J. Myrand: Leave Social Security alone

Historically, Democratic leaders have created and defended Social Security and Medicare. In Maine today, 94 percent of senior citizens are receiving Social Security benefits and 99 percent of people over 65 are on Medicare. People have paid into both those programs. They have earned those benefits.

There has been a push by some Republicans to privatize Social Security and Medicare. Congressman Paul Ryan's plan called for a trigger to fast-track cuts to Social Security benefits. Congressional Republicans ensured themselves cradle to grave health care benefits while looking to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

Everyone, regardless of political party affiliation, needs health care. Health care is a human right. Not only has Medicare helped to protect the health of the nation's senior citizens, but it has kept many people from becoming bankrupt.

Social Security should not be turned over to Wall Street. A lot of people lost money during the market crash in 2007-08. We can't afford to let Social Security become privatized.

People making more than $106,800 stop paying into Social Security after they reach that amount. That is the cap. If that cap, which benefits only the wealthiest people, were eliminated. Social Security would thrive.

I hope any budget talks do not lead to raiding those two essential programs. Those two programs should not become a piggy bank for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Let us take care of the elderly and disabled citizens.

John Myrand, Lewiston

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 's picture

Privatizing SS and Medicare would simply give Wall Street

new trillions of dollars with which to gamble and ultimately bring about the collapse of the country.
Why give the wealth of the middle class to the financial sector which will transfer that wealth to the ultra-rich and proclaim the justice of the former middle class starving for want of retirement security.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

1) "We can't afford to let

1) "We can't afford to let Social Security become privatized."
Paul Ryan's plan was voluntary and did not involve anyone presently receiving SS benefits.
2) "People making more than $106,800 stop paying into Social Securityh after they reach that amount."
A person making that kind of income would, as you say, stop paying into SS sometime between August and December. Then, they start paying right back into it again come January 1st. And, where on earth, Mr. Myrand, did you gather the notion that an income of $107,00 a year puts someone among "the wealthiest people"?
3) "If that cap, which benefits only the wealthiest people, were eliminated. Social Security would thrive."
Emotional nonsense.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Eliminate the cap.

Yes. Yes. Yes.


No man is an island

I just love those folks who think the ideal society was feudalism. The rich lord lived behind walls to protect himself from the sight of those wretched, dirty poor people who deserved their misery because God loves only rich people. Rich people are just superior because the poor are lazy that's why they are poor. What hogwash. The rest of us live in the real world in a society where all the parts are interdependent and there are no real walls you can hide behind to keep from being affected by the plight of those who are suffering other than to bury your head in the sand. Sadly that still leaves the other end vulnerable. The mental patient and addict who is unable to access treatment can show up anywhere and create havoc. The restaurant worker who has no medical insurance can help to spread a pandemic. Poor children who are abandoned grow up to fill our prisons. Before Social Security the elderly nearly all lived in poverty with stories of them eating cat food and being homeless and unable to afford their meds. Poverty will always be with us but how we deal with it determines whether we are America or Somalia. Some of us are not that crazy about the Somalia model.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Medicare: $24.8 trillion.

Medicare: $24.8 trillion. "This demographic burst — combined with the addition of a prescription drug benefit in 2006 and rising health care costs generally — has created an unfunded liability of nearly $25 trillion over the lifetime of those now in the program as workers and retirees."

Social Security: $21.4 trillion. "Social Security's long-term shortfall grows about $1.2 trillion annually — a sign of an imbalance between the number of young workers and older beneficiaries, according to the Social Security trustees' annual reports. The $21.4 trillion unfunded liability represents the difference between all taxes that will be paid and all benefits received over the lifetimes of everyone in the system now — workers and beneficiaries alike."

Federal debt: $9.4 trillion. This has grown since the USA Today report. The U.S. Treasury put the debt at about $17 trillion.

Thrive my ass. It is time to strop sticking the wealthy with all the crap you want, but you cannot afford.

