Sunday, April 12, 2009

“Burn Your (AARP) Draft Card!”

Boomers: remember the good old days?

When “we” were the ‘chosen ones’ who were going to ‘save the world’, ‘save the planet’, ‘save the whales’, ‘burn your bra’ and ‘burn your draft card’?

So how are we doing on each of those scores nowadays?

We still have a little time left on Planet Earth to make a difference since 60 is the ‘new 30’, or whatever the time notion is nowadays so let’s do something that will really help change things politically forever. Let’s:

“Burn Our AARP Card!”

I just got mine a couple of months ago and immediately tore it up and flushed it down the toilet. Along with it went all of my ‘benefits’ such as discounts on movie tickets, group life insurance, health insurance and discounts on travel such as in hotels and in restaurants.

Count that as part of my ‘sacrifice’ for the Millennial Generation to follow.

I actually believe in my heart of hearts that the American Association of Retired People (AARP) started with the right intent and sense of purpose. Started in 1958, the AARP was formed to help senior retired people find affordable health insurance. (does that issue ever go away?) It then morphed into being an “advocate’ for seniors in Washington to make sure that their interests were being heard and heeded by elected officials. Many seniors needed their advocacy efforts and many still do.

But as well-intentioned as those initial efforts were, if you put a gun to my head and asked me: “What is the one main reason why we have not been able to balance the budget over all these years?”, I would have to answer honestly with one hand on a stack of Bibles and say: “The AARP”.

“What?”, you might say. “It is not the incompetence, cowardice or complicity of Congress or the lack of true leadership from the White House?”

Oh, it is all of those things combined and magnified to the nth degree; that is a given. The AARP would not be the main culprit if they were simply a nice public advocacy group that strictly adhered to its motto, "To serve, not to be served." We are dedicated to service and committed to making the world a better place, not just for ourselves, but for future generations. [1]

If the AARP were dedicated truly to the words written in their own slogan, they would not be part of the echo chamber perpetuating the myth about the Social Security Trust Fund. They claim the ‘Trust Fund’ will keep the current Social Security program liquid until around 2045. What they don’t tell their members or admit to Members of Congress is that they know the Trust Fund is empty, just as many serious budgeteers have been saying for the past 30 years.

THERE IS NO “TRUST FUND” OR ‘LOCKBOX’ OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM! Never has been, never will be. (more in a future posting)

Surplus payroll taxes paid for OASDI or Social Security tax reasons have been used for other federal programs since 1983. [2] Instead of having cash on hand in a drawer earning interest just waiting for you to retire at age 66, the SS Administration only has a bucket full of IOUs in it waiting to be paid for by your children and grandchildren. The only ‘trust’ in “Trust Fund” is that we ‘trust’ that our kids will pay for all of the benefits we consume in our lifetimes.

“And that’s all I have to say about that!” as Forrest Gump would say.

In 2017, 8 short years from today, those IOUs are going to have to start being redeemed. The only two ways to pay for those redemptions are a) cut federal programs overall to free up funds to pay for them or b) raise taxes on younger, working stiffs – the “real people” doing the serving in this case. Some economists have calculated that payroll taxes might have to increase by up to 45% to pay these IOUs. If real spending cuts are the way the Congress decides to go, we’d need to get rid of close to 30% of all education, road-building and defense programs as a start.

At a minimum, AARP can “serve” our nation by being honest with their membership and the public at large.

Admit that the current Social Security program, compounded by Medicare, is not sustainable and then join in finding real solutions without tearing the heads off of anyone who offers reasonable dissent to their dictates.

The lie here is that they do not give one whit what happens to future generations. If they did, the AARP would have allowed some reasonable compromises already on entitlement reform. Any time any congressperson, senator or President even breathes the words “Social Security reform”, ‘Medicare reform’ or “entitlement reform’, the mighty public relations blitzkrieg of the AARP arsenal goes into the heretic’s state or district and pounds them to death for even daring to bring the subject up.

‘Entitlement Reform’ is the third-rail of American politics that kills by electoral shock. The long-range missiles and mortar shells hurled by the nice folks at AARP, under the guise of a being a ‘sweet little ole non-profit charity protecting the interests of all little old ladies and men’, routinely destroy the careers of serious, but in their minds, truculent politicians who dare to point out that the ‘Emperor Has No Clothes’.

The AARP is a massive money-making operation that hides underneath the guise of being a non-profit charity yet it ‘profits’ from being one of the largest insurance, travel and product marketing organizations in the country. They have used these resources to block any meaningful reform in our entitlement programs for decades.

So let’s all “Burn Our AARP Card!” Every time you use your AARP card or send them membership dues, you are driving another nail in the already debt-ridden coffins we are creating for our kids.

Don’t do it anymore.

[1] Taken directly from the AARP website

[2] see for more
information on the 1983 SS Reform Act


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