Will you wed work till death do you part?

Starkville Daily News - - FORUM -

Many Amer­i­cans now face re­tire­ment, hearts full of dreams, bank ac­counts full of noth­ing. For them, those Wall Street ads show­ing sil­ver­haired cou­ples sail­ing warm blue seas may seem as­pi­ra­tions be­yond their grasp. In­stead, they may find them­selves the 72-year-old hired to drive the plat­inum cou­ple from the air­port to the docks.

Some 45 per­cent of Amer­i­cans have zero saved for re­tire­ment, ac­cord­ing to the National In­sti­tute on Re­tire­ment Se­cu­rity. Why would that be?

The rea­sons are di­verse. The prob­lem may be stag­nat­ing wages, an ex­pen­sive med­i­cal cri­sis or divorce that chopped house­hold in­come in half. Or while col­lect­ing pay­checks, they didn’t save enough, in­vested un­wisely and spent too much on va­ca­tions, cars and pricey lux­u­ries.

A big rea­son is the near dis­ap­pear­ance of the tra­di­tional pen­sion plan. It made sav­ing for re­tire­ment a no-brainer. Em­ploy­ees didn’t have to de­cide how much, if any, of their pay­check to set aside. They didn’t do the in­vest­ing. The com­pany did it all. On re­tire­ment, for­mer em­ploy­ees would be sent a pen­sion check ev­ery month, pos­si­bly for the rest of their lives.

The 401(k) plan has taken its place. This is a deal whereby work­ers elect to move a cer­tain amount out of their pay­checks ev­ery week and into a re­tire­ment ac­count. Par­tic­i­pants usu­ally have a say in how the money is in­vested.

And the 401(k) is a deal — even though in­vest­ment companies of­ten take a too-big chunk in fees. The em­ployer may match some of the con­tri­bu­tions. And the earn­ings de­posited in the 401(k) are not taxed. You pay taxes only when you re­tire and with­draw the funds.

Though 80 per­cent of work­ers have ac­cess to a 401(k), only 61 per­cent put any­thing in. And many who do vastly un­der­es­ti­mate what they’ll need and con­trib­ute far too lit­tle.

Whether they have other sav­ings or not, Amer­i­cans know that So­cial Se­cu­rity is there as a back­stop. (Don’t let any­one tell you the pro­gram is going down.)

So­cial Se­cu­rity is beau­ti­fully sim­ple, but even here, peo­ple make mis­takes. For one, they start col­lect­ing ben­e­fits too early.

Con­sider the 61-year-old en­ti­tled to $1,000 a month at the full re­tire­ment age of 66. If that per­son starts col­lect­ing early at 62, the monthly check drops to $750. By wait­ing un­til age 70, the ben­e­fit jumps to $1,350. The dif­fer­ence be­tween dip­ping in early and late is, start­ing at 70, $600 a month for the rest of one’s life.

In a re­cent poll of Amer­i­cans over age 50, 4 in 10 said they plan to start col­lect­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits early. Less than 9 per­cent said they’ll hold off un­til 70.

has in­curred is not equal to the ac­tion it­self. An out­pour­ing of anger to­ward peace­ful ad­vo­cacy for equal treat­ment

for all Amer­i­cans in­deed proves the ne­ces­sity of such ac­tions in our na­tion to­day. We must re-frame our way of see­ing these ac­tions not as dis­re­spect—not as stu­dents fight­ing against some­thing,

but as young Amer­i­cans fight­ing FOR some­thing they feel deeply. These girls are our neigh­bors. If some­one will­ingly draws neg­a­tive at­ten­tion to them­selves for what they be­lieve to be a wrong, maybe

we owe them, not ha­tred, but an ear. We owe it to each other to pause, to ask “why?” and to lis­ten to the re­sponse.

The Pro­gres­sive Starkville Net­work is proud to see young voices speak­ing out to bring at­ten­tion to the so­cial jus­tice is­sues in our coun­try and com­mu­nity, and for hav­ing the courage to use what lit­tle power high school stu­dents have to bring light to very real is­sues. “They have ex­pressed a de­sire

to use this as a tool to cre­ate di­a­logue about real is­sues, not an av­enue to fur­ther di­vi­sion. They want to be heard and un­der­stood, “says PSN mem­ber, Aries Spru­ell. Per­haps it is time for adults to lis­ten.

FROMA HAR­ROP SYN­DI­CATED COLUM­NIST

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