 's picture

Complete nonsense

Social Security has taken in more than it pays out throughout its long history. No debt and no deficit here. The "unfunded" short fall is an estimate; an accountant's guess at a financial condition 75 years in the future. To eliminate this debt requires nothing more than minor adjustments in SS like eliminating the cap.
Medicare is tougher largely because George Bush added a prescription drug benefit in 2006 without paying for it. That does need to be fixed.
You fix funding for programs by addressing the specific causes of the debt and deficit. Unfortunately we have one Party, the Republican, which wants to demagogue the issue or bankrupt the country through fiscal irresponsibility in order to destroy the programs. We should accept neither.

FRANK EARLEY's picture


Just who is sticking what to the rich, and what is it I can't afford myself????????

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Just read the on-line opinion

Just read the on-line opinion pages to see how many hands are extended in want. By global standards, the poor in this country are wealthy. All that higher taxes will do to the wealthy is drive them and their money underground or off shore. Then what?

 's picture

Can't get passed the pages of corporations begging for

subsidies, special tax treatment, regulations preventing market access, etc etc.
What then. We jail them. As hopefully we will do to the Americans involved in the Swiss Banking scandal. There is no level of taxation that the rich won't try to game by moving their money underground or off-shore. None.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"There is no level of

"There is no level of taxation that the rich won't try to game by moving their money underground or off-shore."

Nothing wrong with that especially when you are a constant target of taxation. What do you expect these people to do, sit there and take it when the President publicly announces you don't pay your fair share and makes you an object of class warfare.

Human behavior is one thing liberals never understand.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

We party

and confiscate their stuff they can't slink off with.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hmm? Quick to call others

Hmm? Quick to call others greedy and selfish, but your comments show who is the greedy and selfish one.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hmm? Quick to call others

Hmm? Quick to call others greedy and selfish, but your comments show who is the greedy and selfish one.

Jason Theriault's picture

Then we pass laws that make sense

I would love for all the rich people and their lobbyists to go away. That way, we can pass laws that benefit everyone, not just the people who can afford to make donations and hire lobbyists.

Because, if all that's keeping them here is a low tax rate, then they can GTFO. I could probably make more money in Canada or Boston or many places. I stay in Maine because it's my home. If the United States is just a tax dodge to them, I would pay their moving costs to get them out. I want citizen who see the United States as something special, as their home, not just a tax dodge.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“That way, we can pass laws

“That way, we can pass laws that benefit everyone”

I do think you mean like in a flat tax, where every has skin in the game?

It is your choice to stay in Maine; the readers do not fault you for that since is your choice. That said, it is not prudent to criticize other people’s choices even if that choice is to seek lower taxes.

Yea, it is easy to pound your chest and tell people to GTFO because it is not likely to happen on a broad enough scale to bring this government to its financial knees. However, if it did happen, All that you enjoy today will be gone for there will be few to pay for it. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Let me repeat what I’ve stated before. Globalization has changed the relationship between corporation and county. The natural progression dictates that globalization will also change the relationship between individual and country. We already see signs of this change.

The U.S. failed to respond to the first phase; hence, mass exodus of manufacturing. My wager is that the U.S. will miss the second phase too judging by the responses I read here.

Jason Theriault's picture

How about this

It one thing to champion a flat tax where everyone has skin in the game, but the reality is that with a majority of wealth is hidden in the upper brackets because they know how to hide it from being taxed fairly. Hency why so many corperations want a tax holiday to move profits onshore.

So you know what, I would agree to a flat tax with two conditions.
Income is income. Capital Gains, business income, personal income is all treated the same
No deductions. At all.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Add income is income and tax

Add income is income and tax it regardless of how low it is, no exceptions, and you've got a deal.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I see that your church loving

I see that your church loving friend threw a party and on one showed up.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hahaha, I hadn't even

Hahaha, I hadn't even noticed. No surprise, though. I have nothing more to say on that topic, do you?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I think I said it already,

I think I said it already, several times in fact.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Yes, I believe we both stated

Yes, I believe we both stated our positions with clarity although that clarity was not clear to some.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I think he who will not be

I think he who will not be named understood but chose to ignore reality. I don’t know if you saw his recent letter to the editor on the topic, but no one uttered a word in response. His plea fell on deaf ears, which a true reflection on how many people care.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Exactly. Your grasp of the

Exactly. Your grasp of the situation is precise.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The extreme wealth will

The extreme wealth will always have options as long as there are sovereign nations.

As for the flat tax, perhaps there is some common ground under our feet.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I know this because I am one................

It's not hard to tell the difference between "rich" and "poor". I know this because I am a poor person, keeping a safe distance from a rich family.
Not that I have done so in the past twenty years or so, or would I even want to. If I was to walk into my little brothers home, I know what I'll find. I will be in a living room, right out of "House&Garden. It will look like the help spent all day preparing everything. Your afraid that just sitting on this elegant furniture, will shatter it. The baby grand piano in the corner, you know will be tuned perfectly, cheese and crackers will arrive soon.
Now for something my little brother hasn't done in thirty years or so, step into my house. I'm assuming there's a reason he hasn't visited, but I really don't care. My home is more like a combination, "Field&Stream", and "Uncle Henry's", The first thing that catches your eye coming through my front door, is the back door. Yes I live in a "Trailer". My furniture doesn't match the carpet, because it's the same furniture I've had in my last three homes. One time the curtains almost matched, but upon cleaning the carpet, that fell through as well. My furnishings could only be described as early something, very very early something. If it weren't for yard sales, I wouldn't even have that.
Now Mark, explain to me how the poor are actually rich, because I seem to be missing something in the translation. One thing I do know, I may not live in a house with more rooms than a "Super 8 Motel, but what I do have is what I want. What I do have is definitely not rich.......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

A man's true wealth is

A man's true wealth is measured by what he has left if he loses all his money.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Frank has been patiently

Frank has been patiently waiting me to tell him how he is a rich man.
First, go back and read what I wrote. “By global standards, poor in this country are wealthy.”

I have been to three countries more than once where I see poverty not seen in this country - China, India, and Thailand. Frank may consider himself poor, yet he has a roof over his head, food, TV, transportation, and a boat (i.e. luxury item).

The poor I have seen in the countries mentioned above do not have a roof over their heads, do not have a TV, perhaps they have a bicycle for transportation if they are lucky, they certainly do not own a boat. Thank god they have enough food to eat (food is abundant and cheap in those countries).

That said, poor people from China, India, or Thailand would love to have what Frank has.

Frank, the takeaway here is that many, many people on this planet get by with far less material things than you do. Those people would love to be in your shoes and own your riches.

Yes, globalization means the standard of living Americans enjoy will change; it has changed.

The bright side for Frank however, is that that Frank has a trailer, he has a roof, he has healthcare, he has a TV, he has internet access, he has transportation, and he has a “boat” among many other material things.

Frank is rich by global standards. Be thankful for what you have. Do not even your brother over the things you do not have.

Frank is a rich man, a mighty, mighty rich man.

Betty Davies's picture

When will "conservatives" admit there is poverty in the US?

In their mind, no American can be considered "poor"--and, thus, no American deserves any sort of social safety net--until they are living in a mud hut with no source of heat and refrigeration, and cooking their meals over a fire in the patch of land in front of the opening to their hut.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is simply not true.

That is simply not true. However, when compared to global standards, most Americans who consider themselves poor, are really all not that poor.

When you have a house, car, TV, boat, healthcare, and enough food to make yourself obese you are not considered poor in my book.

I think it was Mississippi, which just was label the state with the most food insure people simultaneously with the most obese people. Funny.

Betty Davies's picture


The state of much housing in the US is very sad. Tarpaper shacks, ancient trailers, "houses" with basic maintenance needs that there's no money to pay for. Having a roof over one's head that is technically labeled "a house" is not necessarily proof that a person is not poor.

The state of many people's automobiles is not much better, old vehicles with maintenance & repairs deferred due to lack of money, barely passing inspection or driven (until caught) without inspection. Many Americans live in fear of a vehicle breakdown that could happen any day, requiring money they don't have to fix, and resulting in the loss of a job (if they've found one), and a way to get to town or across town to buy supplies. I know a local family whose child missed the school bus--they didn't dare drive her to school that day because the car's gas tank was nearly empty and they couldn't risk driving until they had cash to fill up in town (e.g., at the station near the school). Owning a car is not necessarily proof that a person is not poor.

