldn’t be in. State government is so stocked with political appointees to keep the establishment’s status quo, it appears there is no way to break it. And more locally, the haves build government, it seems, for personal gain long before the public’s interests.

What all government has in common is the need for money. We are in an interesting time as the populace has begun to clamor over the taking of their money. It seems to me that we have reached, or approached anyhow, the limit of what regular folks are going to give up without severe consequences.

But the machine still needs to be fed. Government has long ago raided the Social Security account. Seemingly, every trick has been employed to get our money (sin taxes, gasoline taxes, tolls, registrations, fees, utilities, etc.). A year ago in order to “stimulate” the economy, the government had to borrow the cash. While the tax-cheating head of Treasury has declared the rating of US bonds will never slip, the fact of the matter is that the vig on the national debt is overwhelming.

So where is government going to get the necessary cash to fund itself?

Well, the federal government has its eyes set on your retirement, dear reader. Recognizing just how much taxes can actually be raised before they suffer consequences, new “revenue” sources are sought. That is where your 401(k) and other retirement investments come in.

BusinessWeek reports that the Treasury and Labor departments are asking for public comment on “the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams.”

In plain English, the idea is for the government to take your retirement savings in return for a promise to pay you some monthly benefit in your retirement years.

They will tell you that you are “investing” your money in U.S. Treasury bonds. But they will use your money immediately to pay for their unprecedented trillion-dollar budget deficits, leaving nothing to back up their political promises, just as they have raided the Social Security trust funds.

If you think about it, it’s pure genius. There’s this huge pot of cash sitting there doing nothing. It is not being taxed. That has to wait until folks are ready to spend it and for most of that pile, that is some time off in the future. The way the feds see it, it’s a pile of cash it can put to better use than you can.

It wants it and pretty soon it is going to make a play for it. The idea is that they take your cash to fund the machine today and promise you more later. Government will tell you they are investing your cash. Investing . . . like in healthcare, education, and other clogs in their machine. They invested our Social Security funds too. We’ll get more of that at retirement too. Government is such a slimy business.

Now is the time to contract government, not expand it. “Investing” in our futures is not government’s role, it’s ours. Keep your hands off of my stack.

Social Security

Over at Wizbang, it was asked:

What specific measures would you recommend to protect Social Security for coming generations?

This is not an easy question to answer. The reason for that is I do not support the Social Security program. There is no reason for government to force its citizens to plan for retirement. If it were up to me, the program would be dismantled immediately.

Alas, what is sensible is not always the path that is followed. The entire premise of Social Security is flawed; today’s workers pay into a fund to pay for yesterday’s retirees. It is socialism at its best. Furthermore, when the program was begun, folks who had never paid into the system received benefits. That decision put Social Security on its course of being underfunded.

For decades the federal government has raided the Social Security fund. It said it would replenish the funds, but it has not. There is just a big box of I.O.U.s in it. Some day that money will need to be put back in. Government’s mode of generating cash is by taxation and indebting citizens. Either way the people pay the freight.

Society has changed greatly since Social Security’s inception. When established, a person was set to retire at 65 and die at 67. Today that is no longer the case. Life expectancy is such that the average person is drawing far more from the fund than ever expected.

Several years ago I had a discussion wit my uncle. He had been president of a major coffee company (among other jobs). He retired comfortably. Very comfortably. His liberalism makes Hillary Clinton look like Barry Goldwater. When I suggested that he should forgo his Social Security benefit, he became incensed. It was promised to him and damn it, he was going to collect. You can’t just take a benefit that was promised just because a person can afford to live without it.

That is the problem with entitlements; everyone wants his.

There is no fixing the program if that mindset prevails. An overhaul needs a paradigm shift. Assuming that the program will not be scrapped, what could be done to make this a better program?

The retirement age has already increased to 67. I suspect this will be bumped up to 70 not too long from now. I believe life expectancy is now 78. That means beneficiaries are still drawing more than the program is designed to handle. While one should be able to retire at any age he chooses, benefits should not kick in until 76.

There are far fewer workers supporting each person drawing Social Security than there used to be. The only way to address that is to cut down on those who collect. That means there needs to be a means test applied. My uncle and others like him need to be ousted from the system. Social Security was created as the country came out of the Great Depression. With so many folks having lost everything, Roosevelt as part of the New Deal, created this safety net that would provide insurance against “bad luck”. It was noble thinking but completely flawed.

Social Security is the largest government-run program in the world. To keep pace, the tax upon the worker keeps increasing. It is just nonsensical.

Instead of us paying into the fund to support current retirees, this money should go into individual accounts that we have control over. Why should the government manage our money? Can you name one government-run program that works well? Neither can I.

