Monday, February 04, 2013

Elder Belle's Blessing: Atrios

(Photograph by Patrice Carlton and published at National Geographic.)

This edition of Elder Belle's Blessing, an award given from time to time to those who enhance elders' rights and benefits, goes to Atrios, the proprietor of Eschaton, a lefty-blog.  Atrios (whose real name is Duncan Black) is an economist of the Keynesian School and he thinks that the very worst thing to do in this economy is to institute austerity measures.  Among his many suggestions for kick-starting things is lowering the age for Medicare and Social Security and increasing the benefits.  Here's his latest.

The pain caucus, austerity freaks, fix the debt assholes, the Washington Post editorial board, etc... basically exist to scare politicians away from actually promising (and maybe even delivering) nice things to voters. One would think it'd be a nobrainer for politicians, especially in certain parts of the country, to campaign on an immediate across the board 20% increase in Social Security benefits. Some people completely screwed by the great recession could really use it.   [Emphasis added]

 The post was written in response to this New York Times article

In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.

These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company. ...

The share of older people applying for Social Security early spiked during the recession as people sought whatever income they could find. The penalty they will pay is permanent, as retirees who take benefits at age 62 — as Ms. Zimmerman did, to help make her mortgage payments — will receive 30 percent less in each month’s check for the rest of their lives than they would if they had waited until full retirement age (66 for those born after 1942).  [Emphasis added]

That's a pretty sizable loss. That's one good reason for raising the benefits just by itself.

Lowering the eligibility age for both Medicare and Social Security would also take the pressure of the elders, something which Atrios has also advocated.  The upside of both of his proposals would have a dual effect:  elders could remove themselves from the labor market (whether working three part-time jobs at much lower pay just to pay the mortgage or holding onto a job only because of the need for health insurance) and be able to exist more comfortably; their retiring also would free up some jobs for the rest of the labor market.

We don't need to cut Social Security and Medicare, we need to expand it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always surprised at the way the anti-Social Security crowd speak of old people as if we have no connection to the rest of the population. Do they think we all live on ice floes? Last I checked, most old folks have children and those children won't let their parents starve. So when you beggar grannie, you beggar her children too. That's probably the point.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a few weeks ago I wrote to my Reps. suggesting lowering SS age to 60 and Medicare to 62, and for the same reasons.
Great minds ...

8:36 AM  

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