Boomers Aren’t the Only Ones Who Should Care About Social Security

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 17 August 2012

Bill Keller, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, talks to boomers one-on-one in this recent piece. And though he opened it with these words, “If you were born before 1946 or after 1964, you are free to go… I need a private moment with my fellow baby boomers,” I took a peek at what he had to say.

He starts out with a view of the current boomer-bashing landscape: according to Keller, in just one month, and on one page of op-eds, “we children of the postwar demographic have been blamed for turning religion into an indulgent free-for-all, for giving elites a bad name and for making greed respectable, or at least acceptable.” Harsh words, yes?

Don’t rush to point a finger of blame though. Keller’s research seems to show that the negative opinion of boomers is equally distributed among conservatives and liberals, and believes some of the attacks were “intended as a wake-up call” rather than a judgment call.

Keller eventually moves into a discussion about our federal entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, stating this concern: “By 2030, when the last of us boomers have surged onto the Social Security rolls, entitlements will consume 61 cents of every federal dollar, starving our already neglected investment.” (This 61 cents of every dollar is compared to the 14 percent of federal dollars spent on entitlements in 1962.)

I may only be in my 30s and am not exactly optimistic about Social Security or Medicare being around when I’d qualify for it, but standing around doing nothing will accomplish just that — nothing. That’s why I pay attention to these issues, and why I surprised the Obama campaigner who came to our door a few weeks ago. After I told him I was unsure about who I’d be voting for in the upcoming election, he asked if there were any special issues that I’d like to know more about, or issues of importance to me.

“Senior issues,” I said, simply.

“You don’t look that old,” he responded, with a laugh.

No matter where you stand politically, and regardless of whether or not you believe boomers are a selfish generation, I believe we should all be concerned about the stability of these federal programs, which are currently the only real safety net for low-income seniors. (As an aside, if there are others, besides the sacrifice or generosity of family, friends or charitable organizations, let me know; I am willing to be educated and stand corrected). Boomers or not, we all have a stake in what happens.

AARP’s “You’ve Earned a Say” campaign may be targeted at boomers, but if you have an opinion about Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, I encourage you to voice it. (Read more about this initiative, and what’s at stake, here.)

Talk back: What do you think of the current state of federal entitlement programs? What’s the best direction for the future, in your opinion?


There are 2 Comments about this post

  1. Shirley McKellar says,

    First of all, it all depends on how you look at entitlements. As a person who has worked over 40 years paying into the system, I look at it as part of a guaranteed retirement. If you are worried about entitlements, many changes could and should be made to the program, including social security to those who have never worked a day in their life; stop giving to divorced spouses who have worked and should be drawing their own social security, not spousal; Stop the attorney’s exploiting social security with their lawsuits. Stop the fraud in the system. Put a maximum retirment income limit for drawing social security. Say, if you have over a $100,000 a year retirment, you don’t need social security. I see people everday who come in claiming they are too sick and stressed to work and a few months later I get a request from social security and/or attorneys for records. A good number of these people come in for counseling only to be on record so they can claim social security, and they are in their 30s and 40s. The only real problem they have is that they are lazy and unwilling to contribute to society. This is equally prelivant when it comes to medicade and welfare. And, these are just some of the issues. Our programs are overly abused. And, social security wouldn’t be broke if the money wasn’t taken from the trust fund to fund the IRAQ war. That is just one of the many obligations the federal government needs to repay and stop blaming seniors for breaking the country financially.
    These are just a few of the issues.


    on 11 January 2013 / 12:04 PM

  2. That’s an excellent point, Shirley. Actually, you make several sound arguments for securing the system for those who have worked hard for it, and not for those who have taken advantage of it. Makes sense to me. These issues certainly have an impact on all of us, and I agree, seniors should not take the blame for the financial issues that we’re currently facing. I hope you are relaying these ideas and thoughts to your legislators! Thanks so much for sharing your perspective and for visiting our blog. Come again and comment anytime!


    on 11 January 2013 / 6:03 PM


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