George Graham

Cliff or No Cliff, I Don’t Plan to Die Anytime Soon

Those sneaky Republicans are using me as an excuse to gut Social Security. They blame me for the country’s economic problems because I’ve lived so long. Well, you can tell Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and the rest of the Republican gang that I refuse to die. Not for now, anyway. They will just have to avoid that “fiscal cliff” without my help.

The Republicans have always hated Social Security. They’ve been trying to get rid of it ever since FDR introduced the retirement program back in 1935. And they are still attacking it.

To people like Mitt Romney, we’re all just moochers, living off the hard work and entrepreneurial talent of people like him.

Of course, that claim is totally bogus. We retirees paid into the program for decades and we’re collecting the benefits we earned. It’s just another pension program, except it”s underwritten by Uncle Sam instead of Prudential. You don’t hear Prudential telling me to go ahead and die because they can’t afford my monthly check, do you?

If the actuaries decide American workers need to contribute more to keep Social Security solvent, the government can always raise the payroll tax that funds it. That’s what Ronald Reagan did. But Republicans want more than that. They want the program “privatized” so their Wall Street buddies can line their pockets – again.

In the meantime, they would settle for cuts in benefits, raising the retirement age, and so on. Their plan is to keep chipping at it until it dwindles away. They’ve already managed to get a sliding scale that keeps raising the age at which you can start to collect your benefits. If you were born in 1960 or later, you now have to wait until you’re 67. In my day, the retirement age was 65.

You can bet they would like another round of retirement-age increases, unnecessary though that would be. And that’s not all they want.

Their latest argument is that Social Secuirity can’t work because we codgers are living way too long.

It makes me wonder if they plan to introduce “death panels” to decide how long we retirees should survive. So it was reassuring to read an article in this morning explaining we codgers are not really the ones pushing the U.S. economy over a cliff.

Written by Lynn Parramore, the article originally appeared on the AlterNet site. Here’s an excerpt:

The most popular red herring Social Security hustlers have unleashed into the waters of public discourse has grown into such a massive whale of a lie that liberals frequently subscribe to it. The idea goes like this: We need to somehow “fix” Social Security because people are living longer – “fix” in this context being code for “cut.”

The article details five fatal flaws in the theory that I am sabotaging Social Security by living too long:

Social Security’s original designers considered rising life expectancy; life expectancy gains since 1935 have been modest; the Greenspan Commission already raised the retirement age two years; longevity gains have gone mostly to high earners; life expectancy rises are likely to slow in the future.

But isn’t it chilling that the discussion is even taking place?

Think how much more chilling it would be if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had been elected.

Click here to read the article.

Click here to read about Social Security.


About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for