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Author: oncqueen Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 75894  
Subject: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/13/2006 9:50 PM
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One unpleasant fact is that as folks approach retirement, health problems start to accumulate, even in those who are non-smoking, clean-living, seatbelt-wearing, previously healthy people. It's imperative that as people approach retirement they ensure that they have medical insurance, rather than letting it lapse or relying entirely on Medicare.
Over the past month, I have seen one man who has no coverage whatsoever for his cancer; he had previously inherited what seemed like a nice amount but it was gone. He said, "I've always been healthy and never thought I would live this long." Another paid his insurance for years, but never used it and let it lapse, but now 2 years later he has cancer. Many others do have Medicare BUT they have a formulary of drugs that are and are not approved for this or that malignancy. The newest stuff takes months to get onto the formulary, and even then a patient's share might be prohibitive (20% of a drug that is $8000 per month). Many docs see patients with no insurance but many do not. Some will not even see Medicare patients because the payment schedule is so poor and the payments lag so far behind! Getting Medicaid can take months, and even then one's choices are somewhat limited. Cancer is hard enough without having to deal with all this, and many offices do not spend the time to try to get people help. One cannot have enough benefit dinners to make a real dent.

I think the current system is terrible and do not intent to open a "can of worms" here, but unfortunately, I think it will take years before things will improve, especially when our highest elected officials have VIP medical care that is essentially free to them. But planning ahead and budgeting for the extra amount to ensure good coverage is money well spent.
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Author: ResNullius Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53122 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/13/2006 10:13 PM
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I think it will take years before things will improve, especially when our highest elected officials have VIP medical care that is essentially free to them.

It ain't just the highest elected officials who have VIP coverage. All federal workers have it, and members of the House and Senate have the best of all. Also, most all the folks in these groups get coverage for life. It's past time that the members of government get no better than the rest of us. They should have to pay for their own Blue Cross Blue Shield, just like I do.

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Author: hockeypop Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53125 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 7:22 AM
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Getting Medicaid can take months, and even then one's choices are somewhat limited. Cancer is hard enough without having to deal with all this, and many offices do not spend the time to try to get people help. One cannot have enough benefit dinners to make a real dent.

I think the current system is terrible and do not intent to open a "can of worms" here, but unfortunately, I think it will take years before things will improve, especially when our highest elected officials have VIP medical care that is essentially free to them. But planning ahead and budgeting for the extra amount to ensure good coverage is money well spent.


onqueen:

While I agree with the principle of what you say about our healthcare system and also agree something very much needs to be done. I feel compelled to at least mention the other side.

My M-I-L, who has nothing saved and receives only spousal social security (she was divorced) has had tremendous Medicare treatment. We argued with her until she got a supplement, but she's had a pacemaker, cornea surgery, and a heart valve repair (after getting third and fourth opinions from the Mayo Clinic and Mt. Sinai (NY)), all on Medicare. I suppose from the supplemental policies she chose she has never been crippled by her rather substantial drug prescriptions.

In my office I had to "order" an employee not to drop our health policy because she was single and didn't want to pay the co-pays. We had multiple people talk to her and she reluctantly relented. Fortunately (or unfortunately) she has since had massive problems culminating in brain surgery, and while our plan has skyrocketed, she was covered.

I guess what I'm saying is that Medicare is pretty good (and I don't know how we're going to continue to pay for it) and we can't totally prevent people from making stupid decisions.

By the way, I've posted this before, but if you know people who have uninsured children, they should know about this.

Millions of uninsured kids are eligible for low-cost or free health coverage from Medicaid and SCHIP (State Childrens Health Insurance Program). Join the Back-to-School Campaign at www.CoveringKidsandFamilies.org to help these kids get the health coverage they need. Tell parents of uninsured children they can call 1-877-Kids-Now toll-free to find out if their children are eligible.

Hockeypop

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Author: AcmeFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53126 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 7:42 AM
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It's past time that the members of government get no better than the rest of us.

Many members of government have salaries that are just a fraction of what they can get in a corporate position. The benefits are a part of the balancing act. If you cut in one place, you will have to make up for it elsewhere...unless you want to have a lower-quality worker fill some very important jobs...

Acme
(Not a member of government.)

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53127 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:10 AM
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>> Many members of government have salaries that are just a fraction of what they can get in a corporate position. The benefits are a part of the balancing act. If you cut in one place, you will have to make up for it elsewhere...unless you want to have a lower-quality worker fill some very important jobs... <<

I'd rather increase their pay and reduce their job security and benefits (like the private sector). That would accomplish two things: (1) create more of a meritocracy that rewards performance, and (2) reduce the impact of the huge ticking timebomb that is "future unfunded liabilities" like almost fully paid health care for life and a generous pension.

Those who are already employed by government, I can live with keeping under the current rules. But they should create a new pay/benefits structure for new employees, one with higher base pay that concentrates more on matching contributions into the TSP. And no more generous retiree health benefits and full pension at age 50.

#29

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Author: AcmeFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53128 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:34 AM
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I'd rather increase their pay and reduce their job security and benefits (like the private sector).

I agree. I am not a fan of the current system. I only commented the way I did because people typically state that gummint benefits should be cut without considering that pay would have to increase or there would be a severe brain-drain from many key positions. And since the pay is a current cost to the budget while life-benefits is more of a future cost, which way do you think Congress is likely to lean at the moment?