I doubt that a whole lot of poor people own a boat, though I would not begrudge them one. A boat might have been bought before a job was lost, and has not yet been sold in a desperate effort to get some cash, It might be sitting in the yard unsaleable due to a dire need for repairs.

The notion that all people who are obese have a secure source of food is laughable. High-calorie foods are far less expensive than vegetables, fruits, and protein.

I imagine you will have a wealth of hearsay evidence to contradict these facts--the proverbial welfare queen living in a fine house and owning three cars and a yacht. You might also come up with ways to slander impoverished people for lacking decent housing, transportation, and food. Do keep in mind that putting them down will not magically protect you from being in dire financial need one day.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Funny how some people always

Funny how some people always see the class as empty. Some high-calorie foods, like soda, chips, snakes, are more expensive then heather foods. The fact that one can afford those foods is testament that the have the financial resources to buy healthier foods.

This demonstrates a state of mind rather than a state of economics. My guess is that these individuals make a series of bad choices that drives them to the situation they are living. To put it as softly as I can: Person who fart in church, sit in own pew. I say let them stew.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Folks, The takeaway here is


The takeaway here is that when you are climbing the preverbal socioeconomic ladder, and you are looking upwards with envy, take a moment to look down and put things into perspective. Be thankful where you are compared to others on this planet.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

What happens when???????????

Your climbing the socioeconomic ladder, I'm looking up. I actually make it to the top third of that ladder. Then someone cut one of the rungs out of that ladder, and I fall all the way back down to the bottom. Now, do I relate to the folks at the top of the ladder because I got there, or the folks at the bottom of the ladder, because I am there?
I love it, life can be so damn unpredictable. Just when you think you have it made, life steps in............................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Really? Sounds like a bunch

Really? Sounds like a bunch of excuses. Moreover, you did no fall to the bottom. You fell on top of all those poor in developing nations. Unless you have a bloated belly, you did not hit bottom.

Why do you have to blame someone? Is that just a way not of face reality face on?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Now, do I relate to the

"Now, do I relate to the folks at the top of the ladder because I got there".....
Yet because you were dealt a crappy hand at one point in your life and were cast to the bottom of the ladder, you give the impression that you despise those at the top even though they had little or nothing to do with your tumble. Why is that?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

No I have a better reason than that...............

I don't despise the people at the top, not for the reasons you might think anyway. I was forced to live the lifestyle. Walk the walk, talk the talk sort of thing. Growing up, it was all about getting to the top. I guess I was supposed to follow a set path in my life. Graduate high school, go to college, get married, become an executive at some large company. Or as one of my sisters found out, marriage can be just as lucrative as education. Then you need to get at least one divorce under your belt before your fifty, and remarry soon there after. The whole time, even though money was never a problem, your required to worry about it to the point of ulcers.
I did learn one lesson from all of this, don't buy your first million dollar home until after your divorce.
I decided at a very early age, that I was going in a different direction. My whole family is cheese and wine on a Friday night with a few close friends, sort of people. I'm more of the keg of beer around the bonfire in the gravel pit sort of guy.
I went my own way, I guess I didn't meet their expectations. I'll bet they even think they hurt my feelings, not very likely. For the past thirty years, it's been nothing but the sound of crickets around my family tree. That to me indicates a degree of shallowness that I've come to associate with rich people. If there's two things I hate in people is shallowness, and being self centered. As you may have guessed by now, the one place I seem to find those traits most frequently, is with, shall we say, wealthy people.
It's not the wealth I can't stomach, it's the behaviors. I don't care how much money a person has, status has no influence on me. I only associate with down to earth people. I've seen some really wealthy people, who are very down to earth, but very few. I've seen some very poor people about a shallow and self centered as they come, way to many of them. My friends are people I can relate to one on one, no matter what their background..........................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You despise them or you

You despise them or you don't. Your actions speak for themselves. You have open wounds to mend.

