When I got a job at a grocery store at the age of 17, my first paycheck had $52 removed from it to contribute into Social Security. I was very confused by it and asked one of the other employees. An elderly woman who worked on the registers with me said it was so the elderly were taken care of at retirement. What I didn’t know to ask was, if it was to take care of the elderly, why did she have to work at the grocery store? Hindsight is always 2020 unlike the plans to take care of Retiring Americans.
Right now about 77% of millennials, 36% of Gen Xers and 29% of Baby Boomers worry they won’t be able to retire and will have to work past the regular retirement age. And I know what some of you are thinking: If people retire when they’re supposed to, what will happen to all those extremely elderly Walmart greeters? I mean that’s the prerequisite to be a greeter is osteoporosis and a higher potential for dementia. How will we feign kindness in the face of slimy, faceless corporation? I mean we could all just feign kindness to each other in Walmart parking lots ourselves and let these old people catch up on 30 years of Matlock they’ve missed due to constant work…but I’m not sure if we have an economic system that can sustain itself like that!
Most Americans had a mix of pensions, Social Security, personal savings and guilting their kids to comfort them into Retirement. And now with less millennials having kids because they can’t afford to have them, so they can’t even fall back on that! But working Americans did have a company matched 401k they could rely on. But that’s so entangled with our stock market that a crash can clear it out. And lets reiterate that the stock market is a popularity contest for rich people. Which means that our retirement is powered by wishful thinking for the rich to do better! They trickle downed wishful thoughts AND our retirement plans!
Most people lost their retirement nest eggs thanks to the 2008 collapse. And companies would claim bankruptcy to make sure they didn’t have pay out pensions. Now the House of Representatives introduced the Butch Lewis Act to help multi employer pensions so that if you worked hard for various employers all your life, you’d be taken care of at the end of your employment run. This would be run by a new department called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration or PRA. This would help people out with borrowing money when workers need it and maintain security for the retirees.
Now this idea is actually being put into practice by a corporation. The Red Mills Natural Foods company has democratized the workplace by giving it’s employees more autonomy over their company and put a trust in place they pay into to take care of each other. And the creation of the PRA would mean more jobs for people so the mighty Job Creating Republicans should be on board with this piece of legislation. But Republican Senators wouldn’t even consider the bill. In fact the only way that they would is by increasing taxes on workers and retirees themselves.
Senate Republicans are looking at the aging working class and saying “Hey, I know we created this problem by supporting the bankers, CEOs and hucksters that started this problem, but pull yourself up by your bootstraps and fix our mess! We would pull ourselves up but we don’t want over stretch that Italian leather! Do you know how expensive that is? Of course you don’t, we bought it by controlling the means of your labor! Now get to fixing our problems so we can take credit for it later! Chop chop! What are we NOT paying you for here!”
In order to survive through retirement, some people have resorted to collecting their Social Security later than they need so they can get bigger checks. And that plan only works if it’s around. For my generation, we’re not sure if that’s going to be around. The system will be overstressed by the Boomer generation retiring and increasing the ratio of workers to retirees by 10%. Now American workers are required to pay about 6% of their earnings into Social Security. But if you make over $137k a year, you aren’t taxed on this. That’s a lot of people that won’t be paying into a retire plan they’d benefit from. And this includes the millionaires and billionaires!
Most Americans can’t even afford a $400 emergency. Meanwhile most of the ultra rich have secured their retirement at our expense and then some! If the system ran the way it was actually supposed to then Democratizing the workplace so everyone pays into a trust for a comfortable retirement should be the plan. Right now the system remains imbalanced. To shift the balance, we have to stop putting our faith into rich people’s popularity or comfort and hoping that’ll return to us. It won’t. We have to support bills and leadership that are going to show that they actually care for us and not the corporate hierarchy. If not we’ll be at a loss $52 at a time.
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!