Acme

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Author: pedorrero Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53132 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 1:16 PM
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There's always the "Hemingway Option." Messy, but effective. I'll try running the car in the garage with the door shut, first.

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Author: SooozFool Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53133 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 2:46 PM
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>>they should create a new pay/benefits structure for new employees, one with higher base pay that concentrates more on matching contributions into the TSP. And no more generous retiree health benefits and full pension at age 50.<<

Done, more than 20 years ago. The government abandoned the old Civil Service Retirement System for new employees beginning in 1984. While you still see people retiring under the old system today, you won't for too many more years. Employees hired after 1984 are in a retirement plan that combines Social Security, a smaller pension (in my case, it'll be roughly 30 percent of salary at retirement), and the TSP.

Workers and retirees pay for a share of their health insurance costs. It is a good deal compared to much (but not all) of the private sector (I've certainly worked for private employers where the benefits were greater), but it isn't free.

As to age 50 as a retirement age, I believe some law enforcement employees and perhaps air traffic controllers may get full retirement benefits by that age, or employees who have put in 30 years by then (some start early). Most people aren't eligible to retire with full benefits at age 50, however. Indeed, anyone who retires before age 62 under the new system will see no cost of living increases to their pension until they reach age 62, which will be a disincentive to early retirement for many covered by the newer system.

SooozFool

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Author: foolazis Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53134 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 3:39 PM
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If you cut in one place, you will have to make up for it elsewhere...unless you want to have a lower-quality worker fill some very important jobs..

I'm not too impressed by the quality of the people we have now - especially in Congress.

foolazis

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Author: wcfenton Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53135 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 4:52 PM
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It ain't just the highest elected officials who have VIP coverage. All federal workers have it, and members of the House and Senate have the best of all. Also, most all the folks in these groups get coverage for life. It's past time that the members of government get no better than the rest of us. They should have to pay for their own Blue Cross Blue Shield, just like I do.
-------------------

"All" federal workers do not get free VIP Medical coverage.

Non-elected Federal Civil Service employees don't get a free ride and I wouldn't exactly say that the military side of the federal government do either. You are free to join either organization, if you qualify, to reap all the benefits. Although, in some federal positions, you may have to deploy to an area you would rather not go to, live under less then desireable conditions, be separated from your loved ones for extended periods of time and maybe even risk your life.

The grass sometimes looks a little greener on the other side. My take on this is that their will always be "trade-offs" in life - no matter what you do or which way you go.

Regards,
Bill


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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53136 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 5:04 PM
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The grass sometimes looks a little greener on the other side. My take on this is that their will always be "trade-offs" in life - no matter what you do or which way you go.

Agreed.

By the way: Happy Anniversary!

Hedge

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Author: PKnudsen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53137 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 7:11 PM
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We'll see a national health plan in 10 years. The retiring boomers will demand it.

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53138 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 7:51 PM
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>> We'll see a national health plan in 10 years. The retiring boomers will demand it. <<

Well, if it's simply about boomers looking out for self-interest, it would likely come in the form of trying to expand Medicare so folks younger than 65 could pay to "opt in" to it. I remember President Clinton floated a trial balloon about letting folks age 55-64 buy into the Medicare system. Didn't go over well then, but as boomers age, who knows?

The problem is that they likely won't charge these people what they should, and as usual, their children and grandchildren pick up the tab.

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53139 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 8:03 PM
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The problem is that they likely won't charge these people what they should, and as usual, their children and grandchildren pick up the tab.

You'll be old one of these days, #29. I hope you remember all these posts.

Hedge

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Author: MadCapitalist Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53140 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 8:33 PM
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The problem is that they likely won't charge these people what they should, and as usual, their children and grandchildren pick up the tab.

You'll be old one of these days, #29. I hope you remember all these posts.

Hedge


Why? Are you assuming that he will sell out his belief system when he gets old?

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53141 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:05 PM
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Why? Are you assuming that he will sell out his belief system when he gets old?

Are you implying that no-one does? If you're still young, you can't imagine the changes that are going to occur to you as you get old. Your options dwindle. Your body slows down or becomes infirm. Your IQ drops a few points, and your brain is just a bit slower, even to you. Your dreams and hopes change due to your changed options. The people that sell insurance want triple what they want for someone fresh from college, or perhaps they won't even sell it to you at all. And yet, you're still in there. You are still you to you, even if you're washed up and worthless to the age-group that you still think you belong to in your mind.

Each generation thinks it invented sex. The young think that the world would be perfect if they didn't have to support those damned old people. But, everyone changes as they age. As the difference between your age and the age of an "old person" shrinks to zero, you realise how wrong you were in your youth. That's a fact you can count on.

Hedge

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53142 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:19 PM
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>> You'll be old one of these days, #29. I hope you remember all these posts. <<

I save until it hurts because I don't expect these pyramid schemes to be around when I'm old. I assume I'll be left to fend for myself. It's not like I've received many of the same promises and benefits my parents and grandparents have had; why shouldn't I expect the rate of (mostly) regressive wealth transfer from young to old to continue?

If it's around to help me pay for it, I'll consider it a bonus. The bottom line is that as long as the population keeps getting older and older, the current system of having one generation pay for its elders becomes more and more onerous over time.

