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Say thanks for Social Security

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Posted: 5 pm ET

Retirement planning is an almost impossible challenge for an increasing number of Americans.

The U.S. poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. Those receiving Social Security should look at that number and feel blessed. The census calculates that Social Security is keeping another 20 million people out of poverty in their retirement. And for those older than 65, there is also Medicare.

"The elderly are relatively insulated," says Sheldon Danziger, professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, specializing in research on trends in poverty and inequality.

"By 2014, if health care reform (The Affordable Care Act) isn't overturned, people who retire early or who are laid off will have access to subsidized medical care," which will protect still more people from falling into poverty, he says.

"The difficulty is being laid off at age 58 without access to Social Security until you are 62 and Medicare until you are 65. That is a scary situation to be in," he says.

Danziger believes out that the U.S. has poverty rates that are higher than those in Canada and Northern European countries for two reasons:

  • For 30 years, the labor market has generated declining real wage rates for many Americans, especially for men who once worked in well-paying construction and manufacturing jobs. According to the census figures, the median annual income for a male full-time, year-round worker in 2010 was $47,715. That's only slightly more than it was in 1973, when he would have earned $47,550, in 2010 dollars.
  • Our government labor market and social policies do less than those in other countries to raise the wages of workers during good economic times and to help the unemployed during recessions. "Americans are funny people. They like to think of themselves as compassionate, but they really aren't. Compared to other countries, they are mean-spirited about the poor, assuming that anybody who isn't working is choosing not to work," Danziger says.
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September 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

This article is full of baloney to say the elderly are insulated. I'm 64 and took a HUGE loss in my IRA; the recent sale of a condo; and the lack of interest in some smaller accounts. This guy is probably 25 years old and knows nothing.

September 14, 2011 at 5:07 pm

His comment that the elderly are insulated is baloney! I'm 64 and took a HUGE loss in my IRA; the sale of a condo; and some smalled type accounts. At my age, I'll never recoup what I lost. This guy is probably 25 years old.

September 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

Oh and MAYBE Danziger should spend time watching the discovery or history channels this week. Then he can review what this country went through ten years ago and how we came together as a nation to support each other....then maybe he'll regret these written words were ever printed...

September 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

LOL @ EIEIO!!! Well said!

50% of the people in this country pay ZERO taxes, then complain that not enough is being done for them.

The information is reflective of the fact that it is too expensive for Corporations to do business in this country, so millions of our jobs have moved overseas. The tax rate on corporations are an incentive to do business elsewhere. Too many taxes HURT not help the country!

Charlie H
September 14, 2011 at 11:33 am

"The U.S. poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. Those receiving Social Security should look at that number and feel blessed. "

Uhm no. Decreasing number of full time private sector workers = less people paying into S.S. means the day has already come when social security outlays are more then the program takes in.

This has been made worse by the temporary cut in payrole taxes.

Current benifits will not be maintained. Its an economic impossibility. 1.75 full time workers can for everyone collecting a benifit is not sustainable.

doug e fresh
September 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

I fully agree with Mr. Danziger. Wake up America. Look at the homeless,Look at inability to receive health care. NO, America, in all reallity, is neither a christian nor a charitable country. Quit listening to the so called "christian" right wing nuts.

David M. Blackburn
September 14, 2011 at 10:02 am

Some Americans are mean-spirited! However, many of us are self-centered and "me-focused." As long as ourselves and our family are secure then all is well. This is not as it should be. We should have compassion and the will to help those in "true need," not those with the ability and the opportunity to self-provide. Those people can, and should be required to take care of themselves, and even assist others.

September 14, 2011 at 9:05 am

If we give away so much to charities and help with calamities, why can't we do more for the poor? Danziger does make a good point. Why is our poverty rate so high? Aren't we still the richest nation in the world?
Don't you think your last comment was rather mean-spirited?

End the Ponzi Scheme
September 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

Actually we Americans are very compassionate, just not at the end of a gun when money is being stolen for redistribution.

Simply look at the professor's research and his motives are clear, poverty and inequality. It's not about equal opportunity, he's looking for equal outcomes. Sorry, free markets don't work that way. You take a huge risk, you might get a huge reward, or go broke. I'd much rather have that opportunity to go broke trying than to be told I can make $X regardless of how I do my job, so everything is equal.

September 14, 2011 at 8:08 am

Americans are NOT mean-spirited. Americans give more to charity and help other nations when calamities happen more than any other country in the world.

We help our fellow countrymen above and beyond what the good book requests.

Danziger is full of himself. Enemas are good at relieving that and are cheap too!