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Another old guy column
Written by Jim Robertson   
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:07 PM

It’s hell to grow old. Or so I am finding out.  The old body just doesn’t want to do what my brain tells it to.

Started contemplating Social Security today while listening to the Sunday morning talking heads touching upon potential spending cuts, entitlements and tax structure reforms.

One chilling comment was made when one of the panelists commented that the government will be forced to charge current workers more or deliver less services to those who are getting benefits.  Or both.

It was pointed out that when Medicare began the average life expectancy was around 70 years of age.  Now it’s closer to 80.

Couple that with raiding the coffers for other uses over the years and we have a distinct possibility of not being able to care for our elderly at some point in the near future.

The more simplistic and trusting souls out there would say that we should cut the military and other non-social programs and pump those savings into our entitlements.  The problem with that is we can’t strip our defenses bare.

There is still the chubby little dwarf in North Korea or the guy with the “helter-skelter” look in his eyes in Iran, not to mention any one of a number of terrorists, real and wannabe around the world.

What to do?
Plans differ from raising the retirement age to paring down the delivery of healthcare to the elderly based on age.  Remember the commotion over the so-called “death squads”?

Who would decide whether your right to a new organ or another round of chemo was an appropriate expenditure of public health funds?  Not a whole lot different from your insurance company signing off on your surgical procedure.

Now I’m not going on a rant about providing care to illegals.  While certainly it adds an additional burden to the overall situation, I believe that we would still have an issue of dwindling resources without the additional recipients.

Let’s remember that what we refer to as Social Security is actually composed of two parts.

Retirement benefits and Medicare.  Without a doubt there will be some pressure to reduce the retirement component in the future now that the temporary experiment in reducing the amount paid in by workers has resumed the former percentage.

Raise the age at which benefits are available, cut the benefits, raise the amount paid in, force holders of private retirement funds off the system or just let the system go broke in fifteen years or so.  Happy thoughts, what?

The component, Medicare, is the one I am most concerned about.  There were several movies and a made for TV movie in the early 1970s that dealt with the problems of overcrowding in a unique way.

Logan’s Run, everybody dies at 30, unless you find away to escape. The TV movie, The Last Child, deals with the rather draconian measure of only allowing one child per couple and ending medical care at 65.

Forty years ago, a movie extrapolated that in the New York City of 2020, there would be 40 million people and that the state would sponsor euthanasia for the elderly, giving them a serene sendoff, that is before converting them and other unfortunates into foodcake supplements.

Have you had your, Soylent Green, today?  Everybody dead at 65.  Don’t need no Social Security then.  If you live in the retirement home, think about that the next time somebody wants to hand you a cup of Kool-Aid.

Jim Robertson is a longtime Harrison resident, a member of Harrison City Council, and a weekly columnist for The Harrison Press.