It has nothing to do with being callous toward the old, but rather with understanding reality. A smaller and smaller percentage of the population paying for the needs of a larger and larger percentage of the population, in a commodity which rises in cost far faster than inflation, is simply not sustainable.

#29

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53143 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:26 PM
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>> You'll be old one of these days, #29. I hope you remember all these posts. <<

One more thing to add here.

You take me to task for suggesting that I think the 55-64 people should pay for their fair share of opting into an expanded Medicare plan as if it were heartless.

Let me tell you something, Hedge. Given who I am talking about -- mostly EARLY RETIREES -- don't you think it's reasonable to expect that if they are financially able to retire early, they should be financially able to pay their way in a health care plan?

I would contend that it's heartless to the *taxpayers* to allow mostly affluent 55-64 year olds to get health care heavily subsidized be taxpayers.

We can deal with the medical disability issues separately; there are already Medicaid programs and such for them. I'm talking about people who are physically able to work but choose not to.

So are you in favor of letting wealthy early retirees get heavily taxpayer-subsidized health care at the expense of the working class?

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53144 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:42 PM
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You take me to task for suggesting that I think the 55-64 people should pay for their fair share of opting into an expanded Medicare plan as if it were heartless.

Let me tell you something, Hedge. Given who I am talking about -- mostly EARLY RETIREES -- don't you think it's reasonable to expect that if they are financially able to retire early, they should be financially able to pay their way in a health care plan?


Oh my, #29, have you gotten the idea that the averate 55-64 year old person is wealthy? The truth is that many many of those of us (myself included) who have retired early had no choice. In my case, I have possibly just enough to last until Social Security. But, that assumes that I don't get cancer or anything else that is catastrophic to my savings.

For most of us early retirees, the future is very fragile. On paper, we may be worth quite a lot. But, any significant setback will exhaust our nest egg, and force us out of our homes. We don't have the fallback possibility of going back to work to make up for it. Sorry, man, but this is not a life of leisure I'm living, and the same is true for many many of the others in my situation. I live a very simple life. My idea of a good time is going to the river and fishing, or talking to someone on the ham radio, or chatting on the internet. That, of course, is when I'm not having a fatigue attack, or my meds have backfired, or perhaps I'm just simply not feeling good enough to even get out of bed and take a shower. And then, there's arguing with the pharmacist who thinks it's his job to override the refill I just got from my doctor that morning.

I can understand how you feel, #29, because the media is full of those very same assumptions: the old are in their "golden years" (hah!), people are retiring early and taking advantage of the system, the new retiree is a double-dipper living the high-life, and on and on till it makes me scream. I wish the media would spend a little more time on the reality of the masses, and a bit less on the excesses of the lucky few.

"Golden Years" --- hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Don't I wish.

Hedge



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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53145 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:46 PM
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>> My idea of a good time is going to the river and fishing, or talking to someone on the ham radio, or chatting on the internet. That, of course, is when I'm not having a fatigue attack, or my meds have backfired, or perhaps I'm just simply not feeling good enough to even get out of bed and take a shower. And then, there's arguing with the pharmacist who thinks it's his job to override the refill I just got from my doctor that morning. <<

I hear you, but I don't know why you're being so defensive. I did say I was referring to people who were in good enough physical condition to hold a regular full-time job. I readily acknowledge the difference between them and people who have physical conditions that make decent, regular full-time employment all but impossible.

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53146 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:49 PM
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We can deal with the medical disability issues separately; there are already Medicaid programs and such for them. I'm talking about people who are physically able to work but choose not to.

Since you double posted to make up for something you forgot, I'll take the liberty of doing the same. You should get rid of the misbegotten idea that the Social Security Disability system is fair and balanced. There are some disorders, most notably the complex of disorders that are grouped together and named fibromyalgia, that are not covered by SSD, except in the dreams of most of us who have it. And then, there are the doctors who don't think it's "their job" to "make the judgment" that someone is disabled. I'm sorry if you think that my views are prejudiced or just plain wrong. Unfortunately, I've not just been there, I AM there. There is no disability payment for me, no medicaid, no work, and almost no insurance.

And, should you think that I'm the exception, I can point you to support groups for fibro patients to disabuse you of that notion.

Hedge

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53147 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/14/2006 9:59 PM
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>> And, should you think that I'm the exception, I can point you to support groups for fibro patients to disabuse you of that notion. <<

I believe you. Even if I weren't inclined to do so, I know enough people with that condition to understand. But I think the question of whether or not able-bodied people less than "retirement age" should get health care subsidies and how you *define* "able-bodied" are two different issues. Philosophically one can agree in with the first even if they recognize that there may be issues with the second.

#29

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Author: MadCapitalist Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53148 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 8:10 AM
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Why? Are you assuming that he will sell out his belief system when he gets old?

Are you implying that no-one does? If you're still young, you can't imagine the changes that are going to occur to you as you get old.


No, I am not implying that no one does, but it is insulting to suggest that ziggy necessarily will.

Also, how do you know what I can imagine? I am only 37, but I have suffered from chronic fatigue for years and an aching back (absolutely agonizing at times) for the last year. I have also seen the suffering that older people close to me have gone through.

I can't speak for ziggy, but I will *never* believe that the government should be involved in providing healthcare, even if I become incapacitated. It is totally against what I believe.

You might be incapable of remaining true to what you believe is rational and right, but don't think for a moment that the rest of us are.

