Take a quick look at the top 10 stories that time.com (as in Time Magazine) listed as the most viewed on their website during a one-hour period on Tuesday of this week:
1. WATCH: Justin Bieber Throws Up On Stage
2. Mona Lisa: Was There More Than One?
3. U.S. Teen Dies After Taking Hallucinogenic Drug, Ayahuasca, in Peru
4. Surgeons Grow a Replacement Ear for Cancer Patient — On Her Arm
5. Seven Crew Members Arrested After Hong Kong Ferry Crash Kills 38
6. Boyfriend Tells Police He Killed College Freshman
7. Oregon Farmer Eaten by Pigs
8. Philadelphia Cop Caught on Video Apparently Hitting Woman
9. Hong Kong Billionaire Offers $64 Million for Man Who Will Marry His Daughter
10. The 10 Coolest Restrooms in America
Only one nationally or internationally relevant “hard news” story in the bunch, and that had to do with the horrific deaths of 38 people in a ferry accident overseas. Coming in at No. 25 on the list: “The Motive and the Means: Did Al-Qaeda Stage the Benghazi Attack?”
Justin Bieber tossing his cookies onstage is the top story of the hour; Al-Qaeda pulling off the assassination of an American ambassador under the nose of the White House and the State Department finishes 24 places further down the totem pole.
The end of the world is nigh.
This week the senior U.S. senator from South Carolina did generate a few headlines with his insistence that “doomsday” is indeed drawing close on the American ponzi scheme that many refer to as “entitlements.”
No shizzle, Sherlock.
Senator Lindsay Graham’s comments at a Chamber of Commerce function in North Augusta may be one of the few times you will hear anything on the topic of “entitlement reduction” anytime soon, because he is not running for office this year. The guys who are running would rather talk about something more politically acceptable… like government funded Pepto Bismol for Justin Bieber.
Graham is not very popular these days for many reasons, so maybe he has nothing to lose by not just discussing, but fully embracing the “third rail” that is entitlement reduction and reform.
Plainly speaking, Social Security and Medicare costs must be brought into line with the reality of the times, and not “protected” by virtue of the life expectancy stats and actuarial tables of the 1950s.
My parents are both 68 years old. Both have been collecting Social Security benefits since age 62. Both could easily live (at least I hope) another 25 years, and, right at this moment, both are as fully mentally capable of holding a job in their primary fields of training as they ever have been. Despite some problems with their health (which can be largely attributed to the fact that they were both heavy smokers their entire lives), there was no real reason for them to step away from their primary careers when they did.
But they did.
They did at age 62, because they were eligible for monthly Social Security benefits, albeit reduced from what they could have collected at a later date, but significant, nonetheless.
I hate to say this, because I want my parents to be as comfortable as the King and Queen of England as they get older, but issuing a Social Security check to a healthy 62-year-old person in 2012 is pure lunacy. Given the state of medical science, once you have made it past the age of 50 (and the chance of dying in an accident drops significantly), trends and studies indicate you are likely to live well into your 80s or 90s. No wonder the plan is broke.
And pity the private pension plans that can see workers put in a full 30 years of service, retire at age 52, and live another 35 years drawing 60 percent of their full salary annually, for five years longer than they actually worked. (That happens in the Georgia Teacher’s Retirement System all the time, and appears to be the gameplan of my wife, who started teaching at the age of 22.) To call the situation “unsustainable” is the understatement of the century. Psychotically suicidal is more like it.
And don’t even get me started on Medicare. While we have indeed managed to outsmart death to the tune of several decades of longer life, that science comes with a huge price tag. Medical bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (and more) are routine for Medicare patients, who according to the state of science in the time Medicare was “invented,” should have been long dead.
And I don’t blame expensive futuristic cancer treatments. The cold, hard fact is, a hip replacement for an 85-year-old is very expensive, considering in 1975 it would have cost nothing, because the guy who needed it would have been dead of a heart attack (now preventable) 20 years ago.
In 2012, when it comes to “entitlements,” we are running 200 miles per hour on a poorly built four-cylinder engine. It ain’t gonna last much longer.
The two men running for president don’t have the balls to tell you that, but the much-maligned Lindsay Graham seems to get it. Let’s hope the rest of our leaders do, so we can finally have the “come to Jesus meeting” that has been put off for decades.
You Might Also Like: