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Old 07-06-2010, 09:12 AM   #221
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I can certainly accept that a native American or a descendant of slaves could feel a total lack of affiliation with the government of the people by the people and for the people. They were declared by that government to be not part of the people. But what distinguishes Americans in general from Europeans of my experience is that the people accept responsibility for the present and past acts of their representatives both good and bad. Obama Bush Clinton and Reagan are our presidents, whether we like their policies or not. When we deviate from this principle of accepting the acts of our representatives as our own we lose something of the real historical exceptionalism of the United States.
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Boehner: Raise SS age and means-test benefits
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Old 07-06-2010, 09:12 AM   #222
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The issue I'm mulling over with Roth conversions is tax bracket. It'll cost me 28% (more if I convert a serious amount) to convert and if it turns out that Roth withdrawals serve as disqualifying income for things such as SS means testing, I will have probably made a bad decision.
I doubt any politician wants to handle SS (except Paul Ryan) and I don't think ANYTHING will be done until things are dire. Politicians have been "passing the buck" on SS reform for many years.

You can't always make decisions based on what might happen, it can drive you nuts. I would be more worried about tax rates on IRA withdrawals in the near future than Roth withdrawals in the more distant future..........
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Old 07-06-2010, 09:56 AM   #223
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It is all related - we can talk about fixes, but if our political system isn't going to support those fixes it gets back to the political system.

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No one (until your post) has suggested that the public might eschew responsibility for the acts of our representatives.
Theoretically, I guess I can't eschew responsibility. But in a practical, real-world sense I feel I can. If the political system has developed to the point that I feel neither candidate represents anything close to what I want (or I even view them as crooks), and the reality is that no third party candidate can get elected, it's a little tough for me to say, "darn it, it's my fault the crook got elected".

So "darn it, I doubt we will see any real fixes for SS". But I don't think that means we shouldn't at least educate ourselves on the matter, with discussions like these.

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Old 07-06-2010, 10:23 AM   #224
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I'm starting to question that. I'm starting to believe that the duopoly of our two-party system, and over a hundred years of refinement of how to leverage that from inside the system has led to a government that is not US.

Duverger's law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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You might be interested in this - I looked at it because of Glenn Beck's book.

Overton window - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

At any given moment the “window” includes a range of policies considered to be politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, with “acceptable” defined as something a politician can recommend without being considered too “extreme” or outside the mainstream to gain or keep public office. Overton arranged the spectrum on a vertical axis with policies defined as “more free” at the top and “less free” at the bottom, where “free” is defined as less subject to government intervention. When the window moves or expands, it means that ideas previously not considered politically acceptable have become so, and possibly that ideas previously considered acceptable are no longer.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:13 PM   #225
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It simply is no help to confuse overall government spending (topic one)
with financing social security (topic 2)

The government spends because voters reward them for doing so. The american people demand more services from the government than they are willing to pay for

We have met the enemy and he is us

The government is US

The point I was trying to make is that the gvmt did mix them... and because they mixed them they showed us that we were not buying as big a gvmt as we really were... IF the funding for SS was not used to make it look like our deficit was 'low'.... then people would have complained about the deficit a lot sooner...
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:32 PM   #226
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Where did that come from? No one (until your post) has suggested that the public might eschew responsibility for the acts of our representatives.
I can't put any other meaning on the comment

"a government that is not US." underlining in orginal

The statement makes no sense unless it is a denial of the fundamental relationship that is inherent in the US constitutional structure, one in which We the People are the government.

It is a very common comment by Germans , who mentally separate themselves from the Nazis (no I am not calling anyone a nazi)
Many Europeans, in my experience, think of the regime in power as some kind of separate entity from the people.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:44 PM   #227
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Many Europeans, in my experience, think of the regime in power as some kind of separate entity from the people.
I think that is happening in the USA with all the video of the congress while in session, town hall meetings and interviews.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:45 PM   #228
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The point I was trying to make is that the gvmt did mix them... and because they mixed them they showed us that we were not buying as big a gvmt as we really were... IF the funding for SS was not used to make it look like our deficit was 'low'.... then people would have complained about the deficit a lot sooner...
Representative democracy is a system of government, not a system for producing wise or truthful public policies.

