I mailed the following letter on October 18, 2016:
Editor in Chief
AARP The Magazine
601 E St. NW
Washington, DC 20049
Dear Mr. Love:
It is only proper that you and your magazine call for not just the survival, but the strengthening of Social Security, a call you have made many times over the years.
Ironically, in making that call you strengthen the myth that has been the cause of attacks on Social Security benefits and the increases in qualifying ages.
In your editorial titled, “Let’s Strengthen Social Security” (August/September edition), you say among other things:
“. . . preserve Social Security, not only for those of us who have paid into the system for decades but also for our kids and grandkids.
“ . . . fiscal and demographic challenges are bearing down on the program. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, a surge that will continue for years.
“Unless something is done, Social Security benefits could be automatically reduced in less than two decades.
“That’s why AARP launched a Take a Stand – a national campaign to press the presidential candidates to tell voters how they’ll keep Social Security strong and solvent.
“ . . .If our nation’s leaders don’t act, future retirees could lose nearly 25 percent of their benefits. . . the sooner the problem is fixed, the less drastic the fix will have to be.”
I emphasized the words “strong and solvent,” because they symbolize the myth that FICA funds Social Security.
The United States government is Monetarily Sovereign. It is sovereign over the U.S. dollar. The U.S. federal government never can run short of its own sovereign currency, the dollar.
The federal government creates dollars by paying bills. Every time SS pays a benefit, it sends instructions to the benefit recipient’s bank, instructing the bank to increase the balance in the recipient’s checking account. When the bank does as instructed, new dollars are created.
This has nothing to do with FICA or any other tax. Even if FICA collections were $0, and the U.S. population tripled, the federal government could continue paying SS benefits forever.
State and local governments, and you, and I are monetarily NON-sovereign. We all can run short of dollars. We can become insolvent. But, the U.S. government cannot become insolvent.
No only is the U.S. government 100% immune from insolvency, but all federal agencies are similarly immune.
There is no FICA for the White House, no FICA for Congress, no FICA for the Supreme court – all federal agencies – yet they cannot become insolvent. No federal agency can become insolvent unless Congress and the President will it.
Social Security and Medicare are federal agencies. They cannot run short of dollars unless the politicians want to reduce benefits.
And now you can see the real purpose of FICA. The real purpose is not to fund Social Security (and Medicare). The real purpose of FICA is to limit Social Security and Medicare.
The real purpose is to make Americans believe SS and Medicare are, or soon will be, short of dollars, so benefits must be reduced.
The real purpose is to widen the income/wealth/power gap between the rich and the rest.
Take just 15 minutes to read more on this subject at: “Monetary Sovereignty: The key to understanding economics” and at “I just thought you should know. Lunch really can be free”
I urge you, beg you, to please read those two short papers, familiarize yourself with Monetary Sovereignty, and tell your members the facts about Social Security: FICA can be reduced; benefits can be increased;
Only then will you be able to fulfill the generally understood purpose of AARP.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
P.S. If you would like some “Washington-based” affirmation of what I have told you, contact Professor Stephanie Kelton. She not only is the Chair of the Economics Department at UMKC, but she is the Chief Economist for the Democratic Minority Staff of the Senate Budget Committee.
The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the rich and the rest.
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.
Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich afford better health care than the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ANNUAL ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefiting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.