Here we go again!
Just now I picked up the monthly report from Terry Beer, Director of Central Dallas Ministries' large Resource Center here in East Dallas. During January 2005, Terry and his amazing community building staff and volunteers (almost all low-income neighborhood residents) saw demand for services (food, clothing, rental and utility assistance, etc.) rise by 9% over January of last year. I know without looking that these trends will match up with reports from other parts of our expanding organization.
Please note: Poor people aren't doing very well in Dallas or across this extremely wealthy nation.
Many of our neighbors who come seeking help are elderly.
Not many of us realize or remember, but in 1960 in the United States, 50% of our elderly citizens fell below the poverty line. When their working days were done, millions of Americans found that they had to make do the best way they could find on very meager resources. Food, housing, medical care and overall standard of living for the aging were far, far from adequate.
Yet, by 2003, only 10.2% of elderly Americans fell into that category.
How do you explain such dramatic progress in such a short time--just a bit over four decades?
First, during the 1960s and 1970s, Congress voted significant increases in Social Security benefits to older people. In 1959, the average Social Security check was only $70 a month. In 1958, 60% of American seniors had annual incomes under $1,000 in an era in which three times that much was required for seniors to enjoy the basics of life.
Second, these benefits were indexed to average wage growth to assure that seniors' income would keep pace with national economic realities.
Remember, these elderly Americans had formed the labor backbone of the nation. They had worked hard, paid their dues and, thanks to a just and enlightened civic value system, their hard work paid off. To be sure, no one was getting rich on the benefits, but vast numbers were secured against a kind of poverty that had been the norm for generations.
Justice. Fairness. Equity. National values to be proud of.
President Bush believes that indexing these benefits needs to end. He has a formula in mind that will greatly reduce the benefits seniors receive over the coming decades. Many of us will not be affected by such policy changes at all, but millions of our children will be touched directly and dramatically.
Today only 21% of American workers have defined pension plans. Employers today opt for 401 (k) investment plans based on stock market performance.
Wall Street will win big in the proposed new strategy.
Elderly Americans in the future, especially those who earn in lower paying jobs today, will experience a slide back to the days before 1960.
Contrary to popular belief, some government programs produce stellar civic results. Fiddling with the future of masses of retiring Americans is not only risky, it is unfair.
Just as homes offer a solution for homelessness, money tends to keep people out of poverty.
What do we really value today in this country?
Announcement from Duke Memorial UMC
1 week ago