The "deficit" is a totally artificial accounting construct, useful for some purposes, useless for others. States have been selling and leasing back public facilities so they can show voters "reductions in the deficit"

If the government borrows a billion dollars and spends it on something productive the effect on the deficit is the same as borrowing a billion dollars and spending it on a boondoggle. (Feel free to put anythign in either class) What is different is the effect on the future economy. As just one example, Feeding and educating children is immensely productive, whether paid for by parents or the government. Virtually all studies show that athletic stadiums are boondoggles and unproductive.

Guess which ones fly with the voters?



The key is always productive investment, not the deficit.
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:59 PM   #229
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A bit of data that surprised me. I hadn't considered how income affects relates to life expectancy.

from:
The State of Working America
via
Ezra Klein - More on raising the retirement age

However, it is clear that Mr. Klein has no clue about early retirement:
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First, at what age do you want to retire? I'd imagine most affluent workers would pick a number higher than 62. A lot of us like what we're doing, and sitting in an office chair isn't much harder on our bodies than sitting in a chair at home. But that makes us abnormal.
BZZZT! Thanks for playing.

BTW, I do not particularly recommend Klein's blog.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:15 PM   #230
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A bit of data that surprised me. I hadn't considered how income affects life expectancy.
Why are you proposing a cause/effect relationship between income and life expectancy? I think that's highly unlikely, and that a more likely explanation is that some of the same factors that lead an individual to have low income also lead them to live a shorter life.

For example: It is well known that smoking is far more prevalent among people with lower incomes. This alone is probably an important factor in the life expectancy differences. More fundamentally, the same decisionmaking skills that lead a person to decide that taking up smoking is a good idea might lead them to make suboptimum decisions when it comes to eduction and career choices.

Another possible common root cause: It's likely that health status affects income (as opposed to the reverse causation you propose). A person who has a chronic sickness is likely to die younger than a healthy person, and also likely to be working fewer hours (whether he's a day laborer or a neurosurgeon). Also, I'd imagine that health status affects promotions and thus hourly pay.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:18 PM   #231
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A bit of data that surprised me. I hadn't considered how income affects life expectanc.
To be precise the chart shows income correlates with life expectancy.
There are many reasons why two variables are correlated without either one "affecting" the other. Ie if we find that marriage and happiness are coorrelated it does not mean that marriage causes happiness or that happiness causes marriage. Further research for example might show that money "causes" both
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:40 PM   #232
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Why are you proposing a cause/effect relationship between income and life expectancy? I think that's highly unlikely, and that a more likely explanation is that some of the same factors that lead an individual to have low income also lead them to live a shorter life.

For example: It is well known that smoking is far more prevalent among people with lower incomes. This alone is probably an important factor in the life expectancy differences. More fundamentally, the same decisionmaking skills that lead a person to decide that taking up smoking is a good idea might lead them to make suboptimum decisions when it comes to eduction and career choices.

Another possible common root cause: It's likely that health status affects income (as opposed to the reverse causation you propose). A person who has a chronic sickness is likely to die younger than a healthy person, and also likely to be working fewer hours (whether he's a day laborer or a neurosurgeon). Also, I'd imagine that health status affects promotions and thus hourly pay.
Gimme a break already! It is an interesting bit of data. Despite the fact that I used the word "affect" I did not claim any sort of causal relationship.
Now can we talk about how this relates to raising the retirement age, particularly the argument that uses the overall average increase in life expectancy to justify the change?
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:48 PM   #233
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Nevermind, overly sarcastic and pessimistic.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:06 PM   #234
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Why are you proposing a cause/effect relationship between income and life expectancy? I think that's highly unlikely, and that a more likely explanation is that some of the same factors that lead an individual to have low income also lead them to live a shorter life.
I'm not surprised one bit that there is a cause/effect between income and life expectancy. Higher socio-economic levels have more/better access to preventative and on-going healthcare, which extends life expectancy.

Moreover, there is a link between higher incomes and education levels, which (education) leads to more awareness of health issues.

Finally, at the lowest socio-economic level people are at risk for early deaths (be it early childhood or young males).
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:16 PM   #235
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Gimme a break already! It is an interesting bit of data. Despite the fact that I used the word "affect" I did not claim any sort of causal relationship.
Okay. I just thought you meant what you wrote, and "affect" does imply causation.