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53149 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 8:57 AM
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You might be incapable of remaining true to what you believe is rational and right, but don't think for a moment that the rest of us are.

As you say: you're still young.

Hedge

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Author: SooozFool Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53150 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 9:45 AM
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>>I was referring to people who were in good enough physical condition to hold a regular full-time job.<<

Older workers may be in good enough condition, but their age and relatively high wages often put them on the front lines for layoffs and forced early retirements. Have you factored into the picture how difficult it is for older workers to go out and find a new job?

>>I readily acknowledge the difference between them and people who have physical conditions that make decent, regular full-time employment all but impossible.<<

So, regardless of their prior professions and training and experience and previous salary . . . I guess you'd like to see the older folk donning paper hats and serving you burgers. Which will produce a salary that won't cover their living expenses, especially medical expenses, so either way, you're stuck.

And as for those who've retired with a full pension, and could work but choose not to, that's the deal they struck over the course of their working life. They should ditch it all just to make younger folk feel better now? When's the last time you traded your comforts because someone was starving elsewhere? Sorry to be flip here, but think about it. What, exactly, is it you want, and how, exactly, do you propose that it be made to happen? Realistically. It's easy to complain, much harder to collect the facts, see the whole picture, and come up with workable solutions. Politicians love it when we don't bother to do those things. They build careers on it. And then we get the cracked-up, crazy system we're living with, which we brought upon ourselves.

SooozFool
Who finds generational warfare silly
Because eventually, everybody changes sides.

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53151 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 9:58 AM
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>> Who finds generational warfare silly
Because eventually, everybody changes sides.
<<

But the problem is that the way things are structured, each successive generation gets a worse deal than their parents. We can't keep going down this road. If the old-age safety nets were financially stable and not deteriorating, it might be another story. But they're not, and the only way anyone knows to "fix" is it to keep making the working generations pay more and more.

I fear that "generational warfare" in the rhetorical sense could turn into a generational revolt. Since it's clear there's no political will to eliminate or phase out these programs, we at least need to stabilize things into something that is sustainable from generation to generation and doesn't become increasingly onerous on the working people with each successive generation. So far, Social Security and Medicare are failing that test badly.

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53152 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 10:06 AM
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But the problem is that the way things are structured, each successive generation gets a worse deal than their parents.

I will guarantee you that your parents worked harder than you ever will, for a lower standard of living. The things that make your life what it is weren't available back then. The productivity gains we've had from technological changes in the past 20 years, alone, have almost completely eliminated poverty in the US. (Not being poor, but real poverty.)

You are not getting a worse deal than your parents did, even if your taxes double from their current rate. If think so, check the tax rates of the 60s.

I fear that "generational warfare" in the rhetorical sense could turn into a generational revolt.

Perhaps, but the numbers aren't on your side.

Since it's clear there's no political will to eliminate or phase out these programs,

Why do they need to be elminated? Because it will inconvenience you? Because it will cost you one of your cappucinos a week? You have my sympathy. I suggest once again that you check the tax rates of the 60s. Perhaps you'll get at least some inkling of what a good deal you have, compared to what your parents had.

Hedge

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Author: TwoCybers Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53153 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 10:13 AM
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Well for what it is worth, medicare recipients are getting a much better deal then working folks. Your monthly part B premium by law only pays 25% of the cost. Working folks pay the rest through taxes.

Until medical care becomes "right" people would be a lot better off if they considered medical care in the same light as cars or houses -- these items cost money and if you want them you will have to pay.

Gordon
Atlanta

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53154 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 10:17 AM
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>> Why do they need to be elminated? Because it will inconvenience you? Because it will cost you one of your cappucinos a week? You have my sympathy. I suggest once again that you check the tax rates of the 60s. <<

The status quo is not sustainable. That leaves either eliminating them (phasing them out) or changing them.

I'm getting tired of your insinuations about my situation ("eliminating a cappucino"), and I'm beginning to take offense to it. I accept my position in the generational succession. It's mostly generations younger than mine that I'm worrying about. I'm getting SICK of your implications that I'm being selfish and heartless.

As for the tax rates, yes they were higher, but they were *marginal* tax rates and had far more loopholes than today.

>> Perhaps you'll get at least some inkling of what a good deal you have, compared to what your parents had. <<

What my parents had? You mean like company-provided health insurance for early retirees and a very generous pension? Social Security and Medicare before they're likely scaled back or means tested? Oh, sorry -- I don't get the first two and probably not the latter, either.

And I would thank you for NOT making INCORRECT assumptions about my financial situation OR my desires to eliminate any of these safety net. They are probably FALSE.

AGAIN -- maybe you'll get it this time -- I am talking about FUTURE generations here in systems that become more and more burdensome over time. Do you think that is sustainable given the trends in worker-to-retiree ratio in the future?

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53155 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 10:58 AM
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I'm getting tired of your insinuations about my situation ("eliminating a cappucino"), and I'm beginning to take offense to it.

Well, at least there's no misunderstanding.

AGAIN -- maybe you'll get it this time -- I am talking about FUTURE generations here in systems that become more and more burdensome over time. Do you think that is sustainable given the trends in worker-to-retiree ratio in the future?

