Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If It Doesn't Work, Do More!

A recent writer to our local weekly newspaper, the Independent Coast Observer, decried a “bunch of hypocrites” who “collect big government pensions including government health care” and “would be the last to voluntarily give up their Medicare!” Since I’ve collected military retired pay since retiring in 1984, and military health care since enlisting in 1962 – Medicare since 2007 – my ears were burning.

It’s nice to finally be envied for the fruits of military service. Few envied me while I served. In over 21 years the Air Force gave me thirteen assignments, and only once was I stationed at a base where I could afford to buy a house. For eight years the Air Force told me my next assignment was Viet Nam – then sent me somewhere else each time. If things get really nasty I can still be involuntarily recalled to active duty - I was placed on a voluntary recall roster for Gulf War I, but they didn't need me then.

I’ve drawn Social Security for just over a year, after paying into it since 1960. I used to propose that Social Security return my contributions, and in exchange I would foreswear its benefits. Social Security ignored my generous offer.

Concerning the writer’s assumption about giving up Medicare, Alice and I were financially better off before we were forced into Medicare. Medicare costs us $2,000 more per year for less coverage than my military health care provided. Importantly for Alice and me, Medicare does not cover us on our frequent travels overseas, and according to the news, local Medicare patients will be severely impacted by government grant reductions.

Our taxation system, because it is dependent on taxing the wealthy (the top 10% of tax filers pay 71.2% of personal income taxes, the bottom 50% pay 2.9%), implodes with every downturn. Our government’s solution is to tax the wealthy more. “If what you do doesn’t work, do more of it!”

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