In many countries on Earth, culture dictates the elderly deserve respect and care from younger generations out of reverence for their sacrifice throughout their lives. In most civilized countries, the government provides a pension out of an obligation that has as its basis, common decency and humanity to guarantee seniors are not homeless and starving. America owes a debt of gratitude to those people who, during their lifetimes, toiled and sacrificed to build a nation the entire population benefits from. Republicans do not agree and since the New Deal, have sought various ways to abolish Social Security that successfully prevents elderly Americans from living in destitution and poverty. To hear Republicans tell it, Social Security is welfare that deprives Wall Street from access to a worker’s life’s saving for their retirement income.
In many states, Republicans are making a concerted effort to demean public employee’s retirement systems by claiming they are the sole reason state budgets face shortfalls. The Republican solution is to gut retirement security millions of middle class workers pay into and take the stolen retirement savings and hand it over to Wall Street investors so they can squander the money in the next economic disaster. There is ample evidence the GOP seeks revisiting rape of private sector employees and retirees’ pensions to include public employees until they finally, once and for all, end the notion of a secure retirement for all Americans.
When Wall Street investors and corporate banks collapsed the world economy in 2008-2009, most retirement savings were decimated. However, because public pension systems were fully-funded prior to investment bankers’ mismanagement and shady derivative scams, they remained solvent and in many cases earned higher returns in 2011. Without these pensions, millions of retired Americans who taught our children, fought fires, cared for the sick, and enforced the law would be left without the means to provide themselves with basic housing, food, and healthcare in their golden years. If corporate-backed pension opponents have their way, millions of Americans will be penniless so Wall Street can boost their profits. Republicans created a myth that public pension systems are failing and point to state governments’ demise because retired public employees receive on average $19,000 annually from their investment during their entire working lives.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the total shortfall for public pension funds is “less than 0.2% of projected state product during the next 30 years.” In states with the greatest shortfall, the gap is “less than 0.5% during the same period and because pensions are paid out over generations of workers, funding can remain steady over long periods.” Last week, two ultra-conservatives working for corporate-funded propaganda outlets, American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, argued that guaranteed retirement accounts must end and to force workers to forfeit their entire life savings for their retirement and hand over their pensions to Wall Street in another privatization scam most Americans know as 401(k)s.
The financial crash of 2008-2009 devoured tens-of-millions of Americans’ 401(k) retirement accounts and during the past two weeks, this author conducted a non-scientific survey to determine the average amount private sector employees lost during Wall Street’s near-collapse. Twenty retired and near-retirement age individuals lost on average 63% of their retirement savings in the 2008-2009 crash. This author lost 79.8% of 38 years’ worth of retirement savings ending the possibility of retiring before age 92. Of the interviewees, only 2 out of 20 expressed confidence they will have an opportunity to retire and most plan on working until they die; or they will starve.
Republicans have made accusations that public employees refused to make concessions to accept reduced benefits or increased contributions, but that, like everything they say, is a blatant lie. Nearly every public employee group in the country has made concessions to enact reasonable pension reforms to ensure the retirement systems remain stable over the long haul. Private sector employees who were forced into the failed 401(k) system do not have the same outlook for stability of their retirement savings and after nearly three decades of data and experience, it is obvious the 401(k)s do not “meet the one true test of effectiveness; economic security in retirement.” Instead of correcting the failed systems, pension heretics and neo-conservatives intention is to destroy public pensions of Americans who still have a semblance of security in the retirement years.
The Republicans and their conservative think tanks are not content destroying retirement security for public employees, they all advocate a privatization scam to steal Americans’ Social Security retirement savings and give it to Wall Street in the form of more failed 401(k) scams. It is not an economic policy to help state and federal budget deficits, but a means of robbing the lifetime retirement savings of hard-working Americans to hand over to Wall Street to enrich investors and corporate banks and their CEOs. The benefit to workers who pay into Social Security and public retirement systems is non-existent and is an attempt to transfer more of Americans’ wealth to the top 1%; creating an elderly peasant class is recreation for Republicans.
Republicans have proffered the notion that American workers, the poor, and retired people are robbing wealth from the 1% that Republicans refer to as the “job creators.” The opposite is true and for the past ten years, Republicans attempted every scheme imaginable to steal the remaining wealth the 99% have and give it to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans. Willard Romney claims that the 99% are conducting class warfare against the 1% out of envy, because as a member of the wealthy elite, he truly believes that all wealth in this country belongs to the rich; that includes Americans’ retirement savings.
Americans have learned over the past few years that Republicans hate every segment of the population that is not the top 1% of income earners. The past year has revealed the GOP as criminals who will not be content until they have stolen every last bit of wealth from 99% of the population to hand to their wealthy supporters. They have assaulted the poor, minorities, middle class, working poor, and now retired Americans regardless if their criminal malfeasance means a population of peasants barely subsisting in abject poverty.
In 2011, Republicans made a concerted propaganda campaign to demean public employees for the sole purpose of stealing their retirement savings the same way they want to steal Americans’ Social Security retirement savings. Their goal is two-fold; enrich Wall Street investors and eliminate retirement security for all Americans to drive them into poverty. There is no other explanation and it is why Republicans are thieves. In most parts of the world, stealing from the elderly is considered a despicable criminal activity and even in America, there are laws against robbery and elder abuse. Unfortunately, Americans are learning that Republicans have no regard for the law or common decency and if they can steal a life-savings to enrich Wall Street and the 1% as well as prevent a secure retirement for every American, then they will achieve their ultimate goal of undoing the New Deal that made America a decent country to live and grow old in.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.