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If Ellen Goodman doesn’t need her $250 from Social Security, let her give it to an old lady

mgullettes Icon Posted by Margaret Morganroth Gullette

October 24th, 2009

Ellen Goodman is usually thoughtful but in “The $250 donation to elders” (Boston Globe, Oct. 23) she doesn’t understand Social Security. The average woman receives only $896 a month.

She would get an additional $22 a month if Congress actually passes Obama’s proposed bill, intended to take the sting out of the fact that this year for the first time in decades there will be NO cost of living increase for people on Social Security.

So, this average old/er woman living on $896 a month, according to Goodman, should donate her windfall $250 to a child? Good new data show that almost one-fifth–18.7 % –of Americans over 65 are poor, whereas child poverty is now lower, at 17.9 %. (It’s the stupid argument that children need old people’s social-insurance money that makes me bother to quote this statistic. I hate pitting the generations against one another.)

Only a very few of the people born after 1946 are already on Social Security and there is a high incidence of poverty among them. Some people still believe that these “Boomers” are all rich. Only the right-wing, which hated the “Boomers’” progressive politics in 1968, also still treats them as selfish, an “I’ve got mine” unit, as Goodman calls them. Nonold people without insurance die at higher rates than the insured, according to a new Harvard study published in the American Journal of Public Health . The highest percentage of those who die are between 55 and 64. These are, you should excuse the expression, “Boomers.”

If Goodman encourages people over 65 who don’t need their $250 to give it away, they could give it to the Children Defense Fund. But why not consider sending it to OWL, “The Voice of Midlife and Older Women.” The address is 1828 L St., N.W., Suite 801, Washington D.C. 20036. And their motto is “Bridging Generations.”

As for worrying where that $22 a month will come from, those on Social Security paid into it all their lives. They earned it and it’s held in trust for them. Maybe we should be teaching this subject in elementary school.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette’s latest book is Aged by Culture. Her next, Agewise, will be out in July 2010. She is a scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis.

References:
The American Journal of Public Health article will be out December 2009, Vol 99, No. 12, Table 1.

Paul Kleyman, invaluable on age issues, has written about this study:

“Harvard Study: 45,000 Uninsured Die Every Year,” New America Media, News Report, Paul Kleyman, Posted: Sep 18, 2009 URL: http://tinyurl.com/mu8d42

Having no health insurance means an early death to almost 45,000 people in the United States annually – almost two-and-a-half times the number previously estimated -– according to a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

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