MARK GRAVEL's picture


Do not envy your brother over the things you do not have.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"I complained that I had no

"I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet". It's all relative.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The prophet speaks.

The prophet speaks.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That one came from the

That one came from the parrot. He's been on a Biblical kick of late.

 's picture

If you have what you want, ...

... what's the problem? If you can't pay for what you have/want, and you wish to identify who is responsible for that state of affairs, find the nearest mirror and take a good look.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Who said anything about what I can, or can not pay for?????????

Everything I have, I have because I paid for it. That being said, I was just trying to get Mark to explain how us poor people are actually rich people. I'm beginning to worry that all that money I spent on college, was a waste of time. To hear Mr. Gravel put it, all you need to be rich, is to be poor.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I have answered your

I have answered your question, go read it.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

You have answered A question..........

I have traveled to other countries myself, Unfortunately, only one's I could drive to, but foreign countries none the less. I have seen some real poverty myself, real disgusting scenes of horror. I've seen children wandering the streets, people living in substandard housing. Rampant crime, death and destruction. I've seen all these, experienced these thing just as you have Mr. Gravel. I've seen people who I know haven't eaten in days. People who have no clue where their next meal is coming from.
Yes I've seen some pretty disgusting things in my lifetime. The only difference between your poverty and squalor , and my poverty and squalor, is that what I've seen is right here in these United States of America.
I'm not sure why you feel we can draw fair comparisons, using Maine and a third world country. Then again I'm amused that you can compare Maine to a third world country.
I live in this country, I live in this state, I judge whats rich or poor on the standards I live by. If you could possibly consider what I make per year as being rich, by our own local standards, please inform the rest of the "just barely getting buy"crowd what we're doing wrong..............

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“I live in this country, I

“I live in this country, I live in this state, I judge whats rich or poor on
the standards I live by.”

Your view of the world is a typical American attitude – “things that encircle me.”

The world is in fact a much larger place. Unfortunately, your standard does not apply outside of your grey matter.

That said, your comment starts with stating you been to foreign countries and end with saying your poverty and squalor you seen is in the U.S. .

Either this is a failed attempt to be humorous, or perhaps this is a contrived story. What is it? Please clarify with an example. Where did not go to see your squalor?

“If you could possibly consider what I make per year as being rich, by our own local standards, please inform the rest of the "just barely getting buy"crowd what we're doing wrong..”

You have a home, healthcare, TV, internet, vehicle, and a boat. You are not doing too badly. Just become some people do better, does not mean you are poor by any means; that form measure is using a yardstick called envy.

Remember, the planet is bigger than Frank himself. Compared to others on this planet, Frank is a rich man, a mighty, mighty rich man.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Another typical American attitude..................

Could be, the American attitude may be due to the fact that I'm an American, I don't know. Now, you have never seen poverty and squalor in this country? Evidently you misses the definition day for the word poverty. You don't have to go far to see real poverty. It's right here in Maine. Go to any state. any metropolitan area has it's "other side of the tracks". I'm getting tired of this thread, I am not rich, by any stretch of the imagination.
I may not have all the finer things in life, but what I do have is paid for. As well as being, all I need.......................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let me repeat his one more

Let me repeat his one more time. The majority of the poor in this country have more than poor in other countries. The poor in China, India, or Thailand would love to have the little you have.

The world is bigger than America. Poverty in America means your probably have a roof, TV, car ... You can ignore that fact all you want, but it is true.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

OK, I get your point...........

If or when I move to China, India, or Thailand, I will send limo to pick you up and we can discuss poverty........

 's picture


We must protect the delicate "rich" from all those scary little old ladies on Social Security. And what right do the little old ladies have in needing medical attention?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

How about balance. The rich

How about balance. The rich already pay most of the taxes in this country. When do you say enough?

Maybe the little old lady should have been saving for the future instead of living for the moment.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

No moral compass.

No morality whatsoever. And anyone who has no emphathy or compassion is certainly the poorest of the poor.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Spoken from someone who

Spoken from someone who advocates talking someone's property. You don't know what poor means. The poor in America have loads of material things compared to others on the planet. Hypocrite.


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