I have planned for my retirement. I’ll probably die before I get to enjoy it, but there is a plan. This plan does not include Social Security. I do not expect those funds to be available for me and even if they are, they will not be enough to live on. Again, why does the government force this program upon us? Just think of how much more comfortably I would be able to live if all that I paid into this white elephant would have been added to my financial portfolio.

Try as I might, the only solution is to abolish Social Security.

Social Security & You: Perfect Together

Today, there is an AP article documenting how during 2005, New Jerseyans applied for replacement Social Security cards at a higher rate than the rest of the country.  I was not one of the 312,289 who requested a replacement card in 2005, but I did do so earlier this year.

While at the Social Security office, I asked the lady about something that had been a topic of discussion many times.  My mother‘s SS card states that it is not to be used as identification.  I believe my original card said the same.  I know I had been told that this wasn’t to be used as identification.

Yet, my college posted my grades by the Social Security number.  When I lived in Massachusetts, my driver’s license number was my Social Security number.  I do not believe I ever opened a bank account without my Social Security number.  Credit cards require it.  Perhaps there has been a change to that policy.

Note, in all the cases above, no one ever saw the card as it was lost when I was a boy.

The lady I spoke with at the Social Security office did not seem to have ever heard about it not being used as identification.  Then she offered a different spin on it than I had thought of.  She said that perhaps it is just the card that can’t be used as identification.  In other words, one has to provide the number for all those institutions, but the physical card carries no weight in identifying who you are.

It’s an interesting take.

Then why today’s AP article?  If the physical card is not to be used as documentation, then why the need for the replacement cards?

Because the card is being required.  That is why I needed to get one.

The requests for people to show cards, a demand that sometimes violates state and federal laws

This is where the AP fails in the article.  It should report how it violates these laws.  I know I balked at providing my Social Security number to access the NJEA web site.  In a discussion with whomever I was transferred to, he said NJEA already has my number.  I told him then he certainly didn’t need me to provide it to access the web site then.  How arrogant!

There have been recent articles about the state telling school districts not to ask for Social Security numbers when students are registered.  Interestingly, about three years ago I sat on a committee at the state DOE that discussed the information districts needed to collect as it revamped student tracking throughout the state.  The DOE was adamant that the Social Security number should be requested, even though it could not be required.  I had asked about the legality of that then.  Much like many questions I ask, no one seemed to put any credence into it.  Sigh . . .

So, here we are three years later finding ourselves squandering time off from being productive to provide a piece of paper to show to those who are illegally requesting it.

NJ and Social Security

Forget the rant about how a Social Security number shouldn’t be used for identification. I took a $500 test last summer as part of a graduate program. I received the results in a timely fashion, wrote another thesis, etc. and completed my program.

I was told that my grade for the internship wouldn’t be posted until January, despite having been e-mailed the grade by my professor.

At some point in January I received my diploma and a transcript. I have completed two graduate programs with this university and the transcript reflected all those courses. Yet, no final grade was sent for the internship. It was on the transcript, however. Two weeks ago I decided to call the school to get the grade. My employer reimburses me for courses I take, but I need to submit the final grade and the invoice. While I waited for the registrar, it occurred to me that I should check on my certification too. It turns out the school will not issue a final grade. The transcript is all I get. 🙁 Grrrr . . . I then asked about the cert. I was bounced around campus before I was connected to the correct person to handle my question.

Back in November I dropped off an application for state certification and a check for a couple hundred dollars on some lady’s desk who was not present. I decided to check now before next June to ensure all had been filed with the state. I did not expect the state to be completed the process as it is usually 10 months behind. I was informed that certs were ready unless there was a problem. The lady checked and sure enough, there was a problem. Sigh . . .

Somehow the $500 test did not have my Social Security number on it. Why? I do not know.

This is where things get weird. I do not have a Social Security card. I received one when I was 10, but have not seen it since. I know my number. It is plastered on virtually everything, but I do not have the actual card. For the state of New Jersey, that is an issue.

I have several other certifications issued by the state. That does not matter. I have lots of documents to prove who I am. Nevertheless, the state of New Jersey cares not a hoot. It is a Social Security documentation and nothing else. Grrr . . .

The state is willing to take an official letter from Social Security in lieu of the card.

Today I had to consult a doctor of mine. More surgery. Sigh . . . Anyhow, because of that appointment, I took the day off from work. I figured I would go to the Social Security office afterwards. I was most impressed. I was in and out in about 35 minutes. Not bad considering the horror stories I had heard. There were about a dozen people before me. I was able to get the letter I needed and a new card will be sent in about 10 days. Wonderful.

But get this. The State Department of Education would not accept the state issued driver’s license, birth certificate or any other state/government documents to prove who I am. It was only a Social Security card. Yet, Social Security only needed to see my New Jersey driver’s license (which does not have my SS# on it) to issue my card. In the end, I used a state document to prove to the feds who I am so I can prove to the state who would not accept their own documents who I am. Precious . . .