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Old 08-10-2013, 09:47 AM   #61
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If I did not need SS, I would take the money anyway. And then liberally sprinkle it about my community by buying products from local small businesses in my town. And I would give some to local people whom I knew had a genuine need, and never-mind about it being tax deductible.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:48 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by truenorth418 View Post
The whole idea of "means testing" SS makes me angry. So the reward for anybody who is prudent and lives below their means for their whole lives, works hard, saves, and invests and pays into 401(k) programs and IRAs is to be "means tested" into lower SS benefits than someone else who may have earned the same and paid just as much into the system but who spent their take home pay away by living to the max?
+1

I am not opposed to helping the truly needy. But, to do 'fair' means testing it seems to me we need to view the entire motion picture of a person's life, not just a snapshot taken today. I doubt if the government could do that. Also, what makes SS so popluar is that everybody is in it. Start excluding people and you start building a group that will fight it. Be careful about that.

Years ago I had the opportunity to talk with the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. He pointed out that if he did what the ultra-conservationists wanted to do - restrict cars, do away with amenities, keep the trails very rugged, remove lodgings, ect, the only people who could use the park would be rugged backpackers, a small percentage of the population. But, by providing an outdoor experience for as many people as possible, the park service generates a huge amount of public and political support.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:52 AM   #63
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Why leave the distribution of your untaken benefits to chance? I, who have spend a lifetime of gambling, chasing women and drinking, definitely need your money. PM me for an address to send the checks to.

Ahhhhhhh.... I understand. You spent your money on booze and women, and wasted the rest.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:05 AM   #64
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Maybe they should have acted more 'morally' in regards to their own future?
Sheesh! This board is full of dangerous radicals!!!
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:55 AM   #65
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There seems to be a heavy dose of judgment in many of the responses. The assumption seems to be it does not matter if others have more of a need then we do, what matters is why they that need. And we are willing to assume the need of others is because of their own failings.

If we were talking about food instead of money would our opinions change. Would actual need be what mattered as opposed to a pre-judgment as to why that need existed?
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:00 PM   #66
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There seems to be a heavy dose of judgment in many of the responses.
You ask a judgement question, you get judgement responses.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:32 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by Shanky
There seems to be a heavy dose of judgment in many of the responses.

OP seems to think this is a bad thing.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:51 PM   #68
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I've seen data that implies that poor people are more generous than wealthy people. Somehow it is "generous" for poor people on welfare, food stamps and other government handout to give aways a small part of that to others. But it's immoral for a wealthy person to even receive what rightfully theirs so they can give it away to others.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:53 PM   #69
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There seems to be a heavy dose of judgment in many of the responses. The assumption seems to be it does not matter if others have more of a need then we do, what matters is why they that need. And we are willing to assume the need of others is because of their own failings.

If we were talking about food instead of money would our opinions change. Would actual need be what mattered as opposed to a pre-judgment as to why that need existed?
The only "judgement" I see is "there are better ways to help people in need than by not talking ones Social Security benefit".
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:56 PM   #70
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Wikipedia says that Jeanne Calment of France lived to 122. If I lived anywhere near that long surely I would need it.
I happened to run across a review of a book that was written after an interview with 500 centenarians: "Celebrate 100: Centenarian Secrets to Success in Business and Life". See: Money secrets of centenarians- MSN Money. But you will not like what these 500 geezers said.

Hint: They said you should not retire early!
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The upper income cap on FICA should be removed. Then I would also change SS payments to be proportional to the number of years you've contributed and not linked to the amount you've contributed over the years. This is how the UK does things to ensure those that worked for low wages get a livable benefit. I know this is heresy in the US, but as a socialist it just seems like a decent thing to do.
The SS benefit formula already favors the low-income group, but perhaps it does not go as far as other nations.

As SS discussions come up here often, a while back I spent some time studying the Australian pension reform, and as I recall, it has some good features. At full retirement age, the retiree is guaranteed a minimum income which is more than $20K US, as I recall. This minimum baseline retirement income is means tested.

However, there is compulsory saving contribution, and on top of that workers are encouraged to save extra and invest in what is called a superannuation. This is their own money, similar to the US IRA or 401k. This has the desired effect that "Australians now have more money invested in managed funds per capita than any other economy... Compulsory superannuation in combination with buoyant economic growth has turned Australia into a 'shareholder society', where most workers are now indirect investors in the stock market. Consequently, a lively personal investment marketplace has developed, and many Australians take an interest in investment topics." See: Superannuation in Australia - Wikipedia.

