607: Independence and Subsidies

 

AntGrasshopper

It used to be that Americans were independent and took care of their own.

Why is it now the responsibility of other citizens/taxpayers if I fail to adequately plan, provide for, and save for my own retirement (what used to be called my ‘declining years’)? When did that personal failure become a subsidized ‘right’?

Was it when the US government established the Social Security program in an effort to ameliorate the fallout from those grasshoppers who foolishly played and spent their lives away, while the ants prudently saved and stockpiled against an uncertain future?

Now that social security is firmly entrenched (even if the last generations of lawmakers have plundered the fund to help offset their own grasshopper profligate spending) Americans save even less than they ever did – and our performance as a nation never was too good on that score in the first place.

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Yeah, I’d LOVE to have spent my productive years engaged in pursuing my own interests (financially supporting or not) instead of reporting to work – but having proved myself stupid enough to be willing to work, I don’t qualify for any benefits for sitting on my fat behind.

The idea is that people work to support themselves. Each one responsible for him/herself – unless you have turned over your financial future to someone else who agrees to be responsible for both themselves AND you (this is what many women believe marriage is for – absolving them from all responsibility). If you put your care into the hands of another person and they fail to make adequate provisions for themselves and for you in the event something happens to them, well, they failed you.

My first husband did that – he let more than a half million life insurance policy lapse a few months before he unexpectedly died. Thank God I was already a working wife, and didn’t have all my eggs in his little basket, so I had something else to fall back on besides Uncle Sam. Plus, in the past, families cared for each other. When a family member became disabled or elderly and needed care, they were cared for within the family unit – not handed off for the government (really, other citizens/taxpayers) to care for.

It isn’t the fault of the citizens that you failed to provide for yourself – it isn’t even the fault of the citizens that you are disabled, and need assistance. Neither is it their fault if accident or illness befalls you that you didn’t plan for. Yup – it’s a tough break when that happens. Thankfully, assistance is available for those who are unable (legitimately unable, not having simply purchased their disability from an unethical physician) to provide for themselves, but it still isn’t the fault of others that they are disabled, such that others are then required to pay their way.

THAT is what used to be called charity, before charity became a dirty word, and it used to be the province of faith-based people who took up the slack and provided that assistance locally. They knew their neighbors, and they knew who really needed the help, and who needed the harsh life lessons earned by making very poor decisions.

You know, like the grasshopper.

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204: Lottery winner….sort of

My husband and I enjoy what ifs….. What if we won the lottery is one of our favorites. Just discussing what we would DO with all that money is a fun topic of conversation when you are stretched out in the hot sun on a deck chair beside the pool, or walking to town to buy a loaf of bread, or engaged in any other sort of brainless activity.

First, there is the weighty decision – would we take the annuity, or the lump sum payment? Usually, we select the lump sum payment option as our choice, even though it is less money. And then there are the taxes to pay on all that cash – we figure about how much we’d actually be left with after the governments get done taking what they consider is their rightful share of the winnings.

Then, with what is left, we can build castles in the air. We’d have to tithe the winnings, of course, and we discuss which charities are worthy ones, in our opinion = which ones get what? How much would we set aside for our children? Trust funds, of course, so they could not touch the principle, and have to live on the interest each year, which means they would probably still want to have a job to supplement what interest payments they would receive. Don’t want to spoil them! Then, how much do we set up for our parents? And then, at last, what would we do with the rest? Travel? Savings? Property? What do we want, if money was not a concern?

Turns out we are pretty satisfied with what we have. Winning the lottery would not change much for us, but it would set up our families so we were not worrying about them, at least money-wise. I am sure they will think up other things for us to worry about, though…..