You're still coming back to the same conclusion, and that is discarding the older generation. Sorry, but that isn't going to happen. What will eventually happen is reflection on the societal benefits of heroic medical efforts that cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. I'm not going to list them, because you or someone else will be morally offended. But, those procedures are where the big money goes. It's not in keeping grandpa in an old folks home till he dies, and it's not in paying out social security and medicaid for run-of-the-mill illnesses. The problem is in the lack of reasonable caps for publicly funded heroic medical intervention.

In the end, the problem isn't going to be fixed by tossing the old folks out in the street. It's going to be fixed by medical ethicists changing their views of what's acceptable and whats not, and then getting the public to understand that there are just some things that it can't afford.

And, yes, in case you haven't understood it from my posts. To me, you do come across as spoiled and ungrateful.

Hedge

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53156 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 11:10 AM
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>> You're still coming back to the same conclusion, and that is discarding the older generation. <<

Let me be very clear here. I am trying to discuss whether or not current programs will be sustainable as they are in future generations, given expected trends in an aging population and increased life expectancies. That is the primary crux of my argument here.

You keep sidestepping that question and choose to play the emotional "you're a selfish, heartless bastard" card. You are the one who chose to transform my concern about this aspect of old-age safety nets into an imagined desire to end all these programs or severely cut back on those who are, or are very near, receiving benefits today. (Hint: That ain't true at all.)

Contrary to your rhetoric and fearmongering, I am NOT for discarding the older generation. On the contrary, I am for figuring out ways to make caring for the older generations more sustainable. (I plan to be old some day too, you know.) What we have now is a speeding train approaching a washed-out bridge with little time to divert the train to another track. All I am trying to say here is that raising taxes on the next generation can't continue to be the answer again and again and again. Eventually we will reach the breaking point. Yet you distort this into some imaginary and false belief that I want to terminate these programs and throw Grandma out on the street.

It is precisely because I do NOT want generational warfare that I say we need to start thinking about how to make these things more stable and sustainable, so we don't have each succeeding generation getting a worse and worse deal out of it.

So I ask you one more time. Do you think the current old-age support systems are stable and sustainable given demographic trends (reduced birth rates, increased life expectancies, and ever fewer workers per retiree)? And if not, what do you think we should do?

And please try to answer the question and put the "heartless selfish bastard" card away.

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53157 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 11:22 AM
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So I ask you one more time. Do you think the current old-age support systems are stable and sustainable given demographic trends (reduced birth rates, increased life expectancies, and ever fewer workers per retiree)? And if not, what do you think we should do?

I already gave you my answer. Heroic medical efforts have no perceived cost to the American public. And yet, they are an open spigot on the support system. Until we can get people to understand that folks do actually die when they get old or have terminal cancer, we have a problem. Until we can get folks to understand that we simply cannot pay millions of dollars in heroic medical intervention from public funds, we have a problem. Social Security and Medicaid (excluding heroic care expenses) are simply not the threat to the poor young worker that people think it is. My retirement, assuming it actually happens, is not a threat to you.

Hedge

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53158 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 11:31 AM
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>> I already gave you my answer. Heroic medical efforts have no perceived cost to the American public. And yet, they are an open spigot on the support system. Until we can get people to understand that folks do actually die when they get old or have terminal cancer, we have a problem. <<

Okay, now we're getting somewhere, and I'm with you on that. My dad died from cancer last November and he refused all "heroic" treatments. He opted for home hospice care for his last two months, wanting to be at home instead of the hospital, and only asking that he be kept as comfortable as possible until his passing.

But I could also say that some people could make the same kind of emotional arguments against you that I feel you were using on me. "Who are you to play God and decide who lives and who dies?" "How can you possibly be in favor of discarding a life without doing all we can to save it just to save a few tax dollars?" (I agree with you, by the way. I'm just saying what some people could say to you to make you sound like a "heartless selfish bastard," too. Doesn't feel good, does it?)

>> Social Security and Medicaid (excluding heroic care expenses) are simply not the threat to the poor young worker that people think it is. <<

We'll have to agree to disagree here. I just think that even absent the heroic efforts, real costs per worker will continue to rise ever higher. And I think an economy can only sustain that for so long. Some structural changes are needed too, perhaps phased in over the next few decades.

>> My retirement, assuming it actually happens, is not a threat to you. <<

Probably not. But my retirement is probably a threat to the two generations following me. By then, if we haven't changed what we promise or how we pay for it, my Social Security check (starting as early as 2027) would be considerably more burdensome to younger workers than your check will be to me. Again -- this is precisely my concern, that it keeps getting worse and worse.

By the way -- if I were really as spoiled and selfish as you seem to think, I would advocate not only allowing those from 55-64 to opt into Medicare, but drop that age to 45. Then, early retirement before age 55 would be much more feasible than it currently is. But I don't believe that's the right thing to do.

#29

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Author: AcmeFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53159 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 1:29 PM
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I will guarantee you that your parents worked harder than you ever will, for a lower standard of living.

Yeah...and they walked uphill both ways in the snow to get to/from school as well...

You know nothing of how hard his parents worked or are working. The same goes for how he currently works and will work in the future. So everything you guarantee is really just an assumption on your part. And you know what they say...

Acme

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Author: AcmeFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53160 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 1:31 PM
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I'm getting tired of your insinuations about my situation ("eliminating a cappucino"), and I'm beginning to take offense to it.