When people see that some money is set aside for them, and for themselves only, they will tend to save more. When people are taxed "according to ability", then the money is thrown into a common pot to be dished out "according to needs", they have no incentives to save, have no abilities left, and become very needy. People are no fools.

PS. That past thread is here: Social Security for tail of baby boom.
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Old 08-10-2013, 01:16 PM   #71
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If I happen to not need SS then I still plan on taking it, and our children will benefit from more inherited assets towards funding their future retirements.
Ditto that! If I was a Decca millionaire I would still "need" it so its a moot point for me.
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Old 08-10-2013, 02:06 PM   #72
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Time out for some music.

I have posted this song by Eurythmics before (this duo were the writers and performers of the 80 hit "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"). The song "I saved the world today" was a hit in Europe, but not released in the US.


There's a million mouths to feed
I've got everything I need
I'm breezing

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Old 08-10-2013, 03:25 PM   #73
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There seems to be a heavy dose of judgment in many of the responses. The assumption seems to be it does not matter if others have more of a need then we do, what matters is why they that need. And we are willing to assume the need of others is because of their own failings.

If we were talking about food instead of money would our opinions change. Would actual need be what mattered as opposed to a pre-judgment as to why that need existed?
So you will not be applying for SS, it sounds like. Good for you for standing up for your convictions.
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Old 08-10-2013, 03:37 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Shanky;1346961[/quote
If we were talking about food instead of money would our opinions change. Would actual need be what mattered as opposed to a pre-judgment as to why that need existed?
How many "poor" people have you seen lately in the US who seem to be suffering from a food shortage? I live in the central city, so my store has many SNAP recipients. Take a look at their grocery baskets!

In general, in the US BMI is inverse to income.

Ha
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:35 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
Time out for some music.

I have posted this song by Eurythmics before (this duo were the writers and performers of the 80 hit "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"). The song "I saved the world today" was a hit in Europe, but not released in the US.

There's a million mouths to feed
I've got everything I need
I'm breezing


Then there's the counter point theme song:

http://youtu.be/ItlY6oIfRVg
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:47 PM   #76
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....but as a socialist it just seems like a decent thing to do.
That explains a lot, nun.
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:56 PM   #77
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When people see that some money is set aside for them, and for themselves only, they will tend to save more. When people are taxed "according to ability", then the money is thrown into a common pot to be dished out "according to needs", they have no incentives to save, have no abilities left, and become very needy. People are no fools.

PS. That past thread is here: Social Security for tail of baby boom.
If people were left entirely to their own resources to provide for retirement they would indeed save more, even Americans, although that may seem hard to believe. The result would be bad for the economy, however. Since individuals do not know how long they will live their "prudential savings" would tend to be high. Such savings in excess of the total savings needed by the pool of retirees would be a drain on the consumer economy. This is the reason that China has promised to develop a social safety net in the future, including a retirement plan, as a step toward developing a consumer economy. Consumer spending is 36% of the Chinese economy currently, versus 70% in the US.

The US Social Security system is much more efficient than individual savings because individuals are not faced with saving to provide for living until 96 when very few will actually do so.
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:20 PM   #78
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China has a peculiar problem. From what I read, it went through a pension reform in about 2000, when it was figured out that what was promised could not be delivered. I read that much of the past promise was abrogated.

The above, plus the "one-child" policy meant that the elderly could no longer depend on support from their sole child, as the old Oriental custom dictated. When earthquakes killed school children in some provinces, TV showed parents wailing at the loss of their single child whom they could no longer replace.

The above resulted in the Chinese saving like mad, and made the Japanese look like spendthrifts. I have read that they collectively saved something like 50%, which was about what you said in your post.

I just now searched the Web for "China Pension Reform" and saw more articles, but recently dated 2013. So, perhaps they are going through another reform. See: No Country for Old Age - NY Times.

By the way, China just passed a peculiar law. It allowed parents to sue their child (not children!) for lack of visitation. See: Visit Parents or Get Sued.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:14 PM   #79
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I paid into it for years so I plan to take it. It is money that will be spent and go back into the local economy and provide jobs. I would not want to leave extra money on the table for the politicians to spend.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:44 AM   #80
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I thought the essence of the OP's original question spoke to a more basic human behavior. I divorced it from SS, even though that was the example given. I thought about it as would equal individuals take from an unlimited supply what he/she needed? Or what they wanted? Would that behavior change if the supply were limited? Rationalization works wonders. I hope that I would just take what I needed, but then again, I have a lot of possessions that I don't really need. Do my wants trump others' needs? If so, then I see the moral dilemma.
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