Your Money and Your Life

Forty-five years ago, as a college undergraduate about to enter the workforce, I received an offer from an insurance company that didn’t make much sense. There were two parts to the offer, In return for a substantial portion of my income for my entire working life, they would provide me with both an annuity for my old age and health insurance.
I understood the nature of annuities. For a given payment, the company was offering to give me a certain amount of money for as long as I lived. This meant I was betting I would live long enough to make it a good deal for me. They, on the other hand, would be better off financially if I died soon enough to make it a good deal for them.
Being already suspicious, I looked at the other part of the deal. They were promising to take care of my health care in my retirement years. That meant they were doubling down on their bet. If I got sick after my retirement, they had two reasons to hope I died. They would save money on my health care and win their bet on the annuity. If I gave them any say in the care they provided, it was obviously in their financial interest to deny my care and reduce my life-span.
This seemed like such a bad deal for me that I wanted to contact my state or federal consumer protection agency to see if they could stop these scam artists. Unfortunately, the “insurance company” was the Federal Government and I actually had no choice in the matter. For forty-five years, almost every check I received noted the deduction of payments for this program.
Over the years, the Democratic party has made it a major part of their platform and political strategy to “protect” Social Security and Medicare. Pity the poor politician (usually a Republican) who talked about cutting the programs in any way, even if they were trying to “correct” it or make it self-funding.
By the time the Democrats won overwhelming power in the 2008 elections, it was clear to everyone that the plans were critically underfunded and in deep financial trouble. I hoped that, given their big margins, the Democrats could come up with a combination of tax increases and benefit trimming to make the system viable for the long term.
Instead, the Democrats have decided to do exactly what I feared. They have cut a half a trillion dollars from Medicare and are implementing a new program with the kind of cost controls I expected the scam-artist insurance company would make. They are now in a position to use “cost controls” and other arguments to make sure I die sooner so they win on both of their bets.
A short time ago, a Ponzi-schemer name Bernie Madoff “made off” with a lot of money that belonged to other people. The national media made sure we all knew about it and helped whip up a fury against him. But, now that the federal government is taking money from everyone who has paid Social Security and Medicare for decades, they are strangely silent. We are told that we should celebrate the fact that a new program, partly funded from our monies, will be set up to help another group of people and whatever happens, we shouldn’t get mad.
There are tunnels between the various Congressional buildings. But, on the day when this program was being passed and a large crowd was there to protest, there were two instances where members of Congress avoided the tunnels and walked through the protesters. The message was clear. Don’t you dare get mad.
I keep seeing a scene out of a James Bond movie. But In my nightmare, it is slightly different. America’s seniors are strapped to a big table and a laser beam is approaching to cut us in half. In this vision, the President, Congress and all the “rational” members of the mainstream media are sitting there and we ask them if it is finally OK to get mad. Their response is “No, I don’t want you to get mad, I want you to die!”

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