Skip to Content

Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)

As the scaremongering begins, this is your fight too!

President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act (1935) and President Johnson signs the Medicare Act (1965)President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act (1935) and President Johnson signs the Medicare Act (1965)
 

Here's the message: Forget all the propaganda! The reality is that Social Security is not facing an actuarial problem of too many people living too long. It's a socio-political problem: Do we as a people want to adequately fund the retirement of our elderly parents and of those suffering from disabilities or do we want to go back to an era where they ended up starving on the streets and dumpster diving, or as a burden to their children?

If we want a decent, secure old age -- and you're going to need that when you're older -- the money is there to fund it. What's needed is the political will and the collective power to demand it.

Medicare's Under Attack Too

The same can be said of Medicare and of health care in general. Do we as a society want health care to be good for those with money, and shitty or nonexistent for those without it? In the case of both programs, it's not that solutions don't exist. In most of the countries of Europe, and even many in Asia, retirement is generously funded by government programs like Social Security that are not going bankrupt even though benefit amounts paid are much higher and populations are even skewed older than here in the US. Likewise, health care is in most modern countries seen as a right and is fully funded by some kind of state-run program, while we have a jerry-rigged system that relies primarily on for-profit systems and private insurance which, taken as a whole, costs more than double as a percentage of GDP and on a per-capita basis what it costs to deliver in other countries. And state-run systems cover everyone while ours leaves tens of millions unable to see a doctor or to get timely care in a hospital.

To those who might say we as a nation cannot afford the hundreds of billions it would cost to adequately fund these vital programs, my reply is: America is currently spending two-thirds of all federal discretionary funds each year -- about $1.3 trillion a year -- on the military. That's more than the next 10 countries including China and Russia spend on their militaries. $5.5 trillion has been spent by the US just on the so-called "War on Terror" since 2001 (during which time the amount of terrorism around the globe and the number of people committing acts of mayhem have soared, which shows what a waste the whole "war" has been). And then recall that President Obama ordered, and President Trump has backed a $1-trillion 10-year program to "upgrade and modernize" America's nuclear weapons. It's a staggeringly expensive program which serves no defensive purpose and only increases the pressure on other countries to do the same and raises the chance that we -- and they -- will eventually use them.



story | by Dr. Radut