I cannot believe you are only _beginning_ to take offense. Hedgehog has been insulting you to significant degree throughout this thread...

Acme

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Author: Jim2B Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53161 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 1:34 PM
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I fear that "generational warfare" in the rhetorical sense could turn into a generational revolt. Since it's clear there's no political will to eliminate or phase out these programs, we at least need to stabilize things into something that is sustainable from generation to generation and doesn't become increasingly onerous on the working people with each successive generation. So far, Social Security and Medicare are failing that test badly.

Furthermore I *HATE* the thought of saddling my kids & grandkids with these broken ponzi schemes. I plan to be financially independent enough to NOT need these even much later in my life.

If I end up HAVING to use them, I won't turn them down, but I plan to not need them in the least. SS payments are not included in ANY of my retirement planning at this time.

I'd much rather fix this now as the longer we wait the harder it'll be.

Jim

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53162 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 1:58 PM
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>> I cannot believe you are only _beginning_ to take offense. Hedgehog has been insulting you to significant degree throughout this thread... <<

I guess I have pretty thick skin. :-)

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53163 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 2:30 PM
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You know nothing of how hard his parents worked or are working. The same goes for how he currently works and will work in the future. So everything you guarantee is really just an assumption on your part. And you know what they say...

Do you work harder than your parents did for the same standard of living, Acme? Just wondering.

Hedge

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Author: AcmeFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53165 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 2:55 PM
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Do you work harder than your parents did for the same standard of living, Acme? Just wondering.

Are you incapable of admitting error? Is your only defense to change the attack? It certainly seems so given this thread and the one on the Index Funds board. I find this truly sad...

Personally, I have worked my ass off. And my father worked his ass off. And his father did the same before him. With each generation we have significantly improved our family standard of living...not because of technological advancements, but because people in my family work our asses off. These comments are already more reply than your question deserves, so that is as much as I will say.

Acme

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53166 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 2:56 PM
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Are you incapable of admitting error? Is your only defense to change the attack? It certainly seems so given this thread and the one on the Index Funds board. I find this truly sad...

Pot, meet kettle.

Hedge

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Author: AcmeFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53167 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 3:05 PM
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Pot, meet kettle.

I answered far more of your question than you deserved. You have yet to admit error in either of the threads where I have engaged you. I must be a silver pot to your black kettle...

Or maybe you truly believe both bonds I mention in the other thread (http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=24468741) provide you with the same return. If so, your financial IQ is worse off than I thought...

Acme

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53168 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 3:17 PM
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I answered far more of your question than you deserved.

You avoided answering my question altogether. I asked if you had to work as hard for the same standard of living as your parents did. The real answer must have gotten your back up against the wall. You're angry at me, Acme, and I'm not surprised, because this whole subject gets me angry as hell, and it shows in my responses. But, unless you have lived a very odd life (such as loss of generational fortune), you are not working as hard as your parents did for the same standard of living. In fact, you might even consider the standard of living for your parents (at your age) to have been primitive. I know I do in my case.

Or perhaps it is actually me. I grew up poor. I was one of those guys who walked up hill in the snow both ways to go to school, didn't have electricity in one of the houses we lived in, etc. I have no problem admitting that even when times were bad for me, the times (for the same age) were worse for my parents.

You have yet to admit error in either of the threads where I have engaged you. I must be a silver pot to your black kettle...

The simple fact is that I disagree. I may have disagreed too angrily for your tastes, but that's a different story.

As to the question of couponed bonds vs zeroes, you're stating that zeroes are never ever ever the right thing to do no matter what the financial reality is of the times. If you can live with that statement, then fine. I don't happen to believe in that one, either. However, I am not a bondholder, and I don't plan to be a bondholder. But, sometimes people lose money on those coupons, just because of the financial reality of when they're issues.

Hedge

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Author: DeltaOne81 Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53169 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 3:22 PM
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Hedge, I've mostly agreed with you reading this thread, but that's just too far.

Yes, standards of living regularly increase due to increases in efficiency - technology or otherwise. That's general economic theory born out over time. Otherwise how could GDP continue to grow at a rate faster than population and inflation growth? Hint: it couldn't, and the average GDP per person in real dollars would never, ever grow.

So each generation, unless there are severe economic problems, generally has a higher of standard of living than the previous. That's just how it works. I don't see how you begrudge that upon the subsequent generation, unless it was right of your parents to begrudge it upon you.

Guilting someone because they came later is pretty low. It smacks of 'bkac in my day I had to walk to school barefoot in the snow uphill... both ways... and therefore I'm better than you.'

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53170 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 3:38 PM
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So each generation, unless there are severe economic problems, generally has a higher of standard of living than the previous. That's just how it works. I don't see how you begrudge that upon the subsequent generation, unless it was right of your parents to begrudge it upon you.

No, sir, I do not begrudge that on the subsequent generations. What I begrudge is the whining that while there used to be 15 people to support each person collecting SS, there is now only 1.8 (or whatever actual figures are). So it's 1.8 and soon it will be only 1. Good grief. What a bunch of whiney babies that can't appreciate not only how good they have it, but how little of their income it actually takes to support their elders.

Let's consider the situation before the 50s, shall we? We actually had extended families then, out of necessity. There was no tax to take care of the grandparents, because it was just done as a matter of course. My grandfather lived with us for a year, but then he died in a tracter accident. But, then things changed. More women joined the workforce out of necessity. Divorces became more prominent. People started living longer. And finally, workers became more mobile.