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Now can we talk about how this relates to raising the retirement age, particularly the argument that uses the overall average increase in life expectancy to justify the change?
I don't see that the difference in expected remaining lifespan between a 60YO low income worker and a 60 YO with a higher income has much to do with when workers (by policy) should qualify for full SS. I'd favor treating everyone equally: We gradually adjust the FRA so that the average retiree can expect to draw 12 years of SS payments. Rich, poor, healthy, unhealthy. We can keep the "you can take reduced benefits a few years earlier" option, which helps (in a small way) someone who believes they may not have many good years left to retire. That option should not be linked to income.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:37 PM   #236
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Let me try this one again.
The recent increase in life expectancy has benefitted the upper income cohort more than the low income cohort. Raising the retirement age makes SS a relatively worse deal for the poor. Causality has nothing to do with it.

And the data is for males age 60. No infant mortality involved.

Apologies for typos/wording. My Internet connection just failed and I am posting this from my iPhone.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:45 PM   #237
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Originally Posted by IndependentlyPoor View Post
A bit of data that surprised me. I hadn't considered how income affects relates to life expectancy.

from:
The State of Working America
via
Ezra Klein - More on raising the retirement age

However, it is clear that Mr. Klein has no clue about early retirement:
BZZZT! Thanks for playing.

BTW, I do not particularly recommend Klein's blog.
This focus on life expenctancy is misleading. Poor people tend to have poor children tend to have high perinatal mortality and often enough get shot or otherwise removed from the living long before they reach SS age. I would really like to see the data for income and life expectancy beyond age 66, which is what counts. All these gurus who harp on life expectancy are deliberately distorting reality.

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Old 07-08-2010, 05:49 PM   #238
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I'm not surprised one bit that there is a cause/effect between income and life expectancy. Higher socio-economic levels have more/better access to preventative and on-going healthcare, which extends life expectancy.
Sure, it's likely that poor people get lower quality health care and that this reduces their life expectancy. But the provided graphic by itself doesn't indicate any causation.

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Moreover, there is a link between higher incomes and education levels, which (education) leads to more awareness of health issues.
True, and "link" does not equal "causation." I suppose somebody might learn something in their higher education that helps them live longer, but I've been to lots of schoolin' and I can't think of any specific facts I picked up in my formal education after HS that falls into this category.

As it happens, we do have a way of taking most of the impact of "access to medical care" out of the equation and seeing if a group of Americans with a "higher" socioeconomic status (which conflates all kinds of factors: income, education, etc) live longer than those with "lower" socioeconomic status.
If we look at US active duty military retirees, all of them have access to the same medical care system. Officers and enlisted personnel both have to pass the same physical exam when they join the military, and for the next 20 years they live under the same medical care system. So, the primary differences between the officer and enlisted retiree populations are income and education levels, but both get about the same medical care. A 60 YO retired officer can expect to live 23.1 additional years. A 60 YO retired enlisted serviceman can expect to live just 19.6 additional years (Figures for 2004, and all for active duty retirees. Link) What accounts for the difference? I can't say for sure, but I'd look to self-chosen lifestyle factors (smoking rates, risky behaviors, etc) rather than any life-extending hygiene tips the officers might have learned in grad school.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:54 PM   #239
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Okay. I just thought you meant what you wrote, and "affect" does imply causation.

I don't see that the difference in expected remaining lifespan between a 60YO low income worker and a 60 YO with a higher income has much to do with when workers (by policy) should qualify for full SS. I'd favor treating everyone equally: We gradually adjust the FRA so that the average retiree can expect to draw 12 years of SS payments. Rich, poor, healthy, unhealthy. We can keep the "you can take reduced benefits a few years earlier" option, which helps (in a small way) someone who believes they may not have many good years left to retire. That option should not be linked to income.
Some earlier posts (sorry, too much trouble to quote them with this slow connection) were concerned with richer participants getting a relatively worse deal than the poor. This data is relevant to that determination.

And if I change cohorts when calculating an average it can affect the result, causal or not.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:57 PM   #240
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Let me try this one again.
The recent increase in life expectancy has benefitted the upper income cohort more than the low income cohort. Raising the retirement age makes SS a relatively worse deal for the poor. Causality has nothing to do with it.
I'd prefer to concentrate on helping poor people to live as long as wealthier people--that's the root and more fundamental issue.

The lower life expectancy for lower income people (and for black Americans of all incomes) did come up as an issue during the SS privatization debate about 5-8 years ago. The point was that with private accounts these groups would reap a disproportionate benefit, since the proceeds from the accounts would go to their heirs. It would be a way to help some families out of poverty. But, this point was lost in the screaming and fear-mongering about risking Granny's life savings in the rsiky stock options.
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