Do you notice the disconnect that happened through those two or three generations? Not only was the extended family broken up, but in many cases, the family itself was broken up. This has become reflected in our (as in American) culture by the thought that our parents and grandparents are no longer part of our family. They are no longer our responsibility, because they have Social Security. That was fine, until the next step came; the step of realising that there simply wasn't enough money to fund the breakup of the extended family combined with longer life expectancies.

I would like to be able to say that for the most part people joining the urban workforce in the past two decades have been afforded the ability to sidestep the breakdown for their own retirement. I would like to say that they won't have to depend on Social Security. The sad fact is that not everyone works in a high-paying job with a matched 401k, and the ability to put away 15% or more of their paycheck. Many workers in America don't have health insurance, much less a matched 401k. Have you checked heating bills in the north? My gas bill was $200 in January, and that's only about half of what a lot of people pay who have fewer resources than I do. My issue is with the wealthy workers who whine about what they won't have in their retirement because they're going to lose it to some old people that nobody cares about anyway.

The Social Security issue will be fixed. There is simply no choice in the matter. Younger workers will have to pay it down as it is retargeted, though. But, the productivity increases are there, and will almost surely be there in the future to pay for it. More plans like 401k will be invented. Something like forced saving will probably finally get passed, as an alternative to SS.

But, the debts to the aged are what they are. Anyone who can't deal with that might want to plan on not getting old.

Hedge

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Author: AcmeFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53172 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 3:51 PM
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You avoided answering my question altogether.

Not true. I answered more of your question than you have of my posts.


The real answer must have gotten your back up against the wall.

Not in the least.

It is almost impossible to define a distinct answer to your query. I have a higher standard of living than my father did at my age, but that does not tell the story...not even close...

I work about the same as my father did at this stage of life (similar hours, more travel). My buying power is very comparable to his at the same age. But there are key differences that lead to my standard of living being higher:

(1) He was divorced, so his income was the only income; I'm married and part of a 2-income family; and
(2) He had a kid (me); my wife and I have not yet started a family

If it were just my income and I had a 10-year-old kid (to make things identical), both my work load and standard of living would be almost identical to his.

So your implication is bunk. If you had chosen to ask about my life compared to my grandfather's life, it would be a different story...but you insist that every generation has it easier than their parent's generation and that's simply not true.


You're angry at me, Acme

I'm angry at the tone that flies from your fingers. You seem to think people younger than you cannot understand the difficulties of being old. And that they are ingrateful. And on and on. You attack with a broad brush...often implicating those (such as myself) that could be among your greatest allies. By doing so, you alienate yourself and your cause...why would I support your beliefs when I get roundly criticised by those I would be supporting?


because this whole subject gets me angry as hell, and it shows in my responses.

The problem is not your anger, it is where you are directing it. You are insulting people for no good reason.


But, unless you have lived a very odd life (such as loss of generational fortune), you are not working as hard as your parents did for the same standard of living. In fact, you might even consider the standard of living for your parents (at your age) to have been primitive. I know I do in my case.

I will say one last time -- you have no idea what kind of life many of us had growing up. And you have no idea what kind of life we have now.


As to the question of couponed bonds vs zeroes, you're stating that zeroes are never ever ever the right thing to do no matter what the financial reality is of the times.

I never said or implied such a thing. I compared 2 bonds -- one happened to be a zero -- and asked which is better. I also showed how your equation fails miserably at showing how the 2 bonds provide a different rate of return.

If your only option for a zero was one that provided an identical total flow of funds as a coupon bond, then IMO the zero would be the wrong option 100% of the time. But zeros almost always provide a higher total flow of funds...


If you can live with that statement, then fine.

I never made such a statement. And I do not agree with the statement that YOU made.

But again, you are changing the issue. The point was never to ask whether a coupon bond or a zero was better philosophically...it was to show how your return equation is a failure for any investment that spins off funds over time. And it did that completely...


But, sometimes people lose money on those coupons, just because of the financial reality of when they're issues.

What happens to the money when it is not in the investment has no bearing on the return of the investment. None.

Acme

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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53173 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 4:03 PM
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>> No, sir, I do not begrudge that on the subsequent generations. What I begrudge is the whining that while there used to be 15 people to support each person collecting SS, there is now only 1.8 (or whatever actual figures are). So it's 1.8 and soon it will be only 1. Good grief. What a bunch of whiney babies that can't appreciate not only how good they have it, but how little of their income it actually takes to support their elders. <<

See, this is why you're being so strongly opposed in this debate, IMO: You can't seem to disagree with someone without insulting them and dismissing their concerns as "whining."

I understand your point of view and why you feel that way, even though I don't completely agree with it. You seem incapable of returning the favor.

#29

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Author: theHedgehog Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53174 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 4:08 PM
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I understand your point of view and why you feel that way, even though I don't completely agree with it. You seem incapable of returning the favor.

I apologise to you #29. You're a nice guy, and I'm sure you mean well. I think I understand your point of view, though I disagree with it. I can remember one day in 1970 when I said to someone "Why do the old people make so much? Why can't we get paid that now, while we're young enough to enjoy it?". I want to reach back and slap that silly punk around a bit. :o) Although, that young punk didn't have a 401k or health insurance. Life, it seems, has caught up with me.

Hedge

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Author: MadCapitalist Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53175 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 4:30 PM
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I will guarantee you that your parents worked harder than you ever will, for a lower standard of living.

You will guarantee that? You are making absolute statements that are completely ridiculous. I guess that is just part of getting old too.

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Author: vtjon One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53176 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/15/2006 4:36 PM
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You should get rid of the misbegotten idea that the Social Security Disability system is fair and balanced. There are some disorders, most notably the complex of disorders that are grouped together and named fibromyalgia, that are not covered by SSD, except in the dreams of most of us who have it. And then, there are the doctors who don't think it's "their job" to "make the judgment" that someone is disabled. I'm sorry if you think that my views are prejudiced or just plain wrong. Unfortunately, I've not just been there, I AM there. There is no disability payment for me, no medicaid, no work, and almost no insurance.

You know what Hedge, quit you're whining. You seem to have a sharp enough mind and a strong enough body to sit at your computer and post on the internet all day long. It sounds to me like you could get a job. Stop whining that the free lunch parade won't pay for you for a few more years, and do something to improve your own situation.

Instead of talking about what jobs are below you, do some research and find a job that suits you. It probably won't pay all of the bills but maybe it'll pay for insurance.

Ziggy has the class to say that he is looking out, not for himself, but instead for future generations. Screw that, I'm gonna look out for myself. Every dollar that I don't save now will be worth somewhere between 60 and 100 dollars when I retire, if I invest it correctly. Combining my TWO jobs, I paid $290 in social security taxes last month. That means that I could have between $17,400 and $31,900 when I retire. You know what I'll probably get. Nothing! Certainly not what I should get. My generation will be supporting you. So instead of whining to us, why not say thank you?

And at least, don't show us disdain. Drop your attitude, and stop whining.

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Author: 2old4bs Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53208 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/17/2006 2:52 PM
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But the problem is that the way things are structured, each successive generation gets a worse deal than their parents. We can't keep going down this road. If the old-age safety nets were financially stable and not deteriorating, it might be another story. But they're not, and the only way anyone knows to "fix" is it to keep making the working generations pay more and more.

# 29, you've proffered these erroneous conclusions more than once in the past. The fact is that the 'working generations' today are paying far less in taxes than many previous generations. Since the SS trust fund is 'raided' to cover expenses in the general budget, for all practical purposes, they are all taxes in one bucket. The current 'working generation' is paying a top tax rate of 34%, in working years past it was 48%, and the lower brackets are correspondingly lower today than in the past. So, please tell me how you conclude that each 'working generation' is paying more and more?

Secondly, how do you conclude that each successive generation gets a worse deal than their parents? Today's 'working generation' has access to 401Ks and Roths, neither of which were available to most folks who are retired now. And the very young among us have had access to these vehicles from the start of their working careers, not so for the boomers. Most companies that now offer 401Ks only started offering them in the late 1980s. Although it's true that a few companies substituted 401Ks for their pension plans, the great majority of companies offered nothing before the 401K.

I started working in 1968. For the first few years I had no access to any type of pension, IRA, or other tax-benefitted 'retirement plan'. In the early 1970's I was able to contribute to a traditional IRA. But none of the companies I worked for offered 401K plans until 1990--that's makes for a total of 22 years I worked without the benefit of a 401K.

These facts would not bring me to conclude that each successive generation gets a 'worse deal' than their parents.

2old





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Author: 2old4bs Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53211 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/17/2006 3:11 PM
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So I ask you one more time. Do you think the current old-age support systems are stable and sustainable given demographic trends (reduced birth rates, increased life expectancies, and ever fewer workers per retiree)? And if not, what do you think we should do?

I agree with you that they are not sustainable, particularly if we include Medicare costs.

One thing that can be done is to make 401k contributions (or other defined contribution plans) mandatory at some percentage level. The benefit part of the SS system can also be fixed in a myriad of ways. For example, I believe that if one doesn't work and contribute via SS tax, one shouldn't be able to collect SS benefits (I'm not talking about disability benefits here). IMO, all those 'surviving spouse' and 'divorced spouse' benefits should be eliminated. If a person was not willing to work and pay their share of the SS tax, why should they collect benefits?

If you are thinking of arguing that those spouses stayed home to raise families, my question is, why should working folks subsidize the procreation instincts of the non-working?

2old





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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 53212 of 75894
Subject: Re: An unpleasant fact Date: 8/17/2006 3:22 PM
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>> I agree with you that they are not sustainable, particularly if we include Medicare costs. <<

And that was my whloe point: As far as Medicare and possibly Social Security are concerned, there is no way we can continue to give future generations the current level of benefits. The taxes required on those who are still working would be prohibitive and, IMO, economy-killing.

I happen to agree that *overall*, it's not skewed as badly because the younger generations have more ability to take advantage of 401Ks, IRAs and perhaps HSAs to at least partially offset the inevitable reduction in benefits (or means testing) which honestly *must* come if these programs are to remain solvent for several generations down the road.

I think the disconnect came here when Hedge seemed to think I was talking about *everything* being skewed against younger generations when I was merely talking about the demographics of Medicare and Social Security leading to an inescapable conclusion that either taxes will have to be raised sharply or the benefits will have to become considerably less generous. If all other things are taken into account, sure, the equation changes some.

#29

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